My Experience of Working Backstage at London Fashion Week

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LFW-Ong-Oaj-Pairam-AW15
Photo credit: Vogue.co.uk

LFW-Ong-Oaj-Pairam-AW15-2

So last Friday (February 20th) I had the crazy, whirlwind experience of being part of the makeup team for a show at London Fashion Week. It was an incredible experience and I wanted to share with you all what it's like to momentarily be in another world. I literally found out a week before that I was going so I didn't have much time to really panic or get nervous about it (how on earth did I get to go, you might be wondering - the head makeup artist Ariane Poole asked me and her friend and fellow makeup artist Jo Leversuch if we'd like to be part of the team!) The next thing I knew Friday was upon me and I was on the 7am train to London... was this really happening? I had to keep pinching myself.

The show I was working on was for the designer Ong-Oaj Pairam for his Autumn Winter 15 collection, held at The Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden. He's not at Somerset House yet but here's hoping because he is an incredible designer and his clothes are absolutely to die for. Everyone was just blown away by his collection; it all greys with rich purples, metallic greens, all different types of fabric and some seriously show stopping dresses that I could only dream of wearing. I can't do it justice in words so I'd urge you to check the collection out here but for now let's get back to the makeup. Ariane and the hair stylists came up with a late 70s/early 80s theme and so the makeup was far from shy and retiring - think matte red lips, heavy sculpting and a smoky, winged out 70s eye with a metallic green on the lid - it all worked so perfectly together.

Call time was at 1pm and we entered the big ole' room which was next door to the room where the runway was. It was all systems go and after a demonstration by Ariane and as soon as the models turned up (twenty female models and three males) we each (seven of us plus Ariane) got assigned one and began doing their makeup. Ok, now I was nervous. My first model was a gorgeous blonde girl - I'm ashamed to admit I don't even know which country she was from. I believe quite a few of them flew in from their home country and this was their first show, although you wouldn't know it. They were all so confident! My model just would not stop talking to her friend next to her and had a cold which made things slightly more difficult but you really just have to get on with it - you have roughly half an hour per model but let me tell you the time flies. Getting my speed up is something I really need to work on and I definitely took longer than I should have to do her makeup. The thing I learned about fashion shows is that it's less about precision and more about making sure that the makeup is really going to stand out on camera and on the catwalk, so I had to go much heavier on the contouring and eyeshadow. Thankfully my second model was a breeze in comparison - I just generally found her face easier to work on, isn't that weird?

Around this point there was a full dress rehearsal which we got to watch and when the models started coming out and when the music began I got shivers right through me. It was amazing. There were so many different people milling about and I had absolutely no idea who most of them were, although Ong's team wore t-shirts with #Ongtourage on the back (genius). At this point it was around 4:30, the show was due to start at five and the models' hair was still in rollers, there were models with their makeup half done and one model was still at another show so it was slight panic stations. At one point a model was having her makeup, hair and nails done at the same time. It was basically a case of grab a model when you could for last minute touch ups - it was interesting to learn that all the separate departments (hair, clothes and makeup) really do not work in unison together.

Five o' clock rolled around and still the show hadn't started. We were all backstage now knowing that everyone was waiting just outside. There were half-naked models everywhere getting into their clothes (you really can't be shy doing that job) and hair and makeup were making sure everything was absolutely perfect. Finally the show began and for all the mania backstage (I can't imagine what the bigger shows are like) it was all absolutely effortless and serene on the catwalk. By six o' clock, just half an hour later the culmination of everyone's hard work was over.

The icing on the cake was seeing all the tweets and write-ups flooding in after the show and seeing the models I made up on the Vogue website! The dream. It was truly a one of a kind experience and I'd love to be able to do it again, but even to say I've done it the once is good enough for me.

P.S. See if you can catch a glimpse of me in the second video below!


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February Favourites

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February-Favourites

Unlike last month this time round I've bought quite few new things and also rediscovered a couple of things which has made for easy pickings and felt like I've gone shopping for them when I haven't. Love that.

