Monday, 30 September 2013

How Much Is My Face Worth?

I've had this post in draft form for a few weeks now, and I think I was worrying too much about getting the tone right to be able to finish and post it.
Essentially, I didn't want the post to come across as 'look how much I spend on skincare', because I'm not a price snob at all, but I do value good ingredients in skin care.  Sadly, on the whole, good ingredients do tend to cost more, and as a result my combined total isn't exactly 'budget'.
I tend to splash out on skincare more than make up as I think it has to be the priority.
 I think blogging exposes you to so many different products, and enables you to make informed decisions about what to buy too, so although I may have spent quite a bit, I tend to have been really happy with my purchases and don't really flit about or constantly buy new stuff. 

Jeez making excuses already! Well here we go anyway- my basic skincare routine!


 
I wasn't sold on this at all when I first tried it, and quickly left it to gather dust.  I've gone back to it in the last few weeks though, and I totally get all the fuss now; it's so gentle on my eyes and it does do a good job of removing both face and eye make up, without upsetting my skin.
£9.99 (250ml)

 
I won't say too much on this because I'm going to do a proper review on this shortly, but it is amaaaaaaazing, which slightly pains me because it's super expensive! Needs must!
£34 (100ml)


 
I refuse to use foaming cleansers (containing SLS) because they make my oilier skin much worse, so this rather alarming looking black gel is absolutely perfect because it's 97% natural and it does it's business without needing to foam. Wonderful.
$24 / £14.87 (210ml)

 
Again, this isn't cheap, but my pores have a tendency to block and they need a good chemical exfoliant to keep some semblance of order.  I wouldn't use the regular Clinique Clarifying Lotions if it was a choice between that and death  (ok slight exaggeration),as they are full of alcohol and dry the skin out unbelievably.  This one contains no alcohol and the salicylic acid is effective but gentle.
£16.50 (200ml)

 
I think this is a massive bargain; it's a generous size and it's so effective.  I reviewed it here if you fancy a read.
$18 / £11.12 (250ml)

 
I mix this in with my foundation and it helps to reduce redness and protect the skin from damage. 
$37 / £22.85 (30ml)

 
This is totally overpriced...shame on you Clinique...but more shame on me for repurchasing 3 times?!
£38 is absolutely crazy considering it's only real feature is that it has SPF 25.  Poor show.  I seem to have stuck with it because it absorbs well, it doesn't irritate my skin and I have absolutely zero imagination.  I'm planning to switch to REN or Origins if this flipping vat ever runs out.
£38 (50ml)
 

My sister believed me to have finally lost the plot when I bought this back in February, but I maintain that it is one of the best purchases I've made this year!  It isn't cheap (especially when you add £5 for P&P), but it's still going strong 8 months later and it works wonders on my pores overnight. 
£23 (100ml)


Here comes the scary bit!


My grand total is...£170.33
(Eeek! Definitely not letting Adam read this post!!)

That's one expensive face! I'm actually quite surprised it's as much as it is.  I am pretty happy with my routine at the moment though, so I guess it's worth it to some extent!


Have you worked out how much is your face worth? 


Suzy
xx




Sunday, 29 September 2013

Autumn Fashion Wish List

 
 
I posted my September Beauty Wish List a couple of weeks ago and today I thought I'd show you what I have my beady little eyes on fashion-wise. 
 
 
1)  ASOS Swing Dress In Swan Print
This is so cute, little swans facing each other, aww! I'd wear it loads, probably with a thin belt around the wast, opaque tights and either boots or flats. Plus it's only £25!
 
 
2) ZARA Mini Office City Bag 
The Zara city bag is lovely but it's a bit too much for me; I don't carry ipads or anything else around on a daily basis, so I just don't need so much space. This  mini version is the perfect size and I love the colour - so much more cheerful than the black bag i'm lugging around at the moment. Plus it's £29.99, which I think is really reasonable.
 
 
3) H&M Jersey Dress
I really like how the skirt of this flares out and I think it'd be a handy little dress to be able to chuck on at weekends. It's only £12.99 and again, with ankle boots and tights its handy for winter - I'm so imaginative...!
 
 
4) Miss KG Bali Chelsea Brogue Flat Boots
Every time I go into a shop at the moment I keep gravitating towards chelsea boots; I love that they look so dressy but are practical and warm for winter.  I think these ones are really pretty, but at £70 I'd want leather boots, which these aren't, so unless I can get them in the sale, I'll probably go for similar ones from elsewhere.
 
5)French Connection Spectacular Sparkle Dress
This would be a massive extravagance at £160 but it'd be so perfect for the Christmas period.  I love the shape too, so flattering!
 
