WTF of the week: Beauty spells. As in spells to make you more beautiful. Yes, really!

Want to look prettier? Want to banish acne? Or maybe chase away those fine lines that are slowly creeping up under your eyes? Or turn your tresses blonde? Try a beauty spell, the coolest or craziest (depends on your perspective!) beauty trend to hit our shores this season. Beauty spells? As in one of those Double, double toil and trouble things? To make you look prettier in some form or manner? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

beauty-spellA beauty spell? That would be $900. Only.

Apparently, yes. Seems that beauty spells are not just amusing quirks but big business. Some go for as much as $900, like this Cleopatra spell “…based on ancient Egyptian lore that was used by sorcerers and priests to the great Pharaohs thousands of years ago.”

It involves 113 batches of rare ingredients and materials, a hex eradicator and  a 14 layer spiritual shield. Much? Don’t worry, everything is arranged by the spell caster and managed online (eMagic? iMagic?). You only need to send in 3 pubic hairs (!!), 14 hairs from your head or eyebrows, 7 tears dropped on a paper napkin and one small piece of toe nail from your right foot.

Oh! And the $900.

We accept credit card and PayPal.

beauty-spell-3Save money, go DIY

If $900 seems a little steep, you can go the budget route and pay under $10 to buy a beauty spell “to become more attractive, more beautiful or to cause someone else to become more attractive and beautiful”.

Stingy, much? Just opt for DIY, as there is no dearth of information on beauty spells that can be done at home. No fairies or witches required.

I stumbled across one that promises to change the colour of your hair. This is how it goes: On a Friday during the waxing moon, go to a place where you can be alone for at least 15 minutes. Light 3 orange or red candles and place them in a triangle on a flat surface. Visualize the color of your hair fading and becoming white as the color drains from it. ‘Hold’ the color within your hands. Slowly lower your hands above the candles and focus on the flames. Raise your hands above your head and imagine the colour you desire pouring into your hair and turning into that colour. After all of this say the following:

Fire warm and fire red
Charm the hair upon my head
Fire dance and fire shine
From [the current colour of your hair] to [the colour you want it to be] this wish is mine.
As I will, it now shall be
By fire, water, wind and tree.

While I haven’t personally tested it out, sure seems to be a neat way to save salon fees! But what would one do if you also wanted highlights? Or maybe an ombre effect? Sigh… the Egyptians were obviously content with much less.

There is another one for acne. It goes hence: Get an apple and cut it in half horizontally across the middle. Once you cut it you will see a 5-pointed star. Rub one half of the apple over your face while saying: “Apple, sacred fruit of the Goddess; with this gift, I do caress; The pimple that brought me shame; I banish this zit in your name.” Get another apple and cut it vertically from top to bottom. Rub one half over your face as well. Say this: “I love and accept myself as I am today; clear skin I summon to come my way; By my will so mote it be three times three times three.” Bury the first apple by a tree, bush or flower that is outside. Bury the second apple by water. If you can’t find a place like this, just bury it anywhere and pour water over it.

Well, doesn’t sound much more bizarre than the claims of some skincare companies nowadays.

And like all witchy matters, you can curse someone else into losing their beauty prowess. There is one for hair loss and another for premature ageing that would be perfect for at least 17 people in my life right now.

beauty-spells-2History? Magic? Science? Balderdash?

Kidding aside, my digging throws up another interesting fact: Beauty spells are historically some of the oldest charms known to mankind. They are scattered through scores of papyri and clay fragments dating to ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Incantations and charms for looking more beautiful are also found throughout literature, going back to the Middle Ages. And every major world religion has prayers and rituals for increasing one’s attractiveness.

Not surprising actually, considering how the human desire to look prettier, glossier and thinner is all-encompassing. After all, that’s how we developed eye makeup and body butters and nail colour – all those ancient Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Arab and American women experimenting with pots and potions of indigenous ingredients.

So, do I believe in beauty spells? No. Not because I don’t believe in ancient rituals and recipes. This blog is inspired by gypsy wanderings, after all. And natural ingredients are often more powerful than anything that Lancome or La Mer could bottle into $500 glossiness.

