Lesson 24: buying cheap makeup that works

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Are you spending a small fortune on your face? Here’s how I dramatically reduced my average spend on beauty products without changing my makeup routine.

When I first moved to London three years ago, I was spending over half of my salary on rent, living off £450 a month. Every pound mattered. I walked 10 minutes extra each morning to get a cheaper train, I stalked the reduced section in Sainsbury every night after work, I lived off 99p bags of stir-fry vegetables and the £3.99 bottles of wine from the corner shop down the road – I don’t think it was actually wine but it worked. I saved the MAC makeup I was gifted for reviewing fashion shows for special occasions and thanked my lucky stars that my house mate worked for Estée Lauder.

Day-to-day life was a bit of a mini challenge but somehow more satisfying. Everything had a value and I quickly worked out what I needed and what I didn’t. Charity shops, Wowcher and Forever 21 became my best friends. I would have reeled in shock at future me spending £5 a day on lunch and £100 a month in Boots. But future me got new job with a healthy pay rise and then moved into her boyfriend’s parent’s house, shelling out a tiny £150 a month on rent. It was like winning the lottery. I saved a few grand, which is pretty good going when you’re living in London, love makeup and clothes and temptation is everywhere.

However, just before Christmas, Joe and I started renting in Brixton. Even a one-bed basement flat doesn’t come cheap in SW4. I’m desperately still trying to save, so I had to re-evaluate the amount of money I was spending on makeup, hair products and beauty essentials. I quickly remembered that some makeup is expensive for a reason, but a lot of cheaper brands aren’t too dissimilar in quality. So, here’s my edit of cheap makeup that actually works:

1.     Collection 2000 Extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner – £2.99

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I can’t actually express just how great this eyeliner is in terms of value for money. Easy to apply feline flicks, it lasts for ages and from sunny festivals to sweaty dance floors. It doesn’t smudge!

Previously used: Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner – £12

2.    No. 7 Natural Blush Tint – £8

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You know when you get a £3 off No.7 makeup in Boots and you don’t know what to buy? Well, try this in cool pink. The colour suits most skin types, is buildable, and has great staying power.

Previously used: Estee Lauder Pure Colour Blush – £27

3.    Natural Collection Bronzer – £1.99

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Even when I’m not trying to save, I use this bronzer. It is so cheap and such a nice colour – an absolute no brainer. The bronzer has a really subtle shimmer for an understated year-round glow.

Previously used: Benefit Hula Bronzing Powder – £23.50

4.   17 Va Va Voom Waterproof Mascara – £6.29

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I wouldn’t recommend this for its ‘waterproof’ properties if you’re swimming, but it makes a really good everyday mascara that builds nicely and won’t melt in the sun.

Previously used: Benefit They’re Real! Mascara – £19.50

5.    Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate Lipstick – £5.49

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For a natural daytime look, the pale shades of the lipstick work really well. They go on nicely and won’t dry out your lips. If you want a high-impact look however, the darker shades will need a lot of retouching.

Previously used: Bare Minerals Modern Pop Marvellous Moxie Lipstick – £18

6.   Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil – £2.99

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With loads of natural shades to choose from, the Rimmel eyebrow pencils work brilliantly from light shading to full-on reshaping. They also have a little blending brush on the lid. I finish mine with a brow set from MAC to ensure it stays put.

Previously used: MAC Eyebrows – £14

7.    Max Factor Crème Pressed Powder – £6.99

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I have used this powder on and off since I was 15. It’s the ultimate Summer holiday swap when you want to give your skin break from heavy foundation – great coverage and no need for regular retouching.

Previously used: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Powder – £33

New average spend: £34.74

Old average spend: £129

Which is quite amazing, really.

I don’t usually blog about beauty, so I’d love to know whether you found this post useful!

 

 

Lesson 17: how to dress for a wedding

Dressing for a wedding is so hard. Suddenly, your evening attire is too dark and revealing, your sandals are too chunky and your ‘undone’ hair is just a mess. The first outfit I picked for Joe’s cousin’s Spring wedding was more ‘Christmas party’ and the second belonged on a yacht in St Tropez. Converting your usual look into something wedding appropriate can be quite tricky, especially in April/May when the weather changes every day. The answer? Don’t stray too far from your own personal style and be a little bit practical. Let’s face it, you’re going to be on your feet, dodging the rain or sweating in the heat, talking to strangers and flinging small children around the dance floor. Here’s what I wore (with flats in my bag, of course).

