There’s something deeply satisfying about applying a cream eyeshadow with fingertips – it must appeal to the toddler in me. The teeny pots of “paint”, the relatively slapdash approach to sticking a finger in and then swiping it across the eyelid… It’s makeup that feels effortless, despite the fact that it takes about the same effort as using a powder shadow and brush. It feels low-key because there’s just one shade and it seems straightforward because “patting around the edges with your finger” doesn’t sound nearly as difficult as “blending into the crease with a MAC 217.” To my brain, at least, cream shadow application is distinctly untechnical and unscary.
The latest cream shadows to grab my attention are from Trinny London’s Mother Earth collection here*. There are four shadows, two of which are distinctly terracotta in tone, all of which have the classic longwear Eye2Eye formula. Easy on, not so easy off. Don’t get me wrong, there are cream and mousse shadows in pots with far greater longevity (some even require waterproof makeup remover to cleanse them off) but I like the sheerness of the Trinny shadows because it makes them virtually foolproof. You could very possibly put them on in the dark and they’d still turn out OK.
The reason that this collection tickled my proverbial fancy was that I had recently seen a video on Zoe Taylor’s makeup Instagram channel where she had worked magic with a terracotta eyeshadow. You can see the video here – Zoe works with Chanel and so uses Chanel products, but it’s the overall look that I love.
Some shy away from reds, understandably, because they can make you look as though you’ve just been through a month-long acrimonious break-up, but Zoe uses it so well in her video. It inspired me.
Obviously my own makeup looks nothing like hers but it’s the thought that counts! On my eyes I have Truth (a reddish brown without any shimmer) as a base and then Fortitude on top. Fortitude is the strongest of the four shades and has a real metallic edge to it – it’s a deep metallic burgundy and quite striking.
Clockwise from the right we have Truth, the aforementioned reddish brown, then Fortitude, the metallic burgundy. Next pot around the clock is Courage, a pinky metallic copper and then possibly the “safest” of the bunch, Hope, which is a goldeny peach. Very versatile, this one, as it can be used as a base or simply to brighten the lids, it has a little more freshness and zing than a plain golden beige.
But it’s the less spangly shadow I’ve ended up veering towards for everyday use (funny that, I’m usually so outré with my makeup choices) (note sarcasm); the cream shadow in Truth. It still has a great big whack of red in it but I find it incredibly easy to wear and it’s ever so flattering on skin that has been sunkissed over the summer months.
Thinking about it, these are the perfect shadows for late summer and autumn – they have loads of warmth and just the right degree of sparkle. Nothing overtly festive but they’re colourful enough to keep the spirit of the long hot summer alive. Although I’m probably not alone in wanting to forget many parts of the long hot summer, considering much of it was spent in various states of lockdown!
I’ve had loads of requests now for various Trinny product reviews and am currently looking at some bases and cream bronzers, but if you’re after the perfect uplifting blush with just the right amount of pink to perk things up then I can highly recommend Electra, here*.
My summer skincare routine is here and it’s slightly juicier than usual because a couple of months ago I had to do an almost unprecedented SOS u-turn on my whole beauty routine. I know you’re ready to hear about it. We all love a bit of a disaster.
Actually it wasn’t quite a disaster, but nearly. And anyway it was all the weather’s fault – who knew we’d have a month-long heatwave IN SPRING? There I was, merrily spending all of my time in the garden (from dawn til dusk, almost), not really tweaking my skincare routine to suit my environment because IT WAS STILL SPRING. It simply didn’t occur to me that I should have been shelving all of my usual spring products (that I was using because…it was spring) and adapt a routine more suited to a four week trek through the Sahara. I just don’t really associate my garden with high-high temperatures and dangerous levels of sun exposure (classic Brit mistake, I think) and so although I was always slathered in SPF, something untoward happened: I started getting bits of pigmentation on my upper lip and along my cheekbones.