It’s just that I like my rituals and recipes underlined by reasoning and rationale. Witch hazel tightens pores because of its tannin content. Apples clear out acne because they have high levels of immunity-boosting pectin. Turmeric tackles premature ageing because it is a strong antioxidant. Basically, show me the underpinnings and I will follow you to the cauldron. Till then, let’s just have some fun.

What’s your take? Do you believe in beauty spells? In witchcraft? In magic? Will you be trying any of these charms and incantations?

OMG, OMG, OMG! This has to be the coolest ever use of a lipstick EVER

Paul & Joe sculpted them into awwwww-inducing cat’s faces and YSL fashioned them into a 330 pound cube but Chinese artist May Sum wins the cool stakes by hand sculpting individual lipsticks into mini-likenesses of famous people!

lipstick carving 2 lipstick carvingAnd while her focus is usually on celebrities, May will do a custom commission for you from photographs. It works like this: you mail her a photograph, choose from between 5 lipstick brands, pick your color and then wait 2 weeks. The former beauty reporter, make up maven and multimedia artist will do the sculpting, then pack and ship it to you anywhere in the world via Speedpost or DHL. Each piece costs between US$450-650, depending on the intricacy of carving required.

lipstick anna wintour lipstick carving chanel lipstick lady gaga

Interested? What is the most bizarre way in which you have ever seen a lipstick being used?

April 2016: The 9 beauty products I’m seriously in love with this month

While working for the glossies, I was never popular with the sales and marketing teams as a beauty and fashion commentator. The print media is heavily dependant on advertising dollars, making it no place for someone who calls a spade a spade.

That’s why telling your readers that a brand’s super-new, super-miraculous, super-magical cellulite cream can really come nowhere near replicating laser-level results or that there is no potion in the world that can help you shed 20 pounds in a month (at least without some seriously dangerous side effects) was definitely not a feasible option where the company bottomline was concerned.

But it’s also a fact that not all beauty brands are tricking us all the time. So, here is an actual no-bullshit, no-paid-for-by-the-brands curation of what’s worth putting on your dressing table this month. It’s a new column that I’m starting with this edition… would love to know your thoughts!

lancome juicy shaker newLancôme Juicy Shakers, $21

This is seriously the most awaited launch of the year. The full name is Lancôme Juicy Shaker Biphasic Colour Infusion Lip Oil and the they are super fun. And functional… but also FUN. The cheery little cocktail-shaker style pots, with the utterly joyous fat little applicator, combine some of the most nourishing oils (peach kernel, sweet almond, cranberry, omega 3 & 6 and sweet rose musk) with pigment. The pigment sinks to the bottom, while the oils float up top. You’ve got to shake everything up till you the perfect blend of oil and pigment (hence the name!).

The result is a light, translucent, non-sticky lip oil that looks like a gloss. The finish is light and glossy (this is not the place to look for deep, opaque shades), though the more you shake, the more pigmented they become, so you can play around with intensity to an extent.

clarisonic foundationClinique Sonic System Airbrushed Finish Liquid Foundation Applicator, $89

Once Clinique realised it couldn’t beat Clarisonic in the cleansing market, it turned its sonic technology to better uses – applying makeup, rather than taking it off. And this bit of practicality has given us an awesome product that’s all set to be as big as Clarisonic in its own genre. Dab on some foundation and run the vibrating sponge head over your face for the most flawlessly buffed finish you could ever dream of achieving. Genius, right?

the body shop shade adjusting dropsThe Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops, $20

This is for everyone who’s either sick of throwing out their still-not-empty foundation bottles when the seasons change their skin tone; or those who can never get a shade that’s just right (ME!). Simply add one drop of the white liquid and your foundation will go almost half a shade lighter. Or add a drop of the dark one to make it more tan.

shiseido paletteSophia Webster Shiseido Palette, $169

Oh my God. Oh my God! OH MY GOD! Words cannot do justice to this makeup palette, which is the 10th Anniversary Sophia Webster Dramatic High Heel Compact by Shiseido. The front of the toe holds a drawer, and in the drawer is a face highlighter, brush and eye sponge. The little red and white split compact is in fact two solid fragrances that smell of rose, and the heel is comprises Lady Redy lipstick.

As I said, words can’t do justice to this little beauty, so just gaze at it instead. With eyes full of wonder.

