Gettin Figgy With It

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In Australia we are in the deep, (not too) dark, depths of Winter. I have never been one to consciously conform to the seasonality of colour and scent. It's sad when someone says coral is only for the warmth and energy of Summer, and coconut can only be worn by the sea. If you love it, wear it. Life's too short to be dictated by the colour of the sky and the distance to a coastline.

In fact, I use scent and colour to remind myself of the heat and vibrancy of the warmer months and to brighten my mood, not matter what the season. I do this in two ways: red nails, and fig fragrances. Nails are for another day. Today, we're chatting about all things figgy.

The fresh, really, really green, almost masculine smell of fig trees is one of the most invigorating and calming smells and I can guarantee that if you have been to Greece, it will remind you of just that. And Greece is the most refreshing, enlivening and calming place. My first exposure to figgy freshness was on the skin of one of my best friends. She almost always wears Diptyque Philosykos and there has never been a fragrance more suited to a woman in all of the history of the world. The smooth coconut undertones mixed with the green, energetic freshness of the fig tree perfectly represents her serene, wise, brilliant half-Greek self.
Having smelt that glorious concoction on my babe of a friend, I knew I had to try a similar potion myself. I also knew that as I already robbed her of her beloved Stella by Stella McCartney (fresh, modern, band I couldn't commit the unthinkable crime of fragrance-robbery yet again. So I set out on a search for my own fig fragrance deviation, and I do believe I hit the jackpot.

Premier Figuier by L'Artisan Parfumeur is a woody, green enlivening fragrance that could be worn by men and women alike. Yes. My kind of fragrance. It is a lovely blend of fresh fig, sandalwood, milk of almond and coconut. Much sharper than its Diptyque sister, it was the first perfume based on the fig scent, and was created by the same genius behind Philosykos. I wear this when I'm feeling strong, fresh and clear-headed. I should admit that I did treat myself to a beautiful, solid fragrance capsule of Philosykos, and these two layered are really, really beautiful. I picked up my bottle of Premier Figuier with my Mumma in Rue  du Bourg Tibourg in Paris (basically, heaven in a Rue), so it holds really special and fond memories for me, which are revealed every time I spray it.

If you're not too sure whether you want to douse yourself in the smell of fig, I implore you to try Diptyque's Figuier candle. This will give you the most enticing example of what fig fragrances are all about, without the bodily commitment. This candle exudes a blend of fig wood, fresh green leaves and a milky, coconutty undertone. I recently finished this and will be absolutely going back for more, as it is an incredibly comforting, clean and energising smell.

One absolute Do Not Buy for me, though, sadly is Laura Mercier's Fresh Fig fragrance. I bought this on Strawberry Net, so am not entirely sure that it is what it says it is, but what I smell is not at all Fig. In fact, it is incredibly, and sickly, sweet, fruity and not what fig is about. There's no earthiness, or green, or wood to this. Not a good indication of fig.

Start with the the masters at L'Artisan and there'll be no turning back.

The Naily Bulletin: Essentials

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Without sounding arrogant or preachy: I have developed somewhat of a beauty-following in my workplace. Not in the sense that people marvel at my beauty, oh no!!! What I mean to say is, word of my complete and utter devotion to the confidence, self-worth and empowerment I, and I believe all women, get from looking and then feeling good is spreading throughout my office. Many of my (female!) colleagues have been calling and emailing me, asking me for tips on what cheap mascara is the best, how to make lipstick last a long time, and what foundation to use.

But I'd have to say, the most asked question of all is: how do you do your nails. Because nails are my thing. My bag. My schtick. I cannot remember a day in the last 5 years when my nails were bare. Yes, seriously, I know I am mad!

The issue is I was brought up with two very beauty-conscious grandmothers. Beauty-conscious in completely different ways. My mum's mum, Mama, was all about lipstick and skin. Bright corals, deep reds and pretty pinks. Her skin was always glowy, nourished and even. My dad's mum was completely and utterly about nails. She had tubs and tubs of polishes, and I spent afternoons fossicking through her stash and painting my talons 10 different shapes to the horror of my mum, and the glowing pride of my Grandma. Some of my happiest memories of my childhood are of Mama applying fuchsia lipstick to my little, 5-year old lips and my Grandma, painting my nails a shimmery peach while sipping hot, sweetened tea.

