Saturday, May 2, 2015

Thrifty Beauty: Cut Open Empty Product Tubes






  Even if you really try to squeeze your tubes to get the last bit of the product out, you should still try cutting them open. You'll find that there is a surprising amount of product still in there.

   I thought that I was really good at shaking and squeezing out the tubes, but turns out there are always rests of the product that stubbornly stick to the sides. Cutting open my Lavera Self Tanning Lotion gives me enough for two whole-body applications, while the organic toothpastes last an extra four days.
   I "close" the cut tube by inserting one part of the tube into the other. You could also use clips.
   If a bottle has a pump dispenser, a lot of product usually clings to the tube even after the bottle appears to be empty.

   Do you also cut open tubes of products that you like? Let me know!


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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tips For Living With Low Blood Pressure



How To Survive Living With A Low Blood Pressure


   A lot of women have low blood pressure. It's not dangerous, but can influence your life a lot -- from feeling sluggish to overeating. Mine is super low, still it took me years to realise all the little ways it has been impacting my life. So I wanted to share some tips about dealing with it!

Symptoms of low blood pressure:

   "Most women have cold hands and feet" said my doctor. "And a cold butt" added my husband. We laughed. Whenever I get my blood pressure checked at a new place, I get horrified questions like "are you even alive?" Older, more experienced doctors just smile and say "oh, hypothermia is really common among women." Many of my female friends have it, and I am surprise that many of them don't link many of the symptoms back to it.
  You can ask for a blood pressure test the next time you are at your doctor. At least in Germany most Apothecaries are happy to do it for free.
   Doctors often don't bother telling you about the effects of a LBP and what to do about them. It's a bit of a luxury disease, it's not dangerous like high pressure can be. However it can  influence the quality of your life, and cause stuff like:

Always feeling cold:

   Cold hands, cold feet, freezing really quickly. Sometimes I even feel cold when I'm in a bathtub full of hot water.

Being sluggish in the morning:

   Your blood pressure is at its lowest when you have just spend hours sleeping in the bed. I can't even close my fists tight in the morning, and it takes a while to get the blood circulating in my veins.

Snacking:

   "When I'm cold, I'll go to the fridge" -- said a friend with low blood pressure, and this was a huge revelation to be. Digestion creates heat in the body, and so the snacking starts as soon as you feel cold.

Feeling faint:

  I always thought this had something to do with my iron levels (I'm a vegetarian), till a doc sat me down and told me that my iron levels are perfectly fine (probably thanks to all the beets and nettles that I eat). It's the blood pressure that causes the dizziness, especially when I stand up quickly.

Headaches:

   When my blood pressure drops really low (usually because I haven't been drinking enough water), I get splitting headaches.

    All these things mean that I really hate the cold early mornings, and I suffer a lot in the winter. It's also harder to get me up and running!

How to cope with low blood pressure:


Drink plenty of water:

   This is crucial! Your blood pressure drops when you are dehydrated, leading to nasty headaches. I read recently is that the body can cope only with about a cupful of water at a time (drink more than that and it just passes through you), so it's important to keep drinking throughout the day. I usually carry a 300ml Sigg bottle in my bag at all times and refill it throughout the day. And I use the Drinkly app to remind me to drink it.

Kneipp baths:

   This has been recommended to me by almost every German doctor I have seen to stimulate my blood circulation. Kneipp developed many different types of water treatments for different types of aliments, and the one recommended for hypothermia is alternating low and cold water on the arms and legs. You start with warm water (as warm as you can tolerate), going from your palms up to your upper arms and from your feet till your thighs. After a few minutes you switch to cold water (as cold as you can tolerate) and again work your was from the feet and palms to the entire arms and legs. Alternate a couple of times to really get the circulation going!

Exercise:

    Raises the blood pressure and generally keeps you warmer! Ideally you should move for at least 30 mins very day, whether it is vigorous dancing, bicycling, walking at a brisk pace, or some kind of sport.

Dressed warmly:

   In the winter you might want to invest in one really good coat and warm shoes. Thermal underwear is amazing. I always wear thermal leggings under my trousers all winter (synthetic leggings are way warmer than cotton). Wool is much warmer than synthetics when it comes to sweaters and scarves. I own and wear thick wollen socks, wristwarmers, earwarmers, really warm scarves and caps, and of course gloves. I can't imagine surviving the winters without them.

