My love affair with Nivea Crème – the £1 skin secret that really does work

Nivea Creme the retro secret to prettier skin

Nivea Creme the retro secret to prettier skin

I’m a self-confessed skincare junkie and in my 34 years on this planet, believe me I’ve tried a lot of products on my face with varying results, but more often than not, after forking out a pretty penny, I’ve sadly been disappointed.

I remember once splashing out nearly £50 on a serum I can’t remember the name of now it was so entirely underwheleming, which, according to the over-enthusiastic salon assistant, was just what my blotchy, hyper-pigmented skin needed.

Uh uh.  It did precisely diddly squat for my pigmentation, but what it did do, and rather effectively too, was make my wallet considerably lighter.  Ditto a huge slew of other much hyped, over-priced, and relatively ineffective products which shall remain nameless, and which are largely forgotten, though not forgiven. 

One particularly expensive purchase even brought me out in hives, and even now, when I see the aforementioned offending product, I glare at it with such ferocity that anyone around me might think I were about to go all schizoid.

Despite the ups and downs though, skincare and I have found ourselves irresistibly attracted to one another throughout the years, with some singularly intense love affairs here and there, but until recently I had yet to find “the one”. 

There was a flirtation with Esteee Lauder’s Idealist, with its promise to minimize my pores, that seemed like a truly inspired idea, until I realised t it was actually causing me to produce excess sebum and therefore having the exact opposite effect.

Then there was my dalliance with L’Occitane’s Red Rice Cream, a product that did mop up my oilies and mattify my complexion wonderfully, though it wasn’t a perfect match perhaps, as sadly all that mattifying wound up a little too drying.  Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise it’s now been discontinued as I might have ended up resembling a prune.  

And then of course there was Crème De La Mer.  I’d heard the hype surrounding this much lauded “miracle” product for years, but on a paltry writer’s budget, even with my tendency to splurge on skincare, even I couldn’t justify the exorbitant price tag. I mean even the smallest pot of this stuff weighs in at well over £100.

So it wasn’t until I’d somehow managed to charm a Crème De La Mer sales assistant into parting with two deluxe sample pots of the stuff that I actually got to try the famed “miracle broth” out for myself.  Miracle broth it certainly ain’t, though it is pleasant enough to use, but did it do anything outstanding during the month I trialled it?  No it did not.  And is it worth £100?  Definitely not.

Which brings me to Nivea crème.  That’s right, the stuff sold for £1 everywhere, in the iconic blue pot that your Grandma kept on her dresser, the one that smelled vaguely perfumed, like proper old fashioned cream used to smell before all this fragrance free hypoallergenic malarkey.

The irony is, that it was while I was researching the ingredients for Crème De La Mer, which is of course one of the most expensive creams on sale, seeing if I could possibly justify the completely ridiculous cost, that I made a rather startling but not entirely unpleasant discovery.

A lot of the ingredients in £100+ Crème De La Mer, over half in fact, are the exact same ones used in Nivea Crème sold for £1! 

Now this is not new information at all, there have been quite a few articles talking about the similarities between the two, but to my mind it was definitely worth investigating.

Granted the famous “seaweed extract” wasn’t included in the Nivea version, along with some other so called actives, but during the course of my research, I also discovered that these so called proven active ingredients are actually completely unproven scientifically to have any measurable benefit to the skin.

So I bought a pot of Nivea and decided to try it out for myself.  It’s been about a week now and I’ve been using it every night before I go to sleep.  It is a little greasy on first application but actually it sinks in a lot quicker than I thought it would. I was initially wary about all the grease, since I have a combo skin type with a tendency to overproduce oil, but it’s been fine and I’ve had no problems with it whatsoever.  Plus my skin also suffers from dehydration, so I figured the Nivea would be good for that, which it definitely has been.

I actually really like the luxurious feel of it, it feels like I’m applying a proper “crème” and, having used Crème De La Mer I can testify that the two do feel very similar, in texture.  I’ve noticed, since using Nivea, that my skin has looked plumper and much more glowy, something I have to say, I can’t recall actually noticing when I was using Crème De La Mer.   At the risk of sounding like an advert for the stuff,  I like the way it makes my skin feel and look, I even use a light dab or two around my eyes, and love the way it seems to make the area look smoother and much less crepey.

I love a lot about that iconic little blue pot and it seems I’m in good company too, Kate Middleton, Reece Witherspoon, and Kate Winslet, have all attested to being fans of Nivea.

  Celebrity following or no, in my opinion this stuff really works and it has to be said, after having parted with vast sums of cash for products that under-performed, or worse yet, didn’t perform at all,  what I love most of all about Nivea crème is the price – a paltry £1 – now you really can’t beat that. 



