Saturday, 31 December 2011
When I started writing this post it was all, "If I see 2011 around here again I'm going to kick its arse out of the door, slam it hard, barricade it and run away screaming." But then I realised that makes no sense in the context of the blog, because I don't really blog about personal stuff. And let's keep things positive, hmm? Then I thought I can easily get away with glossing over 2011 by making


Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry merry...


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

I am the Christmas Awkward Photobooth™angel and I come bearing holiday treats from Family Affairs! Holiday treats is when different pieces go on sale each day going up to Christmas. It's kind of like an advent calendar, except when you open up door number 22 you get me and the lovely metallic striped Fellini blouse, which is subtly festive, no? It's 30% off today ONLY here  - and it's the first


Monday, 19 December 2011

I finally understand why someone would want to live in a loft.

{Johanna Burke's home © Grace Villamil / Freunde von Freunden}


Sunday, 18 December 2011

MHL Margaret Howell Guernsey pocket sweater, Celine bag (jus keep dreamin), Minimarket hat,

National Trust blanket (I own it, it's tres chic and it's only £27), L'Econome veg knife, Musgo Real Orange Amber Cologne,

Le Creuset square grill, Sermoneta gloves, Farmacia Santa Maria Novella pot pourri (this smells really...specific - kind of like Vicks Vapour Rub?)

Diana Vreeland The Eye Has


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I've been here there and everywhere - well, apart from here evidently. Does two weeks without a post constitute internet death still, or are things more flexible these days? I have only this paltry handful of Instagrams to offer the internet today. Tomorrow, we'll see. Or the next day.


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I was tempted not to tell you who the owner of these cats was and let you guess. (The feet are a good clue.) 

It's not really accurate to call Maria just a blogger. Art director, stylist, photographer, writer, printer, publisher, online and print creative visionary powerhouse or something might be getting closer, but isn't very succinct. You can probably tell I've been a bit of a fan of 


Friday, 25 November 2011
Clemence Poesy and Jalouse are always so good together - I think so anyway, or maybe it's that I don't really look at Jalouse unless Clemence is on the cover! You can download the whole November 2011 issue here.

November 2011
1: ph: Mason Poole, 2: Clemence's scrapbook from the filming of Jeanne d'Arc 

May 2009
Ph: Emeric Glayse

October 2007
Ph: Keiron O'Connor


Monday, 21 November 2011

More late autumnal pictures - sorry - it's just about all I can manage at the moment, but without the energy to write much I still feel the need to document, even if it's a bit boring for you. I've dealt with having to take my car in for repairs every weekend for the past month or so by setting up a task/reward scenario. There's a place nearby that does really good bacon sandwiches


Friday, 18 November 2011

Some pictures taken between 2004 - 2009 around the hood. 2009 is incidentally when I got an iphone. I do miss having a decent little camera that I can pop in my pocket and take random pics with. Must sort that out. Looking through my iphoto it's clear that post 2009 my picture taking fell off the edge of a cliff. These pictures were all taken on my old Panasonic


Monday, 14 November 2011
Here's a little London itinerary I wrote for Fathom - it's essentially where I'd take you if it was your first visit to London; as opposed to where I'd take your granny or your annoying little brother.

Read it here.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

{Photos from other Novembers 1,2,3, in Greenwich great park and 4,5, the Kent countryside not far from London}


Sunday, 30 October 2011

This is my Christmas wishlist - and all from one shop. I've been familiar with the branch of Nauticalia in Greenwich for years. It proclaims itself "the first shop in the world", being the closest shop to the Meridian line. It sells among other things: decorative ship's wheels, ship's cats that dogs always bark at in the window, green (starboard) and red (port) lanterns, compasses and a variety


Saturday, 29 October 2011
Anyone who's been reading this blog for a long time might remember that a few years ago I studied macrobiotic cooking - it's true! That was when I was going to Paris a lot - try doing your macrobiotic cooking homework in Paris - it's like a sick joke. While I got bored with the strictness of it, felt life was too short not to have a little brioche once in a while and was frustrated with the whole


Thursday, 27 October 2011

I arrived at Frieze slightly irritable that due to a series of events I'd ended up going at the weekend, when the hardcore art people have gone, replaced by families with strollers, the parents of which probably studied fine art before they got jobs in media and started dressing like Jamie Oliver. This put a dampener on my intent to snap pictures of interesting looking people juxtaposed with


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Anndra Neen jewellery. So insane, it might have given me pleurisy. Or that could be entirely unrelated. The sisters behind Anndra Neen also have quite a nice little flat.


Sunday, 16 October 2011
I'm doing away with the "like" for October; this month it's actual love. Maybe it sounds all swishy, but then some of these things are pretty swishy themselves. Beware that I'm about to gush massively about girly stuff.

My first love is: matte velvet. I've never been that drawn to shiny things. The walls of my flat are painted in flat eggshell, the woodwork is matte enamel paint - I'm just not a


Friday, 7 October 2011

{my photos}


{my photos}


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bloggers + Cats returns after an extended summer hiatus - listen, you can't make cats stick to a schedule when there might be patches of sunlight to recline in or plant pots to sit in. OK, it was me sitting in the plant pot, I mean extending the summer break. 

I first admired Andrea's cats on flickr - so much personality - and I knew I'd hit the jackpot when on locating her email address I


Tuesday, 4 October 2011
At Gare du Nord on the taxi queue sprint from the Eurostar I see a driver holding up a sign for "Mr J. Cocker." No time to turn around and look for him, that line waits for no one!

On the Pont des Arts Diane von Furstenberg is wearing two watches and saying, "Ahhh, on de breeedggee?"

Fashion people who'd packed at the beginning of fashion month pre-Europe wide heatwave were still committed to


Sunday, 2 October 2011

The recently opened to the public National Archives garden early yesterday evening. 

At Candelaria a bit later on. Mmm, mmm tacos...mmm weirdly spicy yet cucumber-y cocktail. 

Somewhere in a mist shrouded northern France early this morning.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

{my photo}


Tuesday, 27 September 2011
When I first saw the autumn/winter '11 Family Affairs collection back in February before I wrote the press release for it, I got that witch vibes feeling and felt really, really excited. To me it's a new direction that I love and can't wait to wear. (SS12 continues the direction and is on fire - but that's top secret for now). I mean, I loved every collection before, but this one has rocket


Sara, who recommended reading Jose Saramago, without even knowing I'd just been to Portugal! Saramago's name has cropped up a few times in the past few months, so that's where I'm headed first.

But it's a shame I only have one book to give away because I'm sure I'll take up many of your recommendations, thank you so much for sharing them. And it's interesting to note how many of us have read the


Friday, 23 September 2011

End of the roses

Bonus amusing vintage 80s Japanese shirt label

Cats in the hood - suspect behaviour

{p.s. I'm so happy I managed to re-downgrade Instagram's horrible update by taking the old version out of the trash.}

{p.p.s. You can still enter the giveaway until Tuesday}


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

© Chanel

Ha, got your attention there. While I'd love to give you a 2:55 bag or a couture jacket, this is a book giveaway, and a good one at that. You might remember when I reviewed Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie when it was published this time last year, and I was lucky to be invited to Claridges to meet the author and learn more about the book. The paperback edition


Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Cabo Espichel

Jeronimos Monastery



I'll just keep posting pictures of Portugal here forever shall I? OK, good. No, these will probably be the  last, though I'm sure I could keep going for another 5 posts or so. The Portuguese don't seem to be given to shameless self-promotion, so I'll do it for them. I would like to return to Portugal asap and


Monday, 12 September 2011


Thursday, 8 September 2011
This summer was nicknamed the summer of exploratory boozing - in which - against buffeting rain and wind, last minute calculations of unpredictable bursts of sunshine and frantic weather forecast checking we managed to beat the elements (or just go with them and wear coats) to meet up every so often and have a very convivial time. There was always a drink, and each time it was different: red wine


Monday, 5 September 2011
September always feels like the real beginning of the year to me. Who wants to make resolutions, stride forward and make things happen in darkest January? I never do, but September does that for me. You won't find me bemoaning the end of summer because - we don't have one here, though I was lucky to feel a little bit of sun in Portugal and I'll bet they still have some over there. But August


Thursday, 1 September 2011

There is no filter on this photo. That is the actual colour of the sky in Lisbon. Also if someone had told me Lisbon had such a thing as a neo gothic lift with original wood interior designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel that looks like it stepped out of 1900s Paris (Elevador de Santa Justa) I might have booked my ticket there sooner.

