I don’t have an amazing track record with mascara-testing. Firstly, I am massively picky when it comes to what I put on my lashes, which means that I hate most mascaras and quickly become disgruntled when I have to test a whole run of them. (I like my mascaras to be just tacky enough to give volume but not require a blowtorch and chisel to remove, I like the brush to be precise enough not to spread product all over my eyelids but big enough to create lift and length. The list continues but I wouldn’t want you to fall asleep.)
So as I said, I’m picky, which means that I relegate most test samples to the sin bin after a couple of uses, but I’m also sensitive around the eye area which means that I can only test one or two a day before my eyes start streaming and the skin gets red and raw. It’s a slow and arduous process, then, and one that I’ll only drum up the enthusiasm for once in a blue moon.
Fortunately for you (if you’re interested in mascaras!) it’s that blue moon kind of time and I’ve been putting up with eyes that look as though they’ve been weeping battery fluid just so that I can bring you the best of the new luxury mascara launches.
The idea was to rate all of these with scores out of ten for various things like longevity, ease of application, depth of colour, but let’s be frank: they’re all black, none of them come off easily and the wand size and flexibility (hoho) is all about personal preference, so vaguely irrelevant.
But if you have flattish, fine and fair lashes like mine and tend to coat your eyelid in product when applying then you’re in a similar beauty boat to me and you’ll hopefully love these new launches as much as I do.
Charlotte Tilbury Push Up Lashes Mascara, £12/£23 at SpaceNK here*. Best for flat, drab lashes that refuse to go upwards, this really does push up by depositing a load of mascara at the base of the lash before sweeping the volume through to the ends. I find this one the messiest, so be warned on that front if you tend to need an hour to clean up after you’ve put on your mascara! Out of the four this is the one that gives me a tiny but of dropping and flaking towards the end of a long wear, but it’s nothing massively noticeable.
Dior Iconic Overcurl Mascara, £28 at Selfridges here*. I think that this is my favourite of the lot. I’m not sure it beats Dior’s Pump ‘n’ Volume, which is one of the greatest mascaras of all time, but it’s up there. Pump ‘n’ Volume (find it at FeelUnique here*) is like the Batman of mascaras, with its rubbery suit packaging and its ability to coat each and every lash with about a kilo of product without any clumping; the Iconic Overcurl is just ever so slightly more refined. I need to do a side-by-side comparison on these don’t I?
Marc Jacobs At Lash’d Mascara, £25 at Harvey Nichols here*. I’d say that this mascara is perfect for the smaller-lash’d amongst us as the brush is ever-so-slightly more petite. I get the least amount of lid-painting carnage with this one but I still get great volume and brilliant lash separation. For those who can’t abide the formation of those lash-fans that you get when all of your lashes start off nicely separated but then five or six of them join together at the ends to form a super-clump, this is important. Because when you get a lash-fan it follows that you then have to find something sharp and pointy to separate them out again, which inevitably is the pin from one of those freebie hotel sewing kits, and then it’s so fine you can’t actually see it, because you’re long-sighted and anything within a foot of your face is invisible, and then you pierce your own eyeball and it’s all game over and who needs mascara anyway when you have to permanently wear an eye patch.
NARS Climax Extreme Mascara, £22 at SpaceNK here*. Annoying name, because honestly, I’m not a prude, but I don’t want everything to be about sex. What has mascara got to do with sex? Unless you like to groom your private areas with your mascara (brings a new meaning to the term “bottom lashes”), but that would be weird. Anyway, this is a very good mascara with huge volume and a sort of matte, rubbery finish on the lashes rather than a shiny one. You could get away with one coat of this (and the Dior Iconic, come to think of it) but as with most mascaras this really comes into its own on the second.
Watch the video to see all of these mascaras in action – I’m going to do the same thing for some high street launches too, when I get a second and my eyes have recovered. Honestly it’s as though someone’s brillo-padded the skin off my undereyes.
You might well point out that I’m a bit late to the party with this particular seasonal makeup update, but apparently we’re in for a little heatwave next week, here in the UK. So there. I refuse to let go of summer! At any rate, why be so rigid about the seasons? I don’t consider it to be Autumn Proper until at least October.
