Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Double Wear: The Ace of Base

Double duty beauty: Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup SPF10

Let's keep this short and sweet girls. When it comes to foundation, Estée Lauder's Double Wear is the daddy. End of. That's all you need to know. Some women play their beauty cards close to their chest, for fear of revealing their other hand to other females; protecting their coveted secrets from 'rivals'. Not me. I'm the generous croupier: dishing 'em out left, right and centre. No poker faces round here; I want you to have the ace of base. 

The only reason I've never mentioned this product on my blog before now is because I thought it was obvious; I assumed you all knew. It's the cosmetic industry's worst-kept secret - a long-standing staple, along with Lancome Hypnôse mascaraMAC Spice Lip Pencil and YSL Touche Éclat: timeless classics that you just don't mess with. They are the Don, all the others mere footsoldiers; you'd be ill-advised to question their authority. These guys are to make-up what Mary Berry is to cakes.

I can't believe I'm even having to mention this now, if I'm honest. This is basic stuff ladies - like GHDs for hair or Colgate for teeth. Any MUA (that's makeup artist by the way 😉) worth her salt will have this product by the bucketload in her kit.

I don't mean to patronise you - teaching you to use Double Wear is like sending your granny on an egg-sucking course. Or so I thought. But recently I've come across several strange creatures masquerading as females who seem to have got to middle age without acquiring this common knowledge. Sure they look like women, they sound like women, but when they ask me which foundation I use and I tell them "Double Wear, obvs" (with a subtle glance to the heavens) and they simply look at me blankly, I swear they must be aliens that have just landed from Mars.

I may be a basic bitch, but I know my base. I've been in a committed relationship with Double Wear for at least 15 years now, save for a short-lived but passionate dalliance with Touche Éclat Le Teint Foundation, for which I've been forgiven and we shan't discuss further. It was fun while it lasted, but it just couldn't go the distance. Obviously there were others in the past, but nothing compares to my darling DW - this is the real deal.

So what makes Double Wear so impressive? Well this stuff glides on like a dream and stays put for eternity. Just like building a house, the rest of your makeup won't stay put unless you get the foundation right first. I've been known to go to work, straight on to a night out and rock up at the after party at 8am, make-up fresh as a daisy - all thanks to this badboy. You can attend a sweaty rave, a damp festival in a field or have a cheeky roll in the hay should the occasion arise (or all 3 if you're lucky) and still this stuff ain't budgin'. I've trekked Machu Picchu, through Brazilian rainforests - even endured the 100% humidity of summertime Bangkok and it STILL did the business.

So with SPF10, oil-free formula, and more staying power than the Dulux emulsion on your kitchen walls, surely it's a similar consistency too? Amazingly, no. That's the beauty of it. Before you nip down to Homebase to invest in overalls, a paint tray and non-drip roller to apply it, listen up: you only need a small amount - 10p sized blob max - dotted onto forehead, nose, cheeks and chin and then blended with fingertips for a flawless coverage. A 30ml bottle costs £31 and lasts me around 6 months. Don't bother with sponges or a foundation brush, you'll just waste product. If you look out for the Gift Time promos (like this one currently on at Debenhams) you'll get a load of goodies thrown in free with the purchase of 2 items, one to be your foundation. Alternatively, sign up to Lauder's mailing list - there are tons of offers on online, often with a lower spend threshold. 

You'd think with coverage and staying power this good (the claim is 15 hours, I say easily 24+ on a big weekender), that removing it would be like scrubbing graffiti off a wall, but no. A squirt of Garnier Micellar Water (don't even bother asking me what that is - have you been living under a rock?) on a cotton pad and you're ready to hop into bed. Which is just as well; the only time I'm willing to be without my Double Wear is under cover of darkness and in the presence of a compassionate fella who understands the witchcraft that is good makeup.

So if you're one of those unfortunate middle-agers still living in the Middle Ages, get with the programme, get down to Debenhams and get that Double Wear on your boat race.
On the double.

