Saturday, 28 February 2015

making a case for brown nail varnish

With a whole world of "pretty" colours to choose from, it does seem a bizarre idea to paint your nails what is probably regarded as the least appealing colour of all. (It is, after all, the colour of poo.) But to go along with my well documented brown lipstick obsession, I've recently been all about a murkier look on my fingertips. Brown nail varnish says "I have done my nails, but don't think I've spent lots of time thinking about my nails, because I've been thinking about very important things." I think brown makeup strikes a perfect balance between between scruffy and polished, combining elements of grunginess (after all, it is also the colour of dirt) and business (because it is the colour of leather, wood, etc.) Ok, enough about things which are brown, onto some nail colours.

 The Lilac-y Browns on my thumb and pointer are the most obviously appealing (and, probably not coincidentally,least brown) browns - a gateway-brown, if you will.These two look really nice, apply smoothly, last well and are generally great.
 The Dark Browns on my ring and little finger are also surprisingly aesthetically pleasing. I think they are a cooler take on the Chanel-Rogue-Noir type of look. The e.l.f. fellow is slightly warmer, while the Rimmel is almost a black-brown. Like black's slightly cooler but less successful little sister.
 Then there is the truly Ugly Brown on my middle finger (perhaps no coincidence, as it is somewhat of a middle finger to the concept of pretty nail varnish). It's a slightly greeny-mustardy bile-ish brown. But sometimes I love these really ugly colours, particularly when paired with something really conventionally "pretty" in contrast, like shiny pinky lipstick or a really girly dress or something. It is a challenging colour, but I've been wearing nail varnish for about 15 years, and I'm ready for a challenge. I have always wanted to be an overachiever. People probably told James Joyce Ulysses was stupid, just like they'll tell you you're nails look ugly. Don't worry, they just don't understand.

Friday, 27 February 2015

wear pink lipstick like a cool chick

Wearing pink lipstick can be a one way ticket to looking basic, which is pretty much my biggest fear. Pink mouths are a fundamentally girly look, as any cartoon will tell you: boy + eyelashes + pink lip = girl. Therefore, putting one on can suggest that you are trying to look more pretty, which is not the point of make-up at all! One way to determine that you are trying to look more interesting rather than more attractive (my modus operandi) is to pick a jarring, extreme type of pink colour.
Top to bottom: Maybelline Pink Pop, Wet 'n' Wild Pinkerbell, Bourjois Pink Pong.
My top three pinks are all extreme in different ways. Pink Pop is really the ultimate Nicki Minaj bubblegummy pink, cool in tone and erring on the pastel side. Pinkerbell is much warmer, hot corally-pink. Pink Pong is a darker, purplier take on hot pink, but still extremely fluorescent. (It is an extremely pleasing coincidence that all of these names start with "pink".)
Pink Punch - more like just been punched and completely dazed am I right?

 Lisa Eldrige said that a really "modern" way to wear a bright pink lipstick is to not wear too much other makeup. I approve because 1) Lisa said so, and 2) lazy. So some sort of light base and not very much mascara will be good for you. I like the Body Shop Tea Tree BB Cream because I feel it helps keep chacne at bay, and I used a pound shop mascara because crap mascara gives natural, subtle lashes. 
Pinkerbell and an aggressive gurn.
 To prove that you aren't trying to look girly and pretty, it's important to emphasise a not-coventially-feminine feature. I chose werewolf eyebrows, and combed them upwards with the Rimmel tinted brow gel. I also think wearing a really utilitarian, boring outfit pairs well with a bright pink lip. All black, or other dark neutrals (grey, navy, etc.), and nothing too floucy or loud. Let your mouth do the talking (literally and figuratively).
Pink Pong and gurn 2: the remix
 I got my fringe out of my face using a plastic tortoiseshell hairband from the supermarket. I think fringes have a tendency to make you look like a little girl (not least because when I was a little girl I had this very haircut), so when paired with a bright pink lip, that needed to go. I like the new-girl-in-the-office-in-the-80s vibes it gives, because the seriousness contrasts nicely with an essentially stupid lipstick.
 Wearing bright pink lipstick is really fun, and one of the things which make me glad not to be a boy (ignoring the pay gap, catcalling, etc.). (Not that I think boys can't wear lipstick, in fact I'm all for it.) But to wear it in a cool way, it is important to focus on contrasting it with the rest of your "look". So, because pink lipstick suggests heavy makeup, wear light makeup instead. Because pink lipstick suggests girliness, emphasize an unfeminine feature. And because pink lipstick is lighthearted and silly, wear serious clothes and hair. Wear pink lipstick like you've never heard of pink lipstick before, and with a total lack of regard for the conventions and connotations of it. If you wear pink lipstick like the kind of girl who hates pink and hates lipstick, you will definitely look great.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

