About Alex Cresswell

Alexandra Cresswell is in her early twenties and is currently based in London but originally is from Southampton. She studied at the London School of Beauty & Make-Up and received a CIBTAC qualification in aesthetic treatments. Currently Alexandra is coming to the end of a two year makeup artist course at Brushstroke Academy in Shepperton Studios. Her passion is skincare and makeup, however she has always had a strong interest in writing and this is something she currently pursues alongside her make-up career.

Foundation Versus Your Skin

As a make-up artist and skincare specialist something I am constantly asked (apart from, “Can you make me look ten years younger?”) is regarding foundations and their contribution to our poor, decaying skin.

foundation makeupEverywhere we turn there’s a magazine cover promoting a new wonder product promising a complexion worthy of Gwyneth Paltrow, or a billboard encouraging us to “get our glow back”.

Gone are the days when in times of need you reached for your trusty Maxfactor ‘Pan Stick’ (after washing your face with humble soap and water, of course). Now every time we have to shop for a new foundation we are faced with endless rows of possibilities; from tinted moisturisers to high coverage cream compacts, from BB creams to CC creams to XYZ creams; the choice is infinite not to mention confusing! And I say this as a woman whose bathroom resembles aisles 2,4 and 7 of Boots.

We are a nation on a mission to achieve perfect skin, whatever your interpretation of that may be. It’s the largest organ in the body, and one we spend a lot of time and money preening, scrubbing, waxing, buffing and moisturising in order to achieve a healthy and natural look, (oh the irony!). Arguably our face is under the most scrutiny, thanks to our three times magnified bathroom mirrors, and therefore is put through its paces with all our beautifying efforts. So surely it’s time to give our long-suffering skin a break?

I could, and probably should, tell you to ditch the foundation, let your skin breathe (the beautiful, smog-infected city air) but before you choke in disgust on your coffee, I won’t advise something so hypocritical. Because as I sit here typing this, I myself am covered in a significant amount of high coverage foundation, as well as primer, concealer, and powder. Yes, every morning after spending a good half an hour on my beloved skincare routine I then decide to drown my pores and seemingly undo all my hard work in a few strokes of a foundation brush. And yes, tomorrow I will wake up, look in the mirror and curse a deity I don’t believe in for condemning me with such unfortunate skin when really I only have myself (and that sweet talking saleswoman) to blame. I’m sure I’m not the only one caught in this endless cycle and I definitely won’t be the last.

Many people will argue that generations ago people didn’t have the time and access to all the products and treatments that we do now, and survived just fine without them. However times have changed, and with all the pollution and radiation our skin is now exposed to, the circumstances are incomparable. There are skin conditions we suffer from now that just didn’t exist in our grandmothers’ generation. So who can blame us for reaching for the foundation bottle instead of the water bottle?

It doesn’t take a dermatologist to work out that our complexions would be far healthier if we ditched the foundation and introduced our skin to something called ‘fresh air’, but realistically can we change our attitudes so easily? And are we really prepared to? To me, my foundation is more than just a tool to cover blemishes; it’s my glamorous armour that makes me feel ready and confident to face the day. And to whose women who are reading this as equally covered in foundation as I am, but with naturally flawless skin? Keep your distance, or I might not be responsible for my actions…

Neon Nails & Blue Mascara? Yes, You Can!

Best-Summer-Lip-Colors1So as we come to the end of the few glorious weeks of the year that us Brits know as the season of ‘Summer’ ( never mind that a season should technically constitute three months minimum, not that I’m bitter or anything…) I sit here writing this high on Vitamin D and enjoying the look of newly stimulated melanin. Yes, summer really does have a positive effect on us all both physically and mentally, and I really do believe it has the power to make a person more beautiful (within reason of course, I would not consider my Portugal sunburn of 2010 a look to be repeated anytime soon…)

I believe this is down to a number of reasons. No one can deny the effects of a healthy, glowing tan, but the sun also has the power to aid the healing of many common skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis and acne to name a few). It also has been proven to the increase the ‘happy hormones’ in our bodies to enhance your mood and even aid sleep. Sounds good, right?

Not to mention how much more creative and vibrant our wardrobes and make-up bags become when the sun is shining. I see so many women suddenly swapping their matte taupe eyeshadow for a glimmering turquoise and their dusky pink lipstick for a tropical coral.

With all this is mind, it got me to thinking about how we can capture this spirit for year round summer glam. After all, that tropical coral lipstick cost £20, why should it only be used for the one week you’re on holiday then stashed away with the neon nail varnish (Zante, 2009) and blue mascara (Majorca, 2011) in the vault of ‘Impulse Beauty Buys’, never to be used again?

imagesCAYE1QP9Here I will be quashing some common make up myths to encourage you to inject a little summer sassiness into your make up bag, all year round:

1. “Blue mascara? My boss will laugh me out the office!”
If the idea of applying coloured mascara to your lashes terrifies you, don’t worry you’re not alone. But with the range or colours available it doesn’t have to be so daunting. Try applying plum or violet coloured mascara just to your bottom lashes for a more subtle look. Yves Saint Laurent offers a fantastic range of colours.

