Posts tagged beauty
Red lipstick...

When I quit my corporate career in architecture back in 2012, I immediately disowned the ‘power dressing’ culture where female sexuality was often used as a tool to win clients in a male-dominated industry.

In launching myself into the world of health and wellness I flung myself fully to the other end of the spectrum and embraced my inner hippie- barefeet and barefaced. Spending most of my time in gym kit and sports bras (or no bra at all!)

Truth be told I saw my willingness to disown make-up and accessories as a form of personal empowerment, and if I am super honest (this part is really hard to admit) I judged the women around me who I perceived still felt the need to ‘wear a mask’.

Yet, there was something that was still simmering hot beneath the surface as I felt triggered when in the company of beautifully put together women. I didn’t know how to address those feelings so for years I pushed them away and for the most part avoided getting to know those women, so that I didn’t have to address the awkward conflicting growing resistance in myself.

In recent weeks the inner conflict reached tipping point...

A growing awareness that how I am evolving and growing internally is no longer in alignment with how I look externally. In fact, there is now such a significant disparity, it can no longer be ignored.

I realised, that if I am indeed passionate about how we show up in life as the most honest, authentic, bold and empowered versions of ourselves then I needed to walk my talk and stop minimising myself, stop blending in, stop playing small on ALL levels- this includes my appearance! The unspoken void and the missing piece of the puzzle that was holding me back.

I realised I judged and resented the beautiful women around me because I didn’t know how to look beautiful myself (I know we all have a natural beauty but that's not a what I mean here). I didn’t know how to embrace my feminine essence as I’ve always been more naturally comfortable with my more masculine traits, I don’t know how to style my hair, what colours and types of clothes best suit me, what jewellery and make-up could accentuate my appearance... and I wanted the choice!

Choice switches us from playing the victim to taking ownership. It's a powerful reframe.

So I took a deep breath and booked a colour consultation for my birthday next month, I also booked a session with a hairdresser to teach me how to braid my hair, and with the encouragement of a friend in that moment earlier this week I took one more small but significant step in this direction… I bought a bright red lipstick.

Red is my favourite colour. It boldly embodies fun, passion and purpose.

I’ve never felt confident with make-up. Even when at university I felt like I looked like a drag queen when I attempted to apply it. I was envious of my housemates who knew what they were doing and so many times I would put it on and then wipe it all off again before even leaving the house. Feeling frustrated and defeated. Relying instead on my slim gym-fit physique to carry me along and convincing myself that was enough

This time in the privacy of my room I applied the red lipstick. Immediately I could feel the discomfort surge within me. I was pushing the very limits of my comfort zone and it took all my effort not to grab a tissue and wipe it off.

I looked at my reflection, sitting alone in front of the mirror, for a good few minutes until the discomfort softened and my curiousity grew. I smiled and noticed how white my teeth looked against the red of my lips, I noticed how the red of my hair was accentuated, I noticed how I didn’t need any other makeup with such a bold statement feature, though I did also try a little mascara.

I posed for a quick selfie and tentatively sent it to my friend. I kept the lipstick on for the rest of the evening, doing a double take every time I caught a glance of my reflection.

Today I found myself wondering if I’d have the confidence to wear it in public, if it could actually become my new normal.

I decided the very first step was to share the selfie with you...

red lipstick.JPG

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How I wash my hair now... the 'no-poo' experiment concluded!

Long time readers may remember back in the late springtime I began experimenting with the 'no-poo' method for washing my hair.

Over the last 12 months or so I have been gradually transitioning all of my body products and toiletries to become home-made versions or at least ones that are as pure and simple as possible. This has been pretty successful across-the-board. I have home-made body butter, face cream, cleansing oil, toner, leg shaving oil, body wash and to a large extent I succeeded with toothpaste and deodorants...

HOWEVER I have struggled with the toothpaste tasting nice so for now have resorted to this brand and on the deodorant front, when I am in full on sweaty mode at the gym and need to quickly freshen up I need a spray- the coconut oil homemade paste version doesn't really do the job. Any tips out there for home-made spray deodorant much appreciated, or a really effective natural spray deodorant??

Back to hair!

Shampoo and conditioner was thing that I was most passionate about finding a natural alternative for, yet was also the trickiest. However I committed to the process, so for many long weeks (and months!) my hair was almost constantly in a ponytail as it felt it too heavy and oily to wear down... frustrating!

I was close to giving in so many times!

I think part of the problem is that my hair, whilst not crazy long, is pretty thick, and also I train heavily at the gym and so a lot of the sweat accumulates (nice!) A pretty tough contender for the 'no-poo' method!

I tried the traditional baking soda paste with apple cider vinegar rinse. Loved the ACV but the baking soda didn't feel as though it was getting right into my hair. One of the hardest parts about the baking soda method is the lack of foaming action so hair can typically not feel fully covered.

