Monday, 11 November 2013

That's the trouble with plastic surgery...

The Laws of attraction?

I've recently decided that although I do think cosmetic surgery is fine, it seems to me that no matter how much surgery someone has, they do usually seem to look their age - just smoother. But still clearly their age. And if it is a very expertly pumped up face, they can at best look an indiscriminate age, say, even anywhere between 27 and 50 sometimes - but as soon as they talk and their croaky 50 year old voice emanates, the cat (or rather 'the crone'?) is out of the bag. As I've said before, there is something so admirable about being able to relinquish your youth and let others have their day in the sun and just allow savage Mother Nature to diminish your looks steadily and uninterrupted. Whilst you smile. And occasionally the smile will capture the youthful beauty, just for a second or two. [Horror. I know, not very satisfying, but certainly the most dignified attitude.] But, aside from anti ageing surgery, I always thought that if you had a feature or hangup that so upset you that it seemed only surgery was the answer to a normal, happy life - that was fine too. But now... I have come to think even then it's pretty much doomed...

This story is actually tragic.

Jian Feng sued his wife after the couple’s daughter was born and he didn’t understand why she was very ugly since both he and his wife were good-looking individuals.When he found out his wife had undergone extensive surgery to alter her appearance, he sued her, saying she married him under false pretenses. This photo shows the family all together, and the children don’t look much like their mother, probably because she went to South Korea to drastically change her appearance.
Jian actually won the lawsuit, and was awarded $120,000 in the settlement.

And oddly, I agree with the fact that essentially she has crafted herself into a whole new entity and that it is thus fraud. It's very bizarre that it has been held up as fraud though... As, if you have the cash, you'll always find a surgeon who will carve you into a new creature entirely - indeed, the creature you feel you are 'inside'. And with virtually every successful model and actress having had some kind of surgery, perhaps with that logic they too are fraudsters who shouldn't be landing their hot ticket roles either! At what point does plastic surgery shift from acceptable tweaking to unacceptable fraud?

Much has been made of how cruel the husband is being by publicly decrying his children as ugly, but I suspect the real shock was that they simply did not look like either him or his wife, and that in itself is destabilizing. Breeding in animals is all about selection and mating to enhance certain features - plastic surgery irremediably skews this. I guess it's not so different for humans after all?! Or maybe this proves they didn't marry for true love. Who knows; one can only speculate. Anyway, I bet with a makeup makeover she could have looked a lot better in that way, and after all that level of 'fraud' is still acceptable! They'll be trouble if makeup overload ever became the basis for a successful divorce...

I'd welcome a day when genetic modification meant personal taste was the only thing that mattered, and even better: to look around and not know who is what age or what ethnicity. But the reality is that, much like breeding prize champion pups, we humans appear to need these indicators to decide who is our best bet to associate with. And until that changes, there will always be an unmentionable dark side to plastic surgery: how it can not simply 'improve', but outright deceive.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

New skincare Alert: Bochery Nature!

I've been testing and now relying on some new skincare... Bochery Nature. I first discovered the brand at Olympia Beauty. I always enjoy going every year, particularly to discover new ranges. Lately I have been trying to stick to natural skincare and cut down on chemicals. I liked the sound of Bochery's uncompromising pledge to fuse 'Natural' with 'Nano-Technology' and I was impressed with the expertise of their dermatologist, who was kind enough to speak to me at the show - not to mention the rest of the friendly team!

The skincare packaging is minimalist and gives it a pharmaceutical image, however the handmade soaps (£4.45) and aromatherapy oils by contrast are very decorative.

I chose several soaps: Avocado oil and peach (very fruity); Ocean (really does smell like an ocean!! - incredibly refreshing); Botans (a unisex, almost masculine sophisticated scent), and Cinnamon (the ultimate Christmas scent- very potent Cinammon). 


I also chose the intensive facial cleaning liquid facewash, (£16.50) "Cleansing, Peeling, Renewal effect using mild surfactants from Coconut, Wheat, Olive and Biotechnological Enzymes" - which I actually had to stop using as it was too potent! This is a brilliant face wash for very oily skin. It comes in a squeeze bottle so you can use it to the last. It definitely exfoliates as it cleanses.

I was lucky enough to be able to try a new product which will be launched imminently, called Acnelle. 

