If you’re going to indulge in contouring, strobing, highlighting, face shaping, call it what you will, the secret to success is in the blend. Each texture has to blend seamlessly into the next and to get the right effect one needs the right tools. Enter these brushes from ICONIC LONDON which will buff you and your stuff to perfection. Ranging in size from contour/ foundation brush to small ones for eye and Cupid’s Bow highlights, they will get the job done.
I simply couldn’t walk past this amazing beauty bargain last week without popping one in the basket! Lucky for me they were left on the shelf (how many times did I hear that from my great aunt Lil, usually in relation to me): three konjac sponges for $7.00 at a Canadian drugstore. Yes please and thank you very much. Note the packaging is also en francais. It may be the right thing to do, but it means all the writing on packages in Canada is eeeeennnsy weeeensy, which is doing my eyesight in.
Not that my bathroom cabinet is in need of any more cleansing options. Truly. There are so many ways to wash away makeup and general out-and about grime and pollutants, it’s a wonder we know where to begin. There’s those regular cleansers, remember them? Put them on your face, move them around a bit, rinse with water, SO old school. I can’t imagine how we coped when that was the only choice. There’s the ubiquitous Clarasonic and all its spin-offs, that new rubbery thing, the Foreo LUNA 2 for Sensitive Skin, have you had the pleasure of running into one of those yet? I’ve seen them at Sephora but am still thinking about the concept and whether I want to spend that kind of cash. The Foreo IRIS Eye Massager is on my wish list though, and I do have a birthday coming up! There’s micellar waters, cleansing oils, milks, balms and exfoliators for shelves and shelves. And the meek but mighty konjac sponge. I used to use one pre-blog, and then lapsed; this time I’m bringing them to you.
Konjac sponges are made from the fibers of the konjac (konnyaku) plant and have been used for centuries in Japan to clean newborn babies because of their soft texture. The sponge, not the baby. Although babies are very very soft. Konjac is a member of the potato family, a perennial plant native to Asia and grows wild at very high altitudes. A totally natural food source, it is is 97% water, rich in mineral goodness and low in calories but don’t eat the sponge please. The plant is naturally alkaline and pH neutral, which makes it an ideal cleansing medium. It’s been used in Korea, Japan and China for over 1,500 years as medicine, food, a dieting aid and a beauty product. The cosmetic sponges started to swim to our shores with the rise of K-Beauty imports. Three cheers for world trade.
Because they are plant-based, the sponges are biodegradable, fully sustainable, vegan-friendly and probably one of the most natural ways to wash your face barring using only water which doesn’t do much – you don’t even need to add a cleanser if you don’t want to. The sponge itself does the cleaning.
There’s a variety of sponges available according to your skin type and cleansing needs. To make them, the fibrous plant base is mixed with water and other ingredients, e.g. charcoal or clay for a specialised sponge. My three-pack includes:
- Pink Clay konjac sponge – for sensitive skin
- Lavender konjac sponge – soft and gentle with soothing qualities of lavender
- Charcoal – gently exfoliates, ideal for controlling occasional breakouts
On your behalf I tested the lavender sponge for the blog. My skin isn’t overly sensitive and I don’t break out much. I do have a spot brewing on the corner of my mouth and quite a bit of congestion around my chin, thanks electrolysis (bet you’re looking forward to that post!), so I’ll pay special attention to those and let you know the results. I should probably use the charcoal one on the troubled areas.
But back to the sponges: they’re very hard to the touch when you first open the package and are dome-shaped. They look like fancy pumice stones.
Soak them in warm water for 3-5 minutes before using, and up to fifteen minutes for first time use, until it absorbs lots of water and feels nice and squishy.It will have expanded to about 1 1/2 it’s original size. Gently squeeze the excess water out of the sponge. It’s hard to explain what they feel like; a gelatinous sponge is the best description I can come up with. Your sponge is now ready for use:
Use the damp sponge to cleanse, using circular movements all over the face and neck. It’s nice and soft so there’s no drag on the skin and even if you were to apply the most pressure you could, you can do no damage- it’s too soft! It simply glides around like a friendly jellyfish, eating up all the makeup and dirt as it goes. You can use the edge to take the sponge up around the eye area. You’ll get the hang of it and feel your way around.
I did have to use eye makeup remover to get rid of the day’s my eye makeup which didn’t even budge after using the sponge alone. Granted I was wearing some wonderfully long-lasting Korean eye tints from BelleMe (if you follow me on Insta you’ll have seen me raving about them) and my favourite waterproof mascara so fair enough, it’s a lot for a mere potato to handle.