Let's begin with the one skincare item which is the Ilcsi Sour Cherry and Blackthorn Gel Mask. I'd never heard a thing about this before buying it but the description on Cult Beauty had me hooked (I swear that website could sell me anything).  A nourishing, glow enhancing, radiance boosting, dead skin shedding, inflammation reducing mask? Uh yeah, I'll take one please. It smells like marzipan, looks like jam and a thin layer over the face may look slightly scary but for soft, glowing skin post-removal it's worth it.

This past month or so I've really come round to foundation primers after years of not using them - I used to be obsessed with the Gosh Velvet Touch Foundation Primer back in my uni days but eventually I realised it wasn't actually a necessity and the idea that my skin needed it was mostly in my head. However... my skin's been drier than dry lately and all my foundations (yep, even my usual go-to Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum) have been dragging across my skin and clinging to all my dry patches *shudder*. In desperation I gave the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer a whirl and while I've been finding it helps in not only making my foundation go on a lot smoother but also after a couple of hours my foundation develops a really dewy glow which I love, love, love. Maybe it's an unintended side effect of the primer but anything that makes my skin look... well... the opposite of matte and dry is an absolute winner in my book.

My eyebrows are both the bane and love of my life. They're long, sparse and straggly but I absolutely love the process of filling them in and totally transforming them into brows I wish I had naturally (we can dream). So while I can fake them into looking good I still often find them halfway across my face due to their straggly nature (thanks Dad) so a good brow gel is a must. I've been through a lot of them over the years but in terms of keeping them locked down the Tweezerman Brow Mousse is the best I've found yet; it keeps them exactly where you want them without any of the flakiness or crunchiness. It's a simple ask but one a lot of brow gels don't deliver on - thankfully Tweezerman is the King (/Queen/whatever) of all things eyebrows.

If you've followed my ramblings for a while you might know that I've never really been a fan of the much-loved Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer. Well, I might just have to eat my words as since my second tube of Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer bit the dust (RIP) I've turned to the Collection one and hey, it's actually pretty good. OK so it's not on the same level as my beloved Nars - it doesn't have that amazing creamy feeling, it doesn't blend as well and and I don't think it has quite the same level of coverage but it is a good - and much, much cheaper  - alternative, at least for the time being.

You know how much I love a nude pink lip, combine this with one of my favourite formulas courtesy of the Bourjois Colour Boost lip crayons and there you have one stick of wonderfulness. The shade Proudly Naked is the newest addition to the family; the sheer and glossy formula makes it perfect for that 'throw on and go' thing while the subtle pink colour keeps things looking polished. In short, I love it and it's became my go-to whether that be on its own or over a lip pencil for a little oomph.
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Haircare from Kebelo

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Kebelo-Haircare

You know what's an amazing feeling? Getting offered products exactly when you need them most. Look Fantastic seem to have a knack for this, first with the Cloud Nine Touch straighteners and then with some nourishing haircare right when my locks were going through a really bizarre patch; think snapped hair, overly greasy roots and dry, dry ends. I was basically at my wits end and when that happens the only thing for it is usually the hairdressers (which happened) but really chopping it off can only do so much - sometimes it just needs a little TLC.

The hopeful saviour in question was Kebelo, a relatively new haircare brand which uses a blend of science and nature in its formulations; it's all SLS free, paraben free and uses ingredients like Quinoa, Argan oil and Guar sugar to name just a few. There's different lines available depending on your hair type - I went for the Enriching range of products as although my hair isn't coarse and not necessarily naturally dry I really just needed to get a whole heap of moisture and nourishment into my shabby looking hair.

