10 sneaky ways to drink more water (it’s the cheapest, quickest way to look AND feel great!)

I did a post on acne (What is your acne telling you?) and the role that various bits and bobs of our bodies play in its horrid takeover of our faces. Amongst the 24,36,987 visitors who stopped by this post in a week, over 40% wrote in to say that they have pinpointed much of their spottiness to a lack of adequate water.

Which makes sense. Water is not called the ‘source of life’ for nothing… it is crucial for every body function, right from metabolising fat and regulating temperature to facilitating important bio-chemical reactions, lubricating the joints and limbs, aiding digestion, hydrating the skin and helping the body flush out waste and toxins. So, it stands to reason that without regular top-ups, our skin (actually our whole body) will go into crisis mode. The simplest solution? DRINK MORE WATER!

Yet, 99% of us don’t heed this advice. H2O is bland, it’s boring, it’s always “just there”… maybe if water becomes more expensive, we will start paying more attention! But till then, I would be the first to admit that sometimes drinking the requisite “8 glasses” (find out exactly how much water you need HERE) can be a real challenge! So, after much interviewing, thinking, researching and experimenting, here are 10 tips to help you accomplish that feat (and I have personally tested every one of them – they work stupendously!). Click through, then tell us the sneaky ways you trick yourself into drinking more water in the comments. We could all use the help!

Drink your water! Stay well hydrated! Stay healthy! Stay pretty!

drink-waterIn case you can’t see the image above, here are the tips in text form

1. Add two glasses of drinking water to your daily skincare regimen: Drink, cleanse, moisturise, then drink again.

2. Don’t purchase any other drinks: let’s face it, if you have your favourite soda chilling in the fridge, are you honestly going to opt for water?

3. Drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you down. (It’s also a great way to prevent a hangover!)

4. Set an alarm to beep every hour – this is your reminder to down a glass of water. If you drink only small (6 ounce or 180 ml) cup per hour, you will consume 48 ounces (1.4 liters) in an 8-hour workday.

5. Eat water-rich foods, such as watermelons, which are 92% water. A tomato is 95% water, while an egg is 74% water.

6. Add ice or freeze water in a sports bottle before taking it with you. Tt will eventually melt and stay cold, thereby creating a pleasant frisson on a hot day.

7. Purchase a water bottle that holds the amount of water you need to drink each day, or use a combination of 1-liter and half-liter bottles. This will allow you to see exactly how much water you are consuming on a regular basis.

8. Fill a glass jar with water, pop in some fruit-infused tea bags in a glass jar and place it in the sun for naturally brewed tea that has an intense flavour. Drink it chilled for loads of flavour and antioxidant protection.

9. Prefer a sweet sip to plain ol’ water? Fill 1/4 of your glass with 100 percent fruit juice and top off with water or seltzer.

10. Bring a touch of the exotic: Add mint leaves, slices of apples, strawberries, lemons or limes to a pitcher of water; serve chilled. Keep a jug in the fridge so you always have great-tasting and great-looking H2O available. For an even greater kick, drink it out of champagne flutes!

How much water do you manage to drink on a daily basis?

WTF of the week: Beauty spells. As in spells to make you more beautiful. Yes, really!

Want to look prettier? Want to banish acne? Or maybe chase away those fine lines that are slowly creeping up under your eyes? Or turn your tresses blonde? Try a beauty spell, the coolest or craziest (depends on your perspective!) beauty trend to hit our shores this season. Beauty spells? As in one of those Double, double toil and trouble things? To make you look prettier in some form or manner? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

beauty-spellA beauty spell? That would be $900. Only.

Apparently, yes. Seems that beauty spells are not just amusing quirks but big business. Some go for as much as $900, like this Cleopatra spell “…based on ancient Egyptian lore that was used by sorcerers and priests to the great Pharaohs thousands of years ago.”

It involves 113 batches of rare ingredients and materials, a hex eradicator and  a 14 layer spiritual shield. Much? Don’t worry, everything is arranged by the spell caster and managed online (eMagic? iMagic?). You only need to send in 3 pubic hairs (!!), 14 hairs from your head or eyebrows, 7 tears dropped on a paper napkin and one small piece of toe nail from your right foot.

