At Home Facials For Broke Folks

One of my favourite things to do in the world is to treat myself to a bit of pampering. In an ideal world, this would mean escaping to Gleneagles every other weekend for mango oil showers, facials and massages. Unfortunately, until somebody decides to publish my book and make it into an amazing blockbuster movie, that’s not really an option. But I hate to let a tight budget get in the way of some good me time.

So this is for you, my fellow broke girls. A step by step guide to my super budget at home facial.

at home facial skincare

1. Light a gorgeous candle.

This is very important. Also, stick on some chill out music or an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride or something. It’s time to relaaaaax.

2. Cleanse your face.

First, remove any eye makeup. I use a cotton pad soaked in Garnier Micellar Water. Be gentle with your eyes. Scrubbing at them can irritate your eyes and pull out your eyelashes, and tugging at the delicate skin underneath can cause premature wrinkles. Use soft sweeping motions to remove makeup. Then you can cleanse the rest of your face and neck. I have really dry skin, so I like thick, oily cleansers like Lush’s Ultrabalm. I smooth it into my face in circular motions and then wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. Coconut oil also makes a great cleanser but because it’s quite comedogenic, it can block some people’s pores, so listen to your skin on this one. But if it works for you, it leaves skin feeling super soft and clean and helps grow long, fluttery eyelashes.

3. Exfoliate.

Exfoliating removes build up of dead skin cells, allowing product to penetrate more thoroughly and leave your skin fresh and glowing. But be careful, you don’t want to overdo it. Don’t sand your face, you don’t want to take all your skin off, just the dead stuff. I’m still using my resurfastic, a microdermabrasion stick that was gifted to me a few months ago. But soft microfibre cloths also provide good exfoliation without damaging your skin. I picked up a stack of 6 of these for a pound in Savers. Again, use gentle circular motions and rinse.

4. Steam things up.

Fun fact: pores don’t open and close. They’re just little openings in your skin; they don’t have the muscles needed to open and shut. So all the stuff about steaming your face to open your pores and splashing cold water to close them is basically a myth. But steam can loosen all the junk that is hiding in your pores, which makes them appear smaller. Fill a bowl with some boiled water and leave to cool for a few minutes. Seriously, don’t stick your face over freshly boiled water. Steam that temperature will have no hesitation in messing your face right up. Once it’s at an acceptable, non-scalding temperature, cover your head with a towel and hover above the bowl for about ten minutes. Only your face has to hover. No worries if you can’t hover your entire body. If you have a cold, put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil into the water and breath in healing goodness. Be warned, this will get a whole lot of crap out of your lungs. After ten minutes, rinse your face.

5. The mask.

Ah, the most satisfying and instagrammable part of the whole facial: the face mask.

at home facial face mask

Everybody loves a bathroom selfie.

I am currently obsessed with the Body Shop’s Warming Mineral Mask, which uses kaolin clay to draw out impurities. Unfortunately, there has been no scientific research that definitively proves kaolin clay has benefits for the skin, but I’m willing to overlook this for how awesome this mask feels on my face. It warms up on your skin and gives the feeling of stepping into a hot bath, but on your face. My skin always looks brighter after I use it, but take any miracle claims with a pinch of salt. If money is super tight, you can make your own face masks using ingredients that you probably already have!

Stuff not to put on your face, even if the internet tells you to:

  • Lemon. Lemon’s spot zapping powers have nothing to do with its antibacterial properties and everything to do with its bleaching abilities. The acids in lemon juice can reduce the appearance of spots by bleaching away some of the redness. They can also give you face burns. Don’t put bleach on your face.
  • Sugar. Sugar is a great scrub ingredient for your body, but is waaaay to rough and jagged for the skin on your face. It will scratch your face right up. And ain’t nobody got time to try and apply makeup on a scratched up base.
  • Bicarbonate soda. Ooooh, I am guilty of this one! I used to use baking soda to exfoliate my face and was thrilled with how smooth it felt afterwards, oblivious to the damage I was doing to my skin. Bicarbonate soda is far too alkaline for use on your skin, as it disrupts your skin’s barrier. And the more you use it, the more damage you do. Yikes.
  • Toothpaste. Don’t put toothpaste on your damn spots. Toothpaste gets rid of spots by drying out your skin, which I’d imagine isn’t really what you’re going for. Also, all that minty fresh menthol can be seriously irritating on your skin.

Stuff you should totally put on your face:

  • Honey. Honey is antibacterial and hugely hydrating, so is a great ingredient in DIY face masks. Just stay away from beehives. And hungry bears.
  • Porridge oats. Oats are an extremely gentle exfoliant, and their healthy fats also help to moisturise and boost your skin’s protective layer.
  • Yoghurt. The lactic acids in yoghurt make for a great chemical exfoliant – perfect if your skin isn’t up to physical exfoliation.
  • Avocado. Okay, if you’re buying avocados, you probably aren’t broke. But in case you just fancied getting hands on with your skin care, avocado’s vitamin A and D content can help to repair damage in the skin, leaving it nourished and comfy.

