Cold Weather Bicycling Essentials And Tips



A bunch of my friends are hardcore year-round bikers. It's not unusual for Germans to leave their car at home in the summer and bring their kids to school or go to work by bike, but recently I have been seeing more and more people doing it almost the entire year. Very rainy or snowy days seem to be getting more and more far apart in the winter, and biking paths are getting better.

Biking is a great way to slip in exercise during the day without investing too much time. I also notice that it leaves me much less tired than all other modes of transportation, it's probably the lack of people, noise and smells. It's also a great way to get to know your city better -- I love discovering side streets and small shops.

Summer biking is pure joy, but cold-weather biking takes a bit of extra preparation. From my friends I picked up a couple of very ingenious tips:

Image via Velovoice

Mud flaps

 A bigger mudflap on the front fender keeps your shoes from getting spritzed. I got the Bibia mudflap because it's one of the longest ones.

Furry seat cover

This keeps your fanny from freezing, particularly if your bicycle has to stand outdoors for longer periods of time. You can use faux fur as well, and you can probably easily DIY one from furry / sheepskin rugs from thrift stores.

Waist warmers

If you get cold around your kidneys, you'll love this. There are two kinds -- the neoprene ones for bikers are waterproof and can be easily put on thanks to a velcro closure. Then there are the regular ones made of wool or other fabrics, they can be worn underneath clothing or used as a layering piece (they look like the bottom part of a longer top). The warmest ones that also adapt to the body temperature are made of merino wool. Tube tops can be used as waist warmers in a pinch.




Ear Warmers

A really simple way to keep your ears warm while wearing a helmet. Unlike caps and headbands, they don't distort the fit of the helmet, and they don't get easily lost. They are threaded onto the strap of the helmet. The ones from Hot Ears come in two shapes for the two different strap types. Again, this can be easily DIY'd; I imagine that if you use real (wool) felt they would be even warmer. You could also try knitting or crocheting them.

Ponchos

I love ponchos for autumn biking. I get cold around my neck and chest area first, so when the weather isn't very cold a poncho is the ideal thing. It keeps the chest area toasty and lets the breeze cool down my back. I usually wear my ponchos together with:

Pulse warmers

I find that in the autumn my wrists (and ears) freeze during bike rides, even as the rest of my body heats up. For milder autumn days I love the combination of wear short sleeves + pulse warmers. For colder days, wrist warmers close that annoying gap between your gloves and your sleeves. Again, fabric plays a very important role here, silk and real wool warm much better.

Diver Spats

If you are biking in cold and wet weather, these will protect your shoes and ankles from getting cold and dirty. I got this tip from a guy that dives as a hobby. There are different kids available, with more or less coverage. I actually own a kid-sized pair too, and they are amazing for keeping snow from getting into the tops of boot of small kids.
These trap the heat in, so for extra toastiness try warming up your shoes by blasting them with a hair dryer or putting them near the heater.

Gloves

A pair of thin silk / warming-technology gloves can be worn on their own or layered under thicker gloves. You can find great ones in motorcycle stores.

Real wool jacket

Last years I biked a lot with a real wool jacket, and I was pretty surprised how it adjusted to whatever the temperatures were outside. I could wear it from anywhere between +15 to -10°C, and it wasn't even a very fancy jacket -- t was from Zara, thrifted. It ventilated my underarms and back in a way my Wolfskin jacket with the underarm holes didn't. This year I thrifted a very chic coat with Alpaka wool and am stoked to test it out.

What are your cold weather biking essentials?



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Weekend Reads 10-09-2016




Hello everyone!

It's the last week before the start of school, and also the last days of summer. A bittersweet time, where I feel like life is slipping away and every moment where the sun toasts my skin reminds me that it might be many months before I feel it again. I spend time outdoors, in the woods and by the side of the lake and river that I am extremely lucky to live close to. Or in the streets of my town. Summer is also coffee at the outdoor tables and people having parties on tiny terraces and the children jumping barefoot in the one fountain that hasn't been fenced off yet. 
I'm going to miss this.


Here are some lovely links for you:

* A rhythm for cleaning. The whole blog is just so lovely and inspiring. Also it makes me want to buy lots of baskets.

