Reader Question: My Bra Strap Pinching The Brachial Nerve On My Shoulder!

A while back Irene, a reader from Ottawa with severe scoliosis wrote in with this problem:

For the post few years I have relied primarily on extenders -- an elastic piece with hooks and receptors which is attached to the bra back.  But the same problem of the straps being moved so far over that they fall off.   I remedied this by attaching a thin elastic between the straps to keep them loosely taut.  However, I find that one strap presses on my brachial nerve, causing pain in the shoulder and arm area. This also happens with racer back and cross-backed bras.
 I can only wear the bra on “out” days.  Otherwise I go braless and wear seasonal vests for cover.
I have also tried sticky bras, but at my age, 74, droop makes this unattractive.  Strapless bras work for short periods, but the underwires do dig in.
I had a lumpectomy 18 years ago and use a variety of padding, depending on what bra I’m wearing .
Would be great if someone invented a “better mousetrap” for this problem.

Dear Irene

If your bra strap is putting that much pressure on your shoulder, you might need to find a bra that actually fits you properly. Support should come from other areas besides the shoulder-strap. In this post I have explained why bra straps falling off might be a sign you are wearing a bra that doesn't fit your correctly, and what to do about it. If you've never had a really well-fitting bra, you could be in for a very pleasant surprise! 

This post about fitting adjustments for women of an advanced age is also worth reading. Also here are tips for bra fitting for women with scoliosis.

Chances are that when you find a better fitting bra, it will not pinch your brachial nerve, because the band will be doing 90% of the work (instead of the straps carrying the entire weight). However if you still find that one strap pinches your brachial nerve, here are some products to try out:

* Comfy Shoulders from Fashion forms. These (or similar)  gel cushions are available online, as well as in several brick-and-mortar stores.

* Broad bra straps. I have used comfort straps from Ewa Michalak (middle picture) myself and find them very comfortable. Similar straps can be found in many lingerie and sewing stores.

I hope this helps! If any of you lovely readers have any tips for Irene, let me know in the comments!
Photo credit: VenusianGlow

Photo by Morgan v on Unsplash

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Weekend Reads November 2019

From my other blog

 * @mazale_ has the most beautiful home ever.

* Seven ways of accessorising vor visibility.

* Hitting those high notes. Wait, what?

* Can exercising make your skin look younger or even reverse ageing?

* The Ashen Cat

* What is really behind the trend of modest clothing. A multi-layered and fascinating read.

* Small space hosting hacks, from people who actually live in small spaces.

* A Top Derm On What Every Woman Should Know About The Beauty Industry. A very interesting episode, even if I don't agree with all of her opinions.

* TrippinThroughTime. I love this one.

Turkish reporter talking to a mushroom instead of microphone


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Greasy Hair Even After Washing? Might Be Seborrheic Dermatitis

Since a while I have been struggling with waxy, sticky buildup on my hair, which appeared hours after shampooing. Usually a small patch at the back of my head, and sometimes the entire back of my head. I blamed my Henna, I blamed my styling products, till I found out that this waxy buildup on my hair was in fact a form of seborrheic dermatitis.

This blog post explained that a waxy, greasy scalp can be a symptom of seborrheic dermatitis. I very much agree with her that certain foods can trigger outbreaks of waxy buildup. (Especially animal protein, for like her I am milk-protein intolerant but am not very good at avoiding it). Stress, depression and sickness are other triggers.

How To Treat A Greasy, Waxy Scalp 

If your sebaceous dermatitis is severe, do consult a dermatologist!

1:1 solution of cider apple vinegar and water can be used to pre-treat my hair before washing, I like to leave it on for half an hour. I apply it on my scalp with a small sponge.
Fermented rice water also works really well.
If my hair is really greasy I mix baking soda with shampoo, but I do this as rarely as possible since it it quite harsh.

Diatomaceous earth and green clays are great against seborrheic dermatitis, but a bit tricky to use on the scalp. I like to mix them with a bit of gentle shampoo, massage into my scalp for two minutes, and leave on for a couple of minutes.
Shampoos with salicylic acid, zink, coal tar or urea can help with seborrheic dermatitis. It is easy to mix urea into your shampoo by yourself.

Dilute an antibacterial essential oil with a carrier oil (for eg sunflower) and massage it into the scalp. Tea tree oil is a good and gentle oil, other more potent ones are oregano, rosemary, tamanu, manuka, frankincense and eucalyptus.
Do take care of your digestive system, as it is often the trigger behind seborrheic dermatitis. Try eliminating animal protein or citrus fruit from your diet for a week or two and see if anything changes. What also helps are probiotics and simple, easy to digest foods.
It's also worth ruling out hormonal imbalances.

Between washes you can spray your scalp with hydrolates of the above mentioned herbs. If you don't have access to hydrolates, you can prepare a tea out of rosemary, salvia or oregano and put it in a spray bottle. You can of course also use dry shampoo to tide you between washes.

Getting to know your triggers and managing seborrheic dermatitis can take a while, so don't get discouraged. Of course if your symptoms don't get better do consult a dermatologist.

Have you ever struggled with a greasy scalp? Or are you one of the lucky ones with a perfectly healthy scalp?


Photo credit: VenusianGlow

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Why You Should Use Vitamin C, And How To Choose The Right Kind

Today I want to talk about one of the cornerstones of my skin care routine: Vitamin C. A good product with Vitamin C is something that should be on everyone's bathroom shelf. Today I'm going to give you a couple of pointers and product recommendations.

PS Huge shout-out for the lovely person who gave me a generous tip a couple of weeks back! It was much appreciated!

Why use Vitamin C?

Basically it is an extremely effective, well-researched ingredient that is good for all skin types. It's a one-stop for your anti-aging, anti-pollution and skin brightening needs. Here are the benefits in short:

* This extremely effective anti-oxidant counters free radicals. Free radicals not only make our skin age faster, the can also lead to serious medical conditions such as skin cancer. be it from cigarettes, alcohol, pollution, medication or hormonal contraception ......

* Prevents hyper-pigmentation by inhibiting the production of melanin. It however cannot reduce existing hyperpigmentation.

* It brightens the skin. Unfortunately the effect is temporary, so it only lasts as long as you are using the product.

* It helps reduce post-acne marks.

* Reduces sun damage by encouraging healthy cell turnover, helps to heal the skin in case of sunburn, neutralises the free radicals from UV rays, and prevents discolouration.

* Lightens fine lines and wrinkles, by boosting the skin’s collagen production and decreasing loss of water from the skin.

Vitamin C is a very important part of a healthy diet, and it's important to always include foods rich in it into our meals. However the skin is at the end of the queque when it comes to distribution of nutrients, so it's a good idea to include it in our skin care.

Counterindications: Some people are allergic to vitamin C, in doubt do a patch test in the crook of the elbow.

How To Use:

  • Wear the vitamin C product under your sunscreen to boost its effectiveness.
  • Apply it right after cleansing and toning, and let it work for 15 minutes before applying the next product. Vitamin C is pH sensitive, if you use another product immediately, it might change the pH level and destabilise it.
  • Use within 3 months, as after that the vitamin C is probably not stable any more.
  • Store it in the fridge to keep it stable longer.

What to look for in a Vitamin C product

* Look for opaque glass bottles, as Vit C is easily destabilised by light. If your bottle turns out to be clear, you can try to tape it over with masking tape. A medicine dropper type of bottle is better than an air pump.

* Vitamin E increases the effectiveness of vitamin C.

* Ferulic acid stabilises vitamin C and increases the effectiveness of both vit C and E.

* There are many types of vitamin C out there, and some are better than others:
Whole Vitamin C is found naturally in sources such as rosehips, cloudberries, sea buckthorn berries, amla berries, citrus fruits, marula oil, pomegranate seeds, etc. These contain ascorbic acid as well as all of the other natural components of Vitamin C including natural enzymes and bioflavonoids.
L-Ascorbic acid is most effective synthetioc form of vitamin C as it penetrates the skin barrier most easily. However it is extremely unstable,and changes when it comes into contact with light, water and heat. For this reason many brands prefer to use other forms of Vitamin C, and frankly it is really difficult to get an overview of which ones are the best. For this reason I like to switch up my Vitamin C serums, until I find my holy grail.
Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is non-irritateing, extremely good at boosting collagen,
Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide in low concentrations and Ascorbyl Phosphate may convert to ascorbic acid once absorbed into the skin.

