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

Last month I optimistically thought August would be a calmer, quieter month for me but it has been far from peaceful in all the best ways. I’ve simply not been on my phone as much to register for sampling opportunities but in true frugal fashion I’ve done very well with saving on any shopping trips I have been on such as picking up free food whilst doing the grocery run. Without further ado below is every thing I picked up at zero cost this month.

Beauty

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream – I’ve been curious about this cult favourite for some time now so was pleased to be able to get hold of a sample of this to try out. I was able to get this via filling out a sponsored social media advert.

Carolina Herrera Liquid Lipstick – I managed to get this after filling in a sponsored advert on Pinterest. It took nearly 2 months to arrive but was definitely worth the wait as the pink toned red is such a beautiful colour. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a lipstick and have quite the collection of glorious minis like this.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair – I got 2 sachets of this from a sponsored social media advert. I’ll be saving these up, along with other high end beauty samples, to make a gift for a relative as they love this product and I find it a bit underwhelming.

I’m sorry to say beyond this I totally lost track of any postal freebie arrivals and didn’t manage to pick any up in stores!

Food / Drink

3 x Greggs breakfast rolls – one a week via O2 Priority Moments. I generally tend to pop into town to run errands early in the morning on a Saturday and add this to my list as it’s a completely free treat to start the weekend.

Iced latte from Cafe Nero – again free via O2 Priority Moments on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I’m slightly disappointed I only managed to grab one of these but did nail how to make a wonderful coconut milk iced latte at home with Aldi’s 69p long life milk so I’m not too upset by this!

Peanut cereal bar from Holland and Barrett – via an offer on Shopmium. Whilst I don’t like peanuts I popped to the shop to browse clearance items and decided to grab this whilst there. I often do this and pass them onto friends or donate to food banks as it’s a totally free way to do a good deed.

Nucao Original Sea Salt chocolate bar – Green Jinn offered £1.15 cashback. I bought the bar on clearance for £1.14 on a whim and was granted the cashback so technically made 1p profit. These bars are very densely nutty.

Sproud Pea Milk – from Waitrose via an offer on Green Jinn. This is long life so I grabbed one to pop in the cupboard. I do this whenever I see long life plant based milks for free on cashback apps as it helps me to save a fortune in dairy free milks.

Mighty banana vegan milkshake – again via an offer on Green Jinn. I find this by far the best cashback app for saving money on dairy free or vegan items.

Meal in Pizza Express – by paying with Tesco Clubcard vouchers

Home

3 x Items Of Furniture – I got all of these free after spotting a listing on Facebook Marketplace. The previous owner was having a house clearance and just wanted the items gone to save them having to pay for a service to take it all away. I’m a huge fan of the mid century style and had actually been looking for one of these exact units from the start of the year so I am absolutely thrilled with this find.

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My Decision To Ditch Dairy 1 Year On – Did This Dietary Swap Really Help My Acne Prone Skin & Improve My Life?

I’ve always been a hardcore lover of cheese so even writing the title of this, realising it’s been over a year, slightly blows my mind. I gave up dairy around the middle of 2020 as I was trying to find ways to help my skin that didn’t require medication I was uncomfortable with taking. I tried this once before for around 3 months in 2016, focusing mostly on lactose-free products, with no real difference but if I’m being honest with myself – I didn’t try that hard.

I Feel Better In Myself

If I put aside my skin for a second on the whole I feel better for not eating dairy. One of the reasons I decided to go without it for a time wasn’t based just on hysterical Google searches but the fact that dairy, particularly in the mornings, always made me feel sick. I’ve also never liked the taste of cows milk and could never drink it on it’s own, the idea makes me shudder even now. I could drink a cup of coffee no problem but it had been years since I’d been able to have cereal that wasn’t dry without feeling rough. Ditching dairy enabled me to rekindle a love for Cheerios, Fruit & Fibre, Weetabix and more. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed these. Prior to this switch every breakfast I ate was something toasted. In the last 7-8 months once I realised vegan products didn’t make me feel ill all I’ve eaten each morning has involved milk or yoghurt in some way.

