How To Wean Yourself Off Heat Styling Your Hair

I love Jeniffer Anniston, but at this stage her hair was so damaged it hurts to look at it. Now she seems to be taking better care of it, but the healthiest it's been is in the old 1997 brunette photos.

While styling healthy hair with heat once in a while doesn't do much damage, regular use -- especially hair that is already weakened  -- is the single biggest cause of damaged hair. However if you have been heat styling regularly, it's really hard to stop cold turkey because the hair looks very damaged. I often see celebrities with straightened hair where, if you look closer, you can see that the hair is in very bad shape.
Today I'll be talking about why heat is damaging and how to wean your hair off heat styling.

First, you might be thinking: but my hair looks so poufy / blah / damaged without heat styling! Well, that's because your hair is damaged, and if you keep on heat styling, you'll keep on having damaged hair. 

Weaning yourself off heat-styling and taking good care of your hair will completely transform it. Once the damaged hair has grown out and is replaced by healthy hair, you won't need to do that much with it, it will look good and it will be easy to care for. Hair that hasn't been damaged by heat doesn't need taming with heat.

Heat dries the hair out. Also most styling tools are much too hot, and cause "bubble hair":

"Bubble hair is a sign of thermal injury. Hair dryers operating at 175°C or more can cause bubble hair. The use of hair curling tongs operating at 125°C and applied to the hair for one minute can also induce bubbles in hair fiber. All hair fibers contain air-filled spaces called vacuoles. These spaces can also become filled with water when the hair is wet. Too much heat vaporizes the water in the hair fibre into steam. This vaporization of the water may force the spaces in the hair to expand, eventually turning the hair into a sponge-like structure. These damaged hairs are weak and brittle as the bubbles destroy the integrity of the fiber."

If you can't go cold turkey, first try limiting heat styling to special occasions. Or at least take a break every other day, and skip the weekends entirely. Wash your hair less often to stretch-out a straightening session, use dry shampoo to keep the hair fresh. However if you can go cold-turkey, that's the best!

Find a couple of good transitional styles. There are a million of braid and bun tutorials out there, you'll never get bored. Add accessories like headbands, barrettes, clips -- they are in right now and range from cute to sleek. Or use a scarf, turban, hat or beret or cap. 
When you do heat style, use good equipment with temperature regulation and use the lowest temperature possible. Don't ever use heat on soaking wet hair, let it dry a bit first. If heat-drying, stop when the hair is still slightly moist, to prevent over-drying. If using a flat iron, move the flat iron down each section of hair only once, and fairly rapidly.
Get a good haircut. Firstly, your ends are probably fried and split, splits can travel further up the hair shaft if you let them be. Cutting of the damage will free your hair, because the less damaged parts won't need that much taming with heat to make them look good. Secondly a good cut can make hair look ten times better.

Then you'll need to create a solid hair care routine. Damaged hair is usually high-porousity and very dry (though the scalp might be oily). At least once a week do a hair mask or oil your hair, and use a conditioner after every wash. Once in a while try a protein treatment.
Avoid all other ways of damaging your hair. Treat you hair as it were expensive old Chantilly lace. Minimise any kind of mechanical damage. Protect it from the sun.

Consider the reason why you heat style, and how you can get the same results in more hair-friendly ways. If you are after volume, washing with rye flour followed by flaxseed gel (leave it in) will give you more volume than you know what to do. If you are after smoothing or frizz control, try a few drops of oil. If your hair is naturally curly or very wavy and is often hard to manage, you might looks into the curly-girl method to help you work with your natural hair texture rather than against it. The curly-girl method is a life saver for very kinky curls, black women hair and anyone whose hair is frizzy because it's trying to be curly. If you really don't like your curly hair, look into no-heat straightening methods such as the wrapping method or using very large rollers on hair overnights. Also henna reduces the curl pattern (colourless henna, if you don't want it to dye the hair). If you want waves, there are tons of heatless ways to do that too, my favourite on is to do a twist-bun on the top of my head -- instant beach waves.
Patience. The first 2-6 weeks are the hardest, after that you will start seeing results. Stick to your routine. In a couple of months everyone will be seeing your results, and in a year or two your hair will be completely transformed. 

Finally, I suggest looking though the hair transformation stories on Anwen's blog. You can use google translate, but I think that the photos speak for themselves. Most of the girl went from chemically damaged and heat damaged hair to beautiful healthy locks through a good hair-care routine.

