The Brit Pack – my Favourite Black British Beauty and Fashion Bloggers!

Which Black British beauty and fashion bloggers are on my hot list?

I took inspiration from my recent post that showcased the leading Black beauty bloggers from the US and thought that I would start a Pinterest board to collate my fav Black British bloggers – we to are doing some fabulous things right here in the UK!

I have really gotten into Pinterest – it is such an easy way to document your thoughts, ideas and aspirations to create a visual feast that is a reflection of the very essence of who you are!  What fun it will be to look back at your boards in 1, 5 or 10 years time!  It will be a montage of your evolution as a person and a snapshot of the history of your presence here on this earth!  If you are not on  Pinterest request an invite!  If you are on Pinterest follow me!

So which bloggers am I loving right now??  Check out my board to find out!

Who should join the list? Do let me know who your favorite Black British beauty and fashion bloggers are too!

If you are on Pinterest, happy pinning! Leave your Pinterest address in the comment box below and I will be sure to follow!


Top Black Beauty Bloggers courtesy of Coco & Creme

I came accross this fabulous post a few days ago, posted by Coco & Creme, a sister blog to the leading US online magazine for the ‘young, contemporary’ women of colour,  Clutch, and I thought I would share it!

Image

Featuring the heavyweight black female bloggers from accross the pond such as Afrobella, Curly Nikki and Scandalous Beauty – follow all of these ladies for the latest news and views on the best hair and beauty buys for the woman of colour.

It is always great to discover what is happening in the States, and I am becoming increasingly  impressed with the quality of the digital content that these entrepreneurial, innovative and enterprising women are creating – such powerful brands and successful businesses!!  Black women in the States have really utilised the web and social media to carve out incredible niches – allowing their voices and opinions to be heard…and shared!

They are a true inspiration and I hope that I will see many more Black British women take to the web and create an identity for themsleves and the women they represent.


Hair we go again…

Being the First Lady of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth cannot be easy, with the eyes of the world on your every move – but does being the first Black First Lady come with additional pressures?

Illustration by Nicole Fineman for Time (2009)

Like most females that hold positions in public office, Michelle Obama is scrutinised from head to toe on her choice of attire, whether she should bare her arms or not, which designer she was wearing etc etc – but where the similarity ends with her peers in the political class, is with the attention that her hair has garnered since her husband took office, and it shows no sign of abating if the reaction to the image below  is anything to go by.

I am not my hair... no really I am not !!

The image hit my Twitter timeline mid -week and since then the gained momentum and has gone viral – I have seen the image featured on the Twitter and Facebook timelines of friends and followers from America to Africa, Europe to East Asia!!

The image is courtesy of the powers of Photoshop, and it seems that the originator has yet to be identified….

Before and After (well sort of...)

…and the plot thickened when the photo in question came to the attention of blogger Maeling Tapp, author of Natural ChicaEssence.com reported that Tapp’s Twitter followers began sending her messages saying that Obama’s hair looked a lot like her own…and upon further inspection it does seem to be the case.

Tapp states in the Essence piece:

“A lot of people who follow my blog said, ‘I had a feeling that was your hair,… It’s kind of surprising that other people recognize my hair so well.” 

Hair today, gone tomorrow! Mrs O wears the blogger, Maeling Tapp's hair well.

Like Mrs Obama, I can relate to my hair being of extreme interest, especially in the professional and corporate environment.   This Time.com photo essay is a case in point – an international current affairs magazine painstakingly documenting the evolution of a First Lady’s hairstyle??!!  This is crazy!

My issue is not whether Mrs. Obama wears her hair curly or straight,  but that, in my opinion, her hair garners so much attention due to the fact that Black women in a prominent position is still a novelty.

In one sense, you can understand the fascination that people of other ethnicities have with our hair – I am currently working on a project that is addressing this particular issue, and  it has become apparent that our hair is a complete enigma – and  most questions and queries, to which one could take offense, are really asked out of sheer curiosity.

I have worked in the fashion and beauty industry for some of the world’s leading brands, and even here in London, one of  the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, I was often the only Black person, and almost certainly was the only Black woman working in the head offices of these brands.  Even within the beauty industry – which I expected be more enlightened – I was always being asked about my ‘ever-changing’ hairstyles, if my hair could be touched and how is it  that my hair grew so long over night!  

The long and short of it is (no pun intended)  that I and women like myself are still all too absent in many sections and areas of society.

We have no presence in countless offices  across the city, thus when we do make an appearance it can take our colleagues and peers a while to adjust to our normal hair and beauty routines…but in most parts adjust they do, and they come to the realisation that we have much more in common than that which makes us different.

