Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beaty Must Have: Facial Blotting Tissues

   These little papers are extremely practical and have a couple of surprising uses.  I recommend them to everyone with oily or combination skin!

   Facial blotting tissues used to puzzle me for a long time,  I thought they were like tissue papers to mop up oily skin. Actually these are very thin squares of highly-absorbent paper, often coated with the lightest dusting of a mattifying powder. They absorb the oil from the skin and deposit the powder on it. The powder makes the skin look matte and continues to absorb the skin oils. So the great thing abot the blotting papers is that they pick up the facial oils, unlike just piling more powder on top.

   The most obvious use for the oil-control blotting papers is to mattify oily skin on the go. The take up very little space in your purse and you don't even need a mirror to use them. I always have oil-control papers in my bag, since at the moment my T-zone doesn't stay matte all day. Also, if I have overslept and end up dashing out of the house without doing anything with my face, dabbing my oily zones with a square of oil-control paper and applying lip balm makes me look more presentable.
   To use facial blotting papers, lightly dab the oily skin with the sheet. Don't press hard,  as that might press the oils in the pores to compact and sink deeper into the pores.
  • Another use for blotting sheets is to fix concealer under the eyes or anywhere else. Use it to press down on the undereye area after applying concealer.
  • If your eyelids get greasy and your eyeshadow gathers in the creases,  a dab with a paper prevents this.
  • To prevent the eyeliner from leaving an imprint on the lid. 
  • For men! Blotting papers are a practical and discreet way of getting rid of oiliness on the face, and many come in neutral packaging (for example those from Muji). 

    Facial blotting papers used to be really pricey,  but recently lower-priced alternatives are also available. The ingredients and quality does vary a lot. Some contain ingredients like hialuronon, which makes them less drying but also less mattifying - - ideal for those of you with only lightly oily skin. Some have a cocktail of chemicals and even mineral powder, which might not be ideal. If you are looking for blotting papers without powder, I highly recommend those from Muji. Sephora and Oriflame also have blotting papers without powder.
   Shiseido blotting papers are very popular among girls with really oily skin, they are not really cheap though. It is not easy to find the ingredient list for facial blotting papers online, so I couldn't prepare a bigger list of recommendations.
   The packaging can also be a hit-or-miss, in the worst case it's hard to get out a single paper without all of them slipping out.

  Obviously facial blotting papers are just temporary quick-fixes. If you are struggling with very oily in you need to look into your diet and how much water you drink, and your hormones. Cosmetically, switch your aggressive cleanser for a gentle one and keep your face moisturised. The oil-cleansing method can work wonders.

    Do you use facial blotting papers? Which brand would you recommend?


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Style Blogs You Should Be Reading (Part 2)

My favourite fashion blogs

    A while back I told you about my favourite fashion blogs. I still read and love each one of them. Since then I have discovered some more really good ones, which I wanted to share with you! Almost everything I know about style is thanks to those blogs, with their help I have come really close to figuring out my own style. I love blogs that talk about the "how-to" of style and fashion, about the process, which help me to work with my wardrobe. I like blogs that encourage me to develop my style and understand my needs instead of inspiring envy and random attacks of shopping.
   I go through a lot of blogs, and very few make it to my RSS reader. Even fewer stay.
   Here are my current favourites:

   I never thought that I'll be reading a minimalist blog about capsule wardrobe from a blogger whose style is very different from mine. I love the little insights into her process and the little tips that she sprinkles below her outfit posts. Also, someone finally let me onto the secret on how to wear shoes sans socks. About time!

Inside Out Style
   A classic how-to style blog. She breaks everything down and teaches you the basics: which necklines for for you? What kind of patterns are dressy and what kind are causal? Did you know that there the colour red can have warm undertones or cool undertones? Which kind of jewelry works with your facial features? That blog is a goldmine of knowledge presented in a really easy to understand way.

The Tehran Times
    Mind-blowing outfits, art, and a lot of subversion. For me it is fresh and different (as compared to the very repetitive western fashion scene), plus tons of ideas for more modes dressers and / or colder weather.

Dress Like A Parisian
    I love this blog, especially the "how to wear x" and "how to choose x" posts!

Into Mind
   Lots of practical posts, with a focus on sustainability and simplicity.

Ubieraj Sie Klasycznie
   I love this blog for the amazing break down of the season colour theory. For example she'll pick twelve different shades of green and tell you which ones flatter which colour types. Also, I love this post on Angelina Jolie's colouring. For those of you who can't read it, the gist is this: Angelina loves to wear black, but doesn't really look her best in it (unless she is wearing a lot of makeup). Strong colours don't flatter her either, she looks better in softer colours. It is in soft and warm colours (last photos of the post) that she really looks radiant and her skin looks healthily pale (as opposed to sickly pale), since her colouring type is soft (light) autumn. The moral of the story is that a cheap T-shirt in your best colours can make you look like a million dollars!

Style Digger
   She is one of the most popular fashion bloggers in Poland, and has recently shifted to a slower, most sustainable style philosophy. Also, she does the best link roundups.

   I'd love to discover ore great fashion blogs. Do you have any recommendations for me?

Image from the amazing Tehran Times

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Protect Your Brushes With Brush Guards

  This is how my makeup travels. Not like on a trip, just around the city, like when I want to do a friend's face. I have a double-decker lunchbox with a very flat top compartment, which is the perfect height for makeup.
   My brushes travel in brush guards. These are plastic net hoses that can be slipped over the bristles to save them from getting squashed and misshapen during transport.

   The hose is very tight when new, and can be stretched pretty wide. All but my thinnest brushes fit inside. You can buy it in pieces but I prefer a longer piece that I can cut myself.
    You could also slip freshly-washed brushes into brush guards to dry so that they retain their shape, this works really well for older brushes that are starting to lose their shape.

   I slipped in a couple of Q-tips into a piece of brush guard. The q-tips are great for cleaning up any mistakes.

      I got really cheap my brush guard really cheap from BuyInCoins. If I carried my brushes around more often I would probably invest in a nice etui, but at the moment it's not really worth it.
   Looking for some other options? You can use the protectors that some florists use, or you could use garlic nets.
   Anyone else a fan of brush guards? Where do you buy them? How do you transport your makeup?

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Two Natural Tips For Dealing With Period Pain

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   Periods are nobody's favourite time of the month, especially if you get the painful kind of cramps. During my live I've experienced everything from symptom-free times to pain so bad I couldn't even get up to take a painkiller.
   If you regularly have very painful periods, it is something you should talk about to your doc. However many women have periods that are only slightly uncomfortable, alternated with painful ones. My doctor explained that this is because of magnesium -- our body needs it to deal with cramps, and sometimes at the end of your period there isn't much magnesium left for the next one (which will be more painful). She also said that the body absorbs magnesium pretty quickly, so you can pop a magnesium supplement if you feel bad at the start of your period. If your body gets too much magnesium, you might get a bit of diarrhea, but that's about it. An even better way of getting magnesium is eating food with a lot of magnesium, like leafy greens, avocados, bananas, almonds and... raw chocolate. Chocolate contains a lot of magnesium and this is probably the reason that women crave it, but apparently chocolate is so processed that the body has a hard time getting the magnesium. Enter raw chocolate or raw cacao, where the cacao has not been roasted and is minimally processed. I find raw chocolate delicious but expensive, so I get my fix with smoothies: raw cacao + bananas + water. Yum!
    Primrose oil is also a great fix for period problems! One teaspoon of oil three times a day, on the day of your period. You can also apply the oil on your hormonal blemishes. The evening primrose oil does taste awful, so you might want to try it in tablet form. Just a word of warning: it doesn't mix well with painkillers!

    It makes sense to take it slow on those days, and maybe even plan the week around the event so that you don't end up doing something highly stressful or physically demanding.
    An app can be useful to keep track of things. The Period Tracker is a nice one (albeit a tad too cutesy for my taste), especially because it lets you note symptoms if you want to, and displays interesting things like probable ovulation times. Other essentials include a hot-water bottle, a bar of good, dark chocolate, and a menstruation cup (that post is three years old, and I'm an even bigger fan of the cup now).

   I also found that my periods are much more bearable when I have been exercising in the past weeks. Anyone else had a similar experience? Also, what is your period survival kit?
photo credit: 欠我兩千塊 via photopin cc

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Super Easy Nude Manicure: Essence Studio Nails Hardening Nail Base

   I'm not a huge nail polish fan since I find them rather high-maintenance, but I wanted to show you this product that stole my heart recently. A stylist did my nails for a no-makeup look recently, and instead of a nude nail colour she used the Essence Studio Nails Hardening Nail Base. The effect looks like a subtle french manicure, looks understatedly elegant and fits with all skin tones as it is translucent. After a week it was finally too chipped to wear (it would last longer it I would wear gloves while washing the dishes), so I ran around the city looking for a bottle. Apparently the Essence Studio Nails Hardening Nail Base is only available at the big Essence counters (in the bigger Müller drogeries), the smaller counters in the small Müllers and in the DM don't carry it.
   The Essence Studio Nails Hardening Nail Base goes on clear but turns lightly milky in a few minutes. I used two coats here. It is really easy to apply it evenly, even with your non-dominant hand, and best of all -- small chips aren't obvious.

