Can You Believe This is NOT Photoshopped?

I’m so excited to share with you my first infra red photographs! I’ve wanted a camera that could take infra red photos since I first heard that they existed. I know my readers have different levels of experience when it comes to photography, some of you are experts and some of you are, like me, just stepping out with artistic photography so it was hard to make this article readable without being too technical or patronising.

I decided to make  this my second entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Abstract because the challenge was to make the familiar unfamiliar, and it’s certainly done that. Scroll down for the two best photos (last two) or have a read of the journey behind this photograph.

For those of you who have never come across infra red (IR) photography, it’s not the heat-detection infra red (Far Infra Red) but it’s near-infra red, so it’s only a tiny bit outside the visible light spectrum (what we can usually see).  Infra red light comes from the sun and is reflected off everything just like regular light.

As you can see from the lead picture, it’s very different to the infra red cameras that the police use on those police chase shows, this doesn’t detect body heat and can’t see what you ate for breakfast (eww), this is MUCH more beautiful and artistic, and I fell in love with IR photography the first time I saw pictures, when I was putting a presentation together for a science lecture about 3 years ago. I swore that day that, when I had the money, I’d buy a camera that could do infra red (not the app on the iphone or the Photoshop setting that edits pictures to look like they’re IR when they’re not), and so when I bought my camera for Youtubing and photography, I made sure it would be able to do this by pointing the TV remote control at my camera.  I saw the red beam through my digital viewfinder, so I knew my camera could take IR pictures, now it just needed the right filter.

I bought a £10 filter for my camera and it arrived just before the sun left for winter. You don’t need a sunny day, but you do need bright natural light for IR photography to work – outdoors, natural features, midday-ish works best. A tripod isn’t mandatory but it will help.

Today, FINALLY, I got around to trying out my IR filter.
This is what the first picture looked like:

Infrared photography problem

Disappointed wasn’t the word. What was wrong with my camera???  Was the cheap lens filter I bought a dud?
So I fiddled around with the settings wondering why nobody on the internet seemed to have an article entitled: Infra red photography picture went black.
I changed a few things around and kicked myself.
It was too dark because, while I’d turned the shutter speed to max, I’d also dropped the ISO to 100 (the lowest on my camera).
When I wrote that presentation, 3 years ago, I remember reading that ISO has to be really really high for IR photography to work.  That’s why some cameras can’t do it.
So I flipped it up to 12,800 and hit the shutter to auto detect, and magically, I got this:

infrared photography problems
Okay so it’s not much but getting any image, however slight, proved that the principle was right and I was on the right track.

After fiddling around with the settings, refining the focus etc, I finally got both of these:

infrared photo canon eos 650d
I don’t think I could be more proud of this picture right now. It took so much trial and error. Taken on Canon EOS 700D with Infrared Filter.
Infrared photography of a tree in next door's garden. Taken on Canon EOS 700D (no modifications) with IR filter.
Infrared photography of a tree in next door’s garden. Taken on Canon EOS 700D (no modifications) with IR filter.

As you can see I need to practice – the hardest thing is focussing without autofocus or a viewfinder (you literally cannot see what you’re going to get) because the lens I’m using doesn’t have a “lock focus.”  Some lenses have a little graph on the side to help you focus accurately but this one doesn’t.  I think trial and error is going to be the case with every photo.

Another thing I want to improve about these pictures is that, as you can see in the last picture, distortion from vignetting is really bad when you tilt the camera at a high angle from the ground, I don’t know whether that’s down to the longer wavelength of infra red light, but it seems fine when the angle is closer to horizontal.

All in all though I’m really excited to be trying out this new form of photography to capture the beauty of the natural world, and if you’re looking to do the same, I highly recommend this £10 lens filter that I used (this one is for the standard 18-55mm lens that comes with the Canon camera, if you wanted to use a different lens, check the width of the front of the lens to make sure the filter fits; either way these filters are pretty cheap).

None of these images have been edited in any way they’ve come straight off my memory card from my camera and I resized them to fit WordPress; I’m so excited I want to do more and refine my technique!!!

Please ask any questions in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them but I’m definitely not an IR photography expert!!

