Beauty, Betsy Loves

The 10 looks of Charlotte Tilbury

I love make up. I love discovering new make up. I love discovering new make up brands. I love it all, ok? I was already aware of Charlotte Tilbury, after all, she’s hung out with Kate Moss and co. and then last year she launched her eponymous make up range and she went global. For good reason. Here’s why:

Charlotte had already masterminded Tom Ford’s brilliant make up range.

She branded brilliantly with glamorous gorgeous 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s inspired packaging. What woman wouldn’t want to whip out a rose gold lipstick bullet? Or a gold compact that harks back to those inlayed with enamel? Genius.

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She’s created a range of foolproof eye make up that works with your eye colour, e.g. two eye crayons for blue eyes, two for brown, two for hazel and two for green.

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She’s appealing to the busy woman with multi-use products, e.g. Filmstars On The Go – a compact with two cream shades – one for eyes, and one for cheeks and lips.Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 21.09.10

But the biggest seller for me are her ten looks. In a nutshell, she’s created ten distinct make up looks (a wardrobe of looks, in her words) from the rock chick to the ingénue, each with their own toolkit you can buy to recreate the looks, and each with options to play down the look for the day or ramp it up for the evening. Now that really is genius. Genius marketing that is. And a genuine brainwave.


In a video interview with Sali Hughes (sorry, I know I bang on about her, but she is good) she lets viewers behind the scenes, and even in her own dressing room, she has a drawer with ten labelled make up bags, and depending on her mood, her day, the weather, you name it, she picks her look, opens her chosen bag and wham bam thank you mam, she’s sorted. It’s such a clever idea, and let’s face it, you don’t always want to wear the same make up day in day out, and sometimes, if you do, five years down the line, you realise your look is ageing and passé.

If I had the money, I’d buy every single look Charlotte Tilbury has; actually, that’s a lie, I’m not a fan of The Glamour Muse (I didn’t include the picture so you’ll have to hunt for that one I’m afraid) with its dramatic purple eye shadow, but all the other ones, yes, please. My favourites have to be The Rock Chick (centre) and The Ingénue (top left), but I’m liking The Uptown Girl (top right) too.

However, until I can afford those lovely bags, I’ll continue to consult the look cards that her make up stand cleverly stocks and do my level best to recreate the looks with the make up I already have. And as soon as something runs out in my current make up bag, I know where I’ll be heading.

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Beauty, Betsy Loves

Continuing a trend – new hair!

The other day I had my hair done. Why? Because I wanted to, but also, because of my new job. I’ve already said that I think having a new wardrobe helps you get into your new role, well, I think a new haircut can do that too. So off I toddled to the hairdresser with an iPhone full of pictures for inspiration. Just so you know, this is what it used to look like. That’s to say, it’s shoulder length in a medium blonde with a fringe.


I decided I wanted to go blonder (think platinum) and shorter (a chin grazing blunt cut). I think platinum looks amazing on shorter hair, and hopefully the shorter cut would give me some much needed volume. These pictures were my inspiration (of course, it doesn’t hurt that Dianna Agron, Pixie Lott, Emily Weiss and all the others are gorgeous).


Now on to the cut and colour itself. I see a great stylist at Westrow in York, and she gently broke my dreams of platinum. Most hairdressers are reluctant to bleach the crap out of your hair, and that, my dears, is basically the only way to get this blonde. I’ve been this blonde before but it hurt (actually physically hurt – think bleeding scalp) to get that blonde so I wasn’t entirely heartbroken so be told ‘no’. And hey, if I change my mind and set my heart on it at a later date, I’ll just have to find some unscrupulous so and so.

After the initial colour (still bleach, but just not as much), and then toner so it stayed that clean white blonde (rather than a warm golden one), and it was time for the cut. I think she did a great job, and once I’d got home and styled it myself (I hate it when the ends curl under, it makes me feel really old!), I think I see potential. Hopefully it will help me get in and stay in my new headspace.

What do you think? An improvement?



Beauty, Betsy Loves

In search of thicker fuller hair

I have a dream. A dream of having Blake Lively’s hair.


Not her actual hair because that would be weird, creepy and stalker-y. But an identical version attached to my own head. Thick, lush, long blonde hair that screams for a shampoo advert and lots of hair swooshing. Her hair is the stuff of dreams. Oh, wait. I’ve already said that. The sad thing is that’s exactly where it’s going to stay. I’ve done my best to emulate this hair and have failed on so many levels. I even resorted to VASTLY overpriced hair extensions which resulted in my graduation photos featuring a Malibu Barbie version of myself and a very stressful camping experience, and ended in Momma P and I pulling them out with pliers. Really. Don’t judge me too harshly. It was a long time ago, ok?