After the first use, My face feels really smooth and velvety but not wet at all, which is strange because I expected it to. It feels squeaky clean without feeling a bit parched or pinched. Yay. No rinsing required, you can go straight to your serums, oils, whatever routine and settle in for the night.
Taking care of your new squishy friend is so easy. To clean the sponge, simply run it under hot water after you’re done and allow it to dry in an airy place between uses. Be careful not to wring it out as this may damage the delicate plant fibres, just squeeze between your flattened hands. You can also pop your clean sponge in the fridge to keep it fresh and cool, which helps it last even longer. Alternatively, your sponge is happy to be aired on a radiator or heated towel rail. When dried, it will shrink and harden (ooh, bet you’ve heard that one before but not necessarily in that order); simply soak it to absorb water and rehydrate before using it again. It even comes with a nifty string thingy attached so you can hang it to dry! How brilliant is that.
Never use the sponge when it’s dry. It will hurt and scratch your skin. The better care of the sponge you take, the longer it will last. You should get at least two – three months out of it, which isn’t bad for a vegetable you keep in the washroom. Don’t leave it sitting in the shower or in a pool of water which will shorten it’s life; once it starts to look tired or breaks down, get rid of it. They can be composted or used in the garden to help water your plants by holding moisture. Stick them in your pot plants and tell your friends there’s been an alien slug invasion.
Finding the pack on sale was meant to be; I am falling back in love with konjac sponges. They are really fun to use and feel lovely, which makes it easy to spend more time than usual doing your cleansing routine; a plus in every way. I went around and around my face and then used the principles of facial massage to sweep the thing all over my face and up from the neck which turned into a good five minutes of “work” that I thoroughly enjoyed. I ended up very glowy, and that’s without cleanser added but if you’re wearing makeup, you might want to add cleanser to the sponge for better cleaning. The top pad shows what was left on my skin after using the sponge on it’s own. The bottom one is what’s left after using my regular cleanser and the sponge- it’s very clean! If you don’t use makeup you’re fine to use the sponge all by itself. Word to the wise, if you add cleanser, use a tiny bit. Also a saving- a small investment in a konjac sponge will save you on cleanser bills.
Interestingly, I found some tattoo after-care sponges at www.konjacspongecompany.com so if you’re into inking this could save a lot of post-tat issues. Use the sponge on new tats to remove dirt, blood and plasma. The gentle sponge, which is larger than the facial ones, for obvious reasons, cleans and soothes the affected area and should reduce the likelihood of large scabs forming. Once the new layers of skin have been exposed, the sponge will help cleanse and condition the new delicate and sensitive skin without the need for any soap, which could irritate or dry out the affected area. Sterilise it in between uses by boiling in water for two minutes.
I’ll be dreaming about purple and pink jellyfish off the Greek Islands this week. Carry on konjacing! Let me know how you get on.
I had to go makeup shopping last weekend. You may not believe me, but it’s not always an enjoyable experience, especially on a crowded Saturday afternoon, and as I take my makeup shopping seriously, it’s usually an expedition with more than one mission involved. It’s actual work. So there I was, list in hand, eyes on sticks, on the beauty floor of the fairly new Nordstrom Vancouver, when lo and behold I spotted a sign that caught my attention. K Beauty, a recent phenomenon of the beauty world, has arrived for a limited time.
When I shop for makeup, for myself or anyone else, which I do frequently, it’s mostly to the same places I’ve known and loved long long time. My choices are probably the same as your choices if you’re near a large town or city and in the western world. I do a round of the counters of the established beauty giants: NARS, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, YSL, Laura Mercier, Tom Ford Beauty, M.A.C, Stila, Bobbi Brown etc etc, the doyens of the industry. Nordstrom has all of them and many more. It can be a whole-day beauty bonanza if you’re so inclined (do not go to the strategically placed bar on the first floor…shopping after cocktails is a dangerous activity). So seeing the sign for the K-Beauty pop-up shop immediately piqued an interest and of course I had to investigate. There, in the corner of the colossal ground floor, amongst the elegant grown-ups of the beauty world, I had some fun and felt like a rookie. All over again.
There is no one product line called “K-Beauty“. It’s an umbrella term given to the lines that come out of the South Korean industry. The fad of Korean beauty products gained popularity worldwide last year, particularly in the U.S. where they went a bit bonkers for it, and focuses on health, hydration and lots of natural oils. BB Cream, once a mystery to the west but now in loads of makeup bags, originated in Korea.
