January ’21 – Freebie Haul. The Free Items I Got & How I Got Them.

As ever, the end of the month brings another freebie haul of all the things I managed to collect and where I picked them up from.

Dirty Cow Plant Based Chocolate bar – I got this very generous sample from SNUG furniture company by applying for a pack of their fabric samples for sofas. I’m always keen to find ways to save on dairy free so am really happy with this.

Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb Perfume – this came from a sponsored Facebook advert.

Clinique Moisture Surge sample – this again came from a sponsored Facebook advert. I was a little disappointed that this was just a sachet as I’ve used this product before on my acne prone skin in the winter and really loved it.

Rubicon 1l Drink – I picked this up in Tesco using the Shopmium app. The product RRP was £1.50, the Tesco Clubcard price was £1 and the Shopmium offer was try for 50p so by buying it this way it cost me nothing. The referral code “g2ye4k” will earn you a free tube of Pringles should you wish to get started with this brilliant app.

Seedlip Non Alcoholic Spirit – As I don’t drink I was really happy to see this sponsored advert pop up on Facebook. I’ve wanted to try this product for a long time but been partially put off by the price in restaurants etc as it has always been so close to alcoholic drinks!

L’Occitane £5 Hand Cream tin – Towards the beginning of January L’Occitane were offering a free £5 voucher with no minimum spend to new customers who signed up through referral links. I managed to pick up a referral link on Instagram and received free postage on my order as well for being a new customer. I’m really pleased with this and it will be a lovely addition to a birthday gift. This offer is no longer working as they’ve introduced a minimum spend for the referral.

8 cans of Remedy Kombucha – These were £3.50 per box of 4 in Tesco if you paid with a Clubcard. There was an offer on Green Jinn, a cashback app for food and drink, offering £3.50 cashback on 2 varieties so I got 4 cans of raspberry lemonade and 4 cans of apple flavour.

YSL Black Opium Perfume – I can only assume from another sponsored social media advert.

Dr Jart Cicapair cream from a sponsored Facebook advert in a generous sided little pot.

4 x Plantastic plant based flapjacks picked up from Tesco Express via a Check Out Smart deal making them entirely free instead of £4.80 total. I’m really pleased with these as often buying dairy free items can be very pricey.

Aveda conditioner sample from a sponsored Facebook advert. This arrived in a generous sided small tube.

Snug mystery box which I became aware of via an email. They sent me an iced sugar cookie and some new fabric samples.

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Hyped Popular Skincare Products Suitable For Acne Prone Skin Which I’d Like To Try

Since discovering the acne community on Instagram I’ve become aware of a few cult favourites which I’ve yet to try but am definitely interested in. I’ve listed the ones below which have peaked my curiosity.

Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant

I recently bought the mini, worth £10, as part of a 5 piece Feel Unique Beauty Kit which cost me £16.90 so was amazing value for money. My experience with salicylic acid in the past has been very underwhelming. I’d used the Clinique Anti Blemish solutions exfoliant and didn’t like it but am aware that has very high alcohol content. As the PC product says to only use twice a week to begin with I was happy to try this at the price I found it for!

Caudalie VinoPerfect Radiance Serum

Again, I got a mini of this worth £15.30 as part of my Feel Unique Kit. It apparently contains ingredients 62 times more effective than Vitamin C for brightening dark spots so I’m hoping it does a world of good for my hyperpigmentation. I got a 10ml sample to try and as it’s only really my chin and jawline that’s affected I was again happy to try for the price I found as I know it’ll last me a long time.

Carbon Theory Charcoal Bar

I’m on the fence about this one. I’m tempted as it’s plastic free, very reasonably priced and has a great deal of good reviews. However; I’ve also come across information so many time saying that bar soaps are really drying for the face which isn’t great. I’m considering trying it in the more distant future and if it’s no good for my face hopefully it can be used up just as a regular bar of soap or shower gel replacement as I hate waste.

The Ordinary – Azelaic Acid

I’ve heard wonderful things about this ingredient for treating acne and fading hyperpigmentation hence my interest in trying this. I’ve read reviews saying it can pill quite easily which is the only thing slightly putting me off. It would also mean swapping out my favourite day moisturiser from La Roche Posay- Effaclar Duo. Whenever I’ve done this in the past I’ve always regretted it!

Dots For Spots

I’m a huge fan of the COSRX Acne Master Pimple Patches and think they’re really effective. They’ve definitely saved me from some skin picking and sped up healing time for almost all the spots I’ve stuck them on. My only issue with them is the patches are thicker than I expected and not the easiest to get hold of. The Dots For Spots stickers look far thinner so I’m hoping they work just as well but would be more inconspicuous if worn out and about during the day!

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Mask

After falling in love with their niacinamide serum I’m far more keen to try products from this brand. I’ve read great reviews about this mask for blackheads and congested pores. I have a feeling it will take me a while to get round to trying this as I’m working my way through my current stash and have a couple of masks to try first!

