A MAC Renaissance


I’m having a bit of a MAC renaissance. 

I've gone from wearing a little bit of every brand on my face to sporting a brand bias.

This happens every now and then, typically a result of my rooting around in a drawer to rediscover old favourites. On this occasion though I think it was prompted by a film, specifically *cough, cough* House of Versace

I definitely/maybe had a few when I watched this late one night but I thought this made-for-TV movie was just fantastic. The actress playing Donatella, Gina Gershon, was sporting a face full of slap throughout: a heavy base, bronzer, blusher, smokey eyes and a delicate nude lipstick. It cannot be a coincidence that the morning after watching this film I immediately adopted the same makeup aesthetic. 

I wanted to wear make up and I wanted to wear lots. 

With this mantra in mind I pulled out a foundation that never lets me down - MAC Studio Fix Fluid. 



The Ronseal of the foundation world. Spectacularly unsophisticated in formula with a scent that clearly illustrates the manufacturers enthusiasm for chemicals, Studio Fix Fluid is my nostalgic fail-safe. It's also one of those magical foundations that seems to look better as the day goes on - sure you have a little bit of shine in the T-zone but everything else has literally bonded to your face, even after foregoing powder. This is quite amazing.

I mix two shades together - NC37 and NC15 - because: a) I had them in my drawer and b) it's always a struggle to find one bottle that actually matches my skin so mixing a darker and lighter colour seemed like a perfect solution. 

I loved it from first application (with the MAC 181 and the Sonya Kashuk flat top brush to smooth). EVERYTHING is covered and everything seems to stay in place well. I am 99% sure anyone close to me can smell the SFF stench but this is a small price to pay for makeup happiness :)

I have worn this consistently now for about 10 days - pretty good going for me! 

I pile it on with the following:
  • NARS Laguna 
  • MAC Fun Ending blusher (more of that below)
  • MAC Coil or Superwatt shadow (mentioned below as well) with Urban Decay "Naked" in the crease
  • MAC Lingering brow pencil with MAC Beguile to set 
  • Kat von D liner
  • Bourjois Volume 1 Second mascara

...alternating lips with something like Too Faced Nude Beach....





....or MAC Soar and MAC Peach Blossom which by the way is the most amazing combination for neutral, tawny lips. #obsessed



 All this makeup excitement has meant that my allegiance to MAC has been rekindled and the truest manifestation of that is via a haul.

The Haul

It started with a need to pick up MAC Lingering and side stepped into buying an Electric Cool shadow (one of those cream to powder formulations) and a blusher - Fun Ending from the A Novel Romance collection. Both items are probably impossible to find in the UK/elsewhere now as they are old arse collections. Here of course they are considered recent releases!

The Electric Cool shadows are weird. Weird but incredible once applied. The spongy cream formula requires a finger or a flat synthetic brush but the finish on the eye is high sparkle that makes your eyes shine. I love Coil so much, a rich reflective copper, that I actually went back and purchased Superwatt, a golden-edged taupe. 



Now the blusher....oh the blusher...this is Fun Ending. 



I bought this last week and to be honest with you I am itching to go out and buy another - if I can find it. It's just that perfect neutral shade - enough pink to avoid it being dull but coupled with enough neutrality to ensure that it sculpts and remains subtle. 

It is a Satin formula and I think these have a tendency to apply slightly darker than they appear in the pan. This is definitely the case here but only marginally. Once on the skin you get a pretty, warm toned neutral that is far more interesting than Tarte Exposed and sits somewhere between MAC Well Dressed and NARS Douceur. Why, for goodness sake, is this limited edition? If I can get more than one I promise to do a giveaway! 

So after all these years I think we can confirm that MAC still has me. The price point is reasonable, the brand is accessible and although I have bemoaned the onslaught of collection releases, there is always something new to hoard. What have you picked up lately? Anything from Lightness of Being? :) 

5 Thoughts About Blogging

I realized something quite startling the other day – buynowbloglater.com is entering its 5th year! 5 years of sharing is a long time and that’s before we even consider the Lollipop26 years that preceded this corner of the Internet.

In that time I have seen the community evolve. What started an innocent sharing of purchases with little to no commercial element attached has now transformed into a financial machine with bloggers often transformed into PR mouthpieces.

So for what it’s worth here is what I think about blogging now that we are entering 2015!

Print from a fab etsy shop: Spell and Tell - Link!



