Thursday, 25 April 2013

La Roche-Posay? Oui, je l'adore.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo, Effaclar Mat & Anthelios AC (Anthelios range currently 25% off in Boots)*

A self-confessed Francophile, I, too have been gripped by the increasing fascination with the French pharmacie approach to skincare. With growing popularity after praise from the likes of Lisa Eldridge the French just seem to get it right when it comes to fuss-free and reasonably priced skincare. My routine is currently heavily comprised of products from Caudalie, Avène and Bioderma but a brand that I had never really experienced was La Roche-Posay. Recently I've been incorporating three products from La Roche-Posay's extensive range of skincare into my routine and I've been duly impressed.

There are many reasons that La Roche-Posay are winners in my eyes. Their products are effective, not too pricey and the packaging doesn't clash with my room**. They also have a massively varied range of products, even here in Ireland. I opted for two cult favourites and a necessity which suit my combination skin type that's been a little problematic of late.

Effaclar Duo made an appearance in my most recent favourites post as well as being a seasoned regular of the beauty-blogosphere in general so I don't think its pore purging promises need any further clarification! Effaclar Mat is arguably the ultimate foundation base which acts as a perfectly balanced moisturiser-primer hybrid. Opinions are still being formed on Anthelios AC, but La Roche-Posay are famed for their Anthelios sun protection range which is specially formulated for sun-sensitive skin. I'm extremely pale (if you didn't already know) and covered in freckles which I hate, so a high sun protection is essential for me to prevent any damage to my fair skin. It is worth noting that both Effaclar Mat and Anthelios AC rely on silicones to achieve a matte texture so they can't be used in conjunction with each other or any other make-up products which contain silicone.

Have you any products by La Roche-Posay that I need to try? What are your favourites and/or what's on your LRP wishlist?

*offer still running at time of posting!
**not crazy

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

my pinky-brown obsession

Sleek lipstick in Liqueur, MAC lipstick in Brave, Nars blusher in Douceur, Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle, MAC blusher in Cubic

Despite being possibly the dullest colour to ever grace my makeup collection, there is something about an indefinably pinky-brown hue that gets me all excited. I've tried to be as restrained as possible in my obsession with this non-colour but I have built up quite a collection nonetheless.

For the cheeks, there's nothing like a sheer pink-brown contour/blusher hybrid on my ghostly skin to give my fat face some definition. MAC's Cubic blusher started the whole affair off when I purchased it in London last year. Since then I've also added Nars blusher in Douceur to my collection which, if I had to choose, I'd say is my favourite cheek product ever. I'm not sure why I thought I needed both as they're pretty much identical, with Nars' texture being slightly softer and more pigmented. Both come up quite sheer when you use a fluffy brush - I like the Real Techniques Blush Brush for these, but they work really well with something like a Sigma F35 to amplify the sculpting effects. Next on my lust list is the totally necessary Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in Exposed. Sarah did a great post recently on her love for the pinky brown cheek which also has me dreaming about Illamasqua Zygomatic. Damn.

In terms of lipsticks, any lipstick with too much brown is going to look a little too retro so you need to be careful with selecting the right shade for you. I love MAC's Brave as it's a little more opaque than the others in my collection and works well for bringing life into my face as well as being a good alternative to a pale nude. However it can look on the wrong side of 90's as I am so fair so balance it out with a modern make-up style - no Brody Dalle smokey eyes here. Sleek's lipstick in Liqueur is a great affordable alternative with a bit of a sheen but is the most unused out of the three in my collection. My favourite has to be the Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle, it's works so well with my naturally dark rosy lips and evens them out as well as livens my complexion up a bit!