2. “But I don’t want to look like I’ve drawn inspiration from a parrot!”
Try adding a more vibrant colour (think turquoise, purple or gold) to the inner corner or centre of the eyelid to make eyes pop. Keep the rest of the colour palette neutral so the look is wearable and not too dramatic (unless that’s what you’re going for!) Bare Minerals offer some gorgeous shades in all colours.

3. “Bronzer in November? Now I’ve heard it all…”
Strategically placed highlighter and bronzer can easily recreate a holiday glow without looking like you’re auditioning for a role in ‘The Only Way Is Essex’. Apply a gold tone highlighter (try St. Tropez Skin Illuminator in ‘gold’) in a ‘C’ shape around the outside of the eye down to the top of the cheekbone, on the inner corner of the eye, along the centre of the nose, and in the centre of the chin. Apply bronzer in a ‘C’ shape from the hairline to underneath the cheekbone, along the jawline and either side of the nose.

4. “Tangerine lipstick? Shame on me, stick to beige.”
Bright lipstick can look stunning for daytime and evening, summer or winter. Try coral or fuchsia tones to really enhance and lift the complexion. Team with mascara and flawless foundation for a sophisticated look.

So dear readers, go forth and dig deep into the darkest depths of your make up bags and get creative! While you’re doing that I’ll be raiding my fridge, all this summer talk has me craving a piña colada…

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Boyfriend Proofing Your Make-Up

The honeymoon period. Arguably one of the happiest times of any relationship. He picks the wine on your eagerly-anticipated date nights in romantic restaurants, giggling while sneaking into the back of the cinema like a couple of loved-up teenagers, and all his charming little habits like the adorable way he corrects your grammar. Even the way he forgets to call you back because he’s caught up in an incredibly important Xbox war with his mates doesn’t irritate you. And vice versa; he laughs it off when you’re late because your meeting ran over (AKA having a pre-date mental breakdown because you have NOTHING TO WEAR), and he only ever sees you looking your most fabulous.

Fast forward six months and it’s all trackies, Croydon facelifts and un-waxed legs. (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about…) We’ve all been there, It’s the first time you’ve stayed over his house, you wake up in the morning knowing full well the pillow will be covered in foundation and your hair will have moulded itself into a style that even Russell Brand would deem offensive. And while you’re lying there wondering if he owns hairspray (and secretly hoping he doesn’t) and debating whether you could fashion some concealer out of his toothpaste, he wakes up and sees what he’s really let himself in for.

Call me old fashioned, but I think it’s nice to want to look good for your man. Granted it’s not always possible (acceptable excuses including: festivals- even the lucky few natural beauties amongst us struggle here, and long haul flights- too much air con and alcohol dehydration to contend with) but I don’t see anything wrong with trying to keep the spark alive for as long as possible. Now I’m not saying a full face of make up 24/7 is essential to do this, but a bit of strategically placed concealer here and there can never be a bad thing, right?

With this in mind, I started thinking about how to achieve this with minimum effort. Or as I like to call it; ‘Boyfriend Proofing’ (trademark pending). Boyfriend Proofing is the art of looking as gorgeous as possible for as long as possible for as little effort as possible. Trust me, it’s possible. Here are my favourite tried and tested (by yours truly) products to guarantee they’ll never be a Picasso style version of your face imprinted onto the pillow ever again.

smeared makeupStarting with foundation. There’s nothing worse than the above crime (pillow soiling) or even worse, leaving a cloud of powder on his nose every time you kiss him. The key term here is ‘transfer proof’! A lot claim they can do this but few truly can. It’s a tricky job trying to find a long wear base that won’t look too cakey, but lucky for you I’ve held a few experiments (and thrown away half a dozen pillow cases in the process). Here are my top 5:

1. Dior ‘Forever’ (£32)- Does what it says on the tin!
2. Bare Minerals Original Foundation (£25)- Very natural finish, but won’t clog your pores if you leave it on overnight.
3. Estee Lauder ‘Double Wear’ or ‘Double Wear Light’ (£28.50)- this is not for the feint hearted. Very full coverage but will not budge!
4. Lancôme ‘Teint Idole Ultra’ (£27.50)- Gives a very flawless, smooth finish and has serious staying power too.
5. B. Flawless Complete Coverage (only in Superdrug £9.99)- Slightly more purse-friendly, but just as good as its more expensive competitors.

Next up; Mascara. Morning panda eyes is an unflattering affliction to say the least. However nowadays mascara formulations have advanced so much that this need not be an issue. There exists a breed of mascara that can only be removed with water and comes off in ‘tubes’ as opposed to smudging under your eyes. Here’s my top 3:

1. Shu Uemura ‘Tokyo Lash’ (£20)
2. Blinc Mascara (£19.50)
3. L’Oreal ‘Double Extension Beauty Tubes’ (£11.29)

So there you have it ladies, the tools for waking up as much as of a goddess as you looked the night before. Now there really is no excuse is there?! As for the trackies, Croydon facelifts and un-waxed legs? That’s all on you…

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