Kiko Milano “Smart Fusion” Lipstick – Review

As widely publicised on my Instagram, I was on holidays in Italy a few weeks ago. And, we all known that one can’t go to Italy without an hour long trip to the closest Kiko shop. Because we don’t have Kiko stores in Ireland, I got a tad over excited and bought loads of products for myself and my bestie and I have to say, I felt like I was making money when I got to the checkout. Excellent value but one product in particular stood out, the “Smart Fusion” lipstick.

This lipstick retails at €3.99 and I bought the shade “406 Warm Rose”. Before I get to reviewing the formula, I want to address the packaging. Basically, I’m not a fan of the tube. The lid is not magnetic so I’ve found the lipstick opened inside my handbag on more than one occasion. If I paid more than €3.99 for the product, I’d be fuming. However, the formula and shade make up for it.

As you can see, the formula is nicely pigmented. It has a creamy texture and feels soft on the lips. The lipstick isn’t drying. In fact, I’d almost go as far as to say that it’s nourishing. It doesn’t bled outside my lip line, even when I apply it without liner. I’m delighted with it. I’m also loving the shade, which is a beautiful light rose color – it reminds me of spring.

The “Smart Fusion” lipstick is available in 36 shades online. What do you think? If you ask me, they’re a bargain!

Rouge x

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McCauley Health and Beauty Pharmacy – My Top 5 Picks

Word on the street is that Sam McCauley Chemists are rebranding to McCauley Health and Beauty Pharmacy. I feel a sense of loyalty to this particular group of pharmacies because as many of you already know, I’m from Cavan. Growing up, McCauley’s was the one stop shop for all my junior disco needs – they always had me covered when it came to beauty buys. Over the years, their selection of brands has only gotten more impressive and their discounts are always fantastic.

To celebrate their re-launch, McCauley Health and Beauty Pharmacy have given me a discount code to share with you all. The code LOVEMCCAULEY15 will get you 15% off everything on the website (with a few exceptions – T&Cs apply). The code is valid from 16th – 19th of May. It’s not an affiliated link/code, it’s just something that I wanted to share with you. I also thought it would be fun to share my top 5 buys – they’re all products that I have already and love and adore.

CeraVe “Moisturising Cream” – €14:

I have been using this body moisturiser for months now and I have to say that, in my opinion, it’s one of the best on the market. It was developed with dermatologists and contains hyaluronic acid so skin feels soothed and hydrated upon application. It’s also a non-greasy moisturiser so it doesn’t have a sticky, slimy residue. There’s nothing I hate more than body lotion that sits on the skin, rather than absorbing. Finally, this product is fragrance free so it’s suitable for sensitive skin. If you’re going to buy one thing, this should be it.

Available here.

He-Shi “Express Liquid Tan” – €17.58:

I’m always pretty vocal about the fact that I’m not a big fan of false tan. I love a golden glow as much as the next person but I find it difficult to apply, messy and I hate the smell. However, I recently discovered this He-Shi formula and I’m sold. It applies smoothly to skin and doesn’t develop with random streaks. It does smell of tan but only while its developing – there’s no smell after it has been rinsed. Best of all, the tan fades evenly so I don’t look like a patchwork quilt a few days after application.

Available here. There’s actually 20% off HeShi at the moment.

BPerfect “Louise McDonnell Master Palette” – €30:

This is probably the best neutral palette that I own. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The “LMD Palette” contains 15 eyeshadows, a highlighter, a blush and a bronzer. It’s the perfect all-rounder. The blush is a beautiful peach shade, the highlighter is golden and provides a gorgeous glow without any sign of heavy glitter and the bronzer is beautiful buildable product. The shadows have a divine buttery texture and apply and blend without any effort. The shades can be used to create both soft and dramatic looks so it’s a great option for travel – it’s my favourite “desk to dinner” product.

Available here.

Trilogy “Certified Organic Rosehip Oil” – €22.95:

My Mam bought this rosehip oil a few weeks ago and I quickly “borrowed” it from her. She hasn’t gotten it back yet. This oil is lightweight and non-greasy. It absorbs into my skin really quickly and gives my face an instant boost. I like to apply this oil before I go to sleep and when I wake up, my skin genuinely looks refreshed.