Sadly, neither of my grandmothers are with me, but they live on through my love for beauty. And my Grandma Pat would be very proud of this nail regime I have developed! It allows my polish to last, remain shining and continue to be really, really strong so that I almost always forget my nails are even painted.

BASE COAT: Essie First Base Base Coat. Ya need it, even if you don't think you do. This base coat leaves a tacky, sticky surface for the coloured polish to adhere to, meaning your paint job won't chip as easily, so much better in the long run. It also protects your nails and cuticles from staining, meaning you can keep polishing without any issue of colour-contamination. Perf. You especially need base coat if you're using shitting, unrefined polish, as these tend to stain more than others.

COLOUR COAT: DON'T BE A SNOB. That isn't a brand, that is a mantra. Do not be snobby about the brand of polish you use. Sure, if Chanel come out with a colour which is unique and un-dupeable, go for it! But if you spot an Essence or Rimmel polish that you love, buy it. My favourite formula is Rimmel Lycra Pro polishes, and they go from less than $8 at Priceline. Gone are the days when OPI and Essie were the only houses who produced fashion-forward, well crafted formulas. Today, Sally Hansen,Revlon, Bourjois and Covergirl all produce long-wearing, glossy, even polishes that are as good as, if not better than the most expensive OPI. If you like it, buy it.

APPLICATION: Practise makes perfect, it really does. Everyone is shit when they start, but you will get better, je promis. The key to making your job look good is to not let the polish fall into the cuticles at the edge of your nails. This is hard, but you can always fix it up if it happens. To help with this, I recommend leaving your thumbs until last, and using the thumbnail to trace around the edge of a nail and clean out the cuticle. This leaves your polish looking neat, clean and profesh. You can also use a toothpick to get rid of that excess polish and make sure your nails look tidy and perfect.

TOP COAT: Seche Vite. Do not even bother trying anything else. It always has, and always will, reign supreme. This should seriously be an obligatory purchaser for all women. It is the most miraculous, brilliant beauty product, so good, in fact, that if all women knew about it, the nail salon industry would be out of business. It is a gel-like top coat that is quite thick, sinks into all ridges, covers all imperfections and bumps and dries completely in 5 minutes. I shit you not, it is that good. When I chip a nail, I simply grab the colour, dot it on the chip and put a coat of Sechey over the top and it is as good as new. Un-effing-believable stuff. Can (and must) be bought on eBay.

DROPS: Essence Express Dry Drops. Not essential but so, so cheap and really effective. I let my top coat of Sechey dry for a few moments, and then drop one single drop on to each nail. I have no idea what this concoction is but it makes your polish dry in under 10 minutes. Magic.

I really believe that with these tools, and a bit of practise, there's no reason for women to go to the salon to get their nails done any more. Save your $20 and buy yourself two Rimmel polishes and some drops, and paint your life away. Or buy 1 Rimmel polish and 3 Cobb Lane Donuts and be a happy little, glamorous piggie.

Why My Bag Weighs A Tonne

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hmmm. Issue. Yes. That is what I have. I recently posted this image on my instagram and people went wild. You see, this is how many lip products I was dragging around Melbourne with me. My best friend was so horrified, worried and impressed that she quietly had to confirm that it wasn't staged. SML, I can confirm that no, it wasn't. I don't know whether to be embarrassed or proud.

What I do know is that this sparked many, many questions from friends and followers. What are my faves, my most loved, and my most treasured. And what a treat it has been to answer these enquiries. You see, lip products to me are a symbol of liberation. My job demands quite conservative business attire. Not too much colour, not too casual and not too bold. Apart from the lips. For ladies, lips are one way in which we can be bold, be ourselves and make a statement. I love to dress according to how I feel, my emotions and my state of mind. Sometimes, this can be hard when you're expected to dress within the confines of corporate attire. But it's through my lips (and my nails) that I really show who I am.

