Category Archives: Beauty

I’m trying to go poo-less

I did something rad this morning – I washed my hair without shampoo.  That’s right, I was ‘poo-less’.  I read that a solution of bicarbonate of soda (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water) would work well and be kinder to the hair and even though it sounds dodgy, I reasoned that we do know that sodium bicarbonate has a reputation for dissolving grease and grime and neutralising odours.  So, purely in the interests of science, I gave it a go. 

I wet my hair then gently rubbed the solution into my scalp (because that’s the bit that gets the most dirty – well, obviously)!  There is, of course no lather so I was a bit skeptical.  (Here’s an interesting, but relevant aside: Did you know that manufacturers actually put a bubble-making agent into washing-up liquid?  It’s pretty much unnecessary but market research has shown that we consumers didn’t trust the liquid to work without those bubbles.  Humans …such simple creatures). 

Anyhoo, I left the bicarb solution in my hair for a few minutes whilst I got on with washing my bod and then I rinsed my hair.  I was genuinely surprised at how much styling gunk came out – impressive.  I finished by conditioning the ends with a solution of 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to 1 cup of water.  Leave for a minute, then rinse. 

All very New Age.  All very Hippy Dippy Mother Earth and importantly, good for the body and good for the environment.  No sodium lauryl sulphate [SLS] – which makes those highly desired bubbles.   (Whether or not you believe the links between SLS and cancer, this substance does seem to commonly cause scalp irritation so may actually be causing or contributing to your dandruff, if you have it).

So what’s the verdict on today’s experiment?

Surprisingly, my hair doesn’t look half bad.  It appears pretty clean and is less fly-away than usual.  I’m not converted yet however because the poo gives a nice smell and there is, of course, no perfume in this simple bicarb mix.  BUT, maybe I can remedy that with a herbal rinse – rosemary water is good for red/brunette hair.

As my hair is less fly-away, this suggests that some oil still remains.  In all fairness that makes for a healthier scalp, but will it mean that my hair needs washing more often than the every 2-3 days it gets now?  If that’s the case, I’d be using the curling tongs more often – bad news for luscious locks and more time-consuming in the styling department. (Make no mistake, styling my hair is a given if I want to avoid looking like I’ve just been connected up to the electrical supply).

So there we are – an interesting experiment.  We’ll see how it pans out over the next few days.

Anyone had any experience with this poo-less life?  How did you get on?


This article also appears at my other WordPress site.



Filed under Beauty, environment, health

Sleep, Rest and Recoup


Tips for a restful night’s sleep

If you’re reading this, logic tells me that you are concerned about lack of sleep.  First of all, it’s important to say that  while 8 hours is the accepted norm for a good night’s sleep, you needn’t necessarily feel bad because you routinely sleep for less than this.  Some people actually only need 4 hours (Margaret Thatcher being a famous example), while others are out for the count for a full 12 (just about every teenager on the planet).  

However, sleep deprivation, when your body is telling you that you need more rest (!),  can be both debilitating and depressing and no one really wants to resort to potentially addictive chemicals to solve the problem. There are so many possible causes, cures and herbal remedies that I thought it might be helpful to put together a whole list of them.  I hope you’ll find something here to help. 

Herbal Help

Lavender has been known for centuries to induce relaxation and can be used in a number of ways: a couple of drops of essential oil sprinkled on the corner of your pillow will help, as will  lavender oil in a cold diffuser placed in the lavender-1bedroom.

A warm bath, at the optimum time of two hours before bed, helps to regulate body temperature to an ideal level and is particularly helpful when combined with lavender products like bubble bath and body lotion.

Herbal teas can also prove useful – chamomile and valerian (which is often combined with hops) are both well-known for aiding relaxation and sleep.  While both will help with insomnia, I’ve read recently that valerian, especially when combined with ‘chaste tree’ may help with sleep maintenance. 

Extra help and accepted wisdom

Even 20 minutes of gentle exercise during the day can help to stop stress hormones from interfering with sleep.

Try to avoid heavy meals just before bed – a minimum two hour gap between meal and bed is a good idea.

art-deco-girl-11Avoid caffeine drinks like regular tea, coffee and cola in the evening.

