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The Molotov pigtails guide to skincare for sensitised skin. Part I- cleansers.

I’ve always had difficulty finding skincare which works for my skin as I have very dry, sensitive skin but I’m also prone to hormonal breakouts (fun!). As a result, I’ve tried a lot of different cleansers, moisturisers and serums, oils and toners to see which works for me. Here is a list of products which I’ve used and some short reviews to accompany them, as you may find them helpful. I’m not sponsored by any skincare brands, so these are either products that I’ve bought myself or have been sampled by various counters. I’ll be breaking this segment into a few parts, so this is part I.

Cleansers

  

Clarins cleansing milk

I was working for a brand who was owned by the clarins group, so I was able to buy clarins skincare at a discounted price for a short while. In this time, I bought myself a small bottle of the cleansing milk and repurchased it again at a department store a few months later at the full size as I really liked it.

This cleanser is very gentle, quite moisturising and really smoothes out the skin, however I found better results using it with my clarisonic as I found that it didn’t really cleanse away leftover makeup or dead skin without the buffing motion of the clarisonic brush. 

In my opinion, this cleanser would be fantastic for extremely dehydrated skin, especially more mature skin, but if you wear a lot of makeup (like I did when I was working on makeup counters), you’ll need to invest in a heavy duty makeup remover or use a cleansing oil beforehand.

  
Shu uemura cleansing oil

I had some friends working at the shu uemura counter who were kind enough to give me a sample bottle of the cleansing oil (the green one, as they said it would work well with my skin type).

I have always loved shu uemura cleansing oil, but this was definitely more gentle than the original formula which I used a few years ago. It works beautifully to remove all traces of makeup and hydrates as it cleanses without making drying out the skin or adding a sheen of oily residue. I found I still need to moisturise quite a bit afterwards, as I have quite dry skin, but I encountered no sensitivity or breakouts as a result. 

  
Josie Maran argan cleansing oil

I bought a bottle of this product from MECCA around a year ago as I was searching for the perfect skincare. It was more hydrating than other cleansing oils I’ve used, but it was so sticky. The texture really put me off, especially as it’s really hard to rinse off because it’s the consistency of honey. It tastes foul and, unfortunately, tends to run onto your lips because it’s really sticky. 

However, it did a beautiful job of cleansing off all makeup and debris and also left my skin very hydrated, so I didn’t need to use heaps of moisturiser afterwards. I also didn’t have any issues with breakouts or sensitivity.

  
Sukin sensitive cleansing gel

I bought this from Priceline a couple of months ago as I really needed a new cleanser and was on a bit of a budget. It’s very cheap (under $10), so I didn’t have an issue with buying it without any knowledge of how it would work because I  wouldn’t have felt bad if I had an irritation and had to give it to someone else.

I use this with my clarisonic and find it works really beautifully with it. It’s by no means improved my skin texture, but it also hasn’t made my skin worse and I’ve had no reactions for it. Definitely a good budget buy.

  
Clinique mild liquid facial soap

I was a devotee of Clinique skincare for years, as a result of buying the three step for ages, there’s always a bottle of this laying around in my house which I’ll use when I run out of cleanser or in between brands.

This is a product that I always go back to. It’s very gentle, it cleanses well and I never have any bad reactions to using it. It’s also not a ground breaking formula, so while it does the job, it’s nothing special by itself. it works better with the entire three step and is probably one of the products you can substitute easily when using Clinique skincare without messing up your results. Nonetheless, it’s not too expensive, it works well and I will always have some handy in my bathroom.
Which cleansers would you recommend for dry/sensitive/angry skin? Leave me a comment below.
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“Brows on fleek”- why today’s negative criticism of makeup is blocking our creative process in the makeup world.

  
Every day, at least one Facebook friend will share or be tagged in a meme like this and make some derogatory comment. Every day, I respect that person less as a result of that behaviour.

I’m a makeup artist, I run a beauty blog and I actually run lessons to teach people from all walks of life how to apply makeup. I could teach you fifty different ways to contour, to fill in your brows or overdraw your lips whilst covering any areas that you may perceive as flaws… But there’s a difference between educating somebody and bullying strangers on the Internet.

  
The Internet is unforgiving of perceived mistakes and flaws in others, this will be made apparent the moment you read YouTube comments. However, there seems to be an alarming rise in the amount of women and men who become ridiculed at a viral level because of a “basic contour” or “sharpie brows” or whatever people feel like picking apart from that person’s appearance at any given time.

