I woke up unable to move and with my arm muscles screaming: what evil atrocity had happened to my person overnight? I did (what they call in the meditation sessions I never get around to doing) a body scan; starting at the toes, moving up to the knees and then the thighs and the hips, noting any sensations in the body pleasant or unpleasant. They were all deeply unpleasant. Pains shot through my calves when I tried to wiggle my toes and I was unable to feel my thighs. It was as though anything connecting my legs to the rest of my body had been stolen away whilst I was sleeping.
I tried to roll onto my side but where there had been (admittedly feeble) core muscles, there now seemed to be none. My brain whirred. Had I unwittingly birthed another baby? By c-section? Or perhaps I had been illegally harvested of some vital organs and this was the aftermath. Hundreds of separate pains were beginning to register around my body – even my head hurt when I weakly turned it from side to side.
And then the horror came flooding back. Operating on a slight delay, no doubt due to the trauma, my mind blinked into action and played a number of nightmarish flashbacks from the previous day. The root cause of all my pains became crystal clear:
I had exercised.
More specifically, I had “boxed”. Or “done boxing” – I’m not sure of the correct phrase here, being unfamiliar with almost all forms of exercise and the appropriate fitness-related lexicon. But I had done something akin to boxing at the very least – I’d had my hands strapped up (in bandages, which sort of felt like a forewarning) and I’d worn the proper gloves and I’d given it my all like only a comparatively unfit forty-two-year-old mum-of-two can.
I say comparatively because with a few exceptions I think I was the oldest participant in the room by almost a couple of decades and I’m not sure, judging by the enthusiasm and vigour with which they all did the jumping jacks, that any of the others had yet to become inconvenienced with compromised pelvic floors.
Now look; I’m not unfit in that I have to huff and puff to get myself up my near-vertical driveway (I can even carry heavy stacks of parcels up it) and I’m also not unfit in that I can easily hike six, seven, eight miles or more in one go and it doesn’t really feel as though I’ve dented my energy that much. However: put me on a rubbery floor and make me do things like “mountain climbers” and “burpees” and anything involving upper body strength and I promise you I will collapse like one of those little push-up puppets with elastic bands threaded through them.
Why was I exercising? You might ask. I was at a press event for Kiehl’s and the boxing session (at the amazing JAB club in Mayfair) was part of the package. Kiehl’s have launched a lovely new product into their Ultra Facial range; the Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream, and I’m guessing that the “defensive” nature of the boxing class is the link between event and barrier repair product. Although, I have to say, JAB couldn’t have been more Kiehl’s in style if it had tried – it felt very New York cool with its wooden lockers and wall of boxing gloves and the amazing leather punchbags in the mirrored studio.
And as Rebecca, the photographer for Kiehl’s, clicked away at all of the guests posing in the aforementioned boxing gloves, leaning against the aforementioned punchbags, I made the fatal error of assuming that this boxing session was to be “just for the ‘gram” and that nobody would actually be expending any real sort of physical effort.
Which was all fine by me because even as I enrered the locker room I was beginning to question my sanity – why on earth had I agreed to spend a morning doing something so energetic and potentially excruciating when I could have been having hot chocolate with a friend, or browsing John Lewis for a new travel bag (much needed). Or just anything, really, rather than being in a boxing gym with that faint smell of sweat and rubber and – weirdly – ham that’s seemingly always the precursor to intense physical discomfort.
Luckily the JAB crew (instructor and two finely-honed “demo” boxers to keep us all on track with the moves) were all very easy on the eye and as I don’t get out much these days it was all quite visually exciting at first. As we started jigging about on the spot and doing pretend punching I relaxed into the whole thing and suddenly felt quite confident that I’d be able to take the whole thing in my stride. Even as the moves progressed to more energetic ones, ones that saw me having to throw myself to the floor, touch my knee to my shoulder like in some sadistic version of Twister, I felt sort of physically energised and motivated in a way I hadn’t experienced since having to run to catch the last train from Paddington at the end of January 2021. (One of my tendons has only just healed.)
But oh my God. After about ten minutes of pure cardio sweaty exertion and just as I assumed we were about to wind things up to have a little rest, the instructor (and owner of JAB) declared that the “warm up was almost over”. I beg your pardon? Warm up? If this was one of those army obstacle courses then I was at exhaustion level 8: the final swamp crossing. If I was on an army course then at this point I’d be hauling myself through the mud on my knees, doing ugly crying. If it was childbirth (and my babies hadn’t been huge/wrong way up/late) then I’d be at the bit where it’s ring of fire and you have to push through the pain.
Had Mr Jab not been so encouraging, in his tiny shorts with his muscular physique, I would have lain down on the rubbery floor and wept. As it happened, he carried with him some sort of long plastic ruler and now and then gave a gentle tap with it which was actually quite arousing.
Or would have been quite arousing had my pelvic floor not decided to completely give up the ghost which meant I was concentrating on trying not to involuntarily urinate over myself. It was the split jumping jacks that did the pelvic floor in, FYI – manic opening and closing of the legs coupled with intense and forceful high impact landings. It’s gonna do it. You may as well place your undercarriage into that machine in IKEA that demonstrates how violently they test their mattresses for wear and tear. Pound-pound-pound.
Anyway, jesting aside I did very much enjoy myself. The urine stayed where it should be, despite my bladder screeching at me for the entire forty-five minutes, and the first thing I did when I got on the train home was to Google “Boxing Club in Bath”. I felt on top of the world. There was a ferocity and a focus to the session that I loved; it was so intense that it left no room to think. If I’m spinning (on a bike, not just around and around in a room like someone on hallucinogenics) then all sorts of things go through my mind. And I can imagine that – if I had knees that weren’t made of Play-Doh and I jogged – the same thing would happen with jogging. I’d ruminate on work issues, on family life, I’d run through my lists of things that needed to be done.
