Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Top Ten under £5

The drugstore seems to have really upped its game recently as far as affordable beauty is concerned.  Being an impoverished student with a growing addiction to lipstick, being able to find amazing quality yet cheap products makes me very excited.  Somehow I don’t think I am the only one.  So read on for my top ten drugstore beauty products for under £5.

Okay, so not technically drugstore.  Normally, I steer clear of the Body Shop when it comes to buying products.  Don’t get me wrong, their Moringa range is one of my all-time favourite fragrances, but I just can’t justify spending so much on fairly small products.  However, I will make an exception for the Aloe lip treatment.  I put it on just before I go to sleep, and my poor, wind and cold battered lips feel beautiful and renewed by the next morning.  The only slight downside is it feels a bit greasy, so I don’t use it during the day, but as a night-time lip mask, it’s a winner.

I use this every day.  Repeat: EVERY.  DAY.  I have tried various BB creams and tinted moisturisers, but none seem to give the light but complete coverage that I like, without irritating my skin.  It doesn’t last as well as a foundation might, but I do find my skin looks glowy and dewy throughout the day.  

Am I the only blogger who is yet to try Benefit Gimme Brow?  This seems to be a pretty close relative to the iconic brow product, and thought the strange rounded end has attracted a bit of negative press, for someone like me with decent sized eyebrows naturally, it works a charm.  Just a quick swipe and my brows are set for the day.  It can even be built up for a more intense look for the night-time (vital if you have a fringe!)

Hint: always buy this when it is on offer.  At nearly £8 normally, this wonder product would not make it into this list, but it is almost always on offer in either Boots or Superdrug.  I must admit I am a bit scared of fake tan (bad, tiger striped experience in second year…).  This stuff acts just like a body lotion, but gradually builds up a tan, which is light enough for mistakes not to show – and gradually building it up means that if you spot a mistake, you can sort it out!  If I’m feeling a bit peaky, I will put a small blob of this on my face, and it brings me back to the land of the living.  Just love this.

This is another on that is best to buy on offer.  My mum swears by this stuff as she has ‘non-waterproof skin’, so she needs the most intensive moisturiser she can find.  Enter the Dove Pro-Age body butter.  I actually use this on my face more than anywhere else: this winter has been cruel to my skin, and all my favourite moisturisers seem to be breaking me out or causing an irritating rash on my face.  And honestly, this has really helped clear it up.  Also it is anti-ageing so bonus (hello fourth year).

Apologies for the state of the bottle: it's well loved.
Yes, you read that right: one pound.  As of yet, I have only tried this shade in the MUA nail polish collection, and I am seriously impressed.  It is a very close dupe for L’Oreal’s ‘Nouvelle Vague’ which was all over the internet last summer.  The best part is how long it lasts: I am terrible with nail varnish – a lack of patience combined with picking at chipped nails means that I tend to do my nails every day.  This lasted for a grand total of three days before I started attacking it.  For one pound.  The only downside is that the collection is pretty small: more colours please MUA!

As I have said, this winter has been a meanie to my skin, and so after trying cleansers from Lush, the Body Shop and everywhere else, I went back to my old favourites: the Superdrug Deep Action range.  Quick disclaimer: if you have sensitive skin, this range is probably not for you.  But for me, I love it.  After a week of using it, the weird rash has gone away, my blackheads are disappearing, and a patch of nasty, painful spots on my neck (of all places) are starting to heal and fade.

To continue from the previous product, this range is just incredible for how affordable it is.  I like to use the blackhead scrub just after I wake up, to give my face a burst of invigoration, followed by drying my skin, then applying the Detoxifying Cream, which I rub in.  If I’m treating myself, I leave it on for five minutes, and then remove the ‘mask’ with a hot, wrung out flannel.  If this product range was five times the price, I would buy it.  That’s how much I love it.

Next time you pass Superdrug (it’s not in Boots unfortunately), pop in and smell this shower gel.  Honestly, it is the most delectable, mouth-wateringly incredible scent I have ever experienced.  I am just obsessed.  The lather is delicate and very cleansing, and the scent lingers on your skin afterwards too, which means I have been known to walk around smelling myself for an hour after a shower.  True story.  There is also a bath soak in this fragrance too, but if I had to choose one, I'd go for the shower crème.  Just go smell it - I dare you not to fall in love.