Judge, Baroness, Entrepreneur...will you be next?

As more and more Black women secure positions of leadership, face the media and take their place in mainstream society, I am looking forward to the  focus being on what is in our heads as well as what in on it.


Rock of Ages

I was flicking through the latest issue of Grazia magazine yesterday and was thrilled to see that yet again Grazia has used a beautiful black model for the main beauty feature!

Image: Grazia - March 2012

The feature is not colour specific, but focuses on the latest hi-tech, anti-aging products that are on the market – the no-surgery approach to holding back the years.

Image: Grazia - March 2012

I had to smile to myself though, because the choice of model and the content of the feature was somewhat ironic ….has the beauty team at Grazia not heard that ‘Black Don’t Crack’ ???

This widely used term refers to the fact that black skin tends to age very well and the ‘signs of aging’ that the beauty (and cosmetic surgery) industry target with a plethora of products, devices and procedures – crows feet, fine lines and wrinkles, dark under-eye circles and puffiness, loss of elasticity – are not a major concern for the average woman of colour.

I am sure that you have all heard about, commented on and have formulated an opinion regarding  the recent survey of 1,936 American adults conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation that found that while black women are heavier than their white counterparts, they have higher self-esteem and a better body image.  I believe that this higher self-esteem can be also be partly attributed to the fact that the majority of black women do not abhor the aging process.

Now don’t get me wrong, aging is very much a reality for black women and eventually all of the ‘signs’ I mentioned above will begin to surface – however, in my experience, the onset of these changes in the beautiful, strong black women that have been a part of my life were never viewed in a negative light – in fact they was celebrated!

The leading ladies below typify the adage, ‘Black Don’t Crack’ , they are the essence of fabulosity!

Stacey Dash, 46 (45 in this image!)

Denise Lewis MBE, 39

Oprah Winfrey, 58

Iman,56

Diana Ross, 67

Now you may be thinking that if you were a celebrity -with stylists, facialists and personal trainers at your disposal, you would look fabulous too, right??

Well all I can say is that for me, the most stunning, resplendent black women that I was surrounded by as I grew up, were those with whom I attended church.

I grew in the Pentecostal church, and it was here in particular that I saw Black women of all ages – young women who were just blossoming and the matriarchs who had held the fort for decades – dressed to the nines and looking spectacular week after week after week.

An essential item of attire that conferred a regal finish was the indispensible church hat.

Oh happy day!

When these women were dressed in their matching hat, suit, bag and shoes –   you saw a confident, beautiful, representation of the black woman, one who celebrated her external appearance as she tended to her internal, spiritual being.

These women are our mothers and grandmothers, our aunts, our sisters and our friends.  As a young girl, and now as a young women,  women such as these continue to inspire me.

In 2009, just after the historical election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America, Essence magazine ran this cover of First Lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson.

I still have a copy of the magazine on my coffee table, it is such a beautiful depiction of black womanhood and I love it so much!  Mrs Robinson was 72 at the time that this image was taken… she looks amazing!

Age ain’t nothing but a number – embrace your outer beauty – which can only be a reflection of your inner confidence and the love that you have for yourself.


Black and Blue

On the 27th February, the singer Elisabeth Welch (1904 -2003)  was  commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque in south-west London.  She is the second black women to have received this hounour (the first was Jamaican born nurse, Mary Seacole).

Welch in her element (Image: BBC)

Born in New York, Welch had a rich cultural heritage through her father John, who was Native American and African-American  and her mother Elisabeth, who was of Irish and Scottish descent, however like many African-American performers of her time,  found greater success in Europe than in the United States.

After starting her career in New York, Welch performed in popular clubs in Paris and London, and, later, in British films.

She settled in London in 1933, which remained her  home until she passed away just a few months shy of her 100th birthday.

The 1930s saw Welch become a trailblazer for black women in Britain. It was the decade where Ivor Novello wrote songs for her; Paul Robeson was her leading man in films; and Welch enjoyed popularity as a cabaret star of London’s cafe society.

In 1931  she introduced the famous torch song “Stormy Weather” to British audiences. Watch her singing it here many years later in 1980 (more about this performance is written below).

In 1934 she was the first black broadcaster to be given her own radio series, Soft Lights and Sweet Music, by the BBC. Her many radio shows include two guest appearances on Desert Island Discs.

