Fashion · Honest Beauty

No Nonsense Beauty: Tips from a girl who cleans her face with water

Here are my tips and reviews for products that will help you create a relaxed vintage look. No twenty step processes, stupidly expensive products or looks that require ten different brushes for one eyebrow.



I have very clear skin, rarely get spots and when I do it’s at most two at my peak hormonal time. What fancy cream or cleanser do I use? It’s called ‘water’. I’m not kidding.

My mother taught me that ‘beauty comes from within’- literally: drink lots of water, don’t eat too much sugar, wash your face. To be honest, this is most likely because she is a no nonsense woman who cannot be bothered with putting anything on her face other than a bit of red lipstick for special occasions. I would add ‘avoid too much alcohol’ but my mother pours herself a glass at 6pm on the dot daily and her skin glows with radiance from the fountain of youth.

Other top tips from my mother: no one else cares about your wrinkles or your spots. All creams are the same it’s just the jars that are different. Don’t put weird things on your face. Trust only two brands. Take your make up off every night or you’ll shrivel up and die…

The last one is just because if you leave make up marks on her pillows she will HUNT YOU DOWN.

That’s not a joke. Don’t do it.

Personally I credit my smooth skin to a childhood of extreme eczema. If you thought I was bragging about having good skin then please see the photo below:

Yes, that’s me as a baby with eczema on my eyelids. I was born that way and it’s a miracle my parents kept me around. I was allergic to the world: artificial perfumes, natural perfumes, dogs, cats, small fluffy things, animals in general, trees, flowers, grass, the great outdoors… hairy caterpillars.

After the trauma of spending my formative years avoiding lace, perfume, ribbons, wool, artificial fibers, small fluffy things, shampoo, bubble bath, face paint, hair spray and mud (although that’s not an allergy, I just hated baths and the easiest way to avoid them was not get dirty), I’m very conscious about what I put on my face.

Which is funny because I use the one thing every make up artist has told me to avoid: make-up wipes! Dun, dun, dun. On the days that I wear make up, generally 4 days a week, I get into bed in the evenings use a wipe to remove my make up and then I just… go to sleep. No 10 step routine or complicated series of creams. I only use fragrance free wipes from Simple or . It’s that easy. If I deviate from that then I start to see skin care problems: one or two spots or even the dreaded facial eczema!

When it comes to make up I’m just as careful and loyal to the nth degree. Not only do I stick to the same type, I keep to the exact brand and shade… which can be a problem when companies change their formulas or discontinue things. Thus, I think it’s time to start challenging myself, broadening my horizons and possibly trying some of those dreaded creams and skin care routines magazines tell me are vitally important to stop my face falling off the second I hit 30 (Friday 25th January 2019, if you want to set an alarm).

Oh yes, I’m going to start trying new things and I’m taking you with me for moral support! Along the way I’ll also fill you in on the products I’ve been using for the last bazillion years and show you a few tutorials… because, after all, if a girl with no fine motor skills and atrophied hand muscles can do it, there’s a high chance you can too!

Alternative Titles

Beauty for girls who don’t do make up

Make up for those who don’t do beauty

Honest beauty

Food · Grain Free Recipes · Sugar Free Recipes

Free-From Christmas Cake

My mother has always made a Christmas cake.

Every year in late October or early November she would ‘throw it together’ (she’s not a great fan of baking!), pop it in the Aga then let it marinate for two months in the scullery, liberally dousing it with alcohol every week. It would then be my job to decorate it and- no matter how many people came to our Christmas- solely my father’s job to eat it. Yes, despite the making of the Christmas Cake being one of our beloved family traditions and adhered to every year… no one actually likes it. Other than my poor father. Any visitor in January would leave the house having large chunks of the stuff in scrunched up silver foil pressed upon them. “It’s horrible,” My mother would say, handing it over with a smile, “You’ll love it.”

Fortunately this recipe is not for THAT cake.


As I mentioned in last week’s blog, it’s been 10 years since I stopped being able to eat starches (carbs of any kind) and I’m now only able to eat low-FODMAP food which, whilst excellent in relieving painful symptoms, is pretty darn restrictive. But I’m a lover of tradition and have to make a Christmas cake- although this new recipe is so great I’ll actually eat it!

I’ve been fiddling in the kitchen for quite a while to create a recipe that allows me to partake in the Christmas fun… and overindulgence! This recipe is so special in fact that you can serve it to all of your guests- those with a dairy allergy, those who are gluten free and even diabetics. Of course, my own diabetic grandmother just ate sugary puddings and gave side eye to anyone who tried to stop her. But using this recipe you’ll have a clear conscience when she eats most of the cake.



