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.
I’ve been doing some quick little makeup videos on Instagram and Youtube and thought I’d start to share them here. I love before and afters, the transformation from normal to glam or from washed-out to a bit more lively. And this video just shows you the process in between – a whole makeup look edited down to one minute for those who are impatient and have the attention span of a gnat, which I think is probably most of us these days.
I’ve embedded the video below with a quick run-down of the makeup used and any particular likes and dislikes, product-wise. For those coming over for Instagram who’d just like an at-a-glance product run-down, this is it:
Dior Forever Skin Glow in 2N, here*
Vieve Foundation Brush, here*
Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze & Glow, here*
Rare Beauty Cream Blush in Rose, here*
NARS Voyageur Palette in Suede, here*
Hourglass Gel Liner in Chestnut, here*
Elnett Hair Spray, here*
Rare Beauty Liner in Fun, here*
Code8 Beauty in At The Barre, here*
Benefit Brow Brush, here*
Before and After Beauty: October 2022
I begin with the Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation in shade 2N (online here*) applied with the Vieve foundation brush, £26 here*. This is a long-term face base favourite as it adds luminescence but doesn’t leave any particular residue on the skin. For those who want a more velvety matte finish there’s the Dior Forever – both have great longevity and you need to work relatively fast to blend them in. It’s just a very, very reliable foundation.
For slightly less coverage but similar sort of low-key glow take a look at L’Oreal True Match (online here*). There are loads of shades and it’s marginally easier to work with as it doesn’t set so fast. It’s also a fraction of the cost, if you’re budget conscious.
I don’t use concealer here as the Dior foundation does the trick for me (I need concealer with the True Match) so it’s straight in with my ultimate “instant glamour” product, Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow (online here*). I use this a lot when I want to create something a bit more grown-up and polished – the cheekbone and chisel. It’s an investment but a little goes a long way and I never fail to be pleased with the results. A bit of the bronzing contour beneath the cheekbones and a touch of the highlighter on top, this is not for your low-key everyday routine if you like to have a completely natural, undetectable sort of makeup look.
The blush here is a Rare Beauty cream one in Rose*, applied with a Jones Road blusher brush. And that completes the skin.
You can see that I very simply brush and set my brows using a spritz of Elnett* on a brow brush (this one is Benefit and has an angled liner brush on the other end, find it here*). It’s a very quick and cheap way of doing brows if you’re not fussed about adding more colour and volume to them – you cannot go far wrong with this technique and even if you’re the most minimal makeup person ever I’d recommend adding this in to your day. It just seems to lift my eyes slightly and make me look more awake.
Eyeshadow is mainly “the top middle one” from the NARS Voyageur Palette in Suede. I think that this is my all-time favourite eyeshadow palette due to its handy size and the fact that I like all of the shades, no exception. They’re all useful and you can create so many looks. The palette is £28 (find it here*) and for a heartstopping moment last month I thought they’d discontinued it but it looks to be in stock with a few etailers so I’ll chill.
I use the slightly darker shades just to run along the lower lashline and then the darkest in the palette to create a small “flick” at the outer corner. You know the drill, you’ve seen this before.
Mascara is an Armani one but that didn’t float my boat too much, the brush was slightly too thick for me and I tend to get a lot on my lids when this is the case! Back to the Telescopic* I go…
I have used an eyeliner here, even though I’m trying to not use an eyeliner these days for low-key looks. There’s just something about it that I think makes me look slightly tired, unless I’m doing a big old smokey eye extravaganza and blending it all in. I’ll have to experiment more on that theory. Anyway this gel liner is gorgeous whether it tires me out or not: the Chestnut gel liner from Hourglass*. It glides on beautifully and then sticks in place for hours and hours.
On the lips? A Rare Beauty lip liner in shade Fun*, ‘cos that’s what I am, and the AM/PM lip crayon from Code Eight in a shade called At The Barre*. I’d forgotten about these beautiful tinted lip balms from Code Eight; so easy to use and very moisturising. As you’d hope.
That’s the whole look. I curled my hair with my Cloud9 wand (this one*, in case you’re interested) and then bouffed it out with my fingertips so that it all felt a little bit retro.
