Monthly Round Up – The Best Ways I Made Money, Saved Money, Bargain Finds & More In April

I love these monthly round up posts, I find them a really nice way to remind myself of all the great bargains I’ve collected. Read on to find out about my best savings!

Beauty Savings

Boots Clearance was once again very kind to me this month. I managed to pick up 4 lip balms for a ridiculously good price. I was over the moon because two of these are a flavoured version of my absolute favourite lip balm and set me back a whopping 61p each instead of the usual £2.69 a tube. As I love Blistex so much I couldn’t resist the SPF50 stick balm which cost me less than 75p. I thought this would come in super handy in the sunnier weather.

Super Savvy Me voucher – I was able to claim a free sample of Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle via Super Savvy Me and when it arrived it included a £2 off coupon for any of their full size 3MM products. I adore this conditioner, it is one of my favourites. I tried using the coupon in Tesco alongside their Clubcard price deal but it wasn’t accepted. In Boots the product was on offer and combined with the coupon and student discount I paid close to £1.50 for the bottle.

Combining the two offers mentioned above I was able to buy 6 items in Boots for less than £1 each in the end.

Free Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Palette – I’ve always saved up my Boots points for many months at a time without touching them. I’ve sworn for the last 3 years of doing this that one day I’d blow my points on an item that I could never justify buying but would love to have. I managed to stack a 20% off pay day promotion with a further 10% off £30+ spend and student discount to bring the £56 palette down to £36 enabling me to pay entirely with Boots points. I love and adore the Boots Advantage Card.

Boots £10 Tuesday I used this offer to buy 2 of my absolute favourite moisturisers. They retail at £17 each. I got 2 for £20, plus student discount making them £18 for two. I’ve been buying this La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo for around 6 years now so always try to make the most of deals well in advance as I know I’ll always use it.

Liz Earle 95p Hot Cloth Cleanser – towards the end of the month Liz Earle offered £5 off any item on their website. I managed to get a 30ml sample of their famous cleanser for 95p with free delivery as a result. There’s a high chance I will use this as part of a gift for a friend.

Not Buying Feel Unique’s Beauty Kit – I noted they had Clinique’s Moisture Surge day cream and night mask included in the kit which is brilliant value for money. The Paula’s Choice BHA was also included once again and is worth £10 alone so the kit for just over £12 is amazing. I was so incredibly tempted but held off buying as I have products to keep me going for the time being so this wasn’t a desperate need. I think it’s important to note the bargains I didn’t buy as well as the ones I did!

Dairy Free Savings

Holland And Barrett haul. I managed to get 4 new, large bars of dairy free chocolate for 89p each instead of £2.99 thanks to some clever deal stacking. If purchased online the cashback app Green Jinn offered £1.50 back. I found a 20% off code and free click and collect code which stacked. My entire order came to less than £5 for 5 items when I should have paid over £14.

Livia’s Snack haul. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I ended up buying Livia’s products on 3 separate occasions to make the most of offers as I rarely see these products reduced. The first purchase was a box of 4 Million Squares on Tesco Clubcard price which knocked £1.50 off the typical RRP. The second purchase was in Boots where certain snacks were 20% off plus a further 10% with student discount. The final purchase was in Holland and Barrett where I bought 3 packs of the magical Nugglets for 75p as they were due to go out of date in mid May. These products aren’t cheap at all, but they’re incredibly tasty, dairy free and made entirely with minimal natural ingredients. I haven’t tried one that I don’t love yet. I can only justify buying them whilst on promotion hence stocking up!

Money Making

eBay – After fees I made £20 selling a preloved dress on eBay. Towards the end of the month I then sold another item of unwanted clothing for £4.

Whilst not the best month for money making I’m fast running out of my unwanted items to sell so I’m still happy to have made an extra almost £25!

Comments Welcome

April ’21 – A Round Up Of All The Samples & Free Items I Got This Month And How I Got Them

The end of the month has crept up on us again already. I’m still slightly mind boggled by how we’ve hit the end of April but here we are and this means its monthly round up time! Read on to find out all the samples and products I was able to claim and try this month.

