[AD info: this post contains a paid-for advertorial for L’Oreal. Links marked * are affiliate links. Beauty products featured are press samples, fashion items and jewellery are my own apart from the earrings which were gifted.]
I went out-out last Saturday – to a ball. A proper black tie affair that required the hiring of tuxedos (Mr AMR and friends), a special bra (me) and transportation through the muddy lanes of Somerset (all of us). It was an organisational ordeal, if truth be known, especially as we had to leave the house at 17.45 and we were still shooting pictures of me in my dress – for this post – at 17.42. We’re not great at doing things in an ordered manner at the best of times, but throw formality into the mix – a prompt-start drinks reception, a shared cab – and we really show our true chaotic colours.
In actual fact, my preparation for the ball had started a whole week beforehand because I had only recently emerged from the world’s most intense onslaught of minor ailments. And after almost week spent in bed, my face and body looked as though I’d been buried in a sandpit. Or a jar of rice. You know how people drop their iPhone down the loo/in the sink and then put it in rice to dry it out? That’s how I looked. Dried out.
So it was onwards and upwards with a supercharged beautifying routine, including body brushing (haven’t done it in years but I just felt so sluggish and drained, it was rather nice to give myself a vigorous buff) (not a euphemism), hair masks (I’ve been instructed by Kat at Josh Wood to use them on a regular basis if I want my hair to grow out nicely) and – most importantly – some serious facial rehydration.
Now I’m no stranger to a good hydrating serum, but I took things one step further with this post-sickness week of beauty SOS; a 7 day course of intense replumping using the new L’Oreal Revitalift Filler Ampoules. The Revitalift Filler range has always been about serious hydration but these ampoules are on another level, with individual doses of concentrated hyaluronic acid to really leave skin looking smooth and plumptious.
In all honesty, I find that the formula is so concentrated I only need a small amount of each ampoule, so one dose usually does my face, neck and chest three or four times. I’m probably not supposed to say that, but it’s true – you get far more than you’d need for a seven day course. Which is surely no bad thing!
And the results of my SOS 7 Day Cure? Well, the Revitalift Filler Ampoules definitely gave an amazing boost to whatever was applied on top – it was a bit like a hydration supercharge. Everything felt more elastic and bouncy, with the creme de la creme of skincare combos being the Ampoules followed by the Revitalift Filler Night Cream-Mask, which is one of my favourite night treatments of all time. You could have trampolined on my cheeks (facial) the following morning…
I think we all know the drill by now, when it comes to hyaluronic; in terribly simplistic terms it helps your skin to hold onto moisture, helping to plump out fine lines and make your face look smoother and fresher. The Revitalift Filler Ampoules do this admirably – and I must admit to rather liking the 7 Day Cure idea. For those who are about to go on holiday, or have come back from holiday totally weatherbeaten, or who are gearing up for a big event or gearing down for a week of rest, it’s a nice way to remind yourself to give your skin a boost.
You can find the new Revitalift Filler Ampoules at Look Fantastic here – at time of writing they are on offer at £14.99. And I know you’re dying to find out what else was on my face, so let me talk you through my rather frenzied makeup session, which was studded with interruptions and errors.
The base – as usual – was the most enjoyable part; I never tire of buffing in various sheens and shines and pigments to create a glowing, reasonably realistic version of my natural skin. My skin but not knackered™. I started with a layer of Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter in Shade 4*, followed by a light layer of Dior’s new Forever Skin Glow Foundation in Shade 1.5* and the new L’Oreal Infallible More Than Concealer* to take the edge off my dark circles. (It’s great; very creamy but dries to a velvet finish and doesn’t sit in fine lines.)
All of that was fine, the base stuff, but when it got to eyes things started to go seriously wrong. First of all I made my usual “going out” mistake: trying to learn a totally new look at the last minute. I thought to myself, I know! I have limited time and I still haven’t defrosted the salmon for the kids’ tea – why don’t I take this opportunity to practice a “cut crease” and also apply some false lashes?
It was disastrous, my friends. By the time I had finished, having applied every matte shadow in existence and used up the last of Mr AMR’s masking tape (don’t ask), I looked like a ninety year old Panto Dame.
Off it all came and I thankfully came to my senses, using the trustworthy (if brow-raisingly expensive) Ombre Blackstar crayons from By Terry* to smudge in a quick and easy smokey eye. (I used a few shades, but you honestly can’t go wrong with these so long as you work reasonably fast. They blend beautifully, have a great non-glittery sheen and don’t move once they’ve set.)