I had always thought that Pasteis de Belem (or


Wednesday, 31 August 2011
We interrupt our wall to wall Lisbon related programming for a moment for very good reason because it seems that Emma Fletcher, designer of the much missed Lyell, which sadly closed its doors last year is now the designer of Tocca. And look at the fall/winter collection! I'd recognise that handwriting anywhere...

Now all I need to do is work out how to get my hands on it, especially that


I had wanted to go to Lisbon for a long time, because it was the one place in Europe that had always remained a mystery to me. Even if I knew a few things about it: it has trams, it's hilly, it's near the sea, there are pasteis de Belem, bacalao, I never had even a slightly clear picture of what the city might be like. I made a decision a couple of years ago not to research it, not to find out


Sunday, 28 August 2011

More soon! xx


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Geranium {Essie} and turquoise...

Rose and rainbow cloud in my friend's garden...

Torrential rain outside the Coach & Horses, where I had a lovely dinner with Olivia, Lauren and Jean and little fluffy clouds I can't remember where or when...

A SHOP!...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011



Tuesday, 16 August 2011
I realise that by posting these pictures I'm at risk of finding myself on the PR mailing lists of The Sheep Herders' Association, Young Farmers and Cattle News (I already get sent anything and everything to do with horse racing, because I once mentioned a Shetland pony. For clarity's sake: I do not need to be kept up to date with all the sheep/farming news - though I wouldn't say no to a


Monday, 8 August 2011
Every time I think I've surpassed the grip of trends and am no longer susceptible, something happens such as I realise that choosing Belgian Shoes is even more fun than choosing paint colours or ice cream flavour combinations.

I think I've really narrowed it down now:


Sunday, 7 August 2011
I've spent much of my spare time this summer ambling through fields with others' dogs, photographing the novelty of sheep and cattle, always looking to the horizon. Sweetpeas and runner beans picked from the garden, sharing meals outside, cups of tea, gin & tonic at dusk, a spare bed, being with people I've known my whole life, or from the age of one, or five.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

That kind of summer...

{Photos © Henry Clarke}


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bloggers + Cats is having a little summer break - it's lying by the pool in a Minnow swimsuit and Illesteva sunnies, re-reading Lolita for the seventeenth time and making up Lillet based cocktail recipes. 

We're doing nothing of the sort - while it's lounging we've got some other projects on the go - the results of one or some of which you'll see here soon - others, not so soon. But all


Friday, 22 July 2011

1. Ooh! 2. Immediately places top in cart...

3. This photo was taken over a year ago. 4. This pile has since multiplied threefold.

5. I bought the red/navy here last week.

6. But this one might be a slightly different weight from the others?

7. Send help.

{Wood Wood Adrien longsleeve}


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

No? Of course you don't because I didn't mention it here. Head right over to the wonderful Fathom for the second installment of things that happened on my travels that I never told the internet about before...

{Here's the first}


Monday, 18 July 2011

PMS Journals: Dignity in Humility

Sunday, 17 July 2011
My mum, as she wil remain in my eyes
Today, I have witnessed my mother hold on to the last vestiges  of her pride.

She is one gracious woman, who prides herself for being the proper lady.  At the age of 71, she would boast that so far, in spite of her sicknesses, she has always been in control of herself, her mind and her body functions.

In her hospital bed, with dextrose on her arm and air tube stuck in her nostrils- she insisted to go to the bathroom, resisted all efforts for a bedpan or diapers inspite of doctors orders to lie down, inspite of the fact that she cannot support her weight.  She had to be held down by several nurses.  And yet she insisted- tearing away all the tubes attached to her body.

After an eternity of battling, she gave up, peed in her bed and wept.  And I felt her tears.

Mom, the human body is frail.  It will give up on us before our consciousness does.
Accepting this takes humility.  And there is much more dignity in that.

You will always be the dignified human being in my eyes even if your body will have given up on you.

I love my mum.

Drawn by my nephew, Mox


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

All by Munkácsi

In some ways, the Eyewitness exhibition of Hungarian photographers of the 20th century at the Royal Academy wasn't what I'd hoped it would be. (Luckily it was other things instead.) I was interested to see the works I love by Munkácsi, Brassaï, Moholy-Nagy et al - I had never realised they were all Hungarian - but what I found was an exhibition


Sunday, 10 July 2011
The highlight of my neighbourhood's yearly social calendar is definitely the artists' open studios event, which took place last weekend. Living in the nearest leafy green enclave to Goldsmiths and Camberwell art schools has meant that my hood is brimming over with artists of all kinds - ranging from those who have been here for fifty years, to the huge influx of people moving here from East


Thursday, 7 July 2011
Today's Bloggers + Cats interview is with Erin of the wonderful Calivintage and Momo, who loves chasing reflections and pretending she's swimming while drinking water. She's also working the Pierrot cape trend with aplomb (Momo is, not Erin, though I'm sure she could pull it off with ease and look amazing as always!) Thank you Erin!

What breed is she, how old, how did you come to live with her,


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

I tend to prefer the photos I've taken using the Canon AE-1 that came out wrong. Which is lucky because of the first roll I took, half of them were out of focus and much of the second roll was in focus but hugely overexposed. It's a process!


Tuesday, 5 July 2011
My usual idea of wearing colour is charcoal instead of navy, or really going to town with a subtle blue stripe; so I think I'm doing pretty well. It all hinges on the coral nail you see.


Monday, 4 July 2011
I appear to have accidentally started yet another cat related feature on my walks around the 'hood. Well, there are a lot of cats and they often come and say hello to me - and my phone is usually in my hand or in my pocket and...excuses, excuses. Just put me in a straightjacket and send me to a home for cat freaks. I'd enjoy living there.

p.s. For people who don't like cats: Um, see my foot

Purse and Prejudice: QUEST FOR COOL

Friday, 1 July 2011

Hello and welcome to Purse and Prejudice- a new section of Beauty and the Bullshit that talks fashion and lifestyle.

It will be filled with lots of inspirations - pictures, moodboards and sensorial delights but for now, a little intro - see if it rhymes with yours. 



It is simple.
If you are in the quest of cool. Big chance is that you are not.

Because this is the cardinal rule of cool.
Substance over style.

Let me explain.

Have you ever experienced public speaking and you fret over how you come across, what you will wear, what poses you will take, what you will do with your hands and how people will see you? Nerve wracking innit?

And uncool too.
But once you get over yourself and get into the message you will deliver, that you will fashion yourself in a way that will help in the message being understood - then message takes possession of the messenger, your substance takes over style.

You will find that getting lost in the message, you forget about yourself and you think only of how you can make your audience understand, on how you can win them over to your point of view.
That is cool.

Allow me please to give you a concrete example.
No-grade glasses. WTF for?

Not unless you are Doogie Howser (which you are not, he is a fictitious character) who needs to make himself look older to be taken seriously so as not get in the way of the message- no-grade glasses are uncool.  (Ok, so Doogie doesn't wear glasses but you get the point)

Look who else are cool-
  • Jesus(the one who got crucified, not the one who tags along Madonna, the one who sings, not the one who had an immaculate conception),
  • Einstein (I mean, after you have heard the theory of relativity, would you really have sanity left to contemplate the hair? )
  • John Lennon
  •  Manny Pacquiao
These people have messages bigger than themselves.   Whether you buy that message or not, you have to respect the sincerity of their belief.