No space for that during boxing! Or – whispers – Boxercise, which is what I think I’m going to have to do in lieu of proper boxing. Mainly because the proper boxing gyms talk of such things as “sparring” and “mouth guards” and I’m not completely ready to retire from modelling just yet.
And also, I say that Boxercise is what I think I’m going to have to do, but it has taken me five full days to get full movement back in my upper body: I went forty-eight hours in the same t-shirt because I couldn’t bear to lift my arms over my head! So maybe I should stick to spinning (again, the cycling on a stationary bike sort) rather than anything more taxing. Which would mean I’d have to buy an actual clothes horse instead of using the Peleton to dry my clothes, so it’s swings and roundabouts…
A massive thanks to Kiehl’s for inviting me to their Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream launch: I did feel very relevant and youthful in my gym stuff and boxing gloves. And the new cream is just lovely – a great addition to the Ultra Facial line-up, which is renowned for being very calm and gentle. I have two close friends who have used nothing else for years and will use nothing else. The new cream brings extra-potent ingredients to the table for really helping to repair the skin barrier so that it can function more effectively – better skin barrier, less moisture loss and skin that feels more comfortable and soothed. The new barrier cream has a balm texture that’s surprisingly velvety rather than being the heavy, greasy ointment that you might expect. Sits brilliantly beneath makeup (I have it on now) (I realise you can’t see me so that’s a pointless statement) and keeps skin feeling supple and comfortable all day.
You can find the new Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream at Kiehl’s here* – it’s £34 for 50ml.
Photography credit: Rebecca Spencer Photography
I’ve made some little tweaks to my makeup routine and committed them to video: one of the changes involves my eyebrows, and you might already know about that one, but the other four are relatively new and snazzy. I know that the suspense will be killing you, so let’s get cracking.
My first makeup tweak is so puny and weird that I’m almost embarrassed to be writing about it, but seeing as though social media’s USP is people sharing things so mundane it makes you want to lobotomise yourself with a corkscrew, I’m going to go right ahead. The makeup update, if you could even call it that, is that I’ve only been putting foundation or tinted moisturiser on the centre of my face rather than all over it.
See, I told you it was fascinating.
It’s more of a convenience than a tweak and it has evolved from my habitual wearing of roll-neck or high-necked jumpers. For who wants foundation all the way down their neck when their neck is going to be smothered in wool? Equally, who even wants foundation on their chin, when their chin is permanently rubbing on the woollen roll-neck? Not I.
So I use the face base sparingly and lightly and only in the central part of the face rather than right up to the edges which, in truth, is the only place that tends to need foundation anyway. Facial perimeters rarely have a lot of bothersome bits going on.
This approach to skin-perfecting is best done with a sheerer foundation or tinted moisturiser, something forgiving and ultra-blendable. If you try to do it with a longwear opaque base then you’ll probably run into trouble. My tint of current choice? Still ILIA Skin Tint (I use shade ST7) with it’s mega-glow. You can find it here online*.
My next little fancy twist to the makeup tale is using blusher on my eyes. I know! What’s come over me? I saw Katie-Jane Hughes (amazing makeup artist) do it on Instagram to tie her eyes in with the blush and it was just so easy and fun and fresh, and the pink isn’t actually directly around the eyes so you don’t look like a rabbit from Watership Down… It’s just a quick bosh with the brush at the outer edges and then blend – watch the video below to see this in action.
You can use whatever’s left on the brush from doing cheeks. Doesn’t matter particularly whether it’s a cream or powder blush but I used the amazing Freshfaced Cream Blush from Beauty Pie here*. (Remember to use RUTHSENTME if you’re a new customer signing up and you’ll get a bit off the membership.)
Not even a tweak, so I’m starting to feel as though this entire exercise is a lie, but I’ll plough on. It’s just a clumsy, crayon-y splodge of dark eye colour at the outer corners in an upwards-facing wedge, blended in, to lift the eyes and make them look less tired. All this does (and again, you need to watch the video for the how-to) is bend the lashline upwards so that the outer corners look as though they sit a few mm higher than they did before. Tiny, subtle change but it’s vastly effective. If you want a stronger optical illusion then do it with a solid line of eyeliner but it’s trickier to get right than the splodge-of-wedge-and-blend-it method. I used the excellent suit-all Vieve Eye Wand in Coffee, here*.
I genuinely can’t even remember what this was and have to go back and watch the video. Please hold. I only had five bloody things to remember! I’d be rubbish at Kim’s Game now. Used to be almost champion-level.
OK the fourth tweak is the gluing of the eyebrows using Brow Freeze. You know about this already, if you’ve read the previous makeup post but you must watch them being laminated and waxed and glued into place in the video. This Brow Freeze stuff is amazing – my eyebrows end up about half an inch further up my face! Some might think this is a bad thing, I quite like it for a change. It’s a bit like when you move your bed to a different wall and it’s as though you don’t even know who you are anymore. But reordering your facial features instead. Facial Feng Shui.
You can find Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze here* – I would, and I surprise myself here, recommend getting the dedicated applicator that you have to purchase separately. Because my way of dunking the brow brush at an awkward angle is not massively convenient.
The gloss in a stick. Apparently these Revlon Super Lustrous Glass Shine lipsticks have gone viral on Tiktok. If I could use Tiktok without crashing Tiktok, having to log out of Tiktok and having to then reset my Tiktok password each and every time, then I’d spend a lot more time on Tiktok, but as it stands I just don’t have the energy for it. I’m constantly told I need to use it and upload videos there but it’s just so…chaotic. And noisy. Everyone is pointing at things on the screen, or talking loudly, or dancing. It feels like being stuck in an arcade game.