 
6) French Connection Glorious Wool Coat
Everyone seems to be going bananas for the pink Zara coat at the moment, but it's just not for me; I prefer a girlier winter coat and I think this one is perfect.  I tend to buy a new winter cost every year, wear it to death and then buy another the next year.  Last year my most worn coat was £10 from George in the sale (also pink!) and although I loved it I reckon I'm due a slightly pricier coat this year & this one is so pretty!
 
What's on your wishlist this autumn?
 
 
Suzy xx
 
You can catch up on my September Beaty Wishlist here :)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Nails of the Day: Sparkles!

Today we we're going to a wedding fair and then to see a friend and her boyfriend I haven't seen for ages, for food and drinks in Manchester.

Beforehand though I really needed to clean our apartment, with us both being so busy with work and then me being ill last week we've just not had chance to get organised! I have to play with things as I tidy them away and am extremely inefficient, which is a constant frustration for Adam who is like a cleaning whirlwind once he gets going.
During my perusal of things whilst organising my dressing table I rediscovered this nail varnish, which is one of my all time favourites. I wore it pretty much constantly last winter as it's so sparkly and festive. Despite being only half way through cleaning our room I stopped and sat and painted two coats plus top coat onto my nails. Absolutely ridiculous, but I couldn't resist & at least my nails are sorted for tonight now!

The shade is Yellow Topaz from Barry M, and as you can see it has glitter and sequins of varying sizes, in a clear polish. Aaaah I love it. It's still available for £2.99 from Superdrug.

What's your favourite Barry M shade?

Suzy 
Xx

Friday, 27 September 2013

Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation

Sadly, today I come to you with some disappointing news.  I don't know how to break this, other than; Rimmel's Stay Matte Foundation sucks.  Noone likes a Negative Nancy, but if it stops anyone wasting their money then Nancy I shall be.

I mentioned on my Spending Spree post that I'd bought this and was excited to try it.  I so wanted to love it, and I've given it a fair go this week.  But it's just god-awful.  I hoped it would be wonderful because I love a matte finish, but this is just the driest substance I have ever tried to put on my face.  It's honestly like trying to smear tile grout across your face, well I imagine it is anyway.

As it's so thick you end up using loads of it in comparison to any of Rimmel's other foundations and it's in a squeezy tube, which I think gives you much less control than a pump, although you'd need industrial machinery if you wanted to pump this!

It's so thick that I couldn't use my Real Techniques blending brush to apply it as I usually would, so I had to use my fingers, which gets my back up straight away.  I hate having messy hands, eurgh.
Anyway I persevered and made an attempt to blend it in, but it just isn't really blendable.  It made itself comfy in my pores, sat there and enjoyed the spectacle of me trying to fight back.  It won.

In terms of it's main feature, once applied, I don't feel it stays matte on my t-zone.  I'd say after half an hour my nose starts to become oily, and by the end of the day it wears worse than a regular foundation, leaving patches on my chin and forehead.

I really have nothing positive to say- other than it only costs £5.99, so it wasn't the most costly mistake I've made, but still; annoying.  I love Rimmel as a brand, and they have some brilliant foundations, but sadly this isn't one of them.  Match Perfection and Stay Matte Powder will leave you much more matte by the end of the day.


Have you tried Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

Suzy
xx





 mmy

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wedding Series #4 - Dress Shopping!

I think I might be a bit weird.  Whereas most brides-to-be rush off to try dresses on pretty much straight away I avoided it completely for 9  months.  I hate being faffed with by people - I also hate the hairdresser, doctor, and anything else that requires people to touch me. Ugh.  The idea of having to strip down to my undies, be strapped into a dress and then required to parade around on display is not something that appealed to me.  Don't get me wrong, I love dresses, I've spent hours looking at dresses online, and I can't wait to actually wear the dress, but the process of getting to that point terrified me.


Eventually, with 9 months to go until our wedding (eeek!) the panic set in and I thought I'd better get a grip and at least try some dresses on.  I went at the weekend with my mum and we went to two different bridal shops.  I actually really enjoyed it. It's still a bizarre concept, and I'm still not one for having to stand nakey in public, but the ladies at both shops were absolutely lovely, and they made it a lot of fun.

The first shop was quite a traditional bridal boutique, really plush carpets and beautifully decorated. The dressing room was at the back and was a really big curtained off separate room,with mirrors all around and a podium in the middle - I've always wanted to stand on one of those after all my hours spent watching Say Yes to the Dress! We were given gloves so that our grubby paws (?!) didn't touch the dresses, and we had a nosey through them whilst chatting to the lovely lady about what style I was after.  We picked about 7 out and started trying them on.  I picked a few different styles - a big princessy one, a couple of strapless dresses,an A line and a couple with 'built up' necklines. 

