The only beauty detox you will ever need

After a full week of back-to-back weddings, complete with shovelled-on makeup and ultra-late nights, every pore of my skin is crying out for mercy. Time for a hefty dose of Beauty Rx!

Step 1: Cleanse out the gunk

When an event runs from morning to night, it means multiple makeup touch-ups. Result? Skin that gets completely clogged over. And there can be no better way of scrubbing out the gunk from every pore than this simple-yet-potent natural exfoliator, which comes from a Greek buddy who has the most gorgeous skin ever!

Ingredients

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 drop vanilla extract (for a soothing fragrance; recommended but not essential)

Method

1.  Whisk together all the ingredients.

2.  Massage them into your face and neck for a couple of minutes, rubbing in circular motions.

3.  Rinse with warm water and a wash cloth (to remove the oil).

Step 2: Deep cleanse from the inside-out

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Truly beautiful skin needs to be nurtured from the inside out. And this old Russian recipe helps you do just that, upping your beauty quotient multifold.

Ingredients

3 cups water

1 bowl

3 tablespoons dried herb (chamomile soothes dry skin, peppermint controls excessive oiliness, while rosemary and parsley are great for congested, acne-prone skin)

1 tea infuser

1 towel

Method

1. Pour one tablespoon of the dried herb in a tea infuser. Place the infuser in a mug and add boiling water until the mug is full. Infuse for 10 minutes.

2. Boil the remaining water; place the remaining herb in a bowl and pour in the boiling water.

3. Lean over the bowl, draping your head with a towel so that you are inhaling the vapours from the herbs. Remain as long as you can stand the heat or until the water cools.

4. Pat face dry with a clean towel, sip the tea slowly and don’t go out into the cold for at least half an hour. You’ll have a glow that comes from the inside out!

Step 3: Lay on the beauty mask

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Exhausted skin is sluggish skin and you need to rev up the circulation. Besides its circulation boosting powers, this Russian recipe also simultaneously tones, hydrates and refreshes the skin.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon tomato juice

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon (unbleached) white flour

1/2 cup buttermilk (for later)

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients except the buttermilk to form a paste.

2. Apply the paste to your face and neck; leave it on for 5-10 minutes. It may tingle a little as the blood starts flowing. However, never leave anything on it if it begins feeling uncomfortable.

3. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat skin dry.

4. Soak a cotton ball in buttermilk and apply it all over the skin. Rinse off after 10 minutes.

Step 4: Toner

Sweeping a slightly slightly astringent toner across newly clean skin preps the perfect canvas for applying moisturiser and completing the beauty detox. There are various type of skin fresheners but one of my favourites is still one that good old mom recommended years ago.

Ingredients

2 lemons

1 1/2 cups cold mineral water

Method

Squeeze the lemons and and strain the juice into a small bottle. Add the mineral water. Use an astringent toner after any of the facial masques. Follow with your favourite moisturiser.

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Beauty recipe: Grow lashes, grow!

If there is one thing the Egyptian women of 3400 BCE and I have in common, it’s the desire to have longer, thicker, darker lashes. Of course! They were doing it to ward off the evil eye (since eyes are windows to the soul, they need to be protected against the devil) and shield their peepers against sun, sweat and debris, while I simply want a stunning pair that will make my eyes look gorgeous. Oh! And while those gorgeous Egyptians were zealous proponents of a “lash growth serum” made from honey, crocodile dung, ivory, bone and water, I would rather opt for something less… um… disgusting. Thank you very much.

But then there is the little caveat that I am paranoid about putting anything in or around my eyes unless it’s 300% safe. Which can’t be said with full confidence for the new lash growth formulations, like Latisse and Careprost, all of which have the potential of leading to dry eyes, eyelid skin darkening, redness and itchiness. So, time to turn to an old and well established recipe that’s been around for about a century and, according to wise women wisdom, works every single time.

