3 DIY ways to amp up hair volume (without a blow dry, back combing or hairspray!)

There is nothing more morale-boosting than pretty, bouncy hair that’s got an extra pep in every swish. Unfortunately, my tresses run more towards the horribly limp and lifeless, despite all the backcombing and volumizers that I throw at it on a regular basis. And speaking of the latter, anyone else HATES that crunchy, flaky feeling brought on by volumizers and those new hair powders? I can’t wash them out off my hair fast enough! Time then, to turn to the hair experts who treat flat and dull hair right at the root and dig out their secret recipes for hair that’s full of volume all day, every day.

DIY hair volumeHair volume DIY #1: Body & bounce beer shampoo

There are few things that give hair as much body, bounce and shine as plain old beer. I am constantly swiping half-full bottles from my husband (being more of a Champagne and cocktails person myself), leading to many Sunday afternoon battles. Especially if Formula 1 is in motion… but that’s a different story altogether.


1 cup beer (any inexpensive beer will do – fresh or flat)
1 cup department store shampoo


  1. Boil the beer in a small saucepan over medium heat until it’s reduced to 1/4 the quantity.
  2. Add the reduced beer to the shampoo and stir well.
  3. Pour the shampoo into a clean bottle; there is no need to refrigerate.
  4. Shampoo as normal and rinse well.

Hair volume DIY #2: Egg & brandy revitalizer

Brandy (or cognac) stimulates hair roots and improve circulation in the scalp, thus making your hair look fuller and stronger. The eggs nourish strands with proteins and fats to keep them smooth and shiny. And the essential oils help mask the smell of brandy – which is a personal choice.


2-3 egg yolks, depending on your hair length
4-5 tablespoons brandy or cognac
1 tablespoon caster sugar
10 drops geranium essential oil (optional)
5 drops lemon essential oil (optional)


  1. Whisk egg yolks with cognac, adding just enough caster sugar to make a thick paste.
  2. If using essential oils add them and stir well.
  3. Apply the mask to dry, unwashed hair. Cover your head with a shower cap and wrap it with a towel. Leave for 20 minutes or more.
  4. Rinse off and follow with a mild shampoo.

DIY hair volume 2Hair volume DIY #3: Grape & clay volumizer

Clay helps remove the excess oils that make hair look limp and dull. Grapes feed the scalp with antioxidants, while helping to gently polish away dead skin cells. Result: healthy, shiny, bouncy hair.


2-3 cups grape juice
1 tablespoon white clay
1 cup green tea
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well.
  2. Shampoo your hair as usual.
  3. Pour this mixture liberally over wet hair, then massage lightly into scalp and along your hair length.
  4. Allow to remain on your hair for a minute, then rinse off with cool water. Towel dry your hair and style as usual.

Have you tried any of these recipes for amping up the volume of your hair? What’s your secret tip for va va voom locks?

Gypsy makeup: How to look grungy, mystical and exotic this Halloween

Dark, dramatic and mysterious, gypsies have both fascinated and frightened people the world over since the 14th century. Traveling nomads indulging in eternal wanderlust, mystics who dance with bells on their ankles, fortune tellers who live life on the outskirts of society… these wanderers have the reputation for living a rugged life filled with mystery and adventure. As a teenager, I kept wanting to run away and join their romantic-looking caravans. As a fashion and beauty writer, I have marvelled at how their influence marks the runways almost every season. And as a grownup who needs to get into a costume for Halloween (yes, it’s that time of the year already!) without looking like a complete moron, I have often turned to their exotic look for inspiration.

Because whether or not the gypsy stereotypes are valid, one fact remains: the gypsy theme certainly fits in well with Halloween. This is particularly true for those of us who want to give free reign to our creative fantasies and also for those who want to do the whole costume bit but still look mind-blowingly gorgeous! So, cast a spell this Halloween, without resorting to the ubiquitous sexy witch costume, by channeling your inner gypsy queen.

gypsy makeup halloweenGypsy makeup #1: Acing the base

Start with a foundation that’s a couple of shades darker than your skin for a sun kissed glow. If you have a really pale complexion, put a thin layer of foundation on the backs of your hands as well.

Gypsy makeup #2: The cheeky bits

Dab a rose-hued blush on your cheeks, starting from the cheekbones and sweeping upwards towards your ears. Blend, blend, blend!

Gypsy makeup #3: Lip love

Go red or go dark… your choice! As a thumb rule, lighter skin tones would do well with a purple or red lipstick that has blue undertones. If you lean more towards a tan or olive complexion, opt for a red or purple shade with yellow undertones. These colours evoke a deep and fiery look that’s a perfect complement to gypsy style. Finish with a touch of clear gloss in the centre of your pout.

gypsy-makeup-21Gypsy makeup #4: The eye have it… literally!

