Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Beauty for Everyone

Sometime being in this industry challenges my beliefs and standards more than I ever expected.

Take for example, your glossy magazine. Most ladies buy them at least sometimes, if the don't buy them then they are subjected to them in the doctor's waiting room or at least eyed up by them in the supermarket.They feed us from a glance at the front cover the line that beauty is equal to extravagance, spending power and perfection. These mags are full of ads about some miracle product or another, designed to complete your life, for the bargain price of fifty quid.

Many do a high budget/low budget comparison, but I believe their budget in the 'low' end to be very different to mine.

Okay so I buy mainly high end products for my professional kit. Clients expect them. Do I buy them for my own? Do I hell.

Increasingly and overwhelmingly, in one way or another, we are all force fed this image of glamour and money being very much the same thing. A high amount of desirability is attached to high-end products, mainly due to their advertising costs, luxury packaging, 'free' give away enticements - this is not news. But the news is, there are a phenomenal amount of extremely cheaper products that do just as good a job. Just because an item is more expensive, it is not necessarily better.

For instance, Primark do a small range of make up brushes. Some of them are quite rigid and stiff, but others are ideal. Their double headed eye shadow/concealer brush (£1) is a bit stiff, but ideal for precision work. Their blusher brush (£1.50) is a good duo fibre short bristle blusher brush, but it's even better for putting foundation on. I prefer it to my MAC one. The little set in the image are not brilliant at all but fine for travelling - there's not much room for brushes on motorbikes!

Why does beauty, glamour and vitality have to be the preserve of those bestowed with a large disposable income? It does not.

There are, of course, some superior products, 'hero' products the brands like to call them, like YSL Touche Eclat, MAC Prep and Prime, Clinique's Dramatically Different, Lauder's is Repair Wear I think, and these are much loved and trusted products worldwide.  This is for a reason. But not everything with a swanky name or free make up bag is.

Lauder own and control the majority of the high end concessions definitely in the UK but I think world wide. They roll out expensive advertising campaigns selling you their vision of expensive beauty because they work. Take away all that, would you still be interested?

I was once told that if you treat cheap clothes the same way as you treat very expensive clothes, the will last the same amount of time and make you feel just as good. I think this applies to make up and beauty too. The expensive stuff might smell a bit nicer, look a bit nicer on your shelf and give you a luxury feel, but I bet there are others out there that really are just as good for a fraction of the price. I had some luxury body wash for Christmas last year, lovely it was. Really beautiful. I decided I would use this all the time, it's lovely. But then I accidentally used an old one one day. I didn't even notice until I was out, and my skin wasn't any less soft or comfortable, there were no real tangible benefits. I was still clean.

I'm going to be writing a series of blogs about beauty for EVERYONE.

Please bear in mind that common sense SHOULD prevail here, if you know you're allergic to an ingredient, do not use a product with that in. If you use a product and it feels anything less than great - stop using it and remove it asap. It's important to say that this same thing applies to high end products. If your skin is very sensitive, approach with caution and don't push it. Cheaper isn't always better, just the same as expensive isn't either.

Are you on a tight budget? Do you wish you could blow a wodge of cash on make up from the department store's beauty counters? I'm here to tell you that this is not the only way.

From 1 minute emergency make up to low cost liners, having a look that makes you feel comfortable and confident is not about flashing the cash.

Beauty and confidence is not the preserve of the rich (or in debt)!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

How to get the very best from your Bridal Make Up Artist

When I first started doing make up a few years back, I knew of a couple of beauty therapists who told me that they "hate doing make up". It was too personal a thing for them. I always remember thinking that that was the point of an extensive consultation process. To get what your client wants.

One of my bridal clients I have so far met for the upcoming season confided in me that she had thought long and hard about booking a make up artist. As I know her personally, she told me that the fact that she knew me and knew my work was a double edged sword. She knew how I worked and had seen tonnes of my images, but what if she really didn't like what I did for her? It would be really awkward to say anything to me, as a friend.

I told her in no uncertain terms, in my characteristically understated way (?), that I would be mortally offended if she did not tell me!

