Friday, 8 August 2014

my perfect cat eye // how to do winged eyeliner

black eyeliner is like my THING. i'm not saying i'm unique in this: in my friendship group alone, there's at least five of us who would rather do a couple of flicks with liquid liner than brush our hair in the morning, and whenever i do a look without it, it feels like something's missing. i can't tell you how many times i've had my makeup done beautifully, like a lovely, pared-back, grecian look, only to find myself itching for just a liiiiiiitle neat black line by my lashes. so i don't fight it anymore. if i want to wear black eyeliner every single day, and not consider anything else, then so be it. that's my prerogative, right? i've tried various incarnations; kohl as a teenager, wobbly liquid as i progressed, then those pen-style ones...finally, i've settled on gel. well, that's kind of true, but we'll get to that in a minute. my current favourite is BECCA's ultimate crème eyeliner, the really black one, applied with my kevyn aucoin the eyeliner/smudger brush. i take a little, close my eye, and with the other open, start a line about three quarters of the way along my eye. there's no right or wrong way to apply liner, but never try and do the whole line in one go. it doesn't work. i do mine before mascara, too. so i do that one mark to start, then just softly glide it out, adding more product as i go, until i reach the end of my lashline, then do the other eye. then, mascara. THEN the flick. the reason i do mascara first is because it helps me see what's going to look like when it's done, and adds to the intensity. i also like to do black liner in my upper waterline to really amp it up. for the flick, i pull my eye ever so slightly then do a little upward stroke, same for the other eye. gel liner is great; so easy to control and gives great pigment. that being said, i do sometimes go over the liner with my urban decay perversion liquid eyeliner to make it really, REALLY black. learning to do this is trial and error: everyone does it differently, plus different things suit different eyes. i like my liner to accentuate my lashes, and i do this by making the flick finish near the end of my lashes, for killer peepers. for a neat, precise liner, i'd recommend gel. sounds like a faff, but totally worth it. also, i included the bottom photo, cause ay caramba, can we talk about those lashes? that's the urban decay perversion mascara in action.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

my brush collection // best makeup brushes

this is a very requested post up on couture and crumpets. i was a late adopter to brushes, choosing products that could largely be applied with fingers for quite a while (maybe i never grew out of the finger-painting stage), and while i still love an on-the-go product, as my make up skills have developed, so has my brush collection. if you want a truly flawless look, you need brushes. plus, some things, like a smokey eye, really can't be executed without at least two brushes. i don't stick to one just one brand - like make up or skincare, you'll never get everything you need from just one place. also, more expensive brands aren't always better - sometimes you're just paying for a brand name. cost can indicate a better quality, or cruelty-free product, but there's some seriously good numbers you can get for under £5. for me, these are the best makeup brushes. so, let's begin!

(L-R clockwise: kevyn aucoin the eyeliner/smudger brush, real techniques buffing brush, real techniques accent brush, charlotte tilbury powder and sculpt brush, smashbox fan brush, real techniques shading brush. centre: laura mercier cheek contour brush, chantecaille eye contour brush)

it's worth noting at this point that this is maybe only a quarter of what i own (gulp) - these are just the ones i use most regularly for everyday looks. firstly, y'all know i love me some black eyeliner, and the kevyn aucoin the eyeliner/smudger brush is perfect for this - the flat angled top helps me get a straight line with my gel line, and do neat flicks. the other end is spongy and great for smudging - i use it on my lower lash line for a lived-in smokey look. 

the real techniques buffing brush* is such a staple - annoyingly, it only comes in the set with the other face brushes, and i basically only use this one from that set. the set is worth buying if you like using a foundation brush (i don't) or use thicker concealers - i only ever use this brush and sometimes the contour one. anyway, it's amazing and i use it to buff in everything from blush to bronze for a flawless finish.

again from real techniques, this accent brush* is great for the inner corners of the eye and using towards your brow bone with lighter coloured eye shadow for a wide-awake look. i also use it on the centre of my lid for a little pop of lighter colour. it's part of the your eyes enhanced set which i really recommend.

i've written about my love for the charlotte tilbury powder and sculpt brush before but it's just so special - the tapered end makes it perfect to sculpt your cheekbones and the fatter bit is great for highlighting. and it's SO SOFT. pricey but worth it.

the smashbox fan brush and i had a stand off for a while. i was so confused by how to use it, until i started bothering to use setting powder. this is amazing for dusting translucent powder over your face without it collecting anywhere, a la angelina jolie. also good for highlighting.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

curls with the babyliss soft waves tong

i have naturally curly hair. however, unlike most people with naturally curly hair, my curls are none of the following: predictable, equal in size or manageable. if i let my hair dry naturally, like, utterly untouched, i would get a nice soft wave. however, i only have time to do that on a beach holiday because it takes about six hours in the UK and ew, wet hair on my neck for that long. so i normally plump for other forms of styling; i like my babyliss big hair hot brush, or a rough blow dry with a bit of curl, but i'd been wondering for a while if i should try tongs. lots of my friends recommended them, and i found my GHDs only gave quite narrow, tight curls; i wanted big and bouncy. after some research, it looked like the soft waves from babyliss* would be best for me. it promised large, loose yet defined curls, and more importantly, quickly. i've tried this tong about twelve times now; i don't know if it was beginner's luck but the first time i tried it, the curls were fantastic. big, loose, but still bouncy, i couldn't have been happier. and it took about 10 minutes for my WHOLE HEAD. the second time wasn't so great, but i think i rushed through it.

