In an effort to distract myself from the crippling agony that is living without the internet, I decided to venture out in to Canterbury at the weekend to purchase things for my face.
After my usual breakfast wines, I packed my finest shopping rifle and left the house. It was only when I was half way to town that I realised I’d forgotten my purchasing salts and my browsing spear. But I could not be bothered to return for them.
New to Obvious Beauty? Try the beginners’ guide First port of call was lunch with fellow Canterbury blogger Miscriant
, at which we laughed over tea and she pointedly failed to consume the cyanide I’d slipped into the remains of her courgette cake. It was a nice lunch. Then it was on to the mecca that is Canterbury’s own Fenwicks.
|Look at Clarins over there, trying to hurt us all.
Ahhhhhhhh Fenwicks. A leap up from Debenhams, on shaky ground with House of Fraser, and staring mournfully through the frosted window at Selfridges. You can buy a designer coat, or scrabble shamefully for a bargain in Oasis. I like to wander the fragrant paths of the beauty ‘hall’ and gaze upon the faces of each hapless beauty consultant.
Firstly, no one stops at the Crème De La Mer counter because no one around here is millionaire or utterly insane. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone serving there….it may just be for show. Then you encounter undeserved smugness of the Clarins bitches, in their red suits and their white lab coats (I shit you not, some of them actually wear lab coats as if they are face professors). To them, Canterbury is but a piffling stepping stone to Harrods and your local skin is no concern of theirs; London flesh is what they crave. They may smile sweetly, but try telling them that their cleanser nearly burnt your face off and suddenly the lips purse, the hairs bristle and you’re told in clipped tones, “Well some people just aren’t suitablefor Clarins”.
The Clinique haven is directly opposite, a calming sea of pastels and white light against the red of Clarins’ bloodied victims. Clinque consultants are like monks, averting their eyes from the other gaudy cosmetics, relying on their sure and sensible products and reciting the 3-Step Skin Care prayer over and over. The Dior girls are found further into the woods, and are always clueless. But who cares? It’s Dior, it sells itself. People come to the counter, point, gather, point again, hand over credit card and vanish, leaving the consultants turning in a frightened circle and wondering what just happened. The Chanel girls are in the same boat, but they revel in it. No matter who turns up, they just hold up Chanel No 5, Le Vernis nail varnish, and a Precision Brow Definer and say “pick one and fuck off”.
The YSL ladies spend the day saying “but are you sure you wouldn’t like to try some of our many, many other products? Oh alright, just the five tubes of Touche Eclat again, is it?” Guerlain and Elizabeth Arden bob around in the background, waving bronzer and Eight Hour Cream in your general direction and everyone nods respectfully as they pass the French lusciousness of Lancome.
I, however, was headed to make-up alley where the forces of Benefit, bareMinerals and MAC do battle.
MAC has the equivalent of a sprawling corner office. They have a WINDOW – no one else has a window. They have their own music blaring out, they have three counters, they have 10 consultants in funky black t-shirts with a bandolier of brushes. It’s one big party over at MAC, and YOU’RE not invited. As outstanding as the coverage is, MAC is stage make-up and it’s not for every day wear. Older heads know this, but youngsters can’t keep away. Benefit’s retro cutesy design also attracts the little ones, but its appeal has long since worn thin on me. Their one saving grace is Lemon Aid eye primer; a great eyeshadow base that also works on red blemishes.
This left me with bareMinerals
. The principal behind this make-up and skin care range is ‘the power and potential of minerals to nourish, energise and renew’. I’ll be honest – the way the brand keeps just using the word ‘minerals’ on its website reminds me of Homer Simpson describing the awesome power of ‘apples’.
On paper, the range ticks the right boxes for me – all natural, non-pore blocking, SPF standard – and my sister already extolled the virtues of the Original SF15 Foundation to me.
But I was dubious of the foundation’s gimmick, for the foundation is actually a loose powder. No sponges or finger tips here, you simply tap the powder it into the pot’s lid, swish it onto a natural bristle brush, and then buff it onto your skin.
This sounded like work, and I don’t do foundation ‘work’. My usual staple is Clinique’s Superbalance Foundation in Alabaster, a barely-there fluid that I can layer when needed (though it isn’t really heavy enough for big occasions, tbh). I texted my sister for further info, and she swiftly responded: “Foundation is really radiant but you have to get EXACTLY the right shade – you’d be fairly light, like me.”
OH WOULD I NOW?! Not sure why I took offense at that, she has lovely skin.
But my lapse in concentration had left me exposed, and I was quickly collared by the bareMinerals consultant, or Make- Up Predator (MUP) to give her full name. Muttering my requirements, I was hurtled into a chair to try out said powder foundation. MUP tested two shades on me – turns out I was a ‘fair’, the lightest shade. Screw you, slightly more tanned sibling.
MUP buffed a decent amount of the Fair foundation onto my skin, and topped it with a gentle blusher. When I mentioned my fear of dark circles under my eyes, she applied the Stroke Of Light Eye Brightener.
While she worked her magic, MUP asked me where I was studying. I rolled my eyes; oh here we go. “No,” I sighed. “I’m 33 and nice try!”
MUP looked very confused. “What?”
“Come on, you have to say like I look really young so I’ll be flattered and buy all your products! I know the drill.”
She stared at me in such a wide-eyed manner that I suspected she really might be that stupid. “No,” she said. “Really, are you in your 30s? How?”
You know full well that I’m in my 30s, I wanted to say, that’s why you’re using this make-up to cover all the AGEING.
Still, she seemed intrigued. We chatted about skin care as she worked her make-up magic, with me giving more guidance than she did. She apparently forgot she was working for BareMinerals and wanted to know all about my brands of choice, what methods I used, and when, and where, and why. I was a bit worried to be honest, and started to suspect my face would not look as polished as I’d hoped.
When the big reveal came, I was truly taken aback. The last time a Fenwicks MUP collared me (sadly from the usually reliable Clinique), they applied a powder so awful that I ended up looking both dead and furious all day.
This time…I was delighted. And no, I hadn’t just fallen for MUP’s flattery. The proof was in the
pudding that was my exceptionally lovely face. Natural and soft, with great coverage and a beautiful flush of colour on my cheeks. It had all the trappings of a liquid foundations topped with a dewy powder. The shade was spot on; even though this was technically the palest shade, it matched my skin tone and I did not look washed out or ghostly for a moment.
The little wand of shimmery eye goodness also worked wonders, and I snapped that up for £22 along with a pot of the foundation for £25 (£3 more than my usual, so not bad). I turned down the natural make-up brush (£24 was a bit steep), and the blusher as I have plenty of neglected pots at home.
For the rest of the day, I was thrilled when I caught a glimpse of myself in mirrors, shop windows, watch faces, strangers’ mobile phones. Whenever I’ve had my make-up done by pros, I do feel self-consciously ‘made up’. While this was possibly more coverage than I’d use during the day, I was still astounded at how natural and fresh it looked.
Added bonus? I saw my sister later that weekend, and she revealed she’d bought a pot of the Fair foundation by accident, and donated it to me. Two pots for the price of one. I am officially the king of make-up.
The Low Down
bareMinerals Original Foundation £25
bareMinerals Stroke Of Light Eye Brightener £22
Benefit Lemon Aid £16.50
Surprise Budget Buy of the Day
VO5 Pump It Up volume mousse
I wasn’t expecting much from this squirty cream style formula, but it gave my fine hair masses of bounce and body. My hair was so magnificent it made a grown man weep in the street. Currently £3.79 at Superdrug.