This year has been a seriously impoverished one for me – I’m a student, which is great but has meant a long tumble down the beauty products ladder from YSL and Clinique to whatever I can find in Superdrug. I have learned many coping techniques, which I think are worth sharing. I don’t put huge amounts of work into my regime but I do like to feel comfortable at all times (no taxis to protect my beauty efforts!) and take care of my skin because it gives me hassle.
The most important thing I have learned is to do things properly. A lot of my expensive products covered up my bad habits rather than making me look amazing. At first when I didn’t have things that looked and smelled nice, I lost my motivation to make any effort at all.
- Use base coat and top coat on your nails, just cheap ones are fine. This makes cheap nailpolish look good and last longer. Gem Fatale is the duchess of nail tips.
- Most overused tip ever: take off your makeup every night. Expensive makeup is a waste of time if you’re applying to a face like gravel.
- Wash your hands at every opportunity. Prevents breakouts better than any product ever invented and is free.
- Blowdry your hair. Once you’ve got the product and the hairdryer it’s free and it makes up for old clothes and lack of fashion bling.
- Exfoliator is the king of beauty products as far as I’m concerned. The last thing I have hung onto from my dollars days is the Clinique Clarifying Lotion (go for number 2, number 1 isn’t strong enough). On the body, anything will do really but if you have backne etc, I recommend the Sanctuary one because it has oil in it. Oil works on oily skin.
- An excellent tip I got recently: every now and then, exfoliate your underarms. It prevents BO and therefore emergency top purchases. Also, exfoliate your legs before shaving and it will make your razors last longer.
- Vaseline your feet before wearing tight or high-heeled shoes. Result: no blisters.
- Carry plasters and eye makeup remover wipes with you. Hobbling and panda eyes, especially as a combo, make you look insane. While I’m at it, buy some Party Feet (the foam ones, not the rubbish gel ones). I’m amazed that I still see people hobbling about – I recently saw a lady whose foot was bleeding from her shoes.
GOD I love expensive makeup and skincare. I have very pale white, combination type skin that is prone to spots and blotchiness. Therefore I am a real fusspot. Some things can be downgraded and others you can invest in with the aim of them lasting a long time. Trying lots of cheap products that don’t work for you is one of those false economies like in the news.
Worth spending money on:
- Hair products. I trim my own hair with haircutting scissors (you can get them in plain and slotted from Boots) and avoid colouring because it always looks rubbish when you do it at home. Cheap hairspray and grips are easy (but put your grips in a container or you’ll spend a stealth fortune on them). However, I would spend money on one good product like blowdry lotion; I use Tigi Superstar and it keeps me from wanting to pull out my terrible amateur haircut, plus it protects from heat and gives lots of volume for Cheryl Hair.
- Foundation. No one has yet invented cheap foundation that can cover actual blemishes.
- I’m in two minds about mascara. I still only use posh ones because they last much longer, but the effect isn’t that different. If you have sensitive eyes you should chuck them out every couple of months anyway so a posh one is a bad investment.
- Eyeshadow. Cheap ones don’t show up and fall off quickly. Waste of time. Get a decent brown one from Mac and you can use it for your eyebrows as well.
- Eye makeup remover. I tried cheap ones but they made me look tired because I was dragging on the skin and it took three goes to get it all off.
- Sunscreen. In a way it’s worth spending lots of money on moisturiser (see below) because the posh ones usually have SPF and something with a high SPF needs to go on your skin everyday regardless. Realistically you are not going to go to work with white stuff on your face and neck every day. Some people will be fine without it but the gnarly thing is that you don’t know until you are 35, by which time it is too late. No: you will not be rich and leisurely enough to have surgery to fix your appearance.
Things you can go cheap on:
- If you get spots, use a crushed up aspirin in a bit of water. 16p in Boots versus £8 from Clinique and it’s the same chemical. Admittedly you can only really do this when you get time alone but being cheap is hard work.
- Shampoo. It’s all just soap at the end of the day. Spend the money on conditioner instead. The best budget-y one I’ve tried is John Frieda Brilliant Brunette. I used it on my blonde hair too but I assume the blonde one is preferable for that!
- Apparently the Garnier caffeine roll-on is superior to Touche Eclat and costs half as much. In addition, expensive undereye concealer is mainly about texture but what you really need is colour. The L’Oreal Professional range is expensive for highstreet but good at this colour-neutralising malarkey that I have yet to master.
- Primer is expensive but really handy as it keeps your makeup where it is, but this can be achieved by using powder on your face. Mine cost £1.99 from Rimmel and has lasted for ever. Especially good on sweaty nights out.
- I have tried what feels like every cheap and middle-range moisturiser there is and nothing has replaced my Clinique Superdefense, but ordinary Nivea Creme was the frontrunner. It’s neutral so you can use it for every cream-necessitating scenario. Go easy around the eyes because it’s very thick.
- Facewash. I liked Neutrogena better than anything else. I looked like I had scrofula after using almost everything else.
My last tip is that buying clothes to pep up your wardrobe and your mood doesn’t work. I’ve bought more expensive clothes in my year of poverty because I had to really justify everything and I’d always rather one top from Whistles that makes me feel awesome than three crap ones from H&M. Buy party dresses in Primark because you’ll only wear them once or twice anyway; also hats, sunglasses, pyjamas, knickers and accessories. The most underrated shop for day-to-day clothes, bags and shoes is Marks and Spencers. You’ll feel good because you’ll be a size smaller there than in Topshop, the clothes don’t go rubbish after one wash and everything is affordable. If you never buy the really edgy stuff with cut-outs and fringing from Topshop anyway, you might as well buy a more flattering floral dress from the M&S Limited Collection. No one needs to know!
What a mission of a post! Feel free to share any other money-saving tippage.