What I used for infrared photography:

Camera:  Canon EOS 700D (no special conversions or anything)

Lens: 18-55mm standard kit lens (here in the UK)

Lens Filter: 58mm infrared lens filter (US) available here in the UK

IMPORTANT NOTE ON LENS FILTER: IT MUST FIT THE WIDTH OF YOUR LENS, IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO BUY LENS FILTERS, MEASURE THE DIAMETER OF YOUR LENS BEFORE BUYING A FILTER! The lens filter is available in different sizes, it doesn’t need to fit the camera, it needs to fit the front of the lens because it screws onto the front!! Sorry for the shouty capitals but it would be a huge shame if someone got the wrong size lens filter by accident.

This article contains links to Amazon via Amazon Associates.

Makeup Skills: Choosing the Right Foundation Colour For Your Skin!

One question keeps coming up over and over on forums, Youtube videos, on Quora and Reddit, and that’s ‘how do I choose the right colour of foundation?’ To help answer that (it’s a bigger question than it looks), I put this video together looking at basic and more advanced areas of this all-important skill. It’s not exhaustive and of course some makeup brands are notorious for not having shades that suit anyone who isn’t orange, but I thought it might be a helpful starting point for those people who are baffled by undertones, shades, whether to get a powder or a liquid, what a mineral foundation is, how to apply it etc, and how to tell if the foundation’s wrong for your face.

If you’re still not sure, it might be worth getting matched at a (good) makeup counter.

What I haven’t covered: Blending into the neck, BB creams, tinted moisturizers and setting powders. These sort of fall into place though once you know how to choose the right foundation shade.

One thing to add, is that in the debate over whether to go for the opposite undertone to your skin or one that matches your skin, I match my skin. I also use different shades of foundation for everyday makeup depending on the time of year.

I hope this helps someone, and any questions let me know in the comments here or on Youtube.

Monday Motivation: Blogilates

Cassey Ho, from Blogilates: "Train Insane or Remain The Same."
Cassey Ho, from Blogilates: “Train Insane or Remain The Same.”

Trying to get back into good habits and I find myself coming back to Cassey Ho’s Youtube Channel Blogilates! She’s just phenomenal at fitness and really energetic and motivating which is what I need on this gloomy, overcast April day, when two of my bunnies are critically ill.  Check Cassey out if you love to exercise in your living room! Today I did this fun leg workout video:

What’s motivating you today?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abstract

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge was Abstract. Here, I am taking abstract to be synonymous with weird and random.
The flames of a bonfire, taken January 2016.

The flames of a bonfire on a long exposure, taken January 2015.  Not sure which camera this photo was taken by or the exact settings.

Victoria Wood yesterday, Chyna today.

Two women whose contributions to the world were greater than it wants you to believe. Victoria Wood died yesterday at the age of 62. Cancer. Chyna died today aged 45.
But the whole world is only talking about the loss of Prince, with a sidenote about Guy Hamilton, director of the James Bond movies.
Let’s talk about the two women who deserved the spotlight today:
Victoria Wood was a writer and comedian who was and still is a household name in Britain. Her style of comedy was insightful and witty. She often worked with Julie Walters, and was known for a multitude of sketches along with “Dinnerladies” and “Acorn Antiques.” Irritatingly, everyone was going on about how she was an “inspiration to women” as if, because she’s female, she couldn’t possibly be an inspiration to men. It’s so annoying when you go out and become inspirational as a woman, because as we all know, your uterus pops out and inflates like an umbrella and anyone taller than 5’6″ can’t see you any more. It’s happened to a lot of women. It’s an outrage that the BBC, in their rush to get the first obituary out, to boost their views, produced an obituary for her which was riddled with proofreading errors. As someone whose parents were such fans of Victoria Wood that they named me after her, I thought it was very disrespectful of the BBC to write such illiterate rubbish.

But it was better than what they did with Chyna. They called her a “wrestler and porn star.” Because of course women aren’t allowed to shine out in male-dominated sports. She’s the only female wrestler to have defeated a slew of male WWE champions in the ring, the first (and possibly only) female wrestler to win the WWE Championship belt, and yet the BBC chose to focus their headline on the fact that she had also worked in the sex industry. In the entire article, they never even mentioned that she taught English in Japan.
To put it into perspective, calling Chyna a “Wrestler and Porn Star” would be like calling Vivienne Westwood a “fashion designer and schoolteacher” or JK Rowling a “writer and unemployed single mother.” It’s just not necessary and it’s not appropriate, it’s to remind you that she’s a woman and has worked in a profession society considers degrading.

