If Alexa Chung's Book Taught Me Anything, It's That Looking Effortless Takes A Lot Of Effort

Her look isn’t messily slung together as everyone seems to believe, but perfectly calculated based on her vintage celebrity inspiration and years of working in the fashion industry.
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Her look isn’t messily slung together as everyone seems to believe, but perfectly calculated based on her vintage celebrity inspiration and years of working in the fashion industry.

I expected Alexa Chung’s photo-heavy new book, It, to be an autobiography, the tale of her charmed life and how she came to be a modern-day fashion icon. Though half of the small section of text is, indeed, more story-like, the other half reads almost like a guide book, a how-to for those seeking to replicate Alexa’s effortless “model backstage” look. 

The accounts are honest, detailed, and lacking proper grammar and punctuation. Reading each tip is like flipping through the scattered pages of Alexa’s mind as she dresses each morning.

It and a number of lovely things I gather Alexa would appreciate

It and a number of lovely things I gather Alexa would appreciate.

I think the most surprising thing about this book for me was the level of insecurity Alexa Chung has. In reality, her look isn’t messily slung together as everyone seems to believe, but perfectly calculated based on her vintage celebrity inspiration and years of working in the fashion industry. 

It’s refreshing to read a famous person debunk the “I woke up like this” celebrity mirage and actually admit to caring. It’s also really nice that she doesn’t name drop any brands save for Australian Pawpaw cream. In a way, I think this makes her much cooler than her cool-girl image; she’s just as awkward and unsure as the rest of us. 

Here are some highlights of Alexa’s thoughts on beauty.

Hair

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Alexa is somewhat of an authority on grunge unkempt hair. When you google search “Alexa Chung hair” you’re greeted with about 3,000,000 results, including “Alexa’s best ever hair moments,” “Five Unexpected Hair Lessons from Alexa Chung”, and “Four New Hair Icons You Should Know About.” 

Perhaps as a result of all the material already existent on this subject, her book doesn’t dwell too much on hair, containing only a few pages about how she is terrified of haircuts because they’re always too short, and whose hair she loves.

Her advice: “Blow dry your hair with a round brush then at the last minute add a sprinkling of surf spray and water to it and massage the roots to get I-don’t-give-a-f**k-bedhead.”  

I took Chung’s bedhead advice and quite liked the results! What do you think?

I took Chung’s bedhead advice and quite liked the results! What do you think?

Eyes

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When it comes to eyes, Alexa seems to have more to say than she really does about anything else. Seriously, she spends more time talking about cat eyes and perfect eyeliner than she does talking about breakups and her favourite clothing. 

“Line the inside of your eyes with black pencil then blink really hard a few times in a row," she says. "Clean away the excess liner under the eye but keep enough so it looks as though you’ve lived in it for a day.”

I used a brown pencil because I’m not quite as grunge as Alexa

I used a brown pencil because I’m not quite as grunge as Alexa

Subtly messy and slept on? I think so.

Subtly messy and slept on? I think so.

A fan of Twiggy and Anna Karina, Alexa clearly believes strongly in a sexy, focal point eye. Oddly she makes almost no mention of mascara.

On eyeliner: “Liquid liners in pen form are best for control and staying power. I find the pot with the wand with the brush on the end of it was probably invented for the sole purpose of causing pre-leaving the house meltdowns. Someone evil designed it.”

I completely agree. Long-live the liquid liner pen!

I completely agree. Long-live the liquid liner pen!

Face

This section is lacking considerably compared to the other detailed accounts of Alexa’s beauty routine, but this might just be because she doesn’t put too much energy into her skin/face. No contouring is suggested, or secret serums: just moisturizer, concealer, and a hint of blush.

“I am obsessed with moisturizing," she writes. "I am also obsessed with cigarettes, so I like to think the two balance each other out.”

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Lips

Always impressed by Alexa’s unchapped pink lips, I was intrigued to read her secrets in this department. No surprise here: her soft lips are the result of exfoliation and nice lip balm (though for some reason she thinks lip exfoliation is gross when it’s actually the best thing ever!)

“Your mouth should always look kissable, and to that end I will occasionally exfoliate my lips (sounds disgusting, sort of is)... In the winter this can restore your lips to dewy summer status.”

She suggests a combination of Vaseline and brown sugar, but I like Christine’s honey based recipe better because Vaseline freaks me out.

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The best thing I can say for this book’s tips is that it did, indeed, prompt me to start exfoliating my lips and applying balm a lot more often. I use Lush’s incredible-smelling Bubble Gum Lip Scrub every morning when I wash my face, then apply a thin layer of Rodin Olio Lusso Lip Balm to feel extra-fancy. It gives my lips a perfect pink sheen, and though Alexa didn’t exactly recommend it, I think she’d probably approve.

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Do you have Alexa Chung's book? Think you'll pick it up? Whose beauty tips would you be most interested in reading?