Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday Video - Face of the Day 23rd September 2014

A nightmare to edit because I talked so much but I like the end result!

Products Used:

Embryolisse Lait Cream Concentrate
Kiko Face Skin Glow
Dior Star Fluid Foundation in 020
MAC Eye Kohl in Powersurge
Maybelline Big Eyes Eyeshadow in Luminous Brown
Inglot Gel Liner in Black 77
Yves Rocher Sexy Pulp Mascara in Black
Daniel Sandler Eye Shadow Brush
Kiko Rock Attraction Blush in Sound Coral
Cover FX Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Sleek Makeup Luminous Pressed Powder in 01
Real Techniques Brushes
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Lip Protectant Stick in Berry

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

I wasn't going to review this for two reasons. The first was that I used to work for the publishers so it may seem like sucking up and the second is that everyone seems to have reviewed it but then I thought... this is my blog and I'll do what I bloody well like.

Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion has basically made me question whether I should keep blogging at all. When I started this blog in 2006 it was partly because I was forever being asked advice by my friends (mostly based on the obscene amount of products I would buy) and thought if I put it down in writing it would be there as an online reference. Now all you need to know is here in one book. Not that my blog is anywhere near the standard of Sali's writing and knowledge but it's where I hope I'm heading, because it's based on a deep need for knowledge about beauty, skincare and an almost obsessive interest that I don't actually think is that common. Yes there are tons of beauty blogs out there but I wonder how many of the writers relentlessly read and research the ingredients in all their products so they can know more about how everything actually works. I am one of these people. And so is Sali Hughes.

When I first heard about this book it was described to me, and I've heard Sali describe it, as a series of essays it put me off rather. I didn't want to read essays on someone's opinion on skincare and make-up. This is not what it is. Yes I suppose technically you could call it essays but the book does not read like that. It is sections on everything from your daily skincare routine (with all skin types properly covered) to anti-aging, foundation to blusher, bridal make-up, pregnancy and pretty much everything in between.

There are a few things I don't agree with. I do believe that toners work though I think that Sali is referring to the old style of toners where as now more and more are containing acids so when she refers to acid exfoliators I think of that as my toner. And I am going to continue using (mens) disposable razors to shave my legs. But what I love most about this book is how it has completely captivated so many people - nearly all my female friends are reading it, my Twitter friends are all over it and changing their skin routines and the way they approach make-up. It found a gap in the beauty market and it fits perfectly.

This is not all down to Sali's reputation as a beauty writer but it's the style in which this book is written. No nonsense, no fuss, no extra words, no slang words removed by the editors (that I can see), not that she uses 'slang' but you feel that this is written as if she were sitting on the edge of the bath in your bathroom telling you what to do with your eyebrows, how to wear a red lip or what ingredient you actually need in your 'anti-aging' products.There is not too much information, just enough, really just what you need to know.

The production of Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion is absolutely beautiful, the photographs perfect and the layout easy to follow - the whole book has a very polished but personal feel. I wish I had a teenage girl relative that I could give this book to, I wish this book had been available to me when I was younger - though I love having it now. It fits all ages, all skin types, all personality types. I think this is my book of the year.

You can see Sali talking about her book here and watch lots of lovely videos by her on the rest of her YouTube channel, and at a number of signings and events. Probably best to follow her on Twitter to get the latest info.

Monday, 6 October 2014


I am a make-up artist but I am a huge, huge believer in, and fan of, skincare. If you ensure that your skin is the best it possibly can be the better your make-up will look and the less you will need (if you want less...) but for many people it seems a cheaper, quicker fix to neglect skincare and slap on more make-up.

I can completely understand why this is. You get immediate results from make-up. Spend £30 on a foundation you've tested on the back of your hand in the shop and see it working as soon as you use it. Spend £30 on a serum and, well who knows if it's ever going to work at all? But that's why I write this blog. I'm here to help. 

Since I started concentrating on my skincare my skin looks and feels so much better but it takes a while to work out what your skin needs and when. If you have problem skin it's really worth going to a skincare specialist and seeing what they recommend and what's on offer - some brands you can only get from a salon so it is worth doing some research if you think you need something tougher. There are also some great brands available at more affordable prices on the high street so you don't always need to spend ridiculous amounts to get the best results though I have yet to find a high street serum to beat the more high-end ones I've tried.

If I can convince one of my friends to cleanse, tone and moisturise I'm very unlikely to be able to get them to add a serum into the mix but using a serum has been a big game changer for me. So I've done a little bit of research.

What is a serum and why use one?
Serums have a high concentrations of certain active ingredients (hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C or glycolic acid for example) to give intensive focus on one or two things like anti-aging, dry skin etc. Moisturisers are formulated to be absorbed into the very top layer of the skin but also add a barrier against the elements and whereas serums have smaller molecules to be easily absorbed deeply into the skin. Serums are more expensive than moisturisers because they are more concentrated but you need less product and you don't have to use it every day if you can't afford to.

Why shouldn't you use a serum?
People with eczema or rosacea may want to avoid serums - these conditions weaken the skin barrier and therefore serums can cause irritation. There are some that say they are fine for use with eczema and other skin conditions but I would definitely find a way to try them out before you buy.

When to use a serum?
Apply after cleansing and toning before your moisturiser (after your eye cream if you use it). But your skin will only absorb what it needs so don't use so much, a pea-size amount is usually enough. If you have sensitive skin then it's best to wait ten minutes after cleansing to apply the serum. As with all skincare take it down your neck and decollete.

You can see some serums working pretty much immediately but it's best to use them consistently to see the best results.

Which serum to use?
Oily skins - will want a water-based serum and you may want to use it instead of a moisturiser so you are getting an intensive treatment without over-loading the skin.
Dry skin - can use water- or oil-based serums. Retinol can help accelerate cellular renewal and brighten the skin and make it appear more luminous but can irritate if used too much. Essential oils and fatty acids can help the skin repair itself overnight and make sure it's barrier function is working. If you have dry skin then you should use a serum and a moisturiser.
Anti-wrinkle - you need to choose an anti-oxident rich serum (Vitamin C for example) as these work well at preventing oxidative strain from pollution and UV which also makes them ideal for use in the morning. Peptides will help boost collagen and elastin production and restore firmness to the skin.

A few serums that you may want to look into trying out...

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster - I've done a full review of this which you can read here. I love this and think it suits all skin types. It's water based so good for oily skins but is really rich in vitamin C so fantastic for dry or more mature skins. If you are not sure which one to go for this is the one I'd recommend £47.
Sunday Riley Juno - I haven't tried this but I am desperate to, I've heard nothing but good things about it. Rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 and Vitamin C so this suits dry and mature skins. It's one of the most expensive at £98.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate - best for use overnight and actually great for normal to oily skins (my sister loves this one and she has combination skin) though if you have an oily skin you may want to skip moisturising afterwards. Full of plant oils this award winning serum is available in 3 different sizes, the smallest being 2ml (£6) so you can try this before you have to buy the full size of it.£6-£40.50
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Night Repair Sychronized Recovery Complex II - yet another one I haven't-yet-but-want-to-try. For all skin types, a reformulation of an original product that a lot of people swore by, this version has stepped it up a notch. To be used before moisturising at night (obviously) this serum is another multi-award winner. £49
Sisley - I haven't tried any of these serums but I trust Sisley when it comes to skincare and have heard great things about their Black Rose products so worth having a look if you are already a fan or wanting to try something out from their range. From an eye-watering £138

Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday Video - Three Non-Glamorous Products I Wouldn't Be Without

YouTube is full of people reviewing glamorous designer make-up products so I thought... what are the three least glam things in my bathroom that I buy over and over again. And here they are...

Derma-Lac Lotion by Environ
In-Grow Go by Skin Doctors
JML Ped Egg

My original Ped Egg review is here

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The House of Glam Dolls

The Glam Shed

It’s very hard to talk about the House of Glam Dolls without talking about David Horne, for the small but perfectly formed studio space in North London is the culmination of David’s many years at the top of the make-up artistry game. David helped establish MAC in the UK. He was, until recently, the Creative Director for revolutionary brand Illamasqua and he is the author of The Art of Male Makeup, the first book of its kind. Here is a man with incredible talent, passion and ambition who’s love of teaching has led to him setting up his own studio, along with his good friend and fellow MAC alumni Chinyee Chu where they teach courses and develop new products. The first product being SuperGlamDoll lashes which are only £5 (and postage) and of absolutely fantastic quality. The second product is top secret at the moment but I’ve seen it and it is absolutely stunning. And as soon as I'm allowed you will be able to read about it here first.

Vintage Make-up Cabinet
I was given the opportunity to go and have a look around the House of Glam Dolls and it was not what I expected at all. I’ve been to a lot of make-up studios and I can definitely say I’ve never been to one with a shed for an office. The ‘Glam Shed’ is the first thing you see on arrival. It’s here where the computers live and the lashes are sold from and the shed walls are covered in pictures, dolls and trolls. In the rest of the space there’s not one mirror surrounded by lights, not one white surface, no swivel chairs. No boxes of tissues for these guys, hot pink loo roll is available from either end of the big square black table in the middle of the work space. The make-up is kept in roasting trays and there is a cabinet in the corner filled with vintage make-up and David’s inspirations from his time at Illamasqua. 
What I keep coming back to when thinking about the House of Glam Dolls is that you have the opportunity here to be taught by an industry great. The make-up industry has exploded in popularity in the last decade. Make-up artists are celebrities in their own right and it is harder and harder to get assisting work and the training can often be intimidating, in soulless, white rooms with bright lights and white surfaces with your work on display for all to see (which you do need to get used to!) Here is somewhere where you can learn, be creative, try things out, ask questions, sit and flip through the fantastic books. 

The Make-up Chest
The courses range from a five day intensive course to one-to-one mentoring, and these courses often fill in the gaps left by other colleges. Whether you want to focus on vintage with the ‘House of Vintage Makeup’ course, get more confident in colour and creativity with the one day ‘Beyond the Rainbow’ or start at the beginning with the ‘Introduction to the Art of Make-up’ a three day course giving you a taste of what it takes to be a make-up artist there really is something for everyone here. Check out all the courses here and see which one suits you - I am going to be signing up for the ‘Finishing Touches’ course as soon as I save this copy! 

