Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Scarlett Woman - Cat

Hi, my Name is Cat and I’m your typical run of the mill ‘forty-something’ single mum of two man-boys, Sam, aged 19 and Conor aged 15, affectionately known to me as ‘Kevin & Perry’ (anyone who’s seen this film and has two teenage boys, will understand why I call them this!) and my Miniature Schnauzer, Gerrard (this little dog is my baby and completely and utterly spoiled and definitely runs our household!) and yes, he’s named after a football player (would rather  it was Gerard Butler!).

By day, I’m a Director of a B2B Telecoms company, i-ComSolutions, that provides Mobile devices, landlines, vehicle tracking and lone worker support devices.  For me, being in business is all about building up a long standing relationship with a client (they have no choice with me, ‘cos boy can I talk!). I also help out some of our clients with their social media platforms and also do some blogging for them too!
I’m also a hardcore networker, who’s day sometimes starts at 5am (due to the networking and the time it takes me to get ready and at least try and feel human enough to talk business with other professionals!).
This project I was (nicely) cajoled into through Bethan, who I actually met through Twitter, chatted to for a while and then bumped into each other at the local supermarket! Needless to say, Bethan recognised me by my hair colour!

By night, I’m a Bokwa instructor, running 3 evening classes a week. Running the classes ensures I keep up my training routine, otherwise I may be tempted to sit at home in a onesie drinking coffee!
After my Bokwa classes, I’m then doing all the usual run of the mill housewifey things! Trying to spend some ‘quality’ time with my boys went out the window ages ago!  The 19 year old is either in work, playing football for the local team or out socialising with his mates and the 15 year old gets in from school, either goes to Army Cadets, out with his mates or is locked into the Playstation 3.  We do try and grab some time though and we do call ourselves the ‘dysfunctional four’ (including the dog!) as we all realise we are not perfect, can make fun of ourselves and also act ourselves without worrying what others say about us! Doing Bo’ Selecta impressions in the Supermarket is one of our favourites!

When I do then find the time, catching up with my mates has to be done.  We all have socially defunct calendars as one friend runs a pub, another is a Policewoman, another is a Doctor and the other is a manager for a well known Swedish store (blue & yellow in colour), you can imagine how different our work schedules are, so arranging a social night for us all to be able to attend is like asking Mohammed to move the mountain!
I drink way too much coffee but otherwise only drink water, so in my mind I balance it out………… I also don’t sleep enough!  Nowhere near as much as I should, even at weekends, my brain clicks into gear and I have to get up.  8am is a lie in for me!

I am a lover Kurt Geiger shoes….. I know nearly all women love shoes (and I hate to be stereotypical) but these are my weakness, fuelled by the constant bombardment of emails from Kurt Geiger when there is a sale on!  My finger just clicks that link and off I go into my own little world of shoe porn!
I also love the colour red (as you can tell by the photo!).  There’s a story as to why my hair is red, short version is because I can now!

So what do I keep in my make up bag?  I’d love to say I have a great skincare routine….. It’s getting better as I get older as I do not want to grow old gracefully!  Waking up every morning and staring at the female version of Animal from The Muppets in the mirror kick starts me into action!

I’ve recently been introduced to Theraderm Skincare and wow!  What a difference to my skin!  It feels fabulous and it seems to have taken on a new found glow all of its own! I got given a travel pack trial (around £30 retail price) and after 3 weeks I was a convert!  The full size pack costs around £100 and does last 7-9 months, so this is now part of my daily regime! The Theraderm skincare comprises of, a cleansing wash, Fruit Acid Exfoliant, OPC Reparative Gel and Enriched Facial Moisturiser.  Since I’ve started using it I have had quite a few comments on how good my skin looks, so that’s good enough for me, even though I know I have a long way to go!

Since hitting 40, I’ve started to REALLY worry (I only did a little before) about getting old, how my skin will fare as I’m on the wrong side of 40, will my face look like a pair of Nora Batty’s tights (I hope I’m not showing my age too much by Quoting ‘Last of the Summer Wine?’).

For years I’ve used Boots No. 7 make up.  It is my make up bag staple.  I find their products stay put all day and I don’t have to carry around a full make up bag for ‘top-ups’ throughout the day, especially when I’m leaving the house at 6:30am and have to carry on until 8pm at night! I start off with the No.7 Primer and My favourite foundation is No. 7 Protect and Perfect and I top it off with the No. 7 Bronzer.  Being a red head with the complexion of a pint of milk, fake tan is a must for me.  I refuse to use sunbeds as I don’t want to damage my skin or have the threat of skin cancer hanging over me, so for me Unreal fake tanning mousse is my MUST HAVE beauty product.  I’ve used fake tan for years and have found some great ones and some seriously bad ‘tangoed orange look’ brands but for me Unreal is perfect!  It’s reasonably priced, dries instantly and doesn’t have that awful ‘burnt biscuit’ fake tan aroma.  I met Liz who is the owner of Unreal at a networking event and she sent me a few samples and from that moment on, I knew I would never use another fake tan brand.  I never look like an oomp-loompa and know I can put it on last thing before I go to bed and within minutes, jump into bed without having to do the ‘tan dance’ to dry it off!  As I do use so much fake tan, I do exfoliate a lot using Soap & Glory Sugar Scrub and body moisturiser afterwards (and a cold shower to close the pores back up!)