Beauty

Clinique Moisture Surge 5ml – via a sponsored Facebook post. I was thrilled to receive this sample of their new formula as my skin used to adore the original 72 hour version. I loved using this and have added it to my skincare wish list as I’d love to have this in my routine for night time use.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk palette – possibly one of my favourite free acquisitions ever. I got this by stacking some impressive deals on the Boots website and then paying with points. The palette has an RRP of £56. There was a 20% off promotion for pay day, an amazing Instagram follower of mine alerted me to a 10% off a £30+ spend and I then got student discount on top. The total came to £36 which I was able to cover in Boots point after collecting them for almost a year. I’m thrilled as I don’t spend money on make up usually but have had my eye on this palette for a few years now.

YSL Libre fragrance sample – I believe via a sponsored Facebook advert. This is the most common way I pick up fragrance samples asides from Boots Sampling.

Dr Hauschka day lotion sachet sample – again via a sponsored Facebook advert

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation sample – via a sponsored Facebook advert. This has been my go-to foundation for years. It’s the only foundation I apply for samples of. I tend to get one shade lighter than my usual bottle for cooler months when I’m paler. It’s rare that I apply a full face of foundation but I use these successfully as concealer.

1 litre tub full of Lush Bubble Bars – I downloaded Olio towards the end of April. As I don’t live in a big city I thought this would be a complete waste of time but within 12 hours of having the app I’d picked up what was advertised as a big bag of Lush soap. Turns out they were actually bubble bars but as I’m keen to reduce waste and use more eco beauty products where possible I’m still really pleased with this. I split the items I got with a friend.

Oral B Tooth Paste – 1 large tube and several minis thanks to a product testing opportunity from Super Savvy Me. The minis I’ll be sharing amongst friends, neighbours and family. I struggle with eating and drinking cold foods and I’ve never been able to bite ice cream so I’m excited to be testing the new Oral B Gum Calm toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Included in the box I received the discount code CALM50 which gets 50% off this toothpaste on Boots’ website until the 4/5. I’ve been using this since it arrived and so far I’m really liking that the mint flavour is subtle and it feels a lot more foamy and creamy than my usual toothpaste.

Arm and Hammer Tooth Paste – Via the Arm and Hammer Instagram Account. They offered samples to anyone who tagged their account whilst sharing a photo of their bathroom sink with their chosen hashtag. A couple of weeks later I received a generous sized sampling of their whitening toothpaste.

Dr Jart Cica Pair – Via a swipe up story on Instagram. This is my second sample of this product and I really like it so am very happy to have another to use.

Jo Malone Perfume samples – via a sponsored advert within an Elle magazine online article. These are beautifully boxed so I will likely add them to a friend’s birthday gift later this year.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Hair Conditioner sachet – via Super Savvy Me.

Home

5 lampshadesI’m fully aware this is a very random addition to my monthly round ups which usually consist of beauty samples and food. Whilst on a walk in my local neighbourhood I came across a driveway with a sign out front stating everything was free to a good home. As I own very little on the home-front and knew these would come in really handy for me I picked up 3 small red Laura Ashley square shades and 2 oat meal flecked large round shades. I’m particularly pleased with the large neutral ones.

2 carrier bags full of coat hangers – as Debenhams are sadly closing their doors for good and I desperately needed some new coat hangers I decided to try my luck. The sales assistant I spoke to was so kind and told me to take as many as I wanted, even offering to fill multiple carrier bags for me, because otherwise the hangers would be going to waste as I suspected. I was told I could pop back any time before they closed for more if I realised I needed extra.

A 4 Seater Dining Table – I was in need of a dining table and managed to find this one which is totally in keeping with my style for free via Facebook Marketplace which is fast becoming one of my favourite places for complete bargains. It’s in fantastic condition and matches my décor perfectly so I’m over the moon.

I’m really grateful for both of these finds as not only have they helped keep items out of landfill but also saved me money and will do me a good turn.

