This page has moved to a new address.

Crack, baby crack

Crack, baby crack: January 2012

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Hair dye and allergens.

There have been a lot of articles lately about allergic reactions to hair dye; specifically to one ingredient in the dye. PPD, or Para-phenylenediamine, is a known allergen and is banned from use in make-up but not hair colour. As Sali Hughes points out in her article on this subject, it is used in 99% of permanent dyes, newsprint, black clothing and permanent make-up. It's not in eyeliner and mascaras.

PPD is used because it is extremely successful at fixing colour in grey hair. Temporary colours do not cover grey.

When a dye manufacturer claims to be PPD free, they use PTD (Paratoluenediamine) instead which is structurally similar to PPD and causes the same reactions in those who have already had a bad reaction to the latter.

There is a company (I'm not naming them here) who says that none of their products contain PPD. Instead, they say that they use a compound called Toluene 2, 5- Diamine Sulfate. After a lot of googling, I've discovered that this compound is PTD. Company N prides themselves on using this as a safe alternative to PPD but, convieniently not stating that it is of the same family and thus causes similar reactions.

Some companies are now formulating dyes that have lower levels of these chemicals and thus less of a worry of a reaction. Sali refers to one such company in her article - Organic Color Systems.

If you are worried about severe reactions to your dye, always do a patch test but be aware that just because the test shows no reaction, it still may cause a reaction when you come to colour your whole head.

When buying a dye, check the ingredients list first for PPD and PTD. As a reference, keep a note in your handbag of the chemical names and abbreviations. PTD - Toluene 2, 5- Diamine Sulfate and Paratoluenediamine. PPD - Para-phenylenediamine.

If you get your hair coloured at a salon, ask for a patch test to be done beforehand and ask if the dyes contain these chemicals. In general, the darker the colour, the more PPD there will be.

A lot of people will go through life without ever having an allergic reaction to their dye. It's just good sense to be informed about these things in case the worst happens.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 21 January 2012

An Evening with Daniel Sandler.

On Thursday, I was invited to a Beauty evening hosted by Look Fantastic, Daniel Sandler and Four, a salon in Conduit Street, off Regent Street. The evening kicked off with copious amounts of champagne (ooh la-la!) and getting to know various other bloggers and make-up artists who were in attendance.

We were then led upstairs where Mr Sandler was waiting with a model. He jumped straight in with an easy smokey eye using a grey eye liner which was then blended up and out with an angle brush. To keep the look modern, he used only a little at first to build the winged effect rather than go in with a heavy layer of the pencil which would give an "80's rounded look". He then built up the colour, blending in the same way to achieve a dramatic effect which would not look out of
place during the day. He chose grey over black because it was simple, effective and looks great for a day time look on women of all ages and especially so on mature women.

To make the lashes look fuller, he took the eye liner to the upper waterline and shade in under the lashes there. Now, this is a bit scary to do for the first time and you may blink an awful lot when applying but it's not as scary as it sounds. Just look down and draw the line in. He also added a blue liner, and a black liner for a more evening look and to add drama.

Smokey eyes can be achieved with any colour; I've done it with turquoise and navy shadows, and Illamasqua has a video that features Alex Box demonstrating how to get the look using pink shades.

So, to get Daniel's look - start off with a grey eye pencil, draw a line as close to the lashes as possible and blend upwards and out to get a slight wing and the beginnings of a haze above the socket line. Keep lightly applying the pencil and blending in the same manner until you get the intensity that you desire. If you wish, add black or blue, or both, or indeed any shade you prefer.
Apply the same grey pencil to the lower waterline and under the lashes. Smudge the line in and apply lots of mascara to the upper and lower lashes. Use a nude lipstick to keep the focus on your eyes.

Mr Sandler then moved on to choosing the perfect red lipstick for your skintone. For years, the only colour of lipstick you could get was red, from the Egyptians using crushed seaweed and bromine, to Elizabeth I using beeswax and beetroot to Flapper girls in the 20's using carmine or cochineal and to our "grandmothers wearing nothing but red lipstick during the war". In wartime, lipstick was rationed at first but the Government removed it from the Ration because it helped with morale and colours were even created to match with red flashes in women's Forces uniforms.

