I Realised I Haven't Been Really Taking Care Of My Body -- Inspite Of My Entire Beauty Routine

Recently I realised that since years I have not really taken care of my body. You heard that right. In spite of exfoliating, moisturising, nice clothes, make-up, I have been neglecting it. Sounds like a paradox? Let me explain.
Here is how it happened:

These past months have been extremely stressful for me, and I began to have body pains that were psychosomatic in origin. The peak point  was after an experience which finally relieved me of a ton of heavy responsibility, and almost exactly in the same moment all the stress and pain of the past months finally crashed down on me -- not just mentally but physically. Everything hurt, body and soul.

With my therapist I learned that when I took a couple of minutes to sit with whatever I felt, the sensations would calm down and I would feel better. Paying attention to my body sensations, especially the tense tissues gradually released whatever was stored there. Physically it felt as if things were evaporating from my tissues, and left me feeling light.
I had to be actually present and in my body. This was not easy. And then I realised I have not done this since a long time. I had never actually sat with my body, never actually listened to it, not since a long time.

I looked back at years of body care, of dressing nicely, taking care of my skin and hair, exercising and eating well, of going to the doctor whenever I felt something was off. All this time I had been taking care of my body as if it were an object. I exfoliated and moisturised just like I scrubbed my kitchen counters and oiled my chopping board. When I applied Ayurvedic oils on my body, I felt how my skin felt to my hand -- but never actually felt how it felt to be touched by my hand. I didn't really pay attention to hunger cues. When I did pay attention to the sensations, it was often with judgement.

Because, as I wrote in my last post, it can be dangerous. Feelings may rise up that one doesn't want to feel.

I wanted to share ways in which I try to get in touch with my body in small steps, but one of my favourite instagrammers has coincidentally shared her very similar ones in a much more poetic way:

K E E P • I T • S I M P L E . Recently, on my friend Natalie's new podcast, I had the opportunity to reflect on what self care means, looks like, and allows me to do in my own life. What I realized through that conversation is that the most important self care practices are also the most simple. When we tend to the basics, we begin to thrive naturally. While it can at first seem seductive to take a ten day retreat in an exotic location and return to your daily life ready to take on the world, I personally don’t think things works like that. Real vitality and resilience are cultivated through offering our full attention to the simple tasks of daily living - again, and again, and again. . Self care costs nothing. Want to practice it right now? Put your phone on airplane mode and go outside. Breathe the sweet air all around you. Take a minute to fill your favorite glass with water, then drink it slow. I’d you’re still thirsty, drink more. When you get home tonight, turn out the lights thirty minutes earlier than unusual. Light a candle. Sit still and breathe. Dance. Massage yourself with or without oil. When you are hungry, eat food. When you are tired, rest. When you feel overwhelmed, slow down. If your life feels chaotic, do less. . The most meaningful solutions are those which are slow and steady, and which you already hold within you. Because you know what you need to do to take care of yourself. If you say you don’t, more than likely what you mean is that you do know, but that you don’t want to do, or don’t believe that you can do, whatever it is you know you must. This totally okay and totally normal. Sometimes all we need to get back on track is a gentle reminder that it is okay to nourish ourselves in whatever ways we need most. . So, I hope you’ll listen to the recently released interview I mentioned above. It was recorded last week with Natalie Ross of @selfcareclubbb and @dreamfreedombeauty. And if you're doing pretty groovy right now, then this might be a good one to bookmark for a later date when you need a little reminder of just how and why to care for your sweet self. . . photo by the truly incomparable @lesliesatterfield
A post shared by S o p h i a • R o s e (@laabejaherbs) on

I would love to know your thoughts about this topic. I know I have been rather personal here, and I promise that the blog will not be taken over by such "heavier" topics. However I wanted to share this realisation as it has played a huge role in my life, and it will doubtless colour the way I will be approaching my personal beauty care.