1. Trust has gone out the window
I received a comment recently from a reader asking whether I was sponsored by NARS because they quite rightly observed that I had been mentioning the brand more frequently in the last month or so.

For the record I am not – in fact I am not sponsored by any company - but this innocent observation reflects the commercial nature of blogging.

In a community where it’s common for popular bloggers to sign deals with multi-national cosmetic companies in return for a specified number of product mentions, its not surprising that we start to second guess the motives behind a post.  I personally do it all the time and even if I deconstruct those cleverly worded disclaimers that are often presented in the smallest possible font, I am convinced that someone somewhere down the line is paying for a promotion.

As a result I don’t blindly trust bloggers like I used to. There are very few resources that I would look to and regard as being honest and truthful.

2. Loyalty to PR’s often appears stronger than loyalty to readers
When I first started receiving products from PR’s I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had been recognized as producing a worthy place on the Internet that X brand wanted to place product within it. I was proud and excited and I still get a little thrill when I get my hands on amazing releases. At times though it often feels like a bit of a burden.

Woe is me. #firstworldproblems of the highest degree.

The reason why I say this is that I don’t want to blog or Instagram every single product I get sent. PR’s often fail to understand that a product sent for consideration does not a guaranteed Instagram make and this is especially true in Dubai where the agency way is perhaps more aggressive than it is in the UK.

I know I am not alone and I have several blogger friends that would also agree that their online existence is not motivated by the need to keep a PR or a brand happy.

However, I do think there are cases where brands rule a bloggers digital home and effectively dictate what content is placed. I think this is such a huge mistake to make.

Of course, as a blogger, PR provided product means new material and you want to keep your supplies coming by keeping everyone happy but you don’t have to cover every. single. thing and when you do mention something it doesn’t always have to be AMAZING. I guess it’s important to be balanced – working with PR’s is great but not at the expense of muting your own personality. There is nothing more dull than reading a blog/watching a video where each item has been carefully placed by a marketing team. In cases like that I can’t help but think that reader/viewer loyalty has been cruelly usurped by PR loyalty.

One thing to iterate here though is that the business side of this community isn’t all bad news. Who can complain about getting paid to talk about something they love? It’s amazing. It’s just that sponsored or PR placed content needs to find a balance.

3. Informality works
I was in a work meeting last year and a car brand was discussing how they conduct their social media. They stated that informal images, such as customer photos of cars, garner better feedback and engagement than a professionally shot showroom image.

Although we exist in totally different verticals I think the same rule applies in this community. The more informal and “real” the photo or post, the more I like the person behind it. 

This is especially the case when talking about outfit photos. Do we really want to see you prancing around in a contrived showroom-borrowed designer outfit? No. Personally, I want to see what you are wearing when you take that garb off. I want you to be relatable.  I think this is why bloggers like Sincerely Jules are so popular. We can’t all look as amazing as she does but in every picture you get the sense that she actually wore that outfit out for the day.

4. Blogging burnout is real
I should say that I make this statement as someone who doesn’t blog full-time and so doesn’t have the burden of churning out content to pay bills but blogging burnout is a real thing! Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. You sit at your computer and the words to describe a lipstick or eye shadow just don’t come. It’s akin to an off-day at work and we all have those every now and again.

It’s okay to have a break. Yes, your analytics go down when you are not active and that might bother you but isn’t it better to give yourself time to become inspired and excited again?

Maybe I am just justifying my own patchy track record of consistency here but I if you are doing this for “fun” then do what you can to make sure that it still gives you joy.

5. It’s still awesome
What I loved the most about blogging – the sharing and networking with others – is still the main attraction.

Just today I received an email from one of you that brought a little tear to my eye because it felt like I had made a real connection with someone. Along with having some great experiences, you really do make friends.

I read several blogger’s posts recently that documented their highlights of 2014. It was basically a list of all the brand collaborations achieved. That’s all lovely and they are of course legitimate highlights but what about the fact that your readers made it all possible?

For me the interaction is the best, and will always be the best, part of all this. So as I enter my 5th year of blogging at this domain I’ll say a little thank you to those of you out there that encourage me to continue.


Thank you for reading! :) 

2014 Beauty Favourites

Before I launch into this mammoth retrospective let me just say thank you for all your lovely messages/comments/tweets regarding yesterday's post. It wasn't until after I posted it that I started to feel a little emotional, all thanks to the kindness expressed in your feedback. So thank you. Many of you have followed me for a long time and I do regard you as close friends. With that in mind I think candidness should also be an approach adopted in 2015.

