Beauty: The Holy Grail Conditioner Search

I find my HG conditioner years ago, completely by accident. I’d gone away with my family and completely forgotten to pack some, so I grabbed the cheapest and most moisturising-looking once in ASDA.

Conditioner 2 photo 958dc526-cb3e-41e0-b24a-1a353abb9020_zpscxtpv4af.jpgGuys, I loved this conditioner. Light texture, moisturising, it never weighed my hair down AND it was silicone free (I rarely use shampoo so this is a must for me). At £1 a bottle, it lasted a good six months. I could slather my hair in handfuls of it for a deep treatment, I could add a little to a spray bottle of water for a pick-me-up. A 10p sized dollop would be enough for my entire head, it detangled like a dream.

Conditioner 1 photo 3a7d065a-9813-428a-bd43-bc24544d768b_zpsfpzqbxlb.jpgBut they discontinued it. In truth I am pretty sure they discontinued it a few years back, but I stumbled across three bottles on a shelf last year and grabbed them. I’m now coming to the last of these and face searching for a new conditioner for the first time in years. Urgh.

So, any recommendations for a light but moisturising conditioner, preferably under £2 a bottle (definitely no more than £5!), no silicones, and easily available? 

Have you ever had a product you love be discontinued?

Beauty: Glow-Giving Moisturiser for Under £5

I’ve relied on the same bits of skincare for pretty much the last few years, but the only thing I stockpile (there’s currently two tubes in my wardrobe, plus open tubes at mine, my parent’s and W’s house!) is this moisturiser.

 photo 50d11fcf-f3cc-420e-8953-d39fbc03e7a2_zpsfyy6owby.jpgI’ve used a combination of these since they were released. The Ultra-Moisturising tube is great for winter, though I can’t use it every night. I love the Hydrating version too – this is perfect for when my skin feels a bit thirsty, yet it doesn’t overwhelm it. It’s also amazing on sunburn…But my absolute favourite has to be the SPF version.

 photo 5bde0aa9-374d-4bfa-9069-3d1550939215_zpsyssjsili.jpgWIth SPF20 this is enough for day-to-day use. I wouldn’t use it on holiday or a full day out in the summer, but for days where I’m not worshipping the sun it’s plenty. Light and easily absorbed, it’s oil-freeness makes it an excellent base for makeup, and I find my foundation always seems to blend better when I’m wearing this. But the best part? The glow! No shimmer in sight, this tube is just radiant skin in a bottle. I’ve trialled a few high-end moisturisers and nothing has yet to give results like this. It might not be luxurious, it might not be the most spa-like, but the results speak for themselves. I think I’m on about my eleventh tube of this now!
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Giving change from a fiver, this budget glow-giving moisturiser is a daily staple in my routine, and I adore it. Please don’t ever stop making it Garnier!

What are your skincare staples? 

Lifestyle: My Budget & Money Tips

You may or may not have been an article featuring me in the news last week. I must say, it took me a little by surprise as I gave the interview to a PR agent months ago! Of course, the papers don’t exactly print the whole truth (and the headline is ridiculous!) so I thought I’d post a little something about my budget, how I try and stick to it, and why I try and cut spending.
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My budget is a lot lower than people assume.

I receive the minimum maintenance loan and my university town is one of the most expensive outside of London. Case in point: my room this year (commutable distance to London, and extremely nice) is costing me the same amount in rent as my student house was last year. Which was roughly the same as halls. I get a small amount of regular money from my grandparents (£10 a week – and the reason I get this is long, complicated and emotional, and not down to financial reasons), and my parents do as much as they can – lending me money for unexpected expenses and doing a big food shop at the start of term. I travel to see my boyfriend around once a month which costs between £30 and £60 on trains depending on where we are based. This all equates to my food budget being a strict £25 a fortnight, and my going out budget to be zero.

I do shop using vouchers.

My main point in my interview was that I don’t believe anyone should buy something without a quick google to see if there’s a discount..

Finances were a huge worry for me pre-university.

I very much have a tuition and maintenance loan. I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to university without this, and an academic scholarship that I worked damn hard to get. My criteria for choosing a university (after the course) was that accommodation was affordable (I was in the cheapest available) and the level of scholarship given.

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I am currently on a (well) paid placement for a year.

Hence the more ‘extravagant’ lifestyle posts that have featured over the last few months. I’m saving hard each month too, but have given myself a small budget to enjoy myself and see more of the country whilst I can. It’s also only in the last few months I’ve been able to really bump up my savings account again.