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Reader Request: How To Deal With A Smelly Scalp

If you have been struggling with a scalp that seems to smell bad even if you are cleaning it really well, this post is for you.
There are a lot of bacteria and yeast living on the scalp, which is perfectly normal. When the scalp is healthy, it has a normal sebum smell and will start getting funky only after a couple of days of not washing, or if you have been sweating and not letting the hair dry afterwards. However when your scalp smells really rank already the day after washing your hair, you might be looking at an imbalance of the fauna on your head.
If your scalp seems to have a lot of gunk aka heavy sebum build up (a little bit is fine and normal), you might be looking at a fungus.

How to treat a smelly scalp:

Apply apple cider vinegar (unpasteurised) on your scalp half an hour or more before washing your head. Start out with a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water, if you your skin tolerates it you can try full strength next time. The least messy way to do this is using a cotton pad soaked in the vinegar, and squeeze it gently on your scalp. Or you could use a squeeze bottle. This should cut down on any yeast and bacteria. You can also wash your hair with soap nuts, which are very acidic.

After washing your hair try rinsing with a lemon juice-water mix, which has the same effect as the vinegar but smells way better. Personally I like to make a tea out of rosemary or sage (which are antibacterial and smell lovely), add a dash of lemon juice and use that as a last rinse.

If that didn't work, you need to go for the heavier guns: antifungal essential oils. My favourite is tea tree oil, it's very effective and gentle. My skin can take it undiluted (I massage it in with my fingertips), but not everyone's skin tolerates it neat. I advice you do a patch test first, and maybe start by diluting it with a carrier oil (any vegetable oil will do). Other antifungal oils like rosemary, tamanu, thymian  are also good, however these should always be diluted! Remember to buy pure essential oils, not perfume oils or anything pre-diluted.

Zinc based shampoos can be helpful against yeast and bacteria on the scalp. I don't recommend shampoos with sulfates because although they do get the scalp clean, they don't actually fix anything.

Other things to note:

Be gentle with your scalp, don't scratch. If you want to get your scalp clean of build-up and gunk, I suggest mixing sugar into your shampoo and giving your scalp a nice gentle scrub.

Until you feel like you have restored the balance of your scalp, avoid getting any kind of hair products on the scalp (dry shampoo, conditioner etc).

However if your smelly scalp problem is heavy and isn't going away, you should go to a dermatologist so that he can diagnose the issue. What we often think is simply dandruff may be   fungus, psoriasis, eczema, or seborrhoeic dermatitis or something else. Each of this is a different problem and the cures can be wildly different.

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Beauty Around The World: Myanmar

This chapter of the Beauty Around The World Series takes you to Myanmar!
It's written by Vivien Noir @100_black_shirts. And if you're interested in participating in the Beauty Around The World Series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com.

On the left side of Thailand lies the mysterious "golden country", the land of the thousand Pagodas: Myanmar. What was once called Burma lies between Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh, and it's population is just as diverse. A real mosaic of Burmese tribes, immigrants, and minorities populates green hills and wide plains, live along beaches, between thousand-year-old temple ruins and in vibrant cities. The people, the culture, the food: Myanmar is a unique, wonderful mixture and its diversity is tangible in every aspect of life
In the three weeks during which I travelled through this country I met almost only young people. And they all had enviously delicate, fine-pored skin, almost nobody seemed to have acne or struggled with other skin problems.

My own pale skin was for the Burmese something special, so that many requested me (rather shyly) for a photo with them, and very often I heard delighted calls of "beautiful, beautiful!" in the temples and pagodas. In Myanmar, as in many Asian countries, is light-coloured skin seen as desirable, which is why lightening creams are much sought-after (and expensive). It is difficult to get skin-care products and especially decorative cosmetics, they are mostly available in bigger cities and for much higher prices that in Europe. And it's mainly imported items -- Yves Rocher, Essence and Catrice, Maybelline and L'Oreal were next to Etude House and The Face Shop the most recognised brands.

