Saturday, 22 May 2010

Miss Churchmouse goes shopping

As you all know. I am poor. On my birthday I awoke to many well-wishing emails. I could have done without the first two though - a £510 utility bill from NPower and an email alerting me to a returned direct debit. Sigh. Anyway, it is my own fault - I have been living a Champagne lifestyle on a Lambrini budget. Things must change. I have already shifted from Waitrose to Aldi. I am now, truly, only using the car for work and 'essential' journeys. (Although, I am concerned that on hearing that people will assume I am some hemp-wearing, chick-pea bothering, green-living bore. )

Anyway, I have also been economising on the beauty front. I love my Bobbi Brown and Lancome. I shall miss them terribly (although, I do have enough stockpiled to see me through to retirement). But, I have been investigating cheaper alternatives. These are some of my more pleasing discoveries.

L'Occitane Ultra Rich Face Soap. £7.50

OK. I know £7.50 is a huge amount for one bar of soap. And I know that L'Occitane is anything but a budget brand. But, to be fair, I am using this instead of an eye-wateringly expensive Elemis cleanser and toner that cost £38. And, I have utterly fallen in love with this product. My favourite smell in the whole world is pure, ivory soap and water. I wore Philosophy 'Pure Grace' perfume for years, as it smells of just that (although Rochester used to say it smelled of wood). My second favourite smell is the laundry aisle of any supermarket. I just like the smell of clean, I think. This soap is gentle, creamy, smells of milk and fluffy white towels and does not irritate or dry sensitive skin.
What a wonderful discovery. Vaseline Rosy Lips is replacing my beloved Bobbi Brown lip glosses (£14). It has a slight hint of blush pink, smells of roses and almonds and is just beautiful. Oh, and it costs £1.50. The best bit though, is that it is not at all gloopy or sticky, like some glosses. Now my hair is getting long again I am at risk, on windy days, of hair stuck in lip gloss. Not pleasant. If you can bring yourself to buy Vaseline (I still shudder at its slightly tawdry sexual connotation) then do try this, it's lovely.

Of course, this Neutrogena hand cream is replacing my beloved L'Occitane Shea Butter cream (£16.50). But, it is just as good - just not as sweetly scented, or as prettily packaged. I love that this cheaper version has an SPF in (the L'Occitane does not). I do miss the whole romance of the L'Occitane brand - the natural Provencal botanicals hand-picked at dawn by rosy-cheeked French peasants, the potions packaged in metal tubes like artists' paints. Just lovely. Contrast that with Neutrogena, whose hand cream was inspired by crusty old, herring-scented Norwegian fisherman. It is, just £2.99 though!
Now, the search for the perfect mascara is an almost mythical quest - like the search for the holy grail, or Excalibur. I cannot see the point of a 'natural look' mascara. I want the eyelashes of Liza Minelli in Cabaret. Or the heavy lashes of those creepy, porcelain Victorian dolls - long, thick and dramatic. If I was rich girl I would buy Lancome, as I truly believe they produce the best mascara in the world - their mascaras give the full Catherine Deneuve (in Belle de Jour) effect - up-market slutty. But, Lancome mascaras also cost £18 each. This is my budget alternative - Maybelline Falsies. I know, I know, even the name is cheap and nasty, the packaging is garish and all in all it is more Letitia Dean than Catherine Deneuve. But, the product itself is good - a creamy, jet-black mascara that produces a sultry, upmarket Parisian call-girl look. And all for about £7.

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