This is not a vapid industry, this is an artistic industry. There is a science to each formula and how it works and a science behind how each colour and placement and texture can create an optical illusion or hide our battle scars, our tiredness or our need to embrace positive change on an outer level whilst we work towards the same on an inner one. It does take a scientist to figure out how to make something safe for your eyes or that will make your hair shiny. 

I believe educating others on how to achieve a technique they find challenging and to provide constructive criticism when it is wanted and asked for, but I’m disgusted with the public tarring and feathering that has been happening since contouring became a “thing” in the mainstream media and to consumers. Here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t grab the torches and pitchforks when you see makeup you perceive as being “bad” in some way:
1. Everyone starts somewhere.

We are all learning ways to better ourselves and our daily routines as we go through our lives. Some people find it easier than others to learn with different mediums. Where your strengths may lie in making yourself over, other people have their own strengths that you may struggle with. Some people have different face shapes and skin tones to what is perceived as normal and some people have finally found the courage to try something new. Look at your pictures from high school and tell me you’re not cringing. If you’re in high school now, look at your parents wedding photos or candid pictures from holidays. See my point? Good. Sit down.

2. There is more than one way to look or feel attractive or have a sense of self worth.

We are not all cut from the same cloth, nor should we be. Enough said. We develop new techniques and formulas and trends based on the fact that we are diverse as a species and all strive for different things. We cannot progress if we are complacent with the status quo or if we never rock the boat… And how boring would that be?

3. Makeup has never been made to fulfil a singular purpose.

Makeup is a medium like any other. It can be used to turn people into monsters, to porcelain dolls, to caricatures or to a version of ourselves that we feel projects our inner selves. We have prosthetics and special effects makeup that we use for costumes and film, we have makeup designed specifically to hide roseacea, acne or scars. We have makeup to imitate or to hide tattoos, injuries or different shapes and textures on our bodies. It is a field that should be played with and embraced if you want to and left alone if you choose to. There is no law stating that we need to use it in a particular way except any instructions made by manufacturers for safety reasons (ie. Not tested for use with eyes). Don’t rob people of their artistic freedom.

4. How other people choose to present themselves is none of your business unless they make it your business.

Repeat it. 

And again.

Keep repeating this.
If someone wishes to learn, give them the gift of your knowledge or skills. If they don’t want your advice, it’s not yours to give.
5. A makeup artist will always find flaw with your own makeup, no matter how great you think it looks.

If it would hurt you to have a professional cut down the precious time and money you’ve spent on your own face (which we can do in an objective way), don’t do it to others. Don’t be a jerk, it hurts people’s feelings. You don’t get a gold star for getting the kylie Jenner look down quicker than the people around you. For every judgement you make about how someone looks “bad”, someone somewhere is judging you for being mean spirited and vapid.

6. Fashion changes.

Like most things in life, fashion is in a constant state of flux. The things that people covet now will not be relevant in fie years, let alone later in your life. Work towards feeling good about yourself now and being a decent human being, this is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life when the current look you’re aiming for has been irrelevant for a long time, possibly forgotten entirely.

So please, can we try to do no more of this:  

 
And more praise for each other in general. It’s makeup. It washes off. We will all look back at this current trend with a sense of nostalgia and embarrassment, just like every other era.

What’s in my bathroom

So today for something a little different, I’m going to tell you all the products I use on a regular basis. I don’t like shameless plugs for particular brands, but I also use a variety of products for my skin, hair and makeup that vary depending on season, the condition of my hair/skin and depending on where I’m working at the time.

I think there’s a real problem that people have with product loyalty. There are so many fantastic brands out there, but each usually has one or two strong points. It’s always better to experiment and find a variety of things that work for you. Ask any makeup artist (when they’re not behind a counter and forced to promote the brand they work for), and they’ll rattle off a list of several brands and products that work for them.

Hair care

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At the moment, I’m big on using Redken products. My hair has taken a beating this year due to a lot of bleaching and colouring, so I’m alternating between the diamond oil range and the extreme shampoo and conditioner (for added protein). I find that Joico’s KPAK range can be quite drying, but a lot of people swear by it.

Post bleach, I always follow with a hayashi “emergency 911” protein treatment, which I mix with a few drops of Argan oil. It’s a godsend for damaged hair.
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My favourite toning shampoo is by NAK, it contains Argan oil and it’s quite nourishing and I buy it in a big pack with a toning leave in conditioner.