* Concentration is key. If you are looking for something really effective, go for 8%-20%. Many manufacturers don't disclose the concentration of Vit C in their product, in that case I look for products where the Vit C is one of the first three ingredients. If it's lower down, there is too little of it in the product do make much of a difference.

Product recommendations:

I find it very hard to find an affordable vitamin C product that are organic (or at least free from problematic ingredients).I generally don't like to spend much on skin care, but if you want to splurge somewhere a well-formulated and thoroughly tested vitamin C product is a great place to do it.
My favorite haunt for Vit C serums is TK Maxx, they always have several there that are either certified organic or with good ingredients (few is best, free from silicones, propylene glycol, butylene glycolparabens, etc). Always look for the orange packaging.

Affordable vitamin C product recommendations:
  • The best solution is to make your own, it is really simple and easy. 
  • Daytox Serum Vit C (10% Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), DM (Vegan, Cruelty Free)
  • Provida Organics Mille Fleurs Protecting Vitamin C Serum  (Ascorbic Acid), Demeter certificate, cruelty-free, vegan)
  • Junglück Vitamin C Serum (5% Ascorbyl Glucoside) (Vegan, Cruelty Free)
  • Satin Naturel Vitamin C Serum Hochdosiert (25% ascorbic phosphate and ascorbic acid). vegan, cruelty-free
  • Lanoline Vitamin C Serum (ascorbyl phosphate) 
  • Fitocose Jalus Vitamin C Serum and Jalus Vitamin C Anti-Age Fluid (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate und Ascorbyl Palmitate), Fitocose C10 Jalus Facial Serum (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate)

Do you have a favourite Vitamin C product that you use? Let me know in the comments!


Photo credit: VenusianGlow

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Reader Questions: Henna Aftercare, Permanence + Recommendations For Australians

I got this in my mailbox the other day:

I am quite I inspired by your blog on Ayluna hair color. I am in Australia, of Indian origin with dark brown hair.  have been dying my grey (more than 50%) hair with permanent hair dye (Jeval). I use L'Oreal color protection shampoo and conditioner. My aunt uses henna for a long time and I know for sure that henna is a temporary dye, it fades away. But My questions are:
  • Why henna powder is called semi permanent? 
  • Is preparing with Khadi detox mask is enough? Or do I need further prep?
  • Khadi and Ayluna are difficult to get in Australia. Can you refer any other brand?
  • Can you also give an idea of how to maintain the color? Do I need to use organic shampoo?

Is Henna Semi-permanent?

The short answer -- depends on your hair and on the exact dye, but it's pretty much permanent.

Henna is not something that will completely wash out in a few weeks. My hair is half very dark brown, half gray, and I use Henna only on the roots and crow. On the photo above you can see how the ends, which haven been last dyed with Henna some two years ago, look like.
I feel like Henna "clings" better to porous hair, while really smooth hair may have trouble holding on to it.  I find that on my hair after a few weeks the colour is less intensive and softens. Red shades get ruddier. If your hair is very dark, then the reddish glow goes away with time. At this time I am letting my greys grow out and there is no sharp "edge" between the greys and the hennaed hair like there is with dyed hair, the transition is soft.
If you are using not pure Henna but Henna-based dye, then the other ingredients can influence how long the colour stays true -- Indigo does fade with time, walnut seems to last quite long.
Finally, the actual type of Henna -- both the strain of the plant, as well as how well it has been processed, can influence it's permanence.

Henna Prep

The Khadi Detox mask is pretty good at removing products from the hair, so it's normally enough. However if you have been using a lot of styling products, especially the "string hold" kind, you can clarify your hair with shampoo with a teaspoon of baking soda in it, followed by an acidic rinse (1:1 apple cider vinegar and water).

Henna Aftercare

Henna doesn't demand much aftercare, still there are some things you can do to prolong the intensity of the colour. Wash out the Henna with plain water or conditioner (if it's not coming out), not shampoo. Don't wash your hair for at least the next three days after dyeing, that helps the dye to oxidise to a deeper tone. Finally, a bit of oil spread on the hair deepens the colour and protects it.