There’s Very Little I Miss

On an almost monthly basis new dairy free or vegan products seem to be released with big brands like Petit Filous, The Collective, Kit Kat and more jumping on the bandwagon. Many products I actually prefer to dairy. I never really liked dairy creme fraiche, finding the almost sweet aftertaste odd in savoury dishes, but Oatly’s answer to this product completely converted me. The fact that it has a long shelf life and is incredible in pasta dishes makes it a fridge staple for me. Some products are so good now that it feels like zero compromise and I’ve had dairy-eating friends unable to tell the difference. Examples include Elmlea’s plant based cream, Magnum ice creams, Ristorante’s vegan margarita and the newly discovered plant based passionfruit flavoured yoghurt from The Collective. Brands like HiP – Happiness In Plants and Doisy and Dam mean I can enjoy chocolate without feeling disappointed at all. If I had to dig deep the only things I miss are Solero Exotic ice creams and that it’s harder to find a good coffee when out and about – Cafe Nero remain my favourite high street chain for dairy free coffees.

I Still Eat Cheese

After letting me skin run my life when I first developed acne in 2016 I vowed never to let that happen again. I still love cheese so I still eat cheese. I’ve tried two vegan ones and they just don’t cut it for me so instead I have it less frequently than I used to and I go for lactose-free options. Lactose free cheddar is easy to find, Lidl have very reasonably priced sliced edam and Tesco have an own brand mozzarella although sadly this is getting harder to find in stores. I’ve recently discovered Waitrose have lactose free Halloumi and Feta so rest assured I’ll be jumping on those very soon. I used to consume a family sized block of cheddar a week. Nowadays a small pack of lactose-free cheddar lasts me 2-3 weeks. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate cheese more for not having it every day. Basic things I previously got bored of like cheese toasties now feel like the most wonderful self-indulgent treat.

I Cheat Sometimes Because I’m Human

I make occasional exceptions for things like Sour Cream Pringles, Dairy Milk and the odd Solero Exotic and I don’t feel remotely guilty for it.

Quitting Dairy Sparked More Of An Interest In Food

I’ve never cared for cooking and used to easily get stuck into a rut with eating the same things. Cutting back on dairy gave me the opportunity to try so many new things to find new favourites. Some have been real hits and there have been a few misses but I actually get excited about seeing something I’ve read about on a supermarket shelf whereas before I felt a bit like a zombie filling my basket with the same old things. Reducing my cheese intake forced me to up my lunch game from the default cheese and ham sandwiches I’d unknowingly become sick of. I feel like quitting dairy has hugely diversified what I eat which has been really good for me.

It Hasn’t Been As Expensive As I Thought

This is largely due to using cashback apps like Green Jinn. These have enabled me to get dairy free products either for free or hugely reduced. At the time of publishing I have 8 cartons of long life plant based milk in the cupboard which haven’t cost me a penny. I’ve been able to get free yoghurts, reduced vegan pizza, free plant based flapjacks and more all via cashback apps. It was a bit of a learning journey at first but I now know that some products are accidentally vegan so there’s no need to fork out for the “free from” section version. For example Tesco’s own brand dark chocolate digestive biscuits and Bakewell tarts don’t list dairy in the ingredient lists! I got into the habit of quickly scanning packaging labels. Lidl and Aldi now have vegan products which are reasonably priced, Asda also have some amazingly cheap desserts and free from products. I’ve found Home Bargains to be excellent for cheap snack bars which I see as dupes for Nak’d Bars and Eat Natural bars for half the branded price or less.

I Can’t Confidently Say Quitting Dairy Helped Me

I honestly tried so many things around a similar time that I can’t declare with 100% conviction that ditching dairy was the answer. I know for a fact that cutting caffeine did me a world of good and I’ve experienced less cysts since. Although I can’t say for certain that doesn’t mean I intend to jump back on the dairy wagon. I don’t really feel like I’d have anything to gain from doing so. I will say my skin is consistently in the best place it has been for years. I still break out from time to time because hormones exist but this now feels easily manageable. I put this improvement down to a combination of changes. I don’t feel restricted by my decision to reduce dairy and for as long as I feel this way I’ll stay as I am.

All The Free Items I Got During My Birthday Month – Including How To Get Beauty Gifts From Rituals, The Body Shop, Space NK and more.