I’ve now finally resigned myself to the fact that I will never have the hair of my dreams, but I can still work with the hair that I have. And to do that, I need products. Really good products.

In the past I’ve used Bumble & bumble’s Thickening Spray, and actually it was pretty good, although perhaps it added more texture than volume, but I feel that’s half the battle, however, it’s not cheap so I was looking for a more affordable option.

1197940_fpx.tifMy beauty guru, Sali Hughes, recommended L’Oreal Elvive’s Fibrology Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner. They also do a masque and a serum. And they’re easily purchased from Boots and aren’t too expensive. Excellent. And from first use, they appeared to have good results. Not Dolly Parton-esque poofy hair. Not crispy bouffant hairsprayed hair. But bouncy, soft, bigger hair. But then I noticed that after a few washes, when I brushed my wet hair, quite a few strands were being left on my comb. In fact, more strands than usual. I did some googling, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. So that was the end of that. I’m not saying that it will make your hair fall out. I’m not even saying that it was making my hair fall out. Maybe it was a coincidence. But that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.


Another recommendation came in the form of Swell Advanced Volumising Shampoo, Conditioner and Root Complex Spray. I was lucky enough to be gifted a travel size set and I confidently toddled into the shower clutching my booty (no, not that booty!). But yet again, I was doomed to failure. The products smelled delicious, but you’re advised to use very little, and I found I wasn’t getting the lather that I like from my shampoo. I’m sure lather is actually caused by chemicals that are terribly bad for you, but hey, I like a lather, ok? Also, I can’t say I noticed a great difference. Not really.


And so on to another ‘drugstore’ (what is the English equivalent to this? Pharmacy? High street?) buy – John Frieda’s range of Luxurious Volume. Take your pick from shampoo, conditioner, mousse, hairspray and blow dry lotion. I know. That’s a lot of products. I plumped for shampoo, conditioner and the lotion. The result? I got the lather I wanted. And I guess I got a bit of volume, but nothing to write about (except, wait, oh…).

2013_LV_LineupI was chatting to my hairdresser, and she recommended L’Oreal Professionnel’s new range – Serioxyl Fuller Hair. It’s actually formulated for hair that’s thinning or even dropping out which I don’t actually need (no thanks to you, Elvive!) but obviously thinning hair needs volume, and so fine hair can benefit too. I bought the kit which had a shampoo, conditioner and mousse, and let me tell you, they smell AMAZING!!! Like seriously super duper amazing. And they have an option for coloured hair. And they lather. And they seem to work. Again not intense insane 80s power volume hair; not a really dramatic effect but a noticeably thicker swishier effect. And did I mention they smell amazing? So far, I’ve been using them for a week, and I’ve not been picking any more hair from my comb either, so that’s a win. It might not be the holy grail, but I’m happy to stick with it for now.

712eo1Vq4YL._SL1358_But let me just say that nothing, and I do mean nothing, beats good old fashioned drugstore cheap-y mousse. Formulas have changed a lot since the 80s, so you’re not going to get a crispy look, I promise. Well, not unless you use a whole can in a single session. So don’t do that. But a single pump into one palm, a gentle clap of the hands to distribute the mousse between the two, and then run your fingers through at the roots. Avoid the ends. It’s not a permanent fix. And it’s not necessarily a glamorous fix, but it is an effective fix. I’m currently using TRESemme 24 Hour Body Amplifying Mousse.


When I want even more texture, I use VO5’s seriously good Give Me Texture Dry Texturising Spray. Another great smelling product, I suppose it sort of acts like dry shampoo texture-wise. It gives me (and you too probably) that really sexy bedhead look, without looking like you’ve actually only just woken up.


Other notable products include the Beauty Editor favourite – Bumble and bumble’s Surf Spray – however, I find if I use this every day my hair gets a bit crispy. Not a fan of that look. So it’s a once in while whenever I fancy it and see it nestling in the back of my drawer sort of product.


So while my quest for permanent glossy thick locks continues, in the meantime, on a day to day basis I’ll continue using my Serioxyl shampoo and conditioner, and finish with a dollop of bog standard mousse. How do you get the hair of your dreams?

Beauty, Betsy Loves

Faking It (a healthy look)

I am lucky enough that every month a new batch of lovely beauty products lands on our doormat at work, and every month they get handed out around the office to review. For our January issue (we’re already working on the February and March issues now, sigh…), we were reviewing those make-up and skin lifesavers that stop you looking like the walking dead in the few weeks post-Xmas. I chose Benefit’s Fake Up to review, and I can honestly say I think it’s great.