Counter-clockwise: Fab Orange, Berry Much, Red Essential, Keep It Classy
Talking about obsessed, these lip pencils have changed my life.  They are like a super thick lip liner, with the soft, smooth texture of a lipstick, which makes them easy to apply cleanly.  The colour payoff is outstanding: even one layer gives you perfect coverage.  And boy, do the last.  I wore Red Essential to university today, and it lasted through two seminars, lunch, two cups of tea and plenty of chatting, with only one top up (purely because I love applying it so much).  
Clockwise: Red Essential, Keep It Classy, Fab Orange, Berry Much
I currently own Red Essential (the most perfect red), Keep It Classy (a plum toned neutral pink), Berry Much (a gorgeous berry purple) and Fab Orange (a wow-inducing orange-red), all of which I adore and wear pretty much every day.  If you buy one product this month, make it one of these!

What are your top ten products under five pounds?  

*All opinions are my own and all products were bought with my own money.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christmas Wish List

Don't judge me: I'm sitting in bed, in my pyjamas, listening to Christmas music and drinking tea. 

I've been a pretty luck girl this year already, what with my incredibly lovely and generous parents replacing my slowly dying laptop with this fancy-schmansy new one,  but due to their request, here is this year's Christmas list!

French Bulldog Money Box:

I saw one of these gorgeous little fellas in the window of Thunder Egg in Manchester's Northern Quarter, and by the looks of things, they are sold out on their website (waaaaah).  Ideally, a real French bulldog puppy would complete my snuggle life, but until then, this little babe will suffice.

Stella McCartney Eau de Parfum:

Perfection in a bottle: a wonderful blend of musky and girly, giving a hint of sophisticated seduction.  Or at least that's how I felt after trying it on.  And at £53 for 50ml from Boots, it's substantially cheaper than my other perfume obsession, that comes in the shape of Dior's Pure Poison.

New Look Bear Ear Bathrobe:

How adorable and snuggly is this?!  I have ruined the last two bathrobes that I've had with hair dye (oops), so I promise that this one will be used solely for cuddling up.  Promise.

New Look Black Buckled Ankle Boots:

Anyone that has seen me in the last month will testify that I have been wearing the same black heeled ankle boots every single day, and for a very good reason.  They are so damn comfortable, keep my tootsies warm and dry and go with EVERYTHING.  These slightly more 'jazzy' babies would be perfect for nights out or days where I want to feel a bit more special. 

FYI, size six.  Ta.

Yankee Candle Midnight Jasmine:

Does this really need an explanation?  Oh.  Well, I am well and truly obsessed with jasmine, from several jasmine scented candles, hints of jasmine being in the majority of my favourite perfumes and my little jasmine flower tattoo on my foot.  I had a mini one of this candle before, and if I'd had my own way, it would have been permanently attached to my nose as it smelled AMAZING.  Please please?

Lush Cosmetic Warrior Mask:

So it may not be the prettiest or most glamourous, but winter has been horrible to my skin this year, so it could definitely do with some love.  The Lush charcoal soap is great for helping trouble skin calm down, so a combination of those two would be very much appreciated.  Or a relaxing intensive facial if you fancy splurging.

Soap and Glory Breakfast Scrub:

Hello old friend.  Soap and Glory's Breakfast Scrub has been a regular feature on my blog since discovering it maybe two years ago?  Next time you're in Boots, just smell it.  It's like maple syrup and oats and pancakes and happiness all in one perfect pot.  I might not actually hold out until Christmas before I buy another one though...

Prewetts Christmas Tree Shortbread:

Best.  Biscuits.  Ever.  Just all of them please.

If I'm honest though, I've got what I want for Christmas, which is to have got through the penultimate semester of University, and a whole day with my wonderful Josh, snuggled up in pyjamas, watching movies and eating all the food and drinking all the prosecco. 

Roll on the 25th!



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

White Noise

I stare at the grey wall, swiping my iPad lock screen back and forth, back and forth.  Outside, the wind blows, threatening to rain but not quite breaking.  I roll over.  I stare at the other grey wall, into the eyes of Audrey Hepburn as her lifeless image looks coyly back at me.  