I have some research to do before next month’s One Minute Makeup; I’m trying to find the loveliest high street lipsticks. There seems to be a dearth of nice pinks on the high street – I’m thinking one’s like Clinique’s Peony Pop – and I’m determined to find some nice options. Any ideas, please let me know in the comments…
It’s “neutrals with a hint of pink time”! Yes, that’s right: whilst the whole world of social media experiments with the mandatory seasonal shades of russet and bronze, I’m still stuck in bronzer mode with a little bit of pretty pink to eradicate signs of tiredness and add a bit of youthful flush into the mix.
Here’s what I’m using on my face at the moment; the hero products are the recently rediscovered Dior Forever Skin Glow foundation and the liquid blush from Rare Beauty, which seems to be totally sold out. Some potential alternatives listed below.
Let’s get cracking – if you’d like to watch all of the products in action (and full technicolour) then scroll to the bottom of the page and click play on the video screen.
Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation
They’ve relaunched this foundation a few different times since I first reviewed it here in May 2013. It started off as a velvet finish face base and then it became two different foundations altogether, one with a matte finish and one with a glowier finish. The matte (simply called Forever) is absolutely brilliant for staying power and a massively perfected finish, the sort that looks airbrushed. The Skin Glow looks slightly more natural and real. Flexible.
I use shade 2N but actually it looks better on me mixed with a bit of 2.5N to warm things up. In the depths of winter I’ll probably be 2N proper.
I feel as though you have to work quite quickly with this foundation, it sets fast and then sticks around until you have a proper cleanse with a flannel. The coverage is medium-to-full and it’s easily buildable – I can go in with another little tapped-on layer under the eyes and around the nose and it looks seamless.
Find Dior Forever Skin Glow here* – at Escentual it always seems to be a load cheaper than elsewhere. There’s a reason for this and I can’t remember it, but whatever: it makes it just a little more appealing, price-wise, when it’s £38.25 rather than £45.
Armani Power Fabric Concealer
This concealer deserves its own post; I use it constantly and it’s my default option. It gives a really natural, lightweight look, as though the product melds with the skin and moves with it, but the coverage is still very good. It’s a clever product in that it disguises and detracts without forming a thick, opaque layer.
You still see some of the skin beneath but it makes everything vastly improved. If you tend to wear lighter, sheerer bases and a heavy concealer on top looks odd then this is the product for you. If you can stretch to it. I’d say it’s a good investment if you struggle with concealers that sit in fine lines or look cakey – this blends in quickly and stays looking fresh all day.
You can find Power Fabric online here* – I use shade 5, for reference.
Charlotte Tilbury Cream Bronzer
Is actually called Beautiful Skin Bronzer but I’m lazy. This is very similar to Chanel’s big cream bronzer in the flat jar but comes in more shades and is marginally less orange-toned so slightly more foolproof. By buffing this into freshly-applied foundation you can create a sunkissed look that’s very believable and subtle or build up the colour for a more dramatic look.
It’s excellent stuff. Priced to reflect that. I’ve just realised that this video is erring on the side of pure luxury which wasn’t intentional! Find the cream bronzer here*, I use shade 1.
Rare Beauty Liquid Blush
This is sold out everywhere by the looks of it, but give this link* a try anyway in case you’re reading in a time of good stock! I use Hope, a lovely pink shade and you can see from the video that the amount you need to use each time is minuscule. Truly. I doubt I’ll ever use this up, unless I live to one hundred and twenty.
Good alternatives, though they’re cream rather than liquid; the cream blush from Rare Beauty (same brand, different texture) and also the cream blushes from Trinny London and Beauty Pie. They are all delicious – I apply with a brush for these, too, for a really flawless sort of effect.
If you’re lucky enough to get hold of the liquid blush I use in the video then just dap a dot on each cheek and blend lightly with a fluffy brush rather than a firmer, kabuki one. You don’t want to upset all the makeup beneath the blush, things can get alarmingly patchy very quickly…
NARS Voyageur Palette
This is one of my most-used eye palettes. Possibly the most-used if you exclude the Becca one that’s now discontinued. As in the entire brand, not just the palette. NARS Voyageur in Suede has precisely the shades I want to use on a daily basis and nothing else at all. It’s small and compact and I can bung it in a handbag if I need to an it even slides into one of those stupid small purse-on-a-string bags that are all the rage for people who seemingly never need to cart about an emergency Tampax, car keys or, I don’t know, money.
