June 2016: The 11 new beauty products I am obsessing over this month

After a long career in magazines, I have developed a deep distrust of that particular industry’s beauty awards, top 10 lists and best-of-the-best new launch announcements. Why? Because the unwritten rule in literally every magazine that I have ever worked for is simple: The position and number of products on any of these lists is directly proportional to the number of advertising pages bought in the magazine by the beauty brand. That ‘world’s best lipstick’ tag doesn’t sound half as authentic after that, right? Even if it comes from your favourite publication?

Here, instead, I’ve put together a list of the top beauty launches for this month that come sans payment or inducement of any kind. Hopefully, they will catch your fancy for all the right reasons – as they did mine!

kfc nail polishKFC Nail Polish

KFC at your fingertips? Now, you can have that literally, with the fried chicken chain’s limited edition nail polishes that comes in two “flavours”: “original recipe” and “hot and spicy”. Paint them on and lick your nails for a KFC kick, sans the calories. That’s what I call “finger lickin’ good”!

lipstick queen blushLipstick Queen Frog Prince Cream Blush, $24

If you’re the kind who can’t resist cool, edgy looking makeup but don’t ever end up actually wearing it (ME!), Lipstick Queen’s Frog Prince Cream Blush is made for you. Just like the Frog Prince and Hello Sailor lipsticks, this mood-ring-for-makeup blush starts off as a deep, shimmering green in the tube (like a lily pad) but turns into a soft, rosy pink on the cheeks for a natural flush. The magic is conducted by pH-reacting, color-changing technology that is both fun and functional (it also comes with natural oils, Shea butter and vitamin E for a natural, super-hydrating sheen). Call me kitschy but I, for one, never fail to be fascinated!

MAC TendertalkMAC Tendertalk Lip Balm, $20

Another mood-ring-inspired, colour chameleon product (What is this? The ’90s?), MAC’s new Tendertalk Lip Balms change colour upon application, based on your body chemistry. There are five shades, ranging from rosy pink to deep berry, and they are also chockfull with hydrators to keep your pout plump and perfect.

MAC-Pro-BeyondMAC Pro Beyond Twisted Lash, $22

Just how much can you rewrite the script when it comes to mascara wands? Quite a lot, believes MAC. After all, it’s not regarded as the gold standard for makeup innovation for nothing. The new Pro Beyond Twisted Lash mascara can literally bend in all directions – up to a mind boggling 90-degree angle – to catch even the tiniest or most wayward of lashes. Count me in!

nuxe roll on maskNuxe Nuxuriance Ultra Re-Plumping Roll-On Mask, $53

Love face masks, hate the mess? Nuxe’s Nuxuriance Ultra Re-Plumping Roll-On mask literally rolls on via the built-in metal applicator. And the metal roller also helps boost skin circulation with a mini-massage. Result: hydration and brightening sans any additional effort. That’s what I call luxury!

eucerin in shower moisturiserEucerin In-Shower Moisturizer Body Lotion, $10.99

Honestly speaking, I fell in love first with the super-cute milk jug container and only later with the actual contents. But now I am totally sold on the latter as well – after all, what’s not to like about a rinse-off body lotion that’s non-gloopy and yet balmy enough for even the driest, itchiest of skins?

Pat McGrath Skin FetishPat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish 003, $72

It’s the Holy Grail of highlighting: glowing skin sans the shimmer or metallics. Makeup maestro Pat McGrath has created what is being referred to as “pure light in a tube” and I have to agree. The kit (with a clear balm, cream highlighter, pressed gel pigment and Japanese brush) comes in two shades: Nude and Golden. Both are lightweight, buildable and will create the most realistic glow you could have ever dreamt of… like your skin but better. Literally.

essie gel coutureEssie Gel Couture, $11.50

I live off Essie nail polishes and those signature square bottles have been a fixture on my vanity ever since my mother actually allowed me to paint my nails for the first time ever (Ballet Slippers!). Now these tiny pots are getting a sleek twist – both in form and function. The brand’s new Gel Couture bottles have been inspired by dressed twirling and swirling across the runway, while the brush is wider and comes with tapered bristles to hug the nail more efficiently. Also new: A gel-like formula that lasts up to 14 days, without the need for a base coat or UV lamp. And comes in 42 new shades.

