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Beauty on Benefits

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Looking good on a budget.

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      30.06.2013 20:11
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      Beauty on a budget

      I'm a confessed beauty addict that was lucky enough to work in the fashion & beauty world and enjoyed for a long time getting free gifts like handbags, clothes, shoes and more than anything else cosmetics!
      My situation is now very different, I've taken a sabbatical year from work and I've been traveling with the money I've made selling my designers stuff on Ebay. Frankly, I have no intention to go back to my full time job for at list another year and for budget reasons had to find alternatives to the "top end" free treatments I was used to therefore for the last year or so I've been researching and experimenting various cheap alternatives and I've seen amazing results.
      I will not write about DIY cosmetics recipes but of techniques and methods that done regularly I've found to be more effective than treatments like Botox, dermal fillers and mesotheraphy or any expensive lotion or Spa treatment I've ever tried.
      The methods/techniques are the following:

      Tanaka Massage for face: I came across this in a beauty forum and found the free instruction video on You Tube. This facial massage is based on principles and is a mixture of acupressure, lymphatic and bone massage. It is easy to learn and extremely effective. It will not take much of your time, just few minutes but must be done on a daily basis. I've seen results after two weeks especially in the eye area. Honestly, this is better than any professionally done facial massage I've ever had done and really changes the shape of your face.

      Callanetics: Was my favourite beauty therapist that initially told me about this. Apparently it was very popular in the 80's and then went out of fashion. The Callanetics exercise program for the body doesn't make you lose weight but it makes you look slimmer. It is very similar to Pilates but having practiced both I've seen much more results with Callanetics. Callanetics works in a way that tones and elongates your muscles, it has done miracles on my bum and honestly looks like I spend hours in the gym when actually I do less than 2 hours of exercises a week. The program is available on DVD in different versions ( Callanetics for the morning, Aerobic Callanetics, advanced etc).I bought the DVD of the Original Callanetics and I later found out you can also download it online for free. Don't be put off from the look ok the DVD, as said, the look and feel of it is a bit outdated the exercises however are so effective that you can see a difference after the first two times you do the entire routine.

      Facial exercises -Just Google it and you will find plenty of facial exercises programs sold in the form of DVDs or books for various prices. I've tried more than one and frankly they are all good, you can also Google for FREE facial exercises and you'll find lots of them for specific area of the face , just add them up to have a full face exercise routine and it will not cost you a penny. The basic points to keep in mind when it comes to facial exercises is that you have to do them until you fell a burning sensation , this is a symptom that the facial muscles are working and of course you'll also have to be consistent, do them at least 4 times a week for the first month. In my case I started seeing the results after the first week and I haven't stopped since then. I'm usually told that I look 10 to 15 years younger than my real age so I'm hoping that if I keep doing them for another year I'll look like a teenager. Jokes apart, they really work!

      Iron out your wrinkles - I met an a lady in Nicaragua, she was the owner of the B&B where I was staying, was in her 70's and had an amazing skin, not one single wrinkle on her face! I asked her what was her secret and when she told me she "irons out her wrinkles with a tea spoon". At first I thought I didn't understand and my Spanish skills are worse than what I thought until she showed me her technique. She first moisturizes her skin with oil (any oil ) and then massages her wrinkles with the smooth part of a teaspoon ( the curved bit), first in the same direction of the wrinkle and then with circular movements. I'm talking about a deep massage, you really have to push into the skin like if you are trying to iron out the wrinkle. I know it sounds crazy but give it a try, you'll see the difference after the first time you do it. She was doing it every day and since I've tried this technique on my forehead wrinkles I'm addicted to it.

      All the mentioned techniques will take some of your time,each time will take you 15 minutes to do the facial exercises, 45 minutes for the Callanetics program, 6 minutes for the Tanaka massage and 2 minutes for the wrinkle ironing technique.

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        09.06.2013 03:06
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        Beauty on a budget....