There are some kooky ingredients to be found here and not the norm of western products: snail slime, bee venom (an anti-inflammatory “faux-tox” alleged to relax facial muscles), moisturizing starfish extract, and egg yolks. There are vegan and cruelty-free lines available, be sure to ask which ones: Color Buckat and Touch In Sol are and there’s more. Korea is already in the process of phasing out animal testing for cosmetics by 2018. The bill entered into law earlier this year.
The boom in sheet face-masking can be “blamed” on the influence of K-Beauty which started in earnest in 2016. The market is now inundated with sheet masks. They are quite fun and very effective so I’m not complaining. Korean skincare regimes involve a series of steps including cleansing rituals (oils are preferred), sheet masks, essences, serums, moisturisers, cushion compacts, fermented products, and essential sunscreen (at night, the sunscreen is replaced by a “sleep cream”), so to the uninitiated it’s rather a complicated business and one I admit I knew little about. The sheet-masking step is essential, and a ritual I’ve taken to happily. I got my hands on another one of the cult Egg Cream Masks (I got one for Christmas) which sell out everywhere in minutes flat.
With so many steps to the regime and so many lines and products to choose from, the curated pop-up shop is a brilliant introduction to the best of the best of K-beauty, and a stunning marketing idea. Well done Nordstrom for giving many brands their “stateside debut” and for giving us a glimpse into another world of beauty, for both women and men. And thanks to Olivia Kim (http://fashionista.com/2014/11/olivia-kim) for hand picking these gorgeous goodies. Brands showcased in the pop-up include Huxley, BelleMe, Color Buckat, Too Cool For School, Touch In Sol, Za, Onnu, Twenty Four/Seven, DTRT. That’s just for starters.
First impressions were all about presentation. K is for kute and kitch with packaging which is immediately eye-catching and draws you to look closer. K is also for klever. These are the kinds of things you want in your handbag, on the makeup table, to give to friends, to keep for yourself, because they are cheerful and funny. Lots of these products put the girly back into glamour, and not even in a retro way like so many other lines do. The pink faux-fur ball chairs for resting on didn’t hurt either.
Get ready for a barrage of fun photos – I couldn’t stop! So many delightful things. It’s a wonder I put the camera away and made time to actually try stuff.
Time to think pink…
Gorgeous smelling facial mists and sunscreens are as essential as sheet masking, and there’s loads to choose from.
And then there’s the makeup, starting with some rather excellent primers and skin beautifiers…
I thought these were brilliant, and it tastes really good too. A yummy honey moisturising treatment.
So here’s what I came away with…
Although skincare reigns supreme, there’s lots of makeup to play with too. Top picks: these amazing eyeshadows, from Belle Me. I couldn’t not; you can never have too many brown shadows (my weakness) and the colour of the sun kissed one is glorious. They are silky and shimmery, with a remarkable colour payoff and are VERY long lasting. Impressed. And less that $10 each! I have to go back for more.
These eye tints, also from Belle Me are to die for and take me back to Miss Selfridge makeup days, except then they were in purple and pink. These ones have a creamy constancy and with a sponge applicator in tube, they blend to luscious sparkly textures in gorge colours, and last all day. I’ve been working 16 hour days and they’re still on at the end of it. Same with the shadows above. Brilliant. Less than $20. Also brilliant.
Another thing I found with incredible staying power are these gel liners, the Dessert In My Eyes range, from Belle Me. The box of four was $31.25. Such great price points. I’ve already worn the lilac/brown, Macaron, a fab soft colour for a sophisticated way to do purple, and Chocolat, which smudges but then doesn’t move. I’m serious.
it didn’t stop there. Behind this New York skyline lies another thumbs up for my makeup kit. It’s Too Cool For School.
Almost last but not almost least, a very juicy rosewater gel from IPKN. With 20% pure rosewater, it tones and soothes. Can also be used as a soothing sleeping mask, a body gel cream or a hair treatment. Thirty dollars well spent. Like most everything here, silicone-free, phthalate-free, paraben-free and sulphate-free. Even better.
And of course an Egg Cream sheet mask. They have the All-In-One Mellow Soothing Cream with added collagen, in stock but I had to walk away at some point. Until I go back before Saturday! Fingers crossed.
Quite a good haul for an unexpected bypass. I spent so much time with K-Beauty the rest of the counters were a rush job but that’s ok. This one is temporary. Have to make the most of it.
Another thing I like about this pop-up, apart from it’s great lighting and knowledgeable but laid-back sales team, is their inclusive advertising – these “models” are friends of the photographer from Seattle. Real, interesting faces representing world beauty (but not all ages) was a refreshing change.
