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
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.
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!
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
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.
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….
…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.
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.
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
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.
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!!
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?
It’s been a while…
So much going on…but it’s all good! Those of you that follow me on Twitter (that’s you right??) will have seen that I recently completed my number 10 speech from the Competent Communicator manual – which leads to the first accreditation on can achieve as a member of the global public speaking organisation that is Toastmasters International.
Being able to communicate and make your point heard is critical to ones success and apparently speaking in front of an audience is something people fear so much that it is trumped only by death itself!! Your local Toastmasters club (there are over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries) is an ideal place to develop your speaking skills and build your confidence.
I joined Toastmasters because I am as passionate about personal self development as I am about beauty – in fact I believe that the two go hand in hand – looking good on the outside plus feeling great on the inside does wonders for ones self esteem! This was the topic I chose to speak about in my 10 minute speech which I entitled Beauty and the Best.
I showcased the behemoth that the beauty industry is – according to the market research agency Euromoniter International it is estimated that it worth a staggering $350 billion US dollars a year (!) and how much I LOVE the industry – the glamour, the fantasy and its power to transform are just a few reasons for my adoration.
However, sometimes I am plagued with a tension – because the tyranny of the beauty industry is that whilst it promotes style and well being, it generates the vast majority of its revenue from products that exist to remind the user of her supposed ‘ imperfections’. “Youth”, “vitality”,” radiance”, “revitalise” – words such as these pepper the advertising copy of beauty brands and many of these adverts are heavily doctored and have undergone extensive airbrushing.
This Lancôme ad, featuring the Oscar winning actress Julia Robert is now banned in the UK – the Advertising Standards Agency upheld complaints made by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson that the images were overly airbrushed and did not reflect reality.
Irrespective of such challenges, the industry continues to be a source of delight and one of the reasons why we happily part with our hard earned cash to ameliorate our outer appearance seems to be linked to our self – esteem.
A study commissioned by the Cosmetics, Perfumery and Toiletries Association entitled the ‘Self-Esteem Society’ stated that of the people polled, an overwhelming 93% thought feeling confident about their appearance was an important factor in building self-esteem – and I certainly attest this finding– as I have experienced firsthand the very tangible effect beauty products have on the self–esteem of myself and on that of others.
Whilst I advocate caring for ones outward appearance, I sincerely believe that one’s inner beauty requires just as much – if not more – meticulous attention.
We must learn to love and value ourselves and to appreciate our intrinsic and inherent qualities –the qualities that make us unique.
The brand managers state that “My Black is Beautiful, celebrates the diverse collective beauty of African-American women and nurtures black self-esteem. The movement encourages black women to define and promote our own beauty standard — one that is an authentic reflection of our indomitable spirit. Recognizing that beauty and self-confidence are intrinsically linked, My Black is Beautiful is designed to ignite black pride and support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women — the way we are reflected in popular culture and how we serve as the catalyst for a movement that effects positive change”.
It is still very much an African-American program – it would be fabulous to see a similar initative launched to serve the UK and Ireland – because our Black is Beautiful too!!
I can’t believe that October is nearly coming to an end… time is certainly flying.
I couldn’t let the month end without writing a post in celebration of Black History Month – which is in October here on the British Isles!
There are so many inspirational people of colour that I could mention – the free newspaper ‘The Metro’, compiled a very comprehensive list as part of a nationwide poll, however I would like to celebrate some of the men and women who have contributed to the global hair and beauty industry – providing jobs and careers for thousands, enriching the lives of millions of women (and men) and making the founders of the following companies very rich indeed!!
The hair and beauty industry catering to the needs of black men and women is a flourishing sector. The US black haircare market is worth $185 million, up 4% versus the 2010 sales value, according to a recent Mintel report, and although a primarily Caucasian standard of beauty dominated the popular press and the department store counters for much of the last century – the black hair and beauty industry is not a recent phenomenon….
….Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), born Sarah Breedlove, was an African-American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur and philanthropist who made her fortune by developing and marketing a hugely successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded in 1910 – the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She is also credited for developing the ‘hot comb’ (the forerunner of your GHDs!). According to the Guinness Book of Records, Madame Walker was the first woman to become a millionaire by her own achievements.
