Monday, 21 December 2009

FTC Guidelines: F* This Crap?

From December 1st, FTC (US Federal Trade Commission) guidelines have been put in place. The reaction amongst bloggers and YouTubers in our beauty community has been that of panic, usually disguised as flippancy. Let me first preface this by saying that the UK has one of the most stringent legal systems when it comes to business online. Most of its laws and regulations are similar to those in Europe, but in contrast, the US the rules were very much dependent on the state you happen to be in. Therefore the FTC is arguably applying a level playing field. Many of the FTC guidelines are already Law for UK and Europe based bloggers who fall foul of the disclosures required. But the waters are muddy and moreover Guidelines are not Law: This is acknowledged by the FTC...

"The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act."

In addition, the outrage and confusion of bloggers, particularly those who felt the new strictures and penalties violated their right to the sacred First Amendment, have provoked this soothing assurance from the FTC:

"Where we have brought cases, there are other issues involved, not only failing to disclose a material connection but also making other misrepresentations about a product, a serious product like a health product or something like that. We have brought those cases but not against the consumer endorser, we have brought those cases against the advertiser that was behind it. If people think that the FTC is going to issue them a citation for $11,000 because they failed to disclose that they got a free box of Pampers, that's not true. That's not going to happen today, not ever."

In addition, Richard Cleland (assistant director, division of advertising practices at the FTC) addressed individual blogger concerns and reiterated this point:

"That $11,000 fine is not true. Worst-case scenario, someone receives a warning, refuses to comply, followed by a serious product defect; we would institute a proceeding with a cease-and-desist order and mandate compliance with the law. To the extent that I have seen and heard, people are not objecting to the disclosure requirements but to the fear of penalty if they inadvertently make a mistake. That's the thing I don't think people need to be concerned about. There's no monetary penalty, in terms of the first violation, even in the worst case. Our approach is going to be educational, particularly with bloggers. We're focusing on the advertisers: What kind of education are you providing them, are you monitoring the bloggers and whether what they're saying is true?"

So, the widely reported instant $11,000 is inaccurate, and moreover the onus is on the word of mouth marketeer or advertiser. Now, I have often thought that bloggers accepting money for promoting a brand is in many ways less unethical than those brands getting free publicity, but this FTC rule seems rather patronising to bloggers. Wheras an old media publication can review a free book (for instance) with no risk of breaking the rules, the same does not apply to blogs. This seems incredibly arbitrary. If I print out my blog articles and hand them out for free as a newspaper, suddenly a different set of rules apply:

"The Commission acknowledges that bloggers may be subject to different disclosure requirements than reviewers in traditional media. In general, under usual circumstances, the Commission does not consider reviews published in traditional media (i.e., where a newspaper, magazine, or television or radio station with independent editorial responsibility assigns an employee to review various products or services as part of his or her official duties, and then publishes those reviews) to be sponsored advertising messages. Accordingly, such reviews are not “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides."

If my day job is as a journalist for print media, is my blog independent, or is it addressed as within my capacity as a "traditional media" employee, is it me held liable, or my employer vicariously liable? In any event, how will bloggers' lapses be monitored?? Will FTC employ people, at the public's expense, to police the myriad of blogs out there - or will snitches and rivals use the muddy rules to threaten the competition? Well, the latter apparently: "Competitors are very quick to turn people in. I've never suffered from a shortage of competitive complaints."

This seems a recipe for disaster. It is not newsworthy to suggest that there is a lot of victimisation and vindictiveness around as it is, without giving people scope for serious dobbing in and invoking a penalty.

Now onto the fraught issue of whether a blog is akin to journalism, or a personal conversation. i.e Should government interference be viewed as justified to protect an innocent consumer, as the FTC maintains, from being tricked into purchases; or should a blog be allowed to maintain its image of being independent and indeed the very embodiment of free speech? A comment on an article made me laugh... "Government interaction is always the best answer. Just look at communist China - the people love it over there. They don't have to worry about that silly 'freedom of speech' stuff." It does rather beg the question, how long before the internet and its content is policed... recent issues such as illegal file sharing and downloading have also been presented as a threat to us as users and terrorism laws can be twisted to suit allegations of suspect community forums; IP addresses could well in future be replaced by an internet passport, with all our ID viewable to the government and the nanny state controlling our every move. But wait, this isn't the Daily Mail. Nevertheless, the point is: from being a soft touch, there is now a reversal. Companies who once took advantage of essentially free publicity will now have to ask themselves, whether the blogger can bring a profit greater than the potential thousands of dollars fine to the company. Very few of us can do that. They take the risk:

"The Commission recognizes that because the advertiser does not disseminate the endorsements made using these new consumer-generated media, it does not have complete control over the contents of those statements. Nonetheless, if the advertiser initiated the process that led to these endorsements being made – e.g., by providing products to well-known bloggers or to endorsers enrolled in word of mouth marketing programs – it potentially is liable for misleading statements made by those consumers."

But wait, what is an endorsement?? What if a blogger confines herself to stating demonstrably proven facts? Does the FTC consider that an endorsement? What if one confines oneself to stating such facts and includes links to an ecommerce site? Has the writing somehow been transformed from a statement of fact to an endorsement? And what if I describe a product I genuinely love and recommend, and have google automated ads on my blog, which are prompted by the article, and thus I make money from my recommendation? This point amongst others was eloquently made here:

"I have been writing nice things about my treatment at Sloan Kettering. This has caused ads to come up on my blog, via Google, from the hospital. Presuming someone clicked on them, I’ve made money from the hospital. Does that taint what I say or me if I don’t disclose the payment? That’s the level of absurdity this can reach."

In fact, where to draw the line - what if a product was received as a gift from granny, or you're a millionaire who buys YSL everyday just for something to do, of course your review will be inflected by your situation. There seems a deep suspicion of the government's need to intercept and determine when a disclaimer must be made. Do the FTC just want to control advertising and shut up any mouthpiece other than their own controlled and approved (ahem, $$$$) outlets?

However I have seen increasingly, many popular bloggers have irritated me with their high blown opinion of themselves. They address companies with the assumption that their word can make or break the product on a global scale. It really does make me think, "It's only a blog/ It's only YouTube!" However popular it gets, surely it still is small fry? But perhaps it can compete, as I have said before, the blogs and videos do cut straight to the core of makeup enthusiasts. Seen in this light, maybe the time was ripe for FTC intervention?

Ultimately, here in the UK there are laws in place which will protect consumers from deliberate scams and astroturfing, but on the level of reading blog and YouTube reviews, it ought to be merely regulated by the individual's own conscience, and taken with the viewer/ reader's own judgment. People who abuse the trust instilled within them will hopefully become a victim of their own destruction. I recently got an email from a company which was so clearly a cut and paste job (Dear... [space] oogle makeup .... etc) and what with my bad experience with a ruthless word of mouth company I value my blog and individuality more than I value the novelty of a freebie. (Chanel, if you are listening, I don't mean that really, haha) but by the same token there is clearly no harm in accepting and reviewing a freebie that genuinely is of interest to you and your readers. It can even be the veritable lifeblood of your blog, and to great acclaim.

"And there is the greatest myth embedded within the FTC’s rules: that the government can and should sanitize the internet for our protection. The internet is the world and the world is messy and I don’t want anyone – not the government, not a newspaper editor – to clean it up for me, for I fear what will go out in the garbage: namely, my rights. "

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Cheapie but goodie

As Christmas rolls around, here are some cheap stocking fillers that despite their price tag, will bring unbridled joy. Let us begin...