Non-Surgical ways to look great

Used sparingly Botox can sneakily perk up a face

Used sparingly Botox can sneakily perk up a face

As anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog will know, I’m a great advocate of the phrase “Nature knows best” but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in lending Mother Nature a helping hand from time to time.

Though I’d certainly never advocate invasive surgery such as facelifts,  in this age of fantastic technological advances, there are treatments that may be a little more dramatic than a home-made papaya face mask but that can undoubtedly be of benefit.

When you look at younger than there years celebs such as supermodels who seem to be ageing fabulously, you might suspect that it’s not just great genes and the perennially quoted “I just eat healthily and exercise” that’s keeping them looking so young.  You might suspect that their youthful glow, perpetually plump and dewy skin, and suspiciously wrinkle free foreheads are down to plastic surgery. 

But this is often actually a misconception, stars don’t always submit to the surgeon’s scalpel in order to stay looking fabulous, many of them actually use sneaky non-surgical tricks such as Botox and Restylane lip enhancement to perk up their faces.

Botox may be controversial and it may have a bit of a bad press but when used sparingly it can smooth out a furrowed brow like nothing else, and is way more effective and far less risky than any facelift. 

Those shiny, unnatural looking celebs with the tight looking foreheads and the frozen looking features, are the ones that stand out because they’ve had far too much Botox.   Great Botox is undetectable and is the reason why so many perma-youthful looking former models actually look so line free.  When Botox is properly applied with a light touch it will smooth out wrinkles but shouldn’t ever make you look like you’re a deer caught in oncoming headlights.

If in doubt less is always more and that advice goes for lips too.  Lip enhancement is a popular procedure as most women want a plumper, more sensual pout.  One of the more commonly requested celebrity pouts is Angelina Jolie’s, but the fact is that kind of lip volume just simply won’t suit every face.

Trout pout occurs when too much filler is injected into too small a space, so it’s vitally important your aesthetician injects just enough to enhance, but not too much so as to distort the natural shape of your mouth.

Definition is key here, and personally speaking this is one procedure where I definitely know what I’m talking about, as I’ve had Restylane lip enhancement several times and not one person has ever accused me of having a trout pout.

The other secret to remember when having your lips enhanced is to get your vermillion border done at the same time you get your upper and lower lips filled, since this is what will give you a more defined look.  Without it your newly filled lips run the risk of taking on a sausagey appearance, akin to that of a dodgy looking lad’s mag model.

Another non-surgical but extremely effective procedure that it’s certainly worth investigating if improving your complexion is important to you, is a course of Glycolic Acid Peels.

Glycolic Acid is one of very few skincare products on the market that has a molecular structure small enough to actually penetrate the epidermis, and as such, is one of the only active ingredients out there. 

What this means for your skin in real terms is that it’s one product that when used regularly can actually make a long term lasting difference to the look and feel of your skin.   Other products that can’t penetrate the epidermis can only ever have a temporary effect, when you wash them off, your skin will revert right back to its former state.

Having an acid peel may sound rather alarming but a Glycolic Peel is painless and shouldn’t burn, sting, or cause your skin to peel.  You do however need to take care to ensure you wear an appropriate sunscreen whenever you expose your skin to sunlight, since the acid does make your skin more sensitive to harmful UV rays.

There is one thing you can do which if done right will improve your whole face and that’s to get your eyebrows professionally shaped by an expert.  You can maintain their shape at home yourself but it’s certainly worth spending the money to get a pro to create the perfect arch for you initially, when done right, this procedure will open up your face, lifting your eye and brow area and making you look younger and more awake.

The lazy at heart, who crave the lash enhancing effects of mascara but are either too lazy or too busy to apply it before they leave the house every day, will benefit from salon applied eyelash extensions.   These are individually applied false eyelashes that are precision placed by a beauty therapist and they should last up to 4-6 weeks.  Treatment costs typically range from £40-£80 depending on the salon, and can be personally tailored to suit your preferences, whether you prefer a subtle enhancement or a more dramatic finish.

If you have stubborn scarring that you want to smooth out, you should certainly take a look at medical microdermasion, which uses pressure and a precision crystal tipped wand to expertly exfoliate.

Medical microdermabrasion is a different procedure to the lighter, regular microdermabrasion that is typically performed in beauty salons, and though there are similarities between the two, you should definitely expect your skin to redden and peel three to four days after having this procedure.

