Friday, 31 January 2014

Hair, hair and more hair

So last night in the shower I was admiring how long my hair has grown, especially considering I hacked it all off up to my jaw line in the summer of 2010 to see if I'd suit short hair (I really, really don't), that means in three and a half years - and with about 6" worth of trims - my hair is now closer to my toes than my belly button is! Which is about 2 feet of growth total - or about 6" every year, though I'm not sure if this is above or below average for hair growth; I just find it interesting.

Anyway this is what my hair looked like this morning straight out of bed:

One of my more flattering childhood nicknames was 'Wild Thing'

Obviously since my hair is so curly I lose almost 6" of length when it's dry, but I'm very OK with that considering that when I last straightened my hair (it's an annual event) I found it completely unmanageable in all its straight silky glory.

8am is not the time I like to take photos of myself - meet FlatBear

I also get a lot of questions about what I "do" to my hair - the short answer: occasionally wash it and let it do it's thang. The long answer:

  • Wash it with whatever shampoo is at hand, I normally go for anything that says "for dry/damaged/curly etc" hair or baby shampoo but am also really tempted by anything that smells nice. I have long since given up trying to avoid SLS's and even longer ago abandoned the whole "no-poo" baking soda and apple cider vinegar malarky - it way way too much effort for little to no results.
  • Condition it preferably with a silicone free conditioner (my favourite is VO5 Nourish My Shine) and brush it through with a Tangle Teezer - any other brush or comb makes me cry with frustration, yank at and break my hair.
  • Towel dry it in one of those micro-fibre turban things and forget it about it for however long it takes me to brush my teeth/tidy my room/watch Buffy etc.
  • Apply products after a quick comb through to pull it all back from my face (so no partings) and run a US quarter sized puddle of Argan Oil (whatever brand is both cheap and pure) then sometimes 1-2 pumps of Bed Head Foxy Curls Contour Cream through it with my fingers, avoiding the roots and focusing on the ends.
  • Sleep on it damp - neither my mother nor my grandmother approve of this but I have a warm bedroom and never get sick, plus is helps my curls fully form and even if I had all the time in the world I still wouldn't have time to use a hair dryer or a straightener.

My current conditioner of choice

Sometimes I plait my hair before bed if I know I'm not doing anything special the next day - this keeps it tangle free so I can go an extra day without washing it since it's partially formed dreads, not greasy roots, that motivate me to wash my hair every 3-4 days. Or if for some strange reason I decide to wash my hair in the middle of the day and it's below freezing outside I borrow a hairdryer, flip my hair upside down and blast it, however I just don't like doing this so it's only when I would otherwise get hair-cicles.

The savior of long and knotty hair.
This is the 'Aqua Splash' model - the 'Original' one literally fell apart at the 3 month mark

And that's it - I don't own a straightener or a hairdryer, have never dyed my hair, had extensions, styled it or really done anything except to get a trim every 6-9 months. The pickiest thing I do with my hair is only let one specific hairdresser cut it since she somehow manages to layer it so I get all over volume rather than the dreaded 'triangle hair'. If I can't get any of the above fancy products (which happens quite often when I travel or backpack) any plant derived oil through the ends helps tame the frizz, and if my hair's appearance ranks even lower than it does now there's always a plait.

A note on Bed Head Foxy Curls Contour Cream: it is so crazily silicone heavy if you leave a smear out to dry overnight it literally dries to a hard plastic like consistency, hence why I avoid silicone conditioners so as not to cause a crazy silicone buildup (and also why I'm also OK with using SLS shampoos as they alone can completely wash away these silicones), the main reason I love it though is because it feels like nothing is in my hair. Mooses give that awful crunchy and dry/brittle sensation, gels and creams weigh down your curls/hair and look/feel greasy, serums are nice but they don't really help form curls and oils are the same. It also smells like candy which I'm ambivalent towards, but I wish the pump had a lock function for travelling.

Bonus - I found this test shot from my Illamasqua lipstick review - pre black lipstick - and rather like it so here you go!