I recently spent a fun afternoon with MizzWorthy and this meant a trip to Charles Fox. I have blogged about the wonders held within its hallowed walls before, so the prospect of changing MizzWorthy's spending habits forever seemed tangible (notwithstanding her lavish bag of Shu Uemura shopping already spent). We picked up some things; unfortunately I have no new gems to report. A Kryolan eyeshadow I bought as a highlighter, "Day Rise", turned out to be as chalky and powdery as its flour-like namesake would suggest, and a Charles Fox pencil brush turned out to be rather flimsy. But, it is so neon pink and pretty, that I still love it and it puts me in a good mood.

I stand by my former huge raves for these products:

All available at Charles Fox...

Kryolan Anti Shine Powder

Kryolan Lip palette (they have many, I will be adding to my collection for sure)

Kryolan Lipstick (love my pale pink one so much!!)

Cheap brushes - many interesting additions to be made - MizzWorthy spotted a dupe for that much coveted Sonia Kashuk angled eyeiner brush! Still prefer Crown Brush for cheap brushes, though.


Pencils - their Velvet Touch Lip and Eye liners are dupes of Urban Decay 24/7 pencils, and come in equally vivid shades. Long lasting, soft, excellent.

Liquid Art Liner - If your poor bedraggled drenched body was found at sea and every scrap of you was faded and raw, this eyeliner would still be intact. For a big night out when you need your liner to hold, look no further. Some great shades too!

Queen Helene...

Mint Julep mask - can you say WOW! Clears skin and feels like it's cooling every pore in your face.


Oil Free Moisturiser - Simple, and works.


Ah, elf! Pioneers of the "Cheap but professional, direct to the masses" school of thought. I have several faves:

Undereye concealer and highlighter - Budget YSL Touche Eclat, but don't forget to set it with powder

Complexion Perfection - Budget MAC Blot Powder, just paler.

Mineral eyeshadows - £2.50 yet so luxurious! Sophisticated shades, great colour payoff, great packaging.

New Studio lip glosses, I am trying to pick a best one but struggling... hmm, let's opt for the 2 in 1 gloopy gorgeousness. Mighty shine that looks like you MUST be wearing Chanel.

Natural lip liner - Again, looks just like a high end lipliner. Soft, pigmented, flattering.

Warm Bronzer - Has had so many raves, evidence speaks for itself. Get this! (just be careful as it is so delicate, the pretty squares smash easily)

Studio line Brushes - Has had so many raves, evidence speaks for itself.

Barry M...

Mascara - One of the cheapest drugstore mascaras, yet definitey my top pick. An absolutely faultless everyday mascara. Great length to your lashes and some volume too, plus it never flakes or smudges.

Dazzle Dusts - Although I prefer MAC pigments for some reason (denser pigment?) I must admit there are some great shades in the Barry M arsenal. They go on very nicely too, and blend perfectly.

Blusher - I am a big fan!!! I hate the packaging, it is the stuff of nightmares, but the colour payoff and lasting power of these cannot be faulted. You get a lot for your money, and although someone pernickety might say these are slightly powdery, I would say they are extremely similar texture to MAC's sheertone blushers. I bought all of these except the purpley pink one. Highly recommend the Rose and Terracotta, and the Orange neon one if you are dark skinned. (reminded me of NARS Exhibit A)

Collection 2000...

Glam Crystals Dazzling Gel Liner - OK, Collection 2000, I am impressed! Thick glittery liner, that doesn't budge, and for less than £3.


Palettes - couldn't compile this list without them: less than a fiver for a palette?? Crazy.


Perhaps not the most elegant stocking filler, but this nappy cream (warning: smells just like baby's changing rooms, funnily enough) works better as a healing cream than most of my high end remedies.


Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55 - waterproof, paraben free, non-acnegenic. I love this and use it on bright snowy days when sun damage is a particular menace. This was a gift from the lovely aestheticcoo. Thanks!!

So those are my discoveries, have
YOU got any to share? 

PS. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings  xxxx

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Eyeko NEW nail polishes

Eyeko, self styled "London's cutest cosmetics" have created a new range of colours for their nail polish collection. Priced at £3 a pop, these are an instant pick-me-up. Getting the whole range was so much fun! There really is a shade in there for everyone. In addition, they feature a formula that is Toluene, Formaldehyde, DBP and Camphor free, promising "no colour fade thanks to UV absorbers and an amazing glossy, chip resistant finish which strengthens nails too!"

I could never compete with Eyeko's brilliant descriptions but I will briefly outline my thoughts...

Forgive the brutally clear and messy picture below, this depicts one coat and no base or top coat:
Worn with base coat and top coat, these can achieve luxe effect nails! They are very runny, so best not apply them in your finest garb. Indeed, perhaps opt to apply these in the nude and distanced from any precious objects (poor laptop). My absolute favourite is the "Cosmic". Let Eyeko do the talking:

"This night time hue is loaded with multi-coloured iridescent glitters like fireworks in a black November sky. An ultra, flattering nail look for those who favour the dark side."

I love their atmospheric descriptions! I actually agree with every word. Also, although I am a great fan of the dark side, and indeed of fireworks, I am usually very against black nails. Mainly because of the tiresome link it has with goths and emos (though I was by default a goth at university). However, this is a WARM black. Yes the sparkles, especially the red and gold, lifts this into a girly black which doesn't give you mortuary hands. It applies like the others, runny, but no streaking and very full coverage.

There is also a pinky electro purple, a light pastel purple (likened by those great scribes at Eyeko to "that opaque sugared almond look Lilly Allen craves") - Again, I agree! Also there's a hot on trend pale green that dupes Chanel's Jade polish (an ASOS exclusive) and a nude "just one coat of pinky-beige for luxe-looking super groomed nails like Jenifer Lopez or layer up for an opaque mannequin effect." (the Nude is the least impressive but its pretty colour and usefulness make it another top pick nonetheless) and there is an Indigo. Dark blue never suits me, though I love it and wear it on my eyes all the time. Perhaps I ought to heed their advice first though: "Keep nails short and blunt to nail this shimmery, midnight blue for a touch of cool gothic glamour à la Sophie Dahl."

All in all I definitely recommend these nail polishes. Many nail polishes on the high street at a similar price point are gross. These are no dangerous rival to OPI et al (the wide brush is lacking for starters) BUT they can work wonders given a nice quality base coat (I use Creative Nail Design Ridge Out) and of course your trusty Seche Vite top coat to finish. My Cosmic nails lasted a full week and would have carried on: Impressive performance! Watch out for runny texture and be prepared to layer up on products, but it's worth it. Check these out here.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Beauty underbelly

It's hard to sustain a beauty blog, without it evolving into a marketing bulletin or a tiresome photo montage or a blog sale. I write posts so sporadically because I try to grapple with issues I notice arising, and exploit them with the aim to eventually see this blog as a collection of essays... (pretentious, moi?!)

Seeing an explosion of blog sales, with many popular personalities charging the lion's share of what they paid originally, and moreover had originally praised as magnificent, can make one feel slightly taken aback and rather shatters the veneer. However, with beauty buying getting out of hand, and a willing audience, who can cast blame? In any event, this is not the "underbelly" I speak of. It merely adds to the insipid state I found myself in, the lack of inspiration if you will. But recently I read a popular blogger's post, in which she denounced Sigma for jamming up her inbox with their latest contest challenge. Within moments, comments waded in, vowing to avoid Sigma brushes. Before long, the owner of Sigma arrived on the scene, assuring all that as of now the rules and contest were over, and apologies for the inconvenience. I asked in the comments why this unkind attack on a small company had been dealt publicly (rather than addressed as a private email). Afterall, this person had been one of numerous YouTube partners given a load of Sigma to give away and enjoy. Was it, I ventured, because she objected to Sigma expanding their contests and thus undermining the elite Super Gurus??

