Wednesday, 23 March 2011

One small step for an ethical makeup artist

If you have been reading this blog for a while you are probably aware of my frustration at trying to find an alternative to M.A.C.'s seemingly irreplacable blot powder. Blot is something I cannot live without on a shoot, but I have been stoicly refusing to buy any more even though I'm down to the last few applications. I was going to try Bare Minerals, but was unable to get positive confirmation from any anti-cruelty companies as to whether or not they test on animals. Normally this means the brand is trying to avoid the issue (ignorace is bliss to the public!), so I steered clear.

A little while ago, while doing a short course at the London College of Fashion, my amazing tutor Susanna Perez recommended Jane Iredale powders. I was not too excited as I assumed I would find something ethically fishy about the brand (as I so often do) and actually put it to the back of my mind. Then for some reason a few weeks ago when I was bored I remembered I'd saved the brand name on my phone, so I set about doing a bit of research. It only took a few hours before I found myself clicking the 'add to cart' button on the finishing powders! Jane Iredale is verifiably cruelty free with an amazing industry track record, this brand is reliable, safe, mostly natural and comprehensive.

Jane Iredale is not entirely vegan and some of the products do contain carmine. However, what I really appreciate about the brand is their complete transparency on this issue. Jane Iredale has prominent links on her website to vegan product information where she provides a comprehensive list of exactly which products and colours contain carmine, honey, lanolin and wheat. You can click this link to check it out.

Her products are also made from high quality ingredients that are largely natural, which is a big plus. Each product has a detailed ingredient breakdown, which is really reassuring and educational (I always want to use the most natural makeup I can, which is a difficult task but I'm finding my list of cosmetics that are lovely for the skin is growing steadily!).

I tested out my new Jane Iredale Amazing Matte Loose Finish Powder just yesterday on a few clients, and breathed a huge sigh of relief, as the results were awesome. There was no shine on the final shots, the powder went on beautifully and a minimal quantity was required to achieve a clean, matte finish. The powder is very finely milled, perhaps even more so than M.A.C. Prep and Prime, so it works wonderfully to set concealer under the eyes.

I am quietly thrilled, as I have found my Blot and Prep and Prime alternative (all in one!).

Jane Iredale Amazing Matte Loose Finish Powder

I also bought the Jane Iredale Beyond Matte Powder Compact in translucent, which was recommended specifically for HD. It also comes in three other correcting colours (lilac, peach and dark) which I will probably be purchasing very soon! I am also planning to purchase the Corrective Colours concealer pallette which is very exciting to me, as colour correction is my favourite part of corrective makeup technique and a great concealer pallette is like makeup gold-dust.

Jane Iredale Beyond Matte Powder Compact

In my assessment, Jane Iredale powders are an affordable, superior quality upgrade to my M.A.C. powders, and I am just relieved that I have found a replacement for this kit essential. I was beginning to have visions of myself in the kitchen with rice grains and a pestle and mortar, desperately attempting to conjour my own powders, but I have been saved the hassle by this discovery!

available in the UK online at

Thursday, 17 March 2011

New 'Ingredients to Avoid' Page

Obviously I do a lot of research into ingredients and I realise that it is mostly wasted as I don't record the details for general perusal. I've decided such wastage is just silly, so I added a new page which you can link to at the top of this blog or by clicking here.

The 'Ingredients to Avoid' page will continuously grow along with the 'Q&A' and 'Favourite Brands' pages as I check out new products and scrutinise their contents. If you have any queries, additions, corrections or general comments about this new page please let me know - feedback is essential to maintaining the integrity of this blog. You can email me at or just leave a comment.

I hope this provides you with a useful tool for making your cosmetics choices.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Addendum to Serge Lutens post

Clarification is required, as I have received queries and it is important to be transparent here.

My previous post about Serge Lutens may have wrongly given the impression that I am promoting his perfume and the company Shiseido. This was not my intention. I simply wanted to introduce everyone to Serge as an artist.

Shiseido does test its products on animals and for that reason I do not recommend this brand or any of its subsidiaries - including Serge Lutens' fragrances - on this blog. Hopefully one day the situation will change and Shiseido will start using more advanced, animal-friendly technologies in the production of its cosmetics.

