Wednesday, 31 March 2010

How to Fix a Broken Compact

SO FAR, SO CHIC
My Laura Mercier blusher was mysteriously broken *cough* my brother broke it *cough* when I went to use it this morning. Not best pleased I asked my twitter buddies for advice on how to fix it. YouTube, oh source of all that is good and addictive, was suggested and the rest is history. 

I just used this technique, it took about five minutes and was akin to fun (for me anyway). Where the Americans use 'rubbing alcohol' we'd use surgical spirit. Also, I'm not keen on this girl's 'tapping' technique to get the powder mixture to settle. I wrapped a square D&G lipstick in a piece of kitchen towel and used this as a kind of 'pestle' to press down on the powdery/alcohol mush to get it to settle into the corners of the pan. Worked like a charm. Definitely give this method a go if you've any type of broken pressed powder. 

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Clever Girl's Guide to Buying a Bikini

SO FAR, SO CHIC
You know that little voice in your head, the one that says, 'It'll be summer soon: put down the yum yum'? Let's call her Cindy (yes I know, I hate her too). We all know how smug Cindy will be on that one day in May where the weather switches from too-cold-to-go-without-a-coat to tights-are-you-mad! So now's the time to contemplate that most wretched of things – the bikini. (Cindy also says it's time to join a gym.)

In an ideal world I'd simply pop onto the Heidi Klein website and order myself two or three perfect-fit £175 bikinis. Job done. Hell, I'd probably order Jennifer Aniston's awesome bod while I was at it. 


I have a HK bikini that I bought for £40 in the 2008 sale. It's super flattering and feels secure. A lot of this is due to the tencile strength of the fabric; it's very tightly woven. Thin, floppy bikinis are always unforgiving. Dense fabric holds its shape and keeps your boobs in place, even without underwiring. My bikini is similar to this one but patterned. I love it.

If you intend to go on holiday this year, it's no good waiting until the week before you fly to think about swimwear. All the popular sizes will be gone, you'll be stressed and it doesn't make for a pleasant scene when you start trying to pry the size 10 bottoms off the mannequin. So, what are the bikini options looking like this summer? 

The pictures of that annoying Myleene Klass on the beach in Barbados (I cropped her head off, because her face irritates me too much) wearing her black M&S bikini had the desired effect of making me see how very flattering it is; here's the yellow version on their 
website.



If you're in the market for something girlie, this Floozie from Frost French at Debenhams bikini is gorgeous. I love the pattern and the cut. It also comes in a great range of sizes, from 32A to 38DD. I picked up one of their bikinis in the sale a few summers ago and I was impressed with how well it washed and held its shape. The bikinis are also quite substantial, not floppy pieces of cloth. It depends if you like underwiring though, because they're usually structured. 


This cute red Sunseeker bikini would be perfect for those with smallish breasts. The bandeau top is £35 and the bottoms are £24. The top looks quite firm, which I like, although it's hard to tell from a few photos and a bit of film. Plus the model doesn't exactly have anything fleshy to challenge the fabric. 

It's even trickier to find a chic and flattering swimsuit than a decent bikini. This
taupe and cream bandeau with removable strap from Jasper Conran at Debenhams looks good to me. It has that most patronising of things: 'tummy control'. Always handy but no need to put it on a massive sticker, ok? It's got a good review, which says, 'The quality is excellent, lovely seaming down the front and the legs are not too high. Great fit and control.' It costs £38 but is out of stock online except for sizes 10 and 12. They probably haven't got full summer stock in yet, but if I'd seen another cossie I liked, I'd have used it.


I'm dreaming that I'll somehow afford to go abroad this year. In this dream I am channeling Eva Mendes. Look at her on holiday in Italy: this is a paparazzi shot, not a photoshoot. She's all 'Yeah I wear wedges to the beach and don't look mental when I casually throw on a head scarf'. I shall be the paler, fatter, flatter-bummed version of Eva. Obviously the transformation begins right after I scoff this yum yum. 

Friday, 26 March 2010

Good Hair?