Photo credit

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Cosmetic Favourites August '17: Sylveco, Blue Clay, Martina Gebhardt, Solid Fragrance, Neroli Hydrolate And Konjac Pads.

Blue Clay

I am a huge fan of pure clays as cleansing masks. I have been lusting after a blue clay since a couple of years and finally got my paws on this one. It is 100% kaolin, and so it's even gentler than white clay. It is perfect for dry or sensitive skin, and at the same time does a good job of cleansing and getting rid of impurities. It's also really fun to use, you look like a Smurf. After use my pores are cleaner and smaller, any oiliness is absorbed, and I feel that any irritation gets calmed down. The colour of the skin is also evened out, I think that this brightening effect is thanks to the high content of silica, a bit of which stays on the face.
You should always spritz the clay to prevent it from drying out on your face. If you want extra moisture you can mix it with yoghurt of flaxseed gel, however I prefer to just mix it with water or a hydrolate to get the undiluted cleansing effect and follow it up with something moisturising.
The one I have is from the on of the Mydlarnia stores in Poland, and I paid ca 4,50€ for 75g. I consider clays investment shopping since they never expire and a little goes a long way. On the website is says that it can also be used as a toothpaste or as a compress.

Sylveco Linden Micellar Cleanser

Very gentle and soothing, and does it's job really well. Removes all of my makeup without rubbing, I have a feeling that it does this better than the micellar solution from Cattier. It foams while cleansing, which I feel makes it even more effective. It doesn't dry out the skin at all, and doesn't irritate the eyes.
It leaves a gentle film behind, if this bothers you you can wipe it off with water or a hydrolate.
I got mine from Poland, but I also saw it online on Notino for ca 4,90€.
INCI: Aqua, Tilia Platyphyllos Flower Extract, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Panthenol, Allantoin, Hydrolyzed Oats, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Lactic Acid, Phytic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.

Magic Of India Natural Solid Fragrance

I have always wanted to own a solid fragrance and I got this one as a gift. The label says Lily Of The Valle but it smells nothing like that flower; rather it is a lovely heavy oriental-sweet-woodsy scent. The jar is handmade out of rosewood and looks very well-made, and would make a nice gift. The solid perfume is, according to the manufacturer, made of natural essential oils, tea tree oil, wheatgerm oil, aloe vera extract, beeswax and vegetable wax.

Neroli (Orange Blossom) Hydrolate

I love to try out new hydrolates but I keep on coming back to this one. I use this hydrolate in the morning to gently cleanse my skin, or after evening cleansing to restore the acidic pH of the skin. Sometimes I use it as a base for serums or mists. I apply it with my fingers and not a cotton pad so as not to waste any.

Just like most hydrolates it tones and lightly moisturises. It also visibly refreshes the skin, and I think that is lightly cleans the sebum from my pores and definitely balances bits of skin that produce too much oil. The scent is really nice, very relaxing, a kind of orange-ish not but more green and not flowery.
I ordered this one from Zrob Sobie Krem. The only minus point is that the lid wasn't closed properly and the contents of the package were a bit moist.

Martina Gebhart Linden Face Lotion

I always come back to Martina Gebhardt moisturisers, although I try a different one each time. This time I went for the Linden one because it's a one-time limited edition, apparently Martina Gebhardt used a part of the over 1000-year-old Tassilo Linden tree that grows in the monastery where the brand is located. She also said that this is the only time that she will be doing this, as the ancient tree cannot stand much stress. Anyway, apart from the romanticism of the story I absolutely love the scent of Linden flowers, which led me to been reading up on the properties of the Linden -- antioxidant and calming, it also helps against discolourations.
The Tassilo Linde moisturiser is an ideal product for the summer, it really moisturised my combination skin which can very easily get dry, without being too heavy for the summer or under makeup/sunscreen. I also felt that my dark discolourations were slightly lighter. The skin looks relaxed and fresh for the entire day. The scent is amazing, a big part of using the Linden Face Lotion is simply taking whiffs of the product.
One plus point for the (opaque!) glass packaging, one minus point for the pump breaking before I used up the product.
This moisturiser is a limited edition, but it's still available in some online and offline stores.

