Las Vegas Beauty Buys: 2014 Edition

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Whenever I’m hashtag blessed to go to Las Vegas with work, it’s Walgreens where all my money goes. Not for me the bright lights of the Fashion Show Mall and Premium Outlets. Nuh-uh. Send me to the drugstore with $100 and I’m all set. [Previous year, here.]

I was pretty slack this year because, actually, most of my money went on gym kit in Nike (I know, you’ve changed), but here’s what made it home with me.

1. Secret Antiperspirant – That’s right, roll-on deodorant. I needed new deo and Cindy Crawford recommended this one on Into The Gloss. Who are we to argue with what Cindy says? Does she look like someone who stinks? Nope, nope she does not. This smells like baby powder and now I think I’m right in saying that I’m 5% closer to looking like Cindy.

2. Pomada De La Campana – What’s this hipster pot ya got there, Gibbo? Nope, not some hipster hair wax but, in fact, some kinda Mexican equivalent of E45 that stinks. Much like my beloved E45 and Savlon, you can use this on anything and it seems to do the trick. Full disclaimer: I bought it for the packaging. Equal disclaimer: it’s a really good all-rounder that I’ve so far used as a hand cream, cuticle cream and lip balm with pretty decent results. It was like, two bucks.

3. Revlon Skinlights – Hands down the best drugstore illuminator. Don’t waste your money on anything more expensive. Shimmer-free, glowy skin and half the price of its high-end equivs – there’s also an impressive array of shades.

4. Maui Babe After Browning – Discovered this in Hawaii, but the ABC store in Las Vegas sells it too. [Side-note: love that ABC exists only in Hawaii and LV – it’s like Walgreens but with added amazing food, Hello Kitty souvenirs and sarongs.] I’m not great with fake tan these days, but if you have an actual tan, this is a great accelerator to make it deeper and help it last longer. I am obsessed with Lancaster Tan Maximiser, but this is equally good, and smells like a holiday.

5. Marula Oil – You can’t buy this yet. It’s one of the reasons I was out in LV and it’s brilliant – and you’ll find out more next year.

6. Paul Mitchell Ultimate Color Repair Triple Repair – Another reason I was in LV. This is the finishing step in a three-part new colour preserving range and is the perfect leave-in. Genuinely speeds up blow-drying time (yes please) and makes even the most knackered hair (hi!) shiny. Love it.

7. Marc Jacobs Twinkle Pop – I love the MJ Beauty line – really great products and colour pay-off and super-smart packaging. This is an eye colour stick and the kind of thing that you can just stick on in a second and be ready to go. I got Au Revoir which is a rose-gold shade and nicely shimmery. Just need a tiny smear and you’ve got the perfect sparkly eye. Magic stuff.

8. Tony Moly Panda’s Dream So Cool Eye Stick – Yeah, I had to buy this. Urban Outfitters is doing a smart job bringing Korean beauty brands in store. This is supposed to cool your eyes after a long day starting at your computer and do you know what? I think it does quite a nice job, and it does seem to make you look a bit perkier. LBR, the results are not why I bought this though, are they?

9. Benefit They’re Real Push Up Liner – I’m the latest sucker to try this thing. Hmm. It’s definitely easy to handle and the black is nice and black, but I don’t think it’s quite as foolproof as they claim. I’ve used every liner under the sun over the years and it took me about two minutes to figure out how to make this work. I mean, maybe I’m a dummy. But I’ve tried a lot! I eventually realised that the black gloop stuff was spiralling out like a snake indoor firework and I’d wasted a bunch, which was kind of annoying. I did a decent cat-eye pretty easily, but whether that’s down to the tool or my own steady hand, who knows? I think I’ll be sticking with a brush and gel pot, tbh. Stayed in place well, though. May have ruined a bathroom flannel or two attempting to remove it.

HairPomades: bringing stylish barbering to the masses

HairPomades.comhurr

I was really excited to be contacted by HairPomades.com at work this week – their marketing material is such a breath of fresh air! Cute little box of matches (which is part of a bigger social campaign that you can see here) and a nice reworking of classic barber pole colours for something entirely modern.

That was exciting enough (it was the first Monday back after Christmas, give me a break), but then I actually clicked through to the website and was equally impressed at the stock on offer. Much like the feeling I get when venturing into a fancy French pharmacy or going wild in the aisles at Walgreens when I’m on a work trip to the States, I just wanted to look at EVERYTHING. Sure, it’s all for barbers (and professionals at that), but all of the products look so appealing that I just want to stock up on the lot. And then display them proudly in my bathroom.

All of the brands that HairPomades stock are super-desirable – and hard to track down in the UK, in my experience. Murray’s is Andy’s favourite pomade from the States and I can never find it in England, while Blue Magic, Layrite (teehee) and Royal Crown are all new to me, but tick that same kitsch Americana box. Lucky 13 offers something different with its flash-inspired artwork, but again it has real shelf-appeal.

On a more contemporary design tip, Oak and Dr K are also new to me – but equally interesting and stylish. How much more impressive would that be on a bathroom shelf than a sad tin of Gillette? The best a man can get, indeed.

Finally, and most excitingly, is Suavecito, which has skipped its way merrily to the top of my men’s haircare product charts (yeah, I have ’em). As well as a host of haircare products – more on which in a second – there is an absolutely incredible Black Flag inspired comb shirt, which I now decree as uniform for every barber I know. It’s brilliant.

HairPomades is the exclusive European distributor for Suavecito, which is an interesting American brand. Like many of the best products, it was created by a barber and his friend (J-Bird, no less) and caught on through barbershop word-of-mouth – again, like so many of the best products. Investment came courtesy of the founder’s severance pay and now look at it! A cult phenomenon with a way-cool skeleton logo. You can find out more about them here.

Like a Space NK for barbers, HairPomades gets the double thumbs-up from me for great products and even greater curation and design. If you’re a barber – or even a retailer, I imagine – you can find out more about being a reseller here.

My kingdom for mermaid hair

mermaid-hair

Mermaid hair is all I have ever wanted in life – at least in terms of hair. I’m talking past the boobs, effortlessly wavy, red (natch), all-round-glorious. I have the wavy bit down… the length is kinda shorter than it should be at the moment ‘cos I had a lot of split ends, but it’s not far off… and the colour is perfect because my colourist is perfect. She calls my shade Ariel, so you know… mermaid-tastic.

Today I discovered Mermaid Hair shampoo and conditioner and so now, needless to say, it is my mission to get my hands on some. It gets the thumbs up from Into The Gloss, so it must be good – and even if it isn’t, the coconut and orange-flower fragrance sounds preeeetty awesome.

What else do you need to be a bathtub mermaid? These ASOS pearl pins would be good for creating a Chanel-approved, pearl-bedazzled wet-look updo (because if Cher taught us anything as a mermaid, it’s that accessories are important) and Fig & Yarrow Pink Love Salts seem like a suitably romantic and decadent way to splash around (they also do smelling salts!!).

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is my favourite summer fragrance, although it is worryingly absent from their website at the moment. Maybe you can only buy it in summer? Regardless, just a whiff makes me feel like I’m lying on a beach. Or rock. Whatever it is that mermaids lounge on.

Finally this Topshop sequinned bralet is probably what a modern-day mermaid would wear, rather than those frankly impractical scallop shell bras. Cher would approve.

[Top picture: CherWorld]

Mermaid hair courtesy of L’Oreal Professionnel Hair Chalk

L'Oreal Hair Chalk

I first witnessed L’Oreal Professionnel Hair Chalk at London Fashion Week, when they created this mind-blowing look at Ashish. Although I was impressed by the results, I remained dubious as to whether they’d work on my hair – it’s always been too dark for any temporary colour to take, much as I might dream about it.

The other week, though, I was invited by L’Oreal to the lovely Daniel Galvin salon in Marylebone to trial Hair Chalk for myself – and trial it I did, getting chalked up in a major way. Like, more than anyone in the room. Like, crazy fangirl levels. I picked blue and green (t0 match my outfit, YOLO) and ended the night looking like a mermaid. The colour worked amazingly – amazingly vibrant, even on my dark red. I was so impressed, I even got my photo taken! And that never happens.

So what is Hair Chalk? It’s a liquid colour (think food dye consistency) which lasts up to three washes, designed for temporary transformations on any type of hair. In the salon, it comes with a sponge applicator so your colourist can paint it on, then blow-dry it in to ‘set’. The at-home version comes with tab-style applicators, which you blob the colour onto, fold over your hair, then pull through the ends – although I would definitely be tempted to get crafty with a paintbrush and do some more extravagant DIY.

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the brightness and visibility of these shades – even on black hair I’m certain you’d get a great result. The other surprise is just how normal it leaves your hair feeling. Much as I love some of the other temporary colour products out there, most have a slightly dry or dusty feel – which is fine when you’re doing a textured hair look, but not so great if you want something more polished. I couldn’t even feel anything in my hair once this was dried in, which I think would be a big selling point for those that aren’t as grungy as me and do, in fact, brush their hair more than once a week.

As a teenage Manic Panic addict, I adore Hair Chalk. The change is instant and it really does wash out easily – in fact, they did warn me it could be five washes with my hair being so porous (polite for ‘dry’), but it washed out in two goes with absolutely no trace. Maybe if you were blonde it’d last longer, but I can only imagine it would fade beautifully.

Pro tips: plait your hair and paint on at random for the feathery effect I have. You can only see one in that pic, but I had them throughout in Garden Party and Cruise.

Hair Chalk is salon only, as all good colour should be, and you can find your nearest stockist here. You can also get inspiration for techniques here!

Braid bars, blow-dry menus and pony clubs

[Picture: Vogue]

I think John Barrett might well be one of the smartest salon owners working at the moment.

Last summer he launched a Braid Bar at his Midtown Manhattan salon, perched high on the penthouse floor of Bergdorf Goodman. Not just cashing in on an of-the-minute hair trend, he was also tapping into the wider idea of quick, cheap (-ish) and informal beauty services.

This summer, Barrett has added a Ponytail Bar – offering a menu of six styles, which do slightly bend the rules of a ponytail to include a ballerina bun and braided look. Again it’s referencing a trend that we’ve soon loads of on the catwalks, but I see it as another awesome way of increasing clients through the door.

[Picture: Hershesons]

In London, the lovely people at Hershesons have done sterling work in the field of blow-dries with their stand-alone bars, which also offer their Pony Club  service. You go in, pick a hairpiece, have your hair washed and blow-dried, then have the piece fitted and styled with a finish of your choice. These change seasonally, to work with catwalk trends – above you can see what they’re offering at the moment

Taking the trend slightly further afield the Headmasters chain do a Ponytail Masterclass, where they not only give you an on-trend pony style of your choice but also teach you how to recreate it and send you on your way with a snazzy worksheet to help you recreate the look at home.

Both times I’ve been to America with work I’ve been for blow-dries, and both times the topic of blow-dries in Britain has come up. Predictably, they’ve been surprised to hear that they aren’t a regular occurrence in most women’s lives. The fact that we have to pay loads more and that not many salons offer a fast, efficient blow-dry menu is probably why, but I am desperate for this service to take off over here, preferably in the more fun ponytail/plait/updo/finish way that I’ve seen at John Barrett and the like.

People are proper OBSESSED with beauty now – just look at the success of WAH and its corresponding impact on nail services. Everywhere does Minx. Everywhere does nail art. How cool is that?

WAH’s BFFs at Bleach have had a similar impact on hair colour – I remember being in Sheffield a while ago and seeing my mum’s tiny village salon promoting dip-dye, which I also thought was awesome.

[Picture: Capture the Castle via Pinterest]

All of this makes me feel like now is the perfect time for some enterprising salon to introduce a station offering styling services like Barrett’s – be it braids, buns, ponytails or even Gibson girl rolls which I SAW EVERYWHERE when looking at the new hair collections today. Downton, holler.

When I went to Leo Bancroft‘s last product launch for his range at Tesco there were mutterings of him introducing updo bars in supermarkets, which I think is a brilliant idea. Cheap, quick, dry styling so that you could nip and get some fabulous halo braid or whatever before your night out. I guess I don’t know the logistics, but I know so many women that would be into that.

Not entirely sure what the point of this rant is – but would you pay £20 for a 40-minute blow-dry and hair-up at a salon near your office after work on a Thursday? I totally freaking would, and wish that we had a few more John Barrett brains over here making that happen.

What I bought in Walgreens

First things first – Duane Reade is my mecca. It is the best drugstore in the world and if I had to live in a shop, lols aside and thinking practically, Duane Reade would be it.

However, the only Duane Reade I know in Las Vegas was at the opposite end of the strip to our hotel and in 40°c heat, that’s too far. I think there is one somewhere in the middle but I guess I’m not as dedicated as I like to think because there was a Walgreens right opposite and that was way more appealing.

American drugstores are the nuts. As well as drugs, there’s more makeup than the John Lewis beauty hall, beer, food, tourist tat, books, magazines, photobooths… all the fun things in life you need. I always do most of my shopping in these magical places and this trip was no different – so here’s what I got.

1) Eau Thermale Avène – OK, wait, I bought this in the airport. I know these water spritzer things seem really wanky and Victoria Beckham at an airport, but honestly they are SO GOOD. Whether that’s in Vegas heat or on the plane, spraying your face with this magic makes you feel way better instantly and also stops your skin getting gross. Also good for; setting makeup and sunburn.

2) Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream – my usual BB cream of choice is Erborian which my friends at Strawberry and Cream sent me, but this is an A+ alternative. I know BB creams probably seem like a bit of a faffy fad but honestly, I proper love them. Like a tinted moisturiser but with more magic glowy powers and coverage, I liked to use this alone on my skin in Vegas for just making me look a bit more presentable/less hungover when I couldn’t face full makeup. Back home, I like to use it on top of makeup at the end of a day in the office if I’m going out, just for a bit of a refresh. This one is available in a bunch of shades but I use the magic ~universal, because the rest seemed really dark, even for me.

3) Kiss Nail Dress – I’ve talked about Kiss Nail Dress before, but that’s because they are hands-down the greatest nail wraps I’ve ever used. They are the easiest I’ve ever used in terms of application, last longer than any others and have the most bananas range of finishes too. The ones I got this time, which you can’t really see, are the neon Corset design – pink, yellow and blue zebra with a clear moon. I mean, why not? Need to wait til my nails are a good inch longer before I have a play to really do them justice.

4) Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain – DAMN these are good. I love Revlon Just Bitten lipstains already but these are like a whole new world. The result is glossy and balmy rather than a stain, but it lasts allllllllllllll day. These are a total revelation – I’ve not tried the similar Clinique version but I am honestly agog at how good these are. That’s right, agog. They almost work too well, because I can’t get them off with my Liz Earle without a makeup wipe first. I have Sweetheart Valentine (pink) and Romantic (red) and will be buying more, even at UK prices. Sweetheart is the best, for def. The shiniest, glossiest pink ever and it stays in place no matter how many cowboy boots of beer you glug.

5) LAS VEGAS TAT KLAXON

6) Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat – I’m a slave to Seche Vite but it may just have been replaced by a cheaper, younger model. This is really, really good. Put on nails when they are about one-minute dry, leave for 30 seconds and…. well, four days later my nails have no chips and are still shiny and that’s more than you get most of the time. I’ve read some reviews about it being a bit thick, but no problems for me so far on that front. This is a rare occasion when it’s not stupidly expensive in England too – just £5.99 at Boots which I guess may sound a bit much for a top coat, but for lazy bastards like me who don’t want to sit around waiting for nails to dry, it’s cool.

MAC x Archie Comics

MAC seems to launch a new collaboration every week at the moment, but the latest one is definitely something I can get behind. MAC x Archie Comics – or, more specifically, MAC x Betty and Veronica! Squeal!

Launched in time to coincide with the opening of Comic-Con in San Diego tomorrow, the full colour cosmetics collection will be hitting the shelves in Spring 2013. WWD says that comic book artist Dan Parent will spend the next couple of days promoting the collaboration with in-store illustrations at MAC’s Gaslamp store in San Diego, with personalised caricatures for shoppers – and there’ll also be make-up artists on hand to provide looks inspired by the devilish duo.

But who needs a MAC artist when you have me? Here’s what I reckon you need to look like Betty or Veronica with existing MAC products – definitely more a Veronica myself…

[Picture: Archie Fans]

Bardot-ish Betty

All teased blonde hair and pastel pink lips, with ludicrous lashes to add to the dolly-girl feel.

1) 12 Lash, £10 – natural but dramatic. And don’t forget MAC Duo Adhesive, which is the best eyelash glue in the world, even if you aren’t using their own branded lashes.

2) Select SPF 15 in NW15, £20.50 – pale and interesting, but flawless.

3) Lipstick in Saint Germain, £14 – perfect pastel pink.

4) Penultimate Eye Liner, £16 – this eyeliner is impossible to mess up – perfect for a thick swoop along the lids.

Vampish Veronica

Matching lips to nails is a total guilty pleasure of mine, and Veronica’s.

5) 2 Lash, £10 – super-long and subtly sexy. Good old Ronnie.

6) Nail Lacquer in Morange, £10 – the perfect tomato red, which just so happens to go perfectly with black hair.

7) Lipstick in Morange, £14 – matchy matchy, nice and bright.

8) Matchmaster SPF 15 in 1.0, £25 – Veronica is equally pale and interesting and this foundation is neato, with a soft-focus finish for any comic-strip super-heroine.

Favourite fake hair

That Luella show took place in 2007 and all these years later, after countless other shows that I’ve been despatched to in the name of hair, I still think it’s my favourite. Right now I’m thinking about the clip-in pastel fringes, but the double Minnie Mouse buns and hairslides and grungy waves all make me happy too.

Back to the point.

Isn’t it cool that intentionally fake-looking, My Little Pony-pastel, clipped-in hair pieces are still going strong, five years later?

What’s the enduring appeal of deliberately DIY-looking wefts and wigs? It’s fun?  It makes fashion feel a bit less serious? It’s really easy to do at home without damaging your hair? Could you even venture into a some kind of anti-recession, food-dye in the sink, punk revival theory? I dunno, but whenever I see a bag of pink hair pieces backstage in a session stylist’s kit bag, I know I’m going to like what happens next.

2007 – Luella Spring/Summer 2008 [via GoRunway]

2008 – Rodarte Spring/Summer 2009

2009 – Luella Autumn/Winter 2009 [via GoRunway]

2010 – Chanel Couture Spring 2010 [Jak and Jil via here]

2011 – Jeremy Scott Autumn/Winter 2011 [via GoRunway]

2012 – W Korea March 2012 [via Models.com]

2012 – Chanel Resort 2013 [via GoRunway]

2012 – Karen #13 [via Fashion Gone Rogue]

Wasson, Lacroix and the perfect plaited pastel updo

I’ve always had a soft spot for Erin Wasson and when I saw her in Bullett with my favourite ever hair, the spot became even softer. Erm…

Christian Lacroix’s Spring/Summer 2009 Couture show features my favourite use of clip-in colour, combining punky My Little Pony flashes with tightly plaited ballerina crowns – all the better for showing off those earrings.

Erin’s 2012 update combines the same slick sides and vertiginous updo with pastel colour, although her braid is pretty immaculate contrasted with the fluffy finish of the Lacroix style.

Anyway, I love it and here’s how I’d do it.

Hershesons Instant Highlights are half price at the moment and come in an excellent array of shades – pink, lilac, baby blue and red, as well as more natural finishes. They couldn’t be easier to use and if you wash them and care from them properly, they should last for ages too. A hairdresser once told me that an older supermodel (I actually forget who it was) kept her wigs in silk stockings – I have since kept all my extensions in a pair and they still look smashing, so take that tip and run with it.

My man Patrick Cameron is the king of hair-up and his accessories will make all your styling easier. The Halo Pad is great for making your updo enormous and is squidgy enough that you can ram any amount of pins in and it will still all stay in place. I also recommend the Crown Lift Pad if you want to do a beehive without any effort. Pat Cam is king!

Alternatively, if all that seems like too much effort, the lovely people at Hershesons also do a devilishly clever device called the Twisty – which is also half price at the moment. It’s only available in natural colours but if you want a plaited updo in 30 seconds flat then this will make life much easier for you.

[Pictures: Erin Wasson via Fashion Gone Rogue]

Beauty and the Beast: Viktor & Rolf launch Spicebomb

I’ve always been a fan of musky, masculine scents so when I was invited to a launch party for Viktor & Rolf’s new men’s scent, Spicebomb, I jumped at the chance.

The Dutch duo have always been favourites of mine – Flowerbomb was the first ‘proper’ perfume I loved and the night I spent with Jon at the opening party for The House of V&R at the Barbican is still up there in the most lol-fashion nights out I’ve ever had.

As for those butch fragrances, Andy wears Dior Homme [sexiest men’s scent of all time] and as well as nicking a bit of that, I also like to dowse myself in Comme des Garcons MAN EDT and L’Occitane per Homme. What can I say? I like to think of myself as Una Troubridge, lounging in a library, smoking a pipe, with a monocle.

It’s time like this I rue not having a proper camera – but that dark, industrial-looking shot just above is actually a pretty accurate representation of the adventure Viktor & Rolf took us on. The warning to wrap up warm for the event proved to be accurate, as we ended up supping cocktails in the depths of a Charlotte Street carpark. Much like Frank’s, we made our grand entrance in a goods’ lift and following some moody scene-setting, torso-heavy films, a ear-popping explosion of scented glitter introduced us to Spicebomb.

The bottle’s a hand grenade, we were introduced to it with a semi-deafening boom – no surprise then, that the scent is a bit of an explosion itself. The press release describes it as, ‘a sensual bomb’ – ooer. It kind of is though – you get a big immediate whiff of leather, tabasco and vetiver before it calms down into a lasting spicy, peppery scent. You can see the three key ingredients – along with Viktor & Rolf’s trademark specs – in that cute promo image up top.

As predicted, I love it.  I’ve given it to Andy officially, but I’ve been wearing it myself this week. Heady, heavy and spicy – just the thing for a budding Una Troubridge, really.

Prices start at £45 and it’s on sale in Harrods now and nationwide from 7 March.

Thanks Viktor & Rolf and Handpicked Media for a fun night!