Monday, 26 March 2012

Semi-Grooming: is it just a way of life?

According to several news sources, a new trend in beauty is creeping its malodorous way onto a street near you.

‘Semi-grooming’ is becoming an acceptable way of being! The term refers to superficial, job-half-done grooming efforts that a whole swathe of women have suddenly embraced.

You are a semi-groomer if you; only shave the part of your leg that will be visible when you’re wearing a skirt, think chipped nail polish is an okay look, use zig-zag partings and artful hairbands to hide roots that need attending to, and have an over-reliance on dry shampoo rather than getting your hair wet.

All of these things are apparently on the rise, and it could be for several reasons:

- We’ve all got too much on our plates with busy working lives to expend as much energy on our appearance as before
- Our ‘get it now’ instant gratification culture has led to chronic laziness
- Too much choice in the market place has led to us all being overwhelmed and not bothering at all
- Feminism and anti-objectification are battling with social norms and slowly eroding grooming standards

All of which makes me want to say a big, fat YUK!

I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable within myself if I only did half a job on my grooming. And far from it being a millstone around my busy, working neck, my grooming is a spot of ‘me-time’ that I can’t wait to get to.

Making sure you’re clean and well-groomed isn’t a matter of objectification either. It’s a matter of having the confidence to perform all of my tasks well, knowing that I’m comfortable and fresh. I can’t imagine the feeling I’d have going about my business with unwashed hair and manky, chipped nails. Yuk!

Each to their own, but to me, being fresh and well-presented is all a part of who I am. How can I expect people to buy into what I’m trying to sell at work if I don’t appear as if I’ve taken any effort over myself?

So, what’s your take on the matter?

Are you time-poor and content to semi-groom as long as it gets you through the week, or are you a pampering princess who would never appear in public with a hair out of place?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Get The Look: Modern Marilyn

In this month's Glamour, they have a look in the beauty section entitled the 'Modern Marilyn' which is basically a clean, graphic eye with a big kick of 50's style winged black liner, paired with a bright magenta lip (apparently more modern than red)

I thought it would be the perfect look for my girls night out with T, and it let me use my new favourite lipstick as well!


What I Used:

Base: L'Oreal Lumi Magique, Clinique Superbalanced Mineral Make-up, Maybelline SuperStay 24 Concealer
Cheeks: Sleek Face Contour Kit, Mac Blushcreme in 'Posey',Benefit High Beam
Eyes: NYX Runway Collection Palette shades in 'Casting Call', Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama
Gel Liner, L'Oreal False Lash Telescopic Mascara, Benefit High Brow Pencil
Lips: Astor Rouge Couture Automatic Lipliner in 'Bois De Rose', L'Oreal Rouge Caresse in 'Cheeky Magenta'

How To

Start by smoothing a resurfacing primer over your skin to maximise the dewy effect of the foundation.
Use a foundation brush to lightly stipple on a light-reflecting foundation to give a dewy finish to the skin. Press and roll with the brush to achieve a natural, glowing finish with no visible brush marks!

Using a creamy concealer, lightly sketch along the lower bone of the eye socket and over the lids to chase away any dark circles and create a smooth, neutral base for your eyeshadow. Blend using your finger- the warmth of your hands will help it all sink into the skin.

The skin finish for this look needs to be polished but still dewy- this keeps the finish elegant but modern. With a fluffy powder brush, sweep a light mineral powder across your t-zone. This will ward off unwanted shine but still keep the overall finish of the skin dewier than a talc-based powder.

Taking a light contour colour, use an angled brush to sculpt into the hollows of your cheeks and under your jawline to create depth and enhance your cheekbone. Blend your contour shade from the hairline downwards in the hollow under the bone.

To bring some light colour into the skin and harmonise with the bright lip colour, use your fingers to rub a dusky pink cream blush lightly into the apples of your cheeks. You don't want too much emphasis on the cheeks as that's not what this look is about so keep it light and blend in well.

For an extra glow, lightly dot some liquid highlighter in a shallow 'c' shape on the highest part of your cheekbone up onto your browbone. This will also bring more light into the eye area and bring out your glow in pictures.

Using a fluff shadow brush, pat a light shimmery neutral shade all over the lids.