Available here.

YSL “Mon Paris” EDP – €84:

This beautiful perfume is exactly what I’m going to be purchasing from McCauley’s with the discount this weekend. Shane bought this for me at Christmas and my bottle is almost empty now. “Mon Paris” is a beautiful, feminine fragrance. It has notes of strawberry, raspberry, peony, bergamot and patchouli. The perfume will be a perfect summer scent. You need to try this one, next time you pass a YSL stand. Remember that McCauley Health and Beauty Pharmacy will be offering 15% off all fragrances this weekend – that’s a considerable discount.

Available here.

And there you have it, these are my top 5 picks. If you need an excuse to do some online shopping this weekend, you can say that I twisted your arm. And remember, if you use the code LOVEMCCAULEY15, you will get you 15% off your online order – again, in accordance with T&Cs.

Let me know if you do pick anything up, I would love the shopping inspiration.

Rouge x

Clarins “Skin Illusion” Foundation – Review.

After a few days of sunshine, I’m 100% ready for the summer. This means that I’ve whipped out the false tan and now I’m a few shades darker than ghostly. I don’t wear tan very often so up until now, I haven’t really needed a darker foundation to match. So a few weeks ago, I hunted through my make up drawers and found my Clarins “Skin Illusion” foundation in the shade “107 Beige”. I was very kindly gifted this foundation a few months ago but the shade was too dark for my natural skin tone. I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve found a use for it, because the formula is divine.

This foundation is available in 22 shades which seems to be a pretty extensive range. Clarins advise that the formula is infused with “red jania extract and Light Optimising Complex” which helps to great a radiant glow on the skin. In this case, “a radiant glow” doesn’t mean a greasy look; it’s a very natural radiant effect. There are oils in the formula but they’re hydrating and don’t sit heavily on the skin. A little goes a long way and I find that the dropper allows me to control the exact amount that I apply so very little product is wasted.

As you can see above, the foundation looks very natural. It’s buildable coverage wise but I would say better if you apply a light to medium layer. In my experience, the formula stays put all day without the need for touch ups. I do layer some translucent powder over the foundation on application to keep it in place. I’m really impressed by “Skin Illusion” and will definitely be buying it in a lighter shade to match my natural skin tone. I think this will be my summer foundation this year.

Let me know what you think. Do you wear a darker foundation to match your false tan?

Nicole x

Serenity Candles’ “Wax Melts” – Review.

My own Mother is probably going to read this blog post and laugh at me. This time last year, I detested the thoughts of cleaning. I avoided the activity at all costs because I knew that if I didn’t do it, Mam would – cleaning is one of her favourite hobbies. Fast forward a few months and now I’m spending my evenings dusting surfaces and hovering. You see, I moved into a new apartment with my other half and this place actually feels like home. No more room-renting in large houses with groups of strangers. I want our apartment to be clean and cosy at all times so that I can be proud when people pop over for a few hours. I know, I know – it does sound like I’m getting old.

Anyone who has followed Rouge Writing Hood for awhile will know that I’m obsessed primarily with skincare and make up but that I’m also really into fragrance. I often chat on Instagram Stories about my favourite perfumes and more recently, scented candles. I’ve spent a small fortune on candles over the past few months, trying to find a relatively affordable brand that’s really reliable for good quality products. After months of searching, I found my winner. If you haven’t already heard of the company, let me introduce you to Serenity Candles. Serenity is a home grown business, founded in 2017 by two lovely guys living in Northern Ireland. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a few months now and one of the things that I love most is their obvious passion for what they do. And, that passion is reflected in the quality of their beautiful products.

A few weeks ago, I placed my first order with Serenity and chose two scents; “Black Orchid” and “Pomegranate Noir”. These melts are inspired by two of my favourite perfumes and I expected them to smell similar – I had no idea that they would smell exactly the same. The wax melts were nothing short of divine.

