Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Sephora Splurge

A trip to Paris (or any other major European city for that matter) is not complete without a visit to Sephora, and when I was in the French capital for a few days over the weekend I made it my business to check out the store on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This flagship store really is something else, and as soon as I sat foot in the place I knew I was home. It is a beauty addicts dream and I'm not even kidding when I say that my face basically turned into something resembling a heart eyed emoji for the time that I was there.

Whenever I'm abroad and feel like treating myself to a few new make-up bits, I always try to purchase things that I know I either can't buy  or are difficult to hunt down at home (it makes me feel less guilty), so I headed straight for the NARS stand. I don't know why, but NARS is ridiculously difficult to get a hold of in Ireland and to the best of my knowledge there is only one stand in the whole country. It is possible to buy online of course (which is why my collection isn't too shabby), but this can pose a bit of a problem if you are looking to get colour matched. I grabbed another Radiant Creamy Concealer in the shade 'Vanilla', which is actually my third time purchasing one of these bad boys - and yes, I feel that the €27 price tag is totally worth it. This concealer is a replacement for the one that I dropped and smashed a while back - I had been making do with the shade 'Honey', but now that summer is nothing but a distant memory it was slowly but surely getting to be too dark for my skin tone. So I think that the shade 'Vanilla' will take me through the winter months just nicely. I had been interested in trying out the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser for quite a while, and finally decided to pick it up whilst I had the opportunity to get colour matched. Buying the wrong shade of NARS Sheer Glow Foundation online meant that I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice, and I'm super happy with what I ended up with - 'Light 2 Alaska'. I haven't actually worn it yet so I can't give my thoughts on it just yet, but considering the fact that I tend to gravitate towards lightweight and sheer bases more often than not, I am fairly positive that we will get along just nicely. Whilst at the NARS counter I was very tempted to pick up the new Virtual Domination Cheek Palette (it just looked so pretty!), but I didn't give in. Round of applause please! €55 was perhaps a little too pricey considering the fact that I'm not a major blush fan, and I already own full sizes of two of the shades ('Deep Throat' and 'Laguna'). I had heard lots about the Make Up Forever Smoky Lash Mascara and had wanted to try it for a while, so when I came across the Smoky Lash Kit that offered the mascara plus a free mini Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil and mini Sens'Eyes Waterproof Sensitive Eye Cleanser I knew that it was a deal not to be missed out on. I have given the mascara a go but I'll need to try it out a few more times before I can come to any conclusion on it. I have heard that it gets better with age and works better once it dries out a little, so I'm excited to see how it will fare over the next few weeks. Given how much everybody bangs on about them, I knew that I had to try out one of the Sephora brushes and after much deliberation I finally settled on the Sephora Contour Bronzer Brush #46. I actually don't intend to use this kabuki style brush for contouring or bronzing (I don't that that would work out too well), but rather have it in mind for foundation application. The bristles are densely packed, feel super soft on the skin, and I have a feeling that it is going to make applying my base a super quick and easy process. 

My last two Sephora purchases - the Sephora Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner and Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red were actually purchased in Rome when I was there about a month ago, but I decided to lump everything in together under the one post. I thought that the brush cleaner would come in super handy for spot cleaning my eye make-up brushes in the mornings, but I'm too scared to use it again after I tried it on my MAC 239 and it ended up turning the bristles green. Maybe I didn't use it correctly... Does anybody else own this?! I'm not massively into red lips, but it is important to have a couple of staples and so I decided to pick up one of the Cream Lip Stains in Always Red after reading one too many rave reviews. This stuff is seriously creamy and pigmented and glides onto the lips beautifully. Even though it is marketed as a stain, I have found that it doesn't stay on the lips for quite as long as I was led to believe, but nevertheless it a super pretty classic red shade and I'm sure I will get plenty of wear out of it.    