But the Burmese don't need ready-made cosmetics -- they make them by themselves every day! In every home stands a flat grinding stone, the Kyauk Pyin, with which the traditional Thanaka (also spelled Thanakha) is made. For this the bark of the Thanaka tree (there are several spices of this tree) is ground with some water on the Kyauk Pyin, till a light beige paste is formed. The Thanaka paste is then applied in circles or rectangles especially on the cheeks but sometimes also on the forehead or the entire face. Sometimes one some cheeks pretty leaf-shaped Thanakas could be seen, where a toothpick was used to draw the stem and the leaf veining.

The kid is has Thanaka on his cheeks!He and his parents are wearing the traditional longhyi ("lontschi"), which most of the Burmese wear.

Thanaka is mainly used by women and girls, but also by men. I tried it myself, it feels pleasantly cool and smooth on the skin. Apart from the cooling effect Thanaka  has anti-inflammatory and gently lightening properties, which pleases everyone that aren't very fond of the pigmented patches on their face. On top of that Thanaka offers a light UV protection, which has also been proven in a scientific study.

In the meanwhile Thanaka is available powdered or even as a ready-made paste, but especially in rural areas still produced manually. The Burmese Miss Universe 2013, Moe Set Wine, sells a Thanaka sheet mask under the brand Moezy (however they are produced in Korea). I have bought one of these sheet masks and am excited about trying it out!

Check out the other posts in this series: Greece, Middle East, Pakistan, Germany, Australia.Would you like to write one about the country you live in? Write me at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com. If your country has been "done" you can still do a new post about it!

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How I Cleanse My Skin With Honey + Anti-Acne Honey Masque

In the past days I have been experimenting with honey on the skin, and I wanted to share my observations with you. Honey has exceptional antibacterial properties, it helps wounds heal faster. If you are struggling with acne you should absolutely try cleansing your face with honey every evening for at least two weeks, it works miracles for lots of people. It is also a great cleanser for dry, oily and combination skin. It evens out the skin colour and leaves my skin soft, smooth and firm.
Disclaimer: some people are allergic to honey, so do a patch test if you aren't sure.

Which honey to choose:

First of all, the honey should be unfiltered and raw -- the more processed the honey is, the less effective it is. The tiny granules in raw unfiltered honey also act as a light exfoliant. I also highly recommend buying organic honey -- although the honey itself can never completely be free of pesticides because the bees collect pollen from a very wide radius, still organic bee keepers (at least in Germany) treat the bees much better than conventional ones: for example they don't clip the wings of the queen. If you live outside the EU, conventional bee-keepers often give the bees antibiotics, whereas organic bee-keepers use much milder methods.
There are many different types of honey out there, depending on which plants the bees used. These can have very different rations of sugars and different minerals. So it's worth testing different kinds to see which fits your skin best. If you are struggling with acne, I suggest you try the types that have the highest antibacterial anti-oxidants -- these are blueberry and buckwheat, according to the studies from the Brock University, as well as Manuka. 

Activating the pH of honey to activate it's disinfecting and brightening properties:

Under the right conditions honey produces hydrogen peroxide which kills bacteria as well as lighten discolourations. Honey contains glucose oxidase which has the ability to break down glucose into hydrogen peroxide. However this only occurs when:
a) a certain amount of sodium is present.
b) the pH levels between 5.5 to 8.0. The pH of honey is between 3.2 and 4.5 which is far below that. 
The skin itself has a relatively high pH level and also sodium levels, however it is best to give the honey a little boost by adjusting the pH -- this is especially true when we are applying honey on freshly cleansed skin where the cleanser might have lowered the pH level. To make the honey slightly more acidic, I like to add a drop of apple cider vinegar.