I only ever review things on the blog that I actually legitimately like and think are great products, and this is one of them. Most people are aware of Benefit with its kitsch branding, and some of their products are cult status (Hoola bronzer, Highbeam highlighter etc.), but at the same time, they’re not necessarily known as being the go-to brand for make-up (or certainly not for me!), however, I’m beginning to be won around.

So, on to the concealer. This is definitely one for under the eyes, rather than blemishes. It’s a very creamy formula with a stick of colour running through the centre, and a moisturising complex surrounding that. The lipstick-esque tube makes for very easy application, and after I’d mastered my initial panic that it looked too rich and creamy, I was very impressed with the results. I’ve recently learnt (via one of legendary make-up artist, Mary Greenwell’s, YouTube vidoes) that you need a lot more under-eye concealer than you might think – I mean, she layers on the stuff – back and forth and back and forth – and then, you don’t try to rub it into your skin, you simply pat it to make sure all the edges are blended and voila! If you have the right shade, your eyebags will look lighter, if you have the wrong shade, you’ll look like an idiot.

There are three Benefit shades to choose from – light, medium and dark – I went for light because I always do, and instinct proved right (saving me any ‘idiot’ moments). I applied the concealer after my foundation, and followed it with a dusting of powder (I LOVE POWDER), and after the end of the day, well, yeah, I looked a little tired, but on the whole, it had held up remarkably well. The only thing I will say is that its richness means that if some of your mascara moults then the black specks tend to stay under your eye, rather than drop away, however, a little swipe of the finger sorts that out!

Considering I’d only just bought a new concealer – Bobbi Brown’s Face Touch Up Stick in Cool Beige (£20) – that was meant to be my under-eye and blemish saviour, I’m now remarkably disloyal to it. I still use it for spots and marks, but the old under-eyes now get the Benefit Fake Up treatment, and maybe yours should too?…

Beauty, Betsy Loves, Culture, Fashion

Not another Xmas gift guide

Well, I guess that’s exactly what this is, but hopefully it’ll also be quite helpful! Buying presents for multiple people can be really tough, and more than a little bewildering, so while I might not be able to help you with the men in your life, I might be able to shed some light for the women.

The Red Lipstick

First of all, does the woman (wife/girlfriend/daughter/sister/mother) in your life wear red lipstick? Yes? Then, you’re sorted. Buy her Chanel’s Rouge Coco in Gabrielle, £25. Chanel is a great gift, the packaging is insanely glamorous, the colour is flattering on everyone, and the formula is silky but also strongly pigmented.


The Cashmere Beanie

Does your lady wear hats? Not a fedora, but beanies? Then go for COS’ cashmere beanie; a steal at £29. Everyone loves cashmere and it’s ridiculously soft. The colour ranges are lovely, and it’s at least half the price of most other cashmere beanies.


The Expert Tool Kit (no; not that kind!)

Does she enjoy make-up? I mean actively enjoy, as opposed to just wearing it. Then hop on to Space NK’s website, and get a pair of Shu Uemura’s eyelash curlers for £20. These are the best in the business, and will give a lovely curl to lashes.


The Luxury Make-Up

Another option is to dive into Charlotte Tilbury’s new make-up range. This selection is utterly glamorous and totally lust-worthy. Her Filmstars On The Go (£42) palettes look divine, and are pretty easy to choose from. If you’re scared about picking the wrong colours, jump over to her eye crayons where you can buy individual ones according to eye colour (£19) or buy a selection pack for £75.


The Silver Bangle

Does she wear jewellery? And is that jewellery delicate? Then look no further than Links of London’s karabiner bangle. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey for £140, but it is stunning.


The Designer Candle

Is she house proud? Does she lust over elegant interiors? Then go for a decadent scented candle from Jo Malone (£40). Far from being a naff present, scented candles are great, and Jo Malone is pretty high up there. Diptyque candles are super duper pricey, but these look amazing and save you some pennies. Every fragrance they do is delicious, but ask one of the lovely saleswomen to guide you between fruity and floral if you need.


The Coffee Table Book

Does photography rock her boat? Or perhaps Kate Moss? Or fashion? Easy peasy – Kate: The Kate Moss Book (£32.50).


The Beauty Must Have

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream (£26). Until you’ve tried it, you don’t know why you’d need it, once you have, you don’t know how you lived without it. Trust me.


