My Holiday Make Up & Beauty Essentials

I usually ask for Make Up vouchers for Christmas, which translates into Boots vouchers from my grandad which have come in very handy when I have £0 bank balance with 2 days to go before payday and can no longer buy meal deals with my boots points. Aside from my way to cleverly (I think you’ll agree) being able to slightly homeless style feed myself before payday, I love this time of year for all the beauty products I can try and and test without them melting off my face in summer heat. Damn you summer you were not designed for gingers. I’ve comprised a shortlist (or short list, however you choose to see it) of my favourite products to use around these drab and dark winter months and leave me a comment if you agree or have any other suggestions!

  1. Cowshed – Cow Pat – Moisturising Hand Creme 50ml – £8 instore & online

Okay so I’ve always loved Cowshed products because they smell amazing and I’m always looking for a decent hand cream that doesn’t grease up my hands and this one is the one. It’s compact so can fit in my handbag, and it smells amazing, and the formula is a little sticky at first but dries to be like a creamy velvety texture and I love it.

2. Glo & Ray – Nuage Blush in Breaking Ray – £11 online

This blusher makes me happy. Not only because it’s a warm coral tone that suits my paler complexion but it’s really not too pigmented which means you can build up a little bit of colour as you go. The handy compact comes with a little brush and mirror so it’s prefect for popping in my handbag and using for touch ups. Have to thank Blasmin for this blush which was a ‘cheer up you’ve got no phone present’.

3. Philosophy Divine Color Cream-to-Satin Foundation spf 25 LIGHT – Approx £10 online




Now I actually bought this foundation compact at a make up sale at my work, so I got it for £5 and I don’t actually wear it as an everyday foundation because I find the coverage a bit thick for daywear. However, it’s great on a night out because it stays put, (I find that it works really well with MUA Primer, Superdrug £2) and I also keep it in my handbag for little day touch ups because of the handy little brush that comes with it. LOVE HANDY LITTLE BRUSHES.

4. Sainsbury’s Extra Firm Hold Hairspray 300ml – £0.90 instore & online

Image for Sainsbury's Extra Firm Hold Hairspray 300ml from Sainsbury's

I bought this hairspray because I just needed one at that moment and just wanted to buy a cheapy before I got my usual Vo5 all weather facing. But you know what, this hairspray is great! My hair actually stays put all day, but getting caught in wind makes this hairspray make your hair a little notty. But for 90p, you pay £3/4 more for hairspray that does little if to nothing different.

5. Dove Derma Spa Summer Revived Fair to Medium Skin Body Lotion 200ml – £6but cheaper online 


I bought this buy one get one free in Superdrug so I bought the Fair to Medium and the Medium to Dark. I tend to use the Fair to Medium as a nightly moituriser and the Medium to Dark to build up colour over a few days (usually 2/3 will do the trick nicely) for when I’m going out. The forumla smells really nice, slightly biscuity but that’s really not a problem for me, and it has a smooth textures, and is non greasy and quick drying. I’ve found it to be streak free and long lasting, but I am quite the expert of fake tanning having done it for 10 years. If you leave your feet and only skim the top, then it’s going to look like you wore dolly shoes when you applied it. IT’s a good gradual tanner, one of the best I’ve used and gives me a wintery ski holiday glow but it’s not a miracle worker and you have to be aware it’s only going to develop in the places you work it in.

I’m going to be doing a few more health and beauty posts in the New Year so if you have any suggestions, please drop me a comment below.

10 things 20 Somethings should do when throwing a Christmas Dinner



I am trés excited for Saturday 12th December. Not only is it the official first day of Christmas, (don’t gimme any of that 1st December bullshit, it’s the 12th and you know it) but me and my nearest and dearest London pals are throwing a Christmas dinner. As we are all 20 somethings and attempting a Christmas meal, I thought the title for this post was very apt.

