Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Brush-Free Makeup for the Hungover

We've all been there: you've woken up after a night out, feeling less-than-ideal, and need to look presentable (i.e. less shit) as soon as possible. Without the benefit of good lighting, an enormous stash of products, or indeed any brushes (in the likely event that you've stayed over at a friend's/boyfriend's house and therefore don't have any brushes, or just can't be bothered with the whole brush thing).

This is how I would do it...

L-R: 17 BB Makeup, Collection 2000 Concealer, Topshop Blush in Flush
 I'd go for some kind of foundation type stuff you can slap on with your fingers, to even out the inevitable blotchy/dull bits. My current choice is 17 Blemish Balm All-in-One Magic Makeup in Light - because if you ever need magic makeup, it's when you're feeling/looking distinctly worse for wear. Surprisingly, this is pale enough even for me, partly because it's light coverage and easy to blend. Winner. I think Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum would also work well here.

Stick on some concealer where required. Like the rest of the world, I favour the Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer, in Fair. (Irrelevant observation: I think they've now dropped the crazy futuristic "2000" part of their moniker, leaving the bizarrely abstract and meaningless "Collection". Fair enough.)

Blush is pretty much essential to avoid looking like the undead if you're very pale like me. Cream blushes are the way forward in these situations. I'd choose Topshop Cream Blush in Flush (or Nutmeg, the neutral colour). And it has a mirror - handy.

L-R: MAC Bare Study, Rimmel mascara, Topshop white kohl
First up, neutral-coloured sparkly stuff will help. MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study is ideal. Smear this liberally all over the lid with your finger, possibly on the browbone too if you're keen. Dab some on the inner corners too, as this will distract from how knackered you look.

Next, mascara. If you suffer from dark circles, maybe skip the lower lashes. I'm using Rimmel Lash Accelerator in Extreme Black (now with even more black!).

Desperate times, desperate measures - white kohl. On the waterline. You might look a little crazy, but this is probably better than the bloodhound effect. (If you have a tasteful flesh-coloured pencil liner, go with that. I only have Topshop Kohl in Frost, a glaring matte white. Keeping it classy.)

L-R: Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum, 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in Belle; front: Lanolips
 Your most basic option here is a heavy-duty lip balm, for the predictable dehydrated lips - Lanolips 101 Ointment is my top choice. (Must investigate the tinted versions some time.)

A bit of colour may well be your friend here, however. I'd go for something glossy and easy to apply, like a Revlon Lip Butter (I like Sugar Plum), or 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in a neutral colour - when I went to look at these I wanted the super-popular Beehive, like the sheep that I am, but it was way too pale, too peachy, and too much like MAC Hue for my taste, so I went for the darker, more wearable pink Belle, which is lovely.

At this point you're pretty much done. Congratulations, you look more like a normal person now! However, if you have a few extra minutes, how about some optional extras?

Clockwise from top: No. 7 pressed powder. Stella McCartney Stella, Jemma Kidd highlighter
Now is the time to fake a youthful, healthy glow with a cream highlighter. In a pinch, you could dab MAC Bare Study or other pale cream eyeshadow of your choice along your cheekbones (gotta love a multi-tasking product, though subtle this ain't). If I was feeling fancy, I'd go for the ludicrously-named yet foolproof Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Creme in Iced Gold - the "All Over" bit really is outstandingly redundant, though I suppose you could smear this all over your face if you wanted. Added bonus: a really big mirror to do your makeup in (though I have been known to do mine using the mirror in the Topshop blushes).

Grab some pressed powder if you're prone to shininess, and dust over your T-zone. I use No. 7 Perfect Light Pressed Powder in Translucent.

Finally, spritz some perfume - this will give the illusion of being more rested/groomed/clean than you actually are. The only bottle I have small enough to bother packing in an overnight bag is Stella McCartney Stella EDP (have they stopped doing the printed bottles now?? I'm sad about this), which fortunately happens to be a lovely fresh floral scent, perfect for spring.

TA-DAH! You are now ready to stumble out into the bright, noisy world in search of a very large coffee. Good luck!

Till next time,

Josephine x

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Yeah, I went there. (I'm pretty sure I'm not the first and I won't be the last - just felt compelled to do it!)

Taupe is a pretty magical colour. As far as I'm concerned, a taupe is somewhere along the spectrum between grey and brown. (A great blogger who is particularly passionate about taupe is Elvira of The Pink Sith, who has an awe-inspiring collection!) I gravitate towards the greyer taupes, since I'm so cool-toned (as I may have mentioned an obnoxious number of times in my previous post, apologies!), but since lots of "true" greys turn blue/silver on the skin when blended, or are too dark and harsh for daytime, taupes are some of my staple daily shadows. This may be deviating from the "taupe" brief somewhat, but I also class purple-toned greys in the same general category of "wearable every neutral-ish colours", so I've included them here.