Oh! And the $900.

We accept credit card and PayPal.

beauty-spell-3Save money, go DIY

If $900 seems a little steep, you can go the budget route and pay under $10 to buy a beauty spell “to become more attractive, more beautiful or to cause someone else to become more attractive and beautiful”.

Stingy, much? Just opt for DIY, as there is no dearth of information on beauty spells that can be done at home. No fairies or witches required.

I stumbled across one that promises to change the colour of your hair. This is how it goes: On a Friday during the waxing moon, go to a place where you can be alone for at least 15 minutes. Light 3 orange or red candles and place them in a triangle on a flat surface. Visualize the color of your hair fading and becoming white as the color drains from it. ‘Hold’ the color within your hands. Slowly lower your hands above the candles and focus on the flames. Raise your hands above your head and imagine the colour you desire pouring into your hair and turning into that colour. After all of this say the following:

Fire warm and fire red
Charm the hair upon my head
Fire dance and fire shine
From [the current colour of your hair] to [the colour you want it to be] this wish is mine.
As I will, it now shall be
By fire, water, wind and tree.

While I haven’t personally tested it out, sure seems to be a neat way to save salon fees! But what would one do if you also wanted highlights? Or maybe an ombre effect? Sigh… the Egyptians were obviously content with much less.

There is another one for acne. It goes hence: Get an apple and cut it in half horizontally across the middle. Once you cut it you will see a 5-pointed star. Rub one half of the apple over your face while saying: “Apple, sacred fruit of the Goddess; with this gift, I do caress; The pimple that brought me shame; I banish this zit in your name.” Get another apple and cut it vertically from top to bottom. Rub one half over your face as well. Say this: “I love and accept myself as I am today; clear skin I summon to come my way; By my will so mote it be three times three times three.” Bury the first apple by a tree, bush or flower that is outside. Bury the second apple by water. If you can’t find a place like this, just bury it anywhere and pour water over it.

Well, doesn’t sound much more bizarre than the claims of some skincare companies nowadays.

And like all witchy matters, you can curse someone else into losing their beauty prowess. There is one for hair loss and another for premature ageing that would be perfect for at least 17 people in my life right now.

beauty-spells-2History? Magic? Science? Balderdash?

Kidding aside, my digging throws up another interesting fact: Beauty spells are historically some of the oldest charms known to mankind. They are scattered through scores of papyri and clay fragments dating to ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Incantations and charms for looking more beautiful are also found throughout literature, going back to the Middle Ages. And every major world religion has prayers and rituals for increasing one’s attractiveness.

Not surprising actually, considering how the human desire to look prettier, glossier and thinner is all-encompassing. After all, that’s how we developed eye makeup and body butters and nail colour – all those ancient Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Arab and American women experimenting with pots and potions of indigenous ingredients.

So, do I believe in beauty spells? No. Not because I don’t believe in ancient rituals and recipes. This blog is inspired by gypsy wanderings, after all. And natural ingredients are often more powerful than anything that Lancome or La Mer could bottle into $500 glossiness.

It’s just that I like my rituals and recipes underlined by reasoning and rationale. Witch hazel tightens pores because of its tannin content. Apples clear out acne because they have high levels of immunity-boosting pectin. Turmeric tackles premature ageing because it is a strong antioxidant. Basically, show me the underpinnings and I will follow you to the cauldron. Till then, let’s just have some fun.

What’s your take? Do you believe in beauty spells? In witchcraft? In magic? Will you be trying any of these charms and incantations?

Cult classic: 12 ways to use Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream

Just what is it about Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream that’s made it a cult staple in the bags of everyone from runway makeup artists and top fashion models to global beauty editors and Prince Harry? And yes, that’s the very same Prince Harry, of the British royal family fame. Apparently the world’s most eligible bachelor is armed with this potent cream while trekking in arctic conditions for the Walking With The Wounded Allied Challenge to the South Pole.

