Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Beauty A-Z: D

Did you think I'd forgotten about my epic voyage, Sesame Street-style into the beauty-related alphabet? No. I just couldn't think of anything for the letter D for the longest time (imagine what will happen at Q, X and Z if I'm failing so successfully now?) I won't bore you with snippets of life interludes or pontifications upon life and its meaning... This is a beauty blog, so today, just because, we're actually just going to talk about beauty without my usual fanfare.*

1. My first D is for Diorskin Nude foundation, the one foundation which is never capricious, or never makes me suffer with unpredictable no-I-don't-want-to-blend-today or gonna-cake-your-skin-up mood swings. Thankfully, there's no teenage door-slamming phase from this foundation; it's pretty much foolproof. Apply as much as you want, in as haphazard a fashion as you want; use fingers or brush, or implement of your choice (trowel?) and you pretty much can't streak it or get it wrong. It lasts a decent amount of time and gives your skin a beautifully natural luminescence, just like you've slept on clouds, that you've been drinking your prescribed 8 glasses of water and eating food pooed out by unicorns (as everyone knows that unicorns poo rainbows and love).
2. Dubonnet by MAC was my first ruby-hued lipstick love, the gentle Colin Firth-style one who broke me in to a different set of options; the lipstick I viewed with soft, adoring glances before I became steely-eyed and more courageous with its scarier, tattooed cousins. Dubonnet is the perfect red, for both skin tones. It's more of a sultry red than a screaming pillarbox colour, and it's the perfect tone to just dip your toe in more crimson waters. It's perfectly creamy with a bit of a sheen and wears quite well with an elegant fade. It's the perfect starter for ten.
3. I didn't realise, when I hastily clicked the 'Buy Now!' button on a website, how much a grey cake eyeliner would come to be indispensable. Devout by Illamasqua is a fabulously-formulated product which dries to a medium grey. When wetted, it's creamy and beautiful to apply, and gives my eyes that extra unexpected zing - they look pretty and emphasise their different hues, but you can't tell until you're up close and personal what exactly it is that's making them smoulder.

* Apologies for those who love the splendiferous fanfare of verbosity usually seen in these posts. The management has registered your complaint and will take it under consideration.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Hey there, beautiful...

Guess what I got today? House of Fraser started sneak-selling these in a covert fashion at the beginning of this week, and as soon as I'd gleaned this little piece of news, I jumped on a train dragging a protesting Kiwi behind me and headed straight to Oxford Circus. I rang up beforehand and a lovely lady stashed me a palette away in a cubby, just so I wouldn't miss out on the one beauty item I've been waiting for for the last 2 months.

And yes, it's beautiful. And if you like your neutrals, you will LOVE this. It's not the haphazard colour splash of the Book of Shadows where there's bound to be at least 4 shades you will never, ever use. I can say with confidence, that this will get obscene amounts of love from me. All the shadows are smooth and buttery and just stunning. I'd give you swatches, but you all know them off by heart from Temptalia by now...

For those of you worrying of boyfriend maltreatment, Kiwi was treated to a flapjack for his pains, and his favourite dinner.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bright-eyed and jammy-lipped: my first cosmetics

I made my first jammy-lipped foray into makeup with Avon's Little Blossom range, with its sugared almond packaging. It was a Christmas morning, and I'd just unwrapped all of my presents within the space of five minutes, in that haphazard, small mad-haired child tornado way, barely registering my parents' indulgent smiles.

Wide-eyed, I inspected my gifts of and silently cross-compared them with my big-girl red coat and big-girl watch with a frog on the face. Confirmation. I bore everything upstairs jealously and promptly hid everything in the attic so that I could consult my new 'collection' at my leisure and away from prying eyes. There was a reason for this childish hoarding: every Christmas, upon receiving my Advent Calendar full of chocolate, my dad would pretend-threaten to purloin it and eat all of the chocolate. I learned quickly and hid it behind my dresser every night and privately worried about a moustachioed fat man who wasn't Father Christmas slipping into my room in the depths of a dark night and stealing away with the precious calendar and its tasty contents.*

A moustachioed chocolate-thieving man identified as NOT Father Christmas.