Other Americans who have transformed the tresses of black women worldwide include:
Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley – Dudley Beauty Corp
Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley probably didn’t have any idea that their small family owned operation would become one of the longest standing black-owned hair care companies when they were mixing products in their kitchen 43 years ago.
Story has it that while the husband and wife team were creating formulas, their two oldest children would help package the products at night. The rest, as they say, is history. Their oldest daughter, Ursula Dudley Oglesby, runs the North Carolina based company as President. The pioneering couple were also featured in Chris Rock’s enlightening and enjoyable 1999 docu-tainment film, Good Hair.
Fred Luster Sr. – Luster Products Inc.
When you think of Luster, you think of Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer, the ubiquitous hair lotion that was a staple of bathroom cabinets in black households throughout the 80’s and 90’s. The company behind the iconic brand was founded by the late Fred Luster Snr, in 1957 and is now headed by his children Jory Luster, Fred Luster II and Sonja Luster-Munis. The Chicago-based company is one of the largest black owned companies in the African-American hair care market.
Last year the ‘Pink’ line of haircare products was launched in Boots.
Lisa Price – Carol’s Daughter
Lisa Price is an entrepreneur whose 15 year old venture was started by happenstance. The products were born through an experiment with fragrances and moisturisers, intended to be given as crafted gifts to friends and family. Price named the products after her mother, Carol Price. As word of these homemade products quickly spread, Price was in business. In 1999, she opened the doors to Carol’s Daughter’s first brick-and-mortar retail location in her native Brooklyn, NY. Since then, the brand has matured forcefully with major media endorsements and high profile business partnerships – investors include Jay-Z , Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Price’s home-grown experiment has grown into one of the most popular ethnic beauty brands in the world.
Loving the Skin you’re In
No ode to the black hair and beauty industry would be complete without a mention of the venerable cosmetics brand Fashion Fair.
Fashion Fair was created for women of colour by the late John H. Johnson, publisher of the famous Ebony and Jet magazines. As a pioneering businessman, Johnson took the risk that most major cosmetic companies refused to take by entering the untapped market of makeup for women with deeper skin tones.
Johnson ( and his wife Eunice W. Johnson) produced the Capsule Collection, a mail-order package in 1969. Based on the overwhelming response, it was clear there was a demand for a Black cosmetics line.
Fashion Fair Cosmetics was born in 1973 . Ten years after the company opened its first U.S. counter, the company expanded its global reach with the first European initiative in London. In conjunction with the Ebony Fashion Fair, Fashion Fair cosmetics took Great Britain by storm by hosting a signature luncheon highlighting an array of products and extravagant fashions from the show. The brand recently appointed the (oh so fine!) celebrity make-up artist Sam Fine as its Creative Make-up Director.
So, what about us Brits?
It is SO exciting to see a number of Black British entrepreneurs taking the beauty industry storm – such as:
Michael Boadi – Boadicea The Victorious and Illuminum fragrances
Boadicea The Victorious was launched in 2009 by British former celebrity hairstylist Michael Boadi. He previously styled the stars including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, before launching his first line of fragrances, Boadicea The Victorious exclusively at Selfridges.
The Illuminum brand followed in 2007 and shot to fame earlier this year when it was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge (yes Queen Kate!) wore one of his fragrances on her big day! The Daily Mail and fragrance bloggers soon revealed that the bride wore White Gardenia Petals. Every one of the 50ml bottles in stock was sold within moments of the news breaking, and an extensive waiting list accumulated soon after. Price – a very reasonable £70 for 50 ml
Pat McGrath – Celebrity Make Up Artist
Hailing from Northampton, Pat is one of the top make-up artists in the world. She currently reigns supreme as the Global Cosmetics Creative Design Director for Procter and Gamble – the conglomerate behind some of the world’s most glamorous and powerful make up brand names- such as Max Factor, CoverGirl, SK-II and the more recently launched Dolce and Gabanna range. Constantly in demand by top celebrities such as Madonna, Oprah and Scarlett Johansson, Pat McGrath’s editorial work with top photographers like Steven Meisel for Italian and American Vogue continually breaks new ground.