Even though I am earning a very good wage this year I’m still budgeting hard – I’ve upped by weekly food shop budget to between £15 and £20, mainly in a bid to gain more spices etc, and eat a wider variety. I’m generally spending close to £10 a week most weeks, with this upping to £20 when W comes to stay (he doesn’t appreciate more veggie-based meals!).

I’m also allowing myself a few more treats – buying Yorkshire tea instead of Aldi’s own, treating myself to a lipstick a month.

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Sticking to a budget is hard.

A few times recently I’ve had cravings for things that my budget just doesn’t allow for. Steak. I’ve love a good steak, but I just can’t justify the price – so this Asian Steak Salad using cheaper frying steaks is ideal. I’ve been craving Ben & Jerry’s lately, but I’ve discovered Sainsbury’s own brand of ice cream is pretty darn good – the salted caramel peanutty one is particularly divine.

And the shop for 6p thing is a huge exaggeration – and not what I stated. Nor what the press release stated either (because I approved it).

As a huge amount of people guessed, it was through clubcard points that had been saved up, and then used during the bonus exchange period. I highly recommend saving up points for big spends, rather than just little things like a chocolate bar. I find that stores actually send you better vouchers when you build things up – I quite often get 100 points for £5 spend from Boots for example. I do look for yellow-stickered items, but this is completely unrelated to the supposed “shop for 6p”.
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So, my top tips for sticking to a budget?

  • Know what your budget is, and be clear about it.
  • Don’t deprive yourself too much – if you are craving something, look for cheaper versions. I appreciate this may be impossible for some if your budget is really tight, but for students it’s generally fine.
  • Learn to cook – it’s far cheaper than ready meals in the long run. It might be more expensive first as you stock up ingredients, but the cost will level out.
  • Keep track of spending – I’ll be doing a post soon on how I do this.
  • I avoid carrying cash as I will spend it easier. If I happen to have cash (from unavoidable taxi journeys) I’ll immediately throw it in a jar or unused purse. The pennies mount up quicker than you’d think – in one term last year I saved nearly £50.

I hope this straightened up any questions arising from the article! Do you live on a tight budget? What are you top budgeting tips?

Beauty: What’s in my Shower

First off, let’s show a little appreciation for this gorgeous ‘product holder’ that’s hanging in the bathroom. Seriously cute, and the whole house I am living with is styled pretty similarly. The bathroom is gorgeous – massive, with a huge bathtub, massive marble-topped linen cupboard, and the most lovely mirror made out of an old-fashioned door. My accommodation this year is definitely spoiling me, student houses for next year aren’t very appealing!

 photo 81b84276-2fcf-4326-9069-5867a605aeac_zps01ab234a.jpgEver since becoming a student I’ve tried to keep my shower routine to a minimum. I’ve always shared a bathroom, and whilst that’s never been a problem I don’t want to be the first to be accused of hogging it! This year I’m the only one who showers in the evening (often in an empty house) but I’m still rushing through – renting a room means I don’t want to be taking the mickey when it comes to increasing bills. As I travel home at least once a month this isn’t a problem; deep conditioning and hair dying gets done then!

 photo 570149e1-2382-4d40-95d2-229a844f4789_zps9e06fa95.jpgI start my washing my hair. I have a strange routine normally, whereby I only shampoo once a fortnight, and co-wash the rest of the time. This has been blown out of the window since July when I won EmTalks’ giveaway of some Toni&Guy goodies. Whilst I can’t say my hair enjoys being washed ‘properly’ so often, I love the styling products and as they contain silicones co-washing wouldn’t be enough to actually clean my hair. Co-washing actually gets quite scientific and technical, but let me know if you’d like to see a post!

 photo 695f608e-8575-4959-8f40-ec617dabbe5c_zpsca980454.jpgAfter shampooing, I’ll load in a good handful of conditioner, using my fingers to detangle (I don’t brush my hair!). Whilst that’s sinking in I’ll wash and condition my body too! I have quite sensitive skin on my arms, with most shower gels really irritating it and drying it out. I now swear by Bodyshop’s gels, they are the only ones that don’t make me regret washing! I like more natural scents; Olive is a favourite, and at the moment I’m using Moringa which is light but floral. I’m desperate for the Wild Argan Oil one though, it will definitely be purchased as soon as that new range is included in offers – I can’t be the only one who refuses to purchase from the Bodyshop at full price?!

 photo 8c7cfc3f-5e4a-4d6f-bc66-c2cf6a2be8fa_zps08086004.jpgInitially unimpressed (to say the least) by Nivea’s In-Shower Moisturiser, it’s now something I use regularly. Now this wouldn’t be enough on its own, but its fine for layering underneath my more regular moisturisers. My skin feels less irritated by the water (I hate water down South, it’s so harsh on the skin!) when I use this too. I definitely wouldn’t rely on it, but I’d always like to have a bottle. I want to try the Superdrug version too, as it just smells slightly better.

 photo d61dfacd-25c1-42f4-b0d0-951c2049fde2_zps1ff8e3a6.jpgAfter all this I rinse out my conditioner, rinse my hair again upside down, plop it into a t-shirt, towel down, and slip into my pyjamas. All done in under 10 minutes. Give or take.