Seeing all of it, new and exotic, made me feel like a beauty newbie, in the most delightful way, which is no mean feat for someone so long in the makeup tooth. My makeup intern too had a blast; she’s gifted with great artistic ability, as you can see…
If you want some makeup joy in your life, head down there, you’ve got until March 26th. I’m quite sure I’ll be going back myself. But I’ll try not to get another brown eyeshadow, promise. If you’re lucky, Kevin, who is vastly knowledgeable about what’s on the shelves, will be on duty to point you in the right direction: towards South Korea.
One of my first loves from this line, Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask – Cleanser, Mask & Balm – 75ml changed My Life In Makeup forever (go back a few posts to read me rave about it), so you can imagine how I feel about this one.
New from the magic Makeup Artist Tilbury is the revolutionary Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask, which promises, and delivers, facial-like results in fifteen minutes. This new mask features ingredients which are clinically proven (tested on humans) to reduce wrinkles and to smooth, brighten, lift and hydrate your skin.
This is what makes the new dry mask so unique:
- it has a BIO-MIMETIC VECTOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (sounds complicated. It is)that allows for a prolonged release of active ingredients and powers them into the epidermis.
- it has an in-built technological 5 Skin Solution IQ which tailors to your skin, feeding it exactly what it needs.
- Vitamin B3 brightens the skin, while Plant Stem Cell Matrix lifts and decreases wrinkles.
- it’s a DRY textile mask with active ingredients imprinted on it, you can use it up to 3 times. Amazing.
- the burst release effects of this mask last for up to 8 HOURS.
- It has a higher DOSAGE of active ingredients and the most potent delivery system.
- it give gorgeous, glowing skin that is hydrated and revitalized.
- the silly selfie opportunities are limitless
Very importantly, this mask is more Hannibal-like than others on the market, so it’s good for frightening your significant others on mask days!
I heartily recommend making masking a regular part of your beauty routine. Pick a day a week for exfoliation, and a day for masking. It can be the same day for both, why not make it your beauty day? I do mine on Sunday but have a friend who insists that Thursday is better so she looks good for the weekend. She has a point! Doing them together makes it easier to remember to do both, and exfoliating your skin beforehand will enhance the benefits of a mask. Fit these two treatments into your regular skincare routine and you will see and feel a difference immediately, which will keep you at it. I also add a mask for clients before special events, whatever they may be. They are very easy and fun to use. Put some relaxing music on, have a soothing tea (skip the wine) and you’re on the way to a beautiful day:
The mask also comes in a four-pack, which is a fantastic idea. It’s marv to have masks on hand, and being able to use each one multiple times is rather brilliant (be sure to seal the packaging up after each use). These are going to be wonderful to have for holidays, destination weddings, or any travelling you want or have to do. Alternatively, split the cost and have a girls night in and mask with friends. Boys are also allowed to try them.
Some meetings are meant to happen. I firmly believe that. This summer I went to Iceland, at last, and met with awe inspiring forces in both natural and human forms. Iceland is a place unlike any I’ve ever been, all rock and sky and water. It’s Scotland on Viking steroids. Vast stretches of volcanic terrain leading to mountains of muted tones under blue blue skies, you can’t help but wonder when the elves will pop out to greet you.
And then there’s the people. And their skin. I was meant to meet them and their spa culture. You cannot help but notice how healthy and vibrant they look, how they “glow” and look fine of pore. Is it the cold? Is it genetic? Is it their lifestyle? The water, it must be the water. Whatever the reason, it is apparent that Icelanders take their skin and their spa seriously. And because I wanted to walk like them, talk like them, be like them (sing like them!), I did the next best thing and went to the shops like them.
My first brush with Icelandic skincare was with SKYN eye masks, recommended for de-puffing the eyes of a certain someone who shall remain nameless and I didn’t have to go to Iceland to get them. Actually getting there opened up a whole new world of skincare possibilities. On the streets of Reykjavik, all over the place, you see ads for BIOEFFECT EGF Serum. I’d caught wind of it in the beauty world before this trip, so by the time I got there and saw it everywhere I was convinced it was a national treasure. It was my first purchase; I tucked it away into the suitcase for later use. I should have started to use it right away, but that’s a different story. I had already planned to do an article about winter skin care, so I put it aside for later.
A couple of days into my trip I went to the infamous Blue Lagoon which has its own spa and shop; very tempting to buy everything but I had two months of travelling to consider so called upon my Wendy Willpower, walking away with only the award-winning Blue Lagoon Rejuvenating lipbalm. There’s always online shopping after all.