And the ones who are not:
  • Boy Bands
  • Justin Bieber (No, my dear niece Patreng, he is not!)
  • Kimora Lee Simmons (fabulous, which she is not anyway- is not a message)
  • Jlo (singer that can’t sing)

They are but marketing products, all style, no substance.
Successful? Perhaps.  Cool? Not.

So, bref, want to be cool? Get over yourself already.
Stand for something.

Not sure what it is you stand for?
Search for it. Meet people, try new things, be the lowly student of life.
But do not look for answers in your navel.* That is not cool.
*there is a beautiful word for it and I think that it should be used more in conversational language. Omphaloskeptic- someone who contemplates the meaning of the universe by staring at his own navel.  Gawd knows I have used this for my exs.
Now that we established priority of substance over style, here are some thoughts on how style can support your substance.

If you read style books (and I must have read them all! I am a sucker for them and I am thinking of reviewing them all here), you get mixed messages.

They will start of with a statement like “be yourself” or "that the only rule is that there are no rules" or some shit like that.

And then, they start bombarding you with rules and rules on rules and exception to the rules and rules of the exception.  What gives?

I think that there are 3 balancing acts which is up to you to decide on.

Blend In or Stand Out

Standing out is great! I love being overdressed and standing out and showing off my style (which is a combination of Mrs. Robinson, Amy Winehouse, Bianca Jagger, Jim Morisson, Iris Apfel and Jackie O- go figure). But consider this…
You get to observe and learn from people more if you make them comfortable in their own habitat. At times, have the confidence to blend in, be a local. Be just one of the crowd. .
It is easy to power play and stand out but it takes the utmost confidence to just blend in.

Beauty Vs Comfort

I am one to favor beauty over comfort.
For if i were to be honest, if i didn’t favor beauty, i will be in my adidas sweatpants and flipflops all day long.   Heck I might throw in some UGG Boots in winter for good measure.   And I will not wear make up.
And oh, i will also not be taking a bath.
On the other end of the spectrum, hell impossible to run in 4 inch heels at the airport, or carry a Chanel Ibiza bag in the favelas of Manila or wear mink in meeting my vegan unenlightened business colleagues.

What is your message? And how much comfort or beauty are you willing to sacrifice to deliver that message?  You be the judge, you set the rules.

Important Vs essential

An object is either important in helping you deliver your message or essential - it doesn’t play a part, you don’t care about it but you need it just the same.

If an object is important, buy the best you can afford as you cannot afford not to.

If it is essential, buy the cheapest generic shit out there. 
It is either Brunello Cuccinelli  or H&M, IKEA or Eames (No, I don't like Stark). 
Anything in between is superfluous and money not well spent.

So decide, which things are important and which are essential? 
Then, spend your money accordingly.

In the next posts, I hope to review concretely things that are essential and important and other things.
It will be all Purse and Prejudice.  I hope you stay around and we can be inspired together.


Warning: Though this post might be helpful to the male species, I would like to forewarn them of morbid language. I advise just to look at the video below for some enlightenment.

Welcome to PMS Journals!  A new section of Beauty and the Bullshit.

I figured that if people can post updates on what they have for every meal, then I can push the envelope a teeny tiny bit to update everyone about the state of my ovulation cycle.

For when I am PMSing (premenstrual syndrome for the uninitiated), that wonderful time in the menstrual cycle just after ovulation and before the actual bleeding, i believe (in my case at least), my hormones are a raging and I am one rabid woman. My ex can attest to this.

I think this is better with a video explanation…

Now, do not get me wrong, not all PMS is bad.

Good PMS exists and it is pretty easy to spot – when you want to move the sink to the living room, the sofa in the bathroom, the whole house and your whole life upsde down… that is good PMS.

It follows this chart but where the answer to the first  question is always "NO":

Which is governed by this:

But then, oh then … there is BAD PMS and VERY BAD PMS.

Ooooh, just the thought of it makes my hair stand on end…

At very bad PMS, I am known to unleash THE RED DRAGON- a stuff of legends . Not a lot of people have seen it but those who did have left and live to tell the tale.

So, i think my point is, …. hmmm, i don’t have any.

Just need a place where we can take everything light seriously, or serious things lightly.  Where we can express our passion or our rage and just rant away about how the earrings of Kate Middleton doesn't do anything to the tiara or the whole outfit or how bottled water is affecting the future of the galaxy (yes, i do have an opinion) or what I think of the Da Vinci Code or The Alchemist (crap) or why the fuck I still am single to this day.  Phew!

And PMS, here is your home.

Another option would be this- but i dont think it is happening anytime soon.  But am calling on interested female business partners and possible male prostitutes.

And since this is PMS country, we can gossip and bitch on anything as much as we want and we will blame it on hormones.  And if anyone is offended of my rantings, it is not me, it is PMS.  In this section, we got PMS immunity.

But, I promise you this, i will respect your counter—opinion and let us agree to disagree.

Gawd, I wonder how long will this last having PMS ing women in the room together.

Photo credit:
I would like to give credit to Thomas Fichter the artist photographer of the Warning police line do not cross, part of which I used for the PMS Journal artwork. I just stumbled upon his work.
I have not given him any money nor has he given me any for this. But I have provided here a link for you to thank him for sharing his excellent work .


A long time ago a good friend who reads this blog said in conversation, "The interesting thing about your blog is you have to work out which parts actually happened and which parts have been creatively invented." Or words to that effect. I went "HUH? No, it's all real, nothing is invented. Everything actually happened!" I know, funny things happen to me: I randomly sit next to and make friends

Gadget Jones Diary: IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S BAD DESIGN

Thursday, 30 June 2011

(This fabulous cartoon is nicked somewhere else)
Author's Note:  This post is male friendly.

Hello and welcome to Gadget Jones Diary- an extension to Beauty and the Bullshit that talks about anything gadget for power women- be it  blenders, cellphones, cameras, vacuum cleaner to phone apps – I have an opinion.    And if I don’t, my guest bloggers do (you will meet them soon:-)

You might raise an eyebrow and ask what business I have as a beauty blogger reviewing these gadget thingies. 

Well, being a female, I am always right.  
And because I am as well a mechanical engineer, I can tell you why things are wrong.  So- yeah.

Let me start off by introducing you to the concept of ergonomics.  You might have heard of the term called “user interface”which is kind of the same.

The concept is easy- if it is easy to use, almost instinctive that is- then the design takes into consideration human traits, habits, characteristics - the machine, we say adapts to the man.  An example would be Apple products.  The manual is hardly a page (if there even is a manual at all) and you follow your instincts to work the machine.

On the other hand, if even after you have read the 200 page manual and it stil leaves you clueless,  if it forces you to change your natural movements, thinking process to work the machine, then the engineers  have failed on the ergonomic front.

This is the reason why I am at odds with this SEO shit.  The concept is to design your content so machine can find you easily and can have many followers and get famous and rich quick.   That means nice graphics are deprioritized as machines can't appreciate them.  And titles are thought of for machines not for beauty of semantics.   
It's bullshit.
In redesigning the new blog which you have yet to see (as my webmaster has gone AWOL last minute- another story there), my beautiful graphics are rejected in favor of machine readability.

And so i say a big "f*ck you" to machine readability.  No matter how much machines can trace me, it is still people who will read, appreciate and recommend this blog. (Phew, I am still pissed off, so am venting sorry....)

So the next time a gadget makes you feel idiotic- it's not you- it's perhaps bad design.

The new blog design is not yet ready but I am posting these new topics nonetheless as promised.  It will get arranged soon.  Thanks for bearing with me.

The Bullshit On Brushes

Author warning: This post is for people who apply make up. Macho male readers may skip this one.

If you want to apply make up well, whether you are the future Pat McGrath or a girl who just wants to be pretty - you need proper tools.

