Thursday, 18 March 2010

When You Love Make Up... but Your Skin Disagrees

When I visit clients for make up trials, the first question I always ask them is if they know their skin type. "Normal" skin is ironically the least common type - with people usually complaining of patches of dry skin, an oily T-Zone, or fluctuations. Make up can sit well on both dry and oily skin as long as it is appropriately prepped before hand, but the most difficult skin type when it comes to make up is the dreaded "sensitive" skin.

Sensitive skin can really pose a problem if you want to be able to wear make up and can make shopping for new products a difficult task.

Firstly, you need to establish whether your skin is actually sensitive. Skin conditions such as eczema, sun damage, and rosacea, are sometimes confused with sensitive skin. If you suffer from allergies, experience itching, dry skin and flakiness year round, or develop blotchy skin that is unrelated to changes in your skin-care routine then you may need to see a dermatologist or your doctor. If you do have one of these other skin conditions you will need to take different precautions with your skin in order to keep it healthy and glowing. But is your skin is prone to rashes or stings at the use of some skincare products, and is constantly irritated by make up and/or environmental factors, you probably suffer from sensitive skin. If this sounds like you, you may need to re-think your usual skincare routine.

I've put together a few general rules to ensure you too can comfortably cleanse, tone and moisturise and wear make up, without the dreaded tight, red or itchy skin.

To start with the obvious, when shopping for any cosmetics, firstly ensure they say "suitable for sensitive skin". "Suitable for all skin types" is a little misleading, as this can mean it is suited to dry/oily/combination skin - but doesn't necessarily incorporate sensitive skin. As well as checking the label, also check the ingredients list. Stay away from products that contain alcohol at all costs as this is a guaranteed irritant; instead select a product that contains natural skin soothing ingredients such as aloe vera. Products for sensitive skin can be found in all major chemists and Boots has a policy in which you can return any item which has resulted in a bad reaction (just keep your receipt, and be honest - they're not going to accept anything that is being returned half empty!)

If your skin is very sensitive, it is best to avoid wearing make up every day if you can. This will allow your skin to breathe and keep it free from chemicals. When you do want to wear some make up, make sure it is a light application and look for products that are non-comedogenic (meaning it will not exacerbate acne or clog pores) hypoallergenic, and fragrance free.

My advice for sensitive skin sufferers is always to use mineral make up. This gentle make up is generally formulated with natural and finely ground minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. What is even more important is what mineral makeup is made without: fillers, preservatives, dyes, fragrances and chemicals - the nasties which leave your skin angry!

If I'm honest, I wasn't hugely keen on the idea of mineral make up when I first heard about it. I thought it would provide less coverage and didn't fancy the idea of buying new brushes and changing my whole make up kit. But when I heard such glowing reports on it (with one client exclaiming it "changed her life!") I decided to try it for myself. And I was proved very wrong!

Mineral makeup formulations provide similar coverage to traditional makeup - the ones made with chemicals, fillers and binders. Good news then - quality does not have to be compromised for those with sensitive skin. Mineral makeup is also non-comedogenic. Moreover, I've learnt it blends well, provides natural looking coverage and can even work to calm irritated or sensitive skin.

Mineral make up comes in loose or pressed powder form and even liquid now, for those that prefer a more traditional application method.The best type of mineral makeup depends upon your skin type, coverage needs and budget.

My personal favourite Mineral brands are;

*Bare Escentuals Make Up (it was them that taught me the wonders of mineral make up first)
*Bare Faced Beauty mineral make up - winner of the Natural Health Magazine Beauty Awards 2010
*and also MAC Mineralize make up (I swear MAC has make up for absolutely everybody - they are yet to fail me)

Whichever brand you go for, you're sure to look fantastic, and prove to your skin once and for all that make up need not be it's enemy.

And one more thing before I go - sensitive skin sufferes have to be even more strict with taking every last drop of their make up off before bed. And having too much to drink is no excuse - you may have looked fabulous partying but your skin won't be too pretty the next day!

Follow these rules and you have no excuse not to join the make up revolution!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Choose Opulence During Turbulence

There is no doubt that over the last year the recession has given birth to a new shopping trend. For most of us, the days of purchasing the first item that catches our eye and handing it to the cashier without as much as a blink have lessened. Caution has been instilled in us, a little voice urges us to “Look around first” or worse, insensitively reminds us, “You just can’t afford it.”

Boring as it sounds, there’s a lot to be said for this style of shopping! (Stay with me...) Saving up before you make a purchase ensures you still feel the same about it after some time. And if you do still crave it after a while then it is more likely to be an item that will continue to rank highly in your wardrobe. Instead of buying a host of garments on impulse which may not be versatile, the sensible option has been to buy pieces that are perhaps a little more expensive than people would usually stretch to but are built to last, with great adaptability.

Shopping this way results in smart purchases – and the chances are you will emerge looking a lot more classically tailored than you did before the economy crisis. Not feeling particularly flush? Stride out in your finest and who’s to know?!