Do you know why they’re trying to downplay her achievements in the wrestling ring by focussing on the porn?  Because she was a female wrestler who defeated men at wrestling.  This isn’t the sort of thing the world wants women to know.  That it’s possible for us to become physically strong enough and skilful enough at fighting to overpower men who are also physically strong.  Oh, they’re scared shitless that if we work that out, it’s game over for the men who try to keep us down with their fake “feminism” (where they tell us what to think about feminism) and their “fear of rape culture” culture that they’re crippling us with.  By focussing on the porn rather than the wrestling, they’re hoping to distract us from the fact that she beat HEAVYWEIGHT men in the wrestling ring.
Here she is doing some wrestling:

They would never say crap like that about a man. If Jeffrey Archer died tomorrow, the obituary would read “Jeffrey Archer: Writer and politician has died” not “Jeffrey Archer: Ex Convict has died.”

But then, if Jeffrey Archer died tomorrow, he might actually get a word in edgeways as he’s a man and the world might actually see that his death was worth making a fuss over.

I’d love to see what (if I ever make anything of myself) they wrote about me. Slut?  Actress? Writer? Youtuber? Teacher? Model?  Checkout Assistant? Archaeologist?  Comedian?  Car enthusiast?  Adventurer?  Person who got paid to hold a sign for two days one winter? Atheist? Roller skater?  Probably nothing at all.

What would they write about you? Single mother? Homeless person? Dog lover? Runner? Blogger? Peanut Butter Factory Operations Labourer?

I’d like to hope that by the time we die, women are actually allowed to have careers and impacts on the world beyond a) sex and b) “inspirational to women.” I mean, there’s nothing WRONG with being a porn star or inspiring women, but it’s pretty narrow and sexist to make that the focus of a person’s obit just because that person is also female. I’d like to think that Victoria Wood inspired people of any gender. She sure as hell inspired me, she was one of my biggest formative influences in performance and comedy when I was growing up; I used to read the credits in amazement, seeing with awe that she’d written, acted in AND done the music for most of her TV programmes. She should be EVERYONE’S inspiration for so many reasons, she was a wonderful person and a fantastic comedian with a real gift for natural, approachable comedy. Most comedians can be divided into two groups, either they make you feel more stupid for having watched them, or they are so highbrow that you won’t get half of it. Victoria Wood was neither. She was completely accessible but her jokes were never stupid.
Earlier today, I saw her in a sketch with Alan Rickman (I’d never seen this one before):

This is more her usual style though:

What do you think they will write about Caitlyn Jenner? I dread to think what they’ll put in her headline, I bet it won’t be “Decathlon Winner and Olympic Champion Caitlyn Jenner has died.” They’ll shoehorn something else in. That’s what they do to women. She’ll be an “inspiration to transgendered people” instead of just an “inspiration.” You’re not allowed to go round contaminating good honest white men with your inspiration unless you’re a white man too. Just to clarify, please understand that when what I say sounds like the opposite of reasonable, I’m being sarcastic; it’s what happens when I resent the inherent prejudice in the system.

It’s funny how every time a male celebrity dies at the same time as a female celebrity, the male one overshadows the female one. Did you know that Farrah Fawcett, the bombshell pinup from Charlie’s Angels, died the exact same day as Michael Jackson? No, of course not, because they latched on to Michael Jackson and turned him into a saint and she faded into obscurity. Like women are supposed to. They do it when we get married, they do it when we have babies, and they do it when we die. We’re just supposed to disappear. So Guy Hamilton and Prince get the spotlight today, and Chyna and Victoria Wood, the real tragic losses of the past 48 hours, have just disappeared.

Sorry about the ranty tone of today’s article, but this whole inequality just makes me so angry. Death happens to everyone. Why do we only publicly see and seem to mourn the deaths of men? It’s a throwback to the dark ages (or Islamic Shariah states such as Afghanistan) where women never left the house and weren’t seen to do anything of any importance, and by that token the important contributions of women were invisible. In death, the ultimate reality, we see that nothing has changed for women despite all the “rights” and “freedoms” they have been accorded.

It’s also the Queen’s 90th birthday today.  At least SHE got a headline.

The Swiss Alpine Route to Verona: Solo Interrail Part 5

New to my Solo Interrail series? Start here

I’m going to pick up where I left off last time, after I had just made it back to Zurich station and was now feeling like I was back in civilization having just spent the morning lost in the alps.  I sat down over a coffee and wrote postcards to my Grandma and Aunt.  This was 2008, a year after the EU smoking ban, which Switzerland was exempt from, so smoking indoors was a bit of a novelty and I did make the most of it (I don’t smoke now so I think I would hate to return to any country without an indoor ban on smoking).  I asked two nice backbackers to take my photo with one of my disposable cameras.

