Nothing But Blue Skies: Barry M Blue Crackle and Gosh Silver Toes

30 Apr

I think this is my favourite thing I’ve ever done to my toes, short of my lightning tattoo. The silver is a Gosh polish I got in Meaghar’s Chemist for all of €3.50, then I put a layer of Barry M crackle polish over it in bright blue. It’s turned out looking like clouds. With silver lining. Yum.

God Save the Queen

28 Apr

Mr. Bolton failed to locate one early “origami” coat that reveals methods Mr. McQueen continued to explore in later designs. “I identified it from the look book, says Mr. Bolton wistfully, referring to the wholesale catalog that design houses create. But he did find the bumsters he sought…

A really fascinating piece about an upcoming Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, from the Wall Street Journal. CLICK for more!

What’s black, white and ‘HAPPY AND GLORIOUS’ all over?

28 Apr

Oh god, like, would they just get it over with??

Hehe. I’m half cheesily, guiltily excited and half already completely over the royal wedding. There’s surprisingly little to say about Kate Middleton in terms of style, makeup…oh wow, she’s doing it herself!.. I don’t believe that. But we’ll see. It’s all been said already, elsewhere.

But what stood out today on the Daily Mail homepage (I gave it up for Lent, and have been enjoying the return to royalist scandal and madness ever since..) was the new Mario Testino portrait the couple released today. It looks…well.. dull. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this picture, but it’s still deeply unexciting. You’d expect better from Testino and the young, sexy royals who supposedly represent a break with tradition. It reminds me of the standard white-background ‘mall photographer’ shots parents pay for of their kids, where everyone comes out looking benignly happy and more than a little bit like white-washed stock imagery.

It also echoes a certain shoot done by the same photographer in 1997…

Black and white? Check. Tasteful, smiling, subtle? Check. Close-up, without being intrusively so? Cccchhhheck!!!

It’s lazy of me to draw, well, the most obvious comparison ever, but I do think there’s a certain style legacy in evidence. Maybe it’s that Diana did a lot to alter the identity of modern royalty. Maybe it’s that they decided the leftover Diana influence would always be there, a sleek and well-groomed elephant in the living room, and so decided to just go with it and pay her homage.

Or maybe it’s that Mario just consciously keeps to that same style.

Either way I think the other, previous portrait was a whole lot sweeter and braver and more genuine. Not that I’m paying particular attention to the royal wedding coverage. Oh no. Not me:)

It takes a lot to make a redhead tan…(in which I try, and fail, to use bronzer)

27 Apr

And the bronze medal goes to... eh.. not me

I’m kind of torn when it comes to bronzer. On the one hand, what is makeup if not another tool which can make the impossible possible. I’m not ‘outdoorsy’, my chalky Irish ginger skin won’t tan (or even freckle, for that matter!), and when it comes to it I think I’m rather against the idea of tanning both real and fake, because what is it if not just a sign of skin damage?

But the beauty obsessive in me loves the look of all those gold powders. In particular the baked mineral ones, and the little duo compact that come with highlighter on one side and bronzing powder on the other. And there is a way for pale folk such as your truly to wear bronzer- if the brush is big enough, the blending subtle enough, you can get away with it worn almost like a blush, to warm the the skin up and take the edge off the Cullenesque pallor (‘Cullenesque’ is a word. Sure it is). Lily Cole apparently digs Guerlain’s bronzing offerings, and without them she has the classic paper-white ginger skin.

So for the sake of experimentation at least, and with Summer just around the corner, I decided to check out the look for myself. The first product I tried was already in my stash; my Stila Contour Trio, which got a mention a few posts ago for its highlighting powder, also features two darker, browner shades. I took the medium shade and used a blush brush to blend it over cheekbones and the front of my face where the sun hits.

And then I tried a bit more. Nothing showed up. I think I must be so pale my skin just swallows bronzer up and refuses to show. Weird.


Next up I tried out Prestige Skin Loving Minerals powder in Rich Bronze. This love-it-or-hate-it baked powder is a complete dupe for MAC Mineralize Skinfinish (there are plenty of other similar options, like Physician’s Formula, Lorac and Laura Gellar Balance and Brighten, but unfortunately they ain’t available on these shores).

Lol again.

This is shimmer-heavy, but finely milled enough to avoid making me a discoball. I like the double effect of bronzer and highlighter in one- it breaks up the matte brown, the kind of ‘dirty face’ look that load of powders can give. You need to go easy on this and blend blend blend, but it set off my usual foundation layer of MSFN quite nicely. I think I’ll stick with this product for Summer, and might even switch to the paler gold shade -called ‘Pure Shimmer’- in Winter.