Cleansing the face with honey + honey mask

If you are nervous about getting the sticky honey everywhere, try this in the shower. If the honey is solid, gently warm it up; not too much as heat destroys its effectiveness. Start by cleansing your face and patting it dry. Bee keepers say that honey works best when applied on dry skin as moisture can dilute its effects. Applying honey on dry skin is a pain, the best way to do it is either using a big flat brush, or dabbing it on instead of trying to rub it on. Personally I do the press-and-roll with my fingers where I press down on the skin and then kind of pull away in a rolling motion, I feel like it helps to remove and gunk from the skin.
Now gently tap your face with your fingers. The stickiness of the honey pulls out gunk from the pores. If you want to exfoliate, follow up by lightly wetting your fingers and massaging the skin in small circles. Shower off or wipe of with a soft cloth.

I found this interesting study about the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in honey. To sum it up, the levels of hydrogen peroxide accumulated in the 15-min incubation period were exactly half of those accumulated in the 30-min incubation period. Which means that if you are struggling with acne, you might benefit from treating yourself to a honey face mask for half an hour.

Let me know if you try this out and what your results are.

Photo credit: Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

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Bra Cup Bottom Puckers And Closed Off Edges -- A Bra Fit Analysis

You have probably experienced this -- the cup doesn't fit right, so you reach for a smaller one which tuns out to definitely be too small. When you try a bigger one, it fits even worse.
That's when the problem is the shape of the cup, not the size.

There are lots of different shapes of breasts, and of course firmness plays it's role too. The most important breast shapes are: full on top, full on bottom and of course "medium", which you see below. And then there are what I call shallow breasts

From the wonderful Bras I Hate

Recently a reader sent in this photo with a cup fit issue:

As you can see the bottom of the cup is wrinkled, and on the top of the cup there is empty space. Here you can see it more clearly:

So what happened here?

First of all -- don't blame your breasts for this! I have heard women getting upset about how their breasts don't allow them to wear x and y and z. But the fact is -- we all have different bodies that look good in different things. There is no person in the world that looks good in all colours and all clothing styles. If you can think of someone that "looks good in everything", it means that they are very good at knowing what they don't look good in and carefully avoiding it. So if you find a bra that doesn't work with your body, then simply think of it as a bra meant for another person, and continue looking for bra styles meant for you.

The wrinkling on the bottom is usually caused by lack of projection near the wires. This means that the cup is shallow in that area, and not designed for breasts that have a lot of fullness in the bottom.
Another reason for wrinkling of the fabric at the bottom of the cup can be very broad underwires. Very broad underwires usually make the bottom of the cup shallow. Soft (bendy) underwires that get pulled apart by the band can also make the bottom of the cup shallow.

Notice the top edges of the cup. The cups are closed off, kind of like the top edges of a wine glass that sort of curl inwards.. The top of the cup doesn't accommodate for the full on top shape.

This is my analysis of the fit problem, but I'd love to hear what you think. Do you have similar fit issues? How did you resolve them?

For the interested, the bra is a Curvy Kate Bardot, in 30E.
Her measurements are:
Loose underbust 76 cm (29,9 in)
Snug varies between 71-70 cm (27,9-27,5 in)
BTT  69 (27,1 in)
Bust standing varies between 88-89cm (34,6-35 in)
Bust leaning varies between 93-94 cm (36,6-37 in)
Bust laying down varies between 87-88 cm (34,2-34,6)

She also writes: "Also they're taken using ABraThatFits new calculator which put me either at a 28f or at a 28ff. As for shape I'm having a hard time finding it because my tissue is super soft, I can basically sculpt my breasts any way I want, so I wouldn't take the photos as a reference."

A huge thanks to S for sending me the photos! If you have fit questions, you can send me photos at eternalvoyageur ((at)) gmail.com, and let me know if I can publish them.

Also: I decided to censor the nipples even though I am very much against nipples having to be censored. I just don't want my blog images to be tagged NSFW by search engines.

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Why Do We Moisturise Our Bodies Briskly Rather Than Sensually, And What This Has To Do WIth Emotions

This question was posed in a blog post which, if you understand German, you should absolutely read. The answer was: because it is dangerous. Feelings may bubble up that we don't want to feel. During our lives we push away feeling we don't want to feel, and these get stored in the body.

