Monday, 14 June 2010

I should feel really guilty.....

UK Glamour magazine is giving away full size Benefit pencils. So for £2 magazine cost, you get a £15 full size pencil. Unless you live in my area, as then you'll be out of luck I'm afraid.

[evil cackle]



I went to a dozen newsagents who were ALL sold out. Then I went to Tesco, who had 2. Then I went to Sainsbury's, who had 7. Moral of the story: supermarkets are more likely to replenish the shelf, so go there first.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

When makeup won't work

I was reading this article, about a certain Debrahlee Lorenzana, who despite a penchant for cosmetic surgery, laments: “Are you saying just because I look this way genetically, that this should be a curse for me?” She alleges that Citibank fired her for being "too distracting". Her rightful use of polished makeup and fitted clothes, she speculates, were the cause of their unease. She has made her point via, paradoxically, a series of seductive shots in The Village Voice, culminating in a 26 page spread! One lawyer's blog posed the question, "Did curvaceous New York banker Debrahlee Lorenzana get fired for being too sexy? Or do you think, as I do, that her lawsuit over it is merely a publicity ploy for a modelling career?"

This fraught topic, of how attractive a woman can be before it pools into 'unprofessionalism' reminds me of the recent tweet by the makeup artist Jenny Patinkin, who incidentally I only just realised actually read my piece on her! (due to being effectively ostracized from social networking as no facebook account nor twitter account for me, I only just saw this as I was checking for her latest gems). Jenny Patinkin had offhandedly observed that "Smokey eyes + office job = not being taken seriously. Would u hire anyone w/makeup like Kim Kardashian? Smokey is 2 distracting 4 work."

Prior to that comment, I had never considered it. My logic was, as long as the colours are neutral, anything goes. But the truth is, there is an unwritten rule.

I was reminded of the case won not that long ago in UK. Amitjo Kajla, a young and pretty prison guard, argued that she had been bullied for wearing makeup and having her uniform tailored to fit, and that being caught within the "macho" prison attitude had effectively resulted in her unfair dismissal. She settled out of court. Officers had defended their postion by insisting her makeup and outfits could pose a danger to her safety:  "When Miss Kajla came to the centre she was wearing a very tight fitted v-neck woolen jumper - far too revealing in my opinion.'I said it was not appropriate and all the prisoners were ringing bells to get her attention.' Michael Doolan, acting governor at the time of the incident, told the tribunal Miss Kajla's appearance was 'overwhelming' in terms of make-up. He said she wore heavy eye-liner, mascara, glossy lipstick and had rouge cheeks. Miss Kajla[...]toned down her make-up after an informal chat with prison governor".

Amitjo Kajla bought lighter makeup but wrote in her diary: "Make-up is me, I don't want to change me". When accused of going to work "glammed up", she, like Debrahlee Lorenzana, cited her upbringing as the catalyst:  "I was taught by my parents to take a pride in my appearance."

Personally I am pleased that this right to use makeup, even in the harshest and most inglorious of environments, was upheld. In the Daily Mail's coverage as well as other tabloids, I noticed the comments were overridingly hostile, insinuating that by wearing her habitual makeup and nose stud, she was showing a flagrant disregard for the status quo. But that is the Daily Mail. Although Amitjo Kajla maintained that by being friendly and behaving as normal, she was treating the offenders with respect, it is obvious that when dealing with volatile offenders, one must be extra vigilant. However, that shouldn't mean that she has to eliminate her self-confidence altogether. Makeup can be worn for one's own wellbeing, not necessarily for others. Her safety as a prison officer shouldn't be compromised depending on her attractiveness, and furthermore why should the inmates get the privilege of dictating the prison staff's makeup regimen? With so much bureaucracy in the public sector, which allows prisoners to hold officers to ransom via various human rights, this trend should not be exacerbated by co-workers.

Another recent case won was a disabled Law student working at Abercrombie & Fitch, who succesfully claimed that the stores "look policy" was used as an excuse to keep her hidden away in the stockroom. This followed a recently settled a £25 million lawsuit brought by nine former employees, all from ethnic minority groups, who similarly said that they were forced to work in stockrooms or on night shifts because they did not fit the Abercrombie "look". Tellingly, the case was won on the grounds that by wearing a cardigan to conceal the join between her skin and the prosthetic arm, the "look" was compromised, and not by being the fact of her being disabled. This scathing article charts Abercrombie &Fitch's various PR disasters.

