Masterstrokes

The perfect make up needs the perfect tools so I thought I would share the make up brushes I use for an every day face or a more glamorous look. It’s worth investing in brushes – if you look after them, they last for years and £14 here and £20 there feels like less of a splurge.

Everyday:

Bobbi Brown Foundation Brush.
I don’t wear foundation daily, applying a tinted moisturizer (if anything) with my fingers. I do however use this brush for applying cream blusher and blending it across my skin. When I want a full coverage for a night out, I use the other side to apply liquid foundation.

Bare Minerals Max Coverage Concealer brush.
Before this brush I always applied concealer with my fingers and found the result less than satisfactory. For an airbrushed look, I now use a skin matched concealer with this brush and very lightly buff it on – almost just tickling the surface with the brush at 90 degrees to the skin, for the most immaculate coverage. It’s also great for applying foundation or concealer to small areas like the under eye area or sides of the nose, where required.

MAC 217 shadow brush
This is meant for filling in the whole lid with a base shade before your other colours or shading. On a daily basis I’m lazy and tend to just use a neutral tone to even out my eye lids, but this brush works just as well with a darker shade, blending the edges out beautifully.

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage brush
This was designed to be used with the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer. Applied in the same way I described above, it provides really full coverage without any of the caked on appearance. It also really stays put but that’s likely to be more to do with the product itself.

Ruby and Milly brow and lash tidy
I don’t think this is available anymore but most brands offer a similar brush. I use it mainly to brush through my brows in the morning (with the mascara wand-like end) and make them look a little more presentable, but it’s also useful to separate lashes before or between applications of mascara, for a really defined look.

Bare Minerals Blush Brush (Flawless Application Face brush)
Sold as a foundation brush, I use it for my blusher, or bronzer, finding it really soft and just the right shape.

Special occasions:

MAC 266 Small Angled Brush
I think this brush is my sister’s best friend and she is queen of the eye makeup. Perfect for lining the bottom lash line with a complimentary colour to your eye shadow or even using one of the shading colours to draw along the upper lash line, it allows a really precise finish.

Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush
This one is especially for BB gel liners. If I want a retro thick liquid liner look, I use this to create the perfect flick and line, either building up the thickness or using it front/side on for different widths.

Laura Mercier Flat Eye Liner brush
Another special brush, I use this with the tightline cake eyeliner for a subtle but effective lash boost. After wetting the brush, I create a liquid liner by wetting the liner cake and coating the brush then looking up or straight forwards toward the mirror, push the end of the brush into the base of the lashes (from underneath them,) to create a full, thick look to the lashes and a subtle line.

MAC 228 Mini Shader Brush
When I’m creating a party or smokey eye, this is the brush I use to define the eye socket, and particularly to create a feline eye shape. It’s small enough to not take over the eyelid with the product it distributes and soft enough to blend too.

Powder applicator.
Not quite a brush, this is what I use to apply powder and really set my base for a special occasion like a wedding where I need my make up to go the distance. I use a loose powder, applying a light sprinkle to the pad, or dipping it and knocking off the excess. Then you rub the pad together on itself by folding it over in several directions working the powder into the pad. Finally, with fingers through the back of the pad’s loop, press the pad onto the skin, rolling it on and off, first along the t-zone then outwards for the perfect finish.

I hope you found this useful – as I’ve learned how important brushes are, I always wonder what has been used for a particular effect when I see a particularly beautiful makeup look. Have you got any must have brushes you can recommend readers?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Beauty Save v Splurge

I realised recently that when it comes to beauty, there are several items I will quite happily fork out on. Others however I buy on a budget, partly to allow the afore mentioned splurges and partly because they do just as good a job. I guess it comes down to exactly how good I think the product is.

So this afternoon I’m rounding up first my beauty splurges and then the items that I save save save on.

I hope you’ll join in by adding your favourite saves/splurges in the comments box.

1. Shampoo, Kerastase specifically (£11 to £16). Although I think a lot of people think of shampoo as simply for getting their hair clean, since I started using Kerastase I saw an immediate and brilliant difference in my hair. I used it pre-wedding when my hair was longer but recently returned to Kerastase as I felt my hair wasn’t as thick as it used to be. Cue better hair in less than a handful of washes.

2. Eve Lom – £55. I remain evangelical about all things Eve Lom. I’ve tried oil based cleansers, the major competitor Liz Earle and others when I’ve been trying to save money. First I thought it was just the muslin cloth that made the difference but I can’t argue any more. There’s a reason the formula is that expensive. It’s that good.

3. Tinted Moisturiser, Laura Mercier. Although expensive, I’ve been using this product for over 3 years now and couldn’t be without it. I keep trying the BB creams but I just can’t find a formula that is as light weight but with as great coverage. I use probably a pea sized amount, so although expensive, it lasts a long time. Favourite new splurge? The Radiance Primer. Just Lovely.

1. Body Lotion. As far as I’m concerned the basic moisturisers are just as good for everyday pins as any of the more expensive cosmetic brands. I use Nivea (£3.57 at Boots) but Vaseline is great too. Plus, because they’re not expensive I’m more likely to look after my dry skin and slap it on daily.

2. Gradual self tanner. Although I spend money on St Tropez Tanner for instant results, having tried the Dove Summer Glow (£5.69 at Boots) gradual self tanner, I do wonder if I’ll ever go back. I also find it really doesn’t take that many applications to get a decent result. I feel more golden after just one, and a couple of layers give a great even result on my legs. Just make sure you exfoliate first!

3. Exfoliators. Honestly, I really don’t think those shower gel type formulations with a handful of exfoliating ‘beads’ thrown in really make a difference. When I have exfoliated, I like my skin to feel like a baby’s and I dont mind a bit of hard work and rough treatment to get there. Although a fan of The Sanctuary Salt Scrub, it’s a bit messy and not that cheap, so I use exfoliating mits from any decent beauty store for just a few pounds. Pair with your regular shower gel and scrub from top to toe for baby soft skin. Dry them out on the radiator between uses and they will last forever.

Time for your recommendations now – I’m hoping I might find a sneaky new bargain beauty item! 😉

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Favourite: Concealers

I have to say, although I am a bit of a make-up addict, I do tend to stick to some staples – I’m a creature of habit and if it ain’t broke, I say why try and fix it, so I stick with my favourites. I also find that as I’ve got older, I’ve really gotten into creating the perfect base – flawless but not caked on and have learned this is down to more than just one product, primers, tinted moisturisers or foundation, concealer, highlighter, powder…

More recently I seem to be stuck in the middle of an irritating hormonal break out and it has lead me back to my concealers – not an item I use every day, but one that when I do use it, I expect minor miracles from. After all, nothing restores your confidence better than a flawless base right?

So today, I’m going to share my favourite concealers and I hope you’ll all share any that you think are particularly worthy of mention too.

First up, my long time favourite(s) from Laura Mercier.

The reason for the elaborate graphic here is that I use the little pot of magic at the bottom, the Laura Mercier Undercover Pot. Hopefully The image illustrates that you can purchase one of these and try out several different products for minimal outlay. That said, I actually bought it pre-wedding, so had use for all of them, but if you just need one or another of them you might prefer to purchase individually.

Secret Camouflage is the key item here, which normally comes in a compact with 2 shades to blend for different areas of your skin (even on the face there can be a couple of shades difference) but you just get one pre-blended on in the pot. The reason I love it, is probably partly down to the dry looking formula that just blends fabulously and the brush that goes with it for said blending. (At extra cost.) I don’t know about anyone else out there but I find if you have dry skin or have picked and ‘gasp’ created a scab from a particularly troublesome spot, if you blend a cream formula in with fingers you don’t cover the top but form a ring of product around the problem, the just highlighting it. With this feather light brush it’s like airbrushing the problem away. Set it with the powder tucked under the pot and you’re good for the day.

The other item in the pot is the secret concealer. This is great for under eye shadows on those extra tiring days or when you’ve burnt the candle at both ends. I apply it with a different brush, or my finger and think it gives great coverage.

Next up, a relatively new find purchased when in desperate need off a flight to New York with Jess. After sinking the best part of a bottle of wine on board and the most marathon catch up ever, we emerged with a full day to make the most of in Manhattan looking like we hadn’t been to bed the night before. (I should speak for myself!) We headed to Sephora where I picked up the Smashbox High Definition Liquid Concealer. I actually wanted it to sort out my under-eye shadows, but have since found it to be a bit of an all around miracle worker. I part it in with my finger, or more often than not use this concealer brush I dug out from my kit to blend it in – it’s particularly great for areas of increased pigmentation around the nose or chin and for evening out larger areas.

Florence’s Tips:

  • Use the right brush. It might seem like extra expense but you only buy them once then clean them on face wash or shampoo then dry to keep them perfect for year after year.
  • Use the sales assistants! I never buy a product without trying it first. I had a Saturday job on the Lancome counter as a teen and know first hand they are dying for someone not to just run away from them. Doing a mini-make-over passes the time and I often then don’t buy there and then – particularly if I want to see how the product wears. A polite ‘Great, Thank you; I’ll see how it wears and pop back later.’ is absolutely fine so don’t feel pressured to buy. It’ll definitely save you money in the long run.
  • Although I’d normally be saying that if you use adequate sunscreen your skin tone won’t change much with the seasons, the fact is it can, so make sure you’re not using a too pale one in summer or a too dark one in winter. It just highlights the bits you’re trying to conceal and that is one of the bonuses to blending with the secret camouflage palette above.

So those are my recommendations for all of your concealing needs. Please do let me know if you rate any of these or if you’ve found a star product I should be trying 🙂 I’d love to hear as usual!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Christmas Gift Guide #1

Ok ladies, without wishing to strike the fear of God (or Christmas Shopping) into you all, it’s 5 and a half weeks to Christmas and that means it’s time to turn our attention to gifts.

I’ve been purposely putting off gift guides not wanting to engage in starting the ‘Christmas Fear’ too early this year but you know what, I haven’t bought a single present yet so this is as much a guide for me as you!