If you’re interested in having this done I’d personally highly recommend the Laser Skin Clinic, located at No 1 Harley Street, as the qualified therapists who work there really do know their stuff.  I had some scarring left over from an electrolysis procedure I had done years ago and the procedure worked to smooth out and make my scars much less noticeable.

Teeth whitening is becoming more and more popular as we all try and rival celeb’s pearly whites, and cheap £99 Wowcher type offers abound, which are great, with one caveat. If you are going to snap up one of these deals, check out the clinic that will be carrying out the procedure first, to make sure of their reputation and to ascertain that they are clinically qualified.

Teeth enamel is delicate and the potent peroxide solution used to whiten them can erode the surface, cause sensitivity, and even make your teeth more susceptible to staining when used by underqualified staff, so it’s vitally important you visit a qualified practitioner.

At one time or the other, I’ve tried most of the non-surgical procedures I’ve written about here with the exception of Botox, and I’m considering trying that one soon since I’ll be celebrating my 35th birthday in September!   I have to say, generally speaking I have been largely pleased with the results I’ve gotten from non-surgicals, though you shouldn’t expect miracles, these procedures are notdesigned to dramatically change your appearance, merely to subtly enhance it.

If you eat well, exercise regularly, wear sunscreen daily, and look after your skin using natural based chemical free products, then you may well be wondering what else you can do to enhance what nature gave you.  In that case I can see nothing wrong at all with using one or more of these treatments sparingly to improve on you and help you to age like a supermodel – fabulously of course.

Jerry Hall and the power of consistency

The radiantly lovely Ms Hall

The radiantly lovely Ms Hall

In today’s post I’d like to talk a little about consistency the secret key to looking youthful, staying slim, and feeling great forever.  You probably have heard the hoary old maxim “everything in moderation” oft repeated but there’s a reason why most hoary old maxims of this ilk exist and this one’s certainly no exception.

The simple truth is that once you leave your twenties behind, even the most genetically blessed among us will usually find we need to make a little bit more effort than just eating curry and chips nightly and lounging on the sofa, if we want to look good, retain our figures and feel energized.

Smoking and excessive boozing are an obvious don’t, along with excessive late nights, which hate it though we may, you just can’t seem to get away with once past your 30th birthday.  Unless you don’t mind resembling a member of the Adams Family that is.

But other things, such as little to no exercise and a poor diet can really pull our energy levels down, and as a result our appearance can suffer.  Here’s another maxim for you, “you are what you eat”, and while that bag of crisps or glass of wine won’t hurt you if indulged in once in a while, when scoffed on the daily will certainly start to have an impact on your waistline.

It’s not just our figures either, an unhealthy diet can actually cause our faces to prematurely age, excessive sugar consumption causes cells to collapse and seriously depletes the production of collagen, and continual boozing has been proven to rupture capillaries and coarsen your complexion.

Exercising regularly is integral if you want to retain a healthy functioning body and youthful figure for longer, though it shouldn’t feel like a punishment.   Think of regular exercise more as essential self-care, something you need to do to look after yourself, much like brushing your teeth.

All these changes though, such as cutting down on alcohol, exercising, and eating healthier, are only actually effective when they’re introduced gradually.  The secret is in putting them into practice over a long period of time, after all it’s no good going on an extreme low calorie diet for a month, then binging and putting all the weight back on and then some.

In fact, research has shown that diets in general simply don’t work, what does is tweaking your diet to include healthier choices that you can consistently stick to, so that you eat healthier, consume less calories and don’t ever feel deprived.

As humans we are designed to seek pleasure, we just have to learn that real pleasure is enjoying a healthy looking and feeling body and mind, and learn to appreciate that occasional glass of wine rather than binge drink steadfastly every Saturday night out with our mates.

The odd full English breakfast or Mcdonalds scoff up won’t kill you, as long as you’re consistently eating healthier on a regular basis, just like having one or two sofa days every now and then won’t turn you into a heart attack risk overnight, providing that over the long haul you are consistently taking care of yourself.

Look after yourself now in your thirties and forties and you’ll reap the rewards further down the line in your fifties, sixties, seventies and even eighties, when you’ll look far slimmer, younger, and sprightlier than your burger munching, wine guzzling, sofa-loafing peers.

And it’s not just appearances either, science has proved that consuming a healthy diet and undertaking regular exercise pays off dividends in the end when it comes to our health, reducing your chances of contracting a serious illness and making it more likely to recover if you do.

Look after yourself well now and later on you’ll find you have more physical and mental energy to carry on enjoying life for longer, and you’ll be able look good doing it too.

When it comes to ageing gracefully, we could all do worse than take a leaf out of former supermodel Jerry Hall’s book.  Jerry, who doesn’t believe in cosmetic surgery but invests in good skincare, always wears sun protection, eats a mostly organic diet, and practices yoga regularly but not obsessively.  She even smokes the occasional cigarette, and loves a glass of wine, but the point is she never over indulges, and as a result she never feels deprived.  She’s ageing just fabulously and she exudes healthy energy and vitality, which you can tell as soon as you look at pictures of her, the energy positively radiates out of her face. 

Jerry certainly doesn’t look twenty five and she isn’t trying to either but boy does she look fabulous.  What’s the big deal about trying to resemble someone Peter Stringfellow would find age appropriate to date anyway?

Forget celebs like Joan Rivers who’ve had so much cosmetic surgery you could mistake them for foetuses trying to crawl back in utero, when I’m 58 I know who I’d rather look like.  And I’ll be a happy bunny if I can look half as radiant and glowing as Jerry Hall does.

Save money on salon visits while staying fabulous – the DIY guide to at home beauty

DIY yourself beautiful and save cash!!

DIY yourself beautiful and save cash!!

As a freelance writer my budget rarely stretches to spendy salon visits or expensive gym membership, but being a beauty and skincare junkie, I still like to stay looking and feeling groomed.  I’ve found though, that even on the tiniest of budgets it is possible to be well-groomed and in shape, simply by using a little resourcefulness and letting Mother Nature give you a helping hand.

Many of the things that you would normally pay for in a beauty salon, you can actually do for yourself at home, with equal (and sometimes even better) results.  Some things, such as hone waxing may be a little tricky at first, but after experimenting a few times, you should find it soon starts to become easier. 

Here are my top six things that you can do for yourself at home to save money on salon and gym visits:

Wax your own bikini line

Ok this one may sound painful but I promise it can be done and with great results too. The key lies in picking the right product.  I became a convert to home bikini waxing only very recently, when, fed up with not being able to afford to go to the salon and get my fuzz whipped off, I decided to go for it myself.  So I unearthed a tub of Nads Natural Hair Removal Gel that I’d kept stored in the cupboard with the intention to try it out some day and, well, actually tried it out.

It has to be said, if you have just a little time and patience, and are willing to grit your teeth a little, this stuff is absolutely genius.   Nads took off all my bikini hairs, where other products have failed, and left a clean finish, and it only hurt a little bit, honestly.  But best of all it didn’t leave me with any redness, uh huh that’s right, none, zip, nil, nada.   This is unheard of for me, as every single time I’ve had a salon wax I’ve been left with reddened skin afterward.

One of the other great things about Nads is that you don’t need to heat it up and any residue comes off easily with baby wipes.  I have tried other at home waxes in the past, with varying levels of success (and pain), and I have to say, without wanting to sound like a spokesperson for the product, in my opinion Nads is the best for home bikini waxing hands down.

It retails for around £10 in most Boots or Superdrug, so should be fairly easy to find, or you could always order some online from a site like Amazon.  Nads comes with everything you need to wax including reusable cotton strips, a spatula etc…it even comes with some handy wipes to clean the area afterward.  Make sure you have clean dry skin before you apply the gel, and afterwards, clean the area gently with a wipe to remove any residue, then apply a light and soothing antibacterial lotion to gently moisturize and calm.

Give yourself regular pampering facials

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, then you probably know by now that I’m a huge fan of DIY facials that use natural ingredients.  For good reason too, since all of the ingredients I use are toxin and additive free, and as they are in their raw, pure form, they are far more potently active than their diluted and watered down store bought sisters would be.

You can find some excellent recipes for home-made natural face masks in older posts on this blog, but below I included a simple and effective recipe that will be good for nearly every type of skin, imparting a glow, gently cleansing, and boosting radiance.

Radiance boosting yoghurt mask

This lovely mask uses the lactic acid in yoghurt to gently dissolve dead skin cells and give skin a glow, lemon juice to cleanse and purify, and antibacterial honey to nourish and moisturize.

You will need:

2 tablespoons Natural yoghurt (plain Greek yoghurt is best)

1 tbsp Honey

Juice of half a lemon (freshly squeezed)

Blend the ingredients together in a bowl until the consistency is thick and even, then apply to cleansed skin, taking care to avoid getting any in your eyes.  Leave on for 15-20 minutes then wash off using tepid water and apply a light moisturizer.

Manicure and pedicure your nails

You can save scads by regularly manicuring and pedicuring your own nails, and you don’t have to be an expert nail artist to do so, you just need to invest in some handy tools and follow a few simple steps.