Again within the US retail sector, American Apparel has been exposed for its shallow entrance policies. Making a mockery of any notions of the American Dream and confusing an aspirational image with being elitist and even racist, the store has been repeatedly chastised by Gawker, who managed to leak an internal memo where it was stipulated that all job applicants must send in a full body shot.

American Apparel concede, "We do screen, but not for beauty. What we look for is personal style [...] The line consists of a tremendous number of colors that are more like art supplies than fashion, so when we're hiring, one of the things we look for is an ability to take our products, make them exciting, and show how cool they can look, which doesn't have much to do with just being pretty."

- Yes that's about as convincing as A&F hiding the disabled worker away because her cardigan was offensive. And how pretentious does it sound to call your clothes "more like art supplies than fashion"?! Please!

Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel both have strict guidelines on hair and makeup; for A&F this means minimal, natural makeup and for American Apparel similarly makeup and hair is policed. One hiring manager recalls being instructed:"Try to find some of these classy black girls, with nice hair, you know?"

American Apparel is currently struggling and tilting dangerously towards bankruptcy, although it has found investment for now.

I understand the need for good presentation, and perhaps that does mean not wearing lipgloss or glitter, but I fail to see why even a (ok subtle) smokey brown eye and nude lips can't be acceptable, whatever your job is. The fact that these chains force their staff to be treated as models rather than sales staff, would deter me from buying there. And indeed has even been read as a major contributing factor to AA's demise.

I know certain sectors have different allowances, i.e working at a funeral parlour vs working at a Sephora, but surely there must be a universal happy medium?  How much makeup is too much? And is it ever fair to constrict makeup? 

What do You think??

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The secret to being wrinkle free?

Yes, apparently new research funded by Olay and printed in the June issue of the British Journal of Dermatology has shown that moisturisers are the key – women with well-hydrated faces tend to develop persistent wrinkles more slowly than those with dry skin.

The Proctor & Gamble funded study traces the key between facial expressions and wrinkles. The results showed that an average 28 year old woman with dry skin would have increased the amount of visible wrinkles by 52% by the time she reached 36. However if she had well-hydrated skin, the visible wrinkles would have increased by just 22% over the same time frame. In short, the state of their skin at 28 dictated the rate they would age and "was predicted by the pattern of lines observed with a smiling expression at baseline."

The concept of oily skin and the link between moisturising and ageing is nothing new: "Ageing is all about moisture loss. As skin cells grow older, they lose their ability to keep in moisture and this results in drier skin and the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Dry skin is brittle and cannot hold its shape fully during daily movement. Hydrated skin is much more flexible and able to crease without permanently changing superficially. This is why anti-ageing creams are all based on the moisturising principle."

But the link between dry skin and wrinkles had never been investigated until this study established that repeated facial expression caused persistent wrinkles - which can only be softened by moisturising well in advance. This information hardly seems groundbreaking, the term "laughter lines" has been around a while, after all. But having it all in black and white, even if it is sponsored by an Olay moisturiser, means that there really is no excuse to not moisturise well in advance of your thirties.

However it is interesting that the emphasis is simply on moisture, not "peptides" or other buzz words that make skincare sound so promising. It has been widely noted that these ingredients in any case would need specific lab conditions, or at least the right packaging, to keep the active ingredients balanced and effective. And notwithstanding pipette packaging etc, the fact remains that only prescription retinoids have been shown to work - and if an over the counter remedy really does work, it risks being labelled a medicine, and thus can't be a shelf product advertised and sold in bulk...

As if to corroborate this evidence, Kylie Minogue has sensationally revealed that she has turned her back on the botox and similar treatments which have preserved her youth. Perhaps because botox supposedly causes its own wrinkles. Instead, her secret is nothing more than a humble jar of Ponds Cold cream. Next week: Simon Cowell reveals his mega watt smile is down to Colgate.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Tom Pecheux for Estée Lauder: Pure Colour

As the new Creative Makeup Director for Estée Lauder, Tom Pecheux, the famed makeup artist extraordinaire, has set the stage alight with immediate effect. Twenty four eyeshadows and twenty four lip glosses, two quints palettes, two nail polishes and a two-tone vision of Blue Dahlia and Surreal Violet await your delectation.