A million thoughts roll through my head, none leaving the slightest trace of a footprint.  The boiler switches on and whirs into life.  The noise distracts me temporarily from my daze.  All around me lie books, papers, a dictionary.  I know that I need to pick them up, to begin working, but I can't.  

It's like my brain is white noise: constantly flooded yet empty of all sense.  My eyes flicker over to a pragmatics textbook lying open by my feet.  I should reach down and read a chapter.  It's not that difficult, but yet at this moment it feels like an insurmountable task.  

I sigh.  The heating behind my bed is on full blast yet I barely feel it.  I am aware that I am warm, but even removing a jumper seems impossible.

Generally depression hits with torturous anxiety or uncontrollable grief.  The reality is that it hits in many ways.

A month ago I wrote that I was recovering, feeling happier and stronger than ever before.  However one bad dream, one terrifying flashback has brought me back, and left me weak, hiding in the prison of my mind.  Seeing me, you would never guess.  The happy, laughing, confident girl in public is replaced by a shell, devoid of motivation and energy.  

I sigh again.  The longer I stay like this, the worse I will feel and the more behind I will become.  Though I know I am supported, I feel as though I am falling into a vicious circle of devastation.  I don't want to go back to where I was, hiding away, releasing emotion through pain and tears, if not for the impact upon my life, but upon the lives of my family.  

Taking a deep breath, I sit up.  I switch the light on.  Come on Hannah.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Scare Away The Dark

"If we all light up we can scare away the dark."

Scare Away The Dark by Passenger

I've taken somewhat of a blogging sabbatical this summer, not so much due to lack of time, but lack of motivation and joie de vivre.  But this post comes as an absolute pleasure to write, so get a hot chocolate and snuggle down.

As of my last post (yes, June, it was that long ago), things have changed.  In my last post, I spoke about how lost and vulnerable I was feeling, and that I had begun to feel crippled by the weight of depression that was bring me down.  Despite being surrounded by my family, and supported from afar by Josh, I felt so alone, and that I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I kept believing this until about three weeks ago.

It was as though my mind suddenly began to think clearly for the first time, as though it was able to wade through the memories and distractions that were clouding my head and finally begin sorting through them.  I had many sleepless nights, with my mind racing through past memories, working out why they hurt and what could be done, and then they were simply filed away.  On awaking in the morning, I felt like there was room to breathe.  After several more nights like this, my mind just began to feel emptier and clearer, in a way that I have never felt.  The only way I can describe it is if you have been to an insanely loud gig, and you leave with ringing in your ears: it's the moment you realise that it has faded away entirely. 

In brief, I felt free.  Free from the panic, the anxiety, and the misery that had been following me for longer than I can remember.  I can wake up and face the day with a smile.  I can laugh at silly animal videos on youtube, not just a half-hearted giggle, but proper laughter.  Josh has noticed such a difference: the Hannah that he met two and a half years ago is back, but more than ever.  I can eat (70% of the time) without worrying and feeling huge pangs of guilt: I'm not eating to comfort or to punish, but I'm eating to survive.  More than anything though is, with the return of university, I can think.  Before my mind would constantly stray from the task in hand, so that working on anything for more than a few minutes was impossible.  But I can now sit down in a class and be completely there in every sense of the word. 

Honestly, I never thought that I'd be here, feeling as I do.  Things have become so much better that, after support since February, I have been signed off from counselling.  I no longer feel that I am a danger to myself.  The emotional and physical scars are fading fast, and life suddenly feels worth living.  And, okay, I am still on the medication for at least the next eight months, but I think that after that, I will be ready to be completely free.

Basically, I just wanted to write this to say that if you're suffering from depression, or are supporting someone who is, get the help you need, as recovery is so worth it.  Like a packet of digestive biscuits after two days of 'nil by mouth' in a hospital bed.  Like a long, warm bath after finishing the Duke of Edinburgh expedition.  The feeling of relief is incredible, and worth every second of pain myself and everyone around me went through.  You can do it.  Like any illness, depression can be helped, you just need the right support.

And if we all light up we can scare away the dark.