    If you can't get Essence products where you live (find them near you here), you can try other nail bases to see if you can achieve a similar effect. You might want to be wary of the ones that promise whitening, since they are often rather blueish.

    That same stylist taught me a couple of cool things and the Essence Nails Hardening Base wasn't the only thing I had to have after spotting it in her kit. I'll write about the rest soon, so stay tuned!

   Do you have a favourite nude nail polish or nail base? Do share!

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

How To Dry Your Makeup Brushes: My Simple Trick

   It's pretty important to clean your brushes regularly, as they collect a mix of makeup, old skin cells and skin oils. Yuck. This can cause breakouts and other skin issues, and obviously dirty brushes will also make your makeup go on weird.
    I clean my most used brushes once a week. I wet the bristles, swirl them in soap, and use my fingers to lather the soap. Rinse, repeat. If you have acne or other skin problems, you might want to clean your brushes daily, or at least disinfect them with alcohol (which kills the bacteria but doesn't remove old makeup). All my brushes are synthetic and easy to clean, natural brushes require a bit more care.
    Drying the brushes can be tricky. I squeeze the excess water with a towel, and then try to find a place where I could lean my brushes to dry. It is important that the brushes dry bristles-down, otherwise the water goes inside the handle (which can loosen the glue). This is the classic way to do it, but some of my brushes landed up getting misshapen, not to mention that it took up quite a bit of space. This was always an annoying dilemma, until I tried this:

   I tie the brushes together with an elastic, and use a hook to then hang them onto something. This particular hook is from Ikea, I like it because it is flat so it stays put, but you could just bend a piece of wire or a paper clip. There are many other ways to do it, but I like mine since I don't need much space or equipement to do it.

   In the summer my brushes are dry the next day, but not in the winter. This doesn't bother me when it comes to my foundation brush, since I like to apply my foundation with a moist brush anyway. But it's really annoying when my powder brush doesn't dry! But it's not

   How often do you clean your brushes? How do you put them to dry?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why You Should Switch Up Your Natural Deodorants

Why you should switch up your natural deodorants 

   One important observation I have made is that natural deodorants sometimes stop working after some years. I am guessing that this is because the bacteria got resistant against them? (Anyone? Biology students?)

   However a break from a product for a couple of weeks is enough to get them to work again. Another good idea is to switch up products. Waldfussel deos are my choice for the winter, as I'm not wearing sleeveless clothes so the white cast doesn't matter. In the summer I use my trusty crystal deos, which are transparent and unscented. So far this has been working perfectly.

   This might sound like too much hassle, but it isn't: my cold season deodorant runs out by the time summer arrives, and has to be replaced anyway. 

   Of course a healthy diet with few processed foods also helps to keep the body to smell good, all over. If your body odour is strong, you should take a long, hard look at your eating habits.

   Have deodorants ever stopped working for you? Also, this is the last post about deodorants that I'll be doing in a while, I am planning a post about care of the underarm area. Do you have any questions ? Do let me know in the comments and I'll address them in my post.
photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti via photopin cc

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Monday, September 22, 2014

My Favourite Apps That You Should Try

    I was really late to this whole smart phone thing, mainly because I was worried that instead of reading books on my commute I'd be stuck on my phone. Unfortunately I was right, but the smart phone also made up for that. I use it to organise my day, and I am really really greatful for Google Maps -- before that I was always phoning my husband asking for directions!

    Here are my favourite apps. Most of them are meant for Android (I use a Wiko Cink Peax), but many also work on iOS). Almost all are for free. Many people who switch from iPhone to Android find the latter a bit "clunky", because the apps bundled with most Android phone are usually less than stellar. But for every function you can choose from dozens of apps from the PlayStore -- for recommendations try the LifeHackers site, or brows through the PlayStore's Editors' Picks. Here are the apps I love and recommend to my friends:


   If you're always forgetting to silence your phone during appointments and to switch on the volume afterwards, you'll love this app. You can pre-program it to be silent for certain amounts of time. It can also pull appointments from Google Calendars. It also manages the behaviour of media, Wifi, etc.


