Famous for her outspoken opinions, her prominent teeth and "unusual" fashion sense, TV presenter Janet Street-Porter is perhaps the last person you'd expect to write a self-help manual.
But her hilarious, no-nonsense tips on beauty, diet and feeling good about yourself are a breath of fresh air. In this, the first part of an exclusive series, Janet explains her unique approach to beauty...
What makes me think I can write a self-help book, I hear you asking. Well, I reckon I'm well qualified to dish out advice because I grew up weird looking, with big frilly teeth, thick glasses and boring hair.
I was the girl who never had a boyfriend at school, got called names and was the last one in the class to wear a bra.
Externally I might have seemed gauche and insecure, but inside I knew I was special and different. I've always had a huge amount of self-belief.
Sure, it was tempered with a healthy dollop of insecurity brought about by my looks and my accent, and the fact that from the moment I was on the radio and then on television the critics loved to rubbish me as much as possible.
But I took myself in hand and made sure I got stronger - to be the best I can be. I'd like to pass on my experiences and discoveries to you.
LIFE'S TOO SHORT: TO SPEND £100 ON FACE CREAM
I am 60, and I might be a bit lumpy around the midriff, but I have great skin - it's one of the few things I can sincerely thank my late mother for.
I have small wrinkles around my eyes, bags under them after a late night, and a saggy chin, but as I talk a huge amount on the telly you probably don't have time to notice these minor deficiencies!
Every day someone compliments me on my skin and says I don't look my age.
Specs appeal: Janet in her bottle-bottom glasses
Well, I do look my age if I feel miserable, am sulking or falling asleep, believe me!
From the age of 11 I worshipped at the altar of self-improvement - didn't we all?
Given the raw material of my genetic inheritance it wasn't surprising that I looked in the mirror and felt miserable.
I had big, sticky-out teeth, National Health glasses like milk bottle bottoms, long legs like sticks, a completely flat chest and beige hair that lay flat on my head and wasn't the slightest bit inclined to be wavy, curly or interesting.
When I was smaller my mother would tear up strips of old sheets and tie my hair in rags, night after night, to try to curl it.
I suffered from acute sleep deprivation - it was like sleeping on a bag of marbles.
Every morning Mum would unwrap these tight twirls of cotton, and hey presto! My hair sank limply onto my head, straight but with a weird kink halfway down.
I tried false fingernails and was embarrassed when dancing with a cute boy and they dropped off, like nasty bird talons in his hand.
I would buy fabulous false eye lashes, but I never glued them on very carefully and they would often start to come off and droop over my eyes like sagging venetian blinds.
Once I slept with a well-known artist after he'd given a lecture at Cambridge University, and in the morning found my false eyelashes in the sheets, like a couple of dead furry caterpillars. I prayed he hadn't seen them.
Women often ask what is the secret of good skin, apart from genetics, and it is simple, but so hard to achieve:
• Not smoking • Drinking loads of water •Sleeping at least six hours a night • Wearing sunblock • Enjoying life (miseries do look wrinkly, don't they?)
I look at the Duchess of Cornwall, younger than me, with horrible pleats all around her mouth from puffing on dozens of cigarettes a day for decades.
Even if she's given up now to please Charles, it's too late, the damage has been done.
Luckily, I wore specs all the time until I was in my 50s, which protected the skin around my eyes from wind.
I also wore sunglasses in bright light to avoid screwing my eyes up too much, still do.
Now I have had my eyes lasered they are more exposed - but my wrinkles are still relatively fine.
A victim of yet another hairdresser
It doesn't matter what rubbish is written on tubes of eye cream - they might help keep some lines at bay -
but once you've got wrinkles they're not going to go away.
I have facials every couple of months but, quite honestly, it's more a way of lying down, being pampered and having my eyebrows and facial hair dealt with than any radical improvement on my appearance.
Facials aren't going to change your skin overnight.
But beauticians (who are generally ordinary working girls and not overpaid beauty writers who get loads of freebies) do give out some top tips.
One of the best I've heard is to alternate cheap face cream with expensive gunk, as your skin gets used to products quite quickly.
I use the cheap and cheerful Bhart Vyas Skin Wisdom range from Tesco, none of which costs more than £10, and I guarantee it gets the same results as pricey moisturisers like Cëme de la Mer which go for £80 and more a pot.
The trick with skincare is to keep it very simple.
Get up, wash your face with cream or cleanser, every single day (I have not used soap on my face since I was 14).
Put on moisturiser. Put some cream or gel around your eyes. THAT'S IT.
Every night I cleanse my face even if I am so drunk I can't talk.
I slap on moisturiser and eye cream, hit the pillow.
That is the sum total of my socalled beauty regime.
If ever I am sent posher anti-ageing products to try, I can guarantee you that within a week the area around my eyes starts to go red and my skin begins to itch and feel over-sensitive.
On the odd occasion I have let a beauty therapist scour my skin (or exfoliate, as they call it), it will be sore the next day.
Facials bring out spots you never knew you had.
I never wear foundation or thick make-up, just tinted moisturiser.
Powder is totally ageing if you are over 40 as it catches in all the fine lines.
I wear eye make-up, pencil and shadow (mascara and liner if I'm working or at a "do") and lipstick.
Takes five minutes.
Too much stuff on your skin will ruin it.
If a make-up artist puts base on my face because it looks washed out in the bright lights of a television studio, I remove it the minute I leave.
Such a lot of drivel is written about "hydrating" your skin.
You cannot put water back into your skin no matter what you might read.
All creams do is enable your skin to feel softer and more oily, not wetter. They can contain sunblock, which is good, too.
A younger Janet Looking like an extra from Grease
But no manufacturer wants to make it sound that basic, do they?
Feeling particularly tired one day I made an appointment with a top cosmetic surgeon who specialised in removing the bags under your eyes.
He took one look at me and told me I needed a full face lift as well to deal with my sagging chin.
It cost £750 for that consultation and the basic operation for my bags would have cost £7,000.
I felt repulsive after 30 minutes talking to this patronising man.
A month later, I went on holiday, didn't take my computer, stopped drinking half a bottle of wine a day and slept properly.
The bags under my eyes reduced by half immediately and I spent the £7,000 I had saved on having my garden landscaped. Hoorah!
Once you go down the Botox route there's no turning back.
The way I look at it, a lot of cosmetic surgery is more to do with psychological problems and general insecurities than anything else.
The surgical removal of the bags under my eyes would not get me a better sex life, it would not get rid of my fat stomach and it certainly wouldn't get me better, higher-paid work.
And the chances are, that within a couple of years I would need to have the operation done all over again.
Facelifts have to be done regularly, and pretty soon you will start to look like a startled goldfish - like many expressionless, rich American women I know, with no ear lobes and whose age can really be determined only by looking at the backs of their hands and their neck.
It is a tough decision to take, at a time when the price of cosmetic surgery and minor procedures is coming down, but deep down, I think you have to accept the ageing process and its effect on your face.
A mobile, active face will always seem more youthful, and you can certainly do facial exercises if you think they will tighten your jawline - just don't let anyone see you.
We are bombarded with unrealistic images of other women and consequently feel we don't make the grade.
Get a grip, girls - airbrushing is commonplace in the world of beauty mythology and women's magazines.
It is always a shock to meet anyone very famous, because you see them as they really are, and not as the glossy too-good-to-be-true image some magazine editor would like to project on them.
From Elle Macpherson to Kelly Osbourne to Kate Winslet to Sienna Miller - all look normal, albeit very attractive, in the flesh.
And, to be fair, all have said that they don't like being altered in this way.
Look at the cover of any woman's magazine, the face gazing out at you will have been doctored by an airbrush technician, removing wrinkles and sags better than any cream could ever do. And yet the result is presented to us as reality, something that we should aspire to.
It makes me feel physically ill, and is causing a whole generation of young women to grow up with a warped idea of what their bodies their faces should look like.
Beauty editors - how do they sleep at night? Traitors to their sex, the lot of them!
LIFE'S TOO SHORT: TO LISTEN TO HAIRDRESSERS
In the past I changed my glasses and my hair more than most people change their underwear.
The results were generally horrible, and when I am on my deathbed I intend to summon all the rubbish hairdressers I have paid over the years and read them the riot act.
I have had pink hair, orange hair, blackand-white extensions, a yellow star dyed in my hair and dreary blonde streaks.
It's been bobbed, cropped and left to fester for two years, long and lank.
Why oh why does it take 20 years of failures to find a haircut that works?
Here's my advice: forget everything you read about fashionable hairstyles, there's only ever going to be one that works on your head anyway.
Hairdressing salons are places of utter misery. Life's too short to have your hair done by someone who hasn't a clue.
Don't you just know, as they start to blowdry, that it's all going to come out wrong?
My palms start sweating and before long I start to feel queasy.
I have walked out of more salons with wet hair than I want to remember.
The thing is, they are not the people who have to go home and live with the result.
Mostly, they couldn't care less, and the best you can hope for is ten per cent of their concentration. Hairdressers are generally bored if you aren't interesting or famous enough to engage them.
The photos of me over the years are living proof that a hairdresser can be a woman's worst enemy.
I'm tall, so why would I want really short hair unless I am as skinny as top model Agyness Deyn?
Unless you are a Size 10, once you pass 30, and are taller than average, just forget getting your hair very short, no matter what your hairdresser claims. You will just look like a scout mistress or a clothes peg.
Let's talk about that stuff hairdressers call "products".
