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…

Wedding make-up (when you’re a guest)

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This post is coming a little later than I planned but I’m sure so many people still have weddings to go to this year – I know I am four down with two more to go!

Similarly to bridal make-up, when you’re a guest at a wedding you want to choose products with longevity. You might not be suffering from nervous sweats like the bride but you’re still potentially spending the day in the sun, and you’ll definitely be eating and drinking.

Most likely, this also isn’t a time to go for something that is a big departure from what you usually wear. You want to enjoy the day feeling confident and relaxed and not worry that your Nicki Minaj eyelashes have come unstuck or that you have just left a two-tone lipstick mark on the mother of the bride’s cheek.

That said, there’s nothing stopping you from upping the ante a little – it’s a special occasion after all!

If you usually go for muted tones on your eyes, you could try a pop of copper which flatters all eye colours. Mac’s Woodwinked is perfect. Blend it in all over the eyelid and into the socket – the sheeny texture magically stays bright over the lid while defining the socket so there’s no need to add something darker.

For base, try adding a little moisturiser to your foundation of choice to avoid looking too cakey in the sun. Use concealer to cover any imperfections. If you’re in the market for a new base I love YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat and Garnier BB Miracle Skin Perfector Oil Free.

For lips you want to choose something that isn’t going to need touching up every five minutes. You could either go for a natural nude-y gloss (I wear Barry M Lip Gloss in 11 Coral almost every day) or there are lots of lipstick/balm/gloss/stain formulations around at the moment that are very easy to wear. Try YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain Lip in number 15 or Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Rendevous – both shades look fantastic with Woodwinked.

Here are a few make-up tutorials that I think work really well for a wedding guest look:

Tanya Burr’s Victoria’s Secret model make-up tutorial: Miranda Kerr (I appreciate a Victoria’s Secret model look might be a surprising choice but the make-up is so pretty and actually totally appropriate!)

Nic of Pixiwoo’s own wedding day make-up tutorial (Although a bridal look, works perfectly for a guest too).

Wedding/special occasion look by Lisa Eldridge (I’ve said before how totally, incredibly wonderful I think Lisa is – this is another beautiful look from her).

A nude, a dark and a bright lipstick

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photo (5) copy 4

Instead of sharing a video I thought I’d tell you about two lipsticks that I come back to all the time and a new one that I think will join the others as a firm favourite.

The first, which I have been using for years, is DIOR Sérum De Rouge Luminous Color in Nude Serum 510.

This is so, so lovely. It makes my lips look like I almost have nothing on them, but they look like a perfect version of themselves. It also feels more like I have applied a lip balm rather than a lipstick. Dior claim that it’s anti-ageing, lip plumping and smoothing and generally very good for your lips. I’m sold. Even at £26 know I’ll repurchase time and time again.

The dark lipstick I’ve been wearing recently is Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry 477.

This is quite a big departure for me because I think that my lips are slightly on the thin side and so usually steer clear of anything that is going to emphasise this. However, I saw a make-up look using it in the December 2012 issue of Elle Magazine (page 266) and was convinced to try it. I love the look they have done (and subsequently also bought Red Lacquer which was used too) but also love wearing this patted onto lips to achieve more of a stain, which I think suits less full lips better. Lisa Eldridge has done a brilliant video on wearing dark lipstick using this technique. Having watched it I really want YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in 08 Belle de Rose too.

The lipstick that I know really lifts and brightens my face is Rimmel Colour Show Off Lipstick in Kiss Me which, on writing this post, I have discovered is discontinued! Terrible news! I almost didn’t continue to write about it but I love it so much I really feel I have to, perhaps you can find it on Amazon or Ebay… I can’t find it but if you do please leave a comment with the link!

The reason I love it so much is the colour, it seems to really suit my olive complexion and make my eyes brighter, even without any eye make-up. One of my favourite looks with this lipstick is loads of mascara and not much else (except eyebrows, always eyebrows). It can get a little drying if I’m reapplying it through the day but I just add a little balm to counteract this.

Those are three favourites among about 30 others, I might do another post on favourite red lipsticks soon too!




Wish list August 2012

Products I’m coveting right now:

YSL Volupte Sheer Candy 4 – I want to try this out, I have a feeling that I might find it a bit too sheer.

Clinique Chubby Sticks – I’m not sure what shade(s) I want… Here is an incredibly useful post about them from Zozo of The London Lipgloss

Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturiser – I got this for Christmas last year and have since finished the bottle. I haven’t bought it again yet because it’s rather expensive, but I love it so will repurchase when I’ve saved up.

Dior Amber Diamond highlighter – This has been on my wish list ever since I saw this video from Tanya Burr when she did Made in Chelsea’s Millie Mackintosh’s make up – watch the video and you’ll want it too.