Daniel said that every woman can wear red lipstick so long as the shade is matched with the skintone and that the outfit you are wearing is not red. Too much red is overkill so if you plan to wear red, then go for a neutral lip. If you have a very dark to latino skin, a deep orangey red will enhance your skin. If you are very pale, a blue - pink red will work wonders. People with red/ginger hair can wear red so long as a blue toned red is used.

To wear a red lip, first pick your shade. Make sure the skin is well prepped by concealing all red spots and patches. If you have a ruddy tone, then use a colour correcting foundation such as Clinique Redness Solutions. Red lips will make every red patch on your face more prominent. Apply a tiny amount of concealer to the lips to help grip the colour and enhance the upper lip.

For a simple everyday lip, if you are a bit scared to try red, use your middle finger to dab and blend the colour into the lips to create a stained look.

If you are more adventurous, use a lip brush to apply the colour, making sure you get right into the corners of the lips. Blot, and apply more lipstick either using the brush, or for a more dramatic look, from the bullet.

If you find that the lipstick bleeds into the fine lines, use a lip pencil to go around the edges after you've applied the colour, or use Daniel Sandler's Magic Wand, a transparent liner that will fill in the lines and seal the edges.

After Mr Sandler had finished his lesson, he then took questions from people. I chatted to him for a few minutes, mostly picking up tips on combatting nerves when working on clients faces. I feel his most important tip was to look confident and not to drink coffee before a job in case I get the shakes.

Mr Sandler applying his magic to a lady in the Q&A section.

All in all, it was a valuable evening for me and everyone who attended. Thank you to Four for hosting the evening; Look Fantastic, Daniel Sandler and Shirley for inviting me.


Labels: , , , ,

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review - Real Techniques Brushes II

When I was younger, I never used proper make-up brushes. I always used to use the fiddly little sponges and brushes that came with the eyeshadows and blushers. Of course, this being the tail-end of the 80's, the results were less than spectacular. Pink and blue eyeshadow applied with the finesse of a drunk Edward Scissorhands. More Pat Butcher than Princess Diana. Eventually, I wised up and discovered proper brushes but even then (and now in my capacity as a make-up artist), finding good quality brushes was hit and miss. The ferrules would come away from the handle, hairs would fall out and inevitably end up being chucked out.

What I have learned over the years is that good quality does not necessarily mean prohibitively expensive. No7 brushes, for instance are amazingly good quality and the prices are reasonable. GOSH brushes are the same.

In that light, I'm looking today at a brand of brushes that claim to be affordable and fantastic quality - Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman. There are three sets; the Starter Set, the Core Collection and the Travel Set. There are also other brushes available separately - powder, foundation, shader, brow, stippling, blush and kabuki brushes. This post is about the Starter Set.
I admit that I bought these brushes because I've watched so many of Pixiwoo's vids on Youtube and was impressed at how well their make-up went on with them. Of course, that might have a lot to do with their skills.

Let's see what the packaging says;

"My online tutorials share the real techniques behind makeup artistry. With simple tips and high-tech tools, every woman can be an expert."

All well and good.

Now for the brushes themselves. I tested them on my partner's face first. He agreed that they were very soft and not at all scratchy like other brushes we've tested. They're made of Taklon so therefore no squirrels were harmed during the making of these brushes.

Base Shadow Brush - very soft and performs well with both cream and powder shadow. It's great at applying a base and for blending. Feels very light to hold and grip is fine too. Also ideal for concealer.

Deluxe Crease Brush - I have no idea why the makers decided to call it 'deluxe'. I'm just being picky there, mind. That said, it is of very good quality. The domed shape is ideal for getting right into the socket if you are after a soft smokey look, or to apply a soft contour in the socket. Again, it is excellent at under-eye concealer, it blends it in effortlessly without leaving any streaks. Sam tends to use this brush a lot in her vids when applying concealer.