When my hair is a vibrant colour, I like to use Shiseido “Tsubaki Shining” products as coloured hair can be quite dull and lustreless.

I love Argan oil to add shine and softness post styling and I also do DIY coconut oil treatments once every month when my hair is especially dry, frizzy or damaged. It works wonders and it’s cheaper than any store bought treatment.

Skin
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I keep alternating between the Clinique 3 step and the Kiehl’s non detergent foaming cleanser followed by a Mario badescu oil free moisturiser in the summer or if it’s especially humid.

Although my skin is quite dry, I’m probe to breakout due to sensitivity so I avoid fragranced skincare or any moisturisers with an SPF.

Occasionally, I’ll use a few drops of Estée Lauder advanced night repair serum before bed in the cooler months or if I’ve dried out my skin by going to the beach. I rarely have any at home, so it’s really up to when Estée Lauder are giving out samples (ha!)

Makeup

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I always use a primer before my foundation. My favourites are the Smashbox photo finish primer (the colour correcting one), primed and poreless or a cheap face of Australia primer that I pick up at Priceline… It’s surprisingly moisturising to the skin and gives a great finish to the fuller coverage foundations.

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My current favourite foundation is Illamasqua Skinbase. Perfect medium coverage, a nice flawless finish and perfect for autumn and spring when you need a balance in products.

In the winter months, I gravitate towards MAC studiofix, which I blend with the Napoleon Perdis “beauty boosting balm” to get a nice dewy finish. They work so well together that it’s actually ridiculous.

On nights out, I wear studiofix alone for the fuller coverage.

In the summer, I wear Clinique super balanced foundation or their anti blemish solutions foundation as they’re nice and light and don’t make my face feel disgusting when I get sweaty.

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My good friend Holly gave me the “by terry hyaluronic blush” for my birthday last year (in blushberry, a nice cool pink) and I adore this product. It’s really blendable, highly pigmented (a little goes a LONG way) and has an amazing finish.

I also love the Illamasqua cream blush in “rude” and MAC blush in “peaches” and “pink moon”.

I use a Kryolan concealer wheel, illamasqua gleam in “aurora” or MAC “soft and gentle” as a highlighter (depending on how dark my skin is at the time).

I set my base with Kryolan translucent powder, as I do with all my clients.

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My favourite lipsticks are the NARS semi mattes and Napoleon Perdis matte-tastic lipsticks (above). I only use Napoleon, MAC, Kryolan or rimmel lip pencils.

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For eyeshadows, I stick mainly to Kryolan and Inglot because of the great colour payoff, affordable price tag and the convenience of the large palettes. I also but individual shadows from MAC and a few other brands if it’s an especially interesting colour.

I almost exclusively use gel liner and usually go between Napoleon Perdis or Kryolan because they’re quite soft and easy to apply and blend and also quite affordable. I like Napoleon, MAC and Stila kohl pencils as they’re the perfect consistency and don’t end up all over your face if it’s hot outside.

As far as brows go, I alternate between Bobbi Brown pencils and the smashbox brow crayons (they come with a clear gel and it’s AWESOME). For a more graphic brow or when my hair is dark, I’ll use a dark brown shadow with an angle brush.

Fragrance

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I only wear four fragrances: Estée Lauder “beyond paradise” (above) and Marc Jacobs “Lola” in the summer; Thierry Mugler “angel” and Jean Paul Gaultier “classique” in the winter.

So thats it. A boring list of what a pro makeup artist uses on a daily basis to look, feel and smell nice.

What are your favourite makeup/skincare/hair products? What do you think I should add to my routine?

4 Popular Makeup Hangups You Need to Get Rid Of

As I continue to reiterate in my posts, I have a real distaste for misinformation being provided to people about beauty, makeup and skincare. Most magazines and blogs seem to spurt the same few tips, ideas and how-to guides every few months… the problem with this is that some of the advice that is given to the public is not necessarily true (or at least not to everyone) and the makeup wearing public become afraid of using techniques that might actually be helpful for the look they’re trying to achieve or may be more flattering to them than the path most trodden.

I think it’s important to break down these tips that people follow that are actually doing them a disservice, so here are a few of the “pearldrops of wisdom” that my clients swear by, and are surprised by how great they look by breaking these rules.

1. You can only focus on eye makeup or lips, not both.

This is the number one most common “rule” that I keep hearing from customers and clients.