Have you purchased anything in Sephora recently?
Lots of love, Rachael 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Three Days In Paris

I'm just back from a whirlwind weekend adventure in Paris and, even though I'm a little delirious with tiredness (5 am wake up calls are not my friend), I really wanted to share a few snaps. Although I had visited France six times before, this was my first time in the capital and let me tell you that it did not disappoint. It was every bit as spectacular as I expected it to be, and I would go back in a flash. Even though we were (more than a little) groggy after a 4.30 am start on Friday morning, we began our trip with a visit to the Louvre after a quick bite to eat in a cute Parisien café. I won't deny that art museums aren't really my thing, but the Louvre really is something else and is well worth a visit even if all you get out of it is a #selfie with the Mona Lisa. Day two began with a beautiful walk along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower (which was a personal highlight for me) and we spent a while admiring the panoramic views of the city from the summit. From there, we walked the short distance to the Arc de Triomphe and then strolled down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, stopping only for an obligatory visit to Sephora (where some serious damage was done). We walked back towards the Eiffel Tower just as the sun was setting, admiring the designer boutiques on Avenue Montaigne along the way, and then took a (very touristy) boat trip along the Seine, viewing other historical sites like the Musée d'Orsay, Le Grand Palais and Les Invalides from a different perspective. As we headed away from the area back towards our hotel in the evening, we managed to catch a spectacular view of the Tower sparkling like a Christmas tree for a few minutes whilst standing from afar on one of the foot bridges over the Seine. Day three started with croissants and café au lait in a little boulangerie opposite our hotel, which set us up nicely for a morning stroll through the Montmartre area and a climb up to the Sacré-Couer (which, again, afforded an incredible view of Paris from the top). Despite the lashing rain, we filled the rest of the afternoon with a visit to the Moulin Rouge, Sainte-Chapelle, Notre-Dame, the Panthéon, Jardin du Luxembourg and a cup of hot chocolate or 'chocolat chaud' in the Latin Quarter. To get in out of the rain, we thought an evening spent in the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette Department Stores for a spot of last minute shopping would go down nicely, but we were a little disappointed to find that they close on a Sunday. Who knew?! So we decided to head across to a little bar beside the Palais Garnier (opera house) for a much needed cocktail, before stopping for dinner and then retiring to bed so that we could be up early for our flight back to Dublin in the morning. All in all, it was a hugely successful trip and a place that I will most definitely be visiting again. 

Gros bisous, Rachael 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Confidence Boosters

Everybody's got those beauty products in their stash. You know, the ones that never fail to inject a boost of confidence in your appearance and the ones that you automatically turn to when you want to look and feel your best. I like to call them 'the confidence boosters' (I know, how original), and today I will be showcasing five of the best little make-up 'pick-me-ups' that I own. 

For me, foundation is probably the number one beauty product that gives me confidence and, even though I'm not afraid to go base-less if I have to, I will admit that it is rare that you will find me out in public without a little somethin' something' on my face to even everything out. There are plenty of foundations in my stash that I adore (check out my recent 'Five Favourite Foundations' post if you'd like to read more) but the one that I always turn to when I want my skin looking its best is the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. It gives the appearance of flawless looking skin without looking or feeling too heavy or unnatural, and the illuminating and radiant finish is just perfection. Because of the lack of SPF, it photographs incredibly well and almost gives the illusion of photoshopped skin - I'll take that! When I want my skin looking even more perfected, I usually go for my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light, which was the product that converted me from being a non-powder to a powder girl. It provides a 'soft focus' effect that blurs imperfections, evens out the skin tone and highlights a radiant complexion. It basically gives my skin the radiance boost that it needs, and is nothing short of a miracle worker. A quick dusting of this powder over my foundation takes me from looking drab to fab in approximately 0.5 seconds. I am a HUGE fan of contouring - who doesn't want chiseled cheekbones and slimmer looking features? - and the one product that I know won't let me down is the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder. The cool undertones work well with my skin tone, and whenever I pop a little of this underneath my cheekbones I instantly feel more put together. The powder is incredibly pigmented so I only need the smallest amount to create that shadowy effect, so even though the packaging looks teeny tiny it's really not that bad value for money. 

Oh eyeliner, where would I be without you? I just don't feel like me whenever I skip out on the liner, and I wear it pretty much on a daily basis. I have a few that I love - Soap & Glory Supercat Eyeliner and Kat Von D Tattoo Liner are two of my favourites - but when it comes to creating those feline flicks I can't go wrong with the Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner. Nothing pulls an eye make-up look together like black eyeliner, and when I can get away with it I love to wing it out slightly for an extra boost of confidence. The Zoeva 317 Wing Liner Brush works amazingly well with gel liner, and turns this notoriously difficult task into one that is easy. When I really want to put an effort into my make-up and appearance, I love to pair winged liner with a bold lip and I think it won't come as any surprise that my absolute favourite is MAC Rebel. The unique fuchsia berry shade is perfect for this time of year, and whenever I wear it I never fail to get a compliment or two which is always a plus. 

What are your favourite 'confidence boosting' beauty products?
Lots of love, Rachael