Zurich station Switzerland
Me in a coffee shop in Zurich Station, Switzerland holding a postcard of Switzerland, having just had a mini adventure in the Alps. My backpack is on the left and my handbag is on the right. In front of me were a well-earned coffee and a book by Anne Mustoe, as well as another postcard. I remember strategically moving the ashtray out of the shot because I didn’t want to get into trouble for smoking.

From my travel journal:

“Next, I went to the station newsagent and negotiated stamps in German (all credit went to the pan-European phrasebook I’d packed).  Next I searched for a post-box.
“Excuse me?” I flagged down a passing man.
“Hey there!”  The friendly American accent warmed my soul.
“I don’t suppose you’ve seen the nearest post box, have you?”
“Sure!  It’s just out there, on the left.  It’s yellow.”  He said.
“Thank you very VERY much.”  I replied.
“No problem.” He said.
I followed the directions and found the post box just outside the station, then posted my post cards and hoped that was actually a post box (that, or I’d just put them in a used ticket disposal box, but I hoped not because they were nice postcards).

Then I got the 9:00am train to Milan, which terminated at Venice.  Depending on what time it gets in, I may just stay on the train rather than aiming for Verona.  However, I would prefer to stay in Verona as from there it would be easier to get back to Calais.
What followed was a wonderful train ride through the Swiss alps.

Swiss alps
The Swiss Alps, taken through the window of a train at high speed, using a disposable camera. Under the circumstances I’m pleased with how these pics came out.
The Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps, taken through the window of a train at high speed, using a disposable camera. Under the circumstances I’m pleased with how these pics came out.
The Swiss alps lake
A giant lake in the Swiss Alps, taken through the window of a train at high speed, using a disposable camera. Under the circumstances I’m pleased with how these pics came out.

The scenery is beautiful, especially around Zug station – if I ever get a chance to go to Switzerland again, Zug is the place to go!  Unfortunately, it also means I have already began using up my 3rd disposable camera – I’ll have to get another couple in Italy.  The scenery of grassy fells, snowy mountains and powder-sprinkled pine trees is absolutely breathtaking.  It’s much nicer to see the Alps from the ground than in an aeroplane!  I’m glad not to have tried travelling onwards in the dark otherwise I would have missed this, which would have been unforgivable.

…I think I’ve just done my bit to ensure the continental opinion of English eccentricity; I took a photo of my compartment (because I’ve never been on a train with compartments before, this is like being on the Hogwarts Goddamn Express), but I waited until the other occupants had moved because it’s perhaps a bit over-zealous even for a tourist.

(a little bit later) As we emerge from the Alps, the architectural style has become markedly Italian, with the arched windows and straight-pitched, less high roofs.  We are still in Switzerland, but signs for “ristorante touristes” are at the side of the road which runs parallel with the train track.  There is also significantly less snow, but the sky is still that clear, brilliant blue, and the sun feels warm now.  I feel less close to the sky again – being on the German side of Switzerland was like standing on a very high plateau, and it’s nice, but I’m glad to be at my normal altitude again.  Hopefully it will be sunny in Verona and even more I hope that the tourist office is open so I can find accommodation between now and Tuesday (the Easter weekend is now upon us).”

Changing trains in Milan, I was profoundly disappointed.  It was standard tall buildings type of architecture, nothing particularly chic or attractive about the place, it could have been absolutely anywhere.  I decided to continue onwards.  The next train was, now that I was in Italy, run by Trenitalia.  It had dents all over the outside of the carriages and inside, there was no air conditioning, people were just crammed on top of each other.  Opposite me, a woman sat down with a chicken in a cage.  An actual chicken.  It was squawking up a fuss and flapping its feathers everywhere, and she insisted, on this full-to-bursting train, that the chicken needed its own seat, even when a man tried to sit down.  This tiny old woman clung to the chicken cage with a death grip and started shouting at him until he left the carriage.  I was too timid to get a photo of the ridiculous chicken.

Later that evening, I disembarked at Verona train station and booked 3 nights in a hotel (Novo Hotel Rossi) in Verona, where I decided to remain for the rest of the Easter weekend.  Annoyingly, despite it being the Easter Saturday, when everything is usually business as usual in the UK, in Verona, literally everything (apart from one Sushi restaurant) was closed and since I didn’t speak Italian (I do now, this trip is what prompted me to learn when I got back), I couldn’t understand the signs in the shop doors.

I found the aforementioned Sushi restaurant, only to discover that the staff didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Italian, so I ended up trying to order in Japanese.  Turns out, only the elderly grandmother could actually speak Japanese but she invited me to share a pot of tea with her after I’d eaten, apparently she’d never met a gaijin who could speak Japanese before.  I guess you wouldn’t, living in Verona.  I don’t speak very much though (and I sure as hell can’t read it), so she probably found my conversation lacklustre.  I’d like to learn more at some point so I can navigate Japanese cosmetics but that’s a bit off topic for a travel post!

Anyway, that was my first day in Verona, and I’d used up over half of my Interrail pass (any 5 days of travel valid for 10 days of travel and non travel), but I decided not to worry about that.

I will continue with my Solo Interrail journey here.

As a side-note, if you are wondering why my posts/response times are erratic, it’s because I’m back to work, now teaching at a facility for children who have been expelled from school, mostly young offenders, which is a very intense job, as well as being quite a drive from my house, and I’m a bit exhausted, but I am interested in everything people have to say still!!

Morticia Addams Cosplay Make Up Tutorial

It’s finally here – the Morticia Addams make-up cosplay tutorial! I have done original Morticia as played by Carolyn Jones in the 1960s, rather than Anjelica Huston, as I am more comfortable with this incarnation of Morticia and for me personally, Carolyn Jones will always be the definitive Morticia Addams because I saw the TV series before I ever saw the films.

I wish I’d had some carnivorous plants in the background but I don’t currently have any. I’d like to say that they ate each other but in reality, one of my rabbits ate the carnivorous plants. Score 1 for bunnies not being as soft and fluffy as everyone thinks.

Here’s the video (it starts off in Black and White, then progresses to colour before returning to black and white).

And here’s some pictures:

Morticia Addams Carolyn Jones Tutorial The Addams Family
The original title card that wouldn’t load onto the video of the Morticia Addams tutorial.
Morticia Addams Carolyn Jones Tutorial The Addams Family
Did I remember to feed the lion?
Morticia Addams Carolyn Jones Tutorial The Addams Family
Now I remember! I did feed the lion. There was some leftover swamp monster in the refrigerator!

If you want to find out more about Carolyn Jones, the actress who played Morticia, there’s an excellent documentary from the Biography channel available on Youtube.  I’ve linked it from my tutorial.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinner Time at Cafe Mango

Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
The main course at Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Taken August 2015.

For this week’s photo challenge, Dinnertime, I decided to share these pictures of the delightful Cafe Mango in Fort William.  If you’re climbing Ben Nevis, this Thai and Indian restaurant is well worth a visit.  It was the best restaurant we ate at on the West side of the Highlands, everything was simply delicious and the staff were friendly and made us feel very welcome even though it was 9pm, and we were the last customers (because we had just climbed Ben Nevis – everyone seems to eat early in the Highlands)!

Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Some of the stunning decoration inside Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Taken August 2015.
Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
A shot of the rest of the restaurant (I used the bannister near the top as the horizon line) including the beautiful emboidered elephants backdrop, in Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Fort William at night: The outside of Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.

Hair Color Remover FAQ

This is the frequently asked questions I get about how color remover works, how to use color remover, whether it can be used after bleaching etc, all in one helpful place so you can find answers!

Rainbow eye make up from the front (goes with glow in the dark rainbow hair)

Can you get your natural hair colour back after bleaching it?
No, sorry. If you want a longer answer, this video I made explains why.

Does Color Remover Really Work?
Yes. It really does. If you want to know exactly HOW it works, so you know whether it will solve your particular hair dilemma, read my other article. Remember, NO color remover will work if you don’t use it properly! Always read the instructions and take care of allergies/safety. If you did a bad job dying your hair (rather than just being tired of your old color) you might not be the best person to be using color remover – do you have a friend/relative who could help you with it?

Can I bleach after using color remover?
Yes you can, although you should wait at least 2 weeks (preferably longer) because otherwise your hair might turn very dark, as there might be a few residual color molecules left in your hair from before you used the color remover, and if something else is applied to the hair, it can cause them to re-combine which will make your hair go dark. If you want to know more, check out my articles: How color Remover Works and How Bleaching Works.