What I loved about this shop - and the second shop too - is that they were completely honest and if a dress didn't suit me or the shape was all wrong, they would say so - at no point did I feel like they were trying to flog me a dress just to make a sale. Princessy was no-go because I was swallowed by dress, and fishtail was just horrendous.

These are a couple of the dresses I have tried on but discounted:

(Romantica, Hayden)
 
 
(Kiss the Frog, Eleanor)

 I always knew I didn't want a strapless dress too, I've got a fairly ample bosom (ha!) and I can't think of anything worse than being too booby on my wedding day, or constantly be pulling up my dress.  I really like lace and I like a sheer panel at the top, like this:
(Justin Alexander)


I loved how I could be completely honest about what I hated about each dress that I tried on, and I think it's really important not to feel you have to be polite.  I made this mistake the first time I ever went shopping and it meant I made no real progress, because I was trying dresses on that I didn't even like just because they were suggested to me by the shop.This time I didn't make that mistake and my mum was equally as brutal.
It turned out that the dress my mum picked out when we first went into the shop was our absolute favourite.  I loved it as soon as I put it on, and all 4 ladies working in the shop came over to look and they got all excited too.  They picked out a gorgeous veil to go with it and I paraded around for a good 15 minutes in it.  Mum was ready with her debit card, but I just felt like I needed to see more dresses; we had another appointment booked that afternoon anyway and my sister and best friend weren't there, so I wasn't ready to commit. I just wish I was more decisive.


Shop 2 was quite different - it was all quite boutiquey, with giant free standing mirrors and feature wallpaper.  The girls were all quite young and we were greeted with sparking wine and given little silk hearts to hang on the dresses I wanted to try, which was fun. I picked out 6 dresses to try, but overall I wasn't as keen on their selection as I'd been in shop 1.  I caused a bit of a commotion because I picked a brand new dress to try on first, and they'd all been really excited to see someone in it.  It was slightly awkward because they were having a special designer weekend and the designer was actually there, watching me try the dress on...!  It was beautiful, but far too princessy and poofy for me, at 5ft 1 I just felt completely swamped.  Everyone loved it,but It  just felt a bit too dress-up for me, especially as i'm only 25 and am always mistaken as being younger than I am. I felt quite bad saying that the dress was too poofy for me with the designer stood there, but honesty is definitely the best policy, and he was lovely.
I only found one dress I really liked in shop 2, and I didn't like it as much as the dress in shop 1, so I doubt i'll go back there. 

So i'm going to go and try a few more dresses on, but I think it'll be pretty much impossible to beat the dress we loved.  Eeek, exciting!


What I've learned so far:

1) Be honest.  Brutally.  You'll risk wasting your appointment trying on dresses you don't  like otherwise.
2) Ask to try with accessories and shoes - the right posture and a beautiful veil just makes it all look 'finished' and it makes it feel so much more real and easy to picture on the day.
3) Make sure you check the prices of the dresses before you try them on - in shop 2 I tried on a gorgeous dress but was then told it was £1600, which was a lot more than I'd be willing to pay. I'm just glad I didn't love it because they would be a tricky one!
4) Don't worry about being nakey -I was told just to keep my tights on in both shops, and the only person that saw me without a dress on was the lady buttoning the dresses up.
5)Wear a strapless bra- I need to take my own advice here.  I've only got a black strapless bra, so I just wore an ivory bra.  It way ok but for next time i'm going to get a white strapless bra so that the straps aren't getting in the way!

I'd love to show the pictures of the dresses I liked but as my fiance reads my blog I will have to keep schtum!

How did you find wedding dress shopping? Did you dread it too?

Suzy
xx



Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Product Empties-Empty Products #1


I love reading these kind of posts, but I'm at a loss as to why everyone calls them 'product empties' - never in normal conversation have I ever heard anyone say those two words in that order...! Blogging madness.


Anyway, I love these cos it's like a little review and I think you find out more than in a 'haul' post cos the person has actually used the thing they're talking about.  Incidentally...I also hate the term 'haul' - again, never used in the real world! If I said to my friends that I had been shopping and has a massive haul they would look at me with blank faces. Blogging bolloxology, can't beat it.


I appear to have finished up quite a lot of skin and haircare products this month, sadly some fairly expensive-to-replace things have run out all at once, isn't that always the way?!

First is my absolute favourite toner - Michael Todd's Blue Green Algae, which I talk about more than is acceptable.  I posted about it here so I won't go on too much, but it is amazing and my wonderful friend LouisaLoves217 ordered me a replacement when she was ordering her own stuff, so thankfully I won't be without it for too long!



Next is my Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion, which I've been trying to ration because it was running out, but it's finally gone. Waaah! I'll definitely repurchase it because it;s a really good, gentle exfoliator, and with an oily t-zone I need to be able to chemically exfoliate daily, which I can do with this because the salicylic acid isn't too aggressive.