Find the palatte here* – and if you tap “Voyageur” into the search box then you’ll see plenty of videos where I’m using it. The big fat brush I use to apply the shimmery peach-beige shadow is the Bobbi Brown Blender, here* and the flatter, rounded one for the “fake eyeliner” trick that I do is a Sigma E55 brush, here*.
Brows and Lashes
Nearly there! Brows are groomed and thickened with the perennial favourite, Benefit’s Gimme Brow in shade 1, here*. Lashes are lengthened and volumised with L’Oreal’s Telescopic False Lash mascara (here*) which is as good as any of the luxury offerings out there. If you have fine, flat lashes and big brushes do you no favours then honestly, get involved with the Telescopic. I prefer the one in the matte gold tube (currently seven-ish quid here*) for everyday use but it was in my car and couldn’t be bothered to go and get it.
Clinique Lip Pop
Clinique’s lipsticks are genuinely some of the very best out there. They combine a lip primer to smooth and fill with a beautiful, punchy dose of colour and you can get matte finishes or shinier ones. Peony is, in my opinion, the perfect pretty pink. At time of writing Clinique have these lipsticks for sale at around £17 – find them here*. I doubt anyone would regret the purchase of one of these – they feel like a luxury buy but don’t have the luxury price tag.L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara*: https://amzn.to/3LzaLFW
Some lovely, melty-textured makeup bits that’ll see you through the rest of summer and take you nicely into Autumn.
Oh God! The A-Word!
I hate myself for even using it, because the summer months are what I live for, but all good things must come to an end. Also, the summer holidays stress me out more than they ever relax me, September is always a welcome break. I still think of September as being a new year and a fresh start – empty notebooks waiting to be filled, the smell of unworn plimsolls. Is anyone else still stuck in their school years, decades on?
Back on topic: these are all relatively new makeup launches and (apart from the annoying fiddly cap on the cream eyeshadow) make near-perfect additions to any makeup bag. Highlights include a brilliant tinted sunscreen (one that could easily replace your sheer foundation if you were after an all-in-one summer weather multi-tasker) and a cream bronzer that buffs into the skin to give the most beautiful, diffused colour.
Read on for all of the details or, if you’d prefer to watch me talking and applying the products, scroll down to the video at the bottom of the page.
I think that this tinted sunscreen is one of the best beauty launches of the year. There’s a whole rave about it in my previous post about SPF top-ups but, in short, it’s a sheer skin base with full SPF50, UVA and UVB protection and it comes in lots of shades. It’s easily doable to apply the recommended amount to your face (1/4 teaspoon) without it looking overdone or claggy and I don’t find I need a separate moisturiser beneath it.
The coverage is by no means “full” but if you’re after the ultimate all-in-one skin product with colour, minimal coverage and full sun protection then this is it. Find it at Space NK here* – it’s £38 for 50ml.
If you prefer your skin to look naturally sunkissed rather than obviously bronzed then Charlotte Tilbury’s new cream Sun-Kissed Glow bronzer (£42 here*) is a solid investment. It’s as pricey as Chanel’s Les Beiges version but has the same soft-focus effect when buffed into the skin and comes in four shades rather than Chanel’s two. This is sophisticated bronzing that seamlessly melds into your makeup base rather than sitting on top – if you’d like to see it in action then watch the video at the bottom of the page. It’s such a lovely, grown-up effect.
You can find the Sun-Kissed Glow bronzer online in all four shades – I wear shade two, medium, but in winter I could be tempted to notch down to shade one and apply more copiously. It’s nicely buildable.
I like this very summery highlighter. It won’t be for everyone, especially not those with oily or combination skin, but if you love a sheeny finish to your makeup and also a bit of movement, where the skin and the makeup all look flexible and natural rather than set in place, you’ll really like it. It almost feels more like a luxury body product than a face one – it smells unbelievably nice and comes in a little bottle with a pump – but tap it onto cheekbones and you can instantly see how it adds a gorgeous non-glittery glow.
I tried all shades of this but I think Midas is the best on me – it has a slight warmth that works really well on summer skin. See video below.
