How NOT to look sick (yes, even when you are sniffling away)

Red, watery eyes, runny nose, blotchy skin and chapped lips… having a cold or the flu isn’t very nice. It’s not just that you feel awful but you don’t look too pretty either. But there’s no need to let a nasty chill wreak havoc with your looks (or your plans). Master these easy beauty tricks and face the world looking terrific, despite the sniffles.

sick-day-makeupHide a cold #1: Glow of health

If the winter chills have left your complexion looking tired and pasty, use a gentle cleansing scrub to rev up circulation and make skin glow. Follow with a hydrating, vitamin-rich moisturiser, like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Power Concentrate, to soothe soreness around the nose.

Pale, sick faces sometimes need a bit of artificial health pumped into them – a sweep of blush will make you look sprightly and healthy.

Hide a cold #2: Get rid of the red

Red and blotchy skin is a sure sign of an unhappy immune system. Use products that counter the redness, like Smashbox’s Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer, then damp-sponge on a sheer liquid foundation to even out the skin tone.

Bring out the skin brighteners like Stila’s One Step Illuminate. Unlike many other makeup products, which contain titanium dioxide – a white substance that adds opacity (not what you want when you are tired) – skin brighteners pack crushed rose quartz and mother-of-pearl, which reflect light to perk up your skin.

Hide a cold #3: Eye bright

Caking concealer over dark circles will only emphasise them further. Instead, dot some where your eye meets the bridge of your nose and blend outwards. Opt for a lightweight concealer that’s one shade lighter than your skin tone. Clinique’s Even Better Concealer is perfect for this. Follow with a light layer of loose powder. 

And that’s not all: Brighten up groggy eyes with over-the-counter eyedrops that will give them a good cleanse and tone down redness. Plus, run a white eyeliner along the inside rim to make tired eyes look fresher. Also remember that watery eyes can make your mascara run in nasty streaks. So, when colds strike, go waterproof.

Hide a cold #4: Lip service

Dry, cracked lips are painful and ugly. Restore their smoothness with this old-school trick: brush your lips with a toothbrush smeared in Vaseline. This will buff off any loose skin and leave your lips soft and rosy.

For a more permanent solution, heal cracked or damaged lips with a super salve like Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil.

Finally, slick on a little lip gloss; lipsticks are usually to drying and hence avoidable during this time.

How do you deal with being sick? Are you the indulge-me type or do you prefer to just get up and keep going?

How to stay warm but look cool: The 11 best beauty cures for your winter blues!

Feeling low? You are not alone. According to research, this is the most depressing time of the year. It’s cold, it’s grey and those holier-than-thou resolutions are laughing in our face. So, we could really use something to beat the blues right now.


So, come with me and let the smiling begin!

beauty-winter-mood-boostersTry the “happiness molecule”

Euphoryl – a molecule developed by Laboratoires Sérobiologiques – has the beauty world abuzz with its mood boosting promises. It is said to stimulate the production of dopamine and endorphins, which promote happiness, energy and sex appeal. An easy way to get your fix? The Physician’s Formula Happy Booster Blush ($10). Forget the science bit – the pretty pink hearts have us feeling more cheerful already.

Take a decadent dip

Bubble baths will warm you up mentally and physically. Especially when coupled with Champagne and some cozy tunes. No time for the tub? Fill a bowl with warm water and a squirt of bath gel. Soak hands only, palms up, while you feel the stress slipping away from your whole body.

Armed with aromatherapy

One of the best beauty cures for winter blues lies in the world of aromatherapy. Fruity scents – such as lemon and watermelon – are usually associated with the happiest, most carefree times in our lives, like summertime and vacations. Plus, the scent of fruit sends your body a message to release certain chemicals that create a state of blissful relaxation. So, create your own blend of cheery scents with a mix of essential oils or try a pre-blended product: use a citrus body cleanser or face wash like Soap & Glory’s Sugar Crush Sweet Lime Body Wash ($12) or stash a lusciously scented body lotion in your desk drawer.