Food and Drink

2 Soya Iced Decaf Lattes & 1 Soya Cappucino – from Cafe Nero on a Tuesday or Wednesday via the O2 Priority Moments app. Since giving up dairy I’ve found most chain coffees from Starbucks or Costa a bit naff but Nero’s ones are really good. This save me £3.10+ per drink.

2 Vegan Sausage Rolls – from Greggs via O2 Priority Moments. I’m not vegan but wasn’t sure if the meat alternative contained dairy so decided to try the vegan one. It was so meaty I could barely tell it was plant based. I’m a big fan. I saved £2 by getting these for free.

Tetley Herbal Chamomile Tea Bags – free after cashback via the brilliant app Shopmium in Tesco. The RRP was £1.50.

Comments Welcome

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – Review – Used On Combination, Acne Prone Skin.

I’ve seen this product raved about by skincare fanatics and acne pages alike all over my Instagram feed. Since this product first came onto my radar last year I’ve only really seen one non-plussed review which naturally made me incredibly excited to try it. I thought this would be “the one” for me when it comes to chemical exfoliants. I’ve previously used the REN Ready Steady Glow toner which really helped me with pore congestion. I liked it, but decided to try the Pixi Glow as it was more budget friendly and this did nothing for me apart from sensitise my skin. Through my basic skincare powers of deduction I concluded the REN product had worked better for my congested pores because it contained a BHA as well as AHA which led me to the Paula’s Choice purchase. I bought this, along with 4 other products, as part of Feel Unique’s Beauty Kit which cost me a total of £16.90 including shipping and came with a £3.95 voucher to use on their website.

First Impressions

It has quite a strong smell which reminds me of a diluted nail varnish remover scent. It was also thicker, not like water, and far oilier in texture than I expected.

Product Claims (As Per the Paula’s Choice Website)

  • fast absorbing liquid which fights blackheads and removes dead skin cells
  • for breakouts, redness, blackheads and enlarged pores
  • reveals smoother, clearer more radiant skin

My Experience Using Paula’s Choice BHA

2 weeks before starting this product I opened my first oil cleanser – I chose one by Simple. Within 2 weeks of using the BHA and 4 weeks of the oil cleanser I began breaking out in areas I normally have clear skin. My only real “problem” area is my chin and jawline but at this time I had several pimples across my forehead and cheeks which is pretty unheard of. I stopped using the oil cleanser and continued with the BHA at the advice of Paula’s Choice. I was grateful that they responded to my Instagram message within a day and advised me to keep going to 4 weeks of use.

It’s weird this breakout happened because the oil cleanser I thoroughly washed off and followed up with Cerave’s Cream To Foam Hydrating cleanser so it wasn’t left on my skin long. I’m no stranger to salicylic acid, the active ingredient in the BHA, so although I was aware of purging from products thought it strange I was breaking out. I’ve previously used cleansers, toners and spot treatments with salicylic acid in over the last 6+ years with no purging incidents. I’m still not able to pin point which product caused this reaction but luckily it did stop after I gave up oil cleansing and hit end of week 3 of the PC. I’m certain a product was the cause as my lifestyle habits remained the same throughout this period.

I had such high hopes for this BHA. I’d even previously seen some skincare accounts on Instagram claim they’d seen overnight results from just one use of this – as far as I recall they weren’t sponsored posts or ADs. I’m now wondering how on earth they saw these apparent results as 4.5 weeks in I was still waiting on mine.

I applied this as instructed by breaking it in gradually. At first I used it twice a week and by week 3 I progressed to every other day as I hadn’t experienced any dryness or sensitivity from using this product. 4 weeks in, asides from the slightly alarming mystery breakout which was by this point on it’s way out, I noticed no difference in my skin at all. The enlarged dark pores around my nose and across the tops of my cheeks looked exactly the same as usual. There was also no improvement to the uneven texture of my skin which I’m most aware of across my chin. At this point I was exceedingly glad I hadn’t forked out £10 for the mini 30ml bottle or even worse £28 for the 118ml full size.

