Flashback to aged 19. My make up bag contained cheap everything, but a lot of it. Tons, oodles, of eyeliners for that just-got-up-frankly-scary look. Lipsticks. Pink hair dye. A lot of attention was paid to matching eyes to tights or leggings, which were lurid.
Onto late 20's- late 30's. The work years. Proper foundation, eyeliner, nude lipsticks. But most of all suits with killer heels to give me enogh height to reach the top of the blackboard. And be taller than Year 7's. But I always put it on, because even when you are re-enacting the Battle of Hastings, control in the classroom is much easier if your nose is not shiny. The vicious gossip of Year 9 girls is a big incentive to look reasonable. At this point I was spending a fortune on Weleda organic stuff that made not one jot of difference to my skin. I wore suits that were natty and had an extensive wardrobe just for going out (as opposed to now, in which I have an extensive wardrobe for walking to playgroup, which is the same as the wardrobe I have for going out the two times I have been out since kids).
So what did it? Why stop now? Kids, of course. Now, it's them first, a barrage of "Get dressed! YES now! Put the chickens DOWN!" and arguing the toss about the sartorial desirability of wellies and tutu with daughter whilst son tries to sneak out without cleaning his teeth and pick the chickens up again. I run through the shower, whizz the teeth, blob the saddened mascara on, and i'm off. I only do the mascara to make it look like i've got eyes. My night time regime is to wash my face and then go to bed, thankfully, sometimes remembering to scrape the old mascara off. Now I spend nothing. My shampoo is Alberto Balsam. My moisturiser is what is left over from the baby lotion stock I failed to use on daughter. (Wonder if I can use Sudocrem?) I have had the same lipbalm for years ( a big pot of vaseline. Not glam, but neverending).
Is it slummy? Nobody cares. Kids don't . Husband doesn't notice the difference, he's frankly grateful for any romantic attention and wouldn't care if I looked like Prince William. If I smelt, it would be a problem, but i'm clean. My skin is, apart from hormones, better. Who loses out? Make up companies, is about it. I am really no different, only older. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe I should spurn the jeans and t-shirts and rush out and get a Kate-A-Like dress so I can be Be-Yoo-Ti-ful and snag a Royal. Maybe I should spend the housekeeping on lipstick and skincare and not beer and playmobil. But maybe, just maybe, I'm right. Maybe (whisper it) women do not need to have a bathroom full of ungents to be women. Maybe they don't need to spend the equivalent of the GDP of Burma to be pretty. Next time you are having an angsty moment about leaving the house without a full face on, and looking Kate-licious, take a look at the mums on the school run. I bet you, 50% of them are wearing minimal makeup, applied in a rush, and possibly even a pajama top under that coat. I draw the line at slippers, mind.
Below are some of the natural, cheap, cheap, cheap things I do. I have uber-sensitive skin, a result of thyroid medication, and anything with parabens in, I avoid, as they can exacerbate the condition. So, I do it myself, as it is pretty much impossibel to buy anything paraben free without spending a million pounds. They all work, I promise. Although you should avoid the last if you have a strawberry allergy.
- Top cheapo money saving body-scrub: Olive oil, rock salt. Bit of essential oil if you fancy it. Can be kept in a jar by the bath for ages, and is very cheap. The Sanctuary chareg a fortune for this. It costs pence.
- Top cheapo bathiness niceness: Oats. That's it. Shove some in a little muslin bag (or baby muslin), let it run in the tap, leave it in the bath. Lovely softness to the skin will result. Also great for excema.
- Top cheapo facemask: Tumeric and oats. Soak oats in milk till they go squidgy. Add tumeric, 1/2 teaspoon. Spread on face. Look like monster. Wash off, with nice clean face underneath.
- Top cheapo all round skin thing: 1000mg of Evening Primrose oil every night. This is the best way to better skin and hair. From inside. Although don't use me as an example because I have no hair and my skin is dreadful. But if I didn't take this, i'd be worse.
- Top cheapo body moisturiser: Shea butter. Not the posh expensive stuff, the big block of pure stuff you can pick up wholesale. You can source the stuff at 15 quid a litre if you look, and a litre will last, as mine did, with a daily whoosh of it all over, for just over a year. (I'm 5ft tall. If you're 6ft, reduce that time. I am quite broad, mind). Better than little poncy pots of spenny smellies.
- Top cheapo hair deep conditioner: an egg, a tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 a cucumber, blended in a blender, bunged on hair, clingfilmed head. Leave for 15 mins. Rinse off with tepid water (you do NOT want to be washing scrambled egg out of your hair), and lovely soft shiny hair is the result.
- Top cheapo facial moisturiser: One tablespoon each of Olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil. Two tablespoons of mashed/blended strawberries. Mix together, pop into a little pot, and leave it in the fridge for about 24 hours. It will keep for about 2 weeks, it really does work beautifully on your face. Unless you have a strawberry allergy.