New Home for CSSB

Dear Followers and Subscribers

Champagne Style on a Shandy Budget has moved home and is now located over at

You can see all your favourite poetry posts, including the archives and new posts, at this link:

You can still subscribe to my posts by email here:

Hope to see you over at the new place!

Mrs Shandy


CSSB: Wardrobe Clearout!

Bon Jour my little fashionistas!

Yes, I’m back and after a MEGA wardrobe clearout and some really serious sales shopping and Charity Shop hunting, I’m back with a whole new range of clothing and accessories. Two big bin bags of clothing were dumped at the St John’s Hospice charity shop this morning and now there’s room for everything in the wardrobe. Poor old Matalan and Sainsburys clothing departments haven’t known what’s hit them this month, and I’ve had the pick of the Charity Shops in Lancaster and Chorley over the last couple of weeks.

I love having a good clear out. I don’t think I have bad taste in clothes, but there’s something about wearing the same garments over and over again which just saps your spirits. Colours fade, bobbles form, things get a bit shapeless from washing, the odd pulled thread and loose button manifest here and there and before you know it, your stylish selection of clothing has all been reduced to ‘ugh’.

This month was tax rebate month, a delicious little bonus from the HMRC arrived in my bank account just as those lovely big 70% off signs were appearing in all my favourite stores and the charity shops started knocking prices down to start raising money faster for the Gaza Crisis.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be reviewing the new items, along with their outfit combos, accessories, prices and quality, so stay tuned for some lovely new posts.

However, rather than posting here directly, after this post there will be links over to CSSB’s brand new home at

The links will be posted for all those lovely people who are subscribed to my entries, but please don’t hang around here too  long. We’re moving lock stock and barrel to the new site over the next few months and this place will eventually become a redirect. So if you’re counting on email updates, get yourself over to Project Shandy and register for them there instead.

I hope that you’ll all continue to pop in and say hi. The new site is far more awesome and home to a lot of other projects, such as poetry, political blogging, articles and reviews, recipes and menu suggestions, as well as all the usual style tips, fashion rants and feminist rambles that have been the lifeblood of this site.

Look forward to seeing you soon over at Project Shandy!

Adios Amigos!

Assumptions about women and shoes

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

I don’t have that many.

No, really, I don’t have that many. That wasn’t code for ‘not that many for a woman’.

So here’s the role call:

Black work shoes (slightly broken, but still wearable, I wear these most days)

White pumps (bought to wear with summer clothes)
Black slip on pumps (bought to wear with summer clothes and around the house)
White patent pumps (My wedding shoes)

Black lace up tennis shoes (bought for wearing on the canal boat – lightweight and sturdy)
Black trainers (bought for working on a summer scheme, now used for the gym)

Black fur lined winter boots
Brown knee high boots (bought for me as a gift)

Black high heels
Brown heeled court shoes
Purple heeled court shoes

I also have a couple of pairs of flip flops for use when I go swimming and some slipper socks for the winter.

My husband thinks I have too many shoes. Sometimes when I’m tidying them up and putting them away, I agree with him but given that they are all useful for different purposes I would struggle to choose which ones to throw out. Many of them cost less than £5, some of them were from charity shoes, some were bought from supermarkets. I don’t really go in for the expensive shoe shopping thing.

Truth is, I find shopping for shoes intensely frustrating. I’m an annoying size, 6.5 – size 6 is too small, size 7 is too loose. So just finding some that fit comfortably can be difficult. I don’t wear that many outlandish colours, I know what suits me and what colours are in my wardrobe, and they are fairly easy to accessorize – brown, black and white does the trick pretty nicely.

I don’t understand the compulsion that drives some women to have a pair of shoes to match each outfit. How many colours can there possibly be that need an exact match? I mean, black goes with most things. For ten years I had one pair of black high heeled shoes from Barratts which served me for every wedding, party, every night out, fancy dinner, college ball and social event. I wore them until the elastic in the ankle strap snapped and then replaced them with another pair, as similar as I could muster, purchased for £3.99 on Ebay.

