Apps That Can Make You Happier

floatinf island meditation

There are those who say that being wedded to our phones is bad for our mental health. But – notwithstanding the fact that in 2018, I am setting a time for a maximum of five minutes on social media at any one time (to avoid being sucked ever deeper into that rabbit hole) – I actually think that our phones are good for our minds, bodies and spirits, too.

OK, your phone is not an ashram. It’s not a yoga class. It’s definitely not a shrink. But I definitely think it’s perfectly possible to change your smartphone from a time bandit to a life-enhancing gadget. Personally, I rely on several different apps in the course of a single day to de-stress, to take some time out from the frenetic pace and just chill, to sleep better – and even to up my fitness levels.

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Nail Clinic: How To Stop Bad Nail Habits

nail polish container

Flaking, breaking, snapping, peeling, biting: many of us are afflicted by nail ‘woes’ which stand between us and and manicure ‘perfection’. In fact, nail woes rank very highly, when it comes to advice requests to (If there’s a woman out there who’s 100 percent happy with her nails – particularly as the years roll by – we’ve yet to meet her.) So here’s our wisdom on tackling some of the most common nail habits.

If you have dry and ragged cuticles

As we get older, everything just seems to become drier – we’re tempted to say ‘desiccated’ – and cuticles are a case in point. So: we keep cuticle oil on our bedside tables, within easy reach, because nightly massage with oil goes a long way towards fixing the problem. It also encourages nail growth. The Dr.Hauschka Neem Nail Oil Pen is brilliant; neem is one of the most effective nail-strengtheners, and this easy-to-use tool features a gentle sponge ‘nib’ to push cuticles back (it comes with some replacement nibs).

If your nails are flaky or peeling

Be aware: nails do take weeks, often months to improve overall – but nourishing the nail bed is key. Submerging hands in water isn’t helpful – but it’s what rubber gloves were invented for (if you really can’t bear the feel of them, try surgeons’ latex gloves, so long as you’re not sensitive to latex; they feel like there’s nothing there). Avoid acetone-based nail polishes and removers and nourish nails at the base with a nightly massage of oil – either a specific nail treatment oil (see above), or even something very simple, such as sweet almond oil. (Every single night – religiously!) NB Jo has had exponential improvements in her nail growth – and her nails have stopped flaking (which was a real problem) – since she started removing polish last thing at night, and instead of re-polishing straight away (as she used to), she drenches nails in oil overnight. She then re-varnishes in the morning, having scrubbed them clean.

While you’re waiting for the TLC to get to work, the short-term fix for flaking or peeling nails is to paint on a protective all-in-one top and base coat (see Nail Magic, below), at the very least, to prevent layers of nail from peeling off and/or catching on clothing. ‘Seal the tips’ of the nail, as many manicurists do, and repaint every couple of days to ensure nails are armour-plated. Resist the temptation to pick at flakes of nail – and don’t be tempted to use a nail file to ‘smooth’ the nail surface and get rid of the flaking; you’ll just ‘thin’ it and make things worse.

If your nails break and snap

Sorry if we’re starting to sound like a broken record, but again, the solution is to nourish the nail bed. The ‘perfect’ nail is both strong and flexible: too strong, and nails will just break when challenged. Sometimes nails become brittle through over-use of a specific hardening product; these should never be used for more than four weeks, or they over-harden the nail – but the exception is the extraordinary Nail Magic Nail Treatment, which can be used as a top coat, base coat or clear polish for up to eight weeks; after that (when you should see vast improvements), use it just once a week for maintenance. We also recommend carrying a balm with you to smooth it into nails and cuticles once or twice daily (we always do it when we’re being kept waiting for an appointment!) – or a pinch, a clear lip balm (such as our Beauty Bible Lip Balm!) will do.

If you’re prone to ridges

Length-ways ridges can respond to very, very gentle buffing your nails need to be naked for this (or oiled, as above). Buff length-ways, but never to the point where you create ‘heat’. Occasionally, a ridge becomes a split, for which the best solution is a ‘patch’ applied at a nail salon, while it grows out, or a false acrylic nail. Yet again (you getting the drift, yet?), you will benefit from boosting nail health while it’s growing out with stimulating oil massage of the nail bed.