The rest of my make up bag is made up of an array of No.7 Blushers, Eyeshadows, eyeliner and Long lash mascara, as I have the worst eyelashes EVER!  I have no length or curl on them and I they seem a little sporadically placed around my eyes, so if I use too much mascara I look like I have spiders hanging off my eyelids!……  I’ve only used fake eyelashes once, by the end of the evening they were hanging off my eyes, which resulted in me ripping them off in the middle of a pub!

In my quest not to grow old gracefully, I am going to admit that I do visit The Heaven Sent Day Spa based in Newport for a treatment called CACI on my face.  I’ve just started having these and CACI is a non-surgical Botox for any part of the body.  The CACI Machine was originally invented for people who suffered Bells Palsy or a Stroke as it puts electronic pulses into the skin to re-train and stimulate the muscles.  My weathered face is having the CACI treatment at the moment and in a few sessions, my winkles, frown line and lip lines are all looking so much better.  It’s also making me feel good, which is what it’s all about for me!  It’s all part of me feeling good, trying to look (relatively) good for my age and all part of my health and maintenance, which for me is paramount.  It’s also a relaxing experience, doesn’t hurt and leaves me feeling quite serene.  The sessions only last about 20 minutes each, so doesn’t even take up a lot of my time (not that I have much spare anyway!).

I suppose all this boils down to how I perceive myself and how I think others see me.  You see, I was one of the ‘ugly kids’ at school, you know the ones, buck teeth, terrible hair, chubby.  I did however have a sister who was beauty personified.  This obviously made me feel a lot worse and I was always being compared to her.  She was stick thin, gorgeous long flowing thick dark hair, beautiful face….you get the picture?  When you stood us together, we looked like the number 10 (she was the number 1, I was the big round 0).  I suppose in a way I’ve always had to compete with her in the looks department, so for me, now having treatments at the spa is my way of making me try to look and feel the best I can with what I’ve been given.  That’s all part of why I train too, I don’t want to look or feel my age!

 I’m not sure if being single has something to do with how I look after myself too?  I’ve been on my own for 2 ½ years now and not that I’m complaining, as my second husband wasn’t the mot charming of men…….  He is one of the reasons my hair is red.  Silly as it sounds, he stopped me having a life, going out with friends was not an option, dying my hair brown was ok, he liked to destroy the house a lot (ripping doors off was his speciality!) and made me feel completely worthless and trapped, so now my confidence has suffered and my beauty regime is being reflected in this.  Does this make me vain, or just another victim of manipulation and bullying by a man? I can’t even go to the local shop without make up on! We’ve all been there….I can go out all made up and see no one I know, yet the minute I step out the door without a stitch of make up on, hair all over the place, looking horrific, I bump into my Ex or a person I don’t get on with!

I do think however, the beauty magazines and industry have a lot to do with it.  You pick up a glossy brochure and spy a model or actress with perfect skin, no blemishes, no marks, just pure. Stick thin and long legs (I do have those!) I am under no illusions that I will ever look that good or have skin like that but do those models have it either?  The media are so good at airbrushing and touching up photos now that I do look at them and think, are these real people?  Do they look like that all the time?  Catwalk models are so painfully thin, it’s unreal!  The pressure put on those poor young ladies to be that thin must be immense!  Is any woman naturally that skinny?  It’s the young teenage girls who see these pictures that it affects….. They think they HAVE to look like that in order to be loved or noticed.  Not the case!

WOMEN NEED CURVES!  Bust and hips are a must!

I do love it though when you see photos in magazines of these models and actresses without the make up, lighting and fabulous clothing, all looking a little more ‘natural’ and more like us!…… Makes you realise that they are all human after all!  Can we have more of these please? 

Social Media is changing the boundaries of photos too….  Instagram for instance…. Filters….to make your face look better.  Ok, so we all use a little one now and again to enhance our features……  There is also an app called ‘Perfect 365’ which can completely alter your face!  You can slim down your face and jaw line, smooth skin, change eye colour and even add make up, which to me seems pointless!  I did one as a comparison (I did however take it to the extreme) and put the two photos side by side, my natural face and the made up face.  I looked like a mannequin!  Completely un-natural and plastic! Why would anyone want to make themselves look fake?  Or is that what I do anyway by having treatments, dying my hair and wearing false nails?  Am I not being true to myself or just trying to give myself a confidence boost?
Someone told me recently, you’ll never look as bad as your passport photo or as good as your Facebook photo and I think they may be right!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

And now for something COMPLETELY different... Sarah's blog!

Who am I?

(Name, picture of your choice, a bit about you. What you love, what you support, what you stand for)

Sarah E Price (Miss).  Officially single due to obstinate partner, massive animal lover, currently loving Mindfulness, Yoga, relaxation and dog-wrestling. I'm a Social Media bod for an events management company, mature (in a manner of speaking) student in uni and administrator for Tiger, the most exciting new store to open in Cardiff - ever. I have an inherited evil rabbit and an obsession with Costa Coffee. Beth and I work together on the Steelhouse Festival, amongst other things, every year. And I'm AMAZING at growing my eyebrows. 