Eyelash serum: Longer, thicker, darker

2 tablespoons castor oil
4 tablespoons vitamin E oil
2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
1 old mascara or nail polish container (washed well)
1 mascara wand (washed well)
 

First, blend both the oils together and then and add the aloe vera gel to this mix. Shake well and pour into the container. Apply a light layer to lashes (or brows!) with the mascara wand every night before going to bed. Follow up with a thin layer right at the lash line with a clean eye liner brush or cotton bud. Repeat daily for 6 weeks.

eye-lash-growthDoes this recipe actually work? To track the results, I took “before” and “after” pix of my lashes over a course of 6 weeks. As you can see, I had very sparse, very light lashes a month-and-a-half back. Without mascara, they would seem almost invisible. These have metamorphosed into long, dark and downright fluttery ones now… in fact, when I wear mascara it often ends up streaking my sunglasses. Seriously! My dermatologist does not find this at all surprising since it’s an established fact that castor oil thickens the lashes, while both aloe vera gel and vitamin E accelerate their length. Yay 🙂

Here are two more classic lash growth recipes for those who are interested. I haven’t tried these personally but have friends who vouch for them 100%.

Eyelash serum: Conditioning & lengthening blend

1 tablespoon aloe vera juice
1 tablespoon jojoba or flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon strong chamomile tea
 

Apply this conditioning mixture to your lashes twice a day with an old mascara wand that has been washed well in warm, soapy water. If you wear mascara, rinse the blend off 15 minutes after application and then apply your mascara. This is a very nourishing recipe for your eyelashes and it will protect them from drying and brittleness while accelerating their length.

Eyelash serum: Lash dye

1/4 cup crushed black walnut husks
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 teaspoon strong chamomile tea
 

Strain the mixture and apply to your lashes twice a day with a cotton bud.

What’s your secret fluttery eyelash trick?

How to have the world’s smoothest legs

sexy-legsI have a pathological dislike of pain. Which is why my legs get shaved rather than waxed. And which is why they are usually sporting horrid-looking nicks, cuts and super-dry skin that no amount of Bliss Naked Body Butter or L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream is able to transform into skirt-skimmingingly glowy gorgeousness!

Then I ran into a college friend who now lives in Russia and has legs like butter… no exaggeration. And being a great buddy, she bestowed upon me this Russian shaving oil recipe that’s been around for a few hundred years and apparently gives ultra-sexy skin every single time!

Plus, it’s super-simple: Pour 3 tablespoons of almond oil in a bowl. Add half a tablespoon each of wheat germ oil, canola oil and sesame oil then stir till everything is all mixed up. Slather onto legs and shave. Simple, right? And this has a long shelf life so you can make a larger batch and store in a pretty bottle (the pretty bottle won’t make it more efficient – it’s just my personal commandment). As for the razor – dunk it into a shot glass of vodka (this is Russian, remember?) for a couple of hours and it shall come out all clean and fresh, sans any oily traces!

I have tried this thrice and my legs are definitely looking much better. This week, I might even bare them in this thigh-skimming floaty chiffon-silk dress from Leaves of Grass. What do you think? Good for a chilled-out Sunday champagne brunch? Or should I keep it more chic and monochromatic with the Alice by Temperley number on the right? I need your help here!

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Lush gets emotional about makeup

Until now they have done it with the most gorgeously delectable scents. And textures. And “good” ingredients. I don’t know about you but there have been many, many times that I have found myself reaching for a grapefruit-laced Happy Hippy Shower Gel to banish the blahs or a patchouli-infused Karma Soap to help me focus. So, I was beyond excited with Emotional Brilliance – Lush’s brand new makeup line, which besides looking gorgeous also reflects the brand’s core philosophy of using natural ingredients, minimal preservatives and no-tolerance policy towards animal testing.

Play the colour game

I, for one, completely get how a beauty product is ’emotional’: wearing red lipstick makes me feel more courageous, pastel pink eye shadow is reserved for those times when I am in “pretty and feminine” mode and a deep slash of black eye liner brings out my inner wild child. That’s because certain colours have the capacity to make us feel a certain way. And it’s not hocus pocus – this is a concept that’s firmly rooted in science. This is what Lush has drawn upon for Emotional Brilliance, working with renowned Strategic Behavioral Therapist Lady Kennedy, who specializes in changing people’s behaviour and attitudes.

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This is how it works: walk into a Lush store and spin the colour wheel (or you can do it online), picking the first three hues you are drawn to – not your favourite colour but those that stand out to you immediately. All the colours have words attached to them and the order you pick them matters as well. The first colour chosen is meant to represent a strength or weakness in your life; the second represents a subconscious need; the third is your talent and what you will need to achieve the subconscious need. Lush believes that if you wear these colours, you truly wear the word. Maybe this sounds a little crazy, but I like the idea that wearing a bold blue liner named “Control” can help me have a stress-free day. Placebo effect? Perhaps! But I am all for bright make-up when in need of a pick-me-up in any case!

