Monday, 30 May 2011

MAC BB Beauty Balm SPF30++

Following on from my post yesterday about staple beauty products, I think I could do with a primer to help my foundation go on. I had a smidge of MAC Prep and Prime Skin as a sample, so I've used that today. I sort of remembered why I don't like it much! I do use Prep and Prime Protect SPF50 in the summer to keep the tan at bay, and I like it but not really under make up.

MAC are bring out a new primer based on Asian Beauty Balms (BBs), which I'm really curious to try. BBs are supposed to heal and even the skin tone out, and are designed to be used alone as well as underneath foundation. The rumour is that this isn't a true BB but MAC's take on it, but seeing as the only Beauty Balm I've ever used is the Boots Botanics one (which incidentally they still make and I'm really tempted to try again) I'm not really sure what they are supposed to be like.

The MAC BB is currently available in Asia and online in the USA, but it is allegedly going to be available at counters and in stores in the UK and Europe shortly, although I've not been able to find a definitive release date. It could well be this week. I will be keeping my eyes peeled and if I can get my mitts on some I'll post a review!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Beauty Staples

Prompted by the divine Loveaudrey, here are my current products in regular use on my dressing table!

Shampoo: Lavera Mango Milk shampoo. This is a natural, sulfate free shampoo that smells absolutely amazing. It is designed for coloured hair, to protect from fade and damage. Since starting to use this my scalp has stopped itching and my hair is better behaved.

Conditioner: Lavera Mango Milk conditioner. This stuff is magic. It is thick and more like a balm than a traditional conditioner - a little goes a looooong way. My hair drinks this stuff up and it smells amazing too.

Styling products: I am loving the Naked styling range, in particular the Heat Protecting Spray and Frizz Free serum. I made the decision a few months back to ditch the silicones in my hair care products and these are the best styling products that I have ever used. My hair is super manageable. I have also bought Boots Essentials Hair Putty to use (as I can't get the Naked one in Boots it seems) which is also silicone free, but I have yet to use it!

Shower gel: I don't actually use shower gels anymore, I don't like the way they dry my skin and I have yet to find one that doesn't, plus I like the portability of soap bars. I've found a brilliant brand called Bentleys, who make fully Soil Association certified bars of soap, in amazing fragrances. I've tried most of them now I think, and have the final scent left waiting for me to finish this bar. The current one is vanilla, clove and orange oil, and has a little bit of grit for mild exfoliation. The smell is so so comforting. Previous scents have been vanilla, calendula and lavender, and grapefruit and seaweed. Next up is honey and oatmeal. The best thing about these bars is they last for a long long time and the lather is rich and creamy. I use it for shaving with now as well and it is as good, if not better than anything I have ever used for shaving before.

Body Moisturiser: I currently make my own, by mixing organic aloe vera gel with Boots Botanics Organic Orange Oil and Jojoba Body oil. It is working really well for my skin - the aloe vera is great for soothing my psorasis, and has helped my spotty back.

Deodorant: Green People Aloe Vera deodorant: I haven't used an anti perspirant since I worked for Lush about 6 years ago, when I started using their Krystal deodorant. I was in love with the chamomile one with the yellow wax, then they discontinued it a few years back. Since then, I have tried a succession of different deodorants, but this is by far the best I have found.

Fake tan: I've started using this just because I feel better about my legs when I do. I'm currently using St Tropez Gradual Tanner in light/medium, but I cannot make it not streak. I'm going to try something different, so I am open to suggestions!!

Eye make up remover: Boots Botanics Organic Olive Oil Eye Make Up remover. When I was younger and less natural in my product selection, I used to use a Chanel cleanser that started out as a cream and when it had done its job turned really liquidy.  The Boots Botanics one I use does a similar thing, which I really really love about it. I actually use this on my whole face at night, because it's cleansing properties are amazing. The best bits for me: removing my super dooper waterproof mascara (more on that in a bit) and the fact that you can rinse it off with warm water.

Cleanser: In the morning in the shower I use Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion. Its wonderfully soothing and brilliantly effective.

