Makeup Must Haves

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 22 November 2009 15:50 3 comments
It occurred to me this week that I am really quite fussy when it comes to makeup, and I also have a set bunch of products that I couldn't live without. I've worn makeup most of my life, from borrowing (read: stealing) my sister's clear mascara when I was ten to deciding that white eyeshadow was quite frankly the only colour to be seen in (for about three years - now it's green). 

So, no promotion, no saying that the same products work for everyone, but here are my top ten makeup must-haves that I just couldn't live without. Let me know if you agree or think I should be replacing it with something you love instead... I can be fickle too :)

  1. Urban Decay Eye Primer Potion - not only is this stuff in a gorgeous, Disney-esque bottle, but it works. Put on before eyeshadow and the colour will not crease or budge, and it intensifies the colour too.
  2. Bourjois Paris Ombre Stretch Eyeshadow in Vert - the ultimate green eyeshadow. I hated Bourjois' other eyeshadows in the small round pots - too hard and silky to actually get any on the brush. This one comes in a neat compact, complete with a brush which helps it glide on smoothly. It lasts all day and is super soft.
  3. L'Oreal Lash Architect Mascara - I think that like men, there's a mascara out there for everybody - you just have to find it. Mine is Lash Architect - it lengthens, it helps curl (buy an eyelash curler though, don't rely on mascara!) and separates. I usually use a separate mascara to add volume, or just line the top lashes with liquid liner to add depth.
  4. L'Oreal Superliner in Black Crystals - my favourite liquid eyeliner ever. For those who don't like the precision needed for a brush applicator but who hates those rubbish felt-tip ends which dry out, this is the answer. It has a softer, more flexible nib which delivers a subtly sparkly liquid black line and has the right shaped tip to be able to vary the thickness of the line easily. The best one I've found by far!
  5. 17 Hide Away Concealer Stick - this product has been a firm makeup bag staple since I entered my teens. The best budget concealer stick I've found, it's soft but not so soft that it melts off within thirty minutes, and provides good coverage for blemishes or redness.
  6. Benefit High Beam Highlighter - I adore Benefit (a sucker for packaging) but prefer not to spend on their pricey products - except this one. High Beam is a liquid highlighter that you brush on anywhere you want a healthy glow - I use on cheekbones, browbones and, after a tip from a friend who models, on collar bones for definition! Weird but true...
  7. New ID I-Smoulder in Charcoal - I got this through work (you can pick up new ID products in Burlingtons hairdressers) and it's my favourite black eyeliner. It twists to open so there's no sharpening needed, and the nib is angled so that varying the thickness of the line is easy. It glides on, stays on all day and last for ages. It also has a sponge applicator containing a cream shadow on the other end, which is great for creating smoky eyes. 
  8. Rimmel Recover Anti Fatigue Concealer - I had to buy this as they seemed to have discontinued my best ever under-eye concealer, the Renew and Lift Smoothing Concealer which was amazing. However, this one is pretty good and I couldn't live without it. There are so many under-eye concealers out there but again,they have hefty price tags. This one is great for a budget, lasts ages and provides fairly good coverage - you need to apply a bit more than usual as it's fairly thin, but it does work.
  9. L'Oreal Color Appeal Chrome Shine Eyeshadow in Dazzling Khaki - my absolute favourite eyeshadow for a night out, this glitzy shadow glides on better with a brush (it comes with a sponge applicator) as it blends very well with other metallics. I always get compliments for the colour when I use it and it has enough sparkle to make you feel glam, but not like a five year old!
  10. Bourjois Complexion Enhancer in Apricot - I discovered this product not too long ago, when looking for a good blusher. Instead of trying to find the right shade of pink for my cheeks, I decided to try this enhancer. It rubs on like a foundation, but is much lighter and gives a healthy, natural looking glow to make you look more radiant and awake. Another must for a night out or for winter days when you feel pale!