For those of you who don’t know, a wax melt is a scented piece of wax, without a wick. They release intense fragrance when a piece is heated in a tea light candle or electric burner. The smell released is generally stronger than that of a scented candle and this is why I’ve recently become obsessed with them. I’ve tried a few different brands, including Yankee but nothing has matched the quality of the formula of Serenity.

First and foremost, the Serenity wax melts smell divine. In total, I’ve ordered four different scents for my home and my Mum has ordered six. My favourite is “Black Orchid” and her’s is “Lemongrass and Ginger” (she describes as a scent that you would find in a luxury spa). Secondly, the wax melts seem to retain their fragrance for longer than any other brands I’ve tried. I would get 3-4 evenings out of one cube of Serenity’s wax melts, whilst I would have to replace the Yankee offering every night or second night. That means I’m getting better value for money. Finally, these wax melts are easier to replace than others I’ve used. I just wait until the cube has melted, drop three small cotton pads into the liquid and wait for it to absorb. The Serenity wax melts don’t harden as quickly as other wax melts I’ve tried so any spills can be cleaned up without any hassle.

Obviously, wax melts aren’t the only products that Serenity sell on their website. For Mothers’ Day, I ordered two of their beautiful limited edition candles. A portion of the proceeds of these lovely candles was donated to breast cancer research charities, which made me admire the guys who set up the company even more.

Next on my wish list is some of their new bath bombs, which I will be purchasing as soon as I get paid. Again, it makes me feel old, but the beautifully fragranced products add to the cozy atmosphere in my apartment. I couldn’t be without them now

If you’re interested in the products, you can check them all out here. Let me know what you do think, if you have tried them or if you do make a purchase.

Rouge x

Alex Steinherr x Primark “Pollution Solution Dual Textured Pads” – Review.

If you’ve followed Rouge Writing Hood for awhile, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of luxury skincare products. I believe that taking good care of your skin is worth the investment and often, the price of a product reflects the quality. It’s seldom that I find a budget skincare product that blows my mind. Alex Steinherr and Primark managed to blow my mind.

The “Pollution Solution” range within the “Alex Steinherr x Primark” collection targets skin issues arising from living in a busy, congested city. You may not know this but pollution tends to make skin dry and dull – something I’ve noticed over the past few months as I commute into the city centre for work everyday. I was hoping that the “Dual Texture Exfoliating Pads” would help to brighten up my complexion.

The pads are soaked with a formula containing gentle acids (such as lactic acid) which chemically exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells. I use them by rubbing one pad across my face after cleansing at night or I simply use one first thing in the morning. Unlike other chemical exfoliators I’ve tried, this one doesn’t sting or feel harsh on the skin. However, it’s EXTREMELY important to wear an SPF everyday if you’re using a skincare product that contains acids. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing more damage than good.

The pads cost €6 and there’s 60 in each tube. I’ve been using mine for just over a month now and I can genuinely say I’ve noticed a huge difference. As you can see from the “no make up” picture above, my skin is looking pretty bright at the moment. This photo was taken first thing in the morning, in natural light. I’m beyond delighted with this product.

I will definitely be repurchasing these exfoliating pads. I can’t believe how well they work, at such a low price point. I’m beyond impressed and I can’t want to try more products from the Alex Steinherr x Primark collection.

So, let me know if you can recommend any others. The “Sleep Spa Mask” is next on my “to trial” list.

Rouge x

“All Roads Lead to Rome” – A Travel Guide.

Two weeks ago, we headed off to Italy for a week’s holiday. I was celebrating the end of my exams and Shane was celebrating starting a new job so I knew it was going to be a “treat yourself” affair. We’re talking eating out three times a day and more Prosecco than should be consumed on an annual basis. I was posting pictures on my Instagram during the trip and I had a few questions on what I would recommend food/drink and activity wise. So, I decided that the easiest thing to do was put it all into a blog post.

Getting There:

We flew Ryanair from Dublin to Rome Ciampino (€50 per person, one way). The airport isn’t centrally located but there are good transport links. We took the bus to Rome Termini (bus station) in the city centre for less than €5 each. The journey took approximately 30 mins.

