Beauty blogger Jenny, from Hornchurch, on how to get your (manicured) hands on freebies

�They say the best things in life are free – but as every girl knows it takes a lot of dough to keep yourself looking good, especially to Essex standards.

Mother-of-two Jennifer Townsend, from Hornchurch, decided she wasn’t prepared to go without and has taken matters into her own (perfectly manicured) hands.

The former sales rep, from Slewins Close, was made redundant in 2009 and since then husband 49-year-old Nicholas Tuff, a gardener, has been the sole breadwinner.


But this month Jennifer set up blog, Beauty on a Budget, to pass on tips about looking good for less – or even better, for free.

And Mark McCullum – assistant to fashion guru Gok Wan – has even promised to give it a read!

Jennifer’s blog followed a serious bout of post-natal depression after children Layla, three, and Jamie, one, were born.

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“I had a really traumatic experience at the hospital where I gave birth to Layla,” she explained. “And last year, after Jamie, I was feeling a bit down about my appearance. I had two toddlers and no time for myself.

“Like most people I don’t have money to spare, so I found I could do modelling for local beauty academies – I was their salon guinea pig!”

Jennifer, 36, also advertised her services as a “guinea pig” on website Gumtree, and the freebies flooded in. I wanted other people to know what was out there, especially other busy mums, so I started writing about it,” she said.

Her two-week-old blog has already had 195 views and has been receiving high praise from other mothers on parenting website Netmums.

Since then salons, academies and companies have been falling over themselves to give Jennifer treatments.

To date she’s had: makeup tattoos; eyelash extensions; haircut and blow-dry; acrylic nails; manicures and pedicures; Indian head massage and a full body massage.

Jennifer said the experience has transformed her life: “The funny thing is, I’d never had a beauty treatment done in my life before I started this but now I feel so much better than I’ve done in a long time – inside and out.”

n For Jennifer’s tips go to: