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debbie's bargain hunt

Photos and comments on my bargain buys... Of course, a few higher priced items may appear from time to time if I feel that the quality outweighs the cost.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Fake Benefit Blush: Not such a bargain!

I haven't posted here in quite a  while due to work getting busier and having less time to spend online of an evening. That doesn't mean that I haven't found a few minutes here and there for a good swap, ebay browse or a hunt around the charity shops!

More than anything, I do like a good swap. I've been swapping on Big Wardrobe for nearly a year now and have completed over 400 swaps. (I've just realised that means I've spent over £1000 on postage in the last year! Oops!). 

I'm always trying new beauty products, especially makeup items. Last week I swapped a little makeup bundle of mine for one Coralista Blush by Benefit. In exchange for a Benefit Miss Popularity, a Benefit That Gal Primer, a Too Faced Highlighter Powder Compact and a new Superfull Avon Mascara I received the blush. I know the values aren't equal, but hey, I'm getting rid of something I don't use for something I (most likely) will. 

The lady I swapped with is genuinely lovely. A very reliable member of the site. Sadly though, I think she may have been duped somewhere along the road because this is the blush I received.

I have used pictures of my own Benefit Blush (Bella Bamba from the Benefit website) as a comparison to show how the Coralista is a non authentic product. I don't own Coralista, if I did, obviously it would make for a better comparison.

Without any need for a comparative product, you can see that the edges of the Coralista Blush are scruffy. Also, you can see already that the brush doesn't look quite right.

A good indication is when the label says 'peel here' but there is nothing underneath!

The first picture is of the Coralista Blush's brush. The second of my own Bella Bamba Blush's brush. You can see that the second brush has evenly tapered bristles and they are all even lengths, etc. The holder part is also more even and has smoother edges.

My Bella Bamba blush pan sits very securely in its box. The metal edges of the pan reach right to the sides.

With the Coralista Blush you can just about see that the pan doesn't fit well in the box. There is a very visible gap on the left hand side of the box.

Photos are a bit out of sync here but you can see on the genuine Benefit product that the 'peel here' label does actually do what it says. If you peel back the label the ingredients and so on can be seen in different languages.

Something that the camera would (obviously!) not pick up on is the scent of the product. With a lot of Benefit, different scents are added to different products. Literally everything seems to have it's own unique scent. With Bella Bamba the scent is sweet and fruity. However, with this Coralista, the scent is only of chemicals. Yum! :/

I'm sure anyone who owns a genuine Coralista would spot more differences between their own product and this impostor. And if so, I'd love to here your thoughts!

So anyway!! My point here is that maybe cosmetic items are something that should not be scrimped on! I wouldn't buy cosmetics from places other than the stores themselves, the websites themselves or department stores. But I've been happy to swap them with swappers that I assume wouldn't own fakes. However, this has shown that fakes can get into the wrong hands so easily. I'm quite sure the  person I got this from literally has no idea it's not the real deal!

I know a lot of people do buy fakes, knowing full well what they're getting. Something may seem cheaper, but remember that this is an item that's going directly onto your skin! Sometimes right near your eyes and mouth! While it's highly likely that these products contain cheap alternatives to the genuine product's ingredients, more sinister ingredients can also be used. Lead for example!! Remember, there are no tests these products have to pass to make it onto the market. Also, the people manufacturing them are most likely NOT being paid the minimum wage. The products could be tested on animals. The profits from selling these could be used to fund terrorism!! 

Benefit can be a little expensive, but if you can't afford a particular item when you want it, I would urge you to seek a cheaper brand instead. There are lots of lower priced brands in Boots, Superdrug, etc, where you know exactly what you're going to get! 

Monday, 16 May 2011

[Tag] 13 Questions

Thanks to Meowcake for tagging me in her '13 questions' blog post...

1. What do you order at Starbucks?

No Starbucks for me... I'm a creature of habit and have a skinny earl grey from Pret a Manger each and every working day.

2. What's the one thing in your closet you can't live without?

Can't beat playing it safe in my topshop wrap dress, great for work when I'm having a 'fat day' since it covers a multitude of sins! 

3. What's one thing that most people don't know about you?

 I'm the biggest worrier going. I map out a worst case scenario for everything that could possibly go wrong in an average day. I'm a nightmare when it comes to worrying about work during my free time too! I wish I could be more laid back!

