CF Beauty: DIY Rosehip facial oil

This has been on my ‘DIY beauty’ wish list for a while now. A home-made anti-ageing rosehip facial oil. As a huge fan of Trilogy’s nourishing elixir and subsequently Boots’ Botanicals range budget version, rosehip oil is my ‘go-to’ booster for adding a bit of ‘oomph’ for winter skincare. And it seems I’m in good company, as everyone from David Gandy to Miranda Kerr swear by its skin-boosting properties.

With a very haphazard approach, I figured using a known anti-ageing carrier oil, Apricot Kernel (it’s full of Vitamin E), could only boost the effects of the rosehips, so I toddled off to Amazon and bought a litre of cold-pressed oil for around a tenner.

Next up were the rosehips, which I’ve been patiently squeezing each time I walk up my mum’s front path and this week they were just at the right softness. The thing about rosehips is that they are full of omega 3-6-9’s to protect and nourish dry winter skin; Vitamin C and lycopene (like tomatoes, it’s what gives them their red colour) – making them super anti-inflamatory and full of anti-oxidants…. I could go on, but in short – 5 drops of rosehip oil, mixed in with your night cream from Oct-March and you will defeat those wind chapped cheeks, dry flaky patches and even some fine lines and wrinkles to boot.

So, on to the ‘how-to’:

In a large le creuset pan I gently heated my apricot kernel oil, took it off the heat and added my rosehips. To a litre of oil I added 35-40 hips. Their skins split when I added them to the hot oil, allowing the nutrients to seep out into the carrier oil.

I then carefully tipped the oil and hips into a large sterilised Kilner jar and left it to steep for a few days.

It was then ready to strain through a muslin and decant into the 25ml dropper bottles I picked up on Ebay (around £1 each – rosehip oil is photosensitive so needs to be kept in dark glass to preserve its nutrient).

These little shots of beauty elixir will be winging their way into my sisters, mum and girlfriends stockings this Christmas!

Snapshot: The living room – UPDATED

I did a ‘snapshot’ post on the (slow) progress of our house renovations a few months ago, namely the amazing Charnwood woodburner and the living space. In the last few days we have started using the stove in the evenings and without a doubt, it is the best investment we have made since moving to the country. It is a cliche but a real fire does turn a house into a home.

This weekend we added a few more tweaks that I thought you might like to see:

Firstly, the upcycled bookcase. Now my favourite nook in the house:

This now diminutive white wood bookcase, fitting snugly into the recess, was once a pair of 8ft dressers that sat either side of our chimney breast in our Victorian London home.

In our new streamline 60s pad they’ve always looked a bit awkward and bulky, so the clever OH literally cut one down to size and it now nestles happily beside the sofa with all my books easily to hand. It’s got a large top too, just at mug-resting height. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted my desk lamp that has found a new home here, alongside my treasured vintage board game collection (I just bought the original Cluedo set on Ebay!).

The other big changes are at the other end of the room:

The other side of the fire is a larger alcove, that housed one of the big dressers. Now, in pride of place, sits our newly inherited Moro Architects 20th Century antique rosewood and brushed stainless steel sideboard. It belonged to the OH’s Italian grandparents and he has loved it for as long as he can remember, running passed it in the hallway of their North London home.

This area is still a work in progress, we are not sure what to hang above the sideboard and the pieces we display on top are TBC, too.

At the moment we have put some of our Murano collection there (we started collecting when we go married, courtesy of our wedding vouchers for the incredible Alfies Antiques Market in Marylebone). There is also a lamp we inherited too that is waiting to be rewired. I’m going to do a separate post about this and some other pieces that we intend to end up here later in the month when I can show you the lamp working!

Finally, I’ve saved the best till last. The chair. We have no idea of its provenance, it’s another heirloom passed on from the OH’s grandparents (yes, before you say it, we know how incredibly lucky we are they had AMAZING taste). The soft buttery black leather is in perfect condition and the chrome and rosewood frame echoes the sideboard perfectly. Most importantly, it is unbelievably comfortable (the OH remembers his dad snoozing in it every Christmas Day after lunch).

Country Bebe has taken rather a shine to it, too.

We have a new rug and curtains coming in the next few weeks, so I’m sure I’ll do another update again – just thought I’d share our progress!


CF Obsession:

How brilliant are these? I stumbled upon over breakfast this morning and have been playing with their genius ‘instaquote’ design skills ever since.
All you have to do is tap in your favourite quote and they instantly put it into a whole range of different typography settings/backgrounds. You can then tweet it, pinterest it or email it to a friend. Cool huh?

The Sunday Overhaul: Week One – Tanning

So, here’s the idea. Us working women all get into a flap on a Sunday night about our Beauty Maintenance – right? It’s the only day of the week we get a second to think about frivolous things like hair masks, manicures, defuzzing or, heaven forbid, a DIY facial (30 mins? To myself? In the bathroom? Pah).

So, I’m going to post each week, on a Sunday afternoon, some super easy DIY maintenance ideas that are foolproof, quick and have a high results:effort ratio. This week: Tanning.

