Which Skin Products, Toothpaste And Deos For Allergies? {Reader Question}

   I got this mail from Ann in my inbox, and I would like to ask you to help me answer it:
    I am hoping that you or someone else might be able to help out. I recently developed some new allergies and after testing I'm at a loss about what toothpaste and moisturizer and deodrant I can use. Every product I've examined contains something I'm allergic to, because I'm not only allergic to the ingredients of drug-store brands but also to many natural and hypo-allergenic products. I went through three different soaps from Denn's before reading about the bar soaps on your blog and trying some of them out.
* Perubalsam
* Dibromdicyanobutan
* Propolis (I guess I can look for vegan products to avoid this)
* Natriumlaurylsulfat
* Cocamidopropylbetain
Additional constraints:
* I don't want anti-perspirant; I've found that causes cysts
* Due to soft teeth, I need fluoride in my toothpaste, so plain baking soda won't work
I'm trying to get help from my dermatologist and pharmacy, but they aren't familiar with a wide range of products.

Hello Ann
   For skin care, I love the hypo-allergenic shea butter line from Martina Gebhardt. You can order a bunch of samples through their sites if your Denns doesn't carry this line. I really really love Martina Gebhart's products, so I hope it works for you. Then there is the Lavera Basis Sensitiv line. Otherwise you could try using simple ingredients such as almond meal for cleansing, oil cleansing, and test if the Cattier Micellar Cleanser works for you. You can use oils or butters mixed with hyaluranon or aloe gel to moisturise.

   For deodorant, have you tried the crystal ones? I also like the ones from Waldfüssel (they even have a essential-oil-free version as well). I have also heard good things about Dado Sens Hypersensitiv.
     As for toothpaste, Neo Bio and Lavera both have ones with fluoride, the ingredients are nice and they are not as expensive as many other natural toothpaste. But you might want to try a proper fluoride treatment at the dentist -- they paint on fluoride on your teeth and leave it on there for a while, this is much more effective than toothpaste with fluoride which stays on your teeth for a very short time. 
    I also wanted to talk a bit about other things in your environment that might be stressing your body and triggering your allergies. I'd suggest generally cleaning up your diet and whatever comes into your home, especially removing anything with synthetic fragrance which is a cocktail of undisclosed and barely regulated chemicals -- and a huge triggers of allergies.
   I had a quick look at the chemicals that you are allergic to, and it looks like three of them are often found in cleansing and cleaning products. You might want to take a closer look at the household cleaning products that you use. As household cleansers often don't have the full ingredient list on the label, I'd suggest looking into simple things like vinegar and baking soda and simple household soaps like Kernseife. 
   Be sure to wash all new clothes at least once before you wear them, as brand new clothes often have chemicals from the manufacturing process still on them. Soap nuts are really great for people with allergies.

  Also, allergies are connected to stress and fear, so if there is anything like that going on in your life you might want to add some activities that calm and center you to your day.

   Do you have any recommendations for Ann? Which moisturisers, toothpaste and deo would you suggest she try?

Photo credit: Julia Shashkina

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Chasing The Autumn

Autumn sunset

    Autumn's beauty is ephemeral. The colours have reached their peak and are starting to fade. One windy day is all that takes for a fiery red tree to turn stark naked. It gives me that slightly melancholy feeling that you get when you notice how fast time is rushing around you. And a slight guilt about not taking the time to just stand still and live it.

   I had a free afternoon and after making a little list of things I could do I decided to chase the peak autumn before it's gone. With my camera. In the botanical garden.

autumn reflections


   My camera is what taught me to pay attention to small things. The light, textures, little details.
   It always surprises me how low the sun stays at this time of the year. If you use a low aperture (high f-stop number), it will look like a star on the photo.

 White and light



   This time I chose my small camera which is lighter than the DSLR, I also packed my crocheting and books. I'm always afraid of getting stuck somewhere with nothing to read.
    I didn't read or crotchet, there was just too much to take in. Nature's last blazing finale before it fades to winter.

