Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Bathroom bail out

In Beauty, Cosmetics, De-cluttering, Grooming, Make up on July 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm


My kitchen cupboard asset stripping continues. Meanwhile I’ve started a similar assault on another area: the bathroom cupboards. So I was delighted to read the comments from Anne Louise who is doing exactly the same thing.

It made me feel better that I’m not the only one with outrageous amounts of toiletries stashed away.

One of the great advantages of working on magazines as I did, back in the day, was all the amazing beauty samples that were sent in. When I was sharing a flat in Elizabeth Bay with my adored make up artist pal Christian McCulloch we had so much product between us it had its own dedicated floor-to-ceiling cupboard outside the bathroom which we called ‘Chemist Shop’.

I still have a Chemist Shop, although I haven’t worked in the offices of a magazine or newspapers for over 12 years. A lot of it comes from my best friend, eminent beauty writer Josephine Fairly of Beauty Bible fame (see here *

Jo’s always giving me gorgeous products to try – particularly rosacea treatments – and sometimes I get to be one of her official testers when they are collecting the data for a product-rating update, which is great fun and free samples-tastic.


Then there’s judging the Procter & Gamble Beauty Awards, which I’ve done three times now, and always brings in loads more goodies (including supplies of my favourite Aussie Mega Shampoo Three Minute Miracle conditioner, hurrah).

Add to that gifts-with-purchase and my compulsion to take all the hotel toiletries home with me (I reckon I’ve paid for them, even if I don’t use them in situ…) and that’s a lot of beauty supplies.

The thing is that I’ve always thought an oversupply of these is lot harder to use up or pass on than food, clothes, books, kitchenware etc. Can you give away a beauty product that’s been opened, unless it’s to a family member or very close friend?

I’ve always thought not, so I was thrilled when a @KateTallant responded to my first version of this post on Twitter and told me about this brilliant initiative donating unwanted beauty products to women in need via the charities Refuge and Women’s Aid. They will happily take items that have been ‘lightly used’.

I did find a similarly useful way to strip down my vast hotel mini toiletries collection. I had a whole drawer stuffed with them, squirrelled away for use on short trips, or to put out for overnight guests. But they were so crammed in and jumbled up, it would take me ages to find what I needed.

So when I took a stall to sell stuff at a vintage fair thingo and I went through the entire stash, keeping only the ones I really like and will take away for short trips. I then filed all those in zip lock bags under ‘hair’ ‘cleaner’ ‘skin’ ‘teeth’ etc. It was very anal – and took a whole Sunday afternoon – but it left me with a very satisfyingly need drawer which has made getting ready to go on a trip so much quicker.

The rest I sorted into small ziplock bags, about five products in each, put them all in a nice basket and sold them on the stall for £1 each in aid of the women’s domestic abuse charity Refuge. I made over £20 and gave the ones that were left to a friend who works with women artisans in Morocco.

So that was a feel-good way of clearing some of the bathroom clutter, but a lot remains. The only thing to do will be to spend another afternoon going through the lot.


I think I’ll sort it first into Opened and Unopened. Then I’ll have to make the tough decision to bin the Opened stuff that is too old, or too used to give away. The unopened will divide into own future use and give away.

Then I won’t buy any more until I’ve used what I’ve got. If it’s anything like the kitchen experience, that will be quite a while…

Does anyone know if there are any initiatives to Give and Make Up in Australia? I’d like to put the word out.

*Have a look at Jo’s amazing new venture The Perfume Society. Australian readers can’t subscribe (yet…), but you can still look at a lot of the site. If you’re a fragrance hound, it’s an amazing resource.

A note about the pictures: These shots were taken from the My Beauty Stash section on the brilliant website Get The Gloss. The top one is Glamour magazine’s beauty director Alessandra Steinherr; the middle is make up artist Ruby Hammer and the bottom one is UK Grazia’s beauty director Liz Hambleton with her major stash. It’s a great feature on this terrific beauty site.