Next, take a light grey colour and a round-tipped shadow brush and buff this shade into the crease of your lids. Start gently winging this shade slightly upwards and outwards.

Take a black gel eyeliner and a hard angle liner brush. Line your brush up with the outside lower corner of your eyes and draw a diagonal line upwards from this point. This is the 'tail' of your winged liner- the further the line extends, the more dramatic the finished shape, so make this line as long as you need.

Then, starting from the inner corner of your eyes, trace a thin line along the lash line.

As you get towards the outer edge, rotate the brush slightly upwards to thicken the line up.

At the outer edge of the line, draw up and away slightly from the lashes, connecting this line with the one you have drawn up from the outer corner.

You should end up with a scalene triangle shape creating a long, low winged effect. Carefully fill in the middle of the triangle with your eyeliner.

Once the liner is fully dry, sweep over your line using a black shade. Blend this softly to give a smoky effect. If you like, apply some of this shade to the outer v of the eyelid and blend out carefully to maintain a soft look and feline shape.

Using an angled eyeliner brush, press this darkest shade tightly under your lower lash line as well. This will really give a great impact to the look.

With an angled brush, sweep a shade of brown that matches in with your brow colours lightly through your brows to define the arch.

Use a flesh toned eye pencil underneath the brows to keep the arch looking lifted and create a polished look. You can also sketch the same pencil across the top of your cupids bow and into the corners of your eyes I give a wide awake look.

Squeeze your lashes between some curlers before applying two costs of a thickening mascara. Wiggle the brush back and forth in a zig-zag patten at the roots of the lashes, before pulling the wand up the length of your lashes and rolling it at the tips to get a wide- eyed, ultra- volumized result.

Apply some flared strip lashes, pressing lightly into place with the handle tip of an eyeshadow brush.. If you can find lashes that are thicker or flare out more towards the outer edge, this will help to get that elongated, cats eye shape. One dry, use your lash curlers to press your real and false lashes together. Eyes done!

Sketch in your lip line using a neutral coloured pencil to give a clean pout. Also if you fill in your lips using the pencil it can make the colour stick better.

Using a lip brush, build up layers of a bright magenta lipstick until you have a full, statement pout.

And there you have it, a look for for a modern starlet that has real punch.

Make sure you spray some Chanel, dah -ling!

Happy making up!


Thursday, 15 March 2012

March Make-Up Haul- L'Oreal, Sephora, NYX

It's been a while since I've bought a few pieces all at once, so on our trip to Paris I treated myself to a few make-up essentials I felt I needed!


L'Oreal seem to have so many great, innovative new products out at the moment. They used to be a favourite of mine back when I first got into make-up, but since then other brands seem to have shone brighter. I felt like nothing they came out with really caught my eye. Until now! I had a browse around their stand in Boots just before I went away, and came away with some brilliant new items...

Lumi Magique Foundation

Wowzer! Something about this product really made me want to try it - perhaps the promise of illuminated, spring-ready skin when I still feel so wintery and sluggish with my complexion. I do seem to have been buying quite a few different foundations lately, but for some reason I really wanted this one. It didn't disappoint me. It feels very silky going onto the skin and I felt it really freshened me up and gave my lacklustre skin a boost. I got the shade W3 Gold Linen, which might be a little on the dark side for me, but seemed the closest match under the shop lights.

False Lash Telescopic Mascara

I've been wanting to try this one since it launched a couple of months ago- if only because it's one of the first mascaras in ages that's been advertised without the model (in this case, Cheryl Cole) wearing false lashes! I really resent the over-realiance on fakery in cosmetics advertising at the moment- if the look I see in the ad is nothing like I can hope to achieve using the product, I fail to see the point of it. It felt like it was really time for a brand to buck the trend, especially in mascara ads, where the lashes rarely look realistic anymore. So when I saw this one advertised with a shot of Ms Cole using ONLY the product, I was intrigued enough to want to try it. And...I am in love. This is absolutely my new favourite. It lengenthened and volumised to give a gorgeous look that still somehow managed to look fairly natural. I won't be throwing out my falsies for a night out- nothing would get me to do that- but I will definately be repurchasing this little beauty! I'm very impressed with the performance of this product, which is really something as I'm very choosy with mascaras and expect a lot. This one delivers!

