Smells like teen spirit: The beauty products that take me back

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I was standing in the toiletries aisle the other day looking for shampoo when a bottle of Herbal Essences caught my eye. I picked it up and opened the cap for a whiff, curious to see whether it smelled the way I remembered. Sure enough, the scent was as unchanged as the packaging – a reminder of the lingering floral fog that followed me, and countless other girls, around Sixth Form.

I bought it for nostalgia’s sake – the yellow chamomile variety, given my pink rosehip preference of yesteryear wasn’t available. The difference was barely discernible – it still had that overpoweringly sweet aroma that accompanied me through drama and English classes – though curiously, its scent has nothing of its original staying power.

Still, the trip down memory lane got me thinking about the other beauty products that made an impression on me way back when. Here’s a selection:

Matey


I was never one of those kids that threw a tantrum at bath time, in fact it was pretty much my favourite part of the day. The ticking of the two-bar gas fire as it heated up my grandma’s bathroom was the soundtrack to the tub filling up. I loved watching her tip the blue gel out of Sailor Matey’s head and seeing it hit the water, where it would bloom for a second before transforming into a rainbow of froth.  Long after I’d pruned and the foam had dissipated I’d beg for a top-up, coaxed out of the tepid water only by the promise of Ovaltine and a biscuit.

Bath pearls


Matey was obviously the start of my borderline obsession with bath products because as soon as I started to earn pocket money, I would trot down to the gift shop where the bath pearls were piled high in bowls like a sweet shop display. I later likened the way I approached that table to the scene in Amelie where she submerges her hand in the sack of grains; I liked the way the jelly-like orbs slipped between my fingers and how later, the silk of their skin would melt in the water.

Like a magpie, I’d buy them by the handful along with translucent, fruit-shaped soaps. I later graduated to buying them from the Body Shop cause, well, the 90s. Also, see Dewberry. 

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Cucumber skincare

Speaking of which, was there a teenage girl alive during the Britpop era that didn’t have some sort of cucumber-scented face product from the Body Shop or Boots? Fuck knows why we all wanted to smell like a salad; the same reason we all bathed in CK One I suppose – it was the done thing.

Still, whenever I get a whiff of artificial cucumber from an emergency pack of face wipes purchased at a train station, it make me slightly whimsical for the days of Sugar, Sun-in and chokers.

Impulse

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If ever there was a moment to borrow from the book of Kurt Cobain, it would be to honour Impulse. Every single girl aged between 11 and 16 had a can of Free Spirit or O2 rolling around the bottom of their Kickers satchel, ready to deploy post-netball. The genius of the teen body spray was in the candy-coloured packaging which made you want to collect them all. By the time GCSE year rolled round, many of my friends had graduated to So..? and by A Level it was a toss-up between Hugo Deep Red and Davidoff Cool Water. But for a time, Impulse really was the smell of teen spirit.

Juicy Tubes

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Juicy Tubes appeared around the same time I started sneaking into pubs and, at 16, wearing a shiny layer of sugary gloss seemed like a prerequisite to getting past the bouncers. Purchasing one however was a literal leap from the high street to high-end and cost a whole day’s wage from the Saturday job. Nevertheless, we all had a Juicy Tube – mine in Lychee – and would seemingly pull them out in sync and apply between nervous swigs of Smirnoff Ice. They were ultimately pointless; the colour was barely noticeable and their stickiness meant every rogue strand of hair found its way into your mouth. But for many girls, they marked that first step into luxury beauty and for me, a taste for expensive brands that has never really gone away.

What beauty product takes you back? Leave your comments below 💄

 

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Does Lush Sleepy really cure insomnia?

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Anyone who knows me understands I have a fraught relationship with sleep. At best, I doze so lightly the merest creak wakes me. At worst, I get stuck in a weeks-long cycle of sitting bolt upright at 3am watching the clock until dawn. Basically, I’m always tired.

As a result, my sleep requirements are quite specific. For one,  I don’t go anywhere without my memory foam pillow. I have one in both my houses, it comes with me on weekends away – whether that be fancy hotels, my friend’s house or festivals – and I even bought a miniature version when I went on a three-week trip around America last year.

Before bed, I liberally spritz my side of the bed with This Works Deep Pillow Spray. Come 5am I usually put on my sleep mask (Aromatherapy Associates since you ask) to block out the offending morning light.

And yet, despite my routine (bed by 10, no caffeine after 4) and shelling out a small fortune on a new bed and admittedly, extremely comfy mattress to alleviate my Princess and the Pea needs, there are still periods in which I do nothing but toss and turn.

Bemoaning this to my equally bleary-eyed night shift colleague the other day, she suggested trying out the latest cult product lauded by insomniacs: Lush Sleepy. It’s been claimed the much-talked about body lotion is a sleep cure, a result of which means it’s nigh on impossible to buy in store.

God bless the internet though, because it is available online. Mine arrived this morning and not that I’m clock-watching, but in eight hours’ time I’ll be slathering myself in its sweet lavender promise and praying for some much-needed zzzs 😴

Have you tried Lush Sleepy? Let me know how you got on in the comments below! 

Let’s talk about Topshop’s sweetheart sandals

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To borrow a quote from my all-time favourite movie, I spent most of today breaking in my mustard clogs.

I bought them on a whim, which is unusual for me because I have a tortured relationship with shoes. I don’t, as a rule, buy fast fashion footwear because they usually cut my toes to shreds. I buy from Clarks, where the shoes are wide and made from leather.

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However, I broke my rules for Topshop’s sweetheart sandals. Made from scalloped suede with stud detailing to the sides, they have have a solid 2.5 inch block heel which is reasonably comfortable to walk in even on their first outing. They can also be styled with almost everything I wear, i.e. jeans and Breton stripes.

If that’s not a good enough reason to be sucked in by yellow shoes, I don’t know what is. If you’re tempted, the red ones have already gone in the sale, am just waiting for the tan ones to follow suit.

I broke in my purple clogs.

 

The quest for the perfect long-wear eye shadow crayon

crayonsThe first time I tried eyeshadow was with a sweep of pearlescent blue from a pot of Bourjois (no.17, I believe), which resulted in me being shamed by my year nine English teacher who suggested I wash it off at break time.

In my late teenage years, I tried out the smokey eye only to be likened by my father to a raccoon. Then at university, I adopted the nu-rave look with zeal, applying loose Barry M shadows in neon shades with matching glitter, which I set – to my lasting horror – with a liberal layer of Elnet.

Thankfully, those days are behind me and I’ve come to appreciate the brightening effect of a low-key shimmery wash across the lids – a particularly easy look to pull off at 6am when one cannot reasonably be expected to master winged eyeliner.

My shadow of choice for a long time was Benefit’s creaseless cream formulas – my favourite shade being R.S.V.P. – which can be applied with your finger even when you’re going over potholes on the bus. I’ve since moved on to long-wear crayons, which remove the need for hands-on application and get deeper into the eye socket.

Bobbi Brown’s twist-up stick in Golden Pink is the one I return to most often – a summery retro shade which stays well put in conjunction with Urban Decay’s Primer Potion. For everyday wear, I’m a huge covert to NYX’s jumbo eye crayon in Yoghurt, though it is mildly annoying that there is no twist-up function and what you see of the product is what you get.

A surprise bargain was Rosie for Autograph’s cream eyeshadow stick in Sparkle and Magic. Cringe-worthy name aside, it’s a dead ringer for Bobbi Brown’s Goldstone version, offering the same shade and density with the added bonus that it’s half the price. At the lower end of the price range is GOSH’s Forever eye shadow crayons, which do sound a little teenage, but go on smoothly and refuse to budge. I have it in Silver Rose and Light Cooper and can’t fault either.

The only real disappointment I’ve thus far come across is No.7’s Stay Perfect Shade and Define which failed to do any of those things. Even on primed lids, it went on patchy and refused to layer up, acting cheaper than its price tag would suggest. I had a similar issue with Charlotte Tilbury’s much-hyped eyeshadow pencil, the formula for which left my lids feeling oddly stiff.

Tell me about your favourite long-wear crayons in the comments below 👇

Aldi’s Jo Malone-style candles are back

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🔊 CANDLE KLAXON 🔊

The two-wick burners that disappeared off Aldi’s shelves last year quicker than you can say ‘Jo Malone’ are back in stock.

This means that, obviously, I stockpiled my allotted two per person then sent my boyfriend into our nearest shop to do the same again.

At £3.99 each –  a far cry from the average £40 one might spend on a fancy candle – and with approximately 20 hours of burning times by my nightly calculations, these really are worth sending your money up in smoke.

No.1’s lime, basil and mandarin is unashamedly similar to the signature scent of an, ahem, rather more famous brand. So much so that my friend recently told me how a relative who is an employee of said brand followed her nose to the source of the aroma and couldn’t believe the supermarket knock-off wasn’t the real deal.

I wasn’t expecting to like No.2’s blackberry and bay, not being a fan of overly sweet smells, but this one fills the room with a scent that is fruity without being cloying. However, the berry notes overpower the freshness of the herb, which is virtually undetectable. But who’s complaining with that price tag?

No.3’s pomegranate noir is by far the candle with the best throw, lingering in the air long after it’s blown out. It’s a rich, woody scent with a somewhat Christmassy note, meaning it will really come into its own when the nights draw in.

Crossing fingers for some new additions to the range – an autumnal pumpkin spice number wouldn’t go amiss.

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My night-time skincare routine

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I get a lot of compliments on my skin, which is unfailingly lovely when I remember the once daily agony of teen acne. Most of the time, the answer I give lays all the credit at the feet of beauty genius, Nars, whose tinted moisturiser is my daily base, finished off with a liberal sweep of Albatross highlighter, because who says you can’t rock gold cheekbones on a Monday. Makeup however, forms only part of the answer, and I’m a firm believer that if you skimp on basic skincare, it’s harder to fake it.

From the moment I started wearing mascara, my mother drummed into me the importance of taking make-up off before bed – no matter how wasted, tired or incapacitated I might be. I can hand on heart count on one hand how many times I’ve broken that rule. There have even been times that I’ve removed every last speck of make-up from my face while three sheets to the wind, yet inexplicably neglected to take out my contact lenses, which let me tell you, is far more dangerous than waking up with a chunk of glitter in your eye.

Granted, I once did all this with face wipes, which I swiftly dumped after reading Sali Hughes’ book Pretty Honest. Since then, I’ve tried a litany of cleansers. I’m not wedded to any one brand, but whichever I happen to be using, my nighttime regime goes something like this:

Firstly, I take a hot flannel to my face. I’m currently into No.7’s cleansing balm for dry skin. I don’t suffer with such an affliction – mine being more dehydrated – but I find the formula lifts make-up easily and leaves my face feeling moisturised. I wouldn’t use it in summer as it is quite heavy, but with the nights drawing in it makes an affordable alternative to other cream formulas, such as Liz Earle’s cleansers.

I’m a solid lipstick wearer and usually have to remove any stubborn product (Maybelline’s Infalliable Matte Ink lipstick, I’m  looking at you) with a cotton pad soaked in Clinique’s Take the Day Off remover. Next I massage in a blob of my favourite serum, Vichy’s Aqualia Thermal. This is the only product I weep for when I’ve run out and can’t afford to replenish because it is the only serum I’ve ever seen visible results with – the hyaluronic acid leaves me with skin that looks and feels like it’s just necked a pint of water.

Next I massage in Clarin’s incredible smelling blue orchid oil for dehydrated and combination skin. I use it all over my face and neck, forgoing heavy creams that tend to clog my pores and cause breakouts. That being said, with winter on the way I’ll be swapping it out for a richer cream – I’ll be trying out Marks and Spencer’s cult night cream Formula Absolute, which at one point had a bonkers waiting list of 7,500 people.

Finally, I make an attempt to stop my emerging crows feet with La Roche Posay’s Redermic R for Eyes, which contains retinol known for its anti-aging properties, before slathering myself in Lush Sleepy and hoping for the best. On the whole, I’ve found this routine serves my dehydrated-combination skin the best, leaving it blemish-free and comfortably moisturised without breaking the bank.

Do you have dehydrated and combination skin? Have you found a good combo of products? Comment below! 💁🏼

‘That’s the Mancunian Way’

There’s a poem by Lemn Sissay written on the side of a takeaway on Oxford Road in Manchester.

I took a photo of it the day I moved into my student halls 12 years ago. The sky was a brilliant blue – unusual, given it was early September; ironic, given the words painted on the wall.

Today, its prose seems more poignant.

Manchester is a city often mocked for its inclement weather, its reputation wrapped up in near-constant drizzle and Morrissey-like misery. But there’s more to the heart of the North than stereotypes of swaggering scallies and 24-hour party people, as last night’s events have shown.

In the wake of yet another cowardly attack, Mancunians have responded in the way only they know how – with strength, with solidarity and with the no-nonsense attitude borne of living where it’s “grim”.

When a suicide attacker targeted an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, killing 22 people – some of them as young as 8 – taxi drivers took gig-goers to safety. Hotels and strangers opened their doors and homes. People rescued children who had become separated from their grown-ups.

The outpouring of support on social media has pulled us together, both in terms of love for the city and in the thousands of pounds already raised to help those caught up in the attack.

I live in Leeds now, but my heart is in Manchester. The five years I spent in Rusholme, in Fallowfield, in Victoria Park and in the Northern Quarter, were some of my happiest. I think back to that day in 2005 when I arrived at Whitworth Park with a kettle, a crap laptop and a box of cornflakes and feel the same excitement I did then every time my train pulls into Piccadilly station now. This one feels personal.

When I woke up this morning, I had no words. I can think of a few choice ones now that it’s sunk in, but I’ll leave the talking to Lemn Sissay:

“When the rain falls, they talk of Manchester. But when the triumphant rain falls, we think of rainbows. That’s the Mancunian Way”.