Friday, 24 February 2012

Beauty on a Budget: My 10 Favourite Beauty Buys for Under £10

Occasionally I will treat myself to a luxury make-up or beauty product, I adore Benefit cosmetics, I love Clinique skincare and Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat was a fixture in my make-up bag for years. Top branded products are great quality, ultimately though there’s no getting away from the fact that that quality comes with a hefty price tag, just the other day I was browsing the Benefit counter and I picked up a bronzing/highlighting duo for £24(!) I couldn’t help thinking how quickly the cost of high-end cosmetics would mount up...   

Fashion Maths

Faced with the choice of a year’s supply of bronzer or a gorgeous pair of heels the heels win every time for me. So although I’ll splash out on the odd expensive cosmetic the vast majority of the products I used everyday come in under £10 and can be bought on the highstreet, Boots* cards at the ready, here are my 10 favourite budget make-up and beauty buys!

~ I cannot say enough good things about this John Frieda Shampoo and Conditioner (£5.59 each or 2 for £7.50). From his ‘Sheer Blonde’ range it comes in two shades ‘platinum to champagne’ for those with lighter blonde hair and ‘honey to caramel’ for darker blondes like me. Not only does this fab shampoo and condition help to stop my highlights fading or turning brassy but they also leave virtually no residue so they never weigh my hair down.

~ I have quite sensitive skin so I need a gentle deodorant and I don’t think you can beat Nivea Pearl & Beauty (£2.10). It’s dermatologically tested and alcohol free so it doesn’t irritate the skin at all. Like all of Nivea's products the fragrance is subtle but incredibly clean and fresh. I also like the fact the roll-on dispenses just the right amount every time.

~ It’s safe to say I’m pretty addicted to exfoliation. Sloughing away dead skin cells not only makes skin look and feel great but studies have shown it can also help to keep you looking young. Tests on men found the area where they shaved –thereby exfoliating the skin- could look up to seven years younger than the rest of their face! I’ve tried various exfoliating scrubs in the past but I don’t think they ever work very well unless you’re prepared to slather on an entire tub (leaving those little beads all over your shower/bathtub in the process!), I find gloves much quicker, less messy and more precise- the perfect alternative. This pair was actually a bargain £1 from Primark although you can usually pick them up for under £3 in any chemist for example Boots Exfoliating Gloves (£2.66).

~ Alongside exfoliation the other cornerstone of my beauty routine is moisturisation. For my face I like something that’s really light, is absorbed easily and won’t clog my pores. This Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser works perfectly for me and is also one of the cheapest moisturisers out there at only £3.79.

~ When it comes to body moisturisers though I prefer something much richer so I usually go for a body butter. I first tried Boots’ Extracts range last Christmas when I was gifted a mini set of them, now I’m totally hooked. I love the natural fragrances –they never clash with any perfume I might want to wear- and how nourishing they are for my skin. My favourites are Honey, Mango and Coconut (£7.95 or 3 for 2)

~ I love all of Soap & Glory’s products but this Hand Food Hand Cream (£2.50) is amazing. It smells wonderful, it’s not greasy, it absorbs easily, what’s not to love? Although there is a larger version available I prefer the 50ml travel-size as it’s so easy to just pop in my handbag and use when I’m out and about.

~ Vaseline has long been one of my must-have products before they even thought to package it in little tins and I had to carry around an oversized plastic tub! Thankfully they have now streamlined their packaging and developed lots of new varieties including a balm with Aloe Vera, (£1.80) one with Cocoa Butter, (£1.99) and my personal fave Rosy Lips (£2.25)  with Rose and Almond Oil.

~ My favourite foundation is  Maybelline's Dream Matte Mousse (£7.69). Before I tried this I remember being a little sceptical that the mousse formulation was just another gimmicky idea to sell a product you don’t really need (L’Oreal Roller Foundation anyone?) but as soon as I tried it I loved it instantly. It really does feel amazingly light and blendable but provides good coverage where needed.

~ I discovered this Bourjois Little Round Pot Eyeshadow (currently on offer for £5.49) recently after my previous fave product L’Oreal Mineral Shadow was cruelly discontinued. In shade 08 'Beige Rose' it’s a warm peachy/golden shade that has a hint of iridescence to really bring out your eyes. I wear it on its own for a subtle everyday look however it could also easily be used as a base for other eye make-up or even as a highlight.

~ In case it wasn’t obvious from my minimal effort eye make-up routine, I’m really not very adept at applying make-up at. all. I like cosmetics that are super quick and easy to use. This Collection 2000 Eye Definer is the best eyeliner I’ve ever tried. It has a crayon-like texture that’s half way between a pencil and a gel, it glides on smoothly and looks more natural/softer than gel liner.

