Friday, October 2, 2015

Link Your New Beauty Habit With An Existing Event: Creating A Beauty Routine, Tip #2

     Here is a series of short tips to help those of you who are struggling with regularity in your beauty routine. And it's not just about skin and hair care: most of these tips can be applied to taking baby steps in taking yourself in other ways -- makeup, clothes, even working out.

Tip #2: Link Your New Beauty Habit With An Existing Event

   One of the best ways to make a new habit stick is to link it with an existing habit. Pick something that you want to be doing, and decide to do it before / after something you already do every day. For example hand cream + brushing your teeth in the evening. You can even put your hand cream next to your toothbrush for the first week or two as a visual reminder. Very soon you won't need to, brushing your teeth will trigger your memory.
   I am not really sure why attaching new habits to existing habits works, but my theory is that this anchors the new habit to a specific place and time.
When we plan to do a new action we usually forget to specify the where and when, and this makes us more likely to not do it.
   You can create daily or weekly habits this way. Just be sure that the associations you are building are pleasant ones (or at least neutral) -- you are more likely to stick something that's connected to your morning coffee than to cleaning out the dog's litter.

   I started using this tip when I was sick and kept on forgetting to take my medicine, so I started keeping the pills next to my water cup. Now I keep my hand cream and my under-eye cream next to my sleep mask.

   Let me know if this works for you of if it has worked in the past. What old habit did your new habit piggyback on?

Photo credit

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Monday, September 28, 2015

What's On Your Autumn Bucket List?

My Autumn Bucket List

   I am slowly learning the wholesome joy of living with the rhythm of the seasons. I'm come to enjoy the autumn for what it is, once I stopped the rut of mourning for the summer and trying to block out the sceptre of the cold, dark winter. Golden leaves, deep blue skies, and the bounty of fruit and vegetables, the first sweaters and the first candles...
   And because I'm pretty much lost without lists, I make lists of things that I want to do each season. Bucket lists, inspired by friends, blogs and books.

Here is my bucket list for autumn. What's in yours?

* Enjoy the last ice-cream of the season, the last time in a bikini outdoors, the last time being outside without a jacket.

* Light more candles. A friend of mine lights one as soon as she gets home every day, and I find that really comforting as the days get darker.

* Enjoy the last of fresh herbs. Especially the ones that grow in my garden.

* Pick mushrooms.

* Make vegan eggnog.

* Enjoy the fresh apples and fresh plums. Bake with apples and plums. Make smoothies with apples and plums.

* Cook lots of mushrooms, corn and pumpkin soup. I love pumpkin soup, it's one of those fool-proof meals that even I can't mess up.

* Discover more favourite teas. I love teas based on warm spices like ginger and cardamom, and my last year's discovery was the Pukka Peppermint and Licorice.

* Visit a local farm.

* Take a walk in the forest on a sunny day and enjoy the beautiful foliage. Maybe hoopdance.

* Find a spicy perfume for the cold season. All right, I actually found one, it's the Lola perfume oil from Hobbythek. I just have to mix it with alcohol to create a eau de perfume out of it.

* Make one more bonfire before it's really winter.

What I won't be doing:

* Going to the Oktoberfest. I went last year because I thought I should experience it once, it being the biggest party of the world and all. I decided the only things that would make it tolerable would be lots of beer and a big group of good friends, otherwise just no. The worst part is the way home with extremely drunk people lining the way to the train station and the whole train.
* Buying scented candles. They are nasty, the scents feel very synthetic to me. I much prefer burning actual herbs or resins; or using essential oils.
* Crocheting or knitting something. One day I will do this, but this year is not the year.
* Watching scary movies. I'm a huge scaredy cat and it ends up with me being scared to go to my own cellar.

  What's on your autumn bucket list?

Photo credit: By Pablo Basagoiti

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Start With The Easy Version: Creating A Beauty Routine, Tip #1

   Here is the first of the series of short tips to help those of you who are struggling with regularity in your beauty routine. And it's not just about skin and hair care: most of these tips can be applied to taking baby steps in taking yourself in other ways -- makeup, clothes, even working out.
     A skin care routine can be challenging to get into. In fact a couple of years back I didn't have one -- I just cleansed and moisturised when I remembered to. Since then I gradually got into the habit of doing it regularly, and I must say it's really worth it.