Why not inject this attitude into your makeup shop? While neons, metallics and glitter are lots of fun, they tend to clutter your makeup bag as items that have ‘a time and a place.’ Ideally, I think every girl should own a makeup kit that makes the most of her features for a soft, everyday look, with an additional lipstick of a racier hue to set the mood in the evening. The day to night transition need only require an extra slick of mascara, a gentle touch of eyebrow pencil to showcase the eyes and a splash of rouge lipstick.

Start with the basics when buying smart makeup designed to last– a long wear foundation such as Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra will leave you with a matte finish to last through the day to evening, with no need to powder. Invest in a good compact of natural eye shadows – such as Bobi Brown’s Nude Eye Palette. Again, your eyes can easily transform for evening with this product – simply use a soft brush to blend the darker hues into your socket line – concentrating especially on the outer corners of your eyes. Ensure you have defined brows by using an angular brush to stroke on a little solid eyeliner such as Sleek's cheaper-than-cheap eyeliner pot in 'Espresso' (exclusive to Superdrug). An eye-opening mascara such as Maybelline’s fairly-priced ‘Colossal Volum' Express’ will open your eyes with guaranteed impact on a second coating.

Vamp up your look with MAC’s Russian Red lipstick (think Madonna in her Express Yourself and Vogue videos - you ARE that hot) and finish with a sweep of blush to suit your skin tone. I'm obsessed with Beneft's 'Sugar Bomb' blusher just now - they promise their four unique shades of rose, shimmering pink, soft plum, and peach will blend together perfectly for a delicious "sugar rush flush." I couldn't agree more!

The look you achieve should be that of timeless glamour – a look that will leave you feeling sophisticated and every bit deserved of that cocktail in front of you, even if it was a kind friend’s shout...

Model: Nicola Duff
Make Up: Suzanne C.M Smith
Photographer: Stefan Sealy

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Use and Abuse me!

So now you know: I'm a make up junkie.

Smashbox. Shu Uemura. Urban Decay. Dior. Laura Mercier. You name it, I've tried it.

But while it is my job, it is also all in the name of fun for me which is the only reason I've signed myself up to such madness. The idea of turning a hobby to a career appeals to everyone. And this is why I have decided to blog also; I love make up, and I love writing.

I'd also like to think that some of my make up advice can be taken advantage of by whoever stumbles across this blog. From chatting to a lot of friends and clients, I've learned that people can find makeup overwhelming at times. Save the odd tip which is easy to remember but not always entirely useful to the individual (your grandmother - "I just pinch my cheeks when I want a glow - none of this warpaint") there is not enough advice given on everyday, affordable looks to suit YOU.

I've been asked where somebody should start with a complete make up overhaul on a budget, for instance. People with small eyes have raised concern in regards to ditching the eyeliner altogether - they still want definition. And what concealer works best with asian skin, since most of the ones available seem to leave the under eye area looking grey?

Over the coming months I'm going to cultivate a collection of (hopefully!) useful articles on make up - and answer any questions you might have too. I'm hoping to be inspired, so if you want me to expand on any type of make up application/look/brand, just ask!

A Little on my Background...

It all started when I decided to make use of my (fabulous) infliction of 'make up addict' by trotting myself off down to make up school in Manchester in August 2008. There I was trained by Jon Mort - former chief make up artist at Versace. The fashion/editorial course was all I'd hoped it to be and more and I decided there and then that if I could make even a bob or two out of my ultimate passion, I would be dancing through life.

Since finishing at School of Makeup, I worked hard to build up my makeup portfolio, working with agencies and photographers in Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively, aiming for a variety of high fashion, editorial and commercial make-up looks. This involved having a collection of random jobs on the side to make ends meet (and a lot of scrounging off Mummy - love you)

Thankfully I am now working in the beauty industry full time - working with a team of girls on weekdays for ("I Need An" - an online hair and beauty booking portal) and signed with Scottish makeup team EyeCandy. I do a lot of wedding make up through EyeCandy and you can also book me through!

I originally didn't intend to get into wedding make up. I dismissed it as 'boring' - forgive me but my mind was taken up with dreams of backstage make up and high fashion Val Garland-esque amazingness. As it turned out, weddings revealed a whole new side to makeup artistry for me - working with 'normal' people with 'normal' skin and 'normal' conversation by contrast getting set for the least 'normal' day in their lives. I fell in love with the excitement and buzz surrounding weddings and the genuine appreciation you get as a make up artist if you make somebody feel beautiful. In fact, it's making somebody feel beautiful that gets me every time. Make up doesn't actually make you more beautiful but if it makes you feel that way, then you instantly are. You smile more. Your head's held that bit higher.

Having said that, in order to make folk look good (as opposed to the way they did when their best friend very first made them over) I need to ensure I have the proper tools - make up for different skin types/ colourings / age / desired look... And this is why I spend a lot on makeup. Decidedly more than I earn, in fact, but shhh...

Anyway, for now, I must go. I have half a glass of wine and a lot of washing up waiting to be done. Still, I'm going to look at the glass half full and start with that...

Model - Clare Byres
Make Up - Suzanne CM Smith
Photographer - John Linton