How Often Should You Cleanse And Scrub?

I think that there is still quite a lot of misinformation about cleansing. Women either don't cleanse regularly, or they completely overdo it -- especially if they have oily skin or breakouts. When you cleanse the skin, what are you actually cleaning off? Dirt from the environment, makeup, sebum and dead skin cells.

However cleansing your face also strips the skin of its protective oils and can disturb its pH level (if the cleanser is not pH neutral). This makes the skin more susceptible to bacteria and other problems. It can also make the skin produce even more oils. Also certain cleansing chemicals (especially sulfates) can irritate the skin. Many scrubs contain grits that are too harsh.

So how often is it ok to cleanse and scrub?

Cleansing your face thoroughly in the evening is something you should never skip. If you wear makeup or sunscreen you need to make sure you clean it off properly, usually in a separate step. I like to use oil to remove sunscreen and makeup, then clean that off with a gel cleanser. Or just do it all in one step with a Micellar cleanser. People usually cleanse their face before going to bed, but sometimes I like to cleanse as soon as I get home in the evening.
    In the morning you usually need to just wash your face with water or wipe it with a toner, unless your skin is especially oily. Our faces don't get dirty while sleeping.

And exfoliating ? Scrubs should not be used more often than twice a week. You can use the very gentle methods of exfoliation like Konjac sponges or Gommage. Facial brushes like Clairsonic have become very popular, but in my opinion lots of women overdo it, not realising that they are exfoliating rather than just cleansing. Use not more often than every other day, use a gentle brush and don't combine it with any other form of exfoliating, whether physical or chemical.
Always be gentle while exfoliating. Your skin is not the bathroom floor.

On the photo above you can see my current collection of cleaners and exfoliators. The only thing missing is my microfiber cloth.

What is your cleansing and exfoliating schedule like?

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My Favourite Oils For The Skin And Hair

I love oils because they are so versatile -- put them on your face, your hair, your body, into your bathtub, in your salad. I started using them when I got pregnant with my first kid, I wanted something more natural. After many years of trying out many oils, here are my favourites:

* Plum seed oil:

It smells divine, kind of almondy. My face loves it, but usually I end up smoothing a small drop on my hair and on the ends to make it smell good.

* Carrot oil:

It's very orange, so I add a few drops into most of my oil mixes to get a bit of colour onto my skin. Apart from that it's a very nourishing oil. Note -- it's hard to find pure carrot oil, so check the ingredients before buying.

* Jojoba oil

Basic and versatile. Light, gets absorbed by the skin easily, makes any oil mixture instantly less, well, oily.

* Argan oil

Like jojoba, but with much more nourishment. I love what it does to my skin. Argan oil has a very good reason for being pricey -- most of it is produced by women co-operatives in Marocco.
Cosmetic argan oil is unroasted and has almost no smell. The one for eating is roasted and smells nutty.

* Sesame oil

This is a grounding and warming oil, according to Ayurveda. I get cold easily and have dry skin on my body in the winter, so I base my body oil mixes on sesame oil. A foot rub with this oil before bed time calms and grounds me.

* Flax seed oil

 This works best for my air out of all the oils I have tried so far. I also love it in my salads, for the Omega-3. Flax seed oil starts tasting a bit bitter a couple of weeks after the bottle is opened, so using it on my hair and body is a great way to finish it up faster.

When buying oils make sure that you are buying the pure oil and not a mix. Cold-pressed is best, and I try to get organic when I can.

What are your favourite oils?

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My Best Cold Weather Skin And Hair Care Tips

via Mitya Ku

Central Europe has very distinct four seasons so every few months I have to reassess my entire skin care routine. My skin and hair react to the cold season by getting dryer and rougher. There is often some summer damage that I have to take care of as well.
Chances are your autumn looks very different from my dry and cold one. It really helps to know what kind of humidity you are working with. You can find the levels of outdoor humidity online; for the humidity levels at home and in your work place it's worth investing in a hygrometer. 50% is "average" and is supposed to be ideal for indoors. Lower than that means the air is dry and you should get a humidifier to counteract that. The skin usually likes higher humidity, but that makes the hair frizzy.

Here is how to keep your skin and hair looking great throughout autumn and winter:

* Include oils rich in Omega-3 in your diet, and drink lots of water. Both will help against dry skin and lips.

* Physical activity is really important during the cold season. In the summer we spend time more time outdoors, walk and bike more. In winter I stay inside too much and I find that this affects my skin, hair and mood. Make a concrete plan -- sign up for classes, get a gym membership or try cold-weather bike gear.

