Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Beauty Alert: Amazing Face? You got it!

If you still haven't quite opted for a skincare routine that includes full blown deep cleansing let alone double cleansing then I'd suggest you take a step in the right direction with a facial wash such as Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Foaming Cleansing Wash  We all have busy lives but beg for our skin to gleam in good condition, be grime-free and immaculate with little effort.
The foam is made up of essential oils to condition and balance your skin, yes, no feeling of your complexion being stripped dry, plus there are clever fruit enzymes along with the Moringa extracts which gently exfoliate leaving skin brighter, smoother and positively amazing.  Simply disperse a ten pence coin size to the palm of you hand, massage over you face, neck and decollete, then rinse off with warm water.  
Read more about Emma Hardie products on my blog here and get yourself familiar with super cleansing techniques including the dual action cloth; its an essential!


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Beauty Alert: I spy something beginning with EYE!

I'm full of regret these days. As I get ever closer to my mid-40's *gulp* I recall moments of pure, unadulterated bravado and stupidity in my 20's.  "I won't get sucked into buying eye creams!" and "I will never dye my hair to cover the greys, that's so vain!!!"
  I am virtually slapping my face right now, like the scene in Airplane, when they all queue up to take turns.  What was I thinking, was I going mad?  
Since I've embarked on the path to parenting I pine for time and minimal effort to make myself appear less frazzled.  Eye creams for one have never taken on a huge role in my routine, instead, I have concentrated on the general appearance and quality of my complexion.  Roll on sleepless nights literally due to over-tiredness and I find concealer doesn't always cut it, although effectively disguises shadows but does little for the sunken eyes.
QVC is at times like being rocked to sleep by a soothing voice you can trust with the gravitational pull of easy payments and it was during one of those nights I was lured by the lullabies of the presenter who mentioned Joan Collins Timeless Beauty up next.  
I am a fan, not just of Ms Collins herself but I have reviewed her Divine Lips and Nail Lacquer not so long ago (view here) so I couldn't resist an eyeful of more luxury items to drool over.

I almost immediately received upteen text messages from friends and relatives watching our 'Joanie' on QVC that night (must have been a full moon) when her Timeless Beauty Contra Time 'Eyelift in a bottle' SuperLift aired and they pretty much all asked the same thing 'Do you think it really works?'
I was struck by the texture I saw glistening ever so slightly when she smeared the opaque formula onto the back of her hand.  There was only one way of knowing, I had to try it for myself!

Whether its the plant extracts or cermides (our friendly, waxy molecules) or the gentle tapping upwards around the eye area, Superlift leaves a healthy suppleness by de-puffing those delicate parts with the added bonus of brightening too. 
So yes, it does work and achieves much more.  I have more eye products I've spied and tested, plus some positively phenomenal skincare products to have you racing to my favourite beauty destinations...look out!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

