Monday, 1 August 2016

Beauty Talk : Meet Anna

Beauty Talk gives you a peek inside the make-up bags of some of the most inspiring human beings I have the chance to cross path with. There is more to beauty than a couple of lipsticks and a pretty blush, it is a self-indulging ritual, a moment we take for ourselves to not only care for our bodies but also to feel confident that we are getting ready to enter the world as the best version of ourselves. Beauty means something different to each and everyone of us and I believe that we all have a compelling story to tell regarding our relationship to self-care. I hope you will enjoy reading those stories as much as I forever do hearing them. 

I met Anna many summers ago in my favorite place on earth, London. She is the definition of elegance, always beautifully dressed and composed, with that flawless, rosy complexion and those sharp enviable cheekbones that Russian women are known to possess. She's a bright and talented young woman that I'm lucky enough to call my friend. She kindly agreed to show me the content of her make-up bag and tell me her beauty story. She started wearing make-up when she was around 14 years old, "because of my older sister", she explains. "I like my make-up to look natural, to make me a better, brighter version of myself. I find make-up can also be a protection. I learned how to apply make-up from my Mum, who studied to be a make-up artist and shared her products with me. I was very playful with make-up back then and tried something new all the time!" If you were to take a peek inside Anna's everyday make-up bag, you'd probably find an army of lip balms and lipsticks "I have a range of lipsticks in my bag and I'm obsessed with lip balms!" I think we've all been guilty of collecting one too many lipstick in our bag - but women need options, right ladies? "I've recently started wearing bold lipsticks, which is very different for me as I used to only wear nudes. I'm having more fun with make-up now, I think it's a great way of expressing yourself. It definitely tells something about you and your personality." Anna's favourite lipsticks are from Tom Ford and Armani and some of her favorite nudes are Tom Ford Pussycat and Armani Maestro lip Maestro in 500 (pictured below). "The Armani formula is my favorite, it's easy to apply, lasts well and yet is moisturising." Although she does rock a red lip regularly now (and boy, does she do it well ! Evidence A and B) when asked about her favourite lipstick, she doesn't hesitate: "MAC Honey Love! It's my favorite nude colour. It is a matte nude with a hint of pink that stays on for a long time. It makes me feel playful and flirty and is definitely the lipstick that makes me feel the most comfortable." Some of her most cherished lip balms are the EOS balm in lemon, and the Fresh lip treatment in Ruby "I love the smell of that one, it also gives a beautiful hint of red and can be built up and worn as a stain."

Anna's make-up is always natural and I can tell you that  she never, ever looks overdone. "I like to use Bobbi Brown foundation stick as a concealer, mainly under my eyes and around my nose. It's amazing because you can't detect it on the skin and it lasts well. I simply apply it with my fingers." She then sets her complexion with her favourite product of the moment, Chanel Les Beiges powder. "I've always come back to Chanel powders although I've tried many. I love their scents and the fact that they never look cakey on." On her cheeks, she uses the cult Nars Multiple in Orgasm. "That one is particularly pretty in the summer, when you have a bit of a tan." Anna's cheekbones aren't my only obsession, she also has incredible brows and long, fluttery lashes that don't need much attention. "I tend to change my mascara a lot,  I sometimes purchase mascaras from a super cheap and amazing Russian brand, but right now I'm using an Yves Saint Laurent mascara in a Blueberry shade that was limited edition. I never use waterproof mascara nor do I curl my lashes and I don't use anything on my brows."

I've witnessed the changes in Anna's skin over the years to see it become gradually clearer and naturally brighter. "I've always had problematic skin, I have tried every product under the sun ! Two years ago I read about the brand Fresh on Into The Gloss and purchased their Soy cleanser in London. I've been using their products for a year and so far, so good! I'm definitely going to stick with it." We all know however, that good skin first and foremost comes from within and I was curious to know what were Anna's secrets to her glowy skin. "You definitely are what you eat, so when I cut out gluten and dairy it made a huge difference to my skin. I also use coconut oil for everything, as a body moisturizer, to cook but I also do oil pulling. It only takes fifteen minutes a day and it's a great way to detoxify your body and it also whitens your teeth."