This post was prompted by my acquisition of the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Eyeshadow in Tough As Taupe, from Stacey's blogsale. Having heard lots about these on various blogs, I was v. excited to be able to try them in the flesh, so to speak. (I also picked up Audacious Asphalt and Bold Gold, of which more another time.) I don't know if these are going to launch in the UK at all, but they're basically a version of cream potted shadows, in the same vein as MAC Paint Pots/Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadows. Here's hoping they do make an appearance on these shores, as my impressions are pretty good so far!

Here are all the taupes I pulled from my collection:

Top row, L-R: NARS Lhasa, Ruby & Millie Beige 840P, Chanel Illusoire.

Middle row, L-R: Maybelline Tough as Taupe, Benefit Skinny Jeans, Illamasqua Hollow.

Bottom row, L-R: MAC Morning Frost, MAC Copperplate, MAC Satin Taupe.

Here are swatches of what I think of as the purple-toned taupes:

Top to bottom: NARS Lhasa, Ruby & Millie Beige 840P, Chanel Illusoire, MAC Satin Taupe
I've raved about NARS Lhasa before, so I won't add much here, except to say this is the perfect colour for a daytime slightly smoky eye. It doesn't photograph brilliantly (not helped by the fact I'm not a brilliant photographer), but in person it's more purple, with a subtle shimmer/sheen. Gorgeous.

I think Ruby & Millie Beige 840P (I absolutely hate brands with numbered shades!) might be discontinued - I don't think Boots stocks the range any more, at least. But if you can get hold of this, I highly recommend it! Amazing buttery formula, incredibly pigmented (much more so than Lhasa). Basically a cooler version of Satin Taupe, as you can see from the swatches.

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre in Illusoire. These did the blog rounds last year sometime, and I just had to get this colour (especially with money off on the Debenhams website). A shimmery (almost glittery, really) purple-grey? Yes please. I don't plan on picking up any other shades, but this bizarre sponge/gel hybrid formula is brilliant - buildable, blendable, long-lasting.

MAC Satin Taupe must be one of their most famous eyeshadows. It's a good frost, pretty pigmented and shimmery rather than glittery. This is a plummy cool brown - looks great in the crease with Phloof! or Vex on the lid. I'm definitely glad I bought into the hype on this one!

And the rest:

Top to bottom: Maybelline Tough as Taupe, Benefit Skinny Jeans, Illamasqua Hollow, MAC Morning Frost, MAC Copperplate.
Tough as Taupe is a grey-brown elephant-coloured taupe, quite dark - basically a cream version of Copperplate, one of my favourite MAC shadows. It's very pigmented, and applies well, but I did find it creased after about four hours' wear, so next time I'd wear this with a primer underneath. Very pleased with this!

Benefit Skinny Jeans Creaseless Cream Shadow is a bit different, more like a grey-green. I rarely wear this, but now I've swatched it, it's going in my everyday makeup bag! The formula is a bit drier and harder than the Maybelline shadow or the MAC Paint Pots, but it's very pigmented, applies smoothly and blends out well.

A multi-purpose product always appeals to me, so Illamasqua Hollow Cream Pigment, a cool-toned brown, is a bit of a winner - I use it on the eyes for a neutral matte wash, or on the cheeks for a subtle contour. Quite a dry stiff formula, but long-lasting and easy to apply with fingers.

I'm being a bit cheeky here by including two colours that aren't in the stores - MAC Morning Frost came out in a winter collection last year (hence the white lid). This is the perfect easy everyday neutral to slap on with your fingers for those early morning starts: a shimmery cool brown, light enough to use all over the lid, and you can get away without a primer.

MAC Copperplate is a staple for me. A cross between grey and brown, it's a matte squared (why are there not more of these?), so applies smoothly and is incredibly pigmented and blendable. It's a touch too dark for my brows in daytime, so I use MAC Coquette, but this is a really versatile shade for a light wash over the lid, or deepening the crease. To be honest, this is about as brown a shadow as I can comfortably wear!

So there you have it, my range of taupes! These are definitely some of my favourite shadows - where some people love warm browns, I love these!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. I finished my coursework, hurrah! It was a close-run thing, but I did it. Phew. Sadly the next deadline is 8th April, but I'm not thinking about that just yet...Hope you're all enjoying the sunshine today!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Rate or Slate #1: MAC Eyeshadow Edition

Having lighted upon an appropriate rhyming pair of words, I give you my version of the up/down, hot/not, in/out feature.