Leave your mask on for the recommended time and then rinse well.

6. Toning

Swipe a cotton pad soaked in alcohol free toner over your skin. This removes any traces of dirt or face mask, and helps prepare skin to absorb your moisturiser. I use Garnier’s Micellar Water again, because obsessed.

7. Moisturising.

Now that you’ve spent all this time cleaning your face, it’s time to put some niceness back into it again. I’m currently using Inlight’s Organic Night Balm, which I was gifted a sample of, and which I rave about here, but it’s pretty pricey. On my budget days, I use E45 cream. Seriously, I slather my entire body in this stuff and it’s magical.

And you’re done! Sleep on your beautiful clean skin and try not to ruin it the next day by stroking your face incessantly.

Do you have at home spa days, or is this a weird Fiona thing? What do you put in your DIY face masks? Have I missed a vital facial step? Get in touch in the comments or at EscapologistGl!

The Anti-Pinterest Guide To Getting Up In The Morning

how to wake up in the morning

This post is for the duvet hoggers. The just-one-more-push-of-the-snooze-buttoners. The people who could sleep for 11 hours and still take a nap mid afternoon. The people who have 40 morning yoga routines growing dusty on their Pinterest boards. Basically, this post is for the people like me.

We thought it would get easier as the mornings got lighter, but it just hasn’t. And this month, the clocks go forward, robbing us of a precious, precious hour. What’s to be done?

I’ve read a million articles that claim to hold the secret to bouncing out of bed in the morning. This is not one of those articles. I can’t turn you into a morning person, but I can tell you how I, the least morningy person ever, make my mornings more bearable. Wrap yourself in a blanket, stick on the kettle and read on…

1. Love rolling over and going back to sleep? Do that. 

For me, the best thing about a lie in is that sort of sleepy, half awake time where you can snuggle back into your duvet and just drift in and out of sleep. So every morning, I set an alarm for an hour before I need to get up. This lets me have a sort of fake lie in every day. Just remember to set an actual alarm for when you inevitably fall back asleep.

2. Give yourself something beautiful to look at.

I’ve started buying myself bunches of fresh flowers and putting them on my bedside table. This means that I see them as soon as I wake up, before I get the chance to get grumpy. Buy yourself some gorgeous flowers or put a photo that makes you smile by your bed. Again, it won’t make you bounce out of bed, but it might stop you swearing before you’ve even properly opened your eyes.

3. Cut out the unnecessary stuff.

In winter, I shower at night time because doing it on cold mornings makes me so miserable. I also don’t put on makeup on weekdays, because to be honest, I’d rather have the extra 15 minutes in bed. Don’t force yourself to do yoga, make smoothies or keep a dream journal if it’s making you miserable. Delegate to the night before, when you hate everything less.

4. But keep something nice.

Every morning, no matter how rushed I am, I always make time to enjoy my cup of tea. I will rush around like a mad person trying to get my clothes on and my breakfast made, but I will sit for 15 minutes minimum, sipping my tea and getting used to the fact that I have to be awake for like 15 hours now. Pick a part of your morning that you actually enjoy and dedicate some time to it. Take a long, hot shower, if showering in the morning doesn’t give you the sads. Read a chapter of your book. Paint your nails. Whatever you like. Take a little time away from being enraged at your own existence.

5. Do what you gotta do.

I eat breakfast in bed. Truth. I get up, get dressed, make my breakfast and then get back into bed to eat it. And why not? It’s warm and cosy and it makes it so much easier to get out of bed when I know I’ll be climbing back into it once I’m dressed. Hey, I didn’t say this list was gonna be pretty. If there’s anything you can do to make your morning more bearable, just do it. Ignore those people over there doing sun salutations and judging you. We fellow duvet monsters have your back. Unless you’re having a glass of wine to ease you into the day. Then we probably have to talk.

6. If you have a partner who is allowed to sleep later than you, leave them.

My boyfriend doesn’t have to get out of bed until after I have to leave the flat. And I hate him for it every single morning. That he brings me breakfast in bed at the weekends is probably the only reason I haven’t killed him in a fit of morning rage yet. I am exceptionally grumpy before 10am.

Have you got a secret to getting up in the morning? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @EscapologistGl!

Get Your Henna On With Lush Henna Hair Dye

I’ve been trying really hard to take better care of my hair, ever since it started casually falling out about a year ago. I’ve successfully wrenched myself away from a lifelong heat styling habit and embraced my mad curls, but on further consideration, I decided that dying my hair magenta every month probably isn’t doing it much good either.

Yes, the cat’s out of the bag, I AM NOT A NATURAL REDHEAD.