Tip #1: Start with the super easy version:

    If you want to start doing something new, make it super easy and convenient at first. If you never remove your makeup and cleanse your skin at night for whatever reason, planning to do a double cleansing every night will probably set you up for failure. If you are like most people, you'll burn out pretty quickly. Instead, try making if super convenient like makeup-removing wipes on your bedside. The goal here is to get into the routine and making cleansing as automatic as brushing your teeth before bed. Once your chosen short-cut feels effortless, you can step up your game and try out products and routines that are slightly more demanding.
     Pick something that's quick and easy, that makes you go "oh, I could do that". Products that take seconds to apply, that don't demand perfection and expertise. A swipe of coloured lip balm instead of lipstick, a nail care pen instead of soaking your nails in a bow with oil. Whatever works for you! These products and methods are probably neither the most effective nor the cheapest, but just let go of your perfectionism for a moment. What counts here is that you are doing something, and something is always better than nothing.

   What easy short-cuts do you use in your beauty routine? Let me know!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

How I Dye My Clothes And Shoes + Tips

Dyeing Your Clothes And Shoes
My favourite dress was getting faded, now it's bright red again

   This year I have been experimenting with dyeing a couple of pieces in my wardrobe, and I have realised that though the dye packets have detailed instructions on them they don't tell you what results to expect. After a bit of trial and error I finally got a feel for what will work and what won't. Here is what I wish I had known before I started my dyeing experiments:

* When thinking of the coverage of fabric dye, think of watercolours.

   That's more or less the coverage you'll be getting from a regular fabric dye. It will not completely cover the original colour of the fabric, it will kind of mix with the original colour. So if you are dyeing a blue garment grey, you'll end up with a greyish blue. Also the blue will probable be rather washed out, it's really hard to get a very intensive or very dark colour (you can try by dyeing the garment in a bucket or sink, using double the amount of dye and very little water).

* Fabric dye is amazing to refresh faded pieces.

   Especially black and red. Both these colours tend to fade pretty quickly and look old. A round with dye will make them look brand new again.

* Dye is perfect to slightly tweak a colour, especially on "difficult" fabrics or dark pieces:

   Syntehtics like polyester as well as wool don't catch dye well, but they will change colour a bit if you dye them. Ditto for items that already have a dark colour. I had several grey pieces that were a bit too cool, light grey isn't the most flattering colour on me. I threw them in with several other dye loads I was doing. Some are now a grey-brown which is quite flattering, some are a greyish-blue, some charcoal.

* Dye is sometimes the only way to rescue a stained piece.

   I had a lovely white bedspread which had lots of yellow stains. Now it's blue, the stains are invisible.

* Even if the fabric can be dyed, the threads might not be.

   Visible threads can make the piece look less elegant and more casual.

* Don't add the dye into the barrel of the machine

This can end up with darker patches. Always add the dye into the washing powder compartment.

Spray dyes and dye felt-tip pens:

  I own a lovely black canvas bag with white handles and for years I couldn't figure out  how to dye the faded black bits without removing and reattaching the white handles (I'm lazy). I then discovered that you can get textile dyes in spray or felt marker format. My spray dye is from Marabu, the coverage is pretty good. The dyed piece has to be ironed or baked in an oven to fix it. I have used up and thrown away the marker and completely don't remember what brand it was. Anyway, it was what I used to dye the faded edges of my canvas bag. Fabric paint pens are also pretty fun for kids -- my older one didn't want to start wearing undies after she was potty-trained, so I let her draw all over them with dye pens to make them feel "hers".