Rouge Caresse in Cheeky Magenta

Likewise, this has stolen my heart as new favourite lip product. It's very moisturising and quite glossy, but you can easily build it up into a stunning, densely pigmented look as well. This electro-bright pink shade is gorgeous, and I also love the clear packaging and angled bullet- it's great! It also left my lips feeling very soft and the colour as it faded went to a gentle flattering stain rather than flaking off in patches. This is at least as good as Mac Sheen Supreme (my holy grail lipstick), in fact, I might even slightly prefer it! I plan to aquire lots of other shades from this line!


Sephora is like a sweet shop for make-up addicts like me, but as we were there for my husband's birthday treat, I didn't want to drag him round there for too long. So it was a quick smash-and-grab exersize only!

2-in-1 Kabuki Flex

I don't actually own a kabuki brush, so when I spotted this cute little hot pink one, I bagged it. There's a little button on the handle, and when you press it, the brush splits in half. The idea is that you use the whole brush for your face powder, then when it's halved you get an angled brush for your blush. Sooo cute!

Sephora Correcteur Tenue et Perfection

This is a double-ended creamy stick concealer - with a larger side for your dark circles - I have a feeling the texture will also make it a great eyeshadow base- and a finer side for hiding spots and blemishes. It's a really nice consistency that's a bit thicker than my current liquid concealer, and I hope it will do a better job on my undereye area. It seems very blendable, and didn't settle into the fine lines under my eyes at all.

Sephora Baume Lèvres Révelateur de Couleur

This is a really cute little lipbalm. It uses the PH balance of your lips to create a custom pink out of the clear application- supposedly resulting in the perfect shade for you. It's not a new concept, but when paired with the really nice, hydrating texture of the balm it's very cute indeed.

NYX Palettes - Runway Collection

I didn't really need any eyeshadow palettes, but I saw a couple of beauty blog reviews about the NYX ones that left me intrigued. It's not a brand I'm familiar with, other than reading about it on other people's blogs. But the shades in the palette intruiged me enough to get me searching on eBay!

Caviar & Bubbles- also called 'Champagne & Caviar' previously.

This has loads of really wearable, taupe sort of shades that put me a lot in mind of Bobbi Brown. There's a dark brown and a black to smoke things up and a white and shimmery nude to highlight with. I love the shades in this palette as they are all really wearable colours, so if it lives up to the nicely-pigmented/long-wearing hype I'm hearing from Makeup Alley, it could well become an essential! I like the sleek, glossy black casing with the large mirror and you get a generous pan of shadow yet the compact is small and easily portable.

Casting Call

This palette has lots of darker grey and black toned shades- perfect for a smoky eye and really quite glamourous. It's full of moody, sort of sludgy colours that feel very buttery to the touch. For a high-impact night time look, it seems like a really good addition to my collection, and I was also missing a silver shade in my collection, which this has.
So that's it for now! I look forward to using these products and posting some looks using them in the near future!

How To: Paris Wardrobe: Packing for a Weekend

If you're anything like me, and a typical over-packer, editing down your choices for a weekend away can be a real nightmare!
I just don't have the 'packing light' gene - I think I get this from my mother, who always arrives for a short visit with three suitcases! I don't like pre-choosing my outfits, for one thing, because I like to dress according to how I feel. Sometimes it's a dress day, sometimes only jeans will do.

The other thing is- how to predict the weather and what you'll be doing?

But a weekend break demands a more streamlined approach. Especially if you're only taking hand luggage, like we are for our upcoming trip to Paris.

So I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick post on what I'm planning to take, and how I'm tackling the dilemma.

The first tip is to have some idea- however vague- about what you will be doing while you are there. Otherwise its impossible to know what it's a good idea to take.