What shower products are you loving at the moment? Any favourite Bodyshop scent?


Budget Beauty: Reward Cards

RewardCards photo 2014-03-30113508_zps643708b1.jpgAs you can see from my bulging purse I’m a huge lover of reward cards. There’s a general post on the subject scheduled in the next week or so (I have so many I had to split the post up!) but this is all about my beauty cards, what I get the most use out of, and how I like to use them.

First up I have probably the most well known beauty reward card – the Boots Advantage Card. I’ve loved mine from the moment I got it, I’ve always loved knocking up points then treating myself. Over my first year of university I used all my hard-earned points on everyday items, which saved me a lot. However I felt a bit cheated, so I’d definitely recommend treating yourself. The best thing about this card is the ease of building up points (4 for every pound, often with bonus events), regular vouchers, and the free magazine.

Then I have a little bit of a strange one – my Holland and Barratt card. I have no idea what the reward scheme actually is, but I signed up during an offer where I automatically received £1.50 worth of points. This is a bit slow to rack up I admit, but I only tend to buy a couple of items (more will become clear in the next few weeks – but one of my all-time favourite skincare items is from their shelves).

Finally I have my beloved Bodyshop card. I was reluctant to sign up to this as you do have to pay (around £5) but I’m pleased to report that it is worth it. I’ve more than got my money back during their 40% off weekends, and you get a£5 product/money off during your birthday month. Not to mention the stamps that build up to money off – I currently have £15 to spend on mine!

One last little thing, a request from me. I have £35 on my Boots card, some of which I want to use to buy a little treat. Anything you recommend? I’m visiting a store with a MAC counter over my holidays if that helps…

What’s your favourite beauty reward card?

Budget Beauty: Spring Nails

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In the past week the weather has been beautiful, all I have wanted to do is go on walks in fields or by the sea (Whitstable is calling my name right now!). But unfortunately for this student I’ve hit my busy period and it feels like I won’t see the light of day until the end of May at the very least…

To make up for the fact I can’t go and wallow in the sun I’ve been splitting my time between staring out of the window, working out premiums using empirical bayesian credibility theory models (don’t ask!) and trying to get as much spring-like things into my life in possible. This includes switching my dark nail colours for lighter, prettier colours. Here are some of my favourites! (no idea why this photo is appearing darker than the others – they all look pretty similar until I transport to WordPress!)

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All of these products are pretty cheap (I picked up the Revlon one on a market stall last summer!), with the pink MUA (Ameretto Crush) being my favourite. This surprised me actually as I’m usually a fan of muted colours and this is very vivid! Topped with Barry M’s clear coat this stayed chip-free for 5 days (a record for me!) and had a very high-shine finish -impressed with this budget offering!

The Revlon (Sheer Peach) is my current favourite, and is my go-to colour for interviews and assessment centres – its so sophisticated, looks so more ‘done’ that a clear coat yet still doesn’t really show chips (and it lasts ages too!).

I bought the other MUA shade (Mud Pie) over the Christmas holidays and I’m undecided whether I like it – it is a very brown shade. I purchased Collection’s Milkshake over the weekend in the hope that it’s a pinkier-toned nude colour! If you have any other nude shade suggestions I’d be happy to hear them – everything seems too cream/brown/grey for my skin tone!

Another purchase over the weekend was Rimmel’s Nail White Pencil, and I have to say I am in love. My nails are in quite good condition and I have to confess 50% of the time I can’t be bothered to paint them. However I hate how the tips can occasionally look a little yellow (I’ve been experimenting with a lot of curry recipes recently!) and this rectifies it immediately. Obviously not as great as a proper French manicure, but they help my nails look lovely, healthy and well-groomed when in reality it takes about a minute to do. Coupled with the Revlon polish I can have a pretty well done ‘manicure’ in about five minutes, and this is fast becoming my favourite look.

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What’s your favourite spring manicure?