How (And Why) To… exfoliate Roman style.

Warning: this post contains grossness. Gross picture. Gross. You have been warned.

Exfoliation is a common practice and for good reason. Between skin oils, dirt and grime from outside, makeup and other assorted elements, our skin often has a greasy film over it that sticks dead skin cells, dust and dirt to our bodies. Exfoliation gently removes this whilst stimulating the healthy skin to keep our pores clean and our natural barriers strong. All in all, exfoliation can improve our skin health, produce a radiant glow, eliminate dirt and discourage acne and black heads.

Which is why I’m surprised that we only use gritty exfoliants, like sand, sugar, salt or walnut shells, to clean our skin.

You see, a good part of exfoliation is scraping. And when we use a gritty rub, we aren’t really scraping all our skin. Sure, we think soap will “get it”, but the reality is quite different.

For illustration purposes, this is my two day unexfoliated face.

Roman Exfoliation How To

Bear in mind that the above picture is older as I forgot to take that day’s “before”, so my face is a bit plumper. However the complexion is a perfect illustration of my usual skin health a few days without exfoliating.

This face is washed once or twice daily with a bit of soapy water and when I wear makeup I use baby wipes to remove it before the end of the day, missing only a bit of eyeliner each time. So how much grime could be on this face?

How about this much grime?

Roman Exfoliation How To

Normally I would use a soap or a natural oil to lift it more easily, but specially for you guys, this is just the oils and sediments that build up on my face when I don’t do deep exfoliation.

That is a lot of grime, right?

Yet this is how my face looks literally minutes after a Roman exfoliation, which removes all that nasty buildup:

Roman Exfoliation How To

And that is why we need to try and learn to exfoliate, Roman style.

1: The oils.

The first step to Roman exfoliation is something we all would rather avoid putting on our skin: oil. But like dissolves like and as the thing that is gluing all this gunk to our skin is oil, using an oil to dissolve it is only natural. Pick a soft oil like olive oil or coconut oil and apply a thin coat, just enough to get a little foam, over the body part you want to exfoliate.

Start under a warm shower, to open the pores. Step away from the stream. Rub in the oil nice and gently until it’s warm and a bit foamy. Let it sink and rub it again before moving on to scraping.

Ancestral origin: The Romans did this with olive oil!

2: The scraper.

Here anything that is firm but a bit soft will do. The scrapers you get with hair removal gels work great for large body parts, as does plastic cutlery, but for face and neck I much prefer just to use my nails. Pick something that scrapes off the oil, but doesn’t irritate your skin much.

Then, drag it over your skin, rinsing after each stroke. You want to lift off the oil and then wash it away, along with the grime it’s loosened. Press down firmly on spot and blackhead prone areas to empty and cleanse the pores and squeeze out any excess oils.

Ancestral origin: The Romans used a copper scythe-shaped scraper and were often assisted by servants!

3: The rinse.

Once you’re all scraped, wash yourself down in warm water. If your skin is dry or healthy you may want to use a bit of soap just to take away the remaining oil. But if your skin is very oily you don’t want to dry it too much, or your body’s natural oil production could be messed up even more. Just be patient and let the water do most of the work.

Once you no longer feel any oil on your skin, turn the water temperature as cold as you can stand it and wash yourself in it, to close the pores and tighten the skin.

Ancestral origin: The Romans loved nothing better than a cool dip after a good wash!

4: Drying.

Were possible, air dry your skin. Any extra rubbing or stimulation could worsen any slight abrasions and encourage your skin to produce more oil defensively.

If you can’t air dry, at least just pat gently with a very soft, nicely clean towel.

5: Frequency.

I don’t recommend doing this more than every other day. Scraping causes slight abrasions on the skin and, even though they won’t bleed or hurt, they can build up over time. A day is all it should take to recover, but a 48 hour cycle gives you safer parameters.

But don’t worry! Even though my skin is quite pink in that post-shower picture, this is how I look a mere four hours later:

Roman Exfoliation How To

It isn’t dangerous. It’s very healthy and good for your skin. Just be careful with it, is all.

After all, most Romans didn’t shower or wash every day and you can definitely have too much of a good thing!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

15 Tricks for Better Skin.

Everyone loves healthy skin. And everyone loves having nice, pretty soft skin. But not everyone is blessed with adamantine skin that survives anything and comes out looking like we’re on the cover of a magazine. I know I’m not. We all get the odd pimple, blackhead, greasy spot or dry area from time to time. And it’s unreasonable to ask everyone to stay indoors all day, wash their face ten times a day and never eat anything inflammatory or allergenic. So here are 15 tips to make sure you have great skin as often as possible.