        I don't like the title of this section here but I was at a loss where to place this. Certainly, it is not just those on benefits who are feeling the pinch at the moment, so here is my list of home made and natural beauty products which can be easily made at home for very little cost. Love Lush but cannot afford it? A few of the recipes below are very similar. Here I am mainly focusing on moisturising scrubs and exfoliation.

        Scrub a dub dub...

        Scrubs exfoliate and stimulate the skin, remove dirt and dead skin cells, cleanse and unblock pores and generally make the skin brighter. Of course there are loads available to buy, but if like me you want to make your own, save dosh, and be sure of using only natural products, then scrubs and polishes are very easy to make at home. Chuck in some oil or Shea butter and you have an exfoliating moisturiser too.

        You will need some basic ingredients that can be found in supermarkets and online (Ebay or Amazon stock most things), and a few jam jars with lids to store the stuff in. Most keep for months although I doubt that they will last that long... you can also store them in the fridge, a fantastic way to cool down in summer and assist the skin.

        With so many of us having to economise, and with concerns over the ingredients in popular products, it makes sense to make your own products. When you consider that human skin protects our bodies from chemicals, sun and dirt, it makes sense to look after it somewhat. Also consider that skin absorbs what you put onto it.... put chemical rubbish on your skin and your body will absorb that.

        Dr Haushka did a study on skin absorption and found that skin has the ability to absorb up to 60% of whatever product is applied to it. This then affects the circulatory system. (For more info read Fairley's study 2001). Dr Haushka stated that the average female absorbs around THIRTY POUNDS of the ingredients contained in our skin products over 60 years.

        So many mainstream products are derived from irritants (SLS), synthetics and petrochemicals. The recipes below are cheap and 100% healthy for your body.

        CLEANSING SCRUBS:

        * Bicarb scrub (For normal/greasy skin)

        Bicarb is costly if bought in quantity from a supermarket. Buy from a soap supplier or in a larger bag on Amazon/ Ebay, and you will save a lot of money. Bicarb is of course a product that can be used for odour reduction, cleaning around the home, to brush the teeth and much more. In this recipe, I am listing a very simple scrub.

        The tiny grains in bicarbonate of soda are the perfect size to act as an exfoliant. This is good for greasy skin and acne. A teaspoon of bicarb mixed with water into a paste will make up a very cheap face scrub. Leave for 5 minutes and then wash off with cool water.

        * Honey and sugar (For all skins)

        You can use granulated sugar for this scrub, but for a more gentle experience without scratching the skin, I recommend castor sugar. Get a clean jam jar with a lid. Fill it half full with castor sugar and 1/4 of honey. Fill the remaining 1/4 with either lemon juice or oil. Lemon juice is best for greasy skin and oil would be preferable for dry skin. Any oil will do, even sunflower cooking oil, but I prefer hemp or jojoba. Mix it up and use all over the body before showering off, to buff and shine the skin.

        MOISTURISING SCRUBS:

        * Coffee and lime (For oily/ normal skin)

        Coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant. The caffeic acid has anti-inflammatory effects and can boost collagen production. It will stimulate the skin.

        You will need a clean jam jar with a lid. 1/2 fill the jar with ground coffee and top up to just above the coffee line with oil (any oil). Fill the rest of the jar with a mixture of fresh lime juice and grated lime rind. This is a super envigorating body buffer and it also moisturises.

        FACIAL SCRUBS:

        Here are a couple of gentle facial scrubs. They both use oats which are skin softening and gently exfoliating. The best oats to use for these is ground oats (or shove some in a blender to pulse them into tiny pieces).

        * Oat and olive oil scrub with lemon juice: (Greasy skin)

        Add a few tablespoons of ground oats to a bowl abd pour in enough olive oil to cover. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the mix (you can use bottled juice or even orange juice) and stir. Apply to the face after washing. Use circular motion to gently exfoliate the face. Rinse with warm water only. The oil will moisturise the skin and your face will glow afterwards.

        * Oat and Shea butter: (Dry/normal skins)

        You will need some raw shea butter for this (you can buy raw unrefined shea on Amazon for a couple of pounds. Around a teaspoon is plenty. Place in a cereal sized bowl and melt this over some boiling water (as in a bain marie). Once it is melted, it will be a liquid oil. Now add in a tablespoon of ground oats. You can put a couple of drops of essential oil in if you wish. Apply in a circular motion to a clean face and leave on for as long as you can bear. This is an amazingly gentle scrub which will leave you skin feeling like velvet afterwards. Simply rinse off afterwards.

        * Shea and orange body butter:

        Melt some shea over a bain marie (200g is plenty) and add in some freshly squeezed orange juice (half and orange is enough) , a teaspoon of vegetable glycerine, 3 tablespoons of oil (any oil) and some honey (around a tablespoon). Mix with a kitchen mixer until fluffy and store in the fridge. This body butter smells amazing and softens the skin. It will cost you around £4 max for a large jar of it.

        SOLID BARS:

        * Shea and cocoa butter exfoliating massage bar: (All skin types)

        This is similar to Lush's "Buffy", but without the chemicals.

        You will need:

        Raw cocoa butter and shea.
        Lavender and mandarin essential oils.
        Ground almonds and ground rice
        Some base oils - avocado, hemp, apricot, sweet almond, coconut etc

        Melt the shea and cocoa butter together over a bain marie. I do not weigh the ingredients but go on the look of the product. If you buy 100g of each of the butters then this recipe is about right. Once melted add in 2 tablespoons each of ground almonds and ground rice. As it is cooling, mix well and drop in 6 drops of each essential oil. Pour in your base oils (2 tablespoons of each) and mix again. Now pour into a mould/s. You can buy a mould for this or use something like a silicone cupcake mould, even a margarine tub at a push. Place in the fridge to set. After a couple of hours you have a solid massage bar full of nutrients. Store in a cool place wrapped in wax paper or in the fridge in summer. Use after a bath to scrub down the body and then simply rinse the little rice/almond grains off. Your skin will feel incredible.

        USING SHEA AS A BASE:

        Shea can be used as a base for any moisturiser or scrub so it is a good thing to always have at home. 100g of raw shea will cost you around £3 and a little goes a very long way. Don't be afraid to experiment with ingredients. A base of melted shea, with some oil and something to exfoliate makes the basis for so many different types of scrubs and body polish. Try adding tea leaves, dried chamomile, linseeds, wheatgerm, squished avocado and salt.... and use what you have in your house at the time to be even more economical.

        SUMMARY:

        These are just a few of my recipes. You will notice that some scrubs share the same base ingredients. If you buy some Shea butter, some oats and a good quality base oil, then you can make all manner of scrubs cheaply at home. The best thing is that you know exactly what went into them!

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          08.09.2009 12:26
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          copy beauty tips from your grandmothers day.

          l havent been able to work for over 10 years due to health problems and l can relate to any-one who is out of work through no fault of their own.l used to work full time for over 20 years and good grooming was important to my job....just because lm out of work, it still is.
          l wear full make up every day and l wash and put up my long hair every day.I feel it is good for my moral.For me, its easy to just tell myself not to bother, but l pamper myself, give myself free beauty treatments and l look up beauty hints and tips off web sites.
          Here are a few of my beauty tips and my beauty routines to help me save money, time and energy.Hope you enjoy reading my hints and tips.

          In morning.

