I grew up with an older brother who was not really drawn to make-up, and a mother whose beauty regime went about as far as moisturising or using a stick of deodorant. There was a battered tin of “stage makeup” in our bathroom cupboard that had dried up and had started to crack, and she owned one mascara that used to make sporadic, nervous appearances when she was off to a party. My mum’s pure refusal to pick up a razor created its own ethnographic proof that the less you shave, the less you need to.

I want to be very clear that now in reflection, I am so grateful that I had a woman in my life who never made me feel like I needed to alter anything about my appearance. However, as a little girl and long before the age of YouTube tutorials – the world of feminine beauty was a mystery to me. Lipstick was a sophisticated object to marvelled at, I had no idea what foundation was, and nail varnish (most of which ended up over the carpet) was about as far as I ventured. Let’s just say I was a little late to the party in learning the do’s and do-not’s of the beauty world.

So, if you wanted a little chuckle I thought I would round up just some of the horrendous errors tried and tested by me and never to be repeated:

  1. Cutting off my own eyelashes. A girl in my class at school told me if you cut of your eyelashes they grow back twice as thick. That night I took the scissors to my eyelashes in the hope for fuller, longer lashes. Disclaimer: it’s not true, they do not grow back thicker, you just have a few months eyelashes-less until they do grow back with people searching your face to understand what has changed.
  2. Black eyebrows. One of my Dutch friends who looks a bit like Margot Robbie and has equally beautiful dark eyebrows that juxtapose with her blonde hair kindly offered to dye my eyebrows for me. Using a home kit. Let’s just say the look did not look the same on me as it did for her and I looked perpetually surprised but also cross at the same time.
  3. The fake tan. I have a mate called Anna who is a pro in the beauty arena. Everytime I go to hers she tells me to help myself to anything in her beauty cabinet, and I turn into a child, take this literally and put about 12 different things on at once. One summer, without reading the instructions I used her Isle of Paradise face tan. Had I read said instructions I would have realised that you need to only add a few drops to your moisturiser. I used the fake tan as if it was moisturiser. I turned a strange shade of patchy orange that developed throughout the day with people asking what was going on with my face. I have not lived it down.
  4. The Epilator bikini line. My mother kindly bought me an epilator for my birthday when I was around 16/17. I decided to use it on all areas including my bikini line. I remember screaming in agony for my mother to come upstairs. She had to help me to free certain parts that had got caught in said epilator whilst trying not to laugh. I have not epilated again since. Our bond strengthened that day.
  5. Cutting my own fringe: Or better yet, getting someone else to cut my fringe in the queue to Koko’s in Camden. Never cut your own fringe no matter how many tequilas you’ve downed.
  6. The natural suncream. Being a boho hippie I bought myself some natural hemp suncream off the internet and smugly smothered it over my arms and legs on a holiday with friends, studying their tubes of chemical-full creams and tutting. My hemp suncream did not work. I went the same colour as my luminous orange t-shirt and couldn’t sleep on my tummy for a week.
  7. Dyeing my own hair pink. Never dye your hair on the cheap. I wanted a light pink hint and ended up more lobster-meets-beetroot and pinkish pillow cases.
  8. Egg white hair mask. Just do not do this, no matter how many beauty bibles tell you to. The egg cooks in your hair in the shower and you turn into a human breakfast. 




I have always loved the idea of makeup. I’ve grown up watching old films and subsequently adored the classic old “Hollywood glamour” . I would watch in admiration stars such as Tippi Hedren, Grace Kelly (my mother was a Hitchcock fanatic) and Eleanor Parker who played the Baroness in The Sound of Music grace the screens with their long lashes and deep red lips.

My mum has always been a fervent tomboy and feminist and has had a real reluctance to any kind of beauty products outside of face creams. I don’t think I have ever seen her wear makeup or shave her armpits and she proudly will show anyone her lack of leg hair which she believes is a consequence of never shaving (I daren’t point out to her that she is fair haired). Consequently,  I was certainly never taught by my mum how to wear lipstick and everything I do wear is all self taught. Of course these days you can google a YouTube video on how to apply almost anything for any look you want, but for me growing up I generally relied on friends or cool older women to really show me how to apply makeup.

Over the years I have tried dozens of products, some which have worked and some which have not. In school I would always carry round a pot of Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mousse (remember that?) which quite literally made my whole face this matte tan colour and  my foundation looked about an inch thick. Match that with a wonky fringe and some clumpy eyelashes and you pretty much summed up my 15 year old self.  Well I thought I looked great.  I have had smudgy mascaras, eyelash curlers that chop of your eyelashes and bronzer suited which was much more of an “oranger”. Here is my bag of makeup essentials, products tried and tested by yours truly.

The Lipstick- Bobbi Brown Harlow Red £21.50 Lipstick is something I like to invest in, otherwise it doesn’t last or goes flaky. I have very dry lips and most lipsticks so the art stick from Bobbi Brown gets my vote. It hydrates, has a great colour and it lasts for ages! Also, as I am still not 100% sure I am applying my lipstick correctly (I don’t use a lip pencil and just kind of shove it on and hope no one notices) I found the application of it pretty easy. For a budget version, I would go for the NYX Velvet Matte in Blood Love (pictured above) which is £7.00 but isn’t quite as long-lasting but for me a little more drying.

The Lip balm- I normally have about 3 lip balms on me due to my overly dry lips but Burt’s Bees with Pomegranate gets my vote. It is 100% natural and smells delicious.

L’Occitane Almond Oil – I have used the L’Occitane almond range for years and I love it. This stuff is amazing! I got it as part of a Loccitane Christmas and it has been a permanent fixture in my makeup bag ever since. I have oily- combination skin and I use this as a moisturiser/primer and I love it. You only need a little bit and it is such a handy size.

Laura Geller Bronze & Brighten Bronzer– I use this little baby on both my eyelids and my face. Mineral oil free and paraben free, with skin loving antioxidants centella asiatica and white tea extracts. It is pretty pricey (around £20 for 9g) but it has lasted me ages, and I love it as a little eyeshadow/bronzer combo.

The Body Shop Concealer all-in-one  It’s always a good idea to carry a concealer with you as I always get a party spot just before a big day. Adding two upside down triangles underneath your eyes on top of your foundation and blending really helps to brighten up your whole face. This cruelty-free concealer contains vitamin E and community trade marula oil, and I find it really easy to blend with good coverage.

Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Beguile-  If you haven’t heard of this company before, they are definitely worth checking out. They have extremely strong values and principles (as part of their ongoing campaign for diversity they urged any supporters of Trump not to shop on their websites, they have always been 100% cruelty free) and even better makeup. A little bit of this pigment goes a long way so I add a little to my brow bone and the corners of my eyes, particularly for those oh my God I need a drink let’s go to the pub after work days hen you want to transition from a computer slug into an illuminated party goddess.

Lorac Eyeliner-  Another great product for the day to night transition.

Concept Eyes Super Slim Eyeliner –I am always on the search for a good pen eyeliner. The nib is super thin and  is smudge-proof which is great as I need all the help I can get for the winged eyeliner look.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Stick in Taupe – Eyeshadow haters rejoice! If you are anything like me and have a fear of eyeshadow because there is apparently a special technique which every other woman in the world seems to know and no one told you, then relax. I got this as a free sample with my Bobbi Brown order and I will definitely be repurchasing. You just roll this onto your eye and go. It lasts for AGES.

I thought I carried around a lot less makeup, so I may try to downsize even more, particularly as whilst writing this my makeup bag had an explosion and everything has been covered in primer. Which are your beauty essentials? Also can you recommend a good (small-ish) makeup bag?