Category Archives: Obsessions

Current Obsession: Facial Oils

I’m having an oil moment (that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) But it’s true, I am – I have fallen in love with not one but THREE facial oils, so I consider it my sworn duty as a beauty blogger to tell you all about them.

AesopThe first is from my Aussie wonderbrand favourite, Aesop – really is there anything that this brand can’t do? I have yet to try a dud product from them. It’s their Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil. It’s great for combination, sensitive and dry skin (which would certainly be myself), and has skin-calming properties combined with anti-oxidants.

Then there is also the latest addition to the Parsley Seed family, which is their new Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser (out this month). This one is a gel cleanser (that feels like an oil), but this one is special – it EXFOLIATES whilst it cleanses. How does it do that? I hear you ask (well even if you didn’t, I’m going to tell you anyway), it combines a softly lathering gel cleanser with lactic acid to gently exfoliate and brighten the skin.

So as a pre-makeup cleanse for shoots and clients, it’s amazing as it gently stimulates blood flow, giving you the all-important GLOW. Yes, that GLOW, the one every makeup artist knows about as it’s what you strive to impart to someone’s skin before you start putting makeup on, since makeup going on a crusty, dry flakey surface just looks like ass, and makes your job much more difficult.

It probably seems pretty counter-intuitive to use oil to wash the face, but Japanese makeup artist Shu Uemura pioneered this in the late 1950’s when he realized that an oil cleanser effectively removed all traces of heavy makeup, whilst maintaining the delicate acid mantle of the skin. He created the Shu Uemura High Performance Cleansing Oil in the early 60’s, which is my second facial oil pick. I’ve had this in my kit for oooh, around 10 years now as it softens the skin and is miraculous at removing makeup. So now I have two oils to use – the Aesop for pre-makeup cleansing- for the GLOW, and Shu for afterwards for it’s makeup melting properties. (Especially when you’re on a job where the girl is wearing an extra head full of makeup, you need something with some serious grunt to take it off. I do love my Crealine but sometimes you just need the Makeup Removing Big Guns – that’s when my Shu comes into play).

And last, but by no means least, Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil. This has a different purpose – I use this sometimes on dry, dehydrated skin to perk it up and impart some serious moisture before starting the makeup. It can also be mixed into foundation to give it extra slip and shine – lovely when your skin is feeling the cold (ie the whole of the Northern hemisphere at the moment).
Jurlique is another favourite Aussie organic brand of mine, as their products are just plain yummy. This oil has biodynamic and organic Chamomile, Calendula, Marshamallow and Rose, and Rose Hip oil to give the skin elasticity.

Even in the heat of summer the skin can get dehydrated and can benefit from oils. However if your skin is very oily anyway I would advise using oils with caution – don’t discount them, but try a sample before you invest in them. Sometimes those with an oily finish to the skin actually have very dehydrated skin underneath (*cough* don’t ask me how I know that).

Current Obsession: Burberry

My complete infatuation with all things Burberry shows no signs of slowing down with the launch of their new Winter Storms campaign. Check out this immaculate new ad for Burberry, shot by incredible London photographer Jacob Sutton. I shot a TopMan campaign with him earlier this year, and he’s just a lovely, down to earth guy, as well as being a brilliant photographer. He’s now shooting regularly for British Vogue and is behind the new campaign for Burberry’s Beat fragrance. I’m thrilled he’s doing so well – if anyone deserves it, he does.

As always Burberry is blowing me away with their iconic take on classic British fashion. As an added bonus the songs in their campaigns stay in your head for days! Enjoy.

Gina Brooke for Intraceuticals

Gina BrookeI had heard whispers about this amazing skin treatment for a while, a treatment that firms the skin and gives it that radiant glow that you get if you’re a newborn, or a celebrity. Then when I heard Madonna’s makeup artist, Gina Brooke, was in town with her role as Brand Ambassador for that amazing oxygen facial, I had to find out more. I have long been an admirer of Gina’s work, so I was completely intrigued to meet her in person.

Gina’s work speaks for itself – she has worked with Madonna now for a number of years, creating her latest iconic looks from her Reinvention Tour in 2003 to Hard Candy in 2008. Now in between working with Madonna she is booked solidly around the world handling big campaigns and other celebrity clientele (the day I saw her, she was about to fly out and give David Beckham a touch of the Gina Brooke magic).

