The Beauty Roundup #2

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Beauty News

Charlotte Tilbury vs Aldi

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Charlotte Tilbury won a legal battle against Aldi this week. She accused them of copying one of her best selling products after they released a £6.99 “dupe”. A judge ruled that that products were too similar, and as you can see from the picture, Aldi may have taken it a step too far this time. I never know how to feel about dupes: on the one hand, I respect companies that make good quality cosmetics and I am more than happy to pay for a product that works; on the other hand, though, I do think the majority of available products on the market are overpriced and therefore not accessible to everyone. Brands such as The Inkey List or The Ordinary have been applauded for playing their part in “the democratisation of skincare” and I am all for that. Why shouldn’t you be able to get cosmetics that work on a budget? Most of the time, I’m not mad at brands like Aldi when they launch a cheaper version of a cult product. I think the issue here is - and other brands such as Makeup Revolution are guilty of this as well at times - any brand in the world can come up with their version of a highlighter palette or glycolic acid toner and sell it for a cheap as they like. But by packaging it in a way that will not-so-subtly remind prospective customers of existing (and possibly more expensive) products is a cheap marketing ploy and takes away from what could quite possibly be a great product in its own right. I for one can vouch for the quality of Makeup Revolution shadows, highlighters and blushers. They’re some of the best I own. They just *happen* to be extremely affordable and I love them for it. And this is the exact reason why I can’t understand why they, or Aldi, even bother with pushing the whole “dupe” thing when it comes to the packaging of certain products because the quality speaks for itself, when given the chance.

 
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Pat McGrath Labs Launches Foundation

I’m not gonna lie, you guys, when I got the email last month that announced not one, but three complexion products would be released by Pat McGrath, I almost wet my pants. Of course I signed up to the mailing list for notifications but I missed out on the first wave release because I decided to wait and get shade matched. Needless to say I was devastated. Then I was pissed because the price went up for the second wave. But, nevertheless, I caved and made the purchase because, let’s face it, I was not going to miss out on the foundation drop of the year. And of course I purchased the whole system because it’s Pat McGrath, for sobbing out loud. I’ve tried to stay away from reading/watching other reviews because I want to be able to make up my own mind, pardon the pun. That said I have heard chatter that this is more of a second-skin foundation rather than the avante guard, high-fashion, full coverage foundation I was expecting it to be. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be great, though. Stay tuned for a full, detailed review where I will, without a doubt, break down if the goods are worth the coins. Because they cost a LOT of coins.

 

What I’m Loving: Independent Curly Hair Brands

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For me, there’s nothing more beautiful than people being the change they want to see in the world. And nothing speaks more to that than the founders of beauty brands that create space in the market for groups that have long been overlooked, or looked down upon, because of far too narrow beauty standards. If you do not belong to a marginalised group, you may look at the shelves upon shelves of haircare available to you in your local supermarket or pharmacy and roll your eyes at why I am excited whenever a new curly brand launches. That is probably because variety and choice have never been in short supply to you.

Curly hair brands have a special place in my heart because they have created a new normal: formulating products that encourage people to embrace their big and bold, kinky and curly locks rather than treating textured hair as something that is “other” and something to be tamed. Antidote Street, a website dedicated to showcasing and selling brands that specialise in curly hair, recently held a Hair Lab event that I went to. While there, I was able to get my hands on a number of products I’d been wanting to try for a while, as well as a few I’d never heard of. I plan to do individual POTW posts for each of them once I’ve had a chance to get familiar with how they work for me, but for now, here are my first impressions.

1. Dizziak Deep Conditioner, 200ml £22

A moisturising hair mask created by Londoner, Loretta De Feo, who couldn’t find the product she was looking for within the existing market so she made it herself. Boom. That’s what I’m talking about. They also recently launched in Selfridges, which I’m more than impressed by. C’mon mainstream markets! First impressions: Dizziak is a a thick and creamy conditioning mask that has a strong, almost medicinal, minty smell. I’ve only used it the once so far but it detangled my curls by itself, with little-to-no effort from my actual fingers, which just slid through them like they were butter. Even after rinsing, my hair felt moisturised, like I had already put a curl cream in it.

2. Skimdo Original Cream, 250ml £45

A 3-in-1 curl cream that boasts 7 day hold and hydration as well as the almost unbelievable ability to replace all of your other curl products. Created by London-born founder Kim Cowans, Skimdo already has quite the cult following both in the UK and across the pond in the States. First impressions: this is a really beautiful curl cream that doesn’t weigh hair down at all. I’m not quite convinced that it will keep my curls on-and-poppin’ for a whole week, though. Or that it is enough on its own. I’ll have to give it a try in varying quantities and really live in it before I can give it a fair verdict.

3. Holy Curls 03 Cream & 04 Gel, 300ml £18 each

This was a brand that was introduced to me for the first time at the Antidote Street Hair Lab. From what I understand, they are London based and pretty new to the game so, welcome! They do four products that form a complete curl care system: shampoo, conditioner, cream and gel. As I already have a ton of shampoo I don’t use enough of, I just purchased the styling products. I’m also of the opinion that styling/leave-in products are the best way to measure the quality of a hair care brand. I usually start there and then go back for cleansing products if I’m impressed. First Impressions: as I type this, I have literally just used the Holy Curls products for the first time. Without having the second day hair test, I can only say so much, but I will say that they smell nice and fruity and my hair is light and bouncy. My only concern is that my hair is a bit too light and bouncy and won’t last the full 7 days I need it to - that’s generally how I measure if a curl brand works for me as I try not to wash my hair more frequently than that, to avoid increased dryness. But for now, I can say I’m impressed by the lack of frizz and the curl definition the duo has given me. I’ll report back.