SO FAR, SO CHIC
Poor Alexandra Burke is suffering from a case of the Naomi's; that is to say, repeated use of weaves has caused her hair to break off at the root and recede à la Naomi Campbell's. Even Emma Bunton's side parting doesn't go back that far; it's virtually on  her shoulder. 

My friends will tell you that I'm weirdly interested in the styling and management of black hair; it's a huge, flourishing industry and one I used to know nothing about. 

Have you noticed that as soon as a black girl goes through to X Factor they almost always give her a weave? Weaves are basically extensions that are sewn into the root of a person's hair after it's plaited or put into corn rows. Alexandra had relaxed hair when she auditioned, but once through, on went the weave. Now she wears a mixture of weaves, wigs and extensions. 
It seems the vast majority of high-profile black actresses, models and singers wear either a weave or a wig the majority of the time. Beyonce often wears lace-front wigs: sometimes you can see the fine mesh at her hairline where the wig sits. (I told you before: I'm a pro wig spotter.)
Thankfully there are exceptions; black women who rock their natural hair with pride. I'm learning more and more about this topic from my friends at Natural... Take Two and Socialite Dream's Weblog; both of whom have recently transitioned to natural hair. The latter has blogged about the preconceptions other black people have regarding a woman with natural hair. 

I am in no way an expert on this topic, but to see a whole race of women reject their natural hair is both fascinating and horrifying to me. 'Good hair' is a term used among the black community to describe hair that sits down on the head, and isn't kinky or tightly-coiled; basically the opposite of how black hair behaves naturally. Little black girls sometimes have their hair relaxed starting at a young age, even though the process involves harsh chemicals and is almost entirely aesthetically motivated.  

I understand that natural hair can be time-consuming and difficult to maintain (depending on the style), which is no doubt one reason many women look for alternatives. I think it's a shame that more women don't celebrate that which makes them unique, namely their beautiful, springy curls, as I for one think it's very good hair. 




Fringe Dreams

SO FAR, SO CHIC


On average I have a fringe cut and grow it out every couple of years, on pretty much constant rotation. I love the look of a perfect fringe (and I'm very fussy), but I know it's a bugger to style and maintain. My hair has a charming cowlick element, which tries its best to create one curved side and one straight. None of which will deter me once I make up my mind. 

If you've never had a fringe, or not since you were little, they're a great way to dramatically change the look of long hair without cutting it all off. A fringe also makes hair look a lot more 'styled' when it's just pulled into a ponytail. 

The fringe I want is Erin Lucas's from The City. She has gorgeous, shiny, thick brown hair, which is pretty much nothing like mine but I love her style. 

The only picture I could find of me where I had a fringe was this ridiculous winking number. I know for a fact I'd just been to the hairdressers when I took it. To fringe or not to fringe, that is the question... 

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Muggins Over Here

SO FAR, SO CHIC
I'm not one for collections; in fact I hate clutter. I've not got my own house either, so I cant really buy household stuff. But for some unknown reason I have a thing for mugs! Not gullible people, but actual tea and coffee cups.

I fell in love with the Pantone range of mugs ages ago. I love the colours, particularly together, although I only have the purple one.

I've had my eye on the cerise pink one all along, but apparently it's the only colour that isn't dishwasher-safe. The makers may have remedied this by now.

Today I got a little treat when my mum bought me a Penguin Books mug; I love these too!  One second later I'd washed it, boiled the kettle and made a lovely cup of chai in my new cup. Isn't it funny how little things can make you smile?

You can buy both Penguin and Pantone mugs at John Lewis, although mine came from a local book shop. 

Must Resist MobDeals


I'm absolutely mad on these Wahanda MobDeals! When they first started, I thought they were a special thing for a week. Thank God, because I bought two. Then it turned out they're ongoing! RUHROH! Now I've bought three

So far I've spent £50, but look at all the treatments I've got for that:


£20 60 minute massage or facial at Hydrohealing (value £70)
£20 60 minute luxury manicure or pedicure at Scin Spa (value £50)
£10 45 minute luxury manicure at Puro Lifestyle Salon & Spa (value £30)

I'm most excited about the Scin Spa pedicure, because I've already been in the building for my meetings with Lowri Turner, and they use Essie nail polish, which comes in the best colours. 

I might try to scedule all three things for the same day, perhaps near my birthday, to make the trip to London worthwhile. I'll blog about my experiences of course, but in the mean time, will you be booking any bargainous MobDeals? They're available in Birmingham, London and Manchester.  

Friday, 19 March 2010

SJP's Straight from the Catwalk Style


Sarah Jessica Parker showed exactly how to work catwalk trends in real (well, real for her) life at the ShoWest 2010 Awards in Toronto yesterday. 

First she rocked the daytime presentation in Spring 2010 chartreuse green Lanvin; so far, so chic. For the evening she upped the ante even further, changing into an ethereal black Autumn 2010 Marchesa dress. 

SJP almost always gets her red carpet fashion spot on; working often extreme designer looks effortlessly. Her sample-size bod is also enviable, especially when you consider she turns 45 this month. I am feeling those patent heels! 

Shopping the New Season

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Clever Girl's Guide to Good Skin


It's a sad day here on SO FAR, SO CHIC, for these are the last of Caroline Hirons' insider skincare secrets. But have no fear, for like any good beauty blogger/megalomaniac, I have saved the best for last!

What elements are essential to any skincare routine?
The most important thing to remember about the skin is that it’s the body’s largest organ. Let’s face it, the liver is a paltry second! You must cleanse every night. Use an oil-based cleanser on dry skin and massage deeply – all around the jaw – the lower half of your face is where you store toxins. If you come out of a facial and aren't pink all over, don’t pay. It must be a non-mineral oil cleanser; Eve Lom I am talking to you! Remove all traces with a face flannel. Don’t buy into the hype of needing a muslin cloth. Yes, muslin absorbs oil quicker – but it is also flimsier and can prevent you from getting the residue off properly. A normal white cotton face flannel is fine.

Do not use wipes. The only time this is acceptable is on an airplane, and even then you can get water-based 2-in-1 cleanser/toners from brands like Clarins or Payot in small sizes. Wipes belong to Dettol and should be used to great effect on your toilet, not your face.

The demise of toner is one of the sad facts of modern skincare (with the exception of Liz Earle, where their Instant Boost Skin Tonic continues to storm home). I love toner. Don’t get me wrong, avoid alcohol at all costs, but a lovely rosewater/herbal water/P50(!) toner before your moisturiser makes the world a better place. Think of using cleanser and moisturiser without toner as a sandwich without butter or mayo; it still works but it’s so much better with it.

Moisturise every single day. Mix it up: use an anti-aging product one day and an organic feels-lovely-but-with-slightly-less-benefit moisturiser the next. Begin as soon as you start your periods. Yes really. Our collagen is inextricably linked to our ovaries. Cleanse. Tone. Moisturise. I get compliments every day with people saying ‘must be good genes!’ Yes, but it’s also heeding good advice!

Use an eye cream. The skin around the eye is 60 per cent thinner than the rest of the face. It’s different; treat it as such. DO NOT USE MINERAL OIL IN YOUR EYE CREAM. Don’t just take my word for it; check out some eye surgery on YouTube. Vile.

Do any products really fade age spots and pigmentation?
Vitamin A is one of only two ingredients in skincare that you can legally claim to be anti-aging; the other is SPF. Vitamin A changes the structure of your skin. There's a family tree of retinoids: Retinol is simply Vitamin A in an alcohol base. The most effective source of retin is Retinyl Palmitate; an oil based vitamin A. It's easily absorbed by the skin and not as irritant as alcohol. Check out Environ, or if you prefer natural products (which will be much less effective) Elemental Herbology. Stay away from AHA’s and glycolic acid.

Which less well-known ranges do you recommend?
Biologique Recherche – obviously – and Anne Semonin. Nobody does skincare like the French.

Any final words of wisdom?
The three S’s that kill the skin: sun, smoking, sugar. Avoid all three and you’ll do fine.

Thanks to Caroline for her help. You can find her on twitter @CarolineHirons and at www.beautymouth.com

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Carrie Bradshaw's Style Statements



SO FAR, SO CHIC
Just as the oh-so-clever film trailer instructs me to, I am getting 'carried away' anticipating the Sex and the City 2 movie, which hits cinemas May 28. My friends like to recall the time we went to see the first film (on release day, naturally) and had to wait in a huge queue at the cinema. Despite having already bought our tickets online I managed to give myself a stress rash worrying that we wouldn't get in. That's how excited I was. Don't judge me. 