In the later years of her life Welch stopped the show once again in the 1970 musical, Pippin, made new records, and also gave what was perhaps the most startling appearance of her film career in Derek Jarman’s Tempest (1980), at the end of which she sings a typically poised version of Stormy Weather surrounded by a chorus line of leaping, high-stepping sailors. There were those who thought she was the best thing about that controversial interpretation of Shakespeare.

In high old age, Elisabeth Welch continued to sing with great aplomb;  recordings from the mid-1980s indicate greater maturity of interpretation than ever.   In 1992 stars gathered at the Lyric Theatre in London to pay tribute to Elisabeth Welch in the Crusaid Concert; where she was given an unprecedented five standing ovations.

She was also known for her style and class as well as for her voice.

Recreate her classic old school, glamorous look.

Create a smooth matte base with Studio Fix compact foundation by MAC (£19)

For decades, a red lipstick paired with strong black eyeliner has been the vanguard of makeup for any showbiz starlet.  Accentuate the eye by sweeping a golden eyes hadow across the entire eye, right up to the brow bone.  I like Silent Night by NARS (£16.50).

NARS Single Eye shadow - Silent Night

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen

Line the  eye with a  liquid eyeliner pen for ease of application  (Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen in black is ideal, £8.99 ).

Curl lashes and then apply lashings of thickening mascara.  I love High Impact mascara by Clinique ((£16) for its intense black pigment.

A show girl must have ruby red lips – and in my opinion Ruby Woo by MAC (£13.50) works well with a lighter skin tone such as Welches,  but for a darker tone such as my own, I prefer a deeper red with blue undertones – my all time favourite is Russian Red by MAC.  Apply with a lip brush, blot – then apply a second coat.

Russian Red by MAC

Finish with an illuminating bronzer, such as the cult classic Shimmer Brick in Bronze by Bobbi Brown (£30.50).

Who will be the next black woman to be recognised in this way?  I hope we do not have to wait to long to find out!


Diva Fever! Get the Look: Diana Ross

I just love this! Recreate the look of Soul sensation, Diana Ross.

 

Simple.

Sophisticated.

Spectacular.

 

I am also  LOVING the Chanel cream eyeshadow…..

…. it is  called  ILLUSION D’OMBRE Long Wear Luminous  Eyeshadow (£22.50).

 

*Adding to my shopping list*


Product Review: BECCA Beach Tint

On the day that that snow is descending upon the nation, I have the pleasure of reviewing a lovely product that transports me to sunnier climes (in my imagination at least!!).   I was extremely chuffed to be asked to review one of the latest products to join the BECCA family: Beach Tint in ‘ Strawberry’ – a ‘water resistant colour for cheeks and lips’.   It contains anti-oxidant vitamin E, to moisturise and protect and is preservative and paraben free.

Beach Tint by BECCA

I do love the BECCA brand.  With 30 shades of foundation in the range it caters to women of all ethnicities and skin tones.

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I have to be honest though, tints have never really worked for me – the colours are often too sheer and do not show up on my skin at all.  Some of the famous tints such as Benetint and Posietint by Benefit are unfortunately a case in point.  As much as I adore the Benefit brand – the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ packaging and quirky counters are a joy to browse – I have found that much of the makeup is just not pigmented enough for my chocolate skin tone…

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised by the rich pigmentation of the BECCA tint.  The Strawberry shade is a deep orangey red, which blends effortlessly to produce a warm orange hue on my skin…just perfect for summer (I love wearing orange on my lips and cheeks when it is sunny outside).

Richly pigmented tint

The tint can be built up to intensify the colour and it also has a subtle strawberry scent that really lasts.  It certainly lived up to its ‘streak –free, kiss-proof’ claims (which is good news for Valentine’s Day)!!  I wore it on my lips and it withstood cups of coffee,  lunch in the office and a few munchies too (alas – kissing was somewhat absent during my trail, maybe my luck will change on February the 14th)!  The tint does  give a matt finish on the lips and personally I  prefer more of a glossy look  – however I put a slick of  golden lipgloss on top which did the trick!

Beach Tint would be perfect for both your summer holiday or sunny days in the city…so on that note… roll on summer!

Find out more about BECCA here:www.beccacosmetics.com

SPECIAL OFFER!

The lovely team at BECCA are offering BeautyPulseLONDON blog subscribers and Twitter followers 20% off  online purchases of Beach Tint in Strawberry (£20) between the 6th  and the 16th  of February*

To qualify for the discount just like this post and I will send you the unique discount code.

*Offer open to UK & IRE customers only I’m afraid

**PR sample


British Beauty – Going for Gold

Olympic fever is certainly hotting up!