If you bite your nails

There’s the option of painting on something that tastes horrible – but even that may not work, as it will eventually wash off, or you’ll just stop using it. A far better disincentive, we’ve observed, is to treat yourself to a really beautiful manicure – perhaps with gels, which stay in place for weeks, and allow your natural nail to grow underneath. Seeing the beautiful finish (and perhaps a gorgeous colour of polish) gives you a strong wake-up call, every time you’re tempted to bite. But nail-biting is like any addiction: to give up successfully, you really need a programme of support and monitoring. Enlist a friend or a ‘buddy’ – or that manicurist – to back you up as you work to quit the habit.

Winter Warmers


For once, we’ve had a ‘proper’ winter. Plenty of blue skies, sub-zero temperatures – and snow, across much of the country. (To do battle with, once the childish thrill’s worn off.) Jo – as you may have read in her editorial last month – loves the cold. But even she loves coming IN from the cold and warming up again – that contrast is central to her enjoyment of winter, actually.

So we thought that right now is a good time to focus on ‘winter warmers’ – products, drinks, tips and tricks (and even a delicious soup) to ensure we feel toasty, no matter what the wind-chill factor.

Let’s start with things to sip – because there’s really nothing like warming your hands on a hot cup of something delicious, when you come in from the cold. We love turmeric lattes – which are super-easy to make, and delicious with it. Use any kind of milk you like – though almond is particularly delicious. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a quarter of a teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon, three whole peppercorns, and a splash of vanilla extract. Whisk until well-combined and wait until the milk begins to bubble at the side of the pan. (Don’t boil – simply heat the milk). If you’ve got a hand-blender, you can use this to whisk the mixture further, creating a froth – but if not, don’t worry; it’ll still be delish. Fish out the peppercorns, and add honey to taste – we find a teaspoon is sweet enough, but you might have a sweeter tooth. Read More…

Never Too Late To Learn


Hands up who hated school? I’m rather anticipating a sea of hands, here – but mine will probably be the most eager, the one reaching most determinedly sky-wards – because pretty much as soon as I’d learned to read, I was over mine. Upshot is I left at 16 with a total of six ‘O’ levels to my name (and one of those was Art), leaving a pair of grey school knickers hoisted up the flagpole as my ultimate farewell gesture while I skipped, danced and cartwheeled down the street. Marking the occasion with a final, joyful flourish by carefully placing my loathed school straw boater hat under the front wheels of a 119 bus.

I then, however, enrolled in what we all call ‘the university of life’. There are those who don’t know what they don’t know – but I did know what I didn’t know. So I became a human sponge, determined to make up for my lack of qualifications by spending time in the world’s art galleries and concert halls, convinced that travel itself also broadened the mind. But formal learning? Not my thing, I was always convinced. Read More…

The Joy Of Cold


There is a Danish saying I’ve always loved: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.’ And it’s so true. As long as we’re togged up with thick gloves, puffa coat, faux fur scarves (check out the hot pink/red colour-blocked option from Warehouse – Trinny Woodall loves it too!), and of course a HAT, anyone is pretty much weather-proof in even the most Arctic conditions.

And I know there’ll be those of you out there who think I’m off my rocker for saying this, but I am a huge fan of cold weather. (Not least because it decimates the slug population.) Just as we have different body clocks – I’m a lark, you may be an owl – I think we have different ‘weather clocks’, too. Come summer, I’m wilting like a week-old lettuce, wafting around ineffectually with a brain barely functioning. Come the cold weather, my brain’s crisp as it gets, my senses invigorated, and I feel utterly alive. You can stay under the duvet till April if you like. But I’ll be out there feeling the chill Northerly wind on my cheeks, and loving every glad-to-be-alive moment. Read More…

Pre-Party Quick Fixes


There isn’t much that makes us envious of a Downton Abbey lifestyle, but having the luxury of all that time to gossip, while getting ready for a dressed-up dinner, does get Team Beauty Bible a tad wistful. Today, we’re meant to squeeze prepping for a party, a dinner (or even just a school play) into a narrow ‘window’ – often as little as 15 minutes, and sometimes five if we’re lucky. But it’s doable – with the right products and the right know-how. And here are our top tips…

Wake up tired eyes with an ice cube. Suffering from under-eye baggage? Nothing works like a couple of ice cubes, wrapped in hankies or Clingfilm and smoothed over the pouchy areas under the eye, always in an outwards movement.

Brush your teeth.  It’s one of the quickest lifts:  takes a minute, makes you feel ten times fresher. Read More…