(Photo by Love Dub Weddings)

She was INCREDIBLY relieved to hear that a good make up artist would have the same concerns. What if they really didn't get it right? What if they wanted something really awful? What if they decided that this bride was not one they would not like to work with? It's a two way street. As a friend of that person it could be awkward, but as a stranger it's harder to say something and therefore you're more likely to not get what you want. Or is it the other way around? There are pluses and negatives either way.

Informal shot! 

I think it's really important to get across the difference between a make up artist and a good bridal make up artist.

A good bridal make up artist will be confident (not overly) in his or her abilities but not judgmental about their look or their wants.

A good bridal artist will talk through the desired look, the whole feel of the wedding, the colour of the dress and the color theme of the wedding. They'll also talk about the features of the bride that are their favourite and their least favourite.

(Photo by Love Dub Weddings)

They'll explain about skincare leading up to the wedding. They'll ask the questions like "How do you usually wear your eyebrows?" and "are you a lipstick girl?" because these things mean a lot to people and the degree of satisfaction in the outcome and the comfort-ability they have for the duration of their day.

A good make up artist will take the time and trouble to find out what the client wants and needs. They'll talk to them about possible alternatives and slight changes that might help, but ultimately, the bride's wishes are paramount.

I say to all my brides "If you want your face painted purple with orange spots, that's what you get. I will advise against it and give you a fabulous alternative, but if that's still what you want, that's what you get!". Luckily no one has ever called my bluff!

A good make up artist will never leave the bride until she is a) 110% happy and b) commencing the ceremony. We don't leave until the last minute - to avoid dramas!

So, some tips to get the very best out of your bridal MUA:

1 - Have a couple of conversations, either over the phone, text, email, whatever before the trial. Get to know each other a little bit. Have a bit of fun.

2 - Fill in their forms etc promptly and return them. Ask to see a copy of their insurance too.

3 - Do some research into your desired look. Some things to think about are "when have I been most happy with my make up in the past", what celebrity looks do you admire; current trends, that sort of thing. A great way to communicate this is by setting up a hidden Pinterest board that only the two of you can see. This works for hair too.

4 - Be open minded, but not easily persuaded. If you really dislike something, you must say. Your artist will not be offended. It's her job to put on your face the look you have in your head. Remember, it's not make up - it comes off!

5 - When you have your trial, you will most likely be sat in your kitchen, with greasy hair, jeans and a big pile of washing up to do. On the day itself, if you're lucky you might be in a swanky hotel, you will certainly have smashing hair and nails, you will be wearing a fabulous dress, probably some variation of the colour white, so the make up needs to reflect that. It is going to look a bit odd without all the other bits. You'll be the best made up person in Sainsbury's though! Just bear in mind that the day itself is going to be very very different to the day of the trial.

6 - If you are super, uber specific and fussy about your make up and like it a really certain way, consider not having a make up artist. If you're happy with your look and don't mind doing it, why change? You might not get the result you're looking for if you've spent 15 years perfecting it on yourself - we can't compete with that!

7 - If you have any allergies, concerns or really important dislikes, declare them as soon as possible!
Understand that if you have conjuctivitis or a cold sore, it might be your wedding day but we CANNOT touch you. There are no exceptions. Ever. (there are a few more contraindications like that but they are the main ones).

8 - Keep your trial make up on all day, look at it from as many angles and lights as possible and take loads of photos. Write notes about your likes/loves/not so sures and feed them back.
Follow these tips and you're sure to have a great bridal make up experience.

9 - Don't be a "Bridezilla". Not cool! Don't expect them to be at your beck and call 24 hours a day. Give them a reasonable amount of time to get back to you, unless it's an emergency. I'm so lucky I've only had one partial 'Zilla so far! 

10 - Ask them for referrals to other bridal specialists, eg: hair, photographers.

Bridal make up is a great investment when taken care of properly and ensures your comfort and staying power for all of those smiles. And lets face it if you can't have pampering on that day, when can you?!

Enjoy it and make a new friend in the process! 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Time to Change. It really is.

I've signed up for the Time to Change "Champion" programme. I truly believe that it's time to end mental heath stigmatisation. The fact that I've found/am finding this blog post so hard to write demonstrates beautifully that the stigmatisation is very much still alive and well. I'm really quite nervous about it. Have been for days.