And this is why I carry 12,380 lip products with me. Because I can never be sure of how I'll feel at any one time, and this so intimately affects what prod I slap on my smackers. When I'm feeling classic, chic, and polished, I urge all gals to try Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl. If I had a dollar for every time a effortlessly perfect parisian model mentioned this on an Into The Gloss Top Shelf, I'd be able to afford at least 1.2 more of these. This blue-based red is old hollywood in a modern, long lasting formula. Makes your teeth look whiter, eyes look brighter and effort look more-er, even if you had one too many crumpets and ran out of time to really perfect your makeup.

For the days when you went too hard with the eyeshadow, or you're planning on eating all day long (read: any old day), I for for Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy in 104 Skin, or Chantecaille Lip Chic in Camellia. My sissy doesn't get nude lips, and I have to admit, I didn't either... until I found these. GARE in 104 is my nude: not too brown, cool-toned and pink, in the most effortless, easy formula. I know I have already awarded my Favourite Lipstick Formula award to Hourglass Femme Rouge, but I have to say that Giorgio is a very, very close second. Very similar to Hourglass' masterpieces, these lippies are nourishing, but still tacky, opaque and not at all slippery. This colour gives me lips like an Olsen twin on days when I'll be eating, drinking and batting my eyelids. Giorgio has three other gorgeous nudes in this formula. Urge you to give one a go.

My more recent acquisition is Chantecaille Lip Chic in Camellia. A more glossier, plumper, stickier formula that Mr Armani's, this is what I go for when I want juicy, glossy nude. I cannot imagine a woman who would not love this colour, the perfect mix of beige, pink and peach. It makes my average lips look more than average with it's shimmery, buttery fomula and always leaves me feeling glowy and sultry.

And sometimes... I just want to feel pretty and girly. That's when I reach for Chanel Rouge Allure in Seduisante or Lipstick Queen in Pink Sinner. These two girly, cool-toned pink leave a matte, primrose hue which compliments a taupe or bronze eye, and a blushed, flushed cheeks. These give a little more colour than the nude options above - they are doll-like, girly and flirty. For anyone with fair skin, I highly recommend these colours. They make you look put-together and effortlessly cool. Yes!

As for the other 2,435 lippies you can see, they're stories for another day. So many stories, so little time.

Happy, Healthy Skin

Monday, June 2, 2014

Skin is a weird, confusing and complicated beast. It's the first thing people look at. It's the thing that so greatly affects one's confidence. Why we aren't educated more about how to take care of our largest organ continues to baffle me, especially considering how much it can affect our sense of self. I have struggled with my skin all my life. In my teens I had horrendous skin. Big, deep, under-the-skin pimples covered my face. No matter how many drying products I used, there was absolutely nothing I could do to keep them at bay. Little did I know, these bad boys were caused by the hormones running rife through my veins.

Thankfully, today my skin is much calmer, but I still do suffer from oily, pimply skin. Until recently, the way I attempted to combat this was by gravitating towards every, dang, 'Anti-Blemish' suite of products that exists on this planet. These products are good at drying the skin out... which means less spots, but, like, more... dry skin. Which is almost as troubling as pimples. But then, I found oil.

Oil. The exact thing I had been working against for years and years. It has been the thing that has balanced, corrected and calmed my skin. You see, fighting the oil by drying my skin out had only been forcing my skin to work madly, overproducing oil to compensate the dryness in my complexion. Such a fool, I am! It was Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil that was the knight in shining armour for my poor ol' face. This blend of Rosewood, Lotus and Geranium oil balances the oil in the skin, hydrates and refines the texture of the skin. I adore it morning and night, after cleansing and toning, and before moisturiser. I find it is like a beautiful back-up dancer to my BeyoncĂ©-ish moisturiser, making the cream feel comfortable, luxe and last all day. I implore everyone to give it a go, it is like a baby, mini facial every single day. Smells delightful and is incredibly indulgent.

I am also a huge lover of hyaluronic acid. An acid that naturally occurs in our body, this powerful property holds 1000 times its weight in water, meaning it leaves your skin feeling plump, hydrated and fresh. I work in an insanely air-conditioned environment. My skin is constantly battling to retain the moisture I load onto it at 7am every morning, as the air is -123% humidity. I am a walking prune. That's why I turn to this amazing acid to re-inject some moisture. The Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase contains heaps of hyaluronic acid, and feels like water. As a bi-phase, you shake the bottle to combine the two liquids, pump it onto your hand (or mix in with your oil) and swipe it over the skin. And this is after cleanse and tone, I'll remind you. This serum seems to lock in the goodness of all the other prodz you pile on your skin. It sinks in quickly. It calms. It quenches thirst. It isn't oily. It isn't stripping. It, quite frankly, is just lovely.