Slather chocolate all over

The smell of chocolate releases seratonin in the brain, which works as a natural antidepressant. Give yourself an at-home chocolate massage, scrub or shower with these easy recipes or order up a scrumptious off-the-shelf treat. A couple of feel good finds? Hershey’s Cocoa Bath Set ($20) or The Body Shop’s Chocomania Scrub ($14).

winter beauty productsColor therapy

It’s said the right colour can turn a frown upside down so opt for bright hues. Result: an instant jolt of energy. The easiest switch is a red lipstick, whose association with fun and sexy times is full of positive energy.

The taste test

Something as simple as a new lip gloss in a flavour you love can bring out the cheerful! Citrus ones get bonus points for their uplifting aroma.

Show some massage love

A stress-busting massage sends messages to your brain, triggering the release of feel good chemicals that produce a sense of relaxation and well being. And that’s not all: massage also improves blood circulation, steps up lymphatic drainage, relaxes the muscles and boosts the immune system.

Embrocation creams

Sometimes, there is nothing more depressing as having to pile on layers and layers of heavy woollens to keep the cold at bay. Imagine how much time would be saved if we could skip the whole put-on-thermal-and-pullover-and-tights-and-coat and then take-off-thermal-and-pullover-and-tights-and-coat and then put-on-thermal-and-pullover-and-tights-and-coat-all-over-again four times a day? And what when that cute cocktail dress really, REALLY demands bare legs? When it’s freezing outside?

Then you turn to embrocation creams – the stuff those cute spandex-shorts-clad cyclists use to trick their legs into thinking its 30 degrees warmer outside. Embrocation creams call upon blends of circulation-boosting ingredients like clove, capsica, peppermint and menthol to create a long lasting sensation of warmth that means bare legs can take the streets even in the dead of winter. Added bonus: the shea butter base hydrates winter-worn skin and gives it a super-sexy gleam. Happiness much? Look for DZnuts In-Heat Embrocation ($19.10) or Chamois Butt’r Hot Embrocation ($16.80).

Happy hair

Your hair products go a long way in deciding how you are feeling. That’s because skin absorbs upto 60% of what we put on it, and the scalp has some of the most fragile skin anywhere on the body. So, choose your ingredients carefully and sail through the day cocooned in bliss. Mint and menthol-spiked hair products offer the perfect wakeup call, and will leave you refreshed. Seeking comfort? Lemongrass and tea tree oil create a slightly warming sensation, which combines with their aromatherapy qualities to relax the scalp muscles and make you feel calmer.

Love winter? Loathe winter? How do YOU cope with winter?

12 beauty trends that are going to be HUGE in 2017

Who would imagine that 2017 is already here. And thank God for that. Between Brexit, Donald Trump, India’s demonetisation, the bombings across Europe, the acceleration of the refugee crisis and multiple other national and international issues, 2016 is a year we would soon like to forget. Then there was George Michael’s Christmas swan song, Princess Leia finally succumbing to a greater force and her mother Debbie Reynolds following in grief a day later, and other screen and music legends like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Prince bidding us goodbye… 2016 couldn’t get over soon enough.

Which is why, I guess, we are happy to put on our nostalgic glasses and turn back to the 1980s, when life was a lot more rocking. So bring on the side parts, party glitter, lipstick-bright blush, color-pop lips or lids (or both together – whatever, who cares!) and that reborn love for the ’80s rave scene is going nowhere in a hurry. As an informed opinion, I would say it’s the overarching trend that will inform most of 2017. And here’s how to can incorporate it in your own beauty arsenal.

Color shock

Yellow eyebrows, bright orange lips, violet eyelids, even emerald green earlobes… it’s the time to celebrate color in all its hues, views and avatars. The easiest way to wear it is big and bright, popped onto one feature at a time. Subtle just doesn’t cut it any longer.

Daring lips

Speaking about our new found abhorrence for the subtle, lips are the easiest way to make a statement with bold color. For added fashionista points, go ombre or two-tone: An orange-red combo is the easiest to pull off; try a red-fuschia when you crave more drama! Pair with clean, crisp makeup everywhere else for a modern effect.

The smudgy eye

This one’s my personal favourite: A smudgy, messy, the-morning-after-the-night-before eye that doesn’t require the skills of a cartographer. There are no neat lines, only free-hand application with a lived in feel. Think cigarette ash smudged into the countertop (that was the literal inspiration at Christopher Kane). Powdered kohl and creamy kajal work best. For a more amped up effect, top with a bit of MAC Studio Eye Gloss.