I really don’t get the fascination that the media paints the women as having with shoes.

My female companions, being practical geeks, may not be the best straw poll of examples, but I don’t know anyone who obsessively collects shoes. If anyone does, it’s generally the vintage variety for larping and period costumes. But everywhere I turn in the Media, there’s an assumption that a women desires, more than anything, new shoes – it’s literally become a caricature in the form of Sex And The City’s Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolo Blahnik obsession.

I mean, makeup I can kind of understand because it’s on your face. It’s in everyone’s eye line. The impact you create with a smile, with a first glance, with your expression, can all be enhanced with a little colour, powder and texture. I can also understand clothes. I mean, I blog about clothes – clothes are great, I love buying new ones, I love feeling comfortable in them and knowing that I look good. But shoes?

They’re on the end of your feet. They’re down on the floor. More often than not, they’re half concealed by your trouser ends or long skirts, or they’re tucked under tables or hidden under chairs. Shoes do not make that much of an impact. I never look at people’s shoes. My husband claims he doesn’t either, and I believe him. Do you know how many people have ever passed comment on my shoes since I left school? Not one. That’s why I don’t really bother changing them that much.

I did get some bullying at school over my shoes. Mostly because I wore trainers that were more than three months old and liked wearing sandals in the summer rather than mules. But truth be told, if I had changed my shoes those people would have found something else to pick on me for. When I wore boots instead, it was my Manchester United scarf that attracted comments. When it wasn’t my scarf, it was my hairstyle. When it wasn’t my hairstyle it was the fact I was often upset and depressed, especially after the death of my grandfather and grandmother. The problems I endured at school weren’t really to do with my shoes, they were to do with assholes looking for an emotional cut to rub salt into.

What is it about shoes for women? I honestly would love to know, because it seems like something about being a ‘Woman’ is eluding me in not understanding this. Anyone got any theories?

Favourite Online Store:

Ms Moo introduced me to this place and it is one of my favourite places to go and indulge myself. It sells of ‘designer’ makeup are really cheap prices. Seriously cheap prices. It’s a great place to stop by if you’re got an occasion coming up and you just want one or two bits to liven up your makeup selection without going bankrupt in the process.

While ELF will always be my go to place for stocking up on day to day essentials, this place is like the Charity Shop of makeup stores. One offs, end of lines, ridiculous reductions and never the same stock twice. It’s like stepping into Aladdin’s cave.

These are some of the offers they have on this week, just to give you an idea of what I mean:

Rimmel Lipsticks

RRP £6.49. Save on makeup price 69p

Clinique lipstick

RRP £17  Save on makeup price £4.99

Maybelline Foundation

RRP £9.95 Save on makeup price £3.99

What this site does is bring the big brand names of makeup down to the sort of price where I would actually consider paying for them. So if you have any sort of brand loyalty about the decorations you put on your face, you definitely want to make friends with this site. You can search by product or filter by brand, whichever you would prefer. I also like the fact that they give you the option to pay by paypal rather than requiring your card details. Much safer in this day and age.

Don’t depend on finding the same products here next time you come by though. The range really does change on a multiple-times-per-week basis and there’s no guarantee they will be back. Also some of the products might turn up in tester cases, but they are new and haven’t been used, they’re just surplus stock.

Favourite High Street Store: Bodycare

Favourite Store: Bodycare

I love this shop. It’s possibly the one remaining chain store in the world which doesn’t have a website, but that’s part of the charm for me. I have to actually go into town, have a rummage, read the packaging and choose what I want there rather than slobbing in the comfort of my own armchair with a laptop.

Bodycare is a bit like the economy version of Superdrug, only without the pharmacy bit. I bet your town has one, they all look the same. Big black and white sign outside, huge clear glass windows and the walls are stacked up to the ceiling with all sorts of colourful bottles. Anything to do with haircare and hair styles, skin care and makeup, teeth hygeine, nail maintenance and varnish, deodorant, basic medicine, sanitary products or perfumes can be found in this shop for very, very cheap prices.

Things I regularly pick up from here include the Alberto Balsam shampoo and conditioner, Sure deodorants, Impulse body sprays, lynx shower gel and spray (for hubby), sponges, flannels, cotton wool, sanitary stuff and condoms (seriously – cheapest I have ever found Durex on sale!), but I do love to have a good search around and occasionally pick up other things. They’re my go-to place for tights, I sometimes get my hair dye there and they’re good for gift sets of what my teenage friends and I used to call ‘smellies’ in the run up to Christmas time.

The only thing I have found that Bodycare isn’t worth shopping at for is makeup. By and large I find it pretty cheap and nasty to be honest – the eye-shadow rubs off quickly, the face powder all looks orange, the mascara comes out clumpy and the lipsticks are guaranteed to smudge within a few nanoseconds of application. I guess it’s not bad for pre-teens with a bit of pocket money wanting to buy bits and pieces to experiment with at sleep overs, but this stuff shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone who wants to actually look presentable rather than like a cheap clown.

CSSB Sunday Rant: Why School Uniforms Don’t Work

We’re back for a Sunday Rant – and I’ve got a really good one for you!

Why School Uniforms Don’t Work

I went to state school in the UK from the age of four years old. From day one of my first year, I wore a full uniform, including a button up blouse, a grey pinafore, a grey cardigan and a school tie. I remember being taught how to tie it properly by my father. For the next twelve years, almost every school day, I wore some sort of formal school uniform.

There are various myths about school uniform that parents, teachers and governors like to espouse to defend its use and mandatory status in the vast majority of UK state schools. A recent article in Time Magazine espoused some of these claims, for example that the uniforms are an equalising factor among school populations, that they provide protection against any bullying and harassment, and that they encourage school pride and high standards of dress.

All I can say is that those parents, teachers and governors either never had to wear a school uniform, or they had a very different experience of being forced into one than I did. I wore a uniform every day. When I wore it correctly I was mocked, ridiculed and harassed by my peers. When I transgressed I was given hassle and criticised by teachers who cared more about the badges on my tie than my straight A grades. No matter how I chose to wear the required clothing, I upset somebody and spent a significant amount of time feeling miserable. My uniform did not protect me from bullying of any sort, including unwanted sexualisation.

Within a decade I had returned to school as a trainee teacher and found that things had not changed for several of the students I was teaching, and if the morning view from my window of the teenagers on their way to the local school tells me anything, it’s that they still haven’t.

So let’s debunk the myths.

If everyone dresses the same, there will be no cause for bullying based on choice of clothing, as the uniform will conceal the social and economic status of the wearer.

Let’s break this one down shall we? If every man in the world had to wear a black suit for work, would they all look the same? Absolutely not. There’s always going to be a difference based on quality. That gulf between the off the peg black polyester suits from Walmart and the fine material used to make the haute couture suits favoured by Ralph Lauren or Yves Saint Laurent. The differences in school uniform are the same. Not every navy blue jumper is created equal. The quality of the material, the cut, the shape, the style.

Whilst it is true that some schools do have official stockists and regulate every article of clothing, there are a vast majority of schools who can do little more than regulate based on colour, cut and the outlawing of designed labels. Every high street department store and supermarket in the UK which stocks children’s clothing and young adult clothing boasts a school uniform range to suit every budget. The differences in quality can be seen easily after a cold and wet autumn term’s hard wear.

School uniforms encourage school pride and a high standard of personal appearance

There are some battles which are fought between school pupils and teachers every single day over standards of uniform. From wearing trainers instead of shoes, to unusual styles of hair or whether shirts should be tucked in at the waist or allowed to be untucked, teenagers will find myriad ways to flout conventions which are imposed upon them.

The most accurate depiction I have seen of a school uniform culture in mass media in recent times is that of Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s school of witchcraft and wizardry. Let’s take a look at how our three heroes (Ron, Hermione and Harry) look in their first year at Hogwarts:

Here they’re smiling, sweet-natured and clean with jumpers neat, shirts tucked in and school ties neatly knotted. Let’s compare them here to how Ron and Harry look a few years later:

Shirts hanging out, ties loose and collars askew, along with long untidy hair and grumpy expressions – more like the British school age teenagers we all know and love.

Even with the strictest of uniform regimens in a boarding school where pupils are monitored constantly, teenagers will find a way to bend and test the rules, especially when it comes to the most personal of all forms of expression, their visual appearance. For every rule we create which is intended to instill pride into someone, another person will take pride in breaking or flouting that rule.

School Uniforms make everyone look the same and remove the risk of bullying based on image

Forgetting the ludicrous notion that all teenagers, who come in the widest imaginable range of heights, weights and shapes, should look the same when dressed in the same outfit, there are many other ways in which appearances can lead to judgement. Particularly under these sorts of rules which limit the ways that people are allowed to express themselves visually, the remaining few options become extremely visible and cause for intense competition.

While schools, particularly secondary schools, might try to legislate in terms of jewellery, makeup, hairstyles, watches, mobile phones, bags, coats and shoes, in reality the policing of these rules is too much for the average school to handle.  A primary school teacher who has the same thirty children under his or her charge all day might have more luck in monitoring and observing the appearance of their pupils and their modes of self-expression. For this age range, parent power is also more obviously in evidence.

This undergoes a massive shift when it comes to the secondary school age range. The priorities for a secondary state school’s focus of attention range from exam results to classroom discipline to league tables and reputation. The average teacher has enough to do planning, delivering and evaluating lessons, checking pupil progress, acting as a mentor and instructor and taking full part in the required range of extra school requirements, everything from breaktime duty to clubs and sports teams. They simply don’t have the time to check every face for a trace of lipstick, every finger for a ring and every bag for a mobile phone.

For some pupils, even if they do flout the rules and wear makeup or piercings or outlandish hairstyles, there may be reasons as to why a teacher will not pursue discipline. For the lower ability or less controllable child, it is often enough of a victory that they have turned up to class, sat down and produced a pencil. To add another battleground into the mix is often the end of any realistic chance of teaching an effective lesson, and so appearance related infractions are sometimes ignored. There is a great different between theory and practice when it comes to the enforcement of these rules.

There are also a multitude of other factors which cannot be legislated against which mark pupils out as different to each other. These might include:

  • Choices of food at break or lunchtime
  • The amount spent in a tuck shop
  • The design or graffiti on a school bag, notebook or folder
  • Socks – pulled up or slouched down
  • The length of a skirt (which may change in the space of seconds between walking past a teacher and walking around the corner past a group of popular boys)
  • Hair length and hair style – short, long, curly, straight, dyed, hair sprayed
  • Nail style – long, short, bitten, plain, acrylic or decorated

None of these are necessarily an infraction, either explicit or implicit, against any school rule. But they can have a massive impact upon a pupil’s perception by others and treatment by their peers.

This is before we even get into things like cultural taste, friendships, relationships and personality, or factors like sexuality, body shape, body image, race or religion.

Making girls wear school uniform desexualises them and protects them from overt and unwanted sexual attention

With statistics showing that in one year there were 3,500 fixed period exclusions and 140 expulsions from schools in England for sexual misconduct – anything from explicit graffiti to serious sexual assault, even rape – the argument that school uniforms protect school girls from being sexualised wears very thin. The notion that a prescribed mode of dress will protect a woman from sexualisation and unwanted attention is ludicrous.

With companies such as Ann Summers and marketing every type of costume from nurses, to business women to police officers, the popular career choices of women are more open to fetishisation than ever before. School uniform, as a prevalent mode of dress during the average teenager’s sexual awakening, is absolutely no different and is exploited just as much by the adult entertainment and sex industries.

If school uniform genuinely worked as a method of protecting school girls from sexualisation, there would be no market for this sort of thing:


Puberty is a time of sexual awakening; a time when young boys and young girls become interested and attracted to the bodies of those around them. School uniform has become a sexualised mode of expression simply because it is what we are forcing our young people to wear for the vast majority of their independent social interaction during this period of their lives. First crushes, even first loves, happen within this social confine and the memory of how someone wore a school uniform can be just as potent as the memory of how they dressed away from school. In the case of unrequited or distant love, the chance of seeing the focus of their affection wearing anything other than school uniform could range slim to none. These emotions are intense and complicated, even at the innocent end of the scale.

Due to marketing and advertising industries’ obsessions with using sex as a publicity tool, and the focus on marketing adult products to an  ever younger audience of teenagers and even, disturbingly, pre-teens, school pupils are becoming exposed to the idea of sexualisation at younger and younger ages. The fetishisation of school uniform costumes within the adult entertainment industry is proof positive of where this process leads – the fetishisation of childhood and pubescence.

If we wish to protect girls from sexualisation, the key is not controlling what they wear, but in tackling the rape culture which pervades our society and challenging the notion that a female body should be concealed as a form of protection. Forcing girls to wear school uniform will only make school uniform into a sexual fetish, rather than desexualising the young women trapped within it.


The argument that school uniforms will protect our children from bullying, victimisation and unwanted sexual attention has its roots in a deeply unsavoury place: that of victim shaming. The idea that if they want to be treated with respect, young people must dress in a particular way, is planted at this young age. License is given to blame those who break the rules as being responsible for their own ill-treatment, the idea that they were bringing it on themselves hangs heavy in the air.

Rather than trying to control the way our young people dress in order to protect from the unsavoury attitudes and actions of others, surely it would be better for us all to teach tolerance and acceptance and work to eradicate the idea that it is acceptable to treat some people badly due to their mode of dress, choices of food or the size of their bodies; that it is OK for us to victimise people who choose to express their individuality or deviate from an acceptable cultural norm. By enforcing school uniform as an ideal of control upon our young people when they are at their most vulnerable to other opinions and susceptible to ideas about behaviour, we are setting them up for a lifetime of paranoia and self policing, under pinned by the idea that they will be to blame if anything happens to them should they deviate from these regulations.

Return of CSSB!

We’re back, after a short break FUELLED with feminist reading and writing (with a side order of feeling under the weather).

One of the things I read during my break was a fabulous book called Vagenda – written based on this fantastic online magazine by Holly and Rhiannon. I adored reading this book, because it touched on some of the things I’ve been discussing during the Sunday Rants about the evils of the fashion industry and how it tries  to undermine and bankrupt us ladies as a consumer base. They have said all of the things I’ve been thinking and writing and much more besides, and you should all go read it. Now. Go on. Homework time. Chop chop!

As a result of realising that we are far from alone in this, CSSB now has a brand new page: Recommended Reading. As I read things which influence how I think about and write this blog, I will link them up here and please – if you see anything that should be in the list, send it my way using the contact form on the page!

Return of the 90s!

Oh God, it’s finally happened.

I remember trends that are coming back into the shops with that ‘first time around’ nostalgia that my parents kept talking about as I was growing up. That’s right – the 90s are making a comeback. All my high school hit fashions (1993 – 2000) are slowly leaking back into the shops as the hot new thing of the moment.

I remember thinking as I was growing up that the 90s didn’t have a fashion, everything was  so retro, so throw back and so rehashed that it makes vintage look positively modern. However, with a decade’s worth of hindsight, I can now see the patterns that I took for granted as normal. Not all of the 90s was bad – some of it was excruciating, but I fondly remember some of the things I wore (or wanted to wear!) as a teenager and have wished for their return for some time.

Which of these do you remember?

Satin Blouses?

Velvet Hats?

Jelly Sandals? 

Dolphin Jewellery?

Dummy Necklaces?

Velvet Chokers?

Hair wraps…

…and friendship braids??

Or were you more into ‘shag bands’?

Denim Shirts, worn as jackets or cardigans…

…or waistcoats?

Talking of cardigans… remember those ones that were worn only buttoned at the very top?

Like this?

Short tartan skirts were a thing…

(Let’s just blame Clueless for that…)

And I bet a few of us had a ‘Rachel’ cut…!


On the whole, I didn’t think 90s fashion was so bad. At least, the bits of it that I experienced and remember. Does make me wish that I hadn’t cleared out my entire wardrobe from when I was 18 though, if all these things are coming around. Although I have gone up a few sizes since then, so a reminder of that is possibly best avoided 🙂

CSSB Guest Post: Getting Started With Makeup

This guest post was written by my good friend Monica, who recently put together a little ‘starter kit’ for her 15 year old cousin who was beginning to express an interest in makeup. Everyone has to start somewhere, make up is no different. Have a look at what she has to say and her recommendations and if you have any interesting stories or recommendations about where to start with makeup, I would love to hear from you too!

First, a little backstory.

When I was a teenager, I was a makeup disaster area.  As I began to forge my own identity, I wanted to exert more control over my image (and hide my acne as best I could).  Little goth/grunger me was a big fan of black lipstick, poorly applied black eyeliner (without mascara) and layers of foundation that did not match my skintone in an attempt to hide my acne.  The foundation was probably the worst part, for which I put the blame entirely on Sarah Michelle Gellar.  She appeared in a campaign by Maybelline, and her foundation shade was listed next to the picture.  Aged thirteen, I desperately wanted to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so wearing her shade of foundation was obviously how I should begin my transformation, disregarding the fact that SMG is a California girl with clear sun-kissed skin and flowing blonde hair, and I am a brunette Londoner with skin the colour of slightly stale milk.

My family weren’t very helpful either – I had no older siblings or cousins I was close to that would take me aside and teach me the ways of skincare and makeup, my mother wasn’t interested and the rest of the adults in my life disapproved of makeup entirely for some reason – I dimly remember the words “loose morals” being thrown around regarding lipstick.

That was fourteen years ago, and these days I’ve got the makeup game pretty well figured out.  Somewhere along the line I ended up with a younger cousin (currently 15) that comes to me with all sorts of questions and crises, and as she expressed some interest in makeup, for her last birthday I put together a “makeup starter kit” for her.  I had a good long think and set some rules for buying for a teenage makeup newbie.

  • Affordability – the intended recipient should be able to replace any items once they’re finished out of their own money, if they want to.
  • Availability – items should be available on the high street, not internet-only products, as a teen probably won’t have a debit/credit card to order online.  Sadly, this immediately disqualified E.L.F, who would otherwise be perfect.
  • Quality – must be products I’d test-run or have reliable reviews.  Cheap doesn’t have to mean bad.
  • Ease of application – Perhaps not an obvious one, but for a makeup newbie ideally you’re going to want products that can be applied with fingers or included applicators, otherwise you’ll have to think about decent brushes and sponges and all sorts of things, which can get both expensive and complicated.  Keep it simple!

All together, this might add up to a decent little chunk of money, but many of these products will last a long time, and will form a solid backbone for a newbie makeup kit that will hopefully reduce the chances of the recipient walking around looking like a sad clown for a few years (as I did).

So here’s my shopping list – it’s not set in stone and there are plenty of equivalent products, so shop around and see what’s on offer!  I get most of my high-street buys from Boots as they often have 3-for-2 offers on makeup, and I use my points card pretty frequently, but most of these are available in other shops.

  1. Start with a decent moisturiser with SPF.  I am fond of Olay Sensitive Skin day cream (spf15) as it doesn’t aggravate my skin.  It’s usually £9.99 in Boots, but I tend to find it on offer in Sainsburys for £5 fairly often.  In my opinion, it’s never too early to start taking care of your skin, and the added SPF will help prevent any sun damage on the days when unexpected sunshine happens.  It’s not remotely as good as sunscreen, but it’s better than nothing.
  2. Make sure you pick up a proper makeup removing facewash – an essential item in any makeup kit, newbie or pro.  I like Garnier’s “Pure Active” 2 in 1 gel (£3.33 in Boots right now).  It’s very gentle and gets off even waterproof mascara without fuss.  They have a few different ones in the range – the oily skin one is my favourite, but think about the skin type of the person you’re buying for.  Get your recipient into the habit of removing makeup properly before bed as soon as possible, as sleeping with eye makeup on can cause all sorts of exciting eye infections (and get mascara all over the pillowcases).
  3. A concealer for blemishes.  Witch hazel and tea tree skincare/makeup products *do* work…  Eventually.  But they’re no good for the “I have a huge red spot and need to leave the house in an hour to meet my friends” panic.  For that you need a green concealer, like the Natural Collection Corrector Stick (£1.99 at Boots).  Apply and gently blend in to the problem area, and the green of the stick will help neutralise the red colour of the spot.  It won’t make it disappear, but it’ll help tone it down, which would have done wonders for my confidence as a teen.
  4. A tinted moisturiser or BB cream.  Teenage skin usually doesn’t need heavy coverage foundation, and applying foundation correctly is a skill many people never quite master, so skip that altogether and go for a lighter, easier BB cream.  My pick of the bunch for teenage skin would be Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream (£6.99 at Boots), as it contains ingredients that help calm down acne and I love products that multitask.  If that’s a bit pricey, Boots’ “Natural Collection” range has a selection of tinted moisturisers for £1.99, to name one I’ve tried and liked, but plenty of others are available.  Make sure you get something that matches the skintone of your recipient as best you can, to try to avoid looking like an oompa-loompa.
  5. A lip tint.  You could go for a traditional lipstick if you like, but my aim was to try to keep things subtle and fresh (to avoid getting my cousin into trouble at school), so I went for a tinted lip balm.  There’s approximately a billion different types, but my current favourite is Maybelline Baby Lips in “Pink Punch” (£2.99 Boots).  It’s light, easy to apply, SPF20, and gives a nice natural-looking tint.
  6. Mascara doesn’t have to be big, bold and spidery.  A clear mascara, such as Boots Natural Collection in Clear (£1.99) will help define eyelashes and make eyes look a bit brighter, and won’t get a teenager in trouble at school for wearing makeup.  If you want to include a dark one for party-time and weekends, I would strongly recommend Max Factor Clump Defy (£10.99 Boots).  Max Factor is the sister brand of Covergirl USA, and Clump Defy is the British branding for the venerated Clump Crusher mascara, which is considered to be the Holy Grail of mascara by beauty reviewers all over the internet.  In Ronseal style, it does exactly what it says on the tin (well, tube), and does not clump.  At £10.99 this is the most expensive product on the list, but it is totally worth it.
  7. Eyeliner.  It took me years to overcome my eyeliner-disaster phase, probably because felt tip eyeliners didn’t exist back then.  Collection 2000 felt tip eyeliner (£2.99 Boots) is basically perfect.  It’s cheap, really easy to use and lasts for ages once applied.  I’ve tried several more high-end versions and keep coming back to this one, none of the other high-street brands really come close for staying power.  Sadly, they don’t do it in brown, so for a less dramatic alternative, get a nice soft brown kohl pencil like Model’s Own Eyeliner (£4 Boots) – it comes with a smudge sponge and a sharpener.  I’m also fond of the Eye Definer pencils from the Body Shop, as they are the softest eye pencils I’ve ever used, but at £8 they are a bit pricey for a newbie.
  8. Blush.  I’d consider this optional as it’s so easy to get blush wrong, but I got one for my little makeup-newbie so she could play around and see if she liked it.  If you’re using a liquid base layer (like a BB cream) you’ll want a cream blush (powder will often cake up and look weird over a liquid base unless you have both the skill and the correct brushes).  MUA Blusher Perfection Cream in “Dolly” (£2 Superdrug) would be my recommendation – it’s a nice gentle peach colour that should suit most skin types.

I haven’t included any eyeshadow in my makeup starter kit as I consider eyeshadow to be a more advanced technique (and specific eyeshadow brushes are all but essential in my opinion).  I’ll probably put a little eyeshadow kit together for my cousin’s next birthday (including diagrams), but for the time being this is plenty of stuff to get started with.  While this was put together with a teenager in mind, it’s just as applicable for anybody of any age who is entering the world of makeup and feeling a bit lost.