Posts Tagged ‘review’

Today I’ve decided to tentatively dip my toes into the world of beauty blogging.

Despite my beauty regime being longer and more complicated than the entire Matrix trilogy as well as subscribing to a whole host of beauty blogs, writing about it myself is something that I never really started. So for my first post I thought I’d let you into my secret treasure trove of beauty products I use.

To be fair I’ve probably sampled enough hair, beauty and skin products to keep the entire industry afloat, and am a sucker for outlandish claims and miracle products so I thought I let you into which are my favourites.

(From left to right)

Umberto Gianni Grunge Glamour Tousled Salt Spray

After some serious hair sinning I’m now in a phase of being as kind as possible to my poor mistreated hair. So the first thing I stopped doing was using any heat on it. I’m usually not in a rush to do my hair as quick as possible so have plenty of time to let my naturally wavy hair air dry. This stuff is great as it makes my waves a lot more defined and a bit more in control to give that “beachy” hair effect (I think it’s because of the salt…) which is what we like to avoid the “lions mane” look. It promises “From cool festival hair to rock chick grunge glamour, this gives the perfect lived in texture and come-to-bed hair” and to a reasonable extent that’s what it delivers (although in all fairness I don’t think my hair’s going to get anyone into bed…) And it makes my hair smell nice all day too!

K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor

This one I brought from my hairdresser after she coaxed me into it. No way would I usually spend £15 on one product, but she’d just pointed out what bad condition my hair was in and told me this would sort it. It’s a bit like an intensive conditioner apart from it doesn’t condition, it “rebuilds and improves the structure of the hair” so you need to use a conditioner afterwards. Anyway I’ve been using it once a week for about 6 months now and it has made my hair a lot healthier (no more comments from hairdressers about how dead it is) and there’s no more evidence of all damage that was done as a result of the blonde that was in it a couple of years ago. Plus it smells like bananas, so anyone who’s ruined their hair by over dying I’d give this a go!

Umberto Gianni Backcomb in a Bottle

I do like big hair on occasion, and this definitely delivers it without having to go through the torture of back combing (or even worse, over back combing!) your hair. Fair enough you’re not going to get an instant beehive, just a bit of subtle volume in an instant, saving you the hours spent teasing the life out of your hair to wake up to a birds nest the next morning! If I want my hair to be as big as possible I’ll use it alongside some other volumizing products for a bit of extra oomph.

Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends Split End Protection Cream

Another product to prevent damage! This one promises to be “your secret weapon against split ends, and your bodyguard against breakage.” Too cut a long story short, I tried to grow my hair but it was so damaged hairdressers would lob an inch off each time I went, resulting in hair which just wouldn’t grow. Now I only cut it at the first sign of split ends and when I use this stuff it prevents them meaning I can go longer without a trim, and thus have had progress in the length department!

Benefit Some Kind-A Gorgeous Foundation Faker

I’ve recently become fed up with heavy foundations and powders as I just don’t see the point for going to work or to the shops so I switched to a much lighter and not so heavy one and this is just that. It really is barely there and is translucent, so it just evens you out a bit instead of creating a complete mask like other foundations do. I just put a bit of this on and maybe some powder and I’m done! Not good if you have particularly dry skin or lots of blemishes you want to hide, but if you want a more subtle foundation, this is for you!

Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion.

I got this as part of the urban Decay naked palette and I really like it! You just put a tiny bit on your lids before you do your eye shadow and it keeps it in place all day and prevents it from creasing. Great if you want a full day’s wear from your eye shadow and don’t want to have to blend out creases during the day. I know everyone’s already sold on this product and it’s featured on every beauty blog since in the beginning of time, but it really is rather good!

L’oreal Studeo Secrets Smoothing Resurfacing Primer

This stuff is great for putting on just before your foundation. As well as making your skin super soft and reducing the appearance of your pores, it also makes a great base to put your foundation on top of which makes it last a bit longer before turning you into a shiny mess. The only con is that it’s about £12 and the pot is tiny, so if you’re using it every day on all of your face it’s going to run out quite quickly. But it does take a lot less than you’d think to cover your whole face so you learn to be sparing and I think it’s worth the price as it makes you skin feel really good, I use this every day I wear make up now.

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I was lucky enough to go to a press screening of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never last night. (Friends in high places ;)) How much you like this film is dependent on how much you already like Bieber. I suspect that if you served up any sort of Bieber related content, put it on a cinema screen and let his fans at it they’d love it. But what’s more surprising about this film is that it’s watchable by anyone.