Accent Brush - I used this to apply concealer to a few spots and tiny scars I have on my face with a stippling motion. It covered them easily and is the right size for hiding tiny blemishes. I cleaned it and used it on my lips and it gave a good crisp line and filled them in beautifully.

Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush - This was used to line upper and lower waterlines as well as around the eye with a gel eyeliner. Again, it performed well during application and held the product well. I think it could be used as a concealer and lipliner brush as well.

Brow Brush - velvety soft yet firm. Holds powder brow product well, gives a neat edge and turns well in the hand when going over the arch.

The only quibble I have is the case that they came in -it is a little flimsy. However, that is not important because what you have in the case is a set of eye brushes that are of pro quality and very, very affordable. It costs £20.99 for the set of five brushes so that's just over a fiver per brush making this a good investment for your kit whether you're a pro artist or a make-up lover.

On the strength of this set, I will be buying the other set and the separate brushes. I know they'll be going straight in my kit.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Real Techniques Brushes.

My shiny new make-up brushes came in the post today. They're Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman, one half of Pixiwoo.

Because I appear to be rather rubbish at using a compact camera, pics will be forthcoming.

I might even do a vid of me trying them out. I get the feeling that they will become part of my professional kit.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Nope, that is not a typo in the title. Skintcare is when you're broke; you've just cut open the tube of moisturiser, contemplating smearing Stork on your body and there's 2 weeks to pay day. What do you do? Extend your overdraft because you just need that tub of Creme de la Mer? No. You do this instead.

This tub of cream may yet just do the job until pay day, especially if you have a No7 £5 off voucher kicking around the house.

So, this stuff is seriously creamy and heavy. I doubt it's suitable for oily skins. I've never used such a thick body moisturiser never mind a face moisturiser. I took a pea-sized amount and warmed it in my hand for a few seconds to get it really pliable before applying to my cheeks and neck first, followed by the forehead and nose. I left it for 15 minutes whilst I got dressed and did my hair before applying make up.

It is for dry to normal skin but it does feel good and more importantly, I haven't had a breakout after a week of use. It is not scented, which is fabulous for me as heavily perfumed facial moisturisers tend to make my face sore.

I have also used it as a sort of mask - slathering it all over and then lying down with a hot damp face flannel for about fifteen minutes before wiping it gently off with said flannel. It really did the business with my poor parched and dehydrated face.

A little definitely goes a very long way with this moisturiser. Too much and the skin will feel greasy and slightly uncomfortable (well it did in my case). I'd say it's more for 30+ skin. Anyone younger, unless they have seriously dry skin, might find it too heavy and clogging.

It costs £9, or £4 instore if you have any No7 £5 off vouchers. A bargain and well worth the money. Find it in the Boots No7 Skincare range.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Things I use every day.

When I was a teenager, there were days when I refused to go to school without a full face of slap on. Fortunately, the one time I tried foundation back then, it oxidised into a hideous dayglo orange that any passing member of TOWIE would be chuffed to wear. I never wore foundation again until I was about 22 and a lovely lady on the Clinique counter in Boots matched me with their palest shade. It was amazing to be able to go out with a clear looking face with angry red acne scars hidden until I removed my make up or it rained. I still, for some unfathomable reason went out with Rimmel concealer in entirely the wrong shade. Mmm, lovely orange spots.

Fast forward to last year. After trying countless other brands of foundation and failing miserably with them (too orange, too dark, breakouts, etc) I discovered Illamasqua Skin Base. The fabulous artist matched me up with shade SB05 and it was true love. It matched perfectly to my face without having to blend into my neck. It covered slightly darker patches, acne scarring and upon a second application to my eyes, the dark circles under there. No breakouts, nothing. Best. Foundation. Ever.

