The Skincare Swap | Affordable Alternatives to Cult Products


This post has been such a long time coming, mostly because you need a really good amount of time to test out skincare products. But here it is! I pulled 10 cult skincare products out from my stash and shopped around for affordable alternatives, then put them to the test to decide if I'd make the swap permanently to the cheaper option.

Gel-to-Oil Cleanser: Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel | £29.50 vs B. Clean Melting Gel Cleanser | £6.99

Recently, the price of this Oskia cleanser increased a little and I decided 'enough is enough': I needed to find a cheaper alternative, as it was hard enough to justify before (even with a discount code!) I was actually suggested this cleanser as an alternative by the lovely Life of Ellie Grace (so thank you for the tip), as it was reduced on top of the already low price I felt I had little to lose in giving it a shot. The formula is extremely similar, though the B version is a little runnier. Obviously the Oskia has more luxurious packaging with a pump, whereas B's alternative comes in a basic squeeze tube, however with that price difference you really can't complain too much. When I massage a little into my face, the B formulation is decidedly stickier and not as smooth and luxurious as the Oskia, however it still feels nice enough. Neither are particularly great at removing makeup, so as a morning cleanser I look for those wider skincare benefits. Overall the Oskia doesn't *do* a huge amount for all the price and the hype, however it leaves my skin feeling that bit healthier, plumper and more glowing. On the other hand, I can't say I've noticed a difference at all in my skin when using the B. They do have a few ingredients in common, however overall the Oskia far more is packed with vitamins.

Would I make the swap? No, however I also don't think I can justify buying the Oskia again when this bottle runs out. Is there a third option...?


Both of these products are solid cleansers, which you warm between your fingers before massaging on your face and across your eyes to remove any makeup. You simply wipe clean your face afterwards with a warm, damp muslin cloth and you're done! It's obvious why something so quick and easy has become my preferred method for makeup removal. The Emma Hardie cleansing balm is admittedly a once-a-week treat for me and I still can't quite believe I splurged so much on it! It just smells so beautiful, is really gentle on my sensitive eyes and has this amazing, luxurious texture. It's also incredibly effective at removing makeup without leaving a residue on the skin. However I have to say that the Body Shop offering, whilst not quite having that luxury touch, does the job for me whilst still being very gentle. It's not *quite* as effective, however what is taking an extra 30 seconds to work the product in when you're saving yourself a whopping £25? They are both made of various fruit and plant oils, with the Emma Hardie selection being admittedly more premium (neroli essential oil vs. olive oil, for example).

Would I make the swap?: Yes, although the Emma Hardie is a beautiful product, with that price difference I can happily use the Body Shop's offering most of the time and if money was tight when my Emma Hardie was running out, I would be more than happy to keep using it.


If I fancy switching it up from a solid cleanser, I opt for an oil, as it has a similar effect. Again, I look for products that will be gentle on my eyes, won't leave my skin feeling greasy afterwards and most importantly: get the job done. I just use these by squirting a pump or two onto my fingers and massaging it directly onto my skin, though you can use cotton wool if you want. I find these extremely similar in terms of their light consistency and their effectiveness. The main difference for me is that the Body Shop version has a light scent and isn't quite so gentle on my eyes (though is still gentle enough for daily use). The DHC has no scent at all and I really can't see it causing sensitivity for anyone.

Would I make the swap? This is one of the few that's a very easy 'yes' for me.


When I really don't want something oil-based and feel like keeping things fresh, a hot cloth cleanser does a similar job with a cream-based formula. It works in a similar way; you just massage this across your entire face (including eyes) then wipe off all your makeup with a muslin cloth (both of these products actually come with one). Obviously the Liz Earle comes in this nice pump packaging, which makes it a little easier to control the amount of product that comes out in comparison to Superdrug's squeezy tube. However looking past appearances and little practicalities, I have to say I find Superdrug's offering to be virtually as good as Liz Earle's! The formulas look and feel extremely similar and I have to say the effectiveness is also very much alike. I do think the Liz Earle gets rid of every scrap of makeup that little bit quicker, but at the end of the day you are saving 2/3s on an already not-unreasonably-priced product with Superdrug.

Would I make the swap? Yes, I think I would.

Micellar Water: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water | £10.90 (250ml) vs Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water | £4.99 (400ml)

I know everyone and their grandma has done a comparison of these two (including me in my blog's early days...) but I still thought it was worth a mention here. I like to use a micellar water if I'm feeling a bit lazy or just to ensure all my makeup (especially in awkward places like my eyelashes) is completely gone after using a hot cloth or oil-based cleanser. In case you weren't aware: they have the consistency of water and claim to be just as gentle, however they contain micelles, which pick up makeup and impurities. These seem extremely similar on the surface, however I notice that with the Garnier version, I have to use so much more product to get the job done. It's almost a false economy in my opinion! I'm sure it's still a little cheaper overall, even going through it at the much faster pace that I do, however that doesn't factor in the fact it's also more effort and more time-consuming. I also note that the Garnier feels very slightly drying on my skin.

Would I make the swap? Unsurprisingly, no. Even in an emergency, when the little Boots at the station doesn't stock Bioderma I would opt for the gentle and effective Simple version as a second choice over Garnier's.

Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Face Pads: 

I love me an acid toner, however when travelling, it's so much more convenient to have these pads that are already soaked in a glycolic solution. If you don't know what these are all about, essentially they are an acid toner that removes dead skin cells without the need for abrasive, rough particles, revealing more glowing skin. With the First Aid Beauty you're paying 43p per pad, whereas with the Nip + Fab option it's just 22p; almost half the price! I have to hand it to Nip + Fab that they're generally ahead of the game when it comes to innovative products at affordable price-points. The Nip + Fab version is almost as effective as FAB's when it comes to giving my skin that healthy glow in minutes, however I do find them quite a bit more drying. A look at the ingredients reveals that the Nip + Fab contain alcohol, whereas the FAB do not, which could explain it.

Would I make the swap? Overall, I have to say no, as when I'm using an intensive treatment, I really don't want anything extra that's going to dry out my skin more!

The Antipodes mask is a product that was always going to be hard to top. Manuka honey is naturally antibacterial so amazing for blemishes. The organic Antipodes offering also contains various natural oil extracts and has a runny honey-like formula, that's so moisturising as well as helping keep my skin clear. I also love the natural honey fragrance it has and how it doesn't dry hard on the skin at all; it's almost like it gets semi-absorbed during the 15 minutes I leave this on for. I've been pleasantly surprised by Good Things in the past so decided to check out their cheaper alternative. The first obvious difference I noticed is that this is a clay mask. They smell very similar however I have to say the ingredient list isn't quite as 'clean' and organic for the Good Things offering. It's not the most drying clay mask I've tried but it does harden on the skin. Whilst I do feel it helps my skin stay blemish-free, it isn't as hydrating as the Antipodes version and the reason I love that one so much is because it does both at the same time! 

Would I make the swap? No - the Good Things mask isn't a bad product by any stretch but the difference in formula takes away much of why the Antipodes mask is so great.

Anti-Blemish Charcoal Mask: Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask | £23 (100ml) vs Quick Fix Facial Purifying Charcoal Mask | £4.99

Every so often, I like to use a deep cleansing mask to draw out all the impurities in my pores and charcoal tends to do the trick. I actually got the Origins mask in a little set (note that mine in 75ml, whereas the single version that's £23 is 100ml) and it sat unused for a while. However a couple of months back, I was really struggling with enlarged pores and dull skin so gave it a go. It's completely black in colour and although it sets on your skin, it isn't a typical clay mask so isn't too drying. Pretty much immediately after rinsing it off, my skin looks fresher, cleaner and all-round healthier and in the long-term it's really helped keep the spots at bay. Like the Origins version, the Quick Fix mask comes in a tube however the formula is a little bit runnier once squeezed out and feels a little lighter and thinner on the skin (not a bad thing as such). Although it dries down, it doesn't quite have the 'plastic-y' feeling that the Origins does. Overall, however, I feel the effects are very similar. It doesn't quite have as much of a 'wow my skin feels clean'-factor, however I can still certainly see the difference.

Would I make the swap? Yes - I actually think I would with this one as the difference between the two is pretty marginal!

Overnight Glycolic Peel: REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial | £32 vs Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Overnight Serum |£5.99

As you may have guessed; I'm a big fan of AHA-based products and an overnight treatment saves the mess and time spent on doing a traditional face mask. Although the smell is a little off-putting, I really love the cream formula of the REN treatment and the practical pump packaging. You only need a small amount for your face and it doesn't leave my skin feeling overly sticky. It contains sodium lactate, acids and enzymes that really exfoliate my skin overnight so I wake up with fresher, healthier, more glowing skin. The Superdrug offering is a little different in that it's a clear, more traditional serum and less of a mask however I thought the two seemed comparable. I don't like the thick, gloopy texture and it does feel sticky on my skin but for the price difference, if it does the same thing that is definitely something I can live with. This serum contains glycolic acid and other fruit acids. I'd say that by morning I do see a bit of a difference; my skin definitely does look more radiant, however it doesn't have the same 'wow' factor.

Would I make the swap? I don't think so - the Superdrug alternative just doesn't pack the punch I'm used to from using REN.

Plumping Overnight Mask: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask* | £24 vs Superdrug Vitamin E Leave-On Moisture Mask | £2.99

Both of these masks are leave-on overnight treatments with a strange jelly-like texture (when you scoop up a bit of either of these, the formula will settle back to being perfectly even). Although the Body Shop's offering is babassu oil-based and Superdrug's is Vitamin E-based, they both have similar formulations and claim to hydrate and plump out the skin. The Body Shop version seems to 'melt' onto the skin a little more whereas Superdrug's has more of a sticky, tacky feel, however for £2.99 - if it works that really isn't going to be a deal-breaker. By next morning, using the Body Shop mask, I really feel like my tired skin is revived and any dehydration lines have almost vanished. By morning with the Superdrug offering, I certainly think my skin looks and feels more hydrated, however it doesn't quite have that plumping effect.

Would I make the swap? Overall I have to say no, because the Body Shop mask takes the effects to that next level. However the Superdrug mask is still pretty good so I'd recommend checking it out.

There were certainly more nos than yeses in this post, however for me it was well worth doing this experiment even just to save a little bit of money in the long-term!


What are your favourite bargain skincare products? Which luxury products couldn't you be without?



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*DISCLOSURE - PRODUCTS MARKED WITH AN ASTERISK ARE PR SAMPLES/GIFTS. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. 
PLEASE VISIT MY DISCLOSURE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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68 comments

  1. This is such an interesting post! I really want to try the DHC Deep Cleansing oil yet, since I don't have a lot of experience with cleansing oils, I believe it will wiser to try the Body Shop one first, especially as I already know I love its scent!

    http://fannyanddailybeauty.com

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    1. Both are amazing so you can't really go wrong :) xx

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  2. I really love this post, I'm always more reluctant to buy pricier skin care than I am make up so I will definitely have to try some of these!

    Lauren Ashleigh xx

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  3. Its such a shame that Oskia is so expensive, everything from them sounds amazing!
    Parie x
    classandglitter.com

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  4. I love this post! They all look great! Oskia is a brand I have always wanted to try!
    Fix Me In Forty Five - A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog
    Blog Lovin' // Instagram
    xx

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  5. Great post and lots of useful reviews! I recently caved and bought the oskia cleanser and can understand why everyone loves it so much. I used to be all about saving when it comes to skincare but now I like to try and research products more and spend money on good quality ingredients that will make a difference. I can't see myself ever splurging on body and hair products though - budget brands have really upped their game recently!
    Philippa x

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  6. This is such a useful post! Skincare can be quite expensive, and most of us wouldn't be able to afford to try out all the new releases that big bloggers rave about. I'll have to turn to the Body Shop for my skincare, I never really go in there but they seem to have great products, like the Drops of Youth Sleeping Mask - even though it's on the more expensive side, it seems worth it. I'd love to know if there are cheaper serums on the market - I'm dying to try out the Sunday Riley serum, but it's not gonna happen any time soon unfortunately :(

    Julia x
    Last post: My Palermo Holiday Diary | http://juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.fr/2016/06/holiday-diaries-palermo-sicily-part-1.html

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    1. I really rate the Body Shop! I've always wanted to try Sunday Riley but I just could never justify spending so much xx

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  7. I'm loving the quality of Nip + Fab's products for their price at the moment as well! I've just switched from the Glycolic Fix pads to their Dragon's Blood ones becausethe former was a little too drying, and now I've found my go to pre-bed final cleanser! It seems as though The Body Shop is a bit of a clear winner here, so I've saved this post ready for when I next head in.

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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  8. This is a really useful post, i love how in depth it is. I haven't tried a huge about of high end skin care, the only one i love and can't live without is the Vichy Aqualia Thermal serum, i love Vichy skincare, its so good! I love the Superdrug's Gycolic over night serum that you mentioned its one of my favourites.

    <3
    perfectfixations.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Ah totally agree - I love the Vichy serum! xx

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  9. I definitely need to pick up the Body Shop cleansing oil again! I do love the Emma Hardie cleansing balm but it is definitely a treat so I like to spread out how often I use it!

    Danielle's Beauty Blog

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  10. This was such an interesting post to read. Thank you for sharing. I really need to try the Body Shop cleansing butter and a bit more of their skincare. x

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    1. It's really worth checking out :) xx

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  11. I used to use loads of cheap skincare and my skin was awful - my skin annoying prefers expensive or niche skincare! x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness

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  12. I'm honestly in love with the garner micellar water. I've never tried bioderma though so can't relate to your comparison! I don't think I've ever personally found it drying, though I do love the oil version of it!

    Katie // Words By Katie

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  13. I really don't see the hype with the garnier micellar water. I found it took forever to take my makeup off. I've decided i really don't like the Oskia cleanser - whenever i use it, it gives my such bad blackheads :/ I still haven't tried cleanse and polish so i'll check out the superdrug one. Great post xx

    LPage Beauty

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    1. Agree with you on both counts - not sure what all the fuss is about with either! xx

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  14. I just love the Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water too, it is just one of my favourite cleansing products!

    Kez | acaciasdreams.com

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  15. I don't mind paying more for skincare but in my 20s, I was happy to mix both budget and high end (depending on my bank balance) but once you pass 30, I think it's better to spend on skincare than make-up. I tell myself it's an investment to feel less guilty! Great post! xx

    Beautylymin| Bobbi Brown Define & Glow Palette Gift Set Giveaway

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  16. This post was really interesting to read, thanks for sharing!

    Beth x

    www.ohthatsbethany.blogspot.co.uk

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  17. Great post! I've found that there are some more expensive products that I cannot swap out, mainly La Roche Posay skincare, but then I do adore some budget items. X

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    1. I like La Roche-Posay - I consider it a mid-range brand and it is often on offer :) xx

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  18. Great post. I found the comparison really helpful. I love the Origins Charcoal mask.
    http://thevagabondwayfarer.com/

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  19. Great inspiration for some affordable options! I totally agree that the Body Shop's Camomile cleansing range is top-notch! :)

    -Jen

    www.vibrantbeautyblog.com

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  20. I do think that over time the budget drugstore skincare options are just not as effective as they are when you're a teen and first starting out with your routine etc. I've never tried Bioderma version because I just love my Garnier Micellar Water so much. However like you said I do find that I use a lot of product to soak my cotton pads at times, so maybe I should give Bioderma a try x

    Beauty with charm

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    1. I definitely recommend giving it a go! xx

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  21. Wow didn't know Oskia raised their prices! That's really so ridiculous! I have not been the biggest fan of that cleanser anyway, I won't repurchase it. I did get a GWP of it so when I finish my bigger version of it, I'll just use that and then that's it. Interesting to hear about which ones you'd go for and not! :) Lovely post!

    xoxo
    www.hellohimawari.com

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  22. I've only ever tried the Garnier Micellar water and love it but you may have convinced me to try the Bioderma!

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  23. Great post Jasmine. I really want to try Bodyshop cleansing oil and Superdrug Vitamin E Moisture mask.
    Ash | www.mstantrum.com

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    1. Thank you! Glad it was interesting xx

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  24. Your images are so clean!! Love them x
    http://my--socalledlife.blogspot.com.au/

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  25. Hi dhc cleansing oil is half price on their website!

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  26. For me, this is using Alpha Gold instead of Pixi Glow - it makes a much more visible difference, but equally is so harsh I wouldn't use it nearly as regularly! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Yeah I find Liquid Gold a bit harsh :( xx

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  27. I LOVE drugstore skincare. I know it's not very aspirational or luxurious (which is what people expect of me) but honestly, I've never seen the difference on my face whether I'm using Dermalogica vs Garnier. Maybe things will change now that I'm about to turn 30, but I'm trying out a whole new skincare regime with the Boots Botanic range (which I'll share about soon enough!) and so far, so good...x

    Posh, Broke, & Bored

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  28. Great post – always a fan of cheaper alternatives to higher-end skincare products. Sometimes though, it is worth the extra splurge.

    Not necessarily a skincare product and more Beauty related, but I’ve found the Real Techniques beauty sponge is a great alternative to the pricey Beauty Blender.

    - Lubna | The Digital Review

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  29. What an awesome post...thank you!
    You might also consider the CeraVe cleanser...

    http://a-woman-of-a-certain-age.com/

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  30. Such a helpful post, thank you! I've not tried the Bioderma Micellar Water but I LOVE Garnier's new Oil-Infused one, it isn't drying in the slightest :)

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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    1. Maybe I will fare better with that, though it's annoying how much product I have to use with the standard Garnier formula :( xx

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  31. Great post with awesome comparisons that really help the wallet. It's not easy finding affordable skincare that works. I am trying all these natural alternatives that I can swap for the expensive stuff. Would love if you can link up to http://the-wardrobe-stylist.com/2016/06/20/losing-baby-weight-episode-2/

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  32. Such a helpful post to read! I have been thinking about making the Liz Earle to the Vitamin e hot cloth cleanser switch for a while now, I'll definitely have to give it a go now!

    Sophie x | SophiesMakeupBlog

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  33. I'm glad I'm not the only one obsessed by the garnier miscellar water, it makes my skin really dry and gives me the itch! Great post, I'll have to check out the body shop as I normally love Emma Hardie cleanser but sooo pricey x

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    1. It's such a good alternative to the Emma Hardie! xx

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  34. This is such a good post! Really want to give the miscellar waters a try! x

    ItsTheBlueBow

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  35. Was interesting to hear about the Good Things mask as I have their exfoliator for the body and it's very good the only fault I have is the scent!
    Charlotte // www.charlottespicks.com

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  36. I lovedddd reading this post! Your posts are always such an interesting read. I have both the origins charcoal and the quick fix, i can easily see the similarities as well.

    www.themakeupaficionado.com

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    1. Yeah I definitely think I'll repurchase the Quick Fix when I run out :) glad you enjoyed it! xx

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  37. Such a great post! I see a few of my faves there. I actually just purchased the Garnier micellar water and have been testing it out! Bioderma Micellar Water is one of my favorite micelle water to use. Great useful review of these products! x

    Face to Curls | http://facetocurls.com

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  38. Hi Jasmine! This is such a great idea for a post! I do own some of these products, namely the Good Things Cleanser which I'm using right now, the Quix Fix mask, the Garnier Micellar Water, the Camomile Butter, the Antipodes face mask. I love most of them and I would find it difficult to uso something a lot more expensive, as much effective. Sometimes we just pay for the brand, I think. I'm not saying always, but some times we do. Btw, I know it's a bit of a odd request but I would really love and appreciate if you wrote a post on blogging tips. Your blog has grown a lot and you are the kind of person I would like to meet in real life, so I feel really inspired by your work. I think it would be great if you could share with us some tips or things that you would recommend to beginners blogger. Have a great day! hope you'll read this xx

    Silvia
    "TheSkinCabinet"

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    1. Aw thank you so much Silvia - was there any topic in particular you'd be interested in reading about? :) xx

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    2. Hi Jasmine, I don't know maybe some general tips on how to grow your blog (I know you already have a post on that but maybe you could give us an update), or some tips on blogging for beginners. That's all I can think of now! Thanks a lot if you'll take this into account xx Have fun in Spain!!!

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  39. AMAZING POST! Love these ideas!! x

    https://dreamingoffithavenue.wordpress.com

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  40. This was a lovely post. It was such a great idea to compare expensive products to their affordable counterpart. I've always thought that afforadable products can be just as good as luxury products. For me, micellar water is something where Bioderma always wins. No micellar water has ever come close to replacing it for me.

    JoJo | mademoisellejosee

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  41. This was such an informative post, I loved seeing the cheaper versions that actually work! XO -Kim
    www.thethirtysomethinglife.com

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  42. Thank you fro your comments - I hope this post was helpful :) xx

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  43. I'd love to try the Body Shop cleansing oil - I've read a few good things about it. Surprised by the Garnier Micellar Water - I love it and use it every day! Never tried Bioderma though :-P
    JH | hellojenniferhelen.com

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  44. Loving that copper wire basket, where's it from? xxx

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  45. What a brilliant post you've written Jasmine, thankyou so much! I totally agree with you about bioderma, its an oldie but a goodie and a golden product, so gentle on the skin and so quite and effective too ^_^

    Iqra | The Blushing Giraffe x

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  46. First time reader here! Amazing post. Thank you for this information. If you don't mind, you overuse the phrase "I have to say".

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  47. Thanks for sharing. Fab post <3

    http://www.themakeupstall.com/

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