Her earliest makeup memories
“Picture this: it is summer 1986, and I am 12. My love of pottering in the chemist has begun with purchases of Constance Carroll, Aapri and Anne French and I am in the front passenger seat of my dad’s car (thrilling all in itself) wearing bright canary yellow nail polish. Wild!
“The day is hot so the windows are all the way down and I have my hand resting on the window-frame for passersby to see my daring manicure.
I am literally the absolute shit – in my own mind.”
“Cut to 1989/1990/1991 and on into any year until I discovered blusher – approximately 1996. The latter part of my teenage and college years are blighted by photos of me in which I appear to be a ghostly apparition.
“This is because I was convinced I had a) terrible skin (I don’t and never did) and b) a high complexion (I don’t and ta-daaahhh, never did), so I lathered on the green cream and full-coverage foundation, plus acres of powder to set it all, so no one would see the horror ‘neath.
“Thusly, no one now has any full record of what I looked like at 19 as the flash in any camera was shocked backwards. Sort of like Inception, but, y’know, Deception.
The metamorphosis into wearing makeup that actually suited me, or what I feel best wearing, which is a lot of the time nothing as it happens; I’m perfectly comfortable make-up free.”
Otherwise my signature is a fairly bare eye, and a bright lip and was just a process of trial and error – and also make-up is so much better these days. Like, astronomically better.”
Her makeup bag and what’s inside
“Because I’ve been a beauty writer for a zillion years, I’ve tried a lot of beauty products. Like, a lot. And oddly – or maybe not at all – I’ve discovered that the people like me who’ve been around a lot of products for a long time tend to have a fairly light touch with them.
“Makeup to me has a pre-step, and that’s skincare. I always start with that as the first part of doing my make-up. Even in my desk drawer make-up bag at work there’s moisturiser – if your skin isn’t hydrated, foundation will creak across it and you’ll end up using more to patch the cracks. Or maybe that’s just me.
“So I’m a firm serum and oil girl. Those change up a lot, but right now I’m using Alpha H Vitamin B Serum and Clarins Blue Orchid Oil. Both of these appeal because they’re light – I hate sticky skincare – easily absorbed and make a difference to the texture and appearance of my, erm, getting-on-in-years skin.
“Foundation and concealer are two things I wardrobe – a fancy term for disguising the fact I have a lot of them, basically. I do think it’s a bit flathúlach to be throwing your €50 foundation at your face on the daily for your colleagues to admire, especially when mass brands like L’Oreal Paris, Maybelline and Rimmel have some bloody brilliant ones for half nothing. That said, you can part Chanel’s Perfection Lumiere Velvet from my cold dead hands.
“I got back into matte foundation with the launch of water bases a few years ago – an oil/water and pigment suspension – that tend to provide good coverage with just a couple of drops and thanks to the matte claim, don’t need to be set with powder (can’t be faffing) and won’t slide off my face thanks to my base layer of much-needed oil. Nars’ Radiant Creamy Concealer is a longterm fave and just an excellent workhorse concealer available in lots of shades. It doesn’t slip or crack and covers dark circles well. What more could a body ask for?
“To finish off my face, I don’t like to be too far away from my Bobbi Brown Bronzer in ‘Golden Light’ – it’s whopper. I’ll happily sacrifice blusher for it. I don’t really ‘contour’, as in Bisto-esque stripes of brown on my cheeks that look good in pics and just grubby-looking IRL, but this is great for definition.
“If I could only ever have three eye products ever again, I’d happily make do with Benefit’s Precisely My Brow Pencil, L’Oreal Paris’ Paradise mascara (Oh. My. God. This new mascara is just brilliant stuff for anyone who likes their lashes to look lit, and I like my lashes to look like they’re off to a party, even if I’m most definitely not. It’s great), and Tom Ford Shadow Quad in ‘Nude Dip’.
“I’ve gotten so much mileage out of this palette it’s unreal – you can use the shadows wet or dry so I frequently use the darkest shade wet as a liner, and if I’m wearing a bold lip – kidding, I’m always doing that – I just sweep the champagne shade over my lid. But it’ll do a smokey eye brilliantly too.
“Lipstick for me is always a bright and always a matte. I do not do gloss, I can’t be bothered with its wishy-washyness and the re-application factor. This is one of the lip shades from MAC’s Proenza Schouler collection from 2014 (yikes, which means it should probably be in the bin, but, shrug) and it is THE perfect orange-red which is, as we all know, the fashion red. You can keep your blue-reds. It’s all about orange-reds, TBQH.
“I don’t consider myself made up until I’ve sprayed scent. Yes, this sounds incredibly wanky, but it’s also true, for me anyway. If I’m in a hurry and forget, I kind of feel a bit out of sorts and not quite right, like as if I’ve forgotten to apply mascara. Which, yes, I have forgotten to do on occasion and it looks and feels weird. I don’t have one perfume I wear religiously, I’m a cheater. I go by what I feel like on the day and currently Bella Bellissima’s Orris Florentina is getting a lot of spraytime. It always reminds me of parma violets but it’s actually bergamot and iris. Sure, lookit.
“There is one last thing here and that is hair make-up. Yes. Make-up for hair. Lazy as I am and bad at making essential hair dye appointments, I need to have something reliable on hand for root touchups. So I’m basically never without a can of this Magic Retouch spray from L’Oreal Paris. Trust me when I say if it was discontinued I would hold a wake to mourn its passing, it’s that good.”