Washing Henna Dyed Hair

(Certified!) Organic shampoos are great because you know for sure that there are no sulfates which are harsh detergents that pull out the colour. Both the shampoo you mentioned as well as the conditioner contain sulfates (I can't understand why the conditioner contains sulfates!).
But you can also a "regular" SLS-free shampoo, or -- my secret tip -- a feminine cleanser meant for sensitive skin. No really! These are pH-neutral and very mild.
You can also try washing your hair with just conditioner. I have written more about how to do it and what conditioner to pick here. If you prefer shampoo, conditioning afterwards is generally a good idea, as Henna can make the hair texture a bit coarse and dry. I also highly recommend acidic rinses (diluted cider vinegar) at the end.

Recommended Henna Brands In Australia

Khadi is available from Sattvic, it costs a bit more than it does in Germany. I searched for other Here are some recommendations I found:

  • Desert Shadow Hair Colours
  • Radico Colour Me
  • Jamila Henna (pure Henna)
  • Organic Henna from NatureShop, along with Indigo and Senna, if you want to mix your colours yourself.

Any Aussie readers that could chime in with their Henna hair dye recommendations?


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Fermented Rice Water -- Scalp Treatment And Hair Rinse

Hello everyone

Today I wanted to write about something I have been testing since a while, and loving -- fermented rice water. Now there are lots of rice water rinse recipes out there, but today I want to talk about the fermented kind as it has done wonders for my scalp.

Fermented rice water is great for boosting hair growth when used on the scalp, not so much because it makes the hair grow faster, but it slows down shedding which means you get to retain your longest hairs. It also cuts down on hair breakage. So it's a great simple solution for those of you who are would like to boost the process.

This rinse has an acidic pH level, which is especially important if you have hard water, dandruff, or use hair soap. It works as a scalp detox, like a chemical exfoliation -- it loosens all the dead skin on the scalp. I recommend rubbing it on the scalp, keeping it on for 15 minutes, then using a scalp scrub to get rid of the flakes that have been loosened. Or you can scrub them off with shampoo and your fingers, briskly rubbing your scalp in circles (I usually count slowly to 120 to make sure I did it for two minutes). It makes my scalp feel so clean!

Finally, the starch in the rinse absorbs excess oiliness and make the hair smoother to the touch. It smooths the cuticles which makes the hair easier to detangles and minimises rubbing and breakage.

How To Make Fermented Rice Water

Any sort of rice is fine. Give it a quick wash to get rid of any dust and dirt, and to remove excess ground rice which can leave a white coating on the hair.
Pour half a cup of rice into a jar and add 1 cup water. Close the jar (!) and let it stand for two days. If you don't close the lid, it will go off instead of fermenting. When the liquid smells slightly sour, put it into the fridge to stop the fermentation process. To use, dilute it (ca 2-3 tbsp to one cup of water). It can be stored for a very long time.
To use, pour it over the hair after washing and squeezing out excess water. Use a bowl to catch the rice water dripping down the hair and pour it over the hair again. Or even dip the length of the hair in the bowl for a few minutes. I like to not rinse out the rice water if I'm not going anywhere the next day (it has a vinegary smell).

I recommend trying the rinse solo, later on you can add other things -- honey to moisturise and to hold the curls, lemon juice for an acidic pH,

If you have been reading this far, and have wondered about the radio silence on this blog -- a lot has been changing in my life on many levels. I went through a very turbulent personal phase, which has been hard but paved the way for a lot of personal growth. I also began a new job and then a new vocational training, which absorbed a lot of time and energy. So I wasn't blogging much. My posts can take up to 3-4 hours to create (I like to research very thoroughly before I post, googling information in several different languages, and even a photo like the one above can take surprisingly long to take and to edit). And since I don't like to half-ass my posts, I wasn't very active. But don't worry -- I don't plan stopping to blog anytime soon.


Photo credit

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My Hair Hits: Ayluna Henna and Khadi Detox Hair Mask Review

Henna has come a long way from rusty orange and difficult preparation. I'm happy when I see brands making innovations -- easier application, a bigger range of colours. Today I want to talk about my new Henna love Henna: Ayluna Henna in Chili and Mahagoni.

