Saturday, 27 March 2010

# 124 Eye No

Hanne from asked when the right time was to start using eye creams & what might work for someone like her, in her early 20s...

Perfect timing given that I'm in the midst of an eye-cream quest myself - I had the dreaded WOODS LAMP treatment again last week which showed that the most dehydrated part of my face was the skin around my eyes; a bit of a shocker given that I do a twice-weekly eye mask (Sisley) & have been using Estee Lauder's new Time Zone Anti-Line/Wrinkle Eye Cream for the past 10 weeks which has [in their own words]:

'TriHyaluronic Complex, which plumps away the look of fine, dry lines and gives skin the hydration it needs to stay looking smooth, supple and revitalised. It infuses the eye area with 5 times the concentration of TriHyaluronic Complex found in the face formula.'

And though I'm not afflicted with lines or wrinkles just yet (well, I am only 29) - I'm well aware that dehydrated skin is far more inclined to age speedily, so I'm now on a mission to find a cream that will plump, illuminate, hydrate & moisturise.

Chatting to PR Clare Forde last week, it occurred to me that perhaps I've been looking in the wrong place. If it's hydration that I'm after, a deeply penetrating & easily absorbed serum could be the way to go - chased with something containing SPF for day perhaps, and reparative antioxidants & smoothing actives at night.

I'm old & just about wise enough to know that an eye cream is never ever going to cancel out dark shadows, permanently erase wrinkles or conduct a mini eye-lift. So, what do I want? I want the skin beneath my eyes to feel plump, but not tightened; soft, but not silicone-y; bright, but naturally so - not because of light reflective particles.

I'd been sent ESPA's Firming Eye Contour Concentrate a while ago - and hadn't realised that the
serum was actually meant to be used as a self-contained treatment regime (it comes in two mini bottles with pipettes). A few weeks in I desisted - I wasn't hugely fond of the smell (a bit fishy at times which is a side-effect of the marine algae), and because, I suspect, I am not yet suffering from saggy skin in said area, the tightening effect was not really to my taste. However, I have to say that after a perfectly-pitched facial at The Europe in Ireland (following a fair bit of eye work, massage & the application of latter concentrate), things did look a lot brighter. So perhaps I need to stick to the proposed course - give it the full 8 weeks, and then judge things anew.

For the moment, however, I'm trying Emma Hardie's Amazing Face Firming Eye Serum - it's a light, slightly creamy coloured gel and contains aloe, arnica, orange water & marine active. A little goes a very long way and I'm pleased with how the skin seems to sup it up - nicely hydrating, but accommodates a cream on top too if needed. I'll give this one until the end of May & we'll see where we stand.

And back to Hanne's question about a good eye cream... well, it's back to the old issue of what works for one, may not work for another.

In my entirely subjective experience:

I've tried and liked formulas by Sarah Chapman & Shiseido.

I've also tried eye creams by La Prairie (often thought to be the very best), but I've not been hugely impressed thus far. Anyone else had more luck?

As for staples, Dermalogica Total Eye Care SPF15 has been in my bag for years. I like the fact that it's just a simple to use formula - with built in protection & hydration. It's not particularly advanced, but then, throughout my early 20s I wasn't really looking for miracles. Now, however, I think I need something stronger. This will be the basis of much of my testing for the next two months... we'll see what the beauty bag throws up!

For night, Creme de la Mer Eye Balm is one of those formulas that really does seem to do the trick whenever I try it. And Mama Malcontent (who - if it's possible - has used even more eye creams over the years than I have), really believes it's the daddy. So, it gets a thumbs up - but budget-wise, not so great, sorry about that.

My earlier MISS MALCONTENT'S BEST OF BEAUTY posts (see labels, to the right), also cover what I deem to be the best products across 100 different categories. I intended it to be a good reference point for those new to my blog - so do dip in if you're after the perfect cream blush, a great mascara, or the ideal foot cream...

And in the meantime, I'd love to know what everyone else is using & loving...

Friday, 19 March 2010

# 123 The Hairspray Riddle

Having watched Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last week I've been unable to get the 'why is a raven like a writing desk?' ditty out of my noggin. Now, riddles in all of their tricky glory (whether decipherable or nonsensical), always get me excited (it's the junior chess-and-crossword-loving type in me). But how a hairspray can also function as an instant-frizz-inducing-bomb is not a question I'm so keen on answering (or at least experiencing in the run-up to a very very important meeting).

The product in question is Sebastian Professional Shaper Zero Gravity - and I used it on the morning of a screen-test for an ITV show. Hair was sleek & glossy - but with rainclouds looming I figured I needed an insurance policy. A rummage in my bag resulted in this long, black tube and a generous spritz later I figured I'd be set for life (or at least late into the morning). The product promises ultra-light flexible hold, or 'layer throughout the styling process to increase, even freeze, hold.' Now, this could be a case of the anti-smarts, and of course there's a chance I did the application bit all wrong - but I did the big spritz, followed by a quick brush through to smooth down, then another sealing spritz - and left the house with head held high.

A humid tube, a dash for the office, a sweaty lift-ride and a nervy introduction later & my hair had gone from modern-blunt to pouffy-puffery - but not big, Cheryl-esque waves, oh no, we're talking an unceremonious swelling (ever seen that episode of Friends set in Barbados, where Monica's hair gets all the biggest laughs? Yep, that was me).

A peek in the lobby mirror on my way out confirmed my worst fears - my hair looked utterly hideous - I've not seen frizz like that in years - not even during a boat ride in sweltering Southern Turkey. So, the riddle remains unsolved (why is this spray like a secret saboteur?), but the results are resounding: NEVER AGAIN.

Or, given that most Sebastian products really do deliver on their promises, not until further investigation/instruction from someone in-the-know at the very least. Any bright ideas?

Monday, 15 March 2010

# 122 And Then She Woke Up

My last post was entitled 'Good Night' - which has come to seem like the spookiest kind of premonition, given that I've spent the last week responding to emails from various PRs, journos and beauty companies alike, who have, somehow, all managed to figure out my identity - and simultaneously. I knew it would happen one day, though not in such a way - but with more & more people catching onto 'the real me' in the past 6 months, I began to feel as though I was slating and rating on very thin ice.

Clearly there's been a leak - and I'm still entirely unsure who sprung it - but not wanting to cower beneath the covers (or hide behind my blindfold) for longer than was truly necessary I've decided to wave the flag myself & so here I am, packing away the incognito crown & facing the world afresh, as me, for better or worse (gosh, this does feel odd).

So, here's how I figured it might work... Miss Malcontent will continue to do what she does best - and there's no need for further fanfare on this front. MM will carry on trying, testing, reviewing and ranting on a regular basis (yes, lord help her), and she'll also do her best to keep responding to each & every personal query & question... this is still the place to be if you want to know what does & does not work. A simple formula & one I'm so happy has worked thus far.

But for all things non-review related, well, it no longer makes sense for me to be 'undercover'. I have rather a lot more to share & show than has been possible within the confines of the MM format, and so I herein direct my fine followers to my other venture: WE MAKE UP AS WE GO ALONG

This is where you'll find the day-to-day details of the life of a freelance beauty editor, the rave on palpitation-producing products, insights from backstage, interviews with truly interesting types, muchos inspiration for those seeking new style directions & regular peeks into the make-up bags of real women (because I'm really rather nosey)... in other words, a veritable cornucopia of cosmetic & counter intelligence, aimed at those who like a short, sharp and snappy style byte on a regular basis. It would be utterly wonderful if you'd consider popping along & lending the new blog your support... it's a newborn so pathetically in need of a bit of attention.

Both blogs will operate side-by-side, supporting one another - and I'll keep both afloat for as long as my little fingers are able (with a little one due in July there may be a quiet time or two ahead, but please, do bear with me)...

And in the meantime, I'd just like to say good day, good morning, good afternoon to those of you all over the world who have stuck with me, lending much-appreciated, vociferous support to the 'truth in beauty' cause...'s nice to finally meet you...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

# 121 Good Night

Have been wanting to award a special mention to 2 products that have made it into my bathroom cabinet this month -

Weleda Skin Food and Philosophy Hope Springs Eternal Deep Sea Revitalizing Face Mask

The first: I got stuck overnight at a friend's house (a private 'mare of mine, as I always fear being caught out without my cleanser & having to make do with soap & water), and was almost ready to call a cab at 3am when I realised I had a tube of Weleda Skin Food stashed in my bag (which the PR had very kindly sent a couple of days earlier for a GREEN BEAUTY story I'm researching). So, I borrowed my matie's cleanser (Yes to Carrots - nice, creamy, hydrating. I washed rather than wiped it off as I also have a mortal fear of make-up removal avec cotton wool. I'm weird. I know). I then squeezed a wee splat of Skin Food onto my hands, warmed it up between my fingertips & massaged it all over my face - including lips & under-eyes. The next morning my skin was insanely soft and had a lovely glow to it. Now, I've been playing this gig long enough to know that beauty one-night-stands are by no means indicative of long-term success. BUT, while I'll no doubt find myself sans kit at the end of many a long day & night, I shall be travelling with Skin Food everyday forthwith. Oh, and the stubborn eczema patch I often get on my wrist (which is actually caused by the lovely tweedy wool at the cuffs of my APC coat), was sent into oblivion by Skin Food too. Have to say, I really love it to bits. And, the mild skin condition's a small price to pay for the perfect coat, right?

Then there's the new mask from Philosophy. Confession numero uno (beauty PRs look away now) - I've never personally used a Philosophy skincare product. I suppose I've allowed my fear of their strongly-fragranced body lines (Cookie Dough, Gingerbread Man etc etc) to colour my view of the brand's cosmetics - which is silly, because I know Philosophy is founded by Cristina Carlino, a lady whose first venture into beauty was a bio-medical line distributed to leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons. So, clearly, this is serious stuff & deserved a second look.

Well, this new mask arrived just in time. I liked the spiel - the seaweed spirulina inside it (I've had good results from seaweed-rich line Thalgo in the past), and the fact that it promises to revitalise, refresh and renew, but without being a peel, a scrub or a deep-cleansing or heat-activated formula. In short - this is the soft touch for softer skin. The first time I used it I was rudely interrupted by the ASOS delivery man so I had to wipe it off after just 3 minutes & dash to the front door; but upon further investigation I could see that it had already made a difference. We're not talking a new face here, but rather a slightly brighter (but not flushed), and softer surface. Tonight I thought I'd give it another whirl (it's 3 days after the 1st attempt - the pack says it's safe to use whenever you feel like it). I left it on while I showered this time - so around 10 mins - which is longer than the directed 5 mins in the instructions. When I rinsed it away I noticed that skin definitely looked brighter, healthier and make-up went on nicely afterwards. It's one of those easy fall-back products that I know I'll reach for of a rushed morn and be most thankful for. It's not, however, capable of enormous improvements - but as I've so often found, the biggest improvements tend to take time (and in my experience it's better to use even the most gentle microdermabrasion products & peels the night before rather than morning of). So, yes, it's another notch on my beauty post & one that I'm extremely happy to have stumbled upon at the very end of another very long night...

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

# 120 Sugar Puffs

There are some days when nothing can be done.

Honestly, I've had enough of them to know this to be true. You just wake up, a bit puffy of jaw, shadowy of eye, blotchy of skin, blemished of chin - and yes, you know you'll look better post-slap - but that, however hard you try, you still won't look great. It's what I call a 'Can't Fake It' day, when make-up is a band aid rather than blaze of glory... when skin's just not playing ball and you'd rather retreat to loafing-land than go out and meet all those people who expect you to look, well, like you know what you're talking about.

Ordinarily I hit the panic button and the old faithfuls come out of the cupboard: Origins Modern Friction; Dermalogica Multi-Vitamin Power Recovery Mask OR Guinot Masque Essential Nutrition Confort; Sisley Eye Contour Mask; Lancome Hydra Zen Tinted Moisturiser (a newish find - very nice); a dusting of BareMinerals powder; Dior Skinflash; Stila Eyeshadow in Kitten and Guerlain Terractotta Bronzer... you know the routine.

But last week I had a bad day. So bad in fact that when I looked at myself in the mirror that morning I actually gasped. Out loud. I'd seemingly gained 6 pounds in my sleep and forgotten to take off my mascara the night before (I hadn't been wearing any) - everything was just off - out of focus, as though my features had decided to go into hibernation and been replaced with fading scribbles - like those chalked silhouettes of removed corpses you always see on CSI. Mortification! Then I remembered the salt-and-sugar fest I'd enjoyed the very late night before (look, I'm pregnant okay), and so, because it was a Saturday, I decided to go back to bed in a bid to wake up thinner, brighter and less likely to jump off the balcony. Surely, I just needed more sleep?

And whadya know? It actually worked. Which just goes to show that sometimes the best thing is to sleep on it.

And if that fails, well, time to bring on the cosmetic cavalry.