Can I use color remover on hair extensions?
If they are 100% human hair then colour remover will work on them, but the main problem is that it can affect where they are attached. If you have the ones that stay in all the time, the colour remover won’t be able to get through the glue to remove the colour properly so you might end up with a patchy result, BUT the glue is where nobody sees it much so unless you’re getting a drastic color change it shouldn’t be very noticeable. It depends how you’ll feel knowing there’s some patchy colour under your hair. If it’s the clip in extensions made with human hair, then your problem is the attachment again, but for a slightly different reason. Just like bleach can oxidize the metal clips, the colour remover (depending on which one you use) can affect the area where the hair is attached to that base netting and clips at the top. I would be very careful with this unless your extensions were cheap. Personally I would just buy some new ones.

How long do I leave color remover?
It varies from brand to brand. There should be instructions with the color remover. Color remover should not be stored for future use (it won’t work) so if you don’t have instructions, you have a bit of a problem.

Which color remover works best?
There’s been a sudden explosion of new brands, but the only two I have used and would trust with the important job of stripping the colour from my hair are Color Oops and Color B4 (Color B4 only appears to come in Extra Strength in the US). In the UK, B4 comes in regular strength and EXTRA STRENGTH as well as the “fashion colours” version.  Remember you need to read the instructions carefully and use this correctly or it doesn’t work.  It’s not like hair dye at all!

I’ve left my color remover on for too long.
Rinse it. Keep rinsing it. I would extend the rinse times by about half an hour each (make sure your shower doesn’t overheat and that you have enough hot water to do this). This makes certain that all the colour gets out.  Otherwise you won’t get a result or you will get a weird result (see below).

My hair has gone orange / caramel / some other weird color!
Yep, this can happen.  That’s what’s left of your natural color under all that hair dye. See here for why. It’s not a problem with the color remover it’s a problem with the dyes you have used and how they affect your hair.

Can color remover get rid of semi-permanent color or crazy or bright colors?
No. See here for why. There is a special color remover that claims to deal with bright colors but I have not personally used it, the reviews of it are mixed and it’s not available in the US. See it here on UK Amazon.

Can color remover get rid of bleach?
No, it also doesn’t restore your natural hair color.   See here for why and more tips.

Is color remover safe to use on children?
No. Neither is permanent hair dye. So you shouldn’t need to use color remover. Because it only removes permanent hair dye. Which isn’t safe to use on children.

Is color remover safe to use on animals?
Oh my God no see my previous answer. I’d like to add some choice swear words but this site gets read by a general audience.

Can you use color remover more than once?
Yes. But don’t keep using it over and over again. Use it twice (unless the instructions on your box tell you not to) then wait at least a month before using it again. I don’t know why, it’s just what the manufacturer says.

This article contains affiliate links to Amazon.

Elizabeth Arden Lipstick Review: Ceramide Ultra vs Plump Perfect

Today I wanted to do a beauty post to talk about the similarities and differences between two Elizabeth Arden lipsticks –  the new Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick and the recently-discontinued Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra vs Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect. review
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra vs Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect… which is better? Dun dun DUNNNNN…

Last time we talked about lipsticks I was trying to get my hands on the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick to find out how it compared to other plumping products that I had reviewed.  I ordered one on Amazon and was super excited for it to arrive.

Due to a set of weird co-incidences, I had to send it off to get it tested to make sure it really was a genuine product.  In the meantime, I tried to buy another one from Boots because I was stoked to get this lipstick and I wanted it NOW.

Due to another set of bizzarre events, Boots did not send me the Plump Perfect lipstick, they actually sent me the Ceramide Ultra lipstick.  I told them, they apologized, and then sent me the exact same wrong lipstick again.  So I gave up on trying to get what I ordered and decided to just use the Ceramide Ultra lipstick instead.

The ceramide ultra lipstick sitting on its own. This is the shade Sugar. review tutorial
The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick sitting on its own. This is the shade Sugar.

The Plump Perfect lipstick that I’d originally bought on Amazon then came back, confirmed as genuine, and I thought to myself, why not do an article comparing these two lipsticks, I’m sure loads of people want to know whether the new one is anything like the discontinued (but still available on Amazon) version.  Boots claims to stock the Plump Perfect lipstick but as you can see, it’s extremely likely you’ll end up with the Ceramide Ultra lipstick if you try to get one from them.

