Category Archives: Health and Beauty

Beauty on a Budget Revisited

In The Art of Being Gorgeous on a Budget  I touched on the subject of frugal style and beauty, so I thought I would explore this subject a little more.  I know you can spend a fortune on looking good, but I know many women who look gorgeous without breaking the bank. Just because you are frugal it doesn’t mean you have to be frumpy. Taking care of yourself makes you feel better mentally as well as physically but you don’t need a huge beauty budget. So what is the art of beauty on a budget? Here are some ideas to help you save money.

Dilute your shampoo – or give it up!

budget beautyMost of us use more shampoo than they need. But it is possible to use a bit less by really soaking your hair and then using shampoo diluted with water. Some people give up washing their hair altogether. This ‘no poo’  concept has many devotees, who say giving up shampoo and all hair products leaves their hair looking better than it ever did when they piled on the chemicals. There is a very interesting article, plus details of what you can use instead if you don’t fancy giving it up immediately, here.

I save money by cutting my own hair. I have done it for myself and my daughter. Hers is so long it is easy to trim the bottom and add a layer. Mine is slightly trickier, so I keep it trimmed in between hair cuts so that I visit the hairdresser less frequently and spend less.

Very dry hair can benefit from a hot oil treatment. You can buy these pretty cheaply or make them yourself for an even more budget friendly hair treat. Coconut oil is good, as is olive oil, but almost any oil will be beneficial. Just warm it gently, smooth it through your hair and wrap it in a warm towel. Leave on for about 20 minutes, then shampoo off.

Face masks

My daughter loves a good face mask. She buys them really cheaply from places like Poundland, Home Bargains and Superdrug. However, she also makes her own. She likes this one, which is supposed to help clear spots and acne:

1 teaspoon each of oatmeal, runny honey and plain yogurt.

Just mix together and smooth over your face, avoiding the eyes. Leave on for 10-15 minutes then rinse off and use your usual moisturiser.

I prefer the non chemical home made version to the packet stuff!

There are many other DIY personal care products that you can make for yourself very cheaply.  I mentioned that you can use bicarbonate of soda to clean your teeth the other day, but you can also make a minty toothpaste with it. I have found a recipe to try here.

Boost your eyelashes

Another frugal beauty tip that my daughter swears by is castor oil for making her eyelashes grow. She dips an old mascara brush into a £2 bottle of the stuff and uses it most nights. I didn’t really see how this could work, but apparently it is a thing. I found an interesting article on how it works here. It also works on your scalp hair and eyebrows! Incidentally, this article also recommends castor oil as a remedy for dandruff and stretch marks.

Money Saving Expert

A really great place to find cheap beauty and make up deals is  Money Saving Expert. A current deal offers a set of nail polishes for £29 from Nails Inc that would usually cost about £105, a nice gift for someone I think – or for yourself!

Use your gifts

How many times have you been given boxed sets of smellies only to stick them in the back of the cupboard and forget about them? Get them out and use them up. If you really don’t like them, then re-gift them and buy yourself something you do like with the money you save.  I always drop big hints as Christmas approaches for lovely body  butters or Lush products that I wouldn’t usually buy myself.

Drink more water

Nothing is cheaper or easier to improve your health and appearance than drinking water. Wrinkles show more on dehydrated skin and drinking lots of water flushes out toxins and improves blood flow, so your skin will look better.

Get more sleep

I am the worst for going to bed when I need to, yet I look and feel so much better if I get my 7-8 hours a night. You can get away with less foundation and concealer when you’re not hiding the bags under your eyes!

This is a big subject!! I shall return to it. What are your best tips for beauty on a budget?

Yoga for fitness: getting fit and healthy for less

Yoga for fitness

I am as guilty as the next office bound worker of letting things go from time to time with my fitness programme. By the time I have done the nine to five, fought my way home through the traffic , cooked the tea and cleared up there is little time or energy left for fitness.