Dying beauty

Red and black

  Till two years ago I really didn't like the autumn. At best I saw it as a stretched-out goodbye to summer (my favourite season, it's when I thrive) and I wasn't excited about the impending winter. Then, a friend made little speech in a theatre class about his love for the autumn. That must have touched something in me, because I started seeing the fall in a kinder light. And this fall is exceptionally beautiful and sunny, inviting me to discover its beauty.

Autumn silhouettes


   I came home happy and tanked with sunshine and energy. I am making this an annual thing: chasing peak autumn. With a camera. Somewhere.

 Autumn ripples

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Talking About Body Image And Makeup To Little Girls (And little Boys)

    This post is not just for moms (or dads). If you have a niece, or nephew, or other little people, you should read this.

    My daughter is in primary school, a bouncy mix of a toddler and a little lady. She observes me when I do things, and I know that she unconsciously sucks it all up like a sponge. Things that we see our parents doing when we are small imprint themselves hugely on our impressionable subconscious mind. Patterns picked up at this age will show up later in life, even if we rationally don't approve of them.

   I have to admit that teaching positive body image to my little girl has more to do with fake-it-till-you-make it than honesty. I do not talk about my body insecurities in front of her (yet). My own mother had an eating disorder, but I am extremely lucky that she kept it to herself and did not pass on her insecurities to me. Other than that she never ate together with the rest of the family, I didn't catch on till I was much older. My first exposure to body-hate came much later, as a teen, through women's magazines. I am really thankful that I went through childhood without giving my appearance much thought.
   I want to give my kids a strong sense of self as a foundation, and shield her from certain things till they is slightly bigger.

So here is what I do:

   Or rather, what I try to do. It's an imperfect process. Both my kids are in the stage where they are still learning primarily by imitation, but will soon grow into the phase where they learn learning through the intellect. This means that I try my best to teach by modelling positive behaviour and the discussions that we have are still short and simple.

* I talk about all the things that bodies can do.

    Bodies are for doing things and not for looking pretty. They are for jumping, for running, for lifting things, for playing. Legs let us run fast, and if we run every day we can run even faster and for longer distances. Thighs support the whole body. Muscles are amazing,they get stronger when they are used.
   I resist the urge to tell my girl ten times a day how pretty she is (this is why), instead I tell her she looks happy or glowing. Or we talk about dinosaurs. 

* I wear makeup because...

    "Why are you doing this?" is the most common question I get, whether I'm tweezing my eyebrows or applying mascara. My answers usually go something like: "because I like the way it looks", "because this colour is pretty", "because it's fun". I don't want to say something like: "because I look awful without it" or "because it makes my cheeks look less chubby". I think it's way to early for her to start wondering if her own cheeks are too chubby. I want makeup to be something fun but optional in her mind.

* I make sure to say "some people choose not to."

    I mention that I personally like doing things like makeup, epilating or having long hair, but other people choose not to do it. Some people choose to keep their hair long, some like it short. Some get their ears pierced, some don't. EVeryone likes different things, and can choose what they want to do with their bodies.

* I never ever criticise my body in front of her.

    When I look into the mirror, whether with clothes on or without, if I don't have anything nice to say I say nothing at all (at least out loud). Often, do I say something nice. I don't want her to start looking for flaws in her body at this age. I don't want to model body-hate, so I shut up about my own insecurities.
    I know that this dialogue will change as she grows older and gets more exposed to negative body image. That will be the time we will talk about body insecurities, photoshop and the media. For now, simply modelling a positive body image is important .
   If she does ask about things like wobbly body bits and stretch marks, I explain why the body has those bits (how scars are made, that fat jiggles), and mention without judgement that most people have bits like that on their body.
  Just to make it clear -- I am not in love with every bit of my body. I am (still) quite critical of it. Just not in front of children.

* I support her choices and help her stand by hers:

     Once she told me "C said my dress was stupid." We then talked about how it's important that she likes what she wears, even if her friends don't. The argument that made sense to her is "do you think C wears what she likes or what you like?" Sometimes she asks me how her clothes look, after telling her what I think I ask her if she likes what she is wearing. I also let her go out wearing wings or a tail if she wants to, as long as where we are going is not extremely inappropriate for that.

