On my face today (Sunday edition)

CC Cream Estee LauderFor someone who loves makeup as much as I do, there are plenty of days when either I don’t fancy wearing any, or I don’t have time to put any on, or I just don’t want to cover my skin.   In fact, the recurring joke in my little group of beauty blogger friends is that they don’t recognise me with makeup on.  Being so old, (47 and counting) I don’t really have any blemishes, so don’t need to cover much (apart from my very dark circles).   Those, combined with my very pale, pink piggy skin, make me a sucker for Estee Lauder Global Anti-Aging CC cream.

The what now?
It’s branded as a CC (or colour corrective, colour control, complexion correcting) cream. Typically, CC creams are like tinted moisturisers – so light coverage to even things out a bit, sometimes with a bit of skincare thrown in.
This one is more skincare than colour.   In fact, when you apply it, it looks grey, and you wonder why on earth anyone would want a grey face.  Or a greyer face in my case.   But as you apply it something strange happens.   It sort of goes a bit tan and a bit glowy.  It’s like magic, really.

On my skin?
This cream gives a very light (almost there) even tan and a bit of sheen.  It’s also quite moisturising, so I usually stick it on over a serum (or more likely over bare face, because I usually just Can’t Be Bothered).  For me it just makes me look a bit better.  A bit healthier.  And you’d never be able to tell I’m wearing makeup.

What it’s not for
While it does a lovely job of blending out my skintone and hiding my dark circles slightly, it won’t cover anything I’m worried about.  On days I wear it alone I don’t worry about this.   If I want to look a bit more pulled together I might just go in with a bit of light concealer under my eyes.

Why you’ll love it
Because it makes you look just that little bit healthier.  Because it keeps your skin soft and supple.  Because it smells lovely.  Because it’s like you’re not wearing any makeup.
Ifs, Ands, Buts, and Maybes
It’s £42.  Which seems a lot.  I bought this, timed when there was a good Gift With Purchase (love those) so I feel like it was worth the money.  It’s skincare *and* a bit of glow remember.  But you might feel that one of the less expensive brands would work for you.   I’ve not found anything as good for me as this, so I’m not recommending an alternative here – but do let me know if there are any you’ve found that you’d recommend.


Illamasqua Skinbase foundation

One of the best ways to persuade me that I need a new product is to let me try it.   And so it was for the products below.   This wasn’t at a counter though, this was as part of 125mph Beauty Club.  7am one morning, I was rummaging through Rose of Mixed Gems Beauty‘s makeup bag and I found Skin Base foundation.  Well, strictly, I found two bottles of skin base, in different colours – a 5 and a 7, I think.  Neither were a good match for me – but mixing them together gave me a good colour, so I thought I’d have a go.IMG_3482 The first thing to say is that this foundation gives good glow.   Rose speaks very highly of it, and I’ve got to say that it goes on like a dream.  It’s more pigmented than you’d think (it’s a light fluid) and goes on well with fingers or a brush.   I must admit, this is the foundation I apply most with my fingers, I think the warmth helps me get a better finish with this.  I then buff it round with my Real Techniques buffing brush to get a close up flawless finish.  I’d say this delivers a light-medium coverage – but will definitely give your complexion a bit of a boost, and even out skintone.  I’m a Mac NW20,  Estee Lauder Fresco, Nars Santa Fe (or Fiji) which makes me an Illamasqua 6.5…ish.   This foundation has a really good range of colours, it’s well worth getting colour matched (as I did before I invested).

Which brings me to the other product in the photo – Illamasqua Hydra Veil.  Now this is something Rose has been raving about for years – but I had mostly ignored her, because I never got it.  Is this a primer, a moisturiser or what?  I think it’s sort of a bit of both.   I’d say if your skin is dry you need more of a moisturiser than this (maybe adding a serum first too) and if your skin is oily you might prefer the Matte Veil, but for the rest of us, this is a great product.  Although I use it regularly before my skin base it’s also amazing for those times when you’ve taken your makeup off and your skin is just a bit…annoyed.  It’s cooling (you can even keep it in the fridge!) calming and moisturising, without being greasy.   It’s also the best kind of fun – it’s a sort of jelly you scoop out with a little tiny spoon (included) and it goes to liquid on the skin.  I really do like this.

If I have one comment about the foundation it’s just that for my loooong days, which somehow incorporate a lot of touching of my face (no, no idea) this foundation doesn’t sit solidly on my skin all day – there’s not a huge amount left when I come to take it off after 14 hours.  But – I accept I have very specific needs – and I can get this to last longer if I set it with some Nars Translucent Powder.

You’ll like this foundation if:
You like a smooth medium finish, with good glow.
You’ll like this foundation less if:
You like a full, matte coverage that will survive everything a day can throw at a person.

Beauty asides: 125mph beauty club

125mph beautyI’m not sure there are too many upsides of commuting for 5 hours a day.   I can list the downsides: I don’t get to spend enough time in the office *or* at home, I’m often very tired, the trains are often delayed – and it’s very expensive.  There is however, one upside, and that upside is 125 miles per hour Beauty Club.