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve used any of the “hyped” products I’m curious about trying!

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Part 2: How To Get Free Make Up, Beauty Samples and Products

I’m writing this post as one of my favourite beauty clubs for free samples has come to an end – sadly The Debenhams Beauty Club is no more. I’ve had some incredible freebies from this loyalty scheme over the couple of years that I belonged to it so I am very sad to see it go.

That being said there are some new beauty clubs on the block so I wanted to provide a little update to my original guide post on how to get free make up and beauty samples . Although 2020 threw us some serious curveballs it did enable me to find lots of new ways to find freebies, many of which are included in this post.

Marie Claire Beauty Drawer

You simply sign up with your email address, fill in a huge questionnaire about your skin type, hair type and beauty preferences so they can match you with some samples. I’ve received three products from this scheme since signing up towards the end of 2020 including 7 hyaluronic acid serum capsules from Elizabeth Arden and a moisturiser from StriVectin.

Vogue Insiders

Again this is very similar to the Marie Claire Beauty Drawer and the Glamour Beauty Club. I signed up to this and filled in all my details about skin type, hair etc in the latter half of 2020. I have yet to receive anything to try yet but several accounts I follow on Instagram have shared deluxe samples received from this loyalty club so it’s worth joining!

Send Me A Sample

This a great service which enabled me to try a Nars mascara and lipstick last year. You simply sign up to Send Me A Sample and ask Google Assistant for “Send Me A Sample”. You can then request what they have available. This does include some food freebies as well as beauty ones.

Boots App

The Boots app will occasionally have offers through Boots Sampling. These typically appear for me under the “My offers > Top picks” section but they do go very quickly. In 2020 I was able to try It Cosmetics CC cream, Becca highlighter, Dior fragrances and many more. The most generous item I got from Boots Sampling was a 3 piece set of deluxe Chanel skincare minis.


Although primarily used for free or discounted food and household products I have used Shopmium, a cashback app, to get some free full sized hair products from Vo5. The app is really simple to use. You simply buy the exact product specified from the store listed, photograph your receipt, scan the item barcode and get reimbursed via a PayPal account. If you’d like to try this app the referral code “g2ye4k” will earn you a free tube of Pringles.

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For Veganuary: The Best Dairy-Free Plant Based Swaps I’ve Found After Months Of Trial and Error Including Milk, Cream, Butter, Pastries and More!

As this month is Veganuary and plant based is the talk of the town I thought now would be a good time to share my favourite dairy free swaps. I used to be a HUGE lover of dairy and honestly wouldn’t have believed anyone if they were to tell me I’d be writing this post after being virtually dairy free for nearly 6 months. Around August time in 2020 I massively reduced my dairy intake in the hope that it would help my acne prone skin. I still eat very small amounts of cheese as it is one of my favourite foods but there aren’t really any other dairy products that I miss as I’ve found some great replacements that mean I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Read on to find out more.

Oatly Whole Milk

Whilst this isn’t the cheapest plant based milk around it is by far the best of all the ones I tried. I tried supermarket own brand versions from Aldi and Sainsbury at less than half the cost but found the consistency so watery that I was using up the cartons twice a quickly so they weren’t actually saving me any money at all. I’m not a fan of almond milk as it splits in hot drinks, dislike the flavour of coconuts and am aware its best to keep soya intake low with acne hence my oat decision. I haven’t found anything I don’t like this milk for. It tastes great in tea and coffee, is lovely with cereals and even makes a great Yorkshire pudding. I found it a little bitter when I first bought it but now I wouldn’t ever go back to dairy. Having dairy first thing in the morning always made me feel queasy so I love that swapping to oat means I can eat cereal for breakfast again!

Alpro / Own Brand Soya Yoghurt

I’ve tried coconut based yoghurt and found it thick and unpleasant. I found oat based yoghurts despite being sugar and sweetener free unbearably sugary tasting and a strange texture. My favourite of all the yoghurts I tried over 6 months was the Alpro Mango yoghurt as it contains no added sugar or sweeteners as well as being dairy free. The own brand soya based yoghurts I’ve tried from Tesco have all been great. I find buying the big tubs better value for money than the little individual pots.


Until they added buttermilk back into the recipe Flora Buttery was my go to. I now have their original one. It’s cheap, lasts ages, tastes pleasant and works well for everything I’ve tried including spreading on toast, cooking with it and baking sponge cakes. I like this product for being good value for money as lots of dairy free substitutes are really pricey!

Elmlea Plant Based Cream

I’ve tried soya cream and personally hated it. This Elmlea is around 89p for 270ml so very reasonably priced. It tasted almost identical to dairy cream to the point that relatives over the festive period couldn’t tell the difference. I’ve tried it with desserts and in hot coffees and it’s incredible. It can also be whipped unlike soya cream. Great taste, great value for money and it’s long life. I love this.