Gypsies are often shown as having exotic eyes that denote a sense of mystery, so keep the focus on this part of your face. Start by smudging a black kohl pencil into your top and bottom lash line. Rim the entire eye and just when you think the look is dramatic enough, add a couple more swipes on the lower lashes. Then flick the liner outwards, like a cat’s eye, and go over it with a powder eyeshadow to enhance the smokey effect.

Add dark or jewel-toned eyeshadows, taking them right up to the brow bone. Fill in your eyebrows and finish with several coats of jet black mascara. Want still more drama? Add false lashes and green contact lenses.

Gypsy makeup #5: Finishing touches

Get the smallest costume jewel stones you can find (I get mine from a craft shop!) and make a “V” design in the middle of your forehead. You can use the liquid bandage that’s put over scrapes or cuts or a tiny dab of tooth paste to hold them in place.

For a dramatic flair, use an eye pencil to draw in a beauty mark near the eye or lips.

Gypsy makeup #6: Tress talk

Gypsies are usually portrayed as having heavy, dark and curly hair. If your strands are fine or straight, try texturising them with small hair rollers. If they are naturally curly, tie everything back and wrap it up in a boldly-hued scarf, with scattered tendril peeking through. Other gypsy hairstyling options? Wear it down and make small braids at the front of your face; or create a wavy, unruly effect by sleeping in wet braids. If you want to be even more adventurous, check your local costume or party store for a gypsy wig.

Gypsy makeup #7: Wow wardrobe

Long, flowing skirts are a staple item in every self respecting gypsy’s wardrobe. If you want to play safe, opt for a solid black skirt but it’s far more fun to experiment with bright jewel-toned colours and patterned fabrics. Be creative and don’t shy away from bold colours!

Pair the flowing lines of the skirt with a fitted top. Practically, you can well make do with a plain white tee but a sweetheart neckline and some detailing will really perk up the gypsy genome. If you want a more feminine look, go for an off-shoulder top.

Finish off with sparkly accessories: flat boots or sandals with a hint of glitter will look perfect, as will a clutch purse or cross-body bag.

Gypsy makeup halloween 3Gypsy makeup #8: The jewel effect

What’s a gypsy without the piles of gorgeous, clanky, oversized jewellery? If you have to pick one thing, go for large hoop earrings in either gold or silver – these are a staple in the jewellery arsenal of any gypsy. Add beaded necklaces and gold or silver bangles to complete the look. You can also wear a large statement ring for more drama.

Gypsy makeup #9: Savour the scarf

No gypsy costume is complete without a scarf, especially one that is made from a shiny fabric or has a paisley print. You can wear it in many different ways but for the most authentic look, fold it in half and place the middle on top of your head, then tie it in the back. Another option is to drape the scarf over the back, top and sides of your head (so that only your face shows) and tie it underneath your chin.

Gypsy makeup #10: The pot o’ perfume

Lush floral-orientals, patchouli, amber, musk, sandalwood, incense… celebrate the sensual and the dramatic with a perfume like Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, Byredo’s Gypsy Water or Diptyque’s L’Eau.

gypsy makeup halloween 2

So, there you have it: gypsy makeup. What do you think? Corny or glam?

Monday morning power smoothies (also Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…!)

I don’t like Monday mornings. Or Tuesday mornings. Or Wednesday mornings. Actually, I hate mornings of any shape, size or color. The snooze button is usually pressed about 186 times before I actually get up and by the time I have managed to bathe and dress myself – both tests of supreme strength before noon – everything is running an hour behind schedule. Then, of course, there is neither the time nor the energy to make breakfast. Which, as we well know, is nutritional suicide what with breakfast being the most important meal of the day yada yada yada…!

So, with Kimberly Snyder around, I figured the answer to my morning crisis might be found in a one-gulp pitcher. Several experiments and 27 nutritionists later, I have these 7 perfect, super-healthy, super-delicious power smoothies for crazy mornings. These nutrient-dense concoctions give unlimited energy, rev up the metabolism and help me make it to lunchtime without ravenous I’ll-chew-off-my-own-fingers urges. There is one for every day of the week, so mix them up according to your own schedules! I usually make a batch on Sunday and store them in Mason jars, so they are easy to grab-and-run. [Oh! And did I mention that a smoothie, unlike a juice, will keep its freshness for 4-5 days in the refrigerator!]

breakfast smoothiesCitrus wake-me-up smoothie

This smoothie is perfect for those mornings (think M.O.N.D.A.Y) when you simply don’t have the willpower to step out of bed the door. The fruit content gives a mammoth vitamin C-punch to help reduce sluggishness, thereby creating an even more powerful energy jolt than a cup of coffee.

