Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Brand Alley - every fashion lover's dream

Just a quick post today to advise anyone who likes to get their hands on a good bargain to sign up to Brand Alley. You just have to enter your email and they send you updates about what brands they have on offer; some sales last only a day as the stuff flies off the shelves so quickly. At the moment one of the brands they're selling is See by Chloé. I am currently coveting this little number:
Unfortunately it is too late for me to whack this on my Christmas list so I'll have to let it go (sob). But hopefully this print screen gives you a good idea of how the site works - it's basically a race to get the best items and you get rewarded for inviting other members to the site, which is always a bonus! It is definitely worth checking out, they do a lot of cheaper brands as well - they still have some Calvin Klein underwear available from a sale that started a couple of days ago.

The one drawback to this site is often deliveries can take between 15 - 28 days to arrive which is painful if you are excited about receiving something, but I think the huge discounts more than make up for it!

Has anyone else tried Brand Alley or know of any other similar sites which might be worth a look? Do let me know!

Friday, 16 December 2011

A guide to make up brushes

Make up brushes obviously make a huge difference when applying your slap and there are so many different brands out there that it is often hard to choose which one is the best. Here are the brushes that I use the most often; they are all firm favourites of mine, despite the significant price range:

From top to bottom: Body Shop eyeshadow brush (R.R.P £9), Body Shop blusher brush (R.R.P £12)

Personally, on a compromise between budget and performance, I love the Body Shop range. I, however, do not use the blusher brush for blusher. Instead I think it works better when applying a finishing coat of pressed matte powder on top of your make up, as it gives quite a light coverage - perfect for a smooth, all-over finish, that doesn't require much colour.

Boots bronzing brush (R.R.P £7.50)

For £7.50, I cannot fault anything about this brush. It's soft (even after numerous washes) and gives the impression of great cheekbones if used correctly. I tend to start at the top of my cheekbones, making circular motions before sweeping any excess bronzer lightly above the cheekbones from bottom to top.

MAC 190 foundation brush (R.R.P £26)

This lovely little number was actually a gift (I love getting expensive make up related products for Christmas/ birthdays - it feels like such a treat)! However, despite its name, I do not use this brush for foundation. I find it just as easy to use my fingertips to apply foundation, and I find that foundation brushes don't really last long if put to their intended use. So instead, I use this brush to apply blusher. Just a little swish in the blusher pot and a pouty-smile in the mirror to reveal the apples of your cheeks and you're ready to go. I tend to start from the bottom of the apple and swish upwards, using circular movements to blend if necessary.

As much as I hate to admit it, the more expensive MAC brush is my favourite, but the others are perfectly acceptable and who is really going to be able to tell/ judge you on what brand of brush you use? I think it's more important to:
1. Keep your brushes clean (I soak them in warm water, with a splash of antibacterial soap and a dollop of hair conditioner to keep them soft).
2. Learn what works best for you when applying make up. As you can see, practise makes perfect when choosing what brush works well for a given cosmetic!

Have you got any particular make up brushes you want to recommend? These are just my favourites but I would love to hear any advice anyone has to offer!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

"No, where are you from originally?" - My most dreaded of all questions

The Patronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (photo taken by me in summer 2011)

Little interlude from fashion today so I can have a small rant. I recently read an article on the Guardian website on exactly this subject and thought I would share my thoughts on this with all my lovely blog readers.

So what's all the fuss about? Basically, I've found that being slightly brown seems to invite endless questions about my heritage. You would be amazed at the number of times this has happened to me, usually with taxi drivers who are trying to bond with me over our shared ethnicity which I happen to know absolutely nothing about. Like the writer of the article said, I know it's not meant in any nasty way but when I'm getting a taxi I would prefer small talk about the weather as opposed to trying to create a family tree for the imagination of some bloke I've never met before.

So a brief breakdown of my family history (note the irony that I have to do this to support my point):
- My grandad and grandma (on my dad's side) meet in Malaysia in the 50s - he was in the RAF and she was a nurse tending to British soldiers posted over there.
- He asks her to marry him and she moves back to the UK with him.
- My dad is born in the UK.
- My dad marries my mum (who is white British).
- I am born in the UK.

So, as you can see, my immediate family have not lived in Malaysia since the 50s, that's about 40 years before I entered the world. I have visited Malaysia once in my life (see my post The search for my Asian persuasion) and, as much as I loved it and was interested to find out about my heritage, I still feel 100% British and don't really have any connection with Malaysia.

However, people do not seem to be able to accept that I don't feel completely and utterly in love with my 'homeland.' A typical conversation usually goes as follows:

Taxi driver: So, where are you from love?
Me: *sighs* Manchester
Taxi driver: No, originally
Me: Well, I was born in Somerset? (for those that don't know, this is a county in the South of England)
Taxi driver: Oh okay, well what nationality are your parents?
Me: They're both British
Taxi driver: You're funny!
Me: .....
Taxi driver: No but really, what nationality are they?
Me: No, I'm not lying to you, they really are both British.... Although my Grandma's Malaysian, but her family are of Indian descent.
Taxi driver: Oh right that's it!! I'm from X town which is also in the massive continent of Asia so you definitely know such-and-such a person and have visited such-and-such a place - we have so much in common!

This is usually the point where I just sit back in my seat and nod along and wait for the taxi ride to be over. (If we've not exhausted the topic of my heritage, we usually move onto my degree which is also usually a great area of concern - what else can I do with a degree in Humanities if I don't teach?!)

It's not that I take any offence from questions of ethnicity, I'm just sick of being asked. People have been emigrating for thousands of years, it's no longer some amazing feat like it may have been when someone realised that some materials that floated were strong enough to carry people and goods across a stretch of water.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Should I just accept it and calm down? Or does anyone else find it annoying when people don't believe your take on your own heritage? Feel free to rant below.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

First attempt using crackle nail polish

I am pretty useless at keeping my nails in good condition. I've had a lot of uni work recently and all I want to do when I get home from a long slog at the library is get into my comfiest slouch pants and put my hair in a bun (worst beauty blogger ever). However, this evening while watching Raymond Brigg's The Snowman with my house mates - it's now the 1st December and therefore perfectly acceptable - I decided to try my hand at painting my nails with crackle nail polish. For some reason there was a middle-aged man in our students' union today who looked like he'd hijacked a lorry full of make up to sell on his stand. Absolutely fine by me though, as I am extremely tight on cash at the moment and am always on the look out for bargains. I chose Beauty UK's shatter polish in night fever.

Beauty UK shatter polish in 06 night fever (R.R.P £2.99)

Maybelline Salon Manicure Anti-Breakage Base, No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour in Pink Grapefruit, Beauty UK Shatter Polish in 06 Night Fever, Nails Inc Kensington Caviar Topcoat

For a first attempt, I'd say that the crackle nail effect worked quite well although I believe there is a certain knack to it and, of course, practise makes perfect. From this one attempt I think it works better if you add a thin layer of the crackle polish as it is more prone to cracking that way. As you can see from the picture above, I used three other polishes alongside it, all of which I'm very fond of and use religiously. Never underestimate the importance of a base coat to protect your nails and prevent discolouring, and a top coat to avoid chipping!

So there you have it - an evening watching The Snowman and painting my nails. Living the student dream!