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Easy as ABC

posted by Wendy October 27, 2016 0 comments

One very successful makeup artist/vlogger has recently been going on about her “A List” beauty tips and though I understand that some people get right excited about celebrities and their makeup, I don’t and don’t want, to think of people in terms of where they exist on A, B, or C (and Z) Lists. There’s nothing beautiful about beauty elitism IMO and though I have “celebrity” clients, I don’t differentiate  between them and the rest of the people I do makeup on. I hope you find my blog accessible and helpful, whatever list you think you’re on. If we deal only with one letter of the alphabet, we’ll all be missing out on a beautiful language and the language of beauty.



Which One Are You?

posted by Wendy August 31, 2016 0 comments

I’ve been in the UK for most of the summer – all over the country, in cities and towns and villages, observing women and girls of all ages and from all walks of life. It seems to be that their make-up styles can be categorised into five groups, which is perhaps a generalisation but that is, after all, what people do when they observe other people.


The Carefree or Couldn’t Care Less

They are makeup-less, or carefree or both. Neither caring nor wanting to present themselves in a certain way. I do not judge them, but it is pointless spending too much time on them for my purposes here. I do wish them well. And think of all the money they’ll save! Although research has shown that they may miss out on other things financial and may even not earn as much long-term as those that present themselves in a more polished way at work. True.

The Clueless  They might be in the above category but maybe they don’t attempt much because they don’t know how to. I meet more of these women (and girls and boys) in my non-working makeup life than any of the others. They ask a lot of questions and have a great interest but not much confidence. Yet.

She's found her look and it's fab

She’s found her look and it’s fab

The Lucky Ones

The ones that have found their best look, perhaps by helpful intervention at some point in their lives, or are self-taught. They use makeup to their advantage, presenting the best version of themselves, without hiding  behind it.

The Eccentrics  The really independently British girls and women who wear originality on their faces and on their bodies, displaying a certain flair that I find essentially British but that has nothing to do with race – again of all ages and places and so interesting. They make me happy to think about the confidence they have or are developing and the music and fashion choices that will ultimately make up the whole picture of their lives. They are not stuck in one particular style – they might be the retro girls, the glams, or the new punks – but are claiming it for their own. Their look will probably morphe many times in their lives as their stories progress. This group is really my favourite, for all those reasons and because it’s like looking back into my own 80’s youth and seeing the fun we had with makeup and what it could mean to us in our tribalistic tendencies (then it was New Romantic, Soul Girl, Mod, post-punk, office girl, not necessarily in that order or independent of one another). I think it’s a very British phenomenon. I don’t see it anywhere else.

kateb youngviv

Zandra Rhodes, then

Zandra Rhodes, then

adamantZandra Rhodes, Adam Ant, Siouxie Sioux, Isabella Blow, Kate Bush, Toyah Wilcox and the grandmother of them all, Vivienne Westwood, all used make-up to tell their stories in a wonderfully eccentric but beautiful way. Not necessarily how you want to look but I admire their strength and how they use their image to create it. There is a new breed of these women, thankfully. The torch has been passed and some interesting women are running with it…

Florence Welsh, one of the fabulous new Eccentrics

Florence Welsh, one of the fabulous new Eccentrics

crazycontourThe Dolls  This final group is the most worrying to me, and the most boring at the same time. The super-contoured, mega-highlighted, lip-lined, false-eyelashed dollface girl with the perfect (but not) eyebrows of massive proportion. I see loads of white shiny pencil trails all over these girls. And sigh. Because I can’t see where the real girl, and so her real beauty starts, only where it ends. I wonder what each one look likes Underneath It All (cue song) because there is such a conformity in their faces that the individual is lost. It’s a terrible shame, and a dangerous one; call me a feminist makeup artist. For me makeup has always been about finding the best -looking version of ourselves, not about putting masks on women and telling them to look the same. Obviously this happens to some extent in the beauty and cosmetics industry, we follow trends or emulate women we admire. Film stars, musicians and sometimes princesses have been the modern beauty trend-setters but I find the new breed of beauty queens (you know who they are) strangely disturbing and anti-individuailstic. Anyone can go online to see how to disappear themselves behind mega-makeup applications.  I saw one recently which was about how to contour your nose with a FORK. I kid you not. And it’s really ugly. It’s a look reliant on wearing enormous quantities of makeup, (lots of it very shiny) which inevitably breeds strong makeup dependency issues, and I wonder what will happen as these girls and young women grow up and grow older? Will the day come when they get rid of it all and opt for none or a pretty, natural look?  Or will they go on wearing the lashes and contour into their old age.

