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
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