Miracle Mascara and Fab Facial Oil

Today, I bring you something for the eyes, and something for the skin.

Everyone brace themselves – I think I’ve found my perfect mascaras. I know, I know – you’ve all been waiting for this day, wandering and hoping. I want to thank you all for supporting me through my struggles, it’s been emotional.

Mascara is my absolute make-up staple. As a natural blonde with grey/blue eyes, my lashes are practically invisible so I need help to make my peepers pop. Many brands have served well, but few manage to achieve the pretty, fluttering effect I’m looking for, and all too many have furnished me with the dreaded clumped spider look.
Back in August, I asked my sister for some mascara for my birthday and Em presented me with Mascara Terrybly in Moka Brown, ‘a growth booster mascara’ from By Terry. The packaging claims it is a ‘lash-Lengthening intensive serum’ that will transform lashes day after day. It also uses ‘Lumicoat® Care Technology’………which is probably a thing.

I’ll admit, I was dubious; I haven’t used brown mascara since borrowing a cheap one from my mother and ended up looking like I’d put mud in my eyes. This new box promised the gloop would condition and boost growth while it decorated, but it wasn’t the big ‘volumising! Lengthening! Separating! Orgasming!’ advertising extravaganza I was used to.

I didn’t use it for a couple of weeks until one day, when I was in a hurry and was in the mood for minimalism, I gave it a go. A couple of coats and a feline flick of eyeliner, and I was out the door. The masarca slid on very nicely, with no clumping, and the colour was a luscious natural brown. In the seconds I spent applying it, I was impressed but too rushed to pay proper attention.
Cut to me in the bathroom at work. While washing my hands, I glanced in the mirror and literally did a double take. I mean, obviously I am constantly gorgeous, but I couldn’t believe my actual eyes. My lashes were bright, delicate and pretty. I don’t know how, but the mascara had given me the sort of fluttery, girlish eyes I’d been looking for. Perhaps it was the colour or the boosting wonder tonic, but FINALLY I could pretend this is how I look first thing in the morning.
The more I use the mascara, the better my lashes look. I don’t normally believe fancy packaging and claims of revolutionary technology, but this stuff clearly works. Such a fantastic find does not come cheap – it’scurrently £32 online from Space NK. But the results are remarkable.

But a woman can’t live on day mascara alone! And that’s why, when I was recently in duty-free territory en route back from Vegas, I bagged me a tube of Lancome’s Hypnose Doll Eyes mascara in black.

The key to  a good mascara is often the brush; the Doll’s Eyes wand is a thick cone with a traditional, hearty bristles (I’m not a fan of rubber brushes these days). It coats every lash and gives a full fan effect, without clumping or overloading. It is lovely on its own, but is particularly good for enhancing a smokey, feline eye.
Lancome is a touch more reasonable on the wallet, at £22.50online, though Lancome frequently has excellent special offers in department stores. Bag a tester whenever you can.

And now, for my final thought. Or product. Whatever.

It is….facial oil.
I have previously told you ALL to moisturise every day and night, no matter your skin condition. You need to look after your skin as early as you can, or you will be sobbing about your wrinkles long before the rest of us.
One of my secret weapons has been the occasional use of facial oil at night. Massage a few drops into your face and neck before bed, and wake up crease-free.
Last month, I was invited to a Neal’s Yard Party by the lovely Miscriant and discovered the sensation that is the Rose Facial Oil. I am big fan of Neal’s Yard products (read Miscriant’s round-up of their work here), as they are organic and very good quality. Their thicker than usual lotions and creams do take a little while to get used to if you have sensitive skin, but I don’t know anyone who has not been converted after a couple of weeks of use.
The Rose Facial Oil was an obvious choice for me, as I knew my current stash of facial oil was running low. This concoction is outstanding (it also has a handy tincture dropper in the lid), and I’ve been treating my skin to it at the end of busy days and even longer nights. Every time I wake up with incredibly dewy, softer than silk skin. Use it, ladies, and thank me later.
Currently £18.50 online, but I strongly recommend you host a NY party for your friends as you will get a lot of great testers and can sample their many products.
Don’t feel like shelling out for the fancy stuff? For an even cheaper option, pierce a capsule of evening primrose oil with a pin, squeeze onto your fingertips and massage into your face. This version is a bit rich, so don’t use more than one capsule. 
Here endeth the lesson.

Marvellous Miracles – Coconut Oil and White Vinegar

(Forgive my minor absence – I do try to blog once a week, but liquors frequently drunken me and it’s very hard to write with a hangover. Plus with Easter and all, I’ve had a lot of important eating to do.)

