12 Days of Christmas (#3): Gifts For The Man In Your Life

I will confess that the products that on this post aren’t the cheapest and most budget friendly options, but (1) I have to avoid posting exactly what I have got my boyfriend or dad, and (2) I try and do my Christmas shopping in advance, so most things I would have originally chosen are long gone. I’ll give some cheaper ideas in the post too, but a lot of those don’t photograph too well! All photographs are taken from the links given.

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From left to right, top to bottom, we have…

  • A box of classic ales. Beer or cider always goes down well!
  • A cute Christmassy jumper – I love this one!
  • Some kind of manly cooking course – this Pie & Pint one local to my home looks amazing! I’d want to book one that we could both do together though, as I’m greedy!
  • A scarf – I love the tartan styles ones around at the moment. I bought a lambswool one (before they became fashionable I’ll have you know!) during the Edinburgh Fringe and I love it!
  • A Make Your Own Bacon Kit – how cool does this look?! I can’t think of many men who would be disappointed to find this in their stocking!
  • A good leather wallet – Ebay has some fab offerings, like this one.
  • A funny book is something I think is a great little stocking filler. I’ve done FML ones in the past, but I desperately want to read this Exam Fails one!
  • If you know your man’s style well enough (I find they are quite personal things) then a watch is a good idea. Argos seems to have some good looking and relatively cheap ones (I like this). There’s currently an offer on too, so definitely have a look!
  • Finally, some aftershave. I’ve bought W this Paul Smith since the beginning of our relationship, and I love the smell.

Other ideas I have include finding a small plastic toy (try toy shops) version of his favourite animal, IOU’s (whatever you like – cooking, household chores, etc…), gift-cards for places such as Cineworld or restaurants (if all goes well, a nice date night for you!), or a selection of DVD’s and sweet treats to make your own night in. If you have met at university (and so will be spending Christmas apart), a nice photoframe filled with you two is a nice idea too! Basically, I like to think of presents I’d like to receive, make them a little more masculine, and then find those. And that way, it means if he doesn’t like something, I get to keep it!

What is Santa bringing your man this year?

Birthday Thanks

It was my birthday a few quite a few days ago, and I’ve been meaning to do this post since to show you all what fabulous friends I have. Now, I now we are all in the same boat, all on a very tight budget, and so I really don’t expect gifts at all, let alone some of the wonderful things I received. Everything I was given was just totally ‘me’ and I love it all – it shows what great friends you have when everything they buy you is perfect!

2013-12-05 10.27.41Here’s just a selection of what I got!

  • First up is the canvas at the back. Amazing, my housemate actually painted that herself. When I realised she hadn’t bought it, I feel in love with it that little bit more. It’s absolutely stunning, and will look good in both my student room, and my dream-bedroom I’m planning for when I finally have my own house.
  • Then there’s the apron in the corner, which another housemate asked her mum to make for me (seriously wish I had a mum that could sew, let alone wishing that I could sew something like this!). Between this and another friend gifting me a recipe binder, you’d think they were hinting at me doing some baking! But honestly, I love both of the gifts, and they will be so, so  useful. Not to mention that a floral apron was actually on my Christmas list!
  • Lots of chocolate, which is helping me get through a period of stressful assessments and placement applications (I so wish there were more actuarial industrial placements available!). Plenty of fluffy socks, which are vital as we have a cold kitchen floor. Plus I love fluffy socks, and wear them pretty much constantly. I have been known (accidently of course) to shower in them…
  • A 2014 calendar, which will go perfectly in my room. And it’swipe clean, so great for tracking assessments and important to-do’s. Looking forward to using this!
  • A new Cath Kidston mug. I love my Cath Kidston mugs, they’re a perfect size for hot chocolates, so I love that I now have two at university!
  • Libby was shocked to hear this year that despite wearing dresses/skirts with tights a lot, I’ve never tried Primark’s super-cosy tights, so she treated me to a pair. Once this horrible wind dies down, and I’m not in danger of flashing anything, I’ll be trying these. Is is weird to be so excited about a pair of tights?
  • I was also treated to some new make-up, and related bits-and-pieces, including a MAC blusher I’ve wanted for five long years. It’s been worth the wait!

But what was my best present? Well, we all went out for a meal for my birthday, and it turns out that everyone had been secretly talking behind my back. It turns out that one of the people I had invited had deliberately agreed, despite knowing she wasn’t coming. Because my wonderful friends had arranged to get my boyfriend down to my university town and surprise me. They’d been planning for WEEKS, everyone knew (including my mother, who nearly let it slip a few hours beforehand!) and they managed to keep it a total surprise, although I did start getting a little suspicious at various points. To everyone who was in on this and made this happen – thank you so much, you will never know how grateful I was to spend my birthday, and an extra few days, with my boyfriend. Those in long-distance relationships will understand!