Daniel Vauud – the future of Fragrance creation
St Lucian born Daniel Vaudd is an inspirational young man. A certified Cosmetic Scientist, Daniel trained under evaluative perfumer John Ayres, the Director of the UK Fragrance Foundation, who taught him about the clarity and structure of perfume and how to refine his abilities. Soon, he was asked to become the Global Colour Cosmetic Researcher for a major multinational, developing new and individual colours, as well as fragrances, for their cosmetic ranges.
A chance encounter with the world’s sole ‘ Professeur de parfum’, Roja Dove, led Dove to ask Daniel to be his personal researcher on the project ‘Essence of Perfume’ by Roja Dove. With his instincts and talents and his ever-broadening abilities and experience, Daniel soon began receiving requests to craft bespoke perfumes himself.
In 2010 Daniel launched his own line of fragrance – The House of Daniel Vaudd.
Just a few names of the movers and shakers in the UK beauty industry… I am sure I will be celebrating their talent for many years to come.
And we’re off!
12 weeks of fantastic TV are in store as season 9 of Strictly Come Dancing kicked off at the weekend with the expected glitter and glamour and the thousands of hopefuls that applied, auditioned and sang their hearts out for the 2011 X-Factor judges have been whittled down to the final 16!
OK, OK… so we’ve seen it all before…but I have to admit that this is pure entertainment at its best and I am convinced that the next 3 months will not disappoint!!
As I mentioned in my previous Saturday Night Bells post, I will be commenting on the hair and make-up looks of Miss Rowland and Miss Dixon each week.
So, how did our leading ladies do in the style stakes this weekend?
I really liked the pared down glamour that both Kelly and Alesha exhibited this week.
Kelly Rowland for the X-Factor
Kelly took the her final 8 contestants to her home in Miami, in the sunshine state of Florida (nice!!).
Her fun and flirty style epitomised the laid back vibe that Miami exudes. I really like the tousled hair, funky beehive and fresh faced make up in the shot below.
However Kelly still worked the false eyelashes – a beauty accessory that is a staple in my daily armoury!
Kelly’s black ensemble was classic, yet the relaxed feel was still evident with her hair not to finished – an easy going, mussed up style was the look du jour.
Again, her makeup is natural yet visible, enhancing her pretty features. Her nude lip colour suits all skin tones and you can get the look with the NARS Lip Lacquer in Babydoll. I love this product – high shine and intense colour – the perfect combination!
Alesha Dixon for Strictly Come Dancing
Miss Dixon’s look for the inaugural weekend of SCD was delicate and demure. Her pretty features were emphasised by her super straight locks…I LIKE!
A classic centre parting never fails and coupled with a pop of colour on the lips, I give Alesha an 8 out of 10 for this premier look.
Bonus Belle!! Jennifer Hudson!!
It was fabulous to see Jennifer Hudson on the X-Factor! She looks incredible – her new figure is enviable – but is a testament to her hard work, focus and dedication.
Her hair looked amazing – classy and sophisticated waves complimented her causal style. She is a fan of the lace wig – and hers was looking good!!
With the live shows of the X-Factor starting this weekend I await the style sensations that will be displayed with bated breath!! Bring it on Kelly and Alesha!
I was recently contacted by the fabulous Kay Montano (Creative Director of MyFace cosmetics and Chanel Make Up ambassador) via Twitter…yes little old me!
Kay wanted to know about the choice of foundations for darker skin tones here in the UK. As I reflected upon her question I really was gladdened by the fact that the choice HAS got better over the years…
….I remember my first foray into the world of make up as a young and exuberant 14 year old – I bounded to the local chemist with my pocket money in hand to purchase a concealer. Imagine my UTTER disappointment when I found not a single brand suitable for my chocolate skin tone!
I soon realised I had to save a bit more pocket money to fulfill my desires. I discovered the department store brand Fashion Fair at my local Debenhams! That marble pink compact (yes it was pink back in the day!) was my pride and joy…but the option to experience other brands were few and far between…times have REALLY changed.
Now there are a plethora of brands to chose from. The beauty landscape has changed beyond recognition. It may be still a challenge to get your hands on some of these brands ..especially if you live outside of London – however most are only a click away.
The usual suspects – MAC and Bobbi Brown have a loyal – almost cult like following – but there are other brands that one can consider when choosing a foundation to suit your beautiful black skin.