I realise that was something of an anti-climax for those of you waiting for stories of skin blisters, ice packs and a trip to A&E, but no – just some pesky pigmentation beginning to creep over my face. Which isn’t something that’s ever really happened before. And I was slightly bemused until it occurred to me that I’d been carrying on with my usual retinol-hydrate-retinol-hydrate drill, using a strongish retinoid one night and then giving my skin a real moisture boost the next, without really thinking about what was happening in the daytime.
It’s not like me to overlook this sort of thing, especially when it comes to my face (once a model, always a model: your face is what pays the mortgage) but I have to say that I was a little distracted during lockdown, what with the world ending and supermarket shelves being emptied and the fear of death and also having two small children tearing about the place 24/7 with no relief in sight.
Anyway, as soon as the little freckly patches appeared I did a total 360 on my skincare routine and for the first time used my “big guns” antioxidants twice daily in an attempt to stop the discolouration in its tracks. I pulled back on the retinol, mainly because I can’t cope with thinking about more than one thing at once, and AHAs were temporarily abandoned.
It’s important to note that I didn’t reduce the retinoid usage because of the dark spots – I’m not suggesting that one caused the other – it’s just that it has always been a natural reaction for me to simplify things if I run into any kind of beauty bother. And although I’ve read dozens of articles quoting dermatologists who say that it’s absolutely fine to use retinol during periods of increased sun exposure (aka “summer”), there are others who warn to tread carefully. Who tell you to wear a LOT of sunscreen. (This post by the experts at Medik8 is good.) And if the caveat to using an ingredient is that you need to be really, really careful and slather on your SPF repeatedly and preferably move to a dark cave then it’s my instinct to retreat from it temporarily. I think that I probably play things fairly safe and boring in these days of needle-covered rollers and peels that require fans so that you don’t self-combust and competitive acid percentages and imaginative actives layering. I just really, really don’t enjoy my face falling off.
But back on topic: my antioxidants of choice were from Skinceuticals, a brand well-known for its antioxidant power players. Although their CE Ferulic is perhaps their hero product in this category, I actually chose the Resveratrol BE for nighttime use and the new(ish) Discoloration Defense for the morning. I’ve used the Resveratrol BE before with great results, so it was a natural choice and I’d been meaning to try the Discoloration Defense since its launch, but had never really had any discolouration to test it out on!
(Before I continue, I must say that these serious serums come with a serious price-tag – the Resveratrol BE is £135 here* and the Discoloration Defense is £85 here* – but Skinceuticals always really impress me with their meticulous clinical trials and their ability to formulate ultra-potent stuff without making my skin irritated. And although I have dozens of antioxidants waiting to be tested, I would purchase the Discoloration Defense serum when this one inevitably runs out. Always a good sign. And please note that I have suggested an alternative antioxidant in the product list below.)
So the BE at night at the DD in the morning, although I could have used the DD serum both day and night, which would make the routine a hell of a lot cheaper than adding the Resveratrol in! Did I bring back my skin from the brink? Yes, most certainly. And it looked brighter, more radiant, too. I’ll tell you what I did notice, though, after abandoning my retinol-moisture-retinol habit: my skin didn’t feel quite so bouncy and plumptious and elastic. Glowing, yes. More even-toned, definitely. But there’s a real boing quality to skin that’s loving its retinol products and I must admit I miss it.
