Wednesday, 12 August 2009


I’ve used so many over the years – and I’ve found good shades with MAC, Laura Mercier, The Organic Pharmacy, Stila, Bobbi Brown, Boots Natural Collection, Jelly Pong Pong, and Giorgio Armani (my favourite was a popsicle-bright peony. Then they discontinued it. I was inconsolable. The End.) Recently I discovered Jemma Kidd Blush Wear Creme Cheek Colour. It only comes in three shades – guava (bright pink), pawpaw (pale pink) and pomegranate (coral), but the formulation is beautiful. Many of the best cream blushers are not long-wearing enough to withstand blending, let alone a day’s work, but this one deposits high-pigment colour that blends down to a healthy-look powder finish – which also manages to look very natural. Best applied with fingers to the apples of the cheek and blended outwards.

Yes, I’m big on blusher. NARS, MAC, Shu Uemura, Revlon, Maybelline... raised cheeks to all. But the one I go back to, year after year, is Bobbi Brown Blusher in Pale Pink. It looks anything but pale in the pot – it’s a rather garish blue-based raspberry – but on cheeks, it looks effortlessly youthful & when taken up to the highest part of the apple of each cheek, does a darn good job of deflecting attention away from dark circles too.

As divisive as Marmite this one. I used to use Origins Pinch My Cheeks a lot as a teenager, but got bored of the panic-stricken ‘squeeze, dot, blend in under 3 seconds scenario’, and the semi-permanent cheek smears I was left with when it all went wrong. I tried Benefit’s best-selling Benetint too – but the colour just didn’t leave adequate pigment behind and after several applications I began to look like Mrs Klaus (much better on lips this one). Their Posietint was even worse – absolutely no visible colour left behind at all – so I assume this is for whiter-than-white skintones only? Then there was Revlon’s lip and cheek tint, and again, it fared well on lips, poorly on cheeks. The Body Shop’s scored a bit better, but became patchier as the day wore on. Then, MAC Just a Pinch Cheek Gel landed on my desk. A gorgeous glossy cherry red, good colour fidelity on skin, blendable (and non-staining formula), and though it didn’t finish the day, it did look good while it lasted. The low note? It’s part of the summer collection. Why is it that good things come in limited edition packages?

Liquid eyeliner is the mistress of many of my make-up fantasies, but it’s also one of the toughest techniques to master. Of course, the less efficient your tools, the trickier it will be. I’ve found over the years that gel eyeliners are easier to work with than liquid ones – and Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner wins out in the gel stakes. A great Jemma Kidd make-up artist coached me for an hour before I got the knack of it – and it involves getting the right amount on the right brush (Bobbi Brown, Make-Up Forever, The Body Shop & Shu Uemura make great brushes) – you’re looking for a brush that tapers to a very fine-tip – (although lipliner brushes can do the job well too), and you want to dash and dot the colour along the lashline, in short strokes, doing both eyes at the same time, going from one to the other, in order to work up a symmetrical shape. The Bobbi gel is great because it stays where you put it and won’t run or smudge. And if the line’s a bit too thick or wobbly or uneven, a fine-tipped cotton bud (from Muji) dipped in eye-make-up remover (use a non-oily one if possible, as oily ones can sit on the lid and ruin the rest of the make-up), will tidy it up in seconds.

And, for liquids, I’ve always loved Shu Uemura’s liquid eyeliner pen because it is just stiff and fine enough to give you precision, and the ink is thick enough to go on deeply, but thin enough to create an uncloggy line. Just remember to give it a good shake before you start and draw a line on the back of the hand to get it flowing freely... and, well, just take it really slowly, small dash after small dash, right up against the lash line, and do the same as above if you have any unfortunate mishaps. And remember, practice makes for perfect flicks.

