BEDA: 5 is the magic number!

So here’s that post that was supposed to go up a couple of nights back…

When it comes to make up, I insist on quality. If it doesn’t do what I want it to do, and as well as I want it to do, it goes in the bin. I also prefer to buy something which is so integral to my self esteem some days in places I can try with a consultant before I buy. Generally, this means make up counters in department stores, rather than displays in chemists shops. This also generally means I pay a premium for my warpaint, but frankly, what I buy is good sh*t, so I’m not complaining. It also means I can often pick and choose brands that match my ethics, or my look. For example, I love to rock a flawless and skin-kind pale canvas for bold eye and lip colours, so while I wear Benefit and Bare Minerals for foundations etc, I slap Urban Decay and Sugarpill everywhere else. Pricey, but fabulous.

However.

Sometimes even the most hardened counter-shopper and online boutiquer succumbs to a product on a stand in the supermarket. And sometimes, that’s a really good thing, because some of my favourite, wouldn’t be without products have found their way to me this way. These are also perfect products for those on tight budgets, or people starting out in makeup. Here are five of my favourite products that you can pick up for around a fiver, or less.

5. Lush Cosmetics Lip Balm in ‘Honey Trap’- £5.75- Lush

This is the most expensive product on my list, and whilst it would have been tidier to included products that came in UNDER £5 only, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to recommend more. High ethics, low price, fab product. This balm is perfect to ‘prime’ for lipstick with, or wear on its own to lavish love on those lips. The rich natural butters melt at a touch and go on clear. This product not only works, it smells and tastes AMAZING, like honey and white chocolate had a dirty little love child. Mmm. Scandal.

In this price bracket at Lush, you can pick and choose your favourite ‘flavour’ of balm, and, if you want to go a little bolder, you can try their lip tints- shimmery nude ‘Latte’, or rosy ‘It Started With A Kiss’. Both are all natural and nourishing, and have staying power to boot.

 

4. Rimmel London I Love Lasting Finish Nail Polish in ‘Black Cab’- £2.99- Boots

This is the best black nail polish I have ever owned. Hands down. Opaque in one coat, fast drying, highly glossy and long wearing, this product has the mojo. It’s also only £2.99 and available in most supermarkets and chemists. If you want to go dark any time soon, go and buy this polish.

 

3. Collection Lasting Colour Lipstick in ‘Pink Shock’- £2.99- Boots

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This is the cheapest lipstick I own, from probably the ‘cheapest’ brand I have ever allowed near my face. Collection is  ‘drug store brand’ even by drug store standards. And yet, this lipstick is the business. I bought it for a craft project, and now it lives in my make up bag and is never going back. Once this highly pigmented wonder product is on, it’s on, for good. You can eat, drink, talk for hours, and you will still have hot pink lips to go home in. I often wear this lipstick for conventions or all day events where I want to be a colourful dream, and I don’t need to reapply it at any point in the day. Sure, you blot your coffee cup with it, but hey, what lip product doesn’t get everywhere?  I recommend balming up your lips first, as the product is quite dry, but even so- I have lipsticks that cost four times the price of this one, and simply don’t compare. I also have this product in Mango Tango, a neon coral, and Queen of Hearts, an obnoxious red, and they all perform.

 

2. L’Oreal Paris Super Liner Brow Artist in ‘Blonde’- £5.49- Superdrug

This product is theoretically available at all L’Oreal stands throughout the country. However, because it’s so useful, and great gateway brow product, it is often sold out. Persevere! It’s worth it!

In the same way that hair frames the face, brows frame the eyes. If you like to wear bold eye makeup and you don’t already fill in your brows then one of these two statements must be true for you:

a) you have insanely perfect brows already and I hate you.

b) you should try this product.

This pencil is very easy to use. It comes with a pigment end, a wax end, and a brush. First, use the pigment end to define you brows: quick strokes to simulate hairs work best, with perhaps a little filling in the middle for shape. Secondly, use the brush to even out of lighten tone in any areas you’ve been a bit heavy handed, and to comb the hair into place. This is very useful if you have crazy brows like me. Finally, and this is optional, you can use the wax end to set your brows into perfectly pigmented arches.

This was my first brow product, and so far, my favourite. The pencil makes it a friendly a familiar product for those new to brow makeup, and it works perfectly for a good price. The option to set the brows with wax is one of my favourite features of this product, and sets it apart from other brow pencils on the market.

