a girl's guide to beauty

Hair, skin, face and flaws, we break it all down in our girl's guide to beauty.

by Bertie Brandes
19 November 2014, 11:05am

A few days ago Amanda Bynes announced it's against her religion to "follow ugly people" on Twitter. She's following four people. Either beauty is almost entirely limited to being a middle aged male plastic surgeon in a burberry print tie, or Amanda's concept of beauty (and yours, and mine, and everyone's) is varied and subjective. Thanks AB, for perfectly outlining my main problem with beauty as an industry - why pay lots of money to be the same texture and exhaustion-level as everyone else when we all have completely different ideas of what looks good? For the last few years I've struggled to get excited about the largely petroleum-based world of balms, powders and pigments without a niggling feeling I'm probably going to end up feeling worse than I did to begin with. I also know that my beauty icons all look like they've been up for 5 days and haven't glimpsed a hairbrush for double that (shouts to you Paz de la Huerta) so being told I can regain a youthful glow in 7 easy steps just flat out doesn't appeal. Icons aside, I'm fine with you knowing knowing what size my eyes actually are (shock), if I'm totally fucking shattered, or, more practically, where my face begins.

However despite all the big talk (no I do not ever put makeup on myself for hours late at night in the bathroom mirror and wonder "what if…") I have not always rocked the "no-make up (genuinely no) make-up" look with such conviction. Yep, lilac eyeshadows, gels, face creams, false lashes and a veritable rainbow of misinformed lipstick choices have adorned this face of mine on many occasions. From Star Gazer to Space NK and all the way through to soap and a steel nerve, read on for my possibly quite hopeless guide to beauty.

LOOK AFTER IT. When you're the smartest, richest and best-dressed you've ever been and still have a great complexion you will thank your young responsible self. Drink gallons of water (tell everyone how much, because it's chic) and don't torture your poor skin. Use an SPF if you're smart, moisturise with whatever doesn't give you spots (Nivea is awful, which is probably why Sainsbury's are trying to give it away by the bucketful BTW) and accept that sleeping in loads of foundation isn't going to end well for you or your/whoever's pillow case. Do squeeze spots because it's really satisfying but seriously only do it when you're fresh out of the bath or shower and put tissue over your fingers cos a) it's cleaner and b) purple nail marks in your skin are not a great look. Also, my mum reckons if you have groomed eyebrows you can fuck off making any other effort, so tweeze the bit above your nose and invest in an eyebrow pencil if you're into that kind of thing. Personally I'm more interested in investing £10 onto my Oyster Card so I can get around but hey, tube, eyebrows… whatever.

When it comes to actual make-up, if you're wearing it with a half-smirk and a large glass of vodka pretty much anything goes. I've always thought November is a good time to channel "oligarch's illegitimate daughter lost in St Petersburg" (see Saint Laurent) but you may prefer "Hawaiian beach party with Mario Testino" to get you through the cold, dark evenings at B@1. Don't forget the body glitter. My mum says everyone should have a definitive look by the time they're 30, which is quite scary but means we need to start experimenting as a matter of some urgency. Some ideas: apply kohl eyeliner before bed and by the morning it will be appropriately smudged and sleepy-sexy. Properly applied top eyeliner will make you look like you buy perfume from Dover St Market, just make sure you have a steady hand and access to lots of Q-tips. Glitter is great to throw on all around your eyes if you want people to fall in love with you but be wary taking it up to your brow bone (I'm not convinced that is an actual bone) because it can suddenly and horrifying start to resemble bad metallic eyeshadow. When it comes to lips, if you're one of those people who can rock a wine stain to death with a beret in grainy Photo Booth picture then it's practically illegal for you not to wear one all the time. Blusher, bronzer and contouring are slightly more complex/might require a Youtube tutorial session but definitely do them because it looks quite sexy even when they don't work and you've just got brown/pearlescent stripes on your face. Other things to note: looking tired does not have to be a bad thing and I'm sure you're really pretty when you cry mascara tears so you can stop trying it out in the mirror now that you're technically an adult.

The only really important thing I've learned about hair is that parting it where it doesn't want to part will resemble a combover irrespective of whether you splurged on Aussie 3-minute-miracle this month or not. When your hair is damp brush it backwards from the front and shake your head until it falls naturally to either side. This is your parting. Accept it or get a fringe. If you have relatively curly hair, brushing and plaiting it at night will save you the sadness of crushed and straggly ringlets every other morning. If you have straight hair I can't imagine how easy and carefree your stupid life must be so please don't talk to me.

Between December 1st and January 2nd just accept you will make some utterly terrible beauty decisions. Go make-up shopping in Covent Garden and drink a caramel latte like that's not the most twee and absurd thing you've done in a decade. Revel in bad taste, smudge on more gold-flecked black eyeshadow, slick on more "Mulled Wine" cinnamon lip gloss and then wake up next year and pretend it never happened.

Embrace weirdness, forget about being flawless and emphasise everything you hated when you were a teenager. If in doubt, Margot Tenenbaum. Check your teeth.


Text Bertie Brandes
Photography Kimi Hammerstroem
Artwork Eve at the Digi Fairy
Styling Pandora Lennard
Hair Nicole Kahlani at The Book Agency using Fudge
Make-up Danielle Kahlani at The Book Agency using M.A.C
Styling assistance Holly Hobkirk
Hair assistance Elizabeth Befers
Make-up assistance Kamila Forini, Jenny Morrell
Nails Amy Atkins using Illamasqua
Location Recession Studio
Model Anja Konstantinova at Premier

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