Whatever Happened to…too much makeup?

Whatever Happened to…too much makeup?


I’m waiting for some serious makeup rehab issues in about four years when, fingers crossed, everyone will tire of the hideousness. I’m going to set up a help line.

1 800 266 8687 (CON TOUR)


Love Story: All About Ali MacGraw

posted by Wendy February 25, 2016 0 comments

It cannot be denied that I am presently in love with all things 70’s. I can’t really trace this obsession back to one particular thing, but perhaps Cameron Crowe’s “Dazed and Confused” played a part in it, because the style of that film so grabbed my attention that I watch it at least once a year. It also seems to me that the female icons of that era possessed a kind of glamour and style that was original and different, and so I still look to those women for beauty and fashion inspiration. On a purely psychological level, it may be because my mum was in her heyday in the seventies, and those are my earliest memories of her, all kaftan and curly hair. Whatever the reasons for my love of the style, I proudly don a flare and do not apologise for it.

My "Love Story" flares and a clog. Sometimes I am really dazed and confused.

My “Love Story” flares and a clog. Sometimes I am really dazed and confused.

Of all of the fashion and film icons of that time (the ones we historically take our beauty cues from in the modern ages) there are a few that stand out for me, one of them being Ali McGraw.


Ali McGraw reached international fame in 1970’s “Love Story”, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. In 1972, MacGraw was voted the top female box office star in the world.


In the 1970’s Ali McGraw was the ultimate All-American natural beauty. Usually tanned and freckled, lightly made-up for the most part, with glossy brunette hair, she represented a carefree and shiny beauty that was both the height of high fashion and the domain of everywoman.


In later life she became a yoga devotee and is credited with popularising the form of exercise and spiritual discipline in North America. At the age of 75 she is still an absolute stunner, and so she gives us this gift: no need to disappear, no need to stop caring about or for ourselves as we get older. I think Ali McGraw is a true inspiration for many generations at once…


…and has undoubtedly remained a beauty icon all her life. All hail Ali!



Joy for Jennifer Lawrence

posted by Wendy January 25, 2016 0 comments

For me, Jennifer Lawrence represents what is best in modern Hollywood. She is a true radiant beauty, and thoroughly unique. Not for her the cookie-cutter look, nor is she a slave to the one hair style (well, I can talk, but I’ve only recently grown my hair long!) we see everywhere. She is a really modern and fresh style icon, so she gets Top Marks for Inspiration. Not to mention she is a fantastic talent and a chameleon on screen. Anyone who can pull off the make up and hair and jersey dresses of American Hustle without looking self-conscious gets an Inspiration Award. At only twenty-five, I think she will bring us lots of lovely for years to come.


Jla2"The Hunger Games" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

P.S Jennifer, when you read this, (note I say WHEN and not IF), call me, because sometimes you just don’t get the eyes exactly right. Just saying. it’s not your fault, it’s your people xo

P.S later in 2016, after this was written, Jennifer starred in a lovely film, by the name of “Joy”.


Make Up Forever and Dany Sanz

posted by Wendy January 18, 2016 0 comments

Last week I was invited to attend a presentation by Dany Sanz of  MAKE UP FOREVER. I did not really feel much like going out. Honestly, I was in full Bowie Bereavement mode but decided to do something good for myself and get out of the house and away from all the music I was listening to, which was bringing great joy for the gifts he gave us, but also buckets of tears at the loss. So I touched up my makeup, and off I went on a very rainy night (not good for the hair) to the Curlique makeup store in downtown Vancouver which was hosting the evening. I even found rock-star parking which was a sure sign I was meant to be there.

This was my seat. Oooh la la

Je suis dans la front row. Oooh la la

I have long been a fan of the MAKE UP FOREVER line, which is a fantastic French pro brand that gives me every colour under the sun if I need it, and a host of products no other company makes.  I am very glad that I didn’t miss this event. Not only did it cheer me up, it inspired me when I really needed it.