Dyeing leather shoes:

   After seeing a lot of pinterest tutorials I really wanted to dye a pair of shoes whose colour I didn't like any more. Many leather paint kits are really expensive, which was quite discouraging. After a lot of research I discovered the very affordable Morello leather dye, which I would recommend in a heartbeat. The coverage is really good, you could turn black shoes sky blue if you wanted to. The dye has the right consistency, and it holds up really good to use. The only downside (for me) is that the paint is rather glossy, I prefer matte. I also got the Entfärber (dye remover) from the same brand which prepares the leather by stripping it of any previous dye or products. I then painted the shoes with a paintbrush, I did two coats. There is still a lot of dye left over, and I could imagine dyeing a belt, bag or anything else.

    Well, these are my humble first attempts. If you have experience with dyeing, do you have any tips for me?

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dry Lips? Your Toothpaste Might Be The Culprit

what do do about dry lips

    Many conventional toothpaste contains an ingredient that is very harsh for the skin: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, sometimes abbreviated to SLS. This surfactant is so harsh and stripping that it is the main component of dish-washing detergents and is used to clean machinery. It causes a host of problems in the skin, and is very harsh on the delicate skin on the lips.
   Check your toothpaste ingredients for SLS; or the related chemical Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and other sulfates. All certified natural toothpaste is SLS-free, but you might also be able to find some conventional ones too. Sulfate-free toothpaste will not foam, but it cleans just as well. Bubbles are nothing more than a special effect.
   Peppermint, menthol, camphor and similar can also be irritating for the lips in the winter, so you might want to choose toothpaste and lip balms without these ingredients. Personally I find that lip balms based on beeswax or shea butter work really well for me.
   Finally, I find that I always get dry lips during the cold months if I have not been drinking enough water!

    Do you struggle with dry, chapped lips? What triggers it? What are your favourite lip balms?

Photo credit: Anna Sastre

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What You Should Wear When Shopping For Clothes Or Shoes

   Wearing the wrong clothes when you go shopping is like going grocery shopping when hungry. I first realised this when I entered a shoe shop wearing rather old and not very clean shoes. They didn't look so before but when I got into the store full of shiny pretty shoes they suddenly felt very unstylish and shabby. I felt the urgency to swap them out for a fresh new pair. I don't remember what I bought but it was probably not the most thought-through purchase I have made.

   Since then I have perfected the art of shopping outfits that put me into a good mindset. The best ones will help me pick the right pieces and allow me to try things on outside of the changing room.
Here are my rules:

* Wear something you look and feel great in:

    This will set the bar for the new clothing pretty high, the way it should be. Jeans that fit you really well will give you a great baseline for comfort when trouser shopping. Badly fitting pants will make almost anything look and feel good in comparison. Wear flattering colours and comfortable fabrics, pieces that make you feel good about your body. I also try to wear something very "me" when shopping, even if it's just an accessory, because I often get carried away and buy pieces that I love on other people but aren't "me" at all. I have bought clothes "for" several bloggers whose style I was admiring at the moment.

* Wear separates

    You really should check out the pieces you are trying on in the mirrors that stand outside of the dressing cabins. They usually have better lighting and you have much more space to walk and twirl. You can't do that if you just took off a dress to try on a blouse, and have nothing to wear on the bottom.

* Simple pieces for a clean background

   A pair of jeans or a neutral-coloured skirt make it easier to try on tops, as compared to a gorgeous colourful skirt that clashes with almost everything. So I suggest wearing pieces that are neutral and not too fussy. Go for your personal neutrals that flatter your colouring instead of the usual neutrals like black or white -- for example if you have a cool summer colouring you should try greys, muted blues and navy; a warm autumn could go for chocolate browns and olive greens. These colours will help you to pick pieces in shades that work best with your wardrobe and skin tone.

* When shopping for shoes, wear the clothes that you are shopping for.

  If you need boots that go with feminine dresses, wear a feminine dress to the store.

What I wear when shopping

 My two favourite shopping outfits:

   These are the two outfits that have worked best for me!

* Black tank top + black leggings + top layers

    Simple pieces that "go" with almost everything I try on. I can easily try things over them if I am at a flea market, clothes swap, or if the changing room has a huge line.
   I usually wear a skirt and blouse on top, and if it's really cold I'll wear a sweater and jeans.