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100% handmade goodness

Well! That’s cool! But to me what’s even cooler is the fact that Lush has managed to put together a complete, highly pigmented colour collection made almost entirely from natural ingredients. For example, the Translucent Face Powder lists talc, mica, jojoba oil, iron oxides and CI77947 as the ingredients – not the main ingredients, the only ingredients.

Then there is the packaging, which is enough to bring a smile to my face all on it’s own. The cute, vintage-y glass bottles are in equal parts utilitarian and earth-friendly. The clear glass allows you to easily see the colour, while also being superbly recyclable. AND the black caps are actually made from recycled Lush pots. So, full marks on the eco-cred!

Lush Liquid Lips

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First stop: the liquid lip colours, which to me are the best part of this product line. As per my colour wheel suggestion, I power up with Power (sorry for the pun) – a shimmery reddish-orange that goes on like whipped butter. It applies well, feels weightless on the lips and is intensively moisturising (it’s packed with organic jojoba oil, candelilla wax and rose wax) without being slippery. The pigmentation is amazing – one swipe gives full opaque coverage though you can soften the effect by layering it with a lip balm. The wear time is also pretty decent (I got about four hours) though you need to remember that this is not a stain, so it’s not fair to expect all-day durability.

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Lush Cream Eyeshadows 

The bright yellow Lifted also goes on easily with the sponge-tip applicator. However, like any cream shadow, it creases pretty quickly on bare lids – so you will get on best with a primer. It dries quickly, completely setting in less than a minute (one needs to blend fast!) but once on, it lasts literally through the day.

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An added bonus: the base contains a soothing combination of rose petal infusion, almond and jojoba oils, and cupuacu butter, all of which have amazing skincare benefits for the eye area.

Lush Eyeliners

lush, makeup, emotional brilliance, color, colour, colour therapyThe bright, shimmery teal Motivation is made with the same base as the cream eyeshadows, which means that it’s pretty blend-able and incredibly long-lasting (think heavy rain-shower and not one smudge!). Plus, the bottles hold 8g of product – normally liquid eyeliner is 2g – making them good value for money! However, at least for me and my clumsy hands, the quaint dropper handle makes the liner brush a little tricky to control, so I skip it and use my trusty Tom Ford instead.

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Lush Skin Tints

Another product I am impressed with is the skin tint, which is designed to be mixed in with a Colour Supplement or moisturiser. However, it can also be used as a skin primer or a tinted base with its combination of simmered oats, almond and jojoba oils, cocoa butter and orange flower water that help remove unwanted shine while nourishing the skin.

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I especially like Charisma, a bronze hue that leaves you with a nice, glowing complexion (almost like Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel) and is perfect for contouring or warming up the skin.

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Feeling Younger – an iridescent pink highlighter that’s pretty similar to MAC’s Strobe Cream – contains a “magic orange” pigment, which makes skin look bright and glow-y. It can be used as a highlighter on the brow bone and eyelid to really open up the eye; on the cheekbone for a youthful glow; or on the décolletage for a sexy shimmer.

Lush Translucent Powder

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This, actually, is my least favourite product in the collection. Technically, the translucent light-reflecting face powder can be used over foundation to set it in place and create a shine-free finish or on its own to even out skin tone… however, I found it a bit too chalky and difficult to blend, so would deem it skippable. However, it does have the merit of containing absolutely no preservatives or mineral oils, making it a good bet for those with super-sensitive skin.

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Lush Eyes Right Mascara

With only one preservative (most mascaras on the market contain between 4-6), this gentle mascara can be worn even by those with the most sensitive of eyes. It’s packed with wheatgrass to condition and nourish the lashes, along with Japan and Carnauba wax to help it remain completely clump- and smudge-free. The end result is a set of really fluttery and naturally full looking lashes – those aspiring to spidery ones should look elsewhere.

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All in all, it’s a pretty solid collection. Does it catch your fancy? What colours are you drawn to? And which ones influence your mood the most? Do tell!