Saskia X

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Lipstick Swatches

Quick post with swatches of all of my lipsticks (disincluding my many OCC Lip Tars and a few I've relegated since upgrading them):

Neat swatching is not something I have time for

So, from left to right in a poor attempt at reading darkest to lightest:

  • Illamasqua Pristine - supposed to be matte, is actually satin - C
  • MAC Instigator (LE) - matte - A
  • NARS Train Bleu (Discontinued?) - so matte it makes the sahara look damp - C
  • MAC Instigator (LE) - matte - A
  • MAC Dark Side - satin/'amplified' - A
  • Rimmel Kate Moss Matte 107 - matte - B
  • MAC Studded Kiss (LE) - matte - A
  • Armani Rouge D'Armani 406 - cream-matte A++
  • MAC Flat Out Fabulous - 'retro' matte A
  • Soap & Glory Pom Pom - matte - A
  • Soap & Glory Pink Blush - matte - A
  • Soap & Glory - matte - Supernude - A

My grading is based on the formula alone - pigment density and evenness, comfort, longevity, feathering, smudging:
  • A = excellent in all areas
  • B = good in most areas
  • C = workable but not ideal
  • D = barely functional
  • F = garbage

Pristine, Punk Couture, Train Bleu, Instigator, Dark Side, 107, Studded Kiss, 406

It's pretty obvious my preferences lie with vampy mattes and this reason is two fold: purple is my favourite colour and I'm lazy. Essentially if I'm going to wear lipstick I want it to damn well look like I'm wearing lipstick otherwise I just don't see the point, and if I'm going to bother to apply a lipstick it better damn well not need reapplication for at least 6 hours unless I decide to attack a big greasy hamburger.

My all-time favourites are MAC Instigator and Rouge D'Armani 406, Instigator is a great formula but it's the truly unique colour that I'm in love with and 406 has a absolutely magical formula and is my perfect classic red.

107, Studded Kiss, 406, Flat Out Fabulous, Pom Pom, Blush Pink, Supernude

 Flat Out Fabulous isn't as purple as I'd hoped it to be but is still a lovely bright spring/summer shade, and the S&G shades are my nod to natural lips - Pom Pom is a very wearable bold pink, Blush Pink is a muted plum 'My Lips But Better' and Supernude is just there on the off chance I ever want to wear a nude lip (although I'm a little put off by how warm it looks here since I really dislike anything orange).

Currently on my wish-list are:

  • MAC Heroine (violet) - matte; pretty obvious why I want this
  • MAC Up The Amp (muted medium toned lavender pink) - satin/'amplified'; a toned down everyday purple
  • MAC Relentlessly Red (bright pinkish red with coral undertones) - 'retro' matte; about as far towards coral/orange as I'll go, I think this will look great with a tan over the summer
  • Illamasqua Posture (greyed lavender) - matte; to be honest this will probably make me look a bit washed out and ill but... I want it
  • Illamasqua Apocalips (dark teal green) - matte; green is my second favourite colour and I want to wear it on my face. That's all there is to it.
  • Revlon Matte Balm Shameless (red based purple) - matte; obvious choice
  • Maybelline Colour Elixir Lip Gloss Vision in Violet (violet) - gloss; because if anything is going to get me into lip-glosses/allow me to tolerate their stickiness it's going to be something bright purple, plus it's cheap.
  • MAC Sin (burgundy) - matte; I probably don't need this as I have Studded Kiss

And a bonus of this week's manicure which is appropriately purple - Barry M nail polish in Cosmo Berry and a random Topshop glitter one.

Sas X

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Illamasqua Pristine Black Lipstick

Illamasqua are my overall favourite cosmetics brand for many, many reasons - the most simple one being they make both conventional and unique products that are consistently amazing quality.

They also have a great £5/£7/£10 sale going on right now which I have taken advantage of to try more of their products, particularly their vampire pale foundations/concealers (which I will review separately).

Amongst many things I picked up Pristine - a "pure black, matte finish" lipstick for £7, and promptly decided that it was the appropriate thing to wear to the dinner party I was hosting that night.

First things first: it's definitely not matte - or even demi-matte - it felt and wore like a satin lipstick which would be great for those with dry lips but cut down on its wear time massively. Pristine also had good pigmentation - especially considering it's unconventional colour - but did have a slight tendency to feather and smudge (I was not wearing lip liner).

Illamasqua vs Mac lipstick bullets - my only fault with Illamasqua is their bulky and often impractical packaging

Overall it was comfortable, opaque with average staying power and a much better black lipstick option than my OCC Lip Tar in Tarred.

I paired it with my usual face and an amped up version of my favourite gold, bronze and black eye makeup (product list below) and slung a gold headpiece on for good measure. My current loves in life are obviously unconventional lip colours, headdresses, stiletto nails and - as always - ugly jumpers.