By week 6 when using clay masks I noticed the pores on the area across my nose and upper cheeks looked less significant. Without the clay masks in some lights I thought there was a minor improvement and in others I thought I was imagining things. By week 7 I can comfortably say there were improvements to my congested pores without any sensitisation which is great. There were no improvements to the overall texture of my skin by the end of my 8 week trial period. At best guess the 30ml bottle is half full or slightly less at this point. At week 6 I reintroduced the oil cleanser using it 3 times a week as I hate products going to waste, 2 weeks later I hadn’t experienced any mystery breakouts – make of that what you will!

Likes: it can easily be applied using 1 or 2 drops on clean fingers to save using cotton pads, didn’t dry my skin out when breaking in gently, didn’t sensitise my skin when used every other day, 2 months in it improved the look of my congested pores.

Dislikes: slower than expected to see results, slightly oily texture – I prefer more watery liquids personally, price – it is rather expensive. This also didn’t address my breakouts any more effectively than The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum which costs £5 per 30ml so is far cheaper.

Rebuy? Certainly not immediately, I wouldn’t rule out trying another of these minis at a similar price to what I paid for this one in the future. At the moment I can’t wait to get back to the REN Ready Steady Glow. From memory this product addressed pore congestion for me in a shorter time frame, it is less expensive and REN have better eco credentials than most beauty companies which I like. I didn’t hate this Paula’s Choice product at all, I know it’s a cult favourite for so many but it just left me a little underwhelmed. It did eventually deliver the results I wanted when it came to clearing pore congestion but I’m not crazy about the oily texture of it or the RRP of £28 for 118ml. REN has an RRP of £15 for 100ml which is almost half the price and I seem to recall this making my skin look more radiant.

Once I’ve switched back to the REN Ready Steady Glow for a decent length of time I’ll provide a comparison post of the 2!

Comments Welcome

A Review Of Banish Acne Scars – Fighter Gel – Used On Combination Acne Prone Skin With Occasional Dryness

Banish is a brand I’ve seen all over Instagram as I follow plenty of acne positivity accounts. I’ve yet to see a negative review of the products and they seem very highly rated almost with cult status amongst the Instagram acne community. Given that the brand is based in the US, whilst I’d been very keen to try their range, I’d been put off by the idea of importing them from the States. As I’m really keen to reduce waste I reached out to Kara Olivia Beauty offering her some hair products she’d spoken about that I’d no longer use and she kindly traded me this in return. It felt like a real moment of excitement when this product dropped through the letter box and I’m really grateful to Kara for sending me it.

Things I Like About The Brand

They use real skin to promote their products. Their social media posts and website are full of photos of acne before and afters of using their range which I love. It also frustrates, saddens and disappoints me when a beauty or skincare brand market a product towards acne prone skin by using clear skinned models. It just doesn’t sit right with me so I really like this about the brand. I’m less keen on being called a “soldier” when visiting their website and browsing their products as it makes me feel like they’re trying to imply I’m at war with my skin when I actually now feel somewhat at peace with it having reached acne or real skin acceptance.

First Impressions Of Fighter Gel Before Use

I like that it comes in a glass jar and I intend to reuse this as either bathroom storage or a small plant pot once empty. I prefer glass jars to plastic ones as I feel like they’re better for the planet and nicer to keep so they don’t end up in the bin, or at least certainly not in my home!

Upon opening the jar for the first time I was pretty blown away by the strong minty smell of the gel. I didn’t expect it to be as powerful as it was but then virtually all my other skincare products aren’t scented so this may be why. It reminded me of a peppermint candy cane smell or something medicinal like Vics menthol Vapour Rub for easing blocked sinuses.

Product Claims As Per Banish’s Website

  • Designed to reduce redness and provide comfort for eczema, flaky skin and break outs
  • Green tea extract reduces sebum production and redness
  • Ideal for oily or dry skin
  • Vegan, cruelty free, oil free, dye and silicone free
  • Can strengthen skin quality against dryness

My Experience Using Fighter Gel

The instructions say to apply 1 or 2 times a day after cleansing and serums but before moisturisers and SPF. It can be applied to areas of irritation, dryness, redness or on breakouts.