However, I am stuck in an office at my PC for much of the day. I know how important it is to work at your fitness. Sedentary jobs zap your mental energy. They can also leave you with aching neck and back, tight shoulders and poor posture. You can feel physically exhausted without doing anything remotely physical.

I am a fully qualified yoga teacher. There are no good excuses for not exercising when you have studied how the human body works and understand the benefits of keeping active! It doesn’t matter how shattered I am, half an hour on my yoga mat will revive and re-energise me, both physically and mentally. I know how great yoga makes you feel and yoga for fitness is a good choice for many people.

Fitness is important at any age, but as you hit middle age it really is a case of use it or lose it. As you age, it is harder to get back to full fitness once you have let it go.

The benefits of yoga for fitness

Yoga is a great activity for any age and fitness level. It also has the hugely positive side effects of relaxation and stress relief. Studies have shown that a regular yoga practice can reduce blood pressure,  ease anxiety and depression and improve your balance (leading to fewer falls in old age).

It has benefits too for those struggling with conditions like ME, fibromyalgia, cancer, MS and arthritis. If you look at the British Wheel of Yoga website you will find specialist classes alongside general ones all around the UK, as well as interesting articles on yoga. It is also a great exercise during pregnancy.

But this article was headed ‘getting fit and healthy for less’, so how to learn about yoga with no money?

The great thing about yoga is that you really only need a non slip mat once you have learned some basic principles and postures (I prefer the sticky sort). Depending on where you live, classes tend to be cheaper than, say, pilates. If you belong to a gym already you might get a few yoga classes thrown in. Before you do them, check to see if the teacher is properly qualified through the BWY or one of its accredited partner organisations. If your gym doesn’t offer yoga, ask them why not? They might start them if there is demand. You might as well get value for money! Yoga is a great exercise to do alongside running or the gym.

Yoga books for frugal fitness

However, if money is really tight, start with some books. Your local library will usually have a decent selection. Once you know what you like they are worth buying as you will come back to your favourites again and again. Here are my recommendations on great books for yoga for fitness.

The Easy Yoga Workbook by Tara Fraser

This is a nice book for a beginner as it’s not intimidating and you don’t need to be a contortionist! It is well explained with good illustrations.

Yoga for You, by Tara Fraser

Again, lots of nice, clear images to follow alongside the explanations, plus a bit more background on yoga.

Yoga for the stiffer body, by Craddock and Bunyard

Does exactly what it says on the cover – great for those who think they aren’t flexible enough to take up yoga. One for your Kindle at a great price.

Yoga over Fifty, by Mary Stewart 

I bought this when I was about 40, so ignore the title! It is a book for anyone with an interest in yoga. It is insiring to see older people in advanced positions but some are quite advanced. I like the sequences in this one so come back to it time and again.

Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit, by Donna Farhi
A really comprehensive book for the keen yogi, with very well explained postures and great emphasis on correct alignment. This is an interesting read! I find this very inspirational to dip into when I am planning a yoga class.

Yoga: the spirit and practice of moving into stillness, by Erich Schiffmann

Another very full and comprehensive read, with instruction on yoga alongside meditation. For the serious student of yoga.

I could go on – I love reading books on yoga and have a whole shelf full of them. There are so many great books out there to start you off on your frugal fitness journey.

To get you started, I have a nice easy yoga sequence here.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon UK. If you choose to purchase anything through one of my links I will earn a small commission. Many thanks!

Frugal holiday essentials – sun protection and fake tan 

We managed to move room yesterday and now have one away from the noisy entertainment bar with a sea view. It definitely pays to ask if you’re not happy about something. 

My favourite sun protection cream

There are lots of very sunburnt people here. I don’t understand this. It’s so dangerous and bad for your skin. Too much and you soon look like a piece of old leather! Not attractive! You can get good sun protection very cheaply. I really like this one from Boots as it isn’t greasy or highly perfumed. I am using SP 15 but probably need 20. I am putting lots on frequently.  It cost  £4, plus you get the Boots points, of course! 