1 cup orange juice
1 cup sliced strawberries
3/4 cup papaya
1 banana

Combine everything in a high-speed blender and puree till smooth.

Pomegranate-protein morning smoothie

According to research, Tuesday at 11:45 am is most stressful time of the week for most people. Counter with pomegranates, which are full of super-healthy antioxidants to support the cardiovascular system and help with high blood pressure and diabetes. Bananas, in the meantime, provide potassium. Chuck some into a blender, add protein powder and a handful of almond slivers for a powerful breakfast smoothie that will get your day going right.

1 cup pomegranate juice
3/4 cup soy or almond milk or low-fat milk
2 ice cubes
1 large banana
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons protein powder
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Combine, blend and drink up!

Avocado anti-midweek slump smoothie

By the time you hit the mid-week Wednesday slump, it’s time to load up on avocados that are chock-full of healthy fat, fiber and B vitamins – all essential for tackling stress, maintaining healthy nerves and keeping those brain cells ticking. And, no! Guacamole isn’t the only way to get your avocado fix – try this Brazilian-inspired smoothie recipe, courtesy of Dr. Oz.

2 cups low fat milk
1 large, ripe avocado
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
Ice, to taste

Add all ingredients to a blender; blend until smooth.

avocado breakfast smoothieThe breakfast-in-a-glass smoothie

Thursday mornings can be rushed because really, who wants to leave work pending for the weekend? This breakfast smoothie is great for those of us who are running late and prefer to drink our breakfast on the way. It is literaly ‘breakfast in a glass': cereal, milk and fruit.

1 banana
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey or sugar-free honey substitute
1/2 cup granola
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Combine and blend; the granola will give it a nice texture and also keep you full for longer.

Super energy smoothie

Snuck in a couple of drinks on Thursday evening? Need a storehouse of energy for post-work Friday cocktails? This smoothie is loaded with antioxidant- and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables along with watermelon to help dilate blood vessels and promote blood flow. It also has coconut water, which is one of the most hydrating liquids out there (and helps reduce blood pressure).

1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 cut watermelon
1 cup coconut water
4-5 stalks baby spinach
8-10 frozen blueberries
2 green apples or 2 bananas

Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy!

pineapple watermelon breakfast smoothieSunburst smoothie

Ah! It’s finally Saturday and that means you can pull off a slightly more complicated recipe that will clear out toxins from the past week and set the stage for the weekend. Sweet and savoury at the same time, this almond butter and peach smoothie is loaded with calcium, iron, protein and vitamins A and C.

1/4 cup almond butter
2 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups drinking water
1 cup frozen peaches
1 to 2 teaspoons agave syrup
1/2 cup ice

Blend together until smooth.

Soy for skin smoothie

Sunday = Me Time! One serving of this delicious and refreshing smoothie has 4 to 6 grams of whole soy protein, which has been linked to a wide range of women’s health benefits, including weight loss and better looking skin, hair, and nails.

6 ounce peach soy yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 fresh fruit (like mango, apple, banana etc)
6 ice cubes
1 mint sprig (optional)

Blend yogurt, coconut extract, mango and ice in blender until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with mint sprig, if desired.

Have you joined the smoothie revolution yet? What’s your fave recipe?

14 Beauty recipes from around the globe (it’s your ULTIMATE passport to looking gorgeous)

From Brazil to Scandinavia, the best beauty secrets are found in the kitchen. And they are often more effective than pricey lotions and potions, which is why they have lived on for thousands of years. So, I’ve scoped out some of the best natural beauty recipes from across the world for your benefit – each one tried, tested and timeless. But first put down that passport! You don’t have to travel any farther than your local market to start reaping the benefits.

global beauty secretsGlobal beauty recipe #1: Thailand’s detox tea

Thai women attribute their flawless, glowing complexion to the detox benefits of lemongrass. To replicate at home, chop up a handful of lemongrass and add some crushed ginger, basil and jasmine. Boil everything in a litre of water and let simmer for 10 minutes, then cool the liquid. Finally, add the juice of half a lemon and sip through the day.