This got me thinking (haha insert Carrie Bradshaw voice)"How vulnerable are small companies?" and "How ugly is beauty's underbelly?"

Recently there was another minor scandal, Lime Crime were accused, again as far as I can see, by a lone ranger blogger with determined conviction, of simply repackaging cheap mica and plastering it with slogans and promises of, as they boasted, "illegal" levels of outrageous colour. Again the owner of the company was forced to emerge in staunch defence of her company. She made a YouTube video but disabled comments, thereby preventing any right to reply and avoiding escalating the debate. In her video she made a show of being emotional and gave a brief outline of a hard life through which she had toiled and triumphed. Clearly with popular YouTube Gurus being able to look forward to launching their own ubiquitous makeup/skincare ranges (Lauren Luke, Enkore makeup, Michelle Phan to name the most obvious) it is clear that this 'personal touch' is paramount... but, how much do we value that above all else? Even Gurus who review too many 'freebies' come under attack, so how much more so one who is exposed or simply accused - however reliably - of having ripped us off?

A popular YouTube member with a debilitating illness was recently outed as a mass swaplifter and fled her channel, thereby incriminating herself further. Subscribers were understandably horrified and went quite far in their condemntion. Nevertheless, the YouTube member returned with a perhaps feeble explanation, but heartfelt and emotional, and was largely forgiven. YouTube was seen in a new light: even members who seemed so familiar as to be true friends, became strangers. The ease with which one can disappear belied the security of trusting a face. Yet a voluntary return was rewarded and appreciated and the harm was undone. The issue of control is central: The power of the people, in one way or another, as a force.

The popular Guru can command a cause, as when Google AdSense lost Partners money and they made their discontent a subject for a video; or when a company is deemed to have offended - SunLove being an additional example; or when a company dupes their buyers and are attacked - MAC using the recognisable Ben Nye packaging in a promo shot being an indisputable example. Word of mouth is a quick, cheap way to get your brand recognised, but one wrong move and the damage is extraordinarily hard to undo - and usually involves a calculated mix of humble apology, complete retraction and compensation.

Beauty buying has seemed to have changed over the years too, it seems more collections than ever come out, more brands emerging, more folding - and aggressive sales tactics abound. It is virtually impossible to go peruse a makeup stand anymore. The unsubtle way one is speculatively judged, then rounded on, is deeply off-putting. I often feel far happier buying from the company website, and with Illamasqua's new absolute accuracy in online swatches, perhaps this is indeed the future.

Beauty shopping has an immediacy to it: the instant promise of change, the rush we all know so well. Yet blog sales attest to the briefness of that feeling. Perhaps buying online would limit the impulsiveness and allow time to decide rationally between shades?

The companies we buy from all struggle to maintain a personal identity: Bobbi Brown, Trish McEvoy, Benefit, all feature images of their creator at every opportunity. MAC still present themselves in this way too, although they are far removed from those days since being bought out. But seeing Sigma's creator and Lime Crime's creator coming out, and seeing our favourite Gurus extolling their products, puts many of us on our guard. It seems the distance between a personality as an icon rather than a familiar face, is preferable in many ways. Lauren Luke has been careful to only use her products very sparingly, and continues to use mainstream brands in general. I marvel at the way she is so sure-footed in her atttitude, meaning she never alientes her original fans. Many Gurus may not be so wise. And many small companies may find they overstep the line between friendly and personable, and clumsily fall instead into naive and overconfident - and worse. A captive audience can be swayed, and the domino effect can be lethal.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

I'm back

Just wanted to mention in case anyone didn't know... I'm back in the game. Please subscribe, as if a tree falls and no one hears it, has it really made a sound?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Eyeko Magic Mascara: Review

Since my last review of Eyeko, the company have widened their appeal. Now they offer Eyeko Couture, which kicks off with Magic Mascara.

The large, soft bristled brush is encased in a very attractive purple tube embellished with sequins. It reminded me of a more kitch Guerlain - as soon as I saw it, that was my instant impression. It's priced at £9 and comes in Black.

I've used it for a while now and I can definitely recommend it. It's Limited Edition and will only be around for about 4 months. The Eyeko brand is known for being dinky, but this mascara feels like it's aimed at a slightly older crowd. I am sworn to using Lancome Hypnose, as every drugstore mascara I ever try, leaves me cold by comparison. They either smudge, are not black enough, or leave my lashes feeling crunchy. However the Eyeko Magic Mascara wins on all these points. It gives instant length, and with several coats it achieves volume too. It is surpassed by Hypnose... but at half the price, it delivers more than half the result. Certainly one of the better options out there and well worth a look.

Check out the new Magic mascara here

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Buy Bodyform and get free Jemma Kidd Lipgloss!

For £1.59, today not only am I now the proud owner of a pack of 30 Lightly Scented Panty Liners, but I also have a lipgloss, apparently worth £10. I've not bought much Jemma Kidd makeup, especially since Boots stopped carrying the line. So it's great to get one for free like this - and for a good cause too (no, not my personal body odour issues)

I got the light coloured gloss. There are two - Orchard and Rose.

Bodyform and Jemma Kidd are raising awareness for The Eve Appeal. The charity raises funds for research into gynaecological cancers and educates women on the symptoms.

Long time supporter of The Eve Appeal, Jemma comments: “I am thrilled to be involved with the partnership between Bodyform and The Eve Appeal. Teaming up with Bodyform provides the perfect platform for reaching out and raising awareness about gynaecological cancers and the symptoms. Simply recognising three common symptoms can help lead to early detection and ultimately save lives."

Slightly more sticky than my personal preference, with a sweet flavour. Not unpleasant at all. Very shiny and lasts a while on. Great value, great cause.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Makeup as cultural index

I was so involved with my stressful channel issues (detailed below) and then escaped for a holiday, so this post ideally was designed to coincide with London Fashion Week...

However, looking back at the images I collected, perhaps unfairly, it just seems that if it's not the nude look, it's the cat eye... There was some manga makeup at Luella (pictured) which probably was chosen to contrast with the childlike innocence and pretty minnie mouse bows...

There was, though, the adventurous and breathtaking shock of how Hair stylist/artist/designer Charlie Le Mindu re-addressed hair as a medium. When will this shake-up hit the makeup side of Fashion Week?

For the crux of the matter is that designers are interested in show-casing their clothes, obviously, and makeup must merely off-set the designs without intruding. Until noses are coloured in green and lips drawn on backwards, or similarly unknown avenues taken, inevitably makeup languishes in trodden paths. Recent genuinely experimental makeup came via the interesting Emma Bell, I noticed the brave makeup in her 2009 collection. This was by makeup artist Rachel Wood (aka Pixiwoo's friend) who used Benefit products to create a "Hello Kitty and Barbie go clubbing" look. She told her team to "pretend they were at pre-school" when applying glitter to the models' faces. (taken from fabsugar overview of 2009 collection)

This is Emma Bell's 2010 collection, with makeup by Nadja Hluchovsky. Here more subtly, but equally as surely, reflecting the fun spirit of the clothes:

But, the usual default it often a bare face on a young lithe model, or otherwise the classic beauty of a smokey or cat eye. This obviously can extend to a very smoked out eye/ drop down shadow/ cat eye or winged eye, but usually absorbed to some degree into this eternal favourite - this image is from the Issa 2010 catwalk collection at London Fashion Week-

This article gave an interesting taster of what the makeup artists are typically doing behind the scenes. Sample: "[Sometimes they] practically give you a painting-by-numbers guide to the specific look for the show, but at others they might just throw out obscure cultural references such as "we want Laura-Palmer-Twin-Peaks lips, OK?" This made me very nervous."