Do you love the ultra-versatile pinky-brown or are you cringing at the granny hues photographed above?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

summer nails

Essie Bikini So Teeney, Topshop War Paint, Essie Mint Candy Apple, Topshop AWOL, Topshop Parma Violet, Barry M Lychee, OPI Call Me Gwen-ever

While admittedly I'm very reluctant to wear anything that isn't a shade of black, white or denim in my every day life, I still love a cheeky slick of colour on the nails and there's no better excuse than a sunny day to road-test my favourite shades. This summer (if/when it comes) I'll be dipping my fingertips into both eye-catching brights and pretty pastels. From statement royal blue or orange hues and the sugary sweet lilacs and mints, I may have more nail polish picks than days in an Irish summer. Be grand.

The Pastels: Essie's Bikini So Teeny might just be the best summer shade with the sweetest name ever. A periwinkle blue with barely detectable silver glitter, this is perfect for sunny days as it looks amazing when it catches the light. Also from Essie, Mint Candy Apple needs no introduction and I love this for being the perfect balance between bright and pastel. Topshop's nail polish in Parma Violet is an instant winner for being named after my favourite sweets and is a delicate, pretty milky lilac. The newest in my nail polish collection, Barry M's Gelly Nail Paint in Lychee is a perfect pale nude to complement a tan.

The Brights: To channel Chanel's Le Vernis in Holiday, I love OPI Call Me Gwen-Ever, a juicy orange that's flattering on my pale skin. Topshop's stunning milky royal blue nail polish in AWOL has gotten me more compliments than I can count and I love it with a monochrome outfit. Another Topshop offering, War Paint is a neon coral with enough red in it to look pretty both with my pale skin and a tan, and I love this on the toes.

What are your favourite nail colours to wear in the warmer months?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

above the knuckle rings

mixed finger tip rings, €7.88 for a set of five, ASOS.

These beautiful above the knuckle rings from Fashionology have been playing on my mind for years now. Every pay-day they're in the back of my mind, but something, namely the price, has always held me back. I know the logic of cost-per-wear analysis and I know how superior the quality would be to a high street knock-off, I just haven't ever had the heart to fork over €19 for one tiny ring. All this time I've been waiting for the right retailer to hop on the bandwagon, and here they are. ASOS is now stocking a set of five 'finger tip rings' and for just €7.88 I figured there was no harm in trying, at just over €1.50 per ring. Let me tell you, they are perfect. Now I can channel Barbara's minimal-chic jewellery vibe at a fraction of the price. While I'm sure these will require a quick slick of clear nail polish, for the time being they've satiated my above the knuckle ring cravings sufficiently to put Fashionology's out of my mind once and for all. For now.

How do you feel about the finger-tip ring trend? Are you going to try out ASOS's offering or do you already own an ultra-coveted Fashionology version?

Monday, 15 April 2013

confessions of a secret blogger

a few selfies to break it up
I first posted on this blog almost exactly nine months ago. When I did, I was feeling the repercussions of deleting an old blog (about a year before that) which I had put a lot of effort into, but wasn't happy with the direction it was taking. Managed at a time where I was still finding myself and my preferences, you can imagine what a poor show it was. However, the love of beauty blogging and that creative satisfaction has never been extinguished. I still read blogs every day and before I started Red Lipstick & Tea Parties (formerly Ruby Woo), I longed to get back into my old hobby.

I've never been a confident person and trying new things sends me into a downward spiral of anxiety. Hence why this blog has been incredibly slow moving with a total of just thirty three posts published in that nine month period. I have been so afraid to push myself out of my comfort zone with this project and I feel it's suffering for my reluctance.

The main problem I have involves Twitter. Twitter is probably my favourite social media site, and I'm addicted to scrolling through my timeline and seeing what people have to say. It's also a great way to keep up with my favourite blogs, as often the bloggers I follow will post a few times a day to notify their readers of any new posts. This is often how I catch up with blogs I don't read often, or discover new ones to read.

Excluding my blog from my Twitter account is something I've been questioning from the very beginning. The ultimate tip for new bloggers which the seasoned gurus often offer is self promotion on every social media site possible. My Twitter as well as Instagram and Facebook feeds are saturated with notifications of the latest article or video someone has created. Yet I'm not taking part in this.