Now, I have chestnut-auburn hair, but my brows are fair in comparison, hence the blonde colour choice. I’m lucky because I can use this product for a lighter finish, or the darker ‘Brunette’ shade for a bolder look. Also, if you have coloration like me, then the paler choice of colour is a good first step into brows. It always feels/looks odd the first time you do it, but trust me- you’ll look great, and your eyes will pop all the more for it.

 

1. Rimmel London Lasting Finish Colour Rush Balm in ‘I Want Candy!’ £5- Asda

I bought this product this week, and it is already living permanently in my handbag. As previous entries on this list probably tell you, I love a bright, obnoxiously pink lip, and this product delivers. It also stays- you can eat and drink with this on, and yes, it will fade, but only to matte. You’ll still have bright pink and moisturised lips for the rest of the day or night, and probably beyond. Even after removing my makeup, some of the pink colour remains.

The buttery formula is soft and smooth on application and  smells fantastic. Whilst it is soft enough to nourish, this funky chunky pencil (much like my much beloved LAQA & CO pencils) is robust enough to let you really build your coverage. The pencil shape also makes it child’s play to apply, even on the go. It also makes a great blush- that same moisturising formula blends out perfectly on cheeks.

The swatches on the Rimmel website are wrong. This shade isn’t as eye-popping as the Collection lipstick I mentioned earlier, this is a bright and fun hot pink perfect for sunny weather. I love it.

 

This post wasn’t sponsored- these are simply thrifty treats you deserve. Enjoy!

 

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Black and Gold

When I got into doing my nails, I treated myself to the Ciaté Mini Mani Month. For over the half the month I did a manicure a day based on the colours that came out, ranging from basic to somewhat elaborate. This is one of them.

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I used the following polishes:

  • Ciaté ‘Ladylike Luxe’: a metallic shimmery gold that blows warm and cool depending on what you wear it with. A versatile shade.
  • Ciaté ‘Bumblebee’: a bold, striking caviar mix of hot gold and black pearls, this manicure leaves you feeling like a Bond girl.
  • Ciaté ‘Twilight’: a black polish teeming with golden sparkle, like sparks from a bonfire. A new favourite!

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Combined, these colours are pure luxury. Really, I was tired when I did this manicure, and I wasn’t that adventurous, but you could go wild with these and revel in their sparkly chiaroscuro. The formula for the polishes is lovely, they need 1-3 coats for full opacity and colour depth, but as per most Ciaté polishes, the colour is eye-popping intense and luxurious. Finish all but the caviar with a high gloss top coat to protect and intensify the sparkle.

This look is awesome for swanky nights out, or any time you want to feel like a glamazon 🙂

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I’ll do a Caviar tutorial soon, as they are easy but require method for ultimate coverage and wear. Until then, I hope you enjoy this look, and try your own version at home!

Later days,

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nails inc Summer Polkadots

One, I apologise for the state of my cuticles and the length of my nails in the pictures. I have been stressed.

Two, I apologise for the state of my desk. It’s a little vintage writing desk, and it isn’t really big enough for everything I use it for…

Three, lookit! An on trend polka dot look, using colours from the Nails Inc Spring/Summer collection for SS13. Hot neon realness with a chic matte finish. Whee!

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Orange is one of the hot colours this year, in nails and lips, and ‘Hampton Court Palace Gardens’ is my favourite out of the set, which surprised me because I’m usually such a pink girl. The formula is lush and opaque in 2-3 coats. However, for this look, that isn’t too important.

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‘Primrose Hill Gardens’ is one of the two pinks from the set; the neon pink. It’s surprisingly dark for a neon shade IMHO, but there we are. Again, the quality nails inc formula strikes again. In these pictures I have used two coats.

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To finish, I used nails inc ‘Westminster Bridge’, a lovely matte topcoat. This would look equally nice with a gloss finish over the dried dots. If you, like me, like to play with asymmetric finishes, try accent nails in the two colours. I used the index on my left and the ring of my right. For the dots, the brush I used is a Daler Rowney spotter, available from good art shops. However, of course, you could use any spotter tool, or even a pin head.

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… They kind of look like irradiated strawberries, don’t they? This would look super sweet in pastels, too.