Having used the products solidly for a good couple of months now I feel I'm now at a point where I can finally give them a proper review and am starting with the Enriching Shampoo*. First things first, while Kebelo proudly claim that it's SLS free it does instead contain TEA-Lauryl Sulfate which acts as the foaming agent. I've done some googling on this ingredient and to be honest there's not a lot of information out there and where there is it's conflicting - from what I can gather it's a slightly more gentle alternative... but I wouldn't take my word for it. What I can say with confidence is that it does feel different to an ordinary shampoo as when it's first massaged it in it doesn't lather that well so I have to have a quick rinse through, add more and this is when it creates that really rich, creamy lather full of tiny little bubbles which makes it feel different from your average and like it's actually nourishing the hair rather than stripping it. Because it's designed for dry, coarse hair I was half expecting it to leave everything looking really really limp and lifeless but somehow the opposite is true and every time I use it after I've blow dried my hair it's full of volume and bounce. How and why I don't know but it's a side effect I'm very thankful for. I'm happy to report that the Clarifying Shampoo* (not part of the Enriching range) doesn't need to be applied twice to get a good lather and is a fabulous product for detoxing the hair every couple of weeks - it's something that was really lacking in my haircare routine.

The Enriching Conditioner* is another one that feels different from your usual. This doesn't contain any silicones at all - there's just nothing ending in -cone in the ingredients list and this means that it doesn't have that silky, glide through the hair feeling that I'm used to. But there's a very good reason for this. The second ingredient is (wait for it) Behentrimunium Chloride which actually penetrates the hair shaft as opposed to just coating it (like a silicone would) meaning that it actually works to genuinely condition the hair unlike a lot of conditioners. For me this is one of those products that doesn't give immediate gratification - like I said there's none of that silky feeling - but I know that in the long run it's doing a lot of good for my hair, kind of in the way that heat defense sprays do.

The final product in the range is the Enriching Masque*, which - like a clarifying shampoo - is another product that was very much missing from my haircare routine (did I ever tell you I was rubbish with my hair? I'm working on it). Unlike the conditioner this does contain dimethicone although it's way down on the ingredients list. To use you shampoo and rinse as normal, apply the mask all through the hair, leave for five to ten minutes, rinse, apply conditioner and rinse again. Sounds like a bit of a faff, I know, and it's definitely not something I can be bothered to do weekly as suggested (and not something that's necessary for my hair type) but monthly I can get on board with  it knowing that I'm doing my hair a whole lot of good.

The big question would be whether hair has actually improved and gotten less dry since using the Enriching range and, well, I would actually say yes but I have also had quite a bit chopped off so that obviously contributes a lot. Even still just the knowledge that I'm looking after my hair in using these products is good enough for me and it's definitely filled in the haircare part of my routine that was lacking. Prices sit around the £13-£15 mark per product but you can get them in sets (The Ultimate Enriching Set* making them cheaper - the Enriching range comes in at £29.85 from Look Fantastic making it a tenner less than buying everything separately. If like me you have dry hair that needs a little TLC it might be worth looking into. Plus, they look incredibly pretty sat in the bathroom. It all counts, right?
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Soar Lip Liner and Why MAC Lip Pencils are the Best

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MAC Soar Lip Liner
MAC Soar Lip Pencil, MAC Spice Lip Pencil

It took me a long time to finally get my hands on MAC Soar lip pencil. Thanks to the Kylie Jenner effect a lot of the popular shades (Spice, Whirl etc.) are now really difficult to get hold of but after stalking the MAC website for a few weeks it eventually came back in stock and I made it mine in record speed.

First things first, Soar isn't really a nude. I mean it does work as a nude if applied lightly enough but it's so pigmented that it quickly builds up to be a colour in its own right which is how I prefer to wear it. I actually bought Faux lipstick to wear over the top but I find everything becomes just too cool and ashy looking - the mauve tone of Faux looks much prettier on its own, in my opinion (although I will be seeing what it's like paired with Rimmel Eastend Snob).

Soar is a cool, dusky deep pink-mauve colour that I don't have anything remotely similar to; it's really flattering with my colouring and I can see it working for a lot of people despite its cool-ness as it has a lot of depth to it and some rosiness that keeps it from being too ashy. Like all MAC lip pencils (ok so the only other one I own is Spice but still) it's super pigmented, creamy, non-drying (although be sure to apply a lip balm first) and long lasting.