The innovative and fantastic (read: ugly?) hair show, although a menace to the ozone layer, inevitably harked back to the 18th Century trend for ornate hairpieces which marked you out as high society, which were extravagantly adorned with feathers, ribbons, jewels, and even ships, gardens and menageries.

The 18th Century taste for high maintenance styles famously soon gave way to the Victorian modest and restrained hair and makeup. It could be that like music, cultural identity today seems to be vague and riddled with retro influences, with no real cohesion, but possibly edging towards a trend eventually...?

Right now broadly speaking there is the alternative of looking your best (a la Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown) or looking 'edgy' (MAC, Illamasqua). Witness MAC's recent collection, recalling its indie roots by the collection name "Makeup, Art, Cosmetics" and using real artists to front and design the items, and Illamasqua's use of the cult classic sci-fi film Metropolis as its inspiration. The irony is that looking 'edgy' becomes its own uniform: these so-called subversive directions are often just as restrictive and full of rules.

Tracing how makeup has accompanied cultural changes is tempting and has been addressed to some extent in this blog already when examining men and makeup. If the ornate attention to detail in the 18th Century led to the deliberate modesty by the 1780s, which ultimately became a hallmark of any self-respecting Victorian, this pattern equally is traced in the 1980s. Then, the boom years led to big hair and overt makeup, accompanied inevitably by the contrast of Punk rebellion, and evolving by the 1990s to the deliberate unpolish of Grunge. Taking a view of fashion and makeup as reactionary in this way, the pivotal decades can be traced...

1920s can thus be seen as reactionary against the austere Victorian ideal. A shortage of man-power during WW1 had meant women took on perceived male roles and obviously this re-defined what women stood for. The Political movement towards women's suffrage began during the war and in 1918, Parliament passed an act (the Representation of the People Act 1918) granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5, and graduates of British universities. This advance invited the fashion for brave new short hairstyles which eschewed traditional female stereotypes.

The 1930s and 40s saw film affect fashion and beauty, most famously the ultra female seductive curls popularised by Veronica Lake. However once again historical facts colour the trends, as this time WW2 with all its upheaval ushered in the need for a return to reliable old values, though now with the wife as simaltaneously glamorous and perfectly conservative. The makeup is as depicted in 'Mad Men': bold lips but doe eyed.

By the 1950s and 60s as the scars of WW2 receded and women again reacted against the stereotypes, political activism was a fashionable interest - with the realisation that the 'power of the people' was a reality. Protests, most obviously against the Vietnam War, became commonplace. Music became an important influence on society. The short skirts, short hair, bold eyes and pale lips, mixed and matched feminine with androgynous.

As before, this constructed image then reverts back to a 1970s trend for unconstructed long hair, no makeup, a general loosening on rules to highlight the hippie message of 'free spirit'. This, in turn, invites the converse trend for the more aggressive declaration of disenchanment: Punk. Makeup used not to embellish, but to unsettle.

Elements of punk were absorbed into popular fashion, thanks in no small part to Madonna, who feminised the look and redefined once again what androgyny meant.

The world now is smaller than ever, brands merge and every high street looks the same. Is that one reason why now there is less emphasis on any identifiable fashion movement...? The 1990s had the cult of the Supermodel; then the reactionary 'Waif/ Heroin Chic' trend; the Nirvana and Seattle bands' Grunge; 1997 Toni Blair's landslide victory and the rush of hope which led to the coined term 'Cool Britannia' and 'Britpop' - but ultimately had no fashion substance to distinguish itself.... And now, post 9/11 and with Barack Obama a symbol of a changed world, when fashion should be reaching a fever-pitched zenith and beauty should be revolutionary - a perfect mix of science and aesthetics perhaps - all I can find are fragments. A trend for non-invasive surgery, mixed with the same beauty styles that ever were. The new millenium seems to have stagnated where beauty is concerned. I await a shake-up with eager anticipation...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

1000Heads will roll...

1000Heads, "the word of mouth people" (I've got a word of mouth for them) have murdered my You Tube channel. God knows this blog post has been festering within me for a long while now, but I had thought the situation had been rectified. I have spent time, money and energy on this nightmare but have come to realise there is no solution other than my channel's suicide. I shall here explain, and hope that Google search results prioritise this for people who might otherwise read 1000 Heads' "Respect" section, in particular Rule No. 6: "We protect privacy and permission". (snapshot above)

In all my previous posts, if I ever mentioned PR and blogging/ YouTube, it was probably with faintly triumphant derision. It seemed to me that the little people were calling the shots - I was rather naive. As uninformed individuals, we are in fact exceptionally vulnerable novices and far more disposable than a corporation.

Not long ago, 1000 Heads were asked to draw up a PR showcase for Aussie haircare, and I and several other randomly selected blogs were chosen as "Aussie Angels". The whole convoluted "treasure hunt" seemed terribly infantile and dreary to me but in any case I was unable to make that event so who knows. A few days later, out of curiosity, I checked out the website and was horrified to see my full name listed. Every other blogger had their stage name, and then, starkly contrasting, there was my full name! And, unlike every other stage name link, mine had linked to my You Tube. I was horrified. It was a catastrophe. No-one in my real life has been told about my channel, no-one. Suddenly it's the very first result if anyone happened to look me up.

I had already written and tried to contact by mobile phone these ["word of mouth"] people, with no luck. However I had the wisdom to go to the organ-grinder instead. Aussie haircare is owned, like so many drugstore household names, by Proctor & Gamble. It was easy enough to find the correct representative. Miraculously, I then hear from the ["word of mouth"] people.

I am confident that from henceforth they did their best, just as I am aware that this whole disaster was highly unlucky - i.e that it hit someone who was determined to keep their channel secret - and that all it took was a lapse of concentration. People are human and mistakes happen, but do not hold yourself up as having sacred rules if you are as infallible as any other PR outfit.

Initially, PR speak was delivered to calm me down and assure me that the google results were certainly not permanent and were being erased with ease. Days passed by with no change, yet still assurances were offered up. My case was pushed from one individual to another, and none seemed aware of what had gone on before. I would phone up (one went on holiday without warning), and I'd ask what was going on. I'd always have to give my reason for calling.

"Oh, a blog", a withering voice would intone.

Eventually I decided to take matters into my own hands and seek out a professional expert, who managed to stem the tide. However for some reason after a hiatus, the results are now back. I cannot get the expert I paid for to do the job again without paying again, and frankly, I am not going to start this fiasco anew.

I am upset to be deleting my account as it is the one that was once upon a time in the Metro newspaper and also the illustrious Gossmakeupartist gave the channel a priceless 'shoutout'. However I have been left with no option, due to the carelessness of sloppy data input and my own naive decision to not use an alias. I have certainly learnt that as an individual without the force of advertising, your details may be treated irresponsibly and it is wise to have a stage name behind your stage name for protection. Who knows, perhaps even a P.O Box isn't going too far. It seems that for the sake of free shampoo, I have cost myself all the videos I ever worked on and all the subscribers I painstakingly amassed.