Part of her magic is the new Australian treatment, called Intraceuticals, for which she is Brand Ambassador. And the reason why she’s Brand Ambassador? Because it works. After she started using the treatment on jobs, her bookings went through the roof. Ad campaigns, beauty campaigns, other A-listers – everyone wanted to try this new miracle treatment that makes your skin look like it’s had new life literally breathed into it.

Intraceuticals Infusion is a beauty treatment unlike any other that uses therapeutic grade oxygen and Hyaluronic Acid, an ingredient naturally found in the skin, to deliver specialized active serums to the skin. It makes skin noticeably brighter, firmer and tighter, lifting and sculpting and improving the surface so that makeup glides on. After my treatment I couldn’t stop looking at myself (not my usual M.O), and I’ve been raving about it to anyone who will listen (and when you tell them it’s Madonna’s skin secret, believe me, people are interested!)

In addition to the salon-based facials, there is now an at-home range of products that build on the same principles of hyaluronic layering. They can be used either in conjunction with their facials or at home on their own as a skincare regime. What I love about the treatment is that it’s non-invasive (no needles, no fillers), but gives results that you very rarely get without a more aggressive approach. All the ingredients are the finest grade possible, and it mixes the frontier of modern science with natural ingredients like Vitamins A and C, aloe vera and green tea.

I also really like that makeup can be applied straight away – there is no downtime, and your skin looks amazing as soon as the facial is finished, and makeup goes on like a dream. I’m definitely going to be carrying the products in my kit to deal with clients who have skin that needs a little something. The only drawback for me was that it doesn’t contain SPF, but with specialized treatments like this one it can be very difficult to synthesise the SPF into it so both the SPF and the active ingredients are working effectively. And it’s just a matter of applying a good sunscreen under your makeup – something everyone should be doing as a matter of course!

People with eczema, rosacea and acne can all benefit from it as it reduces the capillaries and drastically improves the texture. So many facials mean you have to be locked away like The Bride of Frankenstein until your skin subsides, but I was able to be photographed next to Gina, who has to be one of the world’s most gorgeous women, makeup-free straight after my treatment, and feel confident I wouldn’t scare the children.

In person, Gina Brooke is impossibly gorgeous – so flawless and perfect she almost doesn’t look real. Huge blue-green eyes (not unlike a certain client of hers!), lashes for days and skin – well, let’s just say the treatment speaks for itself. And she’s NICE. Sometimes when you meet someone of her stature, with an A-list clientele, they aren’t that nice – but she makes you feel like the only person in the room.

I consider her one of the beauty mavericks, in that she is always seeking solutions for how to improve her work. About 6 years ago she was wanting to improve the texture of client’s skin so that makeup went on smoother, and looked more flawless. But it had to be immediate. A friend told her about a new Australian oxygen skin treatment, and once she tried it, she was hooked. So was Madonna when Gina introduced her. And now other celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Anne Hathaway and Eva Longoria use it before their big appearances to give them red carpet results.

For more information, visit
Follow them on Twitter: @intraceuticals

Intraceuticals Infusions can be found in London at Chelsea Day Spa
In LA at Terri Lawton
In Sydney at Wild Orchid, Double Bay

Illamasqua Nail Competition

Illamasqua Nail Varnish CompetitionBy starting my blog, I have discovered a few strange things about myself that I didn’t know before: I don’t like writing in the afternoon, I’m obsessed (and probably always will be) with Shu Uemura eyelash curlers, I’ve never met a primer that I didn’t think was a load of old bollocks , and I have a secret, unexplored fetish for nail polish. Bizarre in that I have no desire to wear it myself (can’t be bothered), but I absolutely love all the colors it comes in. So when I found out about this new nail polish comp from Illamasqua, I just had to let you know.

They are launching a global competition to discover the ‘It’ colour of 2010 – right up there with the Chanel nail stars like Jade and Particuliere. Simply send in your entry describing in 50 words or less why your color should be the one. Include an image or photo of the idea (the grey of your cat’s tail, the inside of a crocus, your favourite cupcake frosting – whatever floats your boat), and the winning idea will be put into production and sold at Selfridges around the UK by October 2010. The judges are indeed a stellar line-up – the world’s most creative makeup artist Alex Box, manicurist to the stars Sophy Robson, and Pixiwoo, the YouTube makeup artists who leave Lauren Luke in the dust.

Get those thinking caps on fellas!