* The best sunglasses in the history of cinema.

* Talking of inspiration, I fell in love with just about everything about this blog.

* I toyed with the idea of using Henna as a self tanner. Someone actually tried it, and it works! She also made her own beetroot powder blush lip stain. This is genius because fresh beetroot juice looks amazing on most skin tones and stays on beautifully.

* Even if you haven't been watching Outlander, the blog of their costume designer is just amazing.

* How to hide a bobby pin.

* Minimal homes in Japan. Not really realistic, but nice to look at.


What was your favourite thing you read online this week?

Photo credit: me

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How Exfoliating Regularly Will help You Smell Fresh





Here is an interesting method I discovered that helps deal with body odour -- regular exfoliation. Let me explain.

Sweat in itself is odourless. The bacteria the multiply in it cause the smell. Exfoliating helps get rid of the layers of dead skin cells where bacteria can multiply really easily.

Exfoliate the underarms, the crotch area and your feet twice a week to really cut downs on body odours. How you exfoliate is up to you, I personally like the Kessa glove for thorough exfoliation as well as dry brushing which stimulates the lymphatic system. It is important to take a few extra moments to get into all the skin folds and crevasses.

Scrubbing just with water is fine, you don't really need a cleansing product. If you do want to use one, go for something mild (sulfate free).

If you use a body product with chemical exfoliators (AHAs or BHAs), don't forget to use physical exfoliators as well to remove the dead skin cells that are being dislodged.

And  you are really struggling with body odour in spite of good hygiene, you might want to look into your diet. And rule out hormonal issues. Serious body odour issues are usually a signal that something isn't quite right on the inside of the body.

Photo credit: Unsplash

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How To Clean Your Brushes Between Switching Colours -- DIY


If you don't have a small collection of makeup brushes you end up using the same one for light and dark eyeshadow, or for highlighter and bronzer. There are a couple of simple ways to clean the brush before switching, so that you get pure clean colours and no unwanted glitter anywhere.
Sephora Color Switch recently brought out a very expensive brush cleaning gadget. You can make a similar one for much less. You have a couple of different options:
  • A stippling sponge (in German it's called Bartsschwamm which means beard sponge because makeup artists use it to create fake stubble). You can buy those in art supply store or online.
  • Foam pain brushes (the ones on a stick) work too.
  • Hair doughnuts, they are a bit harder and less gentle on the brushes.  
  • This kind of kitchen sponge works pretty well too. Pick a kind that has a raw and nubby surface. 
  • Washcloths are another option.
  • You can also use a clean microfiber cloth, the kind used for household cleaning. This is also a good way to repurpose and microfiber face cleaning cloths that you aren't really using. I prefer this to the doughnut or stippling sponge because I feel it's gentler on my brushes.
  • Foam from an old cushion or mattress. There are many different kinds of foam out there, so you have to test if the one you have works for this purpose.

You can put your sponge, doughnut or cloth in a small tin or pretty container. I put mine in a small box so that I can just swipe the bush over it. To test how well your homemade brush switch works, load some darker eyeshadow on a brush and then wipe it on your sponge or cloth. Then clean the brush with a wet wipe -- ideally the wipe should be almost clean.

Remember that these will just remove excess product, but will not actually clean your brushes. You need to clean them properly every few uses to get rid of skin oils, product and bacteria.


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Review: Eyewear From Glassesshop.com + 50% Off For You!




I switch between contact lenses and glasses in my daily life. Contacts are unobtrusive and extremely practical, but glasses can change your whole look. I have a friend who has a really good eye for them and owns several stylish pairs, and I'm always amazed how they can switch up her look.

I have a very hard time finding eye wear that I like. I actually feel best when wearing contact lenses, but I learned the hard way that I should absolutely not wear them the entire time that I'm awake. So, cue glasses. I recently became aware that my current pair looked awfully dated, so I jumped when Glasses Shop offered to send me a pair to review. Disclosure: I received a free pair of glasses from in exchange for writing a review on the blog.All opinions are 100% mine.

Their glasses online store offers a really wide selection of styles, so I couldn't decide what I wanted. The try-on feature on the website is clunky and not very helpful. So, it was a flash of inspiration that led me to do an image search for Glasses Shop reviews. It was really helpful to see the glasses frames on actual women, and this lovely lady made me fall in love with the Beatrice Wayfarer model and this one proved that they would work with a round face. The Sudbury frames was another close contender.For those with blond hair and paler complexions I think the models with clear frames look amazing.


The glasses arrived fairly quickly. I have to say that the service was really good and friendly, they even noticed a mistake I had made in my prescription. The glasses themselves look really nice, they don't look cheap and feel sturdy. I like them much more than the pair from a certain brand that I reviewed a while back (and who actually tried to tell my what to write in my review -- obviously I rebelled).

It made me really happy that the Beatrice Wayfarers were available in several different colours, I went for this deep red and gold which works with my deep autumn colouring. The interesting nose bridge is a subtle statement and makes the frames look unique. The shape is something between a wayfarer and a cat-eye/nerd. I didn't want a classic teardrop wayfarer because it optically drags the cheeks down if you have a rounder face.

One obvious minus point are the fixed nose pieces. Obviously adjustable nose pieces are not really an option when you buy online, since they need to be custom-adjusted by the optician. I was lucky that the nose pieces of the Beatrice fit me almost perfectly, and I slightly bent the bridge to make them snugger (don't try this at home kids). However if you have an unusually narrow or broad nose, you might have issues.

If your glasses slip of your nose, here are a couple of options: Nerwax is a beeswax based thing that makes the glasses grippy. Glue-on nose-pads are another weird thing that actually works. I also experimented with Sock Stop but it doesn't stay put on plastic, so I'm searching for a similar anti-slip coating product (would be amazing for wooden clothes hangers too!)


Glasses Shop glasses are very affordable, and they seem to have great promotions going on all of the time (right now it's buy one, get one free).

So in a nutshell if you are looking for affordable and stylish eye wear, I can recommend Glasses Shop. I'm really happy with the all round quality and service and can see myself buying my next pair of eye wear there. They also have a nice range of prescription sunglasses. (PS here is an amazing blog post about the iconic sunglasses in movies).

To get 50% off frames of your first order, simply use the code GSHOT50 at checkout. In case you feel like supporting me, you can use my refer-a-friend code INVNUEZ0J97TY which will in addition get me points which I plan to use to get those Sudbury Frames I have been eying.



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The New Amazing Way To Apply Mineral Foundation -- With A Blending Sponge!




I just found the absolutely best way to apply mineral foundation -- it makes my skin look flawless, and it's almost impossible to tell that I have makeup on. It's way faster and better than my kabuki and my flat top brushes.

So what do I use now to apply powder foundation? With a makeup blending sponge! I mean the ones like the Beauty Blender. I lightly wet the egg (I spritz it with rose water), tip a small amount of mineral make-up on a saucer, dab the egg in the foundation and then press it into the skin. Don't rub, but dab or stipple.
I'm in love with the results. The foundation goes on very evenly with no hard edges. The pores are beautifully smoothed out because the product gets pressed onto the skin. The sponge also uses much less product than the brushes. The skin doesn't look powdery and there are no streaks. In the winter brushes often make dry skin look flaky because the bristles lift the skin flakes; the makeup sponge doesn't disturb the flakes.
It really helps if the egg has edges with which you can maneuver around the corners of the nose and the eye area. Because the sponge is already wet, I don't need to do the final spiritz anymore.

If the wet method doesn't work for you for some reason, some people swear by applying mineral foundation with a dry sponge. Also, not all mineral foundations are equal, some may be more compatible with a blending sponge than others.

All makeup sponges like products are not created equal. I started out with dupes from DM and Müller and was pretty disappointed. The material is inferior and either swallows up the product or doesn't deposit it evenly. Then one day I found that someone had bitten off the top -- not sure if the kids or the cat is to blame, anyway I had the opportunity to get a better one. Now I have the Real Techniques Miracle Sponge and am very happy with it -- it works really well and I read that it lasts much longer than the Beauty Blender. Plus it's cheaper, and right now it's available at the DM stores. One very affordable dupe that is supposed to be almost as good as the original is the egg from HandM.


 How do you apply powder foundation? Do you own a Beauty Blender or do you have a dupe that you can recommend?