I do love birthday months for getting extra samples at no cost. It’s a brilliant opportunity to try new things or have a little treat from brands you love. Any regular visitors to my blog will know that I’m a huge skincare fan and love trying new products without breaking the bank after spending years trying to address adult acne. Brands with a more environmentally friendly approach also have a very special place in my heart so I’m thrilled to be able to try plastic-free make up remover that doesn’t require cotton pads from The Body Shop as well as a new REN mask at zero cost this year. If you aren’t signed up to some of these loyalty schemes that offer birthday perks you’re missing out! There are plenty more out there but I’ve chosen to focus on beauty related ones as I find those the most exciting.

Space NK

On the 1st of the month I received an email from Space NK inviting me to pick up my free birthday gift in store with no purchase necessary. It is possible to get this online but when I’ve contacted them about this a purchase has been required. Last year I ordered a £6 REN Ready Steady Glow toner and got free delivery to receive my beauty gift but this ear it didn’t cost me a penny. I was so happy to pick this up as it contained a facial tanner and I’ve been keen to give one a go as well as a vitamin C serum and glycolic product from REN. I’m a huge fan of REN for effective formulas and eco ethos. I definitely prefer this gift to last year and it came with the most amazing printed tissue paper with cult beauty products on it!

Boots

Via the app I got offered double points for the entire of my birthday month if I loaded the deal to my advantage card. I did this as soon as I saw it as I love getting extra bonuses for things I intended to buy anyway. I didn’t go out of my way to make the most of this but purchased a couple of essentials a few weeks early to make the most of in store offers and the double points deal. I’m a big fan of buying ahead for saving money.

The Body Shop

I got a free £5 voucher from TBS for being a Love Your Body Club member. I redeemed this on a mini of their Chamomile Cleansing Butter which I will say looks absolutely tiny! Whilst the larger size worked out at far better value for money I didn’t want to spend the remaining £6 on the larger £11 tin when truth be told I’m not in desperate need of a cleanser. By choosing the mini one there was zero spend involved and I still get to try a product I’ve been excited about for a while. I’ve seen it is Caroline Hirons approved as well as TBS being a more eco conscious beauty brand than most available high street options.

Shopmium

Via Shopmium, a cashback app largely for groceries, as I’m a gold member I was offered a free box of Celebrations chocolates. Whilst I don’t really eat dairy I decided to pick these up as I could always gift them on to someone else if I decided I didn’t want them. The offer was £3 cashback, due to Tesco Clubcard prices I paid £2 so ended up making a £1 profit. To be a gold member of Shopmium it is totally free, I think you just need to submit a certain number of cashback requests initially and then one each month to stay in the gold level. I’ve found this really easy to do.

Rituals Cosmetics

Reading this you may think I’ve gone mad but I decided not to claim my birthday gift from Rituals this year. Their free gift for loyalty club members is a silky full size shower oil worth £8.50. However; as I don’t live near a store and couldn’t find a free delivery code online I was going to have to spend around £6-7 on products and postage to get the freebie and there wasn’t anything I really needed. I did consider making the most of this and saving the products for Christmas gifts but my heart wasn’t in it.

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

Somehow another month has flown by and it’s time to write a samples round up post. How we are halfway through the year already is completely beyond me. This month I received an incredible amount of products which I’m both really excited about and grateful for.

Beauty

Mac Mascara – via Boots sampling. I’ve previously tried one mascara from this brand and really liked it so am looking forward to giving this a go.

Paco Rabanne Fragrance Samples – I believe this was also via Boots sampling

Paco Rabanne Aftershave Samples – This was from a sponsored advert. I save up aftershave samples for several months and them gift them to a friend as a little something towards a birthday or Christmas present.

Burts Bees Lip Balms – Burts Bees really generously offered 2 lip balms to anyone on Instagram who shared a photo of their existing Burts Bees products using specific hashtags. I received two full sized tubes of their balms in the post a couple of weeks later. I’m a serial lip biter when stressed so always have a huge stash of lip balm so these are hugely appreciated!

Bite Beauty Mascara – via Boots sampling. Mascara samples save me a lot of money on make up so I’m always grateful when I can pick them up!

Chanel Liquid Lipstick & Perfume Sample – via the Boots apps. Under the events section of my inbox there was an invitation to pick up a Chanel goodie bag with zero spend required. I believe this was account specific so not everyone got it. I also had an offer to pick up a free sample from Elizabeth Arden but sadly there are no counters for this brand locally to me.

