The Savvy Shopper: Beauty

As a self-confessed beauty enthusiast, I love buying makeup, trying new skincare products, making a DIY hair mask (which can get pretty messy) – even if I were completely skint, I could find the money for any makeup, hair or skin care products I need. Whilst there are some things I can’t compromise on (due to a girl’s best friend: temperamental skin), I have my ways and means around the rest.

The obvious answer to saving money on beauty products is simply not to buy them as they aren’t considered a necessity.

Good one.

Let’s be real: I’d rather go without chocolate for a month than not buy my Double Wear. It’s hard to tell which would cause more tears.

It isn’t pure vanity, although I do like to look ‘good’- it’s more that I feel comforable, confident and ready to take on what the day has for me when my hair is shiny, my skin is clear, and my eyeliner is winged.

Some products out there cost serious dolla, so here’s how I keep my stash stocked, without breaking the bank:

  1. Samples.

Ask for the samples. Don’t be embarrassed about it; all branded counters have magic little drawers that are just brimming with freebies. And don’t just do it in one shop the once- make sure you ask in every shop you go into on every trip. Some brands are more generous than others and some counter staff are too, but generally, you’ll end up with a handful of products that would do you for at least a few days.


Clearly, I have no shame in asking… and this is a run-down version.

2. Hunt the offers, but check the price.

Particularly at this time of year gift sets come out for Christmas. You could buy your Clarins moisturiser now… or you could wait a few weeks and get a full size toner and cleanser with it for the same price. (You’ll find me hovering around Boots in my spare time waiting for this for the next few weeks.)

On the other hand, you have the fake offers. £1 for a bottle of your favourite shampoo? Yes, please! … but it may not be as good as it seems. Check your prices per 100ml: the 150ml bottle may be £1, but the 450ml bottle may be £2.50 so you’re actually getting less for your money with your ‘deal’.

3. Know when to compromise.

As I said before, there are things I can’t compromise on, like foundation. I stick to Estee Lauder Double Wear and that’s that. If you want me to use something cheaper talk to my grumpy skin, and then come back to me. I do however cheap out on powder, bronzer, concealers, blush, etc. If I have a good base application, the rest will stick. Boots Natural Collection, Collection 2000, Rimmel, Nyx – all cheap and cheerful, and all work as well as I need them to.


4. Mix your products.

Okay, this one is a little weird. I have my ‘luxury’ and my ‘low-cost’ skin care products, aka, Clarins and Simple. I would love to use Clarins skin care range all the time, but at £25+ for each product, that just ain’t gonna happen. Cue the Simple range. All under £5 and used when my skin is generally clear. If I’m going out somewhere, having a wee spa night, or have a bad breakout, I’ll indulge in the Clarins products. Otherwise it’s a routine of Simple cleanser, toner and moisturiser every night, meaning I can draw out the expensive products for longer and not have to make a ‘big purchase’ so often.

5. Palettes

You can buy your bronzer, blush and highlighter separately, or you could get all three in one palette for less than their combined price. I also prefer to buy eyeshadow palettes rather than individuals – they give you the option for different combinations and although there may be one or two stinkers (I’m sorry, but I’m never using the righthand side of my Morphe palette), you still get a whole lot more for your hard-earned cash.


I probably could go on, but I’ll stop here because if you’ve read this far you deserve a medal.

Now, go ask for your freebies!

Gillian x

Pink hair, don’t care!

I had so many questions and comments 2 weeks ago when I dyed my hair temporarily pink I decided to post on what I used and what I thought of it.

My hair is pretty boring: it’s thin, it’s poker straight so doesn’t hold a curl for long, it’s always blonde (because it’s true, we have more fun) and it’s soft so doesn’t stay in braids, or even a ponytail well without the help of 375926 cans of hairspray. All that being said, I still quite like it, but sometimes I just fancy something a little different that doesn’t cost too much – but only for a little while as I don’t want to damage it, and would miss my blonde locks.

I’ve had pink hair once before when I dip-dyed it a few days after my 21st birthday using Crazy Colour, but it stained for months and completely put me off trying a temporary dye again… until all the adverts for semi-permanent hair dye started popping up on our television screens. It started with Schwarzkopf Live Colour, then came L’Oreal Colorista, closely followed by Clairol Colour Crave.

Admittedly, I trotted off to Superdrug in search of Colour Crave, but as they didn’t have the shade I wanted I made a flash decision and bought the L’Oreal Colorista Washout instead, even though it was to last 2-3 washes, in comparison to Colour Crave’s 15+ washes.


The box contains one tube of washout colour and 2 pairs of gloves, for a couple of uses if you aren’t going for all-over colour. I started by rubbing the dye into the ends of my hair and working my way up to the roots until my hair was completely covered. There was just about enough in the tube to do my whole head, but if anyone with longer or thicker hair wants to go all pink for a week it would be best to buy a couple of boxes. I left it on for 25 minutes as I wanted the colour to be a little more intense so it would last longer.

Then I hopped online and read reviews.

‘This dye has completely DESTROYED my hair.’

‘My hair is ruined, it’s stained.’

‘I no longer recommend this product.’

‘I had to go to my hairdresser to have this fixed.’


My hair is very bleached at the ends in particular so I figured this stuff was going to cling like glue and I’d have to take the shameful ‘I DIY-ed my hair’ trip to the hairdresser’s (we’ve all done it) and beg for a fix.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case (PHEW!), the dye lasted 3 washes with a good colour, and by wash 7 was nearly completely faded! It’s left a little bit of a peach colour in my hair still, but I actually like it as it’s given my hair a warm tone without being brassy, and I’m pretty confident at this point it’ll wash out.

Some reviews are so over-dramatic.

My inner punk-rocker is satisfied for another while but I’ll definitely be going pink again.

Gillian x

The Budget Wedding Guest

Weddings are expensive. No matter what part you play in it, they still cost. I’m always honoured to be invited to anyone’s wedding, but there’s always an expectation there. It may not even be from the bride and groom, but when we are invited to a wedding, we as guests spend money on a new dress, new shoes, a new clutch, new jewellery, a fascinator or hairpiece, an up-do, a tan, a professional makeup job, nails… it goes on.  Simply because we feel we have to. It almost seems rude not to make the effort for the couple on their Big Day. As much as I would love to spend money on all of that, I simply can’t. I can’t justify using what would be on a whole months savings on looking good for one day.

I was invited to my very good friend’s wedding on the 24th of August. I’ve known her since I started secondary school and couldn’t have been more excited to be there to celebrate with her. It was a beautiful wedding, and I’ve never seen a groom with more admiration for his new wife. Tissues were required.

Obviously I wanted to keep up with the crowd and look my best, but I had to keep it within a savings-friendly budget. Here’s how I put myself together for the big day:


I was going to wear something I already had and decided to pick something from either my own wardrobe or my two sisters’ wardrobes closer to the time, but we ended up finding a little floral shift dress in the Marks and Spencer sale for a very extravagant £11. I’m a solid 10 and at a (generous) size 8 it was a bit of a squeeze, but I couldn’t resist buying something new for the sake of a tenner. If it zips, it fits.


Ebay. I reaaaaally struggled to find a fascinator that was the right colour, and, to be frank, didn’t look like something had landed on my head and died. Why is it you can never find something when you’re looking for it? I ended up googling it, which has lead me to some great bargains in the past. I tentatively ordered one from a UK based seller for £16.99, hoping it would arrive looking like the picture. To my surprise, it actually did, and came with both a headband and a clip to accommodate the hairstyle I hadn’t yet thought of.



Pink, satin, peep-toe stilettos, bought in the Karen Millan shop sale in Kildare outlet village about 4 years ago for about 40 euros. I’m pretty sure a light shone on those shoes the moment I walked into the shop. I didn’t need them then, but I wanted them. I can’t lie, they hurt so bad after about 2 hours, but they’re perfect for an event where there’s lots of sitting and where it’s later acceptable to remove them.

I’d show you a close-up, but they’re a little scuffed. 😬

Hair, Nails and Makeup

DIY. As I’ve said before, I’m no ‘MUA’ but I can put my face on fairly well, especially when I’m taking my time with it. I tried my first cut crease using pink and plum tones – nothing like trying something new 2 hours before a wedding- and it wasn’t awful.  My hair had been in benders the night before to curl it so was a little bit out-of-control by the time I got them out, but after a minor meltdown and the help of my sister it submitted into a soft, half-up style with a bit of a vintage vibe to it. Jenny also did my nails with gel polish in fuchsia pink to match my shoes and fascinator – who needs a salon when you have sisters?!

And there you have it – total cost: £27.99 and favours owed. And without wanting to sound narcissistic, I think I looked as well as everyone else.

Gillian x

Trying Olaplex

I’m not a beauty blogger, nor do I have the intention of being one – I know a good bit about putting my hair and makeup together, but no-one wants to see a video of my haphazard eye liner application. I may however from time to time feel the need to tell you about something new I’ve tried, and this is one of those times.

Being naturally blonde, the summer means my hair becomes like straw and having had my hair recently balayaged on top of already highlighted ends, it has become very dry and brittle to the point where I’ve probably had about 3 inches cut off it since April. That sounds like nothing, but it’s a traumatising amount to someone who has been trying to grow their hair long since they were 3. (My hair-growing girls get me).

It just kept breaking and I’ve been looking for something to help counteract the torture I’ve put my strands through and stop it looking so… taily.

Olaplex has been all over my instagram feed, particularly in lots of American salons and claims to strengthen the hair and stop breakages by repairing the disulphide bonds in the hair. I’ve been wanting to try it for months but didn’t think you could get it in Northern Ireland, never mind locally, but oh, my joy when I found out it was available in a little salon in Castlewellan. At £25 I felt a little guilty having it done, but it’s another one of those things that come out of my ‘treat’ budget. We may be saving, but a girl’s gotta maintain her hair. 💁🏼

I had never been to Bridgeen King’s salon (which, by the way, is gorgeous) in Castlewellan but heard a lot of good things about it, and I wasn’t disappointed. The girls were lovely and I think it’s the most relaxing hour I’ve had since about the start of June. The girls applied the treatment, popped on a cap and left me under the heater with a cup of tea, a stack of magazines and the wifi code. For someone who doesn’t stop, this was bliss.

When they rinsed the olaplex out I had my hair blow-dried and curled and left the salon feeling pretty fabulous. It was so silky I could feel how soft it was against my scalp. That sounds weird and a little creepy, but it really is feather-light! My hair is healthy and shiny and whilst I still have some split ends, there doesn’t seem to be as many.

Okay, so it’s hard to see when it’s so curly, but it’s definitely made a difference and I’ve been playing with my hair since. I couldn’t afford to do it all the time, but it’s a little bit of luxury that definitely improved my poor, dull hair.

Now, if you excuse me, I’m off to brush it and run my fingers through it some more.

Gillian x