Anna is also the person I go to if I want to discover and adopt a new luxurious scent. "I've always had a passion for perfumes, I've read a lot about them. One brand I love is Jo Malone. I bought my first one four years ago, which was White Jasmine and after that many others followed! Amber and Patchouli is probably my signature fragrance, although it is more appropriate for the evening. I love English Pear for Spring and Autumn. I think perfumes show your personality, they also physically create something about you. I love that they're different on everyone." 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Let It Glow

As much as I wholeheartedly enjoy browsing through Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration, I cannot for the life of me understand nor embrace the more-is-more fascination visible through the growing market of false lashes, the daily use of full coverage foundations and the ever so (in)famous Instagram-brow. As always, I encourage you all to do whatever makes you happy - but I can't help but share my thoughts on those sometimes overwhelming trends and my concerns as to whether they'll be an influence on the generations to come. At the far other side of the spectrum flourishes the effortlessly beautiful babes gang slowly but surely empowered by brands such as Glossier (for non-US peeps, let us all make a prayer and hope that the Generation G gems and the glorious Phase 1  will land on our longing territories soon) that support a more skin-focused and approachable, beauty routine that enhance the natural you and let those freckles pick through. Now, despite the inevitable gaps between the various trends and their different views on beauty, there's one common denominator that brings them all together; everyone loves a glow. Healthy-looking skin won't ever go out of style and though we all know by now that a happy skin and a happy body go hand in hand, a sprinkle of artificial glow carefully placed is one clever way to brighten any day - and face.

As strobing is all the rage right now, there are a plethora of highlighters available on the market. My personal collection is expanding at an alarming rate (what can I say, they're a beautiful addiction to have) but there is one product in particular I was itching to talk about; enters the seriously popular Filmstar Bronze and Glow from Queen Tilbury. I withstood the temptation of buying the shiny compact for a considerably long time after it launched, convinced that it would not flatter my skin tone nor suit my taste after repeatedly stopping by various counters. One day however,  I found myself at a conference (starring Lisa Eldridge and Sally Hughes no less) sitting next to a stunning lady with a jaw-droppingly beautiful highlight on her cheek bone. As she was kind enough to share her secret and had a complexion similar to mine, I went out an bought it the same day without further doubts. The packaging alone is a show-stopper and if you're into rose gold as much as half the female population seem to be, you'll make room for this gorgeous little number on your dressing table. The price tag isn't exactly friendly, but you do get what you pay for with this one, as you receive plenty of product to last you a good decade if you're careful and as it also comes with a decently sized mirror - which is always handy. Aside from looking gorgeous, it performs well, too. Almost all skin-tones are covered as the compact now comes in two shades, only the fairest women out there will find the highlighter too gold - for reference, I'm around an NC15 if we're talking MAC and I find it ever so slightly too dark, but it still works beautifully if blended with a blush (for my beloved Snow Whites out there I'd point you in the direction of the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance baked powder highlighter). The bronzer however, will work for everyone as it isn't too orange nor red, it does a brilliant job at warming up the complexion. There is a slight hint of shimmer running through it however, which is why it isn't my preferred option to contour (I don't find bronzer are a suitable contouring product anyway) but it will softly structure your face and most likely give you enough definition for a day-time look. All in all, I don't have any complaint to make regarding this shiny compact  and I if you were contemplating the purchase, I hope my review was helpful. 