Dany Sanz is a sixty-nine year old powerhouse with gingersnap hair, a Parisian makeup artist who started her career while the Glam Rock movement was in full swing, lucky lady! She is tiny like a bird but with such immense energy, intelligence and wit that she fills a room.


Dany Sanz sharing stories of her life and work

This is what I learnt about her and her work…

Like me, Dany Sanz never had any intention of becoming a makeup artist, also like me, was unaware of it as a job when she was young. Ok that’s enough about me. She came from a poor working-class family, showing a  great talent for art as a child and went on to study fine art and painting, later stumbling into a career in makeup. During the 1970’s she was painting sets for a play, and one of the actors in the production needed to be painted to look like a white mask. As she recalls, the makeup artists there were classically trained, and didn’t know how to do it, but she did. Within a few years, fashion magazines were hiring her to paint clothes from the collections onto models’ bodies, and soon after that designers began requesting her to do this during collection seasons. As a trained painter influenced by the masters, she brought her knowledge of colour and texture to a marketplace when there was no one else doing this and carved out a unique career for herself.

Dany set up (and began to teach at) the Ecole Chauveau makeup school in Paris, and started making products using her kitchen mixer because those that were in existence at the time were pretty poor in quality, and she and her new students and were in need of different things. Again, her painting training aided her in this, and a line of professional products was born. As more and more makeup artists and students began to request the products, and their production line grew, Dany and her husband Jacques Waneph, launched MAKE UP FOREVER, the name of which came about over a few bottles of red wine. According to her, it sounded better in English than in French! That was in 1984. The pair opened their first boutique at 5 rue de la Boétie in September of that year. Dany designed and drew the logo herself.

Dany’s philosophy is a beautiful thing. Above all she emphasizes the importance of education, and generosity of information. These things are indeed gifts. She is ever grateful for her own teachers and consequently passes on her knowledge to all who want to learn it. Two of France’s superstar makeup artists, Stephane Marais and Tom Pecheux, are former students of hers.

Dany shared a sweet story of the stress that went along with success in business; her immense feelings of responsibility for the livelihood of her employees and their families as the brand grew and grew and her worry about making mistakes in business. She has followed the opportunities that arose in her life, emphasizing the need for a real strength of spirit due to the competitiveness of the business. Despite all her success she remains a hands-on artist with a true humility instead of a superego. Unlike me.

Dany body painting for the audience

Dany sharing technique with the audience

Today the line is under the umbrella of LVMH which acquired the brand in 1999 and accelerated its growth. Although still hugely popular with professionals for it’s HD Foundations and concealers, it is no longer just a pro-line, but available to everyone through retail outlets and online. The label, which is sold in 50 countries, opened its second Paris boutique, which is less of a pro store and more for all make up fanatics, in the Marais. Make Up Forever does huge business with Asian markets, most notably Korea, without which, she says, the label would not be the cult beauty brand it has become. Dany Sanz, with all her tenacity and talents, has made MAKE UP FOREVER a huge success story.

My most recent makeup starring Make Up Forever, for a masquerade party

My most recent makeup starring Make Up Forever, for a masquerade party

There are jobs I could not have completed without this line.  At work, I am an obsessive labeller of all my supplies. My MAKE UP FOREVER products are in an area labelled “Unicorn Corner“. This makes my assistants laugh (“it’s in Unicorn Corner!”), which is no bad thing. Glitter, rhinestones, creams in a billion colours, glow-in-the-dark powders, feather eyelashes, star powders, dry pigments…all these are from the company I most often turn to when called upon to create something out of the ordinary. Beautifully, all the stuff I use to do a full Glam Rock make-up comes from the woman who started her career at that time. Which is why I love it.

I was once called upon to do a fluorescent makeup. There was only one company to call: MAKE UP FOREVER

I do love a balloon. As spotted at the event last week

I do love a balloon. As spotted at the event last week

All in all it was a fabulous evening. Even the parking ticket didn’t bother me (well it was rock-star parking after all and still cheaper than valet). The night gave me some much-needed positivity and she even answered my question about how Bowie inspired her work. A good way to kick off the new year in make up. And out of it.




Happy Birthday to the Man Who Fell To Earth and then Sold The World

posted by Wendy January 8, 2016 3 Comments

Happy Birthday to Mr Bowie. On this day, the 69th birthday of Mr David Bowie, let’s celebrate how much of a true inspiration he has been to western fashion and makeup culture.