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OUTFIT

It’s fine to get your arms or legs out in Spring, but probably not warm enough for both. Midi lengths are on trend, wedding appropriate and really flattering. I opted for light neutral shades and feminine silhouettes, with a classic black clutch and velvet stilettos to keep it from looking too Summery. I also wore my usual stacked silver rings and a turquoise ear cuff. Anything too dainty or dangly and I would have felt way too girly.

Top – H&M (similar)

Skirt – H&M (similar)

Clutch – Vimoda Paris (similar)

Shoes – Topshop (similar)

Ear cuff – Zara

Ring – Tribu

MAKEUP

I shunned my go-to red lipstick and chose a soft fuchsia pink instead. Wearing a skirt with quite a glamorous, dramatic shape, I also went for exaggerated black wings on my eyes to balance out the look.

Lipstick – Boujois, Rouge Edition in Fraise Remix

Liquid Eyeliner – Eyeko, Eye Do

HAIR

I kept my hair loose and fuss free, washing it the night before to prevent it from being too floppy. Having naturally straight hair, I applied a styling cream when damp and slept with it in a loose top knot. I used my GHDs to tame it into natural waves in the morning and scrunched A LOT of hairspray into the roots and ends.

Styling cream – Bumble and bumble, Bb Styling Creme

Hairspray – Tresemmé Extra Hold

Lesson 12: how to wear flares

It’s official. They’re back. Whether you love them or hate them, flares are a big trend for SS15. I love the laidback, effortlessly cool style of the 70s, but it isn’t the easiest look to put together. Trousers of the wide-leg variety aren’t the usual go-to piece for the majority of us, but they’re actually pretty flattering and make a refreshing change to ripped skinny jeans. The weather is still a bit on the nippy side, so I’ve gone for a covered-up tailored look. I’ll save all the hippie stuff for Summer.

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The key to pulling off flares is balance. Trousers with a print or finish on them need a clean, minimal top. Show off your waist to complement the excess fabric and keep accessories fairly bold. Anything with fiddly little details will just be lost. I’ve combined heavy wool trousers with a light silky shirt and kept the look fairly casual by choosing leather brogues rather than heels. Heels can look great with flares, just be sure that the trousers are long enough. There is nothing worse than a swingy flare. Also, opt for a jacket that’s slightly cropped. My mum bought this faux fur jacket from Miss Selfridge about 15 years ago and it’s still going strong! Asos have a beautiful one from Unreal Fur at the moment.

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I’ve gone for quite a strong makeup look to keep the outfit feeling modern and youthful. Lady Danger by MAC is my absolute favourite lipstick. I tend to wear Russian Red in the Winter as it’s darker and more intense, but Lady Danger has a lovely vibrant coral undertone that’s perfect for a seasonal update.

So, there you go. My own little take on the 70s with contemporary twist. I hope this inspires you to try something different this week – Spring equals new beginnings, and all that jazz.

Wide-leg trousers – Miss Selfridge

Shirt – Mango

Brogues – Office

Watch – Michael Kors

Faux fur jacket – vintage

Leather satchel – vintage

 

Lesson 5: how to wear his jeans

I’m no slave to the latest trends, but I do LOVE clothes. I also write about them for a living, so it kind of makes sense for me to include the odd post with a few styling tips. So, here goes…

Boyfriend jeans are notoriously hard to wear, and with Valentine’s Day hype around every corner, what better time to give them a chance to shine? If you’re not sure they’re for you, do what I did and hunt for a cheap pair first. I got mine in the Zara sale for a nifty £7.99. Absolute bargain. You could actually wear your boyfriend’s jeans of course, but most of us would look ridiculous.

I love the idea that every day has the potential to take you literally anywhere. You could go to work, head out for a couple of drinks and who knows where you might end up? Once, my best friend and I went for afternoon tea at 3pm and somehow didn’t get home until the next morning. Life can be more interesting when it takes you by surprise. Boyfriend jeans have that essence of romance about them. It’s the ‘she spontaneously stayed over’ kind of look, which exudes confidence and fun. Also, for me, clothes have to be versatile – I would feel pretty comfortable wearing this outfit whatever I was doing, wherever I ended up (obviously with a pair of flats in my bag, just in case).

I’ve styled my jeans with a grey roll-neck jumper, also Zara, velvet polka-dot stilettos from Topshop, and a black faux-fur stole from Accessorize. Worn-out denim works surprisingly well with more glamorous pieces, so don’t be afraid to mix and match smart and casual. This is such an easy first-date outfit when you want to dress up without looking like you’ve made too much effort.

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So there you have it. My first fashion post…eek! I hope it gives you the excuse to treat yourself to some lovely new jeans and heels, for Valentine’s Day or otherwise.