I know as I’ve got older (read ‘busier with more presents to buy’) Christmas shopping has become less of an enjoyable thing to do and more a chore to tick off. Of course there are still people I love shopping for, but many of my friends and family are so darn difficult it just becomes an added stress and pressure. The idea of these guides is that you get to find some little gems that perhaps your friends won’t have seen before and as a result you get bonus gift-buying points! They’re all available online too to make life even easier. 🙂

I’m starting with an easy one… finds for beauty queens and some retro style gifts.

  • I always try and get something limited edition for friends who are addicted to make up and it’s always such a treat to recieve so goes down well with any woman in your life. I love this Laura Mercier Face Illuminator (Limited edition) – Rose Rendezvous £31
  • Wipe clean make-up bags are an essential for travelling and organisation but not often as pretty as this Key-Per Triple Pouch, from Fossil – £35
  • New make-up brushes are always good for a beauty queen and this set from Marks and Spencers covers all the basics for a bargain £15. Try Mac for more specialist shapes.
  • We all have lots of basics in our make-up bag but sometimes don’t splash out on the real McCoy when we’re on a budget. Why not upgrade your friends trusty essentials to the top of the range brands? For the last word in lash curling get the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers or for brows, these Tweezerman for Benefit slant tweezers.
  • Got a friend who always has perfect nails? Update her nail wardrobe with the Nails Inc Heavy Metals collection – bang on trend metallics for party nails – £25
  • Everyone knows someone who’s addicted to lipgloss and this set has a good range of wearable colours in a cute gift box. Ticket to Glossy Town, Benefit – £19.50

Have you spotted something here that you know someone will love or are you cheating and compiling your own Christmas list?

Is there something you would like to see Florence’s gift guide cover to help your Christmas shopping? Drop me a comment below and I’ll see what I can do!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Liner Love

I was recently asked for my eye liner recommendations by a friend and thought I would share them all with you too.

These liners have all been personally tried and tested by me and come recommended, but please feel free to share yours too – I love a good tip.

First up, the Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner for £16.50. The only down side to this great product is that you need a brush to apply it. Bobbi recommends the Ultra fine eyeliner brush at £21.00 which is another hefty outlay but I suppose is either useful for other things or could be replaced by something you already have, depending on which way you look at it.

I have this one in Graphite shimmer – a grey black with a slight shimmer and Ivy shimmer – an emerald green (both shown above,) which is quite dark but also shimmers.

If you’re looking for a bargain, or for something that is super easy to use, I’d recommend a felt eyeliner. I tracked this one (Topshop Felt Pen Eyeliner) down as a present for a friend who wanted to start dallying in liquid liner because I think it’s an easy (read: fool proof) way to get started (don’t ask me how to do true liquid liner – not my forte at all!) It’s a steal at £6.50 too 🙂

The Creme de la Creme however is this little beauty by Laura Mercier. Again it needs a brush and I don’t think you can substitute the preferred LM one for another brand (but I’m open to any suggestions?) and get the same effect, but it’s worth the outlay. Instead of applying this one to the eye lid itself, you wet the cake and make a paste or thick liquid with some water. Then you apply with the brush held flat, from underneath the lash line, wiggling the brush into the base of the lashes. The effect is that of a lash transplant – no kidding. Your eye lashes look thicker and fuller and your eyes get real definition, but you don’t look like a drag queen. Bonus!

I dare say you could apply this above the lash line too if you were trying to create a sixties flick and it would kill two birds with one stone easily. The Laura Mercier Cake eyeliner is £18.50 and available in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Space NK online, the flat eyeliner brush is £22.50.

Drop me a comment in the comments box below if you have used any of these or if in fact you think they’re all pants and that there are better/cheaper/longer lasting products you’d like to shout about! We’re all ears!

Love,
Rebecca.
xo

Handbag Heros… Garnier BB Cream

I’m a little late mentioning this as I must have read about it a good couple of weeks ago, so I’m guessing you guys have already heard about it, right?

Well, there’s been so much hype I’m going to tell you about it anyway, so those of you who have missed out on it can revel in having the newest, hottest, latest knowledge 🙂

Garnier BB Cream

So what’s all the hype? Garnier BB Cream is the first to hit the UK in a trend for BBs (blemish balms) sweeping across Asia. Prepare to see many more where this came from. Apparently, Asia is one of the most technologically advanced skin care industries (figures) and BB creams have been super popular over there for a while now.

The idea is that this is a brilliant product with loads of sought after features in one. Moisturising? Check. Even coverage? Check. Concealing beautifully? Check. SPF? check! Glowing skin? Supposedly, also a check! now I haven’t tried this miracle product (it sold out as soon as it hit shops in the UK) but you can head on over to the Garnier BB Cream site and sign up for a free sample. Or if you feel like splashing out, you can buy your own full size and still have change for a tenner. Yup, it’s £8.99! I’ll definitely be checking it out and reporting back on if it gives my Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser a run for its money.

Have you tried a BB Cream?

Love,
Rebecca.
xo

PS If you’re still confused, just think of it as a tinted moisturiser, but better! 🙂

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