The first time I applied a thin amount of this product to my skin I was surprised at the bouncy texture but even more so at just how much it stung on my chin area. It certainly did not “provide comfort” as the website states. I use prescription retinoids Adapalene to manage my acne several times a week at night. The first time I applied this after cleansing my face and it really stung, almost to the level that I wanted to wash it off. My chin area can sometimes experience dryness as a side effect of the Adapalene but given this product is marketed for dry or oily skin with flakiness or breakouts this came as quite an unwanted surprise. It sadly wasn’t a one off and has regularly stung despite my skin not appearing as or feeling dry. It always feels very cold on application. I haven’t washed it off after applying but have sometimes noticed an increased redness on areas I’ve applied it until my skin calms slightly. I even contacted Kara to ask if she’d experienced this stinging thinking perhaps I was using the product wrong and it wasn’t a subtle sensation. On a positive note, if I think beyond the initial stinging which didn’t happen with every use, I came to rather like the cooling feeling it gives when I apply it and the gel does melt really easily into the skin without pilling.

I do have a patch of eczema on my body but given the more-often-than-not-stinging on my face where my skin wasn’t flaky at all I was too hesitant to try the Fighter Gel on this. Maybe I’m missing out, but when I think back to that stinging which made me fan my hands as though I was comically trying to dry my nails on first use, I can’t bring myself to try it on eczema. I offered my housemate this opportunity, she sniffed it and politely declined. I contacted Banish to explain my difficulties with this stinging and was advised to apply a thinner layer of product but unfortunately this only made a very minor difference.

I opened this product at the beginning of March and began applying, as instructed, to break outs which mostly included my chin area and dots on my forehead where I had spots. About three weeks in of twice daily use I found myself looking up what the product claims were. I was starting to wonder what the product was trying to address as I wasn’t really noticing any particular extra results for incorporating this into my routine. I appreciate that isn’t a long time when it comes to testing out a new product but equally if this is designed to work as a blemish treatment to reduce inflammation I’d expect to see some results within that time. I didn’t find it particularly helped with the occasional dryness I experience from Adapalene which struck me as odd given that they say this can help with flaky skin.

Another factor influencing my slight impatience with wanting results of some kind is that this 50ml jar costs $39. This doesn’t include shipping to the UK. It isn’t cheap and I’ve certainly used less expensive products to address breakouts like targeted spot treatments, which is how I used this, that have been more effective than this. I’m not trying to say this product doesn’t work as a blemish treatment or that it’s no good, I’m saying that for me personally I didn’t really notice any benefits to using this over my lower priced existing skincare collection. They also didn’t cause the bizarre stinging that this does – it isn’t necessarily painful, just feels very strange.

After 5 weeks I found myself not reaching for this product and sort of giving up on it slightly. When I had a particularly sore breakout I opted instead for my trusted pimple patches in the evening and La Roche Posay Effaclar AI during the day. One morning I realised I forgot to apply the Banish Fighter Gel and popped a thin layer over moisturiser when really you’re supposed to apply beforehand. It dried leaving a really tight feeling on my skin that made me feel like pulling strange faces to try and ease the restrictive sensation so didn’t do this again. I had to wash it off on this occasion. Truthfully I think I’m going to find it hard to get through the jar before it expires within 6 months of opening as I can see myself forgetting I have this in my collection.

I also just can’t get past the stinging even though it doesn’t last long or happen every time. My skin doesn’t look or feel particularly dry but more often than not there’s mild stinging when I first apply this gel, even as a thin layer. I should mention none of my other products stung on application, including a BHA exfoliant.

Likes: cooling feeling on application, doesn’t pill, fresh smell, glass jar packaging

Dislikes: stinging, not enough results to justify the price

The Final Word

I’m writing this conclusion after using the product for over 6 weeks.