Inci: Aqua, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil°, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tilia Cordata Flower, Leaf, Root and Bark Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Water°, Lecithin*, Sambucus Nigra Root Extract°, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract*, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract°, Cetyl Alcohol, Spagyrische Essenz von Tilia Cordata Flower, Leaf, Root and Bark Extract, Gold, Silver, Sulfur, Aroma* (ätherisches Öl von Lindenblüte*, Sandelholz*, Geraniol**, Linalool**, Eugenol**, Benzylalcohol**) ° demeter-certified, * certified organic, ** from natural essential oils

Konjac Sponge Cleansing Pads

I was really hoping that they would be a zero-waste replacement for single-use cotton pads. They are advertised as makeup remover pads, so I tested them out by using them to clean off my sunscreen with a micellar cleanser,. This normally takes three cotton pads, so I used three konjac pads. After that I used a cotton pad to cleanse my face and it was absolutely full of sunscreen -- which means that the konjac pads didn't do anything. It just doesn't grab the way cotton does. The konjac sponges have a smoother side and a rougher side, the rougher side does cleanse somewhat but the smoother side doesn't.
However they do a decent job of cleansing the face after the makeup has been removed -- for example to lather a cleansing gel, they gently buff off any skin flakes. I use them to wipe my face in the morning with a hydrolate, and they are also great for applying liquid things like toners (which I don't want to spray and breathe in, but always fell a bit guilty to be waisting cotton pads on).
The konjac pads look really weird when they dry, they have to be hydrated in water and gently squeezed out, this makes them expand and become soft. After use they have to be washed with soap and hug in a specially provided mesh bag to dry.
I found them at my local TKMaxx, they were discounted from 24€ to 10€ which I consider to be overpriced, seeing as you can get a regular big konjac sponge for less than 5€.

What are your current cosmetic favourites? Did anything catch your eye? Let me know.

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How Barefoot Shoes Improved My Posture And Strenghtened My Feet

Today I want to talk about how my barefoot sandals changed how I walk, improved my posture and strengthened my feet. After walking in them for the entire summer I'm absolutely addicted, and have neglected all the other shoes I own.
Before I start, I want to say that if you feel put-off by the, well, raw and organic look of the sandals I made, there are stylish options out there like these:

I haven't tried High Feels myself but have heard good things about them, but it was their creator Yamina who inspired my to try barefoot shoes (and I'd love to try High Feels, in case you are reading this Yamina). It was this video where Yamina talks about walking gracefully:

Oh and she does walk so gracefully. To those of you who don't speak German, here are her tips:

* Know where you are walking towards. I know this trick from theatre workshops, basically if you know exactly which spot you are walking towards, you automatically walk more harmonously. And funnily people get out of your way in crowded places.
* Lean slightly forward at the ankles and allow yourself fall to forward. So you push yourself off with the back foot and place the foot that swings forward falls under your body (and not in front of your body). (Better explanation here).
* Wear shoes that allow such ease of movement and don't force you to walk with a heel-strike. Barefoot shoes allow the foot to move the way it's supposed to. Yamina developed High Feels which are a chic version of traditional barefoot sandals.

After this video I was lusting after High Feels, and remembered that my husband had made himself a pair of Huarache barefoot sandals a couple of years back, and we still had the supplies in the closet. This is basically a type of sandal which the Huarache tribe has been using for centuries, and are popular among barefoot runners. There are tons of instructional videos and articles on how to make such barefoot sandals, and making such sandals is easy as long as you have a good tool to cut the leather. A good vegan alternative to leather is vibram soles.

After the first few days of wearing Huarache sandals I had tired muscles in my feet. I read that in regular shoes out feet are completely passive and don't do anything, and this additionally places strain on the knees and other joints. With barefoot walking your foot is active and adapts to the terrain you are walking on. After the first few days my foot muscles got much stronger and walking is an amazing new sensation. I love feeling the ground I'm walking on. The sandals also changed the way I walk and stand. First of all they force me to stand straight and activate my abdominal muscles and position my pelvis correctly. Since I have a pretty pronounced anterior pelvic tilt that I have been trying to fix since years, this is really amazing. I also learned to place my feet correctly on the ground. And to walk correctly, with the stride longer towards the back, like in Yamina's video.

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The amazing thing about barefoot sandals is that they give you immediate feedback if your stride is wrong, if you are doing anything unnatural with your feet or legs. This happened to me several times, the weirdest one was when I realised that I wore a hole in the sole of my right shoes, below the ball of my foot -- the left sole didn't show any wear at this spot, so I was perplexed. I couldn't pinpoint the cause, and finally someone on a forum told me that I was probably twisting my foot slightly every time I placed it on the ground. Bingo! I trained myself not to do that, and probably saved myself tons of joint troubles.