Described as an Innovative Natural Anti-Acne Nano-Comlpex with Liposomal Phytosphogosine. Long-lasting anti-acne action; Flax Seed Extract: Sebum regulation; White Willow Bark Extract: Natural keratolytic effect. I haven't yet noticed my pores "dimishing" but it does leave me shine free and is perfect as a makeup primer! It reminds me of a cross between La Roche Posay effaclar duo and Murad Oil Control Mattifier. It's no doubt cheaper than the Murad, and seems to work using the same key ingredient.

My utter favourite and must-have though, is the Rapid Cellular Peel Cream. From my very first try, it had that unmistakeable tingle that shows it's truly having an effect. Containing potent glycolic and lactic acids, it softens and exfoliates excellently. Described as a facial Cream made by fruit acids AHA, salicylic acid, pro-vitamin B5, chamomile, calendula and hyaluronic acid. Anti-wrinkle, moisturising and regenerating action. It absolutely feels like a salon grade product. A huge tub is £58.80 and will last and last. Very little is needed each time, as the cream is rich and not remotely drying. The packaging is very sophisticated and unisex.

I also have the hero product Eye Cream, which has already garnered rave reviews here and here and I am actually going to give this its own post or video, as it seems to actually be working! [gasp!] My eyes are less puffy and - dare I say - even the darkness appears to be less severe. It reminds me of the Origins eye cream which I love (reviewed on this blog previously) but I had to stop buying as it just finished too quickly. I was hunting for a similarly effective eye cream and finally, it's here. The best thing about this eye cream is that it comes in a huge 40ml tube but still has a narrow nozzle. This keeps the product fresh and it is sure to last and therefore represents great value at £35. Like the Rapid Cellular Peel Cream, it feels like it's tightening and firming as it's applied. 

 Currently - until the end of the month- there is a code for 30% discount from their website, just enter the following code at the checkout. 


The Best and most wearable of the Fashion Weeks' Makeup : Roundup

After going through various images from the several past Fashion Weeks, I've collected up some favourite makeup ideas and trends. Of course, being models, often the makeup is utterly minimal so us mere mortals can only sigh. But amongst the (yawn) 'natural' looks, 70s beauty resurgence (really?) and of course the obligatory smokey eyes, or the tanned glowy standard fodder, there were some exciting beauty looks.

 My absolute favourite is the simplest yet it does have something very modern about it: a very sharp cat eye winged black liner embellished with opulent glitter. The rest of the face is kept rather nude. Seen at Haider Ackermann [Paris]  "Stephane Marais, working with MAC Cosmetics, focused on models’ eyes, over which he painted dark wings speckled with black glitter, for texture and “sophistication.”

It worked especially well with the interesting fringe hairstyles and the monochrome.

My second favourite was the innovative gold accents at Dries Van Noten [Paris.]  I just love the gold eyebrows and hair parting! I wish this would go mainstream! Elegant and quirky (a most rare combination.)

Hairstylist Sam McKnight [...] fashioned on models’ heads a low side part lined with actual gold leaf. Makeup artist Peter Philips handc ut small gold-colored threads then glued from five to seven of them between the lashes on each models’ eyes.

“I could have gone for gold fake lashes and just cut them, but it was too clean,” he explained, calling the threads a bit more “live” and “vibrant.”

Models’ eyebrows were enhanced, and their eyelids got a dab of Chanel Ombre Essentielle in Ivory.

Another inventive yet almost transferable look was seen at the Anthony Vaccarello show [Paris], where Tom Pecheux used a small stencil to help craft a triangle shape over eyes. It seems to work better on some eye shapes rather than others though! I'm thinking, a good twist to a winged liner if you have hooded lids... Otherwise, it takes on a rather 'speccy' aura.

In a similar vein, makeup artist Lucia Pieroni emphasized dewy skin and dark eyes for Missoni’s show [Milan] with semi rimmed eyeliner. Eyes were rimmed in MAC Blacktrack Fluidline. “It's slightly Japanese in its essence and has a rounded-down shape," explained Pieroni. To finish, Silver Glitter eyeliner was applied with the finger over the lid and brow bone. A nude lip was finger-pressed with MAC Have a Lovely Day.