For a long wear with lovely colour choices, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eyeliners have paved the way for a whole host of imitators. They are still the best though – gel-like, but firm enough for a clean line, and with quite extraordinary pigment that looks as bright on the lid as it does in the nib.
For chalkier, smokier eyes, I love Estee Lauder’s Artist’s Eye Pencils. They used to do a lovely navy (I’m hanging onto my stub as though it’s worth its weight in gold), but the black is a great staple.

As a reader of the blog recently pointed out – you can get just as good (if not better) a result with an eyeliner pencil than you can with a brow-specific product. You want a stiff, sharp pencil (soft, smudgy kohl is a no-no), and you want to fill in gaps with short, hair-like jots. I’ve never found a powder or coloured gel that has done the job better than a simple pencil. Most days, however, I use nothing other than clear gel to keep my brow-bush in place. My favourites are made by The Body Shop, Shavata and Susan Posnick (which comes in a tube with black mascara at the other end).

I am not a gloss girl, but I’ve tried hundreds in the course of the day job. A good gloss for me is non-sticky, reasonably pigmented (I hate it when you pick up a vivid fuchsia only to have it translate to your lips as weak strawberry milkshake) and relatively long-lasting. Good ones are made by Daniel Sandler, MAC, By Terry, Lauder, Clinique, L’Oreal, NARS and Stila. My favourite, however, are PIXI’s Fluid Lip Crèmes. Garland is the most extraordinary hot pink and goes on as you see it, with vivid colour and a lovely sheen. The minty fresh waft they deposit on pouts is lovely too.

Once again, I’ve used many of these – and PIXI, Bourjois and Stila have been among my favourites. But, most days (including the ol’ wedding day), it is/was left to Urban Decay Lip Envy to deliver the goods. Layer it up four or five times for a deep lipstick richness that lasts all day, or stick with a single wash to give lips a natural flush that looks fresh and pretty.

I don’t do long-lasting because I am prone to dry lips and I do not believe there is a formula out there that can deliver upon its colour + comfort promise. SO, when I want a 24-hour lip, I use stain, or a long-lasting lip pencil (once again, Urban Decay 24/7 are the people to go see), and stain, then blot, and stain, then blot, then top it off with a coat of soothing lip balm. That’s me done for the night.

For under-eye bags and shadows, it’s Dior Skinflash and has been for five years. It’s one of the very few products I’ve tried that can be blended down to imperceptibility (I hate the dry lines you get with thicker concealers) and it reflects light beautifully. For red spots, I’ve been using Benefit You’re Bluffing a lot of late and it does do a good job, but I just wish it stayed put a little better (one for the handbag). For won’t shift coverage in a great putty-skin tone, you can’t do better than Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. Invest in a little concealer brush though – this isn’t one to be dabbed on with a fingertip. I use this over the odd non-red spot, but never under the eyes as I do not believe it looks natural enough (regardless of how many pros have tried to convince me otherwise).

I like MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder (and use it if I’m on the old telly box), and Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder (once again, used on my wedding day & invisible to the naked eye – it’s definitely earned its ‘secret’ soubriquet). I’ve also used Bare Minerals Foundation over shiny bits while on holiday and that’s worked really well – adding a little bit more coverage, but evening out nicely too.

The cosmetic can of worms. Personally, I think if you’re young, or just have relatively good skin, then you really don’t need it. Today’s foundations are good enough to stay where they’re supposed to, and if you have a decent skincare regime, you shouldn’t need to fake a smooth base upon which to apply your make-up. But, for those with lines and wrinkles, I think a primer can be a good idea. Many swear by Laura Mercier’s, but I have never liked the slightly chemical smell, nor have I seen a great deal of improvement on days when I’ve used it. I think you have to be realistic with yourself and accept that you’re using a primer for a temporary smooth and even surface – and in that case, it’ll be packed with silicones – which are fine, as on the whole they’re inert and non-irritating. They are also responsible for that slightly oily-silky feeling you get in some creams, which leave skin with a velvet finish. Pro colleagues have recommended Smashbox Photo Finish Light Foundation Primer so many times now that I feel I ought to pass the best-buck onto you... it’s the classic silicon-based formula. If, however, you’re after something that skirts the line between primer & highlighter, I’d recommend By Terry Colour Skin Enhancer. They come in mauve, peach and rose shades, and add a spot-lit oomph to jaded faces. For best results, mix a small amount in with foundation.