Touch can release those feelings. Most of us aren't really good at actually experiencing feelings. Maybe we have been taught that negative feelings make others uncomfortable, or we have never learned how to experience them without getting carried away by them.
So we learned to push away the feelings. And they get stored away in our bodies, in the fascia.

The negative feelings we store in our bodies may be big hurts and traumas, but they may also be also smaller things. Big and small fears, difficult childbirth or nursing experiences, bullying, heartbreak, work stress.
When I am in a tense situation I can feel the stress creeping up my back and shoulders, and my fascia feel tight and knotted under my hands. Yet till now I never stayed in the moment with the emotion to actually acknowledge it and let it flow away. So it just got stored there till it built up to pain and migraines.

The negative emotions stored in the fascia can (or feel be released in many ways: through touch, movement, massage, concentrating ourselves mentally on the aching body parts. That is why it sometimes happens that people randomly feel overwhelming waves of emotion or break into tears during yoga, massages or even random theatre exercises.
This is also the reason why we crave the touch of others.
It is also the reason why it can be so hard to give real attention to ones body (something I plan to write about in the next post).
And even though it isn't easy, it can be so freeing, when you turn your full awareness towards your body. Whether it's a body scan meditation or moisturising your body after a shower, sensually.

It can be helpful to have someone to talk about anything that may rise up. A therapist, a supportive friend or even a journal can be helpful.

On a similar note I have been reading Intuitive Eating recently, which is a really revolutionary book about reconnecting with your body's needs and learning to understanding its signals.

Id love to know your feelings on the topic, and if you can recommend any books to me on the topic I'd be really grateful.

Photo by Cristian Newman

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How To Sleep Better By Cutting Down Your Exposure To Bluelight

It's crazy how much artificial light we are exposed to each day. Think about this: our ancestors were only exposed to natural daylight or firelight. And our bodies take cues from the light to regulate our circadian rhythms as well as the seasonal rhythms, so you can imagine that all this amount of white and blue light can mess with our bodies.

Screens are a huge source of blue light, in fact they are optimised to edit a lot of short-wavelenght blue light to increase visibility. LED light bulbs emit much more blue light waves than most of the older types of lighting.

In nature blue light waves are only found in bright daylight, and in response to them the body suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin. Blue light late in the evening throws off our sleep cycle -- and not just our sleep cycle. There is research going on that links excessive exposure to blue light with cataracts and vision problems. Harvard studies have shown that blue light can inhibit leptin, the satiety hormone. They have also have linked overexposure to blue light with diabetes, obesity and depression.
And my personal theory is that because of the constant exposure to blue light our body doesn't start the natural "pre-sleep sequence" -- where we gradually wind down physically and mentally, the need to eat decreases, the body and mind relaxes. If you have ever lived for a few weeks in a tent or other place free from electric lights, you'll know what I'm talking about. I remember that the treks I made in the Himalayas were among the most restful times in my life (even compared to other treks), partially because the electricity (if the village was even on the grid) was usually so weak that you could barely read a book in the orange light of the light bulbs.

Tips on Minimising Your Exposure To Blue Light

So how to deal with overexposure to blue light waves, apart from moving to a Himalayan village that is not on the electricity grid?

Use warmer LEDs in your home, especially in spaces where you spend time in the evening. The temperature of light is measured in the Kelvin scale. 4500-5500 is more or less like daylight, however for the evening you might want to go warmer, below 2700K. Especially bedside lights should be very warm. 
Have several light sources in a room. There is no need for a bright overhead light during dinner or board games in the evening. Instead you could have warm side lamps and candles.  
If you have the money, look into smart lighting which can be set to automatically make the light warmer a few hours before bedtime. 
Avoid looking at screens for 2-3 hours before bed. Apart from the blue light, the constant dopamine kicks from social media stimulate the mind too much.
If this is not possible, install F.Lux or a similar app which makes the screen warmer in the evening. I find that this makes a huge difference.  
Small screens are better than bigger ones, because they emit less light. Don't hold them too close to your face. 
If you use an e-reader, choose one that has a setting that eliminates blue light. Or reverse the colours -- read white letters on a black background. Or read a good old paper book. 
Try blue light blocking glasses. These are especially amazing if you are sharing your living space or office with other people and don't have much control over the light bulbs, or if you are watching a film with someone and they don't want the screen on sunset mode. 
These are several kind of these --  really intense ones are meant for people who have serious issues with blue light. Lightly tinted ones look like regular glasses and after a while you forget that you are wearing them. 

