Strapped for cash but still want that dopamine hit you get from deliveries? Here's what to put in your basket

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I was under the impression that I'd been saving loads of money in lockdown. I mean I haven’t been eating out, visiting Zara on a daily basis, travelling to and from work, buying endless coffees and overly priced salads etc. Instead, I have been safely ensconced in the confines of my home, bank card hidden away in the recesses of a long since forgotten handbag.

What I didn’t account for though is that I have a very trigger happy finger that likes to click on things and that in these hard times, the anticipation of the arrival of a lovely delivery is a buzz that has become addictive and emotionally fulfilling. Looking at my (rather depleted) bank account I was reminded of the many random purchases I have made over the past weeks. Guilt at keeping the kids away from school and their friends has led me to buy them rollerskates, a little yellow digger with dodgy wiring that plays horrific music, a unicorn toy in a bag, two singing “Waffle Doggies” (Waffle Doggy is a talking dog… find him on CBeebies and endless educational books). I’ve bought my husband a hair trimmer that has led to the worst hairstyle of his life, copious amounts of posh chocolate (does Tony’s Chocoloney count as posh?) and Rioja and for me, there have been various takes on the leisurewear theme including floral ASOS PJS , Scamp and Dude sweater s, a home manicure kit, a Thank You NHS T-shirt, patterned Vistaprint facemasks for the whole family and countless beauty purchases inspired by various recommendations from the guests on my podcast. Oh and did I mention that most of my freelance work has dried up? What on earth have I been playing at?

I know I’m not the only one doing manic Corona shopping. I have questioned five separate friends and colleagues who are all guilty of the above. It seems that initial panic buying has switched to pleasure buying. Loo rolls and tins of baked beans have been replaced by Neom candles  and Hush PJs . This is good of course; the economy needs all the help it can get, but for those of us who need to look after our money (me) it might be time to take stock. I’m not saying that we should stop spending but that perhaps we should do so a bit more wisely.

So, with my beauty hat on, I’m going to list my favourite, brilliantly effective but beautifully affordable beauty products. I have tried and tested them all and they really work. They’re not especially sexy and many of them are frill-free but once you see how effective they are, they should give you that much-needed shopping thrill. I have also included a few more expensive equivalents just in case you haven’t been furloughed and you’re feeling a bit flush.

The do it all moisturiser

Cerave Moisturising Cream, £5

I can’t explain the pleasure that this cream gives me. You can use it on both your body and face, it sinks in beautifully and is brimming with ceramides and hyaluronic acid so leaves the skin feeling plump and hydrated. It's great if you have sensitive skin, is fragrance-free and is an all-round genius product. You can’t go wrong.

If you're feeling a bit more spendy, I recommend Kiehl’s Crème de Corps , £18.50. While it can’t be used on the face, it remains one of my absolute favourite body moisturisers. There is something wonderful about smoothing the unctuous yellow cream on your legs and it really does leave your skin beautifully soft and supple. It’s been a cult product for ages and every time I use it I’m reminded why

Buy Cerave now

Pedicure in a tube

Flexitol Heel Balm , £5.09

There is nothing sexy about this but my goodness does it work. If you have dry, cracked feet then smother this on every night, put some socks on and you won’t believe the difference that it makes. For the bigger budget try Margaret Dabbs Foot Hygiene Cream , £20. This moisturising balm is really good. It leaves your feet soft but also controls odour and athletes foot. A brilliant all-rounder.

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The must-have hair product

Batiste for Brunettes, £2.99

I have never met a dry shampoo that isn’t slightly flawed. The ones that don’t leave a white residue often give a bit of an oily sheen (do you know what I mean?) and then the ones that do are often impossible to blend so you really do end up with hair that looks a bit ashen (particularly if like me you’re a brunette). However many so-called wonder products I try I always come back to this. It has a dash of colour in it which detracts from the powdery look and always makes my hair look fresh with a bit of oomph.

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The amazing eye concealer

Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer, £8.99

The original and the best. This concealer gives beautiful coverage and blends really well. It’s the perfect affordable alternative to Charlotte Tilbury’s iconic Magic Away Concealer , £24.

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The powerful vitamin C

Garden Of Wisdom Vitamin C Serum 23% + Ferulic Acid, £10

If you’re after an excellent and affordable vitamin C serum then this is the one for you. It definitely gives Skinceuticals CE Ferulic , £140, a run for its money it the brightening stakes.

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The youth serum

The Ordinary Buffet , £12.70 for 30ml

I, like many others, absolutely adore Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair  but it's rather costly in this current climate - £58 for 30ml. For a more budget option, I love The Ordinary's Buffet , £12.70. It has same the same probiotic ferment in as ANR, as well as the anti-wrinkle peptide Matrixyl 3000.

I can't talk about serums without mentioning Merumaya's Iconic Youth Serum , £43. The Ordinary and ANR are gel-like, while this has a creamier texture and is brimming with active ingredients. Merumaya is an independent British brand; the founder Maleka puts her heart and soul into the brand and I love her take on what beauty really means. All of her products perform well but this serum is beautifully formulated and is a pleasure to use.

Nicola Bonn is the host of the  Outspoken Beauty Podcast

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