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How To Deal With Bumpy Chicken Skin On Upper Arms And Thighs




  A lot of people have chicken skin: rough, dry, sometimes dark bumps on the butt or upper arms, sometimes also on the thighs or even on the whole body. This is called Keratosis Pilaris, harmless and considered a variant of normal skin. Apparently 40% people have it so it's really common and nothing to get self-conscious about. However often the bumps can get red and irritated and then inflamed, especially because a lot of people compulsively pick the bumps. On people of colour it can cause hyper-pigmentation if the bumps get inflamed.

   The key to minimising Keratosis Pilaris is simple: exfoliating, moisturising and preventing irritation. With regular care the area can look pretty smooth, although the the condition never completely goes away.

Exfoliating:

Gently exfoliate the area two to three times a week. You can use a gentle body scrub (no walnut or apricot shell grit), or use exfoliating gloves like the Kessa, Korean scrub mitts or a dry brush. Be gentle, and repeat every few days. If you have wounds or breakouts, then skip this step till they've healed.
Chemical exfoliation works really well against Keratosis Pilaris -- use a cleanser or moisturiser with AHA or BHA. Salicylic Acid pads work pretty well. Right now I use a very simple DIY AHA toner with 5% mandaleic acid.

Moisturising:

Keep the area really moisturised. Use a rich product like a body butter or oil after each and every shower. Coconut oil works really well for lot of people, but be sure to get the cold-pressed kind and do a patch test first. Products with Urea are pretty effective against Keratosis Piliaris.

Preventing irritation:

Skin with Keratosis Pilaris gets irritated really easily, so you need to think about what comes in touch with the area. If possible clean the area only with water, or with a very gentle sulfate-free soap or body wash. Or a gentle cleanser meant for the face. And don`t use hot water. Switch to natural laundry products for your clothes as the synthetic perfume and harsh detergents can irritate the bumps.
Upper arms Keratosis Piliaris is sometimes worsened by rubbing shoulders in a crowded commute. Loner sleeves or a light cotton shawl will protect your skin.
What else comes into contact with the area? In summer I see women in shorts with what I call the "toilet seat skin", basically bumps on the area where the upper thighs come into contact with the toilet seat. At home you can switch from harsh cleaners to white vinegar or a gentle natural product, and as a last step wipe the product away with just water. At work you can wipe the seat with a wet tissue.
Finally, non-breathable fabrics can trap sweat and irritate the area, especially the buttocks. Thongs or skimpier briefs keep the butt area well-ventilated, and cotton is better than synthetics.

Those of you with KP, what do you use to manage it? Which products and routines work for you?

Image via Unsplash

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Eco Cosmetics -- Natural Sunscreen For Dry Skin And The Body





 The Eco Cosmetics Sun Cream SPF 30 Toned is the the most affordable sunscreen so far that fits my very strict criteria -- mineral only, free from alcohol and nano-particles, doesn't leave behind a white mask. It's also certified organic (Ecocert), Vegan and not tested on animals.

I bought this little gem accidentally. I was going to get my usual Eco Cosmetics Sun Oil but was wooed by the much cheaper price of this one. Sunscreen often changes texture completely after being on the skin for a while, this one is an extreme example of that. When applied it looks like a pink-beige paste, but soon the tint starts fading and it becomes completely clear and shiny oily. It works really well on my body (which soaks up the oiliness very fast), as well as on dry skin. I have combination skin during the summer and when I apply this sunscreen on my face I use a mix of Hide-A-Pore and my current mineral foundation to mattify things. The end effect is beautifully smooth and dewy, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you like matte skin or have very oily skin, you should probably use this only on your body. Normally tinted sunscreen doesn't work for me because it's too pink or beige for my very warm skin tone, but this one blends right in.




This tinted sunscreen feels extremely light on the skin and is almost fragrance free -- the light smell has reminds me a bit of fragrance-free shampoo. The texture is extremely convenient to apply -- it's is the first sunscreen where I don't have to struggle to apply enough of it on my face or struggle to blend it in. It is water resistant, so it doesn't melt off when I bike. It is also very moisturising. The only minus point is that it does not contain zinc oxide so it doesn't give you complete protection from all UVA rays, only from UVA2.
This is the first time I have seen mica used as a sunscreen ingredient. It also explains why this product evens out the skin tone so beautifully.