So I’ll take everyone’s word for it that these lipsticks are the new craze – it also makes sense, because they really are excellent. As glossy as a gloss but without the stickiness, they actually do properly plump and shine the lips without any effort whatsoever. And they’re moisturising. Genuinely. I felt the effects long after the colour had slinked away.
My favourite shade is the Strawberry one – find it at LookFantastic here* and just about nowhere else because everywhere seems to be out of stock!
Marvellous, we raced through those tweaks didn’t we? Now you just have the video to watch. Get to it…
I have my hair cut and coloured at The Suite in Bath (not an ad, I have always paid, just like to give them a shout-out and I always get asked!).
My pink jumper was a kind present from my friends at Scamp & Dude
My Mum was horrified when I showed her my newly acquired Finishing Touch Facial Hair Remover.
“You can’t shave your face!” she cried. “Why can’t you just use nail scissors like everyone else?”
Pause for effect.
Can we please get a show of hands from anyone – anyone at all – who uses a pair of nail scissors to stay on top of their facial hair? I thought not. She couldn’t have picked a more impractical tool. It’s like going to battle brandishing a chainsaw – there’s more chance of maiming yourself than winning the fight.
“I just hold the scissors like this,” she said, her head back and her chin thrown high, “and snip as close to the root of the hair as I can.”
“You can’t even see where you’re snipping,” I said, ‘you’ll end up cutting off something important!”
“Well I use a mirror, obviously.”
Mum’s snipping method is flawed in many ways: firstly the risk of injury is high, even with the use of a mirror. Perhaps especially with the use of a mirror, because we all know how even the simplest of tasks becomes impossible once you’re relying on your reflection to guide you.
Then there’s the fact that you’re not even getting to the root of the problem, just cutting off the visible part. It’s a bit like weeding by pulling off the top bits. Does my Mum go around the garden strimming over the dandelions? No she does not. She goes about on her knees, pulling the whole thing out.
And finally (though I can probably think of many more problems with the scissor method), how bloody long must it take to de-hair an average chin and moustache area? Days! I’d be tempted to open out the scissor blades and slide them along my skin for speed’s sake, old-fashioned cut-throat razor style.
“God I don’t do my entire face!” said my Mum. “You just do the longest hairs, you daft thing. The ones that are a few centimetres or very dark.”
This is why we have different removal methods, then: attitude towards facial hair. Mum: happy with the usual facial fuzz. The stuff that we’ve all had, probably from a young age, but that 4K HD TV and hi-res phone cameras have gradually made me hyper-aware of. She only irks at the longest, blackest of hairs – the rest is just considered normal, like having eyes, or legs.
“You wouldn’t shave those off.”
My problem is that I look at my face in detail nearly every single day. It’s part of my job. I should disclose here that I’m not a particularly hairy person and my colouring is quite fair, but because I test makeup and skincare I do spend a lot of time staring at zoomed-in photos and videos of myself. And when it’s not photos and videos it’s the bloody magnifying mirror, aka The Portal of Doom, checking whether or not a new foundation that I’m testing has crept into fine lines or migrated into the oilier patches. And so not only do I see the longest and blackest of hairs (though mine tend to be white, like Father Christmas) I also see the plush thackets of peach fuzz, so dense they’re like velvet.
I left the peach fuzz for a while because it did seem like overkill to start taking that off; I plucked at the longer hairs with my tweezers (definitely my recommendation over nail scissors) and I ignored the fuzz. But then I started plucking the slightly longer bits of fuzz as well as the hairs, especially in the side tache area, and before I knew it I was plucking all of the peach fuzz out with my tweezers. It was taking ages and was actually quite painful after a while….
…hence the new Finishing Touch shaver. I haven’t actually charged it up to try yet, such was the ferocity of my mother’s reaction to it. I think she has visions of me doing a full shave routine, using one of those badger brushes to lather my face up, leaning in towards the mirror like Desperate Dan. White vest, gun belt slung over the towel rail, ten gallon hat resting on the shelf above the sink.
But I’ve started with the mass-tweezing and so now there is no retreat. The moustache hairs come back slightly sharper, so that when you’re watching TV you can find yourself stroking your stubble – for that is what it is – wisely, like an old sage about to make a pertinent statement.
The only way forward is to continue with the total eradication technique – but with my new shaver it will be like (hopefully) using a lawnmower rather than a pair of long-handled secateurs. Speedy. Efficient. Painless.
I’ll keep you all updated, if only to horrify my Mum.
The Flawless Touch gadget is online here (ad-affiliate link) and costs £29.99. I have to say, it feels very light and cheaply-made, for the price, but since writing the above I have tested it properly and it works well. If you have other suggestions then let me know!
First post of 2023 and it’s straight in with my current makeup routine and some incredible new makeup discoveries. I don’t use the word incredible lightly, either: some of these products have completely changed my makeup routine and had my husband asking questions such as “what have you done to your eyebrows? I mean, why are they pointing upwards like that? Like bird’s feathers stuck on?”
“It’s the fashion,” I replied.
And it is. Or was, at least. Feathery eyebrows: I have grown to like them. Just in time for them to seemingly slide back out of fashion in favour of the nineties groomed-and-narrow brow. I like that the featheriness takes the weight out of the brow and lifts my eye area but equally I can see why that’s not for everyone. But that is the beauty of makeup – you can simply change your mind and do something different the next day.
New discoveries then – and do watch the video at the bottom of the page to see these in action. Very briefly.
I don’t think I’ve ever had so many compliments on my skin since using this tinted moisturiser (for that is what it is). It has such a heft of illuminator in it that you cannot fail to glow. The coverage is light but capable, making skintone look more even and the finish is dewy and feels comfortable and flexible on the skin.
The ILIA skin tint is massively hydrating and I apply straight over serum (ironically, because this is also called a serum) for a one-stop daytime low-key look. A bit of cream bronzer and blush over the top and a lick of mascara and I’m good to go, if I’m after the bare minimum. The skin tint really does give a superstar sort of finish that looks perfect, but real, but glowier than real, but also undone, but still polished. I suppose what I’m saying is that it looks effortless but is actually working really hard on the light-reflecting front.