A hot water bottle:

  I sleep with one most of the year. I recently got one with a felted wool cover as a present and it is amazing -- it doesn't feel too hot or icky cold.

Coffee

   This does raise the blood pressure, but be careful as this also dehydrates!

Watch out with herbs and medicaments

    Some lower the blood pressure.

Food:

   Eating warm food helps. Ginger, cinnamon, etc make me feel warmer.

Short naps

   Anything over 30 mins and my circulation slows down and leave me feeling really sluggish for hours. 20 minute naps are the perfect length as I can just get up and go on with my day.


  Anyone of you has low blood pressure? How do you cope? Do share your tips in the comments.

Photo by Christophe Maclaren

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How To Make Your Hair Grow Faster



   Hair growth was something I have never had problems with. Until the time I followed some really bad advice and applied very hot henna on my scalp. I only realised my stupidity when my hair started coming out in handfuls a few days later. I spent the next weeks researching ways to speed up hair growth, and trying them out. It took a while, and now my hair is back to its full thickness. I know that many of you struggle with hair loss or hair that grows too slow so I wanted to share some tried-and-tested methods with you.

Causes of hair loss

   Hair loss can be caused by stress upon the body such as sickness, pharmaceuticals, ageing, hormonal problems, pregnancy and giving birth -- these factors are often not entirely under our control but it still makes sense to take a bit of extra care of the hair and scalp and try to reverse the hair loss. Other causes for losing hair are things that we can try to manage, like a bad diet (both unhealthy eating as well as drastic weight-loss diets), psychological stress or aggressive hair treatments. In these cases you need to address these causes (for example by finding methods to channel the stress) as well as using the cosmetic methods that I describe in this post.

   So, here are some tricks to stimulate hair growth. Patience and consistency is the key, and if you stick to it you will start seeing results.

Scalp treatments 

   These are products that you massage into the scalp, either after washing the hair, or an hour before (if they smell weird or have a heavy consistency). One of the most effective hair-growth method is a Fenugreek scalp treatment. To make it pour boiling water over Fenugreek seeds, let steep for 10 minutes, then let the mixture cool down. Rub in into the scalp and leave on for at least an hour. Another really effective herb for this is nettles, Birch water (Rossmann) works well too but contains alcohol and can be drying for some people.

Scalp massage 

 Stimulate the blood circulation in the scalp by gently massaging it. Use your fingertips, press, and move the skin of the scalp. 1-2 minutes twice a day would be ideal, you can do it while watching TV, or waiting for your coffee to boil.

Diet fixes 

   If your diet is full of processed food, there simply isn't enough of the good stuff left over for your hair (which from the point of view of the body is a non vital organ and is at the end of the queue). Add more vegetables and fruits into your diet. A handful of nuts and seeds everyday is something you absolutely should be eating each day, as they contain several nutrients that your veggies and fruit might be missing. A brewers yeast supplement for the B vitamins can also be really good, as well as flax seeds for the Omegas. Sea weed is also good for hair growth, so if you need an excuse to eat sushi, there you go.

Stimulating the circulation

    Positions where the head is at the level of or lower than the heart increase the blood flow in the scalp. A comfortable position for this is the Viparita Karani. It's also good for the skin, it's a restorative pose which will help you when you are feeling stressed or tired. And yes, you can totally read a book while you're laying like that.

Oils

   Rosemary oil and stinging nettle oil both stimulate hair growth when applied on the scalp, but you need to dilute them with another oil first. You can also harvest these plants first and submerge in oil for a week or two to make an infusion (the oils that would work well are extra virgin olive oil,  sunflower, flax seed or grape-seed).

Indian Herbs

  Amla, Brahmi and Bhringraj are the trio most used to stimulate hair growth and improve the condition of the hair. They are available as oil, tonics or powders. Khadi carries a nice pure Amla hair oil.

What to avoid:

    Shampoos with sulfates, harsh hair dyes, drying your heat with the dryer at the hottest setting, Overheating or freezing the scalp (protect your head with hats or caps)

    With all of these methods you have to give them at least 4-6 weeks to work. With a bit of consistency you should soon be rewarded with a crop of "baby hair".