So probably you want to know how practical and comfortable the shoes are. After the initial adjustment period they are really comfortable. You might also want to experiment with the many ways of tying the shoes to find the one that is the most comfortable for your foot shape. My soles are 3mm thick and I can walk comfortably on sharp gravel, asphalt, grass and dirt roads. They soles mould to the foot, and then you feel as if were wearing almost nothing at all.

After the initial adjustment period I can walk in them without getting my feet dirty. I have a job where I dress for function and comfort, so I can wear them at work. So far I have only gotten compliments for them, even when I combined them with sun dresses. I went for nude coloured straps because they blend in with my skin, giving me a barefooted look. In my head I imagine it looks a little bit like Bardot in And God Created Woman. I wish.

I have worn the Huarache sandals almost every day since I made them in the spring, and if I happen to war other (comfortable) shoes for some reason I always miss the feeling of the solid ground beneath me and the springy step that I have in the barefoot sandals. I still haven't figured out my cold season strategy yet (closed barefoot shoes still have thin soles not really appropriate for very cold temperatures). 

Have any of you worn barefoot shoes? Or simply love walking barefoot whenever you can? (It's "in" and it's called earthing, apparently). Let me know!

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Reader Question: 10E/10F Aussie Looking For Bra Recommendations

S from Australia sent in this mail:
I came across your blog last November, measured myself (loose in the bust 92cm and below 76cm) and using the bra calculator got the size 10DD. I have migrated breast tissue under both arm, right side tissue is bigger than the left. When shopping I found 10DD could not hold migrated tissue and settled for 10E and 10F.  I have been using these bra last 7 months. Now my migrated tissues are again spilling out of bra and overall my breast looks spread sideways and flatter. 

* My current measurements- loose in the bust- 97cm, tightly below the bust 80cm
* a bit about breasts: tear-shaped, floppy, sagging, migrated breast tissue under both arms (right arm more).
* I live in Australia.
* if you are talking about a bra you tried on that fit or didn't fit you, please mention the size, brand and model (or at least cup style) currently using 10E and 10F, full figure bra, padded and not padded designs, Target brand. It is very difficult to find above D cup size and very limited choices. 
My questions are:
* Is this bra right fitting for me?
* Migrated breast tissue is again spilling out of bra. Will it ever move back? as per your blog, the migrated tissues moves back after a few months of using larger cup bra. 
* Can you suggest push up bra size and brand? I need push up for occasional use.

I cannot tell if the bra fits you correctly without seeing it, however I can try to give you some tips.
You mention that you wear full figure bras. I find that they are extremely unflattering for tear-shaped breasts and unfirm breasts. Usually the top stays empty even when the bottom is too full, and because of this women buy the wrong cup size because they feel that the cup is too big. It's possible that balconette style bras will look and fit much better, at any rate they work well with tear-shaped breasts.

Migrated tissue is an individual thing, depending on the specific body, the age of the woman, etc. In my experience during the first few weeks a lot of the migrated tissue goes back and women often go up a cup size or two; slower changes in the shape and consistency of the breast tissue can take place for several years.

You mentioned that migrated tissue is still spilling out of the bra. Is the cup big enough to contain this tissue when you scoop and swoop? Is the band snug enough to keep things in place? (to test this try on the bra backwards, with the cups on your back. Try to pull it away from your ribcage, it should not pull away more than a few centimetres.)
I don't have any experiences with Target, but if it's anything like supermarket bras in Germany then chances are that the bras have lost their shape after 7 months of wear and the band is looser than it was.
If you have no problem with ordering from abroad, I really recommend the Braologie Posture And Contour Bra, it's really amazing if you are dealing with breast tissue migration. It also gives great cleavage. Then of course I love Ewa Michalak, some of their bras have insertable pads, if you buy another set of them so that you can put two in each bra pocket you get nice cleavage. Another bra that is great for cleavage but without the negative effects on the breast tissue is the Gossard Superboost.

I am a bit stumped about recommending specific bras as I'm not quite sure what the market is like in Australia. Can you get British brands there? Are the shipping costs + taxes reasonable if you order online directly from the UK? Can readers from Australia please chime in with their bra recommendations?