I drink a lot of water and wear a hat as well. I am quite fair and I don’t want to get sunstroke. 

Faking it

And if you really want a tan, you can always fake it! That’s what I do 😀😀. I have found this one pretty good, Soltan instant gel – Boots again. I use a mitt to apply it and get Mr S to do my back. He doesn’t need to worry about getting burnt and already has a tan. I think he looks like a handsome Simon Cowell lookalike! Boots sun products are three for two at the moment so I got my mitt for free.

We are sitting at the port of Cala D’or having coffee and looking at the yachts. It’s very pretty here. We also had a walk up the coastal path yesterday which gave us absolutely stunning views of the sea. 

All in all, it is perfectly chilled. It’s nice not to be rushing around and I am surprisingly good at doing sod all 😀.

Off for another wander. Have a good day.

The art of being gorgeous on a budget

A deceptive title as I am not talking about me! I am a low maintenance kind of woman. I don’t spend lots of time and money on my appearance; with limited amounts of each there are always more pressing (bills, food, petrol) or interesting (the garden, the house, holidays) things to spend them on!


As a consequence you won’t often find me leafing through the pages of Vogue (except to have a laugh such as here) or watching You Tube videos about how to contour my face.

However, when you are the mum of teenage girls, as I seem to have been forever, you can’t help but get dragged towards certain TV programmes (because they hog the remote) and  retailers, because you are buying them clothes, makeup, toiletries or presents, and end up enjoying them 😀.

If you too have young females to buy for on occasion, or love to buy fashion for yourself, MoneySavingExpert.com has just reminded me of a brilliant one for clothes. Everything5pounds.com does exactly what it says on the tin. It sells ex high street brands (detagged) and they are all a fiver! Because I am off on holiday in a couple of weeks, I purchased four brand new items for £20 yesterday. What a treat and a rare one for me! Better still, if you go over to MSE first they have a code to use to get free postage, but only until 6pm on Tuesday. 

The other two I find myself buying lots from on high days and holidays are Beauty Bay and Cosmetics Fairy, both offering bargain prices. I don’t know how my daughters need so much makeup, but apparently they do! Need to be gorgeous at all times I guess. The pic shows one of my princesses being beautiful for her Instagram feed. Go over and give her a follow and a like if you do that kind of thing: she is makeupbyisobel1. Thanks!

Have a great Saturday!

Home spa! Giving myself a treat 

I had a late night yesterday as my friends were round for dinner, followed by an early start with my daughters at a boot sale, so I am a bit knackered!

I thought I would give myself a cheap treat, so I have nicked some of my daughter’s posh products and some of my own for a lovely home spa.

I started with a deep bubble bath and washed my hair, then put on a hair mask – I used an organic avocado and honey one, which was lovely and not at all expensive.  Next I applied a snail face mask – sounds gross but was actually quite nice! I used some of the gorgeous Body Shop shea butter body scrub I had for Christmas. It leaves your skin so soft. I had a good soak then rinsed it all off and applied somebody Body Shop shea body butter. Bliss!

Then I used my Ped Egg on my feet to get rid of all the  hard skin and some nice foot lotion, did my nails and I am currently chilling with a nice glass of white wine.

You need a treat every now and then, but it doesn’t need to cost much.

I got more bargains at the boot sale to list tomorrow. It was a bit grey and I thought it might rain but it held off. The girls all bought loads of clothes but none of them spent more than a tenner. I love a boot sale! I am going to have a lie in tomorrow though!

What cheap treats do you enjoy?

Is Easter the best time to cut out sugar?

Well, why not?

I recently blogged about how I had a sugar free March. I didn’t find it difficult generally and lost a couple of pounds, even though I ate as much of everything else as I wanted. Mr S didn’t do it as strictly as me but he also felt a lot healthier.

I noticed that my IBS symptoms improved massively, which was a big surprise. There are a lot of foods that I now avoid (cabbage, onions, milk products unless they are Lactofree, cauliflower and highly spiced food are some), but I had never considered that sugar might irritate my sensitive gut.

I have allowed myself some sweet stuff again in the past couple of weeks – mainly chocolate, which I love – and have had an upset tummy most days. It’s hard to avoid the realisation that these two things are inextricably linked! 

We ate half a Lindt Easter bunny between us last night and I feel awful today, so I am going to cut sugar right out of my diet starting now. 

I now realise there is a whole area of research around sugar, candida and yeast infections which I intend to research. Perhaps that is the root cause of my IBS?

Speaking to a colleague today, he has also given up sugar and started to exercise and eat healthily as he was diagnosed with diabetes. A couple of months in, his blood sugar is normal, he no longer had diabetes and he has lost a stone! Living proof that a high sugar intake and a poor diet have massive health implications.

Sugar sneaks into many foods, even savoury. I bought some cup-a-soups on a whim recently as I had run out of home made for work and they are full of rubbish (plus they taste horrible). Sugar is the third ingredient! Whatever possessed me I don’t know but I won’t be buying them again. I will try to avoid refined sugar wherever possible. 

I have told everyone that I don’t want any more chocolate over Easter and we will have a fruit salad for dessert on Easter Sunday.

Has anyone else stopped eating sugar? How have you found it?

Releasing the purse strings

After two no spend months, I finally released the purse strings a tad and bought some cushion covers. We are planning a budget lounge makeover over the coming months. I am going to buy a few small bits each month to spread the cost. We will replace some of the wallpaper, paint everything and get new curtains, throws cushions and a rug. We won’t spend more than a couple of hundred pounds. I’m going for an ethnic, Indian feel. You don’t need to shell out a fortune to brighten up your home.

Mr S has fitted the new wood burner, built a hearth and added a shelf. We now need to employ someone to line the chimney – this is the expensive bit! It may have to wait a bit. In the meantime I will continue to spend as little as possible!

I finally got around to buying some sharper hairdressing scissors at the weekend. I say ‘buy’ but they cost me nothing as I got them with my Boots points. Got to love Boots! The points on the loyalty card are really worth having and cutting my own hair continues to save me money. I will get a professional cut next time I think but won’t bother with the blow dry to save a bit of cash.

Tired this week. Thank heavens it’s almost the weekend. Until tomorrow 😀.

Veggie food and a sad lack of exercise

I finally got around to publishing my new page (you will find it at the top of the blog), My Frugal Bookshelf. I will be adding to it as and when I review a book so it will be regularly updated. 

I almost missed doing a blog post altogether yesterday. Usually I write it last thing at night to be published the next morning, but time ran away with me and I didn’t manage to do that. Still, I did publish one eventually, at about 9pm! I have kept up that new year’s resolution anyway. My resolution to get more exercise is failing miserably so I must make a bit more effort. I am hoping that the weather will improve soon and I will get some more energy!

I did a nice gentle yoga session last night at least. If you are interested I have a sequence that is great for an achy back here.

My daughter sent me the link to a lovely collection of cheap and healthy vegetarian dinners. They are from around the web and many of them look delicious – quite kind to your wallet as well. We all agreed we would try the Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes first, a vegan delight from the Minimalist Baker.  I also like the look of the veggie loaded breakfast casserole, although I would be more likely to eat it for lunch than breakfast! Check out the recipes here.

I am still sugar free and have found it very easy so far, apart from yesterday when I had cravings all day. I eventually ate a sweet (but sugar free) dried fruit bar from Aldi that I found in my locker! Thank heavens I keep a larder at work!