          Using a small DRY face cloth, l wipe my face over.It removes dry flakes of skin before cleansing.
          l then wash using a mild soap(no face scrub till evening as may make face red).l then smear clear HONEY all over my face.Yes,just clear Honey.It softens the skin, its known to help cell renewal, its helps clear spots(if u suffer from them) and it removes dead skin cells.l leave it on while l finish body washing and cleaning teeth etc..The honey mask is on face for approx 10 mins.
          Then while l smear on body lotion, l try and do body stretches to make full use of my valuable time as l dont want to spend time or money l hav'nt got thinking about going to gyms.
          l then rince off the Honey mask from face with cool water,to also close pores and then l put on a light layer of moisturiser(usually free samples ie see info on my savings review).
          Its best to let cream sink into skin for approx 10 mins before applying make up so l dress.Then l apply my makeup, again cosmetic samples lv collected free.My perfume is applied, yes, l use perfume every day, again free samples only.l have free samples on my dresser to last a year.l NEVER buy perfume,why, when you can send off for samples off the internet.l look up freebie beauty sites for where to email for them.l have Prada.Celine Dion,Miss Dior,Chanel No5..... samples all from Debenhams... and Marc Jacobs Daisy,CKin2U,Impulse,Brittany Spears perfume etc etc , all from internet web sites.
          After this, l will then put up my natural colour, waist length hair.No hair -dresses £75 fee for me.....l even copy hair styles l see on beauty web site or from You- tube tutorials.
          All this takes me approx half hour.

          During day.
          As l have walking problems l make the effort to move my body every hr.Its so important to do this even if you do have a job that involves sitting all day or like me,health problems.As l consider my-self a work at home mom, doing work on my laptop ie surveys,reviews,paid to read emails etc l use those intervals to do house work, stretching as much as possible.As any women knows,house work is good exercise if you remember to stretch more ie while dusting,cleaning paintwork etc etc.When lm washing up l try to remember to pull in tummy and aslo when vacuming.It becomes second nature after a while to remember to do this while house cleaning,walking, sitting on bus, in fact any where.There are even exercise websites that you can follow,say for 5 minutes at a time if you have to stay sitting.Good to learn as well if you are traveling on long haul flights anytime.
          Try not eat junk food, it will only make you feel fatigue and pile on the pounds. When shopping, try this tip,put any junk food at end of shop on shopping belt, so you can see how much you have been tempted to buy.Even pay separate for it,again, so you can see how much money you have wasted.Not good, keep off JUNK FOOD.
          l try to drink water during the day, it is hard to remember,but its so important for health.

          My Evening beauty routine.
          l take off my make up with OLIVE OIL..it cost me £1.99,when it was on offer, six months ago in supermarket and l still have quarter of it left.It has amazing softening effects,if you dont believe me,read up about it.
          l then wash with mild soap and water,and again alight layer of olive oil on my face.Light olive oil,not extra virgin olive oil, does not leave an odor.
          l will then wash my long hair and put on hair conditioner(once a week for deep treatment l use good old fashioned OLIVE OIL again.l never over brush my long hair.l treat it like silk.l do not want to tear out hair from my scalp so l never do the 100 strokes some tell you.My hair is thick, soft and wavy and healthy.Massage scalp with finger tips once a week. See pamper nights.
          Then once a week l use a SUGAR scrub on my face,usually Saturday,as its a deep cleanse, as next being Sunday, is no make up day for me. as deep skin cleanse gets down deep to pores, so l want the pores breathe,Yes just SUGAR from kitchen.It is brill for pores.Try it.
          After rincing well with cool water, your skin will feel super soft.Then a light layer of oil and eye cream.l do not use heavy night cream on my face, but l do use any free samples l get to thickly layer on my neck and chest.
          ,Clean teeth.l dont like to use comercial mouth washes but l do use good old fashion SAGE LEAVES.This can be made into a mouth rince but l just use fresh sage leaves picked and washed from garden.After cleaning me teeth,l use one washed leaf,rubbed over teeth. It leaves your teeth feeling super clean.
          As l grow & use herbs all the time in cooking, its just a matter of picking a sprig of sage and putting in nice rose vase in bathroom,the sprig of sage will keep for a week,in water.Its free and it works.
          l do my manicure/pedicure while watching TV.Every few months,l cut up old tights into very small squares and use those to take off nail varnish.It works and it saves valuable money not buying cotton wool balls. SUGAR again is my beauty secret.just make a mix of sugar and little water and rub over hands before manicure, it leaves your hands super soft as it takes off dry skin.Also do this on feet.Again oilve oil is good treatment for cuticules or night hand pamper treatment, with cotton gloves on over-night.
          In fact,if you get hard to remover dry skin on feet, rub in OLIVE OIL over at night and see it disappear by next morning