My Portfolio Memoirs: Blue Eye

Blue Eye, photographed by Giorgio Kstakis

There are so many incredible and inspiring Make up Artists' with decades of experience, some of which I've had the pleasure to meet such as the awesome and technical creative genius, Sharon Dowsett and I've even made up the 'super' skin expert herself, Ruby Hammer for editorial shoots.  Their portfolios overflow with iconic images, precise and dynamic artistry, always catching my eye and curiosity; how did that 'look' come about?  What's the story?  Why use THAT texture there?  What's was the intention for applying a colour there in that way?  So many questions but we rarely get that insight.
Last night, while suffering a bout of insomnia,  I scanned through a Pro Make up Artist group and came across a comment regarding Val Garland's online make up school, Mastered.com.  Seems there are mixed reviews on whether an online masterclass, aimed towards working artists', would truly offer up valuable knowledge, practical tuition on application and techniques or just squeeze the purses of upcoming individuals via a glorified 'You Tube' like tutorial.  
I wouldn't want to get negative about Ms Garland, her work is innovative, clever and at times so artful it makes me wish I had been more confident throughout my career.  With this in mind it lead me to accept this online approach a very good idea to master make up to a brief, with a chance to make mistakes to then develop an understanding and purposeful approach towards a look, sometimes under pressure, just like the real world.  I would have relished in such an intimate class as a newbie, most likely thrived with more confidence too! 
The idea of such a make up maestro, I'd have online access to, showing me the thought process behind each and every application excites me further, as I am hungry to understand the narrative towards the final look, much like as in art exams where you include your prep work, makes sense to me.
I'd like to go through my archives for you every now and then to tell you about how the final image came about.   To begin with, this image of the Blue Eye was an idea I visualised in the middle of the night about 15 years ago, I remember the moment I scribbled a quick drawing on a post-it note placed beside my bed; a handy habit for my creative ideas.
Once I scouted a suitable model of Caribbean descent who was blessed with a smooth, cinnamon complexion and had approached the testing photographer keen to push his skills further, I knew we'd produce a number of beautiful images for our books.
Mimicking a lash shape along the eye lid was easy, it took minutes but finding the right shine to stay in place with a splash of colour but I experimented with lipgloss and MAC gloss in a tube, though finally settled on the consistency of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, originally created in the 1930's and today's iconic hero.  At the time my initial vision was of a peach-apricot shade on dark skin but instead I opted for a peacock blue eye shadow by MAC, from my rather meagre 'starting out' palette, which I'd crushed with the end of a make up brush then added to the balm-like substance to make a rather gloopy consistency and voila!
Back then the photographer shot on film, a painstaking process to some now but I miss it.  We'd sift through his edits from the shoot which would always be accompanied by lots of work chat, gossip and coffee.  We finally decided on 4 very strong photos all of cropped as much as aesthetics would allow, therefore, Blue Eye remained the focal point  in this instance (excuse the pun).
Some time after this image hit my portfolio and it became a signature image for me,  the photograph had been used without permission for an art scene coffee table book for a rather famous publishing house.  No, not even the photographer was credited, however, it proved to us this picture had strength and impact and so it remains in my portfolio to this day plus continues to receive much praise and the question I've been asked now for well over a decade, "What did you use on her eye?"

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Beauty Alert: SPRING forward with 8 Hours sleep!

This Sunday we lose out on 1 hour of sleep!!!

I hear you moan and groan, though in my quest to find products that assist my tired skin back to appearing healthy with the bonus of being treated to 8 hours of good sleep (but really hanging onto short, deep naps), I have yet another Erborian discovery, from the brand I'd recommend everyone keep a close eye on, after all they are an ever evolving innovators in the beauty market and with a staggering 50 new products in their sights and in time Erborian will cater to all your needs soon from head to toe!
I digress, I'd like to reveal Erborian Sleeping BB Mask my night aid for well rested skin; its a night time mask which achieves the 'Baby Skin' skin we all crave - refined, replenished and repaired.  Apply a thin layer before bed and say nighty night to dull skin!

Discover Erborian Sleeping BB Mask at SPACE NK and more products in SELFRIDGES

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Mother knows best about beauty!

My mother, a complete beauty expert in her own right, turns to me the other day asking if I know of a 'foundation that's not like the texture of a foundation but can even out skin without looking heavy or matte. ‎Nothing masking but that will make my skin look fresh, less tired and not sit in my pores. I don't want it to feel like I've got anything on...'

I've probably heard this a trillion times and often  faced with a client who is unrealistic about requesting a quick fix, who instead really needs more coverage and a skincare overhaul and injection of beauty-sense. But this was my mum, someone who taught me about routine and maintenance for my skin.
My mind mulled over a few products such as BB creams, which I hastily dismissed as 'too make-uppy' for my mum. Plus any sign of 'colour' and she'd ‎give me that look that only mum's do!

Some weeks ago I attended the launch of Erborian, to the UK, an event I could not and would not miss.  Although very under the weather I would have camped outside the venue in order to make it‎.  Why?
I'd come across the hybrid formulations and intriguing technology on a work trip to China a few years ago‎ whilst researching for another brand in Sephora.  Erborian literally excited me on the spot, serums and cleansers with textures I'd not seen. Not only was I convinced I'd arrived on my Beauty planet Asia, a destination that is so advanced in skincare, it was also apparent that Koreans know beauty and we have a lot to learn!