Now that I live approximately one minute from a cinema, I'm hoping to avoid similar incidents this year. But I can't promise anything. Here are some of Carrie's most inspired outfits to help get you excited too! Click on the image to see all pictures a whole lot bigger.  

Monday, 15 March 2010

Simple Winter Skin Blitz



When you've got lazy skin that doesn't regenerate as effectively as it should, you tend to spend a lot of time exfoliating and moisturising, exfoliating and moisturising. It's boring but it's part of my life.

The products that have been helping my skin do its job for the last month or so are Liz Earle's Energising Body Scrub and Superskin Body Cream

When it comes to body scrub, I like ones with rough, not-too-small grains that actually scrub. Energising Body Scrub uses ground olive stones to exfoliate gently yet effectively. It smells strongly of Geranium and Patchouli, as it's packed with essential oils designed to stimulate your senses as you buff away the dead skin cells. 


The texture is quite similar to Aveda's Smoothing Body Polish, if you've tried it, with a sand-like feeling to the ground olive stones. On first use I thought I'd prefer the 'bits' in it to be a bit bigger and rougher, purely for my satisfaction, but I've come to realise it smoothes just as well as more scratchy-feeling, artificial products (like my beloved, yet paraben-packed L'Oreal Exfotonic). Other goodies like Vitamin E help to moisturise the skin as you exfoliate.  

My current favourite body product, Superskin Body Cream, is a treat for the nose as well as the skin; it smells delish. If you leave the tube on its end and don't shake it before use the 25% pure plant oils it contains come trickling straight out before the lotion, which to me is lush. It feels so luxurious. 


The cream is super-moisturising and sinks into skin in seconds. I have to stop myself from smothering my whole body in it every day because I don't want it to run out! Avocado, borage and rosehip oils provide essential fatty acids, which help to lock moisture into the skin. It's fantastic used alone after showering, or following the scrub as a quick and pleasurable daily bodycare routine. After all, it's March already and soon those winter-ravaged arms and legs will have to come out of their cozy layers!  

These products were provided for review, however my views and opinions remain honest and unbiased. 

Friday, 12 March 2010

Tea for Two



Today I made my mum a surprise Mother's Day tea party; she's away at the weekend and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to show her how much I appreciate her. It worked out perfectly, and we both settled in to watch Marilyn Monroe films while stuffing our faces! How are you planning to spoil your mum on Sunday?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Casual Smudgy Eyes

SO FAR, SO CHIC
I had quite a few people say to me after yesterday's post, 'but what about me? I have brown eyes'. Well, today I'm going to... do another post you won't like. Soz. I'm dedicating a bit of time to my fair-haired, blue/green-eyed sisters. Hey girls, wear sunscreen!

This morning I decided to test out my new favourite Prestige eyeliner to see if I could use it on my waterline without looking like I'd joined a girl gang (black liner gives me an 'edge', shall we say). I applied the liner on top and bottom inner rims, added some matt brown shadow in the crease and through my brows, lots of mascara and a smudge of Eight Hour Cream on my lids to give a bit of shine. Surprisingly this did not result in any creasing or patchiness by the evening.

Now I never claimed to be amazing at makeup application so please be kind! I just wanted to show how the black/brown pencil brings out the colour of blue or green eyes, and how you can create a relaxed look, which with a darker liner on fair skin would be very 'evening' and dramatic.

Products used:
Prestige Classic Eyeliner in black/brown
Natural Collection Duo Eyeshadow in mocha/latte
Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Eyeliner for Blondes


I'll admit I'm not particularly adventurous when it comes to eye makeup. I generally skip eye shadow, do a flick of eyeliner and lots of coats of mascara.

My eyelashes are super pale and my bare eyes look stark, so I only feel 'done' when I've got mascara on. Which is not to say I won't leave the house without makeup (that's what sunglasses are for!).

