Post by Thandie.
I love Boots. It’s as gently and reassuringly British as ‘Walls’ ice cream, or the seaside. Wherever you are on the British Isles there’s a Boots to confirm that you’re home. Growing up in Penzance it was the destination store in town. From 9 years old I’d save up my pocket money to go and shop the aisles. The Boots Own cucumber moisturizer and lip balm were my favourites; the smells still remind me of pre-teenhood.
Now in 2014 my 9 year old daughter hops off to Boots on a weekend, pupils dilated with the thrill of what she might find. She’s headed for the make-up aisle, her newest crush.
She, unlike me, might come back with coveted finds. Because she’s fair skinned, with green eyes. Of course that’s not entirely true because I could buy lipsticks, mascara, or an Olay BB cream. BUT if I’m looking for decent foundation, cover up and powder for dark skins, I can’t be sure that I’ll find it.
Recently, I was at Heathrow Airport and cruised into Boots. Of the many smiling faces staring back at me from advertising boards, none of them looked like me, my Mum, or any of the black girls that I know.
I wondered to myself; do black women not go on holiday? Do black women not go on business trips? Do black women not work at Heathrow? Why isn’t this nationwide and beloved shopping destination stocking make-up for ALL the people and places that it serves? The answer you’ll get is that shades for darker skins don’t sell – but I’ve been standing there, for years, and I’d buy it? Meanwhile, I’m feeling unrepresented; twinges of bitterness creeping in. Am I invisible? Does Boots not want me here? Does it think I’m not worthy of some space on its aisles?
Well, I think I might be able to. Since teaming up with Kay Montano and starting our blog, I’ve learnt a huge amount about the distribution and sales of cosmetics in the UK. I once thought that there was a drought of good foundations for darker skins, and that we weren’t being served by brands. When I started shooting high-end fashion shoots (around 2000) I was introduced to a fantasy land of shades and textures. Make-up Forever, Becca, Estee Lauder, Stila, Mac, Bobbi Brown – all these brands have umpteen shades of foundation for dark skin tones. I’m surprised they don’t have a shade for Princess Fiona, or Marge Simpson.
So, why hadn’t I seen these products before? Well, partly because I used to shop at Boots. The idea of going to a fancy department store and spending £20+ on some foundation would never have occurred to me. That’s the other thing about Boots; it stocks affordable products. Around that time, living in London, I also discovered Paks – local neighbourhood beauty emporiums that cater to the ‘urban’ communities; stocking make up brands like Sleek, Fashion Fair and Iman. The trouble is, there are 9 Paks in Greater London, compared to 2,500 Boots nationwide. I can’t go on a pilgrimage to Paks every time I need a refill. I want to go to Boots. And as a busy Mum I want to be able to buy concealer at the same time as I buy sunscreen, sanitary towels and triple A batteries.
This changed somewhat when I made Mission Impossible 2 and my make up artist Robert McCann introduced me to the beauty brand ‘Ruby and Millie’.
It was a fantastic brand for every skin tone, and he told me that he’d bought it in Boots! Allelujah! The small snag was that the full range of colours was only available in the Boots ‘flagship’ stores. Nonetheless, I’d stock up and feel proud of Britain’s evolving cosmetics industry. Gradually Boots’ ‘Ruby and Millie’ stock dwindled and it wasn’t available anymore. Millie Kendall of ‘Ruby and Millie’ has consulted for us at ThandieKay, and she told us that although the brand made over 20 shades of foundations, the darker colours weren’t stocked in many stores, because they ‘didn’t sell’.
I think the answer is no. When a store doesn’t cater for you, you stop going to that store – so you most likely will miss the few weeks when your product might be in stock. I think this is the problem – it’s miscommunication between store and customer. If the product was on the shelves for longer, with a push in marketing to invite the customers in, then the products would sell, and the wheels of supply and demand would begin to turn.
I realize that ‘Profit is King’, and my theory might not make sense as a business model in the short term. But long term it would make every bit of sense. Shops, unlike media, don’t see themselves as instruments of social change – but a shop like Boots is different by dint of its reputation as a national treasure. Surely it (or the CEOs) could step out of the faceless market narrative, and acknowledge us saying, ‘please’.
Like I said before – I love Boots. I’m invested in my relationship with the brand – because I’m British and proud to be.
My investment even goes as far as to create a Beauty Blog to try and remedy problems such as these. We live in a multi-cultural Britain, it’s something to be inordinately proud of – we are a huge success as a country and a people. We share histories, we evolve; we are modern, hip, trailblazers. Our love for this land is actually a love for its people – because we all contribute to its growth and identity. Danny Boyle portrayed that perfectly and powerfully in the Olympics Opening Ceremony. We want to compete together, learn together, work, dance, sing, win… and shop together. We don’t want to be separated when we buy make up – when teenage girlfriends are excitedly buying blusher for a night out, or a bride is shopping with her maid of honour, or I’m shopping with my daughter. I don’t want to have to go to Paks while she goes to Boots – I love her and want to be with her.
Posted by Thandie
I’m currently on set filming a movie and our make-up artist, Tina Roesler Kerwin, is using these brushes on me which are fabulous. They are Artis Makeup Brushes and great for achieving an “air brushed quality” she says.
They look unusual compared to a normal beauty brush – is it a toothbrush? Is it a spoon? Is it a loofah?
