Thursday, 25 August 2011

Muppets & Manicures

I'm not normally a fan of celebrity collaborations with fashion houses or beauty companies but this one rocks my world!  O.P.I have combined two of my very favourite things.  Perfectly painted nails and The Muppets. In celebration of the new Muppets movie about to be released these varnishes have been created in the film stars honour. Genius
 Fresh Frog of Bel-Air and Gone Gonzo
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Animal-istic and Wocka Wocka

Which is your favourite?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tool Time

I carry an awful lot of stuff around with me wherever I go.  Especially on days when I have a shoot.  I like to cover every eventuality and always have this cosmetics purse from Mulberry with me with some extra bits and pieces inside that don't normally live in my make-up bag.
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There are some essentials that I don't need to share such as floss, toothbrush, tissues, a nail file etc, but these are a few items that I do keep with me just in case (of what i'm not sure but it all comes in very handy pretty often!).
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A Mason Pearson hairbrush, They may be expensive but they really are the very best in the world, If you make the investment and look after them they will serve you a lifetime, I have never used better.  When accompanied by the ever faithful Elnett you have the hair dream team!  I always keep a mini can with me.
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Now for some hard wear, If you throw a few bucks at this kind of product you will have tools that should last you for years, tweezers can always be re-sharpened and eyelash curlers have their pads replaced and as for a metal lash comb, well those perfectly spiky prongs aren't going anywhere.  The above are the only brands I will use of these items and I have sampled a whole lot.

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I always carry a small mirror with me incase I have a contact lens emergency during the day, and this one from Marc by Marc Jacobs made me laugh.  It would make a really sweet gift for someone too, don't you think?

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Blotting sheets are always a must to have on standby as sometimes piling on the powder during the day can leave your skin looking a little depressed by the evening. These eliminate the need for clogged pores and just give you a little clean up when necessary.

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Lucas Papaw ointment is a product that actors and models I worked with from Australia always raved about but that you couldn't find in the UK for years.  About a year and a half ago the lovely ladies over at Cult Beauty gave me a tube and I haven't looked back since (sorry, Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream). It is a multi use product that works miracles on lips, dry skin, burns and even taming the odd flyaway hair. It is finally available in the UK and you can easily find it online and it's such great value.

Essie - good to go, is my ultimate top coat it makes any home manicure look totally professional and it dries in record speed.  I keep a bottle with me as I rave about it to most ladies in my make-up chair.  

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Finally a tiny little essential that always gets overlooked.  A good quality pencil sharpener.   Make sure it's one that has different sized holes for all different types of product because who wants to drag a blunt eyeliner and bits of sharp wood across their eyeball? Not me!  

What products do you find yourself hauling about on a daily basis?  Any strange things that always save the day?

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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Feeling Blush

Very easy highlight and contouring techniques.

Continuing our theme of really simple make up tricks it is time to talk cheeks.  How about a quick daily dose of colour, maybe accentuate your cheek bones a little bit and even add a touch of slimming trickery in there too, all achievable in about two minutes flat with a little know how.

This is Btsiete, I know, I know gorgeous huh?! She is wearing a tiny bit of concealer just in the areas needed in order to have an even skin tone to work on.  The steps I am going to show you are to be done after foundation and concealer if you use it.  Once again less is definitely more when applying highlighter, blush and for some, contour, if you fancy experimenting with a little shading.

Lets start with highlighting. There are so many products available that its difficult to know where to start.  The above product is a good place.  It is MAC mineralize skinfinish in soft and gentle and is a must for me both personally and professionally.  If people compliment my skin its actually this product they are complimenting i'm sure!  It is suitable for most skin tones as long it is used VERY sparingly.  For most facial sculpting work I stick to one type of brush, the MAC 168.  Perhaps you have this one, something similar or you could always just use your fingers.

A highlighter is always used in places on your face where light would naturally hit if you were lit from above. So, a VERY delicate sweep across the highest point of your cheekbone heading up in the direction of your temple (but don't go quite that far).

Another delicate sweep on your forehead in two places, below your hairline at the point above the arch of your eyebrow, Just where Btsiete is holding her brush in the picture above.  This doesn't work for everyone so have fun experimenting to see whats best for you.  Some people like to sweep the product lightly down the length of their nose in order to give the illusion of slimming, have a go, does that work for you?

I like to place the smallest amount on the chin as well, this can however make a girl look a little sweaty dependent on skin type so be careful (it tends to work best on paler, drier skin to give the illusion of a little more "dewyness").  Once again though, experiment with your products and see what works best for your face shape and skin type.

On to the blush.  When it comes to applying blusher on yourself try and steer clear of a harsh 80's style stripe, it is always so much nicer for day to day make-up to barely look like make up at all.  Cream blush is more forgiving if you feel you have been a bit heavy handed and is a good formula to use with your fingers.  Btsiete is using a cream blush here with a MAC 188 brush.  Apply the blush on the apples of your cheeks and blend, blend, blend outwards (you are now working beneath your highlighter but it should never look like two separate stripes).  I plan to do a future post discussing which blush colours work best for various skin tones, as it is very easy to get this really wrong.

Btsiete is blending her blusher in lightly with the tips of her fingers, remember, you don't have to use a brush for any of these steps if you don't want to.

Contouring is up next.  This is a technique that professionally I use all the time but isn't necessarily something people do at home.  The above product is a MAC pro mini concealer palette.   This product worked great on Btsiete, however I could have used a cream or powder blush in a tone such as, Mac - Format.  Another good colour for contouring is MAC - Margin.  Most products on the market are multi use, you probably have the perfect thing in a palette somewhere that you never thought would come in handy!.  The trick is to find a product, even a concealer or bronzer in a colour that is perfectly complimentary to you skin tone but a touch darker.  This is because we are going to carefully create some shadows.