* I include my son:

   He is smaller and less interested in such topics, but I include him in the conversations. I am afraid that his generation of boys will go through body image struggles than the past male generations. The male market for cosmetics is growing, and this market is expanded by raising the beauty standards and planting the seeds of body insecurity into people.
    My small son sometimes get peer pressured about doing "boy things" and not "girl things", so I point out to him (and his sister as well) that gender norms don't make logical sense. Men can wear long hair, girls can wear short hair -- because hair is a part of your body and you can decide how you like to wear it. Pink is just a colour, some guys we know wear pink -- if they want to.

* I restrict media consumption:

   I was really happy when my TV broke. We never got around to fixing it. We do watch movies on the computer, and our favourites are Miyazaki movies with really cool princesses who are more concerned with doing awesome stuff than looking pretty.

   When my kids will grow older it will be much more challenging, especially when they get much more exposed to advertising, the media and peers with body issues. There will be much more conversations. About bodies, about beauty, about media. I started planting the seeds already. Both my kids know that advertisements are not truthful, because they want to try to make us buy their stuff. The kids often get excited about things they see on billboards, then pause and ask: "this is just an advertisement, isn't it?" (I got a bit sad recently when my younger one told me he "didn't find it nice" that all the pretty signs all over the town were "just advertisements".

   I'd love to hear from you how you (would) deal with questions from small kids about body image and makeup. How do you answer tricky questions? 

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Questions Answered, Some Apologies Aka The Liebster Blog Award

Liebster Blog Award

   In this posts I will telling you about ..... You see, I got nominated for the Liebster Blog award by Miriam from Auxvisit, who I have been following since her first posts. I have blogger envy admire the cute illustrations from her posts and it makes me wish I could draw. Thanks for nominating me, Miriam!
   So the Liebster award is a chain-letter award so if you get it, you pass it on to bloggers that you love. "Liebster" means nicest in German. The nominated person (in this case me) answers the questions of the person who nominated me. At the end of this blog I'll be nominating a couple of blogs from my readers :)

   Here are the questions, I will be answering in English because my written German is pretty awful.

1. Was gibt es auf dieser Welt (noch) nicht, das es Deiner Meinung nach auf jeden Fall geben sollte?
What doesn't exist (yet) but definitely should?
   A contraceptive method for women that is reliable and free from side effects. I suspect that it has already been invented but is being kept a secret, because it wouldn't make as much money as the current methods do.

2. Welche Eigenschaft hast Du so gar nicht?
What characteristic you don't possess at all?
   Self-discipline, alas. I am fuelled by pure emotional motivation.

3. Welche Eigenschaft hättest Du lieber?
What characteristic would you rather have? 
   Apart from self-discipline, sometimes I'd like to be an adrenaline-junkie. I'd sky-dive and surf and spelunk. Right now even a water-slide is too much for me.

4. Wenn Dein Leben verfilmt würde: Wer würde Dich spielen?
If a film were made about you, who would play you?
   I'd love to pick Leighton Meester or Carey Mulligan, but I'm probably flattering myself.

5. Schwimmbad oder See?
Swimmingpool or lake?
    Definitely lake. I hate chlorine, I like silence and solitude. Also, I don't actually swim, I just lie around with a book.

6. Deine phantastischste Neuentdeckung 2015 (Musik, Buch, Film, Ort, Mensch, …):
Your fantastic discovery of 2015 (Music, book, film, place, person)
   Can I do one from each category? Marie Kondo's Magic Of Tidying Up, La Grande Bellezza or Only Lovers Left Alive (can't decide), Arctic Monkeys' Do I Wanna Know.

7. Welches Print-Magazin magst Du am liebsten?
Which print magazine do you like most?
   Wysokie Obcasy is my favourite, and I haven't found anything comparable so far in Germany. I browse through Interview sometimes at my favourite Chocolaterie, and through Land Lust for visual inspiration. Most other magazines disappoint me, they rehash content that I have seen on blogs and forums years ago.

