Saturday, 29 January 2011

#140 Easy Days

Those products that enable the speediest of skin improvements have recently become my new questing mecca. Every morning I set out to arrive at fresh, radiant, rested, healthy... even when biology and physicality are both hard at work against me. As I stand here, now, at 30, I feel I'd never entertain thoughts of the surgical variety... but we often take those things that come easiest for granted... with me, the fact that I have oily skin of that very typical olive, Mediterranean variety, means I have not yet wrinkled (and that SPF has been a non-negotiable skincare step for at least a decade helps too). But if someone were to tell me that for the price of a designer coat I could do away with all dark circles, forever, or impending forehead wrinkles, or jowls, or double-chins...well, then I'd certainly be tempted. I do like the idea of looking very good for my age, despite reaching a point now when my face and my number of years of earth are beginning to become faithful reflections of one another. It's hard to say why I no longer look like that younger me - I have no new lines, no pigmentation, but yes, I do look more tired, and when one is tired their face loses that plump carefree quality - and can look a bit worn and wan, even if nothing specifically physical has changed. It's a funny thing, something has changed, and perhaps you feel it more than see it. Yes, I think that's it... I feel, older. But still young. Which is nice.

Recent discoveries of the cosmetic kind have, however, helped. I've long been a fan of Sue Devitt's Microaquatic Tinted Moisturiser, but this week I added a new base to the mix. Givenchy Photoperfexion Light Evanescent Fluid Foundation is really rather fabulous. I don't want to think too hard about what may be in it to allow it to so seamlessly and easily disappear into skin, but this is hands-down the most foolproof foundation I've ever used. Child's play. You simply give the tube a wee squeeze and rub the sponge all over the bits you wish to brighten and cover, and with hardly the need to touch it afterward, it's all done. I checked my complexion in 3 different lights (bedroom/bathroom/office toilet), because I was so surprised. Passed the test in each and every locale (and so speedy too!). Their Jelly Blush, however, did not fare so well. It was very wet, felt unpleasantly cold on the cheeks (but it was a very chilly morning), and made a bit of a mess of the rest of my make-up. Did not like it at all. With the good must come bad..

What else... ? Ushvani Coconut and Hibiscus Body Oil - just lovely, barely any scent, simply nourishing and soothing (didn't even tickle my eczema patches). It pains me to say that one of my favourite brands, ESPA, let me down with its Body Smoothing Shower Gel, which caused a bit of a skin flare-up (and despite being told by the ESPA therapist that it would be fine to use over eczema). Oops. I should've known better though.

So, some highs and lows; over and out.

Friday, 21 January 2011

#139 Lies and Loves

You've probably clocked that I don't blog here very often anymore. I run another blog, we make up as we go along, work (almost) full time for PSYCHOLOGIES as their beauty director, do consultancy & copywriting on the side, and am also, ahem, working on another project of the fiction/fictitious/fictional variety. But I'm just not ready or willing to let Miss M go. Not least of all because I began this blog over 3 years ago, at a time when the online landscape looked very different and there were only a handful of us going at it honestly, via the basic blogosphere, with no one taking very much notice at all. I think I blogged for about 4 months before anyone even read a page, and then, by some virtual twist of online fate, I started picking up peeps in the States, Russia, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Ireland... the list went on. When I hit my 250, 000th user, I could hardly believe it. And then the ad & sponsorship offers came flooding in and, because I had always planned on remaining anonymous/wholly objective/penniless, I turned each and every one of them down. So, no, I've never ever made a penny from this old webpage of mine.

Which doesn't really bother me, except that now I'm expected to accept ads and get involved with campaigns, and add 'adsense' and analytics and links and bits and bobs - all of which I know next to nothing about. And because I'm just a beauty ed who likes to write, it all seems anathema to me... but the beauty bloggers out there who are on top of their tech, and have made a handsome buck for blogging, well, I have nothing but admiration for them either. They're being paid for their passion. It's great! Unfortunately, there is also a whole new horde of hangers-on and beauty make-it-uppers, who call themselves journos, but in actuality joined blogger the day before, and then proceed to round-robin the PRs, wishing to be added to mailing lists in a bid to receive free product.