          PAMPER NIGHTS.
          Well this where l really lift my spirits.l try and do this at least once a week.l will light SCENTED CANDLES in bathroom.These l only buy mostly at car boots/charity shops or Boots sales.l refuse to pay more than 50p for them.If you seal them well in plastic bags, the scent in them will last and store well.l let the steam from my bath water steam my face before bathing.l will massage my scalp as head massage is great to lessen stress. Partners and hubbies love this lol.After a deep skin cleanse again with olive oil, l will try out a home made face mask,usually a herbal one.l will try out perhaps a home made bath bomb for bathing in.
          They are so cheap to make and just the same as bought over expensive shop ones(just google off websites for recipes)
          If not using a scented bath bomb, l will add powdered milk to soften water,Honey in water will soften skin as well.
          In summer l will even float rose petals in my bath,bliss lol.
          l just scoop & remover petals at end of bath with kitchen utensil drainer.
          Once a week, l use my sugar scrub on body to exfoliate my skin.
          My mother and grandmother had clear,wrinkle free skin, right up to old age.They both had never in their lives used bought skin products,just good old fashioned free or cheap from kitchen, beauty treatments.
          You dont have to be rich to have beautiful skin.

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            06.07.2009 21:45
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            Ideas on how to keep up beauty standards with hardly any cash

            Like Frank Sinatra, "I've been up and down, and over & out, and I know one thing ..." ... It's no fun living on £60 a week!
            This isn't so much about budget beauty tips; more about handling the endless grind of life on benefits. It's bad enough feeling unemployable, invisible and cold - without feeling ugly as well. I thought I'd share some of my coping strategies.


            ** First the good news!
            You have three important things in common with supermodels:

            1. You can sleep for ten hours a day :)
            2. Nobody's counting your loo breaks, so you can drink 2 litres of water a day.
            3. You don't have to fit in with a corporate dress code, so you can develop your individual fashion style based on charity-shop clothes!

            The first two will guarantee you a much better skin tone than you had while you were working. The third is actually fun to do, once you get started - a slightly hippy-trippy look is easier to pull together (print smock over worn jeans, etc) and, thank goodness, is fashionable. Save your one & only smart outfit for interviews.


            ** Christmas & birthday presents.
            Ask for what you need!

            Unless you say what you need, people will tend to give you what they think they'd appreciate if they were skint - luxury bath oils, a treatment voucher and so on. I'm embarrassed to think how often I did that when my friends hit hard times.

            There are much more helpful gifts they could give for the same price; here's my top beauty gift list.

            1. Cash (duh!) or vouchers.
            2. Contact lenses / new specs. You cannot possibly afford eyewear.
            3. Sun block. There's no cheap subsitute, and you can use it as hand cream.
            4. Perfume. Don't wear trashy fragrance, it will make you feel poor.
            5. Skincare. For the price of one Clarin's product, they can buy you a whole year's worth of own-brand day & night cream from Aldi or Tesco (both ranges are surprisingly good).
            6. 1,000 cotton-wool pads. I know it's not a glamorous gift, but are you really going to spend your electricity money on cotton wool? Nope!
            7. Six nail buffing blocks, they'll give you pretty nails for a whole year.
            8. 6 pots of warm wax. Even if you don't currently wax your legs, it's the only economical way to keep them smooth.
            9. A year's worth of multivitamin & mineral tablets, to help balance all those end-of the-fortnight days when you have to eat plain rice and plain pasta.
            10. Ten litres of olive oil! Not only can you put it on your pasta, it has a multitude of beauty uses (see below).