Now, we mustn't completely ignore the wealth of natural looks, for it should be acknowledged when sometimes the effect is truly dramatic. The standout for me was Oscar de la Renta [New York]. “We definitely know she has money,” said Gucci Westman when explaining the look backstage at Oscar de la Renta. Working with Revlon, Westman focused on crafting makeup that was simply pretty. For the face, Westman wanted it to appear luminous. To create the glowing canvas, she used Illuminace Cream Shadow in Not Just Nudes and Skinlights Face Illuminator in Nude. Mixing Powder Blush in Softspoken Pink and Matte Haute Pink she created a soft peachy flush on the cheeks.

The eyes were a mix of both violet and pale pink, which was placed close to the lashes and under the lid. “It has a bit of a Fifties feel,” said Westman. Finishing with a glossy lip, she mixed Super Lustrous Matte in Smoked Peach with Lip Butter in Pink Lemonade and Juicy Papaya. To top it off, she coated the lips with Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Snow Pink. “She’s elegant and polished,” said Westman. “A little Victorian.”

It's worth noting the abundance of corals and oranges, which are always pretty, albeit predictable. There was a purple lip at Marchesa which was complimented by feathers in the hair. Galliano, Fendi and DSquared all chose bright orange lips. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury for MAC Cosmetics created a tropical, sun-kissed goddess at Dsquared2. Using a squared lip brush to create a refined edge, Tilbury lined lips in What a Blast lip pencil and filled in with Morange lipstick.





At Tom Ford the makeup was bland but it was fun to get a glimpse of the makeup table and spot some rogue brands including Boots Botanics and Real Techniques (anyone else chime in with your own eye spy please!) It was headed by Charlotte Tilbury.

Finally there were some breakaway trends which should be mentioned. Manish Arora and Vivienne Westwood were dependable for some novel makeup; Manish Arora with some beadwork and Vivienne Westwood with some ghoulish Halloween faces. In their ways, fairly typical.

More unexpectedly, Chanel mirrored their art gallery show theme with some very arty paint like eyes.

Inspired by a fabric in the collection that looked like a Benjamin Moore swatch card, makeup artist Peter Philips wanted to mimic the effect on the eyes. Using what he described as “finger paints” and the Chanel #21 brush, Philips painted an out-of-order rainbow of colorful brushstrokes all over the models’ eyes in lavender, red, yellow, green, pink, and blue. He even made a frame for his paintings, filling in the brows with black pencil, coating lashes in black mascara, lining the eyes top and bottom in inky black paint, and painting the nails in Chanel nail polish in Black Satin. “The black base acts like a frame, then next to that we can do all the playful colors on the eyes,” he explained. But Philips's playfulness came with rules: He and his team had to follow certain guidelines to keep the eyes from smearing or getting muddied. “The different colors don’t touch, and I won’t put more than two colors in the inner corners,” said Philips, who blotted the paints with a tissue to ensure they didn’t run. “And if I use a lot of lavender, I won’t use much green, or if I use coral, I won't do pink. I want it to contrast.” 

Rick Owens had conflicting reactions to his radical game changer. Eschewing lithe, white models, he instead chose a black sorority step show. The women looked very angry and intimidating. Opinions varied from praising the image as strong and beautiful, to ugly and aggressive. I am sure it made the audience sit up though! My feeling is to concur with this rather scathing assessment. I am instead encouraged by more prosaic evidence of inclusion, such as the news that Christian Louboutin's trademark nude shoes will be available in all sorts of skin shades

*Images and italicised  text taken from WWD, Allure.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Murad Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator

I was recently invited to attend the unveiling of Murad's latest innovation, "RepleniCell", manifested in the form of their Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator [sic]. It was also a chance to meet Dr Howard Murad and his son Jeff, who masterminds product development. Murad is a family run company and has spearheaded many beauty innovations which we today take for granted. Indeed, their T Zone Pore Refining Gel is a major favourite of mine, and uses two of Murad's most famous breakthroughs: pomegranate, and glycolic acid.

The Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator claims to turn water into an active rather than passive ingredient by using osmolytes (small water attracting molecules). Someone in the crowd queried whether this meant all Murad products would be adapted to capitalise on the new RepleniCell technology, to which Jeff seemed hesitant. I certainly hope Murad does not tamper with either of my skincare stalwarts,  T Zone Pore Refining Gel or the amazing Oil Control Mattifier. I've tried the Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator and I've already used a sizeable amount, it is very light and gel like. I find it a bit silicone feeling, but my skin is very pernickety. Some Murad products seem to not work on my oily yet over stressed skin, such as the Hybrids primer. But, it is very early days and I - like the 1240 women surveyed by Murad - do worry about pores just as much as I worry about wrinkles. I remember the days when my skin really was poreless (sigh). Dr Murad spoke about the importance of diet and exercise and general physical and emotional health being inextricably connected to skin health, which is an all too often undermined fact. Indeed, he will be launching a new book called 'Creating a Healthy Life' (out around mid November). After all, beauty and clear skin at its most basic is a subconscious affirmation of good health and therefore being an attractive mate! We are but simple beasts.

For now I am inclined to say this will not replace my firm favourite, Murad Oil Control Mattifier, which I have noticed not only mattifies but also seems to make pores and blemishes smaller - But I will  continue to test the Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator and obviously if I notice dramatic and yearned  for results I will update....

Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator swatch

The Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator is £49.50 here

PS... Check out QVC this Sunday (29th) at noon for Murad's launch! Apparently there'll be some great deals so be sure to check it out, Jeff will be co-hosting with Alison Young. Oh and phone in if you've got a major Murad fave to brag about! QVC really are top trumps for skincare nowadays!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Salon Sin Camden: REVIEW!

I've been visiting Jamie, owner of Camden Town's Salon Sin, for many years. I have followed him throughout his career and via several salons. Because, he really is that good. Jamie combines real vision and artistry. He has given me some amazing haircuts over the years and I am so delighted to see he's now got his very own salon.

the finished result
Salon Sin is very carefully decorated, from the antique till ("120 years old!") at reception, to the vintage furniture (including old cinema seats), the neon sign outside, flashing jukebox, and hand painted walls - painted by Jamie himself. The staff dress as they wish (no uniform or colour coding, so long as they look presentable) so the salon has an easy going feel to it. It's virtually right opposite Camden Town tube station and once you're inside, it reminds you of how Camden used to be and truly embodies the spirit of Camden. It feels very different to the clinical blandness of Rush or Toni & Guy.

the stolid Toni & Guy environment, where I do get my colour done...

Salon Sin use Redken hair products and L'Oreal colour, and the staff really care about the individuality of each customer. Take a look at the Facebook page to see examples of their work!


Jamie hopes to turn Salon Sin into a cluster of salons, with the wall artwork being their calling card. I hugely recommend a visit. New customers get 30% off their first service and 10% off when re-booking.

Blurred lines

Arguably feminism's greatest victory is that it seems so unfashionable and embarrassing to be labelled a feminist. Adverts and pop culture in many ways set the aspirational blueprint, and makeup often becomes a tool by which to embolden the image. In the iconic Robert Palmer video, the women are stoic; their makeup is uniform smokey eyes and red lips. Yet their black turtle necks and guitars subvert the robbing of individuality and give them back their strength. In Robin Thicke's recent Blurred Lines video, the red lipstick remains - but the women are stripped whilst the men are fully suited. Robin Thicke looks a lot older than the models, and very slimy. It is undoubtedly grossly insulting (there is no irony) yet the jaunty lyrics make light of the spectacle. Check out this FT article for an interesting discussion. I've spoken before about how being jokey about being seductive is the new feminism, and the recent furore over Miley Cyrus desperately trying to look appealing is further entrenching this. Apparently red lipstick is the essential ingredient... how sad.

Benefit recently shared their advert for 'They're Real' mascara by trying to translate the objectification. This failed miserably. Ultimately, men and women are completely different and seeing men groping their bulging trousers is usually at best pathetic and creepy... But Benefit slathers on the 'it's a funny joke, lighten up!' patter. However, many wrongs go unchallenged by masquerading as light-hearted jibes. Well, it might all be forgiveable if the jokes were funny?!

Current FAVES

It's been a while since I gathered my favourites together so here is a current selection. I'll hopefully do in-depth swatches and comparison either by video or by blog post - so please feel free to comment with requests if this might be useful.

Firstly, toner!!! I recently booked myself in for a course of Diamond Microdermabrasion and my beautician asked whether I was using toner. I admitted I wasn't and she chastised me, claiming anyone with greasy skin should NEVER skip toner. For years I used Clinique's toner (the purple one) but I had decided toner was a gimmick and eliminated it. But after reading many positive reviews, I decided to buy Boots Botanic Rosewater toner. It smells divine and is so refreshing and uplifting. Best of all, adding toner to my regime seems to have helped my skin texture.