    If you're not thrilled with WhatsApp crappy privacy policy, Threema is a great alternative. It has a very similar interface, but all your messages are encoded, and the app doesn't try to go through your address book and SMSes. At 1,80€ it's also really cheap.

GPS Status

   If your GPS seems to be off, it's probably because you have never calibrated it. Install GPS Status (you can also do it without this app, but it does help speed things up). Start the app and place your phone on a flat surface outdoors. There should be no roof or trees above, preferably no clouds either. Don't touch the phone until it has located the nearby GPS satellites -- this could take around 15 minutes. You only need to do this once, now the phone "knows" the satellites and can quickly find them each time you switch on your GPS.

Daily Art

    Each day you get a painting and a paragraph about the artist. This little dose of daily culture always brightens up my evenings.


   If you are looking for a minimalistic and easy-to-use interface for Google Calendars, try Cal. It's also beautifully designed and a pleasure to use. It does all the basic stuff, but "power-users" might miss some of the bells and whistles that other apps provide.


    The default Google address book is really horrible, but you should definitely be storing your contacts on google and not on a phone-only address book (if your phone gets lost or broken, lost contacts is the worst part). Contact+ is a really great app to manage your contacts, plus I love the interface with the photos -- great for visual people. Mine has sepia photos of all my friends!


   It's like the lightweight version of Evernote. The perfect place to store shopping lists, photos of a product you want to remember, voice memos and all the little bits of information you pick up during the day. Evernote is too bulky and slow for that, I prefer to use it for bigger projects. Google Keep is like that little pocket notebook to jot down things on the go. Downloading the app Sketch For Keep lets you draw notes.

Juice Defender

    This app really cuts down on battery use by managing battery-draining processes. You can really customise the stuff that it does.


    The best place to store your passwords. Recommended by my guy, who actually knows a great deal about this stuff.

   That's all for today, I think I have covered about half of my favourite apps, I'll write about the rest in my next post. Till then I'd love to know what your favourite apps are!

photo credit: 1Q78 via photopin cc

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

What To Do About Fine Hair On Cheeks And Jaw

    Have you ever wondered what to do about the fine hair on the sides of your face? On some women it is very fine and invisible, in this case please skip this post and do something better with your time, like looking up messy buns on Pinterest. However, if the hair on your cheeks, jaw area, forehead and chin annoys you, read on. This peach fuzz can be a bother when applying makeup: the hair makes it harder to blend the product in and powders settle on the down. The hair in those areas is often an issue for women with dark hair and strong hair growth patterns.
    I remember reading on a blog that shaving the down on the face makes the skin look a bit more glowy and less matte. The blogger was a woman in her 50s or older, and she felt that removing facial hair rejuvenated her face optically (if anyone remembers that post, do post the link in the comments. I couldn't find it).
    Even though nobody talks much about it, a lot of women remove the hair from those areas. Japanese women keep their face completely hair-free. Other cultures ignore the facial fuzz completely. My point being: you don't need to feel weird about shaving your cheeks, and you needn't feel weird about accepting your fuzz as it is. If the hair in those areas has never bothered you, don't start obsessing about this. However if you have been wanting to get rid of the hair, here are some tips that might be useful:

* Vellus hair vs Terminal hair:

  You have probably noticed that the fine down on your face is different from the thicker hair on the upper lips and eyebrows. This peach fuss is called Vellus hair, and it is much shorter and finer than Terminal hair (eyebrows, upper lip hair after puberty).

* Access the situation

    You will need two mirrors to take a good look at the sides of your face. You might discover moles with "witch hairs" that you have never seen before. Access the hair situation on your jawline, the chin, and even the tops of your cheeks.

* Shaving

    Use a normal razor and shave really gently in the direction of the hair growth. The razor should be new, and you should use very little pressure (the razor does the work, not you!). Any kind of razor is fine, though I prefer the ones with the thin moisturising strip because they glide better. If you like you can get one of the smaller razor means for the bikini area. You can also use a small electrical shaver meant for the face, these have the advantage of not scraping the face. But it's really fine to use the same razor that you'd use for your legs. Don  shave over blemishes or wounds, and disinfect the razor with alcohol if you are very prone to breakouts.
   Shaving in the direction of the hair means you kind of thin the hair out and don't shave it all off, which gives a more natural look (and means less upkeep). Remember that the razor also takes off the dead skin cells, so don't exfoliate the areas before or after shaving.
  Shaving doesn't make the hair grow faster, that is just a myth. Also, the Vellus hair should not grow back stubbly like Terminal hair would, because it is thin and fine. If your cheek and jaw hair is coarse and thick and you are a woman, you might have a hormone imbalance and should talk to a doctor.