If you have lots of fine lines or quite crepey skin then be aware that illuminating products tend to also illuminate lines (usually not so much of a problem with dedicated highlighters as you would apply them both sparingly and in targeted areas) but I’ve found that a bit of pore-filling primer on the forehead and around the eye area does wonders. (Benefit Porefessional is always a good one.)
This Skin Tint sits at a premium price-point – it’s £46 at Sephora here* – but I’d say that you’re absolutely getting a premium product. This is the sort of face base you can rely on to always look good and make you look fresher and perkier. I’d say it’s slightly better for drier skin rather than oily as it doesn’t set completely and I do get a little movement in the t-zone if I don’t powder but you could always use a primer, as mentioned.
If I had to compare it to another product then I’d say that it’s quite similar to NARS Tinted Moisturiser with perhaps less coverage and more glow. I’m not mad-keen on the pipette dispenser but it’s so good that I forgive that.
Find ILIA Skin Tint here* – there are 30 blendable shades (this isn’t the sort of face product that requires an identical tone match) and I wear ST7.
Let’s return to the feathery brows and this, the Anastasia Brow Freeze, is the ultimate product to make them with. It’s a wax but also a gel – sort of like one of those eighties hair gels that came in the big sticky pot – and it coats the brow hairs so that they are instantly shapeable and moveable. If Dali had seen this stuff he’d have been in his element – God only knows what his tache would have looked like. He’d probably have been able to shape whole words out of it. Sentences!
You’re supposed to use a special applicator but I don’t have that and I don’t feel I need it. The wax does clog up all of my brow brushes but a quick wash in boiling water melts it off and leaves them as-new. Ish. Maybe I should get the applicator!
I haven’t found another brow product that can shape and hold like this one; it’s like using glue, but a friendly one that won’t make your brows clump together and then fall off. On my very fair brows it gives them massive definition without needing to add any colour and I love the way I can feather the hairs upwards so effectively – I’m a big promotor of using hairspray on brows for a quick fix and I stand behind that tip… but honestly, Brow Freeze takes things to a new dimension.
You can find Brow Freeze online here* – it’s £23.
Every time I mention the Kajal eyeliners from Victoria Beckham I get asked if there are dupes. And understandably, because the price is pretty punchy for an eyeliner. (£26 at VBB here.) Yes there are other soft liners that hold fast (one of the best is the Avon one in my opinion, Gel Paint Eyeliner here*) but if you’re after the on-trend shades that VBB brings out then it’s more difficult to find them on the high street, especially with the right texture and staying power.
I’m using Copper in the video below and I think that it’s a really lovely alternative to plain brown if you want to add some sparkle and zing. I don’t think that it looks over the top as a daytime effect, either. The Kajal is really soft and so you get enough time to blend the lines out if you want a smokier effect, but it’s not out-of-control smudgey and it sets fast without budging until it’s time to remove it. The Olive shade is also marvellous and slightly more unusual, FYI.
New from the ever-expanding Tilbury makeup empire: Pop Shots. These are more about the glimmer than imparting lots of colour – think of the glittery “top coat” you get in her eye quads that you press onto the lids as a final light-reflecting hit. That’s what these are, but without the rest of the quad. I use Sunlit Diamond which is a very warm, coppery gold and slightly more modern than the classic yellow version. I thought that these would have limited appeal after the festive season was finished (and they are limited edition) but I’ve been enjoying adding something fun and frivolous to my makeup routine. You have to get your kicks where you can in January.
Find Hypnotising Pop Shots online here*.
Final new find: Ruby Hammer’s Lip Serum Balms. They’re utterly beautiful. Buttery soft and spreadable and comfortable and you feel the effects even when the colour has disappeared. Possibly Red isn’t the wisest choice for a soft and buttery balm – it can be a disaster on the teeth! – but I couldn’t resist this one. It’s glossy and rich and such a true, true red – you wouldn’t want to wear it for kissing under the mistletoe as it would be everywhere but you’ve missed that boat anyway. And for all other situations, it’s just cheery and great. You can blot it down to a more muted lip stain if you like, but it’s just such a good shade I think it’s a shame to clip its wings.
Ruby Hammer Lip Serum Balm is £18 at Sephora here*.
Right, here’s the vid (if you can’t see it then you’ve managed to land on this page whilst it’s uploading!). I also used Charlotte Tilbury Cream Bronzer in Shade 1 (here*) and Beauty Pie brown mascara and red lipliner (here*). The cream roll-neck jumper is Wyse London but seems to have sold out!
Yes, it has reached that point again: the time when we wonder where the hell December has disappeared to and why we can’t be like those other people who plan their Christmas gift list in August and have it all bought and wrapped by mid-October. But if you’re like me (or like Mr AMR, who doesn’t even think about presents until the 22nd) then fear not: I have you covered with some easily-ordered beauty gifts for every budget.
I have been working with Beauty Pie for years yet still feel the same buzz of excitement when I see that one of their special pink boxes has arrived. Beauty Pie constantly launch new and innovative products – from super-serums to beautifully-perfumed candles – and unwrapping items from the pale pink tissue paper is always a joy.
It goes without saying that any beauty lover would be over the moon to receive a little something from Beauty Pie in their Christmas stocking and so I’ve picked out a few absolute crackers. Remember that Beauty Pie is a beauty members club so if you sign up you get all products at a massively lower price – Beauty Pie make their products at the world’s leading labs but because they sell direct to you, they cut out all of the middleman retailer costs. So you get more luxury beauty for your money.
