Tuesday, 29 October 2013

If I Wasn't Skint* #1

(*and horribly irresponsible)

Today's post is brought to you by the letter L for Lack of Internet. Sadly, my internet connection was supposed to be fixed today but I managed to fail at my life and miss the engineer, I am writing this post in the spare room hooked up to 'the wire' as we speak. Hopefully tomorrow I will have wifi and all will be good again.

If I wasn't skint, yesterday I'd have bought two rabbits.

My housemates and I took a jaunt out to Pets At Home yesterday to enquire about some fish. My boyfriend has been obsessing over having fish for some time now and we went to see if it would be viable. Whilst we were there I went to look at the rabbits, in particular the ones that needed rehoming. I love any animal that is fuzzy, fluffy or soft: I've been known to attempt to stroke urban foxes (until I realised they were full of disease and could be quite nasty). I've been following Beauty and the Baker blog for a while now and have been admiring Katie's adorable rabbits on her instagram as well which has not helped my pining for a house rabbit. So when I came across the two black bunnies that needed rehoming it was hard for me to leave them. They were the most beautiful animals I have ever seen. They had fur that looked like velvet and massive pointy ears like the rabbit pictured above. The pair were brothers and had been put up for adoption. I'm a bit like an X-Factor judge, I'm a sucker for a sob story.

Sadly though I could not afford the upkeep of a rabbit, let alone two. I had to leave them behind as I don't have enough space for them and I'm pretty sure my landlord would not be happy about keeping rabbits in the house. I did feel incredibly bad for them, someone obviously loved them enough to put them up for adoption but simply could care for them no longer. If I wasn't skint, I'd have bought two rabbits and loved them forever.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Best and Worst of Budget Beauty

I haven't done a make-up post in a while so I thought it was about time really. Here is a list of hair, make up and cosmetic products that I think are the best and worst in their category, I hope this will help anyone who is struggling where to start with budget products. If you are a midrange or high end kind of person then it can be difficult to know what works best from the budget ranges.



E.L.F Studio Blush - £3.75
Comes in 11 shades so there is plenty to choose from and has a very subtle sheen in some shades rather than chunky glitter like other brands. I find it very similar to Sleek's blushes in terms of shades and texture, both of these brands do very natural and wearable shades.


E.L.F All Over Colour Stick - £1.50
All the shades are a bit too 'shimmery' for my liking, I ended up looking like Boy George which is never a good look, unless you are Boy George then I'm sure it would suit you. I also dislike the texture of them as it is a little too tacky and takes off my foundation which is a shame because it would be a perfect super budget, super long lasting creamy blusher. I would recommend the shade Toasted for a bronzer if you like a bit of shimmer though.



I adore Sleek's range of blusher, highlighters and contour powders. Although this is not necessarily a bronzer it is double duty because it can be a bronzer but you could also layer the two products to create a dark shimmer on areas of your face where the sun would naturally tan you. I think the powder is not drying and is extremely blendable.


17 Instant Glow (Discontinued)
No glow on my face with this one I'm afraid. Whist this had a beautiful sheen it did not boast a natural colour, it was more tangerine than tan. I wish it had been a more natural shade as this could have be a lovely budget product drawing on the concept of Benefit's 10 which is both a highlighter and a bronzer. It's probably a good thing they discontinued it when they rebranded.



Rimmel Hide The Blemish Concealer - £3.99
5 very wearable shades, but may not be for the darker skined among you. It has an extremely creamy and blendable texture which is essential to the functioning of a concealer. I like to apply mine using my fingers to let it heat up a little and therefore make it even easier to blend.


E.L.F Tone Correcting Concealer - £1.50
Shiny and very liquid; dried too quickly so it couldn't be blended properly, good shade range though. Made me look like I had shiny dots all over my face. Not good.



Sleek i-Divine palettes - £6.50
Comes with 12 shades and because there is a huge range of palettes from neons to neutrals there is definitely going to be a palette to suit your needs. All the shades have a waxy sort of texture allowing them to linger on the skin longer than other shadows and they are very blend-able. Very well pigmented and the shimmery shades aren't full of chunky glitter but just glow nicely. I talk about this product here


E.L.F Smokey Palette - Discontinued
Doesn't blend at all well, some of the shades are lost on the skin because they are not well pigmented at all, some shades are full of glitter while the other shades are matte to the point of looking like chalk. The brush included in this though is awesome! I use it to do my brows.



