When I break up with my makeup…

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I had an epiphany today and it all started when I went to have my passport photo taken and I forgot to take some makeup with me. I had applied it before I left, but a biting wind and cold weather meant that my eyes watered really badly (which happens ALL THE TIME. So much fun.) All my concealer disappeared in a puff of smoke. On the plus side, at least I can see what my mugshot will look like when I’m arrested for murder in twenty years’ time= tired with massive under eye shadows. Delightful.

I’ve been wearing makeup fairly regularly since I was sixteen. Back then, it pretty much consisted of liquid eyeliner and mascara, with the odd bit of Rimmel Hide the Blemish when I needed it. My mum didn’t wear makeup and I was never really interested in it before I started college and going out. My basic makeup has evolved from this starting point, but boy has it got complex: I counted that, on a morning, I can use anything up to FOURTEEN different products on my face- and that’s only if I use one shade of eyeshadow (I sometimes use up to three.) That’s skincare and makeup, by the way: serum, moisturiser, primer, foundation, powder, eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner, eyebrow gel, blusher, highlighter, lip balm, lipstick. Some mornings I even put a bit of oil on my face before a serum even touches it. This has been a gradual build up of stuff over the years that has only recently got to this size.

I’ve always loved playing with makeup and its ability to transform me at 5.30am from looking like a very tired builder called Graham to, well, a better version of me. But who’s to say that is a better version of me? And do I just look tired because I’m an insomniac who, at least three times a week, gets up at 5.30? Could I actually live without less makeup? Could I maybe get a bit more sleep if I didn’t wear as much makeup? And who exactly am I doing this for?

I got seriously into makeup around the time D was born; I think I was trying to re-establish my identity and not just be ‘mum’. My makeup was also armour at a time when, emotionally, I felt weird. I had the deadness of post-natal depression battling with the hormonal weirdness of new motherhood. Makeup helped me put a brave face on a difficult time and helped me to distinguish between home and the outside world.

Lately, though, makeup is a bit of a chore- and an expensive one at that, even though I don’t buy expensive makeup. I told a friend that I was looking forward to the summer because I knew I wouldn’t have to wear makeup and I’m finding myself desperate to get home at the end of the day and wipe everything off. In fact, after the passport photo, I did just that. I went out with a bit of moisturiser, concealer and mascara on and that was it. I can’t remember when I ever did that before. No one looked at me weirdly and my skin felt amazing for the first time in ages (because apparently stress and makeup are crap for your skin. WHO KNEW?)

So I think I’m adopting this for work. Skincare stuff, a good SPF- let me know if you recommend one, btw-plus very basic makeup and that’s it. Will it be weird? Probably. But in the long-term I think it will really pay off. And of course, I reserve the right to wear more makeup on days when I want to, I just don’t want feel like I have to.

 

The Thrifty Knitter (and Reader… and Other Things Too)

I am at that awkward stage of the month where I have enough money to get to and from work-with maybe the odd Diet Coke thrown in- and to pay my phone bill. It’s OK, though, because I don’t need anything extra and the house bills are paid; I know I’m in a fortunate position. I have started thinking though, because D is now in nursery, which is more expensive than our previous childcare and we don’t get the extra help that comes when he turns three (in October) until January. So, with birthdays and (whisper it) Christmas on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about how to save a bit of money. I have form for this- when on my maternity leave three years ago, I had to do some financial gymnastics- but now we own our own house, have a car and live further out of town, so things are a bit more complicated. I’ve written in the past about my love of eBay shopping for clothes, but here are some more ideas I’ve had.

money-vintage

For example, take knitting and my other crafty pursuits. I have loads of basic materials- yarns, needles, fabric, patterns and books. Do I usually buy more without too much thought? Yes. Could I instead think about what I have and use that instead? Yes. I have tons of knitting books and yarn stashed in most rooms of the house (and garage). I need to start using this up instead of automatically going on Ravelry to find something and then buy new wool. If I don’t have the wool, I don’t make it. Simple. I am going to finally start knitting the jumpers I’ve promised D and finish off a few WIPs.

books

I am a huge believer in libraries. I credit them with helping me through the dark days of early motherhood, when often the library was the only place I could get to. Most of the books reviewed on my book blog are library books and I’m lucky that Brighton and Hove has a brilliant library service. I also have TONS of books on my shelves that have yet to be read. But still, I am a compulsive book buyer and I buy every book with the intention of reading it. People buy me books too, as they know how much I love them. So my goal is to read more of what I have. I’m thinking for every three of my own books for every book I bring into the house- library or new.

vintage-woman-makeup

One of the hangovers from maternity leave is that my makeup budget is still quite modest. I generally buy cheaper brands (but, oh, I dream of owning a Chanel lipstick in the ‘Pirate’ shade, because who wouldn’t?) I do have a tendency though to go a bit mad when the new A/W shades are released though… so this year, I have decided that I won’t buy anything new until something is used up. Also, one of the first things to go in any lean period is my Lush habit. I can forgo bubble bars!