Use the code RUTHSENTME if you’re signing up and you’ll get £10 off annual membership. If you’re not ready to sign up then know this rather splendid fact: at the moment you can get 50% off ALL NON-MEMBER prices (so that’s the full, equivalent retail price) by using the code BEAUTY50.
So to recap, you get members’ prices by signing up (use code RUTHSENTME)
you can get 50% off the website prices with no need to join, use BEAUTY50
This isn’t the usual deal and it means you can try products with no need to commit to memberships so if there was ever a time to take the plunge then this is it! You can sign up or shop with the code at Beauty Pie here.
OK, now that you’ve listened to my mini Ted talk on Beauty Pie shopping rules, here are my gift ideas:
The first is small and sweet and perfect: the Unlipstick trio in Nothing On. This little set contains the recycled aluminium “Keep This” lipstick case which can be used again and again with whichever Unlipstick shade you prefer; then the Unlipstick itself and a matching Wondergel lip liner. The Unlipstick gets its name because it feels like you’re not wearing anything at all – it’s so light and sheer – but it gives a chic, natural-looking stain to the lips. Like a blotted down lip colour. It’s gorgeous and this shade, Nothing On, is perhaps my favourite. Just infinitely wearable.
If you want to really give someone an amazing intro to the Beauty Pie makeup offering then the new Patti Dubrof kits are great. A full “look in a (velvety) box” they have loads of different makeup items included and some of them you might not think to try or use otherwise, so it does mean that you discover new products and techniques. I like the Perfect Red Lip kit.
For the sister who’s already a red lip addict or the best friend who’s stuck in a makeup rut it’s an absolute delight. The eye palette included is also pleasingly neutral and not too shimmery so you can use it all year round and there’s a brightening eyeliner, a fantastic highlighter, a brown volumising mascara and a double-ended eye brush as well as the all-important red lip crayon.
That’s a lot of product for £150 but, of course, this is Beauty Pie so it doesn’t actually cost £150:
If makeup seems too personal and you’re nervous about choosing shades then there couldn’t be a better gift than a set of premium quality makeup brushes. So many people have no idea about makeup brushes and how they can transform the way you do your face. Does your Mum still apply eyeshadow with those little foam applicators? Does your cousin complain that her foundation is blotchy yet applies it using an old bit of sponge? Does your aunt (running out of relatives here) make her eyes look like the proverbial p*ssholes in the snow because she rings liner around and around her eyes without ever blending?
This is (admittedly) an investment. They’d need to be a very good aunt/cousin/Mum. But the Luxury Makeup Brush set is something of a problem-solver and I don’t think that anyone would be disappointed with ten finely-made brushes that blend, buff and finish to perfection. I particularly love the good selection of skin-finishing brushes – sometimes you just get a token flat-topped foundation brush and the rest are eye brushes – and the light, fan brush for applying whispers of setting powder. Glorious.
Let’s move on to fragrance and the safest option for gifting, which is always home scent. Beauty Pie candles are great – long burn times, modern styling and fragrances that are sometimes quite quirky and unusual. Not your “Basic Fig” and “Ordinary Orange” here!
My favourite is Tobacco, Cedarwood and Vanilla. It smells like an old library or a reading room in one of those London clubs that have the wood-panelled walls and leather armchairs. Some Tobacco candles are heavy on things like Oud and I find them a bit overwhelming and aftershavey for the house, but this one: BINGO! It’s just very smokey and sexy and the vanilla gives it a sweet edge that stops it from smelling like an expensive man. Not that there’s anything wrong with “expensive man”, I just don’t want him silently loitering around the house when I can’t see him.
Scent for the skin now and there are so many beautiful options. Beauty Pie don’t do totally straightforward perfumes; there’s always a surprise kick of something here and a twist of something else there. The Orange Absolute, for example, has the light and fresh zest of a summer cologne but with a warm, woody base that keeps it sexy and earthy. Une Balade en Foret is a cashmere blanket of a scent with a powdery amber note set against the quite unusual backdrop of a wintery forest. Nothing straightforward about these fragrances!
Buy Fragrance – £50 with code BEAUTY50
There are plenty of other gift ideas over on the Beauty Pie site so do have a good browse – I also have blog posts with my favourite skincare picks if you need further inspiration – click here to read.
Watch the video below to hear me chat through my gift selection:
Haircare is the category that’s most likely to let me down, beauty-wise. It tends to give me heated tools that I can’t manage to operate, “moisturising” shampoos that leave my hair feeling like wire, styling foams and mists and mousses that need to be blow-dried in by someone who can actually blow-dry hair, which most definitely isn’t me…
So when I find hair products that work well for me I feel almost jubilant about it and also feel the need to shout the product names from the rooftops. Luckily I have a blog so I don’t actually need to get onto the rooftops, I can just shout about the products here.
(My village would absolutely hate me if I started shouting from the rooftops. We already have incredibly noisy owls here and a weird animal that sounds like a dragon that breathes out raspy, massive breaths across the valley all through the night – I’m convinced it’s some sort of top secret military project – and so we don’t need me adding to the wild nighttime soundtrack.)
The first of these wonder new hair product discoveries is the Kerastase Blond Absolu Masque Cicaextreme. This is actually a rediscovery and by God, what a stroke of luck that I delved in again. It’s absolutely magnificent on bleached, fried hair. I knew from the second I began rinsing out that this was special; my hair didn’t even feel like hair. It was both weightless and slippery, it felt as though it might just slide off my head and down the plughole with the water.
I used it again and again – and again just to check – that it was indeed this masque making miracles on my head and yes. This was no one-shot wonder. My hair had that expensive weighty feel that I’ve always tried to explain at the hairdressers but people look at me like I’m mad; I don’t want soft hair, I don’t want greasy hair, I want it to have the weight and smoothness of silk. I want it to drape and slide over the back of my hand like a hair advert.