Monday, 14 March 2011

An Introduction to the Genius that is Serge Lutens

Surprisingly a lot of people do not know about Serge Lutens. I didn’t know of him until about two years ago, and it was a backward discovery. I first saw images of exquisite makeup done by Kabuki, a legendary makeup artist who emulated Lutens in a shoot for the jewellery designer Majo Fruithof. Not realising that they were re-interpretations of an earlier original I went on a manic google search for more such work, which led inevitably to the genius that is Serge.

At first I assumed that Serge Lutens was a makeup artist, but I soon discovered that he is so much more. He is one of those rare, obscenely talented individuals that has creativity pulsing through his veins; who bleeds creativity into the world around him. Now, Lutens is known mainly as the greatest perfumier alive, but he started out as a hair stylist and photographer. He also created a makeup for Dior, Vogue and Shiseido and it was at Shiseido that he started conjuring fragrances.

Lutens's visual style is very particular and immediately identifiable. He styled all his own perfume advertisements, and created his signature look by applying the makeup himself to his self-selected model muses. His look is always very pale, with strong Asian lines, meticulous finishing and an exotic edge reflecting his passion for heady, other-worldly scents.

Shiseido owns the Lutens brand, and has given him free reign over his fragrances to the extent that he launched the Shiseido Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris in 1992, dedicated solely to his perfumes. There he painstakingly crafts new scent combinations year-on-year and now has more than 60 fragrances to his name.

Les Salon du Palais Royal - Shiseido
Parfume boutique of Serge Lutens

Inevitably Lutens' unmistakable style has infiltrated and inspired the world of fashion and art. His visual work has been imitated and emulated time and again, and arguably none has utilised this inspiration better than the makeup artist Kabuki. The images below are of original Lutens designs and of the Kabuki re-interpretations created to promote the jewelery of Majo Fruithof. Although the poses and ideas are almost identical, Kabuki has managed to make the look even more refined and contemporary. It takes a true artist to imitate such beauty without making it look like an easy rip-off. Along with Serge Lutens, Kabuki provides me with much inspiration on a daily basis and I always return to his work when I need to kick-start my creativity.

Original Serge Lutens

Kabuki Makeup for Majo Fruithof

Original Serge Lutens

Kabuki Makeup for Majo Fruithof

I would recommend looking at Kabuki's website - the collection of his work is intimidating and marvellous! Click on the image below of one of his Vogue covers to like directly to his site (

Kabuki makeup for Vogue

I would also highly recommend watching this wonderful series of videos for Shiseido makeup styled by Serge Lutens. They are truly one-of-a-kind and exquisite beyond words. They also make one appreciate just what perfection can be achieved without HD, photoshop and airbrushing!

Click image for link to videos
styled by Lutens for Shiseido

I hope this has supplied your inspiration fix for the week! Enjoy!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Drumroll please for an amazing, HOT new makeup brand!

I’ve been keeping this brand under wraps for a while now, because I really wanted to put it to the test on something spectacular. So many different elements need to come together and work to make an awesome image – photographer, model, styling, makeup and hair, mood and a little bit of luck! I was finally in a situation where all these essentials were fused together seamlessly and so I decided it was time to bring out the big guns!

Christopher Drummond. POW! Airbrush in a powder. It takes just five grains (ok maybe ten!) to do the whole face. I’m being hyperbolic because I want to emphasise how magical this product is. Christopher Drummond has created a line of exquisite, organic, natural, cruelty-free cosmetics that are so refined and specialised that they do half the work for you. He has a particularly excellent mineral foundation and corrective powder range for darker skins.

One thing that really impresses me about his brand is that everything is so meticulously researched. Every ingredient is analysed in depth on his blog, which I would highly recommend you check out (click here). You can also click this link to see a comprehensive list of the ingredients in each of his products. Prominent ingredients include loads of essential oils and açai oil – the most powerful antioxidant that exists in nature. You can also read up on his blog about what is in more traditional mineral makeup and why it is bad for you (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and bismuth oxychloride).

So I tested out the Veludo Velvet Foundation, Concealer, Finale Finishing Powder and the fantastic Saude Pele radiance booster on my gorgeous model Karen. Just out of interest I applied the foundation to one side of her face first and took a step back – there were gasps from people in the room. Half of her face looked photoshopped, and I had used such a tiny amount of product that it hardly coloured the brush. I excitedly buffed the rest of her face, concealed where necessary, powdered in a neutral tone and very sparingly dusted some Saude Pele on her forehead, cheekbones, nose and chin. After 10 minutes maximum, she was transformed into a photographer’s post-production dream. Everyone unanimously agreed that she looked flawless and radiant and that my magical little sample pots contained miracle-powder (you can buy all the face products in tester sizes, which is really handy for travelling and since you use so little, they last for ages).