* Soft stretchy strapless dress

   This dress kind of bends all the rules, and it's amazing. The stretchy part on the bust means it can be worn as a short dress, top or a skirt. I can easily try on anything over it and then pull the dress down or up. It's also much more comfortable on hut summer days.

  I'd love to know what do you wear shopping? Do you have some personal rules or outfits that work best for you? Let me know!

photo credit: somebody via photopin (license)

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Seven Traditional Soaps From Around The World Reviewed By A Soap Maker

   Soaps are making a huge comeback in skin care, and for good reasons: they are much more eco-friendly than liquid body washes, and some of the traditional soaps contain ingredients that can work wonders for the skin. Today Amalia from Amalia's Log talks in-depth about the making of and her experiences with the different traditional soaps of the Mediterranean and middle-east cultures.

   I got talking to Eternal Voyageur when I first contacted her for the beauty around the world series, and to my surprise the thing that excited her the most, was what I took for granted; soap.
   Or soap making to be specific. You see I had parents from different areas of the world, and the one common factor between both was how "mum" for one, and how "dad" for the other made soap at home. Hence why it was 'no big deal' for me. Just a labour of love for those who have the patience to make it.
When I got into the world of cosmetic making, first because I realised the truth behind the false marketing about the dangers of some products and benefits of others. And later simply because I realised that true knowledge is what will save our skin and health, and soap making was a natural follow up. After all it runs in the family.

   After years of making and knowing about the traditional soaps of some areas of the world, thanks to parents that also travelled and lived all over the place, I am convinced soap making is what unites the world. And who knows, keeping people occupied with this hobby does seem a more peaceful use of time than other things.
    Now here are some of the soaps of the world I had the pleasure of trying, and the laundry one simply seeing but not trying ...yet.

Castille Soap:

   My absolute favourite of the lot. No it doesn't foam as much as others, and if you are a new soap maker that tried your hand at 100% olive oil soap after hearing about the benefits of olive oil to the skin, you may be feeling cheated that I listed this as my favourite.
    But then if you only tried this as a new soap maker you probably did the hasty thing of using this soap before 6 months have passed, and ended up with one slimy mess.
   Now, traditional cold pressed soap (the process of making soap without heat) needs 4-6 weeks to be ready depending on the oil mix in them, but the best Castille soaps are those which have been left to cure and the water evaporated of them the longest.
   I was one of these new soap makers years ago, and luckily I didn't throw my batch. So when I found a few bars of it some 3 years later, I could not stop using it. The initial slimy bar had turned into a solid block, that was the most conditioning soap I had ever used.
   Of course the old soap makers of Spain never measured their lye content properly and a few of their new made bars used to be sold right away, not for skin cleaning, but to wash clothes and the like. Then the older bars were sold for human consumption, after it was a given that the lye content had neutralised to the right PH to make it safe for use on skin (that is a year or two... or three later)
    One more thing, though this soap is credited to Spain, hence the name, a lot of Mediterranean countries had their own version of 100% olive oil soaps. Italy's "white soap" does come to mind.

Marseille Soap

   A very popular soap for good reason. Traditionally, it was made of olive oil and sea water from the Mediterranean sea, along with ashes and lye. These days the oils can vary. However that this soap is usually cooked and stirred for days was reason enough to why these soap makers in this city thrived faster than other soap makers. The long cooking time simply meant the soap would be ready and safe to use faster than other soaps. A month was enough usually, while other soap makers were still waiting for their soaps to be less caustic in a few months time.
   You can use this for everything from body washing to stain removal on your laundry. And thanks to shops like L'occitane, Marseilles soap is easier to find than some of the other soaps listed here.