Is your actual bed ‘up to muster’?  The lifespan of a bed depends largely upon quality but as a rule of thumb, if your bed is ten to twelve years old you should probably replace it.  (Here’s a tip: If you suffer from backache, it may just be your bed)!

Equally, do you need new pillows?  There are a huge variety of pillows out there – foam, feather, down – and it may just be that a change of pillow would help you get a restful night’s sleep.

Try to avoid sheets with a high synthetic content.  Sheets with a high cotton content allow your skin to breathe, which in turn makes the bed feel more comfortable.  (I tend to buy sheets with a maximum cotton / minimum polyester content, simply because I’ve found some pure cotton sheets can be an absolute swine to launder).


Try to ensure that your bedroom is furnished fairly simply and is clutter free.  Psychologically, a clutter free bedroom makes for a calmer and more relaxing atmosphere.

Look at using colours for walls, carpets and soft furnishings that you personally find relaxing.  Traditionally shades of blue and green evoke feelings of calm and relaxation in many people but you may have something else in mind.  (For example, I always seem to opt for gentle creams). 

Try not to watch TV or work in bed.  Your bedroom should become associated in your mind with your own haven of peace and utter relaxation.

off-to-bed1The best temperature for a relaxed sleep is surprisingly cool, i.e. 68 degrees.  Fit individual thermostats to radiators if you can so that you can keep your bedroom at this temperature (and save money)!

It goes without saying that minimising noise and light will also help – it’s strange but true that even though you are asleep you will become aware of increasing light levels in a room where the curtains / blinds allow the morning light to percolate through.

If you live in a quiet area and it is safe to do so, leaving a ‘top light’ /small window slightly ajar to let in some fresh air is a good idea.  Good sleep doesn’t happen easily in a stuffy, ‘sealed’ room with stale air.

Less obvious but worth mentioning anyway:

Airing the room each day, allowing a fresh supply of oxygen to flow through your room will keep it smelling sweet and welcoming.

Toss back the covers each morning to allow cool air to permeate the bed covers.  Even half an hour of this while you shower will keep the bed smelling fresh (not to mention keeping any mites at bay)!

Make the bed each day – an un-made bed doesn’t exactly call you to its gentle embrace, now does it?

Change the bed sheets each week (hopefully you knew that one already)!


I really, really hope something here will be of help.  Let me know how you get on and…

Remember if this is an on-going problem and you feel at all concerned you should still talk to your doctor.


Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty, General Health, General house tips, General tips, Herbal alternatives

Home facial

Facial maskHaving a facial at a beauty salon is a wonderful experience – the luxury to lie back feeling pampered and pretty under the hands of an expert in the art of beauty care.  Sadly, most of us can’t afford to do this more than very occasionally, but there is no reason why we need to forego the benefits of a facial.  You can easily do your own at home and if you make an occasion of it, by setting aside some time  just for you, in a warm and comfortable atmosphere, perhaps with some gentle music and a scented candle or two, you can not only pamper your skin but also pamper your soul.

I’m going to give you the basic run-down of what to do and when, but the products you use will depend on your own skin type, budget and what are simply your favourites.  What I mention here are only suggestions therefore, or they may be products that I myself use.  

Before you begin, this is what you will need:Homebeauty care

A face cleanser to remove make-up (I tend to use Olay cleansing wipes)

An exfoliating cream – Simple Cleansing Scrub & Clinique Exfoliating Scrub are both effective but, importantly, gentle 

Skin toner – such as l’Oreal Visible Radiance or Clarins Toning Lotion

A face mask – very dependant on skin type, so check what it says on the packet.   (I often use Clarins ‘Beauty Flash Balm’ as a face pack as its not too drying on my skin)

Moisturisers – one for the eye area and one for the face and neck (For me it’s a l’Oreal product for the area around my eyes and a Dior creme on my face)

A nice, big fluffy towel for drying your face and to create a ‘tent’ to trap steam over a basin or bowl.

A kitchen timer or watch

Some cotton wool or cotton pads

Facial tissues


The facial:

First, clean your face to remove any makeup or grime.