“Oh no, I can’t wear bright lipstick and have a smokey eye- I’ll look like a drag queen” is pretty much word for word what I hear. Here’s a quick newsflash for you: yes, you can. 

You can wear a shade of lipstick that isn’t a “nude” shade with smudgey eyeliner and glamorous dark eye makeup. You can wear red lipstick with a black smokey eye. You can add more liner and some false lashes with a deep plum lip. This concept that it’s somehow “balancing” to only have one focal point is nonsense. If you really like dark mysterious eyes and nude lips, that’s awesome. If you really like bold pop lips and nothing but mascara on the eyes, that’s fine too. If you wish you could wear both, stop wishing and do it. Who doesn’t want their whole face to look great, not just one feature??

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From my own portfolio. Model: Erica Rose.

See in the above photo how the girl pictured doesn’t look like a drag queen? Notice how she still looks glamorous and not like she’s been shot in the face with Homer Simpson’s infamous makeup gun? It’s about balance. Not the balance that the beauty editor in some teen magazine told you about to sell magazines and perpetuate myths, actual balance.

If you want to have intense eyes and intense lips, you need to match the intensity between both. Choose colours that work well together instead of clashing- blue eyeshadow and coral lipstick looks garish and definitely over the top, but a brown/black smokey and a deep shade of plum or red does not. The reason being that you’ve picked a colour scheme for the whole face, nothing clashes, nothing tries to compete.

Here’s how you can pull this off:
– Pick eye and lip colours together and see that they complement eachother
– When applying your makeup, take breaks and look at your face as a whole and not just the feature you’re applying makeup to
– You only look as stupid as you feel. If you want to clash colours and don’t give a damn, you’ll look great. People will compliment you on being able to pull off such a daring look. If you look embarrassed, people will point out ways you could have done better- rude and embarrassing.

2. Brows need to be pencilled in darker or completely re-shaped to look good

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Look at this picture of Miranda Kerr and hang your head in shame.

In fact, look at any runway beauty shots. Unless you stumble upon the Chanel statement brows from the last few seasons or an especially colourful collection by Galliano, most models, actresses, etc keep their brows looking pretty natural. They’re not pencilled in darker than they usually are, they’re not shaped to be perfect Marilyn Monroe shaped brows, they keep them the way they are.

Celebrities are meant to look like themselves, having an interesting mole on your face or straight brows instead of curved ones adds to their appeal. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you. Filling in lightly with a shadow the same colour as your actual eyebrows will show off your natural shape and keep brows from looking sparse or unruly.

Here’s how to live without a brow pencil:
 Fill them in with an angle brush and eyeshadow
– If you absolutely must use a pencil, pick one shade lighter than you think you’ll need
– Small, light-handed strokes will prevent you from looking like Malibu Barbie
– They’re seriously just eyebrows. They are literally pieces of hair that grow on your head, considering how much hair women actually remove from their bodies, it seems ridiculous to rave about 2 small patches of hair that sit above our eyes.

3. People with smaller lips should wear nude lipgloss (and not dark lipstick)

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Notice how Dita Von Teese doesn’t have lips like a cod fish? She wears red lipstick every day without over drawing them to oblivion. Again, part of this comes under the “you only look as stupid as you feel” speech I made earlier, but realistically, if you’re filling in your lips correctly and lining them correctly, your lips will look no larger or smaller than they normally do.

I personally have tiny little lips like a cat’s bum. However, I over draw my lips just slightly. With a nude lip, it’s hard to actually see the genius correcting I do on my lip shape to give them a more Marilyn like appeal, but the second I’ve got a nice red, a deep plum or even black and the liner contrasts obviously against my face, my lips look huuuuuge in comparison to how they normally look. A lot of clients literally assume that I just have perfect lips (which I don’t)

Here’s how to wear whatever damn shade of lipstick you want:
 Find the colour that you want
– Fill in lips with liner to keep a cleaner colour and a longer lasting result
– Apply lipstick with your preferred method.
– Check your teeth a thousand times with a touch of paranoia
– With the same lip pencil you used earlier, draw in the shape of your lip line. Do this with your mouth closed once you’ve finished that precarious spot on the sides of your mouth where one wrong move means a clown face. The reason you should do this with your mouth closed is that you’ll get a more natural result and it’s easier to see if your lip shape is even on both sides. Symmetrical lips look fuller.