(Obstinate partner ^^^)

What's in my bag? (A couple of pics of your make up and/or skincare stuff and a bit of a write up about what it is, what you love about it, what you couldn't live without, maybe your routine, whatever you like)

The first thing to say about my makeup bag is that it’s not a bag; it’s a wicker drawer. 

And it’s FULL.  Less full, since I had a massively strict clear-out when Beth started her training to be a make up artist extraordinaire.  But still far too full with far too much stuff bought on a whim and never used ‘cause it’s the wrong colour, or bought on a whim and not used because it’s too expensive and needs to be kept for best, or bought on a whim and then put in the drawer and forgotten about.  

One of my many celebrity friends. (!) 

My latest annoying trait is to buy things from TK Maxx in sealed packets, so you can’t even see what the colour is, let alone if it’s any good.  This has lead to a fetching set of deep purple lipstick and blusher more than worthy of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, but also some really nice mascara and faux ToucheEclat.  So, it’s sometimes ok!

The way I see my make-up buying strategy is this: go to somewhere fancy about 3 times a year, and buy some really good stuff.  Buy the minimum you can get away with (my favourite brand is the rather expensive Benefit) and MAKE SURE YOU USE IT.  However, as you can see from my previous statements, this strategy doesn’t really work.

So – favourite things: foundation, Revlon Photo Ready is really good, excellent coverage, and you can get it for a really good price in the Beauty Outlet in Festival Park, Ebbw Vale (as I discovered after I’d bought it full price in Boots!). 

Mascara – They’re Real by Benefit, the only mascara I’ve found that doesn’t immediately rub off on my prominent lower lids. 

Concealer – Boi-ng by Benefit (spot the theme emerging???)

Under eyes – Eraser by Benefit and the powder thing (CHECK). 

Blusher – Accessorise do a lovely range, good prices too. 

Highlighter – Watt’s Up by Benefit, and I have to admit that this one is my must-have, I really don’t feel right without it on. 

Lippy, I’ll wear anything, but favour a nude pinky colour when I go out at night as I tend to go a bit drag-queen mad with my eye makeup.

Again, for these eyes I go for Benefit colours but also Bourjois, they do some good strong colours.  And nearly forgot, underneath all the eyeshadow will always be Lemon-Aid to make it stick! 

Under the same umbrella I suppose would be Pore-fessional by, guess who, Benefit, to give the appearance of pore-free clear skin (I need all the help I can get with my tragic teenage-esque skin).

My perspective on beauty and self worth? This is your chance to rant...did you have a difficult "ugly duckling" childhood? Do you really hate media portrayals of beauty? Freestyle it... whatever you like.

This is a bit of a tricky one.  I love makeup, always have.  Early memories include putting Adam Ant stylee stripes on my nose and forcing my mam and dad to admire my artistry, then moving on to attempting Liz Taylor as Cleopatra eyeliner tricks, all in the safety of my own home, you understand.  My mother had an awesome Mary Quant set of coloured makeup pencils which I was allowed to play with, as she had long before abandoned makeup as too much of a potch with two bloody kids! But I didn’t wear much makeup until I was about 17, when I became rather gothic… so, mainly black eyeliner, then!

Inside, I’d love to say that I hardly ever wear makeup, that I am comfortable in my own skin, and why should I conform to society’s ideals of beauty?  I’d love to say that.  But I can’t.  I haven’t been outside my door without foundation for at least 20 years (other than to take the dog to the field 10m from my house if it’s dark, or raining).  I have less than zero confidence in my face.  It’s spotty, occasionally flaky, and let’s not get started on facial hair.  It’s my bête noir. I’ve had ENFIS light treatment, facials, electrolysis, laser treatments et al and no change.  Skin of a hormonal teenager (possibly with polycystic ovaries).

So, here’s my beauty routine.  This keeps my skin as calm as it’s possible to be (i.e. not very calm, but hey ho). Garnier pink face wipes (always take your makeup off, it’s really not worth the bother not to if you’re me), wash eyebrows with baby shampoo twice a week (don’t ask, I have weird eyebrows, I get them from my father), Simple anti acne moisturizer at night.  No night creams, that’s just asking for trouble.  That’s it for me, Betty Red gets to thread my eyebrows and tint my eyelashes as a special treat (for her).

Before I go out for the day, a full face goes on (I go easy on the eyeshadow if I’m staying in EV, don’t want to scare anyone in the day).  If I’m going out for the night I go the whole hog (see photos).My makeup mantra? Slap it on, experiment, don’t be shy.

Monday, 25 November 2013

...and this is Lizzy.