Gently exfoliate using your favourite product.  Remove the cream following the product instructions then finish by using toner (this helps to remove any last traces of cream)

Fill a bowl or basin with hot water.  Put the timer on for 5 minutes and bend over the water, tenting the towel over your head.  Don’t get too close to the water – the aim is to simply have your face in a steamy atmosphere for a few minutes in order to open up the skin’s pores (this will allow the next stage to give maximum benefit).

Apply the face packAfter 5 minutes, gently dab your face dry and apply your face pack.  Sit back or lie down and relax for the recommended amount of time.

Remove the face pack, blot the skin dry and apply your favourite moisturisers.  After a few minutes, finish your facial by blotting your skin with a tissue to remove any excess moisturiser. 

That’s it.  It hasn’t cost you a fortune and you should now be feeling pampered and pretty with soft, healthy looking skin.  A weekly facial like this improves the look of, and helps to keep the skin in tip top condition.

Home Spa


You can read my personal blog here

1 Comment

Filed under Beauty

In the right light

Applying lipstickPhotographers understand that the light cast at differing times of day greatly alters the way colours look.  Artists know that the best, consistent, light to paint by is that cast from a north facing window.  Equally, crafters realise that in order to see ‘true’ colours they need to work  by the light of a north facing window or to purchase special ‘blue light’ crafters’ bulbs. 

In exactly the same way, you are the artist of your own face when you apply your make-up, so if you have the option, for best results work in natural light, facing a north aspect window.


Filed under Beauty

Beautiful Eyes: Preventing & dealing with dark circles

Beautiful eyesAs the new year comes around we all tend to take a critical look at ourselves and if what you see in the mirror right now isn’t quite what you’d like to be seeing, then the following may interest you.  Set out below are a few pointers for anyone concerned about dark circles under their eyes. 

The most obvious and common cause of dark circles is a lack of several good nights’ sleep  – the perceived wisdom being that a minimum 8 hours per night is needed for optimum benefit.  Alcohol consumption alters the quality of our sleep, so if you’ve crashed out for an 11 hour session in bed after an all-night bender, the fact of the matter is that you may still be sorely in need of a good night’s sleep!

Alcohol consumption generally may also have put your kidneys and/or liver under stress and an outward symptom of that is dark circles under the eyes.  Do your system a favour, therefore, by cutting out the alcohol in favour of cool, clear water and those dark circles may soon be a thing of the past. 

Equally, poor diet can put our liver and kidneys under strain.  Increase your intake of green, leafy vegetables and fresh fruit and avoid heavy foods like butter, cream, rich salad dressings and chocolate.  Cut out fried food, coffee and any heavily processed food and drinks.

Dark rings under the eyes can be a sign of anaemia (a lack of iron in the diet).  The remedy may be to follow the dietary advice above but if this is an on-going problem, or you are in any way concerned, you should certainly visit your doctor for advice.

Unfortunately some of us are pre-disposed through our genetic make-up to have dark circles under our eyes and it’s a problem that becomes worse as we age and the skin under the eyes becomes thinner.  If you think this may be the case for you then relatively inexpensive cosmetic eye creams may help disguise the problem as many have light reflecting properties that make the eye area look generally lighter and more youthful.  (Look for something, for example, like l’Oreal eye cream, formulated and packaged for men and women). Don’t use regular moisturiser on the eye area.  It’s too heavy and may weigh the skin down, causing bags! 

Concealer may also help, although you need to use a light hand when applying it.  (I’m not making any money out of recommending this but I’ve always found Yves Saint Laurent ‘Touche Eclat’ (Radiant Touch) to be very useful when I need a fake boost.  Again, use it judiciously or else you will look like a panda)!

Remember, in all cases, if you are at all concerned, or it is an on-going problem a quick visit to the doctor is probably in order.


You can read my personal blog here

Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty, General Health

All about scent

Little Pink Rose

Here are some facts, pointers and advice about one of my favourite subjects – perfume.