Reference library

Tea? Coffee? Crisps? Jelly Baby?

Monday, 29 September 2014

Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher Concealer

I did a Quick Review of this a couple of weeks ago which basically said that I loved this but it didn't quite cover my terrible (left eye) dark circle. Up to that point I had never had a spot to try it on so I couldn't comment on that. Well last week I had what promised to be one of the biggest blemishes I'd ever had and numerous social engagements to attend. Yes I am very lucky not to get spots very often but when I do they are guaranteed to be somewhere prominent and this one was in the middle of my eyebrows. What to do? Use The Retoucher of course, and oh my god did it work. The problem with concealers is that you want pinkish tones to cover dark circles and yellower tones to cancel out redness and spots. As dark circles are my problem I tend to migrate to the pinker ones (a rarity) and The Retoucher isn't very pink at all. I also am not a fan of the pen concealers, they usually highlight very well but for the aforementioned dark circles I need something more full-on. But when it comes to redness The Retoucher is unbeatable. It made the spot invisible. Properly invisible. It's beautiful fluid finish meant there was no cakeyness and the spot just looked like the rest of my skin.

All that is very well but after using this for a week the spot never really happened. It just disappeared. I could be lucky but I put it down to what's actually in this concealer.  Charlotte calls this the 'CT' stick, 'Conceal and Treat' and that's just what it does. Not only will it cover your blemish but the vitamins and black tea derivative in it help the skin clear the imperfection, plump fine lines and moisturise the skin rather than drying it out like a lot of concealers.

Yes it's not cheap but it's really worth it and you don't need to use very much at all. If you need a good trustworthy concealer for your blemishes, redness and under your eyes (as long as they are not too dark) then this is definitely the one to go for. Also needless to say the packaging is gorgeous.

What You Need to Know - Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher

Friday, 19 September 2014

Friday Video Quick Review - MAC Brush Cleanser

This is definitely the best of the shop-bought brush cleansers I've tried so far. It doesn't get your brushes as spanking clean-looking as I'd like but it doesn't damage them and doesn't smell grim.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster

I have used a lot of serums in my time, some great, some that make no difference whatsoever but none that have made such a noticeable difference to my skin and in fact my morning routine.

I still find that the majority of my friends barely cleanse and moisturise let alone use the 'added extra's' of toning and serums (they may stretch to an eye cream if they think that's a problem area). And in a way I completely understand, it can take a while to find products that work with your skin and you can spend way too much money on your failed attempts but the right serum used in a good morning and evening skin routine can really make a difference to the look, feel and health of your skin. I'm going to do a whole different post on serums...

What I want from a serum is collagen boosting/mild-anti-ageing, vitamins and moisture. I have dry skin and I'm 31 so although I don't want anything harsh on my skin it does need a bit of help. The only serum that's really made a difference up until now it Liz Earle's Superskin Concentrate which is good but has been over-taken in my affection by the Truth Serum Collagen Booster from Ole Henriksen.

It's very hard to review this as a stand alone product as I'm pretty sure it has slotted into my skin routine and worked with products that I have also spent a lot of time trying out and perfecting for what my skin needs but there is a visible difference in my skin and after not using it for two weeks I missed it - my face missed it.

There are certain things about this product that I shouldn't like or that would put me off if the results weren't so good. The first is the smell which is exactly like those fizzing Vitamin C tablets (which I'm sure some will love) but was initially not great for me but I've taught myself to take deep breaths when I'm applying it an actually its really invigorating and refreshing first thing in the morning and I sort of love it now. The second problem is that it can, on occasion feel a bit sticky, however this stickiness does not last especially when a moisturiser is put over the top so it's not a problem as all really just something that would annoy me in a lesser product! 

So what's in it that makes it so good? Described on the Ole Henriksen as 'a vitamin for your face' that's exactly what it is so if you are lazy in your skin care or need something to soothe, calm and boost your skin this could be the serum for you. You can use it morning or night after toning and before your moisturiser (ideally...) and a tiny bit goes a long way, you don't need a full pump of this. Sodium hyaluronate binds moisture to the face plumping the skin and evening out fine lines and wrinkles, licorice extract evens skin tone, Vitamins C and E calm, heal and nourish whilst protecting from antioxidents and grapefruit and orange extract purify and brighten. That's only some of what's in there.

It's not cheap so I use this as sparingly as possible and it does contain fragrance so if you don't like that then this is not for you but this is going to be an absolute skincare staple in my skincare cupboard from now on. 

What You Need to Know
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster
  • Approximately £47 (and about US$48) for 30ml (also available in 15ml and 60ml)
  • Contains Grapefruit, Orange, Licorice, Rosehip, Green Tea extracts, Vitamins C and E and Sodium Hyaluronate
  • Available in the UK from lookfantastic, feelunique, Selfridges,
  • Available in the US from  Ole Henrikson, Sephora, Skinstore
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