Space NK Birthday Gift – I got 4 mini products from amazing brands like Sunday Riley, Drunk Elephant and REN for free with no purchase required by being an NDuldge member. It’s free to sign up to this loyalty scheme and a fantastic way to try new products. I picked my gift up in store.

The Body Shop Birthday £5 Voucher – I received a £5 voucher for being a member of their Love Your Body club which I really recommend joining.

PR or Gifted Packages

I am always incredibly grateful to receive packages like these. When I first started my blog in the midst of the chaos of lockdowns in 2020 I didn’t see this coming at all so never take it for granted. A huge thank you to the individuals and brands which sent me products and have given me the opportunity to try even more self-care goodies. I appreciate every one of you.

Peace Out Skincare

I’m really humbled to receive this 3 product set from Peace Out. I was in no way obligated to share or review but naturally will be as I love testing out new skincare and sharing my reviews. First impressions are how much I love their holographic packaging with the message “make peace with your skin”. This really resonated with me as I used to feel like I was waging war against my spots when I was younger and found that real skin acceptance and trying not to nuke my face was life changing!

Avene Cleanance Cleanser & Moisturiser

These were really kindly passed on to to me by Kara Olivia Beauty as she found they didn’t quite suit her skin. To stop them going to waste she generously posted me them to try out. I’ve used the Cleanance Comedomed moisturiser before with no complaints and am one week into using the gel cleanser.

La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF Products

Via La Roche Posay’s online skincare community I won a package of 3 SPF products. I believe I won this by uploading a photo to their gallery of my favourite of their products. I’ve previously tried a sample of their infamous SPF50 facial sun protection so am looking forward to opening a full size bottle to road test. Naturally in time full reviews will be on their way.

The Acne Pharmacist Gift Swap

I’m lucky to count Lydia, who is behind the amazing account The Acne Pharmacist, as a very good Insta-friend. Not only is her content informative and inspiring but she’s also incredibly supportive and always makes me laugh. We decided to have a little gift box swap. She sent me some wonderful vegan chocolate, non alcoholic cocktail cans, a conditioner bar and some new skincare products to try out. Regular readers of my blog will know just how perfect this package was given that I don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat dairy, am trying to make eco switches and frankly, I’m addicted to skincare. In return I sent her some dairy free chai latte cans we’d spoken about, some beauty and skincare samples and cans of Kombucha which I knew she’d enjoy far more than me.

Food & Drink

2 Litres Mighty Pea Milk – via the app Green Jinn. This stuff is long life, dairy free and whilst it isn’t my favourite milk it’s nice on cereal and I’ve totally got used to it in hot drinks. It retails at £2 per carton and I pick it up whenever I see it on cashback apps. So far I’ve got 8 stashed away in the cupboard. Once open a carton lasts me about a week so I’m covered for the next couple of months!

2 Vegan Sausage Rolls & A Sausage Bap – via Greggs and O2 Priority Moments. As this offer is available on a Saturday morning I tend to time running errands with this deal when it suits my schedule. It’s a nice mid morning treat. Sadly due to my intense work schedule lately I’ve missed out on the free Cafe Nero drinks this month but hopefully next month should be able to get back on those as I have some time booked off work!

2 Tubs Alpro yoghurt – via Green Jinn which meant I had some very cheap breakfasts. These cashback offers saved me £4.20 on a weekly essential I’d have bought anyway so this is amazing.

2 Vegan Probiotics / 1 Vegan Milkshake – again via the incredible Green Jinn app. I claimed the probiotics from Waitrose and the milkshake via Tesco. I love these apps for being such a great opportunity to try new products and they save me so much money on dairy free items.

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

July was an incredibly busy month for me meaning I definitely didn’t put any effort into money making this month. I’m hoping when things calm down over August to get back on the eBay train selling clothes I no longer wear and more. In terms of bargains, I’m mildly ashamed to say I succumbed to the lures of the Boots Clearance section but as I paid with my Advantage Card points I think I can be forgiven. I’m banning myself from Boots for August!

Made Money

I sold an unwanted household item for £15 on Facebook Marketplace which was a pleasant surprise as I forgot I’d listed the item a month previously. During the last week of July I received an offer on eBay for an item of clothing I’d borderline given up trying to shift. I ended up making around £7 profit and considering it only cost me £10 in the first place from an ex-high-street clothing market in London I was pleased with that.