These are small ideas and kind of buy into (ha! PUNS!) the idea of consuming less, which is always a good thing. I’ll also be thinking about when and why I go into town- if I want to see friends, can I invite them here and bake a cake, instead of going out and buying a slice for the same amount it would’ve cost to make a whole one? Do I need more tea if I have some at home? I’m finding myself questioning whether I NEED or WANT stuff and find that, often, I can take or leave what I’m looking at. If I can leave it, then I can save a bit more money.

What are your thrifty tips?

Red lipstick for beginners

Earlier this year, I decided I was going to start wearing red lipstick. I’d decided that , in my 28th year, I was going to develop the confidence to wear such an iconic shade. I did my research, started at the bottom of the intensity scale and worked my way up to the top. It does take a certain mindset to be confident enough to wear it (mine is always, “How do my teeth look?!”), but it’s possible for anyone to wear the colour of starlets and glamourpusses. I’ve decided to show you some of my favourite shades, in the hope of inspiring you to take the plunge!

Left to right: Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, Rockalily in Roulette Red, MUA in Shade 1, Accessorize in Infatuation, Poppy King for No 7 in History.

Swatches from bottom to top: Black Honey, Roulette Red, Shade 1, Infatuation, History

Your introduction to red lipstick: Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey (£16- Clinique concessions)

This is a very sheer lipstick that is nowhere near as scary as it looks in the tube! It’s almost like a balm that gives a sheer wash of colour and it’s my go-to for when I don’t fancy too much lipstick, or if I’m at work. It’s one of Clinique’s most popular products and is something of a cult favourite. It was a good introduction to having something on my lips, without being totally scary.

Best for vintage belles: Rockalily in Roulette Red (discontinued, similar shade would be MAC’s Russian Red, £14)

It’s a real shame that the Rockalily lipsticks have been discontinued- they have a really nice texture and vanilla smell, which I love. This shade of red is what I wear if I’m feeling a bit daring (or if that’s how I wish I felt!) However, a good match is MAC’s Russian Red, a similar bluish red that’s popular with Hollywood actresses, my favourite style icon Gwen Stefani and the ultimate vintage vixen, Dita Von Teese. It’s a glamorous colour that gives confidence- as long as you can get your head round the colour!

The budget favourite: MUA Shade 1 (£1, Superdrug or MUA Store)

This looks more brown in the pictures than it does in person- it’s a really nice wine red (that has more than a passing resemblance to Anne Hathaway’s lipstick in The Dark Knight Rises!) I was a bit sceptical, as a lot of the budget lipsticks are quite drying. However, this one has a really nice creamy texture and is not drying at all, which is quite surprising. It’s also got a lot of pigment and lasts a good couple of hours before fading- not bad for a super cheap lipstick! If you were wanting to start to build up to wearing lipstick, you could do worse than starting with MUA.

The sophisticated shade: Accessorize Infatuation (£4.99, Superdrug)

This looks more like a purple in the tube, but it’s an almost mulled-wine shade that’s really flattering (I first saw this shade on Cityscape Bliss– we have totally different colouring, but it works differently on both of us!) Also, the packaging is so cute. It’s a long lasting colour too- it faded after four hours! One word of warning about this one though: I found it really drying. I combat this by putting lipbalm underneath and blotting like mad.

The classic beginner’s shade: Poppy King for No7 in History (£12 Boots)

I’ve raved about this a lot on here, but it really is the best basic red I’ve found. It’s classy and invokes memories of starlets of the 1940s. It’s long-lasting, smooth-textured and the tube size is perfect for your handbag. If you buy one shade to start with, I think this should be it!

What are your favourite lipstick shades? Are you tempted to try any of these?

From spendthrift to… actual thrift.

From next month, I am going to be significantly poorer than I am now. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it means we’re finally moving! Hurrah! Into an actual house that I like, that doesn’t have steps leading up to the front door, or an infestation of woodlice and that has charming Victorian fireplaces and an extra room for Fidget. However, extra rooms mean extra money and I’m going to have to economise. Sigh.

This probably won’t be so bad once the baby arrives and I completely forget what it’s like to wash my hair, let alone put on a full face of makeup/choose a co-ordinated outfit/finish reading a complete book, but I think putting the groundwork in now is a good thing. So, I’ve been taking a leaf from A Thrifty Mrs and looking for cheaper alternatives to things… Here are my plans:

Makeup

I’ve already been extolling the virtues of budget eyeshadow and I’ve been looking at cheaper alternatives for most of my makeup- I’ll be posting a full write-up of thrifty makeup in the future, but I am making a start (although I’m still not sure if you’ll be able to wrench my MAC foundation from my cold, dead hands just yet… the jury’s still out on this one.)

I’m going to have a really good clean out of my makeup bag and throw out any old, past-it stuff and focus on using things I already have, instead of impulsively buying more. For example, I have a brilliant blusher compact that I got from Boots at Christmas; there’s still loads left and I have no need to buy any more! I may stock up on a few bits now, but will make sure that they’re not opened until they need to be (thus extending the shelf-life of the products- they go off as soon as you open them!) Then, I will only buy things on a need-to-replace basis. In theory. Hopefully this will lead to a reduction in impulsive-lipstick-buying, if nothing else.