I strongly advise that before you go gaga over Viva Glam287 or buy the NEW L’Oreal revolutionary 25 patent pending crap- first find yourself a good set of make up brushes. Brushes are an investment you will never regret which I cannot say for the first two.

And speaking of brushes, I am sure all of you have your suspicions. And I am here to confirm it.
Can you really imagine MAC to have its own brush factory or Shu Uemura to have its own curlash making machine?

They don’t. In fact, no cosmetic company does.

We all source from brush manufacturers, a majority of them are from the Far East. These suppliers offer no exclusivity, except of course that they will not stamp the MAC brand to another brush customer.
Bear this in mind- cosmetic brands are in the business of beauty, of image, of bullshit. That means, we have offices- not factories. (I will cover this in detail in a future post: Do you REALLY know where your cosmetics came from?)

And so, when you look for make up brushes- though an expensive brand like MAC might reassure you of good quality, it is possible to get the same quality from a less expensive source.

If you are ready to be a savvier brush shopper, you only need to train yourself to evaluate brushes the way brand product managers/purchasers do.

Our process goes like this-
  1. Suppliers are screened by our purchasing/audit managers.  They sometimes go to China to check first that the company is legit and are really capable of supplying 2million pcs a year.  Since we do not name our suppliers, what ever they do to get those natural hair is something we do not need to know- not that I am suggesting...
  2. We give suppliers a brief, how much, what for, the “look” we are going for, the level of quality we expect and so on.
  3. We get submissions from approved suppliers
  4. Our packaging managers evaluate the brushes for quality
  5. And our product managers evaluate it for pleasure of handling, user experience and image presentation
Fortunately for you, you do not need to go to China. On the other hand, you do not get to keep and use the brushes for months to test before you can decide to buy it.

Here are my general tips if you want to save money :-
  1. AVOID MAKE UP BRANDED BRUSHES. They have mark ups so high that warrants them a place in purgatory. Buy generic or a brush brand instead.
  2.  TRY TO AVOID MAKEUP WITH APPLICATORS. High end brands include applicators on eyeshadows, blushes. Not only are these awkward because of their short handle, they add to the cost of packaging that could have been allocated to the budget of a better texture.
    If you have a choice, opt for products with no applicators And use your own set of brushes instead.
  3. LEARN TO EVALUATE BRUSH QUALITY. Learn the basics of brush quality and evaluate like a real packaging/product pro.
  4. BUY BY THE SET. Once you have found good quality brushes, it is much cheaper to buy by the set rather than by piece.
  5. BUY FROM BEAUTY PROFESSIONAL STORES. There is bound to be one in your city where the salon owners go. Search them and be amazed at all the savings you can make with all your beauty products. Don’t know where they are? Let Google be your friend.
  6. CHECK SUPPLIER FAIRS. If you have the opportunity to go to cosmetic fairs, it is a good venue to buy supplies on the last day of the fair as supplies will sell them all for cheap so as not to bring them back home.

I will assume here that you already know which brush is which.
If you don’t, hmmm... will have to provide you the links for laters.  Or fellow bloggers, I would be happy if you can  link up and promote your instructional blogs on brushes here.

Here goes:
There are 3 parts to a brush- the hair, the ferrule which holds the hair to the handle and the handle.

HAIR – most important determinant of quality.
It is the type of hair that determines the usage of the brush and also decides on the brush quality.
  • Ask your vendor what hair is used and check that it is appropriate for intended usage. 
    Sable is best for small brushes because of their snap and resilience in which there are different grades and which price vary quite a lot - there are European (better) and Chinese varieties and the best of which is the kolinsky sable from tail of male weasel (i am so not making this up!) and  because of the high price of the Kolinsky sable, it might be worth checking your art supply store for smaller eyeshadow brushes. Goat hair is favored for big face brushes especially the cashmere goat which are extra soft. Squirrel and badger are also good choices.  Remember that they come in different grades so best is to test.  Camel hair (which is not made from Camel but pony etc.) not expensive has its virtues though i wouldn't say they would be the best for eye brushes.
    There are synthetic hairs that are used to mimic natural hair - and I wouldn't say no to them- they are cheaper and can be good - again, you have to test.  (Being an engineer- i believe in the virtues of plastic).
    And then synthetic/mix synthetic is inevitable for emulsion brushes (foundation, concealer, lip) as natural hair tends to sop up the emulsion. (Taklon and Nylon are your usual polymers here)
  • As hair have different grades and can thus differ a lot in quality, test that hair is comfortable when used on skin. Though soft may be nice for face brushes, you will need different aspects of quality for foundation, eye brushes..
FERRULE- check that they hold the hair well by slightly tugging the hair and by brushing on a clean surface.
  • Material: Brass is strongest, nickel and corrosion-resistant steel are also good. Aluminum ferrules  are cheaper but are weaker .
  • Construction: seamless ferrules are better  (no welds, joint- it is one continuous piece).  Ferrules with seams tend to pull apart and allow paint, solvents, and water to accumulate, causing loosening or damage to the handle. 
  • Finish : Though sometimes left plain or with a clear or gold colored coating, copper and brass ferrules are usually nickel-plated for appearance and corrosion resistance
HANDLE – wood or plastic.
  • Feel Get the feel by mimicking application on face/eyes. Length, hardness and diameter should feel right,  provide the right amount of comfort and control for eye precision application or light face brushing. 
  • Finish The finish is up to your taste but remember, the fancier, the more expensive for no increase in quality or performance.   But brushes have not only be functional but as well pretty and inspiring, innit?


In principle, art brushes can do the job. In fact, the best and original cosmetic brushes are made by art brush manufacturers (Leonard Pinceaux France) and they will have lower price mark ups than cosmetic brushes. The downside is
  • handles might be too long/thick for makeup application
  • there are different grades of hair even if it is the same animal source.  So  you have to be vigilant and test that the hair are comfortable enough for your skin
So there you go. My first post in Beauty and the bullshit where i encouraged you to buy.
Wasn’t so bad innit? (rhetorical question i ask myself).

I have posted this in advance to buy time for my webmaster.  
I have more articles being uploaded as we speak to the new site.  I am quite annoyed for this delay but rest assured that new site or not, you will see all the articles today.  
Thank you for your patience!


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Lovely Tiffany sent us a beautiful surprise package of petites choses from Paris so that we didn't miss Paris so much. Isn't that the most amazingly nice thing ever! It was such a fantastical mystery - first the package came wrapped in cat wrapping, carefully opened to reveal the little packages inside - also beautifully wrapped - then a funny and sweet note explaining about how the macaron


Monday, 27 June 2011

Rutzou has a magazine of sorts called The Chronicle, which well - chronicles their creative inspirations and references. In its paper form what I quite like about it is that the pages are bound in a way that invites you to easily tear them out and stick them up on the wall - or do whatever you want with them. I also like that they've resisted the usual path of inserting any pictures of models


Thursday, 23 June 2011
So many cats, so little time... I'm really glad to introduce Hila of Le Projet d'Amour and darling Kobi as our next interviewees. Hila's is one of my favourite blogs - I know when I check over there I'll find not only gorgeous imagery but thoughtful, considered writing that always makes me think. But nothing about her beautiful blog let on that she had a cat! (Or maybe I'm just very unobservant.)


Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Way back in the olden days I used to have a feature here called J'Adoring - ok, yeah - it had an exclamation point after it. Hmm, even the thought of that title seems so pre-recessional/Carrie Bradshaw. It suddenly seemed woefully crass to be getting excited about things you could buy in that exclamation point way, so I ditched it. Looking back at it, I don't know why I felt so guilty - I never


Monday, 20 June 2011

I think it's clear where the source of my obsession with this particular washed out linen stripe lies. Never underestimate the power of childhood reading. In fact, Milly-Molly-Mandy's dress was coloured in red stripes in later versions of the books; but it's the earlier ones printed in black and white that are clearly seared into my subconscious.