Purchase some nail clippers, emery boards, a nail buffer, nail varnish remover, cotton wall balls, a cuticle pusher, a bottle of base coat varnish for your nails and one of top coat.  Pick out 1 or 2 bottles of nail polish in shades you like, you can choose to match your fingers and toes or paint them different shades.

Get a small bowl and pour in some warm water and a few drops of an essential oil like lavender, and soak your hands and feet for up to ten minutes to soften cuticles.  Then take them out and pat dry with a soft towel, and taking your cuticle pusher stick, gently nudge back the newly softened cuticles all around your nail beds, taking care not to tear them.

Clip any raggedy nails, then file into shape, straight across if you prefer a more squared off look, or in a slightly rounded motion if your preference is for a more oval aesthetic. Gently buff your nails using a nail buffer to smooth the surface, then apply one coat of base coat, allowing it to dry thoroughly before applying a thin even coat of your chosen polish colour.  Let dry, and apply one more thin even coat, allowing that to dry fully, before applying the top coat.

After the top coat has fully dried, moisturize your hands and feet with some almond oil, which will also help impart a lovely shine to your nails.

Colour your own hair

If you are a brunette, redhead, or a blonde who’s not veering more than 2-3 shades away from your natural colour, then you can dye your hair at home easily with the same results you would get from salon colouring.

I find the L’Oreal Preference line superior for my home colouring sessions, but if you prefer a more natural approach, you could try a red, brown, or black henna, though never use henna for at least 2-3 months after using a chemical dye or you will damage your hair.  My hair is usually coloured raven black using L’Oreal, but I plan on trying a black henna out on it soon and will blog about the results I get here.

If you can colour your own hair it will save you shedloads because as you likely already know, hair colouring appointments frequently cost more than  a visit for a cut or a trim, neither of which I would suggest you perform yourself at home.

Just make sure you apply a thick coating of Vaseline around your hairline to prevent any staining, wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting spoiled, and always wear gloves.  Also, make sure the room you are applying the hair colourant in is well ventilated.  Purchase a hair colour application brush from Boots or Superdrug, for a couple of pounds, trust me it really helps push the colour into the hair shaft and get a professional finish.  When you’re ready to colour your hair, divide your hair up into sections using hair clips or section clips. 

Mix up the colourant according to the product’s instructions, then squeeze out the colourant mixture into a plastic bowl, and apply to the sections of hair one by one, using the brush, and starting at the back of your head.  Leave the dye for the specified time, and then rinse off under the shower until the water runs clear, applying a colour sealing nourishing conditioner to put the moisture back.   

Do regular at home workouts

You really don’t need to join an expensive gym or enlist the services of a personal trainer to get in shape, you can do it all yourself at home, even if you don’t know very much about fitness.

All you need is your laptop, some floorspace, and an internet connection, yes really.  Youtube is full of instructional videos for beginners interested in exercising at home, and you can find videos on everything from yoga and pilates  right through to hardcore military bootcamp style workouts, all of which will help give you the push to get started.

You can even mix and match your work outs, personally I enjoy mixing up some light cardio with some yoga asanas and some weight bearing and toning exercises that use dumbbells.   You may prefer a different combination, but experiment and have fun, there is certainly plenty out  there to choose from.

I try and work out for at least 30 minutes every day now, and I feel a lot better since I’ve been doing so, I’m slimmer, more toned, and I have more energy.  Take it from me, this is one DIY beauty trick that will definitely make a difference in the way you look and feel

Don’t forget, exercise doesn’t have to just be limited to indoors, get out of the house and go for a brisk walk, or dust down those skates that are sitting in the back of the cupboard and go for a rollerblading session with a friend to blow away the cobwebs, tone up, and burn some calories.

Do your own Brow Maintenance (but get an expert to shape them first)

When it comes to eyebrows it’s easy to save cash without having to risk looking permanently surprised due to a dodgy over-plucking job performed after you’d imbibed the best part of a bottle of Chardonnay.  The trick is to go and get your eyebrows shaped by a pro first, then maintain the line yourself at home by regular plucking and trimming with eyebrow scissors, rather than going back to the salon for repeated tidy ups. 

If you keep on top of it, you should find yourself only having to return for a reshape a couple of times a year, rather than the numerous times you would if you weren’t doing any brow maintenance yourself.

Key things to remember are; only pluck the strays that grow outside of the shape your eyebrow professional created for you, use special eyebrow trimming scissors to trim those unruly bits of brow that grow long and stick up, and pluck regularly so that you can see where the shape should be.  If you follow these tips it should be easy to maintain your brow’s shape while saving yourself some cash on salon visits.