cool looking lady writers

I'm sure all of y'all are aware of that famous Joan Didion for Celine pic which was probably the most universally loved thing the internet has ever seen. I am firmly on the bandwagon and also think it was the business.
An OBB (Original Bad Bitch)
Huge sunglasses, huge necklace, boring black sweater, coral lip, I am seriously about this. But it got me thinking about more, less "mainstream" pics of some of my favourite female writers who have aesthetic vibes which I dig.
Joan was ALWAYS a cool chick, even before the Celine stamp of approval. Girl knows how to work an oversized sack dress in a way I seriously admire. I'm also all into the bare faced, simple haired look. 
Another strong look of Joan's (we're on first name terms) is the oversized plain coloured jumper. On the left she pairs it expertly with a simple necklace and more ubiquitous big black shades, and on the right I think I can spy some 90s-revival white trainers. A trendsetter of the highest order. And her writing is obviously really cool, unusual, sad, clever and all around inspiring.
Read: Play it as it Lays, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, The Year of Magical Thinking.
Wear: No makeup, shapeless dresses and jumpers, big sunglasses, simple hair.

Another of my favourite lady writers is the surrealist Leonora Carrington. From youth to old ladiness she had an ethereal, other-worldy beauty. Pile up your hair on top of your head, put on some sort of cape, define some inquisitive eyebrows and light up a cigarette (pls don't do the last one based on my advice).
Leonora Carrington is seriously so cool. She's most famous as a painter but I am massively into her writing, too. She has some really cool ideas about how being a woman is magical, subversive and amazing. Left, she rocks an incredibly trendy crochet top, and right perfectly pairs a boxy cable knit jumper with small hoop earrings and a cat. 
Read: The Hearing Trumpet, Down Below.
Wear: Messy "up-dos", baggy collars, lots of white, bushy eyebrows.

What is really interesting about Sylvia Plath's vibes are the enormous contrast between how she looked and how she "really" was - if we are going by her writings. Plath always dressed like the cleanest-cuttest, least subversive, most "together" girl in the room. Pearl earrings, pearl buttons, alice bands and collars all lend themselves to a timeless, "girly" look.
Light, bright colours pair well with each other, and a toothy grin is accentuated by a smudgy red lip. I don't really need to tell you that Sylvia Plath is a seriously good writer. Her poetic imagery is some of my absolute favourite.
Read: The Bell Jar, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, Ariel. (Also, The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm is a really interesting read.)
Wear: Neat curls, pastel colours, hairbands, subtle red lipstick.

Donna Tartt is everything I want to be once I finally escape the siren call of really long hair and stupid coloured lipstick. She seems to perfectly balance the look of a corporate business HBIC with a somewhat spookier, witchy, Wednesday-Addams-grown-up vibe. It's the contrast between the formal blazer / "sensible" haircut and the Victoriana flouncy shirt / mystical looking rings.
Here are some pix of Donna Tartt as a younger, but equally cool, woman. She knows how to to pair the world's subtlest feline eyeliner with a barely-there orangey lipstick. Her brows are small but perfectly formed, suggesting she has just said something extremely interesting and is waiting for you to argue with her. And can we talk about those leopard print gloves? I want them. Ok, I'm done. Tartt is such a good writer. She has really good ideas, and says them in a way which is really original and never annoying.
Read: The Secret History, The Goldfinch.
Wear: Understated eyeliner, black and white, neat hair, witchy jewellery, LEOPARD PRINT GLOVES.