Perfume is a carefully balanced blend of oil, combined with alcohol, essential oils and often chemical scents.   Sometimes described as having  ‘top notes’ of certain plants, this simply means that these are the scents that hit you first.  For example, Chanel No. 5 has, amongst others, top notes of ylang-yang and neroli but then gives way to ‘middle notes’ of rose and jasmine before revealing the woody ‘base notes’ of sandalwood and vanilla.  These layers are present in all good perfumes and it’s why, when buying a new perfume, you should always spray on a sample and then walk away for 10 minutes or so.  What you smell initially may delight you.  What is left after that initial spritz may be less appealing!  It’s also important to do this as perfume reacts differently on different skin.  What is great on your friend might be truly horrible on you.  (There is, for example, a perfume that I really like on other people that always, genuinely, smells like cat pee on me)!

Getting an idea of these ‘notes’ in your favourite perfumes will help guide you to new scents that you might like because fragrance falls into categories: Florals (rose, gardenia, lilac, jasmine etc.), Exotic (musk, ylang, ylang, vanilla), Spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves), Wood (pine, sandalwood, cedar), Fruit (lemon, orange, peach) and Herbal (lavender, bay, sage).  Suppliers of perfume on the web often list the scent ingredients that make up a fragrance.  If you look up your favourite perfumes you may spot a common trend!

The purest form of your favourite scent you are likely to find available for sale will be ‘Eau de Parfum’ (EDP).  This is because the blend in its original form (Parfum) is so highly concentrated that it may actually cause allergic skin reactions.  To produce Eau de Parfum the scent has been diluted with ethanol, water or a neutral smelling oil or wax.  EDP is obviously the most expensive form of a scent because it contains, in proportion, more of the original blend of ingredients (approx. 30%) that make it smell so attractive. 

When the original scent has been diluted further it becomes Eau de Toilette (EDT) and occasionally you will find available Eau de Cologne or ‘Splash’, the weakest form of the perfume, often only containing 1-3% of its original scented compounds. 

Quite obviously these different versions smell very different and it may well be that you prefer the lighter fragrance of an Eau de Toilette.  However, if you really like a scent don’t be put off by the expense of a bottle of Eau de Parfum.  The greater concentration of the fragrant ingredients means that you can apply less to produce the same result and the scent is likely to last longer on your skin.    

Here are a few tips for applying and wearing perfume:

No perfume will last more than a few hours and so will have to be topped up during the day if you want to maintain the effect.  Pretty handbag sprays are often available of favourite perfumes.

Layering is the best way to make your scent last longer.  Use something like shower gel and then body lotion in the same range, finishing with a light spray of perfume, highlighting the pulse points.  

Pulse points on your body are areas where blood flow is closest to the surface of the skin, meaning that they stay warm – wrists, temples, backs of knees, inside elbows, behind the earlobes.  Perfume reacts to warmth by releasing more of its aroma.

For a more subtle effect, spray your perfume just in front of you and immediately walk through the mist so that it is dispersed all over you.

If you tend to stick with one perfume you can scent non-delicate, natural fabrics like cotton and linen, giving your clothes your signature scent.  Spray from a distance of 12-15 inches.  (Be very careful with this: perfume will stain silk and many synthetic fabrics).   This is not something I personally recommend by the way, simply because of the possibility of damaging my clothes and the fact that I tend to change my perfume depending on my mood and the time of year.

Last pointer, and it’s an important one.  Don’t ‘ladle’ on perfume.  Subtlety is the key. You want to drift by, leaving a delicate and enticing trail of loveliness behind you, not move along,  leaving in your wake a trail of poor asthmatics gasping for air and the noses of others kicking and screaming for mercy.

1 Comment

Filed under Beauty, General tips

Say cheese please

Teeth to be proud of!If you’ve had a meal ending in something sticky you might think that it would be a good idea to eat a crunchy apple to clean your teeth.  Apples, whilst being good for you in many ways, wont be doing your teeth any favours when used as a cleaner because the fruit acids in them tend to attack tooth enamel.  You’d be far better off eating a cube of cheese. 

Cheese helps to prevent the bacteria on your teeth from turning sugar into damaging acids, it increases the flow of saliva, neutralising any acids and helping to flush them away, and the high calcium and phosphorous content in cheese may also help by replacing some of the minerals in your tooth enamel. 

So next time, just say cheese please.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty, General Health