Why I’m glad I finally “got” yoga

Yoga will change your life!

Yoga will change your life!

Up until this year, I never really got yoga.  In my more ideological moments I would plan to get around to practising it regularly, along with aspirations to become fluent in Russian, Japanese, and Greek, to train to run a marathon, and learn how to knit a sweater.

And of course there’s the myriad supermodels and celebrity glamour pusses that vouch for yoga’s time reversing, youth infusing properties like former supermodel and complete idol of mine, Jerry Hall, not to mention Madonna, Gwyneth, Jennifer Anniston et al, all of whom not only look fab for their age, but for any age.

But still until very recently, I never got into yoga.  However, about three months ago, I finally decided to haul my ass out of the permanently hunched over posture that as a freelance copywriter  I frequently find myself adopting, and force myself to get in shape, since I wanted to lose those stubborn extra pounds.

And so, I started practising yoga.   Not consciously at first, but as part of my warm up/ cool down routine as I exercised, combining some key yoga poses alongside my squats, lateral raises, and press ups.  As for how I knew them, in my teens I used to attend ballet class, and part of the stretching routine that I would perform to warm up my muscles included several yoga poses, though we never called them this.

When I came to perform them again, as part of my daily get in shape regime, I didn’t think about this much, I just performed them, though somewhere in the back of my mind I suppose I knew they were yoga “asanas”.  But what I did begin to notice, after I had been practising them for a couple of weeks, was how much better I felt.

Not just better physically because I was exercising, though I certainly felt leaner and more toned, but I felt a more general sense of overall well-being too. I literally became more at peace with myself, and felt far more serene.  Intrigued, I decided to look up more yoga asanas online and I learnt a few more, incorporating them into my everyday routine as well.

Now these poses are a key part of my daily exercise regime, and I truly feel that they have helped me with everything from PMS to an aching back and shoulders garnered from too long spent at the keyboard.  I’m sleeping better and more regularly, my mood’s improved, and yoga’s even spurred me on to make healthier changes in my diet too.  Somehow it’s made me so much more aware of my body, and subsequently what I’m putting into it.

My skin is clearer, I feel a hell of a lot more centred and I seem to possess so much more energy than I did before.  Nothing much else has changed in my life, so it has to be the yoga.  And I don’t think it’s just because I’m exercising, though I’m sure that’s certainly helping. I’ve exercised regularly before, I was even a member of a gym for a while, and though it made me feel good, it never made me feel this energized and motivated.

Because of this, below I’ve included a simple instructional video that I discovered on Youtube to help get you started on your yogic journey.  I urge you to incorporate the simple poses contained within it into your daily routine if you can, as I promise you yoga will change your life for the better, as it has mine.

I perform yoga on most days now, along with bicep curls and lateral raises with dumbbells, squats, lunges, press ups, and some cardio, and slowly I’m getting into the shape I want to be and feeling a whole lot better about myself to boot.   So why not join me?  If a former lazy couch potato can do it, I’m sure you can!


Detox your way to wellness –herbs that heal and harmonize

Fruits, veggies and plants all have potent detoxification powers

Fruits, veggies and plants all have potent detoxification powers

In our daily lives we’re constantly bombarded with pesticides, chemicals, and other noxious fumes that we ingest as a result of driving, cooking, eating, cleaning our homes, washing our clothes, and even pampering ourselves.

This continuous ingestion of poisons can lead to a seriously lowered immunity, leaving us all more vulnerable to getting sick, because a lowered immune system makes us so much more susceptible to contracting bugs.

If we keep on consuming these toxins without taking regular breaks to purge our bodies, then we can enter into a nasty state of toxic overload, because although our kidneys and livers are fantastic natural filters, they simply weren’t intended to cope with the sheer amount of toxicity that will be levelled at most of us in the modern pollution filled world.

Supermodels who age gracefully know the harm that these toxins can do to their bodies, and because of this have become a big fan of regular detoxing, such as the astoundingly youthful looking Christie Brinkley, who recently celebrated her sixtieth birthday!  And us regular folk can enjoy the health benefits of regular detoxification too by using natural herbs to help purify our bodies, and taking a break from consuming overly processed foods.

Ideally, you should plan to detox for at least 5-7 days, but newbies and those with poor willpower can start at just 3 days.   During this time, you should aim to avoid all refined carbohydrates such as white bread and rice, as well as alcohol, caffeine, foods with added sugar such as biscuits and cakes, red meat, fizzy drinks, and fried food.  Aim instead to consume lots of lean protein such as fish or chicken, whole grains, and plenty of healthful nourishing vegetables and fruits, and swap that morning coffee for a more healthful cup of herbal tea if you can.

Personally I am surgically attached to my coffee mug in the morning, so that last part is particularly hard advice for me to follow, but if you are detoxing you should definitely try to at least limit your caffeine intake if you want to thoroughly cleanse your system.

I’m a great fan of Mother Nature as a medicine cabinet, and sure enough, she has provided us with all that we need to properly purge our bodies of toxins, in the form of herbs and plants that have the potent power to purify.

The following detoxifying herbs are a powerfully natural way of removing impurities from your system, and you will find that after using them you experience a definite boost to your own well-being and vitality, as well as a trimmer looking waistline.


–      Psyllium Seeds promote regular bowel movements which in turn help to maintain the health and condition of your gut.  If you suffer from bowel problems such as constipation then Psyllium can be an excellent aid to get things to moving along more effectively.   Pysyllium is a superb choice for detoxification because of its high ability to absorb bad bacteria and toxins, making it ideally equipped to restore harmony and balance to your intestines.


–      Cascara Sagrada is another great natural laxative that will really help to flush unwanted toxins out of your body. Cascara also helps to condition and strengthen your colon and large intestine, and this hard working herb is at its most effective when used in conjunction with Psyllium Seeds.


–      Milk Thistle has to be one of the ultimate stars of the herbal detox pantheon, and in my opinion, absolutely everyone should harness this humble little herb’s powerfully potent purifying properties. Providing support for your liver, essential after one cocktail too many, Milk Thistle helps the liver to process the toxins secreted from alcohol and other drugs, leaving it much less susceptible to damage.

–      Nettles shouldn’t just be remembered with chagrin as the bane of your childhood, but are actually a fantastic detox aid as they have the power to cleanse the blood and urinary systems, as well as purify and strengthen other parts of the body. Sip nettle tea periodically when detoxing to utilize this plant’s potency, and enjoy the warming, slightly tangy taste that should leave you feeling renewed and revitalized.


–      Burdock Root is ideal for a really powerful detox and the herb is super helpful at reducing the build-up of toxic heavy metals in your body which can cause immune system problems and even spark off some nasty diseases.


–      Dandelion Root is another root with the power to detoxify, having strong liver cleansing properties that help to effectively eliminate toxins. Dandelion is great for removing the waste your gall bladder produces, and also it works well at flushing out your kidneys, especially when used with other compatible detox herbs such as burdock.

The use of herbal remedies to purge and purify is not a new thing, people all over the world have been using nature’s natural remedies in order to cleanse and heal their bodies effectively for many thousands of years.

Detoxing should be an essential part of everyone’s life, and in fact, when performed regularly it can actually save you from acquiring severe illnesses that can be brought on by the continuous build-up of unwanted toxins in your system. Why not try some of these wonderful healing helpers today in conjunction with following a detox diet, and enjoy a new spring in your step and a cleaner, healthier, slimmer body to boot?

Best kept beauty secrets of Indian women – that really work

Indian women are renowned for their extraordinary beauty

Indian women are renowned for their extraordinary beauty

I’ve recently gotten in to researching the natural home-made beauty secrets of women around the world after becoming both concerned and frustrated with the huge amount of unnecessary, and often toxic chemicals added to store bought cosmetics, as well as the wild claims the manufacturers make about products that typically fail to live up to these boasts.

In the course of my research, one corner of the globe has stood out head and shoulders as having kept most of its natural beauty traditions and secrets to this day, secrets that its women still use to beautify their hair, faces, and bodies daily.

That place is India, and it is a country steeped in rich history, cultural tradition, and ancient beauty rituals.  Indian women’s beauty is renowned, and yet, most Indian women still rely on traditional cures such as amla oil to condition their hair and make it strong and shiny, and Neem powder  to purify and soften their skin and make it glow.

Let’s not forget too, the ancient practise of Yoga, which many Indian women swear by, and its incredible power to keep the body supple and youthful, and probably at least one of the reasons so many Indian women keep a gorgeously slim yet womanly figure well into their old age.

After doing my research, I decided to try out a few of the beauty secrets that wise Indian ladies have been using for centuries to make themselves look lush and lovely.   After buying a few of the ingredients that I didn’t have, such as Neem, Multani Mitti powder, and rosewater, and using them in conjunction with the ones that I already had in my kitchen cupboard, as per the instructions in the Indian beauty recipes I had managed to unearth, such as eggs, honey, yoghurt, etc…well I can say I’ve been thoroughly seduced by natures power to prettify.