I do appreciate that the company belatedly tried to undo the damage, but it is no good: Google results are tenacious, particularly with a YT result. The harm is irreversible and although I was happy that a brief reprieve was attained, allowing me to go on holiday and relax, the fact that it has now resurfaced will hopefully act as a beacon not only to 1000 Heads, who might be more diligent when dealing with personal information, but also to my fellow bloggers and You Tube reviewers - to see past the dazzle of being approached.

With a heavy heart, I will imminently bid adieu to my Ooglegail channel. I will probably be back "O, be some other name!/What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet". Indeed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Death of High End makeup?

With ELF's Studio line impressing even the harshest of critics, is the writing on the wall for high end makeup? Being a high-end purist, I never fully accepted MAC as 'high end', penalising them for their basic packaging and lower pricing. Yet their monopoly on the 'Pigments' and bright eye colour side of the business could not be challenged, and any makeup lover inevitably soon found themselves with a black compact to join the legions of gold, silver, or shiny laminated plastic in their burgeoning collection.

But now with the prevalence of mineral makeup, which invariably gives bold bright colour and often comes loose, pigments don't seem all that novel. Sleek (at Superdrug), although officially aimed at dark skin, have introduced eyeshadow compacts for under £5 and bring out new editions with a zestful urgency reminiscent of MAC. The Sleek 'Neon' edition gave drugstore buyers their first opportunity to get rich bright matte pressed eyeshadows - and sold out on impact.

Barry M, who previously held the answer to any MAC Pigment aspiration, have now enlarged their collection to include a full range of lipsticks, bronzers and blushers. The pigment jars (the famous 'Dazzle Dusts') have lost their uniqueness as Collection 2000 and GOSH, amongst others, now have very similar concepts. Their elegant NARS dupe bronzer compact and suddenly high price tag (around £10 compared to the usual under £5 price point) hinted that Barry M were ready to pitch their line to makeup connoisseurs rather than the makeup ingénue. However their most recent addition, the blushers, put paid to this by reverting to type: priced under £5, and packaged in gruesome flimsy plastic. Regardless of the quality of the blusher itself (which is very good actually!) packaging does matter. Enough for me to say that despite the very passable performance (very similar to MAC blusher in fact) I will not be getting any more - they undermine the finesse of my collection. And not in a 'functional' way, but in a cheap skint, 'I don't really appreciate makeup but I do own a blusher and a half chewed mascara somewhere' kind of way.

Into this threshold step ELF. They have organised their range to get the best of all worlds: the cheap nasty packaging is relegated to their £1.50 range, and the smart NARS packaging is lavished on the £3.50 Studio line; the Bare Escentuals sifter jars are adopted for the great ELF Mineral line. ELF have some astounding pieces which I and others have frequently waxed lyrical over. The extremely sturdy and useful ELF Compacts to put your B2M eyeshadows in, the Studio line brushes, Studio line Complexion Perfection (Amazing!!), the plumping lip glaze in 'Fire Coral', the beautiful mineral eyeshadows in 'Royal' (a sober amethyst) and 'socialite' (a taupey silver brown)... These are some of the ELF star products I have discovered so far and highly recommend.

And recently I visited the famous Charles Fox shop in London and realised for myself that Kryolan is cheap and brilliant. Their lipsticks are £5.65 and absolutely faultless: pigmented, lasting, non-drying, flattering. And they have blushers for £4 which seemed too good to be true. I picked up a palette with a selection of lipsticks, a brilliant buy. But, the best item I got was the makeup artist's secret weapon: 'Anti-Shine' loose powder. This was used in the Miss World pageants I was told, and works brilliantly on bald heads too, as used on TV! It is regularly put through its paces and with a mammoth 30g in a tub, the £12 price tag is an absolute steal.

With all my recent cheap but effective finds, if MAC don't have to adopt pretty packaging to be welcomed into the fold, I don't see why theatrical makeup can't easily replace my blind faith in all things high-end. I will always have a place in my heart for NARS and Estee Lauder (probably) but by the same token, I am confident a trip to Charles Fox every now and then can satiate my makeup lust without breaking the bank, and what's more without having to compromise on quality. I also prefer the atmosphere - treated as makeup professional, rather than a gullible spendthrift.

I would urge you all to investigate too! If everyone did, high end might realise they can't get away with quite such a mark-up... We all know that perfume and makeup sales give a fashion house extra revenue to plough into their designer collections (which get them the headlines, which get them the fame); and we all know high end makeup use the money for advertising campaigns or sponsoring events (which get them the headlines, which get them the fame). There really is ultimately no justification for a £20 lipstick. I am all for luxury but in the end it is about the performance. I just wish I'd known there was a solution all along. There's nothing like a credit crunch to make you think outside the box.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Ultimate 5 Tag (tagged by MizzWorthy)

MizzWorthy was my second ever follower and has given me tons of encouragement. Her blog has gone from strength to strength and has firmly established itself as regular reading for most of us. The official poster child for Illamasqua, she is also Kylie Minogue's long lost sister. Check her out if you haven't already! Many thanks for the tag and for the continued support.

So seeing as I mentioned my second follower, it provokes the question of who was my first? Well it was none other than Aestheticcoo who somehow found me and certainly spurred me on. I have become addicted to her blog, with its perfect mix of hauls, reviews, swatches and money saving hints as to various deals and dupes. I always enjoy her writing and her photos, always perfectly clear and to the point.

I also regularly enjoy Hele's blog. I imagine she would have been one of the first to be tagged as she has a hugely popular blog, but that won't stop me adding her in! Hele posts very regularly and has beautiful pictures too. With a balance of hauls, reviews, outfits and home decor posts, it's the ultimate girly blog.

I must mention a blog called Afrobella. Written eloquently and always engaging, this blog may focus on black issues and beauty but I find it regularly gives me a powerful read, whether it be on cultural or makeup related topics. I think everyone should check it out!

Of course no blog roundup would be complete without mentioning BritishBeautyBlogger, who is aptly enough the go-to blog for any upcoming collections in this part of the world. Always ahead of the game, with predictions and leaks galore. An acerbic sense of humour marks this blog as vastly ahead of the pack. And might I add that I am not a little proud to say that I was one of the first followers, I vividly recall there were 7 at the time!!! But I knew that wouldn't be the case for long! Get in the loop and check it out, it's hard to find an unbiased blog which showcases small and large beauty companies alike. All in all, an indispensable read.

And finally no.5 already?! It has to be Gossmakeupartist. I know I'm hardly breaking new ground, but in case anyone doesn't follow him already... make sure you do! To be able to be privy to a true makeup artist is a massive privilege. Just like his excellent YouTube channel, the blog offers information in a concentrated, uncluttered way. With reviews, overviews, techniques and most importantly things to avoid and why, this is an absolute makeup shrine.

There are so many more blogs that I follow and enjoy but they will have to be put on ice for now....!!

OK and now for 5 Things I Love...

1. Marzipan. Not just any marzipan, Niederegger. I could very happily live on the stuff!!

2. Gustav Klimt. Yes I know his work has become somewhat hackneyed... who can look at The Kiss without thinking of grubby student digs. But did you know they are enveloped in a phallic shape?? Well I did him as my artist study for A Level, so I learnt all about it! How intriguing. I love the way he paints people and crowds them with swirling gold.

3. Giving presents, oh and OK getting them!! I love picking stuff out for people - well, as long as it's makeup or clothes or accessories! And I love getting them, well as long as it's makeup or clothes or accessories (or marzipan!)