I still want a shop like Miss Muggins and to


Saturday, 18 June 2011
I haven't talked about films here for ages, because I haven't been to see any! Something weird is going on in the film industry and I know it's all to do with the financial crash, but come on! All I know is I love going to the cinema and I used to go at least once a week, or be lucky enough to go to the occasional preview screening. I think I haven't been to the cinema in London since January?


Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Just one of many charming times I've had recently avec mes amies du bloggage was the little bun moment. I first started going on about the little bun moment to anyone who'd listen months before the St.John hotel opened, as soon as their website was up, which detailed this most civilised sounding and curious interlude: between 3pm and 5pm they would serve three warm little buttock-like buns (their


Monday, 13 June 2011
Fashion Rocks asked me to do a guest post for their site and I chose to write about my love for menswear - for me to wear, that is. I'm their very first blog collaborator - check the article here!

My picks from the Fashion Rocks shop concept - I insisted on BF being included - obviously.


The roses blooming all over London are blowing my mind this year. It has rained every single day for over a week, and the only thing stopping me from emigrating is knowing that the roses aren't going thirsty. Everywhere I go, I have to stop and smell the roses: tumbling over walls (that top one is at my aunt's house in Oxfordshire actually, not in London), reaching straight up to the sky, or


Saturday, 11 June 2011
Oh hello, Louis Vuitton AW12 resort collection, on which Sofia Coppola consulted on *all aspects*, not just the bags and shoes she's been doing for a while (still holding out for some kind of dream scenario in which someone gives me the bag in the leather, large size, colour jasper, thank you.) Sofia was the official muse of the collection and the idea was to give her a new wardrobe. (I can't


Thursday, 9 June 2011
Bloggers + Cats returns with Gidget and Siri (and a bit of Bean!), the very lucky felines of Fanny Bostrom and Bill Gentle. (For some reason I always ask the female half of a couple to do the bloggers and cats thing - I'm not purposely discriminating, but I feel there might not be that many guys willing to fill in a questionnaire about their cats?! You're welcome to prove me wrong cat loving


Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Well, most of it anyway. As seen via Instagram.

AE-1, I LIKE IT...

Monday, 6 June 2011
A couple of weeks ago I went down to the Dorset coast with the Canon AE-1. My photos are nothing to shout about, I was just playing around, but the satisfaction of winding that film on is completely addictive. The first picture is from an old roll I had developed, taken with Fujipro 400H I think last year, the rest were taken with Kodak Portra 160 that Elle very kindly sent me. The tones are so


Thursday, 2 June 2011
These photos I found of Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill en vacances have been a huge inspiration to me for the summer, but I hadn't posted them because maddeningly, eye ball ripping out annoyingly it is IMPOSSIBLE to find credits for them and I really try not to post pictures that aren't mine without a legitimate source. So please, if you know, tell me who the photographer is and I will stop

My Top 7 Tactic To make you Buy More Makeup

Wednesday, 1 June 2011
(photo nicked from historiclol.com)
Author’s Note : 
This post is male-friendly.

To those new to this blog, this is a countdown of the top 10 tactics I employ to make you buy more cosmetics. 
You can read the top 10 here, top 9 here, top 8 here

If you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

- Ancient Marketing Adage

There are times when there is an ambition to earn much more than a crappy product merits.

In these times, no ordinary bullshit can do the job. 

It is the time when marketeers rise to the challenge, raise their sleeves, quit fooling around with petty bullshit and tie-up with the world’s oldest profession to unleash what could be one of the most potent artillery in the history of marketing- 

Top 7 Tactic : Blind with Brilliance. 

Now, now... before you think that there may be intelligent life lurking in marketing, let me stop and tell you that by “Brilliance”,  I do not mean Albert Einstein, but rather Lady Gaga

Yes, we hire a celebrity, a star so mindblindingly bright - that you temporarily lose your capacity for logic and any mindfartery* we emit will seem like the special theory of relativity. 

To expound, best to give you examples. 

Let me use the explanation of Christopher Walken in a scene from the movie Catch Me if You Can

Still not clear? 

See this video of Angelia Jolie campaigning about … er, something. Can’t remember what she said but gawd, her lips! 

Now, practical application in cosmetics. Take a look at this. 

Become A Lash Millionaire? WTF is the copywriter sniffing? 

But, wait, let us now factor in La Longoria … 

and Voila! 
Yes, me want millionaire lash become now! 


Exhibit 2. 

Haute Nutrition? Again, what in the name of french merde is that?
For all I know, that could be serum derived from whale testicles.

Now, look again-

It's Sharon Fucking Stone!
135$?  Here take all my money!


Ok, we know that you know that we bribe and we bind by contract these celebs to like our products - much like how prostitution works.

But in spite of this open understanding, this tactic remains potent - why?

You see, time and again, research shows that when you see celebrities used in advertising,  these are your thoughts:
  1.  that company is so confident of its products that it is wiling to invest in an expensive celebrity to spread the word 
  2.  that celebrities are careful about their image and thus will not accept to endorse any product that will cause to tarnish their image 

The truth is this-
  1.  Investment in celebrity is not a function of belief in product greatness but rather ambition of the sales it can rake in. Just look- you will often find celebrity endorsement in lipstick, mascara, foundation (the 3 biggest product sellers in makeup), anti aging creams, hair dyes.
     In countries where hair products rake in big sales, you will find celebrity endorsement in shampoo.
     Where there is big money- there is celebrity endorsement.
    The greater the moolah, the bigger the kahuna.
  2.  Aside from embarrassing products as athlete’s foot powder, vaginal itch cream, denture glue, adult diapers … (I can go on and on but you get the idea…)- celebrities will endorse anything and endorsement goes to the highest bidder. It is all about the money. 


Celebrities, those are - actresses, models, singers, TV personalities, athletes are our obvious partners but those who “touch” celebrities also have the ability to reflect celebrity mind-blinding brilliance.

Think make up artists, hairdressers and stylists.

So long as they can name drop celebrities, they can inspire celebrity awe.

On this subject, I find that the true talented artists are professional and are pleasurable to work with. But the newbies, the amateurs, the parvenus are often such pains in the arse. The less talent they have, the more divaesque they act. I would name names, but they would be no one of recognition.

Professional Prostitues

Now, celebrities being paid product prostitutes I would understand.

After all, that is their craft- to fake it so well that they’re beyond fake (to quote Courtney Love). As consumers, we know that faking it is what they do for a living.

What makes my blood boil is when supposed “professionals” of the medical profession partake in the endorsement game.

This is what I am talking about:
  • Dentists endorsing a brand of toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash (ok so dentists are quasi-doctors, but you get my drift) 
  • Dental associations giving their seal of approval to the highest bidder (this is soooo corrupt and big money goes to association officers) 
  • “Celebrity” dermatologists acting as spokespersons for any brand 
  • Any professional acting as spokesperson for a company’s germ, disease scare tactic 
Consumers pay these so called professionals for an unbiased opinion - so when instead you hear a scare campaign to to promote a product – I say basta!

Shame, shame, shame on you professional prostitutes!

Now, you might defend them by saying that they are presenting a valid medical concern.

Well in medicine, you will find that for every professional opinion, there is always another medical professional that can present a contrary opinion with equally convincing studies.
If you have watched any of these tv series on lawyers, you will see how goes the drill.

And why else do you often ask for a second opinion on serious medical diagnosis?

“Unbiased Journalists”

On the international level, I believe that journalistic bias is not so much on companies or products but rather on countries. (You wouldn’t expect CNN to give an arab point of view against the US, would you?)

But if you go on the local level, these journalists could be so damn dirty with product endorsements!
  • Magazine covers are for sale for the companies celebity endorsers (well, this is true for international magazines as well) 
  • Whole segments of “documentaries” are produced on contamination then followed by a soap commercial 
  • Supposed neutral documentaries, testimonials on products – skin care, slimming integrated in content with purchase of commercials 
and please feel free to add examples from your own experience...