Another toner I've finished recently is my Lancome Tonique Douceur, which is a mini size (125ml) I got with a very generous Gift With Purchase a while ago.  It smells lovely, but I didn't feel like it did anything of note, and at £22 for the full size I'd need a bit more effort on it's part to make that kind of commitment.  It was nice while it lasted though.




I posted recently about Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance, and having become completely addicted and used it every day, it's now all gone, but will soon be replaced because it's really good.  You can read my post about it here


Continuing with haircare, the next empty bottle I have is Tresemme's Platinum Strength Shampoo. The conditioner is stubbornly hanging on in there n the side of my bath, with another few uses left, but the shampoo sadly died first.  I used this all summer and loved it.  Apart from tresemme's heat defence spray I've never been a massive fan, but this does wonderful things to my hair and makes it all shiny and soft.  The downside is that it makes me play with my hair constantly, which probably means everyone I come into contact with thinks I'm trying to flirt with them, but It's too hard not to do it!  I'll definitely be repurchasing this once I've used up my current bath-side stragglers.

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation is one of my favourites and I've repurchased it quite a few times now. I'm already onto the next bottle  - you can read my post about it here.



I thought I'd lull you into a false sense of security with all the smiley happy products at the beginning, and then fit my angry little rant in at the end..Toni & Guy Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray, you cruel maiden.  I thought you were the answer to my lazy tendencies and that I could have an extra 10 minutes in bed and look all beachy and carefree, which I did for the first two uses...after that sadly the liquid couldn't get down the tube...(no that isn't an innuendo..), as the salt appeared to have clogged it up.  In the end the salt had evidently affected the pump part because it was jammed and couldn't be pressed down.  I tried a few times to just screw the lid off and pour it into my hands, but I quickly decided life was too short for that and just bought a different salt spray. This is now on it's way to landfill and I won't be repurchasing. 

This shouldn't really be in an empties post because technically there's just under half left, but since the remainder is unusable and the charming folk at Seche Vite informed me upon complaining that the product can be expected to thicken over time.. I give up.  The first half of the bottle was good, gave me a nice shiny top-coat and made my nail polish last longer.  The second half of the bottle was so thick it couldn't be painted onto my nails without pulling off the polish, and eventually solidified into a gloopy mess.  Seche vite suggested that I buy another product from them to restore it's original consistency, which I have zero intention of doing, cheers anyway.  Won't be repurchasing.



Hope you enjoyed reading about my collection of empty bottles :) have you used any of these products?

Suzy
Xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

#TheSOproject Week 5: Blusher!

Last week's Starting Off Project post was a bit of a 'mare for me since I don't use bronzer (if you haven't had a read of my unmissable (!) tips yet you can catch up here), so I was happy when I checked the schedule and this week was blusher week.

I've always been a big fan of a rosy cheek.  In my teenage years slightly too much of a fan - think big pink doll-like circles - but blusher has remained something that I tend never to leave the house without, along with foundation and mascara. Make sure that when you apply you blusher you aren't smiling and applying it to the apples of your cheeks like off of the 80's! Follow the natural line of your cheekbone.

As I favour such a matte finish to my make up, if I don't put a little bit of colour back into my cheeks, I risk looking like a corpse. To brighten up my cheeks I always use either a powder blush or a cheek stain.  Cream blushes are out of the question because I feel as though they slide around my skin by the end of the day...and they remind me of old women.  I can't even explain why they remind me of old women, they just really do.  I also find cream blush incompatible with the powder I use to set my make up - at no point does it seem like the correct step for it to be applied!


As luck would have it I posted a couple of weeks ago about cheek stains and why I think they're wonderful - you can have a read of that post here, but in summary my favoured stain is Cheekmate by Soap and Glory, and I like to apply it with my ring finger. It stays put for ages and it's a lovely rosy shade.


My recommended powder blush is MUA Blusher in the shade Lolly which is £1.  It's described by MUA as being 'soft orange' but I think it's more of a rose pink.  It's a matte blush, which I favour because I don't like shiny cheeks, and it applies beautifully with my Real Techniques Contour Brush. 
I honestly don't think you could tell once it's on the cheeks that it only costs £1, and now that MUA have changed the packaging and it's a little sturdier I'm even happier.
(Lolly: I can't even describe how far away this is from the actual shade. Sadly mine is too grotty to show)


If you're after a slightly more extravagant cheek then I also really like Clinique's Fresh Bloom All Over in Peony Blend, which is a highlighter as well as blush, but is really subtle and pretty. Unfortunately it's £26 so I haven't been abled to justify repurchasing it just yet.
 

Thanks for reading & I hope you enjoyed week 5.  Next week is Mascara week - follow me on Bloglovin to make sure you don't miss it! I'm genuinely excited to write mine and to read everyone's recommendations cos I loooooove mascara!