I lined my eyes with Marc Jacobs Highliner in RoCocoa* (one of the very best eyeliners you can buy, in my opinion – soft, sets fast, doesn’t shift ever) and finished off with three coats of the L’Oreal Unlimited mascara (£6.59 here*). I was slow on the uptake with the Unlimited Bendable mascara but it’s actually exemplary at getting to those fine, annoying lashes that usually get overlooked.
And finally, lips. I wanted a nudeish shade but with a hint of peach, but nothing too peachy or corally because then I thought that it would be a bit matchy matchy with the coral in my dress. (Oh, the dilemma!) I am becoming more and more adept at picking out very minute differences in lipstick shades – the tiniest added warmth that can completely change how it looks on me, or a touch too much blue that suddenly drains me of all colour.
So Chanel’s Daylight* was the shade of choice for the ball – understated but not boring.
I admit that I did overline my lips slightly to make them fuller – they had to complete with my massively on-show breasts, after all (see this post) – but I kept the effect soft and pretty, nothing too Showgirls. Just a bit of help where time has nibbled away at my natural lipline. (Ugh! What an image!) I used the Beauty Pie Wondergel Lip Liner in Vanilla Nude* – it’s sheeny but somehow still stays in place. Great stuff.
My hair was painstakingly waved using a heated tong, just to give some “sexy tousled waves”, which is possibly one of the most overused phrases in the beauty industry, along with “pop of colour” and “fresh, glowing skin”. Sorry.
But that’s what I had, the sort of waves that would never happen naturally but happen to look natural. Although why anyone ever called it “bed hair” I’ll never know; my bed hair looks flat and limp, like I’ve slept with a rubber balaclava pulled over my head. (I have no idea whether rubber balaclavas exist, by the way; I mean I’m sure they do but I don’t own one. Just to make that clear.)
Now I’ve had more than a few questions about the dress, which is the Francesca by Issa. I actually think Issa must have shut down, as a luxury brand – I see that they make stuff for House of Fraser, but not as a standalone label, which is a shame. Their dresses were always just spot on for me; cut the way I like them and with the most beautiful prints. The Francesca is a heavily embellished maxi gown that sweeps the floor (not literally: if it did it would be worth every penny) and sinks low at the neckline. I mean it’s not even a neckline really, is it? More of a diaphragm line.
If you want to read more about the intricacies of wearing this dress (ie how I got my boobs to stay up) then there’s a post here; for those who have read that, I’ll move on.
Accessories were kept simple but glamorous – I swapped my usual rings for my special Bvlgari gold and diamond band (a sort of alternative wedding ring from Mr AMR, I did a video on it here) and I wore some brilliant earrings from Isabella Townsley. She makes fine jewellery that’s very modern and cool – if ever you’re looking for something a bit different but you still want to invest in something luxurious then she’s your woman. You can take a look at her collections here – I’m wearing the gold GRLPWR earrings.
Dress, jewellery….what else? The bag was an old one from Anya Hindmarch – I call it my “summer bag” because I only ever crack it out when it’s blazing hot or I’m on holiday, but I made an exception here because it matched the dress so well.
And on my feet I wore some huge clompy sandals! I shouldn’t tell you this because it spoils the illusion, really, but I didn’t want to teeter in massive heels and have to worry about tripping over the long dress, so I decided to remove one potentially life-threatening hazard and wear chunky heels. Honestly, it was like putting cart wheels on a Ferrari. (I’m not comparing myself to a Ferrari here, just the dress!)
You can just about see a toe poking out with the clompsters on. I bought them when I was pregnant with Angelica and they were basically my “pregnant occasion” shoes – safe, chunky, but glittery enough to pass as something special.
So there, illusion shattered completely, that was my outfit and makeup prep. What do you think? It’s so long since I’ve properly “got ready” that I’d forgotten what a faff it is. But I also felt brilliant when I went to the ball – a bit like a different person. So the effort was definitely worth it, even if we were straight back on the Carousel of Illness Doom as soon as we got home. (Mr AMR, bronchitis.)
I was also quite pleased that I didn’t succumb to that “must buy a new expensive dress” feeling that I get every time I have some kind of event. Why is it that occasionwear is so pricey but it’s the stuff we wear the least? It’s the same with shoes; wear trainers all the time, cheap as chips. Need a pair of ridiculous shoes that are too painful to wear more than once: must spend equivalent of entire decade’s wages. Anyone else?