I have been using these two models from Spektrum glasses. They come in several styles and colours, the tortoiseshell one is a prospek-50 model which blocks the most harmful blue light while allowing other colours to pass through. The glasses are every so slightly tinted, almost clear; they frame has a nice matte finish and they look like regular mid-range prescription glasses. When I put them on I see a very slight tint, but very soon my eyes adjust to distinguish the tones of colours. I find the effect very soothing, and my eyes feel relaxed at the end of the evening.I have also heard that they help with chronic dry eye.

The black model is from the prospek-99 range which blocks 99% of blue light. I wouldn't wear them at work, but they are perfect for late-night writing on the computer. They are also recommended for anyone who is very sensitive to blue light.

All the glasses are anti-reflective (which is a huge bonus when working in front of the computer, anti-scratch and UV blocking. The lenses are polycarbonate, which is supposed to be very durable. They come in a sturdy and elegant case. The price is extremely affordable -- I was sent these glasses to review, the regular cost starts from 40USD on Amazon or directly from Spektrum
The Artist model happened to fit me to a T -- the width of the entire glasses, the nose bridge, everything. The sides are light and bendy so the should accommodate different head widths. However if a model doesn't fit you, you can easily exchange it or return it-- from many sources I have read that their customer service is amazing. 

Have a great week!

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Try Applying Highlighter On This Area: The Temples

While browsing through makeup blogs I stumbled upon someone mentioning applying highlighter to the temples. This stopped me in my tracks, since usually I applied bronzer / contour in that area, sometimes blush, but never highlighter. After a bit of research I realised that central European bloggers often apply highlighter there, while American bloggers stick to contour.

I'm not talking about dabbing on highlighter on the temples but rather on sweeping the highlight from the top of the cheekbones to the temple area in a semicircle. Another example here, here and here. Whether this works for you depends upon the shape of your face and the effect you are looking for.

After a bit of experimentation I realised that if your cheeks are pronounced and your temples are sunken in, this kind of application will probably look good on you, provided you don't go to low in the cheekbone area.

The opposite effect of this is sweeping the area from the temples to the cheekbones with contour, I notice makeup artists do it a lot on Charlize Theron to make her cheekbone area less broad.

Ariana Grande's makeup artist seems to sweep her highlighter towards her temples:

Have you ever applied highlighter on your temples? Do you think it would work with you features?

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Cosmetic Favourites December 2017

I haven't been writing about new products recently because I haven't been buying that many. I have pared down my make-up and skin care routine to tried and trusted products, and I find that the less I have the more I actually use. My mineral make-up isn't going to run out in the next years, and I buy new make-up products only when I'm really sure I want them and know what to do with them.

For example the Catrice palette. I was looking for a dupe for the Clinique Chubby Stick in Ample Amber. I loved its subtle toasted shimmer, it's perfect for every day wear. So I prowled around the shelves in the Müller, testing the chubby stick (I must have looked shady because the salesladies rudely told me that if I wanted to test something I have to ask them -- since when can't I simply use the tester?). Then I found three viable dupes -- an Essence Blush, the Catrice Art Couleurs eye shadow in Ashton Copper and then the palette. Of all of the shades this one came closest, also I was getting a whole bunch of colours fur less that 5€. As demonstrated:

The Precious Copper Collection Eyeshadow Palette

The colours have a decent amount of pigment, nice shimmer that is not too sparkly (they apply more satiny than how they look in the pan), and feel "moist" and are really easy to blend. My only gripe is that the dark sculpting colour is sparkly. I have slightly hooded eyes so the fold has to be matte. But it's not like I don't have a whole palette of matte browns, so I wont complain.
This particular palette is selling out like hot cakes, if you can't find it in the Müller try the DM.