So hi everyone, I’m Lizzy Thomas J At the tender age of 24 I live in Pencoed, Bridgend with my parents having not yet taken the leap into ‘true’ adulthood (definitely a cheaper standard of living which is a plus, not at the delight of my parents I might mention). Still at a point in my life where I feel more ‘Teen’ rather than a ‘Twenty something...’ I am a genealogy hobbyist, petite model wannabe & former Miss Wales contestant (who basically still has no idea what she wants from life). I am an honorary red head with hair so long it encompasses almost half my body length. I often get asked “why don’t you cut it off?” & in all honesty I do wonder why I’ve never taken the plunge & reached for the scissors. I often ponder whether it’s my way of clinging to my childhood... If perhaps my hair could one day act as some sort of salvage tool for the Zombie Apocalypse, re-enacting some sort of Rapunzel style escape (it’s possible right?) Then as reality descends on me like a fine mist, I remember... I have frustratingly sticky out ears which could only be described as little ‘handles’. If cutting my hair off became reality my partner could literally introduce me as his ‘Trophy Girlfriend’. I love you dad but why oh why did I have to inherit THAT Thomas commodity? *Face palm*

Makeup for me really became a necessity from the age of 14 onwards. My mum only ever wore (& still only wears) lipstick and a light slick of mascara. She wasn’t exactly ‘innovative’ with makeup so I really didn’t have that much of an interest in the art of what I then considered Face paint. My interests were very much tailored to school & a plethora of extracurricular activities. I was what you would consider, a ‘SWOT’. I do, however, remember one time when my mum had purchased a new nail varnish when I was about 9. I sat on the stairs patiently waiting for mum to show me the colour. It was a lovely dusky pink colour & I begged her to have my nails painted. Mum allowed me to have one hand painted and I remember feeling so chuffed. Looking back it was pretty cruel. Who would only paint one hand then send you to school the next day?! A tad harsh mum!

Having dabbled with makeup between the ages of 11-13; using the then mandatory clear lip gloss often glorified in the teen ‘Sugar’ Magazine & for some reason (still baffling me to this day) using Vaseline on my eyelashes believing that it made my eyelashes grow stronger & longer. Actually doing that was probably the cause of my many bouts of conjunctivitis. You know what they say about hindsight... At 14 it was literally as if the proverbial switch had been turned to ‘ON’ and I became very self aware. I found myself rifling through my sisters makeup, testing her foundations & concealers’ trying to cover any imperfection (& being a hormonal teenager there was a lot to conceal). As if overnight, I became incredibly self conscious. I was about 5ft tall with hair that I could sit on, my fringe was humungous and covered part of my eyes, I had a lot of puppy fat and annoyingly protruding ears. I was very much an ugly duckling and for some reason the taunts I’d heard about my looks before had only just started to hurt. I became obsessed with how others viewed me. I bought myself a pair of eyelash curlers & used them to the point where my eyelashes were falling out in clumps; trying to achieve that voluminous, defined look. For some reason I had an obsession with pale purple lipstick & would wear this to school every day thinking if I layered the lipstick on it would make my eyes appear bluer. Looking back it would seem I was channelling the ‘dead look’ and as I was (& still am) extremely pale, teaming that with a purple shade reminiscent of that of a mortuary regular I certainly stood out, albeit not for the right reasons. I never took my makeup off at night & this added to my bad skin. This was certainly a vicious circle whereby I was terrified to take my makeup off in the fear that someone would see me, even keeping it on during a shower & just topping it up every day. It was about this age I developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

So here’s my makeup bag & only upon emptying it do I realise that I carry quite a lot around with me... oh dear! In this, what I call, my ‘essentials’ makeup bag I have... *Deep Breath*: Clean & Clear Oil Free Dual Action Moisturiser, MAC Matte Creme Matifiante, MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NW10, MAC Concealer in NO15, No7 Perfect light loose powder in Translucent, MAC Powder Blush in Margin Frost, Benefit Brow Zings Brow Shaping Kit in Light, Maybelline Brow Drama in Medium Brown, R.E.D Eyelash Curlers, Maybelline Falsies Volume Effect Mascara, Collection Fast Stroke Eyeliner in Black, Maybelline Colour Sensational Lip Liner in Choco Pop and Benefit Lip Plump. This is a seemingly limited makeup bag in comparison to the many others I have strewn around (can you really ever have TOO MUCH makeup? I think not!).

My makeup regime is carried out with literal military precision (I wish I could say I was joking but it’s the sad truth). It is applied everyday at the same time regardless of whether I’m going out or simply putting the washing on the line! Partly to do with my OCD rituals but partly because I cannot stand to witness my bare face! On a normal day it would take approx 30minutes to decorate my face but for nights out it can take as long as 2 hours! My makeup style is very much based on ‘Old School Glamour’, channelling Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and more recent beauties like Angelina Jolie, Dita Von Teese & Sophie Ellis Bextor. I adore their accentuated eyebrows, full pout, defined eyes, sculpted cheekbones and flawless complexion. Simple beauty that looks effortless, this is what I ‘try’ to achieve. I’ll be honest; I’m not one for experimenting too much with colour. I find eye shadows & brightly coloured lipsticks quite daunting & as I have pretty much perfected my makeup style (after much practice), I play it safe & avoid straying away from my norm.

Here is a picture of my cosmetic removal products... There are a few & yes I use them every day (to the dismay of bank balance having to renew them what seems like every day) in sequence in fear I may wake up with a spot... I think I may have too much time on my hands... hmm...

