Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Why I Love Bobbi Brown: The Woman, The Philosophy and The Products

When I first started properly getting into makeup, it was because I wanted a really good quality foundation that would hopefully make my skin look better! After much counter browsing and online researching, I ended up at the Bobbi Brown counter in House of Fraser upon the recommendation of a friend. The Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation was my first ever high-end beauty purchase and I'm still absolutely in love with it. But today I'm not just here to write about a certain product but a whole brand and the inspirational woman behind it...

So Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is one of very few big beauty companies actually founded by a woman and I doubt I'm the only woman who finds this extremely comforting. It's nice to know that behind the products we're using, there is a mastermind who understands our needs but also the pressures we face, especially those pressures created by the beauty industry. To me it suggests that Bobbi Brown was a woman with a vision, the appropriate experience and the passion to carve out her own space in the beauty industry, not just some rich (typically male) entrepreneur looking for another way to make money.

Bobbi Brown moved to New York to become a makeup artist and ended up working with top magazines and models, her big break was when she did Naomi Campbell's makeup for the cover of American Vogue. Then in 1991 she created her own lipstick range to fill a gap in the market for natural-looking lipsticks at a time when bright colours and vibrant makeup was the mainstream look, this idea set her apart from other makeup artists. The product range expanded since the success of her natural lipsticks and in 1995 Bobbi Brown Cosmetics was incorporated into Estee Lauder, but what's significant is the power that Bobbi herself still has over her products and how prevalent her desire for a no-makeup look still is.

Bobbi has also written several books including Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro (2008), Beauty Rules (2010) (the girl on cover was apparently a random waitress that Bobbi came across - how lovely is that??) and Pretty Powerful (2012).

What really stands out for me is Bobbi's philosophy and how clearly it comes through in her products. Bobbi has so many inspirational quotes, one of them being, "I believe all women are pretty without makeup, but with the right makeup can be pretty powerful". How great is that? That even a woman behind a cosmetics company can be so open-minded about the concept of beauty and what makeup should be for. Bobbi's philosophy is that makeup should be used to emphasise natural beauty, what is already there, not try to conceal or change it. The 'pretty powerful' idea is such a wonderful concept - that makeup should make women feel like a more powerful version of themselves, that it is not a repressive tool used by the beauty industry but a secret weapon for women to exploit and enjoy to their own advantage.

Bobbi's amazing philosophy has also helped women outside of the beauty industry and in other aspects of their lives. The Pretty Powerful Campaign for Women and Girls was launched on International Women's Day in 2013 to help women through job training programs and girls through education schemes. I think this is absolutely inspirational that Bobbi has really created her own space within the beauty industry and changed the conventional definition of what it means to beautiful. I think it really gives us a new perspective on the beauty industry and hope that companies have more substance to them. That Bobbi Brown's company has made women feel that they are beautiful no matter what they look like rather than putting them under pressure to conform to traditional perceptions is amazing.

On more of a practical level, I always find that the Bobbi Brown counter staff always look very natural and it's clear that her vision has spread through every level and sector of the company. I feel much less under pressure to dress nice or be all made up when I go to the Bobbi Brown counter because the girls always look themselves and don't have a 'looking down their noses at you' kind of look like you get at some counters.

As I said in the beginning, the Skin Foundation was the first Bobbi Brown (and high end) product I bought and I think her foundations are so underrated. Before I started reading blogs and watching YouTube videos, I'd never heard of Bobbi Brown because she just isn't discussed enough. Even those people who aren't into makeup have heard of Chanel, Dior, YSL, Lancome, but Bobbi Brown products seem to barely be discussed. Anyway, her foundations are amazing - there is one to suit every skin type and they are yellow-based so make your skin look so even in tone. At first I was like 'yellow?!' but it really works! I've never understood pink-based foundations on anyone, they just don't work, people seem to pick out slight redness in their skin and think that they need a pink foundation but trust me, yellow-based foundations work for everyone and Bobbi knows it!

Admittedly, I only have the above 3 products from Bobbi Brown - the tinted eye brightener (light bisque), the face touch up stick (which acts as a blemish concealer, in warm ivory) and the skin foundation which I mentioned before. But the range of products available is great and the quality of them is amazing. Bobbi Brown has become my 'go-to' makeup brand because I know that there will have been a tremendous amount of research and effort behind the products and I will always be able to achieve that desired 'no makeup' look with them.
It may be sexist but I feel like because there is a woman behind the products and because I am aware of her philosophy I know that I am paying for quality whereas when the company is headed by a man (unless its Wayne Goss), they'll inevitably see makeup through the lens of what a man wants a woman to look like.