(The meteorological calendar has yesterday, 1st September, down as the start of Autumn, but what does Mr Meteorology know? Although I do prefer that version of events, because if you go by the astronomical calendar then autumn doesn’t end until two days before Christmas. And that just won’t do. The run-up to Christmas must be wintery – Home Alone and frosted windows, not pumpkins and falling leaves!)
Anyway, I’m a spring-summer person through and through and (barely) tolerate the colder half of the year through gritted teeth and about seven layers of knitwear. I basically go into a mild form of hibernation from October until May, where my brain works at half speed and my body stores an inordinate amount of fat.
So what’s in my makeup bag? Here’s a rundown and it’s pretty pared down and straightforward; one of the best tinted moisturisers ever made followed by a couple of insta-glam base products and a slick of something sexy on the eyes.
NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser (here*) has been around for years and, unlike the Laura Mercier classic, hasn’t been tampered with. It’s really very hydrating and has surprisingly full coverage for a tinted moisturiser – watch the video below to see it going on. It’s light and fresh to apply but robust in terms of finish and longevity.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow Palette (here*) is another cult classic – a sculpting duo that has instant impact, creating razor-sharp cheekbones where before there were none. Even if the whole contouring thing isn’t quite your bag, a light touch with the bronzing shade will give a proper grown-up finish to your face. A hint of chisel. Which sounds a lot less glamorous than intended.
I often skip concealer, but not if my base is sheerer than usual – my current concealer squeeze is the Vanish Airbrush from Hourglass, online here*. It’s creamy and easy to pat in but sticks fast and is virtually opaque, though never cakey or heavy looking. Again, watch the video for a little demo – Hourglass make such brilliant base products, whether you’re after full coverage foundation or lightest touch skin finishing powders.
And now for the off-piste part: lipstick as blush. With the benefit of hindsight perhaps this wasn’t the best lipstick to use as a blusher – it has far too much sheen – but it gives you an idea of how easy it is to finish off a makeup look by matching cheeks to lips. Obviously if you’re going in hard with the lip colour, like a neon orange or something, then perhaps don’t get carried away with the matchy-matchy, but if it’s a neutral with a peach or pink lean, or even a brighter red or purple, just pat a small amount of it onto the cheeks and blend for an instant flush. Most creamier, traditional lipsticks in a bullet will work nicely, just tread carefully with the bright shades.
I used L’Oreal’s Color Riche Shine in 658 (here*) which is a light, warm beige with the most beautiful juicy finish. As I said, not ideal as a blush, but if you’re looking for something wearable and foolproof that sits between a pigmented lipstick and a sheer tinted lip balm, the Color Riche Shine will definitely float your boat. It’s basically YSL’s Volupté Shine but without the fancy golden packaging and the fancy pricetag.
What next? Eyes! Some Trinny Eye2Eye Shadow on the lids (Truth, here*) and then I used my summertime barely-there mascara for low-key lashes, the Suqqu Natural Curl (was here*). It’s very good, but actually it’s been replaced with the Eyelash mascara*, which also seems to be very good. I shall report back with a better review, because that was very lame and noncommittal wasn’t it?
Brows have been shaped all summer long with either Gimme Brow from Benefit (here*) or Glossier’s Boy Brow (here*): I’ve compared these dozens of times in videos and posts and so you’ll probably be able to trot out my line that the Boy Brow is waxier but the Gimme Brow is easier to handle. Both are just excellent and well worth every penny for brows that are just a bit fuller and more shapely – this is about as easy as “doing your brows” gets.
Right. You’ve read my words, now see it all in action. Any questions, leave them in the comments box below.
*UPDATE: If you’re reading this on the 2nd September and considering buying the NARS Tinted Moisturiser, Hourglass Concealer and/or the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Palette, know that Space NK have a mega gift with purchase* running for those spending £175 or over. It’s worth over £250 and includes a full sized Sunday Riley Ceramide Cream, which is one of the richest and buttery moisturiser launches of the year. You can find more info on the gift here*.
