Sunday, 27 January 2013

Video: Beauty Favourites of 2012

If you don't already watch my Youtube channel, which is the reason I got started on all this wonderfully verbose musing on this here blog, then here's a little video of my beauty favourites of 2012, which took a lot of over-thinking, crossing out and then re-drafting in order to make my final shortlist.

I felt like a crotchety, bored old lady this year with beauty, to be honest.  I tend to love a lot of things all at once, but they were all things I'd already mentioned and loved before.  There's no need to rehash an old flame, is there?  So these were those 10 elusive perfect products of the year of 2012.  Settle in, get a cup of something (I won't judge if it's whisky), and enjoy.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Illamasqua SS12 I'mPerfection - beautifully imperfect.

Illamasqua always does funny things to me.  When I see an invite to the launch of their newest collection, I move everything around to be able to get there, because there's something sort of unmissable about it: here is an intelligent, philanthropic brand who have a very clear idea of who they are, what they're doing and how they're going to do it.

L-R, top-bottom: Lipstick in Immodest, Intense Lipgloss in Shoot; speckled nail polish in Fragile; collection visual; blush duos and nail polishes.
I like a brand that thinks differently and self-analyses at every turn, because that little bit of introspection from their warped square packaging which plays on just pure cosmetic form, to innovative textures, unusual colours and, above all, a narrative to tie it all together... It really sets them apart from everyone else.

Illamasqua's I'mPerfection is a collection that exposes the duality of beauty and imperfection, a celebration of the features that make us all human and different, and that other brands suggest we keep covered.  Freckles, birthmarks, scars and the marks we bear as an example of being living, breathing human beings, and all wonderfully different from one another, are exposed, celebrated and venerated.   In I'mPerfection, Illamasqua is drawing back the veil of factory-churned beauty homogeneity, exposing us bare as the unique beings that we are, in the most beautiful way that they can.

Illamasqua's I'mPerfection collection also celebrates, too, a distortion of traditional concepts of beauty.  The contagion of black liquid liner that Illamasqua so cleverly addressed in the Human Fundamentalism has met a new use in I'mPerfection as a gorgeously ornate, but very simple to recreate speckled eyeliner look, inspired by the patterning on a feather.

Illamasqua's speckled eyeliner, beautifully applied for me at the event.

My own more subtle take on the speckled eyeliner, using Precision Inks in Scribe and Wisdom.  Also wearing Hussy blush from the blush duo on cheeks, and Immodest lipstick.
Those who know their Illamasqua might be surprised to see their nod to the usual pastels of Spring instead of the slashingly loud brights they have made their name from.  The new speckled nail polishes are gorgeous, inspired by the speckled patterns of eggs, and a subverted form of the candy-sweet pastels that flood other makeup counters in their hordes, where hex glitter pieces mar the beautiful pastel finish with a randomised pattern.  It looks effortlessly gorgeous, and these nail polishes are my favourite piece of the whole collection.

Speckled polishes in Freckle (soft neutral) and Speckle (soft lilac)
Celebrating the rites of spring too, is a bright spring green lipgloss called Shoot, which actually (surprisingly) seemed to suit quite a lot of the people I saw wearing it last night, despite the fact that it is possibly, in the words of David Horne, the most artificial texture and colour combined.  The lipstick, Immodest, is a biting neon pink that sears the retinas and jars the vision.  It's a matte finish, however, so is drier, and it also stains to leave a swollen, just-bitten kind of look.

Possibly one of the key pieces of the new collection was Illamasqua's reinvention of the way in which we apply blush - which is usually with a round blush.  The Blush Up Brush was one of the most exciting new launches for me, because it's something innovative and is forcing us to reprogram from the somnambulistic way in which we apply our makeup in its same routine order.  Its unique shape allows you to apply flush in an upward-flicked motion, and it really is worth its salt.  Illamasqua brushes are fantastic anyway, and I expected the best on this one.

