About two years ago, Claire Rigby & I experienced something rare and slightly unnerving- that of making a new good friend in ADULTHOOD (shocked face). We had many shared interests; bottles of wine, fierce women, boxes of wine….but mostly a bawdy passion for the beauty industry. Especially brands we can’t afford, and especially especially kick ass women like Lady India Knight, Dame Caroline Hirons and St Sali Hughes who pioneer loving beauty AND being whip smart.

In October 2018, I moved in with Claire.


The following is a diary excerpt, dated Sunday 7th October 2018:


Last night my world fell apart a bit.

At around 12.30am my mate Rigby came to the flat I shared with the now-ex boyfriend. He literally scraped me up off the floor and put me & Winston in a cab straight to his, where he & Claire funnelled shiraz into my mouth and basically watched me eat a packet of fags.

Today my life is a front page. Am bereft yet weirdly lightened by speaking candidly to friends for the first time. Honesty is apparently the best policy. Who knew?

Claire and Rigby are sensational friends. Today over a breakfast of Marboro Golds Claire pointed out that when her hero, Marian Keyes, went through a difficult period in her life she made a cake a day and it really helped her cope. ‘Saved by Cakes’, her book was called. Claire pointed it out on the shelf.

‘Claire’, I replied ‘I’m not making a f**king cake.’


Around half an hour ago, Claire grabbed my arm.

‘Marian Keyes. Is sticking up for you. On Twitter.’

Gifts from the Universe are sometimes hard to recognise. Not this one. Marian is a wonderful person. But as I pointed out to Claire, this doesn’t mean I have to faff around with baking.

‘Well, what do you like?’ Claire enquired over a dinner of Camel Blues (for variety).

‘I like buying beauty products I can’t really afford.’

So. At Claire’s suggestion, and with a Marian Keyes shaped gift from the Universe as inspiration, I’ve written something. It actually did make me feel better.

That night I wrote my first review, for Tan Luxe Wonder Oil (the irony is not lost on me that is was for fake tan. See the reviews page). And I’ve written one review a day ever since. Well, apart from those days where everything felt too much. But on those days Claire did it for me.



Having worked in the magazine sector, and being an avid reader of product reviews, I’ve occasionally found them slightly……earnest? And it became clear when writing that wasn’t our style. We think there’s space for down to earth, funny, occasionally brutal examinations of the products and brands we spend far too much money on. The way we see it, if we’re forking out we’re entitled.

There was also another issue at play. Since October, the funniest thing has happened. The equally fair sex (i.e. the ladzzz), and wanting to please them, is not something that’s entered my consciousness. I’ve not felt..….sexual (sexy yes, but they’re different things). I’ve even found myself recoiling when people mention they find me attractive. Like in a full on ‘EURGH EFF OFF’ way. To be honest, I’ve not thought much beyond finding contentment within myself. I’ve certainly not been in the market to please anybody else.

And I’ve still put my products on every damn day. Still troweled on the foundation, brushed dat mascara, and swept myself in so much shimmer I regularly look like Jude Law in ‘AI’ (look it up. It’s not out of choice, just the lighting in my new room is taking some getting used to). I’ve done it for me, and me alone, and you know what? It’s made me feel excellent inside as well as out. Empowering as hell.

What cakes did for Marian, the beauty industry has done for me. Along with my mate Claire, obvs.

And I wanna spread some of that positivity. Make some lemonade.



The Trowel will feature

-A ‘good lighting only’ policy -NO RETOUCHING OR AIRBRUSHING OF ANY KIND. The pictures on our website honour this rule, as evidenced by our shiny skin and flyaway hair in the above trio. We did our own make up and styling, and made use of wunderkind photographer Max’s great big lamp.

-Reviews of products for every price point - and a straightforward analysis of whether they are worth the cash. For let us consider; a product could cost £180, last forever and make you feel stupendous. Worth it. Another could cost £4.95, burst in your bag or leave you with skin like an uncooked chicken. Not worth it. And obviously, vice versa.

-A diverse range of voices and requirements. Over the next few weeks we will be drafting in our network of reviewers, ensuring all types of people are represented.

-A commitment to honesty, always. We will not be bought, bullied or bribed. (Will will use alliteration wherever possible.)

-An ownership of our own shortcomings (i.e. the nasty things we whisper about ourselves), as well as celebration of our virtues (i.e. why we think we’re sexy af anyway). We encourage all our readers to follow suit in this. 

-An overall platform for body and face positivity, and a good laugh along with it.


-That everyone will like it. Haters gonna hate.