ULTRAHDMake Up Forever Ultra HD Stick Foundation, $37

Make Up Forever’s Ultra HD Foundation has long been the gold standard in this genre. Now, the stick version is set to once again up the ante, with the most perfectly blendable and buildable texture known to foundation-land. However, though the brand promises a ‘radiant’ finish, it definitely looks more like matte to me.

body peelStacked Skincare TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel, $195

While beauty aisles are currently groaning under the weight of facial peels, full body versions are virtually non-existent. Which is strange, since there is nothing I need more in bare skin season than a fuss-free product that will dissolve away dullness and leave limbs and décolletage pretty and sparkling. The TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel will make your skin flake for a few days but the end results are definitely worth it!

mer seaMer-Sea & Co. Salt Scrub in Saltaire, $28

This one’s pure indulgence. While there are many salt scrubs in the market, Mer-Sea’s version is the perfect antidote to seaside cravings. Crafted as part of a capsule collection for Anthropologie, it smells of pure ocean, with notes of jasmine, citrus and sweet wood underlining the summer fantasy. Perfect for using and gifting!

Tata Harper Purifying MaskTata Harper Purifying Mask, $65

The K-beauty craze is super-fantabulous, with one exception. Nobody seems to be doing rinse-away face masks any longer. And sometimes, I just want to detox my skin quickly and then apply makeup or stack up my usual serums and creams afterwards. And sometimes, leaving on an overnight mask to soak in through the night is just not an option. Voila, Tata Harper (and thank you!).

Her new Purifying Mask is chock full of yogurt probiotics, broccoli extract, prickly pear seed oil, sandalwood oil, white clay, turmeric, fennel, ginger, clove and silver fir essential oils to remove product buildup, deep cleanse, tone and blast the complexion with age-defying antioxidants. And you can rinse it away after 20 minutes to get on with your day!

Plaque HD - Fresh MintPlaque HD Toothpaste, $15

If you’re anything like me and brushing during full-on grogginess, there is a very good chance your teeth are not getting all the attention they deserve. Plaque HD will help you out by (very temporarily) staining plaque-heavy areas blue, showing the bits of your mouth that you keep missing. And it will make your teeth look whiter. How could one not use this?

What’s your favourite beauty find?

#DontJustSignHere: Why women need to get savvy with their documents!

One of the first things our father taught my brother and me was the necessity of reading every single word of every single document that we sign. No exceptions. No excuses. Zilch. Nada.

The lesson was repeated in law school (yeah, I actually trained as a lawyer in an alternate lifetime – go figure!). Because whether it’s a mutual fund form or a lease agreement, ignorance is simply no defense in a court if you’ve signed on the dotted line and then things have gone sour.

And it was in law school that it really hit me how much could go wrong in the most innocuous looking documents: companies may shut down without paying a single dividend, houses could be abruptly stripped of all the fixtures that actually tempted you over at the viewing, credit card interest rates could be subject to unfair revisions at the sole discretion of the bank, employment contracts could have whole lot of hidden clauses, online agreements may give the provider access to all your personal information… I could go on and on. And on.

Which is why, on Women’s Day, I take a teeny break from beauty matters to look at L&T Mutual Fund’s #DontJustSignHere campaign. It’s a perception-altering project that reveals how many of us women simply sign away major chunks of our life, time and finances without ever reading the documents.

But why? Sometimes its because we do not understand the technicality of the matter, sometimes its because we have better things to worry about and more often than not, it’s just ignorance or laziness.

So, dusting off that legal degree, here’s my bit to get the ball rolling forwards. #DontJustSignHere. A pledge to never again sign a document without reading it properly. Remember, you wouldn’t buy that sparkly black dress unless you tried it on first. Nor would you bring home that mega-bucks red lipstick before checking whether it worked for your complexion.

So, why wouldn’t you put your financial outlook to the test before building it into your life? It’s important for us to get involved in our financial decisions if we are to become the masters of our destiny. Because nobody knows what we want, what we need, and what suits our personalities and circumstances as well as we do ourselves. The buck stops here.

As Suze Orman, one of America’s leading personal finance experts, puts it: “You have got to be the master of your own financial future. If you’re not staying on top of your money, you are putting your financial well-being at risk.”