600g dried fruit- mix up your faves!
200g ground almonds
50g walnuts
3 tbsp olive oil
3 organic eggs
Juice of 1 Orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 150 C / 300 F
Prepare a 20 cm round cake tin with baking paper lining the sides and the base. Adjust cooking times if your tin is larger or smaller.
Combine dried fruit, spices, vanilla, orange juice, olive oil and eggs.
Add ground almonds and walnuts and mix through.
Spoon batter into your baking tin.
Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check with a skewer to see if it comes out clean, if not bake for another 30 minutes.
Cover the top with cling film to prevent over-browning after 1 hour.
Cool, then remove from the tin and store in an airtight container.
Decorate with your wildest Christmassy imaginings!


As you will see in the video above, I was a dunce and forgot to chop up my dried figs before mixing the fruit together. Do not be that person. Chop up your fruit.

The high ratio of fruit means you don’t need to add extra sugar. I used raisins, coconut, mulberries and figs because they’re all low FODMAP but you can thrown in some apricots or dates if that’s your thing… maybe even goji berries if you’re after a superfood kick and for some reason believe Christmas should be about being healthy.

I like organic eggs because they have a better consistency, genuinely taste great and add a lovely warm colour to everything but if you can’t stomach forking out the extra expense then just use 3 large eggs of whatever brand you normally buy.

This cake is amazing when served with custard or ice cream (two of my absolute favourite things) in front of some good Christmas Day TV. Equally, it will store in the fridge for at least two weeks- possibly up to a month if you can keep your hands off!- so it’s great for seasonal afternoon visitors. Trust me, I have a lot of aunts and they will all be served this cake.

Food · Grain Free Recipes · Sugar Free Recipes

Free-From Pumpkin Cookies

As a child I was happy to eat pretty much everything other than tomatoes. Tomatoes are, when you really think about it, weird. Fruit? Vegetable? Alien plant? And why are they so squidgy? Almost as gross as chocolate! An uncommon view, I’m aware. Regardless, other than the aforementioned weird red things I was very happy to eat whatever I was given… I could even handle tomatoes provided they were cooked down.

That all changed 10 years ago, at the age of 17, when the slightly annoying tummy troubles I had coped with all of my life became a full blown issue. I was in hospital being diagnosed with my neurological disability when I had a lumbar puncture that went wrong. I lost all of my spinal fluid and couldn’t even stay conscious never mind eat! A year and a half of fuzziness and drugs later, I was still throwing up every day. But then it spiraled down to being sick after everything I ate and then everything I drank and then I couldn’t hold down water. Water made me sick! Ridiculous.


The doctors and dieticians weren’t particularly helpful (see my “What CAN You Eat?!” video for more) but there was one diet that worked for me and allowed me to stabilize my stomach- being entirely starch free. My body wasn’t processing starch so I had to cut it out: that’s no wheat, oats, rice, corn, maize, millet, potatoes, beans, sugar, alcohol, dairy, bananas… That last one was very specific. Basically, no grains, root vegetables or sugars: including lactose, fructose and alcohol.

Limiting indeed!

However, any diet, once you get used to it, isn’t that bad. 10 years without starch means I’m managed to work my way around the major issues (largely: “What fills the carb space on my plate?!”) and can confidently order in restaurants or make food for friends so good they don’t realize it’s grain, sugar and dairy free!


In the 10 years since my diagnosis food culture has changed greatly- now we can buy free from items in the supermarket and most restaurants will have at least one option I can tweak to be suitable. However, the hardest part of a diet like mine (and any medical diet or even just low carb ones) is the difficulty finding things to grab on the go when out-and-about. Oh of course there are paleo bars or specialist ‘low carb’ snacks etc but they all seem to either have thousands of additives or just two ingredients… and I can’t eat either of them (I’m looking at you, oats. Bloody oats.)

This is of course because carbohydrates are very stable, don’t go off quickly and are easy to transport whilst proteins need to be refridgerated and carrying around a Tupperware full of cold, steamed vegetables isn’t necessarily the most appetizing thing in the world. I could do a whole series on great low carb lunches but for now here are my absolute favourite life-saver cookies. They can be kept in your handbag for emergencies or made to look pretty for a party. I love their great pumpkin-y taste but you can make them all year round thanks to the wonder that is tinned pumpkin.



Makes 24 cookies… or 12 if you’re like me and love big cookies with soft middles!

  • ½ cup creamy almond butter
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup ground almond
  • ¼ cup Splenda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Combine all ingredients, dollop on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, flatten, bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes… done! Allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from baking tray. Unless you like a big, tasty mess in which case go ahead.


You could make this recipe vegan and egg free by substituting the egg for ¼ cup almond butter. Equally if you’re not an artificial sweetener fan then just sub in your preferred sweet sensation, whether that be regular sugar or maple syrup (but do expect a looser mixture with the latter).

Aesthetically I like the look of a whole almond pressed into the centre but watch out for your teeth!