TK Maxx and the Joys Within

I don’t know how many of you know this, but TK Maxx is an absolute treasure trove when it comes to beauty shopping.

On entry, the floors may resemble a jumble sale. Indeed, you may narrowly avoid treading on several piles of stained nylon as you weave your way through a besmattering of wild and apparently guardianless children.

However, as you approach the quiet corner stacked with salon-size bottles of Tigi Shampoo and multipacks of Nails Inc polish, you may also be happening upon something magical. Well, once you’ve got past the makeup bags scented with cigarette smoke, anyway (true story).

Look around. See any brand names you recognise? On a bad day, you might not. But on a good day, everything from Aromatherapy Associates to Too Faced is ready to be found, albeit with a little bit of digging.

Dr Bronner Tea TreeDr Bronner

On my last visit, I found the mystical Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps, lauded on the blogging circuit for their brush-cleaning abilities. Tea Tree, Peppermint, and the unscented ‘Baby Mild’ flavour were all there – and I thought only old-style pharmacies and feelunique stocked the stuff! I chose a 472ml bottle of Tea Tree Pure-Castile Soap, which cost £5.99 instead of £8.49. It wasn’t a huge reduction, and the bottle itself definitely carried the distantly familiar, hempish whiff of those shops you go into to buy dream catchers when you’re 12. Nevertheless, I was chuffed with my purchase.


More pleasing still was my visit to the Colchester branch a few weeks ago. I popped in before an appointment, and found a multitude of Percy & Reed hair products, which I’ve loved ever since Glamour Magazine stuck a bottle of P&R’s No Oil Oil to its covers last year. I was lucky enough to purchase a texturising spray for just £4.99, which is significantly more affordable than its usual £14.00 price tag. If you’re a fan of this brand too, I also spotted a volumising mousse, a salon-sized bottle of shampoo, and an amazing gift bag containing several 100ml versions of their products – for £10! Go forth and buy them!


The best bargain yet has to be a bottle of Tigi’s Dumb Blonde Shampoo in one of those big 750ml bottles. It still had the old pink bottle design, but was £12.99 instead of £19.95, and lasted for nearly a year. TK Maxx still run Tigi shampoos but I am yet to find another Dumb Blonde lurking on their shelves. Perhaps you’ll be more lucky?

With these cracking bargains in mind, I leave you with three Effietips for shopping in TK Maxx:

  1. Don’t stay in there for too long. You will find yourself subject to creeping depression, and will mostly likely catch an infection of some kind.
  2. Don’t bother buying anything you don’t recognise. Chances are it’s some cheapo rubbish masquerading as a beauty bargain, and it will probably bring you out in hives. Or you might be lucky and stumble across something brilliant. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take, but perhaps you are!
  3. Whenever you’re passing, go in. TK Maxx isn’t a place you take a shopping list to – you pop in periodically for five minutes at a time, and you either find something or you don’t. It’s all about chance. And that’s part of the fun!

PS: I really should demand that they pay me for this kind of stuff. But they don’t. Enjoy the sincerity!



Preparing a Box Swap: A Novice’s Guide

I’ve never done a box swap before, but it seemed like a beauty blogging milestone that was asking to be tackled!

The idea is that you set a budget, pack up some makeup and beauty bits, and send them off to a blogging friend in exchange for your own box of goodies. When Brittany The Beauty Deputy suggested that we have a go, it sounded like a fun thing to do!

Over the last week, we’ve both been excitedly preparing our boxes from opposite sides of the Atlantic, and I thought I’d share some of the process with you! Here is my little guide on how to prepare for a beauty box swap.

Warning for Brittany: There may be spoilers.



A Budget – This is very important! We decided to buy drugstore products and set a separate budget aside for sweets. Remember to Google the exchange rate too, if you’re setting a budget for international box swaps.


A Good, Sturdy Box – I didn’t want to send my package in a brown padded envelope, as I thought a box would be nicer to open up. The Post Office does a range of ‘PostPak’ boxes in a variety of sizes, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an attractive spotty one! It measures 318mm x 224mm x 80mm (W x D x H) and costs £2.99.


Tissue Paper / Wrapping Paper – Paperchase does a range of gorgeous printed tissue paper, like the elephant one I’ve used to wrap the makeup bits. For the plain blue tissue paper, and other colours, Card Factory offers the same quality for a much better price.


Padding – I’ll be honest, I used sweets to pad my package! But you don’t want your things to be rattling around inside, so make sure they’re suitably secure before you hand it all over to those crazy postal service people. I swear they play catch with things sometimes…

Ideas! – This is a great opportunity to use your imagination, have a lot of fun, and do some guilt-free browsing in Boots. Enjoy!


Shipping Costs Can Be Expensive – From the UK, it costs £15-£30 to send a package to America, but it can shoot up to over £60 if you send more than 2kg worth of stuff. Be careful and check the weights of what you’re sending.

Certain Things Can’t Be Sent Internationally – Check online before you buy. For beauty box swaps, it’s worth noting that you can’t send nail polish or aerosols abroad, and some perfumes are also frowned upon. Porn, drugs, and dynamite are not permitted, so don’t send any of those either – you naughty things.

Look After Your Proof of Postage – If something goes wrong, or the package is lost, you will need your proof of postage slip to get your money back. Keep it safe!


Add A Return Address to the Back/Top Left Corner of your Package – If it all goes tits up, the package can then be sent back to you. Some countries (I think it’s Australia and Canada) won’t accept a package without a return address.

Novelty – Try to get things which aren’t available in the country you’re posting to. For example, I’ve got Brittany some Marks and Spencer’s Percy Pigs and Thornton’s Chocolate, and she’s getting me some equally amazing American candy. Beauty-wise, I picked up products from Sleek and Collection, among other brands, because they aren’t available in the USA yet.


Finally, The Personal Touch – I nearly forgot to do this, but don’t forget to add a handwritten note! When I buy things on eBay, it’s much nicer to receive a beautifully wrapped package with a “we hope you enjoy your purchase” note, than it is to just tip a brown paper bag upside down and find your product inside. I tried to apply this to box swapping too, adding a card and wrapping a few things in tissue paper within the package.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the box gets over to Minnesota safely!

Hope you enjoyed the post,

Effie xx

Review: Origins ‘Out of Trouble’ Mask

Three things, ladies and gentlemen: sleep, fruit, calm. Enjoy these sufficiently, and your skin won’t get cross with you. 

Last week, my skin endured a hectic whirl of job interviews, replacement bus services, shop-bought-sandwiches, valentines, deadlines, junk food, the Tube, and a handful of 5-hour train journeys. One such train journey actually took nine hours instead of five. This was due to a particularly fatigued tree, which had finally become fed up with the weather and decided to take a little snooze on the railway line. Well done tree.

Needless to say, I was tired and stressed. And my skin had a big strop. Spots were popping up all over my chin with joyful abandon – except they didn’t feel joyful; they felt angry and sore. My, there was quite a variety of punctuation in that sentence. Anyway, my face hurt so I made a wishlist.

Then I bought this:


Origins ‘Out of Trouble’ Mask, £22 for 100ml.

Directions for Use On the Bottle: Layer over clean face and throat. Avoid eye area. Wait for ten minutes. Remove with damp washcloth.

Directions for Use from The-Nice-Lady-In-The-Shop: Use twice weekly, exfoliate beforehand for best results.

Not being one to ignore such succinct directions, I applied the mask as instructed (minus neck), and sat down with my minion, as below.


I imagine you can apply this product more thickly than I did, if you wish. I didn’t really need to use it all over my face and neck though, so I concentrated my mask-splattering efforts on the areas which were in the most trouble. Y’know, so they could get out of it.

First impressions were all very positive. The mask has a fresh, almost citrussy smell, and the consistency was similar to what you’d find in a clay mask, but was easy to spread around the face.

The ingredients list was a bit less natural than I was expecting, especially when I noticed that it contains phenoxyethanol, which can be drying and irritating to sensitive skin. However, it does include a skincare gem called salicylic acid, which is well-known for its gently exfoliating, pore clearing, and acne-busting properties. Glamour Magazine always cites this as one of the top ingredients to look out for when finding the best products for acne-prone skincare, so that definitely speaks well for this mask.



While the mask was on my face, the experience also seemed very positive. It did sting a tiny bit in particularly sensitive areas, such as on my top lip, and on a spot which had only recently healed after that gross “open” stage. However, it wasn’t stingy enough to make me worry that I could be having an allergic reaction, feeling more like a minty, tea-tree-esque burn than a full on problem. Did I describe that properly? I hope so. The gist is: it wasn’t that noticeable; fear not.

Anyway, intricate descriptions of herbal burn aside, the effects once I’d washed the mask off were pretty fantastic:

  • Face felt soft and clean, plump and healthy, and there was no excess oil in sight! Noice.
  • That said, my occasionally dry forehead didn’t feel parched and tight, but was just as well-balanced as the rest of my skin. With that in mind, this is probably a good’un for those with combination skin, as well as oilier folks.
  • Pore-wise, some of the smaller ones did shrink, although the really big pores on my nose remained steadfastly huge and open. However, the overall texture of my skin felt smoother, and it’s not as if this mask claims to tighten pores.
  • Zit-wise, my face definitely calmed down after two uses. New spots weren’t arriving, and that can only be a good thing!
  • Also, that cooling herbal tingle felt divine on painful lurkers.

It’s also worth mentioning that this masque isn’t just a one-night-stand where oil control is concerned. Both times I used it, I woke up the next morning, and the usual oil slick which dominates my chin was completely in absentia. As in, completely. It just hadn’t appeared. I almost didn’t cleanse because I just didn’t feel the need to wash anything off my face. I thought better of it, but still. That reaction is commendable!

Have any of you tried this product before? What are you feelings on the best masques for acne?

Let me know!

Effie xx

Valentine’s Special: Smelly Boy Products


I’ve come to visit my Boyfriend this weekend, but neglected to bring a few crucial items: shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. I’m intending to go out and buy some today, but because I am far too anxious and self conscious to leave the house without washing my hair, I had to try boy products.

As in, Wash & Go.

Good grief.


Now, I’d argue that I have relatively complex hair needs. It’s coloured, long, there’s a lot of it, and it’s relatively fine. Wash & Go claims to be for “all hair types.” However, as a beauty fanatic, this sort of “one size fits all! Go for it love!” attitude scares me a bit. Could a 2in1 shampoo and conditioner, available for £1 from most good supermarkets, really clean and condition my hair? I haven’t used a 2in1 shampoo and conditioner since L’Oreal Kids in the late 90’s. Plus, my hair requires more conditioner than boy hair. I have to say, I entered the shower with trepidation.

It seemed initially that this trepidation was well founded. Wash & Go ‘Sport’ smells of synthetic melon. I don’t even like real melon. Though it does contain real fruit extracts, this shampooing conditioner / conditioning shampoo nearly floored me with its scent alone. Although that’s not to say that it’s unbearably strong. I just don’t like melons.


Anyway, after that initial blow, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the product lathered. Evidently the use of Sodium Laureth Sulfate AND Sodium Lauryl Sulfate was effective. These chemicals are both known irritants and are certainly frowned upon when they’re used in foaming facial cleansers. For that reason, I wouldn’t advise that people with sensitive scalps use this product. Still, I didn’t find it problematic, and appreciated the fact that it didn’t take much product to cover all my hair. My hands feel extremely dry now, but my head is alright!

As I rinsed the product off, there was no way of knowing what I’d find on the other side. I am a bit of a shampoo snob, but I figured that the acid test here would be whether or not I could get a comb through my hair once I’d towel dried it a bit. And I could! My hair felt soft and the comb glided through it easily. What?

I’ll admit that when I came to dry my hair, I did add a bit of my trusty KMS California quick blow dry spray to help things along and add some heat protection. I was cold and wanted it to try quickly. Needs must.

Once it was all dry, I was pleasantly surprised by how light and bouncy my hair felt. I had nice, soft hair, and only the ends were suffering. They were much more dry than usual, and clearly missed the presence of a proper, separate bottle of conditioner. Still, if I get caught short again, this product really isn’t that offensive!


As for the other smelly boy products I took advantage of, I already knew I was going to like the shower gel, which was Lynx Excite. I actually bought this for him myself, because it smelled so deliciously of chocolatey man smell. No complaints there. Additionally, after more than three years of visits, I’m very familiar with the fact that men’s deodorant smells, works, and lasts much longer than women’s. I think it’s some kind of conspiracy. Either way, Sure for Men in ‘Adventure’ fared me very well.

Have you tried any of your man’s smelly man products? Have you got hooked on men’s products and started buying them for yourself? Let me know!

Happy Valentine’s Day guys! My boyfriend and I don’t tend to celebrate it, but I did pull all my hair out of his shower plug today, so that’s a pretty romantic gesture. Have a lovely evening!

Effie xx

Mancunian Madness

Hello everyone!

This week has and is continuing to be an incredibly busy one for me. I have just returned from 9 hours of train travel. It usually takes 5 hours to go to Manchester, but there was a fallen tree in the way today, so it took somewhat longer. I am bloody shattered.

I didn’t really feel up to doing a proper post, so have decided to share some of the pictures I took during my trip up to the North West. I was born up there and am hoping to return to live there soon, so I felt really at home and happy in Manchester City Centre. I also found the Space NK, which was a plus.

Oh, and PS: Sorry about the slightly lame title. I’m tired and it was alliterative. So it stayed. The end!



Can’t wait to visit this place with my Boyfriend.


Space NK had run out of Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation, so I had to pop over to their counter at Harvey Nichols! I can't say I'm sorry!

Space NK had run out of my shade of Laura Mercier Silk Crème Foundation, so I had to pop over to their counter at Harvey Nichols! I can’t say I’m sorry!


Hoorayy! You can find my review of this foundation here.

Mmm, out of focus tea. I hope it looks arty and not sh*t.

Mmm, out of focus tea. I hope it looks arty and not sh*t.


I picked this mask up in Boots with the last of my Christmas money. My face was in serious trouble! A review will follow soon.
Psst: I also got some things for an upcoming box swap with Brittany The Beauty Deputy. Watch this space!