Saturday, 16 November 2013

Beauty Reads

I like reading beauty blogs as much as the next girl, but I'm a true bookworm at heart. And when I sometimes fancy neither staring at a screen for any longer nor reading a modern classic, one of the glossy-paged books on my beauty shelf (visible in my bedroom tour post) will fit the bill. After reading both Meg's post and Anna's post about their top beauty reads, I thought about my personal picks and compiled them here for you. From super-clean skincare to how to perfect the smokey eye, there's something for everyone.

The 5 Minute Face by American makeup maven Carmindy shows you that it is possible to achieve a flawless face in five minutes without the need for expensive eyeshadows; it's about using the right products in the right places. (Admittedly, it does take me a little longer because my skin isn't great but it's still shorter than my usual routine!) With tips on how to extend your daily makeup into a glamorous party look and wearing the most flattering shades for your skintone and age, this book is perfect for the everyday woman as Carmindy advises you on what makeup it is actually practical to wear - we all know that six shades of perfectly blended eyeshadow is just not going to happen on a weekday morning. It's actually really nice to rock a more pared-back look from time to time as you see that you don't really need to wear that much to look put-together. She also includes a shopping list at the back with high-end and budget product recommendations for every look in the book which is really handy, especially for Americans who can buy all of the products!

For really in-depth information about choosing and applying makeup, the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual is the one to read. Bobbi takes it back to the beginning with this one as she really goes into detail about how to choose the makeup that's perfect for you. This would actually be great to buy for an aspiring makeup artist as not only does Bobbi give advice on choosing the perfect foundation for your skin type and colouring, she also includes her tricks of the trade of how to break into the industry and the essential tools of a makeup artist's kit. All of the instructions are accompanied by really clear photos showing you the step-by-step process of each look so you can't really go wrong. This one is a bit beefier in terms of information than the one by Carmindy but it really worth reading in my opinion, especially as Bobbi Brown is one of the most illustrious makeup artists in the industry.

Finally onto skincare; I bought skin-savvy Liz Earle's Skin Secrets this year, a book in which she dispenses her knowledge on how to have naturally beautiful skin for your whole life. A bold statement, no? Before I read this book I had very little knowledge of the nitty-gritty details on skincare, from icky ingredients to the effect that eating certain foods has upon your skin - no, a Neutrogena face wash from Boots will not suffice. Liz singles out the chemicals you don't want on your skin and advises what you should be doing to take care of your skin in each stage of your life without it being too complicated. She also explains the importance of having a healthy lifestyle if you want good skin: you can't just rely on a good skincare regime if you want good skin, because you are what you eat and beauty comes from the inside (cringe). This book would be ideal for anyone who is a skincare novice as I was a few months ago who wants to overhaul their skincare routine.

What are your favourite beauty reads?

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Theatre Review: Frankenstein

For the people who saw the National Theatre's production of Frankenstein on the Southbank in 2011, I know I'm ridiculously late to the party but bear with me here. I finally got the chance to see it last week and I thought it was absolutely fantastic.

The production was directed by Danny Boyle which, although I didn't know this prior to seeing it, was unsurprising as it was very well done. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature during the show's original run - I saw it with Cumberbatch as Frankenstein and Miller as the Creature. I thought they were both so outstanding in their roles that I really couldn't imagine it the other way round, although I had friends who saw it that way round on the same night and they said the exact same thing. I was expecting Cumberbatch to be amazing because he always is but I had never seen Miller in anything before and I thought he was incredible. I really liked the set as well - there were loads of exposed lightbulbs hanging over the set which turned on and off at certain points which looked really cool. I didn't know the story of Frankenstein before watching it other than the man making a monster bit, but watching the play has really made me want to read the book because it had such a clever storyline. It managed to be shocking, heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one piece of theatre.

Anyway, the reason I came to see it two years late was because of a brilliant idea which I'm sure a lot of you will have heard of called National Theatre Live. I think basically the National Theatre appreciates that not everyone can get to the theatre in London for reasons of both cost and practicality, so they quite often have their productions showing at cinemas all around the country for a fraction of the price of a theatre ticket. Of course, it's not the same as going to the theatre but it really is the next best thing. They sometimes show productions live so the performance is actually happening in London as you are watching it in the cinema, but the showing of Frankenstein that I went to was what they called an encore performance whereby it is a recording of a live performance that has already happened. This is good as it means that you don't get to miss out on shows just because their run has finished in London.

I strongly recommend that you go and see this if you can. I see a lot of theatre so it takes a lot for me to say a production was brilliant, but this truly was. I've seen a couple of National Theatre productions (albeit none of them actually at the National Theatre!) and as you would expect, they are always of a very high standard. Seriously, get on it. If you are going to spend £15 on anything, make it this - you won't regret it.

Have any of you seen this?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Book Review: It

As I'm sure was the case for many young adult females, ubiquitous style icon Alexa Chung's coveted new book It dropped through my letterbox a few days ago. The rather ambiguous title seems to be referring to how Chung became an "It" girl, although she has the modesty not to state this in the book. Instead, she seems to infer it through the mood board-esque mishmash of doodles, polaroids and musings that the book is comprised of. I must admit, the relevance of some of the captionless photos is slightly questionable (the trolley full of pumpkins, for example), but I suppose they all reflect the little aspects of her character that make her It.

In my mind (and the mind of most other 18-30 women), Alexa Chung absolutely epitomises cool in terms of the clothes she wears: she consistently manages to perfect a preppy, slightly androgynous getup that always looks effortless. Unfortunately though, as she points out, "Looking effortless takes a lot of effort". The book is scattered with her own style inspirations, most of whom seem to be the It girls of the 60s: Jane Birkin, Twiggy, Charlotte Rampling.. and George Harrison. The latter is perhaps a slightly odd source of sartorial inspiration for a 21st century woman, but Chung stresses the importance of alluding to, not copying, these inspirations: "rather than literally ripping off a look and seeming as though I'm in fancy dress as a particular character, I manage to incorporate certain styles into my wardrobe in a more subtle way". Although this is by no means a definitive guide of how to dress like Alexa Chung, you definitely get a sense of what underpins her style in terms of her inspirations and her staple pieces. She also discusses what sparked her love for her signature cat-eye eyeliner and how she achieves her effortless bedhead hair.

What I was pleasantly surprised by was Chung as a character as opposed to just a style icon. I knew very little about her as a person before I read It but it seems that she possesses a personality equally as cool as her dress sense. She's not too worried about being cool though - she confesses to her love for for karaoke and says that "the more cheesy and awful the song is, the better". Her witty, dry sense of humour really comes across in her writing which is often tongue-in-cheek. Case in point: she includes an instructional guide on how to take the perfect selfie. She also touches on more personal issues such as heartbreak and musings from her childhood which is nice as they give some insight into her life and show that she also has to deal with the crappy things in life that the rest of us do! She discusses other extensions of her personality such as her eclectic taste in music and how the Spice Girls introduced her to the concept of feminism - I had no idea that she was a feminist so that made me pretty happy.

All in all, I think it's a fun, enjoyable read which I would definitely keep on my coffee table if I lived in a glamorous apartment in New York. If you are interested in Alexa Chung as an entity or as a style icon, it's definitely worth picking up.

Have any of you read It? (Ha ha.)

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