Suzy
xx
 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Maybelline Baby Lips!

I'm almost reluctant to talk about this subject because there has already been so much written.  However, as my mother frequently pointed out during my teenage years; I always have to had the last word in an argument.  Well perhaps not the last say in this case, but I certainly couldn't let it pass without adding my two cents.



I'm confused as to why I keep hearing this product described as being 'overrated'.  Its lipbalm and it costs £2.99.  Can you really overrate a lipbalm?  Surely it can only ever really perform one function? I think it's been over marketed by Maybelline and everyone is sick of the sight of it, but for it to be overrated seems a stretch to me.

The packaging is cute, the balm smells yummy and the colour payoff is pretty good for a balm.  It isn't going to provide as much moisture as a 'serious' lip moisturising product; if you want that don't bother.  Instead, it's a cute little addition to your cosmetics bag, the colour versions give a pretty little tint to your lips and will briefly add some moisture. 
It won't change your life, but nor will it destroy your lips or break the bank.  Cheer up folks, it's just lipbalm. 

Quite what everyone was expecting from this product, I don't know, again - lipbalm?! - but it seems Maybelline were slightly too good at promoting it, to the extent where people developed such high hopes it was only ever going to end up in disappointment.  Probably not helped by the fact we had to wait so long for the UK launch  - cruel trick, Maybelline!

Once the range finally made it to the UK I acquired 3, mostly because they were on 3 for 2 - Pink Punch, Cherry Me and Peach Kiss. They all smell good, but my favourite is Pink Punch because I like the shade on my lips.  I've used all 3 quite a lot - I have one at home, one in my car and one in a drawer at work - and I would repurchase them.

(L-R Cherry Me, Pink Punch, Peach Kiss)

 


If I was to pick fault it'd be preferable if the balm was shaped like a lipstick, rather than a flat top, just because it'd be easier to apply.  But i'll cope. I know, I'm a trooper..

Which is your favourite shade of Babylips? & what do you think of them?

Suzy
xx

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sunday Spending Spree


I've been such a Moaning Myrtle this week; if you follow me on twitter you'll have been subjected to my woes all week while I've been in bed with gastric flu. I've felt much better this weekend so I decided to treat myself to a little pick me up:  Yesterday I went wedding dress shopping with my mum (more on that in my wedding series!), and today I went to the Trafford Centre with Adam armed with my list of things I wanted.



Mac Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation in NC30

I mentioned on my September wishlist post that I've wanted this for ages and I'm really excited to try it. My skin has been super oily lately and my foundation hasn't been lasting too well so I'm definitely up for trying something different. Currently trying to resist taking off my make up so I can put it on.  So tempted!
This was £21.50 in Selfridges.


Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation in Light Porcelain

If you have eyes you can't have failed to notice how hard Rimmel have been trying to flog this new foundation; countless tv adverts, magazines, and promotions in Boots/Superdrug.  Normally I resist such determined marketing at all costs, but I'm so taken in by matte products that I had to buy it.  I know.  I'm ashamed of myself too..!
I will potentially live to regret my colour choice, but the Ivory shade came out alarmingly orange on my hand so I went for the lightest shade.  If all else fails it's nearly Halloween!
Stay Matte is £5.99 in Boots and Superdrug.  I bought it as part of Superdrug's 'buy one get one half price' offer.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in Peach Glow
Stay Matte Powder was my 'get one half price' in the aforementioned offer.  I honestly haven't used this since I was about 16 so I'm interested to see how it does.  I only bought this because Superdrug were sold out of my favourite power - MUA's Matte Perfect Loose Powder.
Full price this is £3.99. 


VO5 Refresh Me Quick Dry Shampoo

Best dry shampoo ever.  And half price at £1.72...YAY!


MUA Nail Polish In Plum Noir
I posted here about how much I love MUA's £1 nail polishes and I thought this shade was absolutely perfect for autumn.  It's a beautiful rich purple and i'm going to use it with my new favourite topcoat - Barry M's All in One Basecoat, Topcoat & Nail Hardener to give it a bit of extra shine and longevity.

Victoria's Secret Pure Seduction Eau de Toilette 30ml
I've wanted this for about 2 months now, and now I have it I cant stop sniffing myself.  It may pose a problem.  I just smell tooooooo good! It's red plum & freesia and it's a sweet scent but with darker notes that are presumably the 'seduction' aspect of it.  I was really happy that Adam picked this one out of all the ones we tested, because I think it's yummy.  I decided to just buy this one for £11 today since I was buying so many other things, but next time I'm going to go for the 3 for £24 offer and get the body mist and a different eau de toilette too - there's so many amazing scents, I'm currently covered in about 10 different ones because I couldn't stop spraying!