  Moroccan soap paste

   Now this wins for soap that gives you the most "soap using experience" than anything else, as it is used in the traditional Moroccan bath.
   More a paste than anything else, it is easy to make for the experienced soap maker who happens to have an old crock-pot, some old pitted olives and some potassium hydroxide lye, rather than the sodium hydroxide. That is the lye used in cream and liquid soap making too.
   As you noticed from the above this soap is unique, in that it is made from the crushed black olives themselves, not any oil.
   Also you don't use this like traditional soap, instead you steam yourself for a bit, apply this soap on your damp body. It will be like spreading a jelly (that you then realise is more of a butter more than a jelly) on yourself. Then you just sit in the steam again for a few minutes, and only after some ten minutes, do you wash it off well. Wait another five minutes, then use the Moroccan bath mitt known as a Kissa to scrub off the dead skin which is now easy to scrub away. I have to credit the Moroccans for knowing how to turn a bath into a real fun and relaxing and still functional experience.

Aleppo Soap

   This wins for the most intriguing soap I have ever used, and just one more reason to wish and pray for peace in the country it came from.
This soap is unique among all Mediterranean soaps in that it doesn't settle for just olive oil. No, someone a few thousand years ago decided to add laurel berry oil to it, and what a clever addition it was. You must also love any soap made in a big black cauldron, and then left to cure and dry for at least eight months.

   The soap is bemusing to use. It is brown on the outside, then as you keep using it you find it green on the inside. And as time passes the green just becomes greener and brighter.
  When I found it and used it, what was surprising, is I did use it as a mask like the seller recommended, and yes it made my skin squeaky clean, yet not tight. Something most oil drawing masks fail to achieve.
But where this soap really shone, was when using it as a shampoo. My hair was clean manageable and conditioned! No mean feat for hair as thick and as rebellious as mine. Anyone I know who bought this soap also started their addiction to it, the moment they used it to wash their hair. Sadly this old soap is becoming harder and harder to find, as I cannot imagine a single sector of an economy that doesn't get destroyed in a war like that. But you could try looking online and may find a reputable source for it.

* The laurel oil content of Aleppo soaps varies, if your skin is oily or impure pick one with up to 40% laurel oil.

Nablus Soap 

   For some reason this soap from the West Bank is much easier to find in the middle east during church bazaars around Christmas time, than any other time. An incentive to buy it is knowing that it gives the people something to do that helps them economically and keeps them busy with a good thing, it is a step forward towards peace. I had also been told the money mostly goes to women who make it rather than anyone else.
   Like most soaps from around the Mediterranean countries, olive oil makes up the bulk of this soap. The unique thing about this soap, which dates back to the tenth century, is the lye used. The ashes of a saltwort plant, which grows along the banks of the river Jordan, are mixed with lime and salt, and the lye this produces is added to the olive oil. Again this is left to cure for a few more months despite it being made via the hot process method; that is heat is used while mixing the oils and lye to speed up the saponification process.
   The result is an extremely gentle bar that  is great for cleansing the whole body from head to toe. And while all the soaps I listed so far, have the strange smell of a newly opened can of poster or liquid paints, this one is completely scent free... or at least the single bar I tried was.

African Black Soap 

    And now we head towards one of the most mysterious soaps out there; African black soap.
  But first let me tell you there is no single item which is African black soap, and what we refer to when we say this, is the many soaps that mostly come from West African countries. Each one uses a different name and slightly different ingredients to make their soap.
   And whether you call it Dudu Osun or Anago or Alata or Simena soap, I love this stuff.
   Made with the most ancient technique in which we know soap was made; that is the seeds and pods and skins of beneficial plants are burnt into ashes and added to a mixture of heated oils and hard oils, the results are spectacular.
The soap is more of a kneadable material than a hard bar, and with common ingredients being burnt plantain skins, coco pods, cocoa seeds, (activated charcoal anyone?) along with shea  and cocoa butter, and sometimes locally sourced palm oil, the benefits to oily skin are unquestionable.
   It has a lovely creamy foam, but also an odd scent if it is fragrance free.
   I do find it a bemusing mystery how unmeasured amounts of oils and lye (as this is what the ashes produce when mixed with the oils and beat) can end up making a product with such beneficial results. If you or someone you know has acne and everything else has failed let them give this soap a try. Mind you though this is not the soap to use if you have dry skin!

