How To: Flaunt Your Summer Body

If you’re a woman and have a body, you know what June means. It means it’s too late to get a flauntablesummer body for this season. See, our bodies might be all right for winter and the colder months of spring, but come summer, there needs to be a whole new body. It is also the season of “let’s see what crazy juju we manage to sell women in the name of self care, which we used to call weight loss or dieting before “body positivity” became a thing and we are no longer able to use these perfectly fine terms to make women lose weight for summer”. 

Buy a shower gel

I was looking for a shower gel yesterday and had to consult the staff to find the brand I was looking for. -“It’s where we have our weight loss -products”, I was told. Surely a mistake, I thought, but proceeded to the minceur/afslanken -aisle and indeed there it was, my good old shower-gel that now claimed to possess attributes that would make me lose weight! I couldn’t help but wonder whether all these years the reason for the clogged drainpipes in my bathroom was in fact my lard that had washed off in the shower? Well done Weleda!

Experiment with contouring

Apparently, by using different shades of self-tanner we can disguise parts of our bodies that need to be disguised. I read last week that it is perhaps worth considering to apply a darker tanning lotion on the “lower abdomen” to create the illusion of a more toned, well, lower abdomen. I kind of get the point of body contouring for photo shoots where it’s all about playing with the light an’ all, you know, a bit of highlighter on the shins to make the legs properly gleam

However, given the impossibility to get an even colour using just one shadeof a self-tanning lotion, I really do salute anyone who masters the application of different shades without looking like something out of George in the Jungle. I do. Full respect. 

Ask the Universe

It’s not what I end up getting, it’s my attitude to deal with it that matters. The Universe has my back. Like attracts like. Thoughts become things. The law of attraction gives me what I’m thinking about. Apparently that’s varicose veins.

My right leg knee-down looks like Terminator’s face, mid transformation. If you don’t know what Terminator looks like you’re too young to have issues with your veins. Go run in the sun with your legs exposed while you can. Enjoy the warm breeze against your freshly-shaven pins and see them get gradually tanned. I shall be exhibiting mine at biology classes where tree roots vectors are being studied. 

Blame the sun

If certain Western beauty standards would have it, us women would be completely hairless from our eyebrows down. The fact of the matter is that most of us have hair on our faces. I’m completely oblivious of mine until the sun comes out. I was having lunch on a terrace the other week and saw in my reflection that I have actual whiskers. This is kind of cool, unless there are remnants of my dessert hanging from them.

It’s a fine line, you see, between having pale, peachy fuzz on one’s cheeks and dark, wiry hairs jutting out of one’s chin. This is the question even Gwyneth Paltrow is not immune to (I listened to her podcast on this topic): at what age should we start plucking the hairs on our chin? What’s a quirky Italian ​nonna and what’s a downright lumberjack beard? 

Dig a hole

Did you know that by sweeping a shallow dent in the sand before you park there to sun yourself, your ass has a hiding place, will not expand all over the beach to take space from other beach-goers, and thus will make you look slimmer form the aerial perspective? I knew this because I read it in a women’s magazine not long time ago. We can do better than this, girls.

Why settle for a literally tiny ass-hole on the beach when you can keep digging? Dig a hole big enough to jump into. Ask your friend to fill up the hole so that only your head remains exposed. Please be mindful of covering your head from the glaring sun, and don’t forget the SPF. Also, keep an eye on any tidal movements. 

Then enjoy your beach body and live your best life. Have a drink delivered at regular intervals, but remember that you will need a straw to imbibe it. Think of all the plastic waste in the oceans and insist on a straw that is not made of plastic. Thank you for your understanding. 

All the Guccis of This World

Some of my friends have cautiously approached me lately with a careful question “so how much cosmetics did you buy in New York?” Dear reader, certain necessities had to be purchased. For one, I travelled practically with a passport and a toothbrush. Yes, that’s without toothpaste. 

Second, I needed some stuff. Some other stuff I strictly speaking did not need, and today I shall be introducing the unnecessary but fabulous part of my New York haul: the rock’n roll royalty of the latest cool luxury makeup.

Gucci Lipsticks

Italian Alessandro Michele has been Gucci’s chief artistic director since 2015 and with him, the brand has remained very street, but with a cool vintage, geeky twist. I was seriously in love with their campaign photos last year (old ladies sporting OTT jewellery with matching attitude etc) and overall like the vibe.

Last month saw the launch of Gucci lipsticks, and as befits the label, they come in vintage-y packaging, in 58 different unisex shades and are much cool and hyped all over the place. Until they launch in European shop-floors (apart from Harrods obvs), the lipsticks are available at Net a Porter (together with Gucci’s equally covetable fragrances, also yet to be launched in Europe).

The lipsticks come in three varieties: balm, sheer and opaque.

I have balm (mint green) and sheer (with the flowers) and have enough love in my heart to equally share between the two. Both are very lovely. If you consider buying online, keep in mind that both aforementioned sorts are quite sheer – the colour is much more intense in the tub than it is on lips. Good durability, and there’s a ton of shades to choose from. I keep reading that the lipsticks have a lovely violet scent in them, but my baume does not really smell of anything. 

Anyway. Love. Mostly for the nail-on-the-head cool packaging. 

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As can be seen above, I am riding the luxe-beauty wave big time:
Vogue UK is introducing exactly these products in their July issue.
This makes me feel insanely smug about myself.

Westman Atelier Highlight Stick

I had big plans to buy pretty much everything in their recently launched range, but alas the only shade that properly suited me (Pale Corpse) in their foundations had sold out in the entire Manhattan. This is how hot this shit is.

Gucci Westman is American/Swedish makeup artist with an impossibly glamorous life and client base (Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Cameron Diaz, add any A-list Hollywood celebrity), yet she somehow comes across strangely likeable. She’s especially known for mastering the art of a fantastic, three dimensional skin makeup for her superstar clients. Both she and her brand are active on Instagram, and following the Westman Atelier launch there are lots of videos and interviews available online should you want to study her before committing to her products.

Westman wanted to go all natural, or green, with the product line first, but found out in the process that if she were to keep the luxurious feel and quality to her makeup, she’d have to compromise on the all natural front. 

The result is a bridge between organic and hi-tech (no mineral oils, mercury compounds, formaldehyde donors, which is already quite an achievement on the foundation-front), and the foundations have been praised for their high quality by anyone whose opinion can be trusted. The Westman Atelier website is very informative about the products should you have an interest in INCIs. 

Westman is a rosacea –sufferer, and the products are formulated not just to cover the red outbreaks, but to also soothe the skin.

I managed to get my hands on the Highlight Stick which admittedly only few people really need on a daily basis, but can I just say that adding a bit of 3-D to one’s makeup does in fact elevate face to another level? It’s very sophisticated and don’t worry, it’s all glow, not glitter. 

Where does one put it? For example in a triangle from the outer corner of one’s brows to the top of cheekbones. Also, try dabbing some on the cupid’s bow (no, you will not look like someone with a sweaty upper lip). Dab it on, don’t rub. 

The packaging is so sleek, stylish and glamorous that you kind of want to have a moment and just appreciate it. In peace and quiet. For hours. The line currently consists of foundations, highlighters, blushers and brushes, but there will be more coming soon.

Westman Atelier will shortly be available at Net a Porter.

Below you will see my lipsticks looking pretty in Central Park.
Luckily it is New York so no-one paid attention to my prepping two lipstick tubes ready for a family photo.

Summer Face-Savers

Despite my best efforts to avoid the sun, each summer brings a fresh challenge to avoid the dreaded Steve Bannon -effect either on my face or on my décolletage. Because this alone is not enough to make any sane person hide away in a coffin until September, I’ve also recently started to experience bouts of rosacea on my cheeks (orders coffin). 

Most beauty websites and magazines are full of excellent coverage on sunscreens, and while I appreciate that you might not have the time to familiarise yourself with all such literature, you will still have to have the time to buy a cream and religiously apply it every time you step outside. The point of a sunscreen is not to stop you from burning while you lay on your beach mat for hours on end.

No. Its function is to protect your skin while you are exposed to sun when going about your normal life. Sunscreens are not a get away from jail free -card that makes tanning healthy. Roughly speaking, overexposure to sun will result in two outcomes:  the skin will end up looking like a leather couch or, indeed, like Steve Bannon’s face if you’re pale like me and don’t tan however much you’re trying to train your skin.

I tend to go for mineral, or physical sunscreens, which means the active ingredient is either zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. In the past, before all the Swiss vitamin institutes of this world kicked it up on the product development front, it consequently meant that the product left a horrible white layer on skin, which is never the desired look – especially not on face. Luckily, not so anymore.

My latest favourites are by Japanese-American Tatcha (products are developed in Japan and manufactured in the U.S. Japanese generally speaking are very good with sunscreens) and American ​Drunk Elephant (available in Europe). Tatcha’s Pore Perfecting Sunscreen SPF35 is a pleasant-smelling, thick, creamy sunscreen (which however glides on effortlessly) with zinc oxide as the main active ingredient. Works well also as a primer under makeup. Excellent for city.

Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 by Drunk Elephant is tinted, and comes with a bit of glow. The consistency is a bit runnier than Tatcha, and if I want more coverage, I mix it with either one of the two following creams (trust me, it’s far less complicated than it seems here). Active ingredient in Umbra Tinte is zinc oxide. If you are hovering between the tinted and non-tinted Drunk Elephant sunscreen, go for the tinted by all means. I experienced white residue with the other one.

De Mamiel Daily Hydrating Nectar SPF 30 is an old favourite which I use around the year. It’s slightly tinted, and whenever a no makeup -look is an option, this does the job brilliantly as it gives the slightest cover. Active ingredient zinc oxide. An absolutely beautiful product, which I sometimes mix with Umbra Tinte above, but usually use on its own.

There are very good tinted moisturisers with SPF around these days, and they can be a good choice for regular days without much sun exposure. I have a tub of Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser in use at the moment. It comes with SPF30, does not clog pores, glides on, gives decent coverage and is a perfect all-round deal. The active ingredient is octinoxate, which makes this cream a chemical sunscreen. 

Many beauty brands favour using chemical sunscreens, because they are lighter on the skin and thus give the brands a bit more choice in terms of product range. The most common active chemical ingredients in chemical sunscreens are octinoxate and oxybenzone

Why should anyone give two shits about all this chemistry, you ask yourself? Well, because of the coral reefs in the oceans, is why. Sunscreens that contain the two aforementioned, most commonly used chemicals (and certain others) are extremely harmful to corals, and massively contribute to the death of the reefs.

There are ongoing actions to ban certain chemicals from sunscreens altogether. Hawaii, Florida and California are in the process of banning the selling of products using these two chemicals – cutting back the use of products containing octinoxate or oxybenzone is not enough to have any impact at this stage. Of course what is needed is global action on this, but cosmetics companies have been extremely slow to act.

All sunscreens must have the active ingredients mentioned in the bottle or in the box it comes in, so choosing between mineral and chemical should not be a big problem. You might want to consider opting for a mineral sunscreen especially if sunning and swimming away in the imminent presence of coral reefs (but of course, again, this concerns much of other maritime species as well). 

Also I would like to add this to the minutes: once my current tube of Laura Mercier is finished, I shall not be repurchasing it until their people return from the vitamin institutes  with a solution that does not kill everything in the oceans. There are plenty alternatives.

Bubblewrap Your Contours

I have never been much of an eye cream user. I get terribly excited about all kinds of newness, and then end up not sticking to the routine of actually applying the thing every day. My tired eye contours are probably paying the price for this neglect, yet in my thus far life I think I’ve only ever fully finished one tube of eye cream, and they do pack small, so there we are. This possibly says more about how fickle I am about products than about my commitment to my wrinkles, but anyway.

Traveling places has the advantage of getting one’s hands on things normally not available at home (though this is also becoming a useless argument because of the internet). However, even in the age of the good old webs, there’s still at least one label that will not ship, and that’s the American hyper-cool millennial brand Glossier

I’m not in their target group because I’m old, but they have good products that work also on a more mature skin. Their cleanser is very good, and I am close to finishing ​Stretch Concealer, their other bestseller. The latest addition to Glossier skincare line is Bubblewrap, an eye/lip contour cream. 

The following is not scientific advise or much based on forensic evidence either, as I have only using the cream for a week now. I am sure no miracles can be performed in such a short time, and indeed I have no such experiences to report. Bubblewrap is a very pleasant product to use – it’s both a lip balm and eye cream, but I have only used it to calm down the skin around my eyes – I prefer a more substantial lip balm.

It comes in a sizeable 22ml aluminium tube with a pump, has a very pleasant, almost unrecognisable scent and is non-irritating. This is especially helpful with my emerging bouts of rosacea. I have taken to a habit of adding Bubblewrap also in the afternoon (miraculously there’s the one hour every day when the insane craving for salt/sweet strikes, and as if my magic, one’s makeup starts peeling and kind of falling off at the same time). So it’s a nice epidermal afternoon pick-me-up, too. 

Bubblewrap gives nice plump and I use it in the evenings as well as under and over makeup during the day. While the main moisture-giving ingredient hyaluronic acid does not make it to the top 10 ingredients, the cream does disperse comfortable, long-lasting hydration.

In conclusion there’s nothing offensive about this product. As the Glossier -range overall, also Bubblewrap is decently priced at €27. Given its size of 22ml, it is very good value for money.

I had the possibility to visit the ​Glossier flagship in SoHo, and it was quite an experience. It was a bit like a subtler, more millennial version of the Met Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibition. Customers are invited to try out everything – there’s a specific bathroom area with huge mirrors, makeup remover, cotton wool, buds, sponges and applicators so that you can try out a proper ​lewk using their products. The place basically does not look like a shop, as there are no shelves for the products, the testers are laid out as in one’s bathroom. Pink overalls-clad staff circulate with iPads to take your order, which you then pay there and then (no cash accepted). Then one proceeds to checkout, where a small chain-lift brings down your order, already packed and labelled in a pink bag by Glossier –fairies in the back-room, and handed out by another staff member wearing a pink overall. 

I salute the Glossier-founder Emily Weiss who’s the brains behind this innovative label that keeps going from strength to strength. We have Weiss to thank for the beauty world’s top shelf and ​shelfie –craze – she came up with the idea when she started her blog Into the Gloss in her New York apartment years ago.

The New York and Los Angeles flagships are the only physical Glossier -stores, as the idea behind the brand is to keep it purely online. ​Glossier is expanding to Europe slowly, and currently ship in the UK, Ireland and France (with plans for Sweden and Denmark), but I know of many a creative person who’s come up with solutions to get their paws on Glossier –merch (P.O. Box -addresses and various postal arrangements, not forgetting the good old-fashioned exploitation of friends and relatives who live abroad in the right countries). The old saying about when there’s a will there’s a way…

Jet-Lagged Face

Every time before a long haul flight I have my epic plans ready to mask and hydrate while on board. I possess an impressive collection of travel-size mists and single-use masks, and for the last trip I actually went as far as decanted various ointments to use during the flight as well. However, the minute I sit down and buckle up, the condition of my skin is the last thing on my mind, because I am just so elated that mobile phones must be switched off. So far the closest to an in the air-skin routine has been a regular misting of face, with liberal application of lip balm. The full-on in-flight beauty routine is still waiting to happen.

Long-haul flights are a bitch for the skin, there’s no way round it. Because I do not want to use the airplane toilets, it means I am also drinking as little as possible during the flight, which is of course really, very bad. I managed to avert a total crisis this time round by splashing my face generously with ​BYBI Mega Mist, which has a good amount of hyaluronic acid and eaves a nice tack on skin, which I normally might not like, but is just the thing for flying. 

As soon as I landed, I rushed to get an emergency set so that I would not have to spend the holiday covering up for facial explosion. Herewith the kit I am using, and none of the following recommendations have any scientific (or other) credibility because I have only been testing some of the stuff for literally 24 hours. But also face seems to be in full collaboration despite the jet lag, dehydration, city grime and ever so slight change of a diet.

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Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup Melting Butter Cleaner

I like Drunk Elephant products, and was keen to try this new addition to the line. As one of my favourite cleansers has been ​Caroline Hirons for Pixi Double Cleanser, I have been kind of drawn to melting cleansers. So this one had to be tried. It does a very solid job of removing a ton of grime without stripping the skin. The cleanser comes with a bamboo booster powder which can be used to amp up action, but I managed quite well and it does seem a bit fiddly, the tiny little tube kind of hanging around. 

I use this as the first cleanse and the follow with a (decanted for travel purposes) Votary Cleansing Oil, which I rather use for a massage than to cleanse face actually.  

