Wednesday, 23 September 2009

# 107 Run Run Sleep

I've just spent the morning on Twitter and Bloglovin and Style and Susie Bubble and a million other sites that I dip in and out of every day, when I'm feeling a bit... twitchy... and now I'm very very tired.

And everyone everywhere is talking about fashion week, which was more enjoyable than it's ever been (4 blisters/1 stolen bag/2 spilled wines on suede/1 flash of knicker aside), and I've seen myriad marvellous things, but none as interesting as the looks sported by the queueing masses. Fashion has always been obscene, of course; it is nothing more than a giant sprawling auditorium of attention-seekers doing their best to shuffle onto the tiniest of stages, but by god it's such fun too. Getting to see the Christopher Kane show was a highlight (although I was a bit wary of the thin Gingham skirts with thigh-high splits - on the catwalk they looked rather flimsy), because the energy surrounding it was so insane. I got my call & show time muddled up (was supposed to be camped out backstage @ 11am watching the beauty magic happen), but only just made the show in time (@ 2.30pm). More fool me. The funniest moment was spotting my PR friend behind the velvet rope who ushered me into the inner echellons only to be grabbed by a frenzied fashion ed. who pretended to know her (she'd heard me say her name), in the hope that she too could be taken inside. 'I'm sorry,' I said, sincerely, 'I'm beauty, not fashion,' and the twitchy witch recoiled in horror and said, 'Eugh, I see,' before shuffling back to the front of the line in the hope of spotting a Fashion Proper PR. Jo & I giggled about that on the way in, and then I got sidetracked behind Susie Lau (of Susie Bubble) and the entire ELLE fashion team who took up almost 2 rows. No fair. And yes, there was Anna Wintour, and Donatella (looks just as odd in real life), Natalia Vodianova, who literally blew my socks off she was so darn beautiful (and 2 babies!! with the face & body of a nubile teenager!! gah!!) and big daddy Philip Green sat beside his daughter. It was London at its flashiest and despite being one of those no-bullsh*t types, even I felt a fluttering frenzy in the pit of the stomach as things began. When history's being made you can just feel it.

Anyway, I'm back on the sofa today, enamoured of my slippers and PJs, and just over the moon to get a day away from the big city.

On my way home after the end of the final day, I tallied up the 'street style' looks in my head. Purple nail polish and lips (the coolest girls wore Ribena shades); hair wrapped in ribbons (not bows) and pinned with pom-poms; imperfect fingernails (green & matt navy were a hit) and that's about it. I've never seen a season with so little eyeliner or shadow (and most women stuck with nude lips too). That's the funny thing about fashion types - they'll layer up the fur, skins, studs and rivets, and strap on the most horrifying shoes (horrifying from the point of view of the chiropodist; heavenly for anyone else), but a slick of a lip or smear of warpaint is a step too far.

As for me, I got street-snapped just twice, and both times I cringed like an amateur.

And back to bed now, with the laptop, and a week's worth of deadlines to meet.

p.s. Oh, and the title of this post comes courtesy of one of my favourite signed, but pretty much still undiscovered, bands MAUPA. You can pick up their beautiful new album here:

Friday, 11 September 2009

# 106 Oh No You Di'n't!

This recently landed in my inbox and necessitated a prompt response:


Hot on the heels of the hugely successful makeover show, How To Look Good Naked, comes a brand new fragrance and beauty range of the same name.

Perfect for much deserved pampering or as a Christmas gift for friends and relatives, the range includes luxury stocking fillers and head-to-toe gift sets. All presented in stunning lilac and cream bottles, they are almost too good to open!

Now, it might sell like Cream Egg McFlurries, but regardless of how well you're able to style up a bargain bin item, there's no dressing up an endorsement-whore after a quick cash-fix...

...and I've always thought the world of Gok - good and funny and sweet and sensible.... but a "beauty" range (stocked at Argos) is a monumental mis-step...

...and it really ain't his style.

# 105 Overrated and Out

I am a smiley and happy person. Always have been. I enjoy all the little things - movies, mornings, Dairy Milk and live music - and spend most days strolling around with a spring in my step. Venting spleen is not a regular part of my repertoire, or it wasn't until I set up this blog. And perhaps because I have this outlet for my secret frustration (The editor wants me to write about what?!! But it's crap!!! Please, can I not just say that it is CRAP!!!? I can't? Why not? I'm fired?! You can't do that!!!! - is how the scene would play out in the middle of an open office), I am far less inclined to gripe about the other stuff. Such as the fact that the only men who ever hit on me are of the unwashed and obnoxious variety; that my bus journey home takes 20 minutes on a good day and an hour and 20 minutes on the one Friday night when I'm making dinner for friends; that they've screwed up the X Factor format beyond repair and that James McAvoy is happily married (and in my world of fictional singledom, this troubles me: cue heart-string twinge).

So, to kick my weekend off in sunny style, I'm offloading a few of my beauty bugbears... in the hope that they might just put a conspiratorial smile on your face too.

