August ’20 – Freebie Haul

Its the end of another month meaning its that time again – a freebie haul post! I tend to post all of my freebies as they arrive over on my Instagram account including, where possible, sign posting when some freebies are live.

Aveda Leave in Hair Conditioner – this was from a sponsored Facebook post and is a really generous 10ml size. I honestly expected one small sachet or similar so was really pleased when this arrived, especially as my hair needs some love having not been cut since last December.

Narcisco Rodriguez Perfume – again from a sponsored Facebook post.

£5 Paperchase Voucher – technically I got this in July, my birthday month, for belonging to Paperchase’s loyalty club but was unable to spend it in store then due to local closures. The voucher is valid for 1 month after your birthday meaning I knocked £5 off an academic diary (RRP £6 with store promo for £4.20) and a cute 50p postcard. All told I paid 30p for the 2 items worth £6.50.

Laura Mercier Mascara – again from a sponsored social media advert. Mascara freebies are a real favourite of mine so I was really pleased to get this.

Lancome Idole Perfume – I believe from an online sponsored social media advert

Givenchy Irresistible Perfume – again from a sponsored Facebook advert

Vital Life Hand Sanitiser – I applied for this back in March but can’t remember where from. I honestly forgot about it until it dropped through my door months later!

Picks Milk Chocolate Strawberries – From a sponsored Facebook advert. These will be put away for a gift for a friend.

StriVectin Anti Wrinkle / SD Advanced cream for wrinkles and stretch marks – from Marie Claire’s new beauty sampling service which is free to sign up to.

Giorgio Armani My Way Perfume – From a sponsored Facebook advert

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum – I got 4 sachets of this to try by simply asking at a beauty counter as they have a new formula of this product.

Full Size Tube of Pringles crisps – I signed up to the app Shopmium which enables you to claim some free food items and get others heavily discounted. You simply make an account, connect your PayPal, buy the exact item from the store it specifies, upload a photo of your receipt and scan the item barcode. It then sends you cashback, mine arrived the same day I submitted the claim. It’s really simple and the app talks you through steps for claims. Anyone wanting to join can use the code: g2ye4k – this will earn you a welcome gift of free Pringles too!

Iced Latte – from Caffe Nero thanks to O2 Priority Moments. They offer a free drink, with a few options, every Tuesday or Wednesday after 12pm.

Forever Aloe Sheet Masks – again from a sponsored Facebook advert. This one just appeared on my newsfeed without me having to do anything.

Laura Mercier Powders – again from a sponsored Facebook advert. I simply liked their page, liked a few posts and this then popped up on my newsfeed after refreshing.

Laura Mercier Lipstick Swatches – again from a sponsored Facebook advert

Carte Noir Coffee Samples – from Send Me A Sample. I signed up for an account, downloaded Google Assistant onto my phone before asking it for Send Me A Sample. It then asks what samples you’d like, you can request whatever is available and they arrive through the post not long after.

Prodigy Eat No Evil Vegan Chocolate Bar – from a sponsored Facebook post. I was really happy to get this having recently given up dairy and learnt their products are refined sugar free.

Paco Rabanne Perfume – I can only assume this was from another sponsored social media advert

Chanel 3 x 5ml Skincare Samples – from the Boots app. There was an option in the offers section to apply for these.

Comments Welcome

How To Save Money On Glasses, Contact Lenses & Looking After Your Eyesight

I’ve been blessed with the need to wear glasses since I was very little. Once I could no longer get free pairs on the NHS I began looking into ways to save money but still have stylish quality glasses to wear every day. I’m endlessly glad that over the years the choice of glasses available has hugely improved with lots of styles, designers and materials now available instead of just rectangular wire frames in 4 colours. I previously wrote a post on the importance of investment pieces, where it pays in the long run to spend a bit more money at the outset which is how I feel about glasses. I have to wear them every day so would rather pay a little more for a well made pair than a flimsy set I’m likely to have to replace faster. On average a pair of glasses lasts me 2 – 2.5 years when worn daily.