Moisturiser: Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Cream - I really love this, it is perfect for my very sensitive skin. Moisturising without being greasy and brilliant under make up.

Foundation: MAC Studio Sculpt in NW15. I've been using MAC foundations for a long time now, and this is definitely my favourite.

Concealer: MAC Studio Sculpt in NW15 for blemishes, and MAC Select Moisturecover in NW20 for under eyes. The former is a wonderful consistency, and sinks in the skin with little blending. The latter is the perfect texture for under eyes and adds just the right concealing for dark circles.

Powder: I've just switched to MAC Select Sheer Pressed Powder from the MSF Natural, because although I love the finish on the MSF Natural (perfect skin), I have never been happy with the way it behaves on my skin. Me and minerals just don't seem to get on! I've only used the Pressed Powder a couple of times so far, but I'm really really happy with the results.

Blush: I have about 8 MAC blushers, but my favourites have to be Pink Swoon and Pinch o Peach. Cubic is fast becoming a staple, but I do tend to mix up my blushers depending on what eye make up or lipstick I'm wearing.

Bronzer: Not a product I wear much, but I do like it in the summer sometimes. I have never found anything that suits my skin and achieves the look I want better than 17 Bronzing Pearls in Light. I've been using them since they launched the lighter colour about 15 years ago.

Highlighter: Again, not something I wear that often, but I do love MAC's MSFs in Petticoat and Blonde (both limited editions). Petticoat is definitely my favourite of the two, with its peachy base and flashes of mauve.

Eyeshadows: Always always MAC. I have about 40 of their pan eyeshadows, and about 20 pigments, in a range of different colours. My choices usually depend on my mood, but my staples are Brule e/s, for all over base and highlight, Naked, Dark Soul and Sweet Sienna pigments, and Aquadisiac e/s.

Mascara: I am a huge and devoted Chanel fan here. I start with Chanel Mascara base (which they disconned for a brief period just before Christmas before relaunching this month with the replacement, which is the same product but with a different brush. Hooray!) because it nourishes, protects and lengthens. Then I layer on the Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Noir mascara, which gives me spectacular dolls eye lashes.

Lipstick: My favourite has to be MAC Cremecup. I even have a back up. I've also rediscovered my love of Pink Plaid. My perfect red is Viva Glam I. Hang-Up is my new favourite wine colour.

Lipgloss: I'm definitely not a gloss fan, but sometimes I like a little bit. MAC's Boy Bait from their Cremesheen Glass range is wonderful for adding texture and fullness to a nude lip.

Nail Colour: I have quite a nice collection of nail polishes right now, and I always struggle to choose one when I want to paint my nails. Out of all of these, OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark is one of my absolute favourites. Recent favourites include another from OPI, Lucerne-tainly Look Marvellous from the Swiss collection, a lovely gunmetal metallic; Chanel's Black Pearl and China Glaze's Ahoy!.

So, passing the gauntlet on... link me to your lists!!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

Within Temptation's latest album, "The Unforgiving"

Having my kitchen back - 2 weeks without a cooker will test even the most avid takeaway fan!

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean on the 360

The warmer weather. Roll on summer. 

Home made muesli with seeds and fruit

Wine - pink, red and white

OPI Lincoln Park After Dark nail polish

The Bad

Swollen irritated fingers from the warmer weather :(


The cost of living

Not having a kitchen for 2 weeks

The Ugly

St Tropez gradual tanner. No matter what I do, or how I apply it, it goes streaky. 
The pile of studying I have to do before June 22nd

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

This season, I will mostly be wearing....

Dresses. Not Yoghurt.

Summer is finally on its way, albeit slowly and carefully. I made a decision earlier this year to wear more dresses, and to make more. So I have some fabric which my wonderful Mum bought me when I went to visit a couple of weeks ago, and I have the space to set up a sewing corner of our office. Dresses shall be made.