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All About The Different Types Of Face Masks

All about face masks in skin care

Since masks are big right now, I decided it is high time to write a post about them. I'll loosely define a face mask as a treatment that you apply for a short period of time and then remove. I feel like masks got big because the rest of skin care has been getting really light -- moisturiser is expected to be light enough to go on under sunscreen and makeup, and many people even shy away from heavier night creams. So people whose skin needs much more reach for masks, and they tolerate heavy masks because they are meant to be washed off after twenty minutes.

Let's talk about the different types of masks. These categories are not exhaustive, it's just my way to orient myself among all the available products:

Cleansing masks:

Clays pull out dirt from the skin, and should not be allowed to dry out when on the face. There are many different types of clays out there, like the different Kaolin clays and my personal favourite Rhassoul. An oats mask is also cleansing but even gentler. Charcoal masks are also really popular, however I don't really see the point of using activated charcoal if it's already mixed with other stuff.
Then there are masks which are actually exfoliating products: peel-off masks and masks with exfoliating particles. Both are fine if they are gentle and don't scratch or tug at the skin.
It's important to clean off cleansing masks, I like to use a microfibre towel for that. Otherwise the clay (or whatever) can stay on the skin and make makeup look weird.

Hydroxy Acid Masks:

The ones with salicylic acid (BHA) do wonder for acne, blocked pores, and oily skin. The are often marketed as clarifying and anti-acne.
The effects of a mask with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and polyhdroxid acids (PHAs) depends on which exact hydroxy acid is in the mask (here is a great guide). If the concentration of the acid is low, the effect will more likely be brightening and moisturising, however anything with more than 10% acid will have an exfoliating effect. AHAs make the skin sensitive to the sun and so should always be followed by diligent sun protection, and should not be used in the summer. The only exception is the gentle mandeleic acid, which can be used all year round.

Hydrating masks and "treatment" masks:

The main ingredients here are humidifiers and emollients, they are meant to moisturise the skin and brighten it or counter ageing. Some aren't much more exciting than my regular moisturisers. Ingredients that I look for are algae, Q10, hyaluron and interesting plant extracts. I don't get excited about oils or aloe vera or honey because these I use on my face directly pretty often. If alcohol is among the top ingredients I run.
These masks are pretty similar to heavy moisturising creams. Personally I don't shy away from richer moisturisers so I use such  masks once in a while, when my skin needs and extra pick-me-up. Sometimes I use masks like these as a moisturiser in the winter. 

Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are very different from regular masks, because they are basically a way to keep liquids on the face for a longer time. To me the ingredients of many sheet masks are closer to those of serums -- meaning that they have a lot of active ingredients (that deal with various skin issues, or brighten it, etc), but usually aren't that good with dry skin. They are so popular because they are great for those in a hurry -- you don't need to wash them off.

The thing about masks is that they need a bit of time, so it's usually something you do over the weekend or so. Always start with clean skin. You can stack masks, starting with cleansing ones (apply these on clean skin), then following it up with another. Apply your masks on the neck and decoltee too!
If you are not really familiar with masks I suggest doing one at a time, so that if your skin is unhappy the next day (or very happy) you know which product is responsible. If you use DIY masks, I strongly recommend starting with one-ingredient masks and seeing how your skin reacts. Honey, yoghurt, chickpea flour and oatmeal are a great place to start.
You can also apply hydrating masks on drier parts of your face and cleansing ones on the areas which tend to break out.
The important last s

My favourite masks:

All kinds of clays, pure, which I mix either with just water or yoghurt.
Cattier argile masks
Weleda almond mask
Hauschka Revitalising mask
Martina Gebhart 7 herbs mask
Lavera vitalising mask
Luvos Hydro Maske
Logona purifying mint mask (only on impurities)
Madara brightening AHA peel mask (for the winter)
I've also heard really great things about the masks from Living Nature, but I haven't been able to get my hand on one.

What are your favourite masks? Let me know in the comments.

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Skin SOS After Too Much Sun: DIY

My friend saw me yesterday and went "You sunburned your feet?" Turns out I did, the tops of my feet any my heels. I also sunburned the back side of my armpits. I was trying to ride my bike as much as possible; and though I was diligent about applying sunscreen in all the obvious places I missed some non-obvious ones.

Anyway, this incident plus some other sunburn incidents this summer prompted me to share how to deal with sunburnt skin -- or just skin that is tired and thirsty after being too long in the sun.