8. Welche Entschuldigung musst Du gerade dringend loswerden? (Lass den Adressat ruhig weg!)
Which apology do you like to let go off?
   Oh dear, there are quite a few. If you are one of the many people I owe a few coins to, I'm sorry, I completely forgot so please remind me. Also, quite a few people have gotten what was supposed to be a sincere complement but got totally messed up in execution, I'm sorry.

9. Wann/wie/wo bist Du das erste Mal auf die Idee gekommen, zu bloggen?
When and how did you start blogging?
   I think it was seven years back that I stored my skin and hair care notes on a private blog, because it was an easy way to access it from different computers (pre-Evernote). At a certain point I realised that what I write might be interesting for others, so I tried writing a couple of public posts. I was extremely surprised that people actually read them. It was much more rewarding than preaching to my irl friends, so I kept at it.

10. Stell Dir vor, die Blogosphäre löst sich plötzlich – warum auch immer – im Nichts auf. Was machst Du?
Imagine that the Blogosphere suddenly disappears -- for whatever reason. What do you do?
   I'd probably cry, and maybe even hold a memorial service for all the blogs I have read, like that scene in Orange Is The New Black. Then I'd probably go back to the days when I dispensed beauty advice to (often uninterested) friends, acquaintances and strangers.

11. Wir tippen ja immer nur. Wie sieht eigentlich Deine Handschrift aus? (Beschreiben oder einen beliebigen Satz einscannen)
We only type all of the time. How does your handwriting look like? 
  It's an embarrassing scrawl that I really hate to read. You don't want to see that, so instead you get my very best handwriting, done at extremely slow speed:

And the award goes to...

   Lovely bloggers who I discovered recently through their comments on this blog. I thought that nominating you would be a fun way to get to know you better! If you have a blog but haven't been nominated, let me know in the comments and I'll happily nominate you.

Here goes:
* Fun Sized Fashion (she reviews bras for shallow breasts!)
* Contrary Kiwi
* Paris To Go
* Oh Dear Bumlebees
* Les Seins Du Sphinx
* And of course Weissmond

The Rules

   If you have been nominated for the Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a widget.
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Add the Liebster Award button graphic to your post
  5. Nominate 5 to 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award; who have less than 1000 followers.
  6. Create a new list of questions for the nominated bloggers to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post. (You can copy and paste them from here.)
  8. Once you have written your post and published it, you then have to inform the bloggers whom you’ve nominated for the Liebster award. Remember to give a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

My questions for you are:

  1. What is your favourite activity? Why?
  2. Who is your biggest inspiration in blogging? (Blog, magazine, person)
  3. What is the funniest movie you have ever seen?
  4. What is the weirdest thing you have ever said or done?
  5. What do your friends think of your blog?
  6. What word do you really dislike, not because of what it means but because of what it sounds like?
  7. Tell me about your favourite piece of jewellery. Bonus points if you include a photo.
  8. What can't you absolutely resist?
  9. What's the worst piece of advice you could give someone?
  10. If you had a blogging assistant who would take over one blogging task from you, which unliked task would you delegate to them?
  11. You need to look your best, and you have exactly one minute to do it. What do you do?

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I recommend: Moo Business Cards!

    A while back I was invited to a blog conference, and a couple of days before it realised I should have business cards. I didn't have any, I had no idea where to get some, and I was rather nervous about having to design them myself. Also, the conference was in a few days, and I was nervous that whatever I ordered would not come on time. I looked around on many popular German websites and tried designing my cards. After reading a lot of reviews and looking through a lot of offers, I found Moo.
    The conference was two years ago, and I still love my Moo business cards.

   Moo cards are pretty and they look much more expensive than they are. The colours are really nice and the quality of the printing is great. You can choose between matt and glossy finish, I went for matt. The paper is high-quality, heavier than the average card, and feels really nice in the hand. I really don't like the feel of flimsy business cards, it just feels cheap.
   You can upload your own design or use and customise their templates. I went for the second option, and was quite happy with the level of customisation offered. Also, I was positively surprised that my order arrived really fast! I think it was like 3-4 days, which is really fast considering they are printed in the UK.
  Apart from regular business cards, you can make those cute Minicards, many girls at the blogging conference had them. They are look more fun than a regular business card and are also cheaper. I also have an eye on the new square design. Then there are stickers, postcards, letterheads, and a bunch of other stuff that makes me wish I had a business or something that would give me a reason for ordering it.
   Moo lets you order a free trial pack if you are unsure about your design! Another really nice option is Printfinity, where you can different images in one pack.