1: Drink more water.

The biggest cause of all skin issues is dehydration. Even oily skin, heavy sweats and water retention, that look like they might be caused by excess water, can be triggered by dehydration. If you naturally drink very little or a lot, this doesn’t mean you need to add a litre or two a day, just a glass when you get up and a glass when you go to bed can make a massive difference.

2: Exfoliate.

Using a rough grain exfoliator like a sugar or coconut shell scrub can do wonders for you. It can prevent ingrown hairs, reduce the number of blackheads and even thicken and darken the skin over stretch marks, reducing their appearance.

3: Vitamin D.

Your skin is designed to produce Vitamin D when it’s in contact with sunlight. The amount of Vitamin D in our bodies nowadays, when we spend so little time outside, is very low. So it stands to reason that our skin suffers from this lack of Vitamin D. I have noticed my skin lost some of its ashen complexion and the dark circles under my eyes disappeared after some Vitamin D supplementation. This is especially important for people with darker skin, as higher melanin content makes it harder for your body to make Vitamin D!

4: Scrape pores.

In the same vein as exfoliation, but where exfoliation is prevention, scraping is the cure. When you have blackheads or open pores, this can really help. Take a scraper like you’d use with hair removal cream. Run it over your problem pores, pressing down lightly so it squeezes out any blackheads or clogging. Use a splash of cold water to seal the pores again. Just be sure to do this before bed, as the skin will be red for a few hours after scraping and using makeup can clog your pores again.

5: Moisturize.

Whether you use a damp, warm towel, essential oils, a store bought face cream or a yoghurt and honey mix, make sure to moisturize, especially if the weather is warm, your skin is very oily or dry or if you use a lot of makeup on a regular basis.

6: Disinfect.

If you see redness, scratches, spots, blackheads or swelling anywhere on your skin and it’s definitely a skin surface issue, use a little tea tree oil. It’s a natural disinfectant and could help prevent further damage and encourage your skin to heal normally.

7: Steam bath.

If you have oily skin or pores that clog often, use a steam bath a couple of times a week to clear your pores. The warm steam will open your pores and the heat will encourage you to sweat, which may help force out many of the oils that collect in your sweat ducts and glands, giving your drier, softer skin for the following days.

8: Go lactose-free.

In many people acne is a symptom of lactose intolerance. If your heritage is anything but pure Hungarian or Scandinavian, chances are you are at least a little bit lactose intolerant. Try cutting out dairy from cream to skimmed milk. Butter is still OK as the lactose in it is negligible. After a couple of weeks you may notice your acne is reduced or entirely gone.

9: Pat dry.

With very oily and sweaty skin, sometimes we make the problem worse by poking or prodding too much and using too many products. Keep some facial blotters with you wherever you go and if you feel your face getting prickly, oily or sweaty, just lightly blot your face and neck. This will absorb excess oils without irritating the pores. Never use one blotter twice, especially if your skin is very oily, as you could be adding oils back to your skin after you’re done.

10: Beta carotene.

More urgent for people of Caucasian heritage than any other, but still useful to most people unless your skin is 100% Sub-Saharan Black. Beta carotene is the pigment in carrots, sweet potatoes and oranges that makes many foods orange or red or pink. Your body absorbs it and it lightly colours your skin, filling in the melanin gaps with a golden or orangey colour. This pigmentation gives lighter skinned people a healthy glow and can help prevent sunburn during brief periods of exposure.

11: Cool off.

Some of the biggest problems with skin care happen when our pores are wide open. Regularly washing our faces in very cold water can help keep your pores closed. Fanning and sitting in a breezy area is good too. Keeping cool will help keep your pores closed.

12: Sunblock.

Sun damage on any skin tone is terrible. You have dryness, wrinkled patches and swelling. Even if your skin is dark and won’t show redness, it will show the swelling, wrinkles and peeling. Be sure to use sunblock if you’re out for over half an hour and enjoy the sun without burning.

13: Dry shave.

