February ’21 – Freebie Haul. A Round Up Of All The Things I Got For Free This Month & How I Got Them

I can’t believe how quickly we entered February and before I knew it the month was over! I find this especially impressive considering in the UK the whole of February has been spent in lockdown with the days sort of blurring into one. Without further a due below are the list of freebies I’ve been able to pick up this month.


4 Litres of Plant Based Milk – Jord Organic Oat Milk and Mighty Pea Milks. I managed to get these for free via using the app Green Jinn which gives you cashback on supermarket purchases. These were 100% cashback so I received the amount I paid for them back in my PayPal account within a few days by uploading my receipt as proof of purchase. As I don’t eat dairy this was a brilliant acquisition and kept me going for 4+ weeks.

Rubicon 1 litre drink – this was my second bottle of this for free via the app Shopmium which works very similarly to Green Jinn. The referral code “g2ye4k” will earn you a free tube of Pringles if you decide to download the Shopmium app.

2 x boxes of Plantastic flapjacks – Again this was via the app Shopmium. The boxes were on offer at “try for £1”. Earlier in the month they ran a promotion which I took part in and gained £2 credit which when added to the flapjack offer made them free. I’ve previously tried these via Checkout Smart and really liked them. It always makes me happy when cashback apps include dairy free options as they’re never particularly cheap.

1 x 90g bag of Sweet Popcorn – via Checkout Smart in Tesco


Sure Deodorant Travel Mini – sponsored Facebook advert. This came in really handy as mine suddenly ran out and I hadn’t got a replacement bargain lined up!

Versace Dylan Blue perfume – Boots sampling

Alien Mugler perfume sample – sponsored Facebook advert. I was a little disappointed that this was such a small sample.

Lancome Genefique Serum / Eye sachet – via the Lancome website. These serum samples are worth around £12 so I tend to save them for a relative who loves high end beauty and pop them into any gifts for them.

A selection of February’s free samples

Valentino Homme Aftershave sample – via a sponsored Facebook advert. I’m saving up aftershave samples as I don’t tend to get very many and will be gifting them to a friend for their birthday in a couple of months’ time.

Lancome Idole Mascara sample – on the Lancome website earlier in the month there was a quick game that you could play and winners won a sample of their mascara. Luckily the game was very easy and quick!

Kleenex Anti Bacterial Hand Gel – this came via Send Me A Sample and arrived very quickly. Given the current pandemic sanitiser is always handy!

YSL Black Opium perfume sample – via Boots sampling. I received an email inviting me to fill out a form to try this perfume.

All told I’ve impressed myself with the amount of samples I picked up this month. I’m always so pleased I came across the supermarket cashback apps as they help me to save money on my weekly food shop and are great opportunities to try something new. Finding them also adds a bit of excitement in lockdown!

Reviews of Hyped Skincare Products Suitable For Acne Prone Skin That I’ve Tried – Some Worth Buying & Others Worth Dodging!

I’ve been dealing with incredibly acne prone skin now for around 6 years. During this time I’ve tried more skincare products than I ever care to properly count. Since creating my Instagram account I’ve become aware of some almost cult favourites amongst the acne community, some of which I’ve tried, and other’s I’d like to which will appear in a follow up post. Read on to find out more.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ Moisturiser

I won’t write, yet again, all the reasons I love this product as I’ve done so before on countless occasions! For me it is my absolute holy grail of day moisturisers that I’ve been using for years. Every time I venture into a new day cream, which is very rarely, I come straight back to this. It’s gentle, hydrating, helps me so much with hyperpigmentation and more.

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser

I definitely wouldn’t have thought to try this if it weren’t for Instagram’s acne community but it’s been brilliant at helping me manage any drying side effects from acne prescriptions. It’s gentle, suitable for sensitive skin and good value for money. I would buy this again but have ventured into Cerave’s new Hydrating Cream To Foam cleanser to try next as I’m so used to foaming textures that I prefer them. My only complaint was that I found the bottle didn’t last as long as I’d expect but this is likely due to me using too much to compensate for the fact it didn’t foam! I didn’t notice any irritating flaky or tight skin from prescriptions at all after introducing this into my routine.