Kabakrou Soap 

 Now I know many may have heard about all the aforementioned soaps, but may be scratching their heads on this one. This soap comes from the Ivory Coast, and is used for laundry. It totally deserved a mention here, as the young people of some villages in The Ivory Coast have taken to making this soap from their self made lye and adding it to palm kernel oil, to earn their own livelihood. The makers range from old woman to young girls and men, all determined to move forward in life and past the challenging past few years their country had gone through. The palm oil, comes from sustainable sources.
The soap is made, then less than a day later before it has hardened and before it is even safe for a human to touch it, the soap is shaped into balls and then left to cure after that till it is safe to be sold. When people want to progress in life through their own efforts, I think it is cool to support them, so I mentioned this soap here, despite never having used it... not yet anyway.

  Now keep in mind the PH of these soaps is usually high, anywhere from 8.5-10,  so if you use them to clean your face, always follow up with a toner, whether it is store bought or just unprocessed apple cider vinegar.

  To end this post here are some fun tidbits for you as I had not mentioned any American Soaps.
    What did the Native American tribes use before the settlers arrived? You may find it fascinating to know some plants naturally contain saponins inside them and will foam when added to water and agitated. For the longest time after the white settlers arrived to California, the natives refused to use their soap, and instead continued using the crushed bulb of the California Soaproot (always making sure to leave the bottom part of the root to make sure the plant sprouts again) to wash everything from their clothes to hair.
   Yucca roots, cleaned chopped and blended, were the other 'soap plants' people all over the Americas and West Indies also used.

   If you are in Europe, you are due to have a grandma or grandpa who may have mentioned the benefits of soapwort as a cleansing agent to you.

   And this isn't a country, but more about cleansing soap plants from around the world -- due to its fragile nature, historic material in museums is cleaned with only one thing... soap nuts!

   I hope this was an interesting read, and do wish to learn more about the many traditional soaps which I am sure I have missed out on here, but do hope that I have also managed to wet someone’s appetite to learn more about soap and the soap making  traditions from around the world!

PS if you want more, Amalia has written about soaps of northern Europe over on her blog. Check it out if you want to know what does soap have to do with seduction and Nordic men.

Photo credit: Alain

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beauty Around The World: The Middle East

Middle Eastern Beauty Tips

     As a kid I had neighbours from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and I was always fascinated at how beautiful and well-groomed the women were, with their gorgeous hair and lashes, amazing skin and beautiful outfits. So I always perk up my ears when I hear about the beauty routines of women from the Levant. Amalia from Amalias Log has been living in the Middle East for quite a while, and today she will share with you all the beauty tips that she has picked up from the local women. Enjoy!

   Can I tell you a secret today? There is more to the Middle East than the sounds of bombs and war. I have been there, and I can tell you for a fact that there are beauty secrets that are the basis to a lot of today’s modern products. Cleopatra and her famous goat milk bath, started from here after all.

Here I’m going to share the tips and secrets I learnt, and how they work:

* In most of the Arab Gulf countries, ladies apply castor oil on their eyelashes with a cotton pad. The results are strong long lashes that rarely fall down.

* Also in the Arab Gulf, woman usually gently heat oil (Castor again, but olive oil is extremely popular, and so is coconut oil of late), then add rosemary and mint to the mix. They then apply this to the hair, wrap it around or use a shower cap. They then wash it off a few hours later to reveal shiny lustrous hair. I have seen some people use dish washing soap*  to remove the oil when stuck. But I do not recommend that at all. Applying the shampoo straight onto dry hair will help remove the oil faster. Oil on hair goes a long way and you may need no more than a table-spoon or two. Mint and rosemary stimulate hair growth but boosting the circulation near the scalp. I think adding rosemary and peppermint essential oil, just a drop or two each, would give and even more potent mix.

* Aleppo Soap, is no longer a middle eastern secret, (and sadly, not that easily available any more either) but worth listing here, as people there use it not only as a shower and hair washing soap, but apply it to their face and leave it for ten minutes or so, for a wonderful cleansing mask, thanks to its high laurel oil content.