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Falling for Tom Ford

I'm sure Mister Ford needs no introduction, but if you haven't heard of the man or the brand before (have you been living under a rock?) I highly suggest you watch this documentary - be prepared to fall in love. I remember first seeing the film in class, last summer in London, in a room packed with young women who, by the time Tom Ford had made his last appearance on the screen, all gasped and watched with loving eyes the prodigious King of fashion. I had been itching to make my first Ford purchase at a beauty counter for a long time - you bet that the second the class was over, I rushed out straight to Selfridges and took the plunge. Ever since that day, I have invested in Tom Ford products as often as my bank balance allows it and have yet to regret any of it. The lipstick you can spot here, is Black Dahlia, a dark burgundy vampy red that has my name written all over it. The packaging is as seductive as the man (that had to be said) the pigment doesn't disappoint and the finish is matte-ish although the formula isn't drying. Needless to say I adore it. The purpose of this post however, isn't so much to give a review of this particular lipstick, nor to urge you to add it to you collection. Is it mind-blowingly superior to any other lipstick ? No.  (Note: some products from the line genuinely are - but more about that in another post.) Should you really make the splurge? I guess not. Is it worth its hefty price tag ? Now, that's up to you. Yes, I am unconditionally admirative of the empire Tom Ford has built over the decades and yes, it did attract me to the counter that day of July and still does - but there's more to the story. People sometimes  find themselves struggling with their conscience when making a purchase, wondering whether they're buying a product for its inherent worth or for it's name. I'll be the first to say that some products are definitely not worth their hype and trusting blindly a brand's heritage isn't always the way to go. I also believe, however, that it's okay to invest in a brand you believe in, a brand that resonates with you for whatever personal reason. 

Don't let anyone tell you what to buy. This is your money, never forget that. With the overwhelming growth of social medias' influence it's easy to forget who's in charge and to simply bend to what Instagram tells you to buy. Every social platform is throwing at us hundreds of filtered and marketed posts every living minute we spend with our eyes riveted on a screen, so much that we tend to lose ground and get sucked into a spiral of conditioned shopping behavior.  Now don't get me wrong, I love social medias as much as the next person - in fact, probably more considering the hours that thumb of mine spends browsing down Instagram - but my point is that it's easier than you might think to fall down the rabbit hole and confuse your own personal choices and identity for the one offered on a silver platter online. Remember what you love, what matters to you. If that Bourgeois foundation is your gem and you wouldn't swap it for the world, not even for that Armani Luminous Silk everyone is raving about (ehm, guilty) don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And if you think that a Tom Ford lipstick is worth the investment solely because it will make you happy every single time you take a glimpse at it, then by all means, buy it. I believe that in the end, no matter the trends, what people might advertise here and there, nor even the quality of a product, some purchases must be  enabled by the heart (cringey, I know). God knows we're  now facing a never-ending landscape of beauty brands, so if you ever encounter one that you can relate you or that makes you feel something real , you shouldn't overlook it. We're only human, as much as we love to associate ourselves with tech-savy career-driven superhumans, it's alright to give in to our emotions and feelings sometimes - even if it is (only) toward a lipstick. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Travel-Friendly Makeup Bag

I'm an chronic overpacker. I'm a "what if", "I need options" and a "just in case" kind of woman and when it comes to packing, it can lead to some ridiculous dramas (aka the dreaded excess baggage charge. Not fun). I have come to learn that making a few concessions weren't that painful and that overthinking every step of the way was more a curse than a blessing. In other, less melodramatic words, I've learnt to pack - sort of. I'm forever packing too many dresses and an extra pair of shoes I never end up wearing - but I've learnt my lesson with make-up. I know I'm not the only woman in this situation (I'm afraid it might be in our genes, ladies) so I thought I would share my edition of the travel-friendly makeup bag for those of you who have a somewhat frightening amount of products to chose from. I am well aware there's about a billion of other possibilities, that our taste may differ and that your skin-type will be different from mine - by all mean, make it your own ! What I'm presenting here is just a couple of simple guidelines that, hopefully, will keep you from going too extremely overboard when packing your beauty arsenal.