I have been lamenting my lack of discernible creative skills for a while. I mean, I can do a lot of things, but as the saying goes, Jack of all trades, master of none. I mean, I play the piano, I can sew reasonably well, I can draw a little bit (mainly fashion type drawing but still not well), I can take reasonable photos... Most of my friends are artists in one way or another. I am the least arty one of the lot of us, but I am insanely practical. However, I do have some creativity in me, but I need to hone my skills.
So what to do? I'm short on time, but this summer I plan to really work on my sewing skills, learning new techniques etc. I also plan to find time to perfect a few pieces on the piano. What I play isn't cool, it isn't sexy, but it is beautiful. As I tried to explain to the Beard, I don't enjoy trying to play rock, or blues or anything like that. But I do love perfecting a Chopin waltz. What I'd love to do is find a way to combine my passions for classical and metal music together with some of my musician friends!

As well as that I have decided to try my hand at art direction, and set up some photo shoots with the Beard. I have some ideas in mind, just need to bring them to life.

So busy as ever, especially with studying and my new responsibilities in one of my jobs! Watch this space for the results of my endeavours!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Soap and Glory Scrub Your Nose In It

I've been meaning to review Soap and Glory's Scrub Your Nose In It (SYNII for short) for a while but just haven't seemed to have found the time... well here is the time (this is just one of many reviews I've been trying to sit down and write too, so expect more!).

Picture from
I was given this as a present by my SIL and have to confess that initially I was a bit sceptical. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it here but I'm a bit of a hippy eco freak when it comes to my cosmetics and skincare. Mass market products make me a bit suspicious. Still, I am never one to look a gift horse in the mouth and after examining the ingredients I determined that there were none that would irritate my skin (like paraffin or mineral oil) and figured I'd give it a go and see what happened. I'm a bit foolhardy like that you see.

I am pleased to report that not only did this sit happily on my extremely sensitive skin, but it is also the best scrub I have ever used! My Boots Botanics Organic Almond scrub has taken a serious back seat to this wonder product! It does say use a pea size amount... I have large peas I think. On my whole face I think I use an amount about the size of 2 broad beans. I know you're only supposed to use it on your T Zone, but I like it all over my face, and my face likes it too.

It is hard to describe the texture - it is grainy, but very very fine, like a microdermabrasion product. It tingles when you put it on your skin, in a cooling kind of way. I do tend to use it as a quick mask then scrub - using circular motions and not pressing too hard is the way forward, let the scrub take the strain and do the work.

I absolutely adore this product. My skin looks better - the mask and scrub is helping with the left over scarring I have from the most recent bouts of acne like spots, must be the fruit acids, which incidentally are good for sensitive skins (even though it sounds counter intuitive) because they exfoliate without friction. My skin has been much, much better recently, due, I am sure, to a combination of things, but this product has been the icing on the cake as it were!! It is a damn good mask in my time precious life, but won't replace a pampering home facial using masks and scrubs and oils in the long run.

The only downside is that I don't think it has dramatically reduce the size of my pores. I have some largish visible ones down the sides of my nose and I honestly don't think they have changed that much - after using SYNII they do seem better, but I can't pretend that I have noticed a lasting effect.

Still, well worth a purchase, I will almost certainly replace this when it runs out. Soap and Glory Scrub Your Nose In It. Available from or online, or in Boots stores nationwide.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The debate: Military inspired fashion

Inspired by reading this post from The Alternative Fashion Blog, is military inspiration in fashion ok, and if so are there any limits to the bounds of acceptability?

Being someone who flits around the goth/metal scene, I see a lot of military inspired clothing. I personally rather love it myself, but for me personally, inspired is the operative word. Think coats with military detailing such as epaulettes and brass buttons, or heavy khaki or grey fabrics used to create amazing sillhouettes, either pencil skirted and trussed up or freer and fuller. I think it is difficult with men's clothing to move further away from military copy to military inspired, but that doesn't mean that it cannot be done - the devil is in the details as they say!!

