Beauty Without Fuss

Saturday 31 January 2009

How To: Apply Smokey Eyeshadow

My own patented (in 2004!) technique for smokey eyeshadow...

Smokey eyes:

You will need

one fairly stiff eyeshadow brush
one medium sized mirror
eyeshadow of choice
eyeliner of choice


Load shadow brush with shadow. Hold mirror beneath your chin, and look down into it. Close one eye, and push shadow - brush pointing upwards - into the line of your eye socket. At this angle, the socket line will be perfectly visible in the mirror. Re-load the brush with colour and do the same for the other eye.

Place mirror at your usual angle, and using the same shadow, colour in your eyelids. Make sure you push the colour well down towards the lash-line. This will be easier if you use the brush pointing downwards.

Check effect in mirror, the line where the shadow stops in the sockets should then be blended - you can use your finger or a blending brush -so that it there is no harsh line between the shadow finishing and your skin beginning.

Line eyes - with either pencil, or matching shadow using a brush - above, below, and inner rim if desired and add lots of mascara.

The trick is the looking down into a mirror and following the socket line - if you go too high up with the shadow, it looks wrong - and also, not using liquid liner, it's far too harsh.

Sometimes I do this without colouring in the lid after finding the
socket line, and it works astonishingly well as a softer, yet still smokey alternative. That's actually my usual office makeup, just colour in the socket line, eyeliner and mascara.

Friday 30 January 2009

How To: Use Hairsticks

Again, from the hugely helpful Binturong, how to use Hair Sticks.

1. Gather hair backwards as if about to put it into a low ponytail.

2. Twist and fold upwards as you twist, as if doing a french pleat (the instructions that follow are for a twist that starts with the right hand side going over the top when the hair is hanging down, so by the time it's folded up the 'smooth' side is on the left and the 'tucked in' side is on the right, if you twist the other way then reverse the instructions).

3. Hold hair stick behind head parallel with the floor with decorated end on the left.

4. Starting on the left of the roll of hair, poke the stick through to the right. The angle should take it slightly away form your head, so it starts quite deep and comes out on the right hand side halfway through the depth of the bulge (I'm not sure that's very clear - if the roll of hair were a baguette held vertically against the back of your head, the stick should go in where the bottom crust is, and come out where the cheese is in the middle)

5. Holding everything firmly in place, rotate the stick end over end while turning it 90 degrees (you see why I really need pictures?). Lift the decorated end out away from your head (keeping the stick parallel with the floor) - this should push the pointed end into your scalp. Keeping the point pressed firmly to your scalp, when the stick is pointing directly out from your head change direction and fold the decorated end up.

6. If you've manage to follow the previous instructions without completely tying your arms in knots, when the stick reaches vertical push it down through the roll of hair, keeping close to your scalp.

7. Repeat from (3) with second stick, but change the angles slightly so the sticks end up crossing over each other.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Products I Love

There are so many cosmetic products out there these days, that products don't really need to stand the test of time, there is always the latest "wonder product" to replace things with. For me, the test of whether a product is any good or not is "Will I buy it again?" and, in the vast majority of cases, the answer quite simply is no. Luzzegain suggested I make a list of products I've bought twice, and would happily buy again so here it is:

Kerastase Dermo Calm shampoo - Simply the best anti-dandruff shampoo there has ever been, for us sensitive scalped, dry haired people, plus it's good for coloured hair. Now sadly rumoured to be discontinued, I've recently bought four bottles just in case ...

Diorific 008 Mystic Mauve - The perfect neutral lipstick, if one ignores the quite ridiculously bulky packaging. Goes with smokey eyes or no-makeup makeups, somehow just makes your lips look polished and gives the perfect finishing touch to any face. And it makes your teeth look whiter, which is marvellous.

MAC Prolash - Great mascara with bulking fibres to make your lashes look fab of a nighttime. This was my wonder-product till I discovered Lancome Hypnose, which I find doesn't smudge as much.

