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

Barley nat collect

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.

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Giving up makeup (more or less)

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Four months ago, the night before my flight to Bangkok, my sister helpfully went through my backpack in an attempt to reduce its embarrassing size. I’m proud to say that I agreed to leave a pile of clothes behind, but after bulk-buying my favourite beauty products for my six-month trip, I struggled with the idea of being without my lifeline: foundation.

“You’re taking two full bottles of foundation, four pressed powders and how many bronzers?!” she demanded in confusion.

“I don’t want to run out..”

Actually, I was terrified of not being able to buy my favourite and trusted brands abroad. It hadn’t really occurred to me in a serious way that I might turn my back on them altogether. That I would finally let my skin properly breathe for the first time in years. That my skin would behave normally of it’s own accord, without smoke and mirrors, if only I’d just let it.

A while back, I wrote a post about feeling comfortable in your own skin, detailing my experience with acne as a teenager and the affect it can have on your confidence. In the past, I’ve put a huge amount of pressure on myself to look ‘perfect’ all the time. I hoped from the bottom of my heart that travelling would help me confront my dependency on makeup, but in all honesty I never really believed I would be happy looking at barefaced me in the mirror. Now it feels weird to think that I never used to leave the house without a thick layer of high-coverage foundation. No wonder my skin was so unpredictable.

OLD MAKEUP ROUTINE:

Primer > concealer > foundation > pressed powder > loose powder > bronzer > blusher > various eye shadows > eye liner> mascara > eyebrow pencil > lipstick

Which is a fairly typical daily concoction for a lot of us. The result? Your face purposefully looking completely different. I’ve only recently come to realise what a shame that is. That so many of us want to look nothing like ourselves. I’m not sure at what point I started wanting to hide my normal face, but it was a very long time ago. It wasn’t enough that my boyfriend professed how ‘beautiful’ I am without makeup. Why wouldn’t I want to look better if I could? Even when it meant getting up at the crack of dawn to apply my face, spending a small fortune on products and feeling strange and ugly without them. Beauty is an addiction. So many of us have become obsessed with our own faces. Only now I’ve taken a step away from my old life do I realise how much time I was spending trying to make myself look ‘right’. And for who? Do people really notice or care if you’re not wearing a full face of makeup?

Those of us who wear makeup every day tend to have a fairly psychological relationship with it. Before, if I didn’t wear makeup, I didn’t feel like me. I felt as though I was being lazy, akin with not bothering to get dressed. Which, when you think about it, is completely ridiculous. It’s just my face. It’s nice to look nice, and I will always make an effort with my appearance, but nobody should feel like a slave to their makeup bags every single day. Nobody should feel less like themselves just because they’re not wearing mascara. It’s hard to think that way when you wear makeup every day. Which is why I’m so glad I’ve learned to like my face again.

So how did I do it?

Quite simply, makeup and travelling do not sit well together. You live out of one bag, you’re always on the go, you’re active, you have to be practical, you’re often sweating, swimming or in the rain, and there are 100 more interesting things to be looking at than your face in the mirror. I am so very glad that travelling forced me to stop feeling so dependent on makeup, I just wished I’d realised all this at home years ago.

I reluctantly gave up foundation first. Thailand’s humidity made sure of that. At first I felt hard-done by, moaning that even my expensive foundation was melting right off my face. Pretty soon however, it became a blessing. My morning routine was so much quicker. I felt self-conscious about spots and dark circles under my eyes, but my skin soon responded by being less shiny. I persevered despite feeling uncomfortable and pretty soon I wondered why I’d ever worn foundation at all. My skin could breathe.

Next came mascara. The longer I went without wearing mascara, the more I came to like my natural eye shape and long blonde eye lashes.  A few weeks in and I was going about each day without any eye makeup at all and feeling completely normal. It sounds ridiculous, but I honestly never thought I would be able to do that. I’m actually quite ashamed at how much I used to hide my face. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just convinced myself there was thanks to an ongoing obsession with thinking I should be looking a certain way, to please nobody but myself.

CURRENT MAKEUP ROUTINE:

primer > powder > eyebrow pencil

Giving up makeup is like giving up any addiction; you absolutely have to be in the right frame of mind to be able to do it, and you’ll surprise yourself by how much better you feel without it. You’ll wonder why you ever depended on it so much and how it could possibly form such a big part of your identity, your confidence, your ability to go about your day.

I can’t help but think that with the new obsession with contouring, beauty filters and lip fillers, we’re not used to seeing natural faces any more. If we all give in, we’re in danger of all morphing into the same person. I’m not sure who she is, or why so many of us want to look like her, but she exists as nothing but a symbol of our insecurities. I don’t want to be her, I want to be me. Real beauty stems from having the confidence to be yourself. Makeup is a wonderful confidence-boosting tool, and one I could never turn my back on entirely, but there is simply more to life than wanting to look perfect all the time.

I still want to wear makeup and will never be the kind of girl who rolls into work barefaced. It’s polite to make an effort. I also love being part of a generation that has access to so many life-changing beauty products. It’s more that now the idea of having to go without them from time to time doesn’t completely terrify me. Makeup gives us an element of control over how we wish to look, but choosing to forego it sometimes surely gives us the most control of all?

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

no 7 natural blush tint

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

natural-collection-bronzer

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!