Lipstick in Immodest; Blush Up Brush in full glory.
Last but not least, the blush duos, a launch hinted at by Illamasqua during Christmas when their first one, a duo of Lover and Hussy, was launched.  Lover is a pure soft apricot shade, and Hussy is a bright candy pink - both are matte and apply with no chalkiness.  My pick, however, is the duo of Katie and Ambition, and I'm eagerly awaiting its launch online to snap up.  I love the idea of these duos as you get 2 blushes in one - though overall you do get less product.

Blush duo, featuring shades Lover (soft apricot) and Hussy (bright candy pink)

My picks?
- Speckled nail varnishes - grab these while you can! I'm going to need to get Fragile (a soft blue), Mottle (a mint green) and Scarce (a soft pink).
- Blush duo in Katie and Ambition.
- Blush Up Brush - this is going to change everything. I can feel it.

This collection, like the last, was a sensitive and lovely feel-good mix of a collection, where there was a prevailing beautiful use of aesthetic to create stunning makeup looks out of the things we'd usually cover up.  As with every new Illamasqua collection, I'm so excited for this collection because once again Illamasqua have delivered a beautiful collection with a story to match.  I'mPerfection launches in stores from the 31st of January.

What's on your wishlist?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

I love you, but I can't commit: Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation

 A little while ago, I convinced myself I had to have Chantecaille's Future Skin foundation, a product with a price tag that doesn't just make me gulp, but it also provokes spontaneous religion in me, in the sign of the cross, and a kind of terrified backing away-type of movement.  £55 is a lot of money to spend on something I'm going to smear on my face, keep it there for around 10 hours or so, and then remove.  And what's more, £55 is a lot of money to spend on the aforementioned when it's not utterly perfect…

Because Chantecaille Future Skin didn't turn out to be as perfect as I wanted it to, and that is a bit of a hard stab.

Future Skin foundation is one of those kind of perfect-on-paper type product that boasts a good array of ingredients that should offer benefits to the skin, alongside an oil-free gel-crème texture that blends flawlessly into the skin with no lines, crêpey face, and a light texture that looks like your skin if it wasn't your skin at all.  

It basically boasts a recipe of ingredients, rather than a list, a set of edible, natural sources from rosemary leaf extract to chamomile that are included with particular purposes in mind.  One ingredient makes the boldest claim, though, and this is where the product falls on its ass in a huge and unceremonious manner.  Natto gum, an ingredient derived from soybeans, is one such ingredient that claims to reduce sebum production by 26% after 7 days of consistent use…

Er, yeah okay (not).  This foundation turns me into an oily mess after a few hours.  Despite the fact that I love the finish, I have found this makes me oily like no other foundation I own, and others have vouched for that too.  It's the most beautiful make-love-to-it finish and you almost want to dedicate a song to it on account of how perfect it looks (I'd go with Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight), but GIIIIRL, that oil? No way.  No can do, sorry Chantecaille!

The foundation itself is a thick gel-crème that smoothes like buttah into the skin with no lines or heaviness.  It feels so light on the skin and beautifully smooth, while photographing wonderfully and giving you the skin of a baby hippo, or the skin you always wish you had.  It's your skin, but enhanced.  The coverage is light-medium, has a fantastic shade range for paler skins and it's endlessly buildable - but it just falls so short on wear time and makes me oily to the point of having to remove my makeup earlier than scheduled.

Wearing Chantecaille Future Skin foundation in Porcelain - no flash.
Honestly? I'd save your money on this - do you know what's similar? Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum foundation - which gives you £45 extra to play with.  Go buy yourself a McDonalds and a trip to the cinema (because the cinema is horrendously expensive these days - do I want 3D?! NO I JUST WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE).  Then sit down and give yourself a pat on the head, because these foundations (with a few adjustments) are pretty similar indeed.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

How to come back from the dead and/or the story of PhD.

If anyone, ever, in your life, jogs up to you in a velour tracksuit and offers you an opportunity to study for a PhD, don't do it.  The jogging part (and the velour tracksuit) actually never happened - how it happened was that an old professor dropped me in it, and then my current professor accepted me on the basis of the other professor's words of encouragement about the apparent amazingness of my brain. And then I went for an 'interview' in a too-short skirt where I was informed that very-well-done, it looked like I had a place on a PhD course.