He is Glam. He is Rock.

He started it all. And then some.

David Bowie is so many things…an icon, an innovator, a cult figure.

I have a personal history with him, so to speak. Growing up a few streets away from where he did, in Bromley slash Sundridge Park in southeast London, it was impossible not to know who David Bowie was or what he meant to the place. He was our brightest star. My friends went to the same school as him (much later of course!), we drank in the same pubs he used to play in, and I even got married in the same registry office where he and Angie tied a knot in 1970. His wedding hair was better than mine.

David and Angie get married in Bromley, 1970

David and Angie get married in Bromley, 1970

Bowie started in pop music in the 1960’s and then stepped into his own spotlight in the 1970’s as a pioneer of the Glam Rock movement.  He has been Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, The Man who Fell to Earth, The Man who Sold the World but always An Absolute Beginner. He is an absolutely iconic figure of pop culture and a Master of Imagery, in a  pre-Madonna world. Pre-Madonna, not prima donna.

A Hunky Dory, 1973

A Hunky Dory, 1973

He has been a true innovator for forty-odd years, and whether you are aware of it or not, has probably had a direct or indirect influence on how you look at some point. It is fair to say that he has created the biggest cult in pop culture in an amazing career marked by reinvention, innovation and visual presentation.

He has been all these things and continues to shiftshape.

Boys Keep Swinging. 1979

Boys Keep Swinging. 1979

I very recently read about a “new” trend for blue eyeshadow. Beg to differ. Bowie was NEW.  He pushed the boundaries for men and women and developed visual styles all his own, leading the way for the ones that followed. He took androgyny to new levels and changed our views about the possibilities.

Not to mention what great ideas you can get from him if you consult the Bowie Style Catalogue. It could keep you busy for years. Speaking of busy, I am off to the shops. The birthday genius has a new album out today.

How girls from Bromley do Halloween (2015)

How girls from Bromley do Halloween (2015)


BLACKSTAR is released today

BLACKSTAR is released today



I hereby resolve….

posted by Wendy January 4, 2016 3 Comments

So here we are, the first Monday of the new year which is, in it’s own way, another new start. Back to it. Party’s over!

Which direction will your resolutions point you in this year?

Mine are going to take me onwards and upwards and ready to take on the joys and challenges that will inevitably arise in this new year. I actually enjoy thinking about and making resolutions, which are really just post-it notes in our brains instead of on the fridge, to remind us what we want to achieve in the next twelve months (thanks go to Julius Caesar for dividing up our time this way and to some Gregorians for later agreeing to it). It’s also The Year of the Monkey. It’s a win-win all the way.

Wanna know why we even make resolutions? It’s because we cannot shake off our past…

Making resolutions, let’s call it a “trend”, first started with the ancient Babylonians 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honour of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in early spring when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day festival they either crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed (I’d like my CD back, you know who you are!).  If they kept to their word, their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be. Bloody Pagans. It’s all their fault.

Romans under Julius Caesar continued this “trend”, as well as those for funny hairstyles and toga parties. Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus (doesn’t bear thinking about), exchanging gifts with one another (and they didn’t even have Tom Ford then), decorating their homes with laurel branches (the Roman Martha Stewart must have made a killng) and attending raucous parties, toga parties of course.

I really fancy a caesar salad now, not sure why.

So, civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for thousands of years; we have a lot of people to blame! Today, New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of New Year’s Day…unless you’re old and/or tired and prefer to have a cuppa and got to bed early. In which case you look a lot better the next day than those who did not and I speak from experience. Now common traditions include parties, drinking champers, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year, drinking champers, watching fireworks, and drinking champers!

Traditions of celebrations have since developed differently in different cultures. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes (in the form of champers, kidding) symbolising their hopes for the months ahead…right before midnight. No choking allowed. Other New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, (that’s cool isn’t it?) round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, and Greece. In Sweden and Norway, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served and if you find the nut, expect a year of good fortune. If you find a nut in Canada, this does not happen, just sayin.

I love that so many celebrations are about enjoying food and feasting, cos by New Year’s Day it’s all about denying yourself of any of it. Annoyingly. So it’s bla bla bla drink lemon water, lose weight, exercise more, detox bla bla bla. All of which are good resolutions but I think they lose sight of the more important things…


This year I am concentrating on fundamentals. I do not make beauty resolutions per se, because I believe that concentrating on other things will make us more beautiful in any case.