Of course the organised person would do antioxidants in the morning, retinol at night and wear a great big hat in the garden. Easier said than done – my hat invariably gets used as a fairy village (filled with soil and weeds and shells), picnic basket (filled with food) and dog’s emergency water bowl in any one day. But once I get into the Antioxidant-Retinol-Hydrate groove this autumn I genuinely think I’ll have hit the skincare sweet spot…
For now, here’s my full skincare routine on video. I’ve also listed the products I’ve been using below, for those who hate video – it’s pretty self-explanatory, but do let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
Curel Foaming Facial Wash*: http://tidd.ly/f83e3054
Inkey List Oat Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/30h50pf
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser*: http://bit.ly/2rjRByY
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum*: https://bit.ly/3bMhLMV
Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield*: https://bit.ly/3jbO2kP
Skinceuticals Resveratrol BE Serum*: https://bit.ly/32o7NQ1
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/3gwo9dg
Toleriane Fluid*: https://bit.ly/30iglW4
Dr Roebucks No Worries Face Cream*: https://bit.ly/2Cj42AD
Retinols (occasional) –
Kate Somerville +Retinol Vita C Serum*: https://bit.ly/2DGHDxw
Murad Retinol Serum*: https://bit.ly/30esN9j
Rich Night Creams –
Lumene Nordic Hydracare Rich Day Cream, £26.90 here*: http://bit.ly/2PQ3aqS
REN Overnight Balm*: https://bit.ly/30jxfn1
Kate Somerville Delik8*: https://bit.ly/3hesvWV
Three Favourite Sunscreens Video: https://youtu.be/f4pzGoALxlU
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35*: https://amzn.to/32sIUTh
Beauty Pie Fruitizyme Five Minute Fix Mask*: https://bit.ly/3j6uCO6
Fancy a quick blast through the beauty things that have wowed me recently? Well buckle up, team, this is going to be quite the ride!
I’m exaggerating, obviously, because it’s just a post about beauty favourites so there are never going to be any significant potholes or humpbacked bridges to throw you out of your proverbial seat. I just feel as though I need an inventive and enticing way to introduce the post because beauty feels so…vanilla after all we’ve been chatting about recently. You know, tick removal and having sex with mermaids. As Mr AMR said to me last week: how do you ever go back to normal content when you’ve written about underwater love with a sequinned penis?
(You can read all about the intricacies of merperson sex here.)
But I take pride in my professionalism and so I’m going to try my hardest to get back to business – exemplary eyeshadows, exclusive perfumes and a conditioner that’ll leave your hair silkier than a mermaid’s. Although NOT a mermaid who’s been in an aqua-aerobical tryst with King Triton.
(In fact why would mermaids even have silky hair? Surely the salt water plays absolute havoc! I bet it’s a full time job just keeping it detangled. You’d be there at your clam shell dressing table all day sorting that mess out and don’t even get me started on the amount of moisturiser you’d need for your shrivelled up skin.)
Anyway, back to the favourites: I’m particularly fond of this little collection. A whisper of lace, a hint of sparkle and a whole bucketful of quality essential oil. Sounds like a recipe for my kind of party!
I don’t even know what I mean by that. Here’s the video, but carry on reading for the full post.
My first favourite of the month: the John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Conditioner, £29 here*. I mentioned a mask from the same range a while back and that’s glorious too, but I actually think that the conditioner pips it to the beauty post. It’s quicker, more convenient and leaves your hair just as smooth and silky as the reconstructor treatment. No residue, easy to rinse off, gorgeous smell. It’s just exemplary.
Then the Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oil, £26 here*. You can’t get better than the original, hero product that this brand makes (confusingly called Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oil); it’s just aromatherapy perfection. One tiny capful of the concentrated oil blend into a warm bath and you’re transformed into whatever improved state the bottle promises – deeply relaxed, perhaps, or lightly revived, depending on which version you choose.
But for those who don’t have a bath, the original is a bit of a faff. You get around the lack of standing water issue by patting a small amount of the oil onto your chest and “inhaling the scent”, but really. It’s a (literal) booby prize in comparison to the real deal, the instant bath-to-spa experience.
And so the new dedicated shower product is a welcome launch – it cleanses and allows you to enjoy the benefits of the aromatherapy blends all at the same time. There are fewer scent versions but the all important and very best one is present – Deep Relax – and for me that’s the only one that matters!
I think my favourite-favourite this month is the beautiful Quentin Monge x Atelier Cologne launch. Atelier Cologne have done quite a few amazing collaborations but this one has really excited me – Quentin Monge produces some of the most recognisable, iconic illustrations in the world and his design for the Clementine California fragrance is so unbelievably cool. This is a proper collector’s item – I can imagine people in 2065 unboxing their pristine Quentin Monge perfumes and making a video for whatever futuristic video platform that exists in 2065.