If you shave your legs and/or arms, consider doing a dry shave once in a while. After a shower, pat yourself mostly dry, take a fresh razor and carefully shave without using water or soap. If the drag hurts don’t do it, but if it doesn’t bother you, you’ll be amazed at how smooth the skin is and how few ingrown hairs you get!

14: Cut back sugars.

Many people get very bad skin from eating fast release sugar. If you find your skin is puffy, oily, aging quickly or covered in acne, but lactose wasn’t causing it, it could be sugars. Try cutting out all foods with simple sugar and having only one or two pieces of fruit a day over a week. You may find your skin looks much better.

15: Oil cleansing.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but actually all soaps are made of oils and for most of our history we made use of oils for washing. The fact of the matter is that oils bind with oils, so if you have oily skin, eczema or generally sensitive skin, oils can bind with your natural skin oils and the irritants that are in them. Your skin could be far healthier if you use oil cleansing. Try using olive oil, coconut oil or walnut oil for the best results.

And that is what I have learned about how to care for your skin!

How do you keep your skin clear, healthy and happy? Have you tried any of the above advice? Share your experience in the comments. πŸ™‚

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare a makeup kit.

This post is the last in my “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI at these links.

Ending on something a little lighter for my seventh and final kit: makeup. Again, another one for the girls, but also an idea for a gift!

1: The Bag.

Most people’s makeup bags are too big with too few compartments or too small. Instead, look for something about the size of a pressure cooker pot, a 2l jug or an xBox360, with two or three compartments to it. This should be enough. If you’re an avid collector of makeup, try and keep various kits this size rather than one larger one, as it will keep everything more organized.

2: The Basics.

These are your minimalist makeup products. The two, three or four things you absolutely won’t go without. Keep them all together in a small section or their own pouch.

My basics:

-brown eyeliner

-black mascara

-concealer

-tinted lip gloss

3: The Specials.

These are things you actually use, but not all that often. Fancy dress, dressing fancy or to swap with your basics when you fancy a change. Anything you don’t use daily can be considered here. Anything you don’t use weekly absolutely belongs here. Keep them organized in a larger section of your bag where they can be accessed easily but kept away from your regular use items.

For specials, I would suggest an assortment of makeup with a bias towards makeup that enhances your best asset, all in good colours for you.

-eyeshadow collection in at least 5 colours that look good on you

-a couple of lipsticks that look bold and attractive against your skin

-blushes and countouring in your colours

-something unbelievably sparkly

4: The Applicators and Tools.

The stuff you use to put the makeup on and get your face neatened up. There are thousands of reasons to keep them separate from your main makeup, but the primary one is hygiene. These tools will be in contact with your face every day until they are replaced. You need to keep them clean, keep clean tools away from makeup and not let them come in contact with face cleaning equipment, unless you want to damage brushes or get deep pore cleanser in your eye through your lash curler!

I haven’t had a need for much more than this, but I’m not into heavy makeup most of the time. Add a special applicator for every item you wear regularly!

-large brush for coverage

-smaller brush for bursts of colour

-fan brush for eyeshadow control

-thin applicator for eyeshadow control

-sponges for dabbing and blurring

-lash curlers

-tweezers

-small scissors

5: The Cleaning.

And when you need to make a few corrections or get everything off, these come in handy. These occupy the main area of your bag, seeing as they’re large and best kept handy. You will also want to keep tools for cleaning your brushes and applicators.

6: The Nails.

Nail-care materials are often spread around the house, but it’s worthwhile to keep a set in your makeup bag that never strays from there.

-clippers

-scissors

-nail files

-fake nails and glue

-nail polishes

-nail polish remover

-nail moisturizer

7: The Travel Bag.

Something you can grab and throw your favourite makeup into. You’d take your whole kit with you if you were going somewhere for a week or more, but this is more for an evening or a couple of days.

It needs to have two main compartments: day and night. Maybe a third for interchangeable items. Each will have a makeup combination that covers all the sorts of makeup you wear, but only for one set. So an example would be:

Day: deep beige eye shadow, tinted lip gloss, brown eyeliner.

Night: dark green shiny eyeshadow, red lipstick, darker eyeliner.

Both: concealer, mascara, wipes.

And that is how I would put together a makeup kit!

I’m open to any further suggestions for kits to make and will, if asked nicely, put together some visuals of the kits I use, what’s in them and how to pack them for easy everyday use.

So go ahead and tell me about everyday situations, emergencies or clutter that you really think need a kit. πŸ™‚

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What Difference Could Feminine Dress Make To Your Life?

