April 14, 2024


Define Beauty Yourself

Frozen coffee cubes and hot wax: 10 DIY beauty treatments, from the experts | Beauty

Dermatologist Jasmina Vico says: “I’m a huge fan of ice for a healthy glow. Freeze black coffee into cubes (try Muji silicone round ice cubes tray, £5.95) to reduce facial puffiness and improve circulation. Alternatively, the vitamin B2 in frozen green tea can help maintain collagen levels, hydrate and reduce inflammation, while chamomile tea can calm and ease redness. Rinse the ice under water quickly to take the burn out of it, then roll it with light pressure across the skin under the contours of your cheekbones, around the eye area (to reduce puffiness), along the jawline (to sculpt), across the chin and down the sides of the neck. Repeat on both sides, then splash the face with cold water to remove residue.

Next, try intra-oral massage to lift, sculpt and relax the face. Wash your hands and insert a thumb into your mouth on the inside of your cheek – with your fingers on the outside. Massage your inside cheek and gumline with your thumb, gently pressing from the outside with your index finger and pushing back towards the base of your ears in a sweeping motion. Repeat on both sides, then run your fingers directly down the sides of the neck for added lymphatic drainage. Now apply a mask, or a double layer of moisturiser rich in ceramides (fats that help lock in moisture and protect the skin).”

Functional movement therapist Nicholaus Salinas says: “For the upper trapezius, the muscle which runs along the top of your shoulders, the trigger point you need to release is halfway between the top of your neck and end of your shoulder. Right in the middle there’s a meaty part. Grip that with two or three fingers of your opposite hand (or hold a tennis ball there), then grab your wrist with the other hand and gently pull downwards. Tilt your head towards that shoulder, then turn your face slightly upwards. Breathe into it and hold for 60 to 90 seconds.”

Reflexology practitioner Tracey Smith says: “In reflexology [a touch therapy based on the theory that different points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different areas of the body], the neck reflex points are at the base of the big toe on the underside of the foot. It can be worked by rubbing in small circles or straight lines up from the beginning of the ball of the foot towards the narrow part of the big toe (between the two toe joints). If you feel discomfort in the foot, hold and apply pressure to that point until it passes to release the tension.”

Photograph: Kellie French/The Guardian

Beauty therapist Bella Ciccone says: “Your hair needs to be a quarter to a half inch long for the wax to grip. Exfoliate your legs 24-48 hours before to remove dead skin cells and prevent ingrown hairs and avoid sun exposure, tanning beds and self-tanners for at least 24 hours. I recommend a small wax pot, as pre-made wax strips don’t give the same result (Mylee does a wax kit, £36, Amazon, which includes a pot that heats up and keeps wax at an even temperature). Check the wax temperature on a small area of leg, then lightly dust skin with talcum powder to absorb moisture.

Use a wooden spatula to apply a thin and even layer of wax in the direction of hair growth on a small section of your leg. After a few seconds, once the wax is tacky, press a waxing strip down firmly in the direction of hair growth, leaving a small section at the end to grip. Hold your skin taut with one hand, then pull off the strip against the direction of hair growth in one swift motion. Work on small sections at a time and don’t wax the same area more than twice, as this can thin the skin. Remove leftover wax with a post-wax or baby oil. Finish with a soothing layer of after-wax lotion or aloe vera gel.”

Hairdresser George Northwood says: “It’s easier to give longer hair a quick trim – leave anything shorter or more specialist to the professionals. You’ll need a Japanese carbon comb (they don’t slip through hair), two clips to section hair and cheap hair scissors (a fancy sharp pair is dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing!). Part your hair naturally, then split it in half, giving yourself pigtails. Pin one side up, combing the other down. Sandwich the hair between your first two fingers, and pull it down straight, leaving a centimetre below your fingers.

Rather than cutting straight across, slowly ‘point cut’ – taking little upwards, diagonal snips, stopping when your hair feels healthy. Repeat on the other side. Do this in sections if you have thick hair. Take the clips out and comb hair down to check length.”

To trim a fringe, either side of your parting, take a little bit of hair in a V-shape (the natural shape of your fringe) that starts about an inch behind where your hairline begins, clipping the rest back. Comb this section and pull it down between your first two fingers and gently point cut into the hair. Work in sections from the middle outwards, so when you’re happy with the first one, take the next section of fringe and leave it ever so slightly longer than the previous one – repeat with a third outer section if your fringe is thick. At the edges, trim your fringe following the shape of your eyebrows so it blends into your hair – rather than being too blunt. Comb your hair to check everything is even.


Give yourself a pedicure

Remove old nail polish, then trim and shape toenails. The best shape is straight across with slightly rounded corners – too short or pointed can increase the risk of ingrown nails. Bathe the feet in epsom salt for 10 minutes to soften skin, then dry and remove hard skin using a foot rasp or pumice stone. Massage in foot cream and gently push back the cuticles with a cuticle stick. Remove cream from the nails with polish remover before painting them.