And I didn’t just take my own word for it either; I did a number of jobs and events where the respective hair stylist commented on the condition of my hair – I’d like to say they were wowed, but they just commented. Let’s not overegg the pudding here.
I don’t even leave this on as a mask; shamefully I plonk it on, massage in and rinse off all within a few minutes. If I left it on then my hair would no doubt win some sort of award, or be put forward for scientific research.
You can find Kerastase Blond Absolu Masque CicaExtreme at Amazon here* (currently almost a tenner off) and LookFantastic here*. It’s a pricey little morsel so here’s my recommendation: squeeze as much water from your hair as you can after shampooing. Almost towel dry it a bit. Then the product won’t just slip off, it’ll actually stick to your hair and you can use less and massage it in more. Leave on for as long as you can, even overnight – or, if you’re me, for two minutes, then rinse.
Next on the honours list; JVN Instant Recovery Serum. Now I know a lot has been said about the Air Dry Cream but I find that a little too robust on my very fine hair. It just weighs a little heavy on the ends and never quite seems to disappear on in. The serum is like a lighter, more repairing version – it feels like (and is) a treatment rather than a styling product. You don’t get so much in the way of “texture” but you do get a smooth finish with no grease or residue.
The jar packaging isn’t ideal for me when it comes to application as I rarely want to dollop my fingers into something messy when I’m in the final stages of my glamourising but I’ll forgive it.
You can get this in two sizes at Space NK* – the bigger one is much better value and, at £25, isn’t so bad considering you’ll be hard pushed to get through it in a year.
And to the finale and a star buy for the kids: Garnier’s Apricot No Tears Easy Detangling Solid Shampoo Bar. No packaging save for a simple cardboard box, the bar is shaped like a lion’s paw (it’s Lion King themed, they’ve thought of everything!) and you just lather it in your hands (or directly on their hair) and it instantly produces a mass of shampoo.
I thought that this would be a horror show; I was almost going to hide it because I knew the kids would want to use it if it was shaped like a paw and I couldn’t bear the idea of having to comb out the resulting bird’s nest of wiry, dried-out hair. But – hurrah! No dryness. This did what it said it would; detangled and shampooed. I don’t know what else to say about it, I was just very pleasantly surprised.
If you’re trying to cut down on unnecessary packaging and want to keep things simple with the kids’ hair-washing routine then this is great.
You can find it at Boots here* – it’s £7.99 and so far multiple uses have not even remotely made a dent in the size of the paw, so I expect it to far outlast a bottle. Do you think? I’ve just written that with no way of knowing. I’ll update you. Maybe it’ll be neck and neck.
Well, here’s something I was expecting to hate but ended up loving: the Babyliss Cordless Hot Brush. I realised, through a bit of self-therapising (basically just me staring at the window for a while, pondering stuff) that the reason I took instant dislike to the thing was because it had lots of short, completely rigid bristles. It reminded me of the little brushes you used to get in the eighties to do hairdressing on the mannequin head’s plastic, knotted hair and it also reminded me of a certain type of mascara wand that I very much dislike.
So yes, I judged this particular book by its cover. (I don’t mind admitting that I judge nearly every single beauty and grooming product by its proverbial cover, because products are not people and they can’t be offended and so on the “moral offences” scale it’s pretty tame.)
But how wrong I was. The rigid bristles are there to slide and glide through the hair so that nothing gets tangled and it makes the whole process, if you’re simply sleeking everything down as I was, effortless and speedy. I had no idea what the Babyliss Cordless Hot Brush was supposed to do because I didn’t do any research before I turned it on, but I began brushing my hair with it and it was instantly smoothed. I then decided to mix things up a bit and brushed it from the underneath, like the hairdressers do, turning the brush as I went, and it gave a little bit of volume through the lengths and then a rounded-under finish. A very smooth, swanky, expensive-looking long bob.
I realise that in the age of “gadgets needing to do more than one thing” this isn’t the most all-singing all-dancing hair tool; it doesn’t use air like the Dyson things and it you can’t do fancy twists and turns with it like you can with a pair of straighteners (I mean I don’t think you can…again: haven’t read the instructions) but for me, it’s an absolute Godsend. Because I have that particular length of hair that looks excellent styled but that makes me look like a medieval lute player if I don’t do anything with it. And most of the time I really can’t be bothered to do anything with it. The Babyliss Cordless Hot Brush offers me a sort of “midway effort option”: three minutes brushing through, wearing silly heatproof gloves because I can burn myself on anything, and my hair looks just slightly more…purposeful. As though it’s actually in a style. All of the hairs point the same way and kick under at the bottom and, with some makeup thrown onto my face, I can get away with looking as though I’ve made a hell of a lot more effort than I actually have.
So there: mind changed on this one. I dismissed it straight out of the box but in just three or four minutes it had become the hair tool that might just convince me to keep my hair at the length it’s at. I don’t find it very heavy, though I’ve just looked at some reviews and a few others do – it’s not the sort of tool you have to hold up in a perfectly still position for ages (like a wand) but anyway, I didn’t find it noticeably cumbersome. Especially as it doesn’t have a cord – cords usually causes me all kinds of grief.
On another practical note, it takes around three hours to charge up for a forty minute use on maximum heat. Again, not a problem for me – it took seven minutes to do my entire head twice on max power and charging it up isn’t exactly a hardship. I’m not sure where exactly I’ll take it that will necessitate cordless styling but it’s nice to know there’s the option!
You can find the Babyliss Cordless Hot Brush online, RRP £180 but most places seem to have it at £120-ish – it’s currently £126 at LookFantastic here*. Watch me using the Hot Brush for the first time – the shirt I’m wearing, by the way, is from Boden here* and the hair oil used as a final finish is the excellent L’Oreal Professional Absolut Repair Oil, online here*. Brilliant, cheap as chips Elnett hairspray can be procured from just about anywhere in life, but if you need a quick link then click here*.