I’ve just been scrolling back through all of my previous What’s In My Makeup Bag posts and I stumbled across this particular beauty: the Summer 2018 edition. If you don’t want to click through and read it then here’s the gist of the matter, in image form:
Isn’t it nice? Such a lovely lipstick! So cheery and optimistic. I shall have to dig that particular lipstick out – I’ve been wearing my pink-tinged beiges for far too many months. Perhaps it’s time for a coral lipstick favourites video, to lead us into summer?
But for now, we’re still on neutrals and beiges with a hint of rosiness on the cheeks. Low-key springtime, nothing fancy, mainly because most of us are still on lockdown and those who aren’t probably don’t feel very celebratory or adventurous. The focus (for me, at least) is on good skin and trying to look as healthy and fresh as possible – bronzer that disappears into the base, a dusting of sunshine over the top and a dewy finish to lids and lips.
Lids and lips. For some reason saying that makes me feel slightly queasy – I’m not sure whether it’s the lazy, tabloid-style alliteration or the gynaecological implications. Although what would “lids” be, in the lady department? A lash-fringed flap of skin. Hmm. I’ll have to think carefully about that one.
GOD! Can someone please keep me on the straight and narrow? Perhaps I need an editor. To check my behaviour and act as the filter I don’t seem to possess.
“Hello darling. Ok, I’ve just read your latest piece…and…how can I put this? It’s rather crude. I mean, darling, is it quite sensible to talk about the time you slipped in the shower and narrowly missed being penetrated by the mixer tap?”
I like to think that the editor would be called Nigel. No particular reason. But he must chain-smoke French cigarettes and have an office on the Tottenham Court Road and wear a silk kimono. I have it all planned out.
But back to spring makeup. There’s a video and really it’s mandatory you watch it, this time, because I’ve used up all of my word count on pointless drivel so there’s no space to talk about lipstick shades. It’s all covered on film and if you want a cheat’s spoiler list then just scroll down the page a bit.
Take particular note of the double-bronzing manoeuvre; as a first step the cream bronze buffs effortlessly into the foundation, creating a sort of warm, duo-toned base, and then the powder bronzer sits lightly on top looking all dusty and beautiful. I’m doing this a lot at the moment and I like the effect.
I’m wearing the Emanuelle Dress, bought from Hush here*
It seems a weird time to be filming a beauty favourites video, but what I thought would be even weirder would be for me to have made a big song and a dance last month about my favourites being back in town and then never doing another one! I even made that whole Brokeback Mountain joke about not being able to quit my favourites, etc etc, and so to simply up sticks and leave again wasn’t an option.
Just five favourites, though – it’s not exactly an orgy. Just five things that have really tickled my whistle and that would make a cheery addition to any routine, once things settle down a bit. The handwash favourite is probably the most relevant – very inexpensive, non-drying, good brand that gives back to charity and so on – but I like to think that any of this month’s picks would do a particular service.
A warm and comforting fragrance (it’s like the olfactory equivalent of being hugged in big, safe arms), a cleanser with aromatherapy benefits, an eye cream for tired, staring-at-an-iPhone-screen-twelve-hours-a-day eyes…
I’ll leave you to watch the video in peace. But if you don’t want the video, then – hurrah – a slightly new format for you! Rather than just listing the products below the screen, there’s a mini review. Which makes this more of a blog post than simply a place to announce that there’s a new video in town. Better for those of you who are resolutely video-free? I hope so.
OK, so onto my mini reviews. Some old favourites, here and some new. It’s like a wedding. Except there’s nothing borrowed. Or blue.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Cleanser, £21 here*. If you have combination or oily skin and have always been put off by the idea of cream or oil cleansers, then this could be the one to try. It is rich and creamy, but it actually leaves the skin feeling very refined and ever – ever! – so slightly tightened. So if you hate a residue and want that ultra-clean feeling then this is a gorgeous luxury buy.
Neal’s Yard are experts at sourcing and working with frankincense and it really shows in their frankincense ranges. The cleanser is very scented (with frankincense, obviously!) and I find it to be more of a grounding, de-stressing treatment than anything resembling a mundane cleanse. Top marks, I’ve loved this cleanser for many years.