I’ve used other products which, for me personally, work better for my skin in tackling and managing breakouts which aren’t as expensive. I was really excited to try the iconic brand Banish but this has left me feeling a bit flat and deflated about their products. I wouldn’t rush or pay a similar price to the Fighter Gel to try any of their other products after this experience which I’ve found a bit sad if I’m honest. For me The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum and La Roche Posay’s AI treatment work better as a combination to treat any breakouts and redness, mostly hyperpigmentation, for less than half the price of a jar of Fighter Gel.

Comments Welcome

The Best Budget Products I’ve Used For My Combination, Acne Prone Skin: A Review Of The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum.

I’ll confess I was rather late to the game when it came to trying this cult favourite. There were a couple of reasons for this, I’d previously tried two other serums, one being the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair which is far from cheap and didn’t notice any difference in my skin. Another hesitation was that reviews I’d read online either highly rated this, or claimed it caused really big breakouts and I was scared I’d fall into the second category. I’m incredibly glad I decided to take the plunge and buy this serum. I’m now nearing the end of my second bottle and have already lined up the mega sized 60ml bottle in my stash so I don’t have to be without this. Prior to using this product I’d tried The Ordinary Hyaluronic acid serum and didn’t really have anything positive or negative to say about it so never repurchased it. I expected this product to be very much the same if I’m honest but I was so, so wrong.

Price – RRP £5.00 for 30ml & £8.90 for 60ml.

I never thought for a second that such a low budget skincare product could make such a difference to my skin. It is incredibly good value for money and affordable. I paid £4.50 for my first bottle by using student discount via Boots. I personally think this is a fantastic price for anyone thinking about trying a Niacinamide serum, or even venturing into the world of skincare for the first time. I love that The Ordinary released a double size bottle which gives further savings on price per ml as I always buy big sizes of products I trust as they save me money in the long run.

Product Claims – As Per Deceim’s Website

  • high strength vitamin and mineral blemish formula
  • alcohol, oil, gluten, silicone, nut and cruelty free
  • reduces the appearance of blemishes and congestion
  • balances visible aspects of sebum (oil) production
  • studies suggest Niacinamide has brightening properties
This is one product I don’t ever want to be without – and I LOVE that it is so reasonably priced!

My Review

I’m not even going to dance around this – this is a product I don’t want to be without and I can’t be bothered to try other niacinamide serums when this works so well for me at such a low cost. NOTHING I’ve ever tried in 6+ years of having varying degrees of adult acne has ever made a difference to the oil levels of my skin until I tried this product. Prior to using this I’d always end up with a mid afternoon oily sheen, even when wearing mattifying moisturisers, foundation and setting powder. Within around 3-4 weeks of using this I began noticing my forehead was significantly less shiny meaning my whole face looked consistent with more of a healthy glow look as opposed to a partial oil slick I always felt inclined to blot. Seeing this difference came as a real positive shock and I’m thrilled with the result.

I haven’t experienced any irritation with using this. I haven’t noticed any stinging or dryness from it either. I initially used this once a day in the mornings before applying twice a day after 2 weeks. I only use this on my forehead where I was once prone to shininess due to combination skin and my chin where I am acne prone. I never thought I’d be saying “was once prone to shininess” as a past tense which makes me realise how miraculous this has been for my skin. It does look a bit white and frothy if I apply a bit too much but it soaks in quickly and from there on isn’t visible. It can pill but this doesn’t effect me badly when applying moisturiser then SPF afterwards. It isn’t problematic and is very minor for me but I have read other reviews that dislike this formula for its pilling. I haven’t worn foundation in about a year what with staying at home due to the pandemic so can’t comment how well this works under make up.

I’ve not noticed any major improvements with congestion but for how effective this is at managing the oil levels of my skin I don’t care. Particularly given the price of this serum. Since using this I feel like my skin looks a lot healthier and more balanced rather than having naturally matte cheeks and a glossy forehead. For me it works well to help control and manage spots, helping to clear them without causing them to dry out.

Likes – transformed my skin from mid afternoon oil slick to a healthy glow, doesn’t cause breakouts, no irritation, price

Dislikes – dare I say it? None come to mind.

Comments Welcome