Why I've Banned Skincare Purchases

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

I am here to confess something. It's a problem that has, I realise, got a little out of control.  

I am a skincare hoarder

I have truckloads of the stuff in my house and, frankly, it needs sorting out. They were my husband's words, can you tell? 

For context, I work in the beauty industry so it kind of comes with the territory. One of the best work-perks is having new launches popped on your desk to try and test. Generally, though, it means having a lot of products accumulate and my collection soon expanded from one drawer under the sink to three cupboards, two baskets and a drawer. Told you, it's out of control. The reality is the stuff is going out of date before I can even get through it which is just NOT ON! 

I am currently reading The Year of Less by Cait Flanders which has inspired this post. In it, Flanders talks about how she quit shopping for a year and gave away most of her possessions to refocus her mind on what's really important in life. Spoiler: It ain't what's hanging in your wardrobe or stashed in your bathroom. 

So, what's my game plan?

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Firstly, I'll be chucking anything that I know to be expired. I can tell a lot of it by old brand logos that I had the pleasure (ahem) of working on so that's where I'll start. Generally, products only last 6-12 months once opened. You can check for this information on the back of a product. You're looking for a '6M / 12M / 18M' in a small box on the back.

Secondly, anything that does not bring me joy (thank you, Marie Kondo) will be piled up for re-homing. I just gotta hope I can actually see some friends and family to be able to pass on before they go out of date too!

And now, this is where things get interesting. The biggest culprit in my bathroom cupboards are travel sizes. I’m sure I can’t be alone in thinking miniature products are just *super* cute and all very handy for holidays and weekends away. OH YEAH, remember those?! Nope, me neither, so why am I stashing a load of 100ml-or-less cleansers/eye make-up removers/moisturisers/shower gels and yet still buying bigger products for everyday use? It makes no sense. 

So, that is why I have banned myself from buying any more skincare products until (at the earliest) May 2021. Between now and then you bet I'll be doing at-home facials on the double, wearing a sheet mask on my daily walk and devout about my skincare regime morning and night no matter how tired and sleep deprived I am! 

Ok, you got me. I may not be disclosing the *whole* truth. 

Yes, if I’m honest, I have another agenda. My mission is to clear some space in my bathroom cabinets to make way for a new piece of skincare tech. I’ve had my eye on it for about two years but never taken the plunge as it is eye-wateringly expensive. It is the holy grail of at-home facials. All hail, Dr Dennis Gross LED Mask (£430, Cult Beauty). Granted, it looks like something Iron Man would wear but ten minutes under the red/blue light is going to be a game changer to have at home! I mean, we can't even go to spas or salons for facials at the moment and with a new baby in tow, my chances are slim even when the world opens up again! 

My main motivation for purchasing this is to help diminish the acne marks on my chin and jawline from my hormonal breakouts during my late 20s and help control hormonal flare ups in the present day. Plus a hit of anti-ageing red light will no doubt help now I'm on the thirties express train! But before I could even think about justifying this ludicrous purchase (and I’m not 100% convinced I ever will), I need to at least make a dent in the umpteen gel masks, sheet masks, clay masks and more that are doing nothing but gathering dust. A little Friday face masking action is going to be in order to use up and glow up my tired, winter-walk battered skin!

The other ludicrous product I have on my Wishlist is the Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial (£115 for 50ml, Cult Beauty). Yes, I have been well and truly influenced on this one and am putting my trust in fellow-hormonal skin survivors. While I’m currently breastfeeding my hormone levels don’t seem to be wreaking havoc on my skin like usual so I’m cruising that wave like a bare-faced dolphin having the time of its life. But I know that the tide may turn at any point and I will need to have space on my vanity for this little tube to do its magic. 

So, there you have it! My household recycling is about to be on the up and I’m off to delve into a free Clinique gift bag of goodies and somewhat ancient Elemis products (I’ll be leading with my nose!) 

Have your shopping habits changed thanks to lockdown? Wish me luck!

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An Unconventional Christmas: 2020 Edition

I felt an urge to document Christmas 2020. After an unprecedented year when we were all sanctioned to ‘stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS’, there was a glimmer of hope that by Christmas we would be reunited with our much-missed loved ones. Only it turned out to be the golden carrot, dangled before us in exchange for good behaviour. With the rise of the second wave, we found ourselves in lockdown 2.0 in November. I was prepared for it mentally this time, unlike March when everything escalated pretty quickly. With a baby now under our roof, it was a different dynamic. I certainly wasn’t making long to-do lists to tick off as a way of utilising my time. I also didn’t have work this time around to distract me Monday through Friday. Instead, my two weekly baby classes moved online to Zoom and I was learning the new etiquette of muting a screaming baby or to save my embarrassment of my baby talk being streamed to a group of mothers I’d never met. 

November passed fairly quickly with as many outdoor walks kicking through leaves as the weather allowed and with a hint of festive spirit thanks to the continuation of Strictly. I also found myself completely hooked on I’m A Celeb after seeing Giovanni Fletcher would be a campmate this year. She was doing it for the mums and now I am in that club I felt it only right to download the app and vote for her again and again! The crescendo of November was, of course, putting up my new 7ft Christmas tree. A new record in that it was fully up and twinkling by November 25th - something I usually reserve for the first weekend in December. There had to be a sweetener to look forward to at the end of a month indoors! Turns out twinkly lights and glittery decorations will do it. I even found myself paying a fiver to join a couple of John Lewis’ online workshops; ‘How to decorate your Christmas tree’ and ‘How to make a Christmas wreath’. Both of these things I didn’t doubt I was already proficient in, but it was something to do, wasn’t it? And a few handy tips were picked up along the way. 

But come December, all of a sudden the non-essential retail was open and it was a rush to get all the Christmas shopping done. Well, that was a recipe for disaster really, wasn’t it? In the ninth hour, Boris Johnson did what the Grinch had failed to do and stole Christmas! Being in the South East, we were the first to be told household mixing was banned. I sat on the sofa on that Saturday night and cried. I had several phone calls with my sister, who would be staying alone in London, and my parents, who now wouldn't be able to see their granddaughter's first Christmas. Horrible conversations to endure but the right and responsible actions were taken. I consoled myself one minute by saying, 'It’s just a day!' and ‘We’ll do Christmas properly when it’s safe to do so’, but then cried into my red wine the next. My mum still has a turkey for 10-12 people in her freezer which she had bought just a few hours before the change in restrictions! Whilst the turkey we were meant to eat was put on ice, we - like so many - had to make a mad dash to the supermarket to buy (a much smaller) turkey, cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets and, controversially, Yorkshire puddings. Apparently it’s not Christmas dinner without them says my Lincoln-born husband. Who knew! The new fast-spreading strain I’m sure was rife in supermarkets but we were gloved up and masked up to the nines! It’s one thing to not have Christmas with your family but quite another to be expected to do it without a turkey dinner.  After all, if there’s one coping mechanism that universally works while celebrating anything while in lockdown, it’s food. 

Read more: How to Celebrate a Birthday in Lockdown

This year, Christmas was going to be extra special. It was our first as parents and our little girl, while only five months old so completely unaware of the festivities, was going to be surrounded by all her grandparents and her auntie so we could witness and savour her first Christmas. Or that was the plan at least. Like so many lockdown born babies, my little one is yet to meet a lot of our extended family. Or many people at all outside of our childcare bubble. I’ve strived to keep my head in a positive space but come December 25th, I was fighting a losing battle and admit to being sat on Zoom with my parents and sister opening presents, and breaking down in silent sobs. Being kept away from our families goes against human nature and it was a hard end to a hard year having to do that. It goes without saying - but I will say it anyway - of course it was harder still for the key workers who were bracing this pandemic on the frontline and for those families who have lost loved ones to this horrible disease. I think it’s entirely "normal" to feel sad, angry, frustrated, lonely and a whole load of other emotions in between. 

It was certainly not the first Christmas I had dreamed of for our baby girl but while it is one she won’t remember, it is one I won’t forget. It makes me hopeful for the family reunions to come. The Christmas that may well be celebrated Aussie-style in the height of summer. The many Christmases we will get to celebrate all together without fear of making anyone ill. 

I guess I’m writing this to capture the moment in time and the emotional experience that went with it. I hope you get to read this some point in the future when Covid-19 has been beaten and vaccines have provided immunity. I hope pubs have reopened and the High Street has been saved from the threat of liquidation. I hope those made redundant are finding new, even better jobs! I hope employees have learnt how efficient their workers can be from home (where possible) and that we, the working fleet, can enjoy some of the work-life balance we came to discover. I hope the Joe Wicks-inspired adults and children are still getting active! I hope the sale of walking shoes is through the roof as people keep up their daily walks. I hope we never again have Christmas cancelled or a pandemic ravage through the world. I hope we can pull together and reinstate that sense of community that came from banging on saucepans and painting rainbows to hang in our windows. I hope we are kinder to each other. I hope. I hope. I hope.

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