So that's it for my little Sunday spree, I'll update with that I think of the foundations once I've given them a good test!

Have you tried any of these products?


Suzy
xx



 


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Nails of the day: DOTS!

I bought some nail dotters from amazon a few months ago and after a quick play I fairly quickly lost interest and didn't really make any kind of effort to get good at it! 

Lately I've been seeing some amazing nail art posted on twitter and instagram, that's made me dead jealous of all you creative types so I thought I'd get them back out to have a go while I've been at a fairly loose end this weekend.
Sadly I don't possess any kind of creative flair so I just went for the obvious and did some spots.
I was happy with the result though and I might have a go at something slightly more challenging next time now I have the ability to 'dot'


I used Rimmel's 'I Love Lasting Finish' (catchy...) in a shade that appears to no longer exist I've had it that long! For the dots I used Natural Collection Nail Colour in Cosmic Crush, which is £1.89 from Boots.

My nail dotters are the set everyone seems to own, from Amazon, for £1.20. They seem to be quite sturdy, I just wish I'd paid slightly more and bought a set that came with a case.
In case you're interested this is the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00448VZQM/ref=aw_cr_item_title

Hope you enjoyed a little nosey at my very basic nail art. 


Suzy
Xx

Friday, 20 September 2013

Wedding Series #3 How We're Saving Up

I know money can be a slightly sensitive subject and I don't profess to be any kind of expert but I've really enjoyed reading about how other brides-to-be have saved up and budgeted for their weddings, and I thought it might be vaguely interesting to talk about how we're doing it. A lot of the methods we've used aren't wedding specific so anyone wanting to save/make a little extra money can keep reading too...you're not getting away with it that easily ;)


We're about half-way to saving for our wedding and honeymoon, with 9 months to go...eeek! Typically it's me that does the wheeling and dealing (slightly overstating it..) with money, Adam is cheap to keep and he tends to just float along not worrying about it.  I wouldn't say I worry about money either but I quite enjoy the little thrill of making a little extra cash or vouchers unexpectedly, and it makes me feel a bit less guilty for all the stuff I buy because it's offset slightly.

For ease of reading I'll split it into two sections:  Spending Less and Earning More


Spending Less

Individual Savings Account -ISA
Not the most exciting way of making money but it's effective and kills two birds with one stone - saving money and making money from the interest.  I've made sure that every month since we got engaged, as soon as we've been paid I squirrel a big chunk of money away into an ISA - I find we don't miss it so much if it was never in the equation.  Everyone in the UK has a personal tax-free allowance of £5760, per year, and if you shop around you should be able to find an account paying interest of 2-3%, which might not sound a lot but I think getting get a couple of hundred extra pounds per year just by having your savings in an account is pretty super duper!
I'm also less likely to fritter money away if it's in a separate bank account that isn't quite as easy to plunge into as my current account.

 
Food Shopping
I've always been a big fan of Aldi as I think a lot of their produce is really good quality.  Since we've been saving up though we've made a more concerted effort to buy as much of our shopping from there as possible, rather than paying crazy Tesco prices, just for convenience.
Aldi's fruit and veg is really good, and I love the offers they do, particularly the super 6, where fruit and veg is massively reduced.  Some things will always have to be the proper brand - crisps, beans, yoghurts etc, but there's no good reason I can't get most of my shopping from there. 
Voucher Codes
Having always been tight with money, I undertake a time consuming and relentless mission to locate a voucher code for all online purchases.  This can be somewhat infuriating for hungry family members who just want to ORDERTHEDOMINOS.  But I can't.  Until I've ruled every code in or out. It'd definitely worth doing though, I quite often find a 10/15% off code or free p&p.  It's the little victories!
Good sites for this are: Voucher Codes and Retail Me Not but there are countless similar sites.


Earning More Money


Ebay
Selling your tat is a really good way of saving up; so far this year we've gotten rid of a load of old computer games, clothes and I even managed to get shut of a spare bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic for almost double the price I paid.  Admittedly it's a bit of a faff having to take pictures, write the descriptions and then coordinate postage, but the Ebay app is brilliant because you can now take a picture and upload it straight from the app.  You have to accept that sometimes you'll make less than you wanted (I still haven't forgotten you, pure silk dress from Monsoon...£10.00..!), but I'd say over time it evens itself out.

 

Cashback
There are several cashback sites which you can go through to make your online purchases and receive cashback or gift vouchers.I use topcashback, which has some really generous cashback percentages.  Sometimes these can take a while to show in your account, and I'd always go with the cheaper-on-the-day price, rather than what would be the cheapest with the cashback offer, just because I'm cautious like that, but for barely 30 seconds extra work when making an online purchase it'd definitely worth signing up to a cashback site.  I've made around £50 this year from doing this, and I do sometimes forget to make my purchases through topcashback, so it should be more really.
I've had cashback for my weekly online food shop, beauty and fashion purchases, as well as  home and car insurance - pretty much all companies have some kind of cashback offer on there so don't forget to look!