4. YouTube. I love YouTube. Mainly I watch makeup channels it must be said. I love the socialist angle that anyone can be famous and popular - previously you had to go on reality TV to work out if you were an annoying bore to society. Now you can just upload yourself and find out, without fearing National vilification.

5. Creativity. I love writing fiction; originally I planned to have a short story blog, i.e a short story as every entry... But my makeup "hobby" dictated that a makeup blog it is. I also love painting and drawing, though I'm not much good at crafts like sewing or pottery and that kind of thing.

And now finally it's 5 Facts about me...

1. I don't belong in this century, I should have been born in the 19th Century. I'd love to go around in frilly blouses and parasols.

2. I love thunder, I find it relaxing and intoxicating in equal measure.

3. I am trying to gain muscle in the gym as I am naturally very narrow. It's very difficult. Any tips always highly appreciated...

4. I can't cook, even a hard boiled egg is a challenge. (possibly this affects fact no.3)

5. My favourite drink is a Cosmopolitan. I know, it's so passé.

Spotlight on Illamasqua

Although I have extensively analysed several products over on my YouTube channel, I thought perhaps a more quick-fire round up via a blog post could prove useful.

My thoughts overall on the line are positive, although I do wish the foundation and powder didn't have that sweet vanilla smell - it does get a little sickly! However I know some will adore that vanilla, and indeed reviews on Makeupalley attest to that.

So, the Loose Powders.... (£17.13)

I have the loose powders in White (010) and Pink (005). The white is translucent but be sure to blend it right in or it can leave a white cast. The pink can also leave a light pink shadow but this works on pale pinkish skintones to look remarkably natural, or can effectively used to spot highlight desired areas. The powders are extremely finely milled, so will finish makeup beautifully. However do not expect lasting oil control - these do mattify the skin, but not for long. Also beware the ingredients which contain talc and zea mays (corn starch) which can occassionally lead to breakouts (but not in me I must add, so seems fine!)

These powders are excellent for the ultimate poreless face and a great addition to your makeup routine. Probably best used with an oil controlling base. Illamasqua do have one in their lineup but I have not tried it.

The foundation: Rich Liquid Foundation... (£19.57)

This foundation will astound you: when Illamasqua call this maximum coverage, they are not kidding. This gives a thick opaque coverage that will perfectly conceal any flaws imaginable. Has a gentle vanilla scent (not as strong as the powders) and comes in a 30ml squeeze bottle with a hygenic and practical nozzel and a tight fitting cap. The shade range is incredible - from literally white to darkest black, you are certain to find your match with ease. Different undertones are provided for and Illamasqua are certainly leading the way on that front. Probably the best ever foundation container, top marks for that too.

If you do not need full coverage, this will be too much as an everyday foundation. It is long lasting and water resistant. An excellent foundation but understandably feels somewhat heavy on.

The Eyeshadows... (£14) - 2G size

I have Drama, a dupe of MAC's Plummage (a beautiful dark teal). This shade is striking, heavily pigmented, blends with ease, works with a multitude of shades and is a great find. I will be having this one on heavy rotation!

I also have Fatal, a matte version of MAC Violet pigment. This one is marginally less pigmented than Drama but still very pigmented and blends wonderfully. A wonderful pure lavender shade that no purple lover can pass up!

I have one of Illamasqua's cream eyeshadows (£13.70), a base shade called Touch - an ecru warm skintone shade. I find cream eyeshadows usually disappoint and this one fared little better; even over UDPP it still creased. I will persevere but so far not much luck with this one...

The Pencils... (£12)

I have Spell, a vibrant practically neon red; a very fun red that will wake up any face. Goes on smoothly and lasts and lasts. Perfect as a base shade or as a lipliner.

I also bought Vow, a matte pale beige, which works as an effective and natural looking accent to the cupids bow, or inner eyes, or even waterlining. A brilliant pencil that I am certain will become an absolute staple! Already I cannot do my eyes without using this, and red lipsticks will never again make lips look smaller, with the aid of this on your cupids bow! Highly recommended to all. For darker skintones, go for Hex to get the same effect.

The Intense Lipgloss... (£12.50)

I have Femme, an exact dupe of the striking Popster Hello Kitty tinted lip conditioner from the sold-out MAC collection. This smells of refreshing berries and is never sticky. It imparts a strong colour, not as strong as Guerlain lipgloss (they do the most pigmented glosses I have ever tried) but almost. A vibrant coral pink that is hugely flattering and will work on many different skintones. Probably my favourite Illamasqua item so far!

I also got false eyelashes, £11, which come beautifully packaged in a presentation box. I got no.17, a thick yet still just about natural, pair.

I also tried the eyeliner brush (£14.68). All Illamasqua brushes are synthetic and the brand is vehemently cruelty-free. For a felt tip like thick line, this brush is very effective but slightly on the pricey side.

The Illamasqua range has many gems to be uncovered, and certainly has opened up a niche for itself. Check out the entertaining Illamasqua blog for more details.

A far as going in in person, I have found some of the artists slightly overbearing and sadly it is not a counter where you can browse undisturbed. However it seems the age when a makeup customer could do that has all but died.

The staff are all very knowledgable though, so one can take advantage of that. Illamasqua even offers a one hour transformation service, which sounds good and I am sure I'll do that soon enough!

It is refreshing to have a range which eschews limited collections in favour of a strong permanent lineup of strange and exotic shades, with a mix of textures and an emphasis on matte colours, which are notoriously difficult to find.

If you have not checked them out, you can't call yourself a makeup addict!

Pictures all taken from Illamasqua website,

Have YOU tried Illamasqua???

& If you can brave it, check out my huge video series (!) here...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Eyeko Products Review

Ever wanted to shove aside those hysterical schoolgirls at the Eyeko stand in Superdrug and get the chance to try it for yourself? Well here's my overview of a few products from the line-up.

The Eyeko 3 in 1 cream kick-started the range. Designed "for girls to perk up their skin, counteracting the draining effects of staring at their computer screens" (oh dear, that's certainly me!) this shimmery cream contains vitamins A, C and E and is intended to be a one-step solution and a superstar sheen. It comes in a very retro 80s pink pot that will look trendy in your beauty cabinet. Here it is swatched:

As someone with a tendency towards greasy skin, the cream was somewhat on the heavier side than I am used to, however it did certainly deliver on its promise: my skin took on a definite sheen and the skin tone was ever so slightly evened out. This will probably make a wonderful base under heavier foundations, and be a godsend to dry or aging skin in desperate need of a pick-me-up. £6 For 36ml.