Where We Stayed:

We stayed in the “Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel” which is a 5 Star hotel, located a very short walk from the Pantheon. The hotel was modern and luxurious – I slept like a baby every single night because the bed was so comfortable. Our room was nice and spacious and the bathroom was stocked with Aqua di Parma. I’m entirely predictable so yes, the luxury toiletries were a high point for me. Although, my favourite part of the hotel was the rooftop terrace where they served breakfast in the morning and drinks/snacks in the evening. The view was unbelievable and the cocktails were even better so even if you’re not staying in the hotel, I recommend dropping by for awhile, after a trip to the Pantheon, for a drink on the roof.

What We Saw:

Let’s just say that we got our 10,000 steps in everyday – and then some! The standard of public transport is poor so the easiest way to get around Rome is on foot. It’s worth mentioning that the city is filled with cobble stones and steps so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who has difficulty walking. It’s definitely not a wheelchair friendly city, which is very frustrating to see in this day and age.

We spent most of our time in Rome wandering about, seeing the usual tourist sights. We walked around the Vatican, the Traveste area and visited the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps at night. I highly recommend taking the time to visit both the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps in the dark as they’re particularly breathtaking when they’re lit up.

We opted to take a guided tour of the Pantheon, as well as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We both agreed that this was the best way to see the sights because the tour guides were knowledgeable and filled us in on little facts that we never would have learned, had we simply been walking around by ourselves. Choosing to pay for the guided tour also meant that we got to skip the queues at the Colosseum, which was definitely worth the extra few euro. If you’re thinking of booking a tour, I recommend checking out Viator to book in advance.

Where we Ate:

Most of the people who sent me a DM on Instagram during my trip, were asking me for restaurant recommendations. Of course, the best part about a trip to Italy is the food. We visited so many restaurants and found a few gems along the way. My top picks are listed below.

Lión Restaurant:

Lión is a newly opened restaurant/bar and is located just a five minute walk from where we were staying in Rome. The staff at our hotel recommended that we eat here on our first night in Rome and we were absolutely delighted that we did. We had some cocktails to start, which were divine. The drinks were served with delicious aperitifs, free of charge. I was in my element. We both had mains – Shane had a delicious pasta alla Amatriciana and I had a salad. Obviously, the carbs were the better choice and his dish was delicious. Mine was nice and fresh but it’s safe to say I didn’t choose salad over pasta or pizza for the rest of my stay. Who was I kidding?

Anyway, we both highly recommend Lión if you’re looking for some cocktails and dinner. We sat outside for the heaters and watched the world go by as we ate – absolute bliss.

Ristorante Pizzeria Pasquino:

Shane and I are both in agreement that this place served the best pizza that we tried in Rome. Admittedly, we were starving when we arrived but the pizza that we order was so delicious, it disappeared almost as soon as the plate landed on the table. We also shared a cheeseboard that was the best we had during our trip (and we ate A LOT of cheese). This restaurant also runs pasta making classes, which seems to be of interest to a lot of followers who are planning a trip to Rome. Maybe that’s something for our list, when we return.

Mimi e Coco:

We’ve thought long and hard about our favourite meal in Rome and I think we’re both in agreement that Mimi e Coco was a little step above the rest. I had the best lasagne of my life in this place. It’s also very, very affordable and we paid €40 for a starter to share, two mains, two shots of limoncello and two glasses of wine. One thing that is worth pointing out is that Mimi e Coco don’t take bookings in advance so its best to arrive before 7pm, if you want a table.

Mr 100 Tiramisu:

I had researched places to eat in Rome, long before we made the trip. I’ve got a serious sweet tooth so this particular place stood out. As the name suggests, Mr 100 Tiramisu serves 100 different kinds of tiramisu. My idea of heaven. We popped into this restaurant on a rainy day during our trip and sat for a few hours. We had lunch which consisted of a selection of crostini, meats and cheese. I can’t even describe how tasty it was and the lovely staff working in Mr 100 Tiramisu were really knowledgeable about the food they were serving so it made for a lovely dining experience. It’s worth pointing out that the wine selection available in Mr 100 Tiramisu was not only extensive, but affordable. And, the highlight? Definitely the Snickers flavored tiramisu. Overall, this restaurant is a great little place to relax and spend a few hours gorging on local Italian produce.

