Category Archives: Beauty

Makeup Bag Minimalism : #6 Mascara

February 1, 2015


If I could only use one makeup product for the rest of my life, it would be mascara. I’m not sure wearing mascara on it’s own even counts as wearing makeup (OK it does, but barely!!)

I’ve always stuck to drugstore brands because there are some great ones out there. And it gets used up/goes off so quickly that it never seemed worth spending more than a tenner (ish) on a tube.

So, in terms of what I’ve got to work with and what I’m looking for in a good mascara, I have decent lashes – not super long or super short, they curl naturally, they’re not majorly voluminous, but not bad either. I also have no interest in applying falsies. So I look for an all-rounder in the mascara department : length and just the right balance between volume and separation. Because I don’t wear falsies, I like a mascara thats pretty dramatic. These are some of my favourite drugstore mascaras:

Max Factor False Lash Effect My Top Pick
Max Factor 2000 Calorie
Maybelline The Volum’ Express Falsies
Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Super Volume

Because these mascaras are quite cheap and they get used up quickly, it’s a bit boring to keep buying the same one, so I tend to mix it up a bit. I thought for this post I would delve into the world of high-end mascaras, so I enlisted the help of my sister, Hannah, and mum for some of their favourites.

Mac In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash* – Mum’s Top Pick
Benefit They’re Real
Lançome Hypnose Drama – Hannah’s Top Pick
Le Volume De Chanel
Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye

*My mum has very short lashes and has never found a mascara that has much of an effect, but this one is amazing. It gave her so much more length, and made it look like she actually had lashes for the first time! I am witness. Definitely worth a try if your lashes are very short.

Do you have a hold grail mascara? Let me know below!


Makeup Bag Minimalism : When To Chuck

January 25, 2015


Not everyone knows that makeup expires – I was reading an article that said some women admit to owning eye shadow that’s over 14 years old!! I wouldn’t be surprised if my mum had a few items in her collection that are older than me… But it’s important not to keep makeup past its use-by date because as soon as it’s opened and makes contact with the air, bacteria gets in and starts to breed. These bacteria can cause breakouts, rashes, irritation and infection. Eugh.

I always knew that mascara had a pretty short lifespan once opened – a tube that’s been open for more than a few months really stings my eyes – but I wasn’t really down on the deadlines for using up some of the other things. Here’s a cheat sheet:

.powder-based : 24 months
.cream-based (including concealer) : 12-18 months
.foundation : 18 months
.but oil-free : 12 months (the water-based products .break down more quickly)
.lipstick : 12 months
.lip gloss : 18 months
.pencils : 24 months (sharpening removes the outer, exposed layer)
.mascara : 3 months
.gel + liquid eyeliner : 2 months (who gets though a pot of gel liner in 2 months!!)

and a few more tips…
.gone off eye make up is one of the main causes of eye infections
.don’t pump your mascara wand to coat the brush, that only traps more air in the .bottle so it goes off faster
.store make up in a cool, dry place to help it last as long as possible
.store lipsticks in the fridge to keep them going longer
.throw anything out if it starts to smell funky
.check the container of you makeup, there should be a little “open jar” symbol with a number and M (stands for months) inside e.g. 18M. That tells you how long the product will last once opened. You can even put a sticky label with the date of opening to keep track
.nail polish also goes off, but it’s less of a problem because you’re not applying it directly to your skin. It just becomes pretty unusable, but you can buy nail polish thinners, like this, to bring them back to life.



Makeup Bag Minimalism : #5 Contouring Basics

January 21, 2015

basic contouring kit

Contouring has been getting so much airtime recently, what with the Kim K selfie and youtube videos like this. I wouldn’t say my contour kit is a makeup bag essential. It’s definitely not part of my everyday routine, but on those special occasions when I want to look a bit more “done”, I whip out a few of my contouring basics. There are so many different ways to contour, and some of the techniques I’ve seen scare me a little. I like to keep it as quick and easy, and foolproof as I can.