€13.49 in Boots for a fairly massive pan. NAWT BAD, not bad at all. At least it ought to tide me over til the launch of Surf Baby.

ps. the other bronzing powder I like is Smashbox Bronze Lights in Soft Bronze, as its very buildable and super-super pale-friendly!

Comfortably numb: Morphine Lips leaves…numb

26 Apr

I remember the first wave of lip plumping products- triggered by DuWop’s Lip Venom, there was a sudden rash (not the choice of word!) of products which used cinnamon, clove and maybe just a hint of jalapeno pepper to increase blood flow to the lips, filling them out and resulting in yucky red blotchy skin aroudn the mouth that lasted 1-2 hours and was anything but attractive.

I was thrilled when they developed the products that little bit more, to taste like mint and use stuff like Maxi-lip and menthol instead of the ingredients of a takeaway curry. Medicinal things have far more of a place in cosmetics. Except when they get taken that little bit too far..

Which brings me to this weeks bizarro beauty launch du jour, and one I couldn’t help but write my thoughts on: MORPHINE LIPS. Apparently inspired by the song ‘Lips Like Morphine’ by rawwwk bad Kill Hannah (listen to the song, and marvel at the frontman’s spiky haircut- here), the product contains 4% benzocaine, promising to impart lips with a reassuring loss of feeling. Hawt.

Here’s their brilliantly schlock-y blurb:

Morphine Lips was designed to create the perfect kiss. Use Morphine Lips before making your move and going in for the kiss, after your lips touch it will leave your victims lips numb and their hearts racing. Creating a kiss like one they have never felt before leaving them in a trance and putty in your hands.

Don’t know how dudes might react to you springing that one on them- kiss someone, then in Doctor Evil-ish tones begin your spiel..‘mwhahaha, within two minutes you will experience the strange, tingling and eventual numbing sensation of my chemical-laced cosmetics on your lips, and will find yourself rendered helpless PUTTY IN MY HANDS!!!!..’

Might not go down so well. Also the branding is seedy and the model on their website looks like a carbon copy of porn actress Sasha Grey:

the Morphine Lips campaign

..versus Sasha Grey

And then there’s the inevitable bad associations of morphine, ie. recovery from heroin addiction. The numbing agent used is apparently quite commonplace, an ingredient in everything from condoms to Bonjela. Legally, over-the-counter products can include up to 20% benzocaine, and Morphine Lips has only 4%.

Still, the ‘Morphine Lips’ choice of name and brand identity is just that little bit in bad taste.. to me it sounds like a nickname given to an over-zealous hooker caught in a football-related scandal. I’ve not seen this on sale anywhere yet, and will definitely want to try it. But it seems just that little bit too.. morbid! Thought Violent Lips were as weird as lipstick gets? Think again.

ALL OF THE LIGHTS: Two of my favourite highlighters reviewed

21 Apr

Cop lights, flash lights, spot lights,

Strobe lights, street lights
(all of the lights, all of the lights)
Fast life, drug life
Thug life, rock life
Every night

…Yeah, I’m kind of three months ago in my rap tastes. It’s getting a little old. Not to mention that its the biggest Enter the Void rip-off in the history of ever (finally out on DVD on the 25th, yaaaaaay!). But old habits die hard.

Anyhow I thought I’d talk about one of those products that has only become indispencible in recent years, HIGHLIGHTER. I approach highlighters the way less pallid folk approach bronzers; they’re a great ‘finisher’ for makeup, they add that wide-awake glow and help to define a face. And they make you look all candlelit and elf-like; what’s not to like?!

We can really thank Benefit’s High Beam for putting highlighter back on the map- time was, not so long ago, that highlighting and contouring were seen as outdated and a little bit freaky. But it’s a valuable, really quite transformative technique. One I’ve not quite got a handle on myself (attempts to define my cheekbones always turn out looking dark and streaky and sludgy- I blame rubbish brushes!). But highlighting on its own is easy, and is helped by all the interesting products there are around to try. These are a few of my favourites:

Illamasqua Illuminator in Odyssey

The name is so poetic! But aside from that this product is a great place to start: as versatile as any Illamasqua product (the company take a kind of ‘face as artists canvas’ approach, with anything from blushes to pigments to lipgloss open to experimenting on different unexpected parts of the face!), the Illuminator is a creamy, shimmering liquid that can be mixed into foundation, dabbed onto cheekbones or pressed onto eyeshadow to add shimmer. I like it blended out over eye colour, on the inner corners to open up eyes, and then brushed up onto eyebrow bones. It also works brilliantly over lipstick, if you dab a small amount in the centre of the lower lip to add a bit of dimension and make lips look fuller. The consistency is brilliant- really workable but it dries to a shimmery, sheer finish. There are other shades available in pink and golden tones, but I like Odyssey best for my milk-bottle skin.