Those who know me are well aware that I am not by nature a girly-girl or even anywhere near one. I like gutting animals, lifting weights and seeing my muscles grow, digging up the garden and watching fairly crude animes whilst drinking Gordon’s or Bailey’s.

I am also fortunate enough to be with a man who appreciates those aspects of me and even enjoys my tomboyish qualities. However, he also appreciates the feminine side to me, what with him being heterosexual and all. And one aspect of femininity that I don’t exactly mind and that he had appreciated in small doses was feminine dress.

So, to surprise him a little and see how it went, I applied some small changes to being more feminine. Nothing heavy. At least I didn’t feel like it was. Based on the differences I’ve observed, apparently it’s quite a lot!

Whilst it isn’t exactly the best approach, I tried starting with an idea of what I would and wouldn’t do. Not could and couldn’t. After all, I could do all my gardening in a sundress. It just happens I’m too messy and clumsy to not expose myself indecently whilst doing so and I love my dresses too much to get them muddy. So I could, but for those reasons I wouldn’t. I worked out I was willing to make small changes here and there, but not flip directly into 1950s housewife mode. In part to collect my data carefully, in part because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with full makeup, perma-heels, all dresses and jewellery. The concept of going from jeans or casual dresses to that was, well, scary.

However, with an outline established: try a little bit at a time and don’t go further if I’m not comfortable, but don’t avoid anything on principle either, I tackled my wardrobe first.

It wasn’t a massive overhaul. Most of the clothes I had suited me. I simply took some of my tattier t-shirts and relegated them to garden and gym clothes, donated anything that didn’t suit me in terms of colour and then replenished my wardrobe on the cheap. So now my wardrobe is almost entirely purples, greys, creams, blues, greens and denim, with two very orange pieces. It is also almost entirely in good shape, feminine and form-fitting, rather than baggy, masculine and tattered.

The next step was makeup. This was a little daunting because, other than when I’m teaching students from countries with different definitions of professionalism or when I’m going out, I didn’t really think makeup was worth the time. My hands are often a bit shaky and my experience was low, which probably added to the time factor. So, instead, I got a nice palette of shadows in water colours that suit me and some eyeliner, and red lipgloss and lipsticks. Just a dab of concealer, a dusting of eyeshadow, a line over and/or under the eye and a bit of colour into the lips. When I was feeling brave and/or steady I would curl and tint my eyelashes, because they’re quite straight and thin naturally. The key here wasn’t just to use a subtle touch of makeup, but to prioritize the sort of makeup that covered my most obvious flaws and drew attention to my nicest features.

Next, I chose to tackle jewellery and perfume. Two almost alien concepts to me. When Jon told me he was looking for an engagement ring I told him he may as well get a wedding one to cover both events, because diamonds are flashy and overpriced and two rings would be too much jewellery for me. I only ever went beyond deodorant when I was going out for the night. Any other time and there was no way I would wear jewellery or perfume. So I organized my jewellery drawer and dug out my old perfumes, as well as got a plain eau de toilette that suited my natural scent. I made a point of wearing at least one item of jewellery and a few sprays of perfume in my hair every day. And I try and mix up the jewellery rather than just get in the habit of wearing the same one over and over.

My thoughts.

At the start, my thoughts were that it wouldn’t make much difference. Jon would appreciate it, what with him being used to me in girly-tomboy mode. It would take me a little longer to get up and dressed and ready. But that would be it.

However I was quite wrong. Firstly, it really doesn’t take much longer. Get up, deodorize, brush hair and teeth, throw anything on VS get up, deodorize, brush hair and teeth, pick out a top and a bottom that look nice, spray perfume and add a single piece of jewellery. Picking the jewellery to go with the outfit was probably the most time consuming aspect.

I was also wrong in that I thought Jon would notice and the world would keep turning as usual. Maybe I was being arrogant about how attractive I naturally am or maybe I was being dismissive of the alterations made, but things are definitely different when you make the effort to be feminine.

General response.

The first thing that surprised me was that with women nothing changed. Stereotype dictates that when you do your hair differently or wear a little makeup, women and gay men rave over it and straight men blink, peer and ask if you are wearing a different coloured top. But nothing could be further from the truth. Straight men notice. Men who know you in person will at least pass comment on it. Depending on the guy it could be:

“Is that top new?”