So that’s it, a quick round-up of my wonderful presents, and my even-more wonderful friends. Thank you guys – I love you all!

 

Budget Buys: Personalised Pampering Gift Set

I love making up hampers and gift-sets as presents for friends and families – it looks like so much more effort has gone in that picking something up off of the shelves, and you can personalise it to their individual tastes. I thought over the next few weeks I would do a few posts on some of the gifts I have made up over the years, and some products I would recommend. First up is a girly-night-in pampering set!

2013-11-25 14.19.41Basically, this little series is going to be all about what I would love to receive in a gift like the ones I am describing!

If someone was going to make me a gift set of pampering goodies, I’d love them to go more on the treats rather than the beauty products (I find they are such a personal thing – I for one hate really scented body lotions, which are commonplace  in most pre-made budget options).

I’d love a pair of slippers (I treated myself to the ones in the picture in Primark, for £2), some girlie magazines (if they have freebies, so much the better!), a cute mug (Cath Kidston is the obvious choice, but Wilkinson’s have some great ones too!), and some chocolate goodies.

On the beauty side of things, I personally would prefer to be given nail polishes, maybe a nail file – things that aren’t going to irritate skin or cause fear that the recipient smells! This set was £2 and I talk more about it here.

I reckon you could make a great set for £10, and I know this is the type of present I love to receive!

 

Do you make up your often gift sets or hampers?

Budget Beauty Buys: Current Favourites

As you all know, I love saving money. If I know I can get something cheaper I will, so I really enjoy comparing budget buys with branded products. Recently I’ve been branching out in terms of where I buy my beauty products, and have ended up finding some very cheap and surprisingly good little gems. Here we go…

IMAG0451First up are my beloved Rimmel Soft Khol Kajal Eyeliners (can be found easily, especially in Boots). I’ve used these ever since I started wearing eyeliner, simply because my mum always used them too! Granted they smudge easily, yes they aren’t the longest lasting, but they offer what I think is a great everyday look, but also look great when used heavily to define eyes. I have worked out they heavily applied, powdered, and applied again makes them last longer. My everyday look is to line my upper waterline with the grey, then add a light coat of mascara. Eyes done!

Next is a BB cream by Lacura, found in Aldi. I’m actually not sure if they stock this anymore, because I found it on it’s on, with a greatly reduced sticker on it – I paid £2.99 for this tube.

2013-11-09 08.20.56Even at the original price of £4.99, I would still consider this to be a bargain. It does seem as though regular use of it would break me out, so I save it for special occasions as the coverage is surprisingly good. It works well for a day out, when you don’t want to be too made-up but still want to look nice, and it lasts all day too! I’ve found it works really well mixed into my normal foundation (Bourjois 10-Hour Sleep Effect) as it adds the pink tone my skin needs.

2013-11-09 08.21.16I hope the above photo portrays the best thing about this BB cream – the fact that its pale! I have a huge problem getting BB creams to match my skin tone, but this one really is pale!

Back to eyes now…I have used Natural Collection mascaras for years, and at £1.99 you really can’t go wrong. My absolute favourite is the Lash Curl one, as I prefer the wand. I do find them gloopy when new, but a wash of the brush under the hot tap and a shake of the tube normally helps!

2013-11-24 20.31.05Next up is a set of my new favourite nail colours – from Primark. I absolutely love these colours, they look classy and elegant, but are still different. However the formula is pretty bad (though for 50p each, can’t complain!) and even with a base and top coat they chip within a day. That said, my top coat is pretty cheap, so I’m hoping the Seche Vite one will come my way soon!

 

That rounds up my current favourites. Would you like to see more beauty posts?

PS: Happy Birthday to me!

 

 

 

Budget Beauty Buys: Lips

I’m a huge fan of a statement lip colour against other natural (i.e. none) makeup for general day to day wear. It is very quick and easy, looks great, and as long as you get the shade right, extremely wearable for everyone. I can’t help you find the right shade for your colouring, but I can recommend the products I love.

First up, you need to take care of your lips. I recommend a good scrub of them a couple of times a week to get rid of dead skin. My preferred method is a toothbrush, but Libby has a recipe for a wonderful homemade scrub. I’d love a scrub in a tube format (run on and wipe off without getting messy) so would welcome any suggestions! Then you should layer up with a decent balm at least once a day. I like to put on an extra thick coat before bed (and before I shower/bath) and also a light coat as soon as I wake up. In the past I have been a big fan of Vaseline, but since reading a little more into ingredients, I’ve tried to go for something natural, which allows moisture in and out rather than acting as a barrier. I also prefer tube applications, and so my current favourite is Dr Organic’s Pomegranate offering;

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I find this lip balm to be lovely and moisturising – it does have a bit of a wiff of ‘lip balm’ about it but not as obvious as some of the ones I have previously tried (I’m looking at you, Nivea!). One thing I love about it is that is it ever so slightly tinted, without being too glossy, so it gives a lovely sheen to the lips. You can buy this for £3.25 in Holland & Barratt, but they quite often have excellent sales and deals.