Look for polishes that offer long-lasting wear and a glossy finish. Start with a base coat, then apply two thin coats of polish, leaving 15 minutes between each coat. Finish with a top coat (I like Seche, £8.95). Use a foot rasp between pedicures for healthy feet and always apply foot cream before bed (I like Margaret Dabbs London Foot Hygiene Cream (£22).”

Founder of Blink Brow Bar Vanita Parti says: “Tinting brows evens them out, adds definition and gives them a bit of gloss. Only go one shade darker, to enhance your natural brow colour, and do a patch test 48 hours before. Cleanse skin, then apply a little petroleum jelly where you don’t want the colour to catch. Mix the powder with the developer and take it across your brows – the wooden sticks are useful for beginners, but someone with experience can use the mascara wand.

If you’re a newbie, do one brow and leave it on for two minutes, then take it off so you can gradually build up the colour. Leave tint on for a maximum of five minutes. You might be a bit surprised by the change if it’s your first time; remember though, brows may seem very obvious when you look at them closely in a mirror, but step back and everything looks balanced – plus, they will fade a little. Once tinted, map your brows. Put a pencil on the outside edge of your nose, facing straight up. Where it hits your brow is where the brow should start.

Then keeping the pencil on the edge of your nose, swivel it to your iris – that’s where the arch of your brow should be, and finally, swivel it to the end of your eye – that’s where your brow should end. Draw those parameters with an eyebrow pencil and only tweeze the hairs outside that shape; apply aloe vera to calm skin and close pores.”

Hair dipping into pink paint pot
Photograph: Kellie French/The Guardian

Hairstylist Michael Douglas says: “If you want to lighten or cover 100% grey hair, permanent dye is best, but semi-permanent is fine for tackling stray greys. Do a patch test to check you aren’t allergic. It’s best to dye unwashed hair, thanks to the ‘acid mantle’ – a thin layer of natural oils which protects the scalp. Brush hair thoroughly and wear an old dressing gown and gloves. Usually you’ll need two packs of dye, particularly if you have long or thick hair, but mix both for simultaneous use. Apply petroleum jelly to the ears and under the hairline to protect skin from dye and have a tissue ready to wipe away drops.

Start at the back of your head – you can usually feel the product on your scalp, so it’s easy to tell if you’ve missed a patch. Check pack instructions, but dye is usually left on for 25 minutes for roots and 10 minutes for ends. If you only want to touch up roots, make sure the dye doesn’t overlap with your existing hair colour. A tint brush (available from Amazon) gives a little more precision. Afterwards, use a good shampoo and conditioner (OGX Colour Retention, £3.99 from Superdrug, is great). Keep coloured hair out of the sun and minimise heat styling. Permanent hair dye fades slightly after about eight weeks and will grow out at a rate of around 1.5cm a month. Semi-permanent dye should wash out completely after around 28 washes, or two months.”

Facialist Lauren Hughes says: “For dark circles, an eye cream containing caffeine is the next best thing to a good night’s sleep as it constricts blood vessels under the skin (try Boots Ingredients Caffeine Eye Cream, £6). A cream applied with a rollerball that’s been kept in the fridge is great for puffy eyes – sweep it from the inner eye corner to the temple to drain lymph buildup. As a treat, silicone undereye patches can be put over any eye cream and help lock in more moisture, making skin look extra plump (I like Beauty Bay reusable patches, £7.50).”

Manicurist Georgia Rae says: “‘Gently push back cuticles (I like Navy tools, and use a tool called a Doris to do this) and nip away any obvious dead skin, taking care not to cut any living tissue. Use a file with a grit of 240 or higher (the higher the number, the gentler the file) to shape the nails roughly to the length you’re happy with.

My favourite shape, which suits most hands, is the “soft square”. Hold your hands with your palms facing you to check they’re all the same length. Then take the file down the sides of the nail to shape them in ever so slightly, by gently gliding the file along the sides of the nails to make them slightly narrower, giving the illusion of a longer nail bed. Gently file along the free edge and over the corners, using strokes in the same direction rather than a sawing motion, stopping and assessing from different angles until you’re happy. Buffing is optional, but it can help with adhesion of nail polish as it removes oils and debris. It also give nails a natural sheen.

Use an exfoliating scrub (I like L’Occitane One Minute Hand Scrub, £9) and wipe any excess oils away with nail polish remover. A base coat prevents the polish from staining the natural nail, however, plenty of ranges don’t need a base coat, like Essie Gel Couture.” Alternatively, some base coats are beautiful worn alone like Chanel La Base. With each coat, get as close to the cuticle as possible and do one stroke up the middle of the nail, then a stroke along each side. Use light pressure to glide the brush over the nail as opposed to dragging it to avoid streaks. Apply two coats of colour and leave 5-10 minutes between each coat. Apply a top coat to give nails that plump, juicy look. To tidy up mistakes, dip a small brush, like an old lip brush, into nail polish remover and wipe over. Once the polish is dry, follow up with a moisturiser and a cuticle oil. For gel polish I have one piece of advice: go to a professional.

Hair and makup: Sarah Cherry. Photography assistant: Bruce Horak. Model: Jenna Anne at Bame Model Agency