Now, why do I wear makeup? This is something I’ve debated with myself & I more often than not tell myself that I wear cosmetics because it’s motivated by creativity & self expression, that it’s a reflection of my mood and most importantly myself. Let me be completely honest, this is actually a big fib I tell myself in the belief that one day I will believe my own words. I use makeup as a way of disguising my own insecurities stemmed from the belief that I don’t look good enough without it. In the same way we wear slimming clothing to appear that little bit thinner, I wear makeup to appear that little bit more attractive, to feel more accepted in a time where your looks are what allegedly determines who you are as a person. I do feel that cosmetics give you the opportunity to put your proverbial best foot forward but when people say ‘don’t you feel makeup is a deception because you aren’t showing what you truly look like?’, I can’t help but giggle to myself. If we truly believe makeup is ‘deceiving’, what are their opinions on clothes? If it were the case that we wear clothes for simply primal reasons like keeping warm, why on earth do we have clothes designed to enhance our bust, to slim our waists, to elongate our legs or to flatten our bums? Should we remain naked in fear that we are deceiving people into believing our body shapes aren’t actually as they appear in modern clothing? I think NOT! Aside from the major issue of indecent exposure, we wear clothes to allow us to feel confident & we use clothes to flatter & enhance our natural assets, in the same way we wear makeup. We use cosmetics to enhance & highlight our natural beauty. Do I believe this is right? That it’s ok to judge someone based on their looks? No I don’t, however I am realistic that this is the world that we live in & I realise beauty is what sells. 

You only have to read a magazine or watch TV to understand what world we live in. Do I look at these beautiful women & wish that I could have their bodies or their perfectly airbrushed faces? I would be lying if I said no... HOWEVER! I feel no more jealous of these women than I do when I see Stephen Fry & wish that I had his intelligence, or wish that I had Christina Aguileras’ voice or Jessica Ennis’ sporting ability. We as a population will always want what we can’t have but it will never stop us from trying. Of course the beauty industry is flawed but there will never be equality between those blessed with natural beauty & those who are crippled with insecurity whilst we always villainize the opposing side. It appears justified to bully those who are naturally beautiful in order to support those who have insecurities. I have many insecurities but do I blame gorgeous women for this? Do I look at top models & hold them accountable for my own anxieties?  No I don’t. I reflect on my own (what I consider) inadequacies & do what I can to improve them. This is just a thought... Why can’t women just support & empower other women?  

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Meet Emma...

My name is Emma Karidian.  I am 37…veering perilously close to 38…and I am a mum to 4 adorable (most of the time) children, Delphi, aged 10, Alexander, aged 6, Isabella, aged 22 months and Sylvie, aged 9 months.  I am currently on maternity leave from my job as a teaching assistant at a local nursery.

I LOVE make-up. Couldn’t possibly do without it, even on the rare occasions I have gone bare-faced, it’s only briefly and only because I know once I get half a chance I’ll slap it all back on again! I’ve worn it since I was about 11 or 12. My mum used to get free samples of make-up off her friend who worked in Boots and there were always one or two cute little dolly-sized tubes of sparkly, glossy, shiny stuff left over for me. I also used to enjoy raiding her make-up bag and trying out some of her stuff – especially the expensive items I couldn’t afford myself.  I’m quietly hoping my love of make up from an early age has protected my skin from the elements – my mum has always been a fan of the fully made-up look and she looks amazing for 75.  I hope I look as good when I’m her age!

 So, this is my make-up bag and its contents. Incredibly pared down compared with how previous incarnations used to look. Well, less is more, right? I can remember spending absolutely AGES as a teenager (and into my twenties) doing my make-up before going out.  I thought my face was my best feature (apart from my spots).  I made a point of using lots of foundation and concealer, pale face powder and blusher; accentuating my eyes with eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara, smothering my lips with deep red or bright pink lipstick - I often got told that I was wearing too much – usually by various teachers at school!  These days, I don’t have time to go mad with my make-up.  I rarely use eyeshadow and only occasionally use eyeliner. I always wear blusher and lipstick though, I think I look ill without it. I’ve scaled down to using BB cream instead of the old faithful Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation I always used to use. I can’t afford a lot of big brand name cosmetics now, and to be honest they aren’t as good as I thought, or I was made to believe they were by various magazines and beauty reviews. Boots Botanics is my current favourite skincare range, and it always seems to be on offer, which is an added bonus! The one item of make-up I’ve always used and can’t do without is Rimmel Hide the Blemish concealer. Amazing stuff.  I use Rimmel eyebrow pencils and loose powder too – in fact, I’d have to say Rimmel is probably one of my all-time favourite brands of make-up. As I’ve got older, I think I’ve gained a little bit more confidence in the way I look - maybe that’s another reason why I’ve felt able to tone down my make-up. Well, just a little bit ;)

The Mama Mio products were a bit of an expensive experiment! They promised so much! They cost so much! I also bought the stretch mark remover cream, but it didn’t work. Although, to be fair, the instructions did say to apply 3 times a day…I barely had time to do it once a day. And anyway, stretch marks can’t really be removed can they? They can fade, but they never really disappear.  I took part in a trial for a new body oil that the company are hoping to launch soon too, called The Activist.  I must say it was very nice, all the more so because it was free J.  Out of all of the products I tried, the only one I’d buy again is the ‘Boob Tube Bust & Neck Firmer’. For my neck – it hasn’t done a lot to my boobs to be honest. I’m not dissing Mama Mio products by the way! I think they’re lovely and I’m sure they work a treat for some people ;) As an all over body moisturiser, my favourite product is Palmer’s cocoa butter.  Makes my skin nice and smooth and smells like melted chocolate. 