            Depending on your beauty priorities, some other things you might need to be given are:
            * Nail polish & remover. A bottle of polish goes gummy after six months, remember.
            * Mascara & eyeliner. Four mascaras a year; you can't use old ones because they dry out and get germy.
            * Foundation & powder. You can easily use up 2 of each in a year.
            * Fake tan.

            I haven't included such things as eye colour, lipstick & blusher because we all have stacks of those lurking around in our dressing-table drawers. I cleaned all mine up, washed my brushes and felt as if I'd just won the makeup lottery! If you need new stuff, you can blag samples from shops and train your friends to hand over any free gifts they get ;)


            ** Free samples.

            At department store beauty counters, and single-brand beauty stores, the sales staff have loads of product samples which they can give away at their discretion. Obviously the purpose of these is to encourage you to buy - so you are NOT going to get hold of them by begging or demanding! Depending on your level of chutzpah, either fake like a wealthy beauty addict or simply make friends with the salesperson. And then ask for the samples. Do your best, it's worth it!


            ** Bargains
            Head straight for the bargain shelf at the chemist's. Always look for multibuy offers. Never buy anything at more than half price!


            ** Beauty advice for the frantically poor.
            Here are my tips on how to save as much money as possible, without looking like you did ...

            ** Hair

            * Cut
            Unless your best friend is a hairdresser, grow your hair. It's much easier to cut it yourself when it's shoulder-length or longer. I do it by brushing it 'upside-down' over the bath - wet - then trimming the ends evenly. After it's dried, I tidy up any messy bits and cut some layers around my face. It's not as fabulous as a £100 restyle ... but it's better than any £15 cut I've tried!

            * Colour
            This is tricky. Home colouring products are perfectly good, but I can't always afford the £5 - £10 a month. It's best to switch to a shade nearer your own, so regrowth doesn't show too much. Highlighting & lowlighting kits, about £3 each, are handy for blending in your greys / roots when you're pushed.
            Piling your hair up in a messy bun hides regrowth pretty well.
            To make colour last longer - wash your hair less often! It doesn't *need* washing at all, actually (if you brush it). Once or twice a week is plenty.

            * Shampoo & conditioner.
            Tresemme shampoos & conditioners are excellent. They come in enormous bottles, and you can always find them on a BOGOF promotion. Four of each is more than I use in a year, and my hair's quite demanding!

            * Deep conditioning.
            You can't afford specialist products for this. What you can do, however, is smooth olive oil into your hair (dry) and leave it overnight. In warm weather, try leaving it in the following day as well - to penetrate the hair. Then wash as normal. You can do this with ordinary conditioner, too; in summer, I leave conditioner in my hair almost all the time. It works!

            * Heat styling.
            If you're using heat stylers, your electricity hasn't been cut off - congratulations ;) If you haven't got any smoothing/glossing products, use olive oil - carefully. Rub a very small amount between the palms of your hands then smooth them lightly over the outer surface of your styled hair, barely touching it. You can also use glycerin like this - it adds sparkle.


            ** Face care.

            * Moisturising
            I really believe that, once you're over 30, any moisturiser is better than none. Hopefully you can afford Aldi's Lacura products, or Tesco's value brand. They're both very good - at about £2.50 each, in fact, they're almost miraculous! Failing that, olive oil has always been a brilliant moisturiser (you don't need much, obviously). Lacking even that I would use butter, lard ... anything rather than nothing!

            * Cleansing
            Washing your face with soap will NOT make your skin fall off! Plain soap, or glycerin (transparent soap) is best. It won't get makeup off, though - olive oil will :) Wipe it off with cotton wool, then wash. Tone with cold water.