The newly launched Fat Balms come in three versions: Strawberry, Raspberry and Mint. I tried Raspberry. These are designed to be worn as a tint for cheeks and lips. The scent smelt like a flavoured chapstick, which I liked as I felt instantly transported to my blissful childhood. The colour is a deep berry red and aptly named. It tinted lips and cheeks as promised, though does benefit from the addition of a lipliner. As a blusher it feels a little heavy but as someone used to powder blusher, this is natural enough and says more about me than the product! It certainly didn't need much to do the job and contains a generous 6g for £5. Here it is swatched:

I also tried the highlighter pen, Touch Up and Glow. This takes its cue from YSL Touche Eclat and I did desperately want it to be a dupe. Sadly it does not literally melt into the skin the way my beloved Touche Eclat manages, however for £5 versus over £20 I think that can be forgiven. It imparts a shimmery cool toned silver highlight, perfect for pale skins in particular. Takes some blending, but once blended this is an impressive little product. This can be worn more intensely for the evening, or softened up under a blusher for a more demure glow. Here it is swatched:

And finally I tried the nail polishes. This was the only product from the range I'd heard about - namely, via Lollipop26's blog praising the Pastel blue one. I by contrast found that although the colour was particularly pretty - a soft blue that had enough white in to not look corpse fingered - it just would not apply evenly. Using a nail varnish base coat and Seche Vite top coat didn't help, unfortunately I found the application rather streaky. However the Red Nail Polish went on literally as flawlessly as a high end varnish, so that's confusing. I shall be trying out the other colours as the little milk bottle design and colour names are so adorable! I hope that the rest go on the way the red one does: one coat was all it took for a smooth and vivid orange red. This was my favourite item, as it's very difficult to find a 'young' red - i.e not a blue red but a vibrant red. Try it and see! Here it is on my hands:

And yours truly has found a loophole - although these products are available from Superdug and, get it from ASOS website and everything is significantly cheaper. (I'm not sure if they know about this) The highlight stick is £3.50 there as opposed to £5, what a steal!!!!

Please see my You Tube review if you'd like to see it all in action!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Beauty Blag

Since my recent fame and fortune (well one of those... OK, ok then, a smidge of one of those) I have caught a fleeting glimpse of the mechanics which underpin the 'Beauty Industry'. For anyone wondering, here is the proof of Glory: lil ol me sandwiched between the great and the good! Has to be seen to be believed! P.S This Metro edition came out on my birthday!!

Anyway as I was saying... After the piece, which incidentally was written by the masterful British Beauty Blogger, I was contacted by several PR people, congratulating me and offering to send a few samples for me to review. Although constant blog sales and constant blog reviews - blatantly featuring free gifts - get on my nerves, I am not above getting free stuff myself. Hypocrisy is such an ugly word though.

PR people are as new to this development as we independent bedroom bloggers are; previously there may have been a set list of magazine or possibly TV contacts etc to get in touch with, to organise brand exposure. Yet now, with the proliferation of beauty blogs, particulary those which become required reading for any self-respecting beauty junkie, PR have been swift to re-evaluate their agenda. With YouTube burning up millions of dollars in bandwidth every day by allowing anyone the opportunity to "broadcast" themselves, the potential to gain viewers and subscribers at an electrifying speed is a reality. Do the maths and it's not hard to understand why Google (owners of YouTube), who pioneered AdSense, would develop a similar strategy for their most popular "Channels": the Partnership programme. Introduced in 2007, early Partners such as Pogobat cut great deals which famously meant he earned $2,500 a month. And once the Partnership programme hit UK, Lauren Luke's Panacea81 channel was amongst the first to be rewarded. Finding out how much money Partners make is shrouded in secrecy: contracts with clauses forbidding one to divulge their YouTube earnings mean guesswork is futile. To compound this, different Partners get different adverts with different rates and not all Partners are equal, according to YouTube.

Regardless of the specifics, the very nature of being paid or seduced by companies can surely play havoc with the independent stance of a makeup enthusiast turned 'reporter' or at the very least change the tone of their blog or videos. I will however refrain from debating such a moot point. The YouTube partnership programme, which aside from any financial advantages, carries perks such as a personalised logo banner and the ability to make longer videos, and similarly the popularity measured by "Followers" on one's blog, which is naturally enough how a PR would determine your value, means I am reminded of the recent UK media story of The Archbishop of Westminster who decried the trend for online social networking:

"It's an all or nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an
identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast. But friendship is not a commodity..."1

Is the makeup community on YouTube and within Blogs guilty of this, being as it is reliant on popularity? Or is the unique nature of the beauty community, which has proven itself to be beautiful in a metaphorical as well as a literal way, enough to make it exempt from this scathing attack on the "dehumanising" of community life? And is the immediacy of 'tutorials' and the discursive nature of blogging emblematic of the very skills which he applauds: the "ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community". Indeed I would go further and say that far from leading to suicide in young people (for that was the extreme prediction) belonging and following, in a hobby as integral as your makeup routine (which incidentally takes on a religious symbolism if you ask me! - not to be sacriligious!) actually can be very strengthening.

Anyway to put aside these somewhat woolly issues, one of YouTube's biggest success stories has been Lauren Luke. Her journey has involved meeting the Queen at Google HQ, regularly being featured, having the homepage devoted to her makeup launch and indeed the makeup launch itself - nothing short of a modern day fairytale. Lauren's genuine warmth and humility endeared her to countless fans. Her appeal proves irresistable for YouTube to promote. Yet when one considers YouTube was bought for $1.65 billion by Google in October 2006 it is clear that popular users, who after all make the site what it is, have earned about .06 percent of the purchase price. Nevertheless it would be misleading to imply their video making is exploitation, being as it is, a hobby.

Google is currently defying the recession and making profit, though YouTube itself is burning hundreds of millions of dollars each year. However it is poised to eventually become a "strong revenue business". The company also said that it was continuing to build up its substantial cash pile, which now stands at $19.3bn. The strategy is evidenced by the progressively more invasive pop-up adverts that clutter the site, particularly visible on YouTube Partners. This is complicated by the trend for false clicking - either to support your favourite YouTube channels; or, more menacingly, by competitors who click rival business adverts and cause unjustified expense, and of course makes small emerging companies especially vulnerable to such tactics. Companies like Mally Beauty and Coastal Scents would be wholly unfamiliar to me were it not for YouTube so clearly small companies can use the Beauty community to their advantage. Yet the commercialisation of YouTube has meant that many of the adverts are by huge companies, for whom YouTube costing is more economical than TV, yet can significantly rival its impressive viewing figures. Trying to figure out how the huge cost of bandwidth compares to ad revenue is very difficult, with analysts speculating YouTube loses between $174 million to $470 million though the company denies this and insists on the bigger picture. Plausibly videos on demand and tailored to specific categories and communities is the future, moreover everyone enjoys the tale of the little person who conquers the stage, and what better example is there than YouTube?

Now to address blogging, which has a more analytical advantage. Companies have perhaps realised that some beauty addicts surreptitiously access blogs from work, when they can't risk YouTube, and quickly develop an allegiance to specific blogs. Much like a hybrid between a magazine and a chat, blogs can certainly affect spending habits. It affects an emergent company's image to secure niche advertising. Drugstore makeup may be most suited to TV advertising, but more high end like Lancome and YSL usually aim for glossy mags. MAC's strategy by contrast is to put their ad funding into new designer's backstage shows and propel the image of MAC as the industry favourite. Yet their presence in every department store alongside Lancome makes this distinction rather unconvincing. Illamasqua have exploded on to the scene and are still fairly exclusive, though they have proliferated.

Probably most similar to MAC in terms of colour range and price point, Illamasqua have taken a similar approach to the MAC of ye olde days, before it became spat on by purists for 'selling out' to Lauder. I.e, Illamasqua are befriending the true fanatical experts and expecting a drip-down effect from the top down. I think this is a very shrewd move, and what's more, the Illamasqua blog is a surprisingly good read! Full of tips and interviews, the tone is far less self-serving than equivalent branded blogs and eases you in to the Illamsqua product range in a subtle yet very enticing way. All in all Illamasqua have it seems succeeded in creating not only a stunning and distinctive promo image, but also a respect for the true makeup conoisseur. (It is a shame that some of their Selfridges makeup artists are not quite as welcoming, but they are placed right next to MAC so they have a bad example.)