“GUYS!” they’ll say. “Oh my God, Granny found this awesome box of beauty stuff from the olden days and look at this bottle! I think the woman in the illustration is, like, lying in the sun? Which is weird, but they used to do weird shit back then. LOL. Like go to these places to all eat together, on the same table, in the same room. I think they were called restrooms. Or restaurants. Whatever.”
The fragrance can be bought alone, as a large bottle, or as a very beautiful gift set including a large 100ml bottle, a 30ml bottle and a leather travel pouch. The gift set is £153 at Selfridges here* and the 100ml fragrance is £98 here*. The scent is, as you can probably imagine, very orangey but in a light and sexy way. Incredibly wearable, utterly delicious.
Talking about incredibly wearable and utterly delicious, this month’s favourites round-up includes a wonderful independent lingerie brand called Attollo. Attollo first got in touch with me a couple of years ago when I was talking about annoying bra sizes on Instagram. I kept getting measured in department stores as 30G (I had just stopped breastfeeding, I think!) or 30FF, yet they had very little to offer me in those sizes. It sort of seemed pointless, really, to tell me I was that size. Why give someone a size that isn’t catered for?
So there wasn’t much out there for me at all – a handful of styles I liked – and when Attollo got in touch to say that they actually specialised in small back sizes with large cups I was delighted to see that their bras were dainty, sexy and didn’t have inch-wide rubber backed shoulder straps.
It’s proper treaty underwear – luxury lace, exquisite detailing and flattering longline cuts that make you feel a million dollars. Go and have a meander around on their website – the range is small but everything it needs to be.
Finally, some cream eyeshadows that wowed me and therefore went straight into my permanent makeup bag. Trinny London’s eye2eye cream shadows are well-pigmented, slide on softly and easily but set well and stay on all day. I’ve tried them before and loved them but I usually steer towards the muted neutral tones; a little line-up of terracotta and peachy shades landed on my desk the other week and they instantly struck me as being perfect for late summer. Burnished, sizzling reddish metallics. Vaguely reminiscent of the sun going down on an exotic beach that most of us are too nervous to visit.
I tried Fortitude, a metallic burgundy and Courage which is a deep pinky copper. Both look outrageously good, even splodged on and smudged with a fingertip. You can find them here* – shadows are £18 each and the cream formula makes lids look fresh and sheeny rather than flat and powdery.
Here endeth my monthly favourites sermon – remember that (if you have a spare hundred hours or so) you can scroll back through all of my favourites over the past DECADE by clicking here.
I had to pull a whole live tick out of my child’s face last week and I’ll be having nightmares for months. In fact if you have a phobia of insecty things, or if the idea of minor medical procedures being performed by a non-professional makes you edgy, then it’s probably best to skip this life update because things are going to get graphic.
I was actually going to write about our holiday to Cornwall for this life update, but reading about people’s non-exotic holidays is never that interesting, is it? They’re always a bit samey, because we all know what a grey day on a windy beach is like and that holidays with young kids are harder work than being at actual work and we’ve all nearly had to do a wee in an empty water bottle when we’ve been stuck in a traffic jam.
The same experiences are regurgitated, family after family – you could almost create a Great British Staycation clichés bingo card! “The weather was a mixed bag but it was nice to have some rainy indoors days, just to feel as though you didn’t have to be enjoying the outside.” Stamp the card. “When it was hot it felt just like abroad, didn’t it Brian?” Stamp. “Who needs Gran Canaria when the sun at home shines like this?” Stamp. “This ice-cream is the best I’ve tasted.” Stamp. “Why did they make the roads so narrow?” Stamp. “Why doesn’t he BLOODY WELL REVERSE INTO THE PASSING SPACE? THERE’S NOWHERE FOR US TO GO, MATE. THE TRAFFIC’S BACKED UP BEHIND US. NO YOU GO BACK – YOU – GO – BACK. BACKWARDS!”
I’ll tell you what wouldn’t be on your average staycation cliché bingo card, though, and that would be this: waking up to find that your five year-old daughter has what looks like an old Coco Pop stuck to her face, trying to pull the Coco Pop off, unsuccessfully, then realising that the Coco Pop has tiny black legs.
Classic holiday happenings.
