Getting ready in a hurry

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Got a last minute invitation to a swanky do? Or spent too much of Saturday on the sofa and now find yourself with only 15 minutes to get ready for your night out? Here are some tips for getting glam when you’re short of time.

  • Start with your base and smooth on with fingers – the heat from your hands will help it to blend seamlessly. A skin perfecting BB cream is perfect – it will multi-task as a moisturiser, primer and foundation in one. If you need a little more coverage use a long-lasting concealer on any blemishes. I love Garnier BB Skin Perfector (the oil free one).
  • If you have one, also dot a highlighting concealer (Clinique Airbrush Concealer is a great alternative to the iconic YSL Touche Eclat) under eyes in an upside down triangular shape and blend to hide dark circles. Smooth over the lids too for an even base for eye shadow.
  • Take an eye shadow in the same colour as your hair to define brows, using a flat, thin brush to stroke the colour on in the direction of hair growth.
  • Next, take an eye shadow in an eye-brightening champagne shade (like Bobbi Brown Champagne Quartz or, for a more smoky look, a muted dark colour like Mac eyeshadow in Smut) and pat onto lids with a brush, stopping before the crease and taking care to work it right up to your lash line. Taking a clean brush (I love a Mac 217 for this bit), blend the eye shadow up and out from the crease.
  • Now use a volumising and curling mascara, which will give you big, fluttery lashes and a wide-eyed look. My holy grail is Dior Show Iconic, however, I also had a brief but wonderful flirtation with a sample of Chanel’s Le Volume De Chanel recently and will be purchasing that as soon as my LVL Lashes treatment has run its course.
  • For a healthy glow that looks natural, use a blusher brush to apply bronzer (Nars Laguna has achieved iconic status for good reason) in two ‘3’ figures on each side of your face (starting in the centre of your forehead, brush down over temples, cheekbones, and across the jaw line).
  • To finish, take a cream blush and pat onto cheeks and lips. Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge in Blushed Rose makes everyone look about 10 times prettier! Then set everything with a light dusting of translucent powder.

Here are a few extra tips for success:

  • Using multi-tasking products, like a cream blush and lip colour, not only saves time but using the same shade ties your look together. Remember to pop in your handbag for touch ups.
  • Eye shadow pencils like Nars Soft Touch Shadow Pencil or Rimmel Scandal’Eyes Eyeshadow Stick are a foolproof way to create a smoky eye. Smudge onto lids using the flat side of the pencil and use the point to line your lashes. Then, take a fluffy brush like Mac’s 217 and blend up and out for a quick and simple smoky eye that will look like you spent much longer than just a few minutes perfecting.
  • Tidy, well-shaped brows will define and enhance your entire face allowing you to wear less make-up.
  • My favourite – dab highlighter in the inner corners of eyes; it instantly brightens and opens them up.

Your perfect brow shape

dolce eyebrows

These images aren’t just an excuse to get a bit of Dolce and Gabbana on the blog (although their ad campaigns do make my heart sing). The true purpose is to illustrate how, when it comes to brows, there is no one magic formula that is going to work for everyone or that can be called beautiful.

kate brows

The best brow shape is as individual as your nose or mouth – everyone has a unique ideal brow shape that will enhance and balance their features – and it usually is a neater, more defined version of what nature gave them.

jennifer lawrence brows

The key is this – don’t fight your natural brow shape, work with it. If you have straight brows, trying to achieve a high arch will leave you with rounded or very thin brows. If you have naturally slim brows, drawing on a heavy shape will over-power your features.

If you’ve been shaping your brows in a certain way for a long time, have a look at photos of yourself as a child and keep this in mind when reassessing your brow shape.

A few of my favourite things

brow favourite things

These are the products in my brow arsenal that I’m particularly enjoying at the moment:

Bobbi Brown eye shadow in Saddle
The powder itself is great quality and very pigmented but what really makes this a standout product is the shade. Saddle is a versatile brown/grey that’s perfect for a natural looking brow for brunettes and dark blondes.

Mac eye shadow in Omega
My go-to shade for blondes, this is a flattering dusty colour that gives just the right amount of definition.

Suqqu Eyebrow Liquid Pen in Moss Green
I discovered this via make-up artist to the stars Lisa Eldridge. I’m yet to come across a recommendation from Lisa that isn’t brilliant; this felt tip-like pen makes it easy to create natural hair strokes and stays put until you are ready to take it off (even then you’ll need to use a bit of effort). Don’t be put off by the Moss Green shade – this is excellent for brunettes.