So I am going to:

  • concentrate on taking care of myself. This is a hard one, because sometimes, depending on what our responsibilities are, we feel guilty about this and call it ‘selfishness’. But there is a big difference between self-care and selfishness. Women tend to have more issues with guilt because we usually take care of others before ourselves. I will pay special attention to this one this year because if we don’t take care of ourselves, there is actually less good stuff left for the ones we love and want to take proper care of. Capiche?
  • laugh more. I hope your friends and lovers make you laugh, otherwise what’s the point? Think of it as comedy collagen and imagine what laughing can do for your looks as well as your spirit. Laugh-lines are beautiful.
  • work less and have more fun, doing things I love with the people I love.  No point working all the hours god sends if there’s no-one awake when you get home.
  • get outside. Fresh-air fitness is the name of the game!
  • give myself the gift of silence and meditation, regularly and often. Anti-ageing for the body and soul!
  • eat lots of avocados, coconuts, grass-fed butter and beef broth. Think food for your brain, skin and hair!
  • stay away from violence in “entertainment” because I am sick to death of it and it leaves me irate at the state of affairs and what is found acceptable. I will rally against it but not watch it.
  • donate make-up to women who are returning to the workplace after trauma or crisis and who are in need of a bit of help. The thing about doing things for other people is that it does something for ourselves too.
  • accept the things I cannot change and wish for the courage to change the things I can.


Wish me luck. Whatever your resolutions this year I hope they come to fruition and that we all have a wonderful year. Happy New Year everyone!

P.S I love New Year’s Eve and all the fun and hope that goes along with it, always have. The best New Year’s Eve I ever experienced was undoubtedly heralding in 2000 on London Bridge. Will never forget it. We all thought the world might go topsy turvy with the new millennium. Instead we celebrated under a sky of endless fireworks which took breaths away, and got home safely.


London Fireworks, 2000

Second best was last year in Times Square. I got the closest to Taylor Swift that I will ever get.  Probably. That wasn’t what made it a fabulous night- New York alone can do that for you.

There she is! Up on the screen haha

There she is! Up on the screen! 2015

Signing off this year from Vancouver. I am going for a walk in the sunshine. Start as you mean to carry on! And Happy New Year xo



posted by Wendy January 3, 2016 0 comments

That any of us should look like this at sixty! Iman, a Somali-American, is a beauty in the truest sense of the word, from inside out and around the world. She is a true inspiration in beauty and business, a mother of two and engaged in global charity work.

Iman at sixty in 2015

Iman at sixty in 2015

Iman was discovered by photographer Peter Beard, while she was at university in Africa, and moved to the United States to begin a modelling career. Her first assignment was for Vogue a year later in 1976; she landed some of the most prestigious magazine covers, becoming one of the first generation of “supermodels”. She was an instant success in the fashion world, though she herself insists that her looks are merely or typically Somali. Yves Saint-Laurent once described her as his “dream woman”.

Iman in YSL

Iman in YSL

Iman runs her own immensely successful line of cosmetics for women of colour, bringing that to the market when little else was available, changing  the marketplace for us all by enriching it.

She is actively involved in a number of charitable endeavours, such as the Keep a Child Alive program and the Children’s Defense Fund as well as being an Ambassador for Save the Children. Not your average model! And certainly not your average 60 year-old. She not only looks beautiful, she does beautiful, for other people.

Not to mention she’s married to ….Mr David Bowie, who changed the look of generations of men and women with his pioneering use of characters in performance, a Makeup God in is own right, and from Bromley, enough said! He will be getting his own page, obviously!


Jerry Hall

posted by Wendy December 30, 2015 2 Comments

I do think it is important to have knowledge of those who have gone before us and shaped our fashion and social culture. Enter Jerry Hall, circa 1975, who had IT, still has IT, and will have IT till the day she doesn’t. I can’t do her justice in five minutes. There will be lots about makeup history on the blog because it fascinates me and got me started in this crazy biz, but for now, be inspired by Jerry on New Year’s Eve, cos that girl was glamour all the way and I can guarantee she went to some great parties!

If I ever meet her I will have to quiz here on why she left Bryan Ferry for Mick Jagger. Come on Jerry! That’s madness. Which one looks better in a suit? We all know the answer to that xo