Dior Show Iconic mascara – Hands down the best mascara I have ever used, it is amazing. Having said that I should also mention that my friend, Nell, bought this after I had been waxing lyrical about it and was so disappointed with it that she gave it away. But, for me, it is the best for beautifully big and curl eyelashes. My current one is drying out so this is a definitely repurchase.

Dior Rouge Serum in 510 – Another repurchase; this is a really beautiful nude that makes lips look like the best version of themselves. Dior also say it is a ‘treatment’ product, plumping and smoothing lips – got to love that. I’d quite like it in a brighter colour too – I bought the raspberry shade (760) and try as I might I’ve had to finally admit that it just does nothing for me. Something about it is too grown up but a bright pink I think would be lovely.

Tom Ford Santal Blush Eau de Parfum – I don’t actually know if I want this or not yet – I haven’t smelt it! But I do want to after watching A Model Recommends’ fragrance video. Part of me hopes I don’t like it – so expensive!

Aqua Di Parma Fico Di Amalfi – Oh my goodness I want this. Discovered, again, through Ruth Crilly of A Model Recommends – thank you Ruth!

Mac eyeshadows – in Mulch, Charcoal Brown, Wedge, Cranberry, and for brows, Brun, Mystery, Concrete and Coquette. All recommendations from Tanya Burr of Pixi2woo and Sam Chapman of Pixiwoo.

Diane Von Furstenberg Diane Eau de Parfum – Another I’m yet to smell but I’ve heard good things.

Mac lipstick in Ruby Woo – A classic red and Rihanna wears it.

A tinted moisturiser – For which I will look to A Model Recommends for, er, recommendations.

A foundation from By Terry – Not sure which one will be best for me yet but as these are by the lady who create YSL’s Touche Eclat I’m excited.

Suquu Eyebrow Liquid Pen – Recommended by Lisa Eldridge so you know it’s good.

Nars blush in Exhibit A and Sin – Exhibit A looks completely outrageous in the pan but used carefully it gives a beautiful and natural flush – it was recommended to me by wedding make-up artist. Sin is recommended by Tanya Burr (through Fleur de Force).

Nars bronzer in Laguna – I’ve heard so many good things about this and it’s believable shade.

Nars Velvet Matt Lip Pencil – I had forgotten about these until I just came across them on the Nars website when I was getting the links for the products above. A friend used this on a night out and it was gorgeous and lasted all night. I think she had the shade Never Say Never.

De-potting MAC eyeshadows

I’ve been having a bit of a Mac eyeshadow love-in recently. I’ve got a whole list of shades that I’m coveting and I’m slowly working my way through it.

This week I bought Nylon, Black Tied, Quarry and Patina – all recommendations from Tanya Burr – and I love them. At the airport, on my way to my summer holiday recently, (airport make-up shopping is genuinely one of my favourite parts of going abroad) I treated myself to Sable, Satin Taupe, Omega and Coppering and have been loving trying them all out. Unfortunately, at the airport they didn’t have the shadows in pan form, so I had to get them all in their single pots. As I wanted to add them to a palette, this led me to trying to find out if it’s possible to remove the pans from the pots.

I asked in-store this week and was advised to have a look on YouTube (oh how I love thee!). These are the two most useful I have found – one with heat and one without.

A handy side-bonus of this is that I learned about the Back to Mac Program – if you take six empty Mac containers back to a store, you are entitled to a free lipstick of your choice – how amazing?!

The story of my brows – part two

It was after the wedding that I really discovered beauty blogs and videos. I can’t actually remember how I stumbled upon it, but Primped was one of the first I encountered. It was there that I discovered Zoe Foster who, as you know, is now one of my favourite beauty bloggers. It was her post; Your Eyebrows Are Making You Ugly, that made me really see the light. There was also this post written by Lien Davies, who I now consider to be the ultimate Queen of Eyebrows.

After reading this I decided to leave my brows alone once again, but properly this time. I gave myself a goal of one month and put down those tweezers. It was agonising. It was also kind of fascinating, I hadn’t seen anything like what my natural brows were like for years and when hairs started growing as low down as my eye socket I remembered how I had got into this mess. My natural brows really are huge. Unfortunately though, not everything grew back. The re-growth was patchy and a lot of the hair follicles were damaged from so many years of having the hair ripped out, meaning the new hairs grew out at odd angles. Not a pretty sight.

I persevered, stuck to my one-month goal and, as I couldn’t see Lien (she lives in Sydney), booked myself an appointment for brow shaping at Selfridges in London. I’d had individual lashes applied there before the wedding and really rated the salon and service and, from what they had written on their website, they seemed like they would completely understand what I needed for my brows. I explained to the therapist that I had been growing them back because I had been plucking them too thinly for years and that now I was ready for a bit of shape to be put back in.