I've always wanted to be a redhead, but my dark brown hair peppered with greys gave me at most a chestnut tint. I didn't want to go down the chemical routine. My hair loves henna and on my mom's hair I have seen the how harsh chemical dyes can be. 

I got the Ayluna Chili Henna just for my usual root touch-up. But I was so surprised at the intensiveness of the red that I had to dye the lower sections so that it didn't look weird. You can see the results here, the colour variation is due to me having lots of grays. Alyuna's red shades mix henna with madder root which gives a beautiful wine-red dye. It also contains Indigo, which keeps the colour from going to the infamous rusty direction. Brahmi, Fenugreek and Chamomile care for the hair and add shine.

The henna powder is ground quite fine, like Khadi Henna, which makes it much easier to apply and wash off that "normal" hennas. The colour stays brilliant after several washings. I feel like the Mahagoni shade is more of a wine red, while the Chili has a more typical rusty henna tint. The Ayluna Henna gives my hair volume, though less than the one from Khadi.

My hair is shoulder length and very thick, and one package for ca 7€ gives me at least 5 root touch-ups.

The strands towards the front is what the Ayluna Chili looks like. The auburn strands at the back are from the red Khadi Henna I used in the past.

I pre-treated my hair with the Detox Hair Mask from Khadi, which is meant for deep-cleansing and pre-colouration. It's a mix of Moroccan lava clay and Reetha fruit powder. The clay absorbs oil, dirt and other impurities. Reetha (soap nut) is a great cleanser with an acidic pH -- I've loved washing my hair with them, can't believe I haven't blogged about that. The paste was rather difficult to apply, but I felt that it cleansed my hair really well. The Henna coloured my hair more evenly than usual. It also does a great job of cleansing the scalp. I suggest you try it if you have problems with dandruff, itchiness or oiliness.
One thing I found problematic -- the warning to not let the mixture come into contact with metal was not included in the instructions but below them, and was easy to oversee -- I had already put the powder into a metal bowl!

The package is rather small for 10€, but it does last for several uses.

What do you use to cleanse your hair before using Henna? Have you tried Ayluna? What was your impression? Let me know in the comments.

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Bakuchiol -- A Gentle Alternative To Retinol Is Scientifically Proven To Really Work!

Bakuchiol -- A Gentle Alternative To Retinol Is Scientifically Proven To Really Work!

Every now and then I stumble onto skin care articles that talk about anti-ageing, and there it is -- Retinol. The supposed key to anti-ageing. Retinol does work -- this version of Vitamin A reduces fine lines, spots, and encourages a faster cell turnover. Yet it has some big disadvantages -- the skin is more sensitive to UV rays, it is thinner and more sensitive and loses some of it's barrier function. It can irritate the skin temporarily, and in some cases it can can cause heavy damage to sensitive skin -- retinoid dermatitis. Most organic and natural cosmetic certifications have not approved retinol, nor is it approved for pregnant or nursing women, nor should you use it if you are trying to get pregnant, as it is a know reproductive toxicant.

I personally chose not to use retinol and instead choose other anti-ageing cosmetic ingredients that are less risky. Many ingredients are called "the natural alternative to retinol", however when I searched deeper it turns out that their anti-ageing effects don't come close to those of  retinol.

Except one.

Bakuchiol is a substance extracted from Psoralea corylifolia aka the Babchi plant, which has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Its Sanskrit name Kushtanashini means destroyer of afflictions -- studies have shown it has a lot of medical potential, so it seems to be apt!

What Bakuchiol can do:

This study shows that bakuchiol is just as effective as retinol in diminishing wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, but much gentler. It also stimulates the production of collagen, helps against acne (source), makes the skin more elastic and firm (study), and smooths pores.
There are a couple of differences with retinol:  unlike retinol bakuchiol is photo-stable which means that it remains active in bright sunlight and is safe to use during the day. It doesn't decrease the size of oil glands. And it's vegan (retinol sometimes isn't).

Products with Bakuchiol:

Bakuchi can be used in a concentration of up to 1%, and this concentration is also the most effective. So when choosing a product with bakuchiol, do check out how many percent of Bakuchi is actually in the product. Many don't mention this important detail, which probably means that there is a much smaller amount of bakuchiol in it.
A lot of products with bakuchiol are very expensive, I'm talking around 50-150€. I do think it's only because bakuchiol is new and hyped at the moment, and that soon it will trickle down.