Pixi Glow Tonic

I’ve been using this now for about 4 weeks around 3 times a week in the mornings as I use prescription retinoids at night. So far I’ve experienced no irritation or purges and have noticed some improvement with congested pores. So far I’m really pleased with how this is going as usually I’m underwhelmed by toners and don’t really see any benefits or improvements.

Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions

Sorry to say that for me this was a big no. I found the range far too drying and strong for my skin. The toner in particular, which is heavily alcohol based, stung and was almost uncomfortable to use at times.

The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc Serum

It took me a long time to try this product as all the reviews I read seemed a bit like marmite – people either loved it for helped their skin or said it caused mass breakouts. I eventually took the plunge and I have to say within a month I was wowed. I’ve previously tried one other product from this brand and was very nonplussed. It didn’t really do anything for me and I didn’t rebuy. However; this has to be the only product I’ve ever tried in 6 years of having acne prone skin that has ever made a difference to the oiliness of my skin. My skin is combination but by 3pm no matter what I wear, be that mattifying skincare or make up my forehead always gets shiny. I’ve become more conscious of it seeing it on Zoom lately too! This product definitely helped to mattify my skin and stop me looking like my forehead was glistening by mid afternoon. It didn’t feel oily to the touch. I started using it just in the mornings and then upped to twice a week. It hasn’t helped for enlarged pores as it advertises but I can’t ignore that since using it my skin has been incredibly well behaved. I survived a few weeks of intense stress, eating more sugar than I want to admit and lack of sleep without any serious notable breakouts. I will 100% repurchase this and it is such good value for money. My bottle is about half empty after 4 weeks of use.

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Dots For Spots VS Cosrx Acne Master Pimple Patch – A Review Of Patches

For a long time I dismissed the idea of pimple patches. I didn’t really see the point of using them and couldn’t really imagine them being very effective. A friend gifted me the Cosrx Acne Master Pimple Patches last year which I starting using somewhat hesitantly. I got on surprisingly well with them but had a couple of reservations hence deciding to buy the Dots For Spots.

Here’s a comparison break down of the 2 products:

Cosrx Acne Master Pimple PatchDots For Spots
PriceRRP £5.99 for 24 patches£5.99 for 24 patches
Patch SizeMixed – 3 different sizes per packAll the same
Product Claims (as per their stockist’s website)Protects against bacteria, sticks to skin well, breaks down debris from white and black heads and absorbs it, helps to flatten cystic acne, doesn’t dry out skin, can be applied under make up and even worn in the shower.Promotes faster healing, ultra thin and translucent with tapered edges to seamlessly blend into skin, moist environment to absorb impurities from spots.
Results within (as per their stockist’s webiste)Wear for a minimum of 6 hoursWear for a minimum of 6 hours

Cosrx Acne Master Pimple Patch Review

I have seen these on Yes Style and even eBay for closer to £3 a packet which I’d be happier to pay for this product. I really like how effective these patches were for me when used on white heads. The first one I ever used blew me away as my skin was instantly flatter after using only one sticker and the area looked days later in the healing process. What was left of my spot was minimal, no pus, no dry skin, no scab and minimal redness. I had similar results like this with other spots. However; although I had no experience wearing pimple patches before these they were much thicker than I expected. Online it says you could easily cover them with make up but frankly I really don’t think that would be very subtle or work well at all. I only ever wore these either at night time or around the house as I felt they would have drawn attention to my spots if worn out and about. I also found they didn’t always stick as well as I’d like. I never had a patch fall off my face but I definitely felt the subconscious need to keep pressing the patch back onto my spot. When I looked in the mirror on several occasions I felt as though the edges of the patches were peeling up slightly but, at the end of the day, they did still absorb the gunk from my white heads. I have to be honest I didn’t realise these could be used on cysts so never put that to the test.

Likes: very effective at absorbing gunk, sealable packaging to store items safely,

Dislikes: Not as subtle as I’d hoped, I didn’t feel like they stuck to my face as well as I’d like even after following the user instructions perfectly.