   If you use this refer-a-friend link you get 10% off your first order :)

  The black box comes with the Moo cards. The blue and gold card holder is from Japan, I'm not even sure it's a card holder? Does anyone know?

  Disclosure: this is not a sponsored post. Clicking through the link will get a me a small credit though.

  Where do you order your business cards? Also, if you have pretty business cards for your blog, I'd love to see them, so post a link in the comments!

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How To Do Simple Skin Rolling Massage For Back Pain

Simple Skin Rolling Massage For Back Pain

   I want to share a very easy and effective method for relieving back pain. When I mentioned to my doctor that my back hurts, he told me to come in the next time it happens. I did, and he did this tissue-rolling thing and showed me how to do it myself. What he did was grab a the skin and kind of pinch-and-roll it. This releases what he called "glued-together" or tight fascia. Later on when I did the skin-roll massage on my partner, I could feel with my fingers exactly where the fascia felt extremely tight.
   The skin rolling massage is quick to do very very effective, much more effective than the kneading of muscles (as done by an untrained masseuse).

How skin rolling massage works:

   Back pain is often caused by fascia that are tightened or "glued together" as my doctor says.  Fascia is a sticky web off connective tissue right under the skin. It is wrapped around each muscle, it connects everything and keeps everything in shape. Until very recently, not much was known about it, although ancient techniques like Yoga work on the fascia. Here is what fascia looks like:

   In the video you can see how fascia gets tight and glues in some places. This feels like pain and tightness in the shoulders, neck and back. Certain kinds of stretches and massages can loosen up the tight fascia and really help with back pain.
   Now, glued fascia is an effect of things like a bad mattress, lifting things without using the proper posture and technique. You'll obviously have to address these. The massage I'm talking about in this post is just for relief.

How to do the skin rolling massage:

   The "patient" lies on his stomach.  The massaging person -- using the fingertips of both hands -- pinches a roll of skin on one side of the spine, just above the butt. And then slowly and deliberately rolls it in direction of the shoulders. Imagine a wave of skin that starts just above the butt and goes up to the shoulders. Do the same on the other side of the spine. Repeat 2-3 times.
   Don't pinch the muscles, just the skin. And don't use lubricant.

Here is an explanation:

  Here is a similar technique starting at 3:17. Here the guy takes time to roll every place back and forth. My doc simply went firmly but much faster from base of spine to the top:

   The  person who is doing the rolling can feel with their fingers which parts of the fascia tissue feel really tight and which are relaxed. The patient will find the rolling quite painful in the tight parts, but completely painless in the relaxed parts.

   If you don't have anyone to roll your back, you can try to do your own neck and shoulders if you are flexible. Or try foam rolling, it can have a similar (but weaker) effect. The best way is with a tennis ball (or a ball or dumbbell-shaped foam roller if you have one) against the wall.

   To keep your fascia happy, stretch your body (the stretches in Yoga which are held for a couple of minutes are especially good for fascia), stay hydrated and move your body. Epsom salt baths also relax the fascia.