I have to make specific mention of the Christopher Drummond Concealer because it is without a doubt the most effective concealer I have ever used. It is packed with nutritious ingredients that feed your skin and is super-gentle. The texture of the concealer is deliciously creamy and the result is full cover of dark circles, discolouration, spots and blemishes with hardly any effort.

I built up the rest of the look using Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics iron oxide and lip tar and Barry M pigments. I secured the headpiece with s tiny bit of eyelash glue and applied some killer nails. After rubbing generous amounts of cocoa butter to her upper-body I blended some Christopher Drummond Veludo velvet Foundation on her décolleté to even out the skin tone.

My original idea was to create an inverse version of a photo created to advertise jewellery by Majo Fruithof (I’ve included the picture below) and executed by the incredible makeup artist Kabuki ( Karen was the most disciplined model I’ve ever worked with, able to change poses as fast as required or stay as still as a praying mantis for ages. The best image (below) was actually a very long exposure and she just did not move at all! And because there was some time left at the end I whipped of the headpiece, did some adjusting, painted her head orangy-gold and we managed to get some fabulous Grace Jones inspired shots too!

Our photographer and provider of awesome studio, grub, drinks and laughs was Paul Baichoo, assisted by the ever-wonderful Karolina Maria Renor. Lighting and giggles were provided by Mr Ankit Love who did some killer moves to get those lights just right (quite challenging with all the reflective materials on the headpiece).

Here are the results:

The original inspiration:
Makeup by Kabuki for
Majo Fruithof

You can buy Christopher Drummond at Just Beauty Direct


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The C-word

There is a subject I have been avoiding guys, and it has to be dealt with whether I like it or not. Even amidst the hubbub of Saturday’s runway preparations, every time I reached for something red – be it lipstick, shadow or blush – I had this niggling discomfort in the back of my mind. If you have been reading my blog you will know what is coming next…

Carmine. It’s the red in almost everything red, purple, pink or orange that exists in makeup (and lots of other household and foody things), and it’s made from crushed beetles (for my full freak-out on discovering this see here). I’ve been mulling it over for a while now, trying to decide which direction to go in. Really, I have three choices:

a) ignore it;
b) ban all brands that use carmine from my kit; or
c) find a middle-ground.

I’m not much of a middle-ground kind of person – it grates me – but in this case I’m thinking this would be most beneficial for me and for everyone else who is debating these issues. Let me expand on my thoughts:

In a recent email response from the British Union Against Vivisection (see here), they made the point that being so limiting on the products they do recommend to customers concerned about animal cruelty would probably disillusion people and make it less likely that they would continue seeking cruelty-free alternatives. I know the BUAV have a valid point, because even I fell into a serious depression after finding out that most of my favourite cruelty-free brands indeed do contain carmine. I was at a loss, and had momentary radical thoughts of throwing it all in and becoming a regular consumer once again. So, I can totally understand this perspective.

Also, it is better to embrace brands that that are making an active and sincere contribution to ending animal testing by not using animal tested ingredients and by donating part of their profits to research into alternatives. If they use carmine, then it is something that should also be discussed, as it is clearly a big issue and it seems the alternatives are not quite as effective, or easily available. This is just my supposition though – for all I know carmine is another one of those money-making industries; just like vivisection (I will do more research into this).

I’m going to go on a fact-finding mission to see what vegan companies use to make their reddest reds and get some opinions from them. This is an ongoing project, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

In the meantime, personally I have made a decision about what I will and will not use: I will use brands that use carmine but that are otherwise cruelty-free; however, I will not buy the products that contain carmine. I will continue to buy only 100% carmine free products overall.  That is my personal decision. (I will also footnote all brands I recommend that do contain carmine, for your reference, although I will never recommend an actual product that contains carmine. For example, I may recommend an Illamasqua clear lip gloss, but not a red lipstick).

I would love to know anyone’s thoughts on this subject. I think it is important to debate the issue and learn new things from one another. Hit me with it!