I’ve unfortunately been so busy this month that I’ve not had a chance to properly list more clothes on eBay etc but it will be top of my priority list in August.

Bargain Finds

I picked up an Indeed Labs Watermelon Melting Cleansing Balm which still retails for £24.99 on Superdrug and Look Fantastic’s websites for £2.70 in Boots clearance section. It was marked with a £3 sticker and I then got a further 30p off thanks to student discount. I paid with my Boots points so it didn’t cost me anything. This can be used to remove make up and my current make up remover is running out so that helped me to justify this!

I also picked up a Lee Stafford Heat Protection leave in hydrating cream for £1.80 also. I try to look after my hair with low cost products to save me having to pay for hair cuts quite so often so was pleased to grab this as my current one is 2/3rds empty. Once again I paid with Boots points so there was zero spend involved.

In Wilko I picked up this adorable Chinese Money Plant for £1.50 instead of £3 as it looked in need of some care. I’ve wanted one of these plants for a while but been unable to spot one in stores for under £8 so am really happy with this.

Food Savings

Clearance Food – the main element of almost every main meal I ate this month was from the clearance section of Tesco. I managed to time my supermarket arrivals really well to stock up the freezer with reduced fish and more. I’ve been hunting for nearly a year since I gave up dairy for clearance vegan cake and finally hit the jackpot this month. I managed to get a BOSH chocolate cake reduced. As it didn’t say “not suitable for home freezing” I chopped it up and froze 3/4s of the cake which was then defrosted on a slice by slice basis when I fancied a treat.

Lots Of Free Vegan Food – via Green Jinn. I saved £8 on 4 cartons of long life Mighty Pea milk, £4.20 on two large tubs of Alpro Greek Style yoghurt and £1.60 on a vegan chocolate milkshake. I also managed to score 2 vegan probiotic drinks for nothing saving £2.40. Green Jinn is by far the best app for dairy free and has saved me so much money. I haven’t had to buy dairy free milk in over 5 weeks now because I’ve been able to grab these almost weekly. They’re long life and retail at £2 a carton usually so this has been a great saving for me on an essential item. I now have 8 cartons stocked up in the cupboard which are in date through until June next year which is brilliant.

Lunch Box Additions – via Checkout Smart and Tesco Clubcard I managed to get two boxes of 100g pea stick snacks for a total spend of 20p for the two. Green Jinn had an offer for 45p off own brand strawberries which I managed to use also. Via Shopmium I got a free 500ml Robinsons drink also which made a nice treat as this isn’t something I would normally buy.

Cheap Treats – Via Shopmium I scored a £5 tub of vegan ice cream for £3, I’d usually spend about £2.50 on occasion for a treat so decided to go for this as I’d never buy it full price. I also discovered Asda is incredibly reasonable for dairy free desserts with a pack of 2 chocolate mousses or tiramisu retailing for £1. Tesco’s equivalent in virtually the exact same packaging is £1.80. I can confirm I tried both and they were amazing.

Home Bargains Dairy Free Snacks – Home Bargains is the best for reasonably priced, relatively healthy dairy free snacks. They have dupes of Nak’d bars which are 99p for a box of 3 and only made with 100% natural ingredients. I’ve tried both the cocoa orange and blueberry flavours before and they’re fantastic. I also got 2 boxes of Graze Superfood Oat snacks for £1.49 a box instead of £2.50. Whilst there I discovered that the lemon and blueberry flavour which previously contained milk are now vegan so I was over the moon. I find these sorts of snacks brilliant for on the move or when I’m craving something sweet but avoiding chocolate etc.

Free Box Of Celebrations – via Shopmium as July was my birthday month. Whilst I don’t really eat dairy I decided to claim these as I could always gift them on to someone else. I was offered £3 cashback from Shopmium, they were on Tesco Clubcard price for £2 so I ended up making £1 profit on this.

For all the other amazing freebies I got during my birthday month stay tuned for a post scheduled very soon!

Saved Money

Thanks to the mostly glorious UK weather I did a lot more walking to get from A to B which resulted in free exercise and travel. This month was so hectic that I ate out only once and shared lunch with a friend outside in the sunshine at an independent cafe which was lovely.

I only visited the Boots clearance section once so I feel that needs to be noted as a way I saved money!

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