If I'm feeling bold I'll use a black liquid liner for my cat-eye flicks. It doesn't look subtle, but I like it. I might colour my brows in a bit to match. If I'm in the mood for something au naturel, I turn to my new favourite eye pencil: Prestige Classic Eyeliner in black/brown.

Why it's so difficult to find eyeliners in black/brown I do not know. Every pure brown liner I've ever tried has been reddish-brown coloured, like mud, making me look as if I have an insomnia problem.

This pencil is wonderfully soft and smudgy on application, allowing you to manipulate it easily with a brush and really get into the lash roots. However, once on, it stays in place all day. The colour is perfect for blondes with blue or green eyes, as it's not as harsh as black, but still gives fantastic definition. It might suit redheads too; my hair has a lot of red in it, kind of straw-coloured (and textured! Someone recommend a good leave-in condition already!).

If black/brown doesn't appeal but you're after a good eyeliner, this pencil comes in 14 other shades, from  sable to kiwi (a forest green!). Prestige also make a waterproof pencil liner, which I'd love to try. You can find Prestige in Boots. I bought my liner for £3.99.

Monday, 8 March 2010

See How You Feel

SO FAR, SO CHIC
'Dry eyes, burning like fire!' That's a little song adaption my friend Sophie and I came up with after too many hours spent staring at our computers.

My eyes have been feeling strange and sore ever since I got back from London last week. I've no idea why: no new lotions or potions have been introduced into my regime, and I haven't even worn makeup every day.

I do spend a long time at my laptop, but then I always have. Nothing has changed, and yet my eyes are irritated and I am irritated with them.

It's good to have eye drops on standby for bad eye days, but once you open them you're meant to throw them away after a few weeks, even though you've got loads left! Thankfully, Blink Intensive Tears have overcome this problem by creating single-use eye drop ampules, which come in a set and can be snapped off when you need them. I always keep one in my handbag for eye emergencies. (I'm the sort of person who walks past a bus, has dust flicked into my eye and has to toddle off to the eye hospital. This happened.)

I used one last night and it relieved a lot of my eye soreness. This morning the charming bloodshot look I was sporting after three hours of proofreading had also gone. They're fab as a quick fix. They cost £4.99 and are available from Boots and other pharmacies.

If anyone has any advice for relieving sore eyes, or suggestions of what could be causing this sudden eyetastrophe, I'd love to hear it. 

Saturday, 6 March 2010

News Flash!


I've changed my URL from laurawheat.co.uk to its own domain at sofarsochic.co.uk. Please can all the lovely people that link to me change their blog rolls?

Hopefully you should all be redirected: I just wanted to mention it in case you didn't notice.


My old URL, laurawheat.co.uk, will become a website and portfolio on which to display my journalism work. My friend Rob has very kindly agreed to make the site for me!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Straight-talking Skincare Advice


As it's Friday and the sun is shining, I think I'll be kind and share some more sage advice from our skincare expert and author of Beauty Mouth, Caroline Hirons. I was lucky enough to meet the lovely lady herself on Tuesday at our beauty blogger gathering, and I can tell you I grilled the poor woman for hours. She was most obliging and now I'm armed with even more product know-how. 

Which beauty myths drive you mad?
Pores are NOT DOORS people; they don’t open and close! If you have large pores, you have large pores. A toner – especially one with an insane amount of ALCOHOL in it – will not help you. Ignore the Clinique sales person. We used their No.4 toner to clean the counter.

How do you rate 'natural products' vs 'scientific' ranges?

Personally I'd be lost without both. I like high-tech around the eyes and as a serum. At the other end of the scale, I love the benefits of organic balm/rosehip oil, particularly massaged in thoroughly. 

What emerging trends are you seeing in new products? 
There is still a huge buzz around peptides, with firms trying to out-do each other with more and more peptides in their products. 

I wish people would move away from glycolic acid and instead look to lactic and malic acid. Step away from the glycolic people, and for god’s sake stop with the microdermabrasion! Enough already.

Thank you to Caroline Hirons for her sage advice. Find her at www.beautymouth.com

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Cupboard Shopping for Clinique


When you have a lot of makeup, it's sometimes fun to dig around in your bags of goodies until you find something new to play with. 