Apres Sun Products:

I was trying to find out what is different about products marketed for use after sun exposure. The majority are moisturisers that don't (or should not) contain ingredients that are irritating or dry out the skin. Some include ingredients that give a calming or cooling feeling, like aloe, lots of water or mint. Finally, they should include an ingredient that are astringent (lightly constrict skin and thus reduce inflammation), analgesic (relieve pain) and are anti-inflammatory.

How to treat skin after too much sun exposure

Moisturise as much as possible, inside and out. If the skin is actually sunburned,  apply a compress of cold water as soon as you can. If you got a strong sunburn you might want to go to the doctor, or ask for advice at an apothecary. If you just got a mild sunburn or your skin is just generally irritated and dehydrated, you can try out the kitchen and herbal treatments that I described below. Obviously keep away from the sun in the next few days, and /or use a high SPF applied liberally (apply a layer, don't rub it in!)

DIY sunburn treatments:

These are mainly kitchen-shelf ingredients that you might already have

  • Aloe vera: cooling and soothing. Straight from the plant is best. If you are using a product out of a bottle, be sure it contains as little additives as possible.
  • Witch hazel (alcohol-free): Astringent and anti-inflammatory.
  • Baking soda: anti-inflammatory. Bath (1/2 teaspoon per bathtub) or compress.
  • Oatmeal paste: soothes and calms. I'd recommend adding a bit vinegar to it.
  • Raw honey: a great antiseptic. Do not mix this with vinegar or yogurt because it will kill the beneficial bacteria!
  • Cucumbers: they are analgesic (relieve pain). Apply slices or a paste (blended).
  • Yogurt: cools the skin, the enzymes speed up healing.
  • Green / black tea: steep two tea bags in hot water, let it cool down. Squeeze out the tea bags onto the sunburnt areas.
  • Sandalwood and turmeric paste: in Indian literature there are lots of descriptions of beautiful princesses applying sandalwood paste to soothe their love-fever. But really, according to Ayurveda these two ingredients cool and calms the skin. Diluted vinegar is a really amazing astringent, it can often turn red angry skin to a nice brown tan. (Bath or wash cloth compress)

Herbal infusions: 

I also found myself with a light sunburn after kayaking, and since I was in a tiny village I didn't have access to many product. In case you find yourself in a scenario like that, here are some plants that can ease sunburn.
The best way to use them is to make a hot infusion (basically a tea) by pouring hot water on it and waiting for it to cool, then applying the infusion with a cotton pad or spraying it on the skin. You can also cut up the leaves and let them soak in water (in the sun if possible). Such a cool brew takes time but less of the plant nutrients get destroyed in the process.
You can also make an infusion at the beginning of summer: ca 1 tablespoon herbs to one cup cider vinegar, let it steep for ca 6 weeks, then strain. It will keep for ca 6 months.
Remember to harvest in a sustainable way. If you don't have the equipment to make a tea you can crush the leaves and apply on the area.

Here are plants that are know to soothe sunburnt skin. 
  • Wild strawberry leaves
  • Yarrow -- the sunburn remedy of the Crow people
  • Calendula
  • Gumbo Limbo (Kamalamee) bark -- apparently this Bush tree is also called the Sunburned Tourists Tree
  • Rose petals and leaves: astringent.
  • Cottonwood bark
  • Blackberry
  • Alder
  • Elder (leaf, bark flower)
  • Linden flowers 
  • Chaparral
  • Prickly Pear cactus
  • Lavender
  • Rose petals
Obviously this list is very small, it is very likely that you have local plants where you live that are great against sunburn. If you know of any let me know in the comments. Also share with me how do you treat your skin after too much sun, do you have favourite products?

Photo credit: Christopher Roller via Unsplash

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DIY Bath Oils And The Water+Oil Method For Moisturising Your Body

Of all of the different ways I have tried to moisturise my dry body, the bath oil is absolutely the best. It leaves my skin oiled but not oily, and the effect lasts for days. In the summer this really calms my sun-parched legs and makes everything soft and supple. In the winter I go for heavier versions of this oil soak and come out of long hot baths with a lovely protective coating on my skin.
If you own a bathtub I'll be sharing my simple DIY recipe with you, if you are bath-less I'll share a way of doing this in the shower.

Combining oil with water works way better than oil alone -- on both skin and hair. The best way to do this is to pre-mix the oil and the water, and there are two ways of doing this: the primitive one is mixing oil and water and beating it with a whisk, like you would a salad sauce. The better way is mixing the oil with an emulsifier. An emulsifier is something that helps water and oil mix. It breaks up the oil into really tiny droplets that coat your skin evenly and don't make it feel greasy like when you apply oil straight onto the skin.
Emulsifiers are also the way to go if you want to use essential oils in your bath. When I was a young foolish girl I didn't know this and just added a couple of drops of a strong essential oil into the bathtub and stirred the water. The oil ended up on just one area, and it stung my skin.