Now onto the far more important and interesting bit – colour time!

I have been a long time user of The Body Shop’s Lip and Cheek Stain in Rose Pink. I find it is a really good shade on my skin, is easy to blend out on the cheeks, and gives the lips a nice hint of colour that doesn’t come off easily. It lasts a long time too – I have had a tube for two years, and it is still going strong (I did, however, repurchase over summer, leaving the emptier one at home). There is only one problem, and that is leakage. It really isn’t a bag friendly option!

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As you can see, the colour looks extremely bright in the tube and on the applicator. It IS bright, but it looks natural on my pale skin when blended well, and it definitely suits my lips. I don’t find this formula drying either, though I wish it would last everso slightly longer seeing as I can’t carry it around. This stain is £10, but it lasts such a long time that I personally see it as a massive bargain!

Because of the lack of portability of the lip stain, I spent summer trying to locate a slightly neater version, perhaps a highly pigmented balm. I failed on the balm front, but I’ve definitely found something that (kind of) means I can carry a favourite lip colour around. Tony Moly is a makeup company that ships from Korea, and from what I have read sells some pretty good quality products at some pretty amazing prices. When I found that they sold a product that seemed perfect for me, I couldn’t help but ordering. I first read about it on Makeup Savvy, and ordered pretty much immediately. At roughly £3.70 from Ebay, it would have been a crime not too, right?!

My package too FOREVER to get here. Well about 3-4 weeks, definitely within the time stated, but bear the long time in mind if you are ordering for Christmas. Like, order now! When it did arrive it was ridiculously well packaged in lots of bubble wrap (huge bonus points – I doubt anything will ever arrive damaged!) and included a cute note.

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And some free samples – a fragrence and a BB cream. I’m on a bit of a foundation ban due to some pesky spots, but I will definitely be trying this soon!

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Now onto the actual product! The packaging is really, really impressive. It looks stylish, feels well made, and in general I was just really surprised at the quality for the price. I am definitely not a snob when it comes to makeup, but I know too well that cheaper makeup packaging often means cheap and (to put it bluntly) shoddy packaging.

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The colour is a huge pop – very similar (virtually identical in fact) to my favourite Body Shop stain.

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The texture inside is quite hard and gel-like (reminds me of Vaseline on a cold day), but easy to apply to the lips. It is quite sticky, and definitely more of a gloss than a stain. And the colour pay-off is pretty damn impressive – far more pigmented that Body Shop!

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In fact, the pigmentation is a teeny bit of a problem. It stays on the lips for hours, to the point where last night I had to remove it before bed. But it also stays on your finger. It doesn’t budge with soap, leading to a bright pink finger…so definitely not as portable as I hoped. I’m planning on purchasing a mini lip brush for carrying around, but I reckon this is definitely going to become a staple in my makeup bag – its perfect for travelling too!

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This product has definitely opened up my eyes to buying ‘new’ and ‘different’ foreign makeup brands – it’s definitely something I’ll be doing again!

Whilst I highly recommend all of the products discussed on this page, and I truly believe they will be favourites of mine for a long time, I also have put this little treat on my Christmas list. I’d definitely not a 1D fan, but the shade just seems so perfect for Christmas. As a little hint, my birthday is at the beginning of December…

 

Does anyone have any recommended lip products? Do you buy foreign make-up brands?

Budget Beauty Buys: Skincare

This is a post for the girlies out there! Over the last few months I’ve realised I’ve never taken care of my skin properly. Sure I’ve cleansed reasonably often, but definitely not morning and night, and even more naughtily I’ve often forgotten to take makeup off. Not only has this left me with blocked tearducts, but I feel it has had a drastic effect on my skin. Dry patches, oily patches, a few lots spots. This has been made worse over the past summer by bruising and swelling from my operation leading to me wearing more foundation, not taking it off, and then really clogging up my skin. So I’ve recently began to revamp my skincare items, on my tight student budget, and here are my favourite products so far.

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Firstly, I’ll mention the ‘stand out’ item in that photo – the multi-vitamins! Now we all know students may not have the best diets, and although I still manage to eat well I always recommend a multivitamin supplement, particularly in the months leading up to exams. I use one with extra iron and Vit C, as I find it works well for me. Now onto the more exciting things!

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First up is something I have used for many years, and despite occasionally venturing to other newer products (cleansing balms and oils currently have my attention – does anyone recommend any?) I always come back to it. It is cheap and cheerful, probably around £2-£4 depending on offers, lasts a long time, and is simple to use. None of these complicated instructions, I feel some beauty products these days require a degree to use! It has a light floral fragrance which doesn’t last when applied, is gentle on the skin, easy of the eyes (although I don’t recommend you use it directly on the eye area!), and is reasonably moisturising for a cleanser. It removes just about all traces of my makeup, and whilst it struggles a little with mascara it is my go-to cleanser when I need a simple one-step can’t-be-bothered refresh.

I also occasionally use the toner of this range, but it tends to dry my skin out and so for that reason I don’t thoroughly recommend it (although it sorts out caked foundation when gently pressed on, so possibly worth having for emergencies!). The moisturiser is also very good, but being in a pot lets it down big time for me – I can just imagine a lot of germs!

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This is a product you won’t see on most student’s dressing tables! Due to my operation I have had increasingly puffy eyes and dark circles, which I’m desperately trying to do something about – so recommendations of a decent concealer would be gratefully received! This moisturiser is light enough for my young skin, but seems to be slowly solving my problems. It stings a little if it goes in your actual eye, but is nice and refreshing, lasts for ages and is a great budget buy. I shall definitely repurchasing, as for an eye cream it is spectacular value for money.

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Recently I have developed a liking for good old traditional soap used to wash and cleanse. Granted this can be a little drying, but it seems the most natural thing to do (especially with my favourite range at the moment – Dr Organics) and is proving a lot cheaper. I buy these soaps at Holland & Barratt, and their full price is roughly £2.50, with offers pretty much constantly appearing. They last for maybe 6 weeks, depending on the storage you use (I definitely suggest a soap dish!) and obviously are easy to transport as they don’t have to be packed into a suitcase for flying. To use, I splash my face with warm water, lather the soap in my hands, and then massage in. I either wash off straight away using a flannel (rubbing for a bit of exfoliation) or leave it to dry (ala a face mask) before rinsing away. I also use this all over body in the shower, and find it wonderfully cleansing without feeling sticky or smelling sickly – and it doesn’t make the shower slippy which is a massive bonus for someone as accident prone as me!

My usual buy is the pictured pomegranate soap, which I love as the ingredients seem to combat a genetic skin condition that I have been lucky enough to inherit. I have however recently purchased the Vit E version, which I look forward to trialling soon.

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As mentioned above, washing with soap can be a littleeee drying on the skin, so I’ve been on the hunt for my perfect moisturiser. The hunt has been unsuccessful, but I have found four which I like to keep on hand, and then alternate depending on how my skin is feeling. The Garnier Moisture Match range has been around for a few months now, but for me is a revelation, particularly as a few formulas are oil-free. It isn’t exactly the cheapest option, with full price tubes being £5.99. However a limited range of the selection can often be found in Wilkinsons or Savers for £3, and they are regularly on offer in Boots, Superdrug (which they are at the time of posting, plus remember your 10% NUS discount students!), and various supermarkets. As with all things, it pays to shop around! I’ll give a brief overview of the moisturisers I love (keen eyes will note one is missing, as the formula was definitely not for me!) and you can choose the ones you’d like from there! Going from left to right…

We have the blue one! This is a pretty simple and generic moisturiser, for normal to dry skin, generic fragrance-free smell (doesn’t there always seem to be a smell?!), and I tend to use this after my nightly cleanse if my skin isn’t too dry, or if I used the Garnier cleanser above.

Then there’s the yellow one! This is probably my current favourite. It’s been an absolute revelation to find an oil-free moisturiser with SPF and illuminator. I have been using this both with (mixed in) foundation, and instead of foundation, and it really does give a lovely finish and glow to my skin. I wouldn’t recommend this for bedtime use due to the SPF, and it feels a little sticky, but I definitely can’t complain!

To the orange tube! This is a gel based formula, very light and non-greasy, and lovely and refreshing on hot days. It also gives a good glow to the face, although at the same time manages to be matte (nope, I don’t understand either!). It mixes well with foundation, and spreads out evenly (probably better than the other types) but I definitely wouldn’t say this should be the only one you should buy as it definitely isn’t very moisturising, although I do have drier skin. Oily types, this is definitely one to try! One thing I will say is that I’m not a huge fan of the smell, it reminds me of the bright yellow antibiotic medicine I used to force down as a child…

And now to the pink corner! This is the richest moisturiser of the bunch, for dry to very dry skin. I have to say this is true – I wouldn’t use this except at night, and definitely not every night. But it is wonderfully softening and soothing, and gets rid of all my dry patches. I’ve found to excellent for the dry places on my body too, particularly the elbows. I believe that for dry skin this moisturiser could be a godsend!

 

And that is my best budget skincare (so far!). Does anyone have any recommendations?