I compared the Sun Cream SPF 30 Toned with the Sun Oil Spray SPF 30 and found that after 30 minutes they both looked very similar, the oil was a bit more yellow. At ca 12,00€ the Tinted Sun Cream is much more affordable.

One more thing -- don't confuse this product with the untinted version!

I'm really interested in what Eco Cometics are doing with their sunscreen products, they seem to be bringing out some new ones each year and I'm hoping they will surprise me with innovative new products in the future.

Have you tried any of the Eco Cosmetics sunscreen products? What is your favourite sunscreen for your body?


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So My Favourite Organic Self-Tanner Contains Formaldehyde + Safe Alternatives





Do you use self-tanners? Do you like the look of tanned skin? I find pale skin really beautiful, pale blondes have something etheric and light about it, pale brunettes look mysterious. Personally I do like to use self-tanners on my skin because a lightly tanned skin feels more "me" -- probably because I grew up in a more sunny place than I live in now and have seen myself without a tan for the first time a couple of years ago.

Since a couple of years I have been using the Lavera Sun Sensitiv self tanning cream, which has an impeccable ingredient list... or so I thought. The November 2015 issue of the Öko Test magazine examined several self-tanning products in a laboratory and found that most contained formaldehyde. This chemical not only is a human carcinogen but also causes a number of other health issues, and is been banned in cosmetics by the EU since 2016. However there are no laws against chemical ingredients that release formaldehyde over time.

The ingredient that is rescponsible for tanning the skin is DHA, which is harmless in itself and even used to enhance the colour of meat. However with time and with warmth DHA gasses of formaldehyde. Of all the self-tanners that Öko tested examine, almost all had too high levels of formaldehyde -- including the organic brands. Most conventional brands also had other problem substances such as allergy-causing perfume, pthalates, parabens, lilial and PEGs.

Luckily there were three self-tanning products that the Öko Test laboratories found that were almost free from formaldehyde -- the one from Douglas and the one from Lavozon (Müller) got the rating of "very good". The one from Yves Roche got an "satisfactory", with points taken away because of the irritating perfume Cumarin, PEGs and aluminium. Next in line came the La Roche-Posey self tanner with a rating of only "sufficient", because of silicones and PEGs.
To prevent the release of formaldehyde all self-tanners that rely on DHA should be stored in a cool place (the fridge) and used up much sooner than their use-by date. I also found a couple of interesting DIY self-tanner recipes, they all contain some kind of fats which should keep the mixture on the skin and off your clothes. let me know if you try them! Other alternative is carrot oil (mixed with other oils).

The full article and the list of the products that were tested can be seen here.

Photo credit:  Alexander Shustov

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Weekend Reads 20-05-2016





* Lilacs are blooming and if you want to pluck some, this is how you keep them fresh.

* I really loved you're not my child, don't call me mom.

* You might be old enough to rememer The Scatman song, but did you know that he struggled all his life with a debilitating stutter for which he was bullied in school, which made him depressed and addicted to alcohol, until he found scat music? My hat goes off.

* So apparently you can easily turn leather into suede at home. Who knew!

* Homesong. A beautiful blog about a beautiful simple home. I want to move in and steal all her stuff.

* I've always been fascinated by the Korean 10-step routines, but not a huge fan of all the products with dubious ingredients. Now one of my favourite bloggers presents a zero-waste, natural version of it -- based on actual traditional Korean DIY skincare.

* The Murmuring Cottage is a beautifully curated tumblr of the most calming images ever. What are your favourite blogs or tumblrs for aesthetic inspiration? I'm looking for new ones.

* How to quick-soak chickpeas.

* An in-depth article about heels, their psychology and their history.

* War and Peace is one of my favourite books ever and one of the the greatest stories ever told, so I was pretty stoked about BBC making a miniseries based on it. It's quite good (even if not Russian enough and not philosophical enough), with some amazing actors. And Prince Bolkonsky. And that ball scene.



  
What great posts or blogs have you read (or written) this week? Do share in the comment section.


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