  • Free Eye Tests – It’s usually pretty easy to find a free eye test. Specsavers often offer free tests across the country for up to a month. Boots magazine which you can pick up free if you’re an Advantage Card holder often has money saving opticians vouchers too.
  • Make sure your eye test is recent before buying new glasses. My eyes are tested every 2 years. I prefer to make sure my eye tests are up to date before buying new glasses as this means you avoid having to pay for new lenses sooner.
  • Check with your employer because if your work is computer based some cover the costs of eye tests and could contribute towards glasses.
  • Free items when buying glasses – In the past I’ve been given free cleaning cloths, lens wipes and cleaning solution
  • TK Maxx for frames – I came across their reading glasses section whilst a friend was browsing sunglasses a few years ago. After an eye test I asked an optician if they’d be able to swap lenses from frames like these for my prescription and was told there was a 90% chance of this being successful. I found a gorgeous pair of plastic frames for £20 in TK Maxx, paid £60 for basic lenses bringing the total to £80. My cheapest pair to date, they lasted 2.5 years and I loved the style.
  • Shop around to find a pair you really like and find the best deal to suit your requirements
  • 2 for 1 deals etc make the most of deals like this if you need prescription sunglasses or more than one pair.
  • Specsavers offer some surprisingly pretty frames on a range of budgets. They offer 2 for 1 on most frames and have 4 different price brackets. You can get 2 complete pairs with prescription lenses for £69 upwards or individual pairs from £25. They also offer 25% discount for students. I personally would steer clear of the super cheap options as I rely on my glasses all day every day so want long lasting quality but if you need occasional reading glasses they’re worth considering.
  • Plastic glasses have been my go-to now for over 10 years. I find them more comfortable and don’t have issues with having to replace nose pads etc and find they last longer.
  • Make sure you love your frames Even if this means spending a bit more, you’re saving in the long run as you won’t want to get rid of them sooner. I once used a 2 for 1 deal to get a pair of sunglasses for free which I wasn’t fussed about, I didn’t enjoy wearing them and a year later I caved about bought full price nice ones that I loved for 3 years.

Contact Lenses

  • Free Contact Lens Trials are offered by most opticians for you to test them out. They allow you to trial either 7 days worth of daily lenses or 1 pair of monthly lenses you just have to buy the cleaning solution. I did this once in Specsavers getting a 1 month pair which coincided with a holiday allowing me to buy £8 high street sunglasses as I couldn’t afford nice prescription ones at the time.
  • Source Contact Lenses Online A friend of mine has vouched for several of the big named companies regularly advertised on the tube being as good as ones provided by usual opticians. Shopping around will usually enable you to find the same reputable trusted brand far cheaper.

If you have any other tips for me please let me know. I’m aware of glasses websites offering cheap deals

Comments Welcome

This is an updated post originally published in 2018.

“I Can’t Wear Red Lipstick Because Of My Skin” : All The Things I Thought I Couldn’t Do Because I Have Adult Acne

I’ve had trouble with very acne-prone skin for 6 years now but remember when the breakouts first really started how much my self confidence took a nose dive as a result. As the years have gone on and I’ve discovered the acne positivity movement on Instagram I’ve stepped closer towards acceptance of my skin as opposed to constant unhappiness. The journey to clear skin is often non-linear with set backs and improvements closely interlinked. With that in mind I thought I’d put together a whole list of all the things I thought I couldn’t do because I have acne and just how wrong I was.

Leave The House Without Make Up

This was something I firmly believed at the age of 20. My self confidence was at it lowest and I refused to let anyone apart from those I lived with see my bare skin. I’d get home, remove all the make up I’d worn that day and if anyone suggested last minute evening plans I’d always make an excuse that I was busy. As I’ve got older I’m less gripped with fear at the idea of going out without foundation as will do so to run errands, go for walks etc. This year, due to Covid, I went out for my birthday knowing I’d wear a mask and that it wouldn’t be compatible with foundation so for the first time I met a friend bare faced with eye make up and mattifying powder on which did take a moment of bravery. The world didn’t end, they didn’t care and I’m proud of myself for doing this as usually when I go out foundation-less I normally have no plans to meet people. I’ve often thought I couldn’t wear eye make up or lipstick without full foundation due to my skin but have since realised this is wrong which is especially liberating in the summer when it’s so warm. I’m not quite at the level of going to work barefaced but perhaps on a better skin day I’d consider trying which years ago would have been unheard of.

