How 24 Changed the way I watch TV

Monday, 30 January 2012

As I have mentioned before, I'm a bit of a fan of American television drama! I have more boxsets than I probably should, and prefer to spend my viewing time rewatching Lost and Veronica Mars than I do watching a film I haven't seen before. There's something amazing about being able to watch something over and over again and never grow tired of it, and pick up on something new and different every time (see Arrested Development for amazing examples of this!). Having studied Film and TV for four years, taking a semester long class in Contemporary Television Drama, I've seen at least a couple of episodes of a lot of the exciting shows there have been on offer over the past decade. But the truth is, I have one show in particular to thank for that, and that show is 24.

Television has been present in the lives of most of my generation since we were born. I grew up watching Playdays and Rosie and Jim, but would in all honesty have prefered to either watch a Disney film, or be outside playing, pretending I was IN a Disney film. I was aware of what was on TV, and tuned in from time to time, but the only programmes I have really watched for my entire life are Home and Away and Neighbours, something that happened naturally as my mum has watched both since they first appeared in the 80s! As I grew up there were obviously shows that I got attached to - I remember how much I loved the short lived phenomenon that was S Club 7's show L.A.7 (I still have the video boxset somewhere in my house!) and the classic Sabrina the Teenage Witch was always a favourite. The first more 'grown up' programme I followed regularly was Monarch of the Glen, having a hopeless crush on Archie, and desperation to see Archie and Lexie get married kept me coming back every week. But it wasn't until my brother convinced me to start watching 24 on dvd about four years after it started, that my relationship with television changed and I realised it was something I wanted to study.

From the very first episode of 24 I was totally blown away - it was like nothing I have ever seen before! The format was, at the time, completely innovative and unique, and I couldn't get over how clever it was. I had suspected I would find the real-time concept a bit difficult to get into, but it wasn't. The whole thing flowed, and felt completely believable, and what impressed me the most was how well developed the character relationships were. In a show where everything is happening in the space of 24 hours, people naturally can't become best friends, or fall in love, over the course of a series like they can in any other serial drama. So creating real chemistry, and a believable level of trust and friendship between characters isn't the easiest of endeavours, particularly when we are dealing with terrorism and a threat to American security! The fact that they could then show a development of trust between, for example, Jack Bauer and Kate Warner in Season 2 was amazing. The writers succeeded in creating a natural relationship, that didn't feel rushed or forced given the time frame, but drew audience members in and had them interested in what was potentially going on between them. Another fantastic example of this, I always thought, was the Tony and Michelle relationship. By having the pair working together for a while before the season begins, the unspoken feelings and obvious tension between the two creates an instantaneous story arc and while we are privy to their first kiss, it still fits in prefectly with the format. We don't see a crazy confession of love, or an unnatural connection form given everything happens over the course of one day, yet the number of fan-fictions and youtube tribute videos to the pair set during season 2, highlights how well written these characters were.

Obviously I am focusing very much on character creation here, my biggest weakness in terms of television. I'm all about the character relationships! It was said that the Lost finale would be seen as a triumph to fans of the characters, and a failure to fans of the mystery itself, so it should come as no surprise then that I adore the last episode, and without a doubt cry whenever I watch it! But in terms of 24, it's not just the character creation that should be applauded. The show aired on Fox, not HBO, so while the level of violence and torture isn't exactly pleasant viewing sometimes, it doesn't go overboard enough to merit being shown on a channel that has to be paid for! This goes for sex and language too - the show is about counter terrorist unit, and battling the bad guys, yet Jack's most commonly used line 'Damn it', is about as controversial as the language gets. I'm not going to get into the whole torture debate - that's not what this article is about! But I think that the fact that I'm such a huge fan of the show, yet I deliberately choose not to watch violent films, shows how well written the storylines are - I am so hooked by whatever is going on that the violence ends up becoming entirely secondary for me. The show is fast paced, and incredibly well edited - I for one love the split screen, it allows us to keep up with exactly where everyone is and what point they are at in relation to everyone else. And the acting is superb - Kiefer Sutherland never misses a beat, and everyone plays their part to perfection. Major kudos to the casting department for this.

I will never forget the season 1 finale of 24, and how desperate I was for more of this incredible show. That single season of TV entirely changed how I looked at television, and made me a whole lot more analytical in terms of my viewing. This, in turn, led me to choose to study Film and Television - and a University course is one of the biggest choices we can make in our young adult lives. So for one show to compell me so much to not only go out and watch more of these serial drama type shows, but to eventually decide that this was an industry I was fascinated enough by to dedicate four years of my life to studying is incredible. I wanted to examine how popular these shows are, and evaluate the high and low points of this type of programming, and it all started with my love for 24.

As I say regularly, I have a lot of 'favourite' programmes, and all for different reasons. If I had to pick a top five, which would be tough, they would probably be 24, Lost, Veronica Mars, Being Erica and Gilmore Girls - talk about diversity -but, if push came to shove, I would probably always say 24 is my true favourite. It will always be special to me in that without falling so head over heels in love with it, I might not have become so interested in this type of television, and I would have missed out on some pretty fantastic shows. So thank you Jack Bauer, for lighting up our screens with such action packed (yet emotional) material for eight amazing seasons. And bring on the 24 movie, I cannot wait to see how it turns out :)

Lynsey x

Week 2 of my Top YouTube Beauty Videos

Friday, 27 January 2012

Here we are on week two already, it's scary how time flies! This week was more tricky than last to pick the three stand out videos, but after some careful consideration, I managed to choose! This week saw the start of some Valentines day tutorials, more of the currently super popular everyday/natural look makeup, and a fair few updated hair routine and skincare videos. The top three I selected are all tutorials, which I wasn't aiming for, but it just so happened that they were the three that stood out to me this week!

1. Samantha Chapman - Pixiwoo - Something for the weekend - Crystal Eyeliner and Bright Lips Makeup

This is a gorgeous look! Using a lovely model, her friend Carly, Sam created a striking heavy eyeliner, adorned with little swarovski crystals, which catch the light beautifully and add a bit of drama and excitement to a classic eye makeup look. The lips are a gorgeous bright pink, and her skin is left dewy and healthy looking, but totally flawless. Carly was a lovely model, and looked absolutely stunning, I would definitely recommend that the Pixiwoo girls use her again, her obvious interest in the process was great to watch! Absolutely gorgeous look, and definitely something dramatic to try out (if you have time to spend gluing on the crystals that is) for a glamorous evening out!

2. Marlena - Makeup Geek TV - Get Naked with Olivia Wilde

I absolutely loved this Olivia Wilde tutorial by the lovely Marlena. The gorgeous smokey brown and gold eye and nude lip is a perfect look for either day or night, able to be amped up with false lashes and black liner, or left more soft and subtle for during the day. The nude lip is really wearable, and on trend with the no makeup makeup look appearing everywhere these days. The 'naked' in the title refers to the ubiquitous Urban Decay Naked Palette, but the great thing about MakeupGeekTV is that Marlena always has a link to her website in the description box, where she lists cheaper alternatives to all of the products she uses so that if you don't have a particular higher end eyeshadow palette or eyeliner or shade of blusher, you know where to get a more afforable dupe :) Her personality always shines through in these videos, she is always bubbly and cheerful, and a joy to watch!