Collection2000 Extreme 24h Felt Tip Liner - £2.99
Comes in a waterproof formula so good for crying at weddings. Very pigmented and the formula means it doesn't drag on the skin leaving a crisp line.


Avon Glimmerstick - £6
Pulled on my eye skin which hurt and didn't have much staying power which is a shame.

Make up remover

Boots Botanics All Bright Soothing Eye Make up Remover - £3.99
Almost a better dupe for the Clinque eye make up remover. Very gentle on skin and nourishing, an absolute favourite.


This was not kind to my eyes. The worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Seriously. My eyes were red and I was in pain for two hours. Two whole hours. I couldn't see because my eyes were watering so much, I don't even have sensitive skin so I wonder how anybody with sensitive skin actually uses this! AVOID AVOID AVOID!



Barbara Daly for Tesco Moisture Foundation - £7
Maaaaaaaaaaaasive range of shades including for the pale people like me! Medium coverage with a not-quite-matte finish. Liquid formula so a little goes a long way. I'd also recommend Bourjois 123 foundation


E.L.F All Over Cover Stick - £1.50
When I tried this was sticky, waxy and gross. It is very much like the Colour Sticks but all over your face. You get what you pay for really!

Hair Spray


Tesco Proflex Hairspray - £2.04
A lovely little find from Tesco, it leaves my hair perfectly in place without looking stiff and disgusting. I also talk about this product here.


Tesco Family Firm Hair Spray - 64p
Made my hair look as if I were a Lego man with Lego hair. Again, if you spend just a little bit more money, the quality of products are almost infinitely better.

Shampoo and Conditioner


Pantene Repair and Protect - £3.69
Makes my hair shiny and look beautiful. I feel this really does protect my hair from the crap I put it though e.g. colouring, blow drying and heat styling! Great iconic fragrance and really gets my hair clean. May not be a product for those with very greasy hair. I also talk about this product here.


Tresemme 24 Hour Body - £5
Made my hair really dry and no noticeable ease of styling or protection against styling. No volume either which was a shame. You do get a lot of product for your money though.

Lip Stick


Natural Collection Moisture Shine Lipstick - £1.99
Awesome range of colours, from very bright reds to subtle nudes. Very moisturising and lasts an acceptable amount of time, lasts even long if applied correctly. The trouble with this product is that on the Boots website it is often unavailable to purchase, which is crap if you can only order online but if you live near a Boots then you are in luck. I'd also recommend any Rimmel lipstick from the Kate range and also the E.L.F ones.



Collection 2000 Big Fake - £4.99
The brush on this is huge! I'm talking seriously massive, you need to see it to believe it really. This mascara provides huge volume and length, most mascaras are not voluminous enough, but this makes your lashes HUGE but without the clumping that is commonly associated with big lashes. If you are willing to spend a little bit more or see it on offer do try out Falsies.


E.L.F Waterproof Lengthening and Volumising Mascara - £3.75
NO it didn't do anything it said on the tin. There was no volume to be seen as the formula was just far too watery. The bristles on the brush were not long enough to coat lashes properly.

Nail Polish


Barry M Nail Paint - £2.99
A rainbow of shades, finishes and effects. Barry M are most famous for their nail paint as it is very very long lasting, I've had Barry M on my toes for up to a month before with out chipping (kind of gross really). Various nail effects ranges have been launched using revolutionary technology like including metals in the paint which can be manipulated using magnets, freaky. Drying time is good on these even though they are highly pigmented, most of the time I only use one coat.


Eyeko - Discontinued, Avon ProWear - £6
The lasting time is quite frankly crap, a nail polish should not chip 4 HOURS after application; enough said. So glad that Eyeko have gone back to just dealing with eye make-up, when EYE is in your brand name you should probably just stick to what you know. I also dislike the Avon ones quite a bit they chip easily as well.

Nail Polish Remover


DermaV10 Nail Polish Remover Pads - 75p
Lovely orange scent and quickly removed nail polish whilst caring for nails. Small pot so easily transferable and can be used over and over again as they are absolutely soaked in the remover. Not sure where these are available, I got mine from my local Savers.


Avon Nail Polish Remover - £4
Ripped my finger nails to shreds because it was not nourishing enough. Took ages to remove my nail polish which was a pain. I had to buy a top coat to put over my nails after I used this stuff just to protect my nails.

Cuticle Oil


Olive Oil
Available from most food shops, you probably have some in your kitchen right now! It is a waste of money buying expensive oils when good ol' olive oil is to hand. It contains lots of goodness, if it is healthy enough to eat then surely it should be good for your nails, right?


Anything that is expensive!

Loose Powder


Still haven't found on sadly :(


Collection 2000 Sheer Loose Powder £2.99
Didn't really do anything for my skin at all, it didn't really mattify my skin or make it look sheer, it just kind of did nothing.

I hope you enjoyed this collection of products, let me know your own suggestions in the comments, on facebook and twitter

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

StudentBeans: 12 Things You Can Do For £5

Today's post comes from StudentBeans and will show you 12 things you can do with a fiver. In the run up to Christmas you'll need to start saving a little bit extra but that doesn't mean that you have to deprive yourself of fun. Click on the image above or here to see the article.

Let me know what you think of their ideas and let me know your own suggestions in the comments, on facebook and twitter

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Real Cost of Cheap Products

This post is going to be a bit more serious compared to a lot of the other stuff I write about. I'd been thinking about writing something on this subject for a while after reading other bloggers posts about ethical products but mostly I was prompted by a friend on my facebook page asking about the human cost of cheap clothing. Being a sociologist by trade I do question a lot of the practices that go on and how ethical they are. As a consumer though it can be hard to address these issues because we are so concerned with our own wallets that we only think about these things when there is a media outcry and even then, we only think about it until the next media panic comes along. As a society we need to educate ourselves about what actually goes on rather than remaining in denial.

It's all in the label
The question that we must ask ourselves is how is it possible to produce products and sell them at a low price? How is it possible to produce t-shirts that only cost £2? The answer is in the label. Where was that £2 t-shirt made? I bet it wasn't in the UK or US; it most likely was made in Turkey or India. The next question we have to pose to ourselves is why aren't mass produced products made in rich western countries?

Profit and profiteering
Products are not produced in the UK for a variety of reasons all of which increase the manufacturing cost and therefore decrease profits for the company. The UK has set a high minimum wage ($9.83 for over 21s) which all employers must adhere to but in other countries this is not the case. In places like Botswana and India the minimum wage is less than $1 an hour, when you compare this to one of the highest minimum wages of $16.88 an hour for Australians you start to see why companies are drawn to outsource work to certain places and withdraw from others.

The majority of western countries also have very strict environmental and labour regulations which simply do not exist in poorer countries. The reason why there is less regulation in these countries is to attract businesses to them. Even though business practices may harm the people and the environment, some of the more corrupt states are willing to sell out their citizens in order to gain themselves good deals with investors. A company will always try to reduce their overhead costs in a bid to increase profit. Currently there is a race to the bottom with regard to overheads. Consumers are becoming less and less willing to pay a high price for goods so there is pressure for companies to make products cheaper because there is always another company who is willing to stoop lower and undercut them.

One misconception that we must get out the way is that the problem doesn't just relate to cheap products. Even more expensive products can be subject to worker exploitation. Foxconn, the manufacturer of a plethora of gadgets including iPhones and Kindles, has been exposed as 'exploiting' workers and keeping them in terrible conditions so much so that they threatened to commit mass suicide if conditions did not change. The new iPhone costs £549 while workers in the Foxconn factories are paid around £60 per week, although they are given meals and a place to live conditions are little better than a prison cell.

What can we do as consumers?
We have to educate ourselves. The information is out there for us to make informed decisions as ethical consumers. There are companies that do appear to pay their workers peanuts, but for the majority of people in poverty getting paid something is better than starving to death. Factories branded as 'sweatshops' can improve the standard of living of workers, I know I'd rather work in a sweatshop with guaranteed income than have to search through landfill sites contaminated with toxic or medical waste with no guarantee of income. Having said that though, I do feel that more can be done to improve the conditions within sweatshops and improve the standard of living for workers. Offering a hot meal, a minimum wage, regular breaks, better lighting, education programmes or living arrangements courtesy of the company would go some way to ameliorate the situation for workers.

Things will not improve overnight but we can take informed collective action. We have consumer power, there are companies who do support their workers and treat them as more than a commodity. We have to favour companies who actively work ethically, H&M and Gap have been named as ethical apparel producers so it isn't like you have to pay through the nose to be an ethical consumer. Remember that expensive does not necessarily mean no exploitation as is the case with Foxconn. Other lists of ethical companies can be found here.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I will completely overhaul my spending habits but I am going to, and have been, adjusting my habits. Where possible I will shop with ethical companies and I shall support companies that treat their workers well. I will also be supporting charities that campaign for improved working conditions like this one. Some people will criticise me for my feeble attempt at being ethically aware, but it is better than what I was doing before and I'm hoping that this post will bring a little bit of attention to this issue even if it is just in passing. If you've managed to read this all the way to the end then well done you, because I'm sure some people will just skip past this.

I'd love to hear what other people have to say about this issue, so please comment

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Budget Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween Fancy Dress Ideas
I can't believe that I've finally got the opportunity to use the Chilller font!
Trying to pick a costume for Halloween can be very time consuming and frustrating especially if you leave it till last minute. This post will hopefully (remind you that halloween is soon) give you a few different options to choose from whether you be creative and want to make your own costume or if you'd just like to buy a cheap pre made one. You don't want to end up like me last year, I made my costume at predrinks...

Halloween Fancy Dress Ideas
Corn Flake boxes make excellent panda ears!
Simple Home Made Costumes

You don't have to be an excellent seamstress or particularly good at art to create an awesome costume. What you do need, however, is patients, an imagination and probably some fake blood and face paint for when it all goes horribly horribly wrong.


Dobby Fancy Dress Costume

For this costume you will need to soak a Pillowcase (£2) (or an old t-shirt) in some tea to stain it then slash a hole in the top and sides to make neck and arm holes then tie up the shoulders. All you need then is to carry around a sock and talk like Dobby. You could also add cardboard ears stuck to a headband if you really want to go all out.

Medusa Fancy Dress Costume
To emulate Medusa you will need a Flat Bed Sheet (£6) and some plastic Snakes (£1). All you need to do is tie a toga and put some snakes in your hair either by plaiting your hair and weaving them in or attaching them to a head band.

Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse Fancy Dress Costume
God rest her soul, Amy Winehouse was an icon and you can recreate her look with an Eyeliner Pen (£1) for her famous winged eyeliner and tattoos and some extremely vigorous backcombing to make a beehive. To complete her look dress in denim shorts and a chequered shirt. 

Robber/Where's Wally?

Robber Where's Wally? Fancy Dress Costume
A bit of a cop out (pun totally intended) but you can get striped t-shirts from Primark (£2.50) and add appropriate accessories to be either a robber or Wally.

Zombie [insert character name here]
Fake Blood
This is a costume for when you are clutching at straws a little. Just cover your costume and face in fake blood. Instant zombie. Please be careful though, last year I went to lectures with a bright red chin, remember to remove the blood thoroughly!

For more home made fancy dress ideas head over to Studentbeans and Squidoo. And if you still can think of anything just wear a mask.

Halloween Masks
Lack of preparation is scary, right?

Ready Made Costumes

Although I love making my own costumes and getting into the spirit of halloween, buying ready made costumes is less time consuming but you often pay a premium. The costumes I've selected are just a handful of what is available but these are the cheapest of the cheap. Seriously, who are these people spending £45+ on costumes?!

Angry Bird Costumes
Probably these guys...

Halloween Fancy Dress Ideas

To go with your witch outfit you can get brooms at Poundland. They also do devil/fairy wings which can be a very versatile item for your dressing up kit. If in doubt you can always stick on some furry ears of some kind or go very budget fancy dress...

Mean Girls Mouse