Lipstick = blush

Draping is the new contouring: Applying blush from high up on the corners of your cheeks to the side of your eyes. It lifts up the whole face and makes you appear younger and brighter. The key in draping is to use a bright blush, with additional points for a creamy texture, which is where makeup artists have been putting pinkish lipsticks to double duty. So, you don’t need to invest in a whole new cream blush – just swipe a bit of your lipstick across your cheekbones and blend lightly.

Glitter all the way

Glitter, glitter and more glitter… whether you call it the Pat McGrath effect or attribute it to our reborn love for the ’80s, glitter is the most important product in your party beauty arsenal for the coming months. Pat it onto lips and lids, sprinkle on your hair, rub some into your ear lobes… everything works!

Clean skin

With lips and lids this bold, fresh and clean skin is practically de rigeur. And with celebs going bare faced all over town, this look is set to rule 2017. Keep it creamy and dewy, with concealer only on trouble spots, then play up one feature if you are stepping out for an event or formal dinner. That’s. It.

Pick your plait

From super-tight plaits to the hastily braided topknot, this is clearly the overarching hairstyle of 2017. And it plays well with no-heat hair, so bonus points for going this route.

Quick tip: Rub some styling cream between your palms before braiding to add grip and keep the plait going longer.

Blunt hair

Forget the layers… this is the time of the all-one-length blunt cut. It’s a statement within it’s own simplicity. Pair with…

… deep side parts

Ditch the middle parting for a slick side part. It’s more authoritative than pretty and will polish up your look instantly!

… and no-heat hair

Hair dryers, straighteners, curlers, crimpers… our hair has had it with all the torture and pledged to go heat-free in 2017. Simply work in some leave-in conditioners or styling cream and leave your follicles to recover their health this year.

A photo posted by Sam McKnight© (@sammcknight1) on

Focus point: Ears

This year is going to be all about the year, with attention grabbing earrings ruling the roost. How in the world do you make up your ears, you may well ask. If you want to go the extreme designer route, try painting them with silver glitter (Giamba) or coating them in yellow pigment (Proenza Schouler). For a simpler take, sweep and tuck back hair to leave ears exposed, then dress them up with an ear clip or statement earrings.

Chrome nails

Nails are going super-smooth and mirror-like with a special chrome pigment that’s buffed into nails and sealed with a top coat. For an at-home take on the trend, try one of the new nail polishes that recreate the chrome effect without the buffing.

October 2016: The 17 new beauty products I am obsessing over this month

The next time you pick up a magazine, do a little exercise: Just compare the editorial coverage given to that “hottest innovation in the history of the world” or the awards given to the year’s beauty winners and the number of advertising pages those brands have picked up in that or subsequent issues.

I am not saying anything. Just do the maths. And tell me what you think.

Blogs (most of us, anyway) are fortunately not so bound up with corporate balance sheets and marketing budgets. Which allows us to actually sift through the gazillion products that launch on a monthly basis (soon we’re going to be literally buried under a product avalanche) and pick out only the best, no-bullshit ones for your dressing table.

Here’s my list. It’s a larger one than usual because… you know… we have a brand new season on hand.

Hopefully, these new beauty launches will catch your fancy for all the right reasons – as they did mine!

besame-cake-mascaraBésame Cosmetics Cake Mascara, $25

#Major #Throwback

Why, you may ask, would one go cuckoo over a product that harks back to its very own infancy? Hasn’t the might of the makeup industry been dedicated to finding newer, cooler, easier, longer, curlier mascara formulations these past 101 years? So, why are we salivating over a mascara that’s no different from the very basic “cake” that a 19-year-old named Tom Lyle Williams mixed for his sister Maybel in 1915? I don’t know about you but for me it’s all about experiencing a formulation that changed the world. It’s about the lure of vintage, the power of a softer, slower, less tech-heavy world, where you pause to wet the cake and take your time spreading it through your lashes. And eyebrows. And the lash line. Because Bésame’s new/old cake mascara is not just super-cool, it’s also super-multipurpose.