Current Obsession: Lee Miller

I shouldn’t really call the amazing photographer and artist Lee Miller a “Current Obsession” as she’s been an obsession of mine for years.

Born in 1907 in New York and unbelievably beautiful, by her teens she was modeling for Vogue  for the great photographers of the day like Edward Steichen and Hoynigen-Huene. After tiring of this, she moved to Paris where she became the lover, partner and muse of Surrealist photographer and painter Man Ray. She was also his collaborator on many works and is credited by some as being the creator of his groundbreaking solarisation technique (which is still widely referenced today, most notably by fashion photographers Mert and Marcus.)

After spending the 1930’s as a successful photographer in Paris and New York, she became one of the only female war correspondents, sending back dispatches for British Vogue. This culminated in her being the only female photographer and one of the few photojournalists to document the liberation of the concentration camp Buchenwald. Understandably she never really recovered from this experience, and in her later life (when she became a mother and something of a domestic goddess), her solace became cooking, which she did with the same gusto that she did everything else.

This is a truly inspirational woman who packed more into one life than ten people could, who was never hampered by her gender and lived her life with an astonishing bravery and courage. Her life is a who’s who of the 20th century, and her biography is a must-read for anyone interested in art, photography or history. Lover of Picasso, collaborator and muse of Cocteau and Man Ray, Vogue writer and model, an incredible photographer, photojournalist and chef, this is a woman who epitomizes Hemingway’s maxim of “Grace under pressure.”

My favourite autobiography on Lee Miller, is Lee Miller by Carolyn Burke, published by Bloomsbury.  Her work is very strictly copyrighted, so if you would like to learn more about her art, please go to There is also an exhibition of her work, ‘Lee Miller’s Surrealist Eye’ is at Millesgarden, Sweden from 14th November- 14th February, 2010.

In My Makeup Kit: No Longer Reliant on the Kindness of Strangers

Anyone who’s been following my Twitter feeds this past week or so, knows that I’m crazy about my new Züca bag, and today I’m going to tell you why.

Carting a suitcase full of makeup all over town goes with the territory of being a makeup artist, especially in London where you need to be prepared for pretty much anything. But when it weighs about two thirds of what you do it can get a bit out of control, and eventually the inevitable happened and my overburdened body gave out and I ended up at the doctor’s. Months later after my ligament injury I am finally recovering, but I’ve had to seriously re-assess my work life. Enter Züca.

Designed by an engineer for a daughter with a back problem (due to carting around too many school books – I’ve been there, too!), it’s a simple idea – a bag with a seat.

A seat I tell you! So no matter where the studio, the location, the train, whether I’m waiting outside a Winnebago whilst the star is getting dressed, or in a field all day watching the shot on location, I can sit down if I want to. Already I’m sold!

It also has special square mesh bags that maximize the space available. Because they’re flat and zip open, you can stack them in the bag, put them out on your work surface and away you go. I separate different areas with smaller bags inside, and it makes unpacking and re-packing super easy. Zuca Bag and its individual pouches

Then there’s the wheels that you can push up and DOWN stairs, since it pushes forward as well as it rolls backward, and I no longer have to heave the whole darn thing up when I reach a flight of stairs (and anyone who’s worked anywhere in East London knows just how many steps there can sometimes be!)

It’s not a huge bag, but now I’ve decanted everything, it doesn’t need to be. And really I’d rather be a bit more organized with a LOT less stuff, and still have a body that can do makeup for years to come.

For more information on Züca bags, check out

Current Obsession: Mad Men

I just can’t get enough of this American series set in an ad agency in New York, in 1960. From the enigmatic title character Donald Draper and the complex, interwoven relationships shared by their wives and secretaries (or “chickens” as they are so charmingly referred to in an episode) to the vision of a vanished world on the cusp of extinction, it’s pretty much perfect television.

 From a beauty and styling point of view it’s spot-on as well – the lipstick is that amazing, Technicolor orange red beloved by Grace Kelly and the nails are all perfectly manicured in that long, elongated 60’s oval shape. The sets are a sea of Dacron and you can almost hear those man-made fibres squeaking as they walk around.

 A word of warning – if you’re trying to give up smoking this ain’t the show for you since pretty much every character in every scene is smoking or drinking something. (Morning meeting? Let’s have a scotch! At the doctor’s office? You can both smoke there! Ooh, after 3pm? It must be Cocktail Hour.) Good times!