Saturday, 17 December 2011

My top ten make up products this year

As we near the end of 2011 and the winter solstice in just a few days, my thoughts go forward to longer, brighter days and a brand new year .. hopefully full of happiness and good health for everyone. I know we still have the worst of the cold weather yet to come in the northern hemisphere but there's always light at the end of that tunnel!

Here are my personal top ten products that I wouldn't be without .. some I may have mentioned before but always worth a reminder .....

Smashbox Brow Tech To-Go is my absolute favorite .. Everyone I have recommended this product to is blown away by it but I have read some negative reviews about it.  Being a make up artist doing this every day, naturally I find it very easy to use.  As with everything, practice makes perfect and the best way is always to start off lightly, feathering natural strokes into the brow and building on it until you have the shape and colour depth that you want. The more you do it the easier it will become .. it's all in the technique.

M2Beauté Eyelash Activating Serum - If you want gorgeous long, lush lashes this product definitely works!  Applied every night like a liquid eyeliner at the base of the lashes it takes 4-6 weeks before you will notice a difference and at around 16 weeks they will achieve their natural growth potential.  However, if you want to keep your lashes this way, you will have to keep using this product. When used correctly it will last for about 6 months but it is not cheap at £128 for 5ml!  When you compare this to the price of eyelash extensions, this definitely is the cheaper and more natural option in the long term.

Elemis Lip Revive 7ml - This is a rich petroleum free lip balm which moisturizes and conditions your lips leaving a subtle taste of mint.  I found it particularly good whilst flying as this is when dehydration is most noticeable in lips, skin and nails.

Kiehl's Lip Balm No.1 15ml - Another favorite of mine, this helps protect lips from the drying effects of wind and cold weather with SPF 4 sunscreen.  Contains petrolatum and lanolin so if you are sensitive to either of these ingredients it's probably best avoided.

Chanel Vitalumiere Satin Fluid Make up SPF 15 - I use this foundation almost every day as I like the light to medium coverage and the natural dewy finish it gives. As my skin is a little on the dry side it's perfect for me.  If you have a slightly oilier complexion I would suggest trying the Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-light Skin Perfecting Make up.

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow - I am a huge fan of this product.  I love the soft, long lasting powder-cream texture and can absolutely confirm it does what it promises.  It lasts, does not crease and can be applied with ease.  You can go for an ultra sheer hint of colour or build on it to give a more intense look if you prefer.

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner - I have been using this eyeliner for a number of years both on myself and my clients. It gives the appearance of a liquid liner but the gel formula makes it easier to apply and you have a few seconds to rework it before it dries.  It can also be smudged a little (before it sets) to give a smokier look.

Benefit the POREfessional pro balm - this silky gel cream minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. It can be used under or over make up but I use it as a primer as it gives a perfect base for make up application.  It gives the skin a youthful radiance which is something we all want!

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation primer - I use this regularly on men and women as it gives a perfect shine free finish .. it can be worn alone or as a primer for make up base application. It has been a staple in my kit forever and I'm not surprised that it is a best seller for the Smashbox brand.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup for Face & Body SPF 15 - A perfect product for concealing imperfections.  It is long lasting, water resistant and a little goes a long way.  It's great for covering thread veins, blemishes and birthmarks. (I find if I mix this sparingly with a little photo finish primer, it is the perfect texture and density for concealing under eye dark circles!) This has also been a long time resident in my make up kit therefore well deserved of making it into my top ten.

There you have it!  Of course there are many other products I wouldn't want to be without, but I don't want to be here all night or bore you with too much information overload! 

Thanks for all your support and encouragement over the past few months. See you all next year for more of my flip flop travels, guest blogs and hair and make up tips!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year!!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Taming of the Frizz

While I was in Barbados I trialled a few products to see if they actually worked on my curly, coloured hair.  I had heard about and been recommended by a friend who runs the Gidore website to try the Philip Kingsley range of products particularly the Swimcap and decided to invest in a tube.  At £18.40 is is not cheap but the results speak for themselves.  I applied it to my hair before heading out each day and I can honestly say my hair felt softer, less frizzy, did not fade (despite the red tones which fade with every wash as a rule) and was easy to style out in the evenings. Before blow drying I used Original Sprout Tahitian Hair Oil, applied to damp hair .. you can also use it on your skin!  It's great for detangling, smells gorgeous, is 100% vegan and doesn't leave an oily residue. I would highly recommend both of these products. Product description for Swimcap as follows ...