Ultimately it boils down to this: I am, for all intents and purposes, a secret blogger. I only talk to other bloggers about what I do here. I have never told anyone from my 'real life' that I write my own beauty blog. It's mostly a feeling that people who are into reading blogs are often bloggers themselves, and those who aren't just don't understand. I have more than my fair share of judgemental people in my life, and I don't think they'd be able, or willing, to accept what I do.

A few months ago, my mother came to me saying she'd heard someone talking about blogs on the radio and she didn't understand what they were. After explaining to her and even showing her one or two of my favourites, she replied "But why would anybody want to read that? Why would anyone care?". I think this sums up the general attitude which separates the bloggers from the non-bloggers and the defining factor in why I have not once posted my blog link on my Twitter account.

I feel that I am in a camp halfway between the two: while the non-bloggers wouldn't understand my desire to write paragraphs about my favourite blusher, the bloggers cannot understand my anxiety. And every so often I get that rush of pride and think, fuck it, who cares if they don't understand? I love my blog and I want to share it.

But do I? Do I really want my boyfriends band-mates seeing me here? Or those friends of friends I don't really know and I'm not really comfortable around? I don't even think the handful of close friends I have would understand it or be willing to tolerate it. If sharing my blog on Twitter is essentially sharing my blog with people from my real life, what risks am I taking by doing so? Seeing the judgement and hateful remarks that are hurled at some of my favourite bloggers - though the online abuse is more rife on YouTube - makes me wonder, if strangers will think such nastiness about you, what about the people who know you? It's a strange debate that keeps coming up: if you write a blog or create for YouTube, do you 'deserve' the scrutiny you are subjected to? Should you expect it?

So why am I writing this? Is anyone going to read it? Ultimately, I'm not sure if I care. At this moment in time I have 71 followers who couldn't be happier with. I'm not interested in blogging as a career, or as anything other than a haven for me to retreat to all too often when I want to tell someone about a new cleanser but nobody in my life is interested. Somewhere to hone my writing skills, and to take pictures of pretty new lipsticks.

But, I think it is time to expand into Twitter. I'll do my best not to over-saturate my friends and followers. Maybe that anxiety will grip me by the throat once again and I'll freeze and this will all have been for nothing. And, if you are someone who knows me in real life who has found me here, chatting away to myself in my own corner of the internet, welcome, but please be tolerant. Maybe you have just come here to smirk at my gratuitous selfies or beauty-based ramblings. If you have come to judge, or you don't understand, I'm okay with that. It's taken me a long time to get there.

If you in any shape or form understand what I'm attempting to discuss here, please leave a comment. It'd be nice if it wasn't just me here, in this lonely boat sailing anxious waters. And if you have read this monster of  post, please let me know so I can find you and shake your hand! As always, thank you for reading. & P.S.! You can follow me on Twitter here @serenaelliott!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

a few recent favourites

PureDerm Exfoliating foot mask: I was both horrified and intrigued after reading's review of the PureDerm foot mask and the next time I was in Penneys (Primark if you're in the UK) I spied them on display by the till and hastily grabbed one, a little unconvinced of its promises. Without getting into the gritty details, it's made a huge difference to my retail-worn feet. I left it on for the full recommended time of ninety minutes; be warned, it won't be the most comfortable hour and a half of your life, the sock shaped masks feel like plastic bags filled of cold gel and trips to the bathroom involve some very awkward shuffling! Results didn't show for about a week and a half to two weeks, during which time I binned many a pair of socks. Despite the nasty shedding stage (sorry) these masks are, in my opinion, worth the effort and the measly €3.50 they set me back.

Tresemmé Texture Spray: This is my third can of this since it's release a few months ago and while I'd imagine such a product by a brand like Oribe would have better effects it's been great to have in my handbag when my hair needs a little fluffing up and, as promised, delivers instant texture to limp or freshly washed hair.