Clarins eyebrow pencil in Dark Brown
The best texture and colour in a traditional pencil that I’ve found. Great for brunettes for filling in and blondes for individual hair strokes.

Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette
While this shade edges slightly into the reddish zone (red is bad, grey is good), I love the texture and thin nib so much I’m happy to overlook this. I need to try the shade Granite next.

Mac Eyebrows in Stud
Discovering new products is my favourite thing, but I have a long-standing love for Stud. Great dark grey/brown shade and a fine tip that is self-sharpening. One pen also lasts for ages.

For more from me on eyebrows, get in touch here.

Brow Boothe

Brow Boothe

I am so excited to announce the launch of my new eyebrow shaping service, Brow Boothe!

You might already be aware that I am into brows, especially if you have read this, this and this.

I have decided to put my passion for those two small patches of hair above our eyes to good use and help other people achieve the brows they were meant to have.

You can find out more about the Brow Boothe philosophy and the treatments available here. Please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!



It’s only recently that I’ve started getting excited about perfume. Up until less than two years ago I’d worn Vera Wang’s signature fragrance for most of my adult life, if I wore anything at all. It’s what I wore on my wedding day and when I smell it’s notes of lily and rose now it reminds me of the Christmas I received it, which was spent in Cornwall (a place that holds many dear memories itself). I had just started going out with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and it conjures memories of those giddy early days and standing on a hill trying to get signal on my phone so that I could speak to him. Later, we got engaged on the same beach in Cornwall; one whiff of Vera Wang takes me back to a whole collection of happy memories.

It’s the power a scent has to do this that draws me in and more recently I have become a little obsessed. It started when my husband’s mum gave me a huge box full of samples, which I poured through eagerly. This opened me up to a lot of brands I hadn’t heard of before, like Frederic Malle, Les Senteurs and Annick Goutal. Also in the box was the book Perfumes by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, which I read cover to cover, fascinated.

Around the same time I watched this video from A Model Recommends, which introduced me to Aqua Di Parma Fico Di Amalfi and Escentric Molecules Molecule 01.

From here, things got a bit out of control. I think this will work best as a list:

Aqua Di Parma Fico Di Amalfi
Just so delicious. It smells of summer. Of lemons, grapefruits and fig trees warmed by the sun. I’ve worn it on my last few summer holidays and, to me, it is pure sunshine.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01
The idea of this is that it’s the single note that is usually used in perfumes as a base note. It’s the ‘sexy’ part of a scent. It’s woody and musky and smells different on everyone. When I wear it on it’s own I do get lots of compliments but my favourite thing to do is to layer it with a fresher scent like:

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No1
A lovely everyday scent with bergamot, lavender and rose. With Molecule 01 it’s more intriguing and unusual, I love combining these two.

Diptyque Philosykos
Adore. I think of this as my grown up, special occasion perfume, but that may only be because of the price tag. It’s fruity (it packs a massive figgy punch), but also very mellow. I definitely prefer the eau de parfum over the eau de toilette. I love its creamy, green, almost coconut-y scent.

Shay and Blue Blood Oranges
Shay and Blue are quite a new boutique perfumery. Their mission is to uphold the traditional art of perfumery and they use real flowers, fruit and spices. Blood Oranges smells like they have squeezed the juice straight into the bottle. After a few hours it’s woodier and muskier. I love wearing it on summery evenings.

Clarins Eau Dynamisante
The original treatment fragrance, I love that this is as good for your skin as it smells. Straight after a shower, its zesty-ness is genuinely uplifting and it can be layered with most other perfumes too.

Clarins Eau des Jardins
Another treatment fragrance, I recently took this on a flight and put it on pulse points to freshen up before landing. It reminds me of a cologne but has notes of rose and blackcurrant too. It makes me want to breathe deeply.

Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay
I love this more and more every time I wear it. Perfect for a ramble through the countryside followed by a Sunday roast with plenty of red wine. Or a pub in South London, which is more likely.

Le Soft Perfume Rock
This is my current favourite. So much so that I’ve asked my sister to buy me more for my birthday. Le Soft Perfume is a range of solid perfumes with a shea or monoi butter base which are kind and nourishing to sensitive skin. But that’s not why I like this so much. Rock smells musky, leathery and a bit citrusy. It’s described as a bit ‘rock chic’ which could almost put me off if I didn’t love it so much. Either way, it’s just as delicious on my husband as it is on me and I can’t get enough of it!