Honestly, it was like something from Alien II. Once I’d retrieved my glasses so that I could actually see properly, and shone the torch from my iPhone at the side of her head, I could see that my little girl didn’t have old cereal stuck to the side of her face at all; it was the back end of a well-fed tick.
Dear God I almost fainted from sheer, unadulterated disgust. The engorged body, the teeny legs…and the worst thing was this: that I could see its body and I could see its legs…but where was the head?
INSIDE HER FACE, THAT’S WHERE! If you don’t believe me then Google “ticks”. They bury their head parts into the flesh and the body stays outside. It’s like something from a horror movie. The ticks hide in long grass and ferns and undergrowth, which is basically where my kids are magnetically drawn to because they are attracted to anything dirty or dangerous, and then they (the ticks, not my kids) attach themselves to passing fleshy hosts and burrow their horrible little heads into the skin.
Oh, how my hands trembled as I fetched my tweezers. (Yes, I took tweezers on holiday: chin hairs don’t rest just because you do!) The feel of the little hard, crunchy body as I worked the tweezer blades towards my daughter’s soft, perfect skin, trying to unearth as much of the tick’s head as I could before carefully pulling the whole thing out.
Not to blow my own trumpet too much, but I was actually rather good at tick extraction. After getting over the initial fright, after recovering from the shock of there being an alien parasite feeding off my child’s face, I came over all practical, a bit like Doc Martin overcoming his blood phobia in times of great need, and basically I saved the day.
Once the tick was out, I wanted to smash it with a large stone on the beach to make sure that it was properly dead. But the kids wouldn’t let me – they are still at the stage where they see no difference between a fly and a kitten, a biting ant and a llama – and so I preserved it, at their request, within a folded piece of sellotape.
I wanted to explain to them that the sellotape method was a far crueller death. To be slowly suffocated inside your transparent plastic tomb, with four huge giants watching on…the stone on the beach would have been a blessing by comparison. I could almost see the regret on the tick’s face. His legs stuck fast in the sticky glue, his body quarter-filled with blood – he wouldn’t even die on a full stomach.
“What do you want for your last meal, Tick?”
“Ah, what a question, what a question. How many courses?”
“One course. This is death row, Tick, not Claridges.”
“In that case, I’d like a full body’s worth of child blood. And then if it pleases His Honour, a quick and dignified death. Perhaps a singular hammer blow? A brick thrown atop my prone body?”
“I’ll see what I can do, Tick. Most likely you’ll get a few hours of quality blood-feeding before you’re rudely plucked off. And I can’t guarantee you any dignity – sometimes it’s a drowning in a teacup, other times it’s death by starvation on a petri dish, watched by many through the lens of a microscope.”
“Well,” says Tick, “we must endure, we must endure. Such is the life I signed up for! Now could I trouble you for a change of the chamber pot?”
Anyway, tick removed, children calmed, we left the tick, which looked as though it had been accidentally run through the world’s smallest laminating machine, next to the kettle in our rented holiday flat. And forgot to take it away with us. So that’ll be a nice surprise for the next paying guests, a dead tick in a piece of sellotape. We also lost the window-opening key, which means they’ll absolutely bake in there, especially if there’s a heatwave, but at least they can spend some of their sweaty time examining a real-life miniature vampire, entombed in his see-through casket.
Disclaimer, because obviously this story involves a child and everyone gets incredibly hot under the collar when it comes to small people: yes I researched how to remove the tick properly, yes I washed the tweezers before I plucked my chin hairs the next day, yes I know to keep an eye out for signs of Lyme disease. Actually that last one is quite serious, but thankfully rare, so I’ll be vigilant but not obsessive and I don’t need any scary anecdotal material, thanks ever so!
The rest of the holiday was quite uneventful, other than the dog nearly killing himself by eating a stomachful of sand (emergency vet trip, almost the same cost as the entire holiday) and the five year-old (again) nearly standing on a jellyfish. Throw in the dog projectile vomming on a moody neighbour’s doormat, the three year-old refusing to sleep and me forgetting to buy any food and overall it was a pretty fine time.