Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Budget Beauty Buys

Beauty, it can be an expensive business, especially when you believe the hype.  When I was just getting started in vintage I used The Fedora Lounge as my main source of information and from there I quickly learned that MAC was the vintage girls best friend.  Their lipsticks, foundations and blushers all being firmly advocated.

This morning, whilst putting on my usual work day face, I realised how much has changed for me since then.  Now, my trusty make-up bag is comprised of cheap basics which do just as good, if not a better job, than the expensive brands.

My top budget beauty recommendations are as follows:


Weird as it may sound I am a huge fan of Lanacane chafing cream for use as a primer.  It has the same ingredients as most cosmetic range primers and is massively cheaper.  It also works miracles on rubby shoes.  Always in my handbag.


While this is a tricky one to do on a budget (in my opinion there really is nothing better for a matte vintage look than Estee Lauder double wear) you can get a good foundation on the High Street.  My three favourites for a vintage look are Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse, L'Oreal True Match and Revlon Colorstay. 

The Maybelline is the easiest to apply but no longer comes pale enough for me since my SPF 50 every day application regime - it is a good formulation though and feels very light on the skin.

L'Oreal True Match is a goodun.  The range has several pale shades for differently toned skin and it is beautifully packaged with a pump dispenser that gives you just the right amount.  The only issue I have with it is that it is so very runny, and so this can make application a bit tricky.  I tend to apply it, wait for it to dry and then buff over any streaky / unblended area with a tissue.  The best thing about it is that it has buildable coverage, so I can then apply a little more around my nose and on my dark circles.

My very favourite High Street foundation is Revlon Colorstay.  This stuff is better than MAC foundation.  The Ivory shade works for me and for several vintage friends so it is good suit all, it lasts all day and the texture is just perfect for an even and easy application.  My only warning is that it can cause breakouts.  As such I tend to keep this for evening make up rather than everyday.


I'm a Coty Airspun devotee and despite hearing that it has been discontinued I continue to be able to find it on eBay (perhaps I should stockpile just in case).  This marvellous loose powder has been around since the 30s's I think and it really does work to set your slap beautifully.  Sadly it is a bit expensive as the shipping racks up the cost but a tub lasts for EVER and so on a per use basis it is value for money.

If you aren't a fan of loose powder or struggle to get hold of this product then the L'Oreal True Match powder does a good job too.


Touche Eclat be damned!  L'Oreal's Touche Magique does a much better job and is much cheaper.


I'm still a fan of MAC's Dame blush but when this runs out I am going to try Maybelline's Dream mousse range.  I've heard great things about both the colours and the lasting power .


For a real budget buy I strongly recommend the Boots Natural Collection range.  The individual pots not the sets (I hate eyeshadow sets - you are never going to use all the colours after all!)  I currently have this eyeshadow in a pale blue, a lilac, a pale pink, a light green, a deep brown and a skin tone.  The powders are finely milled and matte enough for a vintage look - and REALLY cheap too.  I am so impressed with the quality of these and with the suitably "old lady" colour palette that I seem to pick one up every time I'm in Boots.  It is becoming quite a habit.


Two options here, both from classic Brit brand - Rimmel.  Most of my chums favour the Glam'eyes liquid liner, which has a very fine brush and makes the most perfect thin line.  Very good for a 30's - late 40's look.

I, however, have terribly shaky hands with eyeliner - I always mess it up despite years of practise and so I prefer their Exaggerate liner.  Another dip in liner but this time with a thicker brush - perfect for a 50's to 60's look.

For those little mess ups I've recently discovered a marvellous product - the Simple eye make up corrector pen.  With a very fine tip it is just perfect for correcting wobbly lines, smudges and wonky cat's eye flicks.  A real godsend for me, I can tell you!


Another coup for Rimmel.  I always find their mascaras to be the best High Street option.  I think this is because they tend to use a runnier formulation and so it is easier to layer the product even if it does take a little longer to dry.  My three favourites - in order of preference - are:  Extra Super Lash, Lash Extension and Sexy Curves.

Brow pencil:

And again, Rimmel win the day.  Their Professional brow pencil is just the ticket for myself and most of my pals.  the colours are pretty spot on - without the reddish tinge you usually get in brown brow pencils.  The texture works and the pencils sharpen well without the lead snapping - which is a rarity with cheaper pencils.


My most recent bargain discovery - Barry M lip paint.  For years I have been a slave to the vintage girls staple- the MAC matte range.  I love the colours MAC run, I really do, but their lippies have the drawback of being incredibly drying.  Well, this weekend I snapped up a couple of Barry M lipsticks - 121 a bright pillar box red and 153 a stunning rose pink.  I really like these lipsticks.  For one they are just the right level of matte to look good without sucking all the fluid from your body like MAC lipsticks do (Ruby Woo - you devil I'm looking at you.)  Secondly they are super cheap - around £3.  Thirdly - the packaging is very sexy - matte black rubberised casing that shuts smoothly and, finally, despite being cheap it lasts.  Not like a MAC, but it does last, and where it wears away it does so evenly, without leaving a weird lipstick line around the outside of your lips.  Such a winner.