I’ve managed to maintain a mostly ‘pale and interesting’ skin tone throughout my life; I burn quite easily in the sun, rarely holiday abroad and have never got the hang of using self-tanning lotion – it always ends up streaky.  I’ve thought about getting it done professionally, but I don’t want to end up looking like an oompah-loompah and to be honest, I just haven’t got the time. I’m not a fan of ‘baring all’ either.  I’m not so worried about my top half, but I hate my legs! I always either wear jeans, trousers or leggings.  I occasionally wear a dress, but seldom without tights.  Therefore, my skin has no option other than to stay whiter than white all year round! 

As a child, I pretty much hated the way I looked. I was tall, but chubby, mainly because of the huge portions of gorgeous home-cooked meals my mum used to make the whole family and the copious amounts of sweets and treats my well-meaning grandma and auntie used to give me and my brother every Sunday when they came to visit. Couple that with a bit of a lack of exercise, due to not being allowed out as much as my friends were (I wasn’t even allowed a bike!) Oh, and genetics, of course. I got teased at school a fair bit too, which wasn’t nice and put a serious dent in my self-esteem and confidence for years to come. L

When I was 15, my best friend and I embarked on a ridiculous exercise (ha!) in depriving ourselves of food. I’d flush my breakfast down the loo when my mum wasn’t looking, throw my sandwiches in the bin at lunchtime and only pick at my tea in the evening. We’d occasionally nibble some sweets from the sweet van that used to park up by the school at break time. I lost a lot of weight and once actually passed out in assembly. My friends thought I was messing around. It scared me a little bit, but I still carried on with the not eating thing. I was also smoking then too. Not enough to be addicted at that stage, but just because my friends were doing it. It also helped to suppress my appetite. Unfortunately, I did become addicted eventually. Luckily, I managed to give up when I was pregnant with my first baby and I am proud to say that I have been smoke-free ever since.  Hopefully I’ve managed to preserve my skin a bit better as a result! 

At the age of 16, I embarked on a year-long relationship with a man ten years older than me, who I thought I loved and who I thought at the time loved me, but he messed with my mind to the point I believed I was worthless, which prolonged my insecurities about the way I looked.  Luckily, once I’d come to my senses and dumped him, I never had the misfortune to go out with anyone else as spiteful as he was.  If I could meet him now, I would love to ask him why, where and how he got his warped views of the way he thought a woman should look.  I was too naïve and lacked the confidence to ask him or disagree with him back then. 

I have been happily married for 10 years now, and my husband loves me the way I am…big or skinny, make-up or no make-up!  Well, I think he does…he sometimes has trouble with his contact lenses, so maybe I’m in soft focus most of the time!! 

I’m not entirely sure why my friend and I felt the need to try and starve ourselves, I guess the media were feeding us (excuse the pun) subliminal messages even then.  Couple that with a fair bit of peer pressure and general teenage insecurities.  But it’s not a new phenomenon is it? Take the Pond’s advertisement from the 1940’s/50’s (?) that Betty Red cited in her blog for this experiment – the image of a woman supposedly bare-faced and beautiful as a result of using a certain product, whereas in reality she probably was anything BUT bare-faced.  An early version of photoshopping! It’s been going on for years.  But we’re wise to all that nonsense now…aren’t we?!

Weight-wise, I was never ‘bad enough’ to be classed as anorexic, but it’s a psychological issue I’ve had to deal with ever since. I can totally understand how some girls/women can end up that way. I’ve put on weight with each pregnancy, obviously, but I have been really desperate to lose the weight afterwards.  Following each pregnancy, I have joined and rejoined a certain well-known weight loss programme, which has helped me get back to the weight I was ‘pre-children’. But although I’ve gained a certain amount of self-confidence that has come with age and experience, I am still not completely happy with the way I look. It’s not all about the weight.  I don’t like my skin ageing. I hate my wrinkles and my dry hands and feet. I hate the grey hairs that reappear all too fast underneath the hair dye! I hate my small, deflated breasts and my poochy, wrinkly tummy which resembles a deflated balloon.  I’ve tried microdermabrasion, manicures and pedicures, all sorts of gels and potions, but it’s too expensive to maintain on a regular basis.  I’ve even contemplated plastic surgery, but I know that’s just a huge waste of money, potentially risky, even life-threatening and well…just a bit daft really.

The tabloid newspapers concentrate so much on how quickly a celeb mum regains her figure after giving birth; for example, the Duchess of Cambridge and her ‘amazing abs’. But she was fit and slim before she got pregnant, it’s her first child and she has fitness/diet/beauty gurus on tap to make sure she looks great, which most of us don’t! It creates totally unrealistic expectations and causes a lot of women to feel they are a failure if they’re not the stereotypical yummy mummy - even before the baby pops out we’re expected to look amazing!  But the baby doesn’t care what we look like - as long as it’s cared for and loved.  I’ve always maintained that if I was a baby, I’d prefer a soft, cuddly mum instead of a hard, bony one!!

Women are also vilified for getting older. We’re not supposed to age.  We have to remain eternally youthful looking! Men, on the other hand, only improve with age! I was both amazed and horrified by Heidi Klum’s recent transformation from supermodel to ‘scary old lady’ for a celebrity Hallowe’en party.  The make up and prosthetics used were amazing. But the message it sends out does absolutely nothing to help with the way the older generation are perceived by society. Why are old people scary? We should celebrate ageing! We’re lucky to have come this far, we have so much wisdom and experience to pass on to the next generation!