penhaligons-portraitsPenhaligon’s Portraits

For someone who’s always been head over heels for Penhaligon’s (hello Juniper Sling!), the all-new bottle designs are icing on the cake. And what scrumptious icing, with each perfume having been inspired by animal characters in a Downton Abbey-esque take on the English spirit, “between establishment, humor and provocation”. My favorite is the Tragedy of Lord George, whose regal antlers top a blend of brandy and tonka beans. Not sure which one to pick? Take the Penhaligon’s Portrait quiz to find your perfume alter ego.

aerin-night-table-creamAerin Beauty Rose Night Table Cream & Overnight Mask, $80

Who doesn’t dream of a gorgeous bedside table, which holds everything that’s pretty and perfect for a good night’s sleep? Aerin’s Beauty Rose Night Table Cream & Overnight Mask might sound like a mouthful but that’s because it’s so many things wrapped into one gorgeous package: Moisturiser + sleeping mask + hand cream + aromatherapeutic stress relief. And it’s perfect for transforming even the blandest tables into a sexy, seductive, boudoir-esqe fantasy!

estee-lauder-ampoulesEstée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules, $110

I love all kinds of ampoules and pods that take the guesswork out of how much product I need to squeeze out for perfect efficacy. Which is why I’m kind of obsessed with Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules (wow… is that a mouthful!), which are filled with “a treatment oil [that] includes ChronoluxAI technology to help reduce visible irritation and synchronize the look of skin”. What this means in English is that these mega-doses of skin strengthening serum help negate the effects of internal and external stress on your complexion and boost the skin barrier, making it healthy and more supple. And they slip in effortlessly into your travel case, sans fear of breakage or spillage. What is there not to love?

Detail of garden lavender flowersRodin Olio Lusso Lavender Face Oil, $170

My absolute favorite facial oil in a new avatar! The perfect blend of 11 essential oils, what distinguishes Rodin Olio Lusso Lavender one from the original is the addition of a lavender fragrance that is all about relaxation and beauty sleep vs the perfect pick-me-up of sultry jasmine. Otherwise, it’s just as smooth and luxurious, reiterating its reputation as the cult product that started the whole facial oils revolution 10 years back. My top tip? Mix a couple of drops in your foundation to make it go on seamlessly, with a beautiful sheen.

lancome-le-teintLancôme Le Teint Particulier Custom Made Makeup, $80

Remember a little brand called Prescriptives, which had these lovely, lab-like counters where you could get your makeup custom mixed? While Prescriptives has since then moved to only-online, taking away the whole personal connect that was a key part of its appeal, Lancôme is stepping in to fill the gap. Go up to one of the Lancôme counters (currently only at Nordstrom) and a machine will scan your face, then spit out the perfect recipe for your skin tone and needs. Lighter, darker, a tad more yellow, neutralize the redness, opacity, extra moisturizer for hydration… everything is covered with medical precision. The custom blend is then squirted into a bottle directly from the machine and labelled with an ID for easy refills. Though I would suggest doing a fresh custom match every time you go, since our skin tone and hydration levels change with the seasons. And when we finally have the technology, why not make full use of it?

smashbox-insta-matteSmashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer, $24

We’ve been talking much about matte lipsticks being the trend du jour and Smashbox’s Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer means you don’t need to dig deep into your wallet to be on fleek. This clear gel creates a filter of silicone polymers over your lipstick, mutating it from glossy to matte in a second. Added bonus: It makes lipstick wear longer.

cargo-essential-eyeshadow-paletteCargo Essential Eyeshadow Palette, $34

Another product that takes the guesswork out of your beauty routine, these sets of four graduated eye shadows come clearly embossed with their own function to make application a breeze. Now, all you need to do is work on your blending skills!

dior-5-couleurs-glowing-gardens-eyeshadow-paletteDior 5 Couleurs Glowing Gardens Eyeshadow Palette, $63

File this one under pure, utter gorgeousness. I would tell you how the colors are perfect for the coming season but then who can bring themselves to touch and smear this treasure trove of flowers inspired by Christian Dior’s own gardens at Granville, France? Not me, for sure… the 5 Couleurs Glowing Garden Eyeshadow Palette is going into the collection to be preserved for posterity in its blooming beauteousness. Because, remember, it’s a limited edition… so once it’s gone, it’s gone!

estee-lauder-double-wear-nude-cushion-stick-radiant-makeupEstée Lauder Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Makeup, $39.50