So, hence the paranoid hiding of my newest favourite thing: a strawberry-tinted lip balm, a little bottle of perfume and a special sugared-pink peel-off nail polish from Tinkerbell. The lip balm smelled like strawberries and painted my lips a Riding-Hood red. I don't remember being especially particular about its placement on my lips; general vicinity of the mouth was fine. The perfume I'd splash on with aplomb; it didn't have a spray nozzle like the ones I'd seen my mother use, so at age 5, I successfully learned to just 'wing it'. The nail polish was the crowning glory, the one thing I guarded more jealously than all my gifts, leaving pink paint chippings all over the house, a non-toxic homage to Hansel and Gretel.

Obsession born, I'd later skulk about playing spectre to my mother's every movement, and waiting for her to become preoccupied by answering the phone or talking at the door, and then I'd launch a full-scale strike upon her meagre little stash hidden away in the bathroom. It was a calculated strike with every second accounted for in an every-girl-for-herself reconnaissance mission. The thing I coveted most was a palette from a high-street store,with unctuous, waxy-smelling lipsticks and a few eyeshadows, the most important of which was a pigeon-grey (because pigeons are darker in colour than doves, so that's what we're calling it), and it was selected because it was the darkest colour, and therefore, the best.

I'd daub it all on clumsily, occasionally stopping to powder my nose with a little powder puff like a grown-up, or launch a small-statured assault on a bottle of Clinique foundation at least 3 shades too dark and 2 years too old.

I'd always get caught and scamper happily back to my bedroom after having been told off in the most franglais style possible: my mother would utter 'Lá! La-la-la-la-la-la!' in an accusing rhythm whilst wagging a finger.

Don't let the innocent façade pull you in; that's the mistake my parents made (PS: Dog not mine!)

I can only assume it was her version of saying 'tsk', but for someone who grew up with the term of endearment 'puppet' as their mother couldn't pronounce 'poppet' properly (and that alone took me until I was 21 years old for that epiphany to happen), I can only go by what my mildly-trained ear tells me.**

I think it was always my mother's indifference to makeup and her refusal to let me have ALL OF HERS which was the problem. I argued with her relentlessly in a supermarket, aged 6, when she wouldn't buy me an obnoxious pink nail polish. There may have been feet-stamping. There may also have been a minor tantrum. I got it in the end and bore it home proudly, despite my father's unadulterated horror and refusal to let me eat dinner until I'd cleaned it off again.

And that was that; absence only makes the heart grow fonder, after all.

When I was a little girl, I believed that uttering arbitrary syllables meant I was 'speaking French' and that my dad's Adam's apple was actually a walnut (so he told me) that he'd accidentally swallowed whole. I believed, on a fateful trip to Scotland, that a plastic model of the Loch Ness Monster floating in a pond was the real thing and genuinely believed that when I grew up, I'd become a princess, despite the logistics of my parents not actually being of royal blood. When all those silly childhood fantasies faded away a little, I was left with one remaining: that even if nothing else were true, my mum should definitely have let me play with her makeup a little more.

It was only rude not to; she'd already unknowingly created a monster.

How did you all first get hooked?

An excellent demonstration of the more impressionistic route in makeup application (of a 6 year old child).

* Other strange behaviours I exhibited as a child included hiding my toast crusts in the drawer under the table: having been informed at an early age that eating my crusts would give me curly hair, I took a strong dislike to them and hid them rather than eat them. It's a shame really, considering I now spend so much time trying to get my hair to curl even the slightest bit. We're not here to talk about my idiosyncrasies, but I could tell you were all curious...

** Other words my mother still can't say after 35 years in England: squirrel (which she says 'scure-rel'), crisps ('crips') and farce ('fast'). Invariably these days, my mother will also call out the cat's name when she means mine, so it's not like her idiosyncrasies have waned over the years...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Recent Ins and Outs

Nom nom nom. Chocolate and churros.