The therapist didn’t do a bad job; it’s just that it wasn’t a great job either. She left the front of my brows (nearest my eyes) completely alone because I had more growing back to do there, and just tidied up the ends. This was fine, except it didn’t really tell me anything about the shape I should be aiming for. I just didn’t feel that the service gave me any real advice about what I should be doing or drawing back in. Also, my brows were shaped while I was lying down and the therapist was looking down on my brows from behind me (and so upside-down) which, if you read Lien’s post, you’ll know is a big no-no. When you lie down gravity pulls everything in a different way to how it does when you are upright, so it’s really not an effective way to see what brow is going to suit a face shape best.

So I left there looking less like the hairy goblin that I had when I walked in, but definitely not with an ideal, or particularly flattering, brow shape.

In her post, Lien demonstrated how her virtual brow shaping had helped an over-plucked lady who lived overseas. I decided to get in touch.

Incredibly, Lien called me just a few hours after I sent her a message! It was Sunday night in the UK but Monday morning her time in Sydney. She was absolutely lovely on the phone and genuinely wanted to help. We chatted about my brow situation and Lien asked me to send photos so that she could then digitally draw in what my perfect shape should be. By this time, I had left my brows alone for a few weeks after visiting Selfridges, so in the photos Lien could see where some of the re-growth was. When, a couple of weeks later, her Virtual Brow Shaping email came through it was like Christmas!

Virtual brow shaping by Lien Davies of

Lien had written careful instructions on how my brows should look and I how I could achieve this. It took time and effort; I sat in front of the mirror with my crib sheet and tools and measured and filled in and plucked. It wasn’t easy to get the correct shape and, to be honest, I never really felt that I had got them  quite right. Also, after what was quite frankly a traumatic period of re-growth, I was reluctant to take too much off again. But with Lien’s guidance I persevered and managed to get my brows to a decent shape that was far more flattering than before.

This was November, and not long before Lien and I had spoken, my sister, who lives in Sydney, and I had been talking about planning a visit to go and see her. I want to stress at this point that my eyebrows were in no way part of the decision making process (I promise!), but it was a happy coincidence that by going to see my sister I could also book an appointment to see Lien!

For about a month before we went over to Australia I, once again, stopped doing anything to my brows so that Lien had as much to work with as possible. When the time came to go and visit her, they were in desperate need of attention and I absolutely couldn’t wait to finally have someone who really knew what they were talking about work their magic.

Visiting Lien was like seeing an old friend; I really cannot say enough just how amazingly lovely this lady is! She greeted me like we’d known each other for years, and when she popped me down on a stool in front of her I had complete confidence that I was going to emerge from there delighted with the results.

Lien is a total pro; she talked me through every step and took photos at each stage so that I had a reference for when I was doing it myself at home. As I wasn’t going to be able to see Lien on a regular basis, she really took time to show me everything she was doing and explain the method of filling in, then trimming, then finally, plucking. My husband had come along with me and Lien instructed him to pay attention and take notes so that he could help me later! Here are the photos from each stage:

Top right: My brows when I arrived at Lien’s
Top left: Filling in
Bottom left and right: The end result
Images by Lien Davies of

As we were going out to meet my sister and her friends after my appointment, Lien even touched up my make up – honestly, she is such a dream! When she handed me a mirror I could have cried with gratitude. My new brows made an unbelievable difference to my face. I felt fresher, prettier, younger and just groomed and lovely – it was a great moment!

Pleased-as-punch with my new brows with my sisters in Sydney.

That night, I couldn’t bear to take my new brows off; I was so worried about being able to recreate them myself.

From there, it has taken time and a lot of practise to get them right. Lien has continued to be nothing short of amazing and we’ve been emailing back and forth, me with photos of my handiwork and Lien with extra tips and advice to get them just right. I think I’m finally there now with filling in the right places, but I still get a little hesitant every time I come to trim and shape them myself. Ideally I’d like to teleport over to Lien each month, but in lieu of that, I think I’m doing a fairly good job!

How I do my brows after seeing Lien Davies. Sorry not a great quality photo!

Hugely excitingly, Lien has just finished an e-book that shares her brow wisdom and techniques, it will be available to purchase soon!

Update: Lien’s e-book can be purchased here.

The story of my brows – part one

I have always been obsessed with my eyebrows. I think this obsession developed when I was as young as nine or ten years old; I realised that they were huge in comparison to my friends’ and also, flicked up at the ends so that I looked like some sort of devil-child or Italian soprano! I can remember my mum coming to pick me up from a friend’s house and her mum making a comment about how the way my eyebrows flicked up at the ends was a real reflection of my personality. What? I didn’t understand that at the time and I’m not sure I do now either! But someone else noticing my crazy brows, and pointing them out, made me hate them even more. I developed a habit of constantly trying to flick the ends back down again.