And there you have it, a quick summary of my trip to Rome. If you have any questions, please let me know. Also, if you try any of my recommendations, I would absolutely love to hear what you think.

Rouge x

PHYT’S “Panacée” Moisturiser – Review.

Anyone who has been following me for the past few months will know that I’ve been studying for my “Professional Exams” for what feels like an entire lifetime. I may have been studying for over 6 years at this stage, but the stress monster reappears every single time an exam paper looms on the horizon. I’ve never gotten used to it. When I’m studying; I tend to neglect my usual routine, drink buckets of coffee and forget to consume anything that resembles a vegetable. As you can imagine, my skin suffers dreadfully – I’m talking breakouts, dry patches and everything in between.

My exams took place a few weeks ago and ever since, I’ve been trying to revive my skin to its former glory. I’ve reverted to my regular routine, with a little adjustment. One major change has been that I’ve switched up my facial moisturiser. I was gifted the beautiful “Panacée” moisturiser from PHYT’s by V Claire Salon and I’ve been using it religiously (morning and night) for about a month now.

I know that lots of people roll their eyes and stop paying attention when a blogger says that a product was “gifted” but, I have a long standing relationship with V Claire Salon and we share a similar ethos when it comes to cosmetics. I would never speak highly of a product that I don’t love, and Virginie (founder of V Claire Salon), would lose all faith in me if I did. Trust me when I say that I’ve put this moisturiser through its paces – the goal was to transform my skin from dehydrated, dull and broken-out to bright and healthy looking. I really didn’t want to have to go back to work (after study leave) feeling that wearing make up wasn’t optional because my skin was in bad condition.

The “Panacée” moisturiser is an anti-aging product that’s primarily aimed at more mature skin. However, I’m a big believer in the old “prevention is better than the cure” ideology so I’m happy to use any anti-aging products that suit my skin. The ingredients in this formula include edelweiss & rosemary, acmella, rye, brown seaweed and punarnava. This list may not mean much to those of us who don’t have expertise in the science behind skincare but these ingredients combine to nourish skin and help it to retain a youthful elasticity. One of the things that I love most about the PHYT’s range is that it’s natural and organic. There are no chemical nasties in the “Panacée” moisturiser and it works just as well (if not better than) as any expensive, chemical filled moisturiser that I’ve tried.

My personal experience with this moisturiser is that it’s helped to regenerate my stressed, tired skin. A little goes a long way and one of the things that I love most about this product is that it absorbs into the skin almost instantly and sits well under make up. There’s nothing worse than a facial moisturiser that sits on the face, feeling greasy. Since I started using the moisturiser morning and night, after cleansing; my skin cleared up and feels rehydrated. I’ve been getting lots of compliments from complete strangers and asked how I keep my skin bright and clear.

A month ago, my goal was to get my skin back into good condition to the point that I didn’t feel I “had to” wear foundation to look presentable. Let’s be clear, I wear make up because I enjoy the process – not because I feel it’s an everyday essential. The picture above was taken last weekend. It was taken in natural light and the only make up that I was wearing at the time was mascara, some cream blush and a balm on my lips. Not a smidgen of foundation in sight. Honestly, I think my skin looks great now and although I do have good skin genes (thanks Mam), the reality is that the older that I get; the more my skin seems to need a regular, effective routine to keep it in good shape.

I believe 100% that the “Panacée” moisturiser is helping to keep my skin nourished and radiant. The product retails at €115 and is available here. I know that’s expensive but in my opinion, good skincare is an investment. This is especially true in the case of organic, natural skincare because you can be sure that you’re not doing any harm to your face/body by using such products. However, if possible, I do recommend popping into V Claire Salon or any PHYT’s stockist nationwide to have a chat with the specialists about your skin concerns and skin type, before parting with your hard earned cash.

What do you think? Have you been tempted to try some organic, natural beauty products? Let us know in the comments.

Rouge x