my technique now is to do it in the morn, having washed and roughed dried my hair the night before so it's not too slippy, then get to work. it's still a really quick process, and the curls are always really even without being like utterly rigid spirals. it comes with a little heat-proof glove so you can hold the end of the section to the tong (or hover juuuust above), as tongs with a clip leave a bit of a kink. i've burnt myself three times, but that's 100% out of being careless - and we're talking tiny little red marks, not like third degree numbers. i'm clumsy enough anyway that when i told my mum i'd got these, she recoiled in horror.

overall, i'm pleased. the results are great - i do my whole head, then hairspray, then loosely shake out with my fingers to make it more undone. however, on my hair, the curls only last a day - somehow, when my hairdresser does it, they last (albeit loosening) until the next wash. if you want something that won't break the bank and is reliable, look no further.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

beach bag must haves

there's no tropical holiday in my diary JUST YET. i've already been to new york and paris this year, but it ain't enough. i'm thinking san sebastián, or maybe barbados, or maybe i just ain't picky at all. either way, i've already sussed out my warm weather favourites. other than a good book (and i really recommend chimamanda ngozi adichie's 'americanah') and sunnies, there a few bases that need to be covered. first up, a really great facial sunscreen. i like institut estederm's adaptasun for the face when i want a little colour, but in strong sun, or as a primer, can't say better than chantecaille's anti-glycation primer. it packs a whopping SPF50, is totally oil and petrochemical free and feels divine on the skin. total love for this bad boy which makes my skin feel all supple and lovely. for my body, i really love adaptasun. it essentially works WITH your body to make it better at protecting itself from the sun. estderm's big belief is that a (safe) tan is actually your body's best defense against damage, and they've got years of research behind them to create this sunscreen which helps boost your melanin but blocks damaging, ageing and cancerous rays from harming you. and you get a nice tan, yay! also, people forget about sunscreen for your hair and scalp. hair can still get damaged by the sun, and go brittle or dry or have your colour kind of fried, so i like phyto's phyto plage sun veil, which is a lovely smelling spritz for the hair that has a UV filter to keep your locks lovely.

when it comes to beach make up, simple is better. when it's really hot, i don't wear anything as a base (however, french pharmacy faves la roche posay make a sunscreen called anthelios XL tinted fluid which is an SPF50 with the coverage of a BB cream, and it's amazing, and like £13 so try that) but if i want a little something to liven things up, a sweep of semi-matte bronzer helps to give me a bit of contour and definition and make my face less flat. i love this bronzer from stila, called sweet treat, which has both pinky tones and bronzed ones that you can sweep together and dust on. it's similar to benefit's sugarbomb, but half the price and less powdery, so it glides on a bit more cream-like. i also love the whole BECCA beach tint range, but the eye tints are really pretty, easy to apply and water-resistant. they give quite a sheer, wearable wash of colour that doesn't look too done.

finally, the REN vita mineral emoillent SOS cream. this is just a great all rounder - i use it as lip balm, and on dry elbows and ankles, and even as a facial moisturiser in a pinch. it's handy for when you feel baked by the sun. what do you take to the beach?

Monday, 7 July 2014

current most loved

it's not all lipsticks and blush, you know. yes, i have been to known to try and curl the eyelashes of unwilling male friends, or passive-aggressively 'gift' moisturiser to my dad, but i have a few pursuits that aren't bottled on my dressing table. that being said, i don't subscribe to this whole 'beauty or brains' dichotomy; as this tumblr user puts it, it's not like mascara glues my eyes shut so i can't read books or do algebra. so, in the spirit of this, my current loves to share are not just beauty. first of all, the reading. i recently finished a bachelor's degree in english literature, with my dissertation speciality being in psychoanalysis. the thesis may be in, but my brain's still with kristeva, freud, et al, and so i've been loving stephen grosz's 'the examined mind' - the real life case stories from grosz's therapy rooms. for the more hardcore enthusiast, the jacqueline rose reader. i had the honour of being taught by dr rose this year, and i find her staggeringly intelligent and inspirational when it comes to feminism and psychoanalysis. she's so eloquent i used to get nervous when i tried to speak up in class, gulp.

onto fashion, i fell pretty hard for this lace bralet in topshop. it was £22 (i think), and since buying it, i've seen it on countless blogs, so clearly, i'm not alone in my love for looking like a goth bridesmaid. i love how delicate the spaghetti straps and eyelash lace is - it's perfect with shorts for a festival or a fitted skirt for a fancy dinner (which i have many of, alone in my flat, while watching orange is the new black)

aaaand beauty. okay, the urban decay perversion mascara* isn't out until august, but trust me, it's worth the wait. even better when used with the subversion lash primer, this gives me the fullest, fluffiest lashes ever. it's even better than benefit's they're real! for me, because it looks more natural but doesn't lack drama. still on my eyes, the charlotte tilbury the uptown girl color coded eyeshadow quad. i'll do a tutorial later, but i love these shades and they're so long-wearing.

i've also been wearing essie's 'blanc'* on my nails continuously for weeks - it's so chic and longwearing. my skincare fave at the moment is my just-repurchased elemental herbology purify and soothe cleanser - it's balmy texture melts away dirt and leaves my skin feel really, really soft.

finally, my fragrance du jour. tom ford's violet blonde. it starts uber-feminine (and kinda sexy) and settles into a more masculine, soft scent. i find it SO sophisticated and i love having a signature scent that feels really, you know, me.