To start with the base, if you own several foundations/base products I'd recommend picking the most versatile one. What I mean by that is pick a product that can be worn as a light layer for the day time and that can be build up for nighttime. I chose a foundation over a tinted moisturizer for that very reason, but obviously if you have fabulous skin, don't bother. The Chanel Perfection Lumière Velvet is one of my all time favourite because it's freaking easy to use - fingers, brush, sponge, it all works like a charm. It has a great lasting power and has a truly versatile coverage. Also note that the packaging is ideal to travel; no glass bottle allowed there I'm afraid (although you can always depot the product in a smaller container if you have to). I didn't pick a primer per say, but took my Body Shop highlighter which I like to use as a primer or mix with my foundation for an extra glow. It can also be applied after your base  as a highlighter. Gorgeous, gorgeous product - and a bargain! For concealer, it's a no brainer - Nars Radiant creamy concealer always wins in my book. Full coverage, easy to blend, doesn't budge. Sold.  Wherever you go, whether you wear foundation or not, a good concealer can get you out of almost any uncomfortable situation or terribly bad skin day (post-flight breakout anyone?). For blusher, I chose a Bobbi Brown pot rouge (in 20 Raspberry) because cream products are the easiest to apply on the go and can be applied both on cheeks and lips. No brush needed here, your fingers will do fine - just remember to apply the product before applying any powder.  Sticking with powder,  I find a compact is easier to travel with than a lose powder. I picked my trusty Hourglass Ambient Lighting powder. I find bronzer optional and don't usually pack one but if I had to, I'd go for the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow as you get a bronzer and a highlighter in one palette, which is always handy. For contour, nothing beats the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting powder which, conveniently enough, takes barely any room at all. Moving on to brows, a brow pen/pencil and a gel are a must. Your brow routine isn't the place to make sacrifices - plus pens aren't exactly heavy products anyway. I'm never without the Suqqu brow pen and at the moment I'm using the Anastasia setting gel. Moving on to eyes, a primer is generally a smart tool to have and the Nars' little number does an amazing job. Again, cream products are the easiest to use when short on time and brushes. I picked a Charlotte Tilbury cream shadow in Marie Antoinette which is a universally flattering bronzy shade. I also packed an Urban Decay basics palette which is a good all-rounder; it contains almost exclusively matte shades except for one, all neutrals with which you can create pretty much any look, from a simple brown eye in conjunction with the cream, or a full smoky eye for later hours. Also, because a girl need at least a few options, I packed Laura Mercier caviar stick in Amethyst - just in case of a craving for something more colourful. A liner doesn't take much room and can be used in more ways than, most likely, you'll get to experience during your stay - so pack one (I chose Tom Ford's metallic mink). I don't know anyone who doesn't use at least a bit of mascara ? Right? Charlotte Tilbury it is then ! I personally like to use curlers, but this isn't compulsory for everyone. Finally for lips, a lip balm and a nude lip liner will do the job on most days, although if like myself you like a bold lip for a night out, chose one, and only one bolder option. I went for Tom Ford Black Dahlia which you might want to consider if you're into deep red, vampy lips. Don't forget to pop your cheeks and lips product into your bag so if you feel tired and look washed out during the day, you can easily apply a hint of colour to your lips. An easy step that can make all the difference! For brushes, it all depends on your preferences but for eyes a MAC 217 alone will do the job. If you packed a contour powder, a brush is necessary. I also packed a foundation brush, but that's entirely up to you. A medium-sized brush is enough for powder and bronzer, no need to carry your big fat brush (for those of you who don't use a bronzer, you may want to pack a smaller brush, like I did with the Real Techniques Setting brush, which is great to use with your setting powder). 

Finally, remember that nothing is irreplaceable - at least when it comes to makeup. You can purchase any type of product almost anywhere in the world, so if the plane is about to take off when you can suddenly visualise your poorly left behind favorite foundation in its draw back at home, let it go girlfriend - you'll be just fine.