Want to look fab without breaking the bank? Kate Haddigan shares her DIY beauty tips and helps you make the most of what Mother Nature has to offer…

We all want to look our best. Our appearance is the first thing we present of ourselves to the world and as our Grannies used to say, first impressions count.
However, haven’t we all become a bit obsessed with, well, ourselves? How many of us waste a lunch break browsing the aisles of Boots, hunting down THE conditioner to rid us of frizz forever? Or spend hours trawling online reviews to discover the Holy Grail of cleansers? We’re all smart enough to know that the beauty industry doesn’t want us to be really beautiful, because we’d all stop spending our money on the ever-increasing amount of products they keep launching to rectify the flaws they keep telling us that we have.
A secret hippy at heart, I have spent the last year experimenting with natural products. I figured that Mother Nature would provide the cures and treatments for whatever ailed me. And it seems like she has and she doesn’t charge the earth for it either.

Aloe Vera Gel

Leaf of aloe

Never without a tube, this is a multi-functional product. I rub it into my scalp once a month before washing my hair, to prevent any flakiness or dry patches. It has a fantastic tingly sensation that makes my head feel fresh. My boyfriend has used it as hair gel in a pinch and he said it provided good hold.
A friend who had suffered with acne for the past five years uses it to wash her face. She dampens her skin, rubs in the aloe vera gel and then gently washes it off with a flannel. A couple of weeks ago she came to work and proudly announced that she wasn’t wearing any foundation, for the first time in years and will not stop harping on about how aloe vera gel has changed her life. Huzzah

Manuka Honey soap


 My personal saviour. After trying a Manuka honey face mask, which basically entailed rubbing Manuka honey onto my face (I kept licking around my mouth, it was just too tasty to resist), I found that I woke up with really soft skin. I came across a bar of Manuka honey soap and gave it a go. I use it to wash my face every day and I too am now foundation free, which has saved me a fortune; I used to spend £40 on my favourite Bobbi Brown foundation every month, as I hated my skin so much. Now I am proud to go bare faced which as well as saving me money, saves me a lot of time in the morning.

Almond Oil


I slick this all over myself. I use a drop in my hair (mixed with a trickle of Jasmine oil for fragrance) as a hair serum. I use it as an evening moisturiser, a little too heavy for the day, but gently apply before bed and you’ll wake up with smooth, soft skin.
DO NOT BE SCARED OF OILS. Conventional beauty products strip your skin of their natural oils. When your skin is robbed of this oil, it overcompensates and produces a whole lot of it, which results in greasy skin, acne and shine. Nourish it with good quality oil and your skin will relax and glow. I would also suggest jojoba oil if you suffer with acne, I always have a bottle in case of breakouts. Argan oil,
as well as being brilliant for your hair, is very good for dry skin. Always buy cold pressed and organic where possible.

Rose water


You can get this from the world food aisles in most supermarkets. I use this as a toner dabbed on with cotton pads after cleansing. It reduces the slight redness I get in my skin, which occurs around my eyebrows from tweezing and also when the weather is cold. I love the smell, it reminds me of summers in Cyprus, where the air is sultry and sweet with the scent of honey, lemons and rose bushes. Sadly, it reminds my boyfriend of his dear, old Greek Grandmother and Aunties, who all apparently stank of rose water. I’ll take that complaint any day as I’m left with a clear even skin tone without any angry redness.

 Raw African Black Soap


I started using solid black soap after watching a YouTube video where a girl with a beautiful mane of hair revealed that she used it as a shampoo. After years of straightening my hair in an attempt to disguise the frizziness I suffered as a naturally curly girl, my ‘do was a mess of split ends and I always smelt ever so slightly singed.
I decided to go down the no shampoo route, which I think everybody should educate themselves about. I did it for about six months, using raw African black soap as shampoo and apple cider vinegar mixed with water and lavender oil to condition. The health of my hair improved dramatically, and the kinky waves that looked kind of Hermione-esque were transformed into luscious, bouncy curls that sprang along with my step. You can also find a liquid version of this soap. I’ve been told it is a wonder cure for eczema.
So, if we cut out the packaging and the advertising, the chemicals and fragrances and the bullshit, what are we left with? Moroccan Oil was what, £40 a bottle? Argan oil is about £8 a bottle. It’s the same thing, only pure, natural and not dressed up as a miracle. It just quietly does its job and then lets you get on with, I don’t know, living your life maybe? As we all now know, eating food that is as unprocessed and free from chemicals is best for our health. So surely the same applies to those things we use on our hair, face and body?
Oh, one more thing. Stop buying exfoliants. Just use a flannel for goodness sake!