This is a great summer-autumn eye colour and the cream formula blends in so nicely. Not sure that the tube with the tiny cap is very user-friendly and you need to squeeze out the tiniest amount of product otherwise all hell breaks loose but this would last you a long, long time even with daily use.
I love the shade “Flare”, which has just the right degree of beigey-warmth beneath the shimmer; you can do a brilliant one-shadow eye look with this, it highlights in all the right places. See video for application.
The shade name Bungalow really tickles me. It’s a very unglamorous-sounding word, like bungle. But the shade itself is lovely – the perfect amount of pink to make it pretty but with a neutral edge to keep it subtle. The gloss formula is marginally less sticky than your usual gloss, which is something to celebrate – I’m wearing it as I type and I’ve had it on for around five hours. Granted I haven’t eaten or drunk anything or even spoken to anyone, but it still has all the sheen and colour and feels ever so slightly – really very slightly, – tacky rather than sticky. It’s a good ‘un if you like your glosses but hate having small insects stuck to your lips all day.
Find it here online.
Problems with SPF. We’re wading through a few common issues with sunscreen, while the sun is out and people feel its relevant and topical. The thing is, sunscreen should be topical all year round, if you’re at all worried about the effects of the sun on your skin, but I still think that the majority of people only apply SPF when it’s hot outside. Maybe it needs a rebrand. Lightscreen, instead of sunscreen?
For me, this is where “moisturisers with SPF” play their hand so well; you don’t think twice about putting them on, they’re pitched as more of a daily staple than a fair-weather friend and, if you apply as liberally as you would your dedicated sunscreen you’re getting the same protection. Anyway, maybe that’s a whole other post…
Back to problems, and the previous one with sunscreen was SPF stinging eyes – you can find that post here with a few recommendations on how to avoid irritation. Here’s the next skin issue in the line-up:
Problem: Sunscreen Breaks Me Out
Sunscreen causing spots, another annoying quirk. Many sunscreens break my skin out, too, and it feels like a sod’s law sort of punishment. You try to do the best thing for the health and look of your skin and it goes and kicks you in the teeth with a load of pustulating under-surface bumps or white-headed pimples. If you find that your SPF is breaking you out because it’s making you oily and clogging your pores then take a look at some of the oil-free options that work really well for me – they’re also worth a look if you’re after sunscreen for acne-prone skin.
Paula’s Choice Resist SPF50* is actually hurtling its way to my number one favourite sunscreen spot. It’s high protection but feels just like water going on and leaves absolutely no residue on the skin. It just ticks absolutely every box and also happens to be oil-free so it’s excellent for all skin types. It’s a joy to apply. Find it online here* – it’s £35 and can easily be used as your daily moisturiser unless you have very dry skin.
If you’re after light and fresh then take a look at my five favourite sunscreens on the link above. It wasn’t a post on SPF for spot-prone skin, specifically, but there are some nice oil-free products. Another I find myself using quite a lot is the Kiehl’s Aqua Gel (online here*) with a lightweight feel that doesn’t melt or slide even when it’s very humid. A good one if you need a facial SPF for working out or going running. Chance would be a fine thing.
Both of those suggestions are for chemical sunscreens but if you struggle to find a chemical SPF that you get on with then it’s well worth giving mineral sunscreen a go. Some people are sensitive to specific chemical filters. (Equally, some people get on horribly with mineral sunscreens, finding them very chalky and thick, the residue too white, but there are some beautiful, lightweight, silky mineral products these days.)
Here are some mineral recommendations, I love all of the below:
Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen SPF50 at Space NK here*
Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF30 Skin Milk mineral sunscreen here*
Skingredients Skin Shield SPF50 here*
Coola Mineral Matte Cucumber SPF30 here*
If you have oily skin, you may also really like the matte finish that many mineral sunscreens have – it makes a good priming makeup base with that little bit of grip to hold foundation in place. And I find that I need less foundation on top, for some reason – the mineral sunscreen seems to create a lovely canvas.
As important as finding the right sunscreen formula to help reduce spot breakouts? Making sure you clean it off again effectively at the end of the day. SPF products are designed to stick around for as long as possible, for obvious reasons, so you really need to get in there with a cleanser that will break it down along with the grime of the day and any makeup you have on over the top.