Image found here

Image found here
Military inspired. Lovely. I'm a bit obsessed with military inspired things, I have a few pieces both designed and made by me, and bought from the shops.
But for some reason, the thought of military fashion, as in actual military uniforms (or replicas) worn as items of fashion, turns my blood cold.

Last spring some friends and I decided to spend an evening at Slimelight, which is a well known alternative club in London. We spent ages deciding on our outfits. I visited the club's forums to try to get a feel from the regular clientele about the dress code and what everyone normally wears to such a place. During my explorations, I read a thread about military gear, which had people posting about the awesome SS uniform they'd picked up or the Nazi outfit they'd got. I felt repulsed. Even those discussing the British or Allied uniforms they were wearing made me feel a bit odd.

Around this time I went to see Rammstein in Birmingham at the NEC. A lot of people mistakenly associate Rammstein with the right and fascism. So much so that they actually wrote a song about how they are lefties through and through (Links 2-3-4). So you do get people turning up to their gigs in military dress. At this particular gig I was hanging about the merch stand afterwards while my friend made her purchases and ended up stood next to a tall Scottish sounding chap (he was yelling at his mates) who was wearing a military hat. On closer inspection, I realised that my fears were correct and it was in fact an SS cap. I moved before my feelings got the better of me. I suppose the fact that he was dressed in the style of a 1980s skinhead didn't help the opinion of him that I formed either.

The Alternative Fashion Blogger asks:
"Are military uniforms sinister, or just historical influence on fashion though? How far back do we have to go before something is benign. Are WW1 uniforms ok, but not WW2 uniforms? Are 19th Century British redcoat uniforms Ok?. Are the German Uniforms from WW2 not ok, but the Russians ones fine? Are the Wehrmacht uniforms ok, but Waffen SS no good?"

I suppose I feel that Nazi uniforms are a big no no whatever the occasion. Prince Harry found that out to his cost. I suppose my reasoning for it is that Hitler was the biggest mass murderer the world has ever seen, and the Third Reich was an organisation whose members were party to that murder. The methods were cruel and targeted at a specific group. I think that is the difference. That is not to say that no other country has never been responsible for the obliteration of a group of people, but the telling of those war stories portrays them as less calculated, less cruel. Whether or not that is true we will perhaps never know - but certainly the ability to provide wider coverage of the effects of the Nazi regime (and subsequent regimes) has changed the judgement of some people.

The Alternative Fashion Blogger started by looking at the different reactions of the older generations to the younger ones. Have they really forgotten, or are they really ignorant to the symbology of those uniforms?

My perspective on it is difficult to quantify, as it is my own personal reaction to something. All I can tell you is that anything overtly military in styling turns me off clothes. I wouldn't ever wear an army shirt or jacket, or even army boots. I am a pacifist at heart and don't believe children should be given toy guns. My response to people wearing military uniforms for fun is visceral and negative. Military uniforms represent something to me that is unnecessary and unpleasant.

Maybe I overreact. I do just want to shout at people I see wearing Nazi paraphernalia and ask them why they don't understand. I've never done that, but maybe one day I will.

What are your thoughts on military fashion? Do you think there is a generation difference in response?
Interesting article about Nazi fashion here

Monday, 2 May 2011

Wish me luck....!

Image from here

This is what I'll be doing tomorrow, and on Wednesday. I think I feel ok about the 2 exams, but I won't know until I'm in there and turning the question paper over.

I honestly can't wait for this week to be over, I'm exhausted. I've ordered hair dye (Devilish and Burgundy Wine to be combined in my usual Frankenstein like ways) and some more facial cleansing cream (Amazon is great for getting stuff if you don't mind waiting with Super Saver delivery) to cheer myself up though, as well as having a good punt through the Spring Spectacular Kindle book sale on Amazon and purchasing a few interesting looking reads.

I also can't wait to get back in the gym - its been over a month now and I feel like i should be doing something. Oh, and I can't wait for our washing machine to be fixed on Wednesday. I hope whatever is wrong with it isn't terminal. Luckily if it is we are insured for that.

Wish me luck and I'll see you on the other side!


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