Ah well. I guess none of us are, or will ever be, truly happy with the way we look. But we need to realise that as individuals, we are all unique and fabulous and amazing! And I shall continue to tell myself this on a daily basis in the hope that one day I agree ;)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Real Beauty Revealed - "The Project"

I've mentioned across a few platforms over the last few weeks about a collaborative project I've been working on.  I think it's time.

Inspired by both the Children in Need celebrity "Bear Faced" campaign and the post that I felt I needed to answer in my blog "See why we have absolutely ridiculous standards of beauty in just 37 seconds - my answer" I felt the need to do something a bit different and have fun in the process, so I've lined up these babies: (in no particular order)






Each of these lovelies has written a guest post for this blog. You're going to get to know a bit about them, a bit about their beauty regimes (or lack thereof!) and their hero products. A sort of "what's in my make up bag" style thingie and with them all being super intelligent ladies, we'll get to hear a bit more I dare say about their take on life, beauty, society and anything else that comes up.

And this is just phaze 1! We have an exciting visual project we're going to be bringing exclusively to you too via this blog.

I'm going on to the Eleri Sion show on BBC Radio Wales on Wednesday so perhaps I'll tell you what is phaze 2 via that medium...see how I feel :D

Stay tuned for the first of the guest posts. I am very excited about this!

B xxx

Friday, 1 November 2013

"See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Beauty In Just 37 Seconds" My Response...

Have you seen this?

See why we have an absolutely ridiculous standard of beauty in 37 seconds

It's all over facebook at the moment.

So what do you think about it? Lots of irate comments on there I have seen.

The fact of the matter is, however, this is not new. Every time we think "does this colour suit me?" we're indulging in this sort of behaviour, just not on quite as big a scale.

This piece is a really, really extreme example of what goes on. It's been very carefully and well tailored to illustrate it's point - it wouldn't get the point across if it wasn't so dramatic. Of course all of these things happen, they happen every day in real life when we smile to have our photo taken - we want to show ourselves in the best light possible.

Technology and expertise do wonders to create an impression. I had a conversation about the current trend of "Kim Kardashian stylee ooodles of make up" fashion that exists currently with a client the other day. She was going to a halloween fancy dress party as Jessica Rabbit which required a generous application of make up. She (and I) was amazed at the transformation. She looked amazing, really amazing but not really like her. The finish was similar to a look that is very popular in the Asian bridal market. Beautiful, but not really them.

You see, you can change bone structure with make up. Well, the appearance of it.

As part of the beauty industry, from time to time my conscience gives me a poke. I hate the mascara adverts "lash inserts used", but at least they now admit that. The shampoo adverts with hair pieces. It's not right.

But then isn't that the same as placing a car against a backdrop none of us are ever likely to see in our lifetime in order to reinforce the brand image the company wants us to perceive? Not really.

The whole world is a marketing exercise. We are all marketing ourselves, every day. Manufacturing an image of ourselves that we want to portray to the world.

As a parent of a young woman (certainly when she was younger) I was more concerned about the images she was being force fed in relation to behaviour. The music videos targeting kids of that age using overtly sexual imagery, dress and behaviour. That's of more concern to be fair. I think Mylee Cyrus has an awful lot to answer for at the moment. Well, her publicity machine does. 

In the words of the song "I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem"... hmmmm. it really depends. 

If we can teach our young people (and, indeed, ourselves) to look a little deeper into the images their subjected to, I think we'll have very little to worry about. Magazines and images are created to illustrate a point. Exactly the same as the video above. That has been manufactured to demonstrate it's point to the same degree as the model's image has been manufactured. 

The final image of the model is not "real" but neither is the video. It's extreme, to the extreme. Let's just calm down a bit here.

As responsible citizens, parents or not, we have a duty to see what it real and what is not. Images, art, film, TV and even real life is all manufactured to portray an image, a story, a concept. The un-edited reality is very very different. The images of show homes in home magazines? Edited. Lit, shot, buffed, enhanced. Real people do not live like that. We have to be aware of what goes into creating the "little piece of perfection" as I call it when I do photo shoots.

Take this for example... one of my favourite shots.

This image of lovely Lizzy is a dramatic and beautiful shot. But Lizzy doesn't really look like that. And (alright, this is Chi, not Lizzy being shot) but this is what the shoot looks like to create that image...

I think the difficulty comes when the augmented images are designed to trick. "If you use this product, your skin will look like this" has been used since products existed. Is it any different now because technology has moved on?

(I anticipate that model had a full face of slap for that shot.)

If we can see and teach the next generations to see that these images are beautiful, but they are just that - images, then we're on to a winner. We have to keep perspective here - we've all done our hair and looked in the mirror before we went out this morning, to make sure we look okay. Art and technology does the same thing, but better.

The same as we don't want our girls to think that going out without make up on is a social disfigurement, we don't want them to compare themselves like for like to highly engineered images, created for a reason.