Right, let's get started on my 2014 beauty favorites. I have focussed on stuff that I have tried this year - rather than old stalwarts that line the cupboards. There are quite a few so don't be afraid to get a cup of tea and assume a comfortable position on the sofa.

BASE

Clarins Extra Comfort Foundation



Surprise, surprise. Even though I have whittered on about this quite enough already I couldn't not give it pride of place in my favorites. It's a magical foundation that anyone (except those with very oily skin) should give a whirl. Apply this and prepare to see slap-tastic perfect skin reflected in your mirror. I used the colour Sand.

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder Foundation



This achieves two things: 1) It acts as an amazing setting powder, securing the longevity of a liquid base for the entire day but also 2) Makes even the heaviest foundation appear natural. I don't know how number 2 works but every time I use this I am amazed at how an extra layer of slap can actually work to make me look more natural. *shrugs* I never want to be without it.

Louise Young LY34

When I think base I think LY34. The two are synonymous with each other because this mega-sized brush never fails to blend a product into the skin with minimum effort. For make up obsessives it's a must have.

BLUSH/HIGHLIGHTER/BRONZER

Laura Mercier Orange Blossom



I discovered this at the beginning of the year, likening it to a superior version of NARS Orgasm. I stand by that. It's far prettier than it's famous competitor - the tone is that perfect peach/gold sheen hybrid and no matter what shade my skin is, it always works.

Tarte Natural Beauty



A strawberry-hued blush doesn't exactly scream "natural" but this dabbed on the face gives THE PRETTIEST glow. If you want to get one blush from that line I would push you to consider this one.

MAC So Sweet, So Easy



This is one of those reformulated creme blushes that MAC came out with. It's very sweet in colour - giving that dolly-like flush of pink - but not that easy to work with due to the relatively light level of pigmentation but I actually don't mind that because the colour and end result is just that good.

Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Ibiza




I recently announced my love for this little bronzed stick. It glides on the skin, is easy to blend and gives the most realistic warmth to the face. Of course it isn't all wonderful - it can fade easily if you apply to a "slippy" surface, so pop it on after you have powdered your foundation. Net a porter is one of the only places that has a decent stock of this.

Benefit Watt's Up



Okay, so TheBalm Mary-Lou Manizer would rank as the best powder highlighter (and a pretty awesome inner corner colour as well) but I also want to make sure that Watt's Up gets the credit it deserves. This is a champagne-hued cream highlighter that makes you face radiate in a flattering, dimensional way.

James Read Bronzing Mousse



Can I whack a fake tan in this category? Why the hell not eh? I actually haven't had this in my stock for months but when I think of the best fake tan I have used this year/EVER I think of this one. It's the best tone and a mousse formula always goes down well as it dries quickly and is easy to apply.

EYES

Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage



At the time of purchase this quad felt like the biggest extravagance. It contained four of the most generic neutral tones that would undoubtedly be duped within my collection. And yes, this is probably true but the quality, oh the quality, makes this different. If you got rid of all my eyeshadows (except MAC Sable, Mythology etc) I would be perfectly fine with this.

Lilash/Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde



One is affordable, the other less so, but this combination gives great lash. Lilash is of course the conditioning treatment that makes your eyelashes longer and then the Volume 1 Seconde gives them the kick up the bum to take them to the next level.



If we focus on the mascara I just want to make the following declaration: I shall not deviate from Volume 1 Seconde Ultra Black for the foreseeable future. It is absolutely incredible.

LIPS

Oh there are quite a few in this category. Brace yourselves....

Revlon Matte Balm's




These are really lovely. They leave a minty aftertaste, are totally comfortable on the lips and mimic products that cost maybe 2 or even 3 times their price. Audacious is a poppy coral that I always go back to on days when I have no idea what to wear.

Bobbi Brown Art Sticks



The stick love continues. I tried these this year and I honestly think they are one of Bobbi Brown's greatest releases in 2014. They give more of a satin finish on the lips but they are just as comfortable to wear as the Revlon ones I chatted about above. Rose Brown is a wearable way to try and pretend you are Kylie J and Sunset Orange is a pretty take on a bright hue. I must make a promise to buy more of these.