But I am far too invested in my sexy redheadedness to give it up. This was quite the dilemma. Then, one day, as I was stalking Holly Cassell (one of my favourite bloggers, whose blog you should definitely check out here), I noticed her saying that her badass auburn curls were courtesy of Lush’s Cacoa Rouge henna. Most intriguing indeed. So I did a bit of online research and bought myself a bar.

I was a little intimidated, given the tales of mess and mayhem that I read in the reviews, but the idea of finding a way to get my lovely red colour while actually conditioning and protecting my hair was too good not to take the chance.

Here’s what I started with:

how to lush henna hair dye

If you want to give this a go, you’ll need:

A bar of Lush Henna
A pair of rubber gloves (or three)
A buttload of newspaper
A tub of Vaseline, or Lush Ultrabalm if the nice saleslady gives you some of that
A roll of clingfilm
A kettle, or alternative means of boiling water
A few hours to kill
A t-shirt you don’t mind ruining

Here’s Fiona, modelling the 2008 German language competition winner look. So sexy.

how to lush henna hair dye

I also had a grater, because I read that it’s easier to melt the henna if it’s been grated, but my hand got tired after about two minutes, so I just chucked the whole thing in and it worked fine. So good at being a beauty blogger.

You want the henna to go on your head as hot as possible, so get every thing ready beforehand. The henna is nowhere near as messy as the internet would lead you to believe, but it’s still a pretty good idea to cover your bathroom floor in newspaper, as well as any surfaces you’ll be putting the henna on. The henna is also quite thick, so you’ll want to section your hair off to let it get right into the roots. Smear your vaseline around your hairline and on your ears to act as a buffer between the dye and your skin. Unless you want orange ears. You do you.

how to lush henna hair dye

This is my stegosaurus look.

First, you need to chop up your henna. I have pretty long, thick hair, and three squares of the bar did me perfectly. Cut out the desired number of squares, chop the squares into small sections and put in a bowl. Pour over boiling water, and mix until the henna is completely melted.

how to lush henna hair dye how to lush henna hair dye

It’s cool if you’re jealous of my green kettle. It’s pretty sweet. The consistency of your henna should be like thin yoghurt, so keep adding water until you get that sort of consistency. I used a fork to mix mine, which was pretty good at breaking up any little lumps.

Is that a good enough tip to be a life hack? Probably not.

Put on your rubber gloves and get the henna on your head as quickly as possible. Focus on your roots first, just like you would do with normal hair dye, then pull it through your lengths with your fingers. Henna is a bit of a strange texture, but it does go through your hair easily enough. Accept your new life as a mudperson.


Henna colour takes best to hair when it’s hot, so once you’ve got all your hair covered, pile it up on top of your head and wrap it tight in clingfilm. I also added a hat, for extra warmth and fashionableness. There are no photographs of this stage.

You’ll need to leave the henna on for between one and three hours, depending on how much hair you have and how bright you want your colour. I left mine on for the full three hours. This is an obvious downside when compared with normal hair dye, but to be honest, I just took it as an excuse for a massive pamper session. Light some candles, stick on a facemask, paint your nails, watch Legally Blonde, whatever you fancy.

Then, just wash it out! The gritty texture of the henna makes it a little tough to get out, but two good shampoos got mine out easily enough. I then conditioned my hair, which got rid of any remaining chunks.

This was my final result, and I’m absolutely delighted.

how to lush henna hair dye

When I did my research, I found a lot of scaremongering on the internet, so I’d like to lay some of that to rest.

Sure, henna is messy. But in my experience, it wasn’t any messier than normal hair dye. I covered up my surfaces with newspaper and any splatters cleaned up easily with a warm, wet cloth.

Also, a lot of people recommended having a friend help you out. This kind of made me panic. But to be honest, I definitely didn’t need another pair of hands. Again, it was the same process as normal hair dye, up until the clingfilm. But if you fancy getting yourself a sexy assistant, please do.

I’d seen a lot of comments from people saying that the texture of the henna made it difficult to spread, or difficult to get out. This is partly true, but I really didn’t find it all that hard. I normally shampoo my hair twice anyway, so it just took a little extra scrubbing.

The smell is quite strong, so if you’re sensitive to smells, you might want to check that out before you buy. It smells a lot like turkish delight, but I could hardly smell it once I had the clingfilm on.

I am seriously impressed with this henna hair dye. It left my hair feeling soft and so, so shiny. It also cost £6 for the bar and I only used half of it, so the value for money is great in comparison to most box dyes. And I’m finding that the fade is so much better and more natural. That photo up there was taken two weeks after I originally dyed it, and I think it still looks amazing. I’m a definite convert.


Caring For Curly Hair

Me and my hair have a somewhat…fraught relationship. In a lot of ways, I’d be lost without it. It’s my security blanket, sometimes my defining feature. If I’m meeting someone for the first time, I tell them to look out for the curly redhead. But sometimes, I spend hours fantasising about shaving the whole lot off and wearing fabulous wigs for the rest of my life.

Curly girls, tell me if you’re nodding yet.

For the entire duration of my teenage years, I looked like this (far right):

curly hair care

I know, I know. The braces, the fringe, the waistcoat…but for now, let’s focus on the frizz. This would have been after approximately an hour of wrestling with my hair straighteners. An hour of tugging and sizzling and frying to still look like an honorary member of the hair bear bunch.

Fortunately, once I got into my twenties, my hair started to calm down a bit. But by this point, I was too far gone. My love affair with my hair straighteners had been going on so long that I just didn’t know how to end it.

And then my hair started falling out.

Now, not to get all dramatic on you, this was mainly to do with stress, not my straighteners. But I’ll tell you, nothing gives you a kick up the arse like standing in the shower holding a handful of your own hair. So I had to embark on the terrifying journey of working with, not against my natural curls.

Moisture is the enemy of frizz. The drier my hair is, the fuzzier it gets, so my haircare routine basically involves pumping as much moisture into my hair as I possibly can. Your hair might be different, so it might take a while to find a routine that you and your curly hair love, but it’s so worth it.

These are the products that I’m loving at the moment:

curly hair care products

Before I get in the shower, I detangle my hair using this guy:

curly hair care tangle teezer

The mighty Tangle Teezer.

If you have thick hair and don’t own one of these, go buy one immediately. I bought mine after my hair started falling out, because I wanted something a bit gentler on my hair than my normal brush. It gets all the tangles and knots out so easily, and there’s hardly any breakage at all. I brush my hair out carefully – this is the only time a brush or comb comes near my hair when I’m wearing it curly, so I try to make it count!

I’ve been using Lush’s Trichomania shampoo bar to wash my hair. I started using their solid shampoo bars after getting Seanik as a present and haven’t looked back. Trichomania is packed full of coconut oil, to boost your hair’s protein content, leaving it soft and smooth. It lathers up really well for a shampoo bar and smells gorgeous.

Once a week, I use a deep conditioner. Right now, I’m using an Argan Oil one that I got at Savers. Fun fact: argan oil isn’t actually very good at penetrating hair strands, so it’s better as a finishing touch than a deep conditioner. For deep conditioners, you might be better looking at something like coconut oil or shea butter, which are very good at penetrating the hair cuticle. But, for whatever reason, this conditioner plays nice with my hair, so I’m gonna stick with it. Slather your hair generously in conditioner, wrap it in a towel to keep the heat in and have a wee cup of tea.

curly hair deep conditioner

After about ten minutes, I hop back in the shower and rinse it off.

When I’m not deep conditioning, I use Biolage Matrix Conditioning Balm. I love this conditioner so damn much. It’s seriously thick, so if you’ve got greasy hair, definitely give this one a miss, but it absolutely melts through my hair and leaves my curls beautifully soft and moisturised.

Once I’m out of the shower, it’s plunking time! Plunking, or plopping, is a method for drying curly hair and it works fabulously for me. It allows your curls to dry in clumps and lets them form their curl pattern as they dry, without gravity pulling them into weird assed shapes.

When I get out of the shower, I squeeze the excess moisture out of my hair and pat it as dry as I can with my towel. Do not turn your head upside down and attack it with your towel. Seriously, if I find any of you roughly towel drying your hair and then complaining that it’s frizzy, I will come over there and push you off your chair. Curly hair is a precious little princess and should be treated as such.

Then, I run a smoothing serum through my hair. Just now, I’m using Twisted Sista’s Different Strokes Smoothing Serum, but any curl defining or smoothing serum should work.

To plunk my hair, I lay a pillowcase out on my bed. A microfibre towel or cotton tshirt will also work. I tip my head upside down, arrange my curls in the middle of the pillowcase, fold the material over the top of my hair and roll the sides into big sausages down the sides of my head. I pull the sausages round the back of my head and secure them with a hairband. This is sort of difficult to describe without images, so I made a handy video to show you how it’s done!


Ooooh, video!

After half an hour, I take down my hair and scrunch in some mousse. I love the V05 Smoothly Does It Curl Defining Mousse – it’s definitely the best mousse I’ve used. Then I put my hair back up in a dry pillowcase and sleep on it.

plopping or plunking curly hair

This is a very sexy look.

In the morning, if it looks a bit mad, I’ll put it in a plait while I have breakfast.

Et voila! Beautiful, bouncy, pampered curls.

curly hair care

Curls! And my pumpkin, because I miss him.

Fellow curly girls – tell me your secrets! Are there any amazing products I need to know about it? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl!

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK Blog Awards! If you like to read my posts, you can vote for me in the lifestyle category here and the young person’s category here.