As mentioned in my previous blog  I am really excited about the year ahead – and the impending Olympic Games is a major reason for this!

I was selected to be an official Games Maker in December last year, which absolutely made my day!!  I truly believe that the Games will have a lasting legacy on London and on the nation and I am humbled to have been given a chance to be involved.

My first training session is in February….will let you know how it goes!!

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In November last year the global FMCG company Proctor and Gamble (P&G), owners of  brands such as Olay, Pantene, Ariel, Pampers,  Max Factor and Gillette, announced that it will be supporting 11  British athletes leading up to and during the London 2012 Games and these athletes will act as ambassadors  for the company.

P&G's Olympic Ambassadors

The selection includes the incredibly talented female athletes Jeanette Kwakye, Keri-Anne Payne, Victoria Pendleton, Paula Radcliffe, Jessica Ennis  and Jenna Randall.

Yesterday, Pantene, Olay and Max Factor announced partnerships with cyclist Victoria Pendleton, pentathlon champion Jessica Ennis and swimmer Keri-Anne Payne respectively.

Victoria Pendleton, Keri-Anne Payne and Jessica Ennis MBE

All 3 athletes are worthy role models and are indeed beautiful women.  I was particularly thrilled to see that Jessica Ennis (MBE) will be the face of Olay.

Ennis is of a mixed heritage background, the offspring of a Jamaican father and English mother.  In a week where race relations in Britain is again front page news – with the conviction and sentencing of  two of the murderers of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence dominating the headlines-  I hope that Ennis’ partnership with Olay will serve to remind the nation that unity and cohesion can be and is a hallmark of our society and that we should not let the negative incidences overshadow this important fact.

However….I do have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see that 100m sprinter Jeanette Kwyake  was not a part of the beauty ambassador group – after all Black women wash their hair, moisturise their skin and wear mascara too!

Jeanette Kwakye - Going for Gold

In fact, according to the market research agency Mintel,  British women of ethnic origin spend up to 7 times more on cosmetics and toiletries that her Caucasian counterpart.  A report published by the agency in 2009, stated that the market for Black or Asian beauty products in the UK remains a niche one, valued at £70m, or just 2% of the total market for women’s haircare, skincare and makeup, well below their percentage of the population. This is blamed partly on the fact that there is a “lack of commitment by mainstream companies to ethnic beauty needs”.

The report also identified that a lack of advertising spend and use of models that represent this market was a source of frustration for women of colour .  In my eyes P&G missed a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that it is in touch with the needs of its consumers and to lead the way in showcasing the beauty of the multicultural Britain that we all reside in.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know!


Beautiful Black Britain

Happy New Year!!

I am so excited about the year ahead.  There will be no other place to be than in London this year! So you will see that I have updated my blog name to BeautyPulseLONDON.  I will be bringing you more beauty and fashion news and views from this incredible city in 2012.

As we look ahead to all that 2012 will unveil, I thought that it would be apt to first take a look back.  As 2011 drew to a close, I felt immensely proud to be a Black woman in Britain – our beauty, intellect and talents really shone for all to see.

Here are some of my highlights:

Jourdan Dunn – RELOADED

Jourdan Dunn for YSL Beauté

At just 21, West London born supermodel Jourdan Dunn had a stellar 2011.  She was the face of the YSL  Touche Éclat campaign that launched the iconic product in 2 new shades – suitable for darker skin tones.

Dunn and Delevinge

Her relationship with British superbrand Burberry continued to blossom.  She featured in both the S/S and A/W campaigns and also was the face of the 2011 Burberry Beauty campaign (alongside Cara Delevinge).  I love this tutorial that can be found on the Burberry YouTube channel showcasing how Jourdan’s nude look can be recreated.  Can I just say I *heart* the powder brush!!

Another strong  partnership that Jourdan has forged is with the cult British  fashion and culture magazine i-D…I will say no more about this image – as a picture speaks a thousand words!

Stunning!

Jourdan proved that she is more than a pretty face last year, she was very vocal about the way young black people were being portrayed as the main perpetrators of the summer riots that revenged many of the nation’s major cities.  In an article in the London newspaper The Evening Standard, Dunn stated that she was “annoyed by claims that all the rioters were young and black, adding: “Not all young people are criminals”.

I am looking forward to seeing and hearing more from Miss Dunn in 2012 as she continues to do a stellar job representing British Black women in a positive light.