I then tried another option for a coconut milk combo also using Dr Bronner's Castille soap, this felt great whilst in the shower- it was lovely and foamy and I had high hopes… But once dried, my hair felt extremely heavy and lifeless. Up in a ponytail it went!

I tried each of these methods for a couple of months at a time hoping that my hair was just going through transitional phase, but it wasn't to be....

Then a revelation!

In September I went to the VegFest exhibition in London and got chatting to a couple who run Living Naturally a 'soap nuts' company who also make special soap nuts shampoo bars amongst of home and body products. I was curious and excited, given my pevious frustrations, and asked if I'd be able to review one the bars for my blog. I wanted to try the shampoo bar for at least a month before I came to my verdict my verdict… And the rest is history!  I've been using the bars ever since and I absolutely love them.

PS. I'm not being paid fort this review, I simply loved the product and now having tried other bars in the range and can say they are all fantastic and great company to support too. I really, really encourage those who are contemplating going 'no-poo' and also those who may have tried the baking soda method with undesirable results to give soap nuts a try.

For me the soap nut bar followed with a vinegar rinse (1 tbs ACV to approx 1 1/2 cups warm water) is perfect. I now wash my hair every 5-6 days instead of every 3 days as I had previously done with regular shampoo, it's also the best condition it has ever been in my adult life with no split ends and a real rich auburn colour that's come through, very similar to the colour I had one had as a much younger child....very interesting indeed!

You'll see from the info above that natural soap nut shells are used as a detergent, but as I have only tried the shampoo bars. The Dead Sea shampoo is the first bar I used and now i've tried others too. 

The ingredients are as follows:

Organic Soapnut Liquid (Sapindus Mukorossi), Olive Oil (Olea Europaea), Organic Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera), RSPO Certified Palm Oil ( Elaeis Guineensis ), Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Dead Sea Mud (Maris Limus), Almond Oil (Prunus Dulcis), Rice Bran Oil ( Oryza Sativa), Jojoba Oil (Buxus Chinensis), Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula Angustifolia ), Rosemary Essential Oil (Rosmarinus Officinalis), Cedarwood Essential Oil (Thuja orientalis ), Cypress Essential Oil (Cupressus Sempervirens ) Linalool*, Limonene*, Geraniol. *occurs naturally in essential oils

I couldn't get a good picture of the lather but it's lathers up like a bar of soap and really gets into the hair and scalp well.

I guess I should have given you a picture of my hair before and after the experiment.... oops should have planned that better! :-)  You'll just have to take my word for it!

The shampoo bars even work well when I have covered my hair in an argan oil mask which I usually do once a month. In this case I typically wash through twice before the ACV rinse.


Note: Based on my experiences with the whole 'no-poo' transition, I read countless blogs and articles on the subject and what seems to work well for one person may work terribly for another. So you may find, depending on your hair type and thickness, that these bars don't work as well for you, and that the baking soda method is perfec. It's all a process of discovery but I really encourage you to experiment in getting away from the chemical laden body products...your hair and body will really thank you for it!!

A few resources I found useful in my searching...

Coconut milk and castille no-poo (I wasn't a fan but you might be)

One Year without Shampoo (plus interesting toxic ratings)

The No Poo Method (pretty much everything no-poo related!)

Honey Shampoo (a none vegan recipe)

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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:


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DIY 'Body Food' ...The Intro!

Over the last few months I have been becoming more intrigued with natural body products. A recent question put to my Facebook followers indicated that you were interested in more 'body product' posts from me so here you go! P.s feel free to follow my 'body food' board on Pinterest.

You've seen my original body whip here that is still one of my absolute favourite products, one I now regularly make for friends and clients also. Then on Tuesday you saw my body butter bars which were a similar concept but with a different ingredient ratio to create a solid product.

body whip

body whip

body butter bars

body butter bars

It just seems to me that if I am so keen to put good food in my body, it makes sense to also put good food on my body! 

The more I explored body products and the amount of chemicals in commercial products, the more intent I became on finding a way to make all the basics myself. Of course there are some very good natural organic brands which cut many of the chemicals out, but these are often very expensive and since I love the notion of simplicity, the idea of making my own products with a minimal number of 'real food' ingredients and much less cost really appealed to me.

A gift box of products made for a friend with a new baby.

A gift box of products made for a friend with a new baby.

So far I have pretty much mastered these aspects of my body care routine and I will share these with you (and more as I develop them) in a series of 'Body Food' posts over coming weeks...keep a eye out for them!

  • body whip (as per link above)

  • body butter bars (as per link above)

  • face cream

  • face cleanser

  • face masks

  • face toner

  • hair mask

  • bath treatments

  • shower cream

  • toothpaste

  • deodorant (cream version, a spray still eludes me)

I will make an important note that what works well for me, might not necessarily work as well for you, as we each have unique skin types so some experimentation will be necessary on your part, but that is part of the fun in becoming more in tune with your body. Not all of the above products are actual recipes, for example the face cream is simply virgin cold pressed coconut oil which is what I've found works best for me (I have fairly dry skin) but I appreciate that for some people this will feel too greasy. Often it is the approach and method of doing things that are just as important as what the products used are.