The Glam Watch

Large faced watches are all the rage at the moment, and Olivia Burton does some of the best for a really good price. My personal favourite is the large white face with black leather strap (£75).


Hope some of this helps! And if it does nothing else, it means I might be getting a cracking stocking from my nearest and dearest this year. Hint hint.


The perfume hunt. The update…

Gosh, it’s proving scarily difficult to rediscover my writing mojo after so long away. Rather than tackle anything complex or attempt some creative writing, I bring you this – an update to my perfume hunt.

It was all getting terribly frustrating, trying to track down that one scent that would express all the nuances of my personality (!), and then I realised two things:

1) Stop being a pompous arrogant idiot. If one scent doesn’t jump out at you or its base, heart and top notes don’t immediately tell everyone around you exactly who you are as person, then that’s absolutely fine. So I decided to simply search for any and all perfumes that appealed to me, and just see how that went.

2) Of course, I couldn’t quite be that simple. So I went scientific. Very very scientific. I discovered several websites – Fragrantica and Base Notes – that break down the components of thousands of fragrances. I racked my brain for all the scents I’ve enjoyed in the past, noted down not only their base, heart and top notes, but also what category they fitted in, and lo and behold, suddenly I had a starting point…

What was that starting point, you ask? Well, apparently I’m rather fond of the old Floral Woody Musks (I know! Who knew?), and once I’d established this, I could search the databases for other fragrances that fall into this category.

This left me with a satisfyingly (yet simultaneously scary!) long list of perfumes to consider. I am a diligent student, always searching for the gold star, so off I popped to various retailers with my list in hand, aka stored on my iPhone. First up, Chanel’s ‘Coco Noir’ again, and I have to admit, it’s growing on me, and I adore the bottle, and well, it’s Chanel!


Then there’s Estee Lauder’s most recent launch – ‘Modern Muse’. I’d toyed with this earlier and quite liked it, I quite liked it when I sprayed it again this time, but later, armed with a teeny tiny sample, I decided it was a bit too chemical-y.


Next is Acqua di Parma’s ‘Rosa Nobile’. Now, I almost forgot to mention that another way I found floral woody musks was through Space NK. I love that place, and could, quite literally (if I had the funds) spend thousands and thousands of pounds. Anyway, when I was buying some essential new beauty items (Shu Uemura eyelash curlers, since you ask), the girl serving me (who was an example of EXCELLENT customer service) popped a roll on sample of this scent in my bag. I almost told her not to bother as I’ve never seen myself as a particularly rosy person (in outlook or scent), but hey ho, a free sample is a free sample. I opened the mustard yellow box, unscrewed the gold cap, and had a sniff of the rollerball, and my my, wasn’t I pleasantly surprised? When I searched it in the perfume databases, I gave a sort of knowing nod to myself when it revealed itself to be a floral woody musk. ‘Betsy,’ I said. ‘Betsy, you might be on to something here.’ So anyway, back to the latest perfume hunt, and a good old spritz of ‘Rosa Nobile’ still had me smiling with pleasure. Huzzah!


John Lewis is a middle-class mecca, yes? And they’re about as desperate to please as I am, which makes them about as cool as I am, i.e. not very, but, it does make them useful. On my last visit, I was accosted (the only word to use) as I pottered about the fragrance section by an extremely earnest young woman keen to show me the niche perfume ranges that the company had invested in. Apart from when I’m in a toweringly black mood, I’m too polite to refuse, so I obediently trotted after her, and I’m glad I did, as I discovered Evody – a small French mother-and-daughter perfume house – and their fragrance ‘Musc Intense’, which, surprise surprise, also turned out to be a floral woody musk (FWM from here on out!). I wasn’t sold, but I really liked it.


The other FWM that intrigued me was Narciso Rodriguez’s ‘Narciso’. My research showed that people raved about his ‘For Her’ scents, but something about them turned me off. ‘Narciso’ is his latest release in a beautifully chic white bottle, and I’d be lying if I said the perfume bottle itself didn’t have an effect on my attitude to it. I grabbed a spritz (poor Mr T was getting soon bored by this point. Bless) and I bloody loved it! Thank god!


So, after my extensive search, I think that I’m popping ‘Rose Nobile’ on my list as well as ‘Narciso’, and as soon as I get down to Boots (where I have a £5 off voucher, got to watch those pennies…), I’ll be making a purchase of the latter.