Dye My Hair Pink

I thought because I had acne that I couldn’t colour my hair any tone of red or pink without it wildly accentuating my blemishes or hyper pigmentation thus making me look awful. I also believed the same thing about deepening my naturally brown hair thinking it would make me look paler thus highlighting the condition of my skin even more. I was wrong, and earlier this year toned the blonde ends of my hair a pastel pink and loved it. More information on my pink hair transformation can be found here.

Wear Certain Make Up Like Red Lipstick

Again because of redness associated with blemishes and scarring I thought red lipstick was entirely out of bounds. However; thanks to being pretty handy with collecting freebies I have a couple of beautiful red lipsticks from Shiseido and Givenchy which need to see the light of day. I don’t think I have it in me to wear these without foundation or concealer quite yet but it’s a goal for the future. A few years ago I honestly stopped wearing all lipsticks that were pink or red toned in exchange for a nude with brown undertones as I thought any else would draw attention to my imperfections. I even gave up wearing glosses thinking their shine would accentuate that my skin didn’t stay perfectly matte all day so I have come a really long way. Now I love a lip oil or gloss in the summer.

Wear Certain Clothes & Accessories

Anything red or pink above the waist in particular was something I thought was an instant no. For years I wanted red glasses and told myself I’d buy some when my skin cleared as I thought that was the only way I could wear them. I also developed a strange obsession with Breton striped tops after getting the idea in my head that I couldn’t wear anything with any form of polka dots or spots on because I thought I already had enough of those on my face. I’ve since owned and proudly worn red glasses for 2 years regardless of my skin. Last month I bought myself a new black top with pink polka dots on which I love partly to remind myself what nonsense this notion was and how far I’ve come.

In 2016 I thought I couldn’t wear anything red or pink above the waist due to not having clear skin. I’ve since owned a pair of red glasses that I’d always wanted and worn them daily regardless of my blemishes.

Be Pretty

When the condition of my skin first changed and I developed acne I hid it from the world because I honestly felt alone, uncomfortable and anything but attractive. I admit that there’s nothing beautiful about pus which makes it difficult to feel pretty when you have it in white heads on your face but blemishes don’t make someone ugly. I once had 2 strangers on a bus announce that I’d be pretty if it weren’t for my face and it hurt to hear because sadly all those years ago it was something I fully believed. Nowadays I’d be more inclined to think their insults say more about them as people than my worth. I now follow so many skin positivity accounts on Instagram full of people all ages, skin types, colours and genders posted bare-faced acne selfies featuring breakouts, scarring, pores, and normal unedited skin. This has helped me tremendously. It would never occur to me to call a single one of these individuals ugly which has helped me overcome any thought like this which I may have had about myself.

Sensitive comments welcome.

Free Gifts With Small Purchases: How To Get High End Make Up & Beauty Products With Minimal Spend

I’ve previously written posts on how to get beauty freebies so decided to follow this up with how to get high end beauty, skincare and make up products with a minimal spend because it is possible and in more ways than you may have expected.

Freebies With Magazines

I very rarely buy magazines but tend to browse the sections when in supermarkets as many will offer free designer make up brands with the purchase of an issue. I love this as you can get some really great products for far lower than the RRP as well as some reading entertainment. I tend to pass magazines onto friends when I’ve finished reading them too. In the past I’ve seen a variety of colours of polish from Nails Inc worth £11, Benefit mascaras and bronzers and The Body Shop products. Generally you’re spending no more than £5 for these so if you’re in need of a new beauty product anyway this is a good place to look. Boots magazine is also free if you have a Boots Advantage Card, all the reasons I adore it can be found here, these magazines often have promo vouchers in the back for discounts or extra points. I’ve seen a free eye test voucher on numerous occasions.

Feel Unique Pick & Mix

This is a service that you can access once a month after signing up for a Feel Unique account. It costs £3.95 to order 5 samples, new additions are added each month, and you get a discount code for this value to redeem against another order except their sampling services. The vouchers are valid for a couple of months. I personally have only used this service once as I prefer to shop for my toiletries and beauty in stores such as Savers or Boots so didn’t ever expect to use the voucher meaning the samples would never truly be free. However; I did discover they had some really niche skincare items that I’d been keen to try so in August I received my first Pick & Mix selection. It does take a bit of hunting but they do have a good range of decent sized products on there. Some are just 1ml sachets whereas others are 5ml – 15ml mini bottles. Using the browsing filters is really helpful for this service to make sure you’re getting the most sizable products instead of a 1ml sachet.