Back to the Eight Hour Cream, first let’s get one thing clear: this is actually a balm and not a cream. It doesn’t have the most advanced or high-tech stem cells (in fact, the core ingredients – petrolatum, beta-hydroxy and vitamin E – have remained unchanged since the 1930s), it’s not super-expensive (clocking in at $20) and it’s not pretty but it works. And works so well that a tube of this take-everywhere, use-for-everything work-horse is sold every 30 seconds. Which is a LOT of tubes! And there’s a reason for that: it’s really good.

And while there are an infinite number of ways to use this classic cream, here are 12 great ones.

elizabeth-arden-eight-hour-creamSkin saver

The cocktail of petrolatum, skin-soothing beta-hydroxy and anti-inflammatory vitamin E soothes, restores, calms and helps relieve minor skin irritations, including roughness, redness, chapped, cracked or dry skin. Perfect for protecting skin from drying winds, central heating and air conditioning… just add a dollop of Eight Hour Cream onto your hands, let it heat up, then apply it over the face and neck as a protective moisturiser!

Flight tool

Flying leaves your skin dull and dehydrated? Take a dime size amount of the Eight Hour Cream in the palms of your hands, warm it up by rubbing the hands together and pat onto face to boost skin’s in-flight moisture levels.

After-sun soother

With its legendary soothing and moisturizing benefits, it’s the ideal after-sun treatment to relieve minor sunburn and calm dry, irritated sun-exposed skin. 

Lip scrubber

Dab a bit of Eight Hour Cream on your lips, then gently scrub with an old toothbrush – goodbye flakes and chapped lips!

Lip protector

Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream makes an excellent lip treatment, healing quickly and leaving behind a soft shine and a light, glossy effect.

Cuticle comforter

The Eight Hour Cream also doubles up as a superb conditioning balm to soften rough, dry cuticles, keeping smooth, supple and beautifully manicured. Especially perfect for brutal winters!

Brow shiner

Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream is brilliant at keeping unruly brows in place, providing a bit of sheen and creating a perfectly defined arch that will stay in place all day. All it takes is a dab and a spoolie brush or wand to comb it through the eyebrows.

elizabeth-arden-eight-hour-cream-1Glow giver

Found in top makeup artists’ kits worldwide, this all-in-one beauty tool is perfect for adding a soft glow or a hint of red-carpet-ready sheen. For best effect, add a dab at the highest point of your cheekbones (post-foundation), or along the collar bone, knees and shins.

Eye opener

Want romantic looking eyes with a bit of shine? Take a touch of Eight Hour Cream on your fingertip and apply it into the center of the lid, over your eye shadow. This will really open up the eyes and give them a sheer, ethereal glow. You can also apply the product on bare skin at the highest point of the brow bone, right below the brow. This will create a subtle highlight, without the dated look of a shimmer.

Chic maker

‘Tis the season for some edgy sexiness and one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into your look is by mixing a bit of soft taupe or light gold eye shadow with Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream and brushing it through the brows. This will create a gorgeous ombre effect that’s very young Hollywood.

elizabeth-arden-eight-hour-cream-2Age concealer

Thicker patches of skin – like the elbows and knees – can get dry and ashy as you grow older, making them visible markers of your age. Counter by rubbing a small amount of Eight Hour Cream into these areas regularly!

Overnight healer

Massage Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream into your hands and feet before bed every night to heal even the roughest, driest skin while you sleep. Worried about your sheets? Don a pair of socks and cotton gloves.

Leg wear

This balm calms irritation, reduces redness and leaves legs super-smooth and silky-soft. Great as an après shave or après wax treatment. 

Hair help

Fried or frazzled hair? Rub a little of this classic cream into the dry areas – especially the ends – leave it on for half an hour, then wash with your regular shampoo.

If you’ve discovered other uses for Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream, do tell. Please.

