Article Archive: March 2012

The Mason Pearson brush

I am not usually the sort to trumpet things as life changing. I do try my damnedest to be normal. Don’t get me wrong, I would easily classify my ‘puter as a close friend – since receiving a MacBook Air for Christmas from Mr. Goddess, I seem to lose days now developing my love (with technology) – but as relationships go, my MacBook Air would still be about number four on my list of things to save in a house fire or flood (presuming all adults could make it out safely). First I’d chase my cat about and get her out quickly, then I’d rescue my diaries and notebooks, then my Mason Pearson hair brush and then my laptop. That’s the order I’m sure of it. Old school things before my technology. I know, I know, putting a mere bunch of bristles and plastic before something Apple made… I feel guilty just typing it, but since my Mason Pearson hair brush came into my life seven years ago and its quality has changed little in all this time, I think it deserves the spot on my list. Plus I’m sure you can guess from my photos that I love things that look beautiful and a bit worn.

So how could I not love my Mason Pearson hair brush? My hair grows so fast, tangles up when I sleep and generally a swift run through with this little paddle-shaped piece of plastic with its orange rubber pneumatic pad studded with Indian boar bristles and nylon bristles saves me from looking a bit crazy. Yes, basically if the model I own didn’t have the word “Popular” blazoned across it by Mason Pearson I know that I’d come terrifyingly close to becoming one of those girls who names her things (it usually starts with the car). I’m not a creature of habit except to choose where I write or have tea daily but this hair brush I believe has earned its name and place in my heart because it is indeed very popular in my routine. I like good vibes and special touches to my day and twice a day this brush provides them.

Each Mason Pearson hair brush takes over six weeks to hand make in London (they’ve been hand making these brushes in London for over 105 years) and models comes in different bristle types. Here’s a picture above of a hair expert backstage at one of the fashion weeks with a boar bristle Mason Pearson. In all models when you look closely, the bristles come in two lengths– the longer bristles push through the hair and when they reach the scalp they stimulate the oil glands to produce natural oils (the pneumatic orange pad also helps with this as it moves to the contours of the scalp). The shorter bristles then draw that natural oil along each hair nourishing it naturally. For anyone a bit iffy about boar bristles (vegetarians, religious reasons) each model also comes in bristles fashioned from nylon only. See the range here .

Also I think I should mention that seven years ago when I ordered my Mason Pearson hair brush there was a shortage in many stores so I ordered mail order from Mason Pearson themselves. It took six weeks for my brush to arrive but I can say hand on heart that it was worth waiting for because they didn’t fall into any of the following categories…

1. The Pushy Wushy people – Mason Pearson is a manufacturing company who supplies wholesalers who in turn supply bricks and mortar shops so they don’t court publicity and will keep the most famous Hollywood name waiting the required six weeks (the same as the rest of us) if they place an order via mail order. For us mere mortals mail order should really be the last resort as the brushes are easily found in most good department stores these days. The long mail order waiting time is simply down to capacity. Mason Pearson is already stretched with worldwide orders which have to be filled so they actually prefer you to find a brush you like in a store rather than push one on you.

2. The Chatty Watty people – I also found Mason Pearson didn’t treat me like an idiot, you know what I mean? The type of conversation where the person chats relentlessly at you on the phone without paying a blind bit of difference to my questions when you might ask. No, the be honest my hairbrush has lasted seven years because a lovely lady on the phone at Mason Pearson instructed me to familiarise myself with their maintenance guide online. And I’m not the only one. Backstage at the fashion weeks I captured several pros on camera following the same tips as me: sliding a tail comb in sideways beneath the bristles will lift out gathered hair (on any brush) and the tail of a tail comb loosens hair in the rows between bristles. And I spotted some hair experts even carrying a large darning needle in their kits to gently lift stubborn little hairs out that nestle tightly at the root of the bristles. Once old hair is removed, I dampen my brush in cool water and then with a toothbrush which I lather in some plain soap I gently wash the orange pad between the rows of bristles to lift accumulated hair oil. I then rinse in cool water and leave to dry away from heat. Heat by the way is the enemy of a Mason Pearson, whether it’s hot water which can distort nylon bristles, or the heat from an airing cupboard which can swell boar bristles and make them spread and dry crooked. Also I’ve witnessed many using a hairdryer in conjunction with a nylon bristled Mason Pearson and it usually ends in tiny tears (the scent and sight of shriveled nylon will stay with you. Trust me).