I say that, yes, media has the right to earn money to sustain its operations. But they must present advertising as such and content as another. If content is paid in any form or manner – the journalist has the obligation to state so. (Well, thing is, in the ideal world, this shouldn't happen but does)

You say that these goodie bags, fees, gifts, fancy event invitations do not affect a writer’s opinion? Whatever.

State the facts.
And leave the readers decide if your opinion was indeed unbiased or not.
And if you received an all-expense paid luxury vacation, disproportionate amount of compensation and expensive goodie bags - chances are, you were not.


A post script on product samples.

I know that beauty bloggers are constantly bombarded by product samples.
And most bloggers state that these do not affect their opinion.

I say that these samples are peanuts to cosmetic companies and yes, it should not affect blogger's opinions nor should they be indebted to give a good critique or to give a critique at all. 

It could be dang expensive to buy all products to review and this will facilitate the task of the blogger.

On the other hand, bloggers should return samples if no longer needed and have the right to ask PR companies for a means to return the samples without financial burden on the blogger's part so as to absolve the blogger the "obligation" for a positive product review.

Blogger fell in love with product and want to keep the sample?  State it then.

But receiving anymore than samples and blogger will be treading on murky waters and requires complete transparency to the readers.

Bloggers have the potential to make a dent in the universe - but we must remain vigilant on practices lest we will go the way of classical corrupt media.

And if a beauty company's PR company pressures bloggers for a review just because they gave out these dinghy samples, why- you can blog about how pushy these PR companies are!

*yes, mindfartery, mindfart, mindflatulence deserve to be valid words. Origin: marketing


My dream summer drink is the Aperol Spritz, which I have mentioned in passing here loads of times. It is the most refreshing drink when you're overheated and exhausted, and it reminds me of Venice, where I first saw almost everyone drinking this reddish orange concoction (on my first of many visits) fifteen years ago and assumed wrongly that it was Campari. Then for years my summer drink was the


Tuesday, 31 May 2011
A little while ago, I, along with some fine style bloggers, went along to Mademoiselle Robot's inaugural MCM Film Club, held in the downstairs salon of the flagship store in Sloane Street (after hours of course). The theme of the night was 'breaking style boundaries', so obviously it was necessary to watch a Katharine Hepburn film. The film we watched was Bringing Up Baby, the 1938 Howard Hawks


Thursday, 26 May 2011

No, of course you don't, because I barely mentioned it here! I always intended to write about my trip to the Musandam Peninsula, which is cut off from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. (Muscat, across on the other side of Oman has an international airport and is the place holidaymakers usually visit.) But Musandam had such a profound effect on me that I couldn't quite summon the


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Two of my favourite actors, singing one of my favourite songs, in not one of my favourite Godard films.


Thursday, 19 May 2011
Oh, how I am spoiling you with the unbearable cuteness of kittens. Haha, it's almost cruel. This tiny pair live with Jeska from the wonderful Lobster & Swan and I am besotted with them. If they were mine I don't think I'd ever be able to leave the house without them. (In any case, since I started this series people think I'm such a zany cat freak that they wouldn't be that surprised if I walked


Monday, 16 May 2011
Online magazines are starting to really come into their own and Collected magazine has got it just right. Launching with an issue devoted to 'Secret LA',  the founders' hometown, and with both very decent photography and writing, as well as none of those seemingly minor glitches that always annoy me like embedded links that are too easy to mistakenly click on and zoom that jolts all over the


1. If you left a comment on my last post, it probably got eaten in the whole Blogger fail of last week, so sorry about that. I'm aware that this blog is probably long overdue some kind of epic re-design and change of platform (particularly since I realised Blogger is actually eating my older posts and after the three day world panic provoking outage of Blogger last week), but even if this makes


Wednesday, 11 May 2011
I stopped being interested in taking photos after I invested in my huge Nikon DSLR, but way back near the beginnings of this blog taking photos every day was quite important to me, not that you'd ever know it now from my hasty iPhone snapping, Instagramming ways. Meeting Charlotte, Brian and Elle last week, who take such beautiful photos on film - and then meeting lovelies Anabela, Kate and


Thursday, 5 May 2011
How many cats do you know with a knitwear label named after them? This week marks our first Australian cats in the series: Primo and Ezra are the beloved cats of Elizabeth from the beautifully cultivated blog and label that bears the name Primoeza. I love this interview - their personalities really shine through, and I love that their arch nemesis is a cat called Geoff - I can just imagine him!


Monday, 2 May 2011
Is the question that's been rattling round my hair for a while. I've spent eight years growing my hair, treating it like a piece of bloody antique lace, gently washing it with Kerastase, getting it trimmed regularly, putting avocado oil in the ends that still get split...god! Then about six weeks ago, in the throes of yet more economising, I went to some dodgy hairdresser and got the worst trim


Sunday, 1 May 2011
*Gin & tonic is so much better with a slice of lime, rather than lemon. How did I not ever realise this before?

*Even though I am broke as a joke and Duckie is in the garage for £1000s worth of repairs, my wardrobe is the wardrobe that keeps on giving. I haven't been shopping for ever, but over the past couple of years I'd bought things like maxi skirts, bright colours and wide brimmed raffia


Thursday, 28 April 2011

From my Instagram pictures we can deduce that there is something of a red, white and blue theme going on in London this week. Also, many Union Jack flags, big and small, fluttering in the breeze and not a major football tournament in sight (or maybe there is, I wouldn't know).

I have inadvertently been very clever regarding THE WEDDING. For months I've been avoiding the news, newspapers (


Tuesday, 26 April 2011
The heatwave has faded and I with it. A cosy dinner at Spuntino would be nice tonight - it's exactly like a restaurant in New York except it's not, because they don't deliver (that I'm aware of). A nice pan of their mac n' cheese would be splendid; delivered by a bearded, tattooed chap on a vintage bicycle I'm sure. If they threw in a bottle of Bourbon, I could make use of it.

{My photos from


Thursday, 21 April 2011
Oh, I know, we're a bit late, sorry - Lola's been typing furiously while I lay prostrate on the sofa nursing a glass of red wine with a cold damp flannel clamped to my forehead. It's been one of those weeks, but it's Thursday, which means Friday in the context of this week so hooray etc - I can lie down even more tomorrow.

This week's kitties are tiny Pippin and Bobo: the sweet darlings of


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Yesterday, three friends and I went out for lunch in France and I Instagrammed our day for your pleasure (and mine). We drove to Wimereaux, fifteen minutes on the motorway from Calais, (if you're in a rush to make it for lunch as we were) to a hotel that had a (camera shy) resident cat manning the reception. At the restaurant there we ordered (from a human) a carafe of rosé, fish


Sunday, 17 April 2011
Blogs/tumblrs about women wearing mens/androgynous clothing. I approve.

Tomboy Style
Wearing the Pants
And I'm forgetting one I really like.

Two pieces of knitwear that need to be mine:

Colenimo Amelia jumper (AW11/12)

Hetterson Crenelle + patches striped jumper.

You asked for it!

Friday, 15 April 2011

I thought I would break the long silence just to let you know what's been cooking this side of town-

Yes, I will be blogging more and i will be blogging good!

And please notice the BIG little change on my blog banner- 

 (Ex-insider tells all the bullshit behind beauty. And other shit.) 

Yes!!!! I will be blogging about other shit as well- oh what fun!  

I do not want to spoil the surprise but the target date for loads more posts will be mid May- yes, that will be this year- 2011.

And would like to sincerely apologize for this long pause but you will see later that there is big work for what is coming soon.

See you soon and thank you for all the help and your patience gurls and guys!  This wouldn't be at all possible without you.



Uh-oh, sorry if i have been behind answering your comments. Dog ate my homework.

Oh, I will try my (aaargh!) darndest to swear a teeny bit less.  So let me leave you with this tiny cheat sheet I have- so help me gawd.  See you soon!