* Waxing

   If your skin is not too sensitive, this might be a great solution for you as it is very quick and easy. But if your skin is delicate or prone to irritations, I'd suggest one of the other hair removal methods instead. You need small wax strips means especially for the face, and you can cut the strips to fit the areas that you want to work on. You can dust your face with talk (or any other powder), that makes the wax strips stick less to the skin. Remember to cleanse the face afterwards, to remove any wax residue.

* Epilation wand

   This is a gentler alternative to waxing, since you're not pulling the skin, just the hair. The wands are really cheap, but a bit more time taking than shaving. But then you need to do it once or twice a fortnight. An alternative to the classic epi wand are models that look like slingshots -- I have seen them on Asian sites like BuyInCoins but never tried one -- have you?

* Threading

   This is the preferred method in several parts of southeast Asia. It's easier than it sounds, there are plenty of videos on Youtube that explain it. It doesn't irritate the skin, and is pretty thorough. It's free, and surprisingly effective.

   Vellus hair is a bad candidate for laser, since it is very fine and not much pigment. I'm also not a fan of hair removal creams: you can give yourself a chemical burn, the chemicals are not kind to the skin, and the hair grows back just as fast as after shaving. Tweezing can be time-consuming for larger areas.

    Have I missed any other methods of dealing with facial fuzz? What is your preferred method? Or do you prefer to leave your down in peace? Do share.
photo credit: Bazule via photopin cc

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Monday, September 8, 2014

The Best Natural Alcohol-Free Deodorants That Work

  The armpits are connected to our lymphatic system, which is basically the way that our body disposes a lot of toxins. Conventional deodorants usually contain a lot of toxic ingredients, yet it is really difficult to find good natural deodorants. I'd say that deodorants and sunscreen are the two products where I have been really finicky and picky, and I have finally managed to find products that fit my pretty high standards (here is my perfect sunscreen, in case you're interested).

   My criteria: the deodorant must keep me smelling fresh for 24 hours, I should not have to worry about reapplying if I'm out late. It should not dry my skin, seriously I don't want to have to add "moisturise my armpits" to my daily routine. It should not block pores, I mean, who wants armpit pimples? And of course it should not contain aluminium, synthetic perfume, and other toxic ingredients.
   I prefer deodorants without alcohol, since alcohol dries out the area and makes the skin look flaky. For that reason all of the deodorants listed here are solid, since most of the liquid ones are based on alcohol.

  I do not recommend antiperspirants as they disturb the natural detoxification of the body. The lymphatic system pushes out toxins though the sweat glands in the armpits, and using an anti-perspirant every day really messes with that. You can use an antiperspirant occasionally, for special occasions (going out dancing, job interviews, on stage), but definitely not daily. 
    Here are my favourite deodorants:

Crystal Deodorants

  These are clearly the winners: clear, no smell. They last for ages, making them by far the most economical option on the list. The only negative thing is that they shatter when they fall on the floor.


   These are based on baking soda, but don't dry out my skin so much as the DIY baking soda deodorant. The deodorant is in the form of a paste that you apply with your fingers, and it comes in many different scents. I chose the Celtic (very herbal), and the Sage. The scent is very delicate, so it isn't really important which one you pick. The only downside is that the deodorant leaves a light white cast on the skin, so I don't use it when wearing sleeveless clothes. Tip: subscribe to their newsletters to get alerts about discounts, free shipping and other offers.
    Those in the US might want to try the Soapwalla deodorant creams, which are quite similar.
   A very similar product is Wolkenseifen, with the difference that Wolkenseifen uses chemical perfumes (with the exception of one or two products), which can be problematic because the ingredients of perfumes are not disclosed and often toxic.

Speick stick deodorants

  This is a tad less effective that the above choices, but is cheap and easily available. The fragrances are herbal and might not be everybody's cup of tea.

Lush Solid Deodorants

   These are surprisingly effective, smell good, and don't dry out the skin. The downside is the price, and propylene glycol and perfume (which is at least 40% chemical, according to Lush). So, not exactly natural, but I still wanted to mention them as they are free from aluminium and alcohol.
   Here are a couple of other natural deodorant recommendations from Garance Dore and from NY Mag.

    Those are the deodorants that I have personal experience with. What are your favourites? And which ones didn't work for you at all? (For me the fails were all the ones from Alverde and Alterra).

photo credit: lanuiop via photopin cc

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