Dots For Spots Review

I bought these hoping to find thinner pimple patches and these definitely tick that box. I’ll quite happily wear these any time of day or night as they are really subtle and at times I even forgot I was wearing them. They definitely stopped me poking, prodding and faffing with my skin when wearing them as they stuck on really well and I didn’t feel as though I had to keep checking up on them. The tapered edges really help them to blend into skin and out of the two patches you’d have far better luck applying make up over these without them being obvious than the Cosrx product. I was able to get these to stick really well even along my jawline and around my nose which I never even bothered trying with the Cosrx ones as I just thought I’d be wasting my time after having to repeatedly press ones on flat areas of my chin to make sure they stayed put. However; these really don’t absorb gunk for me in the same way as the Cosrx patches which really disappointed me. I was really excited when I first put the Dots For Spots on as they’re virtually invisible and stop me touching my face so I thought I was onto a real winner. The first Dot I applied did break the skin of my whitehead but didn’t absorb the gunk leaving me to wipe it away. This happened with several patches. I found myself having to repeat patch applications to the same spots to try and take the anger out of my spots which never happened with the Cosrx ones. More times than not the patches didn’t change colour from clear to white even after wearing for 6+ hours so I could still see my whiteheads in tact through them.

Likes: virtually invisible, totally stopped me touching my spots, hugely reduced the urge to pick my skin, perfect for day time use

Dislikes: Not quite as good at absorbing gunk, the packaging can’t be sealed, I still sometimes felt like squeezing my skin after removing the dot as I felt the impurities hadn’t been removed that well.

The Final Verdict

Cosrx Acne Master Pimple PatchDots For Spots
Best For Sticking Powerx (but they didn’t hurt to peel off)
Best For Invisibilityx
Best For Absorbing Impuritiesx
(I’d give these a 9/10)
(I’d give these a 7-8/10)
Best For Stopping Me Touching My Face When Onx (by a long shot!)
Best For Stopping Me Squeezing Spots (or what was left of them!) x
(these left my skin so much flatter that there was virtually no squeezing temptation left!)
(as these didn’t always absorb as much I had times where I wanted to squeeze any excess gunk)
Best Results From Using 1 Spot Stickerx(sometimes – but not that often – even after using 2 I didn’t get great results)

I’m eyeing up the Cosrx Clear Fit Master Patches as my next foray into the world of pimple patches. I wouldn’t say that either of these products are bad at all, they both help, I just would like to find the best of both worlds – thin, stays put and very absorbent. For me the Cosrx are best for night time use and the Dots For Spots are perfect for day time wear as I forget they’re on my face and work as a protective shield. I really like both products, I’d just like to not feel obliged to buy two products!

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How To Save Money On Clothes Beyond Just Buying Second Hand

If you’ve read earlier posts of mine you’ll know I’m a huge advocate for buying second hand. It’s a brilliant way to save money, it enables me to afford brands otherwise out of my price range and it’s significantly better for the planet. If purchased from charity shops your new clothes are also supporting great causes. However; this isn’t the only way I save money on clothes so decided to put together a post to share these tips with you.

Make Your Wardrobe Circular…

I’m fortunate to have been the same clothes size for about 8 years now meaning I have gradually accumulated quite a lot of clothes. During this time my tastes have changed so my wardrobe tends to be somewhat circular in that I sell things that I no longer love or wear and then use this money to put towards buying new replacements if and when they’re needed.

Embrace A Capsule Wardrobe

By this I mean I’m conscious that if I buy something I need to have an outfit to wear it with. I need to have matching combinations as well as trusty staples such as a good fitting pair of jeans, quality little black dress etc. I always try to have well made basics like coloured vest tops and plain t shirts in the summer and long sleeved tops in the winter as these are great to build outfits around in a way that doesn’t have to be boring. In the past I used to get carried away with patterns and prints which would then sit in the wardrobe for months as they didn’t go with anything. I now don’t make that mistake at all and my clothes are all worn more often as a result.

Get Wear Out Of Your Clothes

Why have 100 items you barely wear for whatever reason when you could have significantly less that are firm favourites and worn far more often? When I first started selling my clothes I was really brutal and pulled out anything which wasn’t worn that much because it wasn’t as comfortable as I wanted etc. This change made me far happier with my clothes.

Buy Ex High Street

I don’t buy my jeans preloved as I find it so hard to get ones that fit and I do literally wear mine until they disintegrate. I buy ex high street jeans on eBay where sellers cut out the tags from factory faults or over runs. I’ve done this about 3 times so far in the last 4 years and never had a problem with any of the pairs I’ve got. They’ve typically been half the RRP of the River Island style I trust to fit me.