Ready for her close-up: my shade of choice is 02 Pale Almond 

NB: This is not a sponsored post, nor am I affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above. I simply love the products 😊

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

I'm a guest on Mike's Open Journal Podcast

G'Day Birds Eye Viewers!

How are you all on this dull February morning?

Now, those of you who know me personally and not just via the blog will already know that I'm something of a motormouth. I have a tendency towards being pretty full on: turbo-charged and as nutty as a tray of Ferrero's at the Ambassador's Reception. Some of you may remember my previous podcast recorded with Washington DC-based podcasters Sip And Shine.

Trying to get a word in edgeways when I'm on one is no mean feat...as Mike Douglas, creator of the mental health podcast Mike's Open Journal, was about to find out, when he invited me onto his show to talk about my experiences with mental health issues, specifically in relation to infertility, IVF and marriage breakdown, as described in this blog post...

Having had his own experience of mental health issues and also a marriage breakdown and no children, Mike and I have plenty in common. Unfortunately what we don't have in common is the same calm and controlled style of speech, so listening to Mike's even and lilting tone will be soothing and easy to listen to; my own hyper and breathless babbling...not so much.

I wonder which one's me...?
photo credit

So apologies for the frantic pace of my chatter - oh, and the fact that I sound like Pat Butcher from Eastenders...and say "yeah" a thousand times. Believe it or not, despite the mile-a-minute rambling, I actually don't like the sound of my own voice that much. Let's just say I make Bianca Jackson sound posh.

Anyway, thanks for listening! I hope I don't send your blood pressure soaring and you can listen with a nice cuppa, and not require a vodka and a fistful of Statins to get through the hour-long episode....

 To listen to the podcast click here

Listen to Mike's other episodes 
Follow Mike's Open Journal on Twitter

Who, me? I don't know what you mean...
photo credit

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Netflix and Chills

photo credit

"I got chiiills, they're multiplyin'....."

Don't worry, I'm not about to launch into a rousing rendition of Better Shape Up from Grease - not least because with a slight hint of a 'tache and pasty un-made-up face I look more like Danny than Sandy right now. No, I've got chills because I'm sick.

Sick Adjective. 
1. to feel ill, or not well. 
2. A secondary word for awesome. 
3. Gross, disgusting. 
4. Tired, pissed off. 
5. Horny.
1. I feel very sick, I think I might vomit. 
2. Dude, that song is so sick! 
3. That was sick when he had sex with that gorrilla. 
4. I am sick of your attitude. 
5. Who wants to get sick with me?

Since we live in a ridiculous time when "sick" can now mean both violently ill and also amazingly cool, allow me to clarify: I'm sick in the old-fashioned sense. Did you really think a forty-something woman would be using the word in the new trendy slang way? Nah. That would not be "sick"...that would be embarrassing.

Sam...or Slimer?

So I'm sitting in my bed, bolstered by pillows and cushions to keep me bolt upright, since whenever I tilt even a few degrees to one side I leak snot like some kind of Ghostbusters blobby thing oozing ectoplasm, when it suddenly occurs to me: I've not been ill for ages. Sure, I've had the odd hangover, but that's entirely self-inflicted and doesn't exactly classify as illness; I mean, anyone who downs wine, jäger bombs and cocktails over the course of a lively evening hardly expects (or deserves) to wake up feeling full of beans, right?

No, what just struck me was how rarely I feel as rubbish as I do now, which is as an extra from Thriller might do (i.e freshly dug up) and ergo, how lucky I am. I can't remember the last time I had a day off sick from work. Certainly not in the last two years (and I'm not about to start now: no-one likes a Sicknote). Health is something we all simply take for granted...until it's not there.