I love baths, and when I don't have time for a real one I do a short half-baths with just enough water to cover most of me. When I add this oil mix it moisturises my skin like no other product does:

Bath Oil Mixture:

8 parts oil (I go for the cheaper stuff like sunflower oil, or use up whatever is starting to get old).
1 part emulsifier*
1 part or less essential oils (Optional. I like lavender, sandalwood and patchouli)
The contents of one punctured capsule vitamin E for extra moisturising.
*Most DIY cosmetic ingredient retailers sell emulsifiers, and I use one from BeHaWe because I can easily buy it in my city. Lecithin, guar  ones are especially gentle. Here is a nice overview of the different emulsifiers.
If you prefer to go the kitchen route, milk, aloe vera gel, castile soap and Epsom salts are lightly emulsifying.

I like to make a bigger batch of this and fill it into a bottle. I shake or whisk everything and pour it into the tub -- in the summer I use around two tablespoons but in the winter it can be half a cup. Add water, jump in and soak. You can also dip your hair in it if you plan to wash it afterwards, it is a great way to lightly oil it without overdoing it. After you come out of the bath it is a good idea to immediately rinse the tub with a blast of very hot water, otherwise the oil attracts soap scum.

If you don't own a bathtub then you can massage oil onto your skin before taking a warm shower. At the end I usually find that the oil has not completely absorbed into the skin, so I wash off the excess with a gentle soap or towel it off.
These bath oils make great gifts, especially if you know which scents the receiver likes. If you don't, you can't really go wrong with lavender for a relaxing bath or eucalyptus for a cold-relieving bath.

How do you moisturise your body? If you use oils, what is your preferred way of using them? Have you ever tried a bath oil?

Photo credit: Karla Alexander via Unsplash

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My favourite Beauty Tools: Eyelash Curler

I wanted to write a bit about my lash routine. I find that curling my lashes balances my eyes which are lightly hooded and slightly droopy. It opens up the eyes and works wonders if your eyes are small or deep-set. The lashes also look longer and because you can see more lash surface.
If I want to do a no-makeup look (or actually go without makeup, or skip the mascara because I expect to cry -- I cry during films and concerts)), I just curl your lashes and maybe run a little mascara through them (especially the ends) and tightline.

Lash curlers are one of the few products where I really suggest shopping around till you find the perfect one, and splurging a bit if needed.
The most important thing is that the lash curler has a rounded rubber/silicone pad. And there should be absolutely no sharp edges. Don't use the really cheap ones with plastic handles, as I've heard some horror stories of them breaking during curling.
Some recommendations are: MAC, Shu Uemura, Sephora, Revlon, Inglot and Kevyn Aucoin and Tweezerman. Shiseido is less curved and great for "flatter" eyes. The HM curlers are also great for bigger eyes with less curve.
Be careful with really cheap ones, often the rubber wears out really easily and has to be replaced -- and in many cases you can't buy just the rubbers so you need to replace the entire curler.. Another question is whether replacement rubbers are sold separately?

The correct way to curl your lashes is this: warm up your curler, I like to put mine on the heater in the winter and in my bar in the summer. It should be warm by the time you've done the rest of your face. You can also use a blow dryer, just don't make the curler too hot.
Curling the lashes right at the roots makes them look longer, curling them in the middle makes them look curlier. Depending on how your lashes are and what kind of effect you want to achieve, experiment with curling your lashes at the base, middle and end -- or all three. 
You need to pump a couple of times. How hard you need to press/pump depends on your eyelash curler -- the Shu has less springy rubber and doesn't need much pressure as the MAC, the HM needs quite a lot of the pressure as the curler is constructed a bit differently. You kind of need to test things out and see what works best on your lashes.
Finally, apply mascara, which helps to fix the curl.

Personally I own a MAC eyelash curler, which I bought secondhand. Before this I owned a cheap one from a German drugstore (I don't remember the brand) and I must say that the MAC is much better at curling and much gentler on the lashes.

