Beauty bargain bonanza

I recently had a BIG birthday. This makeup bag, already sullied by foundation-y fingers, was one of the brilliant pressies that my brilliant friends and family bought for me. Honestly, it was a great haul, I truthfully loved every single thing I received; from the thoughtfully chosen jewellery, to the handbag I’ve carried every day since, to my favourite ever dress, the heavenly perfumes and the plentiful bottles of fizz. Winners, all!

The makeup bag gets a solo portrait, not only because it’s so fabulous, but because it is working hard at the moment. I have to say that turning 40 has not led to a decline in my cosmetic use. Looking presentable seems to be taking more work with every passing day.

Of all the blog posts I’ve written, the beauty bargain rundown is probably the one that has provoked most response. It seems I’m not alone in my love of a beauty steal – who knew? Below are some of the products I’ve been using recently that won’t break the bank but are particularly pleasing in their own little way.

I am a very big fan of The Ordinary products and their Hyaluronic acid (£5.99) is an absolute steal. It’s very lightweight, but I’ve definitely seen a difference in using it – it’s hydrating and non-greasy and leaves my skin soft and a bit fresher looking. I haven’t got a complexion like the little badgers’ just yet, but surely it’s only a matter of time?

I have tried DOZENS of mascaras: from YSL to Benefit to Bobbi Brown to MAC to, erm, Aldi and, overall, I would say that L’Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Mascara (around £11) is as good as any. I bought the ‘feline’ version under pressure from the biggest little badger because we’ve got a cat, so, obvs, but if you’re free to make decisions based on more sensible rationale, there are number of different formulations.

If you’re after super-long lashes for batting furiously – you might be – then this probably isn’t the one for you. It doesn’t give a false lash effect like, say, Lancome Hypnose but it gives really good definition and stays in place all day better than any I have ever tried. And my face is very smudgy.

Not really a beauty buy – definitely a utilitarian product to be legitimately popped into the shopping trolley, but I totally love this Nivea Clay Ginger and Basil shower gel. It smells, in my humble olfactory opinion, significantly more fancy than its £2.39 price tag promises. It has a nice creamy consistency and leaves skin feeling clean and soft. I won’t be allowing my head to be turned by anything else. (I probably will actually, but it’s lovely.)

My skin’s been a bit ropey lately; dermatologically, I’ve been revisiting my teenage years, but with a mortgage and reading glasses instead of Manic Street Preachers posters and History homework. It hardly seems fair.

Anyway, L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Matte foundation has been helping me out. It blends in well, there are plenty of colours and the coverage is good – I generally don’t need to bother with concealer (though if you’re after one, the Collection 2000 one is great). It’s widely available and only about £10. If you’re not stricken by oil slicks, I’ve heard good reports of the Freshwear version too.

If payday isn’t feeling so long away, then for about £30 Mac Pro Longwear is fab – great coverage and lasts all day and bareMinerals Matte Foundation gives a nice, lighter finish.

I like to give my face a good scrub and have never found any cleansing that doesn’t involve warm water to be satisfactory. This Superdrug Hot Cloth Cleanser is along the same lines as the iconic Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, but significantly cheaper at £5.99 for a hefty tube. It is a very thick, creamy consistency, so a little goes a long way – this has lasted me months. I have oily skin, but I would imagine it would be equally good for dry skin. I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

In Pretty Honest, (an ace book for anyone who likes a product) Sali Hughes recommends using a face cloth for better cleansing, so I use one from the airing cupboard’s extensive collection, rather than bothering with the little muslin cloth that comes with this. If, for some reason, I don’t bother for a day or two, I really notice the difference. And not in a good way.

Nothing groundbreaking here, but if you haven’t got any Garnier Micellar Water may I insist you remedy this with haste. It is available pretty much everywhere, is super purse-friendly (about £2 for a small bottle, which will last months) and is marvellous for removing makeup. If your skin is less troublesome than mine, you can use it for cleansing the whole face, but I rely on it for getting rid of mascara. I’ve tried lots of eye makeup removers but anything with the merest hint of oil leaves my eyes streaming and my mood fractious for days. I will buy this as long as it is manufactured.

As always, I’d love to hear about your best buys – my hair is being particularly troubling, so any products for keeping it in line would be warmly received!

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