Book Review: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Posted by Judy Johnson On Saturday, 7 November 2009 19:47 0 comments

When I first heard there was a new Kinsella book out, I could not contain my excitement. But when I read the basis of the plot, I was disappointed. I was worried the acclaimed author was going in a different direction, away from her chick-lit genius; I also worried I'd hate it. But. In good faith, I pre-ordered a copy and put off all the books on my bedside table so that I could get into Twenties Girl as soon as it came through the door. And that I did.

Twenties Girl tells the brilliantly funny and heartwarming story (as with all Kinsella's books) of Lara, a hopeless romantic with a floundering start up company, an ex boyfriend she just can't let go of, and the spirit of her Great Aunt Sadie following her around demanding she help her find a necklace. 

I'm not a lover of supernatural genres but this kept to a rom-com style throughout and I was instantly hooked. Kinsella's lead characters are always endearing and I can personally always relate to them (shopaholic that I am), but Lara is perhaps the one I have most connected with; convincing herself she can make her ex love her, sticking her head in the sand yet having compassion for others and putting their needs first no matter how ridiculous they may be, all the while struggling with what will happen next. Lara and Sadie take us through hilarious incidents including fooling a room of professionals that Lara can read minds (until Sadie has a strop and leaves Lara in the lurch), plus some questionable '20s outfits and awkward dates. 

The bickering between the two girls is addictive, and yet it creates a page-turner as you hope they will bond and help each other with each of their plights; Sadie opens Lara's eyes to the false idea of love she has while Lara helps Sadie to see the love of her life was just that, and not someone to regret. Sadie's character is so irritatingly lovable, you wish she'd be your best friend, while Lara grows throughout the book to become the best that she can be.

As emotional as Remember Me? and as memorable as the Shopaholic stories, Twenties Girl is quite possibly my favourite Kinsella book so far. Read it.

Book Review: Remember Me? By Sophie Kinsella

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 1 November 2009 13:37 1 comments
In anticipation of the review I am yet to write of my favourite author's latest book, Twenties Girl, here is a review of Remember Me?  which I originally wrote for If you loved the Shopaholic series, give this one a go - it's equally brilliant.

Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me? is another bestseller that will make you laugh unashamedly out loud. ‘Chick-lit' doesn’t do it justice; Kinsella’s books are classics in the eyes of her widespread fan-base, with memorable characters who stay with you long after the book is finished.

In Remember Me? our heroine is Lexi, a twenty-five-year-old with dire career prospects at a carpet company, wonky teeth and a rubbish boyfriend, Loser Dave. But after an accident, Lexi wakes up in hospital to find that actually, it’s not 2004 as she thinks; it is 2007 and she has the life she’s always dreamed of. Perfect teeth, perfect millionaire husband, designer handbags, the lot.

Suffering from amnesia, Lexi has no idea what has happened in the last three years of her life. Her ever-helpful ideal husband draws up a ‘marriage manual’ so that she can learn the ropes of their relationship, but as she begins to find out more about her new self, Lexi realises her dream life is more of a nightmare. Her best friends no longer talk to her, she’s not allowed to eat crisps, her sex life involves something called a Mont Blanc which turned out not to be a cocktail, and an attractive man is causing problems. Lexi’s character is brilliantly crafted as someone we can all empathise with, and the plot has many twists and turns with some fun bumps along the way, making it impossible to put down. From her disastrous attempt at driving her Mercedes (she couldn’t drive in 2004) to knocking out a £300 fish at her husband’s ‘Loft-style Living’ launch, Lexi is adorable and worryingly real.

Filled with some fantastic lines of wit, Remember Me? will make you giggle, cringe and cry, perhaps all at once; a must read for all Sophie Kinsella fans and even more so for Sophie Kinsella virgins- this book will get you hooked.

The Time of Your Life?

Posted by Judy Johnson On 13:28 2 comments

This is an article I wrote for, a student e-zine which has since closed. Having read back through it, I thought that perhaps it was still worth sharing, as it may be relevant to more than just university.

When Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes boldly sang The Time of My Life to their hearts’ content, they may have been singing more about love than university but the title is still very useful. When you’re at school, your parents tell you to enjoy it; when you’re nervous about starting college, everyone tells you it will be great; when you apply for university, you don’t need anyone to tell you: it’s going to be the best few short years of your entire life.