The Thriller vid: still worth a watch, 35yrs(!) later

Just as we don't really appreciate our parents when we're kids - the endless dinners prepped, expensive trainers, school trips, dad being our personal taxi service, ferrying us about (mine still does sometimes - cheers Pops) - we also don't always appreciate feeling "normal"...until we don't. It's just taken as a given that we feel fine, thus allowing plenty of time to focus on the big stuff - like the size of Kim K's ass, Queen Bey's baby news, or our mutual loathing of Trump.

So this post contains no big revelation; it's just a simple expression of gratitude for my health. I'm not particularly religious, so I'm not quite sure who I'm addressing it to - not God, exactly. The Universe?

It's the same when it comes to discussing the ageing process. Of course I'd love to be gazelle-like (or maybe Gisele-like?) forever - springing about all plumped and pumped with the vigour of youth - but getting older is actually something to be proud of. I spend my days peddling "anti-ageing" products in my job as a beauty boutique manager - it's big business - but why are we so ashamed of getting older? Yes, I'd rather look like Bambi than a taxidermist's mishap, but a lived-in face shows character and experience. It says: "Oh I could tell you a story or two....." delivered with a sly, crinkly-eyed wink ;-)

photo credit

I reckon we need to change our attitudes towards ageing. I mean, we made it this far - so many don't. The alternative to getting old...is not getting old at all. I know plenty of amazing people whose lives were cruelly snatched like a rug from beneath their feet long before their time - some in their twenties and thirties or even younger.

Of course I bemoan the crow's feet when I look in the mirror as much as the next person, but the overwhelming feeling is gratitude that I'm actually still here. I've put my body through a lot over the years, but still it soldiers on and serves me well (even if it is starting to creak and click a bit in protest).

So although from the outside it might look like a sorry scene in my bedroom this Sunday afternoon: me slumped in bed during the day clad in fox-print peejays (well Andy did say to "buy yourself something foxy") accessorised with a big red bulbous hooter, sore from being blown umpteen times - I'm actually feeling decidedly upbeat.

Feeling bleugh: Netflix and a chill

I might on the surface of things be feeling fifty shades of meh; the scene more "Netflix and chills" than chill, but underneath the mountains of Kleenex and trashy magazines is an ashen-faced 40-something who's actually bloody grateful.
Grateful that this is just a cold.
Grateful that in a few days I'll be right as rain.
Grateful that by next weekend I'll be back to drinking wine and dancing with friends and taking my health for granted all over again....

About last weekend...clubbing with the gorgeous JenKat

But in the meantime, I'm just chillin'.

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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Grandad's Great Escape

My mum as a child with my grandparents

Imagine all your memories, amassed over a lifetime, handwritten in tiny lettering on a deck of cards, neatly stacked in chronological order. Then imagine someone deftly shuffling this deck: fancy fingerwork as they expertly weave and riffle the cards until there is no order whatsoever. They replace the shuffled cards carefully on the table in front of you and look you directly in the eye, stony-faced. You're confused: why would they do that?

A sudden gust of wind from an open window blows the cards into the air, sending them in all directions. You scrabble to catch them, to gather your precious memories up and re-stack them as they were in the original pile, but it's no use: some have disappeared out of the window; one has gone, unnoticed, down the back of the sofa. A few have slipped under the television unit. The ones you have left are jumbled and, try as you might, you just can't seem to sort them into any logical order. Distressed and frustrated, you scatter them over the table, rest your head on your folded arms, and begin to cry....

My maternal grandfather has dementia.

As I contemplate the way the illness has robbed him of his memories, that's the image that I conjure up in my mind's eye: of an elderly man, sitting alone at the table in the modest council house he shared with my nan for most of their lives (before she passed away some years ago), desperately trying to remember things.

He is surrounded by nick-nacks and keepsakes and fading pictures in frames; stacks of old black and white films on VHS that he used to watch continuously but whose storylines he now struggles to follow. The decor is old-fashioned, the swirly carpet a nod to the Seventies, yet the house is neat and carefully maintained. Murphy, his faithful Irish setter, sits at his feet, his head resting on Grandad's knee.