4. Jim + Henry ‘Eight’ Leave-In Conditioner, 500ml - £23.50

Based in Birmingham, Jim + Henry is a minimalistic, vegan brand that uses environmentally friendly glass packaging. Each of their products is aptly named after the number of ingredients it contains. My first question (as always, when it comes to ‘natural’ brands) was about preservatives as there are only 8 ingredients in this to begin with. I don’t want my cosmetics going mouldy in between uses, thank you very much. But Jim + Henry are sensible enough to preserve their products and are completely transparent about what they use, and where there ingredients are sourced. Refreshing. Of the lot, this is the one product I am yet to try - this is because I try really hard not to over wash my hair - no matter how eager I am to try out new purchases. First impressions: it has an earthy smell, like with Dizziak, almost medicinal. It looks like a sturdy, rich cream but feels much lighter and has a whipped texture. The brand does not offer a gel, which I usually use as a final step to seal and hold my curls, but I’m tempted to use this on its own and see how it fares. Stay tuned.

All of the products mentioned above can be purchased at antidotestreet.com

Full Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Antidote Street. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can purchase these products from each of the brands’ individual websites. But, seriously, shop at Antidote Street. Because they’re awesome, they ship worldwide, and they’ve created a great space for curlies and deserve our support. And please note: I take product reviews very seriously and my opinions will always be honest, irrespective of any affiliations.

The Hair Lab

Circling back to the event I went to, the Antidote Street Hair Lab was such a cool space. The highlight of my month so far, actually. I booked an appointment at the braid bar and had my hair done by the amazing Brianna from Simply Gorgeous Hair Salon. I met some amazing, incredibly passionate and knowledgable women. One big takeaway was some advice from a trichologist cautioning against the over-use of oil in haircare regimens because, in excess it can act as a barrier to hydration (counter-intuitive, I know) and clog the follicles, impacting hair growth. My friends and I also won the treasure hunt and won a bunch of Jessicurl goodies along with a few other cool curl related items. The Lab came in the form of a travelling hair bus, and stopped at several locations around London, across the space of a week. Desperate for a repeat experience, I have been on their case for round two. I’ve also made the suggestion that they expand the tour to other UK locations where their expertise would be more than welcome. So fear not, curlies of the north, I’ve got your back!

 

Makeup & Mental Health

This is a new feature that I hope to continue throughout all of my roundups. The idea of this segment is to check in with how I’m doing and report on ways I have been working on myself and keeping myself well. Poor mental health is something that so many of us experience, but so few talk about because there is still so much stigma. Sometimes it will be directly related to beauty and sometimes it will just be solely about mental health. Of course, given that this is a beauty blog, I will do my best to create an obvious through-line. For me, the two are very connected because self-esteem and beauty norms/ideals can become incredibly entangled. Sometimes in good ways and sometimes in bad. Skincare and makeup are a big part of my wellness, as shallow as that may seem to some. When I am really depressed, I tend to self-neglect and so getting into a rigorous routing both morning and night has taught me self care and discipline in ways I never thought I’d be able to maintain for myself long-term. My routine gives me a sense of achievement: twice a day I can tick a chore off the list. And it feels good. I feel well. Maybe not so shallow after all, huh?

So this month, I want to talk about jealousy. I’ve had this thing recently (or maybe it’s been a lot longer than that), where, when I see someone I know, or used to know, doing well at something we used to do together, or something that I am good at but haven’t had any success doing, it really stings. Like, I’m happy for them but what seems to override that happiness is an overwhelming feeling of failure on my part. So I suppose it goes beyond me being jealous of what they have accomplished and becomes more about my frustration with myself. Success is hard. Success when you have depression can seem almost impossible. It’s not impossible though, is it? There are definitely things I am successful at. So why do I completely forget all of those things as soon as I learn of someone else’s success?

I think a lot of it has to do with how we measure success. Is it money? A job title? Number of Instagram followers? These are the markers of success, for sure, but they’re not the only ones. And I think that is what I struggle to hold on to in hard times. “Focusing on the negatives” is what they call this kind of thinking in CBT. And I do that more than I’d care to admit. So what I’m working on this month is trying to separate good things other people achieve from negative thoughts I have about my own short comings. Then once I’ve done that, with a bit of luck I’ll be able to pinpoint the ways I feel I’m underperforming and work out how to improve. Or better yet, pay more attention to the things I’m doing well. Like finishing this blog post, for instance.

To tie this whole thing together and bring it back to beauty, learning how to apply makeup was a skill I used to be very envious of in others and it made me so insecure that I would tell myself (and others) that I was the kind of girl that didn’t need to wear makeup to feel confident. And it’s true, I didn’t need it. But I wanted to wear it sometimes. So, one day I just decided to start learning how to do it myself in a way that made sense to me. And I did. I’m not a pro or anything and I won’t be filming tutorials on youtube any time soon, but I can hold my own, for sure. I’ve gotten myself to the point now where, when I see a makeup look I like online or on social media, I have the confidence and skill level to attempt my own version of that.

Here is a bit of makeup I’m particularly proud of, inspired by a look created using the Natasha Denona Star Palette, which was recently declared as “the palette that can do it all” by Selfridges for their 2019 Beauty Awards. I do not own the Star Palette (yet) as it is beyond expensive. Instead, I achieved this look using various, somewhat cheaper, palettes from my personal collection. It’s not the same, but I did a bloody good job, I think. I reckon next time I’ll need to go in with a more mauve shade in the crease and a taupe shade on the lid. Not bad for a first attempt, though!

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Thanks for reading! Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions about any of the things I have discussed here. Let me know if there are any products you would like me to review.

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