This is a wonderful duo. Just like Kimye. Just like Jay and Bey. Just like Nutella and crepes. Urge you to try an oil, encourage you to try some hyaluronic acid. Over and out.

The Undetectable Smokey Eye

Monday, April 28, 2014

Clinique High Impact Shadow in Foxy

UNDETECTABLE... not in a sense that you can't see it. No! Where's the fun in that, huh? But undetectable in a sexy, sleek and effortless sense. Effortless in the lazy sense.

These two babies are what I reach for when my lidz need definition and shadow, but I cannot be effed using 4,345 to create the light and shade that YouTube tutorials so often dictate. Taupey, shimmery colours seem to be more subtle, less fussy and office-appropriate. I am also a redhead, brown-eyed babe with pinkish skin. That means that sometimes (always) it's better for me to look for something more grey rather than red and warm.

Clinique Foxy is, sadly, discontinued but so very much loved. It was the first shadow I ever owned, and is still a firm favourite. The combo of grey, taupe and mink is smooth, almost creamy and even. It settles into the natural crease of your eye to exaggerate but also perfect any definition you already have. Pick up a brush, dip it in, sweep it over and you'll have a balanced, clean but effortless semi-smoky eye.

I found Max Factor Burnt Bark when I was searching for a replacement of my beloved Foxy. It come in the smallest, cheapest looking packaging but really does deliver when you consider the price and availability. I find this formula to be a little more grainy than the Clinique alternative, but it still delivers that grey-brown wash that is so wearable and so chic. Run to Priceline and grab one of these. So, so worth it.

Le Labo, Le Lovely

Monday, April 21, 2014

I smelly like a rich, old man. That might sound strange, but it's true. I generally gravitate towards more masculine, opulent scents, as opposed to stereotypically floral, feminine fragrances. Pretty much always have and probably always will. Fortunately, this babe isn't alone. Amanda, a bezzie of mine, is also a lover of dude smellz. Le Labo Santal 33 in particular. She, a purveyor of all fine things, discovered it on a semester at NYU a few years ago and it is now all she wears. I can remember the first time I smelt it - it was when we were blabbing away over a huge cup of froyo, naturally. I caught a whiff and I was shocked. Hooked! It was this perfect, woody, smooth, almost-retro, Mad Men-y scent that was just so perfect on her. It felt like hot New York, and whiskey, and cigars, and open fires, and summer, all at once. It really is a transfixing scent of sandalwood, cedar, cardamom, violet and other bits and bobs, but what struck me was it is was so unusual, so challenging but so perfect and personal. 

Obviously I asked her where she found it, and obviously she told me. So, on my first trip to New York over Christmas/New Year, Le Labo was on the top of the Places I Must, No REALLY MUST Go List. And it should be on the top of yours too, because if you're reading this, you probs like nice things. And this shop only has nice things.

Located in quite literally all the coolest parts of the world (their flagship is in NoLIta, NYC), Le Labo hand makes and labels all of their fragrances, which are all high end, unusual, modern and delightful. By hand make, I mean you order your fragrance, they pull out a recipe, a bottle, the ingredients, and pipette it all into a bottle in front of you. This is the definition of bespoke. The space in NoLIta is an immaculate balance of NYC cool and comforting edge. You can sit at the steel bar-esque counter and sniff away (testers of all fragrances are on offer for you to try), um-ing and ah-ing over all of their lust-worthy delights. The gorgeous people who work there are helpful, attentive, so knowledgeable but not at all pushy. A perfect combo when you're about to drop a fair few $$$ on a bottle of smell.