If you’re trying to save money on your skincare but don’t want to compromise on the quality of your routine then I have some good news for you: I’ve rounded up some of the best budget cleansers and they’re all products I happily use (and repurchase) on a regular basis.
I’ve set the “budget” threshold at ten pounds and under for this skincare favourites post. I realise that the word budget means different things for different people – and also that there are cheaper cleansers out there – but I think that the products I’ve picked offer some of the very best quality for the price.
Five budget cleansers that’ll satisfy all skin types – there’s something here for everyone, whether you have oily skin or sensitive skin or, indeed, oily and sensitive skin. The packaging might be rather more pared-back than what you’d get wrapped around a more spendy cleanser but all of the formulations are utterly lovely, cleanse really thoroughly yet won’t strip your skin or leave it tight.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, from £5.50 at Space NK*
This brilliant cleanser from The Ordinary is great for absolutely all skin types and is a particularly good choice if you just want one cleanser to do all jobs; it removes makeup, including eye makeup, has enough slip to really massage into the skin and then leaves the skin hydrated once it’s removed with a washcloth. I don’t need a separate makeup remover when I use this – it’s fresh in feel (a gel cream texture) but mighty in performance.
It’s probably my overall top pick just because it suits everyone, is conveniently packaged and has that silky cream-to-oil texture that I usually associate with far more expensive products.
Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, £8 at Cult Beauty*
Again, a suit-all choice, but this errs on the side of a wash that you can splash off rather than a more unctuous balm or cream that you can luxuriously massage in. It comes in a big bottle so is the sort of product you could leave out in the shower for the whole family to use. Cerave are all about strengthening and protecting the skin barrier so it’s brilliant for those with sensitive skin.
Superfacialist Rosehip Creamy Cleanser, £6 at Amazon*
For those who prefer a cream over a more balm-like product, this tube of rose-scented cleanser is outstanding. I’ve loved it for many, many years and I’m so pleased it’s still in existence. So many things I love get discontinued! This has the feel of an old-fashioned cold cream, in a way, but it’s handily packaged in a tube and has a beautiful smell. Like the Squalane cleanser, I’d massage this in and remove with warm water and a washcloth/flannel rather than trying to splash off like a wash. It’s very satisfying seeing all of your makeup come off onto a flannel – if you’re not cleansing with a cloth then bring one into your life immediately! The regular, gentle exfoliation it gives is a big enough perk but you’ll find that your cleansing is so much more thorough and effective.
Buy Superfacialist here*
Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm, £8.79 at LookFantastic*
Another cleansing balm at a very good price; Inkey List’s Oat one is far more a traditional balm texture than the Squalane, which is a lighter sort of gel-cream. Or cream-gel. Same thing. In my opinion, the more balm-like it is (sort of like a gritty butter or solidified goose fat texture, for want of a more appealing description) the better the cleanser is at removing eye makeup. Because you can melt it down into an oil over the eyes but it takes longer to turn liquid than other forms of cleanser and so you really get stuck in over the lashes and lids. Great stuff.
Those with oilier skin might not like this so much as it instinctively feels as though it might add oil to the skin and maybe clog pores, but it doesn’t. It washes off (with a cloth, again!) completely clean and doesn’t leave a residue. I’d say it’s good for all skin types but dry will particularly love.
Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Cleanser, £5.30 at Amazon*
A great option for sensitive skin, as with the Cerave. Aveeno’s Calm + Restore range contains Aveeno’s prebiotic oat, something existing fans will no doubt be familiar with as the products are so popular for their soothing effect on sensitive skin. Again as with the Cerave you can rinse or splash this one off, but I genuinely think that nearly every cleanser is made more efficient when you add a flannel into the mix!
I work with Aveeno making content around this skincare range and so I know it inside out and I’ve used this cleanser loads; it’s a great option if you have oilier skin and want a “fresh wash” sort of texture but also have sensitive skin and don’t want anything harsh or aggravating.
Do you have any other suggestions to add into the best budget cleanser broth? Let me know in the comments! Here’s a short and sweet video chatting through my own favourites:
This trend for the dribbling of skincare products directly onto the face really bemuses me. Ditto foundation dribbling. Pipettes are enough of a faff to use when you drop the product into the palm of your hand, why on earth would you ever attempt to pipe the product straight onto your face? Nobody does this in real life.
Nobody sits at their dressing table and says to their partner,
“Hang on a second, Brian. Here I am holding this little glass tube filled with foundation, a product that needs only one dropeth spilt to ruin an entire cream carpet, and yet here I am carefully squeezing it onto the back of my hand before applying with a brush.”
‘Well yes, Deirdre, that makes sense to me. You have to be careful when you’re brandishing a pipette loaded with what is, to all intents and purposes, paint.”
“No, Brian! You’ve got it all wrong! What I should be doing is tilting my face at an absurd angle, holding the pipette precariously above my cheekbone and then squeezing it directly onto my skin!”
“But….Deirdre…what about the cream carpet?”
“Oh Brian, to hell with the carpet. The thrill I’ll get from not knowing whether any product will actually land on my face will more than make up for any large insurance claims we have to make.”
“As you wish Deirdre. But it does make you look rather foolish, I’m at pains to say.”
“Brian don’t you see? I like looking more foolish than I need to when I’m applying my makeup. I’m not content with the fact that mascara application makes me look like a demented puffer fish, I want to drop my foundation onto my cheeks and force my eyes to focus on something unnaturally close so that they completely cross over.”
“Fine Deirdre. But look. I don’t want to be crass, and forgive me if this is overstepping the mark…does it not look a bit sexual?”
“Does what not look a bit sexual, Brian?”
“The dribbling liquid, Deirdre. It’s as though a very small glass-penised gnome is lazily ejaculating onto your face.”