Friday, 20 February 2015

g bless the giorgio armani luminous silk foundation

I have finished a bottle of the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation, and I have some thoughts.
2 pics, because I liked both

I'm just going to quickly address the issue that many of you will say it is too expensive. Well, I don't think it is, in the grand scheme (for example, a pair of shoes at the price would be considered pretty cheap, and they will not improve your quality of life as much). I think it was Cat Marnell who said "It was my dad tried to teach me the value of money, and I hate my dad" - though I actually really love my dad, ok?? Furthermore, if there is a more expensive thing you can think of, you can always justify buying something expensive - "ok, I'm behaving poorly, but at least I didn't buy that £70 By Terry foundation!!" - and I never will (but don't quote me on that). I have fond memories of the day I bought this; Lilly and I had a no good, very bad day in London where we just bought everything we wanted to cheer ourselves up about being nannies. Never a day has gone by where I have regretted buying this, and I think it is perfect. It basically makes you look like you're not wearing foundation, except for the fact your skin is perfect. It makes you look (skinwise) like a cross between a model backstage with buisness cards clipped to her hair and a baby. Don't tell me you've never been given skin envy by a baby.
Ugh, behave yourself fringe
Here I am, wearing GALS and no other skin makeup and I didn't edit the photos or anything like that (as if I know how). It has worked out for me during my worst chacne outbreaks and the dryest of Massachusetts winter skin: it goes over anything and makes it look about 2453% better. It looks damn good from the moment you put it on until the moment you take it off, and I haven't had any adverse skin effects from wearing it (it is a siliconey formula, but it doesn't smell of anything, praise jeezy). I was matched to shade 4.5, but that was nearly two years ago (wtf) and I have been a diligent sunscreener since then, so it errs on the side of too-dark-but-definitely-manageable. If you are a lazy-makeupper like me (except when it comes to shopping for it... sigh), this plus a buffing type brush is all you need for good skin by day or by night. I will probably wear this on my wedding day or if I had actually gone to graduation. 
Emerging from the entrance to hell / in a poorly lit bathroom
Another photo on another day of GALS and only GALS on my face. This well demonstrates that this foundation looks just as good after a day of #business. I have some benzoyl-peroxide related cheek and chin peeliness and it looks FINE. I honestly think if you use this and have luminous and silky looking skin, you can get everything else for cheap and maintain the illusion of being expensive. It gives really great "cool girl skin", that paradoxical look of perfected-ness without any hint of effort-to-perfect; looking like you haven't tried at all but just happen to be both luminous and silky. Now I have finished it, I am yet to repurchase because I am a floozy. In fact, I have broken the ultimate girl code and cheated on GALS with his own brother, Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk, who is waiting for me when I go back to England (something to ease the pain of leaving USA). Another exciting foundation-related thing (if you get excited about foundations in the way I do) is that I managed to find the elusive and extinct Jemma Kidd Light As Air foundation on American eBay!! I was so excited that I actually texted Lilly to tell her, and she didn't care at all. But if those two fail to live up to the hype, I am happy to know I can always go back to Old Faithful, my BFprobablyF, the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

corpse-y lips

I have a theory, and that theory is that I love buying lipsticks so much that there will always be a part of my brain dedicated to imagining new types of lipstick I don't yet have. For some reason, at the moment I'm really loving the dead-lips vibe, a very romantic look perfect for valentines day!!! (hoho)
These are lip colours which actively work to make you look cold, uncomfortable and sickly - cute! There are three ways to do a corpse-y lip, and I like all of them.
The prettiest version of a dead lip is a pale, extremely cool-toned nude. This one is by the brand Gosh and is called "Darling". This is a UK brand, which came to America and now I think has failed and is going away. The good news on that front is that this lipstick was reduced to $3. I really, really like it - it smells sweet and is really smooth and shiny, but still long-ish lasting. It's an almost grey-toned pink, which completely masks any natural lip pigment leaving you looking like an adorable frostbite victim.
Speaking of grey toned, this is basically a grey lipstick - the OCC Lip Tar in "Sebastian" (which they describe as a plum toned taupe). I just think this is the coolest thing ever. I understand that a lot of people will think this is stupid or gross, but I think some other people love it like me, because it's consistently sold out on Sephora. I love it on its own, but I guess it would also work well as a mixing medium, to add some corpsey vibes to any lipstick. 
 A more traditional take on the corpse lip comes in the form of this Sephora Cream Lip Stain in "Polished Purple". This is the dark purple lipstick - incredibly incredibly long lasting and bizarrely pleasurable to apply. It has a tiny metallic sheen but on the lips it doesn't show up, it just adds dimension to make your lips look fat (and also, phat). It gives a slight hint of just-been-punched-in-the-mouth vibes and also makes you look like you might practice witchcraft in your spare time.