* Drink warm (or at least room temperature) water. Both TCM and Ayurveda strongly recommend this. It tastes a bit weird at first but I got used to it pretty quickly. I drink much more water in the winter if it isn't cold.

 * Go to a sauna. In Germany a lot of people do it pretty regularly in the cold season and even doctors remind me to do it. Apart from all the other health benefits, it gives you the most amazing clean and glowy skin. I always notice when a friend has been to the sauna because of that rosy clean skin! 

* Autumn is a great time to start exfoliating with hydroxy acids to get rid of discolourations and fine lines. While the sun is still strong I'd suggest the gentle mandaleic acid, and a stronger AHA during the winter.

* Skin often gets more irritable when temperatures drop. Avoid irritating ingredients like alcohols and sulfates (especially in cleansers). If you are doing chemical exfoliants, be extra gentle with the rest of your routine.

* My skin flakes during the winter, I have found that konjac sponges and microfibre cloths are the best way to gently remove these flakes.

* The burning UVB rays are very weak in the winter, but you still want to be protecting your skin from UVA rays to slow down ageing, so be sure to pick up a sunscreen with UVA protection.

* I like to refresh my style in the autumn: I always get a haircut in September and I bleach my teeth at home. This time I also got my eyebrows done, for the first time ever.

* Self-tanner keeps my skin looking summery for a while longer.

* I like rediscovering my cold-season make-up -- this is usually berry colours and liner. I feel that the heavy knits, rich colours and scarves and hats let me carry off stronger colours.

* Swap your moisturiser for a richer one. Or add a few drops of oil (I like argan, rose hip, or jojoba oils for the face). At thicker products protects the skin from the cold when you go out.

* Hair gets a lot of mechanical damage in the cold season from all the scarves, zippers, caps and velcro. Natural fabric are kinder to the hair than made-made ones. Wearing your hair up when outdoors really helps minimise damage. If you don't want to do that at least lift it up carefully when putting on your outdoor clothing.

* Get a good, nourishing body butter (I love the ones from Alverde). Or a rich body oil, you can add something warming like sesame or cinnamon oil to a body oil that you already have. In the colder half of the year I swear by the Abhyanga method.

* Give your heels some care. My feet usually look terrible at the end of summer, and I need to soak them, exfoliate with hydroxy acids (more on this soon) and then do some heavy moisturising.

Finally, the most important thing for me is to stay on top of my skin and hair care. To start with richer products ahead of time. Not to wait before my skin and hair are dry and damaged.

How much do you switch up your skin and hair routine for the cold season?

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Packing Light With Small Kids

Here is a post that I wrote a while back, but it got buried in all the drafts that I didn't get around to publishing. I though it might be useful for someone, so here you go:

   When we backpacked to Turkey, our kids were 2 and 4. On the way we got into a conversation with some Americans and Aussies, who mentioned that traveling with kids is hard "because you need to carry all that stuff." This perplexed me and my husband a little, because this was all the baggage we had with us:

One of these is a carry-on.

  The personnel at the airport was also quite surprised that we had only one bag to check in. The big pack weighed only 10kg. Half of the smaller one was with food and water for the journey. Apart from this me and my husband had a messenger bag each. The kid stuff took up very little space, the bulkiest stuff was the electronics and the chargers / batteries. And the pretty stones my guy collects.

So what did we pack for the kids?

* Clothes:
    I packed 3 short-sleeved tops, 3 long-sleeved tops, 3 shorts and 3 long trousers for each kid. If we had planned to stay in one place we would have needed less, but being on the road constantly meant fewer laundry opportunities, and changes of climate. Each kid also had a jacket, 4 pairs of socks, 1 pair of sturdy shoes and one tiny towel. The small guy had a bib. The bib is very important if you don't wash a shirt after every meal. BTW I did laundry in the sink most days. I carefully choose the lightest clothes they owned (my fav are those lightweight cargo pants from HM)

* Sleeping bag
      For the small guy, who just cannot stay under the blanket.

* Toys:
     I had one zip-loc bag full of little toys and little books. No, the kids didn't miss their toys: they had plenty of excitement on the trip. I also believe in letting the kids get bored a little bit, so that they aren't distracted from their environment. Also, in case we needed more playthings it would have been easy to buy the most gorgeous handmade stuff for very cheap in every souvenir store. In a pinch I whip out my diary and make origami or draw airplanes for them while we wait for a meal or the bus.
In Turkey whenever the kids didn't want to walk, I'd tell them to look out for the cats. In Istanbul there are cats at literally every corner, so that worked pretty well.