Eve Lom Cleanser
Yes, yes, I know - it really does work miracles on some people. And I should know. I was one of the converted for two good skin years, when despite the occasional deep, cystic breakout (should have known!) I reached a pleasing plateau of glow and softness. Then, Eve forgive me, I quit (because I have a problem with how much money she charges for what is essentially a pot of dirt-cheap mineral oil)and my skin manifested itself into what could only be described as a plague upon my face. It took months for things to go back to normal and when I attempted to crawl back to this cleanser, tail between legs, it just wouldn't have me. Spot central. Oh, and don't like the smell either. Polite beauty editors call it 'medicinal' or 'herbal'... don't be fooled... it smells distinctly unnatural... a bit like grubby rubber. On another note, when I started using it (about 8 years ago now), the formula was creamier (and felt better on the skin) than it does now, when I've noticed that it's become grainier.

Salt Scrubs (in general)

Perhaps it's just me, but I've never found a salt scrub that actually does what it says on the packet. I've tried Elemis, The Sanctuary, The Body Shop, Bliss etc etc and the sensation is always distinctly uncomfortable and refuses to produce any ostensible difference (besides redness). Why are they so popular? In the most basic terms you are taking hundreds of shard-edged crystals and scratching them up and down your body and while the surrounding oils may do your skin some good, the salt seems like the obvious miscreant in the equation. Now I steer clear of scrubs altogether and load up my cheap-as-chips Superdrug Exfoliating Gloves with moisturising body wash and have a good rubdown.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
I dislike this for all the same reasons that I dislike the Eve Lom cleanser. It's packed with mineral oil and lanolin (a common irritant) and has the sort of "herbal" (READ: petrol-chemical) smell that turns my stomach. It chapped my lips something chronic, scared the bejesus out of my husband (who said it tasted revolting; kisses off menu for about a month thereafter), and the more I used it, the worse things got. And just to clarify, once and for all, petrolatum cannot hydrate skin. It has no water in it, and as an oil is not refined enough to penetrate even the most superficial layers of skin. It sits atop of the surface, providing a barrier to foreign bodies/drying air currents etc etc certainly, but not doing anything more miraculous than that... which leads me onto...


A ha. Another one. So it looks cool slicked over eyelids and high on cheekbones (on the floodlit runway; in real life it just looks greasy), but it does nothing whatsoever to moisturise lips or any other part of the body. It can make a temporary difference to cracked heels and hands, when worn with conditioning gloves for example, but the results will be short-lived. It does not heal or repair or protect. It is the most basic and bog standard of products, with no beautifying power at its disposal. What-so-ever.

Eyeko Sparkly Eye Pencil

The little kid in me, who used to collect comic books, wear pink capes and sketch Manga-style heroines in Physics lessons, can still be drawn to the quirky beauty brands, but my run in with Eyeko's Sparkly Eye Pencil was far from comical. I foolishly opened it up and ran it along my lashline without testing it on my skin first. Christ, the pain. It's glass-hard, scratchy and uneven (thanks to all the real glitter particles in it...). If you've ever glitter & glued as a child and accidentally rubbed your eyes, you'll know how I felt. This one's a health hazard.

Revlon Beyond Natural Skin Matching Foundation

'It goes on white and adjusts to match your exact skin tone.' Ha! My palest friend looked as though she had been tangoed and I took on a very scary tan shoe polish, with a lovely greasy tide mark around my chin for good measure. Fetching. Ladies, be very wary of anything that says it will change colour to match your complexion... which leads us to...

...Estee Lauder Daywear Plus Sheer Tint Release Formula
The exact same thing. I used it after a shower at the gym. It felt and smelt rather nice, blended easily (feeling much more like a day cream than foundation), and then I hopped on the tube and into town. Woe be-tide mark. The same greasy film of fake tan-ness over skin and when I blew my nose I left a Rorschach Test behind on the sheet. Ick.

Bliss Steep Clean Cleanser
I have a bit of a problem with Bliss in general really. The professional theory sounds enticingly strong (we're famed for our facials, get our skincare here &, voila, have a pro-style treatment at home), but I've never felt it delivers. Regardless of what beauty editors recommend on their pages, what they actually use is what really speaks volumes (and to discover that you have to trawl their cabinets just like every other nosey dinner guest), and I've never found a single one of my beauty ed friends who uses Bliss products themselves. Body, sure! But for face? The formulas all seem a bit too strong, harsh, drastic... take this cleanser for example. The website says: Steep Clean Cleansing Milk is the ultimate cleansing weapon for t-zones that are bogged down by clogging or worse, clad with acne. Formulated with smoothing salicylic acid and enzymes to digest dead cells and diminish inflammation. It's 'the bomb' on breakouts. My beauty ed hackles go up here, because I know that if you're using an enzymatic and salicylic acid formula twice a day, every day, it's more than likely that you'll get to a point where skin will sensitize, or be over-stripped, and then it will begin to play up again. Which is what happened to me. It might work for those with excessively greasy T-zones, but then again, I'm a staunch believer in treating oily skin conditions with oil-based products. 'The bomb' should've been warning enough really...