The 3D element is a clever way to make a documentary work on a big screen and increases the amount of visual interest there is in the film. As Bieber reaches out and grabs the air ahead of him, or as the rows of girls frantically wave their hands in the audience, there’s at least something to keep those accompanying younger guest’s attention.

The documentary follows Bieber on an 86 date tour, as his voice threatens to give up and the excitement builds for a show in Madison Square Garden, which is presented as being the holy grail of having ‘made it.’ Interspersed with tributes from the team surrounding him, his friends and family the clichéd messages most commonly attached to children’s films of hope, faith, and belief in yourself are plied on thick and fast. But coming from Bieber, and set alongside his story from talented musician at a tender eight years old, to badgering Usher for the chance to sing to him, to his meteoric fame of now, the message seems to have a lot more credibility.

A light hearted, self mocking tone is present throughout. We see Bieber promising his voice coach that he hasn’t been shouting, immediately followed by footage of his shouting and screaming with his friends. Even a montage of his fans declaring their undying love for him is edited in such a way that you laugh instead of feeling awkward at the exact lengths these girls will go to to get close to him. You almost expect one to say “One time Justin Bieber punched me in the face. It was awesome.” a la Mean Girls to go along with the theme of self parody.


The one problem I have is the exact extent to which we’re seeing the real 16 year old boy. He does indeed come across as normal. His “team” are clearly doing a good job of keeping him grounded, it’s unquestionable that he is extremely grateful for each of his fans and for the privileged position he is in. He’s cheeky, likes the attention of girls and is as vulgar as any other boy his age as he eats a donut found left in the bin. But what there is little of is Bieber in his own words. At no point does he talk genuinely to the camera or speak completely naturally, and how many of the words coming from his mouth have been put there by publicists? As he gives some money to a violinist playing in his home town where he used to bust and tells her to always follow her dreams, it’s hard not to wonder who might have instructed him to do that.

Whilst the film does have elements which makes it read more like a promotional film than a documentary, that’s not to say it isn’t at heart very watchable and even, dare I say it, enjoyable. It goes without saying Bieber fans will leave even more in love with the Bieber brand than when they entered, and those who despise him undoubtedly will find many a reason to continue doing so during the 90 minutes. But the real test is those who are indifferent to his work, and I suspect they’ll find it difficult not to come out a Bieber convert and having seen a fascinating insight into the way in which a star is born in the 21st century.

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Black Swan is centered on the life of virginal dancer Nina, a member of the New York ballet school. Portman plays her near perfectly as she is given the biggest role of her career, to play the lead in Swan Lake. The life she leads is claustrophobic, stuffy, and completely consumed by dancing. Her mother has projected her own hopes and dreams onto her after her own ballet career was cut short after she fell pregnant, resulting in a tendency towards bulimia, scratching at her skin until it bleeds and what starts off a mild psychological disorder.

The narrative of Swan Lake and that of the film soon begin to become more and more entwined. Nina’s innocent persona doesn’t fit with the dual role of the Swan Queen, as she is required to play both the white swan, whom, being graceful, poised and precise, she is naturally more attuned to, and the black swan, the antithesis of the white, ruthless, dark and twisted.

Artistic director Thomas encourages Nina to lose her frigidness, he tells her to look to new dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), who is imprecise, tattooed, smokes, drinks and is free, for inspiration. He also advises her to use masturbation to explore sides of herself she is out of touch with.

Soon Nina’s psychological disorder becomes more exaggerated, the audience is unsure if what we are seeing is real or part of her consciousness as Nina’s transformation into the black swan becomes more consuming. This is perhaps where the brilliance of the cinematography is best represented. A grainy filter, muted colours and shaky point of view shot lets us see through Nina’s eyes, reminiscent of a documentary style of film making, resulting in an, at best tense and at worst terrifying atmosphere. Flashes of Nina’s face are almost seamlessly placed onto the screen, leaving us just as confused as to what is real and what is not as Nina must be.

Overall this film is one of those which stays with you long after your first viewing. You never quite know what is real and what is fake. Hallucinations and mirages crop up so frequently you can never quite relax and the effect is a psychological thriller which will have you engrossed from start to finish. If Portman does indeed win the Oscar for best actress, which I suspect she will, it is definitely deserved. If you watch it expecting a light, delicate film about ballet, you’ll feel short changed. If what you’re after is an uncomfortable, chilling psychological thriller, you won’t be disappointed.

