Fresh powder

Reblogged from on Pinterest

Powder is alluring. Fresh powder, even more so.  Ask any young child, snowboarder or weary office worker how they feel about waking up to snow. It makes the world appear sparkly and new.

And so I could think of no more a fitting recipe for the start of the blog than a dusting powder. Something that speaks of the past, but needs reinventing for the present. Because dusting powders have fallen out of favour haven’t they. Depending on your age, you may recall seeing powder puffs on our mother or grandmother’s dressing table – the silky feel of them against our skin, the heady scent of Yardley, Avon, Elizabeth Arden – rose, lavender, lily of the valley – lingering in the air. While nostalgic, many turn their noses up at smelling like ‘old ladies’. But it doesn’t have to be this way: perhaps it’s time for a powder revival. New formulations, a new image for a product with many virtues. Because not only do they make you smell nice after a shower, they can also help to absorb excess oil after moisturising, prevent chafing and double up as a dry hair shampoo. Read more about the history of dusting powders here.

Of the companies in the UK still making dusting powder – and there really aren’t many – the one that does it best, in my view, is the ever wonderful Lush. I followed the company from the start, back when they were Cosmetics to Go (they hail from my neck of the woods in Dorset) making outlandish, delightful bath bombs featured on The Clothes Show.  I touted their catalogue around the playground at school, relishing the witty product descriptions and ordering stuff for my friends. Over the years I witnessed their dramatic demise and subsequent revival under a new brand, Lush, and then worked for them for a brief time after university. It’s safe to say they are one of my very favourite brands. Lush gushing aside, they do make some rather lovely powders. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I thought I’d have a go at duping one.

Based on Lush’s Coconut Deoderant Powder, now out of production. Makes 450g.


100g corn starch (-absorbs oil and  moisture)
140g tapioca flour (-velvety soft feel)
40g arrowroot (-skin softening, absorbs moisture and helps active ingredients penetrate the skin)
70g magnesium carbonate (-talc substitute, ultra light, smooths and softens the skin)
70g coconut milk powder (-soothing anti-inflammatory and smells delicious)
25g grated coconut cream (-moisturising, and add further coconut smell)
25g dessicated coconut (-prevents the powder from clumping)
30 drops benzoin resin (-vanilla-ish aroma, a natural fixative that prevents evaporation of active essential oils)

Essential oil blend:
10 drops vetiver (-earthy, almost dirt-like smell known for its grounding properties. Go easy, though, it can be quite overpowering.)
20 drops sandalwood (-combines well with vetiver to soothe and reassure. Also an anti-inflammatory)
10 drops sweet orange (-lovely uplifting citrus tang to tie the blend together)


  1. Mix all the ingredients above – minus the essential oils – very thoroughly in a ceramic or glass bowl. You may wish to wear a mask to avoid inhaling too much powder.
  2. Now add the essential oils to a cotton pad, and place inside the powder mix.
  3. Add the lot to a large kilner jar.
  4. Shake.
  5. Leave for 24 hours to allow the essential oils to permeate the mix, then shake again.
  6. Leave for a further 24 hours.
  7. Decant into suitable shakers. I bought this medium-hole shaker but you can experiment. Even a small, recycled spice jar will do.
  8. Enjoy!



Root and branch

Re-blogged from

Welcome to The Dip Project blog – a place to record my enthusiastic experiments with handmade bath and beauty. There’ll be recipes, ideas and reflections on here. But before all this, I want to share the roots beneath The Dip Project – a project that one day may become a business.

Natural beauty is my thing; it always has been. From an early age, my parents, in particular Dad –  a watercolour artist, musician and all round creative synesthete – encouraged my love for it. I remember stargazing with him in the back garden (deck chairs, hot tea and blankets on our knees), marvelling as  he mapped out the heavens. Orion. Andromeda. Ursa Major. I remember our visits to shops along the Dorset coast, researching and building up a collection of semi-precious gemstones to fill the box my Grandpa Harold made especially. The purity of diamonds, rubies and sapphires paled in comparison to the delights of rutilated quartz, iron pyrites, hematite, amethyst or moss agate. They still do.

The heavens opened.
The heavens opened.
After the storm. Bottling rainwater in Payrac, Dordogne.
After the storm. Bottling rainwater in Payrac, Dordogne.

And I remember the moment when I first became interested in natural health, beauty and cosmetics. On a family camping trip to the Dordogne – I was perhaps twelve or thirteen years old – we got caught in a  particularly impressive thunderstorm. After digging ditches around the tent, we took cover and waited for it to pass. When we emerged, the forest was suddenly ripe with the aroma of saturated pine – sap and needle, giving up the freshest aroma I’d known. We took deep breaths. It was a magical day. But strangely, what I remember most was the softening effect the  rain water had had on our hair, and how I enlisted my sisters to help me  collect it from the trees. I wanted to bottle it.

One of my first jobs was for the now extinct Culpeper, the high street herbalist. This was where my interest became a passion. As I restocked the shops’ drawers with dried medicinal herbs – eyebright, comfrey, senna, valerian, hops – and the old wooden shelves with apothecary bottles of essential oil – neroli, vetivert, sandalwood, jasmine and bergamot, a magical, fragrant world of possibilities opened up. The line between mind and body began to blur. I dealt with a wide range of customer queries there, from people seeking natural treatments for the complexion and hair, but also for anxiety, insomnia and impotence. I dabbled with aromatherapy, made messy tomato and oatmeal face masks in the kitchen and contemplated a degree in medicinal herbalism.

And while the path I chose meant I wouldn’t make a living this way – not at this point, anyway – the seed had been well and truly sown.  The interest never faded, it just moved aside for the serious business of building a career, home and family to happen. But in recent years it has become stronger again – to the point where I feel the need to really indulge it. Explore it. And blog about it.

This is the story behind what I am calling The Dip Project. Feel free to join me as I fumble my way. Try the recipes. Send comments. I’d love to hear from you.