* Woman of the Levant, have long known how taking fenugreek would boost milk production for breast feeding. But did you know that applying fenugreek extract straight on your breasts and massaging each breast in an outer to inner movement, will increase your breast size by one whole cup size within six months to a year? The reason for this is that fenugreek increases the progesterone levels in the body… a hormone vital for breast enhancement, among many other things.

* The benefits of a Moroccan bath to glowing skin, are almost second to none. The real secrets to this are two items. “Beldi soap” a soap paste, made from the whole olive and potassium hydroxide. And a kissa, or a bath mitt. To repeat the process at home, simply do this:
    Turn the hot water on, and into any basin, but don’t use it, we just want to fill the bathroom with steam. Sit in the steam. When your skin is damp enough, but not wet, apply the soap paste all over. Now sit in the steam for a further ten minutes or so. In summary the soap paste, is acting as an enzyme peel, softening the skin, as it preps for a thorough exfoliation. Next, take your DRY kissa mitt, and start sloughing away the dead skin in a circular motion. Preferably do this in the bath tub. Once you're done, if you want simply use your normal shower gel or soap, and take a quick shower. Or wash the dead skin off with water, then apply a body mask made of rhassoul clay powder (also easily found online) and yogurt. Wait ten minutes, and wash this off well. Moisturize as you please, or just simply enjoy your now softer, lighter super cleaner skin!

* Another little trick I found was using alum crystals. Alum crystals are usually found in spice shops, or next to spices on a spice rack, however they are not used in cooking! Simply take the crystal, and either dissolve it in ethyl alcohol**, or use the crystal itself after rounding its edges, and apply it to your under arms. You may need to this for 5-10 minutes. But the result is the absence of body odor even of skin that has been sweating so badly! People who live in really hot weather most of the year do know these tricks!

* And finally petrol. This is not a ‘crude’ joke, pun intended. But the scare from petroleum jelly products of the past few years is no more than a marketing gimmick. The way it is used in beauty products, has been safe for centuries and still is today. Vaseline is ‘big’ in the middle east, and is the cliché go to product for moisturized lips. But did you know applying ichthammol ointment onto some gauze and then applying that onto any painful spot, will draw the pus out, and cause it to heal within 3 to 7 days? Simply apply it at night before going to bed, place a band-aid to be extra secure. Then the next morning remove it to see how the most potent products are usually cheaply available at the local chemist, not the posh department store. Repeat the process every night till you get rid of it!
   And there you go, now you know how these ladies, who have to tolerate harsh weather and at times living condition, manage to keep their skin glowing, and looking as if they have never seen a stressful day of their lives.

* If you can't get the oil off, try using conditioner -- that really works!

** I have had success dissolving it in just water and using that as a spray.
And if you're interested in participating in the Beauty Around The World Series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com. - See more at:
And if you're interested in participating in the Beauty Around The World Series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com. - See more at:

For more beauty inspirations from all over the globe, check out the Beauty Around The World Series. And if you're interested in writing a guest post for the series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Weekend Reads 08-09-2015

      Hi everyone, I have been spending as much time as possible by the water. My favourite is the Eis Canal, which is as icy cold as the name suggests. It's exhilarating to swim with the fast current in water that is 4°C on a really hot day, dodging the kids jumping off the bridges, then falling asleep on the bank.

On to the interesting links that I found this week:

* Why you should never use anything with microbeads.

* Adblock is being paid to show ads. I switched to Adblock edge.

* Beautiful photos of the American summer in the 70s.

* Breathtaking photos of the polish summer

* And for my polish readers, I loved this charming piece about Warsaw's swimming pools in the 70s.

* Iconic movie scenes that were improvised.

* This coconut-mango-chia pudding is delicious.