4. What's one thing you want to do before you die?

As long as I'm still healthy, have had babies, and live in a nice house (and am NOT still living in a flat with two boys!!), I'll be happy! 

5. What's one food you can't live without?

I'd love to say something healthy but I get a bit down in the dumps if I go too long without a pick & mix...

6. What's one quote that you live your life by?

I don't have a quote, but at work we always go by the "Has anyone died? Nope! Then it's fixable!" motto. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and panic over silly little things! 

7. What do you like and dislike about the Youtube community?

I like that you can find pretty much most things, not just mainstream videos. Used to find youtube a livesaver when learning graded pieces for singing or piano exams. Could listen to the same pieces played by different people and copy their interpretations of the piece. Amazing how something can sound so different when it's actually the same! 
I dislike some of the comments which meant I would NEVER upload my own playing. I don't know why people are so negative to each other. Such a shame.

8. What's your number 1 song on iTunes?

Always listening to Greenday, me and Scott went to see them last year and they were amazing. 21 Guns has been played a lot on my itunes recently :) 

9. What kind of style would you describe yourself as having?

 I really don't have a style, I'll wear anything if I think it's pretty or might be flattering!

10. Favourite Number?

Hmmm, well it would be a bit unfair to make an finance worker / maths geek like me chose just one. I love them all! Haha! :) 

11. Two hobbies?

I like to crochet and I like to shop. 

12. Two pet peeves?

Ex-girlfriends that never seem to disappear (and really should!) and people who are mean for the sake of being mean. 

13. Your guilty pleasure?

Shopping on the credit card during my lunch break! Covent Garden is 2 minutes walk away and I've been known to come back with anything from new Uggs (in the middle of summer) or a whole limited edition makeup collection :)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

May's First Swapping Haul

Vintage look cardigan from NEXT (£0)

Oasis Maxi Dress (£0) and Cream Lace Yumi Dress (£0)

Marc Jacobs Jelly Sandals (£0) (Please excuse my toes!!!)

Mixed jewellery from various swaps (£0)

La Senza PJ's (£0), Set of Calvin Klein Miniature Perfumes (£0), Nail Varnishes, including OPI from various swaps (£0)

As you can see it's been a busy week for me on Big Wardrobe :D


Monday, 2 May 2011

Things from swaps this weekend...

Got some LOVELY things through the post this weekend (well just Saturday!), all from Big Wardrobe swaps. I always find that (perhaps quite obviously!) the nicer the things you list for swaps, the nicer the things that you'll receive. For me, I've had a sad time parting with my favourite dresses and things, but it's had to be done because of my weight gain (I'm not prepared to diet at the moment!). To soften the blow I've had some stunning things sent back to me in their place :P

This stunning dress is from Lipsy - I paid £10 for it in a part cash / part swap. These are always a good idea if you like something of someone else's but the only thing of yours they like is worth considerably less. 

The sky blue Fred Perry jumper was a swap. It's a men's size but is long and loose enough to work over leggings :)

Also received the Yumi tights with little bows and the ballet flats in a multi swap. With postage costs being what they are, it is sometimes more economical to swap a selection of items with the one person. 

Just visible are the items from another multi swap. There is a Christian Dior nail polish in Black Sequins, a CK 'Infinite Hydration' foundation in Porcelain, a stunning sterling silver shell style bracelet and an even more stunning silver ring with a huge butterfly design. 

I've got loads more Big Wardrobe swaps lined up already since I'm downsizing and trying to swap bulky clothes and shoes for things that take up less space.. non clothing items such as jewellery most of the time!

If you're not on Big Wardrobe already, click here and see what it's all about :))

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Charity Shop Haul: 28th April 2011

Charity shopping again... Went a little overboard this time which is silly because I don't have the spare cash. The bargains add up and I don't even have space for them!

So here are some of my favourites from today...

1)Warehouse Corset (I had this in a 10 which was too small, so really happy to find it in a 12!) £1.50, 2) Black New Look Oversized Dress / Vest (just visible) £3, 3) Jasper Conran silk trim dress £1, 4) Miss Selfridge purple tulip skirt £1, 5) Miss Selfridge knitted bow jumper dress (folded in on itself in the photo) £3, 6) Julien Macdonald passport holder and luggage tag set £2.50, 7) Christian Dior tights £1.

I also got a few bits for the home and for my cousin's babies. I won't bore you with those though ;) And a few items of clothing that are just big mistakes and will probably go back to the charity shop on Saturday!