Buy Few But Buy Well

I’m all for buying less but buying better quality so things will last. Often buying the cheapest available option isn’t the best way to save money in the long run.

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How To Use Differin / Adapalene. Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Prescription Retinoid For Acne.

January marked my 1 year anniversary of using Differin (also known as Adapalene) to manage my very acne prone skin. It has been the only topical prescription medication to ever be effective for me and I’m very glad I found it. However; there are so many things I wish I knew before I started using this medication as the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) which I read from cover to cover had very little in it. I’ve also picked up tubes of this which honestly just say “apply sparingly at night” with no further details or they didn’t even come with a PIL which prompted me to write this post.

Please remember I am not a pharmacist, beautician or dermatologist and am only sharing what I’ve learnt from my personal experience of using this brilliant product. I had great success with consulting pharmacists for advice when struggling with using this product initially.

Break It In Gently

The Patient Information Leaflet which came with my first tube of this mentioned applying a thin layer to affected areas at night and stopping if irritation occurred. When using off the shelf retinol ingredients they typically advise starting with the weakest product and introducing this gradually and working up from there. As I’d never used off the shelf retinol products I had no idea of this so just followed the PIL advise for retinoids which are far stronger than the beauty products which don’t require a prescription. I wish I’d known to introduce this strong medication slowly such as 2 nights a week then build up from there as my skin learnt to tolerate it. This would have saved me a lot of painful soreness that happened in the first month of use. Nowadays I don’t use this every single night and never have, I will typically use it 5 times a week for maintenance now that my skin is much clearer although still spot prone.

Don’t Use Other Active Ingredients

I consulted with a pharmacist towards the end of my first month of use as the medication was proving really effective for me in a short space of time at stopping spots but my skin had begun cracking and was almost weeping in places. Along with seeking their advice I looked online and even called Clinique in desperation for some answers after thinking their toner might be the culprit. I learnt that retinoids could react with certain ingredients or irritation that could be increased if used alongside salicylic acid for example which my toner at the time contained. A couple of days after stopping other actives my skin made a big turnaround and the dryness began easing.

Use Hydrating Products

When introducing Differin I wish I’d pared my routine right back to just hydrating products and left the blemish fighting ones to one side to give my skin a chance to adjust. This would have seriously helped to keep dryness at bay and keep my skin barrier healthy. I swapped to the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser and was recommended the Cetaphil Rich Night Cream from a pharmacist as it works very quickly to ease dryness without clogging pores. This is one product I simply cannot be without now and it’s great value for money.

Protect Your Skin From Sun Exposure

It was the 2nd tube of this medication that I picked up which made me aware of “avoiding direct sunlight or sun beds” as retinoids make the skin more sensitive to sun damage. Upon learning this I started wearing SPF every day regardless of the weather or if I was leaving the house or not to ensure my skin was protected. My favourite SPF that I’ve tried so far is Eucerin’s Oil Control SPF 50 which I’ve been able to buy on offer twice for around £12-13 and lasts me 3 months.

The Moisturiser Sandwich

Again through personal trial and error and discussions with a pharmacist I discovered there were a few ways to use Adapalene to minimise irritation. I use it in a couple of different ways. The first being applied directly to cleansed skin before waiting about 20 mins and then applying my night cream. The second being to apply my night cream to act as a barrier for irritation and then the Adapalene once this has soaked in. I have heard some people using retinoids with a “moisturiser sandwich” approach of applying moisturiser, then retinoid, then further moisturiser. If I think my skin needs a little more of a gentle touch I apply Adapalene over my Cetaphil Rich Night cream.

Listen To The Instructions

I strongly recommend not applying it close to the corners of your nose or lips as the PIL, if included, says. If in doubt I’ve found pharmacists to be very knowledgeable and helpful.

How Long To Use It For?

To my knowledge this will ultimately be governed by your GP. I first posted this in February 2021 and wanted to provide an update now that we are in July. I used Differin for around 14 months before gradually reducing my usage. I haven’t used Differin in around 3-4 months now and whilst I still have breakouts I’ve found these to be easily managed with shop bought skincare like Acnecide Gel Wash, pimple patches, The Ordinary Niacinamide serum and La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+.

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