I like to use a balm cleanser first (Beauty Pie’s Hot Oil Double Cleansing Balm* is one of my favourite balms, regardless of brand or price) and really massage it in for a minute or so. I use a flannel to remove – it works on eye makeup too, so you can work it in all over your face. Then if I’m feeling any sort of threat of a breakout (that lumpiness below the skin, or tenderness) then I go in with an exfoliating wash afterwards. I really like CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser* because it can be used on face and body so it’s great for keeping in the shower.
CeraVe’s cleanser contains salicylic acid to help keep pores clear but if you’d rather swipe something over your skin and leave then I think that Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant (buy online here*) is unbeatable. I use it every PMT week, too, just to keep any hormonal spots at bay. Just pour a little onto cotton wool and wipe all over your face – I concentrate on the t-zone and around my nose – and then follow with your usual skincare routine, though I’d keep textures nice and light if I was on breakout watch!
Here’s my current makeup routine, including a rediscovered foundation that’s perfect for the summer months (ultra-glowy but lightweight and non-greasy) and what is possibly my all-time favourite mascara. I’m going to break it down into steps for you, but please do watch the video further on down the page if you’d like to see any of the products in action.
For skin prep in this video I used some products that had been left in my room at High Road House, which is a Soho House hotel in Chiswick. This is the third time I’ve had a little set of these Soho Skin products left in my room and so I can only conclude they are trying the brand out on guests before they are put on sale. They are perfectly pitched for the seasoned traveller who likes a spot of luxury and the textures are great; not too rich but with enough hydration to see you through the night. In the video I use the eye cream, serum and lip balm.
Because I was going to Wimbledon for the day I applied Anthelios UVMune 400 SPF50 in copious amounts – I was a guest of La Roche-Posay and so my choice of sunscreen seemed very appropriate. Helps that it’s one of my favourites anyway – this fluid SPF is so lightweight and now contains an incredibly effective UV filter offering really high protection. (You can find the new formula here* online.)
I have been using Charlotte Tilbury’s Light Wonder Foundation* loads recently. It’s a lightweight fluid with a sheer-side-of-medium coverage that feels very hydrating and gives a gorgeous sheen. Convenient packaging makes it easy to travel with or stick in your handbag and the finish is just beautiful. I use shade 5 – the ahde range in this particular product is much narrower than in the other Tilbury foundations but the sheerness makes it more flexible, so you don’t need an exact “match”. You can find it online here*.
I have been setting my foundation with powder, which I virtually never do, but I have been in the city quite a bit and I feel as though it makes things hold against the heat that bit better. It’s not a matte powdered look, either, I use the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette (Space NK here*) which is a huge investment, makeup-wise, but unparalleled in terms of getting a very grown-up “lit from within” finish to the skin. It’s so good: no glitter or glimmer and doesn’t actually look like a powder at all once it touches your face. Easy to apply, foolproof, I use the two darker colours to create a sort of base to my bronzer.
I’ve just seen that they do this palette in other shade combinations – where have I been? Volume II looks very summery. I may have to invest.
Bronzer and Blush
I’ve been bronzing with the cult contouring product Filmstar Bronze and Glow from Tilbury* but also the new cream bronzer that’s been launched. I didn’t have that on me, I’ll have to do a separate post. It’s lovely, definitely on a par with the Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel, if that’s what it’s called. (Is that what it’s called? Surely not! Hold on…. No, it’s now Les Beiges Bronzing Cream, find it here*.)
I use the Filmstar bronzer just beneath my cheekbones and then blend it out well. I don’t like this thing for harsh contour lines, I find it a bit draining and ageing on my own face and think it looks very artificial on even really young faces. So, not my bag, baby. But well buffed-in, it adds some shapely glamour and a hint of bronze and if you add the sparkle from the palette (which often I don’t) to the tops of the cheekbones it really is a red carpet sort of effect.
The blush is a Gen Nude blush from Bare Minerals, but it looks as though they are discontinuing it – it’s here* online. Any pretty pink would do for this – it needed to be pink because I was using quite a pretty pink lipstick and sometimes I think it looks slightly weird if they’re not in the same tonal ballpark…
This is where you really need to watch the video! I’ve used two cream shadow sticks and blended them – the first is By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Shade 6 (“Frozen Quartz”, online here*) all over the lids, blended in, and then Vieve Eye Wand in Mahogany* blended in at the corners.