In short, MAC lip pencils are the best I've ever used. I love that they're an actual pencil and not twist-up; they last forever not just in terms of longevity on the lips but in terms of the physical product itself, partly because the entire thing is made up of the actual product (no sneaky casing to hide how much you do, or don't get) and partly because they're so pigmented that it's not very often you need to dig the sharpener out. The colour selection is what clinches it for me though - the colours are all just so good. So so good. There's a reason everyone's gone a bit crazy for them. Combine all of this with a really perfect formula and on your hands you have what amounts to the best lip pencils ever. Charlotte Tilbury who..?
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New Things and First Impressions

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Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, Bourjois, Soap & Glory

I been shoppiiin', what's new. Gotta feed that addiction, you know? I didn't even try to reign it in (although I was looking at the Real Techniques Bold Metals brushes and there was no chance I was spending £25 quid on one. Nuh uh).

The first purchase was a necessity as I'm literally scraping round the edges of my tube of Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. Lots and lots of people have said that Maybelline Fit Me is similar so I picked up Light, the palest shade available and guess what. It's too dark. Damnit. Every. Damn. Time. You just cannot trust that artificial lighting. I've discovered that a much lighter shade Fair exists which is more akin to Chantilly from Nars only with more of a pink undertone. Still, I have been using it here and there and I find it's less thick and more liquidy than Nars' but still feels creamy. Once I eventually track down the right shade for me I have a feeling I'm going to like it, a lot.

You all know of my unyielding, undying love for Soap & Glory Solar Powder so I figured maybe I'll love some of their other powder products too, although maybe not on quite the same level. I've previously used up One Heck of a Blot which I thought was ok and am now giving Glow All Out, a 'super-luminizing highlighting powder' a whirl. My makeup is all about the glow at the best of times but moreso in these cold winter months it really needs every little bit of help. Glow All Out is a peachy-pink powder with very fine shimmer; I'm thinking it should probably be marketed at a straight up highlighter than powder as I can't really see myself swirling it all over my face no matter how much I like some glow. 

I'm kinda digging primers recently after discovering the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer and seeing the Bourjois Happy Light Luminous Serum Primer sat there lookin' all pretty and touting the words illuminating, hydrating and smoothing it was a no-brainer instant purchase. The pink-toned primer doesn't feel siliconey on the skin (in fact silicones are right at the bottom of the ingredients list) nor does it have an ounce of shimmer but it does still manage to smooth things out and keep things hydrated. At £11 for 15mls it doesn't come cheap and the jury's still out - mostly because I really, really love the Laura Mercier primer and it'll be pretty difficult to beat (more on that soon).

I spotted the new Colorband eyeshadow and liner sticks also from Bourjois and gravitated towards Rose Fauviste, an incredibly pretty almost pink-bronze colour that admittedly will suit a warmer complexion much more than my cool one. These things are waterproof and smudge proof and while they do crease after a while - without a primer - you won't find them fading away (trying to rub off a swatch on the back of my hands proves very difficult). I'm not sure I love this but that's mostly because of the colour I picked; it is very, very pretty but it doesn't work perfectly with my colouring.

I might have saved the best 'til last with this one. It was spend £15 and get any lip product for free on Bourjois makeup so naturally I looked straight over at the Color Boost lip crayons. I love these little sticks of goodness; Peach on the Beach was basically all I wore on my lips last summer. Proudly Naked is a new shade to the line and oh my goodness I am already in love with it. It's a darker, muted pink colour in a sheer, glossy formula that translates on the lips as a true 'my lips but better' shade (I know that phrase is done to death but it's true). I'm really over the light pink lip look at the minute (think MAC Creme Cup) and am loving anything that makes my lips have a bit more 'oomph' and depth to them. Proudly Naked is subtle but oh so beautiful and a very welcome addition to my daily makeup drawer.

So I think that's me staying away from Boots for a while as I've definitely satisfied my cravings - for the time being at least.
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