Make Me Bio Orange Energy

On my trip to Poland I finally got my paws on this much-praised moisturiser. And its as good as I heard it was. The ingredient list is beautifully simple. The moisturiser lightens discolourations ( which is something I constantly struggle with), after a few days of use my skin colour was more even and brighter. The cream is rich so I prefer applying it in the evening because I do a heavy layer and let it all sink in. The scent is a simple lovely orange, the texture is like cold cream. The only downside is the price --  ca 12€

Ingredients (INCI): Aqua, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil) Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Cetearyl Glucoside, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Monostearate, Citrus Reticulata (Mandarine) Peel Oil*, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Glycerin, Matricaria Chamomilla (Chamomile) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Limonene**, Linalool** *organic **naturally occurring in essential oils

Murumuru butter

Another blogger recommendation. It's similar to coconut oil but without the scent and the greasiness. I use it on the face, hair, lips and hands. The scent is almost neutral. The butter is not greasy and absorbs fast. Murumuru has a higher melting point than coconut butter, which means I have to warm it up in my palms before applying -- this takes a bit of work but it worth it. If you want to melt bigger amounts (for a hair mask) you need to use a stove top or bain-marie.

The murumuru butter is amazing for the hands, especially for damaged cuticles.
For hair care this butter has been called a vegetable silicone, since it forms a protective coat around the hair shaft, protecting it from the elements, adding shine and cutting down on frizz. It absorbs really well. It's apparently popular in Brazil among people with heavy, curly hair as a pre-wash treatment.

De Bruyère Beaute Jumbo Eye Pencil in Bubble 07

It's a lovely soft pencil in a beautiful colour that is hard to define: it's metallic grey-brown colour that could also be described as a smokey something between violet and khaki. Very unique, looks good on most skin colours.  It's easily bendable for instant smokey eyes. A friend of mine had it, I admired it and she gave it to me.

Beeswax Lip Balm

A bee-keeper on a farmer's market praised his propolis and beeswax balm so high that I had to try it. I didn't believe that it would be as good as he said it would be, but here I was pleasantly surprised. This balm heals dry chapped skin on my hands overnight, smoothing any ragged cuticles. It beautifully moisturises my lips in the winter. I have even used it on my entire face and was really happy with the results.
Many bee-keepers in Germany sell such beeswax balms, so I got another one this winter, this time it's a Demeter-certified one. Beeswax balms seem to be everywhere, so if you are looking for the real thing do check that it not contain anything apart from beeswax, a plant-based oil and propolis. I feel that small-time urban bee-keepers are crucial to the survival of bees so I try to support them. Although bees fly everywhere and so certified organic honey isn't necessarily pesticide-free, it's still worth buying because organic bee-keeping is much more humane -- for example the cutting of the wings of the queen is forbidden.

Glycolic Formulations Rejuvenating Face Serum with 25% Glycolic Acid Solution

I found this bottle in the TK Maxx and grabbed it, thinking that it's time to test out glycolic acid. This alpha hydroxy acid moisturises the skin and cleanses it, and in concentrations above 20% it exfoliates, evens out discolourations and minimises fine lines. This serum is quite pleasant to use due to it's gel consistency, but I'm not a huge fan of the smell. Also I'm not a huge fan of the parabens and silicones, in hindsight I should have ordered plain glycolic acid and mixed my own.
INCI: Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Cyclomethicone, Mineral Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Polysorbate 60, Glycolic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethanolamine, Dimethicone, PVM/MA ecadiene Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, PEG-100 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl Paraben, Ethyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Butyl Paraben, Isobutyl Paraben. 

 Finally, I have began to experiment a bit with taking photos for the blog. I researched a bit and realised that I have to start working with the RAW format instead of jpeg, there is no way around it with the low-light conditions of the German winter. Editing RAW is challenging but rewarding. The photos in this post are my first real attempt, they already look pretty good even though I have no idea what I'm doing. If you have any tips for me, let me know!