Katalin, one of the two creators of Erborain ‎personally showed me some of the range and even her desert island must-have, BB Flash Essence.   I was a little sceptical on hearing the CC Creme worked for caucasian to very dark skins.  Hmm, it's hard enough finding a sun lotion that doesn't appear ghostly on mid to dark complexions but I placed a dot of CC onto the back of my hand that Katalin had confidently handed to me in its silver tube with a smile, then smoothed the white cream, yes, it squeezes out white and dense, much like a high factor sun cream.  As I massaged the cream into my skin I watched it blend and become seamless in developing to flawless soft-focus skin. I'd found it! Mum, your wishes have come true, all boxes ticked, Erborian CC Creme it is and here's a - the photos tell it all album -  YOU WILL BE AMAZED and the best child a mother could ask for when you start purchasing this brand from two fav beauty portals Selfridges and Space NK

Instant skin gratification Erborain CC Creme

Bright white formula

Cleverly changing colour

Smoothed and seamless

 Have you discovered Erborian yet?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The essence of Melvita!

T'was 9 days before Christmas and I surrounded my senses by extraordinary woody, zesty, sweet and floral scents these days...no, not mulled wine, something more exquisite, sophisticated and natural than that!  
Melvita have ravished my sense of smell with the rich and inviting L'Or Bio fragrance, a 50ml eau de toilette that could convert any Scrooge into the most Christmassy mood.  It's a heavenly scent of citrus cutting through from the Italian Bergmot, sensual fig tree leaf along with the added sweetness of delicate flowers, Jasmine and Tiare, a pure delight.

L'Or Bio is certainly an enviable fragrance, in an equally pleasing bottle...hmm, great gift idea me thinks!
Intoxicate yourself with the essence of winter for all your body care needs too; Extraordinary Oil, Sparkling Oil, Illuminating Cream and Extraordinary Shower.  Clever peeps, they've thought of everything.
Melvita is for all your life, not just for Christmas!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Post Party Beauty Alert: Make Up Eraser

You've spent time planning your look, 'should I go for RiRi, Swift or Kardashian?'
Then sourced high and low for those finishes touches and there's the ultimate finale, the make up!  Go glitter, colour splash or nude?
You're ready to party, then after a bonkers baubling night of fun-fueled festivities your 'party pleasing outfit' hits the bedroom floor (or hallway) then straight to bed.
Hands up if that's you?
Guilty, we've all done it and know why we shouldn't sleep with a full face, however, if only on those occasions I'd been kitted out with Make Up Eraser cloth, I would no longer be guilty of practicing one of the biggest beauty no nos.

Whether you're a gym freak, like to travel light, addicted to face wipes or just into the latest beauty must-haves investing in this wonder cloth is a good idea for swiping off lasting foundation and even the toughest mascara (yes, it does, I've tried it) in no time.  So, for those of you with a severe case of lazy-itis you will be in full recovery once you've added water to a section of the pink cloths short nap side and gently erased make up; you can even exfoliate using the other side.
At only £15.99, that's a great saving in cleansing products; although you don't get deep cleansing, I think this is a useful addition to my toiletry bag on those odd times I need swift make up removal whilst not laden with a heavy bag skincare.
Would you swap your cleansers for a facial cloth?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Do or don't, you'll want to try Nad's.

Do or don't, you'll be intrigued by Nad's home wax systems and who knows, you may become a convert once you realise its easier than tearing off a band aid and can save a you a vast amount of money!
 Over the past few years I've been experimenting with various brands, from Boots to Parissa to Veet to tend to my upper lip, chin and underarm; I know and there was you thinking I was impeccably hair-free.  After a few eye watering moments with one brand ripping off more skin than stubble I began to intensively investigate the differences from one brand to the next and ultimately discover which make and style wax system was best for me and my body parts.
I achieved some very good results from Parissa Face and Bikini Wax Strips, which seemed to whip off facial hair effortlessly and with no burning traces to speak of but I found these hardest to find and replace. Veet strips for underarm (and bikini) looked good on workable sized sheets but didn't compare to Parissa as they took more attempts which meant I was going to be replacing them more often. Not as money saving as I hoped with all the arm ache!
Roll on some years of using these brands in between visits to my wonderful local wax lady and finally I try Nad's.
I have to admit I have no idea why I hadn't bought a single Nad's product before as its a brand I have always been aware of, its reputation and results, plus, for goodness sake, its my namesake too...let's call that a 'blindingly obvious beauty block' shall we!!
As I had expected, I was very impressed with their Facial Wax Strips (below) which I'd put down to the comfortably softly woven sheets, as nothing but the wax and hair make contact equaling less pain, more hair removal and fewer attempts.  I saved time, money and achieved results I was happy with as they travelled well this year on a trip to the Caribbean.