            * Sensitive skin
            Have you ever thought of washing your face in milk? It's what ladies did in the olden days - the lactic acid in milk is a gentle exfoliant, leaving your skin feeling smooth & bright. Put a little pile of dried milk in the palm of your hand, and wash with that.

            * Natural beauty.
            There are lots of natural beauty tips available on the Web, most of which are also money-savers. You can use porridge oats as a face pack (it looks hilarious, but makes your skin nice & smooth). The AHAs they put in skin brightening products are fruit acids - you can get the same effect with a slice of apple ;) For blackheads, use tomato - leave it on for 10 mins.


            ** Teeth
            There's no real difference between a 20p toothpaste and a £2 one. For whitening, rub a little baking soda over your teeth before brushing.
            This is one of the few times you'll get free dental treatment - make the effort to find an NHS dentist, and use them.


            ** Hands & feet

            * Nails.
            To get a good manicure, use all four sides of a buffing block and then rub olive oil into the nails to seal & add shine. If your cuticles are overgrown, soak your nails in warm water to soften the cuticle before pushing them back. Use the ends of your fingers and a tissue for this, not a stick. Keep rubbing oil in, and your cuticles should become more manageable.
            Make sure any oil has soaked right in before using varnish.

            * Hands.
            Sun block is a good hand cream, protecting the skin from weather damage. Olive oil and glycerin are both good for hands and feet - try slathering your feet in oil overnight (wear socks!)

            * Hard skin, callouses & corns.
            When I 'confessed' to a chiropodist that I used my Black & Decker Mouse to smooth my feet, she said "oh yes, a lot of people do that!" If your toolshed isn't full of fine-grade sandpaper, you can get good results using a salt & sugar scrub. The inside of a banana skin also works, as does pineapple, but you have to be very persistent. A foot file costs about £5.


            * Body.

            * Body scrub ideas
            A sugar scrub makes a good exfoliating treatment - white sugar's quite scratchy though, and soft brown sugar is more expensive. Porridge oats are a fantastic, cheap, skin treatment - though they make a mess! Dried milk is very kind to your skin. Body brushing does you a world of good - and it's free.

            * Moisturising bath
            Add dried milk and olive oil to your bath. Lovely :)

            * Moisturise
            You guessed - olive oil! Almond oil's nicer, but costs more. In any case, you can easily find body lotion for around £1 a bottle; it doesn't have to be a top brand to work well.


            ** Fitness.
            You may be broke, but you do have time. You can walk more; run if you're fit. Do floor exercises. Ballet, Pilates and yoga cost nothing - there are free tutorials on the Web and in the library. Skip! Two cans of baked beans make fine hand weights. You can use cushions for resistance training your upper arms and thighs; use an actual step for stepping. I know it all feels a bit pointless sometimes - but it is worth it! (oops, note to self!!) At the very least, it builds your confidence.


            ** Diet.

            How annoying are those "cuisine on a budget" articles, where they just happen to use 'store cupboard ingredients' and "ask the butcher for such-and-such a cut"??? Eating on £2.50 a day tends to rule out butchers doing you favours, and my store cupboard was emptied out ages ago.

            There will be days when all you have is toast, rice and pasta. But, most of the time, you can manage a very good diet on not much money. It does takes more effort. If you go shopping when they put the sell-by bargains out (usually around 5pm), you can pick up lots of fresh fruit and veg for pence instead of pounds.

            I gave up my organic/fair trade principles to buy tinned stuff and meat from the "value" ranges - also, the "value" ready meals are often healthier than branded ones. I cook plenty of bulky dishes - casseroles, lasagne, shepherd's pie & so on - and freeze them. In a good week, I can make 10 days' worth of main meals for about £15.

            Don't buy breakfast cereals, except porridge. A cheese sandwich, or eggs on toast, will keep you going for much longer because of the protein. Eat as much fresh fruit & veg as possible! If you buy them at cut price, they're a cheap way to fill yourself up and keep your skin healthy.

            Stay pretty :)

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