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

I’m going to be honest, I’ve been shocking this month at keeping tabs on all the free deliveries I’ve had through the door as I’ve been adjusting to a new routine. Below is everything I can remember falling through the letter box or being picked up via cashback apps etc. I’m making a point of keeping better tabs on my samples for July!

Beauty

Ghost Orb Of Night Perfume sample – via a sponsored Facebook post

Paco Rabanne Cologne sample – I’m unsure where I managed to claim this from but shall be saving it up along with other aftershave samples to go with a friend’s gift later this year.

Aveda Leave In Conditioner – I’ve received one of these samples before and the product smells absolutely incredible.

A Beauty Box Swap with Raspberry LiqueurI sent Jess a box of beauty bits including some clearance Essie products I found in Boots and in exchange she sent me a wonderfully generous box of bits she though I’d like. The products she included were so thoughtful such as a shampoo and conditioner bar as she knows I’m keen to reduce environmental impact. The Balance Me hyaluronic acid beauty sleep product has been incredible for helping me fall asleep more quickly as it smells so relaxing. The perfume oil has also been an amazing discovery as I usually find wearing perfume daily irritates my skin whereas this oil formula doesn’t so it’s been a real treat to wear this for a couple of weeks with no negative reactions.

Food & Drink

4 Litres Mighty Pea Milk – via the cashback app Green Jinn. Whilst this isn’t my favourite dairy free milk at all it is perfectly edible on cereal and long life so I tend to pick them up whenever they are on offer. My typical dairy free milk retails at £1.80-2 per litre so this helps to save me lots of money which is great.

One Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll – via O2 Priority Moments on a Saturday morning. I’m a big fan of this deal and hope it keeps going for a long time. It’s a great free weekend pick me up.

Sadly there were no free coffees from Nero via O2 Priority this month as I just didn’t get the chance to claim them!

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

It always scares me how quickly the end of the month rolls around, especially this month as it reminds me that we are now somehow halfway through the year which feels crazy. I’m struggling to wrap my head around where the year has gone! As per usual here is my monthly round up of the best ways I saved money, made money and any bargain finds for the month. I’m afraid this month I did succumb to the pull of the Boots’ clearance section but as I picked up such insane bargains I’m not being too hard on myself about this! I’m thinking to introduce a no beauty buy very soon though as I have quite a hoard of products to work my way through.

Made Money

eBay – On the 2nd June I sold a pair of shoes that had been floating around on Marketplace and eBay for what felt like forever. I thought they were never going to shift. I was adamant I wanted a good price for them as they were in perfect condition. I sold them for £20 on eBay, the seller paid up straight away and I posted them first thing the next day so was very happy with this. Mid month I made a small sale of around £4 but as they all add up and I reuse packaging to save money and reduce environmental impact I was happy to make a trip to the Post Office for this.

Towards the end of the month I had a big ruthless wardrobe clear out and scheduled the listings to start on a Sunday at 7pm. I’m hoping these will help fund some new-to-me clothes next month. I tend to fund clothes by selling unwanted clothes, shoes or accessories as it stops me ending up with excessive amounts and means I can keep costs down as well as saving the planet.

Facebook Marketplace – I sold a couple of items of unwanted furniture that I’d been left and made £40 on one item and £30 on another in the space of 2 days. I also sold what I thought was a very dated looking clock for £8 on day 3 so was really happy with these sales. In total I ended up with £78.

Bargain Finds

Boots Clearance – This month I didn’t manage to resist the urge of Boots clearance section but my purchases were such incredible value that I don’t care! I got several bottles of brand new Essie nail varnish for 45p each as well as 3 liquid lipsticks from Lime Crime, an eyebrow pencil from Nyx and some heavily reduced Bakuchiol pads from Indeed Labs. I made such incredible savings on these items that I dedicated an entire blog post to these at the start of June.

Free Nails Inc Nail Varnish – One of my all time favourite Nails Inc polishes died. It was the perfect subtle silver glitter and I loved it. I got it ridiculously cheap on eBay in a limited edition set when Alexa Chung collaborated with the brand more years ago than I care to count. I looked up on eBay to see if I could get a direct replacement and it was going to cost me £7.95 with free delivery. Considering Nails Inc polishes are usually around £12-15 I didn’t think this was too awful but wasn’t impressed. eBay then predicted I might like a Holler-Graphic set of two varnishes, one fine silver glitter and another fine pink glitter for £8 with free delivery. As the silver looked so similar in swatches to my trusted favourite I decided to treat myself and order. I paid for these using money I’d made from selling things online and decided if I didn’t like the pink I could always resell it to make some of my money back.

Saved Money

6 Weeks Of Free Dairy-Free Milk

The Mighty Pea products made a return to Green Jinn in Tesco and Sainsbury. As these are long life I was able to pick up 6 of these over a 2 week period meaning that I saved £1.80 per carton compared to my usual product. I got 4 cartons over a fortnight from Tesco and 2 cartons from Sainsbury. I’m not a fan of the Protein variety but if you’re a fan of thicker milks, I imagine it would be great in smoothies or milkshakes, then there was the possibility of getting 9 cartons! I will add all of the Mighty Pea products are awful with Weetabix as they don’t really soak into the cereal but otherwise I like them in tea, coffee and on bowls of bran flakes or similar.

Cashback Grocery Apps

I did so well with cashback apps this month as well as getting the 6 free litres of plant based milk I was able to get money off things I’d intended to buy anyway just by checking the apps first. I saved £1.25 on an eco friendly deodorant refill I’d intended to buy after spotting there was a cashback offer on Green Jinn. I saved 45p on a punnet of strawberries making them around 55p and used a “try for 50p” drink offer to effectively get a Tesco meal deal for £2.40 in the end. This helped to keep my food costs down whilst ensuring I wasn’t bored with food and packed lunches.

Travel

I paid nothing in travel for most of the month by kindly receiving lifts from a colleague for work. I “paid” for these with homemade baked goods which I baked in large quantities to freeze some of for days I can’t be bothered to make cake or need an emergency sweet treat. I’m really grateful as not only did this save me money but also helped to save me some time and getting soggy in the rain.

Dinners In

Rather thank going out for dinner with a couple of friends we decided to take it in turns to cook at one another’s houses. One night this literally involved cooking some frozen pizzas that we added extra toppings to and another making a risotto using a Hello Fresh recipe but by purchasing ingredients from the supermarket. This worked out loads cheaper than eating out and as Covid has restricted social interaction so much for so long this felt like a real treat as opposed to cheapskate option!

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