It went like this.   It was 6.40pm – the warm end of a long day.   I slumped in a seat in coach C of the Virgin Pendolino between Euston and Birmingham.  I started to hunt for my iPod, to insulate me from the day, from the other passengers finding their seats, taking their calls, rustling their papers.  A pretty girl sat down at the seat across the table from mine.  She had a half bottle of white wine.  I half thought about tweeting about it – ‘You go girl!’ I thought.  I didn’t tweet, but smiled briefly at her in case she felt like sharing… (a girl can dream, right?)

On this occasion the girl spoke.  She opened with “Oh I like your nailvarnish! Is it Illamasqua?”  I should have known then that *this* was one of those pivotal moments.  Everything I needed to know was in that sentence.  She was warm, friendly, open.   She liked nailvarnish.  She knew slightly obscure brands.  That one question was our secret masonic handshake.   In that sentence I found my kin.

And so I found myself saying “It’s not Illamasqua, it’s Essie’s Cute As A Button.   But I love Illasmasqua – I can’t believe you know them!”  And then we fell into conversation.  Brands, products, social media, our days.  And we looked at instagram, and we gossipped and when we got to Birmingham we promised to stay in touch on social media.  Because you do.  You always do.   And part of me thought we’d never see each other again.  Because we’re all busy.   And people are transient.

But it turns out that the girl, who I now know to be Rose (Mixed Gems) keeps her promises.  Stay in touch we did, and when the occasion arose and we could do so, we got the train together again.  And we had a lot more laughs.   And then we met again, and she’d been to some event, and she showed me her goodies from the event, and we had more laughs.  And then we started meeting in the mornings and I first saw her bare-faced.   Now Rose is a very very pretty woman, as you’ll be able to see from her website – but this was the first time I’d seen the contrast between her bare-faced and ultra-glam made up first hand.  I usually throw on a bit of makeup before the train, but Rose makes the most of the journey and does her face on the train.  This gave me the opportunity to watch her work close up.  I’ve got to say, having done this a few times, the difference between us normal girls and super-glam Rose comes downs to three things:

My learning from Rose:

1) Product
Rose does have a lot of makeup.  But it’s not that that makes the difference, as I’ve got a lot of the same stuff.   The difference between GLAM and normal is that Rose has worked out what look she likes (dewy complexion, glam eye, neutral lip) and chooses products that work for her.  She layers different ranges and brands to build up the look she likes.  Basically, if the product says “glow” or “highlighter” Rose will all over it.  I’ve learned a huge amount from her.  Glowing primer *and* glowing highlight powder?  YES PLEASE!  I’ve stolen this idea from her.

2) Tools
Sounds simple – but it’s super important.  Rose has a whole bag of brushes which sit alongside her bag of makeup.  I’ve been using my Mac Cosmetic brushes for 15 years nearly, and love them, but she’s taught me about the joys of Real Techniques.  Not expensive, not hard to get hold of – but super effective.  She’s also reminded me of the importance of a good mirror – although I tease her about the HUGE hand mirror she sometimes carries – it makes much more sense than trying to do a whole face in a tiny eyeshadow pallette mirror.  Lesson learned.  Thank you Rose.

3) Technique
Rose blends eyeshadow like an Old Master.   Seriously.   Just when you think she’s finished, she’ll take her brush and blend some more.   This means no harsh lines, and a super-professional finish.   The main takeaway is to have the best blending brush in the world.  In fact, just order one now. (It’s a Mac 217).  Then use it.   And use it to put colour on.  Then blend it out.   And blend some more.   It’s hard to learn technique from a blog – so go watch some youTube tutorials – and there are plenty!

So – thank you Rose.  You’ve helped me be better at makeup, inspired many purchases and made my commute a million times better, and all at 125 miles per hour.

New product excitement – Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise

All things being equal, I’ve got to say that I’ve not been as happy with a new brand for years as I have with Charlotte Tilbury.  After an inauspicious start (the service at the Selfridges London counter was poooooor) I’ve tried more and more products, and enjoyed every one.   I love the palettes and ADORE the colour chameleon pencils, and as for the matte revolution lipsticks?  Well, one of them is now my favourite lipstick.   When I heard she was launching some new cream eyeshadows I was very excited indeed.

The tl;dr on this is: they’re great.

Eyes to mesmerise

I have a couple – the first I bought was Verushka, It’s a sort of greeny greyish, silvery, pewtery gorgeousness.   The photo above though is of Bette, my most recent purchase.  Bette is a golden coppery tone which goes on like a dream.   For the last couple of days I’ve been pairing it with Verushka, wearing Bette towards the centre of my lids for added glow.   It’s actually a great combination.

What I like most about these is their ease of use.   For those of you who know the Chanel Illusion D’Ombre (which I also love) you’ll find these easier to work with as they are slightly lighter and more creamy in texture.   I also like that they are genuinely buildable, and very cute in just a light wash over the eyelid, but can be packed on with a brush for a really dramatic effect.   For me, where they come into their own, is under the eye.   I find the Illusion D’Ombre slightly dry and harder to work up under the lower lashes, wheras these, being wetter, are easier to use.  I’ve also found them good for layering and blending into each other – and of course (vitally for me) they do not shift.   I’m getting all-day wear out of these.