  • Orange: ‘Hampton Court Palace Gardens’
  • Pink: ‘Primrose Hill Gardens’
  • Top coat: ‘Westminster Bridge’

 

I hope you try this. Send me pictures!

Later days!

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The long and winding tale of a recovered nail biter.

Nail biting isn’t good for you.

Ok, it’s unlikely to kill you, but it’s not the grandest of things. It’s a ‘bad’ habit; socially dubious and probably likely to put someone off in an interview. Whatever is on, under or… around your nail ends up in your mouth and sometimes down your throat, including potentially parasites and germs. It leaves unsightly hands behind- flaky or torn or bitten cuticles which are more prone to skin infections than unbitten nails and their cuticles are. It also results in jagged stumpy nails that snag hose and, more importantly your skin, imbedding whatever is on your nails (afore mentioned bugs and whatnot) in a fresh scratch, ready to cause havoc.

Or at least that’s the way I’ve always seen it. I still did it- I started in primary school when I saw other children doing it and was desperate to fit in. As a person with a somewhat nervous disposition, it stuck, and became not only a nasty habit, but later an obvious tic when I was stressed, down, or out of mind with anxiety. The same is true for many people.

Last year, I had what people certainly used to refer to as ‘a nervous breakdown’. The doctors called in Generalised Anxiety and Depression, and PTSD. I fell apart. I couldn’t work, I could barely get up. As time went on, with hard work, help both medically and therapeutically, and from the friends and family who gathered around me, I began to improve. I still savaged my nails to cope- to take out my nerves and stress in a mildly self destructive way.

When, in autumn, I decided it was high time to face some demons and start seeing people I had to see again, I looked in the mirror and despaired. I thought of all those handshakes, and my blunt and bitten fingers trembled. I had to do something to face, in this case, my cousin’s birthday party.

I picked up my chaperone (phase 1) and we started on the road down the coast to the seat of my family. I swung in to a supermarket, and bought a set of false french manicured nails. We sat in the carpark for 5 minutes while I glued them on, and I drove, spread handed for a few miles, as they dried.

At the party, even if I felt like my insides were swelling up, and my skin was crawling, I looked at my hands, and they were… pretty. Neat. Acceptable. No longer a source of personal shame; evidence of my miserable state of mind. I could fit in with the ‘norms’. A lot of people talk about ‘putting your warpaint on’ to face the day. Well, for me, I sharpened my claws.

I kept gluing the things back on every time they pinged off until there was really no point- they were so glue covered and done.  I was left with my own nails, a tad longer than normal for the exercise, but soon to be savaged by another deep bout of anxiety.

The lead up to Christmas is a busy time for my family, and, having dipped my toes once into that particular social pool, I felt obliged to do it again. I was terrified, but determined. The memory of my talons stuck with me- how much stronger I felt with those ten tiny crutches holding the shreds of my self esteem up. However, I knew I didn’t have the willpower to go cold turkey. I knew the bitter tasting biting stopping potions they sell spoil everything they (or rather, your fingers, touch) including delicious sandwiches and what not, and weren’t a strong enough deterrent for me. I needed to physically NOT be able to bite my nails. At all. So found a local salon (The Nail Boutique– they are truly lovely, barmy ladies), and had acrylics put on.

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Naturally, my nails looked great, and however much I put them in my gob, I didn’t want to bite them, couldn’t really. I felt better- in control of something for once, and a worry was lifted off me. No one could judge me (if they even would) about my hands. My nails were neat and tidy, and they made my short little fingers look longer. For two months I kept getting refills, every 2-3 weeks. I even got them ‘did’ for Christmas.

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When my nails had grown out under the acrylic to the same length as the acrylic, I had them soaked off, and immediately had shellac put on. I had heard about how long it lasted, but also how it added a little strength to the nail too. I have to say, even though I tried the product a few times, it wasn’t me. It never lasted more than a few days- I’d always have to go back and get repairs done, wasting both mine and the salon’s time. I had one set that was discoloured by a mystery substance- no idea what. My nails weren’t strong, and it didn’t really help, and in retrospect- the same colour for 2-3 weeks? I’d get seriously bored.

So I did a bad thing, which made me feel bad- I got rid of the shellac pretty badly, damaging my nails in the process. They were already damaged by the acrylic, so I didn’t care. I was disheartened. But, I realised, my nails were longer than they had been in years. And I wasn’t biting them. Not even a bit. Yes, I’d destroyed the polish (and I was very stressed at the time), but the nails had, pretty much, survived.