I don't believe it for a moment but the term "superwoman" is used in relation to me fairly regularly. By others, I hasten to add. I'm in no way a superwoman, I just get on with things. Usually. It might come as a surprise to those people who have used that term that I have chronic and significant mental health problems, have had all my adult life - and probably most of my childhood but there's no real way of verifying that.

I have Borderline Personality Disorder. Won't bore you with too many of the symptoms, there's more information in the NHS link than I could tell you as I'm too close to it and can't see the wood for the trees.

In a nutshell, I get massively overwhelmed very easily (this is inconvenient as I work best under pressure) I have had great big long periods of debilitating depression (not for a while thankfully) and I struggle greatly with self image and my sense of self and self worth.

Now, no one can control the hand that life, nature, physiology deals them, but, to a degree, we can control how the effects influence us. For example, through 18 months of  psychological therapy, I've learned to sit on the sunny side of the bus, not the overcast side. I refuse to be a victim of my faulty wiring.

That's not to say that I don't have bad periods. It truth be told I'm currently navigating my way through one. Personally, I don't find talking to people about my feelings to help a great deal - I find it gives them weight and power. I prefer to talk about how I can counteract, improve and remove those feelings. There's generally an underlying reason for things now- that's how I know I'm not having a depressive episode. They come with no rhyme or reason. The things that might be causing my malaise may be tiny or massive, but one thing's for sure, they'll take a tremendous amount of effort to put right. As a result I sleep and feel exhausted, physically and mentally, a huge amount of the time.

A few years back I got myself into a bit of a pickle. I was so wrapped up in my self image and worth (lack thereof) that I inadvertently created an alter ego for myself - I called it "my brilliant self" when I was in talking therapy. It helped me to function initially in a bullying and oppressive work environment that was terribly harmful, looking back. But it also piled so much pressure on me that it ended up being one of the most destructive aspects of my life. Especially given that the pressure was to achieve and produce in an environment where those things would never have been noticed or appreciated, they just would have fuelled further expectation through negative reinforcement. It takes all sorts to make a world, of course, but people in relatively powerful positions need to be aware much more of the impact their behaviour has on other people - lots of sufferers of mental health issues are the masters of disguise. They can't help but internalise the negativity and it's harmful and painful.

In 2 years, I've gone from being unemployed and unemployable (mental health problems) to being a qualified, certified make up artist with my own business, successful, thank you. I have achieved my degree in Social Media and have a secondary career as a a consultant in the same, learned to ride a motorbike, bagged myself a fantastic personal life and have rebuilt my life totally. As a result of this
I'm aware that some may be confused by my claim to significant mental health requirements. I can assure you that they are true. I just refuse to let it limit me.

In my capacity as a Make Up Artist, sometimes it's super hard to put my face on, get out there, interact with my clients and do what I do best. That's the hard bit - getting there. The second I see my client it's all forgotten - doesn't exist. It's wonderful. And especially when we get to see the results - it's magical. Just difficult and frustrating that I have to go through that to get there. All the different people I meet, the creativity I get to employ and the focus a job gives me, they have magical healing properties. It just needs that kick to get me there. I can totally see how lots of Borderline people (overwhelmingly ladies) are addicted to substances. I've escaped that one, thank goodness.

I have read, talked, practised and medicated. A lot. I'm still on the highest dose of my medication. It's a relatively generic one now, and really I should be back on the hardcore stuff - I used to take the highest dose of that plus a second high dose specialist one - but I am desperately trying to resist changing back over. The side effects of the hardcore ones were pretty inconvenient and especially so when I have 2 careers to run. I also don't want to be in the bracket that those meds put me in.

I've wrestled for years about "coming out" about my mental health. I'm glad that being a Champion has encouraged me to write this post. I'm going to be canvassing a event shortly with Time to Change Wales information and paraphernalia. You may have seen the collective blog project about self image that 6 ladies and I wrote a few months back. I wrestled with the idea of bringing mental health into my post, but I just didn't feel able to do it. With hindsight I wish I had actually. it governs so many of my responses, thoughts and feelings - and not all negatively,believe it or not.