That said, I did hunt for a couple of products that won't kill your wallet. The BYBI Beauty Bakuchiol Booster is made of 1% bakuchiol and 99% squalene, it isn't expensive but it seems to sell out days after it's back in stock. I am extremely pleased with the results I have had with it so far, but will write a proper review when I've used it a bit longer.

Some other products that contain bakuchiol and fulfil my criteria of being affordable and not containing ingredients that I wouldn't feel comfortable using (silicones, dubious preservatives, ingredients known to be toxic, etc):
Pacifica's Future Youth Crystal Ball Serum
Erboristica Purysens Pelle Mista e Impura,
Eboristica Purysens Crema Viso Riequilibrante Anti-Eta,
Esito Natural Night Face Cream
Esito Natural Face Serum. 
If you know of any more let me know in the comments! PS I found that going through the hashtag #bakuchiol on instagram is a good way of keeping up with new products that contain bakuchiol.

Bakuchiol DIY? 

There are also Babchi oil and Babchi powder available. These seem both to be very effective against Vitiligo and Psoriasis. However they have to be heavily diluted otherwise they can cause chemical burns. So this is definitely not something you can slather on your face. However EverBlossoms has a recipe for a DIY Babchi serum. This user mixes 10% Babchi oil with 90% squalane. 
I couldn't find out how many % of the active ingredient bakuchiol does oil from the Babchi plant contain. Maybe there is a chemist among you with access to the newest studies, or knows what terms to search for? 
What I did find out is that (unlike pure bakuchiol) the entire Babchi plant does contain substances that make the skin sensitive to sunlight. It should be used in combination with sunscreen, and never during the day or in the middle of the summer.

So have you tried anything with bakuchiol yet? This ingredient is going to have a permanent place in my anti-aging routine, in addition to Vit C. Which other anti-ageing ingredients do you swear on?

Photo credit: Jayesh Pail

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Weekend Reads 22-03-2019

Our Little Sister

Hello everyone

It's been a while since I did one of these! So I'll skip the banter and go straight to the links:

* Style: I just discovered Pandora Syke's blog and it's a huge favourite. Her style is nothing like my taste (or my budget), but I love her insights about how she puts her outfits together. Plus, she really can write. And her social commentary posts are just as good as her fashion posts. Also I love her down-to-earth british humour and her honesty about her hungry bum, her fashion dick self and the ridiculousness of the fashion vocabulary.

* I was blown over with the Vice videos about fashion weeks and the political background behind them. The one about the Ukrainan Fashion Week is the best one in my opinion.

* Home: I love the simple aesthetic of this lovely home.

* Reads: On of my favourite creepy short stories ever: The Yellow Wallpaper.

* Film: Our Little Sister is a beautiful Japanese slice of life film about four young women. I'd move into their old wooden house in a heartbeat!

* Body: This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake

* Andy Warhol's thoughts on beauty.

* What's really behind fashion's and women's love for concealing clothing? -- a very interesting article.

This Vlogger makes drop-dead gorgeous videos about life in the Chinese province. She forages, harvests, cooks, repairs her home. I could watch these on a loop all day:

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Can Hair Change Porousity? My Experience


Hello everyone, when I started taking care of my hair, I diagnosed it as high porosity. There are a bunch of more or less scientific tests out there: my hair is high-textured and wavy. When I pulled a single hair through my fingers it felt rough and knobbly. It failed the float test. Finally, it responded to all the products and techniques for high-porousity hair. I would oil it, then do a masque, then co-wash, and sometimes even follow up with a leave in. And my hair would swallow it all up. I'd get lovely little curls and waves.

As I continued with this regimen, and took care to minimise mechanical damage, my hair got healthier and healthier. Then at a certain point I noticed co-washing wasn't working anymore. Conditioner and masques would leave my hair greasy. I was annoyed and having to change my routine. I went back to shampoo, and used very little conditioner, and then none at all. My hair didn't need it or want it.