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Berlin, Lake Constance and Kitchen Comforts -- Aka November Discoveries And Joy Sparkers

Hello everyone

November seems like it will never end! I'm writing this while eating breakfast, through my balcony door I can see tiny snow flakes swirling down, melting when they hit the ground. November can be hard on me, the transition form the golden autumn to the grey winter isn't easy. I wanted to share with you some photos from this November and tell you about some things I discovered this month and a couple of things that sparked major joy for me.


 November started with a short trip to Lake Constance, as those of you who follow me on instagram have seen. That place is a balm for my soul, expansive and serene. This time I got to see a stormy side of the lake. My phone was almost ripped from my hand while taking the second photo.


I also got to see the pumpkin festival in Nonnenhorn, on the shores of Lake Constance. The entire beautiful tow was decorated with thousands of the most beautifully carved pumpkins, jazz played in all of the cafes, and everyone from the region was out there enjoying the music and the pumpkins.
Finally we plundered the little self-service booth that sell delicious local apples.


If you have the time, try making candied ginger. It makes a great stress-busting tea for travelling (just add hot water!), but I also like to chew on the pieces during the winter. The round thing is a candied lemon peel, also delicious. The by-product is a ginger syrup which can be added to Asian food or winter teas.
This tea from Greece was gifted to me by a friend, it is delicious steeped in hot water for 15 minutes.

I had to rebuy a baking tin after losing yet another one. I bought this one because its so pretty and also because the cake can be transported in it. Turns out it makes a great cookie tin for Christmas, I love surprise multitaskers!

I swallowed the book Leaving Mother Lake is just a few days. The description of the author's childhood in The Country Of Daughters -- a truly matriarchal society in the mountains in China is incredibly fascinating. The descriptions of how a society run by women functioned, and how the family was basically the women and their sisters, what the role of the men was and how truly independent the women were in terms of sexuality is so engrossing that I find myself still thinking to it. The book follows the author's childhood at Lugu Lake, from where she runs away to try to pursue a musical career in China. 


After the lake, Berlin felt oppressive, hectic and grey; however we still managed to see a couple of cool things. For cold days the tropical gardens in the Botanical Garden are a serene hideaway. The Game Science Center has a bunch of cool things to do but the best was the Virtual reality headset. If you ever have the chance to try one, absolutely go for it. I found the real-world recordings mind-blowing -- one moment I was sitting on a boat in Thailand, then in a Mongolian Yurt -- it felt almost completely real.


One of the most amazing places to eat in Berlin on a Saturday is the Thai park. Women and men cook the most amazing Thai food on improvised kitchens on the grass. In November it was all very small, but still there was more variety of amazing (and cheap!) food than we could eat in the entire day. Next to the park is a flea market, with quite an interesting clothes section -- women from eastern Europe sell beautiful cashmere pieces for reasonable prices. We also got an adorable moose cap made of Alpaca wool from a stand called Guckmalwiesüß, for 12€ -- quite a steal, considering how much alpaca yarn costs.
Another place in Berlin I really want to recommend for fans of beautiful office supplies is the Grüne Papeterie in the Oranienstr 19.


 And the Kiloweise. where the clothes are sorted by colour, and then also by style -- boho, americana, athleisure, 20s, 50s, animal print, etc. I also discovered a store with the Berlin brand Chapati which makes the most amazing pieces from Merino wool, unfortunately I had to limit myself to window-shopping this time.


From Berlin I picked up this little reusable coffee cup for just 4 euros at the Holzmarkt. Which is a magical place, especially in the summer or during the Christmas time.

 Thrifting for handmade pottery was a success! If, like me, you love handmade bowls and plates, flea markets and thrift stores are absolutely the best places you can find beautiful treasures for cheap.

Also I made friends with a sheep. They like getting scratches behind the ears.

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