Suitable for all hair types. Originally developed by Philip Kingsley at the request of the first US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team, Swimcap’s formula is both a summer saviour and a must-have for swimmers. Containing UV protection, Swimcap cream protects against the damaging effects of the sun which leads to hair breakage and colour fading, making it a holiday essential for healthy, beautiful hair. It also protects against the drying and damaging effects of both chlorinated and salt water, as well as discoloration from swimming pool water. 
Swimcap deeply conditions your hair as you wear it, leaving it in better condition than before. Finer hair types may worry about the conditioning element but due to its unique formulation it washes out without leaving the hair heavy or greasy. 

I also tried the same brand of shampoo in the Smoothe and Shiny Jet Set Kit for £19.50 which I also loved.  I alternated with the Kiehl's Superbly Smoothing Argon Shampoo and Conditioner and although I normally love the Kiehl's brand I wasn't overly impressed with it and personally preferred the Philip Kingsly for my hair.  Product description below ...

For coarse, curly or frizzy hair types. Leaves hair soft, shiny, smoother & more manageable. The combination of products in the Smooth & Shiny Jet Set, reduce frizz and add moisture, making styling easier. They also deeply condition the hair, improving its elasticity, tensile strength and texture. These products are approved for airline liquid carry-on.

As for make-up, I would be bare faced during the day with only my Dr Nick Lowe Anti Age Super Charged SP15 Day cream protection liberally applied every day and I'm happy to say I did not have a problem with any sunburn. I did top it up with a factor 55 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock which is not available in the UK but I buy it in the USA in quantity as I'm a big fan of their range of sunscreens. 

After a day in the sun my favourite body cream is most definitely Kiehl's Creme de Corps ..again at £44 for 500ml it's not cheap but a little goes a long way and it really does work when it comes to keeping the skin hydrated and silky smooth.

It's no wonder I'm always just skimming in under the maximum weight allowance when I travel with all these products in tow but a girl has to try to look her best wherever she is in the world!!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Winter sunshine and tropical rain

My recent week in the Caribbean is almost a distant memory now as the end of 2011 approaches!  December has only just begun and I feel like I am being pushed headlong into 2012 .. busy times ahead but I'm making the time to write while I can!  There's always a chance of rain and we had the odd shower during the week and a full on downpour on the Friday before we left. It all adds to the experience of a tropical paradise and is the reason why the island is so green and lush.
Having been to the gorgeous island of Barbados before, going back for another visit was no disappointment. We stayed at the Crane Beach Resort this time .. the first operating hotel on the island, which was established in the nineteenth century and situated on the South West coast. In the "Red Book of the West Indies" it was described thus ...

"The Hotel occupies about nine acres on top of a high cliff on the Southeast of the Island and is swept by fresh, invigorating breezes from the Atlantic. From its windows is displayed the beautiful sea, fringing with exquisite colors the white soft sandy beach of the hotel's superb bathing place, that has no superior anywhere in the world."

Our accommodation was superb. It was essentially an apartment by any other name .. two bedrooms, three bathrooms, sitting room, kitchen (fully fitted) a balcony on each side and a private plunge pool. For three of us it was more than enough space - truly a home from home - only set in a tropical environment. The Crane is like a village in itself and if you choose, you could stay there and not leave the grounds as everything is provided. The restaurants are diverse .. Italian, Japanese/Thai fusion and Bajan cuisine. There is a general store and a duty free shop offering a wide selection of goods.

Crane Beach
The beach is accessed by an elevator or a few flights of stairsIt never gets too crowded as it is mainly used by Crane residents although it is not a private beach.  The beach attendants are extremely helpful and friendly .. which is actually the Bajan way all over the island .. and if you like a fun beach with waves to play in, it's great for boogie boarding and body surfing.  If this is not your thing, there are beautiful swimming pools on the resort or you could go to the west of the island where the seas are calmer.  I enjoyed waking at sunrise and watching the day begin before going down to the beach to jog or walk and take in the gorgeous fresh air before breakfast.  Something I could definitely get used to!!

We took a day trip to the city, Bridgetown which is colonial in style and has an abundance of duty free goods again on offer as it's a major cruise ship stopover.  There are also safari trips, round the island tours which include the St Nicholas Abbey Plantation house where they produce Rum, a major export.

All of the restaurants we tried were exceptional .. and of course the highlight of any week in Barbados is attending the Friday night fish fry at Oistins. There are countless vendors grilling or frying fish, lobster and chicken in the outdoors .. along with music, dancing and art and craft stalls.  The atmosphere is fantastic and definitely should not be missed. Don't forget to try the famous Rum Punch ... mostly they have a mixer already prepared which I personally don't enjoy as much as a 'start from scratch' original preparation or if you're not into rum, there's the locally produced Banks beer which I hear is very mellow.

This is one place that I definitely will be returning to as often as possible .. I love it!!  Oh, just one more thing .. don't forget to take insect repellent or you are likely to get eaten alive!