   Do you have any tips for stimulating hair growth? Do share. Also, I'd love to know if it was a certain diet and lifestyle changes caused your hair loss (or, helped with hair growth).

Photo credit: me

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekend Reads 18-04-2014


Spring feels


   Hello everyone, it's officially spring when the forsythia bushes bloom. I love the beginning of the warm season, and have a couple of rituals: I buy a hyacinth flower for the home, then comes the first ice-cream of the year, right before the first time it's warm enough to go out with bare legs. Even the household tasks are more fun  in the spring -- laundering all my woollens, my heavy winter coats and thermals and switching them for spring clothes. Laundering all the curtains and pillow covers and rugs and hanging them up in the sun. Repotting indoor plants and sprucing up the garden. But the best part of course are the walks with the family, picnics with friends, biking everywhere, hooping on the grass in warm afternoons. What is your favourite part of the spring? Do you have some special spring rituals?

* If you ever need "eye bleach" after watching something depressing on the net, try this little game.

* I have been using Google translate to brows through La Clee Privee, I love how this blog illustrates trends with examples of very pretty and very wearable outfits. It gives me plenty of inspiration on how to style pieces I own (which I collect here).

* Film of the week: Only Lovers Left Alive left me stunned, wanting to re-watch it right away. It's a very atmospheric vampire film with the amazing Tilda Swinton, haunting music and a sensually languid pace. This was the only trailer I found that doesn't reveal the whole plot, but I suggest you don't watch it and just enjoy the little surprises in the film. I really hate the trend of revealing most of the plotline in the movie trailers.

* Want to make the world a better place but don´t know where to start? Pick a quest!

* This is what your upstairs neighbours are really up to.

* Have I mentioned that Dress Like A Parisian is my go-to blog when it comes to creating outfits?

Favourite Video:
 
 This video is just magical (wait for it). Also, Marion Cotillard has sung the song herself.



Photo credit: Eternalvoyageur

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Friday, April 17, 2015

How To Go Sockless -- Tips On Wearing Shoes With Bare Feet


How To Wear Shoes Without Socks In Summer


   I figured out how to wear shoes without socks just this year, and I'm 31. I thought that I'd talk a bit about it, because it seems to be a tricky topic. Sometimes sandals are just not right, either it's too cold, or your toenails look awful, or you need some protection from the dirt. Or you just want to wear ballet flats. I always thought that going barefoot in shoes is just gross, but socks often just look wrong with certain shoes and dresses. So, finally, I have figured out how to do this:

Washable frottee shoe inserts:

   The key here is washable. There are many barefoot insoles out there, but if they aren't washable they'll get gross in no time. Anything with leader is usually not washable, the frottee ones can be hand-washed or even machine washed. Check the packaging for laundering instructions. I got one pair of washable frottee insoles from the Müller and they do the job well. If you can find it, a dark colour is more practical. The inserts not only soak up the sweat and prevent it from touching the shoe, they also prevent bare feet from slipping inside the shoes. If they are thicker, they provide a bit of cushioning and make the shoes more comfortable.

Foot deodorant

   I just use my regular deodorants on my feet (especially the liquid version of the crystal deo) because I don't like to have too many products. A dash of talcum powder can also keep things dryer. I strongly suggest that you use a deodorant with no toxic ingredient for your feet, since the feet absorb stuff easily -- that's the reason natural medicines in balm form are often massaged into the feet. Also, cleaning well between and below the toes helps to keep the feet from smelling.

Socklets

   If you really don't want to go barefoot, socklets give you the sockless look wile providing the traction and the absorption. These can be a pain in the butt, but hear me out. There are three kinds out there: sneaker footlets go up a bit higher and stay put, they are perfect for shoes with a higher vamp and booties. The lower-cut footlets are supposed to be invisible but it's pretty hard to find ones that don't slip off. I have tested out several brands, and annoyingly I have completely forgotten where I have bought the ones I like best. Any recommendations from you? Ballet flats are usually so low-cut that even these low-cut footlets are visible, and in my opinion this looks really tacky. The only solution here is to get decorative footlets with a pretty lace edge and make it look intentional. Black footlets work with black shoes or shoes that have black on them somewhere, otherwise the best colour is something that is close to your skin tone in intensity -- so if you are white you might want to go for pink or coral, or even grey or sky blue. White looks tacky with shoes that are not white. Beige only looks good if it is really lacey and is not too greyish. Of course footlets in the colour of the shoe always work.