These last few days of sunshine have thrown into stark relief the lack of fake tanning in my beauty regime. Exposing my pallid Celtic limbs was not a pretty sight so, after a quick seasonal restock I present to you the foolproof tanning duo:

This can of self-tan from Aussie brand, Invisible Zinc was my firm favourite last year and I still can’t beat it. After the necessary scrub and moisturise I simply start at my toes and give myself a light mist all over (it is an aerosol application so best to apply standing in the shower cubicle so you don’t inadvertently spray the walls/carpet/bedlinen). Then I whip out my £3 self-tan secret weapon that I wrote about last summer and still swear by. The St. Tropez buffing mitt. Starting at my feet again I buff in big circles to avoid any runs/drips. By which point, it’s dry and I can dress. Under 5 mins flat. It has zero smell. Seriously, zero. The tan develops in 4-5 hours and after a couple of consecutive days application I have achieved a natural, sunkissed shade. If you hanker after a darker hue this probably isn’t going to float your boat but if you’re just looking for a healthy hint of colour, you can’t beat it.

For the face I have rediscovered Clarins this year. I used it in my early Twenties and had forgotten quite how good it is. This formula is a very light gel/cream consistency with a sunshiny smell and hydrating texture. I was extolling its virtues to a friend via email and described it as ‘posh tan – you know, like a weekend in Cannes rather than a run-in with David Dickinson’. And that’s exactly what it is, an orange-free, almost olive-skinned result. I’m applying it every other day and thus far it hasn’t caused any breakouts which I find is a common complaint with a lot of facial fake tans.

So, there you have it. The first week’s Sunday Overhaul – go forth and tan ladies and for those inevitable self tan disasters (orange palms anyone?) St Tropez’s self tan remover is a lifesaver. have the Invisible Zinc Jet Set Tan on sale at £17.85 at the moment and I bought the Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow through who have it at the special price of £22.80 at the mo.

Snapshot: a week or two on

Hello stranger. I know, it’s been a while. Forgive me.

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that in the last 10 days we have had two deaths, a stroke and some heart surgery in our immediate family. Crazy, heart-breaking, stressful and all true.

So, I’m afraid this is a quick one. I was just very conscious that I hadn’t popped up to say hello for a while and in between all the bad moments, there have been a few glimmers of good stuff…

I have serious shoe envy over Country Bebe’s sheepskin slippers. We’ve spent a lot of the last week in our respective flannel pjs, curled up in bed, with CB enraptured by the original 80s Fireman Sam. I am secretly loving revisiting all my childhood favourites – Postman Pat, Ivor the Engine, Danger Mouse…

Talking of bed, I’m so chuffed with our thrifty DIY headboard. For the princely sum of £27 the OH and I had a sheet of MDF cut to fit our super king bed, padded it and used this beautiful dove grey Sanderson fabric that we picked up as a remnant at our local Haberdashery. The Art Deco ‘Cloud’ mirror is my stand-out, favourite piece in our house. We spent months, years even, lusting after the beautiful (out of our price range) ones at Alfies Antiques in Marylebone, then serendipitously one popped up at a fraction of the price at our local rural auction house here in Devon.

Last week was the OH and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary. We don’t do gifts but he did surprise me by filling the house with our wedding flowers (anenomes, hyacinths, ranunculous, roses). It was a good day.

Last weekend was an epic foodie weekend. The OH and I dropped Country Bebe with the grandparents and ventured into our new Big Smoke, aka Exeter, and wandered around the cobbled street in the cathedral’s shadows. No agenda, no pressures on our time, just meandering like tourists, hand in hand. BLISSFUL. We popped into Cote Bistro for a leisurely lunch (the cassoulet was the perfect sub-zero, belly-warming fodder) and got rather tiddly on a good Merlot, reminiscing about our wedding day.

If Horsegate has reminded me anything about the way we eat, it’s how incredible our local butchers and farmers are here in Devon. Not a token ye olde butchers that you might find in central London with an average product at an astronomical price but proper, locally-sourced, blood under the finger nails, thoroughly knowledgable professional butchers. I’m so chuffed to have discovered The Rusty Pig, a couple of miles in land in Ottery St Mary. They rear their own pigs on a small holding in East Devon (free-range, natch), then in their simple, pared back butchers-cum-open kitchen-cum-cafe, sell homemade sausages, brawn, terrine, chorizo, salamis and a knock-out Full English breakfast. No frills, no menu, no fuss. We had a chat, a few nibbles and walked away with some smoked salami and ham hock terrine that blew my mind. The salami was not the chewy, grisly, dried sausages you find in supermarkets. It was buttery, delicate and the centrepiece of our Saturday night home-made pizzas.

So, that’s it for now, just a brief update. Tomorrow I’ve got a beauty review of the nude lipstick that has me swaying from my devotion to a bold, red lip… I am seriously hooked.

Till then,

CF x

A quick, skin-friendly DIY shave oil

Yes I know it’s the depths of winter and the idea of de-fuzzing oneself is probably at the bottom of the beauty to-do list, but I’ve been working on a formula for a nourishing, natural shave oil that I wanted to share.