Natural brows. Excuse the quality – you’ll appreciate that I don’t have the original! Witness the flicked up ends.

When I was about 11 my mum finally agreed to take me to have my brows professionally shaped. This was a really great thing. The lady took very little off but just made them look much more tidy. The idea was that I would then continue to keep them tidy myself. Big mistake. Huge. Eleven-year-olds should not be let loose with a pair of tweezers. I think I kept the new tidy eyebrows for a few months, and then when I came to do it myself, we were on holiday in Cornwall. The reason this is significant is because we were staying in a caravan and I shut myself in the little bedroom, which had very little light, and pluck-plucked away. You know the scenario – I did one side and then needed to even up the other side, then did too much there and have to do the other side again. I can remember emerging from that little room and my mum’s dismay at what I had done. From then onwards, and throughout my teens, I continued to obsess, tearing images out of magazines to copy, and settled on what I thought was the loveliest brow shape. In a bid to achieve higher arches I took too much away from the middle of my brows, giving them a rounded shape. They were also very thin.

Thin brows from my teenage years to mid-twenties.

My moment of realisation and subsequent eyebrow crisis then didn’t happen until very recently (my late 20s). About six months before my wedding day I decided to start trying to grow them back a little and go and see a professional. Of course, after about 16 years of abuse, the re-growth was sparse and patchy, plus I didn’t really leave them long enough to see any of their true shape coming back. When I went to see a professional, I opted for threading, something I hadn’t tried before. The lady had the best intentions, of course, but essentially just got rid of all that re-growth and shaped them back into the thin, rounded shape that they had been before! I got married with those brows, which, to be honest, is a shame.

It was a beautiful day and eyebrows were the last thing I was thinking about, but – here they are being thin and round.
Photo by the wonderful Sarah Bowerman.

This post is getting very long, so I’m going to stop here for now. Next time; the discovery of beauty blogs and, specifically, Zoe Foster and Lien Davies. You can read part two of my brow story here.

Some good eyebrows

Here is a collection of people with good eyebrows. Kind of for my own enjoyment – I’ll admit it, but if you have found your way here, you might be that way inclined too. Enjoy.

Image from Clarins

This is true natural beauty, isn’t it?

I know heavily airbrushed, photoshopped etc etc but still, stunning.

So much better with her eyebrows. Those arches, so high!

She is beautiful.

I’m going to stop with that image of JLo (taken from The Declaration of Beautypendence, which I have stumbled upon just now and am going to go back to and read this marvellous-looking post as soon as I’m finished). Back to Jen: It was this very pair of brows that I have spent most of my teenage and adult life trying to copy (those on the right, not the left). Aren’t they just darling? Actually, I’d have her whole face any day. Body too, obviously. I didn’t crop the image on the left because isn’t it just the perfect example of how important correctly-shaped eyebrows are? And a whole host of other things too, which you can read about in the Declaration of Beautypendence post above.

Just a few good brows, all kind of different actually, but that’s good – face shape dictates your perfect brow. For the record, mine is not JLo-shaped.

The power of brows

Ok, so I think a large majority of the world would agree with me when I say that Mila Kunis is a particularly beautiful example of the human race. However, LOOK, just look at her without eyebrows! I found this photo on a curious, and yet, ingenious, blog dedicated entirely to photos of celebrities without eyebrows. Go ahead and have a browse, it makes for captivating viewing.

My point is this: Your eyebrows a are vitally important part of your face; treat them with the reverence of two queens sitting atop your pretty baby blues.

By this I mean, please, PLEASE, do not over-pluck. I say this as someone who grew up in the early nineties with an enormous set of natural eyebrows. I hated them. Particularly because I have curly hair, and they flicked up at the ends. Can you imagine? It was ‘fashionable’ then to have narrow lines forming precision-perfect arches. My poor little ten-year-old self didn’t stand a chance.

Not long later, I discovered tweezers and locked myself in the bathroom. From then onwards, for about 17 years, I pluck-plucked away and I had a set of those narrow, precise lines that I had always wanted.

What I know now, that I wish so much I had known/ believed my mother about then, is that natural, (neat, yes, thick, probably) suits best. And fashion cannot dictate this. A neat version of your natural brows will MAKE YOU LOOK YOUNGER, it will make your eyes prettier, your face more balanced.

Zoe Foster illustrates this perfectly with a couple of images of Keira Knightly on

Later, I plan to share my own eyebrow story on here, complete with, gulp, pictures. I’ve made a mess, and now I’m learning how to clear it up.

Update: To achieve your perfect brow shape, get in touch: