Hannah Martin is one of the most respected bridal specialists in the British beauty industry. I love her intensely pretty make-up style, warmth and good humour. The first time we met, I was so excited I flew through the door of the Charlotte Street Hotel, face-planting into the wooden floor, ripping my tights and grazing my knees (leather pencil skirts are the enemy), before wiggling inelegantly through to the restaurant to meet her with burning cheeks and look of complete childish embarrassment. Many people in our industry would be mortified by such an entrance but we laughed so hard, I knew a friendship had begun.
2016… It was like that scene in Jackass The Movie, where Steve O gets strapped inside a portaloo (or porta potty for my American readers), attached to two bungee cords, before shooting up into the air. This horribly confined environment filling up with faeces, going all over the place. It was mad, nonsensical and utterly masochistic. The sort of horror you don’t like, but can’t help watching, can’t stop watching. Much like a pussy-grabbing celebrity businessman becoming the next president of America, 52% of voting Brits making the politically disenfranchised choice to leave the EU, lots of well-loved creative people dying and ISIS doing more terrible things. Shit. Flew. Everywhere. Thankfully, the messy portaloo has landed on the ground and a fresh, unsoiled year is upon us. Many of us are still alive and will most likely be ok. With a sense of grit and camaraderie, we must crack on.
In my own little world, not too removed from the wider world, shit primarily centred around my family, friends, health, career, hobbies, interests and lovers (same for you huh?). I learnt an awful lot of stuff and have to write it all down so I don’t forget. This is becoming an annual post – read about 2015 here. In a nutshell: I got really unwell in April, recovered by the end of summer and re-prioritised. I developed a positive relationship with my body after watching it get better, and therefore liked my curves after 26 years, now feeding them regular servings of broccoli and Joe Wicks’ protein pancakes. I danced a lot and set myself free from many invisible pressures. This cleared room for more positive forces, inspiring growth, happiness and overall enjoyment of my life this past year. There must be a crystal pendant I could wear to represent my developments as a deep and pensive human being, but alas I’m yet to find one. Here is a definitive, but not complete list, of 20 things I learnt in 2016:
I am prone to the odd hormonal break out, and it it has taken me several years to find products that ACTUALLY work to get rid of unsightly blemishes. This is the sort of post I wish I had read before spending a fortune on so much skincare. Having super clear skin is a combination of luck, lifestyle, hormones, happiness AND skincare. I have written all about my holistic 360 approach to skin. I recommend you read this post if you are suffering with your skin.
For a more “yeah just tell me what to put on my face” approach, keep reading… these blessings are made by the beauty skincare gods. I guarantee that if you have spots to try any one of them, you will most likely be delighted by the results.
I had the pleasure of working on some fitness shoots this year. My star products for sweaty conditions have been the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer and Khiel’s Micro Blur Skin Perfector. These beauties worked very well together to create a photo-friendly base.
Mascaras don’t come much more full-on than this one. Two coats will have your lashes blacker than Donald Trump’s soul, and longer than the list of people he offends.
I am late to the party with this highly coveted, top seller for YSL. Nic and Sam from Pixiwoo raved about this to me, so I decided to grab one… and see if it lived up to all the hype. My previous mascara loves are all tubing formulas, simply because I am really fussy about ZERO smudging. No panda eyes in the morning for me please. Some mascaras let you think you have removed your eye makeup, only to leave you with black smudgy peepers the next morning, à la Jack Sparrow. This is genuinely one of my biggest concerns, and I am thrilled to tell you that YSL Effect Faux Cils Mascara does NOT budge or leave panda eyes. Hurrah!
I’ve been meaning to tell you about my love affair with this product for MONTHS. When I run out of people to tell IRL, this is usually the tipping point where a product love becomes a blog post. My flatmate is now also a convert and my mother is perusing the NYX counters like a mad woman with a secret tip off. This brilliant product from NYX has really changed the way I look at “affordable” beauty products…
Colour technician, Despina Sianou was thrust into my consciousness by blogger Lydia Elise Millen… it was a YouTube video about her hair journey that got me interested in Despina’s magic. As top colourist in her own right (before any blogger hysteria), Despina cancelled all her bookings the day a sobbing Lydia walked into the salon; Lydia’s hair had been destroyed by henna box dye, after henna box dye, and a bad bleach job after that. 9 hours later, Lydia left the salon with her natural hair colour restored and condition dramatically improved. It takes some serious expertise to do this; few hairdressers will touch a frazzled head of hair. So, after stalking Despina on Instagram, I wanted to do nothing more than spend an afternoon watching her work. I have some very odd, meditative interests, and Instagram stalking balayaged hair is one of them (TBF some people like train spotting, so whatevs). The application, colour mix, hair knowledge, the finish… it’s a science, an art and form of beauty therapy combined into one highly skilled process.
I’m so sorry for being a bad writer. I get ‘the fear’ you see… fear that the fizzy ideas in my head, that take the form of hundreds of notes in my phone, and inky scribbles in my moleskin notebooks, are not good enough. I have some wonderful posts on this blog, If I do say so myself – pieces of writing I am really proud of: a favourite being Note to future dating self. I worry that the next piece of writing will not come so easily, or read so emotively.
As I write, I learn more about who I am. The art of writing down my thoughts, calcifies them, ascertains and rounds up the heartfelt, the angry, the stories, the beauty product loves, and the completely silly. These ideas stare back at me, stark words on a glaring screen – ordered and clear, articulating the furore of information firing through my prefrontal cortex, and firing through my soul.
Creativity is a very intangible thing; more often than not, I work in fits and bursts of excitement and sentences that form so fluidly like a sploshing choppy river, racing through my mind, and out of my fingers onto the keyboard. Other times, I have hot, effervescing ideas shut down by frozen, still, fear. I worry these ideas will not materialise as I hoped, not be well written enough, interesting enough and without the time to shape and edit these faceless ideas… my fear grows.
Glandular Fever is a truly horrid virus. It crept up on me one day, as silently as a warship sliding onto dark water. I’ve watched my attempt at explaining how I felt in the video below, but I’m not sure it quite does justice.
Currently, I am sat in my favourite Parsons Green coffee haunt, Hally’s – I write a lot in here, whilst slurping on matcha lattes. I’ve had a week of feeling good, telling everyone how amazing I feel, and that I’m totes better, that’s IT, no more Glandular Fucking Fever. Then, last night I had to go to bed at 9pm with a scratchy throat. I woke up 12 hours later feeling like my deep sleep never happened, utterly drained, sore and sensitive. Inside myself, I am just the same person, with the same unrelenting sense of humour and complete disregard for rules or being told off. My body doesn’t feel the same though; it feels like it belongs to an 85-year-old woman – soft and aching, scared to exercise, unable to dance, do cartwheels or jump around. In another life, the one before Glandular Fever, I went to boot camp circuit classes, learnt Beyoncé dance routines, and loved that fantastic feeling after smashing a hard gym session. I can’t do any of that right now, and it’s really getting me down. After breakfast today, I had a lie down, a shower, a lie down, lots of supplements, lunch, a lie down and some deep motivational thoughts have propelled me to started writing at 3.30pm.
This was such a beautiful wedding. The dress, the flowers, and blue velvet dog collars. My bride Jessie is a total natural beauty who wears little else but mascara on a day-to-day basis, and she wanted to look completely flawless but not overly made up on her big day – this is my most common brief. I take pride is doing exactly what the bride wants, aiming to create a look more beautiful than she had envisaged. Our shared love of Sensai 38 Degrees Volumizing Mascara and dogs, was a telling sign we were on the same page, and after a very successful trial, the big day was a huge makeup success with wide smiles all round.
Photography by Charlotte Bromley-Davenport
As a bridal artist, it is a big pleasure to participate in someone’s big day, and make it sparkle. When you look beautiful, you feel confident, this is what makes bridal makeup so special to me. It’s not just the actual makeup, but the emotional moment I have when a bride catches her reflection in the mirror and beams at me with elation, as if to say “YES! This is it!”. I feel a bit teary sometimes! No bride is truly ready to walk down the aisle until she feels gorgeous, and that’s my job. I absolutely love it.
The mother of the bride above, was apprehensive about having her makeup done. After a very specific brief to be natural, no foundation and focus on the eyes with a little liner and mascara. I created this look using By Terry light expert corrector, Sensai under-eye concealer, Laura Mercier neutral eyeshadows, NARS kholiner, Kevyn Aucoin black eyeshaow pushed into the lash line, several coats of Eyeko Bespoke Mascara, Delilah blush, Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight powder, Sunday Riley Translucent Powder and a mixture of Lipstick Queen and Stila lipstick. I am thrilled to say she was very happy with the final look!
Jessie’s final bridal look. We used Chanel base products, Kevyn Aucoin for subtle contouring (can you see it?), Sensai, Eyeko brows, Delilah and NARS.