Find the cat
* Food:
    I had one lunch-box where I usually had some small fruit, nuts, or leftovers. I tried to always have a couple of bananas or apples as an emergency snack.

*Diapers and Hygiene:
     I was half-way to toilet-training small guy before the trip, sigh. If only I had started a month earlier... anyway we tried to buy the smallest available packs of diapers. We don't use talcum because of the health concerns. In case of nappy rash (which so far never happened) I would have used one of the oils in my cosmetic case, so I didn't bring any cream. The kids shared our soap and shampoo.

* Baby Carrier:
     We are huge fans of the Ergo baby carrier. It is light, rolls up small, is comfortable for the carrying person, and most importantly it keeps the kid in a healthy position (with a curved spine and the legs in a frog position, not hanging down from the crotch with the legs straight down like in the Björn --- which by the way was declared unsuitable for use by a recent Öko Test because this position pushes the leg bone out of the hip socket with every step).

* Other stuff:
     Tooth brushes, passports, health insurance papers and vaccination cards.

    In my days of traveling with a baby I would also pack a burp cloth, a sippy cup or a Sigg bottle with the sport nozzles, two changing pads (the disposable kind, they can be reused) and probably a sling (I had a Diddymos) which also doubles as a nursing screen and a blanket. We didn't use formula, bottles or pacifiers, so we don't own the extra stuff involved.

Obviously we were lucky that none of our kids needs special medical equipment, it's obviously a completely different story if you need to haul necessary stuff like that on every trip.
Still, my experience taught me that small kids are more flexible than we give them credit for, and actually need very little material things. They do need lots of attention though. Also, a little boredom is good for them, as that's the space where the child starts being creative. Sometimes a child needs a small nudge -- asking them questions about the things around them or giving them small tasks can help them give attention to the world around them, and learn to enjoy museums sight-seeing trips and concerts.
And you probably can leave the kitchen sink at home.

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Eight Years Of Wearing Well-Fitting Bras -- What Changed?


It's been around eight years since I went from wearing a bra size that was a couple of sizes off to a correctly fitting one. How did those eight years affect the breast tissue? Obviously I have aged eight years, I also had a second child that I nursed for a year. In spite of that, the changes to my breasts have been extremely positive, and I owe it all to wearing well-fitting bras.

Breast tissue vs bras

If it comes down to firmness, perkiness and shape, I'd say that that it only got better over the years. The breast tissue has recovered from badly fitting bras and pregnancies and has gotten firmer; and apart from stretch marks it looks better in my 30s then it did in my 20s.
My breasts also go slightly closer together -- I used to have no cleavage to speak of, there was a flat plateau between the breasts, and I needed very wide underwires because they were very wide apart. Now I have a cleavage and need medium underwires.

There are thousands of boobs out there, these ones are mine.

Psychologically I have also become much more accepting and appreciative of my breasts and the rest of my body. This also has a lot to do with bras and this blog and all the amazing women who wrote to me and sent me their photos. I have seen so many sets of breasts that I developed a whole appreciation for the range of human bodies out there. And all the different ways a body can be beautiful. I'm happy with my size and shape and know which bras and clothes flatter me.

My boob routine
If you want to know what I do exactly -- I wear size 28E at the moment. I sleep in a comfy underwired bra with a slightly stretched-out band. I know that the topic of wearing bras at night in controversial, but I got very positive opinions about this from older readers of this blog. Every 2-3 years I do a week of the milk thistle supplement, when I feel that I lost a bit of fullness. I try to keep the skin moisturised, I use either my face cream or my body cream on my neck, décolleté and breasts. I try to dry-brush at least once a week, and I go over my breasts in light circular motions.

The financial side
I haven't bought many new bras in the past years. I'd say I added 1-2 bras each year as the older ones wore out and got degraded to sleep bras. The brands I pick make long-lasting bras that hold up beautifully if you take care of them. A shout out to Parfait Affinitas, Ewa Michalak, Panache and Masquerade for quality elastics and fabrics, their bras look beautiful even after quite a lot of wear.

Because I often get new readers that stumble onto posts -- you can learn about the basics of bra fitting at the *Bra Matrix* tab on the top left of the page :)

Obviously your mileage may vary, so now we'll talk about you.
How long have you been wearing correctly fitting bras? What changes have you noticed? Do you have any special ways of caring for your breasts and décolleté?

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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.


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.


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 + 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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