“That colour suits you.”

“Hair’s different.”

“Did you forget to fall through a hedge this morning?”

But they do notice. And, in terms of men in general, you do get more second looks. It’s almost as though your comfier clothes and makeuplessness is a signal that you aren’t part of their social group, but that little bit of style and makeup changes everything. You go from visible but uninteresting to interesting.

The most noticeable change was actually in younger men that I have more professional dealings with. Students, cashiers I stop and chat to, volunteers at charity shops, etc. It seems that that touch of social proof hidden in the makeup, perfume and a necklace elevates your status a lot more in their eyes than in anyone else’s, possibly due to their inexperience dealing with women relative to anyone else. They seem distracted, speak more awkwardly and lose track of conversation more when talking to a woman who is a little bit more feminized.

But other women? No difference at all. I’m not sure if I should be surprised or unsurprised in hindsight. On one hand, it is common knowledge that women can spot a changed hairstyle, new scent or piece of jewellery from miles away. On the other hand, straight women are probably more focused on their own appearance and lives than what their friends and relatives are wearing. And the average woman on the streets has no idea I don’t always dress this way and no interest in finding out. Of course women are less likely to pay attention to a girl just because she has a bit of makeup on. They have more important things to think about.

Jon’s reaction.

Pretty much positive. Being around me most of the day, every day, he was very aware when I started wearing a little perfume, sorted out my wardrobe or put on a piece of jewellery.

But that he wasn’t “tricked” doesn’t mean he didn’t like it! Wearing lighter, danglier, shinier clothes catches the eye and he liked seeing a bit of movement or sparkle when I walked past or cuddled up to him. His hands would move to the jewellery or the hem of my shirt more often when I was dressed more feminine than when I wasn’t. That allure of slight extra femininity made him respond in a way that suggests he is more attracted to and protective of me when I am softened a little.

Warmth and approachability isn’t just for single girls!

Jon’s thoughts.

“I definitely noticed.”

He felt there wasn’t much more to add.

Conclusion.

So feminine dress does make a huge difference… to the men in your life.

It doesn’t really interfere with your getting up time that much. And if you can lay out your jewellery somewhere so you aren’t fiddling with boxes then it may be a lot faster.

It doesn’t really change your perception of yourself. I look in the mirror and think “well that’s girly”, but it doesn’t bother or excite me to know I’m girlier. It’s just a fact.

It doesn’t really have an effect on other women. Either they know you and might comment, or don’t know you and don’t know you’re dressed up.

But the guys? They notice. Some of it on a primal level, some of it on a conscious level. And they seem to enjoy it, or at least the guy you’re with enjoys it.

So it’s up to you to decide whether that bit of extra attention, slightly broader dating pool or additional flirting with your partner is worth the bit of effort.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

12 Swaps To Make Today.

There are so many things in everyone’s life that we need or want to change. Paint the kitchen, learn a language, lose 50lbs, change the car tyres, get certified as a chef, have children, etc. And a lot of these tasks are long, take hard work and commitment and feel quite daunting.

So here are 12 super easy, super simple things you can swap around in your life today, as in, actually this very day, without much time, effort or money involved. They will improve your health, finances and peace of mind massively, too!

1: Skip the snacks aisle.

Next time you’re in the supermarket, steer clear of the chocolatey, cereal bar and candy aisles and instead linger a little longer around the fruits and greens. Your body will thank you for something a little fresher and more nutrient dense.

2: Clean as you go.

When you’reΒ  waiting for a pot to boil, wash anything you’ve recently used. When you’re making the bed, collect the laundry. When you’re choosing a DVD, put away the ones that are out. The house is so much tidier for just a few seconds’ work.

3: Get a charity box.

Keep it near the door and whenever you find something you aren’t using, drop it in. Then, when you’re next charity shopping or just in town, drop it off. Some charity shops, like the Salvation Army, have bag reward schemes where you get in-shop discounts for your donations, so ask about them.

4: Have tea or water.

Next time you’re ordering or making a hot drink, switch to tea. Next time you’re ordering or getting a cold drink, grab water. It’s healthier and cheaper and takes no extra effort.

5: Turn the TV off.

Try and keep the TV off for an hour or so a day when you would usually watch it. If you watch it whilst sewing, try the radio or music instead. If you watch it for its own sake, try reading or crafting. TV can overwhelm the mind and distract you, so a break is good.