One my favourite summer songs / videos:

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Friday, August 7, 2015

My Favourite Green Home Cleaning Products

   I love cleaning products, and I enjoy hanging out in the household cleaners section of stores, hoping to spot some nifty new product that I'll fall in love with. However I have pretty high standards -- my cleaning products must be non-toxic, and I really prefer multi-purpose cleaners because I just don't have the space to store hundreds of specialised products.
   In the past years I have been testing out many household cleaning products in hope of finding something that is both non-toxic and actually works. Here are my favourite products:

Orange oil

   Orange oil cuts through grease like a knife, plus it leaves everything smelling divine. Undiluted it can remove even really stubborn glue from labels, for everything else you dilute it with water. I use it to clean the floors and the surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. The good stuff (oil without additives) it a tad pricier but is really worth it, one bottle lasts for a really really long time. The original one is the Oranex from Hobbythek, I also use the one from AlmaWin.

Coir scrubbie

    This little scrubbie beats almost all brushes that I have owned. I have several and use them to clean vegetables, pots, awkward bathroom corners, and my bike. They are surprisingly durable, don't get mildewy and almost completely biodegradable (except the wire). I originally discovered them through Kaufmann Mercantile (a store full of amazing but ridiculously overpriced products), but found much more affordable ones on Ebay directly from Sri Lankan sellers. A few days back I found one for less than 3€ in my local Denns (organic supermarket).

Magic erasers for everything

    This magically clean the dirt from everything, from sport sneakers to the fridge -- everything except really soft surfaces. Really magic. They

Microfiber cloths for everything

   Do a really good job of picking up dirt, and you can use them solo (just wet) on everything. I especially love them for cleaning windows and mirrors.

Vinegar + Cornstarch for cleaning windows

    Cleaning windows and mirrors with vinegar is old news, but adding cornstarch to the mix that makes the glass really sparkly and streak-free. This works really well for me, even though my windows are always extra dirty because of sticky little hand prints and fruit-fly poo. Here is the recipe.

Astonish Oven and Cookware Cleaner for everything in the kitchen and bathroom

    Based on silica clay, it does an amazing job of cleaning tiles, the ceramic and the steel sinks, the bathtub, it also removes rust. The brand is from the UK and I bought it from a local construction market, but I never found it there again. Now I get them off Amazon.

Natural hand cleaning paste to clean really greasy hands

    You know the times where your hands are smeared with machine grease and you try to clean them with dish washing detergent? At a house that I visited I spotted this hand cleaning paste which was basically made out of sawdust + clay, and it got rid of even the most stubborn grease. Since then I have been looking for that product and the closest I got to it is the Profiline Bio Handwaschpaste which has just three ingredients: sawdust, clay and glycerine. Ecover also offers a nice hand cleaning paste. If you have access to sawdust, it is pretty easy to DIY such a paste, I have seen several tutorials on the internet.

Gall soap to remove stains from clothes

    It does an amazing job at removing stains from clothes. I still have the bar I bought seven years ago. Frosch came out with a vegan alternative.

Soap nuts for the laundry

   I love them, and they love my clothes back. They are extremely eco-friendly, perfect for babies or anyone with sensitive skin, and they make an amazing shampoo that is acidic and leaves the hair extremely soft and shiny. They are also anti-fungal, repel insects and are very gentle to fabrics. The downside is that they work only with warm water, so if you want to run your load with cooler water you need to pre-soak the nuts in hot water to release the saponin. Here is some great info on soap nuts, including a cost breakdown.

Molto Fügen Versieglung grout sealer

    It was really really hard to find a grout sealer that wasn't full of very toxic chemicals, and the one from Molto has pretty good ingredients. I cleaned my bathroom and kitchen grout really well and used this to seal it. The grout stays clean for a really long time, until the seal wears off.

Mellerud Schimmel Entferner mildew spray

   According the Öko Test, this was the only product that worked against mould and mildew and was not hazardous to health. It is basically Hydrogen peroxide with surfactants, you just spray, leave on for a few minutes, then wipe off. I recommend using gloves because the H2O2 can lightly irritate the skin. This product is also great for the weird black stain that you get on grout in the bathroom.
  You could also use up to 10% strength hydrogen peroxide, however I find that the surfactants make the mildew easier to remove.

That's all from me! What are your favourite household cleaning products?

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