Yup I like to babble a million questions at hair experts about their tools and techniques when they’re doing hair, but more than once I’ve experienced my questions falling on deaf dears while being held captive in their hair chairs. Has this ever happened to you? In fact, on one occasion, I presumed the person cutting my hair was actually meditating. Anyway when I saw her silently reach for the Elnette and then proceed to spay it onto her Mason Pearson brush before she brushed my hair I said nothing. Nuh Uh Mrs. Hair-girl! A build up of spray on your MP will cause the orange rubber pad on the brush to crack to resemble the surface of the moon (but I said nothing but I’m telling you now. So shhhhh!)

And finally, I don’t have to suffer as much these days with being held captive by meditating hair cutters as I’ve found a hair person who is both a hair genius and also rather hip and lovely (I’ll unveil his hairiness later when I’ve more space and shots). Meanwhile if you’re tempted to treat yourself to a Mason Pearson hair brush soon, please try to see and feel the brush in person rather then buying it on the internet. There are lots of counterfeits floating about so it’s best to examine it up close. Oh and you can tell if a Mason Pearson hair brush is real or not instantly by shining a flash light through the dark plastic… like a perfect glass of Guinness, once light is shone through it a real Mason Pearson will appear light burgundy to an glowing red. XXXX

Fashion’s Backstage Secrets

GGB2011_04MAY_Beauty_legs_touchups_01 GGB2011_04MAY_Beauty_legs_touchups_02 GGB2011_04MAY_Beauty_legs_touchups_03 GGB2011_04MAY_Beauty_legs_touchups_04

Take a good look at these pictures… Do you see what I see?

Yes I know it’s hard to miss these John Rocha black laced shoes and Christian Louboutain silver wedges. They are TO DIE FOR!!! But push those aside for a moment and look closely at the team of beauty experts camouflaging every single blemish.

It’s like Sex and The City LIVE and within earshot

So I was backstage here with four other photographers (Elle, Grazia, Drapers Record and a really nice girl shooting beauty for Vogue) all more experienced than the next (and me), all of us clicking away, and I could hear everyone had their own way of talking to the models depending on what they were looking for…

“Stand over here, twist your legs towards me, towards the light, nice shoes!” Elle.

“Are those easy to walk in? NO WAY, stay perfectly still! Thank You!” the lovely Drapers Record Italian guy.

All the while the beauty worker bees are humming about, making sure that every piece of skin on show is worked; stepping aside for the photographers to get their shots and then rushing back in to use every precious moment to make the skin look flawless.

I think I’ve told you before, I love this bit of a fashion show the most…the bit where the models are on the ramp, side stage a few minutes before they go on the catwalk and all the tricks and secret weapons are pulled out of the kit to hide blemishes and create that one photographic catwalk moment. I love being part of that backstage experience. I want to capture everything and the things I hear….

“Is my hair bed-head? Or does it look like I’ve slept on this side of my head for too long?”

It’s like LIVE Sex and The City within earshot. So there you have it…or not….

… because I was standing there wondering and muttering out loud to myself ‘bedhead? Yes! What I’d like to know is what’s giving you those extra special SHINY SHINS???´

Then one of the backstage beauty team pointed to a bottle of Nivea Pure and Natural body lotion on the floor. ‘That for starters, with its rich body butter effect is easy to find, affordable (we use it in industrial quantities), soaks straight into the skin and doesn’t ruin clothes with residue.’ How AWESOME is that tip? A slice of post-recession wisdom!