Soaper Duper Handwashes, online here. Soaper Duper do some of the best handwashes around. Wasn’t ever a beauty category that I imagined raving about, but it’s definitely topical and we’re all (hopefully) washing our hands about a billion times a day. So it’s nice to pick out some good ones. (If you’d like me to test a few and report back then I’m totally up for that – plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast!)
Soaper Duper do their washes in lots of scents – this Tuberose one is fresh and green rather than anything too floral – and they are hooked up with some great charities, including Water Aid. Big bottles, non-drying formula, definitely up there with the best of them.
Kiehl’s Line Reducing Eye Serum*, £41 here. Remember eons ago when I reviewed the Vitamin C face serum from Kiehl’s? Well now there’s one specifically for eyes and it’s just as good as the original. If you want a powerful eye cream that feels gutsy and strong, rather than a “light and fresh gel” or a “cooling cream” then this is the business – it has the same thick and dry texture as the serum, which won’t be for everyone, but really will be for those who want a rich cream that’s grease-free.
You can read my original review on the face serum here – I’ve just seen that it was a favourite back in 2015! How time flies. I think the serum – or concentrate as it was called – has actually been reformulated since then. More potent, if I remember correctly.
Charlotte Tilbury Copper Charge Eye Palette, £40 here*. I have an IGTV waiting to be published on this – very informal, just showing how I apply it and how it looks in different lights. I think that the CT eye quads are all fantastic – good pigment but easy to handle, really blendable and cleverly chosen shades that always look flattering and sexy.
The new Copper Charge palette is part of the new range that promises to make your actual eye colour more intense – so there’s a copper one to make blue eyes bluer, and blue one to make (I think) brown eyes browner, and so on. The coppery one could be dicey, if you are prone to looking a little pink-eyed, but used carefully it really enhances blue eyes. Keep a lookout for the IGTV video – I’ll update here with a link for you once it’s up!
Molton Brown Milk Musk, from £65 here*. Not convinced by the name of this new Molton Brown range, but I think that the scent is outrageously good. It’s warm, it’s cocooning, it’s like throwing yourself into (I imagine) a bed that’s been set-dressed for a Hygge interiors shoot. All natural-hued faux furs and giant knits and cashmere throws and those little flickering tealights scattered around the (wooden) floor.
The scent is warm, faintly exotic and with a musky, tonka bean base. Heady top notes that are really quite sexy and rich and then that warm, comforting base. The eau de toilette is fresher, (not surprisingly) and the parfum is deeper with a lovely little sharp, greenish twist right at the bottom. It’s gorgeous. Another winner from Molton Brown, for me – they seem to be ticking all of my boxes recently because my top fragrance love before this one was their Geranium Nefertum!
After writing off my “daily essentials” makeup bag, thinking I had lost it at a hotel, I was excited to find that it was, in fact, stowed away right at the back of the glovebox in my car. Behind the owner’s manual and the pile of old MOT certificates and the broken umbrella and – joy! – a sweet bag with a singular Percy Pig from M&S in it. I ate the pig, despite the fact that it must have been at least six months old and had probably been heated and then frozen, heated then frozen, about sixty times.
Anyway I’m still here to tell the tale, so God only knows what they put into those pigs – I think they’d survive the apocalypse! Unlike Clinique’s excellent Pep-Start Lip Balm, which had the dead and dessicated body of a woodlouse stuck into the top of it. Not Clinique’s fault, of course – mine for losing the lid many eons ago – but still, gross.
You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve cut the contaminated top off the balm with my extra-sharp Global kitchen knife (how I’ve longed to slip a mention of my knife into this blog, I can die happy) and I’m contemplating using it again. The thing is, before you go all hysterical, I’m pretty sure that the louse was dead before it stuck to the balm. It’s not as though it crawled on, got its little legs stuck and then slowly expired from thirst and hunger.
How do I know this? It’s an educated guess. The louse corpse has no legs, so the chances of it crawling on and getting its legs stuck are virtually nil; I looked closely with my magnifying glass and there’s no evidence of leg material whatsoever.
So I don’t think it’s as though the woodlouse died of some terrible disease and leached all of its germs and whatnot into the balm and I’m sure now that I’ve cut off 5mm of product all will be fine. Vote now.