For several years we would visit him; the trips to the house in South East London taking me back to my childhood, when Nan would serve up beans and sausages from her 1950s stove for my sister and I; my grandad smoking a pipe and twisting his pipe-cleaners into stickmen for us. In the summer my nan would show us how the snapdragons growing in their little back yard looked like bunny rabbits, whilst grandad tinkered away fixing things in his shed. When my mum came to pick us up they'd wave from the gate until our car rounded the bend.

Returning as an adult always felt strange as the house seemed to shrink: I felt like Alice In Wonderland after drinking the potion. Years later I'd visit him occasionally after work; Grandad preparing milky tea and a Fray Bentos pie for me, whilst Murphy the red setter casually released silent stinkbombs under the table.

Gradually it became apparent that Grandad would not be able to live alone for much longer. He started misplacing things; getting increasingly paranoid, confused and upset; calling the police to report perceived thefts of "stolen" belongings; starting his morning routine with a wet shave in the middle of the night.

Eventually he moved into a care home. The thing with dementia is that long periods of total memory loss, whereby the sufferer cannot remember what happened two minutes ago, are interspersed with occasional spells of complete lucidity. It's fair to say that many of the residents of the home have less frequent lucid moments than Grandad, so sometimes he gets bored. Recently, he spoke about "escaping" - breaking out of the secure residential building and making a break for freedom. My mum, who is also his main caregiver outside the home, brushed it off and changed the subject.

A strong-willed old chap, 89-year-old Grandad is in otherwise rude health. Never one to do as he's told (I wondered where I'd inherited that trait from), he hatched a plan - a plan so cunning that the local mischievous fox would've struggled to better it.

Waiting till the dead of night, Grandad got out of bed and dressed silently, putting on an extra layer against the December chill. Tiptoeing along the corridors, he ducked past the carers' office, slipping into the laundry room and out of the unlocked fire escape. Excitement building, he scurried down the path out into the crisp night air, leaves and twigs crunching underfoot in the rural setting of the Kent countryside. Freezing cold, but warmed by the euphoria of victory, he marched on...

Until some time later, when one of the carers noticed the open door and, panicking, alerted the police - who duly located him walking along a deserted street in the early hours of the morning and returned him safely home. It was the first time the home had ever had a resident "on the run." When my mum got the call in the middle of the night, she immediately feared the worst. However, upon arrival at the care home at 5am, she was greeted by the sight of Grandad, ruddy-faced with cold and excitement, sipping a mug of hot tea as he animatedly regaled the police officers with tales of his escapades in Kenya during the war.

When Mum rang to tell me about Grandad's little adventure it was hard not to chuckle, as we admired his sly determination and resourcefulness: "Good old G-Dad!" was my initial reaction (obviously after hearing that he was safe and well). "There's life in the old dog yet!" I joked, marvelling at his "great escape." Mum recounted how he'd told the officers with an eyeball roll that it was "like living in Pentonville."

There was a brief pause, as we both let that comment sink in. The mood turned sombre. In the cold light of day, Grandad had absolutely no recollection of the previous night's shenanigans, asking instead where various relatives were - all of whom have long since passed away.

We both know - we ALL know - the reality: that it's not the care home holding Grandad prisoner.
It's dementia.

My grandad and I

Dementia Facts:
- The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47.5 million and is projected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030. The number of cases of dementia are estimated to more than triple by 2050. 
- Dementia is the biggest killer of women in the UK, and the third biggest killer of men. 
- A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds around the world.
- There is currently no cure for dementia and far more research is needed. You can help by signing up to Dementia Research UK to help with studies as a healthy person, as someone with dementia, or on behalf of someone with dementia. 
- For more information go to Alzheimers Research UK, Dementia UK and Dementia Friends.

This article has also appeared here in The Huffington Post UK. 

Fancy reading my back-story before you go any further? You can find my other blogs at:

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Twitter: @SamanthaWalsh76
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