No pressure, then. Wide-eyed and nervous freshers will mix with those ones who prowl about with confidence, although inside they are probably quaking in their little fresher sized boots. But the ‘fresher’s fortnight’ that most uni’s endure, filled with friend-making opportunities, lie-ins and society reps who pester you with their clipboard, does in fact only last the fortnight. After that, it can feel like you’re on your own and it’s down to you to make the fun happen.

Well, it kind of is. The saying of ‘you get what you put in’ to something isn’t a saying for no reason; it’s tried and tested fact. But sometimes, you can put everything you can find into the uni pot of fun and it’s still just not quite…the time of your life. Damn you, Bill and Jen, you set the stakes too high. Newsflash: perfect usually isn’t possible. If you don’t look like you’ve slept with a coat-hanger in your mouth every day, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed and are destined to be miserable for the rest of your life (uni life, that is). Take a look around you; everyone else is probably thinking the same thing as they sit on their single bed in their alien rooms, reminiscing about home life or wanting one of those well-loved home cooked dinners.

Becca, 22 has just graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design. “In my first year, I went home every weekend. I just wanted to get away from halls! From dirty dishes in the kitchen to sharing four toilets between 20 students, male and female, it was horrible. We had four showers to share with plugs which were blocked up with hair, and some doors didn’t even lock so anyone could come in when you’re starkers!”

Halls is the problem for a lot of people; for me it was actually the better part as I must have been a saint in a previous life, living with people who immediately became my best friends. It was the second year that took its toll, as six of us moved in together and slowly things went a little pear shaped. As one housemate left, a stranger moved in and he wasn’t quite ideal housemate material. Might have been good for Big Brother, though. As he left us to pay his rent, clean his mess and listen to his abominable singing, we began to wonder what happened to that saintly previous life and why we were now being punished.

Though it may have seemed all doom and gloom, it really wasn’t. I wasn’t the only one having a hard time, nor was our house the only one to experience problems. Just mention the word ‘house’ to another student, and they will roll their eyes and have a story to tell. Or perhaps it is the workload that gets you down; being homesick; not meeting enough people; having to work because you don’t have enough money; or just not having enough money in general (the student loan only stretches so far).

But this is where hindsight is a valuable tool; think about where you might be in three years and look back on your time at uni- now what do you see? Becca admits that her second and third years were a massive improvement. “At first I felt separated from my friends and like I didn’t gel with the people in my initial groups. But in my second year, I settled in and found that it was quality not quantity; I ended up with a small group of really close friends and just enjoyed it.” As for me, I look back on our bizarre housemate (who we nominated for eviction, so to speak, thankfully at the end of year two) and laugh (although I cringe a lot too).

Rosie, 22 also graduated this year from Goldsmiths in London. “It can be hard because it’s not just university; it is living completely independently for probably the first time in your life so it can feel overwhelming at first.” During whichever ordeal you may be going through, there are always ways to perk yourself up. More importantly, the people around you can help. Being down is commonplace during student-hood; and the best way of getting up again is by surrounding yourself with friends. As Rosie advises, “If something happens, you’re still not in the deep end because you are surrounded by people going through similar things and there is help at hand. What feels awful on Monday is what you’ll be giggling about over drinks on Friday night.”

So go out, cook dinner together, take time out from writing essays; only little things but sitting on your own dreaming of home is not the answer. If things get really bad, there are usually counselling services on campus- but first of all your friends and family are the best counsellors you’ll find, as they know you best and can give you an opinion you trust. Trips home are great for a little bit of medicine for the homesick, but avoid going back too often; you can alienate yourself further and make it that much harder to go back again. It is down to you to make the most of it- the bottom line is if you don’t open up to new things, put some effort in and meet people, then no one else can ultimately do that for you. Just remember that everyone else is in the exact same position and you can’t go far wrong.

Good or bad, each year had something memorable about it, which is something to take away from the experience; it’s experience to take away, full stop. That’s what uni is really about. So really, the new song and saying should be ‘the experience of your life’. Because although rocky in places, it definitely is.

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