   Over to you: do you ever wear shoes without socks? Could anyone recommend me a good brand of footles? What is your favourite foot deodorant?

Photo credit: Toffee Maky / Foter / CC BY-SA

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How To Add Probiotics To Your Diet



Probiotic yogurt



  I firmly believe that beautiful skin is a sign of a healthy body, and that a lot of skin problems are connected to digestive problems. A lot of us have a very imbalanced gut flora -- too much of the bad bacteria and yeast and not enough of the good ones, which is caused by antibiotics, a diet rich in sugar and processed food, alcohol, stress and age.
   One thing that we can do to restore the gut flora is eat food that contains probiotics. Probiotics are cultures of bacteria and yeasts that help with digestion and keep the population of the bad bacteria and yeast down. There are lots of different kinds of foods that contain probiotics -- most countries have their traditional probiotics.
  Adding probiotics to your diet is super easy and tasty! I always drink some in the morning on an empty stomach, and add them to my food a couple of times a week. You can make them or buy them (check the labels to make sure you are buying them with live cultures and not a pasteurised / cooked version. Your best bet are health food shops.) Here are some great probiotics you should try:

Water Kefir (Tibicos) and Kombucha

  These are on top of my list because they each contain several different bacteria and yeasts. Both also make excellent toners, and the scoby can be used as a mask -- the Alpha Hydroxy Acids brighten the skin. Commercial kombucha is usually not ripe and contain too much sugar (and are often not alive anymore), but it's pretty easy to brew it at home. I love water kefir more, when brewed perfectly it tastes dry and fizzy, almost like soda, and I love adding strawberries or peaches to it.

Sauerkraut:

   Tasty, fermented cabbage, also a great source of vitamin C. I always crave it in the winter and add it to my salads. There is also Sauerkraut juice available in German health food stores, which tastes exactly like sauerkraut. It's the traditional German hangover remedy.

Brottrunk

  It's full of Lactobacillus reuteri. It tastes really vile but I wanted to mentioned it because a friend with neurodermitis says it helps her with her condition (she drinks it and applies it externally).

Apple Cider Vinegar

  Make sure you are buying the unfiltered "alive" one, there should be some brown stuff, drink a spoonful with water in the morning. It's not exactly a probiotic, but it supports the good bacteria in your gut.

Yoghurt

   Different kinds have different bacteria cultures, that is why there are so many different tasting yoghurts all over the world!

Home-made ferments

   You can have a lot of fun fermenting stuff at home -- it's easy, inexpensive, and a lot of fun. It's also a great way to preserve a bigger amount of produce -- you can ferment most vegetables and many kinds of fruit! Ferments are made by adding starter, salt and water to the produce. If there is vinegar inside it's not a ferment but a pickle, and it doesn't contain the enzymes and probiotics that a ferment does.

Sourdough products

   Some kinds of bread and even pizza contain sourdough. It's not the same as regular yeast from the store!


  Most of the probiotic-containing foods that are popular in the western world are diary-based. Other parts of the world have their own probiotic foods, often non-diary, like tempeh or togwa. Then there are probiotic supplements which can be really helpful if you have just completed a course of antibiotics.

Do you like to eat fermented stuff? Any other sauerkraut lovers out there?


Photo credit: Foodiesfeed

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: How To Find A Bra That Fits + Free Copy For You!






   Have you ever tried to talk about bra-fitting to a woman who embarrassed to talk about the topic; you want to send her some links she is not the type to dig through forums and blogs. I know I have, and I wished there was a book about bra-fitting that I could gift such a person. A book that explains all the basics of bra fitting and empower her to find her perfect bra size. I was thrilled to find that such a book exists!

   How To Find A Bra That Fits is a book about bra fitting, written by Liz Kuba. I was thrilled to receive a copy, and want to tell you about it.

All the bases are covered!


  So, I have nothing but praise for this little book, and I think that Liz did an amazing job on it. It's pretty thin and won't scare off someone who has been gifted this book. Yet it manages to cover all the essential topics, it's written in a concise way and there is no fluff or filler. I have a problem with being wordy, so I am really full of admiration for Liz Kuba! Not only does she cover all the essentials like bra anatomy, sister sizing and measuring oneself, but she also explains swoop-and-scooping, breast depth and placement, troubleshoots common fit issues and busts the "underwires cause cancer" myth.
  I liked that the book includes online resources as well as places where to buy bras, the glossary is very useful too!