It’s actually great for winter limbs as the oil is super-nourishing (unlike chemical-filled foams and gels that dry out skin) for dry, scaly skin and leaves legs, underarms etc soft, nick-free and it’s the only formula that my previously rash-prone skin seems to tolerant.

Here goes:

You need:

A measuring jug
Lavender essential oil
Peppermint essential oil
Sweet Almond Oil (or similar, I’ve used Apricot Kernel oil here as I had some left over)

All these things you should be able to pick up from Boots/Holland & Barrett et al – I order mine in bulk from Baldwins

In the measuring jug add 250ml of your chosen oil, then per 250ml I like a ratio of 10 drops of lavender to 3 of peppermint (this is purely preference, feel free to mix it up). Lavender is anti-septic and anti-inflammatory to minimize red, blotch flare-ups and the peppermint oil is anti-septic and anti-bacterial, too.

The oil gives you a great ‘slip and slide’ with the razor, allowing you to get a closer shave – on which note my biggest tip when it comes to shaving is: use a men’s razor. I use the 5-blade Gillette one (Mac 5?) – the multiple blades mean you don’t have to go over an area twice (key to avoid razor burn) and because they are designed for the delicate face area they are great for sensitive skin.



DIY Beauty: making my own shampoo

So, as per my last post, I’ve decided to try my hand at making my own beauty products. I figured that, after six years of slathing myself in all manner of lotions and potions in the name of beauty journalism, I should be able to concoct a few of my own DIY unguents to keep my now high-maintenance vanity regime up to scratch while on maternity leave, without access to the fruits of the magazine beauty cupboard (sob).

First up: Lime and Bergamot shampoo.

I thought I’d start off with a simple cleansing, uplifting morning shampoo. Lime and bergamot make great bedfellows; although both from the citrus family they complement each other well, and being nigh on eight months pregnant, are both safe to use in my fecund state.

I wanted the sweet, fragrant warmth of the bergamot to take centre stage (think Earl Grey Tea: its peel is the main ingredient), pepped up by the zesty zing of the lime. Bergamot has long been used in natural skincare for treatment of psorasis and other skin complaints, so I figured in a shampoo it would do well as a scalp conditioner, while the lime is there purely on a psychological level to wake. me. up.

So, using G Baldwin & Co’s pre-mixed gentle, cleansing shampoo base (the lazy girl’s short cut to bathroom alchemy and with the faintest hint of rosewater) I started on the first batch. Having never blended essential oils before it was a bit hit and miss with ratios. I knew I wanted a bergamot with a hint of lime blend and soon settled on a 10 drop : 5 drop ratio per 250ml of base. My first schoolgirl error was to try and add the essential oils to the base once I’d decanted it into the bottles. Of course the base was too viscous for the oils to blend thoroughly and evenly, and I didn’t leave enough room for displacement when I added the pump. Sigh. I bet Coco never had these problems.

By batch two, and with the help of my trusty Denby gravy jug, I had the technique, perfectly:

Decant base into jug
Dropper in essential oils
Decant into bottle.

Ta dah!

Batch two was still a bit too Bergamot-y so by batch three I was onto 10 drops: 7 drops ratio. Perfect.

For batch four I decided to throw a curve ball. I wanted a good cleansing shampoo, but also one that would nourish while it cleaned. So, I added a glug of good extra virgin olive oil to the mix for added pampering for my dry-prone locks. The finished product was immediately more creamy and luxuriant.

I have dispatched my first batches to friends and relatives with varying hair types/ages/lengths to get their feedback. All I can say so far is, it smells bloody lovely.

Things that other people do: DIY beauty

So, I’m not ashamed to say it. I used the last of my Bamford Geranium body oil this morning and almost shed a tear; the added lavender and peppermint make it the perfect balance – herby, floral but modern and light. None of this sweet, flowery nonsense. And it’s thick, treacle thick, so none of this splashing oil all over the wallpaper. Sigh.

Even the grassy green glass bottle is a thing of beauty on my bathroom shelf. Alas no more.

My now empty bottle was a much loved press gift, one that at £38 I shan’t be replacing anytime soon thanks to the Maternity Leave Budget, but it got me a thinking about my high-end (and rather spoilt after six years as a beauty ed) standards when it comes to bathroom lotions and potions.

Why not make my own? The brands I love, the aforementioned Bamford, Trilogy, Nude et al, are all about pared down, simple, natural ingredients. Shouldn’t be too hard to create my own inspired range, non?

Well, we shall see. A huge helping hand when it comes to considering a foray into the cosmetics industry (just call be Estee) is SE17-based G Baldwins & Co and online here. They’re like something out a Harry Potter novel.

Not only do they do every essential oil, tinture and extract under the sun but a fantastic range of glass bottles and jars to put your new unguents in. If I can’t afford Bamford at least I can afford a beautiful container for my DIY alternative.

My first order is currently en route, the ingredients for a Bergamot and Lime shampoo… watch this space.

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