josie maran vibrancyJosie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Foundation Fluid, $45

It’s the Holy Grail of foundations: full coverage, long stay, hydrating and super-easily blendable, while being packed with natural ingredients that soothe even the most sensitive skin. Not surprisingly, it’s Josie Maran who checks all the boxes, with this super fluid that literally seems to melt into the skin.

simple human wide mirrorSimplehuman Wide-View Sensor Mirror, $400

The best makeup products and application techniques in the world are useless if you don’t have a proper mirror and light source on hand. Simplehuman mirrors tackle both things at once, and the latest Wide-View Sensor version pushes the envelope even further with FIVE lighting modes, including natural, sunny, cloudy and candlelight. And that’s not even all: You can take a selfie in any kind of light or location and the app will automatically program that ambience into the mirror as well. Plus, it’s wireless, turns on automatically when you approach and even has a ion-built timer counting down the minutes you have left to finish the job. Way cool, right?

Dyson-Supersonic-02Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, $399

From vacuums to… hair dryers? Seriously? That was my first thought when I heard about Dyson’s new Supersonic hair dryer. It looks absolutely nothing like any hairdryer I have met till date. And that’s because this cool new hair tool is built nothing like any hairdryer I have met till date.

Firstly, instead of the traditional vent-and-hot-coils drying technology, it has a V9 digital motor whose 13 impeller blades are capable of 110,000 revolutions per minute. This blows out air at least twice as fast as the average blow dryer, along with a very precise width of just over an inch.

Then there is a special thermostat-microprocessor duo that measures air temperature 20 times a second to keep it consistent, thereby drastically cutting down on hair damage.

It also has a built-in ionizer to deionize hair, which effectively cuts down on static electricity. And, as an added bonus, it’s almost soundless. Dyson engineers also moved their motor mechanism into the handle, resulting in a compact and lightweight hair dryer easier to handle and orbit around the head while in use.

Dyson even tackled blow-dryer attachments. Instead of forcing them onto a plastic nozzle, each one attaches via a magnetic ring. They attachments don’t even get hot thanks to air channels built into each one of them that sucks in cool air as the hot air blows through the center.

As expected, a product this coolly innovative doesn’t come easy: Dyson spent four years and $43 million developing this ‘dryer in a special laboratory dedicated to studying the science of hair. of this, $60,000 was spent just on 1,010 miles (MILES!) of real human hair for the testing process, which created a global shortage.

What’s your favourite beauty find?

Flour face: My biggest beauty faux pas!

Today I was looking at the pix from a friend’s wedding – which, incidentally, was one of the hugest weddings of the 20th century – and almost every one of them showed my makeup as patchy, chalky, with horrible white flour-like spots everywhere. Needless to say, this evoked pure hysteria, given that I had managed to circulate through some 10,000 people (yes! this wedding was that mammoth) for five days looking like a badly uncoordinated orangutan had taken a paint brush to my face.

Fortunately, my makeup artist friend called just before I flung myself out of the window, with a panic-subsiding explanation: I was using mineral makeup for this occasion, which reflects light very easily. It looks absolutely fine in natural lighting but when you take a photo and the flash goes off, suddenly that’s all you’re seeing – a big reflection of powder.

The same thing happens with silica-based sunscreens and powders, which have white undertones and are very pigmented. And that’s even more of a bummer as silica-based products are sometimes your only hope of keeping the face grease-free through a hot and humid evening. That’s why you see this happening to celebs so often, as evident in the pix here. At least I have makeup stalwarts like Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Miley Cyrus and Eva Longoria for company!

flour faceThe solution to flour face makeup faux pas?

The simplest solution is to just check yourself before heading out! Turn off the lights and take a photo of your face with a flash camera – this will help identify any rogue floury-looking areas and you’ll be able to correct them before heading out of the door and confronting a camera. Because photos, after all, are always half the fun, aren’t they?

What’s the most terrible makeup disaster that you’ve ever had the bad luck to run into?

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?