Alpro Devilishly Dark Chocolate Dessert Pots

These are divine. They have no soya taste to them at all. The sugar content isn’t wildly high and they’re an amazing treat. I love that they have really long use by dates so I can buy them when they’re on offer and pop them away for a later date to save money. The best dairy free dessert I’ve had and I have tried the GU free from cheesecakes.

Jus Rol Cinnamon Swirl Dough

I do aim to keep sugar content low and rarely ever bought things like bars of chocolate, packets of biscuits etc but the odd cake or pastry was my favourite treat. Finding dairy free cake that doesn’t cost the earth and is still tasty is far harder than I’d like. These swirls are magical though. They’re accidentally vegan, again have a long use by date so can be bought on promo far in advance, and taste incredible. You just slice the dough and bake for 10 minutes. I’ve tried the pain au chocolat ones from the same brand and whilst they’re good they’re not quite the flaky pastry I like but I can’t fault these. I buy the kit which makes 6 for less than £1.50 when on offer and freeze a few once they’re cooked.

Vegan Magnum Ice Creams

Again these were purchased as a treat and they are incredible. You’d never know they weren’t dairy. I’ve tried the almond and original ones and can’t fault either. The texture of the ice cream is flawless and the taste is magnificent. I was so happy to see Tesco added them to their “Clubcard Price” list so a box of 3 costs £2 instead of £3.50.

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Pixi Glow Tonic VS REN Ready Steady Glow – Review Of AHA Toners On Acne Prone Skin

I love a good comparison post of skincare products and have written a few in the past which have proved some of my most visited posts. I hope that my experience with these products has helped a few people in some way!

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Let’s jump into a comparison of the two products followed by my reviews.

Pixi Glow TonicREN Ready Steady Glow Toner
(Available in multiple sizes –
I’ve listed the size I tried and where I bought it)
£10 for 100ml
(from Boots)
£6 for 50ml
(from SpaceNK)
Active Ingredient5% Glycolic acid (AHA)

No fragrance
Lactic acid (AHA) and Salicin (BHA)

Contains fragrance
Product Claims (as per their websites)exfoliates, brightens and smooths skin. Alcohol free.brightens skin, replaces moisture, no irritation, dissolves in pore build up, pores appear tighter, smooths skin, expect a reduction in breakouts
Results (as per their websites)None mentioned on Pixi website96% said no skin irritation
92% said brighter skin

REN Ready Steady Glow Review

This was the first AHA toner I bought, apparently this AHA acid is the least likely to cause irritation and I agree it didn’t upset my skin at all. The product had a strong false chemically orange smell which I wasn’t crazy about but luckily my skin didn’t mind this. I used this 3-4 times a week in the mornings and found it gentle and did for once notice an improvement in my enlarged congested pores around my nose. I liked this product. I did notice a little extra texture on my usually clear forehead when I was using this but I’m fully aware AHAs can cause a bit of purging and this wasn’t drastic, never resulted in breakouts and wasn’t long lasting. I did find it stung incredibly mildly if I had dry healing spots but nothing uncomfortable at all.

Re-Buy Yes or No? Honestly, on the fence, I thought this was a great introduction to AHA for my skin. I wasn’t mad on the fragrance or price so this led me to trying the cult classic Pixi Glow. The more I use the Pixi Glow the more I prefer the effects of this product.

PIXI Glow Toner

I was excited to try this after seeing rave reviews from others with acne. I like that it’s alcohol free as some heavy alcohol products I’ve used in the past really dried out my skin. I found this slightly more intense AHA didn’t irritate my skin either at first which was a pleasant surprise. In between using these two products I used a non AHA toner and at first I thought this was making minor improvements on the congested darker enlarged pores I was aiming to target but half a bottle down my pores went back to looking like their old congested selves. I used this 3 times a week in the mornings. If I tried using it any more often my skin would get sensitised and this product then stung ever so slightly. It particularly stung if applied over any partially healed spots which I really wasn’t a fan on. The more time went by the less I liked this product as I felt the only thing it really did for me when make my skin more sensitive without about positive results. It just didn’t really do anything for me.

ReBuy Yes or No? No. I wouldn’t bother buying this again. At first I really liked it but began to loose enthusiasm for it very quickly. My congested pores looked much better when using the REN product. Halfway through the Pixi Glow I was bored of it, in the end I gave up using it on my face and used the rest on my legs where I experienced some texture from neglecting them during the winter.

If I could only buy one of these again it really is no contest. It has to be the REN Ready Steady Glow. Another factor for this decision is whilst it is a really effective product it is also a more environmentally friendly one as REN have much better eco credentials than many other beauty companies out there which I really like.

I’ve bought a mini of the Paula’s Choice BHA toner after hearing incredible reviews which I intend to try next to address my enlarged and congested pores around my nose and cheeks. I wondered if the reason the REN product worked so well for me was because of the BHA present in it.

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