Anyway, that was over 3 years ago.  And what I will say is that it has consumed my life, to the point where I'm mostly a gibbering wreck.  I can't sleep, I panic quietly, and then loudly once the quiet panicking has run out, and then I neglect the things that I truly enjoy - like this.  So if everyone could just promise me that if some madman offers you the chance to study for a PhD, you won't accept? It's for the sake of your sanity, truly.

My PhD still isn't over.  I have piles and piles of indecipherable notes and am a veritable fire hazard in my own home.  I am also at flood risk due to the ridiculous amounts of nervous crying I keep managing to do, which isn't me grasping at self-pity, just that my tiny brain keeps short-circuiting with worry and then it falls over and needs rebooting.  So blogging kind of takes a back seat a lot.

Mostly my makeup routine is the same, and accompanied by a good amount of coffee and one eye shut, but I have been enjoying a few little products that I've been finding solace in recently, mainly for their melty, can't-see-the-streak-marks and do well when terribly applied (because of the one-eye-closed application):

1. Perfect complexion: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum foundation.

My love for this has been reignited in the last 2 months, this is one of my absolute top five foundations, even though the colour is too yellow and too dark. I reviewed it a long time ago on my Youtube channel, and still get comments from people thanking me for bringing it to their attention. It's this beautiful gel-based formula that is light on the skin and blends beautifully and smoothly. It has a light-medium coverage and gives me this soft-focus my-skin-but-better look, it just looks perfect. This is a fantastic product. I find it pretty similar, if I'm honest, to my £55 Chantecaille Future Skin foundation... except for the fact that it's better and a fifth of the price. Trust me on this one.

2. Cheery cheeks: Illamasqua powder blusher in Sophie.

This cheers me up, it's a big bright smack of colour that brightens up my face and cuts through all the sludgy plum colours I dug out for winter recently. I know we're currently teetering on the edge of snow (and therefore, in the UK, the entire shutdown of the country and no public transport after a small sprinkling of it), but I'm so over it. This little baby is brightening my mood, and I only need the tiniest bit to feel less grey.

3. Vintage classic: MAC Viva Glam Cyndi lipstick.

A while ago, convinced by Kiwi, I sold my one back-up of this, and then regretted it. This is a stunner of a watermelon coral that I dug out about a week ago and haven't let go of since. It just goes so perfectly with Illamasqua's Sophie that the two combine to create the sunniest face of the day.

4. Lazy-day lips: Sleek Pout Polish in Perfect Plum.

This lives in my handbag, and where I go, it goes... But I completely forgot about it, and recently it's all I've reached for, especially when I'm in search of a lip balm with a bit of colour to enhance my pallid lips but condition them from that biting sea breeze. I have loved this for a long time, and I'm glad to come back to it again. It's a sheer, moisturising balm (scented very strongly with coconut, beware!), that gives me a put-together look, even when I'm in the laziest of moods.

5. Skin food: Emma Hardie Rejuvenating Night Cream.

I got this in some kind of special value gift set and never thought much of it, but when my regular night cream made me so oily in the morning I felt like I'd slept in a chip pan, I had to change my nightly skin care routine. This cream (although smelling like geraniums, bleeeugh), is this gorgeous, thick cream that makes my skin feel really plump and nourished after I use it. It sinks in well without leaving a greasy film and just feels lovely to use.

6. Because science: Hydraluron Moisture Booster.

Living right on the sea this winter has forced me to rethink my skin care. When my skin started feeling tight, and needed multiple applications of moisturiser in the morning, I turned to Hydraluron to try and help my skin out a bit. This is a serum of pure hyaluronic acid, which binds water/moisture to the skin, so application before moisturiser basically helps your skin to make better use of it. My skin had been getting so dry, and then so oily later in the day that it needed fixing, and this worked by rebalancing my skin.

What's been floating your boat recently in terms of makeup and skin care? Sometimes I don't even think of the products that I grab without thinking, and these are those.


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