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Sweary and tallulahbang goaded me into doing this beauty challenge. Why me? I know I'm not the most masculine of men. But I've always drawn the line at make-up. This is mainly because I fear I'd be too convincing in drag (it's the child-bearing hips).
Maybe that's also the reason I prefer women with minimal make-up. I've been mocked in the past for my tastes: women scornfully assure me that they all wear some sort of slap. I'm apparently just too dumb to notice. Here's the proof:
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PERFUME? I love the smell of Napalm in the Morning (by Givenchy), naturally. But apart from that, I'm as hopeless about this as I am about all these questions. I occasionally pass a comely local lass in town and think, "that smells nice." It's often just the aroma of the chips she's eating. But short of braving the orange ladies in Debenhams and trying all the testers, I'll never find out my favourite women's perfumes.
I have been bought aftershave and male colognes, but they nearly all give me a headache. I used to like one called Aramis Devin, a rather brutal fragrance with topnotes of Bovril. I'm amazed to find they still make it. However, I briefly shared a student house with a bloke who must have bathed in the stuff. The fact that someone so unsubtle could like it put me off for ever. So I usually smell of my own raw animal musk (ie like a burger stall at Hull Fair).
DO YOU USE A BODY MOISTURISER? I swear by Virgin Vie 'Therapy Spa' Nip and Tuck Contouring Body Gel... No, actually I have a tube of this because it was on a bring-and-buy stall at my daughter's school fete. My wife bought it for 5p to help them sell the last remaining items. She chucked it away as soon as we got home. I rescued it from the bin and even tried smearing it on my torso, but I didn't like the sensation of gunk on my skin. If I ever find body skin flaking off, I'll just cover it with clothes. After all, who's going to see it?
DO YOU HAVE A BEAUTY CLEANSE TONE AND MOISTURISE REGIME? I can answer this one seriously. I don't use soap on my face as it makes it feel unpleasantly taut and dry. But the sides of my nose get sore and flaky after a few days if I don't de-grease them. I use 'Clean and Clear.' This does the trick wonderfully, although it could probably get oil stains off garage floors too.
In recent years, my face has unaccountably lost some of its youthful bloom, especially in winter. So I have begun slapping on moisturiser in the mornings. What a big puff I am. I use the Simple brand, so called because I am easily perplexed
and also because it has no colourings or perfumes to upset my temperamental complexion.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED THE NEW BODY OR FACIAL MOISTURIZERS WHICH INCLUDE TANNING INGREDIENTS? WITH WHAT RESULT? I understand it's customary here to mention Cuprinol, Dale Winton, Tango, David Dickinson, and The Curious Orange. So I have. To all you fake tan fans out there, may I put it on record that I actually prefer pale-looking women (cue stampede to the fake tan aisle in Boots). I do realise, though, that this preference results from my primitive mind subconsciously reasoning that a pale woman must be unhealthy, weak and thus less able to resist my unwelcome sexual advances.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER? The Simple brand again (produced by Accantia, makers of Lil-lets tampons). It is not coloured, not perfumed, just kind. And it is kind too. It does thoughtful things like leaving me little love notes; it makes me a cup of tea in the morning without me asking. Try getting Sunsilk to do that, and you'll be disappointed, I can tell you.
DO YOU USE A FOUNDATION? The British Heart Foundation and the Cancer Research Foundation both run good charity shops. I find the latter has a wider range of slightly smelly historical romances and family sagas set in Liverpool. What's this got to do with make-up?
WHICH ARE YOUR FAVOURITE COSMETIC BRANDS? As mentioned above, I use the Simple brand whenever I can. Their shampoo, moisturiser and soap may have lost the aura of the unscented soap they used to put in school toilets. But they're still good for people like me whose skin starts to prickle even when in the same room as over-perfumed soaps like Dove.
Mind you, Simple now have a 'For Men' range, even though their normal products have no girly connotations whatsoever. According to their website: "In 2005 Simple For Men was re-launched to communicate the brand's sensitive skin proposition even more strongly." So they may be simple, but they are quite capable of spouting marketing bollocks. Maybe not my favourite brand after all.
DO YOU THINK ANY OF THE 'STAY ON/LONG LASTING' LIPSTICKS ACTUALLY DO AS THEY CLAIM? I knew this review would turn into an exposé of my gender insecurities. It makes me realise that I occupy a kind of no man's - or woman's - land. I'm not butch enough to comprehend things like understeer or the offside rule, but I'm not gay enough to see the appeal of make-up or Big Brother.
I mean, this question is from another dimension. I can just about understand lipstick. I suppose I can see why some women might want to wear it. But this stuff about 'stay on/long lasting' is deep into 'A' level territory.