   Have you ever tried skin rolling?Let me know if you do!
Photo credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini

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Choosing Well-Fitting Bras For Scoliosis {Reader Question}

Bra Fitting tips For Scoliosis

   Scoliosis and other issues with spine curvature can make bra fitting quite tricky. Here are some tips and solutions from lovely reader Lianda from the US (San Diego) who sent in this question:

"I am having a terrible problem. I am the most a size B, probably closer to a size A. My band size from the loose measurement is 45” including my breasts. Under my breasts is 40”.
But I also have scoliosis and have to wear a bra that has racer back or I’m constantly pulling my straps up. AND to make matters worse, any large banded bra has cups that are too wide apart for the front of my body. So if I even used silicon pads, the cups would practically be partially under my arms!  And the wires go up so high on my chest that they cut into my armpits even at a size 40!
In clothes, or in sports bras an XXL will create this problem- it fits around my back but the cups are too wide apart. I wear size XXL.
This is one of the biggest problems in my life- I know that sounds crazy! But a lot of the time I go without a bra- and then look totally unbalanced because of my big belly! I probably SHOULD wear a bra with padding, or get pads to put into the bra to give me a more balanced look. Despite my weight, I’m very physically active (play tennis, yoga) and need to feel comfortable.
I have a feeling I’m going to need a custom made bra."

   Hello Lianda
    That doesn't sound crazy at all, a badly fitting bra can be really distracting, almost as bad as a shoe that pinches!

   Cups that are too wide apart are a common problem in bigger sizes. Many brands still use the scale-to-size method when making bras with cups in different sizes. This totally doesn't work, bras with bigger cups have to be constructed from scratch. I have written a bit more about this problem here, and mentioned some brands that make bigger cups that actually fit real women.

   You have a 5 inch difference between your underbust and your bust measurement, which would put you in to a 40DD cup (each inch is a cup size). Of course these sizes are just starting points so feel free to try slightly bigger and smaller cup sizes too.
   If the band size 40 is too tight because of the scoliosis, try a bigger band size but the same cup size. When you go up a band size, you must go down a cup size because cup size is relative to band size.
   Fitting yourself for a bra can be a bit tricky with scoliosis, but once you nail it it's really really worth it!

Bra recommendations:

  My first recommendation for anyone with scoliosis would be Braologie bras. The wide band with 4-hook closure is comfortable and stays put. The broad back distributes the band pressure over a bigger area and supports your back. And you also get a band extender, so you can try out different band sizes and see what feels best. Be sure to mention your scoliosis when you order.
   For sports I personally love the Panache Sport which has a clip to make the straps racer-back.

   I'd also recommend bras from Ewa Michalak. Their bands tend to be slightly snugger though, so you might want to size up. They make really well-constructed bras in bigger cup sizes. A couple of their models like the Onyx come with different types of straps.
  The Ewa Michalak Onyx has removable inserts -- you didn't mention asymmetry but I'm just throwing it out there, because I read that it can be an issue with scoliosis. You can put both asymmetry pads into one of the cups. Th pads go inside discreet little pockets.

    If you will be trying on bras in local stores, make sure to check out long-line bras.

Bra hacks for scoliosis:

   As wearing criss-cross straps is much more comfortable for those with scoliosis, buy racer-back clips which can turn any bra into a racer-back. Also, some bras also come with completely detachable straps, you can unhook them and then cross them at the back.
   In case of asymmetry, always fit your bra to the bigger boob, and tighten the straps slightly on the smaller side. For stronger asymmetry, I hear that women have had great results with mastectomy bra swim forms.
   If an otherwise well-fitting bra rubs a bit, try attaching moleskin to the problem area on the bra. You can buy it in most places where foot-care stuff is sold.

   Finally, I wanted to say that scoliosis is usually not so obvious to other people, nobody notices the disbalance in your posture as much as you do. So rock on! And keep us updated about your bra search, there are a lot of women out there who have similar fitting issues and would love to know what worked for you and what didn't.

 If any of you lovely readers have scoliosis, what would be your advice for Lianda? There is really very little info about it on the internet! Also, does anyone from the thereabouts from San Diego know if there are any good bra stores nearby?

PS if you have unusual fitting issues that have not been addressed on this blog yet, feel free to shoot me an email. Please provide as much detailed and organized information as possible, including correct measurements and country.

Photo credit: ScoliosisGirl

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Cosmetic And Other Favourites October 2015

  I haven't done a cosmetic favourites post in a while! Here are a couple of products that I loved this spring. I also added couple of non-cosmetic hits. Enjoy!