And just don't even get me started on accessing mental health services via the NHS.

Utterly appalling. That's all I'll say, for now!

Extraordinary, yes. Wonderwoman, no.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

"Oh, you're a model! That must be SO glamorous"


Or something.

Being a make up artist involves lots of standing around, often cold, a bit damp, holding too much stuff.

It's so much easier being a model! And if you believe that, you'll believe anything.

Now there are models, and there are models. Some are pretty laid back and easy going, pretty happy to do most things required to get the "money shot" (if only, most of the time) and then there are those that are just plain and simply bonkers.

Gingerface Model is one of them.

I've worked with her a couple of times, this was the first time. It was November, and this is a pond - completely covered in algae; in Bristol. She was not asked to do this - she asked to do it!

Probably some of the best behind the scenes images I have!

And being a photographer is just as glamorous, as Angi Wallace so beautifully demonstrates!

And just to prove that this is not photoshopped - a wee bit of video...

So who wants to be the next model? 

Fine Art Fashion Photography

On 24th August I was really lucky to participate in the final part of Sophie Pycroft's week long photographic art exhibition at the beautiful Penarth Pier Pavillion.  

A collection of beautiful models beautifully showed off this seasons new trends from Karen Millen, jewellery by Stella and Dot. Plum colours in large patterns, beautifully tailored rain coat and trilby and a beautiful fluid white robe dress were just some of the highlights. 

The setting is just glorious, with the late summer light pouring in through the ceiling windows...

Being just one of the make up artists working on the event I was very pleased to work with four girls - none of which I'd worked with before and all of which are beautiful, unique, talented ladies in their own unique ways. My make up tutor was one of the other artists - no pressure then! It was fabulous to work with her again. Inspirational.

After the catwalk, the girls mingled and chatted with the the audience giving an opportunity to examine pieces more closely. I should at this stage apologise for the poor photography - I had camera issues that day and was just grateful to have taken any images that weren't completely out of focus! 

Beautiful Victoria.

Gorgeous Rhiannon.

Just two of the girls I worked with that day. Sophie did a mini-shoot with all of the models individually so I'm hoping to be able to share those soon.

And just to round off a brilliant Sunday of work and fun, being sat on the beach eating Krispy Kreme donuts in the sunshine laughing with several like minded ladies - that was just the icing on the proverbial cake. 

Confessions of a Packaging Addict

My name's Bethan and I have an addiction to silly, pointless quizzes on Facebook - and PACKAGING.

I can't help it. I really try hard. I'm ruthless. I try to picture the factories where these things are made and the stacks and boxes of the things and try to think about what my home would look like if I kept all the lovely packaging that I'd ever had the pleasure of. That would just be silly. 

But it's soooooo pretty! I have a variety of carrier bags from MAC, e.l.f, Lush, all sorts of places that I neither use nor can bring myself to throw out. Ridiculous.

This one is causing me real problems:

It will come as no surprise to you that I had it for Christmas. It's now half way through September and I still haven't opened it.

I try really hard not to keep clothes for "best". When "best" comes you either don't like them any more, they don't fit or they're wrecked by dust. Just silly. I refuse to get annoyed when I smash a nice plate - I just don't see the point in being precious about things. They are just "things".

So why the flipping heck can't I just open and use my lovely Soap & Glory gift set?! I LOVE the stuff - but it's just soooooo pretty! 

And I know that once I do open it, the box itself will become another source of stress. It's too "useful" to throw out.

Just like all the other "useful" boxes I have...

Is there some kind of support group I can join? Shall I set one up?

We're really lucky in our house. We have awesome neighbours. Not only do they help us out all the time and come to our parties but they let us colour their faces in etc when we're practicing new things!

It's lovely when someone is inspired by the work you've been a part of. Even more lovely when it inspires them to create something that's truly fantastic also.

You may remember this picture I shared a little while ago...?

Photogaphy by Emma Bradbrook

Well yesterday we had a lovely surprise when Sarah popped over and gave us this gorgeous sketch that she had done.

It's really genuinely gorgeous and very, very good - we needed to share it with you!