I flew on from Reykjavik and on the plane read about Dr Bragi and his skincare line; third purchase, Marine Enzyme Age Management Moisturiser. I didn’t even have to leave my seat. How easy was that?
This trio stayed hidden away until the winter when I started my thirty day trial. So here they are, in the order I bought them, which seemed the fairest way to do this.
BIOEFFECT EGF Serum
Lots of stuff about this on the plane to Reykjavik…Icelanders are proud of local achievments, in all areas of expertise (I arrived just after the football defeat but the city was still celebrating the team and all it had done) and do much to applaud home success stories. Nothing wrong with that, especially when they’re of such a high calibre.
What is EGF I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you. Epidermal Growth Factor aka EGF is a naturally occurring skin protein, and “acts as the skin’s cellular messenger, kick-starting the production of youth-preserving collagen and elastin while promoting the skin’s own repair process”. Stanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Montalcini won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1986 for their discovery of EGF and it’s vital function in the biology of human skin. The serum is a ground breaking cellular activating serum, containing only 7 ingredients with no preservatives or fragrance and suitable for all skin types. It takes a nightly dose (the serum works best on resting skin, not sure if that included lying on the sofa watching The Crown) for the serum to replicate the effects EGF naturally has on the skin. See it to believe it. It’s made in Iceland, from barley grown in volcanic pumice with pure Icelandic water. See, I knew it was all about that water.
This is a beautifully liquid serum making it easy to massage in (don’t forget those facial massages please). I used it nightly, only 2-4 drops, and it’s about to run out so I will repurchase. It feels extraordinary on my parched face during these winter months.
According to the company’s literature, it will deliver skin rejuvenating results for all skin types (suitable for even the most sensitive due to its lack of fillers, fragrances, parabens, preservatives or colourants). For more info and for their other anti-aging products go to www.bioeffect.com
DR BRAGI Marine Enzyme Age Management Moisturiser
The late Dr Jon Bragi Bjarnason was Professor of biochemistry at the University of Iceland and one of the world’s leading enzymologists. His life was dedicated to the study and therapeutic application of marine enzymes, starting with arthritis and wound healing and later expanding into dermatology; clinical evidence led Dr Bragi to develop a unique line of skincare based on marine enzyme technology. I was right again! It’s all because of the water!
The Age Management Mosturiser combines his patented formula of super-active marine enzymes with hyaluronic acid, known for it’s plumping and hydrating abilities (hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times it’s own volume in water) so this one claims to offer advanced relief for persistently dry and sensitive skin and to prevent the breakdown of collagen by supporting optimal cell function. In fact, one would think this product has superpowers, with those two ingredients for parents! I was kind of hooked after the first application – applied on my damp face after a steamy Sunday bath (I feel another of those coming on) it felt immediately nourished and a bit “sticky”. The packaging says if it feels sticky you’ve applied too much, but that’s one of the things that comforted me about it during daily use – that tiny touch of “tack” I felt assured me it was in place and doing it’s amazing job. I used a bit too much, obvs, but I liked it that way, my skin felt amazing and my makeup stayed on all day (wait 15 minutes before applying) so it works as a beautiful primer as well. According to the company info, because the marine enzyme products optimize cell function, and enhances the skin’s natural rejuvenating mechanisms, other products aren’t as necessary. You can use just this as your moisturiser and eye cream. Financial bonus. All in all I loved it because my face felt smooth and hydrated, and it didn’t suffer through the freezing weather, a surefire way of knowing that a product is working.
The Dr Bragi skincare line contains no parabens, perfumes, silicones, glycols, artificial preservatives, lanolin, lipids or dyes; safe for the most sensitive skins and for use during pregnancy. My skin is not overly sensitive but dry and dehydrated but I would have no problem recommending it to anyone who is sensitive or problematic skin because the ingredients are so pure, which means they are much less likely to cause any reactions. I rather like this graphic from the literature about the Bragi approach to caring for the skin:
I was genuinely saddened when my moisturiser ran out and not only ordered more but delved into other products from the line. I have an Intensive Treatment Mask waiting for me to use on my next at-home spa day. That may not be for a couple of weeks, boohoo, but I’m really looking forward to it.
Oh, by the way, the Dr Bragi line was a CEW Beauty Insiders Choice for best new skincare line in 2008. That’s the equivalent of an Oscar for beauty products.
The Blue Lagoon Rejuvenating Lipbalm
This is a cheeky little number – it’s actually made in Denmark! But I’ll let it off, it has Icelandic ingredients and maybe all the facilities in Iceland (there can’t be very many) were busy making other stuff so they had to go somewhere else to mix it up. This balm is velvety but matte, stays on really well and doesn’t interfere with lipstick, in face I love it under a matte. By itself it looks natural and is uncoloured. I did lend this to ‘im indoors and got very gentle whiffs of chocolate every time he went by. Yummy.
What can I say about my impressions of Icelandic skincare so far? The products I’ve come across are symbolic of everything I loved about the country itself – they are pure, clean, modern, and really, really well designed. If you’re a regular reader you might have gathered that I’m a skincare fanatic. Good skin equals good makeup, which makes my work easier to do and the results more beautiful, so all of these are staying in my kit for good, to use on both women and men. In fact, all of the things I’ve talked about here would fit amazingly well into a his/hers bathroom. It’s the kind of stuff you want to keep for yourself but can, generously of course, because we’re good people, lend to the guy who’s interested in skincare but doesn’t know where to start. The packaging is ultra modern (right up my alley) and non gender oriented. If he likes it make sure he gets his own or yours will be gone too quickly! I think I have made good skincare choices in the last ten-fifteen years (when I became very serious about it in terms of helping with the aging process) but honestly wish I’d come across these Icelandic lines sooner. They really deliver, and in the purest way, which is no bad thing. It feels as if they are the way forward in modern skincare, with Iceland leading the charge. Which makes it Viking skincare, no?! Charging forward with purity and science, the modern Vikings of the beauty industry. It is in their blood. And in the water.
I would go back to Iceland in a heartbeat, I absolutely loved it. Would be nice if the next trip was a winter one, to see northern lights and have lots of amazing spa time and imagining a Christmas there gets me all hygge; I am a Viking myself, after all. The next time I go, whenever it may be, I aim to have skin like a local! I’m hoping they’ll give me citizenship.
P.S here’s another meeting that was meant to happen…and another reason I need to return to Iceland.
Chinese New Year is soon upon us. I’m a bit bloody sad The Year of The Monkey has flown by so quickly because it’s been one of great inspiration and change; this monkey really got out to swing through the jungle! But it’s out with the monkey, in with the cock and time to stop the bull. Pardon the expressions.
According to the Chinese Horoscope, people born in Rooster years have “many excellent characteristics, such as being honest, bright, communicative and ambitious. Most of them are born pretty or handsome, and prefer to dress up. In daily life, they seldom rely on others. However, they might be enthusiastic about something quickly, but soon be impassive. Thus, they need to have enough faiths and patience to insist on one thing”. Sounds like Rooster girls aren’t happy with just one lipstick.
For all the Roosters, and the rest of us that like to dress up (our faces), there’s lots of lovely goodies around in honour of this new year. No reason not to be a beautiful chicken. But please remember to stay away from rats!
PRODUCT REVIEWS Mylifeinmakeup.com does not receive any monetary compensation to review products. Most reviews are based on products purchased personally, and preferred, or not. Occasionally I will receive products from makeup companies and will choose whether or not to review them here. Receiving products has no bearing on the opinion of the review, nor whether I choose to review it or not. All opinions are just that, and are honest and unbiased. Recommendations are based on the knowledge I have gained in 18 years as a professional makeup artist. Mylifeinmakeup.com is not to be held responsible if you decide to purchase an item and are dissatisfied with it.
I get excited about Valentine’s Day for reasons that you wouldn’t think but when I saw these lipsticks I got excited for it for the reasons other people do. I’m thinking romance and gorgeousness and there’s nothing wrong with a little beauty on that day whether you have a “valentine” or not. Some of my best Valentine’s Days have been spent celebrating being single so cheers to that as well. Be your own valentine by treating yourself right!
This year I will have a very difficult time choosing which one of these to wear. So I’ll wear both, one for day, one for night. Two very lovely, universally flattering shades at any age. Tilbury strikes again.
Like my grandmother before me, I am much more prevention than cure, ergo my obsession with skincare in place of botox and fillers. I have a never ending supply of anti-oxidant skin treatments, anti-aging skincare products, hand creams, sunscreens and lip balms and they’re stashed all over the place because you use never know when and where you’ll need one.
Despite all my efforts, this week I’m a chappy chap and I admit that I have fallen victim to a few environmental factors, whilst taking full responsibility because I was less than diligent in preventing my chapped lips. I’m owning it! A perfect example of Do What I Say Not What I Do.
The recent weather (which has consisted of cold winds, icy rain and even snow, typically, of course on the days and nights I have to work outside), the central heating at night, a warm car on long drives, the occasional flight, even two hours on a boat in freezing temperatures, a fair few number of matte lipsticks which I’ve been loving for months; all these have given me a case of the chaps. So I’m going the extra mile with something new Father Christmas put in my stocking and testing it on your behalf. Time to get my pucker back.