I filed them a little bit the improve the shape, and shortened them up when they broke. I oiled them, moisturised them and pampered myself to keep the drive going. Every week they got stronger, broke less. I looked up nail polish brands, told my friends and family what I had achieved (and it WAS an achievement), and found they cheered me on. I bought some lacquer, and then some more (oops), and then found care packages were arriving for my claws and me:

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I was going through a really tough time then- reintegrating back into the work place, still plagued by my illness. Looking after my nails became part of my cooldown. It didn’t matter how bad I felt, I had to do my nails. I had to make sure they looked good, because then I would feel good. And nothing could hurt me then.

Of course, that isn’t true really, but that kind of positive thinking and behaviour is part of building up your self esteem, part of fighting to get better. And some days yes, I do chew off my polish. And yes, when stressed or sad I have bitten at my nails in the past month or so, but only broken ones, and you know, it doesn’t make me happy or calm anymore. They don’t taste the same. Because it isn’t my crutch any more.

I am not suggesting that you need to tumble into a pit of misery and despair in order to claw back out with fabulous nails. In fact, I really, really hope that is not what you need to do it. But if, and only if, you really want to stop biting, this is my advice.

  • Find something to take your mind of biting: Drive that potentially nervous energy into something else, whether it be a hobby (crochet or knitting are good, as they occupy your hands) or even taking care of your nails.
  • Use a deterrent: ‘No more biting’ solutions are to nail biting what squirty bottles are to bad dogs. However, as afore mentioned, they are evil and want to stop you from interacting manually with tasty things. For me, the deterrent was a barrier. A bad dog can’t steal a biscuit if they’re locked away. You can’t bite your nails through falsies. And you’ll get that instant ego boost too.
  • Get support: Tell your friends and family. If they know this is a thing for you (and if you don’t, explain it), they will care, because they love you. Giving up anything addictive is helped by encouragement more than it is by suffering in silence, or chiding. Hate yourself a little less, welcome in love some more. I can’t guarantee they’ll send you insane care packs like my aunt (because, DAMN), but I found that every person who said ‘let me see your nails then… good for you!’ helped just a little more. In fact, I have a friend who complains they are too long now!
  • Be patient: It takes approximately 6 months for the average human nail to grow from the cuticle to the the tip of the finger. If you have little fingers, and/or if your hair grows fast, you might see them grow faster. Likewise, if your hair doesn’t grow fast, or you have larger fingers, you might have to wait longer. But your nails ARE growing all the time, especially when they aren’t being bitten. The more you lavish care on them (nail strengtheners like Nail Envy by OPI, or cuticle oils like Solar Oil by CND), the better they will be when they get there, and on the journey.
  • And finally, if they break, don’t give up!: Filing your nails short is NOT a bad thing. Shorter, broader nails are stronger, and the more weaker, older nail you have filed away, the more cared for, new nail remains. The nail remaining will grow through stronger, and you WILL see a difference the next time they grow out.

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So that’s the story of how I beat my bad habit. I hope my story might help if you’re thinking of quitting. And I apologise that I am not wearing make up in any of the pictures :s.

Good luck, and later days!

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An update!

It’s been nagging at me for a while that I haven’t posted anything here. It’s mainly been because I have done so little baking in the past few months. After a period of absence, it’s been my main goal in life to get back into work, and then get back up to full time. I’ve certainly achieved the first, but as I am writing from home at quarter to one on a weekday, the latter is still evading me. Ah well, one must keep on, keeping on.

I’ve decided to broaden the scope of the blog, to encourage more writing in general, and keep those juices flowing. It isn’t that I don’t bake, or don’t love to bake (because seriously, I do- If I could bake (or write) for a living, I would), but I do a lot of other things too, and it seems silly to start up x-million various blogs, and only update each one ever so often. So, to that end, She Who Bakes will also share how she also loves life in other ways; eatery and drinkery recommendations, product reviews of my must have treats, nail polish ideas, tutorials and other beauty gubbins, occasional interludes from the animals who-wish-I’d-bake-for-them…

I hope that’ll tickle your fancy. If not, I’ll see you back here for the baking posts. 

Speak soon,

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