I blend outwards and upwards towards the end tip of the eyebrow to give myself a natural little lift in the tired eye department – watch the video for a demo. Can’t really stress enough how much you need to watch this video. Just skip to the eye bit!
Mascara is the Telescopic from L’Oreal which is one of my all-time favourites and costs just over eight quid (find it here*). The fine comb really gets into the base of my lashes without spreading mascara all over my lids and then it’s easy to draw it through to the ends of the lashes to get maximum volume. It’s not one of these mega-wow mascaras (though the False Lash one is equally great and gives more volume, here*) it just leaves them longer, blacker and more separated. It’s really excellent stuff if you have fine, flat lashes that don’t do well with bigger and messier brushes.
Brows are groomed and set into place (with a bit of extra colour and oomph thanks to the fibres) with Gimme Brow from Benefit. Another all-time favourite, I use shade 1 in this and you can find it online here*. You just brush it on, brushing brows upwards (there’s a theme emerging!) and it adds some fullness and sets them into place. Wipe off the excess from the brush into the neck of the bottle before you start otherwise trouble awaits.
I have been quite enamoured with a Nip+Fab lipliner in shade 03, Caramel, but it doesn’t seem to exist online.
Neither does the lipstick, Almost Pink by Bobbi Brown, so I’m not doing very well here. I need to do a big old lipstick clear-out and see what’s new out there on the beauty counters. I’ve been sent so many lip oils, glosses and tinted balms but good old solid lipsticks don’t seem to be de rigueur at the moment. I like a tinted balm, but sometimes you want a bit more of a definite colour, don’t you? And don’t get me started on glosses… They are usually the work of the devil.
I always forget to mention brushes and so here we are: large powder brush is the Chantecaille Face Brush, smaller powder one is a Bobbi Brown Face Blender. I applied my foundation with a Real Techniques 200 and blended with fingertips, too, off-camera, because it sort of melts the foundation in at the end and I like the finish.
On my eyes, a fluffier brush to blend the By Terry shadow – My KitCo 127 – and then two little Zoeva brushes for working in the lashline and at the corners. The Luxe Pencil Brush 2020 is great for corners and under the eyes, but the 226 Smudger is invaluable for blending out liner into a softer haze!
Right, that’s the whole face. My dress at the end is from Me+Em – find it here* online, I wear a UK10 – and if I’ve forgotten any other details then just drop me a comment below!
Here’s a little updated video on how I style my shoulder length hair – regular readers have seen this all before, I’m not sure much has changed.
The Cloud Nine curling wand is still the tool of choice (here*) – it’s just the right diameter for the curls I like to make (they quickly drop into waves) and it doesn’t have a clamp to negotiate with. I don’t get on with the tongs with a clamp at all.
I choose to curl rather than wave because if I just wave the hair, by the end of the first day it’s almost straight ,just with better texture and volume. Curling it gives me at least a day or two of full, sexy waves and then a day or too more of texture. If I use enough dry shampoo and try not to touch my roots I can get four full days out of one torturous curling session!
(It’s not that bad. I just get aching arms from holding the wand in the air, which is testament to how unfit I am. Or maybe not unfit: untoned. My arms have always been weak and flimsy; it was my intention, when I was in my twenties, to really buff them up, GI jane-style, and do pull-ups like Sarah Connor in The Terminator but I think I managed about four pull-ups, once, before I decided that arm strength wasn’t for me.)
After curling the whole lot – it’s important to section off tiny strands because if you try to do chunks that are too big they don’t curl so well – I spray my roots with Living Proof Dry Volume spray (here online*) and then the whole thing with Elnett hairspray (online here*.)
Dry Volume Spray is a hair miracle in a can: spritz roots and massage in and BOOM. Massive volume without any crunch or stickiness. It’s fast becoming my “can’t live without” hair product. Elnett is for holding the waves. Again, no stickiness or crispiness, this just brushes out if you need it to, though I like to just layer it over a number of days until I’m left with a huge, grippy mass of hair on top of my head.
Any questions, let me know in the comments. My hair, by the way, is cut to all one length just at shoulder level in a sort of blunt-ended long bob. No layers.