One of the final things I still want to master is shampoo and conditioner.  I've been trying the 'no-poo' method now  (using a few different baking soda and vinegar combos) for 2 months... I'm currently battling the awkward transition stage where hair feels heavy and a bit yuk. I promise to write a proper review of that in a couple of weeks or so once my hair has (hopefully) got over that stage. Fingers crossed...this has been the trickiest body product yet but I am determined!! Worst case scenario this will be the one aspect of my routine where a high quality natural brand will have to factor in. That's ok, it's all about exploring the options.

The other two beauty products I am keen to find a recipe for are a spray deodorant- at the moment I only have a cream version, which is great when first out of the shower but not so effective or desirable when you are already a bit sweaty and just need to freshen up midway through the day or after a gym class.  I also want to create sun cream, now we are heading out of summer this is not such a priority for me but will be ready for when next time summer comes around!

I have also dabbled in making my own make up, I don't usually wear a lot of make up anyway, and I think I'll look into this in more detail once I've sussed out the basic body products. For now I try to buy the most natural products I can find.


As a little resource centre for you, here are some great websites I have found myself coming back to again and again during the process of my experimentation over the last few months. Please feel free to share your own resources, recipes and ideas in the comments too!

Wellness Mama (my personal favourite go-to resource I use on many occasions) 

The Happy Skin Diary

Crunchy Betty

The Beauty Bean

The Crunchy Moose

Pioneer Thinking

Obviously another great go-to is Pinterest... I've started a 'body food' board so feel free to follow me! 

One final note!

Please let me know if you want to see more of this kind of thing... my blog has morphed into a 'wellness' hub and not simply focussed on recipes over the last year as I've taking my heath coaching and personal 'self care' to the next level, and whilst this feels right for me I also want to know what you think, what resonates with you and what you want to see more of around here! 


 I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers  plus me FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can always find me in these places:

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Easy homemade body butter...the perfect Christmas gift!

In the last few months I've been getting more and more into homemade body products.  

I have no idea why it's taken me so long really, it seems obvious that if you care about what you put inside your body you would also care about what you put on your body since the skin is the largest organ of the body and takes on board whatever your throw at it!

whip 1a.jpg

It's been a slow transition and i'm not quite there yet, I will be sure to do a full round up of my various discoveries in the next few weeks but for now I have a very simple but totally luxurious body whip... perfect for a little Christmas indulgence for yourself or as gifts for others!

It takes two key ingredients and any natural extracts such as lavender or vanilla that you may choose to include.  The proportions of the oil/butter dictate whether you end up with a thick body butter or a lighter body whip.... I adore the whip!!

I have linked a few websites below that I originally found to help guide me in my experiments, they provide slightly different ratios of solid to liquid oils compared to those i have used- i'm not sure if altitude has any bearing on this but I certainly needed a lot less solid than seemed called for to achieve a beautiful fluffy whip. Have a play and re-blend with extra solid or liquid as necessary. You can also substitute for other oils/butters (such as shea) to those I used.

A pretty jar, a ribbon and label would be all that is needed to transform these simple concoctions into a beautiful gift.

I also gave my sister a set of some of these homemade beauty products for her birthday last month. Body butter, face toner, deodorant, face powder, bronzer... some of these are still works in progress, so I will reveal all in due course...

body products 1a.jpg

Recipe: Thick body butter


  • 1 cup cocoa butter 
  • ½ cup coconut oil (or use extra cocoa butter)
  • ½ cup almond oil 
  • extracts to suit- I used 4 drops lavender and 1 tsp vanilla bean powder


Recipe: Fluffy body whip


  • ½  cup cocoa butter 
  • 1 ½ cup sweet almond oil
  • extracts to suit- I used 8 drops lavender (creates a very light fragrance)

Method (same for both)

Melt the solid oil/butter in a bowl over boiling water until melted then stir in the almond oil and any extracts.

Allow the mixture to partially cool (edges beginning to solidify), whip well until thick fluffy and white. Cool and whip again if necessary until fluffy.

Note: the lighter whip will fluff up more easy than the thicker butter.


Some links to other blogs recipes:

Great body butter recipe by 'Rawmazing' (great recipe starting point)

Thick body butter by 'Wellnessmama' (she has lots of great natural beauty recipes)

A zest body whip with a difference by 'She Wears Many Hats'  (note this recipe incudes honey so is not technically vegan)

Thick body butter with the higher proportion of solid cocoa butter.

Thick body butter with the higher proportion of solid cocoa butter.

Ingredients for the thick butter...I just love the big chunks of cocoa butter! :-)

Ingredients for the thick butter...I just love the big chunks of cocoa butter! :-)

More whip... my favourite!   

More whip... my favourite!


...even more whip!

...even more whip!

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