A makeup cushion innovation that’s not Korean? That’s sit-up-and-take-notice in itself. Then there is the fact that Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Nude Cushion Radiant Stick Makeup (what’s with Estée and crazy long names?) allows you to apply, blend and touch up your makeup without using your hands or needing to stock up on makeup brushes. It does this with a cushion compact style sponge tip that blends and buffs to perfection, and can be popped off to be washed when it starts looking too saturated or a bit grimy (all you need is a mild soap and water). The foundation itself is a buildable sheer-to-medium coverage and lasted me from morning till evening, without the need for touchups. That’s pretty impressive on oily skin in its own right.

mac-liptensityMAC Liptensity, $21

We will talk more about what’s billed as MAC’s most innovative launch in years. But till then, know that Liptensity is the brand’s most pigmented lipstick to date and it’s created with the help of tetrachromat Maureen Seaberg, whose unique genes allow her to see up to 100 million colors (most of us can see just over 1 million). What this brings to the table is colour fidelity, which means that the color you see in the tube is what you get on the lips. To enable this, MAC has also crafted a new lipstick formula that saturates the pigment in a clear (rather than opaque) base, which means the colors stay true without reacting to your body chemistry and reflexively tweaking themselves while on the lips. This has resulted in almost a 100-colour collection which runs the gamut from everyday wear colors like Toast and Butter (a warm cinnamon) to Stallion (night-sky black).

sara-happ-x-sprinkles-the-lip-scrub-red-velvetSara Happ x Sprinkles The Lip Scrub Red Velvet, $24

And this one’s to be filed under make-me-happy cheeriness. While salt and olive oil work just fine for smoothing our lips, my inner decadent diva simply can’t pass up on this deliciously chocolate and red-velvet-red-velvet-flavored scrub that Sarah Happ has crafted in collaboration with Sprinkles Cupcakes. Plus, 10% of all proceeds go to Baby2Baby, which provides essentials for needy children. Someone out there wants to buy me an early Christmas gift?

kendra-scott-gemstone-nail-lacquerKendra Scott Gemstone Nail Lacquer, $16

It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a nail polish, despite there being a zillion launches a month. But jeweler Kendra Scott (yes, jeweler!) has really upped the bar with formulations inspired by her iconic use of natural stones and rough-hewn baubles. The 5-free collection comes with a base coat, rock-crystal top coat, and two transformative shades that give nails an iridescent, holographic sheen. My favorite? Iridescent Drusy, which makes your nails looks like they’ve dipped into a mine of rough dressy crystals.

bmc-manicure-and-pedicure-nail-polish-protection-clipsBMC Manicure and Pedicure Nail Polish Protection Clips, $3

WHY HASN’T ANYONE THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE? Clip these genius nail protectors on freshly painted nails and say goodbye to the accidental smudging that always happens the second you put down the bottle. (Doesn’t happen with you? Only me? Oh well, I hate you!)

glossier-the-supersGlossier The Supers, $28

Just when I pledge not to buy a single other “magic” serum that promises the world but does precisely nothing for my skin, here come Super Bounce, Super Glow and Super Pure. These “supplements for the face” counter the effects of dehydration, dullness and exhaustion, and toxic buildup respectively. Glossier recognizes that our skin’s needs change by the day (and by what we subject it to at any given time) and have helpfully created a box pack that gives us everything together. It currently sits on my bedside, right next to Aerin Lauder’s Rose Night Table Cream.

sonia-rykiel-x-lancomeSonia Rykiel X Lancôme, $29 upwards

It’s pretty. It’s practical. And it’s perfect for when you need a hefty dose of cheeriness to beat away the blues. Sonia Rykiel has put together a capsule collection for Lancôme that embodies Parisian chic in its most fun and fashionable iteration. How can you resist the playful stripes of the Parisian Lip Crayons?

ciate-london-mani-markerCiaté London Mani Marker, $12

These revolutionary (and I never use that word casually) markers allow you to apply nail polish precisely, within the lines and sans smudges in minutes. Shaped like those magic markers we all loved as kids (I still do!), these ingenious pens are filled with real, high coverage nail polish that goes on in a single stroke and dries super-quickly. Also perfect for changing up your nails while travelling!

What’s your favourite beauty find?