Ceramic Cuticle Pusher from Essence

  This little tool is great is a hard-core version of the old orange-wood stick. It has a surface like sandpaper, which can file off unruly cuticles. I have those on my toes, and a wooden cuticle stick couldn't get rid of the parts that were attached to the nail. The only negative thing about the ceramic cuticle pusher is that it lacks a cap.

Eco Cosmetics Baby n Kids Babysun Pomengranate n Seabuckthorn SPF 50+ 

   This was the biggest surprise hit of the month. I got it for the kids expecting it to be way too whitening for my skin. However once I applied it on the kids I was surprised to see how quickly it sinks into the skin and the white cast is minimal. Ok, maybe not minimal enough for work, but subtle enough for the beach or outdoorsy activities. If you have a pale skin, you'll probably see no white cast at all. I reach for the Eco Cosmetics Baby n Kids SPF50+ when I go on a hike or spend the day by the water. The finish is not oily, there is no scent. The product is free from chemical sunscreen, nano-particles and alcohol. And it provides protection against both UVA and UVB.

Melvita Prosun High Protection Sunscreen SPF 50

   Encouraged by the review of Alabastermädchen I expected this to have a very minimal white cast. As my skin is nowhere as cool and pale as alabaster, I was very disappointed. Not only is the white cast not subtle, it is very blueish which makes it even more noticeable. Also, I disliked the way it smells. The texture is quite nice and not at all sticky, so paler women will probably find it works well for them.

Jasmine Water
   I got my jasmine hydrolate to use as a toner and cleanse my skin in the morning. It is calming and soothing, it refreshes tired skin. The scent is amazing -- normally I find Jamine perfumes too cloyingly sweet and in-your-face, so I was pleasantly surprised that this hydrolate had a fresh, gentle scent like the real jasmine flowers. I got my jasmine hydrolate from Zrobsobiekrem.

Alverde Wildrose Sheabutter Feuchtigkeitsmaske moisturising masque

    This masque from DM is meant for oily skin. I needed something that was pretty moisturising, and this does the job pretty well. The alcohol (which my skin doesn't like) is not among the top ingredients, and my skin tolerated it well. If you are looking for a soothing, nourishing masque, I'd recommend this one.

Cattier Sport Shower Gel

  I don't normally go for liquid soap because of it's higher ecological footprint as compared to soap, but I got this one in the Beauty Box. The Cattier Shower Gel is based on white clay and has a minty scent, and is great for refreshing the skin after sports and also for oily backs, I also liked it after abhyanga as it gets rid of all the oil left on the skin surface.

Weleda Men-Aktiv Shower Gel

   While the scent of the Cattier Gel is just mint, Weleda has this lovely scent symphony with a hind of Rosemary that is at the same time wholesome and delicate. The Gel is meant for men, and can be great for anyone who likes such scents. I got this from a package of Rossmann.

Cold Pressed Plum Seed Oil

  This oil smells like almond extract with a dash of plum and marzipan. It makes my hair smell really really good. It also adds shine and curl and minimizes frizz. It gets absorbed by the skin easily, leaving it moisturised and tight. However plum seed oil is too light for really dry skin. It is recommended for mature skin as it contains a lot of wrinkle-preventing vitamin E. It contains mainly Omega 6 and Omega 9, similar to sesame oil.
  Because of it's luxurious scent, it would make a nice gift. I got mine from BeHaWe.com

Kiko Eyeshadow in 165

   I really like Kiko when it comes to highly pigmented colour cosmetics. I had wanted a shade of blue that would work on my warm skin -- either a warm deep turquoise, or a cobalt blue, or sapphire. However most shades I found were either much too cool or really washed out. Kiko had a couple of good blue shades, each came is several different packaging -- as part of a quad, an insert for a palette, or, like this one, a mono. Kiko eyeshadows are pretty pigmented, come in a nice range of strong colours and are pretty inexpensive.

Alverde Transparent Eyelash and Eyeshadow Gel

    It "forms, fixes and nourishes" the eyebrows and lashes. I use this to tame my eyebrows when I'm going for nude eyebrows or using an eyebrow powder (otherwise I use a coloured version of this product). Also when I'm not wearing mascara, because I'm expecting rain -- I tighline with a pencil and swipe on the clear mascara gel.