Being a lover of all things vetiver, I naturally plumped for the masculine, modern incense laden, green, woody Vetiver 46, while my sister, a more delicate, floral gal, chose a bottle of Lys 41, a very pretty jasmine, tuberose blend. What's even more lovely is they print the labels upon mixing the bottle, so each and every product can be personalised, which is even a more special touch. My Mumma was so swept away with the modern romanticism of the place that she shouted sissy and me a candle each. Sis chose a Fig, I chose a Santal 26, recminiscent of Mandy's fragrance, makes my room smell like Don Drapers bedroom... divine. 

For me, smell is my strongest scent. As a child, I used to choose library books on the smell of the pages. I can tell you what type of oil is heating in a pan from many meters away. I associate all well-known fragrances with someone special in my life, and my own fragrances with where I bought them and that particular period in time. This fragrance, for me, is New York City. Bold, strong, forward, confident. And that's how it makes me feel. And that is why it is simply a must see for all those visiting one of the best places on earth. 

But FEAR NOT! For those who don't want to fork out the, um, ya know, quiet $2000 to get to NYC, Le Labo is also stocked at Mecca Cosmetica. They still make it freshly for you, and prepare the fragrances with as much care, love and attention as they deserve. I so badly highly recommend a visit to the Mecca Cosmetica fragrance counter at Myer, Bourke Street, where you will be met with incredibly clever, helpful fragrance assistants who will help you find something you love. You'll probably find me there too: it is one of my Happy Places. They know me by name #noshame.

Chisel and Sculpt: Contouring

Monday, April 14, 2014

Big faces. For people who have em, life is tough. Glasses don't fit property, hats are always far too snug and you noggin just always looks disproportionately large in photos. I am a sad sufferer of such a cause, and although I haven't been able to solve all the problems I mentioned above, I have, slowly but surely, found a way to give my cheeks enough definition that I don't look like Moonface or a big wheel of cheese.

Contouring. For the not so beauty savvy, this might be a new, unfamiliar term. For the beauty lovers, it conjures images of Kim Kardashian and zebra stripes on the side of your head. For Moonfaces, it should conjure images of rainbows and Nutella crepes and endless supplies of carbonara, because it is THAT GOOD. TRANSFORMATIVE. AND EASY. EASY. Like, peasey. I promise.

Provided you use some good prodz and the best toolz. Cos essentially, contouring is just defining and shaping your face, by creating a shadow in the hollow of your cheek. You do this by using a dark product to enhance that shadow and create more sculpture to your face.

Real Techniques Contouring Brush

Firstly, you need the right implemented. My favourite is the Real Techniques Contouring Brush. The rounded tip is incredibly forgiving and the duofibre bristles mean you can see how much product you're piling on and adjust your strokes accordingly. I also find these brushes are so, so easy to clean, as opposed to my Simga brushes which I ADORE but take DECADES to dry. If you don't want to invest in a contour-specific brush, you can always use those rando, flat brushes that come with heaps of powders and bronzers. Load it up with prod, line them up along the hollow of your cheek and swipe and blend. Nice.

To chisel, you can use your fave bronzer for a more sun-kissed, chiselled look. My favourite, as I have already blabbed on about, is the Guerlain Teracotta Bronzer in #02. This is the most easy, clever mixture of brown and orange and leaves your skin looked effortlessly bronzed and healthy. I use this when I want to look obviously and radiantly bronzed. Always a winner.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium
You can also choose to use a contouring product that is more grey, meaning it mimics the tones of the shadow on your skin, rather than imitating a natural tan. On the top of my American Shopping List during my visit in Dec/Jan was Kevyn Aucoin's Sculpting Powder in Medium. OH yes. So hyped and so deserves it. Pigmented, smooth and subtle, this greyish brown gives you an incredibly human shadow that pops your cheeks out perfectly in preparation for blush.
Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow
My most recent and perhaps most loved of the bunch is Illamasqua's Cream Pigment in Hollow. I actually don't even know where to begin... OK I DO: this product is so well formulated that it is a mind ferk. I mean, you cannot see it when it is applied but when you apply it to one cheek, it looks so obviously different to the other. This is a similar, perhaps lighter, grey-brown to Kev's, and melts into your chops, making you look 4% more like JLo than you did before. And, like, no one looks like JLo. Apart from Kimmie K. Those women, and their cheekbones, are angels.

Go on, chisel. Chip. Sculpt. No matter what your face looks like, cos we all deserve some definition in our life.