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Yesterday's Bargain Outfit: 26 April 2011

Grey Topshop Cardigan £3.99 from Oxfam. (I think this is meant to come up 'oversized' since it's a size UK 6 Petite and I'm a tall size 12! I don't think anyone would be any the wiser though ;) hope not!

Grey and yellow stripe top / dress £0 from a Big Wardrobe swap. Originally from Primark.

White Leggings £6 for a pack of two from Primark.

Black Fiorelli Bag £3 from Unicef charity shop.

Hello Kitty pumps - a gift from Scott (I think he got these from the kids section of a sports shop!).

Total cash spent on this outfit: £9.99 xxx

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Weekend Charity Shop Buys

On Saturday Scott sent me down the road with £20 to buy BBQ things... I came back (late) with these:

ASOS harem style jumpsuit - £5 from Unicef charity shop. I've never worn a jumpsuit and I wondered what it'd look like on... Over all I quite liked the style, though this one seems a bit strange round the neckline. Too many criss cross straps for my liking!

Topshop bubble hem dress. I picked this up for £4 from the same charity shop. Scott burst out laughing when he saw me in this. Apparently the skirt pattern looks like one of those 90s optical illusion puzzles where you squint your eyes and can see a picture in the middle. Well I tried it with the dress and there was no hidden picture! I wasn't put off by any of this and will still wear the dress!

I'd been after a really long maxi skirt for a while so I picked this one up for another £4. I was more keen to find a floral one that wasn't so 'flowy' but I'll still wear this a few times I think. It's a great length since I struggle to find maxi dresses or skirts that go further than my ankles.

Lastly, I picked up this Fiorelli bag for £3. Not my usual style but it seems quite vintage looking to me and I the clasp looked a bit 'Vivienne Westwood'. I'll probably use this once or twice then pass it onto someone else.

Sunday, tried my luck at a Bootsale... have no idea if I just left it too late, or if there wasn't a good turn out due to it being Easter Sunday... but either way, I didn't get a thing and was quite disappointed! Better luck next time I guess!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Outfit & Makeup for Saturday 23rd April

This is my first Outfit Of The Day post... I haven't done one until now because I've thought they were best left to the slimmer girls :-O 
Still, I wanted a chance to show some outfits that have been particularly good value, and some of my new make up bits that I've been trying out...

Under £10 OOTD:

All Saints vest top £0 (Big Wardrobe swap), Warehouse acid wash denim mini skirt (£3 from British Heart Foundation charity shop), Jewelled Jelly Sandals £5 (from Pitsea Market - brand is "Ella"). 

Today's Makeup Choices (so look away now if you don't want to see my ugly mug!):

I'm wearing The Body Shop Tinted Glow Enhancer as an alternative to my usual foundation. I have no idea of the RRP since I got it for £0 in a Big Wardrobe swap. 
MAC Select Cover-Up in NW15 under eyes. £13.50.
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Deep as an all over bronzer / face powder.
MAC Powder Blush in Buff (Matte)
MAC Cooled Pink Creme Colour Base (I usually use a Benefit highlighter, either high beam or moon beam, but this makes a nice change as has more of a pink tone). 
MAC Haute & Naughty Mascara. This was free with a MAC online order :)
MAC Copperplate Matte Eye Shadow on my eyebrows (I can't get a good colour match with actual eyebrow products and this applied with a slanted brush works a treat). 
MAC Lipstick in Snob (Satin). I'm wearing this with MAC Dazzleglass in Get Rich Quick over the top, just to tone down the pinkness of the lipstick.

I've included the prices where I can remember, but some of these items I've had quite a while. All my MAC items come from the Covent Garden MAC store, or MAC online. Where some products can be bought cheaply on places such as ebay, I wouldn't recommend this with MAC because there are SO many fakes around!! Compared to other department store type make up brands, MAC is fairly priced and lasts a long time. You show your face every day so it's important to chose products that you're happy with. xxx


Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday: Bargain Sandals & MAC Haul

I don't know why I bought more MAC things this week, I'd already got a little carried away (to say the least) with eyeshadows, lipsticks and blushers. But I desperately needed a tinted moisturiser and a few other more boring make up items!

Recently I've discovered I've been getting spots :(( A concealor was desperately needed! I went for MAC Select Cover Up in NC15. It's a liquid, but still provides a good level of coverage and you get a lot of product for your money (£13.50). I have a feeling that this one will last and last! Since I really like this product I'll probably pop into the MAC store again as we get further into the summer months. I think I'll be needing a shade darker when I start to tan! NC15 is very light. A good piece of information to note, if like me, you struggle to find concealor / foundation pale enough!

I was also in need of a lighter alternative to foundation so I went with MAC Studio Moisture Tint SPF15 (Light). A compromise since I was unable to get hold of the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer that I wanted. I'm glad I went with this product though because it was a better price (only £20, compared to £33 for the LM one), blends really well, and a great colour. Sometimes tinted moisturizers don't do a good range of colours which means I can never find one light enough. MAC did not disappoint here though!

My last MAC item is Prep + Prime Skin Refine Zone (£14.50). MAC describe this product as a "light oil-free emulsion that helps cloak visible pores while controlling oil and shine. Applies "wet" for a gentle micro-exfoliation: dries instantly to create an invisible, long-lasting natural matte finish. Ideal for the T-zone." While I'm not sure it quite lives up to this promise, it does dry instantly and leave the application area feeling silky smooth and matte. It may have helped to reduce visible pores, but it certainly didn't hide them all together (I think Dr Feelgood by Benefit does a slightly better job at this). I don't think this product did a great job at controlling oil and shine, but since today was incredibly hot and I was sunbathing for most of it, I don't think it's a very fair test. I will try it out a few more times before I come to a conclusion!

I popped to the market this morning since I was up bright and early! Since the recession, the majority of the market stalls are now left empty. There are still a few traders left though and a few bargains can be picked up. I bought these 'Ella' jewelled jelly sandals for £5. Much cheaper than I've seen them in shops! 

It's been a lovely day and I've spent most of it in the garden. Sunbathing isn't an easy task when you have a cat determined to muscle in on your patch though! :-P He likes to stay in the shade by burrowing under things. x

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday Bargains: Summer Treats from my Postman!

Off work today since I was a bit under the weather. The only interesting thing that happened was when the postman knocked on the door and woke me up!

Here's what he brought for me today:

Jane Norman studded heart racer back vest £0 (from a Big Wardrobe swap), "Bud Girl" vest top £0 (swap), Body Shop Body Butter £0 (swap) and a stunning handmade brooch £0 (swap). 

Not a bad little collection for £0 and a bit of a summer theme too! 

I've got a plain orange patent leather bag from Marni that I haven't had a chance to wear. I might try adding the brooch to the clasp for a nice summery look handbag.

Vest tops will come in handy on my Cornwall trip in June, and obviously the body butter since I'm bound to get sunburnt at some point! :-O

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Weekly Bargain Round up & My Makeup Box Clear Out

I've been doing quite well with my charity shop buys and swaps. But on the whole I have to confess that I've been a bad bargain hunter. My weakness being cosmetics, perfumes, etc. With a lot of these products, especially make up, I can't bring myself to use the cheapest products. Your face ad hair is on show every day so I believe in spending whatever you can afford to look the best you can.

Anyway, here are some of the clothes I've been receiving in swaps this week! :)

Lovely bundle from my fellow swapper and blogger, Mixnmatch! A pair of gorgeous biker style jeggings, an anchor print vest top and an 'Out of This World' t shirt from a Bigwardrobe swap. The t shirt shows a bible verse but it's is in a gorgeous design and not too 'in your face'. (As a Christian I like finding pieces like this which are not readily available in the UK). 

A also received a couple of items from another Bigwardrobe swapper. As with swapping, you sometimes don't quite receive what was described. I didn't realise that most of the buttons were missing from this lovely mac... luckily they're all in a pocket so I can sew them back on. I received these shoes from the same person and they more than make up for it. Stunning! 

I did pop into a charity shop yesterday afternoon and picked up this Abercrombie & Fitch top for £3.50 and this Anna Sui handbag for £2. Nothing too exciting but I'm more than likely get wear out of both!

Finally, on an entirely different subject, I've been clearing out my makeup box this weekend. Long overdue! I don't like to throw away brand new or lightly tested products so I always sanitize these and list them on Big Wardrobe for swaps. Though a lot of people like to buy their make up brand new, it's important to remember that some people may not be able to afford to. I hate waste and being able to pass on what I don't wear myself works out well for me. Anyway, here's what I've kept! I feel a lot more organized now! :)


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Free Fashion: My midweek surprises

I'm expecting a lot of parcels to arrive at the weekend so I'm updating now with a few recent things I've received from Big Wardrobe swaps. What I appreciate most about swapping is that for every new item that comes into my home, something old goes out to make the space for it. 

Here I've got a neon orange vest top for summer (long and loose enough to wear with leggings), a glittery green River Island cardigan with pretty buttons, a stunning black and beige dress from People's Market (a brand sold on ASOS), a Topshop shopper, and a collection of Barry M Nail Varnishes (with a few others thrown in too). 

According to the "sorry we missed you" card left in my letterbox, I also have a BUNDLE of packages to pick up from the depot on Saturday. Ooh, exciting! 

I'm also expecting a lot of make up which I'll mention in my next post. A relative is at a Space NK networking event this evening and has kindly agreed to pick up some Laura Mercier items for me. I cannot wait! xxx

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Pound Shop Bargains and £2 Cancer Research Sale

Was up bright and early this morning and headed straight to town! First stop was Cancer Research (a charity shop and I'm sure most will know). They were selling most things in store for £2 each. I came away with a River Island tiger print long top / dress for wearing with leggings, a vintage patent black leather handbag and a pair of vintage looking heels with floral bows.

I also popped into Poundland and Home Bargains to pick up a few bits. Home Bargains are still doing the Girls Aloud Festival Lashes for 99p a pair so I got a few of my favourites. Couldn't resist some jelly beans either!! Haha! They're addictive! I got some nail stickers from Pound Land so I might have a go this afternoon and see how they turn out. Also discovered these Hello Kitty body butters for £1 each. The cherry one is particularly lovely, smells just like Cherry Drops! A great consistency too!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Day off work: Some highlights of my shopping trip!

Had a lovely day off with Scott today, we had a 2 course Frankie & Benny's lunch sitting outside in the sunshine, we caught up with the family, but more importantly, he let me go in Topshop! :-) And this is what I managed to scavenge in the 5 minutes where I lost him to Topman... 

The shoes are so pretty and I couldn't resist the dress... They also had it in an orangey red, but since I got a similar fabric and coloured dress (below) from Mango in a swap yesterday, I thought I'd chose white!
Dress: £34
Shoes £32

This dress from a Big Wardrobe swap was originally from Mango, and is in a lovely heavy linen fabric with a waist belt. It's seriously flattering! The best part is, it was 100% free. No postage charges because we met up and swapped in my lunch break!

These navy heels are originally from M&S, but I picked them up in a charity shop, in brand new condition, for £4.50. They're a lovely heel height for someone like me who's quite tall already. I'll look forward to wearing these to work very soon!


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Scented Candles: 3 of my Favourites

I've always been a fan of scented candles, getting drawn in by pretty packaging and promises of exotic scents. I discovered that most I've been drawn to are just pretty and serve their purpose well enough as a candle, but the smell is either way too subtle or is non existent. 

I'm sharing my 3 favourites, which are not the cheapest, but are value for money in terms of quality.

The Laura Ashley Fragranced Boxed Candles beautifully packaged and are the most subtly scented out of my three favourites. These are perfect for gifts, and perfect if you don't want your room to be overwhelmed by a strong scent. I find that to get the most from these scents you need to leave them burning for a good few hours. The joy is that they don't burn down quickly so you can do this without the fear of using it up too quickly! 
These currently RRP in Laura Ashley for £14, but you can pick them up in the sale at the moment for £9.80 (

If I want to fill a room up with a strong and distinctive scent, and don't want to wait for long, I'll always go for a Yankee Candle. Whatever scent you go for you're going to get a good strong fragrance and a candle that stands the test of time. These candles aren't the cheapest, but if you know where to look, you don't have to pay too much. Sales in department stores are you're best bet, especially in the Christmas sales if you enjoy the winter range! At the moment I'm loving Midnight Jasmine - a floral scent that makes me feel calm and relaxed. For a good price have a look at, they always have great offers on and seem to post quickly too! 

For an indulgent treat, I'd highly recommend Liz Earle's website as your first port of call. I'm a big fan of all the Vital Oils candles, in particular 'Harmony' ( which has a real citrus scent to it. All these candles use a blend of real essential oils. They're small but seem to last a while too. I find they're a fab accompaniment to a relaxing bath! These RRP at £8.95. If I'm ordering my regular facial products from Liz Earle I tend to pop a candle in the shopping basket too!

I'm always open to suggestions. If you have a favourite brand for candles let me know!? Or a favourite scent within a range? :) xxx