At that point my partner got a microscope. So of course I decided to take a look at my hair under it. I plucked out a hair and looked at the the root part (newest, healthiest) and the end part (oldest). I was very surprised at what I saw -- both parts were indistinguishable, in that both were perfectly healthy. All the hair scales lay smooth. It looked like those illustrations you see of a healthy hair shaft. I haven't figured out how to photograph a microscope image, but it basically looked like this:


 Yes, I was very surprised too. Especially as at the beginning of my hair journey my hair was so brittle that a single hair would be broken (damaged) in several places, and split at the end.

Which brings me to the question:  When and why does hair porousity change? In my case the high porousity was caused by damage. However I feel like hair can change due to other reasons too. Babies are born with soft, fine, fluffy hair, and it is often years till the hair gets heavier. Sometimes things change with puberty -- my hair was straight as a pin as a kid, but now it's wavy. Pregnancy can sometimes drastically change hair -- not only making it grow and then falling out, but sometimes the texture of the hair changes. Finally, grey hair has a very different texture.

So what I'm saying is -- whatever your hair porousity is, look out for changes, look at what your hair needs now. One more things: high porousity isn't a bad thing, as long as your hair is healthy. Lots of hair types are naturally high porousity.

Has the porousity of your hair changed? Or does it remain the same no matter what you do? Let me know!

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When Should You Ignore Expiry Dates? My Guidelines + How To Extend Shelf Life Of Cosmetics

A while back I noticed that my corundum had reached its expiry date. I was about to toss it when I realised that corundum is a mineral. So I asked a friend (who happens to be a senior chemist in Switzerland) if my corundum can expire. He laughed and said that corundum is ruby powder which was in the earth for millions of years, but the cosmetic industry is required to put an expiry date that is not further away than 2 years. 
For the same reason there are expiry dates on items such as salt, honey and charcoal -- all items that last thousands of years. When I bought some charcoal tablets the salesperson told me to ignore the expiry date, since charcoal lasts for ever.
 The expiry dates on the packaging are regulated by laws and don't always reflect how long an actual product lasts. 
Also often we see a date on the packaging and don't differentiate whether it means that the product should definitely be used before that, or whether that is the date of minimum durability.
I often use my skin care for longer than we're supposed to, and I have makeup that's ancient. I felt half-guilty about that, wondering if some bad infection is just waiting to happen. So I decided to do some research.

I was fascinated by this article about a journalist who sent her old make-up products to a lab, where unexpectedly they were all proclaimed fit to use. Huh, I'm in the clear then!

Here are the guidelines I personally use. To be fair, I'm not at all germaphobic, live in bacteria-loving Europe, and am a pretty healthy person, so your mileage may vary.

  • Products with water (aqua, usually among the first ingredients) go bad fastest, since bacteria grow easily in water.
  • Products without water last much longer, because almost nothing can grow well in such products.
  • Dry products usually last longest.
  • True mineral products usually can be used indefinitely.
  • Things that are heavy on alcohol can usually last many years.
  • Cleansers, shampoos etc usually are good longer. 
  • If something changes smell, colour or consistency, bin it immediately, even if the expiry date says it's all good.
  • Pure oils are a tricky thing. Some go rancid quickly, some are stable for years. Usually it's easy to smell if an oil goes rancid.
  • Self-bronzers with DHA should be tossed after one year, as a lab test revealed that with time most of them underwent chemical reactions where formaldehyde was created.
  • Products with pumps, in metal tubes or other kind of air-tight containers usually are good longer.
  • Pencils usually don't go bad, they dry out.
  • If you wear contact lenses or have an autoimmune sickness, be more careful!

How to extend the life of your cosmetic products:

  • Cosmetics that are stored in a cool, dark and dry place are good longer. 
  • To extend the life of your products, wash your hands before using them.
  • Close all lids immediately. 
  • Don't add saliva. I have a small spray bottle of rose water in my makeup drawer which I use to wet my brushes.
  • Buy "dry" products rather than creamy ones, for eg lipstick over lip gloss, mineral foundation over BBcream, mascara in stone over regular mascara.
  • Decant products in jars into bottles with a pump.
  • Store products with Vit C in the fridge.
  • Wash your makeup brushes regularly.
  • Lipsticks that aren't used often can be stored in the fridge.
  • A quick sharpen will remove the old layer of eyeliner or lip liner pencils.

Photo credit: Diana Kadreva on Unsplash

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