Clinique Naturally glossy mascara - perfect for daytime, natural looking mascara.

MAC Strobe Cream - a cream highlighter/moi
sturiser. You can use this on your cheekbones/browbones for a highlighter effect, or use it in place of moisturiser for a slightly sheeny dewy effect. I like to dab a little all over a too matte foundation to make it look more natural. Did you know all MAC face products are vitamin enriched, like this one? I didn't either. And it's literally half the price and twice the size of Benefit's similar products.

Laura Mercier eyeshadow in Twilight - a sort of purply-browny-greyish colour. You can wear this as a light natural colour wash across your lids, it's perfect for bringing out the green tones in hazel or brown eyes, but it also suits blue eyes. Or, you can use it as I do as the basis for the smokey eyes look as detailed earlier. The perfect suits all occasions and colourings eyeshadow.

MAC paint in Untitled - a flesh coloured pigment in an artists paint tube. Can be used anywhere on the face - it comes in a variety of colours and finishes - but this one makes the perfect base for eye makeup, as it evens out the skin tones there, and gives the shadow something to cling to, and makes it last all day, and all night if it has to. Wonderful stuff.

Urban Decay liquid eyeliner - I own about six of these, beautiful colours and simply the best brush yet found for ease of application. Stupid, stupid colour names though.

Rimmel pencil eyeliner - there is no eyeliner pencil on the market to rival these budget beauties. Soft, easy to apply, and relatively long lasting, simply no sense in buying more expensive ones.

Chanel Crystalle - my favourite perfume, I flirt with others, but I always come back to this. A green, floral, herby type scent, that's not at all sweet (my pet hate in perfumes, along with that horrible ingredient in certain perfumes that I haven't identified yet which makes me retch), and apparently it's very sexy. I love it.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream I never leave the house without a tube of this about my person somewhere, I use it as a lip balm, to pat on foundation to get a glow, as an eye gloss (great if you've smudged your liquid eyeliner, and want to make it look like a deliberate action), as a cuticle treatment, on spots, on flaky skin patches such as ankles and elbows, on scratches. It's wonderful, and last for years. Don't buy the lip treatment stick though, it has too much added vitamin e and another ingredient which can actually make your lips flakier. And it doesn't contain petrochemicals, which is one of my pet hates in balm-type products. The original wonder product, and still the best as far as I'm concerned.

Chanel Rouge Noir lipstick and nail varnish Beautiful colours, beautiful packaging. Chanel do reds better than any other make up company, and these are the best reds ever, no question.

Avon Arabian Glow bronzing powder Cheap, cheerful, does exactly what it says on the tin. Nice colour too.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

How To: Cleanse Dry, Sensitive, Flaky Skin

I have dry, sensitive flaky skin, and I've suffered with it for years, buying ever more expensive, and heavy, moisturisers to try and deal with the problem. This, I've since found, is a shortcut to adult acne, which is never the greatest look.

I have solved the problem somewhat though, mainly by changing my cleansing routine, and using a lighter moisturiser. The routine is as follows:


Cleanser of choice - oil, bar, cream, balm, foam (one note, if your skin is sensitive all the time, and is dry as a matter of course, then please, please please, do not use a foaming cleanser under any circumstances, the vast majority - even the ones for sensitive skin - will contain Sodium Laurel Sulphate, and this is horrendous for causing irritation. The others tend to be too harsh too) or whichever type works best for you.
Muslin cloth - available from the baby care department of Boots, or at a pinch, a soft towelling face cloth will do.
Hot water - as warm as your hand can stand. Too hot, and you'll break capillaries in your face.
Moisturiser of choice


Apply cleanser to lightly dampened face, and massage face lightly with your fingertips. Have your muslin cloth soaking in the hot water while this is happening. The Eve Lom website has instructions on how to do this and give yourself a lymphatic massage at the same time, but it's not necessary for every day cleansing.