Now I just had to commence my list with a British brand! Illamasqua is the brainchild of the founder of the ubiquitous GHDs and boasts an abundance of shades and textures of foundations.
The latest range to join the line up is the Skin Base foundation which is inspired by the cult Asian market Beauty Balm creams (also called BB creams for short!).
The BB phenomenon has traversed from the East and has exploded in the West! A number of brands have recently launched BB creams – including Garnier and Clinique – yet Illamasqua is the only brand to have launched a ‘BB-esque’ product suitable for darker skins. Skin Base comes in 18 skin loving shades – 6 of which are suitable for Black and Asian skin tones.
Try before you buy at the flagship Illamasqua store, Beak Street, London, Selfridges Oxford Street, London, The Manchester Trafford Centre, The Birmingham Bullring, Fenwick Newcastle, Debenhams Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff or shop online at www.illamasqua.com
Australian brand BECCA is like a treasure waiting to be unearthed. With 34 concealer colours and 34 (yes 34!) foundation shades there is sure to be a colour to match your skin tone perfectly.
The brande is loved by stars such as yummy mummy Beyoncè , supermodel Alex Wek and the ever so lovely Kelly Rowland (are you loving the X-Factor as much as I am??).
I became acquainted with the brand when it was retailed in Space NK (alas, this is no longer the case.), and I love the philosophy behind the brand – to enable ‘ ALL women, regardless of age or ethnicity, to achieve a natural looking, flawless complexion’.
Visit the sumptuous Becca Boudoir at 91A Pelham Road London or shop online at www.beccacosmetics.com
I first came across this Parisian brand in 2006 but unfortunately I was put off by the name – it reminded too much of the infamous Minstrel shows of 19th century America!
However I have recently grown to love the brand, mostly due to the exquisite, aspirational imagery.
Available at Debenhams, the range consists of highly pigmented colour cosmetics, as well as a comprehensive foundation collection.
I am totally besotted with the brand! The sexy packaging, potent colours and evocative product names (the best selling item in the range is called..err…Orgasm!) make it a pleasure to use. Created by make up maestro, François Nars in 1997, the line up included a shade of foundation called Jamaica. The story goes that this product was conceived for the supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is a close friend and muse for the artisan. The family of shades suitable for darker skin tones has grown to include globally inspired colours such as Benares, Khartoum and Trinidad, to name a few.
Also, the NARS Concealer used to be available in only four shades but the line has recently been expanded to included 10 different shades to accommodate a variety of skin tones.
I have heard the one of the chicest makeup brand of all – Chanel – will be launching Perfection Lumiere, its newest line of foundation, this September – and it’s something to talk about! The line, will offer the widest range of shades for Chanel yet – a whopping 23 shades to suit all ethnicities. Ooh la la!
The face of the campaign is the beautiful Trinidadian born model Alyssah Ali, who is of Indian and Spanish origin
Christine Dagousset, executive vice president of fragrance and beauty for Chanel in the U.S. told Women’s Wear Daily, “This foundation was designed to be universal. Chanel’s creative director for makeup, Peter Philips, counts perfect skin among the most important features a woman can have and, since joining the brand in January 2008, had made it his goal to create a ‘perfect’ foundation: one that adjusts to the skin needs of every ethnicity and stays in place with a flawless finish.” The company’s current leading foundation line Pro Lumiere offers only 6 shades. The new launch will premier in the U.S …hopefully Chanel will bring the range to the UK and Europe too!!
This is SO exciting, as for too long many of the leading designer makeup brands have been inaccessible to women of colour. In my eyes this launch will mark a sea change in the beauty industry. I will certainly do a review on this product!
Until then, a bientôt!
Is it me or has there been a surge of black models being used in major beauty and fashion campaigns and mainstream editorial?
Since the beginning of 2011 I have been ecstatic to see more and more brands feature black models – showcasing our beauty and diversity.
Here are a few of my favourite campaigns and editorial images.
I’ve also recently discovered the fabulous website Beauty Is Diverse™ The site is dedicated to celebrating the diversity of women of all ethnicities. Its extensive archive dates back to March 2010 and catalogues hundreds of images from the worlds of fashion, beauty and celebrity – a true treasure trove of glamour and style! Follow them on Twitter here – I certainly did!