Using a brush (best with powder based products) or your fingers (best with cream based products) suck in your cheeks and blend your product carefully in the dip that is created.  Blending is key because this can look pretty silly if it is noticeable.  When unnoticed it is a genius little trick used on film sets and fashion shoots the world over.  Once blended it should sit perfectly beneath your blusher and totally contrast your highlighter.  Remember sweeping the highlighter down the length of your nose, well a whisper of your contouring product either side that can work slimming wonders.  Have fun with your products and keep experimenting until you find what works for you.  Add a slick of mascara, a touch of gloss or balm and your good to go!

 (images via the brilliant Kye Corfield, and many thanks to absolutely gorgeous Btsiete)

Less is more when it comes to everyday make-up, Btsiete simply looks really fresh.  A perfect fuss free summer make-up.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Great Lengths

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Mascara is my absolute favourite make-up bag essential.  If I had to pick just one piece of make up to use for the rest of my life it would have to be mascara (or maybe concealer, oh, and what about an eyebrow pencil, hmmm a bright lipstick...nevermind).  You get the picture though. It is the one product that instantly makes you feel like your eyes are bigger and brighter, like you are more put together and generally serves as a little daily 'lift'.  Yes, mascara you are wonderful but there are just so many to choose from so where do you begin?  Here are just a few options. Some I love and am utterly committed to, and others are very good value and perhaps worth a try.

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This one is a long shot to get hold of.  It is one of my favourite EVER.  Helena Rubenstein - Long lash waterproof mascara.  It is impossible to find in London (I found mine in Japan after being discontinued in the UK and I bought a load). You can source this product on the internet, it's fairly expensive at about $40.00 (£25.00). It is waterproof and refillable (where, I don't know), It comes in a very glamourous gold metal tube with a vintage feel.  It is packed full of silk fibres for thickening and elongating and has the most unique metal brush I have ever come across.  If you manage to get your hands on it you will never let it go!

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If you are in the market for a new mascara, Armani- Eyes to kill is the one I would most urge you to go out and buy.  Again, it is not cheap at £23.50 ($38.00) and I get mine in Selfridges, London. It is a sound investment for your make-up kit.  Because of the lovely fat, bristly brush it gives the most voluminous effect, blacker than black lashes and it never ever drops.  It lasts all day and gives you tons of extra length.  Can you tell I'm a fan?
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Diorshow mascara from Dior is £22.00 ($35.60) and it was always my go to mascara until I discovered Armani-Eyes to kill.  This is also a brilliant product that has a similar effect.  The brush is once again made from thick and flexible fibres and the results are very dramatic. 

When It comes to mascaras I find the products with this type of brush always perform the best.  The moulded plastic brushes like this are clearly cheaper to manufacture, which is why you find most of the drugstore brands have adopted this type. I feel that they are gimicky and under perform which is always a disappointment .  Although the one linked above is actually one of the better ones because of its formulation.  You could always purchase one of the cheaper mascaras and pop a separate mascara wand like this into it and see what effect you get.
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Here is another Helena Rubenstein one called Lash Queen - Feline Blacks.  It is priced around £23.00 ($37.00). Once again, it has a great brush and the most awesome packaging.  I'm a sucker for unique packaging!
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So lets have a quick look at the cheaper options on the market at the moment.  This is the new one from Mabelline whose Great lash mascara is brilliant and it's still America's number one selling mascara to date.  It is called Lash stiletto voluptuous mascara and is £8.20 ($13.00). It has a fibred brush, albeit bent into a strange shape (another gimmick I'm sure).  Mabelline always creates really good products for the cheaper end of the market and the packaging is in the shape of a stiletto heel. What's not to love? 

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This is Illamasqua's Volume mascara, which is a really decent product and is very reasonably priced at £15.00 ($24.00). It is now on sale at only £5.00 although it appears only to be left in Nocturnal - dark brown and Lewd - royal blue,  but if you were looking to add some colour to your mascara arsenal then at that price you should get them both!
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Last but not least, well actually least by a long way and we're talking cash here.  This is e.l.f's earth and water mascara duo.  It is apparently designed with both regular and a waterproof formulations to choose from (perfect for your summer holiday). Now, I haven't tried this one yet and I rarely review a product that I haven't tested myself but I simply had to with this one as it is only £1.50 ($2.45). What amazing value.  e.l.f (eyes.lips.face) is a great brand for experimental make-up junkies who want to try out a ton of different looks without spending a fortune on products.  You can really behave like a kid in a candy store on their website without any buyers remorse. Have you tried this mascara? What did you make of it?

I could go on and on about mascaras forever and these are just a few out of the hundreds on the market and the ones I like at the moment but that is always subject to change!  Which is your favourite mascara?

Keep your eye out for my second tutorial, coming up next!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Light & Dangerous

Just a couple of awesome ideas from a few of my favourite daily clicks.  How amazing are these eyelashes?  They are made from paper inspired by the ancient Chinese art of paper cutting.  You can cut them down and just use parts of them in the outer corner of your eye for a slightly more subtle look (like most falsies).  And you can buy them right here.  Gorgeous.

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And how fierce (literally) are these fingertips?  I'm not sure why or how practical, but I kind of like them none the less. Perhaps these will start a new trend.  Do you think you would ask for this finish at your next manicure? 

(image via, along with an article about the division of labour in the USA and the Vietnamese monopoly on the nail industry. Interesting huh?)