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Cook up a beauty fix

If you've got some time on your hands and are feeling light of pocket at the minute, why not try making your own beauty products?

Even the most domestically challenged among us (that would be me, by the way) can make like Rachel Allen and whip up a little treat for face or body for mere pennies, using a few everyday ingredients that are most likely already lurking in your kitchen presses.

It's always a good idea to do a patch test on the skin behind your ear and wait 24 hours to check for an adverse reaction before slathering yourself in a homemade concoction. I didn't when I tested a DIY honey, cinnamon and nutmeg face mask and got a faceful of irritant contact dermatitis, which took 10 days to clear, for my troubles.

Delicious Body Scrubs

Take your pick of granulated white or brown sugar or coarse sea salt (caffeine fiends can use coffee grounds) to use as a natural exfoliant that will slough away dry, dead skin cells, but don't use them alone. Mix them with some emollient like sweet almond oil, walnut oil, or olive oil. You can also use honey for this job, which Catherine Zeta- Jones is fond of mixing with salt for her DIY body scrub fix.

To make and use, combine your chosen exfoliant granules and mixing medium in a 2:1 ratio, massage onto damp skin in the bath or shower, and rinse off to reveal brighter skin that smells good enough to eat.

Avocado/Oatmeal & Honey Face Mask

To mop up excess oiliness: Mix two tablespoons of porridge oats with a tablespoon of honey.

To nourish dry skin: Mash half a ripe avocado and mix well with a tablespoon of honey.

Apply to clean, dry skin (avoiding the delicate eye area), leave on for 10-15 minutes, and remove with plenty of warm water.

Lip Scrub

Mix a teaspoon of granulated sugar with a drizzle of honey in the palm of your hand and gently rub onto lips using circular motions. Lick it off if you're in need of a sugar fix (or just wipe it off with a damp facecloth).

Aspirin Spot Treatment

While it's obviously not suitable for frequent use or anyone with aspirin allergies, half a crushed uncoated aspirin tablet mixed with a little water or honey will effectively shrink spots.

Apply directly to the breakout and remove after 10 minutes.