4. False eyelashes are for strippers and drag queens and look totally fake.

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Katy Perry in her recent Eyelure ads

Katy Perry is pretty rad looking, so I can understand your confusion here, but bear with me. She wears out there outfits, not out there makeup. Her makeup is surprisingly demure for someone who shoots whipped cream from her boobs on stage. False eyelashes, when chosen and applied properly, will not instantly make you look like an extra from a B-grade porno. They won’t transform you into RuPaul if you weren’t already wearing drag makeup. They will, however, open up the eye a lot and make you look awake and alluring and super feminine.

Here’s how to overcome your fear of glueing foreign objects dangerously close to your eyes:
– Pick the right kind of lashes for the occasion. If you find strip lashes easier (most people do) then find some which have the hairs spaced out instead of compacted very tightly.
– Pick lashes which are not all completely the same length. These always look fake.
– Lashes which are soft and moveable will always look more fluttery and siren-like than rock hard, too-shiney ones cut into bizarre geometric shapes. These are the cheap party wigs of the false eyelash world- great for costume parties but not for convincing anyone that you’re just actually a complete fox.
– Go with your bad self and wear whatever the hell you want on your face.

Styling short hair

I’m one of those people who never stops playing with their hair. I grow it out, get extensions or cut it super short without much thought as to why I feel a need to change it constantly.

Short hair is great and definitely not boyish when it’s cut well. It defines your jawline and lifts the cheekbones, plus it’s easy to still have a fringe to hide wonky hairlines or larger foreheads.

A lot of people are under the impression that short hair is low maintenance and easy to style, this is simply not the case. Anyone who copied Victoria beckham’s bob before will know what I’m talking about. It grows out quickly, meaning it’s easy to look messy, plus unlike longer hair which can be tied up off the face, it’s always hard to think of ways to style it. I’ve complied a guide of easy styles for my fellow short-haired women who are stuck for ideas.

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1. Straight and textured
This is a fairly simple one. After washing hair, blow dry straight with a comb (pixie cuts), or a paddle brush (heading nearer bob territory). Straighten out any kinks or fluffy parts with your favourite hot iron and smooth through some serum or Argan oil to add shine.

Next, apply a pea sized amount of hard wax or styling putty to your fingertips. Rub your fingertips together to spread product to both hands and warm it up. Then run fingers through the ends and mid lengths of your hair to make the ends nice and piecey. If you want a messier edge, mess up your hair, literally scrunching and rubbing it in any direction you see fit. You’ve used too much product if you can see the product in your hair (it will look dirty, oily or hard) or your hair feels sticky.

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2. Quiff

Like the above style, your hair will need to be relatively straight to work. Depending on your hair’s natural texture, you will need to either blow dry or straighten the hair.

These styles work better on slightly dirty hair, so leave this for day old hair.

Using pomade or styling putty, palm through hair and then flip hair forward, back comb the section of hair from the middle of the front of your hairline using a teasing comb or tail comb if you’re desperate. Then, brush hair backward again, being sure to smooth the front of any visible teasing unless you’re after a more punk rock look. Set with a tiny amount of pomade/wax/putty/hairspray and smooth over.

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3. bouncy vintage hair

This style is easy to achieve for growing our bobs or shoulder length hair. The less layering you have in your hair, the easier it will be to achieve.

First, blow wave your hair with a round brush. After blow drying each section, roll it into a Velcro roller (smallest at mid and bottom layers nearest face, small-medium at bottom layers, medium in middle layer, large at the top layers and crown). With your fringe/bangs, roll the hair backwards in the roller, towards your crown, for the vintage look.

Lightly spray the lot with hairspray. Once it’s cooled completely, gently roll (don’t pull or drag through the hair!!!) out the rollers. Run your hands through the curls to gently smooth and separate and mist with more hairspray. For a super 50s-60s style look, back comb the fringe and crown for extra height.

Alternatively, curl hair with tongs and brush out or use hot rollers. Too easy.

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4. rockstar style

For a totally cool rock and roll look loved by Kate moss, debbie Harry (pictured) and pretty much every English “it-girl”, rough dry hair using your fingers to comb it relatively straight. Push the hair forwards slightly as you blow dry it to achieve semi straightness. Next (and this depends on length), add a texturising powder to the roots and scrunch hairspray through the mid lengths or simply scrunch in soft to medium wax through the hair. It will stop looking so crazy after about ten minutes and sit in a more straight style with a defined, messy edge to it. If you have ridiculously thick hair like I do, it’s better to blow dry with a paddle brush instead of your fingers before following the other steps.