Beauty emergencies: How to fix a bad-everything day

We’ve all had them. No matter how well you maintain your beauty routine – and let’s face it, things can be erratic at times – nobody escapes a pre-party zit or hungover eyes. Or you could be like me and have it all at once at least four times a month! My skin ages 10 years, my make-up only makes matters worse and my lips look as if I’ve spent two weeks in the Arctic… forget bad hair days, these are paper-bag days. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to rescue a seemingly hopeless situation. Here’s how to cope when everything goes wrong.

beauty-emergency-2The bad hair day

Frizzy locks? Rub a bit of conditioner on your hands and work it through to the ends. This will tame flyaway strands. In a pinch, a drop of ordinary hand cream will do the trick.

Limp and lank strands? Put on a headband so that it lifts hair up off the face. Spray hair with a volumizer; wait 10 minutes and then remove the ‘band.

Greasy hair? Rub antibacterial gel over your hands, then rake your fingers through the hair before you brush and blast it dry. The gel’s high alcohol content will dissolve build-up.

The tired face

Skimped on sleep? Looking washed out? Skip the full face of makeup. When you’re tired, blood is circulated away from the skin to boost major organs like the lungs and liver, making the complexion look pasty. This means your usual make-up will not sit very well and shall possibly even make things worse. Instead, go for moisturiser, eye drops, a light brushing of face powder, lip gloss and, if possible, a pair of sunglasses.

Baggy eyes

Still carrying around last night’s baggage? Drink loads of water to flush out the toxins. Then, gently pat either aloe vera gel or an eye mask on those puffy zones to draw out remaining impurities. Or dab on some witch hazel – diluted with double the amount of water – as it’s wonderful at busting toxins.

Panda eyes

Global makeup authority Bobbi Brown has the cure: always apply your eye cream before your concealer to hydrate the delicate under-eye skin and make concealer go on smoothly. She also suggests choosing a concealer one shade lighter than your foundation. Work it from the under-eye area up to the lower lash line and, most importantly, the innermost corner. This is the most recessed area of the face and hence appears darkest.

Acne attack

If you notice a spot developing, wrap an ice cube in a thin handkerchief and gently massage it over the blemish for 10 seconds. Repeat every hour to bring down the swelling and reduce redness. Follow with a formulation that contains 2% salicylic acid and dab some concealer for on-the-spot camouflage.

beauty-emergenciesUnkissable lips

Olive oil is a terrific quick fix for lips, especially when you’ve forgotten your lip balm. It’s a terrific moisturiser and you can find it just about everywhere. Rub it into your lips, elbows, feet or anywhere else that needs a little TLC.

Stained teeth

If red wine and coffee (or cigarettes!) have stained your teeth, avoid lipsticks with orange, yellow or beige hues. The key to making teeth look whiter is contrast. So, choose bright reds or reds with a blue base instead.

Nails not up to scratch

Mix a bit of coconut oil or olive oil with salt and baking powder. Rub this mixture all over your hands, on the palms, up to the wrists and particularly on the nails. The oil acts as a moisturiser and the baking powder releases oxygen into the skin to plump out any fine lines and increase the circulation. The salt, in the meantime, acts as a gentle exfoliant to bust dead skin and soften the cuticles.

Smelly, grungy feet

This one needs a 3-part solution:

Rather than removing chipped polish on your toes and starting again, mask it with a coat of darker colour.

If you have a pearly eyeshadow that’s all broken up and is ready for the bin, break it down even further and mix it with a little moisturiser. Rub the mixed-up lotion into your feet for soft skin that has a sexy sheen.

If you get smelly feet, crush fresh mint in a bowl of warm water. Submerging your feet in this concoction will remove any unpleasant odours.

Streaky fake tan

Ah, the joys of the self-tan. For those who’ve been well and truly tangoed, try these tips:

If it’s really disastrous, go swimming. Local pools are notorious for having lots of chlorine and this will bleach away the tan.

If you have darker knees and ankles, rub a little whitening toothpaste into the area using a circular motion. The toothpaste will gently exfoliate and the whitening agent will remove colour.

What’s your secret beauty quick-fix? Share with us in the comments box below!