Feel Unique Beauty Kit

I’ve yet to use this service but could easily see myself doing so in the near future. You pay £12.95 + £3.95 shipping for 5 deluxe minis in a pouch from high end brands and receive a voucher for the £3.95 to use on another order except sampling services. I’ve seen products such as deluxe minis of lipsticks from Huda Beauty, Givenchy and Estee Lauder, eye make up products from Clinique and Estee Lauder as well as a range of skincare, perfumes and hair care samples. I’d consider placing an order if they had some skincare items I’d been keen to try anyway as I like trying travel size versions of new things like toners rather than forking out for the full size option and discovering my skin doesn’t like it. This is definitely a service I plan to keep my eye on. At the time of posting this they have skincare and make up products from Origins, Caudalie, La Roche Posay, Erborian, Aveda, St Tropez, Urban Decay, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Bed Head, Elizabeth Arden, Jurlique, Vichy, Burberry and more. The largest product size is 75ml and there are currently make up brushes on there too.

Sign Up For Newsletters

I find signing up to newsletters from big beauty brands useful as every once in a while they’ll have some brilliant deals. I’ve previously seen free shipping and 3 samples on all orders from Clarins which you could redeem by paying just £9 for a travel mini of one of their make up products. Their samples were all 5ml or more which is a great way to try new products. I’ve seen similar promotions from Clinique before where they offered a full size eye product worth over £20 with the purchase of any moisturiser including one shipped for £12. So there are some good deals to be had if you can put up with the emails! I actually have a separate email address connected to this blog which I use for signing up to newsletters so my regular inbox isn’t inundated.

Space NK Nduldge

The Space NK loyalty programme is free to join and enables you to redeem a free birthday gift of 3 deluxe samples which Space NK choose and change each month. Some of the gifts are worth a lot of money as they have some really high end brands. A full post with details on how to get beauty freebies for your birthday can be found here.

Comments Welcome

How To Get Beauty Freebies For Your Birthday

July is my birthday month and usually when I have the biggest haul of freebies. Given the recent lockdown I’ve had more spare time on my hands than usual which has led me to joining some extra loyalty schemes for birthday perks that I was previously unaware of. Some are gifts with purchase but if… More

Part 1: How To Get Free Make Up And Beauty Samples

I’ve been an avid beauty freebie collector now for nearly 2 years. It’s saved me a small fortune and I’ve been able to use some brilliant brands like Chanel, Givenchy etc all without paying a penny. Below are some of the ways I collect beauty freebies: Sign up to Glamour Beauty Club to receive free… More

My Complaints For Skincare Companies & The Beauty Industry – Why We Need Real Skin Representation

Anyone who’s visited my blog before will know that I’m a huge fan of Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation and La Roche Posay’s Effaclar range, particularly their Duo+ moisturiser – I’ve linked my reviews of both. I can somewhat forgive Estee Lauder for using models with seemingly faultless skin for their before and after photos as although their product is suitable for acne prone skin, it isn’t targeted at it. However; I was disappointed when I saw the header image on La Roche Posay’s website for their Effaclar range designed for sensitive acne prone skin using yet another faultless face that the beauty world is flooded with. Why is it that even skincare brands creating products aimed at treating acne can’t even market them with models who visibly have whiteheads, blackheads, hyperpigmentation etc, in other words skin like mine, which their customers are buying for those reasons?

This is the title image on La Roche Posay’s website for their new Effaclar serum designed to “improve your overall skin texture while simultaneously targeting blackheads, blemishes, and marks” except the models don’t look like they have a single one of these concerns.

I eventually bought Effaclar products based on recommendations, a huge number of positive reviews and after Googling before and after photos online. I did this to browse offerings uploaded from normal people to see true before and after photos showing affects the products had on “less than perfect” skin or true coverage capabilities of foundation on faces that weren’t one uniform tone in the first place. Heaven knows I’d have purchased both, and many other products, one hell of a lot faster had I initially seen results from companies’ websites on skin that even loosely mirrored mine rather than faces that made me long to look like them but believe it wholly unachievable. Frankly if I had skin like Estee Lauder’s “before” model below I wouldn’t be wearing foundation. Equally if I had skin like the 3 models in the La Roche Posay image above I wouldn’t be buying an anti-acne range.

