Beauty Hall & The Beast

The other day whilst applying my foundation I was surprised to see that it is no longer a good match. My skin is now so pale & sun-deprived that even the palest Dior foundation is leaving me slightly orange-looking…”Easy fix” I hear you cry, just take trip to the Beauty Hall!

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

Er. No. Please tell me that I am not the only person for whom a trip to the ‘Beauty Hall’ fills them with utter dread? Half the counter girls (& boys) are thick with make-up and the other half are still recovering from the night before. How can I trust them when every wrinkle on their face is cracking up under the weight of the lotions, potions, foundation, highlighter, powder, bronzer & heaven knows what else they’ve applied. I even once overheard a girl talking about ‘fixing’ her makeup in place with a good spritz of hairspray…I am serious that is what she said!

On top of a fear of the staff, I also hold a deep-seated resentment for any so-called ‘claims’. I spent most of my career coming up with weird and wonderful ways to sell make-up so I’m only too aware that most of the claims are highly over-stated and, the amount of money, time and effort companies pile into campaigns to make you believe is incredible, verging on ridiculous.  On top of this I steer clear of anything chemical in the vain hope that organic won’t harm me in the long term – has anyone actually tested these products for anything more than a couple of years?

So, you can imagine what a delightful customer I am.

It’s 9.55am and freezing cold. Did anyone else know that John Lewis Brent Cross doesn’t open tip 10am? As I wait with my friend – as it is imperative to never enter the Beauty Hall alone – I can feel the in-trepidation rising. There is a pack of wolves inside ready to pounce, with their memorized sales pitches and cross-selling, I’m praying I don’t come out even more orange.

… a couple of hours later I surface.

Not orange, no. Apparently very red! And my skin is very, very, very dry. Thank you Beauty Hall. Always leaving me feeling less beautiful.

Luckily, however, I did some ground-work beforehand and have not left empty-handed. After some advice from a few trusted industry insiders and some friends with beautiful pale skin, I have left triumphant with a handful of testers, a light tinted moisturiser from a very nice lady at Nars (although she did plaster my face with an exfoliator containing cellulite ?? I have emailed them about this, as it can’t be true!) and a organic cream cleanser from Liz Earle – that I have had before and is very good and should help my very, very, very dry skin.

A week or so on. I’m not really sure there’s a difference, despite using my cream cleanser and Nars tester moisturiser. Although the fact that my period is now over has improved my collection of pimples and I am trying to follow my own advice and drink more water – beauty comes from within after all.

If you are looking for a new foundation, there are generally 3 steps in defining your colour – Skin Tone, Skin Type and Shade.

You can be either warm, cool or neutral. There are lots of tests to evaluate this but in general Warm toned individuals tend to look alive and healthy while wearing earthy colours, such as oranges, bronzes, golds, peaches, brick reds, earthy greens, mocha browns and ivory. They look best in yellow-based colours.

Cool toned people look best in jewel tones such as vibrant emerald green, royal or icy blues, rosy pinks, silvers, plums, and pure white. Blue-based colors look best.

Neutral, you can wear pretty much anything!

Warm toned skin tends to have a golden or apricot undertone. Their hair tends to have hints of orange, yellow, red or gold. Eye color tends to be amber, dark brown, hazel, or green.

Cool toned skin has a pink or rosy undertone. Their hair often contains blue, blue-violet, silver, drab, and ash undertones. Eye color tends to be light blue, gray-green, blue green, turquoise, gray-blue, black or cool brown.

And if you are still totally confused there is a vein test, the colours are subtle though so try comparing with a friend to distinguish the colour more clearly.

Vein test – in a natural light, look at the inside of your wrist; if the veins appear greenish this indicates you have yellow undertones and thus would have a warm skin tone. Veins that appear to be more bluish indicate a cool skin tone.

Once you have determined your skin tone you’ll know whether to buy a foundation with a pink base or a yellow base. Generally the bigger brands will have two tones for each shade (level of paleness/darkness).

Brands will also have a number of types of coverage, from tinted moisturiser to full-cover, 24-hour wear. Generally the younger your skin the lighter the cover, although be very careful covering wrinkles with thick foundation as they will only look worse – instead opt for a light reflecting formula to disguise them by bouncing light away.

There will also be formula’s targeted at dry skin (natural formula), combination skin (light, dewy formula) and oily skin (fresh matte formula). But really you should be treating your skin with moisturisers and toners to balance/control this before you apply foundation. For oily skin definitely use a powder-based formula.

And like I said if you find yourself taking a trip to the Beauty Hall never go alone.

photo credit: Jess Rivera via photopin cc

photo credit: Jess Rivera via photopin cc

Top Beauty Hall shopping tips:

  1. Never enter the Beauty Hall  alone – always take a friend who will tell you the truth and help you squirm out of any over-bearing sales pitches.
  2. Do some research beforehand – even if this is just asking some friends with enviable skin what brands they use.
  3. If you are concerned by the ingredients research the organic brands – Korres, Aveda, Ren, Liz Earle, Caudalie, Dr Hauschka to name a few.
  4. Window shop – plan to spend some time, walking around the brands, asking questions, getting samples. Even go away for a coffee before making a purchase – especially if it’s for a new coloured lipstick, foundation or eyeshadow.
  5. Price – don’t be afraid to ask for the price before you buy. Some brands are pricier than others. Top end: Chanel, Dior, YSL, Creme De La Mer, Guerlain, Givenchy.
  6. Some brands specialise  – Nars & Mac have very high pigmentation, so great depth of colour, good quality and long lasting – however do be careful if you have sensitive skin as the pigment can cause irritation.
  7. Lastly, try before you buy – and always ask for a sample. Here are the good ones:
  • Estee Launder will do a colour-match and give you a 10-day tester pot. Fab.
  • Bobby Brown will do the same and give you a possibly 3-day tester pot.
  • Dior will also colour-match & give you a 7-10 day tester pot.
  • Clarins have small sachets  – one use.
  • Sadly Liz Earle don’t do testers – I think they should start #LizEarle
  • Nars have very cute mini product testers

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