Shop and Scan
Shop and Scan is a consumer panel where you are rewarded with gift vouchers for providing information about your weekly  shopping habits.  Once accepted you are provided with a barcode scanner and are required to upload this information weekly, as well as providing pictures of your receipts.  I've found the company a bit of a pain in the bum to deal with - on a couple of occasions I've received rather pushy phonecalls, bordering on rude, when I've forgotten to upload my barcodes on a certain week, and I wouldn't say they were particularly generous in terms of points awarded, but It's not a massive chore to do once a week and I've decided to save up the vouchers for a bigger purchase, which keeps me motivated to keep going with it.  For your first upload you are awarded 1000 points (£10), but then it takes on average 6-7 weeks to accumulate each subsequent £10 voucher. You can choose from all manner of vouchers - we went with Amazon because it's a safe bet they'll stock anything we want.
To sign up to shop and scan there is a waiting list, so you need to register first at www.volunteer4panels.com/ and then carry on with your life until they decide you are worthy!

 
 
 

Survey Sites
The main 3 sites I am a member of are Valued opinions, Swagbucks and Toluna.
Again, survey sites aren't going to make a huge contribution to your savings, but I like receiving vouchers that I don't feel guilty spending, because it means I don't dip into our actual money for my frivolous little purchases.
I'm quite faddy when it comes to completing these surveys - the end reward seems a long was away so I'm not completely motivated all the time.
Generally you are first asked several qualifying questions to determine if you fall within the target sample, if not you aren't allowed to continue and you aren't compensated for your time on that survey.  This can be quite infuriating when you've already answered 20 questions, to be told, oh actually, you don't qualify, soz. This is very naughty, survey sites- tut.
Of the sites I am a member of Valued Opinions is the most generous - usually £0.50 to £1 per survey.  It's also the quickest to credit your account.  Toluna is pitifully slow with awarding your points, but I have had a couple of £10 vouchers from them in the last year, so if you have the time it's still worth a go.
 
 

Mystery Shopping - Market Force, Gapbuster
Now, I've only done this twice, so i'm not an expert, but potentially mystery shopping could be quite a lucrative sideline.  I've been offered jobs paying up to £100, but most are in the region of £10-20.  You are just required to go to the required place, at the required time and make a purchase.  You must then feed back on your experience, usually within the same day.  It's not for the faint hearted, and I'm terrible under pressure, so my heart was beating out of my chest, from the fear they might know I was a mystery shopper.  By law in the UK mystery shoppers must declare themselves as self employed as any income is subject to tax, which is a bit off putting for an occasional £10 profit.  If you're lucky though you can be chosen for panels to review hotels, high end shops, and restaurants. As it was, I went to KFC.  And bought a bucket meal. Different worlds!

Marking for an Exam Board
This is quite specific to teachers really, but if you're a teacher and aren't already marking GCSE/A Level for an exam board I'd definitely recommend it as a nice little income boost.  Most exam boards pay a set fee for each allocation, plus a bonus for timely completion, as well as a higher bonus rate for extra marking.  For two, two-week marking periods (January and June) I tend to end up with around £1600, which makes a massive difference financially and tends to pay for my car insurance and a holiday every year.  Technically Adam could become an assessor too as we're both teachers, but marking to such tight deadlines is so intense that our house would be chaos if we were both doing it!


Sadly our main expenditure aside from bills, is travel to and from work, which there is no avoiding.  Aside from a few measly Tesco Clubcard points on the £55-ish I spend on petrol every week, we haven't worked out how to claw any money back from this - if you have any ideas do let me know!

Hopefully this might have given you some ideas or motivation for saving or making a little extra money, and thank you if you made it all the way to the end..it turned into a bit of a book!


Suzy
xx


Thursday, 19 September 2013

MUA Review Series #4 Eye Primer




I'm really enjoying writing this mini series reviewing MUA products and if judged purely on views and comments people seem to be happy to read the posts, which is lovely – so on I go!


MUA fit in with my belief that make-up of a decent quality needn't cost the earth, and every budget product that I genuinely like feels like a proverbial slap in the face for the more expensive brands and their slick marketing teams who stick their label on a mediocre product and we all baa our way down to Boots to buy it - of which I have been frequently guilty.
That's not to say that I've loved every MUA product I've tried, however.





This week I thought I'd talk about a product I use most days: Pro Base Eye Primer. Since starting to wear eyeshadow pretty much every day, within the last year or so, I frequently experienced the nasty creasing and uneven wear that comes with the application of make up at 6.30am and my return home around 12 hours later. So I decided it was time for a primer. Because my morning routine didn't have enough stages already..!