Today I am wearing my helpful hat and come to your screens bearing a couple of my so-called miracle products for your delectation. Yes! Roll up, roll up, little children, and gaze upon my carnival cart of wonders! (it’s a piece of lino pulled by a pig).

I call these miracle products not because they heal the sick or turn water into nachos, but because once you discover their effectiveness, you will wonder how you ever did without them. And given their wide availability and low price, you’ll also curse the literally millions of pounds you’ve no doubt spent on more expensive, inferior products.

Today’s products: coconut oil and white vinegar.

Once you’ve marvelled at my offerings, please share your own miracle products with me at the end. If you don’t, I’ll throttle a flower.


Oh unctuous ooze of the Caribbean, oh totally tropical topical tincture, get out of my Bounty bar dreams and into my face. Anyone with a pulse will have heard at least one person yapping on about the wonders of coconut oil lately, and I am no exception.

We’re not talking the perfumed tubs of body lotion flounced by Boots, nor some tarted up bottle of lies from high end salons. I’m talking the 100% raw, cold-pressed edible stuff they sell in giant jars for about £10 (mostly in health food shops). The sort you cook with. The sort you can eat straight from the jar (but don’t because….well don’t, that’s stupid).

Cooking with coconut oil is a wise move as it is packed with healthy fatty acids boasting antiviral and antibacterial goodness. But its uses go far beyond the kitchen. I am actually a relative latecomer to the coconut party, having been temped in by the delicious Brittany, Herself  and the splendid Miscriant.

A few tips to remember: coconut oil in this form is solid, but a chunk will liquefy in your hand swiftly. It’s best to handle this stuff over the sink or in the bath, as it melts quickly and you might slip and fall and die. Also, to avoid cross contamination, I scoop out the amount I need for a specific job into a separate bowl. This is more hygienic than polluting the jar with germs or chemicals on your hands.


The best known use for coconut oil is as a sensational hair mask. Smooth a handful onto your washed locks and let it seep in for a few hours before rinsing out and you shall have soft, bouncy hair that will be the envy of all. Even I, whose hair is always more oily than dry, found the mask to be fool-proof: seriously light and voluminous hair for two days, with a scent that can’t be beat.

I shan’t recreate the wheel with my own step by step guide, as it’s fairly straightforward, but do check out Brittany and Miscriant’s guides.

It’s a no-brainer but pure coconut oil makes a great body lotion, especially at night as it soaks in while you sleep. Do the following:

  1. Slather all over washed skin, and let it absorb (a little goes a long way)
  2. Tell someone you love that you are now ‘good enough to eat’
  3. Spend ten minutes saying sorry, and promise to stop calling them

Face, Eyes & Lips
Again, this serves as a very good night moisturiser, lip balm and eye treatment – gentle, light and pampering. A tiny amount will suffice, and perk up parched skin

Waterproof eye make-up remover
Don’t spend £20 on a fancy oil based make-up remover – this stuff, rubbed in very gently, will melt away even the toughest waterproof mascara without irritating your eyes. Use a cotton pad, or just your finger tips.

This is an intriguing one. Apparently ‘oil pulling’ (swilling a spoonful of melted oil around your teeth and gums for 10-20mins) works wonders for one’s mouth. The theory is that the oil, what with its buckets of luric acid, captures multitudes of germs because  it can be swished into every crevice of your mouth, leaving teeth cleaner, whiter and stronger.

Websites advocating it claim that it is an ‘ancient form of medicine dating back 3,000 years’. I don’t know why people think this is a good thing; I’m pretty sure everyone from that era is still dead.

I will be honest: I have not had the patience to swill oil around my teeth for 20 full minutes  every day. BUT I have tried it a few times, at around 10mins on each occasion, and I did notice my teeth looked brighter after a few days.

What is clear is that oil pulling should NOT replace your normal teeth cleaning regime, as it is not a proven method of total dental care. As an extra boost to regular teeth cleaning, it cannot really hurt.

The main rules are don’t swallow the oil under any circumstances (as you’d be glugging back a mouthful of germs and fat), and spit the oil into a bin rather than down the sink to prevent clogging.

Oils in general make excellent shaving aids, as they moisturise and protect as you go.

Delicate things
Coconut oil is an excellent post-shave/wax treatment for sensitive areas… You don’t want perfumed chemicals down there, darlings.

Cleaning slate surfaces
This I discovered by accident. I have a large black slate counter top in my bathroom, which looks lovely when clean but has mostly been a map of water marks, dust and scuffs  that required daily scrubbing.