Thursday, 14 April 2011

You see, this is the kind of thing that happens when Miss L. Cerand is in town. Jewels laid out on a chair, climbing out of the window to drink champagne, a room liberally scattered with big vases of hyacinths and a copy of Vile Bodies on the bedside table, a Ladurée Saint Honoré Rose-Framboise split in half with a hairpin. Not pictured: a bar in Claridges I never knew existed


I'm so happy people have been enjoying the Bloggers + Cats series. Thank you so much for all the love, links, tweets etc. I've decided to make it every other week from now on though, so that this blog doesn't evolve completely into an online version of Cat Fancy magazine. This will mean I have more time to post about other important regular Lola Is Beauty issues like shoes, gallivanting, Paris


Tuesday, 12 April 2011
I trawled through one thousand, five hundred and thirty nine Etsy search results for "turquoise gold" so that you wouldn't have to...

Clockwise from top left: 
Turquoise & rose gold studs, Victorian baby rings, Antique Victorian turquoise and diamond ring, Enamel bangle, Red jasper and turquoise art deco ring, Victorian rose gold & white onyx earrings,


Sunday, 10 April 2011
I'm on that Instagram thing all the youngsters with itelephones are talking about. It is strangely addictive and thrilling actually - come, join me - I'm on there as lolaisbeauty. Or tell me if you're on there and I'll follow you, then we'll follow each other and have really long Twitter conversations about our favourite filters and how easy it is to set up, use and cross-post seamlessly on


Thursday, 7 April 2011
My iphoto now holds more folders of photos of other people's cats than would be easy to explain away to someone who happened to be browsing through it. I don't know how long I can keep up this intense cat freakery! Maybe I need to do a series on shoes to switch things up a bit. Anyway, Steevy has been waiting in the wings in his fur tuxedo for a while; I hope his nerves haven't got the better of


Sunday, 3 April 2011
From the age of 13, when I bought US Elle on holiday in Greece, I was obsessed with fashion magazines. I subscribed to British Elle from its inception with Sally Brampton as editor, and I still have my collection of Vogues British, Italian and French from 1991 - 2006 and Harper's Bazaar during the reign of Liz Tilberis (RIP). I would only buy The Face, ID or Dazed & Confused if I particularly


Thursday, 31 March 2011

I'm very happy to present to you the latest edition of Bloggers + Cats featuring Kate Miss from For Me, For You and the lovely Wendy! *Applause*. I'm sure you've all seen Wendy on For Me, For You - and she's quite the trooper: how many cats do you know who have completed a NY to LA cross country road trip, complete with motel stays? Wendy's a bit of a quiet rock star. She and Lola could compare


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Alas, poor Wiksten! I knew him well.
If I like something enough and it fits me well, I'll wear it to death. I knew it was time to look for a replacement for my bamboo Wiksten skirt when people started saying things like, "Oh, I recognised you from down the street because you always wear that skirt." It's true, I've been wearing this skirt almost daily for the past two or three years. It's my


Friday, 25 March 2011
I stretched out reading Patti Smith’s book Just Kids, about her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, for as long as possible. I read about a page a day, wanting to extend my time hanging out with Patti as it were. I could pick any of the countless ways the book inspired me, but Patti’s descriptions of how she dressed at significant moments in her life have stayed with me. I often feel misunderstood in


Thursday, 24 March 2011
This week's Bloggers + Cats would not have happened today were it not for my extreme dedication to cat blogging! I've been without internet or land line for the past two days, and I'm set for five more days without it, thanks to BT, who have informed me they're not obliged to refund me anything either. Thanks BT! I hate you! Anyway let's not turn this into an anti British Telecom rant, but just

Photoshop, my BFF

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

This random small post is inspired by one of our new readers, Beauty and the Bullshit's 500th follower Marta who asked my opinion about the new "MakeUp Forever we didn't retouch this bitch - it is all due to our fabulous product campaign".

Thought I would share my answer with you though I am pretty sure most of you pro make up artists would already know. 

Contrary to public opinion, we try to avoid retouching as much as we can.  Not because we want to be honest (heehee- that's silly even to think that!) but because it is hell expensive- beauty retouchers have a higher rate than your garden variety kind- talk about who is on the wrong side of BS now.

Here is how -
  1. We select young and already naturally beautiful models at the age when they have the most perfect skin. (with the exemption of Kate Moss who will probably survive all holocausts)
  2. We hire a real make up pro who takes at least two hours just to put on the face zero.
  3. Make up pro uses all the make up she needs to use.  She may or may not use my product.  But she is required to attain the imaginary end finish that my product supposedly promises to deliver.
  4. We cheat especially with sparkled products.
  5. Lighting is controlled like a bitch.  We almost never shoot outdoors especially for print campaigns.  If we do (for video), the time of shoot (for the type of lighting) is well defined.  As we have to wake up extra early (try 3 am) for outdoor shots- we try to avoid this.
  6. Lashes always, always have falsies.  And speaking of, I saw these ads where they say "lash inserts were used to even out the lashline"- pure bullshit.  For everyone's information- we ONLY use individual lash inserts (except when i want a ridiculous effect on purpose).  So, they are not claiming anything heroic there.
  7. I use hand models if model's hands are crap and I have nail polish to sell.
  8. I clip the ears if they are getting in the way.
  9. I am extra persnickety with the hair (this is the thing that takes the shoot so long to perfect) as hair is so tricky to retouch.
The general rule of retouching for me is when certain details, imperfections are getting in the way of the message we are delivering.
  1. If model has flaw that is hell impossible to hide by make up without making her look unnatural.  Like tattoos, king kong eyebags, red eyes, funny teeth, unexpected nose hair (from being tired looking at the camera all day)- heck all- now that i think about it.
  2. Lash and sparkle enhancement
  3. If i want a hand position with a head tilt and i tried and i tried and couldn't get the right combination during the shoot- i assemble a composite picture
  4. And of course there are perfectionist photographers (the really expensive ones) who will never release a less that perfect photo and will retouch it themselves before client gets copy.
  5. If my make up artist is less than what i expect her/him to be - ohh and i had experience with some bad ones with egos bigger than Mariah's.  (Yes you know who you are, "Mr. I-am-not-doing-preprod-trial, I-am-a-professional/walkout-queen"), then skin retouching becomes necessary and often catastrophic.
So yes, we definitely retouch but it should not be to the point when the first thing that comes to your mind is- "Hell this photo is so retouched!"  Then we have failed. 'cough' revlon 'cough'.  (We always try to outsmart you- remember?)

Well now, back to the make up forever video.  I really do not see the point retouching video.  First, that is too expensive and second, you see the video fleetingly - so absolute perfection is not necessary.  And third, look at all my 9 points above.

So blah MakeUp forever- this claim is not really saying niet.

And that Dove commercial?  Stupidly exaggerated to make Dove look heroic really.
Gawd, i would just get a prettier model. Duh!


    Monday, 21 March 2011

    I know that to the untrained eye, it might look as if I post the same pictures of cherry blossom every year. I swear they're different photos. I have a compulsion to keep 24 hour watch, to measure the trajectory of it, to take pictures of it at different times of the day and night, to walk along gazing upwards at a particular frond. The darker pink blossom isn't out yet, then the lighter one


    Sunday, 20 March 2011
    On Friday I spent the entire day on the phone and responding to messages, which was pretty amazing. I looked out of the window and saw that my camellia had its first bloom, which made me really happy. Which means I must be getting really old. J brought me pink / lavender roses, then in the evening I watched Waste Land with O and ate a steak. You must watch Waste Land - I will do a more

    Pencil Pornication: The Sequel

    Thursday, 17 March 2011

    To those new here, you might want to read this post first.


    Without much further ado, here is your :


    First thing to remember is that BRAND NAMES DON’T MEAN SHIT.
    Your brands do not manufacture your pencils. They all source from the same suppliers.