I was privileged to attend an evening showcase of the new offerings. I was secretly hoping Tom Pecheux would be there in person, but the venue was instead merely decorated with images of his handsome visage peering confidently down, with quotes elaborating on his inspiration. The best thing about this launch is the sense that it does indeed truly feel inspired. The colours and finishes reveal a master who has seen it all, yet still now reinvents and reinterprets those classic winning colours. Whoever chose Tom Pecheux for Lauder, hit gold. His collection is modern, but respects - venerates - the class and elegance that the Estée Lauder name has nurtured for so long. 

There was champagne and great company, especially Pixiwoo! (love them!) The swatching began, and everyone was unanimously impressed.

*The lipglosses are available now and will be permanent, the eyeshadows come out in July, and the eyeshadow palettes and nail polishes also come out in July (Selfridges; Brown Thomas) or August (nationwide counters).

The wide array of lipglosses (£15) supposedly come in three finishes: Shine, Shimmer and Sparkle - good luck to anyone who can group them.

I tested a few and can broadly advise that the glittery ones are the stickiest. I am fussy about lipgloss and think Guerlain is the benchmark for brilliance in that field. The one I chose, Simply Pink, is the least sticky and is in fact very pleasant with a fruity scent. It gives lips a subtle peachy pink tint and is very juicy and glossy.  It looks like this:


Simply Pink is not as pigmented as it swatches, but it's a wonderful understated luscious lip to go with dramatic eyes. The collection, as seen on the model, is matte face (no blushers or bronzers were launched), heavy smoked eyes, and natural shiny lips. The gloss has a doe foot aplicator and the colour and shine last a good few hours. 

The eyeshadows are the standout though. These shadows are superb! Smooth, creamy, pigmented, and you get 2.1g for £15.50, which is effectively the same price point as MAC, yet the gold luxe packaging and mirror really make it feel reliably high end. These will last you a while. The colours are beautiful and dynamic, and even the pale shades manage to be surprisingly individual.

Twilight Rose and Enchanted Meadow (a pale pink and pale green respectively) are interpreted as delicate peachy sheen, and cool pistachio. These work well as lid colours, highlight colours, accent colours or worn together... which is like an angel wing! The deepest sparkle shades (dark navy Midnight Star, pictured, and shimmering black) are intense and work brilliantly as eye liners or lid colours. They have masses of silver flecks but the blue I have has not suffered fallout. I use it with a MAC 219 brush to outline my eyes.

The palettes (£34.50), Blue Dahlia and Surreal Violet, are cleverly assembled to collect every facet of blue and purple, which allows for a multitude of eyeshadow creations. The white shades in both palettes are wonderful: the Blue Dahlia white can actually be used as an eyeshadow transformer, as it's iridescent! And the white in the Surreal Violet palette is silver toned and takes on a lilac cast. The purples and greys effortlessly achieve the ultimate Autumn smokey eye. The best shade is the blackberry square, so creamy - and expertly pitched to intensify the other colours.


All of the eyeshadows last really well through a long day. They are buildable, so can either be worn demure or intensely layered for bold smokey looks. I highly recommend you pick at least one up! This is how an eyshadow should be folks.

And finally, the nail polish (£12). There are two: the eponymous Blue Dahlia, which is a dark almost blackened navy, and Surreal Violet, a hybrid of the trend for grey beige (Chanel Particuliere, Essie Mink Muffs, etc) but with a secret peach pearl undertone, all enveloped in lilac. It simply is un-dupeable, and a must-have. I am wearing it with Essie topcoat and it's been on almost a week!


Check out your nearest Estée Lauder counter this summer, to get your winter makeup in the bag! Oh and P.S, you might want to grab Bronze Goddess Bronzing gel if you haven't already - it's been on heavy rotation for me and has made it possible for me to use these distinctly wintry shades but still look summery. 

Thanks so much to Estee Lauder for a wonderful event, and this beautiful goody bag.

direct link to eyeshadows, currently exclusively online: