Look Good

Pick-me-up products: 30 under £30

From beauty and homeware to things to eat, drink and do – we’ve got you covered.

Written by High Life North
Published 03.07.2020

By Jenny Brownlees

Whether it’s a new beauty buy or a kit to bake or craft, there’s no doubt a little retail therapy indulgence can perk us up – and boy do we need that now more than ever.

It may well feel like the world has ground to a halt, so bringing things into your space that entertain or spark joy is an ideal mood-booster.

Consider these buys a gift from you to you, or if you’re in need of an idea for a gift for loved one –birthdays are still happening, even if we’re not celebrating the way we usually would – these Quaran-treats are guaranteed to lift spirits. Whilst obviously material goods are no substitute for life being back to normal, if you were going to treat yourself to one thing this month, we’ve rounded up the goodies we think will put a smile on your face.

Many are ideal for passing the time until we can meet pals properly again, and lots are perfect for this gentle easing-out-of-lockdown period, (chic picnic blanket for a socially distanced outdoor meetup, anyone?)

Treats this way…

Missing your café coffee? Allow Tynemouth Coffee to bring their delicious wares to your home with their choice of aromatic coffees. You can buy this butterscotch, milk chocolate and almond blend in an abundance of forms from grind and filter to the beans themselves. Ideal for taking five in your comfy home café.

Our go-to feel-better-near-instantly trick is applying a great red lipstick. YSL Rouge Pur Couture is the ideal suit-all shade.

A wonderful way to keep the kids entertained whilst you sample their yummy creations. This set makes 20-25 doughnut-shaped biscuits that can be craftily decorated by your expert mini chef(s).

This Sunday Times bestseller is a real tonic in these troubled times. Set in the idyllic Greek island of Hydra in 1960, a time when writers, artists, poets and musicians congregated on the island – resulting in both community and chaos. This tale explores a life of bohemia – following Erica and boyfriend Jimmy’s trip to Hydra, as their lives intertwine with those already in the colony. Whilst these two characters are fictional, all others are real. Take Leonard Cohen, his muse Marianne, Beat poet Gregory Corso and many more characters of sixties fame. This blissful book is a real treat, whether you already know anything about this fascinating moment in time or not.

Thanks to lockdown, jigsaws have seen a real revival. A new trend for contemporary illustrated puzzles offer a wonderful escape – equal parts relaxing, brain-teasing and involving no screen time.

An at-home manicure is an easy way to raise the spirit. We love the trend for tonal nails, and this set has made it even easier to achieve the graded look. Plus, in terms of lasting quality, you can’t beat Nails Inc.

Looking after a houseplant has a wonderful effect on our mental health. If you’re looking for a green-leafed buddy that’s easy to care for, a Dieffenbachia is ideal. Their pretty patterned leaves like morning and evening sunlight and require watering once a week.

Best friends Kirsty and Claire have created these incredible afternoon tea boards consisting of freshly made sandwiches on bloomer bread, gourmet pork pies and quiches, homemade Scones with clotted cream and jam, homemade cupcakes, brownies, blondies, tarts and deconstructed Eton Mess. All come beautifully decorated with handpicked seasonal flowers for a true lunchtime treat.

If savoury is more your thing, Two Little Birds also offer sumptuous charcuterie grazing boards. Both are available for pre-order, with 48-hour notice required. They told HLN that for the time being, they are delivering in the Teesside area only. However, customers from around the North East are able to collect the goodies at no extra cost.

The INKEY List changed the skincare game in 2018, by creating science-led products that celebrate the power of a single ingredient – all for under £15. Now, they’ve done the same for haircare. Using results-driven ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Salicylic Acid and Caffeine the potent products address concerns including dullness, thinness, dryness, greys and more. We have been using the Vitamin C Brightening Treatment to give our locks a boost until hairdressers reopen. And despite our notoriously precarious oily hair type, their Shea Oil Nourishing Hair Treatment is the only moisturising oil that has ever left our locks nourished without being greasy.

Treated yourself to a bunch of summer blooms? Display them in this pretty vase, in on-trend natural tones. Lift your mood, and your interiors.

The perfect throw-on-and-go dress, this will be our uniform for the sunny days ahead.

This fruity elderflower-infused gin is just the thing for a refreshing evening tipple in the late-day sun. Serve in a large glass filled with ice, a mixer of your choosing and a garnish of fresh berries.

Irish writer Caroline O’Donoghue’s latest novel is set to be the book of the summer, pre-ordering now means a copy will land on your doormat as soon as it’s released next month, a future gift from yours truly. This darkly comic tale of self-discovery sees protagonists Charlie and her best friend Laura journey to her ancestral home of Clipim, an island off the west coast of Ireland. Laura hopes to connect with her father’s past before she loses him, Charlie clings to the idea of her Irish roots offering some kind of solace. When the girls arrive, Charlie begins to question both her difficult relationship with Laura and her father’s childhood stories. Before long, she’s embroiled in a devastating conspiracy that’s been sixty years in the making . . . and it’s up to her to reveal the truth of it. O’Donoghue’s sharp writing makes this beautiful character-driven tale raw and compelling, with a plot that keeps you enthralled from beginning to end. Marian Keyes called Scenes Of A Graphic Nature, ‘Whipsmart and witty’ and we couldn’t agree more.

If you feel better with a bronzed glow (us too) top up your tan by adding Tan Luxe’s The Face to your favourite moisturiser or serum. A mere few drops will give you a faux been-abroad glow, even if you haven’t been further than the local supermarket.

This vegan mix is a foolproof solution to make delicious treats, every time. A pre-weighed mix also offers an easy (and less messy) way to bake with small children. Simply add vegetable oil and water for 16 delicious brownie slices. No baking disasters here.

Got a calendar full of socially distanced park meetups? Add this chic blanket to your outdoor-attire to catch up in style and comfort.

Beautiful stationery evokes the feeling of a fresh start for us – perhaps it’s that new-school feeling. Why not turn this into an activity, bringing back the art of letter writing by penning a note to friends and family? You might just make someone’s day.

Tortoiseshell will never go out of fashion – fact. Here, the classic print is updated with irregular shaped frames that look well beyond their price point.

A gift from you to you, or the perfect ‘little something’ for a loved one. These scalloped biscuits are as aesthetically pleasing as they are tasty.

We can’t get enough of Ajouter’s affordable accessories. Even if you’re not shopping for new outfits RN, this trending print scrunchie is a great way to inject a sense of summer into your wardrobe.

Now more than ever, your home is your sanctuary. Cheer up your space with this pretty plant pot from Oliver Bonas – shelfie snap at the ready.

A small buy that incorporates an activity is always a winner in our eyes. Foundland is full of sweet products that’d make anyone smile, but we think our favourite is their curation of plantable seeds, inspired by flowers in poetry. Scatter and watch the growth of vibrant Heartease, (the whole flower is edible so can garnish puddings or salads) Forget Me Not’s, Love in A Mist and Night Flowering Catchfly’s. Easily grown, these blooms will delight any garden and beautifully accompany alfresco dining.

Whether you’re heading to the beach, park or countryside the lack of open bars and restaurants means a picnic is often required. We’re packing our lunchtime goodies in this stylish printed cool bag from M&S.

Books That Matter is putting women’s writing in the spotlight, with the view to empower and inspire women and girls through literature. Each month, their bestselling subscription box is filled with a book by a female author, and at least 3 themed gifts by independent female creatives.

A relaxing craft project can be just the thing to ease the lockdown blues. We love this uplifting embroidery kit by Cotton Clara. The sunny yellow colour and powerful slogan will not only offer a no-screen activity, but will brighten up your walls.

Treat yourself to a bouquet that will last, and check-off the rustic-chic trend on your interiors list.

As the forecast predicts a late-July heatwave, remember the skin on your scalp can also burn – protect it with this fashion-forward gingham hat, looking good as a by-product.

If your lockdown tresses need a lift, adding a stylish accessory is a simple way to up your hair-game.

It seems these last few months being stuck at home has turned us all green-fingered. Tend to your outdoor space (however big or small) in style with this metallic toolset from Arket.

Middlesbrough-based Rock and Rose Girls is a treasure trove of jewellery and accessories. We adore the print of their summery Cecily scarf. Knot around your favourite handbag’s handles to give it a new lease of life, wear in the hair or as a neck scarf – the possibilities are endless.

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