Out with the old, in with the new - MAC Vex
This might just be my all-time favourite MAC eyeshadow - and I own thirty-one in total. It's certainly the first  eyeshadow I ever finished.

Questionable swatch photo ahoy!
This is one of the good frosts - applies smoothly, without chunky glitter, just shimmer. MAC describes this as "beige with pink-green pearl" - I agree about the duochrome pearl effect, but I see more silver/grey than beige. (Maybe a very cool-toned beige.) 

This is the perfect all-over lid colour for me, either to wear on its own or with a grey/purple (such as MAC Blackberry or Satin Taupe, or NARS Lhasa) in the crease. I 100% recommend that you give this a swatch next time you're at a MAC counter/store, if you're in the market for a wearable yet unique everyday lid/highlight colour. I am very pinky-pale, with blue/grey eyes, so I definitely favour cool-toned eyeshadows, and this is the best neutral I've found so far!

Which brings me neatly (kind of) on to...


L-R: All That Glitters, Woodwinked
These are truly awful on me. As in, they're orange. Now, I know orange-toned eyeshadows are supposed to flatter blue eyes, but who cares if your eyes look bluer if you look distinctly ill/exhausted, with red eyes and grey skin? Bluer eyes be damned!

Top: All That Glitters; bottom: Woodwinked
These are both veluxe pearls, so they're super pigmented and smooth. And, in their own right, they're gorgeous colours, which look great on lots of people - just not generally people with my colouring, I imagine.

Top: All That Glitters; bottom: Woodwinked
These blended-out swatches really show the orange tones, particularly in Woodwinked. The change is actually quite dramatic, from the warm gold of the first swatch, to the fairly strident orange below.

Anyway, All That Glitters is a warm peach which is verrry popular - but on me it's not only too warm, it's too dark to use as a lid colour really. I have tried to wear this a few times in the past, especially since it's such a nice formula, but without much success. I will probably give this another whirl in summer, with peachy blush and some (gasp) bronzer, but it's not my favourite look by a long shot, and I'd always reach for something else in preference to be honest.

Woodwinked can look OK, if not particularly flattering, for a dramatic summer evening eye, if I use a primer (usually Too Faced Shadow Insurance), lots of black liner and mascara, and try not to blend it out too much so it doesn't turn lurid orange. But frankly there's never really a time when I can be bothered to use a product which works against my skin-tone so radically.

I would never repurchase either of these - not that I'll ever use them up. God knows why the sales girls encouraged me to buy these, rather than more suitable cooler-toned colours. These were among the first MAC shadows I ever bought, mainly on the strength of the enormous amount of blogger hype - so many girls listed these two among their favourite colours, that I just had to have them! Sad but true.

As always, these are just my personal opinions based on my experience with the shades mentioned. All That Glitters and Woodwinked suit a lot of people, but they absolutely don't work on my super-pale, cool-toned skin, which is such a shame!

Hopefully this will become a regular feature, since it encourages me to pick two or three products rather than ramble on endlessly about 20 in one post!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. It's so very wrong, but I am intermittently tempted by colours like Bronze and Antiqued, even though I know they'd look awful on me in the manner of Woodwinked. Curse you, MAC!

Current Preoccupations

I have a pretty addictive personality. This can be good - I usually throw myself into things and get very enthusiastic about them. It can also be bad - everything in moderation, etc. Here is a choice selection of what's been preoccupying me over the last week!

SONG: "Don't Unplug Me", by ALL CAPS. This came out in 2010 but I've recently rediscovered it, and am obsessed. Previous obsessions (according to last.fm, which I only signed up to last January sadly - think of all that music being listened to unrecorded, so to speak) are "Pop the Glock" by Uffie, and "Beat Control" by Tilly and the Wall.

ALBUM: Still Foe's Bad Dream Hotline. Brilliant stuff - every track is worth a listen (or five - I actually had to buy the CD, thanks to Spotify's incredibly irritating five-plays-and-you're-out rule. I miss the old days).

BOOK: M.R. James's ghost stories (available cheaply from Amazon). I never read actual horror fiction (i.e. anything gory), since it just doesn't appeal to me, but these are chilling little gems: mannered, yes, but brilliantly effective.

FOOD: Salted chocolate (specifically the Lindt kind). I've also been making occasional batches of plain vanilla biscuits (courtesy of Nigella Lawson's must-own The Domestic Goddess). Also jelly - the kind where you snip up the cubes with scissors and make it yourself, obv. Nostalgia in a wibbly-wobbly spoonful. Strawberry or raspberry are the best flavours. And jelly should not have bits of fruit in it, since that just ruins its bizarre translucent glory. (Only possible exception: really good trifle on a summer's day.)