Estee Lauder’s website for Before and After photos of their foundation which is a hero product for me transforming my confidence. These pictures don’t do it justice in the slightest – if I had skin like the model on the left I wouldn’t be wearing foundation!

I had to click through 3 navigation pages and browse 2 products before seeing testimonials of my favourite holy grail products from La Roche Posay being obviously used by people with the skin concerns these products are marketed for. But at least the website even has examples of this, they just take a bit of digging to find, most honestly have nothing at all which I think is shameful. Beauty product websites, TV commercials and adverts all seem to bypass real skin issues even when aiming products at targeting these issues. Online magazine articles about acne often don’t even show pictures of it – an example below being from Cosmo’s website section on “How To Clear Acne”. They’ve even gone so far as to use an airbrushed model for a whole feature on cystic acne. It both angers and saddens me at the same time because if the beauty world can’t show photos of acne prone skin even under these circumstances where they’re addressing them they’re reinforcing the message that only flawless is good enough and anything less is simply not. It isn’t good enough.

Even Cosmo’s website section called “How To Get Rid Of Acne” includes articles with faultless faces – there’s even a whole article for cystic acne and their model hasn’t a single blemish!

I’m in my mid 20s and I can still remember the first time I ever saw skin somewhat like mine in the beauty world, sadly it was only earlier this year in 2020. Despite being more comfortable with my appearance now than when I was younger it still had a really profound effect on me. The image featured in a make up article, wholly unrelated to acne, in Boots’ magazine which features no retouching. The girl’s profile showed lightly textured skin with raised blemishes that were uniformly coloured due to foundation and concealer. This was the first time in my life I’ve ever looked at a beauty magazine and thought a look was achievable for me because it was the closest I’ve ever seen to my made up reflection in print. Her skin wasn’t totally flat or poreless and she looked great. It briefly challenged this ingrained notion I had that because I didn’t have faultless skin I could never be pretty. I still don’t love my skin but have come a really long way from the intense hatred and misery I felt towards it at the age of 20. Had I seen images like this back then they could have staged a much needed intervention years ago to improve my self confidence.

We need more skin inclusivity. As much as I whole heartedly love the acne positivity movement on Instagram of thousands of individuals posting bare faced photos, discussing their skin struggles and forming a support network of encouragement and empowerment it shouldn’t be left to personal accounts to fill the void of real skin representation out in the world. Beauty and skincare companies need to be doing more because representation is transformative. Seeing personal accounts from the acne community changed my relationship with my skin for the better in a really short space of time. It improved my confidence and it helped break down that ridiculous notion ingrained in us that anything but perfection is ugly. These individuals taught me self acceptance instead of self doubt and loathing and that it was ok to exist in my skin rather than think there was something perpetually wrong with me because even though I’m in my mid 20s I still “haven’t grown out of it” and don’t match the media. Subconsciously, due to the beauty world, we strive for perfection yet one day I realised I would never dream of calling a single person belonging to the acne positivity movement ugly. It never crossed my mind, therefore perhaps that meant I wasn’t either. This incredible movement, in 2-3 months, flipped what the beauty world had instilled in me my whole life further enforcing why real skin needs to be represented. I wish I’d found it sooner.

For heavens sake if skincare companies are aiming products at those of us who are acne prone it isn’t exactly difficult to wrap your head around showing real faces with acne. I don’t want to see yet another airbrushed profile against your product for fading pigmentation or read about product claims. Don’t even get me started on the animated info graphics demonstrating how your clinically proven spot treatment works. I want to see results on real skin shown proudly on websites to brag about product effectiveness and get me excited about trying them myself rather than having to comb through online reviews, or relying on individuals uploading their own photos to make up for what companies are lacking.

Vichy – getting it right on Boots’ website with real skin representation and as a result making me really want to try their products

The beauty and skincare industry has a lot of power, my hope for the future, it that this is used more as a force of good because ultimately if they can accept acne, rosacea, eczema, the list goes on then it helps those of us struggling with our skin to accept it too.

Sensitive Comments Welcome