Clinique Soft Matte Lipsticks



Another release from the house of Estee Lauder, although this time it comes from a brand I haven't deigned to look at for years. Soft Matte really changed how I perceived Clinique because these are an excellent formulation - excellent. They are weightless and undetectable - pretty remarkable for a matte. Petal and Suede are pretty but Mandarin and Peony are sensational.

Estee Lauder Colour Envy lipsticks



You know how everyone raved about the NARS Audacious formula well I really do prefer Estee Lauder's 2014 offering. I know it doesn't seem as cool but it has a nice slip to it - which makes it easy to apply - leaves a great sheen but has a rich and true pigmentation. I have a few but I love Rebellious Rose (a great professional looking plum-nude) and Desirable ( a nude that makes my heart sing).

MAC Pure Zen



This would be the year that I really discovered this shade. It's such a gorgeous peachy nude suspended within the Cremesheen formula. I have gone through two bullets in 2014 and that's pretty good going for me. Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell is similar but without question, Pure Zen is better quality/more pigmented.

PERFUMES

Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede



I haven't got around to repurchasing this but I will. Oh yes I will. There is nothing like this. It layers so well with Wood Sage & Sea Salt but even on it's own leaves a complex floral scent. You have to try it to understand it - who the hell even understands what Blush Suede is anyway?

Diptyque Philosykos




I got this on Xmas day so I am totally counting it as a 2014 favourite. I LOVE this. ADORE it. For you to feel the same you have to be keen on fig notes. It's that fresh, green tone. We start there and then once a few seconds have passed we are met with a cedar base that makes it a little bit musky and mysterious. This is unisex and addicting. I have the oil roller ball now - which is perfect for handbag situations and delivers an intense punch of fragrance - but a full sized bottle isn't far off for drowning myself in. If I wanted to develop a signature scent I would want this to be it.

So that was 2014. Of course there were many other products that I liked but when I think of the favourites, these are the ones that immediately pop up in my head.

Now I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings :) 

Musings and resolutions

Well I hope you are all doing marvellously well. I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and if you didn’t don’t worry; it’s all over now.


I’ll tell you a little secret: I actually don’t love Christmas. At all.

Well, correction: I love parts of it. The parts that I have a deep appreciation for are centered in “the build up” – the red cups, the buying presents for others, the Christmas songs and the general excitement but I think there is a hideous amount of pressure attached to it as well. Forced fun. In the age of Instagram and Vlogmas it feels like everyone is inadvertently competing to have the BEST DAY. It’s all done with good intentions of course but I can’t help but wonder how much this impacts those younger viewers/lurkers of social media, incidentally the main demographic for many YouTubers, who might not have picture perfect family dynamics.

And if that wasn’t overwhelming enough we are then hit with the barrage of What I Got For Christmas videos, the tasteless pinnacle of the haul genre. You don’t want to look but you just can’t help it and once you have watched a few you wonder why you didn’t get a £2000 designer bag on Jesus’s birthday. 

What I do love though is New Years and the fact that a new year acts as a reboot. As clichéd as resolutions are, they can act as a positive affirmation of what you really want to do and be. For 2015, I made several:
  1. Drink more water – the standard resolution that I put at the top of my list every year. I have actually got a lot better at this in 2014 when I discovered that room temperature was the way to go. It’s easier to drink and causes less bloating.
  2. Integrate exercise into my life for general mental and physical wellbeing – I want to move every day because walking two mini dogs just doesn’t cut it. I have started Insanity (I LOVE IT and it’s not as impossible as I thought it would be) and joined a gym.
  3. Be successful – could I be any more less specific? Well to clarify I am talking about my job as a consultant. I set up my own business last year and went out on my own, leaving agency-life behind me. (I am a UX Consultant in case you were wondering, mainly specializing in research). It’s the scariest thing I have done professionally but has been, without question, the best. I want this year to be about continuing to do great work for great clients and feeling that sense of accomplishment.
  4. Read a book a week – just like that water one, this resolution remains present each and every year. Reading is such incredible escapism and I know many of you feel as passionately about it as I do. I have just started Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and I know I am well on my way to finishing that – it’s a great read – so I am optimistic that I can keep this one up.
  5. Have a baby – I have had many questions and messages on this topic and I get it. I am a certain age and it’s expected that I would “produce” at this point. Well I do want to have children but for some people like me it just doesn’t happen straight away. It would be really nice though if this was the year.  

Now over to you. What do you hope for in 2015?
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