I was quite surprised to have this one recommended to me by my high-end-makeup-loving colleague, as I've never seen her use anything lower on the food chain than Clinique. She in turn had had it recommended to her by the make-up artist she frequently uses for weddings and events, so the signs were promising.


As with most MUA products the packaging is no-frills, but it's functional and after around 4 months it still looks the same as the day of purchase. The primer has a doe-foot applicator, which needs to be wiped before use because it's a bit keen-bean with the amount of product it brings out, especially as a little goes a long way. It doesn't look dissimilar to liquid concealer; beige with perhaps a slightly more pink-tone. Unlike other primers this doesn't dry clear, or soak in - it leaves a subtle creamy colour on the eyelid. I know some people prefer primer to be undetectable but I like that it corrects the colour of my eyelids because I have quite obvious veins on them (or arteries.. I should have listened in GCSE science), and they are quite red, so I like the coverage it gives as it shows the colour of the eyeshadow more accurately. 


I pat the primer in using my ring finger, and give it around 30 seconds before applying eyeshadow. Happily it isn't sticky or tacky once dry and I feel like it gives a smoother base for my eyeshadow, which stops it sitting in lines. Without this primer I'm conscious that most eyeshadows  just don’t have the longevity for a full day at work, whereas when I pop some primer underneath it does last until 5pm-ish without too much difficulty. My eyeshadow certainly doesn't wear any worse than my foundation, which I can live with. This primer also performed remarkably well during the ridiculous heatwave in June/July, which was disastrous for the rest of my make up. Argh the memories...foundation dripping away..!



I don't doubt that there are several superior primers out there, and the Urban Decay Primer Potion is extremely popular, but at £15 for something that isn't a 'star' of your make up, it’s a pretty big purchase – although one I intend to make at some point. If you have a limited budget then i'd rather be spending more on mascara and foundation than on eye primer. MUA Pro Base Eye Primer is £2.50 from MUA or Superdrug, which is quite a bargain really.



 

I’ll be repurchasing this when it eventually runs out and if you’re on the hunt for a budget eye primer I’d definitely recommend it.

 

Which is your favourite primer? Is primer something you’re happy to spend a lot on?

 

Suzy

xx

 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

NAKED: Rescue Intensive Care Haircare Review

I like the idea of SLS/silicone free haircare.  I don't demand it as I mentioned here, but as long as it actually works I'm happy to be all righteous and natural. This shampoo and conditioner are 97% natural and designed for frizzy damaged hair, which I have. 

From their description they should be ideal for my hair:
"For hair that is shouting SOS and in major need of TLC, Naked comes to the rescue! Whether your hair is looking a bit sad or is the victim of some serious abuse this combo is sure to please. Naked Rescue Shampoo and Conditioner team ‘smooth operators’ shea butter with olive oil to help work hard at tackling frizzy and split hair."

Sadly, they don't work.  At all.
 
Naked Rescue Intensive Care Shampoo
This left my hair feeling unwashed, despite washing it twice. The packaging says you'll get a better lather on your second wash, which is true, but it still doesn't clean my hair properly.  To the extent where when I'd dried my hair, parts of it still looked greasy.  Ughhhh. I'd definitely washed all of the shampoo and conditioner out too.  It just wasn't strong enough to actually clean my hair and my hair was just left coated with a weird film that felt nasty and heavy.  Heavy hair..is that a thing?!


Naked Rescue Intensive Care Conditioner

The only thing positive thing I can muster about this conditioner is that it's so thick you don't need to use much.  So it'll last you a while. Although I'd rather it hadn't.  It left my hair really weighed down and was an absolute nightmare to wash out.



I should mention that I previously used the Naked Colour Protection Shampoo and Conditioner and they worked perfectly well.  They even made my hair shiny.  Even so I didn't repurchase because having to use so much shampoo though is no good for me as I have pretty long hair, so I was speeding through the bottle far too fast. As I wash my hair every morning (tut tut)I don't want to further damage it by washing it twice, I only expect to have to do it once.  This doesn't appear to be sufficient with any of the Naked range though and that means I won't be buying it again.


I've now discarded the shampoo to Adam, who does actually likes it.  He has a really sensitive scalp and it doesn't react with his psoriasis at all, so that's good. Even he won't touch the conditioner though. I feel like shea butter should be kept for body lotion, not hair - it just doesn't work.

I definitely won't be using it again, or repurchasing - if you have the desire to do so the shampoo and conditioner both retail at £3.99 for 250ml.

Have you tried any Naked products? Do you feel that SLS free shampoo cleans your hair properly?

Suzy
xx