The second tip is- layer, layer, layer! Pack lots of light layers that enable you to add more if it gets colder, and pare down in the heat.
Third tip- try to take items in colour palettes that harmonise, so you can swap accessories- and especially shoes, which you can't take many of- around as needed.
Here's what I packed for a three day stay in the fashion capital:

Day One - Travelling Out and Sightseeing in central Paris

What to wear to fly seems to be a huge issue for many people. Either they take the ultra-casual approach in sweatpants and Ugg boots (yuk) or look uncomfortable in tight jeans and boots with topo many straps and laces which are a nightmare to remove at the security point.
I needed something light and comfortable, but still fashionable. I am a HUGE fan of silk trousers for travel- they are seamless and light but still smart. They're comfortable enough to feel like pyjamas on a flight and yet far smarter than sweatpants. Plus, they're warm enough for this country and breezy enough to feel cool in warmer climes. Pretty much the ideal choice for travel. This pair are in a neutral olive-green/brownish colour that works with lots of other shades.
I paired this with a simple black vest top and another favourite travel essential- my cropped black waterfall cardigan. This, again, is seam-free and comfortable but looks structured and smart.
Shoes always have to be extremely versatile if you'll be wearing them with several outfits, so I chose some brown suede slip-on pumps with a pointed toe.
Black waterfall cardigan - Fashion Union
Black vest top - Oasis
'Rabbit' silk trousers - French Connection
Brown suede slip-on pumps - H&M

Night One- Out for Dinner at Montmartre

I needed something light and comfortable that wouldn't crease too badly when rolled up in my weekend bag! I knew we were strolling around the artists stalls and going up to the Sacre-Coeur before dinner to admire the view, and it had to be something I could ride the Metro in!
Blue cowl neck dress - H&M
Brown leather belt - Primark

Day Two- Museams and Exploring

I knew my husband wanted to tour around the war museum and take a look at Napoleon's tomb. Then we were in for a lot of strolling around the districts of Paris, stopping for ice-cream as we went!
White jeans - Mango
Navy blue fringed top - Topshop
Nude pumps with gold studded bow - Primark

Night Two - Dinner and Cocktails

On night two, we were planning to visit the Bastille, home of some of Paris livelier cocktails bars and late-night cafes, to sample city night life.My little cream jacket was a find from H&M that is totally an homage to Chanel- sadly I can't afford the real thing! Perfect for Chanel's home city!
Black dress - All Saints
Cream tweed jacket - H&M
Nude patent kitten heels - Aldo

Day Three - Shopping!

We were planning to spend the day engrossed in some of Paris' amazing shops - looking at the shoes at Printemps, running amock in Sephora (my idea of heaven), browsing the gourmet food at Galeries Lafayette, before taking tea and macaroons at Laduree. So I wanted to look smart but hardwearing enough to stand pounding the pavements and taking the Metro again! I paired blue jeans and my yellow silk blouse with the cream jacket and brown suede flats.
Blue skinny jeans- River Island
Yellow silk shell top - H&M
I hope this has helped you to think about what items to pack and how to mix and match what you have to create more outfits!
The only other items I took, apart from toiletries, my Kindle (a travel essential) and my GHD's were: a navy blue trench coat - a lightweight cover-up that goes as well with dresses as jeans in a neutral shade, a bracelet of pearls to dress up my outfits for evening, a grey snakeskin clutch bag to take to dinner, and my cream American Apparel infinity scarf, which can be used in so many different ways and keeps you warm during the flight.
Et voila - one weekend wardrobe fit for a Parisian spring!

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Golden Ratio

Idly browsing the web the other day, I came across this really cute article. Someone has unearthed from the archives a vintage film from the 1930's that instructs young ladies how to apply their make-up.
Have a look here:
Isn't it the most fascinating thing? Of course, their idea of beauty was a little different from our modern-day version- the skinny, pointed eyebrows and sharp 'm' curve of the lips.

But isn't it fascinating how the principles of geometry have stayed the same? The triangles and plains drawn onto the face are not at all dissimilar from our own methods of shading, contouring and highlighting.
As someone who has always been 'allergic' to maths, it's intriguing to me that a lot of what we poetically describe as 'beauty' can be traced back to mathematical principles.
At A-Level, I did Psychology and my specialist topic and studies were around the psychology of physical attraction. Little wonder I'm now writing a beauty blog!
The theory can be traced right back to that Renaissance Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, and his comrades. He produced illustrations for a book entitled 'De Divina Proportione', that explained how harmonious proportions gave a pleasing effect. You can read more about the Golden Ratio here:
It's fascinating stuff, and goes a long way towards explaining why my day is never perfect if I draw my eyebrows in crookedly!
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