I’ve talked before about lip scrubs before and the importance of exfoliating especially in seasons of extreme weather (“Pucker Up: Lip Scrubs Tested On Your Behalf”). I still have one from biTE Beauty in my personal beauty arsenal so I started with that.
Using it is pretty straightforward; apply it to your lips and around the lipline and massage in with a circular motion, then leave it to do it’s job for a few minutes. Wipe away with a wet flannel and gently pat dry.
The next step is the fun part!
What this nifty little packet says is Sephora Shea Lip Mask (after the French part which is actually at the top. Must have been packaged for Quebec). It’s a bio-cellulose lip mask for protecting and repairing and is full of squishy good stuff including shea butter. The elves stuffed my stocking nicely this year so I have some lovely things to try out!
When your time is up (take longer than ten minutes, by all means), remove the mask and massage in all the treatment that’s left over. Feels remarkable, I love it and PROMISE myself to exfoliate and mask more often from now on. I am loading up on lip balms and holding off on the matte lipsticks for a week (the new formulas are not as drying as they used to be but I’ll still have a week off). I know you may not all be in the land of Sephoras but I bet Boots, Superdrug and the like have loads of these as well.
My lips are feeling and looking much better so I’m just off to ring my friend Janice to tell her I’ve found something perfect for her! It does, in fact, appear to be custom made xo
There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a beard over there, telling them they got to grow hair…
Coming soon to a town near you, and possibly into your personal space, is a new breed of beard and a man attached to it. If it hasn’t happened already I’d be surprised, because it’s feeling a little like a beardyman takeover. On the West Coast, as in London and Brooklyn, they are everywhere, and mandatory in Portland and Reykjavik.
To be honest, I’m not entirely certain how I feel about full facial hair on a guy. My first response is apprehension, and probably has something to do with the fact I inadvertently stumbled upon a copy of The Joy Of Sex when I was far too young to see it. Horrifically, the image of that bearded man burnt onto the back off my retinas and if you’ve ever seen it you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m trying to move on; there are men who look amazing in beards, and they continue to show up on unexpected faces. I even had a husband with a beautiful red beard. The clean-cut boys of yesterday are really going with it and the trend may be with us for a long time so I’d better get used to it.
I’ve been a little taken aback at how many friends now have big facial hair when hence I knew them they were fresh faced individuals. On every Main Street there’s a retro barbershop (more in hipster hoods of every city) and a market flooded with men’s grooming products – its a brave new world but a throwback to an old one which I think makes it so interesting.
In thinking about this, I went to The First Man, and by that I mean my dad, not Adam or god the father. There’s a classic family photo of him with a beard, which he grew as a young man (I have no memory of my dad ever sporting a beard although he was always right on fleek with his hair and glasses) and when I asked him why he did it, he told me the men of the town decided to grow beards (an early troop of Movemberists but without the fundraising) to mark the centennial of the small town in Canada where he lived. My parents had moved there from the north of England and the men’s choice to grow beards was an outward way of honouring the pioneer settlers. How fitting, as my dad was, in his own way, a pioneer, leaving behind his old world to make a life in a new one. His response to my question gets to the heart of the matter I think, uncovering one of the reasons why “modern man”, who is probably a city dweller and upwardly mobile, stops shaving and becomes, to coin a phrase, an Urban Lumberjack. To look like and feel like, a real pioneer, a “manly” man.
Of course there’s no one reason for the changing fashions of follicle growth, but there are a number of factors that I think have contributed to it. These are my opinions only, please feel free to add some of your own.
We are currently being culturally bombarded by images of men as vikings, adventurers, kings and warriors, which equals beardies. On the telly, the big screen, in mags, we are enjoying (or not, depending on your preference) a cultural feast of male imagery which hasn’t been as beardy since the late ’60’s when it was all the rage as an anti-establishment stamp. Quite simply put, it’s now fashionable to have a beard and all the lads are doing it!
There’s no denying that sporting a beard makes a man look more rugged, and it’s a bit more “don’t care” than the designer stubble look. All in all a beard is more “man” than “boy” and maybe that’s what those baby-faced fellas I know are up to.
As a makeup artist I come across beards more often than you’d think; it’s not all lipgloss and lashes. Some guys grow them out of insecurity, using a beard to disguise something about their faces they don’t like. Sad but true. Beards and stubble can also make a guy look more youthful. Contrary to the image of old bearded professor, it does work.