So there you have my round up of the best High Street beauty products for a vintage face.  Do you have any recommendations I should add to my list?  Please let me know.

Oh, and don't forget to take it all off at night, will you.  I recommend Ponds Cold Cream and Nivea moisturiser.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Old Movie Madness: Baby Face (1933)

Golly, it really has been a long time since I last wrote one of these.  I haven't stopped watching films though and have such a backlog of reviews to get through that it has become quite daunting.  I've decided to start easy - with a film I watched just this morning whilst waiting for a particularly exciting eBay auction to hot up (exciting to me means a 1939 knitting pattern...heh!)

Baby Face stars my all time favourite actress, the indomitable Barbara Stanwyck, here playing the kind of character which became her stock in trade - the tart with a heart.

Barbara plays Lily Powers, a young woman whose father has been prostituting her to the customers in his speakeasy since she turned 14.  When he dies in a fire Lily sees a chance to escape and following a conversation with her friend and mentor, a local postman and philosopher, she decides to head to New York and use her considerable charms to exploit men.

She leaves town with her African/American colleague/maid Chico and they ride a freight train to the city.  Caught on the train Lily has her first opportunity to test her new philosophy and flirts with the guard.  A fade out and the image of his gloves falling on the floor tell us that she slept with him to ensure their passage on the train.  Neitzsche has a lot to answer for!

Once in the city Lily is determined to get a good job and sleeps her way up through the hierarchy of Gotham Bank until she lands a role working for Ned Stevens.  Stevens is engaged to the Vice President's daughter but this doesn't stop him falling for Lily.  Ned's fiancee walks in on them in an embrace and so her father intervenes to separate the couple.  Falling for Lily himself he sets her up in a lavish apartment with Chico as her maid and Lily settles into a life of luxury.

Unfortunately a besotted Ned tracks her down, determined to marry her.  When he walks into the apartment and sees his future father in law he flies into a rage shooting his rival and then turning the gun on himself.

The recently elected President of the bank, a young playboy called Courtland Trenholm, is brought in to try and calm the scandal.  Hearing Lily has been offered $15,000 to sell her story the bank offer to match the sum however Courtland tricks her into taking a job in their Paris office instead.

Once in Paris Lily, a bright girl, works hard and is promoted to running the travel department.  When Courtland visists the office he is surprised to see her still there and realises he has underestimated her.  Courtland woos Lily and the pair marry, Courtland for love and Lily still seeing dollar signs.
Courtland is indicted when the bank fails due to mismanagement and he deperately needs to raise one million dollars.  Lily refuses to help him by selling all the gifts he has given her and runs away with Chico.  Her boat is about to sail for Europe when she realises she is in love with Courtland, finally a man who knows her past and loves her anyway, and she rushes home to tell him that she will help.

On her return she finds that he has shot himself - he is still alive and ,terrified of losing him, Lily tells him that she loves him and doesn't care about the money anymore.  The film closes with them in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

This is an interesting little film (little at just over an hour in length) for two main reasons.

Firstly - for me - the costumes are outstanding.  You can see Lily maturing from a bar girl to an office girl, through over the top brashness and finally into a stylish woman as the movie progresses.  Her clothing very much shows her role at each point in the movie, with hugely over the top ruffles and furs when she is a kept woman to more elegant clothing as the wife of the President of the bank.  This is a movie wardrobe to die for.

Secondly - this is a stunning example of pre-code movie making.  The subject - child prostitution and sleeping around to further your career, are shocking.  There is heavy sexual innuendo and some of Stanwyck's lines bristle with her care worn attitude to love and sex.

I'm a Stanwyck fan, so I know I'm biased, but boy does this gal light up a screen.  She is far from classically beautiful but she really does ooze sex appeal and this is used so well in her pre-code movies.

I thoroughly recommend this as an orgy of amazing early 30's fashion and a fine example of pre-code cinema.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

My new favourite dress - I think.

I think I have finally found my dress for the upcoming and very exciting Swing for Skin bash (read all about it here and come along if you can!).

I picked up this amazing, and to my eye very Ginger Rogers-esque, yellow and white linen dress from eBay a while back.  Sadly it wasn't in the greatest condition but after some considerable Oxy treatments and a trip to the dry cleaners I seem to have restored it to a more wearable condition.

She is made from white and yellow linen, the bodice dotted with silver beads and also has a matching bolero jacket.  Isn't she just darling?

I've been struggling to find shoes for her, as I have not been able to find pretty vintage looking white shoes anywhere.  I was considering these Aris Allen rugcutters but I can't find them in my size anywhere and they are too chunky really:

 I also like these but I didn't know when I'd wear them again.

I then wanted to get some gorgeous  Remix shoes but realised they would never arrive in time.  Plus I'm terribly nervous about buying such expensive shoes from overseas.  What if they don't fit?