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

Had to be purchased, obviously, because tailor-made for the situation. A very nice, creamy moisturising mask that can be slapped on and does not require to be rinsed off. Anything that reduces the need to apply water to my face seems like a good idea in these situations. 

​Milk Makeup Cooling Water Eye Patches

An impulse-buy at the counter, but anything to settle down puffy-eye situations, I’m buying. The first experience was indeed cooling. 

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

I brought this from home as I don’t want to part from it in any circumstances.

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF30

I tried DE’s regular Daily Defense without any tint, and it left too much white residue on my face. Drunk Elephant is a natural product line, and the SPF in products is based on physical barrier, such as zinc. I used the cream on the thin skin of hands and feet in the summer, and it worked a treat. I like the tinted version a lot – the best thing is that it comes with a decent SPF, and also getting a bit of tint on face is a much appreciated bonus,

HUM Collagen Pop

I left without most of my regular vitamins because I knew I could not resist the American selection. Whether I need to take dissolvable collagen-tablets  is one thing, and also I am not in a position to say whether these are actually doing anything to my skin, well, surely a dose of premium marine collagen can’t hurt.

Here we are. Crisis, again, averted.

In an Emergency: Rouge and Hydrate

I sometimes spend time online looking how people I don’t know apply makeup. I rarely use any of their tips myself, but just watching them go on and on about their no-makeup look can be highly soothing. I am especially fond of the “no makeup -look” that involves the application of dozens of products in a highly complex manner, which we shall call “contouring”. 

I rarely leave the building without some makeup on. I don’t think I’ve ever been to work without some makeup on. I am OK doing the morning coffee round or getting flowers at the market without doing a “do” first, but appearing in front of cameras has always meant the application of makeup. I think I first read about Alicia Keys going completely off makeup a couple of years ago. I have seen some of her performances and PR pictures since, and she looks stunning (of course). And also very fresh. 

While I was in Helsinki I had the TV on and I caught a (Finnish) talk show, hosted by a female anchor who also went makeup-free a year or two ago. After being conditioned to seeing women spackled by studio makeup for over 40 years, having a woman sans makeup on a TV-screen feels new, almost unsettling at first. And I know how perverted this is. 

I rarely even notice if someone is not wearing makeup when I see them face to face. However, as soon I enter the internet, TV or movies, magazines and adverts I only see made-up and filtered exaggerations of reality that never correspond to the non-digital world. If someone famous posts a picture on Instagram without makeup, it makes headlines. That’s where we’ve come to. Or where we still are.

I like putting on makeup, and am constantly kind of trying to grow into my look of a bold red lip (the fashion-speak of singularising things that usually come in pairs, such as “smokey eye”, “evening shoe”, “glossy cheek” and “red lip” is kind of crazy but I’m perfectly fine with riding that wave), with varying success. It is very, very high maintenance, and my commitment is fleeting at best.

It’s skincare that really gets me going, though. My face is currently on its fuckwittery-mode it does whenever the season changes. Also it is possible that travel, irregular eating habits, sudden emergence of sun and with that the rosé-season have contributed considerably. I am pictured without any makeup except for an application of Chantecaille’s Cheek Gelée in Happy. I must remind you that I am actually tanned in the picture (lots of outdoors last week), that’s the level of pale we are talking about. Therefore a wee smidgen of apricot blush is justified, otherwise people would stop and ask whether I’m very ill or possibly dead.

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My first reaction looking at the picture was “I look tired“. I read that this is also the feedback those women who don’t do makeup for TV appearances frequently get. It is interesting, but not surprising. A tired-looking woman is not a look one wants to achieve – we are encouraged to look exactly the opposite, which also is understandable in many ways. 

I noticed my skin peeling around my mouth, which very likely is a sign of some kind of a vitamin deficiency, but rushed to get a first aid hydrating spray as I was travelling and did not have my usual kit with me. BYBI is a highly Insta-worthy UK-based all-organic beauty brand. I had heard of their much publicised Babe Balm and then came across the ​Mega Mist in Helsinki. It’s a hyaluronic acid facial spray that smells very nice, comes in a travel-friendly small brushed glass bottle and does what it says: hydrates. All their products look very millennial and interesting and are reasonably priced, but so far I’ve only tried the mist. It’s not quite Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator, but a very good spray nevertheless.