Once your face is thoroughly covered, wring out your cloth, shake it out and press it to your entire face. Hold it over your face for a few seconds, breathing in the steam, then repeat. Repeat once more (three times in total).

Once more, rinse your cloth in the hot water. Wring out, and start removing what remains of the cleanser from your face using small circular motions, until all traces of cleanser are removed from your face. Rinse your cloth in slightly cooler water this time, apply to the face as before and hold for a few seconds. Pat your face dry gently.

Apply your mosituriser as normal. You should notice straightaway that your face feels a lot smoother and softer, and, if used regularly - ie, every time you cleanse - you'll never have flaky skin again!


Tuesday 27 January 2009

How To: Deal with Spots

We all get zits. Occasionally, we all get those hormonal enormozits that take ages to come to a head and then take what feels like months to disappear. Here's my patented guide to dealing with zits.

Salicylic acid-based spot treatment
Clay-based face mask
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream or similar

The vast majority of topical spot treatments contain salicylic acid, but I can personally recommend Clinique, and Origins as good ones.

If an emergency zit treatment is required, smush an aspirin (the active ingredient in aspirin is salicylic acid!), dilute with a little water, and dab the paste on your zit as required.

Dab the affected area with salicylic acid treatment of choice every few hours. Then put a dab of clay based mask on for overnight, to draw the spot out quicker.

Use something greasy - I'm going to recommend 8Hr cream here for traditions sake, but you can use vaseline, or bio oil, as you wish, but it must be something highly emollient - to clear up the inevitable redness and dryness caused by salicylic acid zit-zapper.

If squeezing proves irresistible:

If you end up popping your enormozit, first make sure your hands are clean! Then use the clay mask to draw out all the impurities - leave it in place as long as you possibly can - then cover with grease of your choice (bio oil, 8hr cream etc) to ease resultant redness/flakine

This should help your zit leave quicker and not leave you wanting to tear your hair out waiting for it to go.


Monday 26 January 2009

Handy Hints

Just little oddments of info I can't make an entire post out of in themselves ...

If you're getting a facial, always check out the skin of the person who'll be treating you. If they have bad skin, don't make the appointment! Generally, facialists use their own products, if they don't work for them, they're unlikely to work for you.

Never accept recommendations
for colours to suit you from someone wearing black lipliner.

Don't use cheap black hair dye if you're over the age of 25.

If you use those liquid cheekstains (Benetint, etc) you'll find them easier to apply if you dot the product on the finger you use to blend it, rather than straight on the cheek itself.

To find your perfect lip colour, try all your lipsticks out when not wearing any other make up at all. The one that still suits your naked skin is your ideal colour. There will be one, and the results will surprise you. Don't let it stop you wearing other colours though.

Colours from the opposite end of the spectrum will work best for bringing out your eye colour. If your eyes are hazel or green, try purples and violets. Blue and grey eyes should try browns, and brown eyed people should try greys. Nudes, or shimmering metallics will work well on all people, usually.

Always buy the most expensive foundation you can afford. More expensive formulations contain higher densities of pigment, and will cover better. It's the staple of your make up bag, so the better it looks, the better you look.

If you want to try a colour and you're not sure it'll suit you, buy it from one of the cheaper ranges, then if it doesn't suit you, you haven't wasted too much cash.

Pencils will sharpen better if you pop them into the fridge for half an hour or so first.

Eyecream, used straight from the fridge, will make your eyes much less puffy than if it's used at room temperature. Keep your nail varnish in there too, it lasts longer.

Soap, if stored in the airing cupboard before use, will last longer for some reason.

If you use the hot cloth method to clean your face, be sure to give your lips a tiny scrub too, it'll get rid of any scaly bits. Apply lipbalm straight after though.

ALWAYS exfoliate before using fake tan. And, if people start asking you all of a sudden if you've started using fake tan, then you know you've overdone it.

If you're not sure about a purchase, don't make it there and then. Go away and do something else for a couple of hours. If it doesn't come back to your thoughts by the next day, you didn't really want it in the first place.
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