My favourites were in the original Space NK make-up line (now discontinued) – they did a lovely minky brown that always looked great with black kohl. Ho-Hum. I’ve found lovely alternatives from The Body Shop, DuWop (these have a firming effect too), Lancome (the cooling gel shadows are wonderful summer staples) and Laura Mercier. My favourite: Clinique Quick Eyes. Just can’t go wrong.

It’s not the first time I’ve got forceful about Urban Decay’s eyeshadows. They’re just great – some of the best & most richly pigmented shades on the market. Too Faced are also good for bold & bright colours, and the powder’s nice and fine, but has good colour fidelity too. For chic and sophisticated, I adore Bobbi Brown (although she does some beautiful bright purples & foresty greens now too), Chanel and Dior (both make the best colour palettes on the market).

I’ve used Guerlain’s Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder for a long time. I like the pale pink and peach accents in it which keep the colour from looking muddy. Similarly, this summer Armani have brought out a bronzer with red flecks in it – a great idea given that any real sun exposure would also leave you looking a little flushed. I also like all-natural-mineral brand Lily Lolo’s Waikiki Bronzer. Less is more though.

I like Origins, Lauder and Guerlain. My favourite is Laura Mercier Bronzing Gel – because whenever I wear it people always say that I look well, and let’s face it, that’s all we’re hoping for when we paint our faces each morning. If I weren’t long married, it would be my first date secret weapon.

MAC’s crème colour bases are great (try Hush), but I like a powder highlighter because it lasts longer & stays where you put it. My favourite is the Laura Mercier Shimmer Block. It’s less glittery than Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Brick and blends down to a more sophisticated finish.

And those final few touches shall appear tomorrow... in HAIR and NAILS...


Anonymous said...

I would be very interested in what you think of By Terry products-I know you mentioned the skin enhancers but the teint opulent foundation is a marvel, the rose teint cream blushes excelent, the eclat opulent a miracle plus the mew tinted moisteriser is excellent.

Anonymous said...

I too love Lip Envy but I hear that it's been discontinued in the UK!!!

annemarie said...

Jesus, you are going to save me a fortune.

I have one question-- "clear" lip liners. What's the point? Any at all?

I ask because I first saw Lipstick Queen peddling them. I shook my head and thought, "point? none." Then, after carefully reading your post I went to Sephora's website and began deleting and adding things to my favorites list, specifically all the Urban Decay products you recommended. Then I saw that UD have a "clear" lip liner as well.

What, pray, does a clear lip liner do?

(I am 32 yrs old and have been wearing make-up for exactly half my life now-- I feel like I have been basically been using NARS or MAC lipsticks and Rimmel lipliners for 16 yrs, though the graveyard of discarded products littering the drawers attests otherwise)

Miss Malcontent said...

Hi Anonymous - I haven't tried all the By Terry formulas, but found their best-selling Light Expert a little 'chalky' after it had dried.

I'm mortified to hear that Urban Decay might have discontinued Lip Envy - better put a call into the PR pronto!

Hi Annemarie - I've never used lipliner to line my lips, just to colour them in all over if I feel like skippy lipstick - but I do know that some women have problems with very uneven lip lines and find that their lipsticks run over the outside edge of their lips if they go without... I do like the idea of a colourless liner on the market, I have to say, but have no need for it myself...

Anonymous said...

I found the Light expert a bit chalky too if I don't moisterise properly or use it on its own which is why i didn't recommend it-try the ones I suggested

Rollergirl said...

Would you say the Pixi lip gloss is a good substitute for Stila Lip Glazes? Down to my last 2 lip glazes in Fruit Punch and need replacements!