Embryolisse Cream
Every bloody year 'the models' rave on about this French pharmacy find, which apparently works all number of miracles 'eet's so sooooothing! eet's so caaaaaaalming, eet's soooooo gooooood!'. It's mineral oil is what it is. So, it's not really any better than E45 or any of the other bog standard emollient white creams you get from the chemist... and it absolutely won't work any miracles. Models look that way already. Sorry, but someone had to let you in on the secret.

Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash
I had heard and read so many wonderful things about this LA facialist to the stars that when the lovely Space NK PR sent half the line over for me to test, I was convinced I'd find my new favourite thing. What is it they say about great expectations? It left my skin with that horrible if-I-smile-I'm-sure-to-split feeling and a tingle that lasted over an hour. Thank the lord I didn't start with the Purify Cleanser. Ouch.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

# 104 Happy Addition

Apologies. I forgot the most important product of all. The product that my skin became infatuated with just 3 weeks ago on holiday (and which I believe I have had 10 dalliances with since): GUINOT MASQUE ESSENTIEL NUTRITION CONFORT

It's the first mention for Guinot on my blog which is a glaring oversight as I've had a couple of very good facials with them in the past (Hydradermie is of the deep-cleansing, purifying and hydrating variety - I've been consistently impressed).

I've also had my assumptions tested. This mask seems as though it will dry out the skin, but actually hydrates it, while also incorporating a more traditional purifying clay and brightening camphor base. Unlike some clay masks I do not break out after using it, and unlike some camphor masks, it doesn't sting or cause redness. It's a bit of an overachiever this one, and there is a marked difference in the before and afters. I've come to rely on it after my Origins Modern Friction session (1-2 times a week).

So, apologies for the oversight - this one was destined for my last post and as I stood staring at my face in the mirror just before my nightly bath I remembered all about it and had to dash back, log on and rectify my mistake.

Considering that I ought to be tucked up in bed now (and am still wrapped in a towel) this is probably the truest testament to the Guinot mask as the result itself.

Bon Nuit!

And p.s. The Shiseido eye cream (see post #103) just gets better and better... my peeper's say: it's a keeper.

Friday, 4 September 2009

# 103 Happy Happy Joy Joy

Enough griping. The sun's shining, I have the Nickelodeon theme tune (circa 1994) playing in my little ol' head again and I've surrounded myself with my latest list of favourite things. Here is what has kept me smiling this month:

1) Clarins After Sun Moisturizer Ultra-Hydrating

Just wonderful. Clarins do 'smell' very well, and this is no exception, but it also leaves skin feeling very silky (but not greasy), and noticeably smooth. It also contains cardamom which seems to boost existing tans, without actually self-tanning. I've been using it for a fortnight and think it's one of the best body creams I've ever tried. My post-holiday skin is still extremely peachy, despite waging daily bathing wars with London's hard water. Sold.

2) James Brown Scandalous Gorgeously Rich Moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner.

Yep, they have a very strong fragrance (a bit woody, a little honeyed, sweet but also slightly musky), but it's one that I rather like: it's sexy and womanly and gets the thumbs up from Mr Malcontent (no mean feat, I can tell you)... and the shampoo's packed with SLS, which I try to avoid, and therefore foams up in melodramatic style, but it's also rather splendid. It left my hair very bouncy, shiny and soft; four washes in there's no residue or itchy scalp or build-up; hair feels & smells expensive and the formula produces the impossible: smoothness & fullness. A new staple.

3) MAC Creme Blush in Laid Back

It's in a shade that I have searched high and low for for several years - a burgundy, which translates as a very real-looking flush on the skin (like a rush of blood to the face, but in a very fresh and flirty way); and it doesn't hurt that it looks just beautiful on the lips too.

4) Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Eye Treatment.

It's been a long time since I strayed from Dermalogica for my eye treatments, but when I turfed this up in a desk drawer last month (and I'd been lacking in sleep) I thought it begged a trial... and the results so far have beggared belief. You know when you've had a wonderful night's sleep and you wake up and your skin just looks very calm and clear and even, and your eyes seem to look wider and bigger than normal... it doesn't happen that often for most of us, but since using this I've been consistently impressed (and have had a bunch of lovely breakfast meetings to boot!). It's the whiteness of the formula itself that makes the biggest difference, I know that, as it provides an immediate superficial 'lift' to the area, but with continued use (I've been using a rice-grain sized amount both day and night), it has also started to fade shadows. Had I not tried this I probably would not have thought it possible... but there you go. Tried, and perpetual malcontentment duly tested...
I'm a believer!

Happy happy joy joy.... now all I need are a few episodes of Clarissa, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Kenan and Kel and I'll be the happiest lady in London...