Anyway, this was supposed to be a skincare post. For crying out loud – stay on task, Crilly! For this morning’s skincare routine I used:
Rose Inc Micellar Cleanser (Space NK here*)
The packaging instantly appealed to me when I was first testing this cleanser. The bottle is short and stout, like a little teapot but with no handle and no spout. It’s cute. The mechanism inside is one of those push-down-and-product-spurts-out ones, which are useful when you’re doing things one-handed.
(This could be an episode of innuendo bingo, it really could.)
The micellar cleanser itself isn’t your usual clear liquid, it’s a sort of cream-gel. Really soothing, very fresh in feel and does a grand job of makeup removal. Or in my case, a grand job of a quick morning cleanse. I rarely do a balm or cream cleanser at the sink if it’s morning – I do all the heavyweight stuff in the evening and so the micellar is to rid any residue from the products the night before and just have a clean canvas to work on.
Sali Hughes Must-C Daily Serum (currently £10 at Boots here*)
I use a vitamin c serum pretty much every morning. Dose of antioxidant protection and a bit of brightening, can’t go wrong. It really works for me – I realise there are a plethora or different ingredients you could be opting for in your staple morning serum, whether it’s peptides or niacinamide or something for clearing your blackheads, but my focus is on protecting and brightness. It’ll no doubt change, but for the past few years I’ve been unwavering in my vitamin c dedication!
The Sali Hughes Must-C is potent, non-irritating and is currently a tenner at Boots. You can’t go far wrong.
My all-time favourite, however – if you’re asking – is the Kiehl’s Powerful Line Reducing Concentrate. It’s £55 so way more spendy, but it has this lovely dry texture. Not oily, not watery, just…like velvet but spreadable. I have used it for years and come back to it again and again. You can find it online here*.
Dove Derma Series SPF30 (Superdrug here)
Straight in with SPF on top of the serum because I had no need for extra moisturiser this morning. Dove’s new launch is pleasing: a silky, sophisticated texture with a skin-calming formulation. If you have sensitive skin and struggle with finding the right non-aggravating sunscreen, this could well be worth a try.
Here’s a video that takes less than a minute and a half to watch so it’s the least you can do for me:
The post The Glass-Penised Gnome: How (Not) To Use A Pipette appeared first on Ruth Crilly.
At the very real risk of boring myself to death with the same makeup look over and over again I thought I had better jiggle things up a bit. There’s nothing wrong with “sticking to what suits you” when it comes to putting your maquillage on but sometimes there’s a better face-improving tip or trick just around the corner and if you don’t experiment then you’ll never, er…see around the corner.
(Don’t judge my writing skills today, please, I have terrible PMT and as well as wanting to set fire to the fridge because it beeps too much I’m finding it difficult to string words together in an entertaining manner.)
So: three little changes that have updated my makeup routine. I go as far as to say three little makeup improvements. They might just work for you, too – see what you think.
The Eyeliner Replacement
I’ve been using an angled brush (handily, there’s one on the other end of my Benefit brow brush*) with a very dark brown shadow (from this excellent Lancome palette*) to very gently press shadow into the “lashline” at the inner corners and then to form a short flick at the outer. Because the brush is so fine and the shadow isn’t quite as punchy as a liner the effect is every so slightly softer. I’ve been finding that sometimes eyeliner can make me look very tired and my eyes very small if I don’t handle it carefully – this angled brush technique seems to be slightly more subtle and foolproof.
Perhaps it’s because I rarely sharpen my eyeliner pencils to the recommended needle-like point!
The All-Over Glow
The next tweak is that I’ve been giving my skin a bit of a once-over with a glowy powder for a mega-watt all-over sheen rather than confining it to the tradition highlighter zones. Amazingly, it doesn’t look greasy or weird and I don’t end up like the Tin Man from Oz. I think it’s because the powders I use (Ambient Lighting from Hourglass* – unbeatable in my opinion and worth the investment if you can make that sort of investment) are so clever and non-glittery and fine. I use the slightly darker shades in this Hourglass palette on the cheeks and where I’d normally bronze for a bit of extra (glowing) depth and the paler shade over the t-zone. It has the added bonus of setting makeup in place for the long haul.
My actual Hourglass palette was in the car but it was a good excuse to photograph the beautiful new Unlocked limited edition ones – the Elephant version is the closest to the one I use already (find it here*.) The powders are smaller – much smaller – but you get the additional colours so it’s sort of an all-in-one blush, setting powder, complexion enhancer kit.
Also of note in this category is the new Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Brightening Powder*. Gee whizz this is a strong one. I would treat it with slightly more caution than the Hourglass palette. I wore it all over my face as a setting powder for a red carpet event and my face was basically a beacon. It’s amazing stuff but I’d be tempted to use it on cheekbones and around the traditionally “non sweaty” areas and then her equally good non-bright powder on the t-zone.
The Darker Brow
You can’t really see this in all of its glory on the video because I filmed on my iPhone and the front-facing camera is rubbish and pales everything out so that it all becomes a featureless sea of cream and sepia. Yes I can mess about with levels in post-production but I didn’t here – see aforementioned PMT.
I’ll film another makeup routine video showing what a difference it makes – the darker eyebrow, simply taken down a shade using a slightly darker brow gel, looks fresh and youthful and, if done right, very chic. We’re not talking about drawn-on comedy brows, just a smidgen deeper for those of you (me included) who usually err on the safe side when it comes to doing your eyebrows. My default is a bit of Elnett brushed through in an upwards direction and so adding a brow gel that’s fractionally more dramatic is big news. Still no pencil, still no drawing-in (this just spells trouble for me), just a simple swipe through with the tinted brow gel. I’ve been using the one in Light Brown from Authored, here.
Here’s an unhelpful video that doesn’t really show what the makeup changes do but does demonstrate the final effect. I didn’t think it through enough.