£13.50 from

Catrice Enter Wonderland Highlighter in Fairy Dust

For anyone starting out, uncertain about applying blush or so pale that blush colours always come up looking clownish, this product is a lifesaver. It’s kind of a blush-slash-highlighter; very shimmery and light-reflecting, and pale enough to blend all over the face, but with a teensy bit of a coral flush. The shade is a limited edition for this summer; a pinky-coral with the palest golden shimmer, kind of like a sheered-down Nars Orgasm. Almost imperceptibly rosy. The packaging is all Shu Uemura-ish with flat perspex and oodles of product for a very reasonable €4.69. I’ve used this as an eyeshadow too and it works brilliantly, really shimmery and the warm tones make blue eyes really pop. It’s a great intermediary product for Spring into Summer, perking up pale faces before its full-on bronzer season.

4.99 from Dunnes, Penneys, McCabes and selected chemists (Meaghar’s Chemist in Ranelagh has it, for anyone on the hunt!)

17 Blush and Glow

I’ve written previously about this stuff, I think. It’s brilliant and very user friendly, not to mention cheap. The white, semi-shimmery highlighter is a total Albatross dupe, and you can take your pick of either a berry or coral-toned blush to go with it. Both are exquisite. Oh and the packaging is very small and cute and handbag-friendly- this is genuinely one of those unsung hero products everybody should snap up!

5.99 (I think!) from Boots

Stila Contouring Trio

This threesome of powders are housed in a super-cute silver box which lights up when you open it (not that you’re likely to need to highlight and contour your face in the middle of a dark club or bar, but you can’t fault Stila for style!). There are three shades, called Light, Dark and Flash. They kind of do what it says on the tin: Dark contours cheekbones and adds shadow, Light brings out bone structure and Flash is light-reflecting, flaw-softening shimmer. Kind of like Smashbox’s Softlights, only a whole lot cheaper, with cuter packaging and three shades instead of one. Not that I don’t like Smashbox a lot, but it’s nice to still be able to track down Stila on Irish shores, and this product sort of sums up their philosophy of making makeup artistry girly and accessible.

13.99 from

So yar, for those seeking the light of makeup knowledge, CONSIDER YOURSELVES ILLUMINATED!

Ps. Here’s a review of one of my favourite books, which has, ahem, everything to do with illumination..

Is this the weediest mascara yet? Essence On and On mascara fails to go on at all

19 Apr

Ah here now, I find myself wanting to say. Except that it wouldn’t be to any person, merely pointless raging against a small blue shiny tube which I paid all of €2.49 for. In other words, it would be fairly pointless.

The mascara in question is Essence’s ‘Stays On and On and On’. I kind of liked the name- reminds me of my youth misspent listening to Basement Jaxx- and the packaging is pleasingly metallic and compact (unlike this recent, truly ludicrous oversized launch from Max Factor..). And cheap, which is a big factor in spending on mascara for me. They’re gonna be dried-up in a month or two, so what’s the point in spending mega-money on the most perishable part of your makeup bag?

Me being Morose with My Moronic Mascara

Thing is I’m slowly starting to find that you get what you pay for. The Lancóme Hypnose that I nabbed from my mom back a few months ago was so wonderful. And costs roughly ten times what I spent on this Essence shiz. But I at least expected it to be.. perfunctory. But the biggest problem with this mascara is lack of effect. It may stay on and on (significantly better than my 17 Wild Curls stuff, which melts halfway down my face after a couple of hours). But it takes about four repeated coats to even get it to show.

I’m all for everyday, workplace-friendly subtlety, but this takes it to another level. NO definition, NO length, NO volume to speak of. Complete and utter waste of dough.

Looking back over my mascara posts on this blog, I’m only noticing now just how pathetically predictable I am! I’m too stingy to spend the demanded €10-20 on product, and consequently am being disappointed over and over by rubbish cheap stuff.  As dear old Mannix said on his campaign, why make the same mistakes over and over, and expect a different outcome- ARGH!

Ok Mannix Flynn and budget mascara have nothing to do with eachother. Maybe I’m just lost in venting annoyance. But change is at hand: the quest begins now for the perfect mascara. It’s going to be like one of those dating scene montages in a cheesy film: too melty, too thick, too wet, too dry, too inky, too charcoal…

Except there won’t be any handsome men involved. Only lash wands and sales assistants in Boots. YAY!


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