My favourite thought process when I catch myself thinking these impure "cor, I wish I looked that beautiful" thoughts is that I remind myself that if Erin O'Connor was lying in this undecorated bedroom, covered in brown dogs, smudged mascara from the shower, wearing pyjamas with gravy on, by the light of a head torch because her other half is sleeping noisily next to her, she probably wouldn't look that beautiful either. 


Friday, 25 October 2013

Look Good Feel SOOOOOO Much better...

I just love my Look Good Feel Better involvement. It's quite a new thing, only been a couple of times, but being in a room full of ladies fighting the good fight is inspiring.

Seeing all their faces, newly glammed up with new products and a tear in their eye from laughing at the end of the session is the best bit. If anyone thinks that putting a bit of superficial slap on someone enduring the harshest of treatments is not going to make a blind bit of difference - I defy them to stand outside the room and watch the ladies as they leave. I believe it is what the term "spring in their step" signifies.

Got another session next week, can't wait.

I've had a very tough week this week trying to mentally adjust to some awful news. Sometimes one has to just withdraw from the world, lick the wounds and wait until the other side kicks you out.

When you're in the  middle of that process, you kinda wonder if you'll ever see that alternate side, but it comes. Today was it for me.

All week I've got dressed into "house clothes", minimal hair brushing and not of make up. None required for moping about and getting the head straight. Today, however, I pushed myself to come out of it.

It felt really weird putting my face on as I'd not done it for a week. I put nice clothes on, a bit of jewellery and some (small) heels. The result? I felt human again. For the first time. It's SO important. If I'd not done that i'd have spent another day moping about, feeling scruffy. Hiding from the world.

Now I'm not saying that you have to wear make up every day, or in fact do anything every day, but when you make a bit of effort, you feel better. You just do. I once heard that "lipstick is the best antidepressant". I really do agree. It can be like armour.

I've certainly got my wiggle back on today. I think I'm back...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Budget Beauty and Social Networking Know how (or not)

I created a vlog.

Very pleased with myself I am too even though I look thoroughly miserable for the first half, I assure you I am not! Was mega fun! looking for ideas for more too...

So, technical difficulties. The vlog is here "my first video blog", on Youtube, so why can't I upload it to my blog?

I just get this message:

This content cannot be displayed in a frame. To help protect the security of information you enter into this website, the publisher of this content does not allow it to be displayed in a frame.

What you can try:
Open this content in a new window 

I don't wanna open a new window! Nerd help please... :-D

Thursday, 8 August 2013

2am Grafting

No one ever said that being self employed was going to be easy.

Anyone who knows me would know that it would be a massive disappointment to me if it was.

But it really is tough. Especially if you're as impatient as I am.

Half the time I'm thinking "yeah, you know, everything's going fine, I'm getting bookings, it's all good" the 10 minutes later I see someone's facebook post about something unrelated generally and start panicking about whether it's all worth it, whether it's going to pay off. And no, I don't mean financially.

Similar situation, my daughter Megan is a smashing model. She's already been very successful and continues to be. Every now and again though she'll have a meltdown to the tune of "I'm never going to make it, I'm a rubbish model, where is my life going" and I'm so brilliant at dishing out the advice to get her back in the zone and things in perspective.

To do this I tell her a 2nd hand anecdote.

Before I started the business, I went on all the appropriate business start up courses and met some amazing people. One of the most inspirational (to me) was a guy from a really reputable marketing company in Cardiff.

He's been in the business for many, many years and has successfully built the business and his reputation up to the level that he often gets flown to Dubai and other destinations to give talks/lectures about marketing.

While this guy is not shy and perfectly at ease in front of  roomful of inexperienced entrepreneurs, when he has a "big gig" to do, he starts to doubt himself. He doubts whether he knows enough, has enough experience or indeed has any place delivering the marketing sermon at all.

I remember wisely making the point that if one ever got to the stage where that never happened then one has either reached marketing enlightenment or one has a severe case of "I am the law" syndrome a la Michael Jackson. Not a good look.

What I'm getting at is that it's as much of an emotional journey as anything else. It's really tough to see other sole traders I know busting a gut to get where they want to be (one in particular at the moment) and wishing the virtue of patience and trust on them as well as myself. YOU ARE AWESOME, IT WILL HAPPEN.

I look at others I know who have made it. Yes I'm insanely jealous but I also know that 1: they deserve it because they're lovely 2: It took just as much hard work as I'm/we're putting in to get to that place and 3: they weren't afraid to service their short term income needs at the beginning so as to give them the opportunity to build and create that all important reputation and profile. Wow is it paying off for them, rightly so.

There are, however, some distinct perks to being self employed. Being right here, right now (02:26)  is one of them. I choose when I work so if I want to work at 2am because I can't sleep and have a wee dram, then so be it. If I choose to stay in bed a bit later in the morning because I've been up all night working; doesn't matter. Already done what I wanted to do tomorrow morning.

Alls I'm saying is, self employment isn't for everyone. It's harder than I thought but overwhelmingly much more rewarding than I dared to hope.

 It will happen. I TRUST YOU UNIVERSE!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A "Combination of East and West" is Best

Siddra Syed. Designer extraordinaire.

I've always been really proud of the clothing I've made - up until I saw these.

Siddra has also designed the jewelry in these shots, and her work will be featuring in the exhibition in London next week too.

I'm really proud of this work.

Saturday, 8 June 2013