Catrice Waterproof Mascara Top Coat

  I didn't know that such a product exists! I tested it out in the shower, and was pretty surprised how well it works.

Non-Cosmetic Favourites: 

Minoura Phone Grip for bicycles

   It's not the cheapest phone grip out there, but it is really really strong and stable and will hold your phone even on cobblestones. It is universal and fits most phones, so you won't have to switch it out if you get a different phone.

Riemsen Pharma Bite Away 

    This is a nifty way to deal with insect bites without chemicals. With this little pen you zap the bite for a few seconds, and the heat destroys the proteins in the poison. I have been using this all summer, and am fascinated with it. Bites that would normally turn into red palm-sized itchy areas disappear in a day after I have zapped them with the Bite Away. It also helps with bee stings, and can bring a lot of relief for people who are allergic to insect bites.

   Over to you: what product stole your heart this year? Have you tried any of the ones I wrote about here?

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Weekend Reads 11-10-2015

poppies in the wind

      Hi everyone, have you been? I have been doing a bit of spring-cleaning around the blog -- small tweaks to the design (mainly removing unnecessary stuff), deleting spam comments from older posts that don't have th IntenseDebate comment system, and switching up some of the widgets that work in the background. My knowledge of CSS and HTML is really basic, and I'd love to learn to use them properly and not like a monkey on a typewriter.

   I haven't done a Weekend Reads post for a while, which means this one is full of links I'm positively bursting to share! Here you go:

* How and why to keep a commonplace book.

* Productivity secrets I learned from a sexy chef

* If you are a fan of the series Outlander, or of costume design or simply appreciate good period pieces, you'll love the blog of the costume designer Terry Dresbach. She talks about the process of creating the pieces for the show, how the costumes support the story, plus the blog is completely unpretentious and a pleasant read.
   On that note I'm not sure whether to recommend the series Outlander to you. On one hand it's really good, it is one of the few series made for the female gaze, and the Scotsmen and the steamy scenes (which, again, are made for women and do not objectify the female lead). On the other hand, the ending of the first season has one of the the most graphic and heart-breaking things I have seen on TV (although I have to admit it has been directed well. Really well.)

* Love Snake and Action heroes.

* How actually look good in a cardigan.

* How to budget like a Parisian

* Wardrobe stylist Allison Freer shares her favourite tools to fix wardrobe disasters, + 10 more, + even more. Some of them are really ingenious, and I haven't seen them elsewhere. solutions for wardrobe malfunctions and

* I laughed at I Tried Living My Life Like Every Fashion Girl on Instagram Ever

* Bras: Here is a no-sew way of repairing a bra where the underwire has broken through the fabric.

* Create a Wake Up Happier Spot

* Tips for a life in a tiny apartment 

* A basic guide to zero-waste living.

I loved this short piece of Aussie humour:

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Really Feel Your Skin And Hair: Creating A Beauty Routine, Tip #3

    This tip might sound a bit out-there, but believe me, it works. If you are like me, you typically zone out while doing stuff like cleansing, moisturising or combing your hair. After you're done, if someone asked you how your hair felt like today, and how does your skin look as compared to yesterday, you probably won't be able to answer (unless there was something major going on that you had to fix, like a breakout or a very dry patch).
   Next time you are taking care of your skin, try looking at it in the mirror and noticing everything: the colour, the texture, and changes from yesterday? Feel it with your fingertips. If you are taking care of your hands, take a moment to actually see them.
    This has two great results. One, you'll start noticing how your skin and hair respond to the products you are using, as well as to what you eat, to stress and to lifestyle changes. Second, you'll be much more aware of your skin's needs, and therefore much more likely to give it regular care. You'll notice faster that your cheeks are getting dry and that your cuticles definitely need some care. You'll be able to catch problems before they get bad.
   This is not as time-consuming as it sounds. It's about paying attention to your body during the time that your beauty routine already takes, nothing more.

   So, does this sound weird? Slightly weird? Do you do anything similar?

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