Make Up Top Up

In Beauty, Make up, Shopping on July 4, 2014 at 9:59 am


On Monday morning I have a very delicious appointment. I’m going to meet myself in Selfridges beauty hall – one of my favourite places on the planet – and do a make-up bag re-stock. All at once I’ve run out of several of my key items and I can’t function without them.

Here’s my shopping list – and why, plus number of times I’ve bought each product.




Clinique Chubby Stick in Bountiful Blush
Chubby Sticks are the greatest thing to happen to lips since kissing. They give your smooch just enough colour to look dressed, but it slicks on like a lip balm, leaving no hard lines, so you don’t need to use a mirror to reapply. I have three shades, but this is my everyday Chubby, which I never leave the house without.

Purchase number: 4







contcntc613043198-nocolourChantecaille cream blush in Shy
I love cream blush. It gives a much more attractive glow than powdery old powder. This colour is a perfect natural bloom and goes on very lightly for easy blending without skin dragging. I also like the way you buy the outer compact – called ‘The Pebble’ – the first time and then just replace the disc of colour.

Purchase number: 3

(Actually I’ve just remembered they don’t stock this brand in Selfridges, so I’ll have to go to my very favourite store, Fenwick, a very dangerous place for me to enter, particularly if I go near the costume jewellery area…)





21vIbS38HcLFrancois Nars Larger than Life Long-Wear eyeliner in Madison Avenue
Isn’t it funny to think that a few years ago none of us ever wore eyeliner? I’ve always had a liquid liner in my make up drawer for special effects, but it was Amy Winehouse who brought it back for every day wear.

As I said in an earlier post about Mary Berry’s brilliant eye make up, I think it does particular favours for the older, more hooded eye and I never leave the house without it now, in various degrees, from the subtle definition to the full Elvis-era Priscilla Presley. For special occasions I have a Guerlain gold eyeliner which gives a fabulous effect.

I have liquids, gels and various kinds of pencil, but this soft push up crayon in slate grey is my go-to favourite. You can control the thickness and intensity of the line with no dragging of the delicate-eye-area and the grey gives a much more subtle effect than black.

I don’t do brown make up in any context.

Purchase number: 2




Bare Minerals, mineral make up in Medium Beige in the big 18g pot with a nice gold lid
This powder foundation actually changed my life. I still don’t quite understand how, but it completely covers my raised and blotchy rosacea skin without making me look and feel like I’m wearing some kind of suffocating mask.

It also acts as a non-chemical sunscreen, which is great as nothing makes my skin flare up more badly than the chemical kind (in fact, I think wearing that on my face every day for years was what caused it, but that’s just my theory).

I have lost track of how many of these I’ve bought, but this will be my second of the lovely big pots which look so glam on the dressing table.

Purchase number: 10? 12?


bare-mascara_300Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara in Jet Black
I’m so bewildered by the constant barrage of claims made by beauty companies about mascara, I made a mascara launch part of the plot in my last novel Everything Changes But You (the heroine is a beauty editor…)

In my experience every volumising, length-doubling, thickening, luxuriating wonder mascara does the same thing: makes my eyelashes go into big ugly clumps like tarantula legs. Then it fills my eyes with lots of gritty little filaments.

I do have a Francois Nars Larger Than Life Lengthening Mascara which I use for big special-occasion make-up looks, but for every day I just want one which will coat my lashes with black and make them look more distinct. Clinique’s Naturally Glossy is that mascara.

Purchase number: 20? Lost count years ago.







There’s one other thing I’m going to treat myself to on my beauty spree, which is a new product: Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Kate’ lipstick. A make up artist used this on me recently and I really loved the effect. I have quite a small mouth and this colour made it look much more voluptuous and I felt quite the (ageing disgracefully…) rock chick babe.

Here’s a link how to get this look.


Now tell me, what are your beauty repeat buys?

PS If you love the make up bag at the top – you can buy one here. Although after planning to buy them (she does other great slogans too, such as ‘New York is my boyfriend’) for all my girlfriends, I decided the postage cost is a bit steep.


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