Anyway, I hope that I have turned you into a Bobbi Brown convert, she is such an inspirational woman and her products really are great. Please check out her Twitter, Facebook and product site.

Also check out essiebutton's video which focuses on Bobbi Brown, it's a great video and I'm really glad that she also appreciates the amazingness that is Bobbi Brown!

Gemma x

All images are linked - just click on the image and it will take you to the original URL from which I got it :)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Coastal Mini-Break Makeup Bag

So last weekend, my boyfriend and I had a few days off together and so decided to go away for a couple of nights to the coast. This was a welcome post-exams treat for me! We were lucky that the weather turned out to be gorgeous, although I am now severely burnt as I forgot the sun lotion! Anyway, I thought it would be nice to show what makeup I took with me, I wanted to keep it fairly simple, making sure to go for a light, natural look even in the evening. 

Base: As you can see I was a little bit naughty and took 2 foundations with me so I had a daytime and an evening option. I took the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation  (shade Warm Ivory) for the daytime as it is a really lovely, lightweight, natural foundation that is fairly dewy so perfect on those sunny days when lighter coverage is better. I took the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet for evening wear as it is a more matte foundation but still has that 'inner glow' look about it. It also seems to have a really nice smoothing effect and the shade 10 Beige is perfect for me - I've really been loving this foundation at the moment, it has everything I look for in a base. For concealer, I used the L'Oreal True Match Concealer in 2 Vanilla, another product I've really been loving. It has amazing coverage and is very natural-looking, it's definitely worth all the pennies. I also took Maybelline Sun Dream Bronzer which is not pictured above but gives a nice glow, which if you're fair like me, looks good on those sunnier days. 

Powder/Blush: I always wear a powder but it was particularly essential at the weekend because it was so warm! I use the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder which is great to lightly dust over to help set foundation in place but doesn't make the complexion look ashy. For blush I used my usual No7 Natural Blush Tint Powder in the shade 'soft damson' which is a lovely natural pink shade.

Eyes: Again, I used my daily essentials! For under-eye concealer I used the Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener in the shade 'light bisque' which helps to brighten dark circles, although can look a bit ashy but maybe I just have the wrong shade! I'm not fussy when it comes to eyeliner as long as it shows up on the waterline - I use Helen E Cosmetics eye-liner. I took 2 mascaras - Maybelline 'The Falsies' Waterproof mascara for daytime wear and Benefit 'They're Real' Mascara for the evening. 

Lips: I wore Rimmel Kate Lasting Finish lipstick in the shade 03 during the daytime, which is a lovely pink nude, and No7 Moisture Drench lipstick in the shade 'grape' for the evening, which is a dark pink shade that gives your lips a nice pop of colour.

Nails: I wore Rimmel Salon Pro Nail Polish in the shade 'Jazz Funk' which is a summery bright pink and the formula of the polishes in this range is really good, the colours are very pigmented and long-lasting.

I spent so much time thinking make-up, skincare and clothes that I forgot to take sun-cream, although I didn't think I'd need it as the forecast said it was going to rain... However I now look like a lobster and I'm in a lot of pain. Wear sun-cream kids!

Gemma x

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Women: The Size Debate

I'm not the first and I definitely won't be the last to put forward my opinion on the whole size zero/plus size debate that we've been bombarded with on social media in the past few years, but I feel that I need to express my personal opinion - it needs getting off my chest!

So, for a quite a few years we've all seen images of severely underweight catwalk models while claims are made that this is so the designers only have to make the clothes in one size - pfft! While models on high street fashion sites such as New Look, Topshop etc are more healthy looking, they are also usually size 8/10 and so women have quite rightly felt intimidated and been made to feel overweight and therefore inadequate.

As human beings we are all (even men!) conscious of our image and whether we realise it or not, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and worrying whether or not we attractive and desirable. So naturally, the size zero issue sparked a huge backlash which seems to have really come to the forefront in the past few years, and this is where my criticism lies. Pretty much every time I go on Facebook, I see images like this...

...the whole rhetoric concerning size has gone from one extreme to the other, but the notion that you have to be 'curvy' and ideally, a size 12 or above to be a 'real' woman is equally as damaging as images of size zero models. Don't get me wrong, in the beginning photos like this made me feel better about myself (I am a size 12/14) because they made told me I was 'real' and didn't have to be self-conscious. However, I have recently realised how aggressive the rhetoric actually is - we should not be telling women that they have to be any size to be 'real', this has served to make naturally thin women feel inadequate.