I am sweet enough

My lovely daughter decided to experiment with a sugar free cake for me yesterday, and made a chocolate sponge. She used half gluten free and half ordinary flour (just to use the gluten free stuff up) and it works surprisingly well. Otherwise the ingredients were the sort most of us would have in the cupboard. It does contain a little honey as she didn’t realise that I wasn’t eating it, but no refined sweeteners. I don’t want her to think I don’t appreciate her kind efforts, so I am eating it anyway. It is really quite nice – I think I may try some more sugar free cake recipes, perhaps using some mashed banana or stewed apples to add sweetness.

She is her mother’s daughter. She found a recipe online and adapted it to what we had in the cupboards. This is it:

Half cup of cocoa powder
Quarter cup of gluten free self-raising flour (can use ordinary flour)
Quarter cup of plain ordinary flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
Half tsp cinnamon
6 eggs
Half a cup of honey
Half a cup of olive oil
Half a cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ones and whisk well. Pour into a 9 inch greased and lined cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes. Test at 50 minutes as you don’t want it to be dry. If you aren’t avoiding sugar you could ice it, but we have eaten it with a little Lactofree cream and chopped banana and it’s very nice.

I was hoping to lose a few pounds, but I have discovered another unexpected benefit of cutting out refined sugar. I am a lot less bloated! Without going into unnecessary detail, I suffer from IBS and know that it is mostly caused by what I am eating. Over the years I have identified dairy products (not hard cheese, which is fine), soya, onions, beans, leeks, cauliflower and cabbage as trigger foods. Luckily Lactofree milk, yogurts and soft cheese are now available  (more expensive than the usual stuff but taste just the same), I use celery where a recipe calls for onions and the other stuff is easy enough to avoid.  However, it never occurred to me that sweet things caused an issue. I am not saying I would give them up altogether, but perhaps only eat small amounts at any one time or on any single day.

I managed to sell 6 items on eBay this week, mainly clothes that my daughter was getting rid of. Not huge amounts of money, but every little helps! I have spent very little on anything since I was waiting on a new bank card, but since I buy practically nothing these days anyway it didn’t cause me any stress! I did need to pop to Lidl for some groceries for the week but other than that I haven’t spent anything at all. 

I checked my bank balance this morning and my statement looks very uncomplicated. There isn’t much on there that isn’t a direct debit or standing order against a particular bill. I need to do a spring clean and have a long, hard look to see if there is anything I could get rid of. I would like to wave goodbye to the TV package I have with Virgin but I have a year on the contract. I am determined to buy a Freeview box when the contract expires and just stick with the channels on there plus Netflix.

I am working on a books page for the blog now, to be titled My Frugal Bookshelf. There are so many inspiring books out there and it is good to share. If you have any you can recommend, let me know and I will try to get hold of a copy to review.

Have a happy Sunday!

Giving up the drug…

The drug in this case being sugar! It being Shrove Tuesday, we had our pancakes with lashings of lemon, sugar and Nutella last night. 

But today is the day – I’m going sugar free for a month. I am a bit nervous as I think I am going to find it really hard! I rely too much on a mid afternoon  biscuit or a bar of chocolate when I need a boost. 

I popped to the supermarket and bought some savoury bits and bobs to take to work: poppyseed crackers, breadsticks, cheesy oatcakes, hummus and soft cheese. I am terrible for snacks so  I need to be prepared. Hopefully I will lose a bit of weight but not if I snack too hard on the savoury stuff. I will have fruit and vegetable sticks too. Honestly. Talk about first world problems!

Some swine has been at my bank account. They got hold of my bank details somehow and went on a spree at Boohoo. Fortunately the bank spotted that this is not normal for me and stopped the card quickly, but it’s annoying as I now have to go to the bank in person when I need cash. I got some cash out at the weekend just before my card was blocked but not enough. Let’s hope the new card arrives soon. In the meantime this will focus my attention and keep my spending to a minimum. I have had two no spend months, so will carry on as before!

I hope whoever cloned my card enjoys their new clothes. Hopefully everything will be just a little too tight or very itchy 😀. Have a good day!