After using coconut oil for a hair mask one night, I wiped the residue from my experiments into the slate. It completely removed the water marks and created a thin protective layer over the top to ward off dust and staining.

If you have slate worktops, wipe clean with warm water and then buff a small amount of oil into the surface for a smooth finish. I believe you can do the same on stainless steel (baby oil certainly works) but I’ve yet to try this.


I cannot live without this stuff. As a household cleaning product it is unbeatable for removing stains and cleaning just about anything.  Combine it with a little bicarbonate of soda, and the fizzing action will remove limescale from showers, clean toilets and flush out drains.

I have a few handy tips below, but I want to start with my favourite use for it – getting rid of perspiration stains and smells in clothes.

Most of us don’t talk about it, but damn it, it’s time to get this out in the open. Unless you are the type of person who is entirely perspiration free with nothing but rainbows and unicorn song flowing from your armpits, at some point you will have had to tackle with sweat stains on your clothes. Not only the white and yellow marks, but also the smell of sweat and deodorant that gets locked into certain fabrics and ‘reactivates’ the next time you where it.

I have had to throw away a lot of tops because of this, despite umpteen hot washes and stain removers. Like fabricated time bombs, they were. Until I discovered this ‘cure’.

Firstly, the issue lies in the material itself – your acrylics, your Lycra, your polyester. The more processed, the worse it will be. But we can’t have 100% cotton everything. So here is how to treat those pesky garments.

  • Put all offending garments in the sink, bath or a large tub.
  • In a small bowl, mix about a cup of bicarbonate of soda with a good glug of white vinegar – I do not measure it exactly, but it should be enough to fizz into a thinnish paste.
  • Rub the paste into the arms of all offending garments (inside and out). You can also drizzle a little vinegar on top of the paste on the garment, so that it fizzes and works into the clothes
  • Leave to sink in for at least a couple of hours, overnight preferably.
  • Wash the garments normally in the machine, without softener. The smell and stains will have gone

For a regular treatment – if you’ve had a long day in an odour prone garment, for example – douse the armpits with a little white vinegar, and leave in the laundry until you’re ready to wash it. This is process has saved a lot of my clothes.

Here are  some other splendid uses for white vinegar, beyond using it to drown your chips:

  • Pet mess in the house? Clean up the solids or liquid, and then douse the stain with white vinegar. It will neutralise the smell. Come to think of it, any bad smells can be neutralised with white vinegar. Try using it in your bin.
  • Used neat or cut with a little water in a spray bottle, it makes glass and mirrors sparkle.
  • Pour a  cup into your washing machine drawer once the cycle starts to make your whites brighter and colours softer (I no longer use fabric softeners as a result).
  • Vinegar is a very good anti-fungal treatment, so use it diluted as a foot soak or an intimate wash if you are suffering from….you know….
  • Vinegar mixed with a little water as a hair rinse will remove product build up and bring out the natural shine.
  • It also wards off cats, so a diluted spray indoors or used neat outside will keep cats away from areas you’d rather keep feline free
  • Pour it neat into cracks and crevices in the garden to kill weeds and deter ants.

What are your miracle products? What natural or unusual ingredients or products have rocked your world? Share with me!

Obvious Beauty – A Journey to Dermalogica & Precleanse

Today I bring you guidance on how to make your face so squeaky clean that window cleaners will happen upon you and remark “damn, that is one clean face.”

