3 beauty products that will change your life

Living out of a single bag for 6 months and not having a great deal of extra time or cash to spend on my face has taught me two major things: 1) you don’t always have to spend a fortune, and 2) you will discover amazing new products. Here are 3 new additions to my daily routine that I need to share with the world.

White Flower Oil

£6.65, Amazonwhite_fl_OilA potent blend of eucalyptus, lavender and menthol oils, this is honestly the best thing on the planet when it comes to multi-purpose products. It has so many uses. I discovered White Flower in the Philippines. A kind taxi driver pulled over and handed me a bottle when I was feeling ‘car sick’ (hungover). The calming aromatherapy helps prevent dizziness. Reading the box a bit later, I noticed a long list of ailments White Flower claims to relieve: sickness, headache, muscular pain, blocked nose, itching, insect bites, and (best of all) acne. Inhale the oil for calmness and rub a small amount onto red bites and spots for a powerful anti-inflammatory. It. Really. Works. And although it did only cost about 50p in Asia, it’s available on Amazon.

 

Natural Collection ‘Barley’ Eye Shadow

£1.99, Boots

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Before I went away, I treated myself to MAC’s Extra Dimension Eye Shadow (£16) in ‘A Natural Flirt’. I wanted something that wouldn’t crease on my eyelids or slide off my face in humid climates. It was rubbish. My backup, a pale gold, shimmery eye shadow from Natural Collection was a million times more resilient. It stays on all day, blends well with other eye shadows as a base and even doubles as highlighter for your cheeks. The colour also looks lovely with a tan. I still wear it every day now.

 

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

£26, Boots£26, Boots

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This ‘Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream’ is the answer for anyone looking to wean themselves off foundation. The silky, light formula manages to hide spots and dark circles whilst boosting skin tone. Plus, it won’t dry out your skin or clog your pores. I have oily skin, so I still apply a touch of Smash Box primer to my T-zone and around my nose beforehand. I then finish with a sweep of Max Factor ‘Crème Puff’ pressed powder. Using this combination rather than thick foundation has dramatically reduced the amount of time I spend applying my face, and it’s 100 times better for my sensitive, oily skin.

I would love to hear about any amazing new products you’ve come across recently! Please feel free to share your discoveries below.

Winter beauty remedies

Static hair, scaly hands, eczema and terrible circulation are generally what Mother Nature blesses me with this time every year. And let me tell you, it’s not a good look. Having moved back in with my mum near Brighton before I go travelling after Christmas, I’m also commuting to London every day, which means an extra two hours of recycled air to dry out my already suffering Winter complexion. Constantly searching for products that ease the redness and replenish a bit of vitality, here are five of the best Winter beauty remedies I’ve been using this year.

Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream, £14.50
Best for: very dry hands and eczema flair ups

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Not only does this hand cream smell amazing, it’s made using nearly 100% natural ingredients and won’t irritate your skin. I suffer with quite bad eczema on my hands and found this more soothing than lifelong favourite, E45. It really is worth spending that little bit extra on a good-quality hand cream when it’s cold. I was lucky enough to receive a free sample at work and now I’m obsessed.

Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil, £3.99
Best for: chapped lips and loss of lip pigment

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When I am cold, my lips go blue. And when I’m sitting in an over-heated office all day, my lips dry out. On days where I can’t be bothered with lipstick (most days then), I wear this. It is much, much more moisturising than Vaseline, Carmex or Lip Salve and has a nice subtle hint of colour that lasts. Better still, there are different shades to choose from. Infused with antioxidants, this great little beauty buy is 100% natural.

Bumble and Bumble Styling Crème, £20.50
Best for: giving dull hair a bit of a lift

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I’m a huge fan of going to bed with damp hair coiled in a top knot. My hair is naturally very straight. Too straight. When it’s exposed to extreme weather, all it wants to do is hang limply on my head. This styling cream from Bumble and bumble adds just the right amount of texture without weighing my hair down, for an almost-messy natural look that’s really quick and easy to do. I apply to damp hair before bed.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, £15.50
Best for: wiping off the grime of a long day in London

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I was given a mini version of this for Christmas a few years ago and it is just divine. This year I’m so happy I’ve got the full-size bottle in my life. I have incredibly sensitive skin. I battle on and off with acne and this cleanser doesn’t cause breakouts, which is rare. I usually only use Simple products, but Liz Earle’s are all completely natural and incredibly soothing. The muslin cloth really feels like you’ve treated yourself at the end of the day.

Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Night Cream, £5.25
Best for: Sensitive skin that needs gentle but powerful hydration

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If, like me, you have oily, sensitive skin, there’s the temptation to avoid moisturizing. Too thick and your face is shiny, the wrong ingredients and your face is red. However, avoiding moisturizer will leave skin dehydrated and too dry for foundation. I only use Simple moisturizers and natural oils on my face. This night cream is thick without being greasy, with soothing green tea. I really notice a difference in the morning when I use it.

I would love to hear your beauty recommendations for Winter, so please feel free to comment below with any tips or suggestions!

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!