Skincare

My main skin staple, cold cream, is dirt cheap, so I’ll stick with that- although I have loads of acqueous cream that I think is pretty much the same (and doubles up as both a good eczema cream AND nappy rash cream. Hurrah!), so I will try and use this as a cleanser and see how I get on. As for moisturisers and so on, I’m a big Body Shop fan- but I will be investigating similar products in Superdrug that are half the price.

Clothes

I already buy most of my clothes from eBay, but I will also have a look in charity shops (I often don’t have the patience to root around in the racks of clothes…) I have bought some excellent quality baby clothes from really good second-hand shops and I think car boot sales may also be in my future. I’m not going to go as far as saying I’ll learn to sew because a) I’ve tried before and b) I’ll be too knackered.

Books

I love books. To the point that one time, the bookcase collapsed while the cat was sitting on it. I am a hoarder of books and this must cease. I now will aim to:

  • Read all the books I have already
  • Use the library more
  • Check out free Kindle books- particularly classics
  • Try not to buy so many secondhand books

Crafting

Those who know me know that I’m an obsessive knitter. I am trying not to buy any new yarn, as I have well over 50 skeins of the stuff (maybe more- I haven’t counted, so it’s an estimate!) that needs to be used. I am also planning on making small presents in the next few weeks to stockpile as Christmas gifts, as with a young baby I am NOT going to be in the mood for shopping/making. So I am hunting around for craft bargains while I have the money and making stuff while I have the energy. Yes, I am aware it’s July.

This is going to be a hard challenge. But I think I may be up to it. Feel free to add any suggestions/comments/ideas- I’m going to need all the help I can get!

 

That Lush campaign

So. At the start of the week, I was intending to write a post about my recent experience of using Lush’s Cacao Henna on my hair. (Disclaimer in case anyone thinks I’m already a bad mother: you can dye your hair when pregnant with this stuff, as it’s plant based. I checked.) I had a really good experience with it and have had loads of compliments. I took some Dutch friends to the Brighton store to have a look and bought some bits and pieces for myself- I was all for Lush.

And then this happened. There is a massive trigger warning attached to watching the video, as it shows a female subject forcibly being  victimised and ‘tested on’ the way an animal is. If you don’t want to watch the video (and, having watched it myself, I don’t blame you), it’s basically that two male ‘scientists’ test products on the woman in the window of their flagship store in Regent’s Street, London.

There has been a whole (in my opinion, deserved, although your mileage may vary) hullabaloo about the stunt and Lush has responded with this statement. The questions, for me, that arise from it are:

1) Why did Lush feel it was “it was important, strong, well and thoroughly considered that the test subject was a woman. […]It would have been disingenuous at best to have pretended that a male subject could represent such systemic abuse”? Is this because women buy cosmetics? The thing that this point misses is that ‘cosmetics’ covers everything from toothpaste to shaving foam and I think that those are pretty much unisex products. Also, why was it vital to have a woman in the role of the abused? Why does Lush think that a man wouldn’t have had such an effect? (I’m pretty sure women are probably more informed about the testing that goes on for makeup than men, as we’ve been the target audience for campaigns against it for years.)

2) The campaign was going pretty well already in stores- every time I went in, I was asked to sign the petition and I saw that most customers did. This is a campaign that has been launched across all stores that many people had a lot of goodwill for. If it was as successful as it looked, why launch a PETA-style shock-tactic campaign? This to me just smacks of desperate publicity stunt. How many new signatures did Lush get on the street as a result of this? I bet it’s not that many.

3) Did you not consider the people in the street: for example, children. I’m very anti having anything forced upon me and this seemed hard to avoid. The imagery was violent and disturbing. A lot of feminist sites have pointed out that victims of abuse would also have been effected. So, you know, not everyone shares the views of the company and putting on such a protest that lasted TEN HOURS is kind of extreme.

4) Was it worth the ire that the whole circus has provoked? I’ve read a lot of comments and although some are very-pro what Lush did, an awful lot are against, for whatever reason. I think maybe it’s snowballed a bit out of where Lush thought it would go. There’s a lot of debate about the gender politics of the piece of ‘performance art’, whether all animal testing is bad (I was an ardent animal rights supporter in my teens, but still acknowledged that without animal tests, I wouldn’t be here, due to my mother’s diabetes, which would have killed her), or whether Lush has been naive/arrogant/preaching to the converted/smug. There’s also a LOT of talk about whether to boycott the company. I have to say, I’m torn. I love Lush products, but then again I can get cruelty free elsewhere. I live in Brighton, for goodness’ sake- everything has its vegan equivalent down here.

Overall, I’m sad. I’m sad that a company that had some good intentions has jumped on the odious women-as-campaign-meat bandwagon so adored by PETA. I’m sad that the ‘defence’ was not a defence, but seemed a bit smug. I’ll not be buying from Lush or featuring a Lush product on my blog until some kind of proper acknowledgement/apology is issued.