Here’s my detailed comparison:

  1. Packaging:  The Plump Perfect is in a thicker, plastic gold-coloured tube.  The Ceramide Ultra lipstick comes in this beautiful (slimmer) golden tube that just makes you feel like a queen when you get it out of its silver box (I keep mine in its box).
  2. Colour payoff:  The Ceramide Ultra has (very slightly) more colour payoff but there’s really not much difference between them for this.   You have to go over the Plump Perfect a few times to get a similar colour payoff.
  3. Shade: Since I couldn’t get the exact same shade, I’m comparing the shade “Sugar” in Ceramide Ultra Lipstick with “Perfect Bare” in the Plump Perfect.  The main difference in these shades is that Perfect Bare was a very sparkly brown lipstick whereas the Sugar colour is more matte/satin with slightly more of a pink base.  This doesn’t really make a difference to how they look on my face because I’m neutral toned, but it’s worth knowing for the 90% of you who are more warm or cool toned.

    Swatches! The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra in Sugar (left) and the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect in Perfect Bare (right)
    Swatches! The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra in Sugar (left) and the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect in Perfect Bare (right). The one on the right has a shimmery sparkle in real life but the camera didn’t want to pick up on it today because it’s too cloudy.
  4. Texture: The Plump Perfect lipstick feels slightly rougher, or more solid, than the Ceramide Ultra lipstick.
  5. Weight: They’re both 3.5g or 0.12oz.
  6. Duration: The colour was less long lasting on the Ceramide Ultra – but I like to take my lippie off when I eat and drink and reapply it afterwards so I prefer it to be easy to remove (unless it’s a longwear lip stain type thing in which case it needs to stay PUT), so if you want a slightly longer lasting lipstick go for the Plump Perfect.

    The colour left over after I wiped it off with a tissue; as you can see, there's slightly more left behind on the right (plump perfect) but neither of them are particularly longwearing.
    The colour left over after I wiped it off with a tissue; as you can see, there’s slightly more left behind on the right (plump perfect) but neither of them are particularly longwearing.
  7. Plumping: The thing that really swayed me towards the Ceramide Ultra lipstick was that it was more plumping than the Plump Perfect lipstick. I wore it non-stop for the first two weeks I had it, then I stopped wearing it after I found out it was the wrong product, and my lips stayed pretty plump for several days after I discontinued it. My top lip, especially, really looked better than I’ve ever seen it. Usually I have trouble trying to plump my top lip that when I plump it, it tends to stick out more but doesn’t seem to fill downwards, which is where I want it to go. With the Ceramide Ultra Lipstick I was really impressed that it managed to get my top lip to fill out. When it turned out Boots still couldn’t get my order right, so I didn’t have to return the first Ceramide Ultra lipstick they sent me (I sent back the unopened one instead), I was so happy to start using the Ceramide Ultra again like you would NOT believe, I just totally fell in love with it.
    Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick on my lips.
    Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick in Perfect Bare on my lips.

    The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick in Sugar.
    The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick in Sugar. My head is accidentally tilted more down here, but you can see more of my top lip on this one – even though I’m smiling more which usually makes my lips thinner.
  8. Moisture: Another thing that made me fall in love with the Ceramide Ultra lipstick was that it was just so moisturizing compared to the Plump Perfect.  Usually after wearing lipstick my lips are fairly dried out, and the Plump Perfect was no exception, but the Ceramide Ultra Lipstick seemed to have a balmy moisturizing effect on my lips and I noticed a LOT less dry skin while I was using this lipstick.

Verdict: Surprisingly, I liked the Ceramide Ultra lipstick better than the Plump Perfect lipstick.  It’s just very pleasant and I keep reaching for it again and again whenever I need to put some lipstick on.

The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lipstick is available for £21 from any Elizabeth Arden counter. The last time I found a lipstick that I loved this much was in 2006.  I was genuinely close to tears when I thought I had to return the Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick to Boots.  It blows the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick out of the water.  From now on, I’m going to be buying the Ceramide Ultra lipstick from an actual beauty counter, or (given my experiences trying to buy Elizabeth Arden lipstick online) who knows what I might end up with!! Even after the Plump Perfect (the one I originally bought on Amazon) came back as genuine, I still found myself reaching for the Ceramide Ultra lipstick. It just looks and feels (both in the packaging and on my face) like a better lipstick.

What do you think?  Have you tried either of these?  Which do you prefer?  Let me know in the comments!