My skin and hair have never looked so healthy and shiny since I’ve been following the very same beauty secrets that millions of Indian women, including top models and Bollywood actresses such as the famous beauty Aishwarya Rai use.

And because I’m the generous type, I decided to blog about these wonder ingredients and share their benefits with you, so that we can all enjoy glowing skin and shiny and strong locks that are worthy of a Bollywood screen siren.

There are so many ingredients that Indian women use to beautify themselves, far too many than I can blog about in one post, but below are some of the most commonly used ingredients and their uses in home-made beauty treatments.


Amla comes from the Indian Gooseberry fruit and this little potent powerhouse plant is the reason why so many Indian women sport shiny, silky locks to die for.  Amla, when massaged into the scalp and lengths of hair is fantastically nourishing, being the richest source of naturally occurring Vitamin C on earth.  Amla preparations can be used to slow down hair loss, thicken, strengthen, and add shine.  You can purchase the pre-mixed oil preparations from most ethnic grocery stores that sell Indian products, or buy the powder which you can mix with olive or coconut oil and apply to your hair as a nourishing pre-wash treatment.


Besan (Gram Flour)

Besan, otherwise known as gram flour, is made from chickpeas and has been used for centuries by Indian women to achieve a soft and bright complexion.  Besan’s consistency makes it the perfect natural and gentle exfoliant, softening skin and gently lifting off dead cells and other debris, as well as imparting a brightness and clarity to the complexion.  For a simple yet effective skin treatment, mix some besan with rosewater to make a paste, applying in circular motions to your skin and leaving till almost dry for 10 minutes.   Then rinse off in warm water using circular motions to benefit from besan’s exfoliating properties.

Chandan (Sandalwood Powder)

Sandalwood powder is an essential part of most Indian women’s beauty regimens due to its fantastic ability to control oil, soften, and stimulate blood circulation.  Sandalwood powder can be mixed with Neem and lemon juice to make a paste, then applied to skin, for a purifying and softening face pack that will leave your complexion looking absolutely gorgeous.

For a more nourishing mask that will give your skin with a fantastic glow , mix one tablespoon of sandalwood powder  and a teaspoon of turmeric with some honey, besan (gram flour),  and a few drops of rose essential oil, for a  moisturizing and purifying mask that makes skin wonderfully radiant.

Haldi (Turmeric powder)

Turmeric is a quintessential part of Indian culture, and the Haldi ceremony, where the bride and groom are both anointed with turmeric paste, is conducted before the happy couple wed, and is a sacred part of Hindu tradition!  The benefits of using turmeric are vast; from glowing skin, to a reduction in pimples and breakouts, and the fading of stubborn scars.  You can make a nourishing face pack using honey, turmeric, and the juice of half a fresh lemon to freshen and brighten up skin and make it really glow.

Be careful not to use too much turmeric powder though, as it can leave some complexions looking slightly yellow afterward, although this yellow tint is harmless and can be easily removed with a damp warm washcloth or by wiping your face with a cotton ball soaked in some raw milk.  To err on the safe side though, a teaspoon should be more than enough in most concoctions that you will ever make, and if you’re very pale you might want to use just a  pinch.

Methi (Fenugreek)

Methi seeds, otherwise known as Fenugreek seeds, are widely used by Indian women to treat problem or blemished skin, beat dandruff, lighten or fade burn marks or acne scars, and prevent pesky pimples.  You can make a simple and effective paste that can be used to treat breakouts by soaking Fenugreek seeds in water overnight, then grinding them into a coarse paste in the morning and applying to your complexion, leaving to dry completely before rinsing off in warm water.

Multani Mitti (Fullers Earth)

This simple yet effective clay, uses the purifying and detoxifying properties of Sodium Bentonite to draw oils and impurities from your skin, leaving your complexion looking and feeling mattified and fresher.  For a super simple face pack, blend some Multani Mitti with some rosewater to make a paste, then apply to your face, and leave for up to15 minutes before washing off.



Dubbed Nature’s Pharmacy by many Indians, Neem really is Queen when it comes to sorting out skin, body, and overall health and well-being.  Neem powder can be mixed with honey and rosewater or lemon juice to make a soothing antibacterial face pack that softens and purifies, and leaves your skin feeling glowing and fresh afterward.  Many Indian women even drink Neem,  mixed in a concoction of honey and water, to purify their bodies from the inside.


This wonder herb is grown in many Indian households due in no small part to its excellent anti-ageing and astringent qualities that help to tone tired skin and prevent pimples.  You can make a simple paste of crushed Tulsi leaves and milk and apply to your skin to nourish,  purify, and strengthen it.