Wednesday, 23 April 2014


The first instalment of my collaboration series with Sunna from 'The New Noir' is finally here! After a gruelling day of outfit changes and makeup application, we can reveal our first model (victim). Meet Kat, an Oriental Studies graduate from London. She is tall with a fair skin tone.

Style-wise, Sunna expertly put together some outfits from Kat's wardrobe which suited her height (my 5ft1 self isn't jealous at all...). We may have made her bedroom look like the aftermath of a particularly vicious day at Primark (hands up if you've ever been to Primark after 4.30pm, looked at the mountains of disordered clothing, and turned straight back around again with a "nope"), but I think you'll agree that Kat looks absolutely stunning in Sunna's style choices! If you'd like to have a look at the final outfits, please head on over to Sunna's blog post.

Now, onto the beauty! Since Kat has just returned from a few months in Beijing, where she left all her makeup, it actually gave us the perfect excuse to go and buy a basic makeup kit. As Kat is a self-confessed beauty beginner, I tried to go for products I knew were both high quality and relatively cheap in price (basically I bought her a lot of the items I own myself). The total value of this kit came to around £50, which may not sound that cheap, but, believe me, it is crazily hard to produce an all-round, practical makeup bag for much less. It does make me seriously worry about the amount of money I've "invested" in my makeup kit over the years. Never try and work out how much cash you've accumulated in Boots and Superdrug points, ladies.

The Products

The items we settled on, and those essentials which I think would work well for a beginner with fair skin, are:

Rimmel Match Perfection foundation in 101 Classic Ivory- especially great for fair skin because the shade range is slightly broader than other drugstore foundations.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 001 Transparent- A great all-round powder. I used it to reduce shine as well as set the concealer where it has a tendency to crease (under the eyes, especially).

Rimmel Lip Crayon in 120 All You Need Is Pink- Brilliant alternative to a bright lipstick because it is much easier to apply and you can build up the coverage from fairly sheer to full-on glamour.

Maybelline The Falsies mascara in Black Drama- One of those mascaras that every beauty blogger knows and swears by. It's also cheap, which is a real find because highstreet mascaras are usually quite expensive.

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner in 01 Black- Just as good as any top-range gel liner and you get a brush included!

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair 1- I won't bore you with more praise for this product. If you'd like to see a full review, have a look at this post.

MUA Eyeshadow Palette in Undressed- A £4 dupe for the Urban Decay naked palette with all the neutrals you could possible desire. Especially good for Kat's blue eyes with the pink/gold undertone shades. If you'd like to see a full review of this product, click here, or, alternatively, if you'd like to see what sort of other look you can create with it, check out this tutorial.

Sleek Face Form Kit in Fair- Especially good value for money because you get a great contour, highlight, and blush. The contour is light enough to look subtle and natural on fair skin (as you can probably assume from the colour name; way to state the obvious, Lydia).

Ecotools Bamboo 6 Piece Brush Set- The first brush set I ever owned was actually from Ecotools. I honestly believe that, as an introduction to the (pretty intimidating) world of brushes, you can't get much better for about £16. That's only just over £3 a brush (wow, accurate mental maths and its not even lunchtime yet) and you get a free case included. If you'd like to read some more about Ecotools brushes and see what my first ever set looked like, then here's a post for you.

Eyelash curler (Kat's own)

Flowers (courtesy of Kat's mum)

The Look

A cheeky before for you.

And the after. 

Here's a stock looking-down-so-you-can-see-the-shadow photo.

The look I settled on (or rather the look I ended up with after getting too carried away) is this smokey eye and bold lip combo. I always think a slightly smokey eye is a great going-out idea for beginners because it involves more smudging and less precision. I used the taupey-brown shade (bottom row, third from the right) all over the lid, lined the upper lashline roughly with the gel liner and smudged this in with a bit more of the taupe shade. I ran what was left on the brush of the shadow and gel liner through the crease to add a little extra definition and blended the liner up to meet it. Then, I smudged some more gel liner and the same shadow into the bottom lashline. For a highlight, I used the lightest shade sparingly in the inner corner and on the brow bone. 

I know, I know, a bright lip can wash out pale skin even more, but, I think if it is applied properly and if you don't mind celebrating the fact that your skin might well be so pale that you glow in flash photos (speaking from experience, here) then it can help to create a really stand-out look. Kat likes to wear a red lip, but I thought a pink would be perfect for the spring and summer months. It's also a great way to modernise a really classic look. Plus, I've been loving a bright pink lip at the moment, so I'm a bit biased really. Keep the skin simple with a subtle contour and blush.

5 Tips for Beginners (with a fair skin spin)
  1. Ask questions! If you're completely bewildered by the thought of facing those makeup counters, then chat with friends about their favourite products/what they use. Or, if you're going for some high-end makeup ask one of the assistants at the counter. They're there to help. If you have pale skin, it is especially important to get advice about foundation. Certain foundations will look too dark or (god forbid) orange on your skin. 
  2. A smudged gel liner or eyeliner pencil is a great introduction to lining your upper lashline. It's more subtle and definitely more foolproof. 
  3. Contour should be applied under the cheekbone, on the sides of the forehead, and on the jawline. For the cheekbone contour (which, I admit, is slightly tricky), suck in your cheeks and apply lightly to the hollows you create, or, start at the same height as the middle of your ear and sweep down towards the corner of your lip. 
  4. A bright lip is a great way to switch from day to evening. Swipe a lip crayon all over your pout for instant glamour. 
  5. Blend any foundation or bronzer down the neck too. Nobody wants to be left with a face three shades darker than the rest of their body (plus, always count Mississippilessly in tanning situations to avoid similar embarrassment- pat yourself on the back smugly if you understand this reference). 

I think Kat looks gorgeous and I hope you all agree! Obviously, this look is more suited for an evening. Please, if you are a beginner, don't start aimlessly wandering the streets with full-on bold eyes and lips. If you'd like a more natural look for pale skin, then please check out my recent spring makeup look. I really enjoyed the challenge of applying makeup to someone else and hope you've found this interesting and useful. Check back in a couple of weeks for a new Make Me Up! I'll start sharpening my eyeliner pencils for the next "participant". 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


The sun makes me happy. It's a fact really. I'm sitting here tapping away to the picturesque backdrop of a springtime evening and I can't quite believe that I honestly cannot see a cloud in the sky. This, for England, so early on in the season, is somewhat of a miracle. While it lasts, I thought I'd take advantage of the beautiful weather by taking some photos of the makeup I have been loving at the moment. This isn't quite a tutorial (mostly because the look is so simple that a step-by-step really isn't necessary), more a FOTD (face of the day). Wow, look at me using proper beauty blogging terms! Hopefully, this will be inspiration for those of you who are looking to give your look a bit of spring-clean for the start of a new season.

For spring and summer, I tend to live by the beauty mantra that "less is more" (and also not nearly as time-consuming). I blended MAC's Wedge eyeshadow all over my lid, on top of a base (MAC's painterly paint pot). Then, I attacked my inner corners with far more of MAC's Nylon than any girl ever needs.* The ultra-shimmery inner corner highlight looks really pretty when it catches the sun and was also a key trend for S/S 2014 (yes, I know, I'm always so on-trend). I finished off with some winged gel liner. As my eyes are quite big and round, I usually try and thicken the liner at the outer edge to elongate them slightly, but, of course, you could change style according to your own eye shape. And, with lots and lots of mascara, that's the eyes done!

I am so pale that, in the summer, whilst others get a lovely golden glow to the skin, my glow is more a blinding white. So, I usually apply bronzer to the high points of the face (forehead, cheeks, nose, chin) to fake that sun kissed look (don't tell anyone). A quick tip for you: if you're using a pink-toned blusher, apply a little of that over the bronzer to  make it look more realistic. Often when we tan, the skin gets a slightly pink undertone. It really does work, I promise. With a slick of tinted lip balm, the look is complete.

The Products
MAC Nylon and Wedge (far left top and bottom of my rather empty palette)
MAC Omega (for my brows)
MAC Paintpot in Painterly
Rimmel Match Perfection foundation in 101 Classic Ivory
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in Nude
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 001 Transparent
Collection Lasting Perfection concealer in 1 Light
Collection Blush and Highlighter Cream Duo in Strawberries and Cream
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner in 01 Black
Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me
Sleek Face Form in Light
L'Oreal Miss Manga mascara in Black

*Sorry for the MAC invasion, just got a few products for my birthday so, of course, I've been using them incessantly.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


I've never been one to wear a bold lip. They've just always seemed so much more effort than they're worth; the constant touch ups and very real fear of a lipstick-on-the-teeth moment has kept me firmly sticking to the tinted lip balms. A few months ago, however, I was introduced by the YouTuber Beautycrush to the most amazing lipstick I had ever seen. That's not an understatement. Believe me. I'm not the only one who's been loving this colour. I had to visit my local MAC several times before they had it back in stock. Not that I'm complaining. Any excuse to visit MAC is fine with me!

The colour is 'All Fired Up' (a bright fuchsia) and it's part of MAC's Retro Matte line. Here's a close up of my lips so you can see it in all its beautiful glory.

So, today I felt inspired to create a retro eye look to accompany this lovely new lipstick. It's a kind of sultry, smokey eye with a slight cat flick. I will be using the MUA 'Undressed' palette which I have reviewed in full, here. Perfect for those of you (like me) who can't afford to spend a tonne on makeup now they've invested in a £15 MAC lipstick.

Let's begin the tutorial!

1. Ensure you start with an even base on your eyelid. I don't use a primer, as such. I just apply my concealer (Collection Lasting Perfection) over my eyelid as I find it works perfectly to stop my eyeshadow from creasing.

2. Apply the lightest matte brown all over the lid. This will just help to soften the darker shadow once we apply it on top. No one wants a harsh smokey eye.

3. Use a gel liner (I used the Maybelline one) to line your upper lash line and wing it at the outer corner.

4. Blend the dark plum-tone shadow (bottom row, third from the right) all over the lid to create a hazy effect which will help to soften the liner slightly. This is especially great if you're not quite the best at applying eyeliner because it should help to even out any mistakes you have made.

5. Use the lightest shade (top row, first on the left) to highlight the inner corner and the brow bone. I added a bit of Topshop's Glow first to really enhance the shine.

6. Curl your lashes and add lashings (geddit?) of your favourite mascara. Also, line your waterline with a dark eye pencil. I used Rimmel's Scandaleyes in bronze because I find it's not as harsh as black and it brings out the green of my eyes. A dark purple or brown would look lovely too.

And that's it! Pretty straightforward, huh?

For the true retro bombshell look, I think it's only right that you contour your face to within an inch of it's life. After all, what's an Old Hollywood look without cheekbones you could cut yourself on? This is especially important for me as my cheekbones are pretty much non-existent.

I used the contour powder in Sleek's 'Light Face Form' kit for this. I applied it to the hollows of my cheeks, the sides of my forehead, under my jaw and chin, and on my ears (just to make sure they weren't glowing white next to the rest of my face, I'm really pale, guys). 

Then, I added the Collection cream blush in 'Strawberries and Cream' to my cheeks and used Topshop's Glow highlighter on the tops of my cheekbones, down my nose, and on my cupid's bow.

I hope you all like the look and that's it's given you some inspiration. It's very likely I'll be wearing this for me birthday party next week. Let me know if there's a certain makeup style you'd like me to create next!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


I am a true believer in the importance of a good skincare routine. I mean, you only get one skin so you might as well look after it. Unless you've ingested some reptile DNA and have turned yourself into a reptilian humanoid monster (a la the Lizard from Spiderman), in which case you probably will have far more serious things to deal with. I am, however, pretty sure that 99.9% of you reading this article won't fall into this ultra-specific category so happy days!

My mum always advised that high quality skincare is vital and should be considered an investment. So, when I was younger I used the 3-step Clinique skincare routine. I have to say, personally, I didn't really think the high price adequately correlated with its results. Almost as soon as I waved goodbye to home comforts and a rather dubious hello to student debt, I must admit, I quickly abandoned this account-draining trio and stuck firmly to the face wipes. I wouldn't recommend this, kids. Nor would I recommend being too lazy to take off your makeup. Often.

Once I'd finished university and started earning, I was adamant that I wanted a multi-faceted skincare routine, but still refused to accept that you needed to pay an absolute fortune for healthy skin. Cue my own personalised, 4-step morning routine. All the products mentioned are available on the highstreet and I think they work just as well as my Clinique trio ever did. Case in point that a flawless complexion isn't reserved for the aristocrats among us.

Oh and a quick note before I start, I have combination skin which is slightly on the dry side. In case you were wondering.

1. Cleanse (part one)
First, I like to use a face wash because I think a splash of water does wonders in waking you up first thing in the morning. Also, it washes away any moisturiser or night cream that you had applied the evening before. My absolute favourite is the Witch Gentle Exfoliating Face Wash. I actually first used this product at my boyfriend's flat because I had forgotten to bring my own (he had the man version which is dark blue, the colour of man, apparently). I felt like I instantly saw results. It cleared up my blemishes and left my skin feeling clean, but not completely stripped of all nutrients and moisture. Needless to say, I made a special effort to pick up my own when I was next in Boots. You can purchase this product, here.

2. Cleanse (part two)
The second step to cleansing for me is using a micellar water. This just helps to make sure you are beginning the day with a completely clean base. It can sometimes pick up makeup that you inadequately removed the night before. I prefer a micellar water to a makeup remover because it is more gentle on the skin. I have tried out both the L'Oreal and Garnier versions of this. Although I feel the L'Oreal has been more raved about by the beauty blogosphere (it has been around for longer, I guess), I actually prefer the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. I must state that this is for no other particular reason than you get more and so aren't required to trek to the shops for a repurchase as often. Yes, I'm that lazy. It kind of makes you feel like you're saving money as well, even if you really aren't. You can purchase this product, here.

3. Tone
If there's one part of my skincare routine that I'm not completely sure about, it would be my toner. So, any suggestions here are very welcome! At the moment, I use Simple Kind To Skin Soothing Facial Toner. As my skin is on the dry side, I don't like to use an industrial-strength, burn-your-face-off type toner. It's a solid product but not one that I would say has significantly improved my skin. I don't know, maybe I'm being a bit harsh. You can purchase this product, here.

4. Moisturise
Another Simple product, but this time I have rave reviews! My moisturiser of choice, which I have used for a few years now, is the Simple Kind To Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturiser. It is unbelievably effective for skin that's definitely slightly towards the drier side of life. Plus, because it's so rich, you only need to apply a tiny amount. Four budget points for you Simple moisturiser, you GO Simple moisturiser! (Bellatula points for any of you that recognise this terribly delivered film reference). Sometimes, when the weather is warmer (about a week in Britain), I do find that this product leaves my skin slightly too oily, but, for the most part, I absolutely love it. You can purchase this product, here.

I do realise that it takes time out of your day to commit to a full-blown, beauty-guru-esque skincare routine, but you really will see the benefits, I promise. And when have I ever lied to you? Personally, I find the process quite therapeutic, but, then again, I'm a bit of weirdo when it comes to beauty.