I may have mentioned Murad Oil Control Mattifier before; if not, I should have. It is wonderful for greasy skin and even seems to calm breakouts. It helps foundation stay on longer, too.

Makeup-wise, the crown must go to Guerlain: once again their collection dazzles. The Madame Rougit blusher is superb. It's pigmented, smells beautiful, and applies with a luminosity that only Guerlain have consistently perfected. It is pinker than Rouge G but very much in the same spirit. Their new eyeshadow duos are their best eyeshadow packaging yet - sleek, elegant, compact and sophisticated to the extreme. My favourite is Too Spicey. The brown is a matte, smooth neutral and the orange is surprisingly pigmented. Each duo has a glitter (sorry, "veil") and a solid shade. The glitters remind me of MAC Reflects Glitter (which I adore). Both work very well together and can be very sober or very glittery, depending on preference.

The L'Oreal Super Liner Brow Artist was reviewed with the rest of the collection here, so it comes as little surprise it is in my everyday rotation. Here it is, with my lashes - and no other makeup. It looks very natural and is a must-have for me!

The lashes are 100% real hair Red Cherry #523 (£2.99 from Bright Eyes Beauty) are rightly top-sellers. Incredibly flattering, natural, and easy to apply!

When MAC brought back their Style Black mineralised eyeshadows, I was ecstatic and bought backups of Young Punk and Gilt by Association. But I considered Cinderfella to be dupeable. Well, it actually is pretty original and I decided I did need it afterall. It is incredibly glittery (I am a magpie and addicted to glitter) but still very sultry as well. I find myself reaching for it on nights out.

Finally, after seeing countless positive reviews for Pixiwoo's Real Techniques brushes, I decided to try out the Expert Face Brush. And it does in fact put foundation on very smoothly. I prefer my Louise Young LY34 foundation brush, but this Real Techniques one is so much cheaper that for the price I think it gives it a real challenge.

Honourable mention and potential future fave alert: I have discovered a new skincare brand called Bochery... watch this space...

L'Oreal Super Liner collection REVIEW

L'Oreal have launched 4 products: Super Liner Perfect Slim (£6.99); Super Liner Blackbuster (£6.99); Super Liner GelMatic (£5.99), and Super Liner Brow Artist (£5.49). I have been putting them through my testing regime and I can say that two are heartily recommended and one is actually a new FAVE.

The new fave is L'Oreal's very first brow product, the Super Liner Brow Artist. This pencil is brown (shade 03 Brunette) but thankfully it's not a ridiculously warm reddish brown. It's not quite ashy but it's definitely a flat, neutral brown. I really enjoy using it, and the brush is perfect. Even the waxy side is proving exceptionally useful. It's very cleverly designed and depending on how heavily you swatch it, it'll work for a multitude of hair shades.

The next hugely recommended liner is the GelMatic. It is indeed a hybrid of gel and pencil. It's smooth, long lasting - gives a great retro pencil finish but with all the stubbornness of a gel liner. It does transfer without the use of an eyeshadow primer (I use Urban Decay Primer Potion) but with primer, it is a very good pencil and does feel different to a typical black pencil.

The pen liners look extremely elegant: the TV advert for Blackbuster is excellent, making the most of the chunky black marker pen image to give a graffiti style...

But to me, both the Blackbuster and the Perfect Slim were difficult to get right. For marker pen style liners, my absolute fave is Lancome Art Liner (which I was secretly hoping this would be, but no such luck!) or drugstore-wise, Jordana Fabu Liner works nicely. They have a good black pigment but the trouble with these L'Oreal versions is that it 'bled' into the fine lines around my eyes. It even bled into the fine lines of my hand as you might very slightly see from the swatch...

L-R: GelMatic, Perfect Slim, Brow Artist, Blackbuster

Ultimately, lining brows and eyes is certainly in style. The Brow Artist is fantastic, and makes me wish I hadn't spent so much on high end versions. The GelMatic is great if you are in the market for a long wearing pencil liner (it works very well in the waterline too) but I would personally skip the Blackbuster and the Perfect Slim liners (unless you are very smooth skinned.)

Available nationwide, stockists 0800 030 4032