Last month a good PR friend emailed to check up on the provenance of one such sneaky scribe. She said that she'd recently written for PSYCHOLOGIES. Lie. She said that she was an established writer. Lie. When probed further she said she'd pitched to PSYCHOLOGIES and a story was being 'talked about'. Lie. No pitch, no word, no call. Non-existent in every sense. In truth, it did not really bother me - I understand how attractive the thought of being sent free beauty products must be; and being a beauty ed is one blessed gig, it really is. Travel, beautiful perks, gorgeous product, spas, great working environment, meeting lovely, inspiring, talented people day after day (from PRs and make-up artists to photographers and fellow eds)... I'd never dare complain, lest anyone who does a real job jump down my throat (and rightly so).

So, now I'm caught between blogging and beauty editing. The latter requires my full-minded wholehearted attention, and gets it, the former, well, it satisfies the bit of the soul that just likes to have a ramble, spill some dirty beans, tip products I can't rave about ad nauseam elsewhere because I'd be deemed repetitive (and possibly accused of financially-aided favouritism). I'd just like to clarify that I've never been paid for a 'good' review. But yes, I do have advertisers to keep happy... several... and sometimes it's their money or my (working) life. I wouldn't be the first journo (one of whom I respect so utterly) to be kicked out of the class for mouthing off to the head of an enormous cosmetics company. That old 'Big Daddy' voice kicks in when I'm in moods like this one, crying 'Mendacity', a la 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.' We pay our dues in order to pay our way (and keep that roof above our heads), and save our skin, our magazines, ourselves from ignominious professional extinction.

But at the best magazines there is a balance being struck - between showcasing the very best products from those paying beauty bigwigs, and the penniless grassroots brands that build up slowly, successfully, via the power of recommendation. I cannot help myself in that I am always more interested in the latter, solely because I am like a magpie, drawn to the shiny promise of the 'new'; but I'm also an enormous fan of so many of those bigger brands, carting around their cosmetics without question.

I'm a clear-cut reflection of the very balance I try to maintain upon my own beauty page. At this very moment I am up in Scotland with a vanity case that contains:

A Topshop lipstick
Revlon lipstick
Sue Devitt tinted moisturiser
Two Estee Lauder eye pencils
Bobbi Brown blusher
Philosophy blusher/bronzer duo
Lancome mascara
Clinique mascara
Dior undereye concealer
Three eyeshadows by Urban Decay, Daniel Sandler, MAC
RMS Beauty highlighter
Shu Uemura eyelash curlers
My Face concealer
Nivea Eye make-up remover
Omorovicza body cream
Elemis cleanser
Sarah Chapman serum
Estee Lauder eye serum
Origins exfoliator and hydrating mask
Label.M Dry Shampoo (I ran out of Ojon last week. It's my first time with this L.M one and it is really really great).
Elizabeth Arden (Prevage) eye cream
ESPA face cream
INLIGHT night balm
Caudalie lip balm
Aromatherapy Associates travel bath oil & rescue remedy
Gielly Green conditioner
John Masters Organics shampoo
And, a mini Liz Earle face cream sample, used as a hand cream in handbag

So, when it comes down to it, I simply cannot stop blogging. If I did I'd have no place to say that I'm not paid to say. But, looking up at that list I can also breathe easy. From designer 'couture' cosmetics to handmade, homemade homeopathic remedies, I use it, I love it, I rate it, I trust it, I recommend it. Yes, all of the above WORKS (for me, at least).

So, there's a place for us all up on this hot tin roof of a tricky topic. And there needn't be even a whiff of mendacity about it. Big daddy to little sister brands, one big happy beauty family.