The best things in life are free

Coco Chanel is reputed to have said, ‘The best things in life are free, the second-best things are very, very expensive’. I must admit that the second part of that quote is up for debate. Rising costs have been hitting us squarely in the jaw for sometime now, leaving many people with no option but to significantly cut back, on just about everything, or at the very least, question and think about what to prioritise and what to discard. A recent survey still rates ‘image’ in the top three priorities associated with leading a contented and happy life. What does this mean? Are we cutting back in other areas of our lives just so we can still look good? What if I told you that there are so many ways that you can slash your image budget and still look and feel amazing?

Have you ever heard the expression ‘She’s all fur coat and no knickers’! I laugh every time I hear my daughter’s friend say it…because it epitomises how so many people live these days. What it means is that some people would spend all of their money on a flash coat and then not have anything left to buy essential pieces, like underwear! The not-so-funny part is that the pressure on everyone to slot into the ‘looking good’ box means that this happens a hell of a lot more than any of us would like to admit. Faced with adversity (if that’s what you want to call it) we need to assess, recalibrate and realign with a more sensible approach to how we look, and as a result, how we feel about how we look. We are living in an amazing world and there are signs and signals and answers and solutions everywhere we look in nature! There is a Yin to every Yang, but we have to look a little deeper than just skimming across the surface.

Did you know that a banana peel is considered ‘Nature’s botox’? This is the answer to all of your prayers if you are nervous (and rightfully so) of having something injected into your face or neck. I should say a big thank you to all of the cosmetologists who have offered me free botox down through the years, I have always declined but am grateful for the fact that my opinion and review is much sought after. I decided, quite a while ago, never to go down this road. So I research alternative remedies, and yes, rubbing the inside of a banana peel to your face and neck does make a remarkable difference. It also has a cumulative effect so the more you do it, the  better you look. Banana peel is full of ingredients that the skin craves and flourishes with. Loaded with antioxidants (studies have found more antioxidants in unripe bananas than overripe ones), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Silicon, zinc, Potassium, lots of anti-inflammatory agents and hydrating oils, banana peel is being praised as a cheaper, quicker and less invasive alternative to botox injections. I’ve been eating a banana every morning and then rubbing the peel to my face and neck…and the result is quite astonishing! I can definitely see and feel that it has improved elasticity along my neck and locked in moisture on my face and neck, my skin is less dehydrated than it was. My skin tone seems to be more even and more firm, some of my more ‘obvious’ wrinkles are diminishing somewhat but there is a welcomed reduction in fine lines around my eyes. Now when I put on make-up, my overall look is revitalised and brighter, perhaps due to the high amounts of Vitamin C in the peel. Would I recommend that you try it daily? Does a bear s**t in the woods? Of course, it’s completely natural so the skin absorbs it completely. You could also smack on some of the banana pulp, it gently exfoliates and banishes tired and dead skin cells. 10/10 from me.

Are you a big Winnie the Pooh fan? Winnie is a firm favourite in our house and while all of the other remnants of childhood have been given away or stored away, you will still find a few Winnie teddies, towels and photo frames in prime positions around the house. Pooh bear loves honey, perhaps that’s why Winnie is the epitome of everlasting youth and we could all do with adding some more raw honey to our diets and using it on our skin. Ancient Egyptians used honey as a nutrient for the skin, I think we are all familiar with the stories about Cleopatra bathing in it. Archaeologists believe that it was used mainly because of its antibacterial properties but nutrient-enriched honey proved to be laden full of antioxidants too – the end result was flawless skin. Cleopatra also regularly had oatmeal baths proving that beauty recipes are ever so accessible to the modern woman. Raw honey is packed with components beneficial for your skin, especially if you have acne or autoimmune conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Even Candida overgrowth can be controlled by applying honey to your skin. In its natural form, honey is produced by enzyme activity, plant matter and live bacteria coming together to create a powerful ingredient, especially valuable for cosmetic uses. It can clear acne, heal scars and even out skin tone and local, raw, unpasteurised honey has the most potential for topical application on the skin. So make sure that the honey that you use is unpasteurised as in order to benefit your skin, it needs to have the healthy bacteria intact. Some recommend mixing honey with a teaspoon of cinnamon, this is a powerful antioxidant. Leave it on your face for eight to 10 mins and rinse off completely with warm water. If you feel that your skin is tired or dull, mix a little purified water with honey and apply to the face and neck. Leave it on for at least 15 mins and wash off, the purified water makes it easier to spread and also to remove after. Because honey is completely natural, it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

Life is all about accepting what you can’t control and focusing on what you can control. Ageing is a natural part of living, we should embrace it, all the while using what nature provides to look and feel as good as we possibly can. Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford whatever the latest promise of everlasting youth is, just remember that there was a time when doctors told people that it was safe to smoke, asbestos passed all safety regulations and Bayer laboratory produced heroin cough syrup in 1898 – and this was much sought after! The cough syrup was discontinued in 1910 when it was discovered that it didn’t cure the cough but rather, made people so ‘chilled out’ that they didn’t care if they were sick or not! Do your own research, use what is natural.

Stop giving out about how you look! Yes, I’m talking to you. Negative self-talk produces physiological stress in the body, rapidly elevating levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Prolonged elevated levels cause illness, this has been scientifically substantiated but ARE YOU LISTENING? The more you criticise how you look, because the brain takes everything literally, the more parts of your body the brain will find for you to complain about. It really is very simple, train yourself to take note of what you love about yourself and the more that you do that, the more things you will find to love. If you have tried in vain to lose weight, how about you focus on your posture and how you hold your head? It’s a simple trick to lose five pounds! Be realistic, your instagram algorithm might be continually tempting you with the latest ‘pull your belly in and lift your ass’ but it’s all just an illusion and what is pulled in and lifted up has to go somewhere else. I, for one, have seen all too many women fall ‘sucky in’ things and then end up looking like a prop forward, all bulk at the top and no neck!

Smile as much as you can, it’s free, it’s contagious and believe it or not, the more you smile, the younger you will look. Smiling exercises anywhere from five to 53 muscles in the face, the bigger the smile, the more muscles contracting and the result is an improvement in circulation, improving elasticity and reducing those natural grooves that come with age. Because this is the summer of 2023 and the summer of dresses, there is no better accessory to a flowing summer dress than a wonderful smile. It is the best accessory that you will ever add to any outfit, in fact. A recent study revealed that out of a group of 10 women dressed for an evening event, all wearing black, all of similar height and weight, five smiled and five posed without a smile, only one woman out of the five that didn’t smile received votes in the ‘Best Evening Look’. I think that it’s safe to say that a big smile will ‘woo’ any audience!

If you want to find out more about ‘Who How and Why we are and How We Feel’ about ourselves dictates ‘How We Function’ in the world, check out my instagram

‘The standard of success in life isn’t the things. It isn’t the money or the stuff.

It is absolutely the amount of joy that you feel’
 – Abraham Hicks

Louise O'Dwyer

Louise O'Dwyer is an Image consultant based in West Cork

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