  The advice in How To Find A Bra That Fits is a solid and simple bra fitting guide that you can read through in one sitting, then take with you when you shop for bras, and then you want to lend it to every one of your female friends.

Quadboob, explained and illustrated


   My only criticism would be about the cover -- it looks very retro so if I had seen this in a bookshop I would have skipped over it, expecting it to be an old publication that might not be up-to-date.

  So I strongly encourage you to buy How To Find A Bra That Fits for the women in your life -- you mom or grandma, sister or niece, and your female buddies. Heck, I could even imagine slipping it into the gym locker of someone who really needs it.
   You can check out the places where you can buy a physical copy or an ebook at BraThatFits.me. And pssst, this month the book is available for free on Smashwords throughout the month of April!!

Disclosure: a sample copy was provided for this review. All opinions are 100% mine.

  PS I felt something akin to maternal pride when reading this book. When I started this blog and there was hardly any correct bra fitting info out there in English. Now there are tons of blogs, forums, and now there is this amazing little book! An actual book! And I even spotted some expressions that I kind of coined, like the bra matrix, in there. Sniff.




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Monday, April 6, 2015

Best Antimicrobial Oils Against Breakouts, Irritation, Infections, Dandruff And Other Skin Problems




     Today I wanted to make a small round-up of oils that have anti-microbial properties. Every woman should have one of these antiseptic oils on hand since they are extremely versatile and surprisingly effective.

  All the oils that I have listed fight bacteria, viruses and fungi, and they promote the healing of the skin. They are helpful against inflammations, cuts, burns, stings, sunburn, dandruff, eczema, etc. I have described the specific properties of each one of these oils here:

Tea Tree oil

  An extremely versatile oil, also the safest and gentlest option on this list. You can apply tea tree oil undiluted directly on the problem areas. Tea tree oil also happens to be inexpensive and easy to find.

Tamanu Oil

  According to the research of the BioScience Laboratories, it is makes fresh scars including stretch marks less visible. It also works to prevent stretch marks. Tamanu oil calms down redness of the skin and has some anti-wrinkle properties. It is absorbed by the skin surprisingly easily and feels luxurious. It regulates the oiliness of the skin.
   The smell of Tamanu oil is not very nice, kind of like Maggi, so I suggest using it at night.

Manuka Oil

  Similar to tea tree oil, but more potent. Probably the most expensive oil on the list, unless you happen to live in the antipodes. Manuka oil has moisturising properties, so it can also be used on dry skin. It is great for massage, as it relaxes and refreshes the skin. Like Tamanu oil, manuka oil has a weird smell.

Laurel oil

   Laurel oil is great for oily skin with impurities. It is very cleansing, tightens the pores but is also quite drying. It is the secret ingredient in the famous Aleppo soaps (the really cleansing ones have up to 40% Laurel oil, the rest is olive oil). Laurel oil stimulates hair growth and is effective against joint pains.

Oregano Oil

  It is the strongest oil on on the list! Do not use oregano oil undiluted on the skin, as it can irritate it. Oregano oil is the "heavy artillery" if you are looking for something really potent against breakouts, infections, dandruff, and other issues.
   Oregano oil can also be added to the oil used for oil-pulling, or taken internally against Candida in the intestines (please research this before trying!). Oregano oil is also very effective against Staph infection.

Siberian fir oil

   This was an old favourite of mine that I have forgotten, a while back it made waves among Polish bloggers as the magic ingredient in oil-cleansing mixes against blackheads.
   Another use of siberian fir oil is against colds and other respiratory problems (since it naturally contains camphor). It is also de-stressing and rejuvenating and lifts the mood, so it's a nice oil to add to a bath or massage mix.

Eucalyptus oil

    It is strongly antiseptic, and especially effective against breakouts, psoriasis, lichens etc when added to a base oil (almond oil or grape seed oil) and used in a bath or in a massage. It deodorizes, so you can add it to feet creams or DIY deodorants. It also repels insects.
   It also warms and stimulates the circulation and helps against rheumatic pains and is helpful against colds.