Topshop nail polish in Utilitarian: I've been stuck in a bit of a nail polish rut recently having exhausted my love for dark berry hues and the weather isn't good enough for pastels or brights yet! So I've been turning to this dark, almost black khaki green for something a little different. I love the unexpected effect of polishes like this which catch the light and show their true hue and I've painted and repainted my nails with this consistently for the past two weeks.

Maybelline gel eyeliner in black: This time last year I wouldn't be caught dead in public without a flick of gel or liquid eyeliner, however sometime during the summer my obsession with retro cat eye flicks fizzled out and I gravitated more towards simpler washes of shadow across the lid. During the past few weeks I've rediscovered my trusty pot of Maybelline gel liner and fallen back in love with the feminine, feline effect it gives my eyes.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo: This is the most recent addition to my skincare routine after seeing consistent rave reviews about this miracle product from my favourite beauty bloggers. My skin was looking a lot worse for wear and I was breaking out in serious spots all over my chin and forehead - not nice at all. Since using this my skin has cleared up significantly and the overall texture has noticeably improved. I still have a few spots, annoyingly, on my orbital bone and a few small ones on my chin so I'm looking forward to seeing the effects of prolonged usage of this product.

Nivea Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia: I saw mixed reviews of this online and picked it up on a whim after seeing this scent in a lone pot in a local Boots. It was love at first sniff. Sickly sweet, heavy, warm vanilla scents are my favourite and this ticks all the boxes. At first I was just enjoying the aroma that came with every application, not noticing its moisturising properties, however after weeks of using only this I've noticed how much softer my lips are.

I always enjoy the non-beauty favourites stuck onto the end of everybody's posts so I might start including a few of my own! I've been devouring two hugely popular television shows; Homeland and The Walking Dead and really enjoying watching them. Also, I'm a massive Game of Thrones fan after practically inhaling the fantasy drama during last Christmas break with my boyfriend so understandably I've been embarrassingly excited about the third season! If you watch any of these shows please let me know so we can all nerd out together in the comments!
Two blog favourites of late have been the lovely Rebecca of From Roses, her blog is beautiful in every way and I've been addicted to the aesthetics of her blog as well as her posts! I love her taste in products and adore her home décor posts and I have been stalking her blog recently. Also, I've always loved Sarah of Saloule and her recent redesign has had me obsessed with her beauty musings. Her product reviews are always so informative and she's Irish too which is always a nice bonus! Please let me know which bloggers you've been loving lately as I'd love to add to my reading list.

As always, thank you so much for reading, especially after this lengthy post, and if you've used/loved/hated any of the products mentioned please let me know!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

kissed-off lip colour

I'm more of a fan of the precisely lined lip than a relaxed smudged-on stain. However when the weather gets a little nicer (I've evidently got spring fever, it's still freezing but I wore sunglasses today. Actual sunglasses!) a full-on straight from the bullet lipstick can look a bit overdone. Truthfully I'm a lot more comfortable in a sharp edged matte lip but I love how this looks so I braved the blotted lip trend. Girl About Town was actually the first ever MAC lipstick I bought but it's been sitting unloved for the past few months as I've been opting for darker red hues. To make it look as though my lipstick had been kissed off, I prepped with my favourite lip balm of late, the Nivea lip butter and smudged on the lipstick with my finger, patting and pressing it into my lip before blotting and then as a final touch, running the bullet along the inside of my lip to achieve a bitten effect (as Pixiwoo did in my all time favourite tutorial of theirs, you can see here). I'm not sure it was the most flattering choice as it seems to accentuate the natural creases I have in my lips (they're not chapped I promise!) while a heavier matte lip conceals this a little better. Howver, I was really happy with how fresh this looked as the sun beamed down and it wore really well throughout the day too. I'll definitely be trying it with other lipsticks in my collection, I already tested out the method with Revlon's Fabulous Fig and it looked really effortless so that may be on the cards for my next venture outside the front door!