6: Unwind.

Before you go to bed, try and spend some time relaxing, even if it’s just five minutes. Do a little yoga, stretch off, meditate, listen to music. Anything to let go of the day’s stress and ease your body and mind so you’re ready for sleep.

7: Take the stairs.

You won’t always be able to do this. Sometimes you need the quickness of an elevator. But whenever stairs are available, ask yourself if you could take them.

8: Set aside half an hour.

Try and make half an hour free to spend some time with your friends and family. Whether you’re on the phone to your grandma whilst you do the ironing, Skyping with your cousins or sitting to play board games with your friends, try and spend time with the people who matter.

9: Doll up.

Put on some lipstick, trim your hair, paint your nails or pick out something nice to wear. However small, do something to make yourself look good and feel good.

10: Put away the distractions.

Even if just for a few hours, put your phone down, turn off your laptop or TV, put away the kindle and games and try and focus on something or just enjoy the quiet for a few minutes.

11: Read 10 pages.

Reading is good for you. You can learn something, enrich your vocabulary, or, at the least you learn something valuable about the writer or society as a whole. And it doesn’t need to be too time consuming. Just keep a book, e-reader or notebook by the side of your bed and try and read ten pages of something of quality.

12: Doodle.

As I have discussed, crafting is good for you. So even if you aren’t big on art or don’t think you’re talented, try and sketch a little here and there. It can help you refocus, relax or just get your head around something.

And those are twelve things you could change today, without much or any effort, and see your life change a little bit for the better.

What other ways can you think of that you could improve your life easily?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Small Steps To Looking More Feminine.

Many of us want to become a little more feminine. Not necessarily porcelain doll, but we’d like to at least look and feel like women and embody the virtues that make us happy and that men enjoy.

But in terms of appearance, being feminine can seem hard, especially to the slightly more tomboyish of us. It can sometimes feel like our more image-conscious sisters use ten thousand different tricks, products and styles to achieve a graceful, feminine appearance. And sometimes the things we think of as over the top are considered basic by others and what to us is complicated is simple to them. So, for the absolute beginners like I was until recently, here are my ten first steps to obtaining a more feminine appearance.

1: Hygiene.

Make sure to use conditioner and a shampoo that suits your hair. Wear some perfume or body scent. Use some moisturizer. Basically, go from basic soap, shampoo and deodorant, to something to make your hair shinier, something to make your body smell softer and something to make your skin smoother. These tiny additions hardly take any time at all and make a world of difference.

2: Makeup and hair.

The next layer is basic makeup and hair styling. Just enough concealer, foundation, lips and eyes to add some extra feminine softness. And aim for a long haircut that is easy to maintain and frames your face well. Long hair is more feminine and the right fringe can soften and feminize your face.

Commenter SurferCajun added that boar bristle hairbrushes could also help keep your hair healthy, vibrant, lustrous and long!

3: Frills and flares.

Just because you may not be ready to wear skirts and dresses daily doesn’t mean you can’t use their attributes. Frilly, flared clothing always looks somewhat feminine, feels great on the skin and grabs your man’s attention, so adding something with frills and flares, be it a skirt or just a top, will make your wardrobe more feminine.

4: Nice shoes.

Not everyone likes girly shoes. And not everyone wants to wear heels daily. But just because you don’t want to wear tall sparkly heels every day doesn’t mean you have to be, as Jon puts it “Frumplestiltskin”. Try and swap your everyday doc martens and trainers for something a little girlier, like ankle boots, or ballet flats.

5: Jewelery.

Don’t try and overdo it or overload yourself yet. Get a few select pieces of jewellery or dig out your old jewellery. Make a point of wearing one item of jewellery (on top of wedding or engagement rings) a day. This way you can keep it more inkeeping with your outfit, but add that touch of sparkle that catches your guy’s eye.

6: Handbags.

As I discussed two weeks ago, I have been transitioning off backpacks and onto handbags. Whilst I sometimes use a backpack just for the sheer size of it, moving mostly onto handbags adds some feminine glamour too your everyday appearance.

7: Colour coordination.

Try and keep your outfit held together. Ideally find out what your colours are and then your wardrobe will always match. But if you have something in every colour, avoid combinations that remind you of abstract art or shabby-chic. These looks are very hard to pull off and don’t always look feminine even when they are pulled off. Stick to classic colour combos, like blue and white or green and purple.

8: Posture.

Good posture adds grace and femininity to every woman. Walk with small steps, with your back straight, your neck straight and your head facing forwards or even a little upwards. Sit by touching your calves to the seat of the chair, sitting down upright and folding one ankle behind the other. Don’t slouch, stoop or bend over.

9: Manners.

All this wouldn’t be complete without manners. Manners are very much a regional thing, but aim to have the manners of a local fifty year old, not an all-American twelve year old. Remember to be considerate, grateful and giving.

10: Smile.

Finally, smile. Have a pleasant demeanour about you. Appear open and friendly, not cold and unapproachable. Try and deeply enjoy your new femininity, to let that joy radiate from your smile.

And those are my ten very simple tricks to being a little bit more feminine. They take virtually no time, hardly any effort and most don’t even cost you anything. All could be accomplished in a day and mastered in a week, if you set your mind to it. Though I’d personally recommend focusing on one a week and seeing how you go!

Have anything to add or comment on? Looking forward to reading your anecdotes, tips and thoughts!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… freshen up.

So we’ve looked at our handbag contents and the basics we want to have to freshen ourselves up a little. But freshening up properly is also an art. Immaculate makeup makes messy or dirty hair stand out. Or smeared makeup can ruin a look completely. So what shall we keep on us to make sure we’re properly freshened up? And how do we go through the steps?

1: Your kit.

Depending on how long you’re out, you’ll want more or less. You can keep all of these on you at all times, but it isn’t necessary to go beyond the essential. For 0-3h: lips, eyes, comb, baby wipes, hair spray. For 3-7h add: makeup bag, hairbrush, aftershave, deodorant, nail kit, mouthwash. For 7h+ add: razor, tweezers, dry shampoo, baby oil, chewy toothbrush. For busy, sweaty or intense jobs, regardless of hours: lips, eyes, dry shampoo, hairbands, baby wipes, aftershave, deodorant.

2: 0-3h. Polish up.

If you’ve been running around a lot, been working for a few hours or just not quite feeling the love, this is what you’re going to do.

Wipe your armpits, neck and chest.

Touch up your lips, eyeliner and concealer.

Fix your hair.

3: 3-7h. Fixing up.

You’ve been on your feet a lot, maybe spilt coffee on your trousers, had to run from one office to another, had lunch or a snack and had an itch on your face that smeared your makeup a little. This process sounds like a lot, but is very quick and leaves you looking 9am-fresh.

Wipe your face down first, then your armpits, neck, chest and crotch. Then, pat armpits and inner thighs with a baby wipe moistened with aftershave, to kill any bacterial overload.

Make sure your nails are clean and not damaged.

Wash your mouth out.

Reapply your makeup.

Reapply deodorant and fix your hair.

4: 7h+. Sorting out.

So the work day is over or almost over and you haven’t had a chance to fix up, maybe not even to polish up! And to boot, there isn’t much time to tidy up, let alone to have a shower. You want to feel better, look nice for when you’re home or going on a date or meeting some more important clients and you have your freshening kit on the ready.

First of all, start chewing on your chewy toothbrush.

Now wipe down your face, armpits, neck, chest, crotch, hands and feet.

Pat every fold and crevice with an aftershave moistened baby wipe.

Use baby oil on dry feet and hands.

Check and fix up your nails.

Brush your hair and apply dry shampoo.

Reapply your makeup.

Reapply deodorant.

Brush out the dry shampoo.

Spit out the toothbrush and rinse your mouth.

5: Job specific.

If your job is very messy, sweaty or active, then here are some hints to help keep you fresh.

-First of all, if you’re not already doing it: dress for your job. Heavy makeup for a primary school teacher not only looks odd to parents, but will be ruined within hours. Think practical.

-Wipe down sweat every morning, use the aftershave trick and once it’s dry, apply 48h deodorant. This cleans you from night sweat, kills bacteria and locks in future sweat and smell.

-Keep spare hairbands, nail polish and a small sewing kit on hand. If you’re likely to break something once a week, keep spares just in case.

-Keep some good quality, skin-safe fabric cleaner at work. You never know when coffee, permanent marker, ketchup or oil may strike!

And that is how to freshen up.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How do you freshen up? What is your job like? Do you have any helpful hints to share, or any tricks you’ve picked up over the years? Would love to hear them!