  1. Mistletoe – At the door, on the floor, in the cupboard that everyone opens thinking it’s the bathroom. Put it everywhere, chances are in your twenty something friendship group there’s either a couple, a maybe or some potential hook ups of tomorrow, either way, spread a little Christmas magic and be a Christmas cupid.
  2. Plan what you’re cooking at least the day before. Otherwise you will end up with half meat feast/half pepperoni dominoes setting you back around £25 pp. You could have gone gourmet for that price.
  3. On that note, budget: Set your budget at £10 or £20 per head for food and booze. You can get some really good deals in places like Iceland and Lidl without spending a fortune and can get some interesting German brands (Lidl especially) which will just make Christmas all the more authentic for you!
  4. Keep Secret Santa an actual secret. I mean myself and my friends tried to keep it secret this year and I worked out 70% of the formula of who had who and to be honest kind of ruined it for myself and others (sorry guys). You’re in your 20’s, you’re not going to be able to give each other £50 Liberty vouchers (I don’t know why I said this like as soon as you hit 40 you can afford that either) so set a budget -£5,£10 will do and accept your present of malleable fart goo from the pound shop and be merry and gay about it.
  5. Music – Don’t let any of your friends, no matter how close you are, choose putting on Kisstory Christmas over the traditional holiday tunes, but do allow your token Jewish friend to play Hava Nagila for a bit before the Turkey comes out the oven, then it’s Bublé time and you know it.
  6. Games – No Christmas dinner party soiree is complete without a family row and board games. These days, you’re hip and cool in your 20s and if you live in Shoreditch you’ll have been playing dirty scrabble since 2011, but for the rest of us folk who can’t grow beards that birds can live in, Cards of Humanity or good old fashioned Charades is the perfect way to get everyone drunkenly debating/arguing.
  7. Plan a night out in advance and agree where you’re going to go. You’re going to be bloated and full and not in the mood to go out but then those old pangs of going clubbing on special occasions will come back to haunt you from teenage/university years and you’ll just have to go out anyway. Better to be sensible and plan/mentally prepare for it as early as possible.
  8. Have a little nap before you head out. You’re old. This way you’ll last until 2am which is an improvement on Halloween’s 1am.
  9. Do get dressed up to the nines. It’s Christmas. You’re still young and hot-ish. Don’t comedy dress. No one is going to kiss ‘sexy Rudolph’ with face painted bright red nose, because no one is longer 18 and people actually develop standards as they get more sensible/age.
  10. Get prepared for that hangover the next day because it’s going to be disgusting. Take the Monday off work.Recuperate by having two day Domino binge with the money you saved on not getting Dominoes for Christmas dinner.

Dorothy was right

So for the past month, I’ve been working in Manchester doing a research job, and living back at home whilst the next chapter of London life unfolds or folds. I was looking forward to coming home a couple of weeks early for Christmas, having my tea cooked for me, having my washing, washed and ironed and lay out on my freshly made bed. Coming downstairs in the morning to freshly brewed coffee and croissants, warming my feet up by the fire. Reading a good book, whilst being snuggled with the cats on the sofa.

Unfortunately, this is my ‘dream coming home’ scenario, in which my mother doesn’t work 10 hour days, my cats actually like me and we are allowed anything in the fridge that doesn’t have ‘light’ prefixed to the product name. It’s true, life in a busy, cramped, South Manchester suburb might be what I’ve lived for the past 12 years of my life, but it’s certainly not something I’m aiming for for when I settle down myself. The place I lived prior to Manchester was set in the countryside, with a reservoir visible out of the back. I petted cows and sheep that rested their heads on the drystone wall and was generally just content with breathing in fresh air and not car fumes. The commuter’s paradise I’ve lived in since I was 9 is a nice, quiet, pretty village where people say ‘Hello’ to each other as they pass awkwardly in the street, but no one really knows each other. In London, if this greeting occurred, there would be weird nervous looks of curiosity at ‘the crazy man who just said hello to me walking into Kings Cross’. Saying that, I do miss London, I’ve been away from it long enough to miss it’s noisy charm, it’s bustling pace and it’s overall sooty feel. But is this just because I’ve got used to living the life I had before university again? Being home by 11pm latest on a work night as to not wake the already sleeping parents, making sure everything is ‘washed up at all time’s or at ‘least put in the dishwasher.’ Feeding the cats all the time as to not be scratched to death, realising that you’re sat in a room which was painted purple with silver swirls when you were 9, baby pink with roses when you were 13, oxblood red when you were 17 and freaking awesome and now pale forest green with a hint of guest room at aged 22.

So was Dorothy right? Is there no place like home? Because once you move from one place to another in childhood, clear off to university, have the time of your life, living in your own house with your own rules and then attempt to stand on your own two feet and then end up back at your parents house in order to afford your rent- home sweet home doesn’t seem so sweet when it’s not a choice.


Fun, Fit and Thin: The Truth Behind Fitness DVD’s

Here’s my latest article to feature on HandBag Fairy, a slightly passive aggressive, sympathetic fellow Christmas food gorger, looking for a new a flight of fitness for the New Year. In other words, I hate exercise so naturally I am skeptical of everything involving exerting myself.

Vicky Pattison's DVD

A  growing population with growing waistbands, we’re constantly bombarded with adverts for fast food, followed by quick fix treatments and remedies to get thin, fast. At this time of year, people are thinking of the annual January starve before Christmas has even begun, stuffing our faces with goodies and treats like animals hibernating for winter. The sale of fitness DVD’s sky rockets at the end of December as everyone prepares to attempt the ‘new you’ of the ‘new year’. But what really lies behind the fitness dvd? Are they a great way to get fit or a complete farce?

Eastenders actress Natalie Cassidy brought out her fitness DVD, ‘Then and Now’ in 2007 when the soap star slimmed down from a size 16 to a size 6 in just under 3 months. She was hitting headlines with her phenomenal weight loss and really gave people struggling to lose weight, the confidence to give it a go, her motto being “If I can do it, anyone can.” But Cassidy spoke out recently about how unhappy she was the whole time she was filming the DVD, eating “next to nothing and exercising to excess”. She states in a recent interview that she was pressured by producers to make the DVD in a short space of time, a time period concerned by doctors to be too short of a time to lose weight healthily. Happy now with her curves back, Cassidy admits that the DVD was a mistake, and she doesn’t want people to think that losing weight in this way is admirable.

Vicky Pattison, ex-Geordie Shore cast member wowed paparazzi recently with her body transformation. The Geordie lass slimmed down to a size 8 from her former frame of size 16 earlier this year. Vicky has been photographed out and about with her personal trainer, using local parks and pavements to complete her vigorous workout. Commenting on her recent weight loss, the reality star spoke out about her plans for Christmas saying, “Christmas will be filled with mulled wine and Quality Street. I don’t want to deprive myself, but I don’t want to undo all the hard work either.” Vicky has been training 6 or 7 times a week, in short bursts dubbed ‘interval training’, proven to be a healthy and effective way to lose weight fast. She’ll be releasing her fitness DVD early in the New Year.

However, for those of us who aren’t TV stars and work 9-5 jobs, what do we do about losing weight effectively but most of all, healthily? Unfortunately, it won’t be a walk in the park or just using a fitness DVD. But a bit of everything. Fitness DVD’s are fantastic tools to use, but you have to be doing other things too. Many people buy these training guides, thinking they will look like the star in a matter of weeks, but realistically, they’re just another moneymaking scheme. My advice for the New Year? Ditch the DVD and go for a jog round the block.

And the bells are ringing out, for January.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t felt Christmassy at all in the run up to December 25th this year. I’m no Scrooge, but apart from watching two Christmas films, coincidentally two film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and being a ‘bit gutted’ when I’d learned my mum had put up the Christmas tree without me, I haven’t felt that twinge of excitement. Perhaps it’s because I’m not religious. Perhaps it’s because I literally didn’t want anything for Christmas this year. Perhaps I’m too old for Christmas joy and cheer. I don’t know what it is but I’ve spoken to several other people about it, young and old and the conclusion was unanimous. 2013 was one of the biggest let downs of hyped Christmas tidings ever.

Christmas cakes and wrapping paper started creeping into supermarkets by the end of August, shops such as TK Maxx were already half way through their Christmas sales by November, TV has just been engulfed by reality TV, and 7million weeks of The X Factor and the weather, well, I don’t even want to talk about that. All of these disappointments did get me wondering however, how there could ever be a possibility of injecting some Christmas cheer into the nation again. This year, I finished working on 23rd December. By the time I’d finished dropping particular presents off at various destinations, sticking all the Christmas cards to the window and generally FREAKING OUT, it was like 6pm on Christmas Eve. Cue a meal out with the family, awkward TV conversations and sleep at 10.30pm, it was all of a sudden Christmas day. Despite being awake from 5am (a result of excessive sleep deprivation the night prior and I assure you, not excitement of Mr Claus’s arrival) I wasn’t surprised to see that it was already dark outside by 3.30pm and until the cheese and biscuits come out later, you do nothing but wait around on Christmas day. Maybe it’s because my family is miniscule, or perhaps I am more bah humbug than I want to be, but one thing is true, Christmas just didn’t FEEL like Christmas this year.

Bring back finishing work at least 2 days before Christmas and not going back between Christmas and New Year. Close the shops for more than 24 hours. Let the boxing day sales actually start on Boxing Day and continue into the January sales rather than begin on Christmas Eve at 8am. As a fast forwarded, ruthless and selfish society of today, we ruin Christmas for ourselves by not letting it play out its own course. It’s all rushed, it’s all thrown in your face from mid September. We have fed on Christmas and decline into tinsel comas by mid November. The commercialism and greed has shrouded the focus on family. No one seems to get a deserved break anymore, nothing seems to be able to wait. Everyone is apprehensive about returning to work, before they’ve clocked out for the festivities. People race to Boxing day sales, some stores (cough Next, cough) even begin the sales at 5am.

I found this comment on a Telegraph Article titled ‘Has Christmas been ruined?‘ dating back to 2006, a whole 7 years prior to this continued debate. Though I believe this comment comes from a view through rose tinted spectacles (as all good memories are), the basis of the feeling that everyone knows about Christmas, but no one can describe, stays the same:

“When I was a little child, Christmas Day was a day of wonder and delight. We had very little. Our presents were meagre and it was the only day that our family ever saw chicken, let alone ate it. But the fire burned bright and cheerful in the hearth, and it was just possible, if you really looked hard, to see Father Christmas flying across the sky to bring the presents of small, cheap toys, a precious orange, a bar of chocolate made to look like a snow man, and that piece of coal, right in the foot of Dad’s socks, which were our Christmas stockings. Our Christmas tree was a branch from the fir tree in the garden, decorated with paper chains we made ourselves. Wrapping paper was carefully folded and kept for re-use from year to year. None of this because my family was mean, but because it was Wartime and my family, like so many, was poor. On Christmas Eve we went to Church for the magical Carol Service telling the ancient story of the Nativity in song, and on Christmas Day we went to Matins, to return to the gorgeous cooking smells of that precious chicken. Has Christmas been ruined? Without any doubt.” – Tess Nash, 2006.

If I’m completely honest, I’m just waiting for January to begin so as a nation we can embark on our diets, and exercise, annihilation of bad habits and binge drinking until Christmas and New Year cheer is all but a distant memory come February 1st.

On the 12th day of Christmas I got something for FREE


It’s not a word that we hear often that doesn’t come with a catch. However, those good folks over at Apple, have released a new app, The ’12 Gifts of Christmas’, ready for download now (free) and then every day from 26th DEc 2013 to 9th January 2014, they will be releasing something for free to download. The download is available for 24 hours only, with releases such as Justin Timberlake’s new single, and also a live song from none other than The Rolling Stones.


Thinking outside the stocking

Here’s my latest article on the HandBagFairy blog, it’s all about the little presents to give at Christmas that can show how much you love someone.

Sometimes we spend so long (and so much money) on one big present for someone special at Christmas that we forget about the little presents that make us smile just as much. Whether you have 10 people to buy presents for in your family, or just want to go the extra mile for someone this Christmas time, why not consider bulking up the present pile and saving the pennies on some of these great stocking fillers!

TK Maxx are notorious for being bargain central for designer branded clothing and accessories, but the main attraction for many is the weird and wonderful objects they stock in their home section. An abundance of quirky pieces from labels you’ve never heard of to top end designers awaits even the most skilled Christmas shopper in the form of their new sister company, Home Sense. You can pick up cutesey trinket boxes, beautiful smelling candles with mismatched candle sticks, food hampers and leather journals for 60% less than the majority of the high street. Spend lots of time exploring and not lots of money.

Now this idea has been floating around the internet for years, but it’s only recently, since up-cycling made such an indent on the home craft world that this gem has come to the forefront once more. You simply require, 12 pieces of paper, 12 envelopes, a pen and 12 ideas, one for each month of the year. You can give this stocking filler to someone you wish to spend more time with, or simply ideas to enjoy together. Favourites include, going to see a show, having afternoon tea or simply renting a movie and eating popcorn. It’s simple but perfect. Finish off by securing the pile of envelopes with a pretty ribbon.

Lastly, the stocking filler which has taken social networks by storm is Project Wild Thing. Project Wild Thing is a film led movement to get more kids (and their folks!) outside and reconnecting with nature. This year, the project, which has been running since 2010, is giving away WildTime Vouchers which are free to download. Just print them off and fill them out and give them to a loved one at Christmas. They make great stocking fillers for kids, but also for bigger kids who don’t realize how much they’ve missed being outdoors.

Think outside the stocking this Christmas, and get your loved ones ‘filler’ gifts that they’ll treasure as much as the rest.

If you want to have a go at writing something for the HandBagFairy blog, then follow this link.

Why Christmas feels different when you get older

Well it does doesn’t it? I don’t think you become too old for the excitement of Christmas but part of the magic does certainly decrease and I feel it more than ever this year, what with working a full time office job right up until Christmas. Wangling myself out of Christmas Eve is probably the highlight of it all, but nonetheless, there’s something just totally shit about working around Christmas, especially the week the worldwide holiday is in full swing.

There’s just no time to buy gifts, no time to listen to Christmas songs and therefore no time to get excited. It just becomes a day off work to look forward to, but with Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year, many people are returning to work on Friday 27th. Hardly feels like a holiday does it?