Dark Greek Goddess? I don't really know what I was going for here


  • NARS Oil Free Primer
  • NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia
  • Illamasqua Hollow Cream Pigment Contour
  • Illamasqua Delirium Cream Pigment Blush
  • NARS Albatross Highlighter
  • Illamasqua Concealers in 105 and 115
  • Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder

  • Illamasqua Brow Cake in Motto
  • NARS Smudge-proof Eyeshadow Base
  • Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eyeshadow in Comex Gold
  • Inglot gold and bronze eyeshadows (from my 10 pan custom palette)
  • Sugarpill Bulletprrof eyeshadow
  • Laura Mercier Tightlining Cake and Activator
  • DollyWink Eyelashes
  • Benefit They're Real Mascara

  • Illamasqua Pristine

And in case anyone's interested this is what I actually look like the majority of the time:

And this is my most recent manicure (I tried to do an ombre with these colours but I'm terrible at nail art).

Saskia X

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Stiletto Nails

I compulsively bite my nails and it's disgusting. What's equally disgusting though is that anti-biting polish that always manages to ruin the taste and my enjoyment of finger food, so what's a girl to do?

Glue tiny pieces of plastic to her fingers apparently. Normally this is a pretty expensive solution as on the high street a pack of fake nails is between £5-10, but while googling 'Stiletto Nails' to decide which side of the line between 'LOVE' and 'HATE' they lie for me (spoiler, I love them in all their Disney Villain gloriousness) I discovered eBay.

A pack of 600 assorted sized nails came to the grand total of £4.50, so of course I impulse bought them.

Louboutin Stiletto nails - black with gold glitter on top, red underneath 

They came unpainted in an opaque off white colour (although I could've opted for clear), and being ludicrously excited to finally have nails to paint I chose a moderately ambitious Christian Louboutin inspired manicure. The loose gold glitter that gorgeously adorns my nails now also coats my furniture. C'est la vie.

As well as being pointy they are also ridiculously long

The reason there's a hammer in the above two photos is because I don't plan ahead: giving myself a manicure before assembling my new Ikea furniture. I wanted to remember them in all their freshly painted glory before I destroyed them with my ill-informed carpentry. Surprisingly my new nails were not nearly as impractical as I'd imagined them to be as both my manicure, the furniture and my sanity were all still intact at the end of my first ever DIY house project.

Also, they matched my eyeshadow perfectly

And here's the manicure I gave myself yesterday morning: metallic duo-chrome gold and green, I keep catching glimpses of my nails out of the corner of my eye and mistake them for those beautifully iridescent beetles.

Yes, that is a hand made Bedouin bangle

I then realised my nails were a  near perfect colour match for my eyes when I was struggling not to impale myself while putting in and removing contact lenses. I have iridescent beetle eyes apparently; that's sexy right?


So all in all what's the verdict for Stiletto nails? Personally I love them as they are strangely high fashion in a James-Bond-female-antagonist way,  not nearly as impractical as they look nor in the least bit fragile. They also taking scratching itchy skin and scalp massages to a whole new level.

However things I would not recommend doing with these nails:
  • Inebriated contact lens removal
  • Boxing (or just punching anything really)
  • Rock climbing

So essentially there goes my social and sporting life for the sake of some bad-ass nails. But I'm OK with that since I'm still partially crippled from the knee surgery that inspired me to start this blog.

Saskia X

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Back with a Gothic Vengeance

One of my MANY New Years resolutions is to get this blog going again!
Side-note: can I even say 'again' when I only had half a dozen posts to start with?

Anyway, to kick off here are some snaps of looks I've done over the Christmas holidays for various social events (or y'know just baking in my pyjamas).

I got some new vampy lipsticks (MAC Punk Couture collection and NARS Train Bleu) for various birth anniversaries (my own and Jesus') so decided to be all high fashion and wear dark lips with absolutely no eye makeup! Or rather, I was too lazy to do eye makeup, whichever.

Dark lips (MAC Studded Kiss and Currant lipliner), bold brows and contour

My mother then promptly dubbed this my 'gothic phase' - well if you insist...

I was going for 'Feminine Gothic' rather than 'I'm angry at the world Gothic'
NARS Train Bleu lipstick, MAC Currant lipliner, Stila MMFFE in Vintage Black Gold

Plus a snap I made for an Instagram 'Contouring 101' (yeah I have Instagram now #socialmedia #IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing #EmilyJones) add me/follow me/subscribe(?)... aiksasarual

MAC Instigator lipstick, MAC Currant lipliner, Illamasqua Hollow contour and Delirium blush

And for anyone who's interested in photography here's my setup:

Canon 60D body and 18-135 lens with the 430EXII Speedlite flash gun and Lumiquest 80/20 flash diffuser on the Induro Carbon 8X CT214 tripod and BHD1 ball head. Everything was shot on fully automatic (I'm lazy with selfies).

Also shout out to anyone who's here from reddit - you guys are awesome!

Saskia X