 When wearing a corpsey lip, I like to try to make the rest of my face look very alive, bright, fresh, young etc. Bushy brows (holla) help with this. I also like the curl my eyelashes and wear lots of mascara for eyes like a dairy cow. Wearing something brightening in your waterline is a good idea, because corpse lips plus red eyes does suggest a serious illness, whereas I want to look like I'm pretending to have a serious illness, which is an important distinction. I like the Korres pencil in "Green White", among others, because green is the opposite of red (this is the optical-illusion side of makeup that I just think is so cool). It doesn't look actually green on the waterline, just pale and bright. Spraying something illuminating over your face further contrasts the dead/alive or sickly/healthy vibes. I like the Boots Botanics Rosewater because it gives instant shiny glow, is actually good for your skin, is all natural, smells like roses and isn't expensive. Now looking "dead"-cute is easy (I am hilarious and I won't hear otherwise).

Friday, 6 February 2015

i've been whitening my english teeth with american hydrogen peroxide

I'm not 100% on where the stereotype comes from, but I just American-Googled "english bad teeth" and got about 30,900,000 results  in 0.40 seconds. I've actually got very good teeth, and have never had a filling or any of that painful nonsense. But superficially (aka in the only way that matters) my teeth weren't exactly up to the exacting standards of America.
I have always been of the mindset that at-home whitening doesn't work, and therefore have never tried it. However, after seeing an article on Into the Gloss, I decided it was worth my time and money - $5 all inclusive. I know what you're thinking, so stop. This is allowed by dentists and isn't properly dangerous - you just need to buy the 3% hydrogen peroxide, which will say something like "suitable for gargling" on it. And for God's sake, don't swallow.
What I do is every evening before brushing, take a small mouthful and swill it about. It has a very specific taste, like chewing on the cuffs of your old school jumper. It will also begin to foam up, which is it dissolving all your problems (aka stains). Then I spit it (don't swallow) and do a regular brush. Because I don't do things by halves, I also bought a fluoride+peroxide toothpaste, which seems to work very well, and tastes like regular mint. 
 And look at these goddamn results! Look at the glare of the sun reflecting off the snow outside, which in turn is reflecting off my tegs. I didn't take before adn after photos because I honestly didn't predict a big difference, but trust me, this is the whitest my teeth have been in a long time. I'm still drinking all my favourite brown drinks (tea, coffee and diet coke) on the reg, too. It really, really, really makes a difference, doesn't cost a bunch of money, and aside from the strange taste, seems to be without side affect. If you want to follow the "American" tooth trend, give this a go.

Monday, 2 February 2015

that "thin person" head shape

I am not interested in bronzer. I do not desire the golden goddess look, and the phrase "liven up the face" has never appealed to me - in fact, I prefer a washed out slightly sickly look. Nonetheless, it can't be denied that bronzer is good for a flattering reshaping of the face, receding hamster cheeks and refining ten chins. When I want to fake the face shape genetics didn't bless me with, instead of using something in the "orange-brown" spectrum, I always go for something ashy and grey. In my brain, taupey-grey is the colour of shadows. Therefore, you can paint shadows onto your face to trick everyone into thinking that's just a face.
I know I'm not the first person to come up with this hypothesis, and one day I probably will buy that Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder for £35 because I can be foolish with money (... and, indeed, everything). But I had a clever thought, which was to search amazon for "matte taupe eyeshadow". (All pressed powders are basically the same thing, right? Nothing weird about using eyeshadows on your face.) What I ended up purchasing was the £2.49 W7 Shadow Perfection in Burnt Sienna, and I am really into it. In the above photo I am wearing it smudged underneath my cheeks and jaw - check out the fake bones I have created! (PS, do not check out the pile of rubbish on my bed and the open door to the bathroom - one day I will get better at taking selfies, promise.)
Here is the aforementioned "contour powder" as we will now refer to it, and the brush I use to put it on - the e.l.f. complexion brush (but I'm pretty sure any tapered blush type brush would work fine). I've also been experimenting with a lighter contour, using the powder from the e.l.f. brow kit in ash and really piling it on using the Real Techniques contour brush.
Top: W7 Burnt Sienna, Bottom: e.l.f. Brow Kit in Ash
As you can see, both of these have no warmth to them, creating a fake sculpted face without adding any colour or "life". I basically can't be arsed to wear makeup apart from lipstick, but I do wear this dark-ish, grey-ish contour almost every day. It makes you feel like you know how to do makeup, brings out a hint of your inner drag queen, and most importantly, gives you that "thin person" head shape.