Homemade Eau de Caravan
My mother-in-law made this and no one liked it except me. It reminds me of childhood holidays spent in a caravan (Cornwall again), hence the name we gave it. I’m not sure what the ingredients are but it’s a potent, dusty, warm, polish-y sort of smell. I don’t wear it but occasionally will have a comforting sniff from the bottle.

Homemade solid perfume
Another from my husband’s talented mum, this reminds me a little of the Liz Earle perfume, it’s fresh and flowery and a little bit soapy. Perfect for pottering-around-days.

Nailing it

renunail1Dr Lewinn’s Renunail Nail Strengthener is very, very good.

I started using it a couple of weeks ago because my nails were being a bit pathetic and soft. This stuff has transformed them into such strong and healthy-looking talons I feel I could unscrew nails (the other kind) with them.

Here’s a pic of them looking all glossy and pleased with themselves:


With two coats of Renunail.

You apply Renunail everyday over three weeks. It kind of feels like a plastic coating that reinforces and looks after nails for the duration of the treatment.

These are some yummy festive shades I’m looking forward to painting my new nails with:

L-R: No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour in Temptress, Leighton Denny Nail Colour in Provocative, 17 High Gloss Nail Polish in Sphinx

L-R: No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour in Temptress, Leighton Denny Nail Colour in Provocative, 17 High Gloss Nail Polish in Sphinx

Lipstick revelation

black cherry

A little while back I wrote about Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry as part of a favourites post. I mentioned that I liked to wear it as a stain but actually, this was the only way I thought I could wear it. As much as I longed to whack it on full density, every time I tried I ended up taking it back down to a sheerer colour because I just didn’t think it suited me any other way.

My fellow Beauty Stylist at BeautyMART, Diana, has since enlightened me and I’m not exaggerating when I say that, with a tip that now seems pretty obvious, she has revolutionised my lipstick wardrobe.

Di said, ‘Of course you can wear Black Cherry, you just need to do some sh*t-hot contouring!’ (I added in the expletive for effect, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Diana swear).  The crucial thing she also said was, ‘DON’T WEAR BLUSHER’.

I’m not kidding, since learning this tip I feel a whole new world has opened up to me. Another shade I adore but had resignedly put to the bottom of my make-up bag thinking it did my face no favours, is Revlon Colourburst Lipstick in Fuchsia. Now, since the contour-and-no-blusher rule came into my life I have been wearing it with aplomb. I’m truly delighted!
(N.B. Argh, has this been discontinued? Seems to be on the Revlon website but can’t find it available to buy…)

At the moment I’m enjoying wearing Black Cherry with a slick of either Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey or Face Stockholm Lipgloss in 46 over the top. Cosy, wintery,
red wine-y, log fire-y heaven.

Some clever ladies rocking their lipstick and contouring:

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Going natural with my hair

hair products

I’ve been taking a bit more care of my hair and scalp recently. It started when I asked my hairdresser (the wonderful Fabienne S in Richmond, South West London) what I could do about my itchy scalp. She recommended trying baby shampoo as the likely cause was that what I was currently using was too harsh.

Then, on the recent Channel 4 programme How Not To Get Old, a hairdresser said that we should all be avoiding products that contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS). His reasoning was that it is used to clean car engines. Having googled it I’ve found out that the stuff in our household products is a significantly weaker version, but still.

I’ve always gone for salon brands for my hair, usually Paul Mitchell, Redken and Kerastase and now that I’ve looked at the ingredients it turns out SLS is in all of these. Pretty annoying as they don’t come cheap!

I gave baby shampoo a go and I did like it, but it left my curly hair a little too fluffy. I’ve since moved on to The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Shampoo, which contains no silicones, sulphates, colour or parabens. I use it with my Redken conditioner (which doesn’t seem to have any of the nasties and either way I’ve got to use it up) and things seem to be looking up for both my hair and my scalp. My hair is super soft and also smooth (hardly ever happens) and my scalp definitely feels more comfortable. I need to give it a bit more use before I can say for sure but so far I’m very happy!

Another thing I’ve been doing is looking at ways to treat my hair and scalp from time to time. I found this post and as I already had coconut and tea tree oils in my cupboards I gave it a go. This is SUCH a nice treatment. I left it on for a couple of hours (normally I’d probably leave it on overnight but had started playing around with this in the morning this time), then washed my hair as usual and was left with soft and shiny locks and a happy scalp. The next time my hair needed a wash I tried the apple cider vinegar treatment, which smells pretty awful but does seem to do a good job of clearing product build up and leaves hair and scalp squeaky-clean.

I’m going to carry on with my natural(ish) shampoo and remedies and try not to get seduced by salon brands any longer – we’ll see how I get on with that…