    So if you think that you have to buy a particular brand to get quality- you are mistaken and are only spending unnecessarily more.

    What happens is this :
    1. Brands give a brief to suppliers specifying the characteristics they want from their liners. 
    2. The suppliers then propose a gamut of textures that fulfill the brief.
    3. Brands choose a texture and the colors from that texture.  
    4. If the colors they want are not yet available in that texture, the suppliers will color match according to brands' specification.
    5. The brands will specify how they want the pencils decorated.
    6. Suppliers are free to propose the same texture in the same color to any other brand out there.
    There is no exclusivity.  Because there is no need for it.*
    Once the pencils are branded, we will all think they are different.

    I have mentioned that the biggest suppliers come from Germany, Italy, France.  They are all good suppliers.
    • Germany is the biggest supplier/s (there are at least 3 manufacturers there) and they are reliable factories which is why so many brands buy from them.
    • Italy is very good, very innovative but smaller capacity and does not have as much clients. But i say, quality and innovation wise, I like my Italian supplier better .
    • France is third in line. Good innovation, reliable supplier, decent quality. Though their innovations are less than the Italians, their innovations are very marketable.
    There are other suppliers elsewhere and perhaps they are good.
    But as I have no personal experience working with them, I cannot say anything about them though I encourage you readers to contribute your experience.*

    That out of the way, these are what you have to know when evaluating a make up pencil- the same criteria that brands use.

    1) PENCIL LENGTH.  Go for standard.

    All the suppliers get a standard size of wood for the pencils. This is why your pencils all come in almost  the same size. (around 12-13cm if i remember right)

    However, some brands decide to deviate from the standard to look premium (they go extra longer  for example), it will mean more wastage and thus higher cost- not very wise.

    So standard length gives you best value for money.

    2) DECOR.  Go for simple.

    What I mean by decor is the paint finish outside, the thing that makes it pretty. It is as useless indication of quality as the brand name.

    The fancier the decor (matt or shiny paint, special effects, brush or sponge tips, shrink wrap protection), the more needlessly expensive.

    This is one way a premium brand can distinguish themselves from mass brands but it is no indication that the textures used are better. So, try not to be swayed by fancy decor if what you really are after is good value for money.

    I know that it is important that products be pretty (it is, even to bullshit averse me). But think about it, you apply liners in the comfort of your home and will tend not to reapply it at midday, so why pay extra for nicer packaging?

    3)  SPECIAL CAPS AND TIPS. Must you really?

    A way to make you think that the pencil is special is to add a special accessory either at its base or  in the cap- like a smudger or a brush applicator.
    If you are semi serious with make up, you know that this is pretty lame.
    So, better to avoid if you can and spend less.
    (photo nicked from i don't know where anymore)

    3) PENCIL CROSS SECTION SHAPE.  There is more to this than round.
    • ROUND is standard and easy to work with.  It is also logistically easier for brands to adapt.
      Disadvantage: you only have one point and have to sharpen accordingly if you want finer point
    • OVAL is a rare shape but is very handy.  It is available with suppliers but very few brands order it (because they lack imagination and daring and want more sales with more classic formats).
      But it is excellent to work with - specially for eyebrow liners- One point can give you a fine and thick line (line and fill) depends how you angle the pencil (like a calligraphy brush). Great for semi experts out there.
      Disadvantage: you have to buy its own oval sharpener and that’s a major decision point for brands because it means they have to convince consumers to buy the sharpener or give it away as part of package.
    • TRIANGLE can be surprisingly easy to control as it rests well between your fingers. But also quite rare for same reason as oval shape.

    4) PENCIL THICKNESS. Size matters.
    • STANDARD is the ideal size for most eye and lipliners
    • JUMBO is a good size if you use your lipliner for filling or your eyeliner as shadow
    • ULTRA JUMBO - this thickness is used for multi usage products that gets applied to cheeks/eyes or cheeks/lips.
    • MICRO- extremely good for eyebrows

    5) MUST YOU REALLY GO AUTOMATIC? Sharpening has its advantages you know.

    Automatic pencils have their obvious advantage that you do not have to sharpen them.  Which is fine if that is your priority.  

    But remember that with this, there are three major disadvantages:
    1. In general, the packaging itself of automatic pencils costs more than the packaging of wooden pencils
    2. If lead breaks inside- even if you have not consumed all the lead, it is a goner- you have to throw it away.
    3. The lead texture is limited in hardness
      In automatic pencils, the lead hangs inside the plastic container unlike in wooden pencils which is totally embedded/supported by the wood.  This has an implication to the texture.  That means that the texture should be hard enough so that even if it is thin, it will not break inside the plastic encasing.  This is acceptable if you have want a fine hard line especially with eyebrows.  But if you want a softer, smudgeable texture-  automatic pencils are not the best.
    Important to note that there are two types of automatic pencils- the retractable and the non-retractables.

    Non- retractable means, that once you have twisted the lead out, you can not untwist it to get the lead back in.
    Retractable, you can twist it out and then untwist it back down.

    We marketeers tend to promote retractable as a big selling point.  
    BUT- retractable is more expensive and texture wise, requires even a harder lead!

    So, personally, i see no real advantage in retractables and would not recommend it. 

    6) OR WOOD?

    Wooden pencils are not what they used to be.  
    A lot of them are in fact- PLASTIC.  

    And this is where you will LEARN - a lot.

    Come on now, take a look at your pencils-
    Some are still real wood, 
    (this photo is shamelessly nicked from shutterstock)
    some are plastic with natural wood or black color

    Also look at the base tips and the caps.
    Do you notice ones with capped bottoms like these

    or special shaped caps with an indention like this:

    Nifty innit?  

    Well, the reason for this is not just decorative.
    And here is how to interpret them.
    Do you want more performance from your liners, something like -
    A liner that can be drawn fine but is also smudgeable?
    Or perhaps, a liner that stays put throughout the day?
    Or what about a water resistant, transfer resistant liner?
    Or a soft liner that has super adherence?
    The better textures like these have sophisticated ingredients like silicons, (polymers, resins) or volatiles

    (Ok, think what you want to think, but silicons are great when used in cosmetics.  They are expensive yes, but the performance is worth the price.  Gawd I drool when i evaluate silicone enhanced formulas- that is of course just in my head, as a professional, i am not supposed to show that i am peeing in my pants over make up)

    Thing with these fancy ingredients are that they sometimes tend to be too soft to be in automatics.
    So they have to be embedded in a "wooden" pencil.  

    Another thing with these, some actives react with wood, so they might need something that is less reactive to the formula, and for this, we have different types of plastics to the rescue.

    To get good adherence in our formula, we often employ "volatiles" as ingredients.
    How they work- the process of you applying the liner, the volatiles escape from the formula and this process of escaping helps to fix the texture to your skin and makes it stay there for a long time.

    Thing with these volatiles is that they have to be kept in air tight containers.
    If you see those caps at the bottom tip of your liner or that specially shaped cap, your formula has volatiles which will make them have good adhering properties.

    Important thing to remember is to always close the cap.  If you don't you will see that your textures will shrink indicating the evaporation of volatiles.  Formula is not toxic, you can still use them, but they are no longer as adherent as they should be.

    Anyway, this might be a hasty generalization but a good rule of thumb is that the more sophisticated read, better) formula will be in a plastic "wooden" pencil with airtight caps.  


    BUT, of course after the packaging has given you an indication, YOU still have to test the formula and the color that suits you.

    Great that pencils can be sharpened off so you lessen the risk of contamination when using store samples.  As well, if you want a long lasting pencil, test them first in a store, do your shopping and what not and check if it really lasted before you buy.  You will be surprised how much money you will save this way.

    If you find what you liked in an expensive brand, take note of how it is packaged and look for a similar formula by taking a cue of the packaging used.  You may not stumble upon the exact same texture and color but you can have a close approximation at a much cheaper price.

    And so there you have it.
    Beauty without the Bullshit.