I think there’s something in the argument that having a beard is a way of claiming your masculinity in a world where it’s all but vanished. It’s part of the ‘ruggedness’ argument but goes a bit deeper than that. Men are gathering in barbershops in a social environment which has modern meaning culturally but also cavemen tendencies. And good luck to them, the ladies have been doing it forever and it’s better than hunting.
There are of course religious and cultural reasons for having full beards; the rule of Kesh in Sikhism is the practice of allowing hair to grow naturally as a symbol of respect for the perfection of God’s creation. Kesh is one of the Five Ks, the outward symbols of the Sikh faith.
Lots of guys grow beards because they hate shaving every day, which does a number on their skin if it’s sensitive. How nice it must be not to have to spend the time every morning and to avoid a number of skin problems that can come with shaving. The new breed of barbershop offer old school close shaves with straight razors, and while I see the attraction in the ritual of that and having a man-only den to go to for pampering I get that it must be great to dispense with it altogether.
Which is not to say that growing a beard means ignoring grooming and beard care. Far from it! The shelves are filled with grooming stuff for good-looking beards, not only at the barbershop but at Sephora and Tom Ford and men are buying them up at a fast pace. I made my way to a local barbershop to investigate further. According to my source, Miles Bigelow at Barber & Co in Vancouver, which has five locations in the city, men are taking good care of their beards because their women insist on it and sales of grooming products are high.
Behind, or next to, many beards, are women (or men, lets say significant others) who either love them or hate them or at the very least, may have had issues with them. The beard trend indirectly affects the ladies. I speak from personal experience. The beard in my life (not my own, that’s a different story) has caused me a few concerns, which is another reason I stopped in at Barber & Co. I began to have break-outs on my face when I haven’t for years, and being poked by sharp moustache hairs in romantic moments is not that enjoyable. In fact it’s quite painful, so I went to shop and to get some advice. Talking to Miles was very informative, and I got some products for my guy to guinea pig on your behalf.
There’s lots to choose from and Miles helped me pick some essentials.
Did you know that a full beard takes about five months to grow? That means there’s a lot of in-between stage when grooming is important to get it to it’s best and healthiest. And don’t forget there’s skin under there to take care of.
This is where the boar-bristle beard brush comes in. Brushing the beard twice daily, morning and night, with medium-strength natural bristles, will exfoliate the skin underneath the beard, spread the natural oils around the individual hairs and capture loose hairs, allowing better blood flow to the facial hair roots, so the beard (or “man mane”/”chin sweater”, whatever you will) grows well, gets nice and soft, and the face doesn’t suffer (for the wearer or significant other). The length of the bristles is important, so beard brushes are purpose made, sturdy and a good size for man hands!
A beard comb does not do as rigorous a job as a brush but refines the beard’s shape and untangles any knots. It also removes leftovers so have one tucked in you man’s pocket for an after-lunch grooming. Blimey, who knew having a beard was such hard work!
Then there are the actual grooming products: a variety of balms, oils, shampoos and conditioners. Interesting fact I learnt while researching this post.. for the first time ever, in 2013, men spent more on male-specific toiletries than on shaving products. Conclusion: as a whole men are shaving less but spending money on other toiletries. I’d wager a bet that a large chunk of it is on beard care stuff.
Beard oils and creams moisturise the skin underneath and the facial hair while softening it and preventing “beardruff”. Oils and creams make the beard more manageable, and will add a sheen or keep it matte, depending on which product he uses. Oil gives a little shine and cream or balm doesn’t. Beard oils moisturise better and longer than creams. Beard balms are a kind of leave-in conditioner which give medium hold to keep unruly hairs in check and smell rather nice too.
There’s shampoos, conditioners, moustache combs and scissors. Trimming the moustache to just above lip level is the most desirable length and trimming the beard itself is important to keep it looking nice and healthy. Whatever they say, a Rasputin is not that attractive.
I came away from the barbershop with two balms, a lighter one for day with a yummy minty scent, and a richer one for night, and a brush (he already had a comb) all put together in a fab cigar box, thanks to being in the right place at the right time.
The handsome human guinea pig has been using it all with great results, and no more breakouts for me. His chin jumper will eventually get to the right length and be soft and luxurious, and only then will I call myself a true pogonophile! Look it up.
And that, my friends, is Beard 101 and a guide to beardy bloke stocking-stuffers and gifts for the beard in your life. Merry Beardy Christmas! And remember, a beard is for life, not just Movember.
Here’s another company I discovered while writing this. It’s really worth checking out, a Canadian dedicated-beard company making all-natural products, and a great, informative website : www.alwaysbearded.com