MASCARA, WATERPROOF OR NOT? I recently accompanied my daughter Sophie (11) on a shopping trip. She took advantage of my ignorance to amass all the products her mother would never have let her buy. You know, bondage gear, pregnancy tests and ready-rubbed pipe tobacco. Thus we found ourselves queuing at the Boots No7 counter while Sophie tried to buy a tube of mascara, only to be treated as if we were invisible by a snotty old harridan of an assistant. The ensuing ructions at home were not much more enjoyable.
A few days later, my wife is yelling up the stairs, trying to get Sophie off to school. Sophie is, at this stage, furiously scrubbing mascara off her lashes with wet cotton wool. "I hope you're not putting mascara on, young lady," thunders Mrs Silverback. With a righteous indignation worthy of Mother Teresa, Sophie eventually emerges, shouting, "No, I wasn't, actually! I was trying to take it off!"
The fact that she still looked like Marilyn Manson leads me to conclude that yes, mascara is waterproof.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND MASCARA WITH A PRIMER'S COAT? Look, would you mind if I skipped this one? Instead, at risk of being rated 'off-topic', I've written a passage made up entirely of words I've seen highlighted with those pointless blue links in Ciao reviews. As an experiment, I thought I'd see how many blue words I could get in a row:
Hardcore come action! Family author Sophie Kinsella experiences everything: heavy amplifier horror; sweet rock music; small online musical dealers. Others face personal sport treatment advice from members. Food product world? Phone home!
Hmm, that didn't work as well as I'd hoped.
DO YOU THINK THE WRINKLE DE-CREASE AND ANTI-WRINKLE PRODUCTS WORK? Do I think so? Not even the manufacturers think so. The adverts say it all: "HELPS reduce THE APPEARANCE of wrinkles".
What you want to hear is "REDUCES WRINKLES". But they never say that. Why? Because none of them can. The products don' t even reduce the appearance of wrinkles on their own. They can only "help." What they're really saying is "You are idiots. You are so desperate to believe what we're saying, you'll even ignore the unfortunate fact that we must be legal, decent, honest and truthful, and admit that we can only cover up your crow's feet at best." What chance has the Advertising Standards Authority against that?
WOULD YOU CONSIDER
Pictures of Everything that starts with B ...
Before and after my morning exfoliation and moisturisation
PAYING A LOT FOR A FACE CREAM TREATMENT OR DO YOU THINK THE MUCH CHEAPER SHOP BRANDS ARE EQUALLY GOOD? See above, really. If anyone believes that pseudo-scientific guff like "pepto-ceramide-vitaniacin-bio-network™" is dreamed up by kindly white-coated boffins in Lancome's labs, and not focus-grouped into existence by hard-bitten marketing execs, they deserve to be taken for every penny.HAVE YOU EVER HAD FALSE NAILS? Those ones that bend when you try to hammer them in (ie nearly every nail I've ever used) are pretty untrustworthy. Oh sorry, you mean the stick-on talons favoured by - ahem - 'actresses' in grumble flicks and gentlemen's art pamphlets? No, but if I ever land a role in a transvestite porn movie, I will make sure I am suitably equipped.
DO YOU LIKE TO HAVE A PEDICURE OR A MANICURE? I don't even like to have my hair cut. Apart from hilarious comments like "only cut the grey bits" or witty responses to questions like "you got the day off work then?" my barber's chair conversation is very limited. Making small talk while someone applies hoof cream or beautifies my cuticles would be social torture.
DO YOU USE FOOT CREAMS OR OWN A FOOT SPA? I've washed my feet in a bidet. Does that count?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HAIR STRAIGHTENERS? I'm amazed by their popularity. Everyone - from the work-experience bimbo in my office, to my 70-year-old mum - seems to want straw-like Worzel Gummidge hair. What did people do before straighteners were invented? Stuck their heads on the ironing board or ran their hair through a mangle I guess.
DO YOU USE CREAMS, WAX OR A RAZOR FOR HAIR REMOVAL? Sorry to disappoint tallulahbang, but I have never depilated my farmyard area, had a 'back, sack and crack' or a Mexican (makes your pubes all wavy). I shave my face most days but not at weekends, but have so far used only a razor.
WHAT SPF SUN CARE DO YOU USE? I live in Hull and go on holiday to Wales. The need has not so far arisen.
IF YOU COULD SELECT ONE PARTICULAR BEAUTY TREATMENT RIGHT NOW WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? Well, funnily enough, it closely resembles one of my regular fantasies about some lady members of Ciao. It would start with Kirstymack80 dyeing my hair a seductive shade of Mick Hucknall red. After this tallulahbang would not be able to resist massaging my body with her finest Lidl own-brand vodka, followed by susie191 wiping me down with her best luxury bumwad (wearing only her famous black knickers). Then Sweary would turn me on to my front and vigorously use her marrow on me (by applying the ground-up seeds as an exfoliating scrub of course. What on earth did you think I meant?)
CAN YOU THINK OF THREE BEAUTY INSPIRED MEMBERS WHO MAY LIKE TO PARTAKE OF THIS CHALLENGE?