Update: Evelyn emailed me with a great recommendation -- in Austrian DMs the brand s-he zone has a really good eyelash curler -- it is squarish with very soft and thick rubbers. Apparently Essence used to have a very similar one, marketed as a travel eyelash curler. She also mentions that you can find cheap replacement rubbers in the Müller, so I'm thinking that if the rubber pads of your eyelash curler wore out and the original brand doesn't sell replacements, it is absolutely worth a try to buy cheap rubber pads for the drugstore and see if they fit. Evelyn also mentions that waterproof mascara holds the curl much better than regular mascara, because the inside those oils don't make the hair droop like water does.

Also here is a really cool trick you can do. I tried it and it's much easier than it looks:

I've heard really good things about heated eyelash curlers, they are very practical for those with eyelashes that are really stubborn and don't hold the curl. Before buying read though reviews because some heat up too much.

Do you use eyelash curlers? What is your favourite one?

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How To Change The Growth Direction Of Unruly Eyebrow Hairs

This method is something that I tried out and has worked really well for me. I have pretty bushy eyebrows which I have to tweeze really often, but theg most irritating thing about them were a couple of hair near the center that would grow straight up, and a couple that would grow downwards. Cutting them was not a good look.

I remember reading somewhere about plucking in the direction of hair growth so that the hair wouldn't end up growing in random directions. I thought that logically the opposite should work too: pulling the hair in the direction you want it to grow in. So I tried it out and I have to say that it works. It does take a while though, I'm not sure how long because as soon as the hair started growing neatly along the brow line I completely forgot that they used to be unruly. I think that I did this for several growth cycles of the eyebrow hair before it worked, which is at least half a year.

To do this you need a a really good tweezer. I like the Solingen Mörser ones, but even here I have to examine each tweezer to make sure I get the one with the thinnest ends. The ends need to be perfectly smooth and thin so that you can easily grab the exact hair you want. If you want something really cheap, get the tiny penknife ones. You need to grab the hair near the root and slowly pull it in the direction you want it to grow in. You can completely pluck the hair out, or you can just pull for a bit.

You can speed up the process by brushing the eyebrows into the desired shape (outwards and slightly upwards) and using a product that will keep them in place.

Have you ever trained your eyebrows into growing the way you want them to? Or maybe messed up their growth through careless plucking? Let me know.

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Which Old Favourite Products Do I Still Love? (Bra + Beauty)

 I review a lot of stuff, many don't even make it into the blog because there aren't anything special. Some however turn out to be personal holy grails, which I quietly rebuy again ad again.

This bra has proven to be really sturdy, and looks really good after all the wear. The band was really very snug in the beginning and came with an extender, now that it has stretched I don't use the extender any more. This has really increased the life of the bra because as it stretches you have six rows of hooks you can work your way through. This is probably as close to a Buy-It-For-Life as a bra can get.
I like the feeling of encapsulation that it gives me, and I think that this bra is at least partially responsible for the fact that over the years my breast tissue has shifted more towards the center (my breasts used to be very far apart and I needed really wide underwires, but not any more). I haven't used the vest much because it's almost too much cleavage for my lifestyle.

I use this religiously, often combining it with other types of cleansing products. It removes all oil and makeup, and does not dry or irritate my skin.

Gosh Click n Conceal

This concealer from the Danish brand Gosh lasts ages. It goes on easily -- I always have problems with applying other concealers smoothly, and doesn't budge or crawl into creases.Unfortunately I can't buy it in Germany, so I stock up when I'm abroad. Fortunately one pen lasts for a very long time.

I still haven't found a better colouring Henna. One thing I did learn though is that colour releasing is very different across brands, and in the case of Khadi I get best results if I mix it with cool water and let it stand for ca 12 hours, or I mix it with very hot water and use as soon as it is cool enough (in the second scenario I need to blast my hennaed hair with a hair dryer every half an hour to make sure that the henna keeps on releasing it's dye).

Still the best way to get my skin really smooth. I always take both with me in the sauna, it's also a staple gift.

This product is amazing when it comes to mattifying just about anything. It's a great primer and a great finishing powder.

I do this every six months or so. It usually takes 2-3 sessions will my teeth are nice and white again.

I'm actually pretty surprised I haven't broken the big one. I love how it's really gentle and smooth, and I don't use anything else apart from my fingers to comb my hair. I lost the small one which made me pretty sad, I replaced it with a similar one from the Hercules Sägemann line from Müller. I used it for my bangs. DM also has the nice plastic-free Ebelin Nature combs.

If there is any other older product you'd like to ask about, let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Rachel Walker

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