So that’s my current list of my favourite beauty buys under £10, it was so difficult to narrow it down to just 10, there could have been so many more. What are your favourite budget products?     

* The products I’ve linked to are all on the Boots website for convenience, however they are available elsewhere at varying prices.   

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Spring/Summer Trend: Pretty Pastels

Although it’s still very much winter where I live, at this time of year I always start to look forward to spring/summer fashions. Soft, muted shades and feminine shapes have always been a staple in my wardrobe so I was delighted to see so many of the S/S12 catwalk shows from Mulberry to Dior to Ralph Lauren all featuring such pretty pastels. I compiled this collection of my favourite designer-inspired pieces from the highstreet/online, all come in at under £100 and the weblinks can be found below.  

  Top Row Asos Pique Dress £32 ~ Asos Pyramid Metal Tip Clutch £15 ~ Topshop High Waist Lace Shorts £32 ~ Miss Selfridge Zip Front Tank £25

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Head Over Heels

Everybody has a thing. That one item they’re drawn to above all others. For some women it’s jewellery or designer handbags. For me it’s shoes. I was the archetypal little girl tottering around in mummy’s heels, I just never grew out of them. I started my own collection at the tender age of 13 or so with chunky block heels and square toes and gradually moved on to wedges, kitten heels and fine, tapering stilettos. Peep toes, pointed toes, almond toes I’ve tried them all. I love heels firstly because of the way they elongate the leg and make ankles look so dainty. Secondly I simply love how they look. I feel the same way about a gorgeous pair of heels that I do about a really good tattoo; it’s a way of wearing a piece of art on your body, a way of expressing your personality. Over the years I’ve expanded, edited and refined my collection and I’d like to share with you some tips I’ve picked up along the way.

~ I try to avoid buying shoes on impulse, tempting though that can be sometimes. Try to think about how the shoes will work with the rest of your wardrobe and the specific look you want to create with them. Do you want to look demure and sophisticated or to make a bold statement and stand out? Do you like cute, girly styles or prefer boho and vintage? Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes, fabrics and colours.

~ Gorgeous shoes don’t have to cost the earth but it is a good idea to look for quality and buy the best you can afford. I prefer leather shoes as they are usually softer and more yielding than man-made materials and over time will mould to the shape of your foot making for a better fit. A padded, breathable insole is also a good idea as it will make wearing your shoes much more comfortable. Above all make sure your heels fit snugly but not too tightly. Some cheaper shoes can pinch or conversely gape which not only looks terrible but could lead to foot problems as your foot isn’t being properly supported. I always think it’s better to have one pair of quality shoes than 20 pairs of poorly fitting, badly made ones.

~ Be realistic about where and when you can wear high heels. If you’re going to be on your feet all day vertiginous stilettos probably aren’t the best option! You can still wear heels of course –I do virtually every day- but it’s a good idea to go for a lower 2-3.5’’ heel, choose a rounded toe and look for something in a breathable, natural fabric. Boots are great too as they give maximum support to your foot and ankle. Aim to build a collection of comfortable but stylish shoes that you can wear everyday then supplement these with show stopping heels. For those occasions you just have to break out your highest pairs you can always slip a pair of flats into your bag that you can change into if the pain gets too much! I’d recommend also investing in a pair of gel cushions which provide extra padding for the ball of your foot. I have pairs in all of my highest heels and they usually at least double the amount of time I can wear them comfortably for. A bonus with gel cushions is that they help prevent your foot slipping forward- great for high heeled sandals and wedges.

~ Be committed to caring for your heels. Shoes take a lot of punishment so look after them in order to maximise their lifespan. High heels and stilettos in particular wear down much faster than lower/broader heels so get them re-heeled regularly. If you’re as hard on your feet as I am you might even want to consider getting your shoe repairer/cobbler to fit metal heel tips as these last much longer than the rubber type. In between visits to the cobbler keep your shoes looking their best by cleaning and polishing them at home. There are some great time saving products available now that make the process super-quick and easy. For leather shoes I just wipe off any dirt and dust with a disposable cloth then give them a vigorous rub with a Kiwi Instant Shine Sponge, these combine a nourishing polish with a soft foam applicator so they polish and buff shoes in seconds. For suede shoes I recommend a brush like this one from Aldo that combines a brush head and an erasing block that can be used to brush suede and spot treat scuffs. If you want you can even treat your shoes to scented shoe trees to keep them smelling lovely and fresh.

However well you care for your shoes if you only wear one pair constantly they’ll wear out much faster so try to keep your shoes in rotation. This is one occasion when it really is an advantage to have multiple pairs and a great excuse to buy more! Happy shopping everyone!         

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