So, after much consideration I think these are the ones.  Good old Keds have done it again.  Yellow and white wedges.  Not as glam as I'd have like but I think they have the right level of cutesy to work with the dress.

So, these are now winging their way to me.

I just have to find the perfect earrings now - I'm thinking yellow Bakelite.

 I just hope I don't look like a sea of yellow with my new yellower blonde hair.  Oh well, I have a back up outfit planned...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Beauty Review: Revlon Just Bitten lip stain and balm

I remember first trying a lip ink pen from The Body Shop back in the mid 90's.  I'm not sure if it was my unhoned application methods at fault or if the product was a bit primitive but I remember being horrified at the "coloured in with a felt tip pen" effect that resulted.

Thankfully it seems that either my skills have improved or that the technology has as I'm really rather pleased with the new (to the UK at least, the US have had this in roller ball form for a while but I never managed to find it here...) lip ink style pens in Revlon's "Just Bitten" range. 


These are styled like felt tip pens, with the felt tip at one end and the balm at the other.  I have to say the packaging is a little cheap looking for Revlon and unfortunately the balm at the end is not retractable so I can imagine that it might easily be broken with rough use.

The colour of the packaging does not seem to really give much indication of the colour of the product.  The stain I bought is a red but the packaging, to my eye at least, is much lighter than the actual colour of the product.

Some users have also reported that it doesn't last long.  I'll have to report back on that after a few more trials.

Oh AND I think the vampire theme with the names of the colours (Twilight, Gothic etc etc) is a bit try-hard and oddly off market for Revlon who I tend to see as a more grown up brand.


So, I have found that it is best to start with lining your lips and then colouring in. You can use the product for both of course - using a normal lip liner would just be daft!  You have to be fairly quick at the colouring in part as it does dry pretty quickly and, at least in the shade I purchased (the reddest, Gothic) you can see where you have gone over an area twice. 

While this is annoying in the learning how to apply stage I can see the benefit of this in that it makes the colour buildable - you could get either a sheer red or a really intense dark red with this product.

I would advise to make sure your lips are as free of dry skin as possible however as the colour can cling in these areas.

After applying the stain you just need to let it dry (seconds, honestly) and then you can choose to apply the balm for a shiny effect or, of course, not bother for something more matte and 40's looking.


I really liked the colour, a good true red.  The application process is fairly simple too.  For vintage looks this may be too sheer for some as it isn't good for changing your lip shape with as it really shows the texture of your skin and makes it fairly clear that you have overdrawn your lips.  I do like it for daytime though, it is a much more summery way of getting a red lip than the old stodgy Ruby Woo and I got a few compliments on it from strangers, which is unusual.

 the close up...you can see the fade where I overdrew the lip line

 snooty face

 Yesm today I was rocking  a "Jedward" inspired do (look at the state of them there roots!)

yes, its is my mouth, again.

On the negative side, I haven't found it very long lasting, though to be fair I applied it once at night and took it off again before bed and once on Friday before going to have  blood test (how appropriate...) and, being nervous, had managed it chew most of it off by the time I got home 4 hours later.

Personally I think I will keep this product for daytime looks or, and this has yet to be tested, as a base for my usual lipsticks on a night out.  Depending on how long this one lasts I may well buy it again.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Glamorously organised...having a late Spring Clean?

OK, I have to come out...I'm a clutter monster.  I just can't seem to keep my place tidy.  I have a reasonable sized one bed flat, loads of storage and it is just me and the felines here but still the place is always a tip.  I must just have too much stuff.

I've even hired a cleaner, she came on Wednesday and already the place looks like a bombsite.

As a result I'm always looking for ways of making the place look tidier.  Cute vintagey style ways of course.

Here are some of the latest things I've found for keeping the home tidy - heaven knows if they will work for me...fingers crossed all!


I'm always tearing recipes out of magazines.  I may live alone and rarely entertain but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't enjoy cooking should it.  I'm hoping the kitsch little recipe box from TCH will help me keep some semblance of order. £7.99

Pet food bags are just ugly.  I'd like to replace them with the little retro cat food tin with its lovely deco lettering and handy scoop.  also good for keeping the pets out of the bag.  Need I say more? £15.99 

Sadly I don't have a garden, but if I did this little seed tin would be mine. £7.99


Clothing storage - ugh!  Well, after reading this inspiring post on the wonderful Lottie Loves blog, I have decided to give the closet a clean out.  I have bought some lined wicker storage baskets from Tesco (£32.68) to store my out of season clothes (great recommendation from Penny Dreadful) and have started sorting through the frankly obscene amount of clothing I have crammed into my huge double wardrobe.  I suspect I need a friend to help tell me what suits and what really doesn't but for now just thinning it a bit will help. 

If you have a cupboard to put your boxes in then office archive storage boxes could work well.  Much cheaper at £12 for 10 on Amazon.  I'd avoid anything plastic for storing vintage - those natural fibres like to breathe and while vacuum bags can deter moths they also crumple your delicates terribly.

So that is just a few ideas - let me know if you can help me with further pretty and practical storage ideas.