Apparently ‘it’s pretty easy to enhance well kept pale skin’,  one make-up artist explained. Yes WELL KEPT. And seeing as the tricks used to get a healthy glow on pale legs backstage included no bronzing products whatsoever to achieve that porcelain glow? I felt like a complete reject asking ‘How would my um, cousin Shirley get WELL KEPT pale skin on her legs then?’

‘Start at home with a great skincare ritual. Massage a cleansing oil (Shu Uemura Balancing Cleansing oil is a good one) into skin, followed by a moisturiser every day. Then use a glow-enhancing make-up base primer such as MAC Prep and Prime Skin or Chanel Base Lumière. And cover with a light make-up like MAC Face and Body Foundation .Try MAC strobe Cream along the shin bone to make it stand out.’

But all of this cleansing, priming, illuminating leg routine wasn’t needed for models backstage (their legs are in great condition) so the quick fix for them was just a slather of affordable moisturizer using both hands to apply and then any little marks or irregular blemishes were covered by swiping the area with toner to remove oils and then applying a highly pigmeted, oil-free concealer, like MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer.

Other then that, I noticed some artists were using their fingers while others plucked brushes from their kits. A synthetic-bristle (as opposed to natural bristle ) brush is usually used when a mark or blemish is very visible on pale skin. ‘A synthetic bristle brush lets me build up the coverage and work the product into the area to match the leg colour better than using my fingers or a sponge’, one MAC beauty expert explained. ‘Natural bristles are great for face foundation but soak up too much product when you want to conceal a dark mark on a leg.’

I also noticed that legs at the shows fell into a few categories. Yep! My favourites may be the pictures above, all pale and interesting but guess what, as I schlepped around I noticed that many other shows had tanned legs too. So what were the experts using from their kits on these???

For summer kissed legs, MAC’s Studio Sculpt Foundation was a biggie. The gel texture gave that perfect glowy finish with just enough coverage and applied carefully allowed make-up artists to highlight the bone structure by running a little extra along the front of the legs to defined shins. Artists also spritzed Evian Facial spray over mineral foundation on legs for a dewy glow.

For a very tanned look artists highlighted bare legs with Guerlain Terracotta Huile du Voyager Nourishing Dry Oil. In some cases they either mixed it with a very affordable moisturiser or brushed it on its own for a more futuristic edge.

A trick I saw used a lot in Paris… was high-factor suncream being used as a make-up base on legs to make them shine. Some very expensive in-house brands were used but the one I’d suggest is Liz Earle Mineral Sun Cream SPF20 (tel: 01983 813913)  as it reflects light rather than absorbs it, is made with more natural ingredients and gives a very distinct shine under hot, bright lights (I’m going to make this work for me, seriously I am).

And even better news…. I saw two make-up artists use La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios XL SPF50 sunscreen, (it can be hard to find here’s a number: 0800 055 6822). I always have a bottle in my fridge at home and don’t go anywhere without it. I use it when running as it doesn’t block pores, doesn’t contain any harmful parabens and gives skin a fresh glowing finish. Best news of all though is its pocket friendly price and its used by some very high profile make-up artists. I first saw a make-up artist use it to give legs that distinctive shine for a Burberry Prorsum show a few season ago.

So there you have it… that’s all I can remember.

Oh except this… one model turned up with a momentous spot on her leg and a make-up artist just whipped a bottle of eye drops out of her kit and treated the spot immediately. It didn’t get rid of it (that would have been magic) but it did reduce the redness and swelling (something to do with the magic properties that eye drops have which cause blood vessels to restrick).

If you’ve more time ( say a few days rather than hours to treat a big angry spot) may I suggest something like Origins Spot Remover (tel: 0800 731 4039); it clears spots up after only three applications.

So that’s everything I remember.

So, what do you think? Would you have ever have thought that so much care went into legs (and hands)? Seriously the stuff that goes on, it’s better than Sex And The City or Gossip Girl.