Having shuffled shabbily off the plane to the singsong voices of the British Airways staff and unpacked (sort of...) my suitcase, I think it's safe to say the holiday is over... Even though I woke up at a shameful 11:30 am this morning. It was a pretty standard British-person-goes-abroad holiday by all accounts; the plane was delayed for an hour and a half while the captain explained in faltering English that there were 3 'impacts' (cracks) in the engines and that we might need to disembark, lest we plunge from the sky in a blazing inferno. All this excellent news was delivered amidst being forced to listen to slow, rumbling piano renditions (and not just boarding music either - FOR THE WHOLE OF THE FLIGHT) of 'Endless Love' and 'How Deep is Your Love' and (possibly as a direct result of the music) surly-faced Spanish stewardesses who thought that 10 Euros was an appropriate sum to extort for a badly-made sandwich.

Despite my one last desperate hope that it would rain or turn into an Arctic summer in Madrid, we stepped off the plane at 10:30pm and floundered like suffocated fish in the 32 degree heat. It was 10:30 in the EVENING. There is not meant to be heat when there is no sun to provide it. Other than that, the rest of the holiday followed as a standard: impromptu street parties, lots of eating, too much drinking, walking about and then cringing back into the hotel for shade and lots of reading terrible and tacky, yet rambunctious and un-put-downable fiction (Jilly Cooper). I may even have gained the smallest spectre of a tan.

Photos are placed strategically around this post for your in-flight enjoyment, and there will be no smoking in the toilets. We hope you have a pleasant flight...

- NARS Multiple Tint Tubes: I pretty much only wore one blush in Madrid, and it was the offensively orangey-coloured one in Turks & Caicos. It provided the perfect peachy flush which looked natural without my general tendency to 'overdo it' and look like a pantomime dame. It set within a few minutes and stayed all day. It's rare that I fall in love with things that I deem 'orange' (Dale Winton, Oompa Loompas...), so this is a lovely treat. I beg of you, how do you not own this yet?
- FACE atelier Ultra Foundation: I need to order myself a bottle I need to order myself a bottle... I was sent a little sample of this (and you may remember my review) and fell for it very hard. And then it upped and left and ran out on me, and I need more...
- Eyeko Tinted Cream: The perfect contour for people who have the pallor of Voldemort, or skin that's lighter than the colour of Tippex. You only need the tiniest bit on either the E.L.F Powder Brush or an angled brush, and then blend it gently into the hollows of your cheeks. See also: using it on legs as a quick-fix one-night-only tanner, mixing with your foundation for a glow and using as a beautiful sun-kissed blush.
- Cosmetic simplicity: Skip the liquid liner for a change. That's what I've been doing, particularly in the Madrid heat where my makeup is likely to run or be sweated off. It makes my eyes look big and pretty, in a different more laid-back way to my previously more high-maintenance routine.
- Sleek Pout Polish in Perfect Plum: I don't think I will ever be without this tinted lipbalm. Even though the smell isn't my favourite and it doesn't last ages on the lips, it keeps them incredibly moisturised with the perfect tint of colour for a polished, simple prettiness.

Kiwi guarding the person-sized shelf next to our shower. We're still unsure as to its use.

- MAC (again): Having sneak-released Alice + Olivia in the UK with no prior notice or regard for their legions of fans, plus the monumental cock-up of the Rodarte collection, MAC are hugely on the way out for me at the moment. Yes, they may have agreed to donate global profits to the awful situation of Juarez, and that is amazing news as the money will be instrumental in globalising the issues and help those who have fallen victim to awful crimes. But is it out of empathy or trying to avoid a huge PR disaster? I'm definitely on the more cynical side of the fence here, sorry.
- Berry tones: I've only just fallen into my stride with the whole summer thing; corals and peaches and goldeny shimmers and all those things which are so not me, but I'm trying to embrace it. It's just that by the time I get used to my new reflection, it'stime to switch back in time for Autumn.
- Illamasqua Nail Polish: Am I the only person in the entire world that thinks these are just awful? The blue one (Force) I got from the Body Electrics collection is impossible to apply properly and reacts with every single topcoat I use and changes colour. It then chips and stains my cuticles. I wish I were impressed, but for £13.50, I'm just not.

Drinking an apparent bowl of mojito.

Shortly after the above (and 3 large glasses of wine). This is my JOY face after having extremely drunkenly dropped my metro ticket on the escalator and successfully rescued it from its snapping jaws. This is like an advertisement for the phrase 'alcohol makes you ugly'.

Kiwi and I get our sexy faces on in the Buen Retiro Park.


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