Positive Hair Day

Sarah Naomi Lee (Image: Plenty Productions)

I was having a lazy morning in late November,  listening to Women’s Hour on  my favourite radio station, BBC Radio 4 and my ears pricked up when a lady of mixed  heritage discussed the ‘issues’ that British Black and Mixed- Raced women face when dealing with their hair!  Her name was Sarah Naomi Lee and she is a playwright, former BBC producer and Creative Director of Plenty Productions – a community interest  company that facilitates high quality, collaborative, community-based arts and media projects.

Sarah recounted her experience of growing up in Brigton and coming to terms with her own cultural identity which was expressed in many ways, including in the way she wore her hair.  She went on to found the Postive Hair Day workshops  – a fantastic project  based in Brighton which uses hair as a focus for building a greater understanding of  Black and mixed heritage people’s identity and culture.  The project runs free workshops and activities including  a regular Hair Care workshop where free  advice and tips are offered on how to care for Black and mixed heritage hair.  She was on the radio program to promote her latest venture – Snakes and Ladders.  Snakes and Ladders is a bold and powerful comic drama about race, identity and the testing of family loyalties and waspartly inspired by stories and memories collected form the  Positive Hair Day project.

The work was showcased in November of  last year – and unfortunately I couldn’t make the the performance …so I delighted to find a couple of videos of the play on YouTube.

Got It Covered

Black women graced the covers of numerous UK glossies last year. Leading the pack was none other than Miss Rowland – who featured on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Health & Fitness and Marie Claire to name but a few.   Kelly’s make-up for many of these shoots and her X-Factor appearances was the handy work of  the talented British  MUA, Pauline Briscoe.

Celebrity MUA - Pauline Briscoe

 

Recreate Kelly’s celebrity looks with tips from Pauline featured on the glamourmagazine.co.uk website.

 

 

 

 

 

Stylist also featured supermodel Alex Wek on the cover of the special London Fashion Week edition of the magazine….

Incredible! (Image: blog.fabmagazineonline.com)

…and even John Lewis (yes – John Lewis – the epitome of middle England) featured the stunning black model Aba (of Zone Models) on the cover of the Christmas issue of their consumer magazine Edition.

Fabulous.

Never knowingly under sold or fashionably upstaged!


I think you had BECCA!

Hi Guys!!

Just 6 days until Christmas!! How are you tackling the mission that is the big ‘Christmas Shop’ ?

Well, if you are looking for inspiration, I would highly recommend a gift from the Australian make up brand BECCA!

The lovely ladies at the BECCA London office invited me to an exclusive industry event last week, which was hosted at the newly renovated boutique, located on Pelham Street in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea!

As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, I had learned about the BECCA brand when it was sold in Space NK – but this was the first time that I visited the stand alone boutique.

The interior is a blend of the sumptuous textures of descendant chocolate velvet and sparkling mirrored panelling and lighting which creates a  chic interior that is both welcoming and luxurious.

The All New BECCA Flagship Boutique (image: becca.com)

If you have to buy a present for a cosmetic obsessed friend or family member – you really can not go wrong with a choice from BECCA, as the brand has a range suitable for ALL skin tones, plus many other services that I for one would be extremely happy to find under my tree.

Game, Set,  MATCH

Stick Foundation - Almond

It was so much fun to further explore the product range.  The foundation range is fabulous – as a black woman,  I know that finding a shade that suits not only my complexion, but works well with my skin type (which is slightly on the oily side – a common feature of dark skin) can often prove to be a challenge.  I did find my match – the Stick Foundation (£30) in Almond.  It literally disappeared upon application…perfection!  I also really liked the Shimmering Skin Perfector (£33) in Topaz – fantastic for creating a dewy finish – perfect for the party season!  The water-based moisturiser has a SPF of 20+ and light-diffusing particles of shimmer that creates instant radiance and vitality.

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Shimmering Skin Perfector - Topaz

Make – Up MaestroBECCA is loved by the professional MUA – and you too can gain the skills to enhance your beauty by attending the Introduction to Make-Up Application 2  day course at the BECCA Make-Up Academy.   Perfect for the fashion aware, professionals who need to maintain a polished appearance at all times, or the busy mother who wants to enhance her personal makeup routine. Taught by a BECCA International Makeup Artist, the course focuses on skincare, makeup preparation and brush use.  During the course, attendees will also receive an exclusive 30% discount on all product purchases!!

Introduction to Make-Up Application – £480

I really enjoyed the event and will be definaitly following the brand in the New year – not only did it celebrate it’s 10th birthday this year, it was also featured as the runner up in the inaugural category for the ‘Best New Product for Darker Skin’ in the 2011 Grazia Beauty Awards – as voted for by…US!

Who’s going to argue with that?

Winning ways for BECCA