Global beauty recipe #2: Philippines’ aloe vera hair treatment

Women in Philippines have a simple beauty recipe for glossy hair: break an aloe vera leaf in half (or get some organic aloe vera gel) and massage the juice into your scalp and strands. Let it sit for half an hour, then wash with your regular shampoo. The chemical composition of aloe vera gel is very similar to keratin (hair’s natural proteins), which allows it to be easily absorbed into the hair shaft. Once absorbed, the strengthening powers of protein combine with the plant’s natural amino acids to break down old sebum (natural oils) and dead scalp cells, strengthen the strands and boost lustre. Added bonus: aloe vera works a dream at controlling frizz without weighing down the hair.

japaense skincareGlobal beauty recipe #3: Japan’s sake-based skincare

To get glowing skin, Japanese women take a sake bath. The brew’s high level of kojic acid exfoliates and helps lighten age spots and other discolouration. It’s a simple beauty recipe to replicate: just add four six-ounce glasses of any kind of sake to your bath water. Then soak. And glow.

Global beauty recipe #4: Tahiti’s Monoi oil

Monoi oil – extracted from coconuts and infused with tiare, frangipani and vanilla flowers – allows Tahitian women to maintain their lovely skin despite the region’s intense heat and daily exposure to salt water. They coat their strands with this fragrant oil to prevent hair damage and massage it into the skin to retain moisture and elasticity while protecting against environmental assault.

Global beauty recipe #5: Israel brings home the Dead Sea

Swimming in the Dead Sea is an excellent way to detox the body and cure skin problems. To get these benefits at home, use this potent beauty recipe: mix together ¼ cup sea salt, 1 pinch seaweed powder, ½ cup almond or olive oil and 10-15 drops lavender oil.  Apply to skin and gently exfoliate, using circular motions.

Global beauty recipe #6: Britain’s mustard bath

Soaking in a hot mustard bath is a traditional English remedy for tight, achy muscles. Think it’s weird? Mustard has healing compounds that draw out toxins, improve circulation, relax tight muscles and speed up the healing of damaged tissues. To make a mustard bath, mix 2 cups of epsom salts, ¼ cup baking soda and ¼ cup dry mustard powder. Add this healing mix to hot running water; soak for 20 minutes, then rinse.

Global beauty recipe #7: Australia’s dandruff cure

Dandruff? Do like the Aussies and add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo. No more white flakes!

Global beauty recipe #8: France and their love of grape-seed

Grape-seed oil contains powerful antioxidants and is regularly used by French women to keep their skin beautiful and ageless. And no, grapes cannot compare in antioxidant potency to grape-seed extract – you would have to eat 1.5 pounds of table grapes to receive the benefits you would get from 50 mg of grape-seed extract.

Global beauty recipe #9: Scandinavia’s skin-boosting face wash

Scandinavian women have amazing skin. And their beauty recipe has to be the simplest ever: not only do they drink plenty of mineral water, it’s also used as a face wash. Minerals help condition and hydrate the skin, while the cool, fresh splash of moisture rinses off impurities and helps reduce redness and swelling. The key is that it needs to be icy cold and you should indulge in at least 20 splashes to wake up the skin.

Global beauty recipe #10: Turkey’s highlight booster

Daisy flowers make for an excellent highlight booster, especially for blond or light brown hair. Boil one cup of daisies in two cups of water for five minutes. Let the liquid cool, remove the daisies, pour the water over your hair and let it air dry; no need to rinse out.

turkey skincareGlobal beauty recipe #11: The Greek hair conditioner

Greek women rinse their hair with rosemary water to deep cleanse and remove buildup. To try it now, boil fresh rosemary flowers in water, let the liquid cool completely, strain out the rosemary and pour the water over your hair. Result: shiny, bouncy locks.

Global beauty recipe #12: Chile’s red grape glow

Chilean women credit the antioxidant powers of red grapes for their luminous skin. They mash up a handful of the fruit and add 2 tablespoons of white flour. This paste is applied to the face and left on for 10 minutes before washing off. It instantly rejuvenates tired or fatigued skin and imparts an amazing glow.

Global beauty recipe #13: Jamaica’s simplest skincare DIY

The signature Jamaican beauty recipe combines a pinch of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Dab this on  a pimple; as the paste dries and hardens, it will suck dirt and oil out of your pores.

Global beauty recipe #14: Brazil’s sunburn twister

To ease the sting of sunburn, pile oatmeal flakes onto a large piece of gauze bandage, twist it up like a sack, and tie it around the tap of your bathtub. Let cool water flow through the bag and bathe in it for at least 20 minutes to soak up the cereal’s anti-inflammatory goodness.

What’s your secret natural beauty recipe? Do share.