3. Sara Walker - SWalkerMakeup - How to Apply False Nails

This might seem like an unusual choice, but I loved this video. Sara is the YouTuber who first got me into the YouTube beauty community, I watched a couple of her videos and that led me to discover Pixiwoo, Fleur de Force and gemsmaquillage, and before I knew it I was totally hooked, and subscribed to goodness only knows how many channels! Anyway, this video is incredibly relaxing to watch! It's a voiceover style video, so Sara introduces the video herself before positioning the camera just on her hands and goes through the process of applying and painting false nails perfectly. This video is only 6 minutes long, and she doesn't miss a step. The music is incredibly soothing, it feels like you are actually in a spa or beauty salon! Well filmed, informative and relaxing - a great tutorial!

Extra video of the week!

My extra video of the week was uploaded a couple of weeks ago now, and I love it. So much so I went and downloaded it from iTunes!

4. Savannah Outen ft. Jake Coco - Savannah7448 - Safe and Sound (Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars cover)

I've been a big fan of Savannah for ages, and I think this is a gorgeous cover of the song from the upcoming The Hunger Games soundtrack. She has an incredibly distinctive voice, and she and Jake sound great together. As well as being interested in the beauty community, I'm also a big fan of the independent artists who upload their music to YouTube, and that community is definitely on the rise too - it's a fantastic platform for musicians. This video is totally simple, just the two of them singing while Jake plays the piano, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lovely cover, go and have a listen!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed that! Don't forget to click join this site to be alerted when next weeks edition of my Top YouTube videos of the week goes up :)

Lynsey x

Makeup Trend - Colourful Eyeliner

Thursday, 26 January 2012

One of the most talked about eye makeup trends for Spring and Summer 2012 has been colourful eyeliner. Particularly blues, turquoises and purples, a bold eyeliner can instantly change up your makeup, giving a pop of colour to a nude makeup look, or can add an injection of fun into a more dramatic evening look. Brightly coloured liners are appearing in the collections of most makeup ranges, but I'm going to show you a few affordable choices (both liquid and pencil) available on the high street today!

Models Own

The Models Own Eyeliner Pencils are definitely worth a try. They come in a variety of shades, in Kohl, Kohl Neon, Shimmer and Glitter, and retail at £5. The neon pencils are a great buy for this 'bright eyeliner' trend, and will definitely brighten up your makeup if you don't like the idea of going completely 'natural' with the no makeup makeup look that is being favoured at the moment. I would say that these pencils are not the best for the waterline, but when used to line the upper lashline, and set with an eyeshadow, they are beautiful - I set the Azure Blue pencil with BM beauty's mineral eyeshaodw in Aquatic Galaxy, it looked amazing! Here are some swatches of the three pencils I have - Azure Blue, Neon Green and Neon Yellow!

Barry M Liquid Eyeliner

I've been a big fan of the Barry M liquid liners for a long time now. Some are more pigmented than others, so if you are looking for a particularly bold colour I would advise going for the turquoise (no.7) or fuschia (no.6) shades rather than the forest green or baby pink - from my experience the latter colours don't show up quite as well! But they usually have testers in Boots and Superdrug, so have a play aroiund with them first and decide which colour you like best, while Blues and Turquoises seem to be dominating, a pop of any colour can look amazing! These liquid liners are available in Boots and Superdurg, or on the Barry M website, for £4.79.

Gosh Vevlet Touch Eyeliner Pencil

I am a huge fan of Gosh in general, but these pencils are among my favourite on the market. They are just as soft and creamy as some of the more expensive liners (Urban Decay, Mac, etc), but are more afforable. They are not quite as waterproof, which is the one downside, but I still find that the colour stays on my lashine pretty well all day. The colour range is great, and these are selling for £4.99 in Superdrug! The shades swatched below are Blue Moon and Pink Darling.

Collection 2000 Extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner

Collection 2000 are becoming ever so slightly obsessed with longevity, no? 16 Hour Concealer and Foundation, 6Hour Lipgloss, 24 Hour Eyeliner... but in all honesty, I can't fault them here, this eyeliner really does last all day! I bought my first one of these about three days ago and fell so in love with it that I went out and bought another one yesterday! This liquid liner pen is amazing value for money, just £2.98 per pen, and the colours are beautiful. It comes in black, navy blue, teal and purple, and I can't say enough good things about it. Long lasting, easy to work with, vibrant colour and amazingly affordable - 10 out of 10! The swatch below is the navy blue, but I have since purchased the teal as well, which is absolutely gorgeous!

And for Crazily Waterproof Choices...

No.7 Stay Perfect Liquid Liner and Bourjois Clubbing Liner

If you're going for a night out and want something that's really going to stay put, two that I would recommend would be the No.7 Stay Perfect (£8.75 from Boots) and Boujois Clubbing (£6.99) Liquid Liners. These are the most expensive of my choices, and are absolutely beautiful, but I rarely use them because they are so incredibly waterproof that they really do take a while to take off! But if that's something you're looking for, then these are excellent. The swatches below are Stay Perfect in Jewel and Clubbing Liner in Electro Blue, which I have just discovered has been discontinued! Although you can't get it from Bourjois themselves, plenty online cosmetics stores, and Ebay and Amazon still seem to be carrying the shade!

Hope that was helpful! Another great choice is the MUA eyeliner pencils, they are fantastic, and at just £1, they are definitely worth investing in, even just to play around with different liner shapes, styles and colours! I, however, cannot find mine at the moment, but I have the shade Royal Blue which is really vibrant, and lasts really well despite the affordable price tag!

Lynsey x

Thank Goodness for Erica Strange!

Monday, 23 January 2012

There has been plenty of debate over the past few years over the ways in which the modern woman is represented in television, and as a bit of a TV drama addict, I have seen it all unfold on screen. One show I started watching recently, however, really made me think about how often women are presented in a very generalised light, and I decided that the show, Being Erica, deserved a blog post of its own!

One of the most common ways women are depicted in contemporary television drama (particularly in America) is the Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle, Cashmere Mafia style modern woman - powerful, successful, wealthy, and struggling to balance her work and home life. The idea that it is possible, but incredibly difficult, to have it all – the great job, the loving husband, the fabulous kids – is visited time and time again in these shows. Admittedly (and shockingly, for someone with such an insatiable appetite for American TV) I haven’t actually watched more than an episode or two of Sex and the City, but have the box sets of both Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia. The latter I found fairly uninspiring, but the former, I loved. For one, I am a massive fan of Kim Raver, she is such an underrated actress! The absolute emotion she puts into every scene is incredible, and she has one of the most expressive faces I have ever had the pleasure of watching on screen, from her portrayal of Audrey Raines in 24 to her stint in the sadly short lived Lipstick Jungle. In the case of this show, once again, the struggle to balance a career and a family is explored, particularly through Raver’s character Nico Reilly. As a powerful magazine editor, who has been stuck in a pretty much loveless marriage since her early twenties, she realises (following the unexpected death of her husband) that her biological clock is ticking, and the desire to become a mother starts to take over her priorities. Meanwhile, her best friends film producer Wendy and fashion designer Victory are struggling with this balance in their own way, with Wendy's career putting a strain on her marriage and her relationship with her children, and Victory’s romance with a millionaire businessman complicating both her work and her love life. This show, I actually loved, and have watched the two seasons of it about three times, each time growing more and more fond of the characters. Cashmere Mafia (starring, amongst others, the lovely Lucy Lui), unfortunately, I did not feel quite as passionate about – and since it wasn’t even renewed after one season, I doubt I was the only one. However, the ideas of the show are exactly the same - twenty first century women shown as a glmaorous, male ego crushing, professionals, who are often single because their powerful attitude intimidates men, rather than any suggestion that they might struggle to meet the right person. Cashmere Mafia was created by the creator of SATC while the book series Lipstick Jungle was written by Candace Bushnell, the author behind Carrie Bradshaw and the gang – perhaps highlighting the importance of the basic characterisation of the women in this type of show.

Struggling to balance work and romance, it seems, is one of the most common ways in which women today see themselves represented on screen. And don’t get me wrong – nine times out of ten, I’m watching shows like Gossip Girl and Lipstick Jungle as a distraction from the mundaneness of the day to day life of a 22 year old recent graduate in Scotland! Watching the drama unfold for the effortlessly beautiful Serena Van der Woodsen as she floats around New York City with every man and his dog falling over themselves to get to her, or Wendy Healey reassure her adoring husband that her successful career is never going to come between them is great! I love these shows, and don’t at any point want to appear as if I’m tearing strips off them, because I’m not! They feature some dynamic, and really interesting women, who go through many trials and tribulations in their own ways. However, it is notable success seems to find these characters quite easily, whether it is from the word go, or when bouncing back after a traumatic incident. Where, I ask, are the women who struggle to find the right job, or go on date after date and never find the right person, all the while wondering what the hell they are going to do with their lives?!

Ahh yes. Comedy. That’s where they are. Shows like (another of my favourites) Ugly Betty, where the protagonist is viewed, physically, as ‘conventionally unattractive’ and ‘quirky’ is where we find the women who struggle to get it together. Betty is intelligent, and a model employee at Mode magazine, yet after three seasons she is still Daniel Meade’s assistant. It is only in season 4 she begins to find her feet, and make her way up the career ladder. And her tumultuous love life is just as complicated. She falls in love with Henry, but it can never work, for various reasons. She then ruins her potential relationship with Gio by still pining after Henry, loses Matt by cheating on him… with Henry, and ends up travelling to London solo at the end of the fourth and final series, to focus on her career, albeit Daniel follows her across the Atlantic, and we suspect they will end up together some day. And while we adore the character of Betty, and are one hundred per cent behind her in her endeavours, the comic and camp tone of this dramedy soften the blow of the problems Betty faces in her daily life. Comedy seems to be the place in television for the slightly clumsy girls, who struggle to have any of it never mind it all, and that is, for the most part, where they stay - which is what makes the amazing Canadian drama Being Erica so fantastic to watch…

Let me start by saying, in my honest opinion, there isn’t one element of Being Erica that the writers and producers got wrong. The script is perfect, and the casting is spot on – Erin Karpluk very quickly became one of my favourite actresses with her totally natural, believable and likeable portrayal of the show’s 32 year old protagonist Erica Strange. I have successfully managed to avoid finding out what happens in the show’s fourth and final series, and I’m eagerly awaiting the day they announce the (hopefully not too far away) release date of the DVD!!

We meet Erica, in the pilot episode of the show, at quite possibly the lowest point of her life. She is thirty two, single, unemployed and has absolutely no idea where her life is going, or what has happened to get her to this point, and there’s nothing funny about it. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that the show is a televisual equivalent of War and Peace, it has plenty of hilarious moments, but Erica’s situation is emotional and confusing, and we instantly empathise with her. It is at this point that she meets Dr. Tom, a therapist with a somewhat unusual take on helping his patients. He sends them back in time to confront their biggest regrets.

The wonderful thing about the show is that while it isn’t a comic representation of a difficult point in Erica’s life, equally, it isn’t a dark and depressing tale of an abused childhood, or some sort of addiction, or traumatic past. In fact, Erica is a totally normal girl, from a loving family (her parents are divorced, but that’s hardly unusual in this day and age) who is attractive, intelligent, witty and likeable. She has the support of her parents and sister, and the tragic death of her older brother Leo, while devastating, didn’t cause the family to split apart or become estranged in their grief. She has a Masters in English Literature, a good group of friends and lives in Toronto, a vibrant and exciting city. And yet she has managed to get through her twenties with no real direction, and worries that she has achieved nothing. This is the kind of representation that is missing from television! This is a girl who women can relate to, and empathise with, and is someone who we instantly want to be friends with, not because of her Manolo Blahniks, or her gorgeous boyfriend and crazy social life, but because it is very rare (even in this day and age of equal opportunities and good educations and even internet dating) for a girl in her twenties to have everything worked out! The lucky girls who find their perfect partner, study their perfect course and land the perfect job all before they are twenty five are few and far between, and Erica is a shining example of this. She is intelligent and fiesty and generous, but despite dating guy after guy (and nice guys at that), the really deep connection, and total understanding of each other that she so desperately desires has never really been there. Equally, she has a passion for books and literature, but since graduation with her Masters, she hasn’t been able to find the right job for her, drifting from dead end job to dead end job, terrified that she’ll never succeed in finding a fulfilling career that will make her happy. Thank goodness for Erica Strange!

This all might sound a little on the bleak side, I realise, but the wonderful thing about the show is that, with Dr. Tom (played by the marvellous Michael Riley), Erica begins to work through all of bad choices she thinks she has made in her past which are holding her back, and starts to move forward. She lands a great new job, starting as an assistant at the very bottom of the food chain, but starts to work her way up as she confronts more and more of her regrets by going back in time. Now, obviously, we viewers don’t have a Dr. Tom to help us do this, but what her time travel teaches her (and us) is that rather than wishing she could change her past, or remake bad decisions, she has to accept the things she has done or gone through, and learn from them. Rather than wonder what might have been had she not quit that job, or not broken up with that guy, or if she had gone travelling, she should focus on what that regret tells her about her future. Her trips back in time are important, as when she alters the past (as much as she can) she realises that really, it doesn’t make any difference to the place she is in now. Life is about making choices, and being content with them, no matter how difficult they might be, because every decision has both good and bad consequences. Erica realises this more and more with each episode, and each season of the show, and her attitude to life shifts along with it. Once again, the show (despite the time travel) keeps an air of realism about it by not having everything work out perfectly. Her career doesn’t stay exactly on track, her relationships build up, only to sometimes be broken down again, but with every change in her life, Erica accepts more and more that she is in control of her decisions, and regardless of what anyone else thinks, only she can make the choices that will leave her truly happy. The show represents the journey of lots of real women out there, and is such an important theme to explore on television, and any other form of storytelling. While there are of course many women out there who are, thank goodness, in positions of power in the workplace, within the media and government and medicine, women who have always known what they wanted to do and are succeeding daily in whatever field they work in, there are also plenty Erica Strange’s out there, desperately looking for a girl in their favourite show whose life is just as much of a rollercoaster of the unexpected as theirs is! So congratulations Being Erica, and the lovely Erin Karpluk, for representing women in a really important, realistic and relatable way!

As a sidenote, I was totally inspired to write this after watching ‘The Women of Harry Potter’, one of the Special Features of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 DVD, in which JK Rowling talks about growing up reading book after book, searching for a girl who reminded her of herself. It made me realise that with the increasingly vast number of television shows accessible to us today, finding relatable characters on screen is just as important an issue in 2012, as finding a heroine to relate to in books for JK Rowling as a child! And a shining example of such a character, I think, is Erica Strange.

Lynsey x

My Top 3 Beauty Videos on YouTube this Week

Friday, 20 January 2012

Here it is, my first instalment of my new weekly feature!

There were a lot of good ones to choose from this week, Saturday 13th January, to Friday 20th, with office or daytime makeup, nail polish reviews and Golden Globes makeup tutorials among the most popular uploads. It was a tough choice, but I narrowed it down to these three, which stood out above the crowd!

1. Lisa Eldridge - lisaeldridgedotcom - Marilyn Monroe Iconic Makeup Look

This video has been receiving universal praise since it was uploaded on Wednesday 18th, and already has over 100,000 views - and rightly so. The video is not only highly informative, giving you the step by step guide to the perfect Marilyn makeup, but is also beautifully filmed, and highlights just how knowledgeable Lisa is as a makeup artist. She gives detailed and fascinatin accounts of Marilyn's makeup routine, and the end result on her lovely model is stunning! Definitely one to watch, and hard to miss - the video has been being retweeted and shared on facebook over and over again since it appeared on her youtube channel 2 days ago!

2. Wayne Goss - gossmakeupartist - Makeup Secrets!!! Makeup Tips!!!

The brilliant thing about Wayne Goss's videos is that they are always to the point! And he (and other youtubers) should definitely make more videos like this one! In just seven minutes, he throws several great makeup tips at his viewers, giving clear instructions for really easy to do tricks that can improve your makeup application and the way you use products, simple things that really can make you look and feel great! He's as charming as ever, and this is definitely a must watch for anyone looking for a few easy ways to change up their makeup routine!

3. Tanya Burr - Pixi2woo - Cara Delevingne Burberry Makeup for Pale Skin

I love all of Tanya's videos, but I think makeup tutorials for pale skin are always helpful to watch - for makeup artists as well as people with pale skin. Drug store/high street foundation colour ranges are often criticized for not catering for darker skin tones (Sleek is a brand which succeeds here where others fail!) but it is equally as difficult for some of us really pale skinned people! So this video is not only a lovely makeup look, but it is also really useful for anyone with pale skin who is looking for a new way to wear their makeup, and embrace the planess! Thumbs up for the lovely Tanya, a really great choice of tutorial!

Extra video of the week...

As I said I'm going to include an extra video of the week every Friday, and this week is happens to ba makeup related too! I'm going to try to make sure I vary this one week to week as there are so many amazing vloggers and singer etc out there on YouTube who I love, and who deserve to be mentioned! This week, however, the honour goes to one of my favourite YouTubers, Kandee Johnson!

4. Kandee Johnson - kandeejohnson - Kim Kardashian and Red Carpet Makeup

Since it was Golden Globes week and I didn't include a GGs tutorial, I figured I would include Kandee's GGs experience video! She was invited along to the HBO luxury Lounge, and Loreal Beauty Suits and she discusses in this video, in her ever bubbly and friendly style, some of the makeup trends she noticed at the event, and some of the exciting behind the scenes hair and makeup secrets! Can you believe there were vases of Loreal lipglosses and mascaras in the toilets at the after party for guests to take as many as they liked!? And that there were two professional makeup artists there to touch up your makeup at any time!? Ahh the glamorous life of celebrity parties! A totally nude makeup look with nude eyes and lips, see Reese Witherspoon for a gorgeous example, a few standard smokey eyes or a simple black eyeliner and bold coloured mouth were the top trends our intrepid reporter noticed on the many gorgeous celebrities at the event!

Hope you enjoyed that guys, and I'll be back with my second installment next Friday! Hopefully it will help you find some of the best videos to watch each week if you don't have time to sit through the very many wonderful videos which are uploaded to the YouTube beauty community every day! For some reason the links keep messing up the post, hence the reason I included channel names and video titles instead, so you can find them easily on YouTube!

Lynsey x

Weekly Blogposts...

I'm currently trying to get a bit of a plan in place for my weekly blogposts... I'm a little bit all over the place at the moment! Perhaps the element of surprise is a good thing, but I'm going to pull my socks up and get organised, and here's what I have finally decided on!

Fridays are going to be my YouTube blogpost day. I'm going to choose my three favourite beauty related videos of the week (that can be a makeup tutorial, makeup tips video, review, haul, etc) and pop them on here. The beauty community on youtube is huge, and I absolutely love it, but with so much out there to choose from it can all become a bit overwhelming! So every Friday I'm going to post my top three, and a fourth video of the week which can be anything from a vlog or chatty video from a youtube vlogger, to a film trailer, a song/cover of a song, a cute baby sloth getting a bath or a cat barking like a dog. Yes, these are all videos out there on the weird and wonderful world of YouTube.

Sunday I'm going to have as my dedicated television blogpost day. Much like my recent ramble about Gossip Girl and Lost, I'm going to try and make use of the old Film and TV degree I've got under my belt and actually keep a regular bit of television related writing on the go. Speaking of which, if you fancy reading any of my film reviews/articles, pop on over to and click on FarmHands... I have a page there with a variety of articles on films and the film industry!

And Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on what I have on during the week) is going to be makeup blogpost day! So I'll post either an initial review, an unpdated review, a product rave or maybe even a little step by step guide to certain makeup looks, more a rough guide than a tutorial... I'm no Pixiwoo just yet!

So there you go, that's the weekly schedule for 2012... let's see how long I can properly stick to it :)

Lynsey x

*SPOILERS* Psychoanalysing Love Triangles in Gossip Girl and Lost...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

I am a self-confessed old romantic. In every television programme or film I watch (and I watch A LOT, to the point of having studied Film and TV at Uni!), and every book I read, my main focus, despite trying desperately not to is always the love story. I spent the majority of the last Harry Potter films/books, while of course interested to see Voldemort be defeated by our young hero, waiting for Ron to finally kiss Hermione, and while seven or eight storylines overlap at any one time in my favourite soaps, Home and Away and Neighbours, you can be sure that whatever is keeping my attention is the unresolved feelings between two old friends, or the romantic spark between the girl next door character and the new guy in town. It’s a curse I tell you. So, while catching up on Season 4 of Gossip Girl, once again I’m all caught up in the romance, and couldn’t resist writing a little comparison of a love triangle in Gossip Girl, and one in another of my all-time favourite television shows, Lost. If you haven’t watched either of these shows to the end (well, as up to date as you can get with Gossip Girl), and you ever intend to, then don’t read this – it’s spoiler central!!

Gossip Girl follows a group of eight main characters, Dan, Chuck, Nate, Blair, Serena, Jenny, Vanessa and, to a lesser extent, Eric, with an older audience appealed to through Serena and Eric’s mother, Lily, and Dan and Jenny’s father Rufus (who are, incidentally, another couple I managed to fall head over heels for in Season 1 of the show). And since season one, every single one of them (blood related siblings aside) have at some stage, encountered one another in a romantic way. The only two who actually haven’t even kissed at any point are Serena and Chuck, and since her mother adopted him following the death of his father Bart, who Lily married but left for Rufus (you managing to keep up here?!), it seems that that is a line she won’t cross. Despite going back and forth with Dan, who is her mother’s current husband’s son, but who she got together with before her mother and Rufus got back together…. Yeah, it’s a little on the complicated side. So the idea of true love in Gossip Girl is somewhat blurred, with each of the characters falling in and out of love with each other at the drop of a hat, in amongst many an encounter with people outside the circle of main characters. Somehow, though, I still find myself rooting for some of these couples, so kudos to the writers; how they manage to make me forget in an instant that I was all for Serena and Nate the moment she reconnects with Dan, I have NO idea. The aforementioned old romantic side of me, I suspect, is partly to blame for this. But still, the show has a surprisingly consistent way of drawing me into these relationships, and, from the number of fan forums, YouTube tribute videos and fan fiction pages dedicated to this myriad of couplings, obviously I’m not the only one!

One of the most prominent relationships in Gossip Girl since Season 1 has been Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf. As devious and manipulative as each other, these two seem to attract one another almost magnetically. Initially (scrap that, for the first three seasons!), in spite of the ridiculous number of seriously problematic issues with their relationship, I was a big ‘Chair’ fan. They seemed to understand each other in a way that no-one else really did. They played games, they tortured themselves and each other with their reluctance to ‘lose’ in any aspect of their relationship, but they were madly in love, and that acceptance and understanding of the very darkest sides of each other’s personality was the key to their connection. No matter how bad it got, Blair was constantly drawn back to Chuck, and every time, even though it was quite obviously for the wrong reasons, I got behind the reunion and cheered them on as they decided to give it yet another try.

The fact, however, was that the Chuck and Blair relationship was, and is, an incredibly unhealthy one. The love they have is overwhelming, but toxic, and brings out the worst in both of them. Blair has had to go through trauma after trauma when it comes to their relationship, from Chuck trading her for his hotel – he makes a deal with his Uncle Jack and agrees to have Blair sleep with him (managing to convince her it is her own idea) if Jack agrees to leave New York and never interfere with the Bass Empire again – to sleeping with Jenny Humphrey the moment he suspects that he has finally lost Blair forever. Her heart is broken over and over again, and yet, for whatever reason, she can’t help going back to him.

A few months ago, I was reading an article online about the show and saw some S4 spoilers. I didn’t watch this season when it aired on ITV2 as I was writing my dissertation (part of which was an exploration of family relationships in Gossip Girl) and I didn’t want to overload myself with material since I was focusing on seasons 1-3. When I read that there was a blossoming relationship between Dan and Blair, the supposed love of Serena’s life and her best friend (who incidentally hated each other in the beginning of the show) I scoffed. Finally, a romance I wouldn’t be getting on board with. But alas, now that I have the boxset at home, not only have I watched all 22 episodes in the past week and a half, but I have (shamefully) YouTubed the Blair and Dan scenes from Season 5, out of sheer desperation to see what happens next.

Blair and Dan, on the outside, couldn’t be mocuse the terrible metaphor). He had her on a pedestal, and found himself constantly running to her rescue, regardless of how complicated their relationship was, or how often they broke up. He saw her as someone he could try to save from the often vicious world of the Upper East side, and rather than see the relationship as what it really was – a passionate encounter between two people who loved each other, but in an almost fictional/fairy tale way – he convinced himself that every time they ‘tried again’ this would be it, even using their story as inspiration for his writing. And that meant that every time she ended up with someone else, or let him down, or left him waiting around for her to choose him over some other suitor, his faith in her (and their epic romance) was shattered.

Blair’s electric chemistry with Chuck led her to believe that they were destined for one another. The fact that she fell for Chuck directly after her relationship with her childhood sweetheart Nate fell apart is crucial – she saw herself as a sophisticated socialite with Nate, and fought to keep her inner demons at bay. Her manipulative, scheming side wasn’t something she felt she could share with Nate, but Chuck was different – with him, she could be as twisted as she wanted to be, and it only served to fuel their passion. In the end, s mind; she was a princess and he was the stable boy (excuse the terrible metaphor). He had her on a pedestal, and found himself constantly running to her rescue, regardless of how complicated their relationship was, or how often they broke up. He saw her as someone he could try to save from the often vicious world of the Upper East side, and rather than see the relationship as what it really was – a passionate encounter between two people who loved each other, but in an almost fictional/fairy tale way – he convinced himself that every time they ‘tried again’ this would be it, even using their story as inspiration for his writing. And that meant that every time she ended up with someone else, or let him down, or left him waiting around for her to choose him over some other suitor, his faith in her (and their epic romance) was shattered.

Blair’s electric chemistry with Chuck led her to believe that they were destined for one another. The fact that she fell for Chuck directly after her relationship with her childhood sweetheart Nate fell apart is crucial – she saw herself as a sophisticated socialite with Nate, and fought to keep her inner demons at bay. Her manipulative, scheming side wasn’t something she felt she could share with Nate, but Chuck was different – with him, she could be as twisted as she wanted to be, and it only served to fuel their passion. In the end, the darkness and complicated nature of their relationship, regardless of the very real love they have for one another, left her constantly trying to put back together the pieces of her life following blow out after blow out with Mr. Bass.

With Dan, things are entirely different. The potential relationship here is born out of four years of observing one another with other people, and seeing it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Dan is no Nate Archibald. He’s sweet and endearing and loving, but he’s also sarcastic and testy, and doesn’t put up with Blair’s games. He accepts that she has a manipulative side to her, but he doesn’t encourage it, or bring it to the surface. He sees the, as he puts it ‘intelligent, intuitive’ side of her, the side that ‘weeps when she watches Nights of Cabiria’ (Episode 4.18). The pretence of perfection she had with Nate is gone, but the dark, toxic, scheming relationship she had with Chuck is nowhere to be seen either. It is a real connection, based on common ground and years of spending time with the same complicated circle of people. They bicker, and argue, and tease one another, but in a far more gentle, and intelligent way than the Chair fights – Blair get the friction without any of the emotionally damaging drama. And it helps, of course, that he looks at her like he would genuinely jump in front of a bus for her! Unlike in his relationship with Serena though, Dan’s urge to protect Blair, and to ‘save’ her is born out a real love and friendship, complete with a thorough acceptance that they are polar opposites in many ways. With Serena, it always felt like the pair were looking for signs from fate that they should end up together, because that’s what they both thought they wanted – with Dan and Blair, however, he loves her without expecting it to ever go anywhere. Rather than fall in love with a stranger, and then spend years trying to balance the fantasy Serena he had created in his head with the real life version, he falls in love with the real Blair. The fact that he himself is so surprised when he realises it’s happening highlights the fact that these feelings, however unexpected, are completely genuine.

Yes, I am a little bit of a ‘Dair’ fan – can you tell?!

What this entire situation made me realise, however, is that this is a kind of romantic triangle we see time and time again in film and television, and another recent example of such occurs in Lost, with the infamous Sawyer, Kate, Jack relationship. Let me say straight off the bat that, in this case, I can’t help but be pro the complicated romance, and have always been team Sawyer over team Jack. This, however, is probably more to do with the individual characters, than the place they take in the triangle!

Kate meets Jack and, from their very first scene together in the pilot episode, we see a connection begin to form. Jack is determined and takes charge of the situation, and Kate instantly respects him. They start to rely on and confide in one other, but this partnership is cut short when Jack discovers that not only was Kate the prisoner on board flight 815, but she lied to him about it. His instant disapproval of her leaves her shattered, and his reluctance to listen when she tries to explain what she did creates a barrier between them. Kate feels like Jack can’t accept the complicated side of her – all he wants to see is the good side.

Enter Sawyer. A conman with a past just as complicated as Kate’s, who she (along with virtually everyone else) instantly dislikes. As time progresses, however, Kate and Sawyer begin to spend more and more time together, and in a late night drinking game, find out more about each other in a single evening than Jack has found out about her the entire time they have been on the island. They talk about falling in love (Sawyer says he never has), marriage, and eventually, they admit to each other that they have both killed someone prior to their crash on the island. That is enough for Kate to feel like finally someone understands her. He doesn’t ask any questions, and doesn’t pressure her to be anything other than herself. He recognises her tendency to run away when things get tough, to keep moving constantly, and never to settle in one place, with one group of people, because it is exactly how he behaves. Like Chuck and Blair, Kate and Sawyer find in each other someone to completely understand and accept their most negative traits – sides of them that even they themselves can’t stand, but can’t pretend don’t exist either. This connection is one that creates a sense of stability on the island for them. Meanwhile, Jack is slowly beginning to come to terms with just how complicated Kate is, and fall in love with the real her, despite watching her fall for Sawyer.

When I first discovered that in the end, Kate ends up with Jack and Sawyer with Juliet, I was most unimpressed! The chemistry between Kate and Sawyer is electric, and the bond they have is understood by only them. However, the more times I have watched the show, and seen how desperately Kate wants to be the girl Jack wants to be with, and have seen how happy Juliet makes Sawyer, it made me realise that these sort of epic loves are there for a reason. Had Sawyer and Kate not found each other, had someone accept them completely (the good and the bad) fallen in love and learnt to rely on and take care of each other, they never could have been ready for a stable relationship with someone who brings out the good in them. Had Kate not learnt to stop running by standing by Sawyer in season 3 when they are kidnapped by the others, she never could have properly settled with Jack, with whom she shares a much more ‘productive’ relationship – they both work hard to protect the other survivors, and find a way off the island. And had Sawyer not let down his guard, fallen for a woman who he wasn’t trying to con out of money and loved someone enough to put them before himself, he never would have found the happiness he finds with Juliet. They learn from each other, and their feelings for each other will never really go away – a part of them will always love each other. They helped each other learn to trust, and believe that someone could accept them, dark, complicated traits and all. But much like Chuck and Blair, this relationship is not entirely healthy. Because they understand these negative traits and allow each other to expose that side of them so easily, it isn’t hard to see how quickly they can fall back into old patterns, and find themselves almost encouraging each other to let these aspects of their personalities loose. Sadly, no matter how much they love each other, the relationship itself can’t last – but the way it has changed them, and their perspectives on trust and love, always will.

Chuck and Blair are exactly the same. Their great love, the intensity and impulsiveness that they feel around one another is something to behold - but in the end it will only ever hurt them. However, without it, the relationship Blair could (and hopefully will!) have with Dan would probably not have been possible. By being able to be herself in one way with Nate and the completely opposite side of herself with Chuck isn’t enough; with Dan, she is able to admit to both. Had she and Chuck not schemed and manipulated and played games, she would never have learnt how badly these types of romances end. She fell madly in love with Chuck, but in the most destructive of ways, and having experienced this allows her to realise that while it is possible for someone to love her in spite of her inner demons, she doesn’t have to play games to be happy. Without her epic love with Chuck, a real, honest relationship would have been difficult for Blair to ever really find.

So there we go, a huge psychoanalysis of love triangles, and the ways in which they often seem to turn out! As I said at the beginning, I’m ridiculous when it comes to these things; a good love story gets me every time. So fingers crossed Dan and Blair will get together in season 5 (it’s not looking good at the moment, sadly, but a girl can dream :P) – let’s face it, I’ve listed more than enough reason why they should!


BM beauty Brushes

Friday, 13 January 2012

I'm on a roll today, two posts in one day!! I've been meaning to do this for AGES and hadn't got around to it, but the day has finally arrived for me to give a massive shout out to the BM beauty brushes! I'm also in love with their eyeshadows, blusher, bronzer and lipglosses, so look out for a full review of all of them soon. As you can probably tell, I'm getting really into mineral eyeshadows at the moment, and BM beauty are honestly some of the best I've tried, with a superb range of colours, but as I said, I'll review them in detail over the next week or two! Today, it's all about the brushes! I was lucky enough to work with Laura McComiskie and Kimberly Wyatt (the brains behind the brand new mineral makeup range) at Birmingham Clothes Show Live in December, and used three of their brushes to work with the products while I was there, and have been using them non-stop since I got home!
The 121 Foundation Brush, 123 Eyeshadow Brush and 021 Concealer Brush are a trio of amazing brushes, which can be used to create a beautiful flawless finish for your makeup. The great thing about these brushes is that they are synthetic, in keeping with BM's animal cruelty free policy, but the hairs are built to replicate real animal hair, so you get the same effect without the animal cruelty factor! None of the BM beauty products are tested on animals.
Since I got back from Birmingham I have been using the 123 brush for my concealer every day, as it is a perfect blending brush for under eye concealer, as well as for blending out your eyeshadow. Conversley, the 021 concealer brush, while brilliant for covering blemishes, is also great for packing on eyeshadow, especially when you are using mineral pigments wet, for a bolder look. And I can't say enough good things about the foundation brush - you will never believe how soft this brush is, it's incredible, and applies mineral foundation, and any other powder products beautifully.
These are only three of the 7 brushes BM beauty have created, and I'm definitely going to pick up the rest of the collection for my kit! Seriously seriously impressed :) Have a look for yourself here x

Review: Front Cover Moon Dust Collection

The January sales are always a great time to pick up a makeup bargain or two, and this year I managed to get my hands on the Front Cover Moon Dust set in Boots for half price. Every Christmas I hesitate about buying one of these sets, despite standing lusting after them every time I see them! So for £8, I decided to bite the bullet and give this gorgeous collection of glitters and pigments a go - and I'm really glad I did!
The set includes 6 beautiful pigments and two holographic glitters, with an eyeshadow base to keep the pigments in place and a double ended eyeshadow brush with a blending brush and sponge applicator. The colours are beautiful, and can be applied dry for a subtle, iridescent shimmer or wet for a much more vibrant and bold look. They range from fairly matt (the Lime Lime and Moondance shades don't include too much sparkle) to incredibly shimmery (the beautiful copper shade Coinage is unbelievably rich, with a gorgeous shimmer through it). The black pigment (Coal Hoal) could be better, but the other amazing shades make up for it!
(Left, top to bottom - Burnt Carrot, Saddle Brown, Doubloon, Periwinkle) (Right, top to bottom -Coinage, Moondance, Lime Lime, Coal Hoal) My absolute favourites, however, are the glitters - they are absolutely beautiful! I've been desperate to get the MAC silver holographic glitter, but since it is limited edition and only comes out in certain collections, I haven't been able to get my hands on it since I fell in love with it in Tanya Burr's (Pixi2woo) Gothic Fairy halloween makeup tutorial on YouTube in September! The gorgeous Doubloon glitter is really similar, however, and the photos and swatch don't do it justice! It looks pretty gold in the pot, but once applied it has a rainbow of reflects through it, which catch the light beautifully and instantly glam up any look!
(L-R: Saddle Brown, Burnt Carrot, Lime Lime, Coinage, Moondance, Coal Hoal, Periwinkle, Doubloon) It's now the 13th of January and I picked this up about six days ago, so I don't know how many (if any!) of these will be left in Boots stores, but if you do happen to see this set anywhere, it's definitely worth buying! While these are only available in Boots around Christmas every year, you can sometimes find them on eBay and Amazon so look out for them on there! Lynsey x

Most Used Products of 2011

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Now that 2012 is here, I figured I might as well start the year off as many others have with a ‘Most used/favourite products of 2011’ blogpost!

I’ll try to hold myself back from listing several products in each category! Here we go…

Moisturiser – my most used moisturiser of 2011 was Garnier’s Soft Essentials Replenishing Day Care Cream with Rose water and Vitamin E. Since I have insanely combination skin – an oily forehead and nose, normal chin and cheeks and dry skin between my eyebrows (convenient!) – I could very well end up using three different moisturisers, but I find that this one works well on all three areas, so I’m sticking with it! It smells lovely without being too strongly perfumed, and retails for around £3, so it’s nice and affordable. Also, it’s sold everywhere from Boots and Superdrug, to most supermarkets, and online, so it isn’t hard to get hold of. I think I’ve used this for about a year now, probably more, and I don’t plan to change it up any time soon!

Primer – For about eighteen months I’ve used the Gosh Velvet Touch Foundation Primer, and I still absolutely LOVE it. I recently bought the Illamasqua Matt and Satin Primers for my kit and they are both gorgeous too! However, since I only discovered them in October, my old faithful Gosh Velvet Touch still wins out! I love the feel of this product, it seriously feels velvety when you apply it, and I always notice how well it keeps my makeup in place, or rather, how much more my makeup tends to fade/slide on days I don’t bother putting it on!

Foundation – for my birthday this year I got the lovely Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation in B10 Beige Pastel (since I’m a wee bit on the pale side!) and I really do love it. I don’t usually splash out on such expensive products for myself (hence the fact this was a birthday gift!) but since everyone on YouTube raved about it I had to see for myself! It is notably lighter coverage than I usually go for, but that’s not such a bad thing, I’m terrible for sticking to medium to full coverage, and this is definitely on the light side of light to medium. Saying that, it evens out your skin perfectly, and leaves it with a really healthy, fresh glow, so I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you decide to splurge on a pricier foundation this year. On a side note, I still love my MaxFactor Colour Adapt, which I have been using since I was about sixteen, and my Bourjois Healthy Mix, for days I’m feeling a little bit less fancy!

Concealer – undoubtedly, my most used concealer of 2011 was (drumroll please…) Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection 16hour Concealer in Shade 2, Light. For £4, this is an incredible product. I’ve been using it for well over a year now and it never lets me down, the coverage is fantastic, and while I couldn’t tell you if it lasts sixteen hours, there are plenty of days I have my makeup on for at least twelve and it certainly lasts that long! Another product I have YouTube to thank for helping me discover! The only downside to this product (which isn’t massively unusual for a drugstore/high street brand) is the colour range. With only four shades (fair, light, medium and dark) it’s hardly going to cater to everyone’s skin tone. But since this is most used products of the year and not ‘problematic products of the year’, it still gets the thumbs up from me!

Powder – I’m going to cheat a wee bit and list two products here, because I love and have used them both equally. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and I still use it regularly, and that’s Corn Silk Translucent Loose Powder. Since it’s been my mum’s favourite for years, I’ve been using this powder to set my foundation since I started wearing makeup, and I still really love it. It keeps you from looking shiny, and leaves your makeup looking matt, but not dry or cakey. It’s lovely and light, and you can buy it online, or from most Boots stores. However, I have totally fallen in love with the Illamasqua Translucent Loose Powder this year. It not only sets your makeup beautifully, but it smells like icing sugar – don’t ask me why! I absolutely adore this product, and would totally recommend it if you’re looking to find a new loose power this year!

Bronzer – my most used bronzer this year is definitely the Bourjois Chocolate Bronzer! As is the case for a lot of people, I suspect! I really want to splurge at some point in 2012 and get the Chanel: Soleil Tan de Chanel, because I don’t actually own such a thing as a cream bronzer, and it just looks so beautiful on the skin. But for 2011, the lovely Bourjois bronzer has been my go to on a pretty much daily basis. It is pretty matt, which is hard to find unless you’re happy enough to spend £24 a pop on something like NARS Laguna, so for about £6.99 this is a great buy! The packaging (though lacking a mirror) is really cute, and the product lasts for ages too! The Bourjois Delice de Bronze, their second bronzer, does include a mirror, though I haven’t tried it yet to know how I like it compared to the original!

Contour/Highlighter – The lovely Sleek Contour Kit in 001 Light was my most used contour powder of 2011! It’s such a handy little kit, and the product works really well. I literally use the tiniest amount because even the lightest shade shows up fairly dark on my skin, so I make sure I’ve got just enough on my brush to give a nice bit of shape to my face – bonus, this means it has lasted me for ages! There’s barely a dent in the product. The highlighter is lovely too, quite shimmery and glowy, and doesn’t lie heavy on the skin like some powder products. My most used cream highlighter is probably High Beam from Benefit! Again, you don’t need a lot of this product to get a nice dewy highlighted effect.

Powder Blusher – I split blusher into two, slightly cheeky (pardon the pun) but they are two entirely different products! My most used powder blusher of 2011, I was about to say, was Bourjois Rose (No. 16 in the Little Pot of Blush range). But now that I actually think about it that would, in fact, be a lie! My most used blusher of 2011 was my Topshop Powder Blush in Pop. It looks a bit scary in the pan, it’s a sort of neon coral/peach, but it looks beautiful on! I used this virtually every day this summer and into autumn, and I never tired of it. It’s fairly matt, and lasts really well on the skin, and as long as you don’t overdo it on pale skin (as I know only too well!) it’s definitely one to look out for!

Cream Blusher – as a Tesco employee, I do often peruse the Barbara Daly Cosmetics shelf when I finish work, and one day this year I randomly picked up their Velvet Blush in English Rose. What a serendipitous event that was! This is a really lovely cream blusher, and with the exception of how little product actually comes in the tiny little container, it is absolutely amazing. It gives such a natural flush of colour to the face, and blends in beautifully, although I would say don’t dawdle when applying it as it sets fairly quickly! I think the English Rose shade might have been limited edition (sad face :() but I’m not 100% certain, so if you happen to find it, do give it a try, it’s such a lovely natural colour that I can’t imagine would go wrong on any skin tone.

Eyeshadow – I haven’t a clue! Quite honestly, I couldn’t pick. Some people will say a particular palette, like the Urban Decay Naked Palette, or a Book of Shadows, and that makes it a little bit easier, but I’ll perhaps pick three individual eyeshadows that I used on a regular basis instead! I got a lot of use out of two eyeshadows from Accessorize, much to my surprise. The Accessorize Merged Eyeshadow in 07 Golden Caramel is gorgeous. It’s similar to the MAC baked eyeshadows, and is seriously frosted, so if you’re not a fan of shimmer, avoid this like the plague, but I love it! It’s a really warm nudish peach colour, with gorgeous gold tones running through it, so it instantly warms up your eyes – side note, this is also a lovely cheek highlighter! I rarely used this on its own though, it was usually a base for my second shadow in the list, which was Accessorize Icon Single Eyeshadow in Truffle. Problematically, this eyeshadow has recently broken up into a million pieces, which is sad, and the texture of the product is probably to blame – it is a smidgen on the crumbly side! But the colour is gorgeous! This was the combination I wore to my Graduation Ceremony at Uni, and on numerous other occasions throughout the year. A third favourite, if I had to pick would either be Number 12 from MUA, which at £1 is amazing and pretty much an exact dupe for Club from MAC, a duo-chrome style brown with both reddish and green tones running through it depending on how the light hits it, or the Avon True Colour Eyeshadow in Retro Glamour, a lovely warm plum and frosted lilac duo - I wore many a purple smokey eye on nights out this year!

Pencil Eyeliner – for the past year, my ‘Holy Grail’ black eyeliner pencil has still been the Avon Super Shock Gel Pencil – it is fantastic. No other eyeliner I have ever tried has stayed so well in my waterline, and it is definitely the blackest eyeliner I have ever used. I think that the Urban Decay 24/7 Pencil in Zero is fairly similar, but I’m sticking with what I know, and what I’ve used constantly for the past year! It is an amazing texture, and doesn’t feel like it drags your waterline, and blends really nicely on your upper lash line if used instead of an eyeshadow, or a gel or liquid liner. 10/10, can’t rave enough about this. As I said, it is ultra-black, so might be a tad on the intense side for some every day looks, but I can’t get enough of it. Mine is currently like a tiny stub, will have to get ordering a new one! My other most used, since I use brown eyeliner more in the day time and black more for evening is Gosh’s Velvet Touch Eyeliner in Truely Brown, a lovely warm brown liner which lasts really well all day. This range of eyeliner pencils is amazing, I’ve got a few of them and in addition to Truely Brown, Blue Moon, Pink Darling and Banana are some of my favourites!

Gel/Liquid Liner – I’ve been addicted to the L’Oreal Super Liner in Black Crystals for a very long time now, and 2011 was no different! I still probably prefer it to a gel for lining my upper lash line, even though I’d be more likely to use gel on someone else. The little sponge tip is easy to use, and fine enough that you can create everything from a really delicate liquid line, and narrow flick, to a massively winged out cat eye using just the one product. I also find that it sets really well by itself and doesn’t smudge all day/night. I will occasionally set it with a black eyeshadow if I’m going on a night out, but generally speaking I find that it lasts perfectly well on its own! It isn’t for everyone, I know a lot of people have a bit of a love/hate relationship with liquid liner, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone who tends to avoid liquid liner – it’s a lot easier to work with than a lot of others I’ve tried! Black Crystals does contain a hint of a sparkle through it, and while the plain Black sets very matt, I find that this one keeps a slightly glossier look when it dries, which I like!

Mascara – Here we go. My makeup weakness is mascara. I am terrible for wanting to try them all. So I don’t actually know what my most used mascara of 2011 was! I will say though that I used the amazing MaxFactor False Lash Effect A LOT during the first few months of the year, and Bourjois Volumizer constantly towards the end of the year, thanks to Tanya Burr (Pixi2woo) raving about it in so many of her videos! And it really is amazing! It can be a little clumpy if you don’t scrape a little excess off the wand at the top of the tube before you use it, but it really does give the most amazingly thick look to your lashes. For bottom lashes (although a lot of the time I just use the same one I’ve used for my top lashes), I’m addicted to Eyeko Big Eyes Mascara, which has been renamed (and I hope not changed in any other way) Eyeko Skinny Brush Mascara – got to say, not loving the new name, but oh well! This is the mascara I always go to if I want to really lengthen and wing out my outer corner lashes on my upper lash line, or to really amp up my bottom lashes. It is amazing, and definitely one that I use regularly compared to many of the others I tried in 2011!

Lip Balm – although I recently bought and fell head over heels for Blistex Lip Brilliance, an amazingly moisturising strawberry flavour lip balm, I used Nivea Essential Care Lip Balm constantly in 2011. It is a totally basic part of my routine, but it is lovely and moisturising, and I used it every morning and night for months on end this year!

Lipgloss – my absolute favourite lipgloss, and most used of 2011, I happened upon by accident. There was an offer for a while (which is still going I think in select Superdrug branches, but don’t quote me on that!) where Impulse body sprays were selling along with a Barry M lipgloss for £3 – since the body spray itself is normally £1.99 and the lipgloss around £4, this was a pretty great offer. I picked up my favourite Impulse (Into Glamour) which had a clear lipgloss attached (weirdly it doesn’t have a name or number on the tube, but if I remember correctly it’s called Clear Sparkle), and it became my most used lipgloss all year! It’s a beautiful clear gloss with a silvery, almost slightly bluish toned iridescent sparkle through it, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I normally go straight for peach or pink, warm toned colours for my lips, so this was something a bit different, and it’s brilliant. It doesn’t overpower any other makeup, but gives a lovely, slightly cool shine to the lips, and it tastes AMAZING! Most of the Barry M lipglosses do, but this one has a particularly nice, vanilla-ish taste. Sadly, this was limited edition with the Impulse sets, so if you do happen to come across one of them, buy it immediately! I ran out the day after I bought my first set and bought another one (you can never have too many body sprays!) just so I could have another of the lipgloss! MAC brought out a Dazzleglass in their Christmas collection this year called She-zam which I haven’t seen in real life, but from swatches online, it looks quite similar, so that might be a more expensive dupe!

Lipstick – I’m not a frequent lipstick wearer but if I had to pick one, it would probably be a really old one which I found again to my delight on Ebay! Maybelline’s Forever Metallic collection hasn’t been sold in the UK for a couple of years now, but I used to love the Gold n Roses shade from that range. I don’t know what made me think of it, but a few months ago I looked it up on Ebay and found loads of it! So I repurchased it and it’s probably my most used lipstick this year! It’s a really subtle pinkish colour, with a lot of shine, and nine times out of ten I’ll put a lipgloss over the top. Lipstick isn’t one of my most used products!

Lipliner – Again, I don’t use a lot of lipliner on myself, but my go to if I am wearing a lipstick rather than gloss is Maybelline Long Lasting Lipliner in Rosewood. Since I mostly wear a nude rather than bright lip, this is a fairly subtle colour, and blends well with a good range of nude shades, so that is probably my most used in 2011!

Brows - I have crazily thick and dark eyebrows as it is so 2011 saw me fill in any tiny gaps and define the ends of my brows with any slightly ashy/greyish brown eyeshadow - eyebrow pencils tend to make my already full eyebrows look too heavy!

Perfume – my most used perfume of 2011 was Davidoff Echo, a fragrance I got for Christmas a couple of years ago and still absolutely love. It reminds me of Uni, I used to spray it on every morning before going for the train and the smell stayed on my scarf all day, so it’s one of those really lovely nostalgic scents. It isn’t too overpowering, I’m not a big fan of really strong, intense perfumes, and this one is perfect. Sadly you can only get it online now (my mum likes the smell of it so much she got it for her Christmas this year!), but I’ll definitely buy a new one in future, as long as it’s available.

Hand Cream – I cannot get enough of Soap & Glory’s Endless Glove Dry Hand Cream. I know the S&G Hand Food hand cream is really popular, but I got this one about a year ago, and I still love it, even though I’m not entirely sure they still make it! It smells incredible, and I can’t put my finger on what it is that it reminds me of, but it’s fruity and creamy, and lovely. It’s a brilliant moisturiser and another triumph from the amazing Soap & Glory range.

Body Cream/Moisturiser – over the course of 2011, I suspect that my most used body cream was the lovely Garnier Body Tonic Firming and Hydrating Lotion. Let me just say how much I love this. It is FANTASTIC. It’s a really nice gel-crème formula, which sinks into the skin really quickly and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft, but also (dare I say it) slightly firmer when used over the course of a week or so? I don’t know, that might just be my imagination, but I always think it does! What I love most about it, other than the smashing citrus smell (I’m a sucker for fruity scented products) is how quickly it sinks in – there’s none of that faffing about waiting for a really rich creamy moisturiser to dry in before getting dressed!

Shower Gel – still with the fruit scented theme, my most used shower gel of 2011 was the gorgeous Original Source Raspberry and Vanilla Milk. Sometimes I wonder how I had the will power not to eat this. Go and buy a bottle, and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

So there we have it, a run-down of my most used products 2011! Feels like I took about four years to write this, so congratulations if you made it through!!!

Lynsey xxx