I have seen an image on Facebook of a woman who looks about a size 16/18 with the caption 'This is what real women looked like in the 1950s' and as a history student I was frankly appalled by it! For a start it is so historically inaccurate - in 1950s Britain many people were still having to stick to rations, so I'm pretty sure most women were actually quite thin. It's false statements like these, that have no substance behind them that will truly have an impact on women.

The 'real women' backlash has launched an unnecessary hate campaign against thin women and women who probably genuinely suffer from a condition such as anorexia are being verbally battered and being plunged even further into the worst kind of low self-esteem. Keira Knightley has had to fend off numerous accusations that she is suffering from an eating disorder and I believe her when she says that she isn't. I have a friend who has a very similar figure to Keira Knightley and she loves big Sunday roasts and chocolate cake. People really need to be more sensitive when making comments like thin women look like 'ten year old boys'.

The truth is that most women are not size zero, and the dominance of severely underweight models on the catwalk is wrong. However, the aggressive backlash that puts equal pressure on women to be 'curvy' in order to be 'real' is just as wrong. What we have to realise is that real women range from size zero to size 30 and beyond, while there are probably more women around the size 14 mark, it would be unrealistic to believe that no one is thinner or bigger than that. We must appreciate diversity and the spectrum of size that exists and that fashion companies need to acknowledge. We've all developed differently and that's really something to celebrate and enjoy, not to be used as a weapon against one another. This photo pretty much sums it up for me...

I'd also like to say something about the transition from being a teenager to being a woman, based on my own experience. I'm 19, nearing 20, so technically still a teenager but I can tell that my body has changed massively in the past couple of years. I noticed that I started to put on a bit more weight or 'fill out' during sixth form and university and I have sometimes mistaken that for being a bad thing. I come across lots of teenage girls on twitter talking about losing weight but I think it's important to realise, especially at 17/18, your body will want to naturally change into it's adult version and that's completely normal. Of course, some girls stay petite and that's normal too! Hips, boobs, bum, and even belly may start to expand, but don't think that that's a bad thing, puberty doesn't end at age 13 and you'll notice your body mature again as you start to get closer to 20.

So I guess the main thing to take away from this is to appreciate diversity of shape and size and not to slate one another based on our image, it's such a bad thing. And young girls - don't be scared when your body starts to change, appreciate being who your body wants you to be.

Gemma x


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

False lashes? Nope, it's Benefit's 'They're Real' Mascara

So I decided to pop into my local Boots today to pick up Chanel's perfection lumiere velvet (review coming soon!) and while I was scouring the aisles for more make-up to splash out on, a girl from the Benefit counter approached me asking if I wanted to try out some products. I'm always reluctant when I get targeted in this way as it's obvious they're trying their best to sell you stuff. Plus I'm never tempted by Benefit products because I didn't like their foundation that I tried ages ago. However, I had to be polite of course and the girl was really friendly. So she tried out various products on my skin and to be fair, I was impressed by a few of them. Then, last off, she asked me if I wanted to try their mascara, again I just said yes to be polite and never expected to be so impressed that I would purchase it - but I did! I've been using my Maybelline falsies mascara for so long and thought that was good for lengthening lashes, but this is even better. Apparently they sell one of these every 10 seconds and I can see why - how have I never heard of it before??

Before - no mascara.

After - Benefit mascara

As you can see from the first photo, my eyelashes are hardly visible with no mascara but I was actually wearing my usual mascara (which is also a false lash effect one) when the lady applied the Benefit one and I could still see a huge difference. I'm getting used to the volume and length now I've been wearing it for a while but you get a big shock when you first see the difference that it makes. I felt like my lashes were doing a lovely flutter every time I moved my eyes!

The only thing that niggles me a bit about it is the fact that it can start to look a bit clumpy if you keep layering it but one layer should do the job. I also don't think it's waterproof as it doesn't state anywhere on the packaging but it seems like it's hangin' on in there when you apply it. Application was a bit weird for me at first as I've been used to the same mascara for aaaaages but that's just me. I think the wand would benefit from being curved, however, because I find that that makes mascara easier and more comfortable to apply.

I paid £19.50 for it today at Boots - I never thought I'd splash out on mascara but I think I may have to say that this one was worth it. I will probably use this on more special occasions, particularly nights out on the town as I always find that I need longer lashes but find false lashes uncomfortable. It's rare that I genuinely rave about a product but this one is definitely a keeper!

Gem x