There you have it, I’ve finally found a perfume I’m happy to buy and wear, for now… However, I still have a very very very long list of other FWMs to try (I’m particularly keen to get my hands on Tom Ford’s ‘Violet Blonde’) but I’ll do my level best not to bore you with a terribly long update like this again. For those who are interested, I’ve pasted the list below – go forth and smell!

Floral Woody Musks to try:

Aerin Lauder – Iris Meadow

Agent Provocateur – Agent Provocateur, Au Emotionelle, DD Edition, Strip

Bex London – W11, W1X

Bobbi Brown – Baby

Burberry – Burberry Brit Rhythm, The Beat

Bulgari – Jasmin Noir, Omnia Crystalline

Byredo – Rose Noir

Cacharel – Noa

Calvin Klein – Downtown, Reveal

Carven – Le Parfum

Cerruti – Bella Notte

Chanel – No.19, Jersey, 1932

Chloe – Love Chloe Eau Florale

Christian Dior – Dior Grand Bal, La Collection Couturier Parfumeur Milly La Foret

Diptyque – Eau Moheli, Eau Mage, Tam Dao, Vetyverio

D&G – Anthology La Temperance 14

Elizabeth and James – Nirvana White

Estee Lauder – Modern Muse Chic, Very Estee

Floris – Sirena

Frederic Malle – Eau d’Hiver

Ghost – Captivating, Serenity

Givenchy – Neroli Original, Naturally Chic, Ange ou Demon

Gucci – Premiere, Forever Now, Flora Generous Violet

Guerlain – Eau de Cashmere, Eau de Lingerie, Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique, Le Bolshoi Black Swan,

Issey Miyake – Pleats Please, Summer Glimmer, Light

Jasper Conran – Nightshade Woman

Jil Sander – Sunrise

Jo Loves – A Shot of Muguet & Cedar

Jo Malone Intense – Iris and White Musk

Kenzo – Madly Kenzo!

Kiehls – Patcholi and Fresh Rose Blend

Korres – Tonka Purple

La Perla – Charme

Lacoste – Femme de Lacoste

Lancome – Tresor Midnight Rose

Lanvin – Jeanne Lanvin Couture

Le Labo – Aldehyde 44 Dallas, Belle du Soir, Jasmin 17, Rose 31

Loewe – Aire Allegro, Aire Evasion, Aura Loewe Magnetique, El 8 de Grand Via, I Loewe You,

Marc Jacobs – Daisy (Silver, Pop Art and Black), Splash Cotton, Splash Grass,

Michael Kors – Gold, Michael, Michael Kors and Suede

Narciso Rodriguez – Essence Musc, For Her L’Absolu, Narciso Musc, Narciso Rodriguez for Her (Black)

Nina Ricci – L’Eau du Temps, Mademoiselle Ricci

Oscar de la Renta – Coralina, Oscar Gold, Rosamor,

Paul Smith – Extreme Woman, Summer Rose, Sunshine

Philosophy – Sunshine Grace

Prada – Infusion d’Iris

Richard E Grant – Jack

Tom Daxon – Crushing Bloom, Iridium

Tom Ford – Violet Blonde, Musk Collection


On the scent

I have the ultimate First World dilemma. Let me introduce you to women and perfume. This relationship can go one of two ways – either you’re an ardent supporter of a single scent and wear it all day, every day; or you’re fickle and flutter from one perfume to another depending on your mood, season, etc.

Until recently, I’ve been the signature scent kind of gal since falling in love with Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir about ten years ago. Every now and then I had a spritz of something else but I mostly remained faithful, and it’s what people associated with me. But then, suddenly, one morning, I woke up and wasn’t in love any more, at all. (And no, I wasn’t pregnant.)

Since then, I’ve toyed semi-seriously with another Jo Malone – Vetyver – but that’s being discontinued (sigh) and Liz Earle’s Botanical Essence No.15 which, while delicious, sadly lacks staying power; more recently I’ve dabbled all over the shop – from Chanel to Chloé – but I’m not head over heels for any of them.

Shopping for a new perfume is an olfactory minefield: what smells lovely on paper, can smell completely different on your skin, and then, after you’ve tried several scents, you can’t distinguish between them all anyway. After a couple of years of searching, I got so desperate recently I went back to Pomegranate Noir just to see if I’d changed my mind again. I haven’t.

I’ve grown up adhering to the first perfume principle that without my signature I’m all at sea; my perfume had almost become part of my personality and now I’m adrift. First World problem or not, any suggestions will be gratefully received. Until then, I’ll continue to sidle up to strangers, sniff deeply, ponder, before asking the all-important question, ‘What perfume are you wearing?’