Good grief, that went off on a tangent. If Clinique haven’t already discontinued that balm then they probably will now. It’s tainted. Tainted I tell you!
Click to watch the video and find out what was in my Time Capsule makeup bag. I could equally have called this my “Lost and Found” edition, or “Daily Essentials I Didn’t Appreciate Until They’d Gone”, because it’s a bit farfetched to call something from only a few months ago a “Time Capsule”, but seeing as though I didn’t have the foresight to keep a bag filled with makeup favourites from 1995 and bury it in my parents’ garden, this will have to do.
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, £49 here*: http://bit.ly/2zWfFZK
Charlotte Tilbury Mini Brush Set, here*: http://bit.ly/2SfAAke This is actually really good, usually mini brush sets are a bit hit and miss! If she does them again next Christmas and they are the same, I’d get them!
Chanel Powder Brush No3 – discontinued?
Karen Walker Necklace*: http://bit.ly/2OX1wn1
Zoeva Buffer Brush, £17 here*: http://bit.ly/2vkEGif
Rodial Banana Lowlighter, £38 here*: http://bit.ly/2Hd3Ce5
Glossier Boy Brow in Blonde, £14 here*: http://bit.ly/2vkEGif
L’Oreal Unlimited Mascara, currently £5.99 here*: https://amzn.to/37jyzrJ
Clinique Pep Start Lip Balm – can’t find this at all! Where has it gone? It’s REALLY GOOD! Apart from the dead woodlouse body.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Liner in Hot Gossip, £17 here*: http://bit.ly/38u3Jy5
NARS Voyageur Palette in Suede, £28 here*: https://bit.ly/2w8Z7Pv
Stand down, Outraged of Welwyn Garden City, I said How To Do A Glow Job not blow job! To be honest, I’m almost forty and still couldn’t tell you how to do the latter that well, so the chances of me writing a post about it (or – urgh – making a video) are slim.
I mean I’m not saying I’m particularly bad at it (must ask) just that it’s a pretty obscure thing to do a step-by-step on and I can’t imagine a video tutorial would get past the censors on Youtube. Although pretty much everything else seems to get past them so maybe it would be worth a punt…
Anyway, it’s a Glow Job how-to not a Blow Job how-to and for this totally non-explicit filming session I was joined by the wonderful Lisa Caldognetto, who is a busy working London makeup artist. She has a signature skin prep routine that she calls The Glow Job and she kindly offered to demonstrate it. It’s 50% skincare and 50% makeup, really, when you break it down – a refreshing change from the usual heavy-on-the-base add-a-load-of-shimmery-highlight routine that you see so much of.
The Glow Job technique relies on adding the glow at the bottom of the pile – so creating a really glossy, plumped-out and dewy base layer and then adding minimal coverage so that the natural juiciness of the skin really shows through. The startling thing about this look is that there’s no foundation used – it relies on having relatively good skin to start with, admittedly, but it’s a nice reminder that you can go easy on the coverage and still look perfected and polished.
I’ve listed the products that Lisa used below the video pane, but please do watch the tutorial to see how Lisa applies each step – she has a lovely way of using Weleda’s Skin Food, for example, and a very light touch with her makeup brushes. It’s always so interesting to see session makeup artists at work, they’re a total mine of information.
You can find Lisa on Instagram @lisacaldognettomakeup
Caudalie Eixir*: http://bit.ly/2YLfNa7
Hada Labo Serum*: https://amzn.to/2sjCAgV
Weleda Skin Food*: http://bit.ly/2EcfmMf
Hollywood Flawless Filter Shade 3*: http://bit.ly/33jRMZd
My Kitco Flawless Face Small Brush 0.21 Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer 3*: http://bit.ly/2srPvgE
My Kitco Soft Concealing Brush 0.17 Chanel Soliel Tan de Chanel*: http://bit.ly/35v66yM
My Kitco Flawless Face Medium 0.22
Charlotte Tilbury Peachgasm Wand*: http://bit.ly/2rwzOFb
Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish powder*: http://bit.ly/35kDmZw