That Illamasqua, Barry M and Coastal Scents, to take these examples, have shown themselves receptive to blogs and YouTube at a grassroots level is impressive. I believe that individual amateur makeup reviewers will ultimately prove to be at the heart of future customer research. With less people buying magazines (print media is notoriously the first to be hit in times of recession) and more people checking comparison websites and forums, YouTube and blog reviews present a natural resource. And besides, representing the niche market of the makeup consumer who will absently buy 3 blushers and still come back the next week for another - surely those are the customers any makeup business is keenest to attract!

What beauty bloggers and YouTube Gurus must remember is the uncorrupted guilelessness which made them so vital in the first place, which is conceivably difficult if they gain unbridled popularity. Nonetheless many manage just that, and Lauren Luke is a blueprint for how it's done best. So this is my spin on Archbishop Vincent Nichols' dire warning.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Current favourites (and one current hate)

I've seen this topic going around on You Tube but due to a bad hair situation I've chosen to do it as a blog post. (*Short story is I went to the hairdresser and spent £85, they made me bleach bottle blonde ... and it did NOT look good. I have now gone over it TWICE myself to undo it all; hair ruined, again. Remind me never to get my colour done professionally, no one ever gets it right. Oh and it was Regis in Brent Cross - stay away!!)

Anyway, I do have some clear favourites right now, so let's get going!


I will be doing a full review in a few weeks on my YouTube channel once I can establish if these work. All I can say for now is that they feel like they're working. These little sticky papers act to form a physical barrier to minimise your frowning as you sleep. A box of 144 pads is £17.50, which seems a lot for craft paper, but if these work I will be buying them again and again. Call off the botox! - In fact the other day I was asked for I.D to buy super glue (you have to be over 21) so I couldn't help but beam with joy, inwardly thanking my Frownies. (It was only later that it occured to me that perhaps I just looked like a bedraggled glue sniffing junkie? Banish the thought...)


This famous NARS multiple is £27 but you do get 14.2g so I'm hoping it lasts! At first as I applied I thought oh dear, it's chalky... but somehow a moment after it settles it melts into your skin, giving a natural glaze finish. It's not glittery or greasy looking. It's way better than Benefit High Beam / Moon Beam and it's a great cool colour: no gold (unlike their Albatross, whih I didn't like and was hugely underwhelmed by) and no apricot - just pure sheen.

Again, this is new so lets just hope it contines to be brilliant! But for now, definite fave!!

3. Blusher combination (Both discontinued!!! dammit!!)

MAC Foolish Me blusher

Laura Mercier face tint in Apricot

MAC Sheertone Shimmer blusher in Foolish Me looks garishly neon, but once applied it only imparts a light peach and a gorgeous highlight. Mixed with Laura Mercier's mineral blusher in Apricot (£19) for 9.3g, the colour is ultimate summer bright blusher perfection. Although LM have discontiued this, the shade's replacement is a dead-ringer and I think this is a great product. In my experience, no blusher lasts on your face (or indeed in the pot) like a mineral blusher. Check them out!

4. Laura Mercier Pony Tail brush

If any of you remember, I mentioned recently that MAC's 217 had gone straight to my bad books. Although the shape and size were perfect, the goat hair bristles had started to become coarse and scratchy and even had fallout. The brush was around a year old, yet had got to the stage where it actually hurt my eye, and frankly with that it made me fear wrinkles! I could not use it at all. I had been on a fruitless search to find its (superior) doppelgänger and finally I have hit gold.

This Laura Mercier Pony Tail brush looks more like the 224 but notice its thin, sharp head and you might imagine it does a fabulous job of getting neatly into the crease and softly blending like a dream. It was £27 but if it lasts - really lasts, without the quality deteriorating - then that's a fair price. Fingers crossed!

5. MAC Brave New Bronze lipstick (Style Warriors collection; SOLD OUT dammit!!)

Question: How long does a MAC lipstick last? Because I have 2 backups, but I never want to run out! And this is predictably sold out.

The packaging, I find gorgeous. I love the kitsch animal print overload on the boxes, and the gold tube, though cheap and tacky (As usual) has grown on me. But the real reason I could not compile a list without it is the colour. It's the combination of MAC Kinda Sexy (previously the only nude equivalent I could wear before corpse status was declared) and Velvet Teddy (nice nude but just enough brown overload to make you think Ricki Lake 90s look)but it has more pink in it than the supposed dupe Cherish, which has the same unwanted grey echoes of Honeylove on me. Phew, OK got that? - Basically, it's a stunning pinky brown nude that I reckon would work on anyone. Oh and unlike my Kinda Sexy, this satin formula doesn't feel drying at all! Amazing, just wish it was perm.

6. MAC Quite Natural Paint Pot (Limited edition)

Well whoever named this got it in one - this is indeed 'quite natural'. It's like MAC Mystery eyeshadow (minus the crappy texture) and perhaps a little more muddy. It first came out with the N Collection and is now here again as a limited edition. It does crease so expect to use UDPP as with any paint pot, but as a colour base it's perfect for any brown smokey look or even more neutral looks - you might even use it as an independent crease colour! Current fave for sure.

And one big disappointment....

Urban Decay cream eyeshadow (in 'Weeds')

The colour is the same as MAC's sweet sage fluidline, i.e, beautiful golden green. However as UD are notoriously guilty, this is stuffed full of annoying chunky glitter. But more to the point, I thought the fact that this is infused with UDPP would mean a reliably crease-free green base. But no, this creases. So all in all, completely useless. I also don't like the doe foot applicator. It was £10, and a total let down.

What are your current faves/ hates? Let me know!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Extreme Beauty

After I wrote my piece about Men and Makeup, I asked a few men whether they would sooner have plastic surgery than reach for some foundation and lippy, and they all seemed to agree that surgery was less embarrassing than having a makeup bag. As has often been noted, plastic surgery amongst men has been rising. But if my last blog entry posited the theory that truth and beauty are counterparts, then where does plastic surgery fit in? There is no doubt that plastic surgery done well can heighten beauty, and for anti-aging, often surgery is the only effective solution. Nowadays we are surrounded by TV Makeover shows and magazine and newspaper adverts proclaiming the wonders of plastic surgery for the everyman. Price plans are on hand; Big Brother advocates are featured on the websites to reassure you that yes, it feels great!!

Well this is a tired subject, and I'm sure most people can easily decide for themselves whether invasive surgery is going to enhance their lives. I have a friend who was so miserable about her nose that she pretended to have a perpetual cold so that a tissue could serve as a useful hiding device. Now, after a nose job, she has amazing confidence. But the reason this subject has been playing on my mind is of course the recent passing of Michael Jackson. It strikes me that once again (Heath Ledger comes to mind) people are putting too much faith in prescription medication; believing that if something is 'natural' and equally - if not more so, if something has been processed and approved in a Lab, it's not the equivalent of a street drug. Yet sleeping pills and anti-depressants are serious stuff, they can be fatal! Just like surgery, there is a casual attitude to these instant remedies. Doctors are not always noble enough to draw a distinction between those who are genuinely in need and those who are merely dependent. I have friends who openly admit that they went into the profession for the money, so the naive impression of doctors as saintly saviours is unfortunately often too generous a view.

Michael Jackson clearly had a crippling image problem, which, shocking to see, was indulged in by various surgeons. It is nothing short of heartbreaking to see his metamorphosis. When money is no object, how far would you go to improve? It is hardly surprising that once one 'flaw' is dealt with, others introduce themselves. And once the fear of surgery has been surmounted, how easy it must be to return to the operating table, be put to sleep, and wake up as if in a dreamland, where suddenly you are not yourself.