Nad's Facial Wax Strips on a soft weave.
I was lucky enough to attend a Nad's event at the start of the Summer to meet the brains behind the brand and to be introduced to more sensational products. My most favourite was the ever so nifty
Nad's Eyebrow Shaper as I instantly knew this would be a fantastic addition to my work kit and wow, its so friggin useful when you want to tidy up your brows at the last minute.  I am a lover of tweezing but the eyebrow shaper is speedier without a doubt and as long as you're not too 'gun ho with the wax you can achieve such precision with minimal effort.

Nad's Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper in a twist up pen style.
Ah, I hope you're a little more convinced of trying to do your own hair removing at your own convenience, certainly helps me to feel groomed in a matter of minutes!!!

Find out more at www.nads.com 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Beauty Stocking Filler ideas: Best Beauty Buys at Wilko!

Not sure I'm going to tickle everyone with these beauty accessories but I personally don't see why beauty should equal ridiculously expensive, fancy packaging along with the outrageous claims!  Hence why I am fanatical about Wilko, yes, that multi-purpose store that has almost all my daily essentials wrapped up from furnishings and fittings to laundry and kitchenware to these handy beauty essentials, shown below, for under £10!

Top Left to Right: Nail Soak Off Dish, Hand Held Make Up Mirror, Nail Brush, Toe Nail Clipper, Pumice Stone, Nail Buffer 4 in 1, Men's Large Foot File 
Yes, I did say for under £10, £8.50 to be exact.
How often do you find a Nail Soak Off Dish in your local chemist or store?
Not ever I should imagine and it proves they really have done their research and made sensible, practical choices such as with the 4 in 1 Nail Buffer, a top seller at Sephora and man-sized Foot File - a favourite of mine, not that I have man-sized feet but its sturdy!
Whatever you choose you'll be able to play at a snip when you discover the cosmetics aisles stocked with Essence, Sally Hansen and more.
Go and see for yourself the rubberised handled Top Nail Clipper and double sided Make Up Mirror, your store is well stocked and waiting, not to mention they have a multitude of more products online at Wilko.com

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The silver lining to NO stretch marks!

Top left Tiana Organic Coconut Cooking Butter,  (below left) Jason Vitamin E Skin Oil, Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil and Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks.
And here they are!  My happy body oils and butters that steered my belly away from stretch marks during my 9 months towards motherhood.  What an ideal way to really test out recommended products than to go through a belly busting period watching skins textures and high 'n' lows of the seasons.
I began my pregnancy using a combination of the Palmer's products, the Skin Therapy Oil was great to use all over my body as it kept my skin soft and supple all day, plus I would top up my belly and bust day and night with the Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks which simply left my skin feeling so soft and well coated in one of skins favourite butters, Shea, as well as cell boosting Collagen and an important nutrient for healthy skin, Vitamin E.
This routine lasted about 3-4 months where I would keep trying other products in between to compare such as Remescar Stretch Mark Scar Cream new on the market, silicone based cream which my belly liked though I found it a little slippery on the skin as for me, I prefer something to absorb but sit on the surface when I'm actively keeping my body hydrated and for this reason I stopped using it but will go back to it at a later date and try out to see what effect it might have on old stretch marks scars!
As my bump went from small, upfront and cute to 'you look like you've swallowed a watermelon whole' with the addition of much tighter skin and an increasing chance of stretch marks,  I began regularly delighting in the subtle fragrance of Coconut Butters and Oils, my most preferred, Tiana Organic Coconut Cooking Butter as opposed to Biona Organic Coconut Oil, which became a little gritty at times.  This really did make a noticeable difference to the softness and general quality to my skin which locked in moisture throughout the day and night, held the 'plumpness' and left my skin the smoothest it has ever been!!
During the final months I went back to applying Jason Vitamin E Skin Oil Extra Strength which had come highly recommended by industry professionals, as an additional boost to the coconut butter which added a very well protected layer of moisture, especially during the times when skin tightened to excruciating taught-ness when there was no more stretch left.
My bodycare routine may well seem over the top but it worked, no stretch marks to speak of and a renewed love of Coconut Oil and Butter which I can pass onto my baby's skincare routine as its natural and carries no petroleum or mineral by products.