   This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other antiseptic oils out there, especially those from coniferous trees and herbs. I have limited myself to listing oils that I have used myself. If you have a favourite antimicrobial oil that is not on the list, tell us about it in the comments!

How to use antimicrobial oils:

Use these oils undiluted on:

* cold sores
* spot apply on breakouts
* cuts and small wounds
* around the nails against fungus
* fresh scars
* irritation around the bikini area
* raw skin around the nose when you have a cold

Mix with other oils, hyaluranon, add to moisturisers or masques:

* to calm the skin after shaving, waxing or epilating
* on the scalp against dandruff
* on the face against breakouts, eczema, rosacea
* add them to your oil-cleansing mix
* to baths
Warning: do a patch test first, keep the oils away from pets, consult with doctor or midwife if  you are pregnant. Also, many essential oils are toxic if ingested.


   Where to buy these oils?

  Start at your local health food store and apothecary. You can also buy many of these online. If you take into account that these oils are used in small quantities, they are not very expensive. Depending on which part of the world you live in, you might find certain oils to be easily available and inexpensive.

   As always, make sure you are getting the oil in it's pure form (not a perfume oil), without any additives.

   Over to you: have you used any of these oils? Or other oils with similar properties? Tell me about your favourites!


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Friday, April 3, 2015

Sprezzatura vs Full Disclosure: How Much Do You Disclose About Your Beauty Routine?




    Two scenes from my first days of college, a time where I was stepping out of my tomboy phase and taking my first beauty and style steps:

   We girls were comparing (visible) body hair and noticed that one of us had smooth, hairless forearms. We asked her what she did to remove the hair and she answered that she did nothing, it's naturally hair-free. I mulled about this for several days, tried to figure it out, felt a bit bad about my forearm situation and wondered if it was ok for me to do something about it. After a few days, the friend admitted to me that she shaved her forearms every day, I was a bit upset about being manipulated into thinking that smooth forearms were possible.

  First day in a new class, we don't know each other. I strike up a conversation with a girl, she compliments me on my eyelashes. I tell her I apply castor oil on them every night, it's a great conditioner. We drift off in different directions, and after the class some other girls walk up to me, and without as much as an introducing themselves go: so, you apply castor oil on your lashes? I was uncomfortable and annoyed at the first girl for broadcasting my beauty routine to random people.
 
   These two scenes illustrate the two different approaches towards talking about all the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into our looks. How much of your beauty routine do you keep under wraps? What do you prefer to keep private and what do you openly admit to?

  One one hand I think we owe it to other women to admit that nobody is born perfect and that it took work to look pretty. It's reassuring to know that that girl with the amazing hair has amazing hair because she took an hour to blow dry it this morning, or discovered an amazing product -- and not because she is an übermensch who wakes up with smooth shiny hair. Or that the slim person who just ate three pieces of cake in one sitting will be balancing it out with a workout or smaller meals later on and doesn't have a magical calorie-eraser in her stomach. I liked seeing photos of Leighton Meester hanging around in UGGs between takes of Gossip Girl, -- so I am not the only one who can't walk around in heels all the time. Also, it's empowering -- a friend of mine, when told that she was "lucky to have such an amazing figure" answered "well, I work out at the gym". She had it because she wanted it enough to put in effort to get it; if I want it I can do the same. That was one of the things that inspired me to take up a fitness routine.

   On the other hand there is something to be said for preserving a bit of mystery. This TED talk on glamour discusses how it's built on the illusion of effortlessness or Sprezzatura -- a term coined by Caglione in his Book Of The Courtier -- a 16th century guide to the high life. Sprezzatura is "a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it". It is the ability of the courtier to display "an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them".



    Sprezzatura might sound like deviousness and manipulative. But this illusion of effortlessness why we love films, fashion editorials, theatre, concerts. After my theater performances I often get told that the whole thing looked to effortless and all the actors were so cool and relaxed. They don't know that just before I coolly sauntered up the stage I was cursing while changing my costume and hair as fast as I could in the 120 seconds gap between two scenes where I play completely different characters. Before that the whole team practised every word, every step, every glance has been practised over and over for weeks, I have discussed the meaning and emotions behind almost every single sentence with my co-actors; and sometimes the director grills me and makes me work on one sentence or a couple of steps for 40 minutes (gruelling, but I love it). There is a lot of work to make this illusion of effortlessness, and that is the whole beauty of it all. We wouldn't get that "wow" effect if the audience had been coming to our rehearsals and seen out abysmal first efforts.
  Nobody wants to know the tricks behind the magic tricks. We don't see the first drafts of books.We don't watch the "behind the scenes" and "making of" until we have seen and digested the movie first.

  French Chic is all about Sprezzatura. So is the image of the confident sophisticated woman, the one that just arrives totally pulled-together and is super-professional, but never actually talks about her ingrown toenail troubles, how she carefully selects her clothes to flatter her flabby midsection.
    Today, the modern equivalent of Sprezzatural would be cool.

   And how much mystery does the average woman maintain? In the modern times, the internet and social media make it that we know much more details about the beauty life of stars, and all the work that is put into it. Spraying on definition and muscles before red carpet appearances, plastic surgery, gruelling workouts. Kim Kardashian revealing all her contouring secrets. We also get to see photos of stars without any makeup at all, so we know who has acne that they cover up. We know which bloggers wax their upper lip and which just bleach. Old-time movie stars were much more coy about their beauty routines and things they got "done", and maybe that is why they seem so much more mysterious and glamorous.

from this delightful exchange

  Of course the setting, context and motivations play a big role in deciding how much we want to share. Close same-sex friends, a crush, a long-term partner, colleagues at work -- what may be honest sharing in one situation might be TMI in another. Also, which beauty procedure exactly are we talking about -- laser hair removal? Steaming your pores? Covering up grey hair? Tummy tuck? Eyelash extensions? Some things may be ostracised in certain circles.
   Finally, the personal motivations and impulses behind concealing or revealing may be very different. Answering a compliment with "oh, I just got X done" may be honesty, or it may be a defensive strategy of someone who is not comfortable with accepting compliments. Not wanting to talk about whatever you did to get ready for a big party could also be because you prefer to discuss political events instead of comparing manicure techniques, not because you want to seem like you woke up that way.

   So, how about you? What is your personal balance between revealing and mystery?




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Monday, March 30, 2015

Petite With Shallow Breasts Needs Your Bra Recommendations




I got this request in my inbox and I need your help answering it:
"I just found your blog which I’m so happy about! I am five foot 1 and I have properly sized myself to be a 28E. For years I have struggled with the shallow breasts that I have as I just can't really find a bra that fits and also doesn't make my boobs stand out / end up too projected. At the moment I only wear sports bras. I am quite small (97 pounds) but I do have quite a large ribcage so T-shirts look funny if my breasts stick out too far -- it's as if I have a hump at the front beneath my neck maybe because my breast tissue starts high up? Do you have any ideas about bras that may fit me or any suggestions that may help me? "

  Both being petite and having a shallow breast shape has its challenges when it comes to bra fitting. I have written a bit about which bras I recommend for each, but

   For finding out whether your breasts are placed extra high (or extra low) on your ribcage, here is a video that tells you how to measure your proportions. Remember that if you are petite even if your breast placement is perfectly proportional for you, it will still be shorter that of the "average" woman clothes and lingerie is designed for.




   If you are a petite and you have breasts that are high on your ribcage, that means that the area that a bra covers (nape of the neck to below the ribcage) will be quite short, as compared to the "average" figure most bras are made for. Low-cut cups will work best, as any fuller cups will go almost up to your neck. True balconette cuts (with horizontal top edges) usually work because they are low-cut, plus they are more likely to not be projected. Bra straps should be able to be shortened all the way, otherwise you might have to cut them shorter and sew them back on.

So, some bra recommendations: 

  Jelliefishie recommends Natori bras. Litte Bra Company seems to work for many petite shallow-boobed women, here are a couple of reviews; the cups usually run small. I think that Wiesmann bras would work too, but they are not easy to find. You should also browse through the OfLambsAndLace blog and read her reviews. The shallow-breasted ladies of Bratabase have compiled an amazing list of bras that fit shallow breasts, however you'ĺl need to check the reviews of each of them to see whether they'll work on a petite frame.
   If you do stumble on a great bra that works for a petite frame with shallow breasts, you can use Bratabase to compare and find cups of a similar width and depth.

  So now I need your recommendations. I'd like to ask shallow-breasted petites out there: which bras could work for this breast type? Do let me know in the comments!


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