.to contour, I use two shades of makeup (plus my base) – one slightly darker than my skin tone and one slightly lighter.
.I use the Sleek Face Form Palette, in dark, which comes with both bronzer and highlight shades. I also use my Nars Creamy Concealer, which is a little lighter than my base, as my lighter shade in some areas.
.you can use powder or cream product. I use mostly powder, because I don’t contour and highlight everyday and powders have a longer shelf life.
.you can use any bronzer that is darker than your natural skin and suits your colouring, or if you prefer cream products you can use a concealer stick, like this one, in a shade or two darker than your skin. I personally find powder easier to control.
.I apply the darker shade in areas I want to appear to recede – this will vary a little from face to face, but for me that’s the hollows of my cheeks and my jawline. I use a smallish fluffy brush (mine is the contour brush that comes in this set), and follow the line from the top of my ear to the corner of my mouth, stopping about two fingers’ width from my mouth.
.the key for me is to use a brush that’s small enough so that I can control where the product goes, and keep the line defined, but blended enough to look natural.
. I apply the lighter shade to areas I want to highlight, areas that light would naturally hit. I use concealer under the eyes and around the nose, and the powder highlight on my brow bone, cupids bow and the tops of my cheeks.
.the powder highlight is quite subtle – it gives me a dewy glow – so it’s hard to go wrong!

Is contouring part of your everyday makeup routine, do you dabble like me, or are you way too low maintenance for any of this?


Signature Makeup

December 26, 2014

celebrity-signature-makeup-looksImages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Last month I worked on creating a personal style concept and a signature look with my clothes. Since I’ve also got a series going on the blog that focusses on my makeup bag essentials, it makes sense to take a closer look at my makeup style and see if I can figure out my signature look there too.

I would describe a signature makeup look as your default, the look you’d be most associated with. But makeup’s also made to be experimented with, so I don’t think a signature look needs to be completely prescriptive. I still might want to step out of my comfort zone once in a while!

There are probably loads of ways to do this, but personally I started my thinking about these four factors:

The Time Factor
The Skill Factor
The Situation Factor
The Comfort Factor

Time – How much time can you allow to do your makeup in the morning or before going out in the evening? I’m always running late, and therefore rushing, no matter where I’m going. So I need my makeup routine fit within a 10-15 minute, max 30 minute (*special occasion*) window.

Skill – How good are you at various elements of makeup application? Are there things you find more difficult e.g. liquid eyeliner, contouring? Should you avoid adding them to your signature look, or do you want to put some practice in to perfect them? I’m not a makeup artist, so I’m not the most skilled at certain things. For example, as much as I love the idea of a smokey eye, I’ve never really mastered the art, so considering time constraints, it’s probably best if I stick to eyeliner and one-colour lids at most. At least for now.

Situation – What different situations do you wear makeup in? In general, I need my makeup to suit three different situations : lazy days/errand running, meetings/work, and evenings out.

Comfort – What makeup do you feel most comfortable/uncomfortable in? I guess we probably all feel most physically comfortable without any makeup on at all, but I personally feel a lot more confident when I’ve got at least some makeup on. If I’m wearing anything more than mascara though, it becomes something to think about: getting lipstick on my teeth, smudging my liquid eyeliner, rubbing foundation off when I blow my nose etc. So I’ll tend stick to a light base and waterproof, long-lasting eye products. Most days when I’m just running errands, a slick of mascara will do.

I already have very simple and basic go-to makeup routine that I add or take away elements from depending on the occasion. As I said, I’ll wear a minimum of mascara, and then I’ll add blusher, concealer, a full base and eyeliner the more “made-up” I want to be. For my signature look, I want to build on this a little, make things a little more interesting, while sticking to my criteria.

So the next thing I did was head over to my trusty Pinterest boards (beauty this time) and pulled out my favourite looks. I just focussed on makeup, but you can do the same thing for hair. I’ll definitely go back and do this at some point. Like with the style concept it helps to be able to visualise what you’re going for and pull out common elements. I distilled it down to a few different looks. Here’s what I came up with:

Everydaymy-signature-makeupImages : 1 | 2 | 3

Voluminous mascara (+a little kohl +liquid liner)
Strong brow
Subtle contouring
Natural blush
Natural lip

Eveningmy-signature-makeup-eveningImages : 1 | 2 | 3

+more kohl +smokey eye
+nude lipstick

Occasionalmy-signature-makeup-occassionalImages : 1 | 2 | 3

+ bold lip

The last step is to experiment with these looks, see how they work best for me and drop anything that doesn’t suit.

Do you have a signature makeup look?


Nails : Snow White

December 17, 2014


This is about as close as I get to nail art, but I’m pretty pleased with my creativity on this one. Is this not the perfect Christmas combination? All white and snowy. The silver glitter is my Christmas go-to – it goes well with so many colours and makes my nails look all sparkly. I normally pair it with red, but this is my new favourite combo.

Essie Blanc | Set in Stones

What’s your favourite Christmassy nail colour?