Not my jelly
YOUTUBER: Kathy from JustKissMyFrog. (It was actually her February Outfits video that reminded me of the addictive ALL CAPS song mentioned above, which makes her awesome already.) If you aren't already subscribed to her, I highly suggest you do so now! I absolutely love the eclectic (had to use that word) mix of videos she makes, which are hilarious, personal and insightful, usually all at the same time.

WEARING: Grey everything - jumpers, skirts, cardigans. My style at the moment is basically school uniform chic (and the "chic" part is questionable). From the ages of 11 to 16 I wore a black watch tartan kilt to school every day, and I now own three kilts in different tartans which I've found in charity shops and shortened to above the knee, to be worn with red or black roll neck jumpers. (Red is pretty much the only colour I wear at the moment.)

Dream jumpers
NAILS: Nothing! This is pretty revolutionary for me, since I wore nail varnish pretty much constantly since I left school (where we weren't allowed to wear it). I felt my nails deserved a bit of a break, since they weren't in great shape, so I haven't had nail varnish on since New Year. The downside of this is that my huge nail varnish collection (featuring Barry M and Models Own heavily) is sitting unused at the bottom of my wardrobe!

So, there you have a sprinkling of the things I'm enjoying at the moment. No makeup! I will be starting a hot or not, up or down style feature, which will be about makeup (of course), when I next take a break from the world's dullest coursework essay.

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. Random photos are from weheartit.com.

Friday, 2 March 2012

On Red Lipstick - Rockalily Instalment

Despite all the well-deserved publicity (I won't say "hype", since I have negative associations with that term!) surrounding this brand in the beauty blogging world, I wasn't aware of it till very recently. If you read a lot of beauty blogs I'm sure you've come across Rockalily, run by the gorgeous and inspiring ReeRee Rockette, so I won't add too much about the brand here - I'll just say that, if you enjoy wearing red lipstick and you don't own one by Rockalily yet, you're missing out big-time!

L-R: Rockette Red, Roulette Red
A glance at my Beauty board on Pinterest (and, indeed, the fact I'm doing a red lipstick series at all - I'm subtle like that) will reveal that I like red lips. I'm very pale, with light blue/grey/indecisive eyes and very dark hair, so I love the dramatic effect of a bright, blue-based red lipstick on me. I'm also a bit of a sucker for all things retro - this is a horrendously generalised catch-all term, I know, so if I were to be a bit more specific I'd plump for the eternally flattering fifties style, particularly dear to my heart because it embraces The Waist and shuns my particular sartorial nightmare, the low-waisted skinny jean (possibly the least flattering item of clothing known to womankind). And we all know how those fifties housewives worked a red lip, repression be damned.

However, I had yet to find a red lipstick which wore comfortably while lasting all day, meaning I generally sported red lips on a one-evening-only basis. So when I eventually came across so many rave reviews by bloggers about Rockalily lipsticks, I had to try one!

Top: Rockette Red; bottom: Roulette Red; background: laptop (vintage)
My first pick was Rockette Red. It's a blue-based bright red - a flattering, classic shade. But the formula is what really impressed me. It's pretty matte, which is my preferred finish for bold lip colours, but more importantly it has none of the issues which bedevil so many matte shades: it goes on very smoothly, and isn't at all drying, hurrah! I found it to be very pigmented, with amazing lasting power, even without lipliner (I went with my usual MAC Cherry, which matched fine). The first time I wore this, I went through cups of tea, biscuits, and dinner, and my lipstick was still going strong, with only minimal touching up required after a few hours. This stuff is genius, and makes wearing red lipstick as effortless as it can be!

As you can see, one lipstick quickly turned into two: I soon had to (you know how it is) get Roulette Red, Rockette Red's slightly darker sister. Same flattering blue tone and outstanding matte formula, but the colour is a touch deeper. You probably don't need both, but when a lipstick works this well, hey, why not? (To see these on the lips, I refer you to the many glowing reviews by various bloggers collated on the Rockalily website.)

These lipsticks are priced at £14 each, which is by no means cheap - however, bear in mind it's only 50p more than MAC, and the formula is SO much better than some of MAC's mattes (I'm looking at you, Ruby Woo, and not just because you rhyme pleasingly). I think delivery is around £2.50, and I found it to be super speedy. All in all, highly recommended!

Oh yes, and they smell lovely. I rest my case.

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. If this isn't enough red lipstick for you, there's more where that came from: choice selections from Revlon and MAC.