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Album Review: Mcfly Above the Noise

Yes, Mcfly are back! After a two year hiatus the band are yet again claiming that this album is the “album they’ve always wanted to make” The same thing they said about Motion in the Ocean, (and we all know what a disappointment that was) but this time they reassure us that they really mean it.

A lot’s been happening in those two years, they split with their record label, they went to Australia and wrote a few tracks which were all subsequently scraped, they got back with their record label, they went to gym and/or drunk a hell of a lot of protein shakes (Tickets to the gun show any one?) and it certainly appears as if they’ve hired some sort of stylist who knows that guns equal money in this fickle industry. (Naked photoshoot? Yeah why not)

And now they’re back!

Lots of words have been thrown about in describing this album- Twilight inspired- the video and mini movie for the first single Party Girl definitely had a vampire theme running through it and has set the tone for their artwork. Mcfly/ Mcfly’s record company certainly aren’t stupid; girls are going mental for vampires at the moment, and it’s a clever, if a bit unoriginal, bandwagon to jump on.

Rock-opera is also a phrase which has cropped up a few times, no doubt a result of the opening track End of the World which takes influence from War of the Worlds and throws in elements of theatrical drama which are later confirmed by Nowhere Left to Run.

In terms of the music itself, it’s good. It’s actually very good. But it’s hard to know whether it’s the 21 year old me saying that or the 16 year old me. But with the help of producer Dallas Austin (who has an impressive roster of clients including Madonna, Pink, Michael Jackson) and only a few naff songs, the majority is very listenable.

With I Need A Woman, a country inspired rock ballad and If U C Kate (Yes, when you say it it sounds like a rudey, we’ve seen both the Script and Britney Spears do exactly the same thing) but forget the crass title and for me it’s the standout track of the album, there’s no doubting that these boys are good at what they do.

Will this album turn Mcfly into credible artists, something I get the impression they’ve craved to be from the start, probably not, but will it boost their presence in the teen pop category after an extended gap? Yes, most definitely. A hollow victory, but one I’m certainly enjoying.

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Katy Perry Teenage Dream

I got hold of Katy Perry’s latest album, Teenage Dream, recently and it must admit it’s become a guilty pleasure!

Her first single to come from it, California Gurls, was an instant hit due to its feel good, Summer feel and it soon got to the top of the charts, helped by a provocative video,  with sales exceeding 6 million worldwide. And if that’s anything to go by, Teenage Dream will be just as big.

The second single and the title track, Teenage Dream, (officially out tomorrow, 29th August 2010) represents the general sound of the second album and of what we know about Katy, an album which compensates with well crafted tabloid liaisons what it lacks in substance.

Katy Perry never has shied away from promoting her product, her singles and albums, with other below the line tactics which take as much attention as possible off how simple and non-magnificent the product is.

Think back, for example, to Katy’s first venture onto the pop scene. Was it a well crafted piece of musical excellence, set for the music hall of fame? No, it was a title which alluded to lesbianism, I Kissed a Girl, with a gorgeous black-haired, red lipped stunner fluttering her eye lashes and giving long, intense stares down the camera. Add to that a high profile relationship with Russell Brand, an innate sexiness, and never failing to appear in public without a tight dress with a low neck line, and Katy Perry has proved that she most definitely knows how this pop game works.

And if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Songs on her sophomore album are just as full of innuendos paired with unoriginal catchy pop, perhaps the most unsubtle being Peacock in which she sings, and I quote, “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?/ What you’re waiting for, it’s time for you to show it off/ Don’t be a shy kinda guy I’ll bet it’s beautiful/ Come on baby let me see/ Whatchu hidin’ underneath”

Katy Perry sits on the same bench as many female pop stars before her, Britney Spears, Beyonce Knowles, Rhianna, all able to perfect the art of remaining accessible to teenagers, producing catchy pop songs and being etched into the imaginations of the older gentlemen.

However, don’t get me wrong, I do like Katy Perry’s album. I like it ALOT. The songs are well produced, very listenable and catchier than Chlamydia. Particular highlights are FireWork, Hummingbird Heartbeat and Last Friday Night, any of which could easily top the charts and add to Perry’s continuing chart success. In fact, it’s hard to find a reason not to like her. She’s got the whole package, and unless you’re one of those people who have a snobby dislike of manufactured pop music, you’ll like it too. And if you are one of those aforementioned snobs, I wouldn’t bother; this album probably isn’t for you.

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