My gran used to work in Boots and would always complain to me that I looked daft with black mascara on and would often make me try blue mascara. Yes, blue. I looked even more idiotic in blue mascara. I had a drawer full of nasty mascaras of various hues, even purple. I eventually realised that it was the application that was making me look stupid and not the colour. I had eye lashes that looked like fly legs. My mission was to find a mascara that would go on in one coat and not clump. Every time I found this Holiest Grail product, it would invariably be discontinued.



No7 brought out their Lash Adapt mascara. Apparently, you can apply 6 coats without it turning clumpy. I've not gone that far, I'm too scared to. I still have nightmares about my eyelashes turning into fly legs. One coat is sufficient for me. I am afraid that They might discontinue it so there is a stash in a drawer.

Then there's perfume. Like all insecure teens, I was petrified of being labelled 'Smelly'. It didn't matter that I had glasses, braces, uncontrollable frizzy hair in the wrong cut and orange concealer on my acne, it mattered that I did not smell. I got Driclor from my GP (yes, back in the day, it were prescription only. Young people today don't know they're born /oldlady) and White Musk from the Body Shop. Truly, I was a teen of the late 80s/ early 90s. I practically drowned myself in both. I'd get a bath first thing in the morning and again as soon as I came in from school.

I hated the smell of White Musk and it gave me a headache.

Most perfumes gave me a headache, especially Obsession and the aforementioned White Musk. I only wore it because everybody else did then I, well my mother really, decided the headaches weren't worth it and the perfume ended in the bin. I eventually found Lanvin's Arpége that smelled so different and richer to anything I'd ever tried before. I wear it all the time now; even in summer. I don't feel ready to face the world unless I have some on.

Of course, the insecurities I had as a kid aren't the same as the ones I have now as an adult. I can go out of the house with no make up on. I just choose to dress my face up to reflect my mood. I don't hide behind a mask. My mask is the skin I was born with, really.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year make-up.

My partner (and I) was invited to a New Year party by our new neighbours. It was a sci-fi theme so he just had to go as Spock. I've never applied prosthetics before so this was going to be rather challenging.

First stop was to Screenface in Covent Garden for some ears, spirit gum and concealer. Next to Forbidden Planet for a comm badge and lastly to Uniqlo for a blue top.

Before pic.

Photo courtesy of CazP

Firstly, I painted the prosthetics with the concealer, waited for them to dry, then applied the spirit gum to his left ear and waited a few moments for it to go tacky. I stuck the fake ear over the real ear and moved it around to get the best fit. The gum takes a few minutes to dry so there's plenty of time for manipulation. Repeated this for the other ear.

I then went over the prosthetic and his ear with more concealer to blend them in and added a little shadow detail to make them look real. Well, as real as you can get prosthetic ears to look.

To get the eyebrows right, I measured from the tip of the nose to about halfway along each brow to get the perfect place to have the 'wing' brow that Spock has got. I blocked out the outer half of the brows with Pritt Stick, making sure there was plenty on to cover the hairs and removed the excess on the eyelid and forehead with some toner. Once this was dry, I covered the glue with yet more concealer and by god he looked so odd with only half eyebrows.

I took an angled brush and mixed up a match for the brows with an eyeshadow palette. I mixed a brown and black together. I drew a faint guideline on both brows to make sure they were even then swept upwards and out to create the Vulcan brow.

I then tidied under the eyes and blocked the lips a little with more concealer and dusted translucent powder all over the face and ears to set it all.

It's not too bad for my first time using prosthetics and for his first time of wearing make-up ever. I'll get better with more practice. It was a huge learning curve for me.

Products used:

Pritt Stick You can buy them anywhere.

Clinique Clarifying Lotion (Used to remove excess glue)

Sleek Storm Palette (Specifically, the matte brown and black at the top right of the picture)

Clinique Blended Face Powder in Invisible Blend on face.

Boots No7 Translucent Powder on ears.


Screenface Angle Brush (2nd from right)

Clinique Blusher Brush (Used as powder brush because it's far smaller and more directional for this type of work than a normal powder brush.)

Labels: , ,

Predictable new post.

Ooh, new blog. I promise to keep this one up.