Since I got my Bobbi Brown brushes, I'm able to apply bronzer much more effectively than with the old Guerlain brush that came with my Terracotta Tan Booster. 

I find Guerlain a bit too muddy and orange-coloured for winter, so I've been using a free sample I got from Clinique; True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer in Sunkissed. 

In the compact, this looks quite shimmery, even sparkly (I see you recoiling over there!). However, upon application all sparkle magically vanishes, leaving only a natural, bronzed glow. It's really easy to build the colour, without looking orange or insane. When applied over foundation and concealer (I don't use powder) it lasts fantastically, and doesn't go patchy either.

Another Clinique sample I'm loving is the Colour Surge Butter Shine Lipstick in Delovely. Be warned: in the bullet it looks a highly suspicious bronze colour, not unlike Rimmel's teen classic 'Heather Shimmer'. I was tempted to toss it straight in the bin.

Luckily I didn't, because turns out it's a fab 'natural' colour, similar to my lip colour but with a bit more oomph. The formula is super moisturising, so it doesn't matter if you forget lip balm. It would be perfect with MAC 'Spice' lipliner, for a reddy/brown winter lip.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Traveling with Style



I was delighted to discover these when going through my bag this morning. The memories were hazy, but I knew what I had done. 

Having had two fab meetings in London yesterday, I met up with a gang of fellow bloggers, and so commenced 'Wine Night'. Rude not to partake of a few sips. After much merriment, not to mention applying of Lip Tars (my hand is still stained) it was with a heavy yet contented heart that I left my new pals to catch the train home. 

Being a chatty sort of fellow, I decided to peep through the gap in the seats to the boy sat behind me. 'Whatcha doin?' And so began an hour-and-a-half-long friendship in which we chatted about the children's telly we loved as kids, sang the theme music (ok, I did), and established that he's friends with my opposite neighbour.

These drawings are evidence that I made us play a classic game from school, where you draw a bit of a body, fold over the paper, swap with the other person and they draw the next bit. HIGHLY AMUSING. We both particularly enjoyed the exterior belly button.  

PS Yes that is a Jeremy Beadle hand. 

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Expert in the House


Today on So Far So Chic I'm pleased to bring you a real skincare professional: Caroline Hirons has agreed to shed some light on our most pressing beauty conundrums. Here's a bit of background on her stellar credentials... 

Currently consulting for George Hammer as group sales manager in charge of Mister Mascara and Urban Retreat, Caroline's most rewarding role is her work on All for Eve, a new stand alone beauty and fashion brand that donates profits to the research of gynecological cancers. Caroline explains that after years in the industry she became ‘a little jaded by all the ‘taking’’ and wanted to give something back. 

She’s a fully qualified (international level) facialist; describing her training course as ‘similar to a junior doctor’s and not for the faint-hearted’. Caroline previously worked for Aveda, Shu Uemura, and Space NK, before Sylvie Chantecaille offered her a job running Chantecaille in the UK. In 2006 she moved to Liz Earle, where she played a key role in establishing the brand in the retail sector.

Beauty’s in the blood in Caroline’s family: her mother worked for Rubinstein and Coty. Her grandmother was even one of the original Guerlain parfum consultants in Paris; cue fabulous pictures of her on the counter in the 60’s with bouffant hair and eyeliner!

What's the one product you recommend above all others?  
A brand called Biologique Recherche based in Paris: I was lucky enough to train there under Mr et Madame Alloche. The latter was the man behind the Carita lifting machines; a genius device for driving product into the skin electronically. Biologique Recherche have a product called P50. There are no words to describe its effect on the skin. It comes in three strengths and is an exfoliating balancer, used in place of toner before treatments or moisturising. Do what you can to get your hands on this product; it’s unlike anything else on the market. People who have used it need only whisper ‘P50’ to elicit a chorus of ‘ohmygod! P50!’ It was Allure Magazine’s No.1 beauty product a few years ago, and yet still managed to fall off the radar!

Caroline has answered a whole host of questions, so look out for upcoming posts! You can find her on twitter @CarolineHirons and at www.beautymouth.com
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