Oh I jest! This post, in truth, is all about my favourite skin care range, Dermalogica, and the current member of its family I am lavishing attention on. As ever, I advise you to skim through my beauty basics before burying your head in any recommended products, and you should do so at your own risk.
Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review
My journey with Dermalogica began seven years ago…
If you aren’t currently imagining wavy lines and harp music, you’re dead inside.
My skin and I have had a good relationship over the years, thanks to my mother. Mother dear looked exceptionally lovely right up to her dying day (on which she let herself go a bit, what with all the death). Her secret was simple to cleanse and moisturise twice a day, every day, and she got me and my sister started the moment we started messing with make-up.
The conversation went something like this: “Start using moisturiser now, and you will thank me later. I started later than I should have, and now I have lines.”
Me: “No you don’t, where?”
“Will you shut up, are you blind?”
“But you don’t!”
“I DO! Of course I do, for fuck’s sake.”
“Jesus, alright, you DO.”
“WHAT?!! You bitch.”
I never had a chance.
Luckily, mother passed on more than advice; she passed on her genes (and her capacity for gin), which meant sis and I were blessed with relatively problem free visages throughout our formative years.* 
But my skin suffered a crisis in my mid 20s. A combination of a faddy diets and stress ahead of my ill-fated wedding furnished my face with sudden brutal breakouts for several months. I tried many inferior products to treat it – soap bars, scrubs, masque of varying expense. At the end of my desperation, I found a salon in offering facials with a so-called ‘face mapping’ service that promised to address skin problems.
And so, my affair with Dermalogica began.
The beautician took one look at my skin and asked me to list all the products I was using. Face wash, facial scrub, face masks, cleanser, toner, spot treatment, moisturiser, radiance gels, essential oils…… I trailed off. I had a very nice collection of products from various brands that were, together, messing up my skin. I was treating stress-related spots with harsh astringent and clogging them thick creams designed for older dry skin. Plus, most of the products contained lanolin, which I then learned was a big no-no for my delicate visage.
The therapist (a lovely girl whose name I can’t remember for I am terrible) scrutinised my skin under a massive magnifying glass, squeezing black heads as she went (yep – satisfying), and made her assessment before applying a suitable facial. Up to that point, I was certain I had oily to normal skin. Balls, did I! I actually had sensitive skin with dry patches on my forehead (I was so worried about treating my blemished chin, I had forgotten to do anything to my forehead). I walked out of the salon with their Ultra Calming cleanser, Active Moist moisturiser, Multi Active mist toner (once a day would be enough),  Gentle Cream Exfoliant (a non-abrasive masque) and instructions to chuck everything else out.
After a week of using Dermalogica, my skin looked better than it had in years and the bad breakouts never returned, so I have never looked back. I have yet to find a Dermalogica product that fails, as it puts skin care first, beauty second, and packaging, hype etc last. It is not cheap (just request their products as birthday or Xmas gifts), but they last and last. If my skin is ever in need of a boost, I will go on a Dermalogica only ‘diet’ and it puts my pesky epidermis firmly in its place.
You can try the quick online face mapping service at Dermalogica’s website, but anyone with troublesome skin would do well to go for the full salon experience.
If you have sensitive skin, invest in it, and thank me by way of cake.

Dermalogica Precleanse

I was a late comer to this particular party, but I’m glad I made it in the end. I snapped this up at Evolution Skin Studios.
The precleanse is the first step of D’s recommended double cleansing routine, and it is a bizarre concoction at first glance.
Firstly, it is an oil. No foam or cream, but a combination of olive, apricot and kukui nut oils that promise to cut through waterproof make-up, sunscreens and any other debris. Using DRY hands, massage a few drops directly onto your face – eyes and all (it will not irritate). You don’t need water at this stage, as just a little bit of oil literally melts away make up and grime, including that caked-on mascara. By the time you’ve finished this first stage, you look like a bleak panda. 

Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review

Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review

Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review

Then, dampen your hands and continue to massage your face. The water to transforms the oil into a milky emulsion that ‘lifts the debris from the skin’s surface’. Rinse off, and pow – squeaky clean skin. For best results, follow with your chosen cleanser, which will penetrate the skin even further. 

Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review
Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review
Dermalogica Precleanse (The Demon Gin), how to use precleanse, dermalogica blog, dermalogica review

After a few weeks of use, I can attest that it is an exceptionally good cleanser. It removes every scrap of eye make-up, and it leaves skin very soft and pampered. At first, I had a couple of tiny blemishes on my chin (my hot spot for breakouts), but once my skin settled into the regime, they vanished. Used alongside their Essential Cleansing Solution (I got a little sample bottle for free, which lasts a surprisingly long time), it give great results.

At £31.50 in store, it’s not cheap. It’s not cheap at all. It’s almost crazy. BUT, it will last a long, long, long time. A few drops are all that are needed, and the quality is high. And your cleanser will also last longer as you need less of that too.
Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution (The Demon Gin), how to use dermalogica, dermalogica sample, beauty advice

I have also just learned that precleanse is now also available in handy travel wipes at a more reasonable £14.60. I’ve not tried them, but I doubt they will go wrong

You will come to love this product on those nights or morning when you skin is sagging under the sheer weight of make-up, pollution, booze and shame, and you want a quick way to destroy the evidence without having to flay your face. 

Canterbury stockists and salons include:

Surprise Budget Buy Of The Day

Sure Women Maximum Protection Deodorant

I currently cannot live with this – a long lasting cream deodorant that promises 48 hours protection. And it delivers. Bone dry, I tell you. Currently £5.30 at Boots
*Fun horrifying fact about me – I DID have acne as a teenager, but on not my face or back or my chest. It was on my armpits. Great waves of red and white spots covered my underarms for many years. Easy to hide from the public, murder in the summer when you wanted to wear a vest top. It has since vanished. I tell you this so that you might know that I, like you, am human. Sometimes.