What is this gunk they slather on? I culled the following product names from a recent magazine feature about stuff that claims to make your hair shine more:
Laminate Weightless Shine. Volumizing Polish. Polishing Milk. Colour Shine Brightener Lotion. Professional Luminous Mask. Anti-ageing Polishing Serum. Illuminating shampoo.
Confused? It's gobbledegook, pure and simple.
I guarantee that if your hairdresser puts loads of different "products" on your hair, you will never achieve the same look at home.
And if the end result in the salon involves complicated blow-drying or - my idea of complete hell - the use of rollers, forget it.
Hairdressers talk a whole load of rubbish about what they are slapping on your hair, it's all designed to get you back through their door on a weekly basis.
By the way, my hair always looks really shiny - because it's dyed! God knows what horrible grey colour exists under the bucket of red vegetable colouring that gets dumped on it every three weeks.
I certainly am not interested in the natural look, nor should any woman be over the age of 40!
So how do you get great hair?
Life's too short to visit the hairdresser every seven days.
Are you made of money?
I have to have hair that looks good for filming and television work. It has taken me 30 years to find a nice, non-egotistical hairdresser who comes to my house on his scooter, then cuts, dyes and blow-dries my hair in record time.
Whatever he costs is cheaper and less stressful than schlepping to a salon on the other side of London, buying cups of coffee and being charged for a glass of water.
Try to get a hairdresser you know and trust to come around to your home or office after work, and get a couple of friends to combine their appointments with yours.
That way the stylist can make a decent amount of money, and you can all sit around having something to eat and a drink.
That way, getting your hair done is fun.
And here's my ultimate tip: Life's too short to wash your hair more than once a week.
When I appeared on I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here in the Australian jungle, my hairdresser gave me an excellent piece of advice: don't wash your hair.
For three weeks all I ever did was splash it with cold water in order to damp down the smell of the camp fire.
Hair cleans itself, and after a limp couple of days it actually feels thicker and has more body.
It didn't go frizzy, the colour didn't fade in the sun.
In short, it looked far better than I did wearing horrible baggy shorts and a red fleece with JSP and a phone number emblazoned across my back.
When I go on holiday, or when I'm travelling and not filming or doing television, I only wash my hair once a week at the most.
And I never, ever shampoo it more than once, I use the minimum amount of shampoo and never use conditioner.
You actually need to cut right back on the products you use.
It all piles up and makes hair lank, and doesn't allow it to sort itself out naturally.
LIFE'S TOO SHORT: TO GET DEPRESSED ABOUT GETTING OLDER, BEING FRIENDLESS OR BEING BROKE.
According to recent research, threequarters of all women in their 30s and 40s say they are lucky to get six hours of sleep a night.
In fact, a recent survey found that a whopping 59 per cent of women over 30 said they felt tired "all the time", and only one in 12 ate a proper breakfast, getting through the day eating snacks rather than meals.
Now an increasing number of women get headaches, eczema, chest infections and heart palpitations - all manifestations of the stressed life they lead. Life's too short for all of this.
Somehow we must improve our quality of life, particularly as we get older, but it is up to us to prioritise, stop doing some things and find time for ourselves.
The current situation is a sad reflection of our attempts to have it all, and in the end our health suffers.
You can chuck money at quick-fix solutions like beauty treatments, but in truth, if you're not happy with the way your life is going, you need to have a radical rethink.
The most important person in your life, the person who sets the rules, decides the agenda, chucks out the mental and physical detritus, is you.
When you wake up, lie still for two minutes.
Recite over and over again: I am bloody brilliant. I am great. I am Number One. Unique. I like me. I am worth it. I am highly intelligent, no matter what others may say.
You have to do this, because, take it from me, no one else is ever going to tell you that in the coming 24 hours.
To value myself is the single most important thing I have learned over the years.
No one ever did me a favour.
No one ever gave me a career break out of pity.
I did it all for myself. By believing in myself.
Set yourself a clear agenda.
Write a short "to do" list every night before you go to bed.
Do not put more than five or six things on it, any more would be unrealistic. And don't make lists you can't achieve.
You should never carry over more than a couple of things to the next day's list.
If you find this impossible, it's a signal that you need to be less ambitious with your lists.
At the same time, regularly stop and spend a few hours alone, making a plan for yourself.
In particular, decide what you are NOT going to do any more
• the people you are not going to call back
• the books you will never read
• the relatives you can send to social Siberia
• the food you are not going to cook
• the man/men you're not going to wait on hand and foot any more
• the clothes you will not buy
• the stuff you don't need
• the boring job you've put up with for too long
Then plan your time to make sure that every week you do set aside a slot for stuff that you want to do - grow lettuces on the windowsill, go to evening classes, join a walking club, learn another language, plan an activity holiday with people you don't know.
Whatever it is you love doing, make sure you make plenty of room for it in your life.
• Extracted from Life's Too F***ing Short, by Janet Street-Porter, published by Quadrille on January 4 at £12.99. ° Janet Street-Porter 2008. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.