Anna Hunter interviews Ruth Crilly, founder of one of the world's best known beauty blogs 'A Model Recommends' to find out how it all began
Most people have one career. Ruth Crilly has about five on the go at the same time- and she handles her workload impeccably. One of the most popular, witty and trusted beauty bloggers around, she's also a successful model, has a First-Class Honours degree in Literature and is about to graduate with an MA in Creative Writing. She talks to us about her blog, her beauty know-how and how she juggles it all.
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
I was about to start an MA and I wanted a place online to write and get back into the habit of writing regularly. I’d also been thinking, for quite some time, that I’d like to share the beauty tips and “behind-the-scenes” experiences that I had collected over the years I’d been modelling…
How did you decide upon a blog name?
It was a flash of inspiration one afternoon! I wanted it to be very clear so that people would know what they were getting if they clicked through. I also don’t like to harp on over and over again about modelling life – it kind of gets it out of the way in the title and then I can write about beauty and style and random things without having to explain myself.
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides? Is there anything you particularly do or don’t like about working on the Internet?
Many of the upsides tend to mutate into downsides on a regular basis. Spending lots of time alone, for example; I’m quite a loner so it’s good. But if it gets to four or five days on my own things can turn a little bit crazy in my house. Same thing goes for commenting and reader/viewer interaction – great when it’s good (which I have to say is 99% of the time, I’m very lucky) but terrible when it turns sour. Trolls are the bane of most people’s online life, I think.
How much of a techie are you?
Wasn’t, ever, but am now. I do all of my site maintenance and building and so on and I’m quite handy with a bit of code – but I’m actually about to hand it all over to someone who knows better. I can’t handle anymore all-nighters staring at pages of letters and numbers and brackets!
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go off-line?
I write (fiction) in the morning and then run the website and associated platforms in the afternoons, evenings and into the night, depending on what’s on. It’s my full-time job so I have to put the hours in – balancing everything else? I just squeeze things in when I can! It’s quite chaotic sometimes, but I’ve always liked to have a lot of things on the go, so I must enjoy it.
How do you decide what to feature on your blog?
Not that many things pass the test – I’d say less than a fifth of the products that land in my office. The product has to be good, something that I have tested and that I like, but also interesting in some way. I like to be able to tell a story, no matter how small or silly. It’s not always product reviews or recommendations – I often just have something pressing and/or ridiculous in my head that I feel the need to share. Sometimes I read it afterwards and delete the draft – I try and leave drafts for a few days and then return to them and edit before they finally publish. With no actual editor apart from myself, I have to try and have some sort of safety system so that I don’t just publish rambling and ill-conceived ideas.
What beauty products or brands make you part with cold hard cash?
Alpha-H skincare , By Terry foundations , StriVectin eye cream , Emma Hardie cleansing balm , £34, Dior nail polishes (I have many), Tom Ford Santal Blush fragrance , £140,… I have a “top ten” page on my site – anything on there will most definitely be a repurchase! Non-beauty, I have a proper addiction to Issa dresses. It’s getting to be quite serious, actually.
Down to the nitty gritty, what’s in your make-up bag currently?
Chanel Les Beiges , £38, the new Tom Ford mascara , £34, the Clarins Be Long mascara , £21, some brilliant eyeshadow mousses from M&S Autograph , £7.50, Lanolips Lemon Aid lip balm , £8.99, Burberry Splash Palette , £40, and a tinted moisturiser by Jouer cosmetics, £29. I’ve also been using Olay’s new CC Cream , £16.66,loads as I’ve been working from home a lot and just want a hint of a tint.. My makeup bag is always stuffed full – I can’t bear to edit it down, ever, as there are always so many new things to test!
Who are your top people in health, beauty and fitness? Who do you rely on in a crisis?
I’m surprisingly self-sufficient in a crisis. I rely on my colourist, John Spanton at Trevor Sorbie , for all of my hair needs, but apart from that I tend to self-maintain. I do love a facial, but I’m often too busy to really plan for one so if I have an unexpected event or shoot I usually have to just pull out all the stops in the “home spa”!
What’s your personal favourite hair and beauty look?
I think that they always get it spot on at the Burberry shows. I love that nude makeup look with washes of colour around the eyes – really understated and casual, but brilliantly glowy and polished.
What’s your ultimate favourite beauty treatment?
A facial by Omorovicza . Just amazing.
What are your top health and beauty tips and your biggest beauty bugbears?
Don’t smoke, don’t smoke, don’t smoke. Bugbears? Bad nail technicians – I’ve had my cuticles wrecked more than a few times. What else. Bad colourists who tut and say “who did your COLOUR last?” and then proceed to completely mess up your hair. I suppose I could have just said “incompetency”.
Can you tell us about any hair and beauty blunders that you’ve experienced?
Ha! So many. In Germany last year someone bleached off my eyebrows (it happened under duress) and then when they dyed them back in again they were dark brown and HUGE, like slugs. Too many fake tan incidents to name, also a time when I mixed up a lip balm and concealer and blanked out my lips. It took me an hour or so to realise by which time I’d checked in for a flight and passed through security at Heathrow.
What do you like to take with you when you go away?
I try and take everything and then I spend hours procrastinating and putting things in and out of my cosmetics bag. I have minis of almost all of my favourite products, but a must-have is my Queen of Hungary mist , £46, from Omorovicza. I take it everywhere. It’s an instant mood-lifter.
Who is your favourite blogger/ vlogger?
Recently I’ve been reading all of the posts on Curious Emily’s blog . She’s very funny. It’s a nice break from beauty and fashion!
What would be your advice to aspiring bloggers? Is there anything you’d do differently if you were to turn back time?
I’m not sure I’d do anything differently – I definitely couldn’t have worked any harder or been any more passionate! That’s probably what my advice would be, too – hard work and passion. Oh, and I think that it’s good to think properly about the name of your blog or channel – lousie7539787546doggy78987 is really hard to remember! Random numbers and words might mean something to you and close friends, but if you want other people to read and follow then put some time into getting your name and the appearance of your blog right.
If you could invite anyone dead or alive to guest blog/ vlog on your site who would it be?
Henry VIII. He’s pretty much my answer to all questions. I’m borderline obsessed with him. Although he’s not very relevant, I suppose. Oh, hold on – Jennifer Aniston. She’d do a good job, I reckon. She’s got good hair and she looks like she’d be a laugh.
What does the future hold for your blog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
Yes, a very big one. But if I told you I’d have to kill you.
Read Ruth's blog here .