The stunning ergonomic design is aimed to compliment the contours of the face and helps you see the area you’re working on, with better control too.
We also love them because they’re cruelty-free so no animal hairs used, just man-made fibres – a clever material called CosmiFibre which apparently holds its shape better than animal hair and allows up to three times more fibres than a conventional brush.
According to Arits, these bristles have ‘microscopically tapered ends’ which means they can blend powders and foundations into skin seamlessly, particularly cream eyeshadow and cream rouge. This design feature also means less product is trapped in between fibres but held neatly at the tips instead.
There are 10 shaped brushes for different uses and I’ve been using the brushes in combination with my very favourite Mud HD Air Liquid Make Up. It’s amaaaaaazing. It’s these two products that have been making my days.
Order your Artis brushes from Nigel’s in LA.
Posted by Kay
After a long drive across London to the south of the river, we all arrived in Streatham for the UK premiere of Half of A Yellow Sun, adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s much-loved novel. The press reception was large and welcoming which was no surprise seeing as both Chimamanda and Chiwetel Ejiofor were there too. I’ve always loved the immediacy and vicarious excitement of the red carpet, and seeing as Thandie’s my favourite make-up muse, it is always fun.
Thandie used her regular moisturiser Olay Total Effects before I arrived so just before we started on the base, she applied Clarins Beauty Flash Balm to freshen and tighten her skin (you may/may not know-Thandie gave birth 4 weeks ago-sleep is a distant memory!!).
To ‘brighten’ the area around Thandie’s eyes, I used Bobbi Brown’s Corrector in Light to Medium Peach.
As you can see below, correctors differ in colour from concealers because the under-eyes need the brightening tones of peach (to terracotta in darker skin) to rid the eyes of greyer tones, whilst the more olive-toned concealer ‘neutralizes’ the red tones around the nose, chin, or on any blemishes.
I used Chanel‘s new Powder Blush in ‘Malice‘, a gorgeous rosy apricot.
Thandie & I are HUGE fans of Chanel‘s amazing cream/powder eyeshadows ‘Illusion D’Ombres. The ease of application, the staying power, the unique effect and on-point colour range give them total must-have status. I used Mirage from the new Summer Collection over Thandie’s lids and Apparition (which I’ve used many times on Lupita Nyong’O), creating a navy smoulder around her lashes and blending outward.
We’ve mentioned Ilia before, everything about it-from the philosophy, ingredients, packaging and texture-are different from other cosmetics. We love the natural look of their sheer lipsticks and because on this occasion I wanted to play up Thandie’s eyes, a subtle tint was all that was needed. We used ‘Perfect Day’.
Post by Thandie
Mascara! How we love you! In any form; smudged morning eyes, perfect blinking doll, heavy goth, clumpy 60s, multi colored 80s, even streaked after a good laugh or cry. Where you go we follow, applauding with a chorus of wildly batting lashes.
So it didn’t surprise me really when I came across the gorgeous Ilia brand in Vancouver this year. The founder Sasha Plavsic has concentrated her ethical expertise on hero products of mascara, lip color and multi-sticks. I was struck by how her organic, ethical brand easily competes in a market where healthful ingredients are a slow second to performance and sales. Sasha wasn’t willing to compromise – on performance, packaging or fashion forward colours. I caught up with Sasha and asked her a few questions about why…
SP: (it) was really important in a selfish way – my eyes have always been extremely sensitive to all eye make up.
SP: When I started working with our chemist, there was lots to learn in all categories, but for mascara it’s a category on its own in the cosmetic world, and one of the most challenging to make organic and natural.
SP: Mascara tends to carry the highest water content in the color cosmetic family, and water naturally grows bacteria. The mascara wand goes from the eyelashes (bacteria catchers) back into a dark tube filled with water (bacteria environment).
SP: Up until 6 months ago we used the preservative phenoxyethanol in a low dose. People critisised the brand for using a synthetic but at that time it was our only option. In my mind it was more important to ensure bacteria didn’t grow than to add a very low grade synthetic preservative. In the past year we have worked on a salt/sugar based preservative and it’s been phenomenal. We also improved the component and wand to help pull more product. Our mascara is more glossy than dry which means it takes a couple of weeks of use (and exposure to air) to reach the perfect consistency.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………So So- armed with new knowledge in our kit bag, we used Ilia‘s mascara for a recent ThandieKay shoot and we are LOVING THE RESULTS. We used ‘Nightfall’ and as you can see it defines, adds volume and gives a gorgeous natural finish. Coupled with the fact that the ingredients are so pure that if desperate, this elixir could double as a snack 😉
Ilia mascara and cosmetics are available in an ever growing number of outlets around the world. Check the website to find out a retailer near you. Clean, gorgeous lashes. Viva Ilia!
Ilia is also available in the UK at BeautyMart Harvey Nichols & Boxpark in Shorditch beautymart.com
All photographs by the brilliant Billie Scheepers
Mali Bracelets by Steve Parkes at Orling & Wu Vancouver
Earrings Erickson Beamon
Posted by Kay.
Liquid blush, gel blush, crème stain-whatever this easily-blendable lips & cheek Becca product is, we love it. I use Papaya on Thandie as the hot red pigment is perfect for deep olive and darker skintones. It also come in all of these shades and it’s formula make it suitable for all skin types.