A couple of points:  unlike some other cream and mousse shadows, these are much better with a brush.  I’m using a Mac 239, or a 242 mostly.  I wouldn’t try with your fingers, unless you’re more dextrous than me.

I had a good try of these in Selfridges, and if you pop in when they’re quiet they are delighted to make you over using them.  (Try the full fat lashes while you’re in there!)

I’ve not yet tried these as a base for powder shadow -but I will and I’ll report back.  I’ve got my eye on a third, in Jean.   That alone, tells you how keen I am on them!

Side notes:
If you like the colour, but want to go slightly greener, try Giorgio Armani Eyetint fluid eyeshadow in No 5 – Onyx
If you want long-lasting on a budget, by far the best cream shadows are Maybelline 24hr colour tattoo.  (I have three of those too)

Quick Tip 2 – all day, non rub-off mascara

The second in my series of quick fixes, to make your life better.

I have allergies.   Many allergies.  Not to fragrance, or cosmetics, but to dust, pollen, leaves, flowers, something in grass (yes really) and other things from the natural world.   And even some foods.   These days there are more and more of us allergic, but I’ve been suffering for over 30 years.  I get hay-fever symptoms (running nose, eyes, sneezing) a lot, and OFTEN rub my eyes during the day.  Added to this my eyes are super-sensitive to the cold wind, and will run at the least chance. I’m also a part-time glasses wearer.   For years I just accepted that I’d be wiping mascara (or mascara dust, or mascara flakes) off from under my eyes every day.

I tried every mascara under the sun.   Normal ones, fibre ones, waterproof ones, lengthening ones…you name it.   Flake, flake, smudge.  I settled eventually on Mac Zoomlash in Zoomblack, because, well, it’s a great product.   Good value, good results, and reliable.  (I’d still recommend it).  But… still with the rubbing off when I rub my eyes.

I’m not sure how I came across the concept of tubing mascaras but I thought I’d give them a go.   And so, a few years ago I tried Estee Lauder Doublewear mascara and was hooked.  It’s a good looking tube, and I round the creamy formulation worked really well for me.  It did lengthen, it didn’t flake, and a lot of it did last all day.  Terrific.

Tubing mascaras are so called because the formula forms a tube around the lash (and so when you wash it off you may even see little tubes!).

Since then I’ve not looked back.   I now also use Clinique’s Lash Power mascara (and the feathering one too) but I wouldn’t now go back (at least for a working day) to a non-tubing mascara.

This link gives you a list of most of the brands, so you should be able to find one in your price range.  I’m going to keep trying them till I find my holy grail mascara!

Top facts:
Tubing mascara comes off with warm water (not remover)
In general, you won’t get the dramatic length or curl with tubing mascaras, but that’s an ok trade-off for me
Tubing mascaras do come off with hot tears and tissues (to mop hot tears) but deal with pretty much any other rubbing or fiddling with.

Product of the week – 25 May 2015

We’re just coming into Spring now, and the weather can’t really decide what it’s up to.   For my face this means the double whammy of air conditioning and central heating drying it out.   Great.   As I’ve gotten older I’ve found my skin has got drier, and can feel a little bit tight if I don’t look after it.   Also, different foundations (particularly the new ink or weightless ones) just don’t sit as well if I don’t put something on my skin before putting it on.

So, I recently ran out of my Elemis Pro-Collagen marine cream, and mentioning this to a friend she offered to pass on some items she wasn’t using.   Never being one to say no to a freebie, I bit her hand off.  In the package was Indeed Labs Fillume volumising moisturiser. I’d seen the ads on the tube (they called me a saucy minx) and wasn’t impressed, but I thought I’d give it a go.  After all:  freebie!

Indeed Fillume moisturiser

And as it turns out, I like it very much indeed, and I’m using it every day.  It’s quite a ‘wet’ moisturiser, but goes on well, and dries by the time I’ve brushed out my hair.  It makes all sorts of promises on the website (it’s available exclusively at Boots) about “restoring the look of facial contours”  (I guess by plumping the epidermis) but actually – I just thought it was a good moisturiser that suited my skin.  It makes it feel supple and hydrated.  It lasts all day, my skin wasn’t dry by then end of it, and it makes a good base for makeup.  (Though I do admit to using a primer some days for extra grip).

It doesn’t contain mineral oil, fragrance (it smells neutral) or parabens – so those of you who avoid that stuff will do fine with this, and actually at £25 it performs (on my skin) better than many moisturisers double the price.   It’s for you if you like gel type formulations, maybe if your skin is a little older (like mine) and want something that will make your skin comfortable all day.

Because of the plumping effect, this moisturiser won’t be as effective on younger, naturally plump and moist skin.  I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re oiler or have serious breakouts – there are lots of other products that would suit you better.

And the proof of the pudding?  Yes, I’d definitely pay for this one.