Friday, January 23, 2015

Tips For Cleaning Hair Brushes And Combs

A lovely reader wrote in with this question:
"I was wondering if you have any tips on how to keep hair brushes/combs clean? Ever since I switched to sulfate/silicon-free shampoos and conditioners my brushes have become very "dusty" for lack of a better word. It seems that after I brush my dry hair, a very fine coating of sticky residue (from the shampoo? dead skin?) is left on the brush or comb. Then dust gets stuck to the residue and the result is a very gross looking brush. I've been cleaning my brush with a toothbrush every week, but it's difficult to get to the base of the bristles. My primary brush is a paddle brush with plastic, evenly spaced bristles. I also have a wide-toothed comb that gets quite dirty."

   In case anyone is going eeew that's disgusting, quick where is my SLS, I'd like to point out that products on our faces and bodies attract dust and other stuff as well, and at the end of the day we have a nice layer of dead skin and hair cells, oils, dust and everything else all over us. Brushes clean our hair and redistribute the natural oils from root to tip, that's why the hair shines a bit after brushing. So brushes getting dirty is pretty much inevitable. But it's quite important to clean them regularly. Here are some tips related to cleaning, storing and pre-treating combs and brushes:

How to clean hair brushes

   My secret weapon wonderful little rake like this one to keep my brush clean. It is really great at getting the hair and bigger pieces and dust out, because the prongs a long, thin, dense and curved. 

    I got it in the Muller Drogerie. There are many available on Amazon and Ebay for really cheap. I like that mine is made of wood and has this curvy shape -- I tied a jute string around it and hang it. If you really can't get your hands on one, an alternative would a a fine-toothed comb. But this little rake really does the job well and leaves my brush almost clean.

   The next step is washing the brush, and what you do depends upon what is your brush made out of.  
   Natural bristles are delicate and should be washed with shampoo or a gentle soap or body wash.  Although if you have been using a lot of styling products you might want to use something stronger to get rid of the buildup, like shampoo with SLS or dish washing liquid. Artificial bristles can withstand harsher chemicals.  
    You can soak the brush in warm water and cleansing product for a few minutes, but not too long. If the brush is made of wood, don't get the base wet. Fill a deeper plate with the water and cleanser and put the brush in bristles down, so that the wooden base is on the top and out of the water. 
   Clean the bristles with your fingers, a toothbrush or a nail brush. Or try gently rubbing two soft-bristled brushes together. Natural bristles should be towel dried,  and the brush should be placed bristles-down to dry so that the water doesn't soak into the base.

How to clean hair combs

   If the material is synthetic and waterproof, soak them in warm, soapy water to loosen up the dirt.  Then, clean it with a wet and soapy microfiber cloth.  I fold it several times so that it barely fits in the gap between the teeth, and pull it between the teeth. A toothbrush is another option -- I find the soft ones clean better than the hard ones.

Storing Your Bushes And Combs

   A lot of the dirt on the brush doesn't come from the hair, but from the bathroom. You know that weird dust that you see on the edges of the bathtub? That mixture of skin and hair cells and lint clings onto the brush. So keeping it inside a drawer or a box would keep your hair brushes and combs cleaner.

Pre-treating wooden combs and brushes:

   You can treat most of your unvarnished wooden combs and the base of wooden brushes to make them resistant against stains and dirt and to make them less prone to water damage (and thus easier to wash). I use this method on my furniture, cooking spoons, Ikea organisers, body and hair brushes, basically any untreated wood that enters my house. 
   Linseed (flax) oil is the best, since it works differently. It actually crystallises within the wood, unlike other oils. You need raw linseed oil without any additives --  you can get the one from a grocery store, but in case you want bigger quantities try a DIY store but then makes sure it has absolutely no drying agents or any other additives which are toxic and unnecessary. I get my flax seed oil from Kremer Pigmente (their store in Munich is a really magical place). The rest of the flax seed oil can go on your hair (it's my favourite hair oil) and into your salad (tons of Omega-3!)
   Warm up the oil slightly. Take the clean and dry comb and coat it with a thin coat of oil with a paintbrush. If you are treating a hair or body brush, avoid the bristles. Let it dry, best would be in sunlight. After an hour or two do another coat. (Thin layers are key here, the first time we did this we got a thick sticky layer that took two years to dry properly.) After 30 minutes wipe off  and admire the grain of the wood, and enjoy the fact that your wooden item will last you a lot longer.

  One last tip: if you are cleaning a really dirty comb or brush, alcohol cuts through grease really fast. I wouldn't recommend it for regular cleaning though since it might damage the material over time.

  How do you keep your combs and brushes clean? Do share your methods in the comments.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Weekend Reads 17-01-2015

  Hello everyone! How have you been? Before I jump into this week's links, I wanted to talk about why I have been posting less frequently. I went down from the 3-4 posts a week to around one post. The reason is that I have been getting a bit of blogger burnout, and I decided to go for one good from-the-heart post a week instead of space-fillers. Space-filling is easy, I could gather content from somewhere, re-post older stuff. But that's not something I want to be doing regularly.
   Also, blogging takes up time, something that I haven't have much of recently. Some of the posts that I write can take several hours from start to end. I know, I can hardly believe it myself. But if a post is about something really specific, I take quite a lot of time to research online some that what you get in the post is in-depth, as accurate as possible, and with lots of bonus tips. Writing goes fast, but editing takes ages since a lot of mistakes creep in. Then I run the post through two spell checkers. And then there are the images -- I love taking my own but I'm not terribly good at it yet -- so styling the stuff I want to shoot, shooting and then editing takes a long time. Finding images online that I like that I'm allowed to use is usually annoyingly time-taking as well. 
  Well, I'm not writing to this to talk about "the hard life of a blogger" but just to explain why I choose to slow down. What gives me encouragement is that most of my favourite bloggers aren't very prolific (Dress Like A Parisian, Style Digger, Si Dawson to name just a few). Blogs that have new posts each day usually have several contributors -- and I mostly read only the original author's posts anyway, or rehash a lot of old content.
  So I hope that you will bear with my slower schedule and stick with me!

Now, onto the links:
* Curious about what a ballerina's day and beauty routine looks like? Read this and this.

* If shaving irritates your skin, you might want to try a hair trimmer.

* Check your priviledge, feminist

* The Nife has completed a shopping fast and now talks about shopping motivations and substitute activities

* I love the Daughters Rising lookbook -- the beautiful accessories,

* Female cartoonists draw their bodies and talk about beauty,
* This hearing test is so cool. I can just barely hear the 15Khz. Did you know that as teenagers we can hear really high-pitched sounds, but we lose the ability as we get older? Some places actually have a device that emits these high pitches to get rid of loitering teens.
body-image, and feminism.

* Five things every room needs to feel complete -- simple but so true!
* Book of the week: Alexanda David Neel's My Journey To Lhasa is one of my all-time favourites. At a time when white people used to travel with caravans of servants, she disguised herself as a beggar with her face covered in soot-ass to hide her skin colour, and with her adopted son (a Tibetan Lama), nonchalantly starts her seventh attempt to reach the Forbidden City of Lhasa. Also, she was 50 at the time, a scholar of Buddhism, an ex opera-singer.

* Song of the week (lyrics slightly NSFW):

What did you find on the net this week that you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: me

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Monday, January 12, 2015

How To Chose Flashback-safe Makeup For Flash Photos, Weddings And Indoor Photoshoots

   What happened in these photos? The makeup artist didn't suddenly go blind and "used too much makeup" as the tabloids put it. It's just that they didn't use flashback-proof makeup.
   There are certain ingredients in makeup that reflect the light very strongly. This effect is not visible in daylight but is really visible under flash photography.
   If you will be in a situation where you will be photographed with flash, you must be sure that you are using photo-friendly makeup. You need to pay attention to your foundation, concealer, illuminating / brightening cosmetics, and all finishing powders.

How to make sure that your makeup won't cause flashback? 


   The best way to find how your makeup will behave under flash is to test-photograph it. You can apply a strip on your arm in a store and photograph it in a dark place with flash. If the product looks white, it causes flashback. Before a photo shoot, dry doing the makeup and take a few photos with flash -- you might be surprised how different everything looks.
      Just because a product has "HD" or "studio" written on it, it doesn't mean it won't cause flashback (as Wayne Goss demonstrates in his video). Mineral foundation usually causes flashback, however pure silk powders / bamboo powders which are free from titanium oxide or zinc oxide are safe to use. BB creams contain SPF and often cause flashback.

   In Goss' video above he mentions that using a loose pigmented powder on top of your foundation can apparently minimise flashback, so can bronzer.

   There are certain ingredients that you need to avoid if you want to buy flashback-proof foundation or powder:

Ingredients that cause flashback:


* Titanium Dioxide (CI77891) and Zinc Oxide (77947)
   Makeup that has SPF usually has a lot of titanium or zinc oxide, and will cause flashback. You also need to avoid cream or moisturiser with SPF.

* Silica
Silica can look awesome in photos is really finely ground and used sparingly, it gives a tiny amount of flashback that makes you look glow-y. A good products is the Makeup For Ever HD Setting Powder which looks amazing in photos in tiny doses. The cheaper ELF product is ground much more coarsely, and is easy to overdo.

* Silver Mica
  Usually causes a lot of flashback, so it's best to avoid

* Glitter and shimmer
     Glitter and sparkle can look very different under strong light. I'd suggest limiting it to the cheeks and eyes. Products with multicolour glitter particles usually photograph better than when the particles have only one colour.

A couple of flashback-safe products:

Make Up For Ever HD Foundations
NARS foundations
MAC studio foundations
Duo Mat Powder Foundation,
Revlon Colorstay Whipped Creme Makeup, and Revlon HD
Photoready, MAC Full Coverage Foundation,
Studio Fix Fluid and Face n Body,
Maybelline Dream Liquid Airbrush Finish and Dream Smooth Mousse Foundation,
Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation
Rimmel Stay Matte powder in transluscent
and Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup.
Any foundation by a theatrical brand:  Kryolan, Graftobian, Ben Nye, Cinema Secrets
Beni Durrer (store in Berlin)

  If you are doing an indoor photo shoot, you need to ask before what kind of lighting the photographer will be using. The diffused light from many lamps doesn't cause flashback, but if the photographer plans to rely heavily on flash than you might want to be careful with your choice of makeup.

   The up-side to the flashback gaffes of the stars is that you get to see where exactly they apply their highlighting products. I broke this down according to each celeb's face shape in this post.

   Have you ever had issues with flashback? If you know of any flashback-proof products, then let me know in the comments.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Why You Should Try Dry Brushing

   Hey everyone, in my last post I wrote about exfoliating with the Kessa glove. Today I want to talk about a completely different approach to exfoliating: dry brushing. Dry brushing doesn't just result in smooth skin, it has a lot of health benefits as well, mainly stimulating the lymph system and the blood circulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for delivering the toxins out of the body, and it's role in beauty is still very underrated. It also relaxes the muscles and tightens the skin. When combined with proper moisturising it lessens chicken skin. It also helps to make cellulite less visible -- it doesn't make the cellulite go away, but it helps the skin look much smoother over time.
   Dry brushing is the perfect morning wake-up ritual, it stimulates the blood flow which makes you feel energised -- especially if you tend towards low blood pressure (many women do). It is a really nice easy self-massage. I really enjoy dry brushing, it is the perfect combination of massage and scratching, and it's really invigorating! My little trick is to first warm up the floor of the shower or bathtub with hot water, so that I'm not standing on a cold surface. You could also stand on your bath rug or towel, if you don't mind dead skin flakes getting on it.

   The best time to dry brush is the in the morning, but any other time is ok too. The dry skin should be brushed in long strokes, and the joints and the belly are brushed in circles. Apply more pressure where the skin is thick, and less pressure on the breasts, armpits and spider veins. Avoid the nipples and skin that is broken or inflamed as well as varicose veins.
   Here is a chart on dry brushing:

via flowingfree

 Below the waist level you should brush in the direction of the groin, above the navel you should brush in the direction of the heart and armpits. If you want to do it really correctly, here is a very detailed guide.
   You need to take around five minutes time for brushing, then shower as usual.  Dry brush every day!
   Dry body brushing is a Russian and Scandinavian tradition, and has recently been propagated by Paava Airola who praised it for it's cleansing properties. Dry brushing was also practiced by Cherokee Indians (with corn cobs) and Japan. In Ayurveda it is called garshana and is recommended for excess Kapha.

  Choosing the right brush

    Whether you prefer a hard to a soft brush is your personal preference, but the brush should not be too soft. You can always start out by brushing very gently with a stiffer brush and then gradually use more pressure. My favourite brush has a short handle, but I also have another one with a long handle for the back. In Germany the bigger Müller Drogerie stores carry a really nice selection of brushes, with the price for most being around 10€. I recommend brushes made of natural materials. If you don't have a brush you can use an exfoliating glove, however a brush gives the best results.
    Your brush should be washed with gentle soap every few months, and should last you a very long time.

   Have you every tried dry brushing? If not, I strongly recommend you give it a go. It's really addictive!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How To Deal With An Oily Scalp

   How can you tell whether you scalp is oily ? Remember that it's possible to have dry hair and a greasy scalp. So, forget your hair for a moment and take a good look at your scalp. If you're not sure, try this test: a day after shampooing, rub a paper tissue on your part. If you see oil on the tissue, then your scalp is quite oily. PS An itchy scalp may be either very dry, or very oily, or it might be dandruff. Read this to tell the difference.

How to deal with an oily scalp:
  • Wash your hair with cool or cold water. Very warm or hot water will stimulate the oil production even more.
  •  A greasy scalp may mean that you zinc deficient. Getting some extra zinc in your diet should regulate the oil production on your scalp. Zinc-rich food include chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, beans, muesli, whole-grain bread. Do consult with your physician before taking any supplements though, and remember that zinc should be taken every other day, not every day.
  • Try the black radish scalp mask. It works against excessively greasy scalp and dandruff.
  • Use a shampoo meant for oily hair, even if the rest of your hair is normal/dry. Always match your shampoo to your scalp, and your conditioner to your hair. (On that note, use the shampoo only on your scalp, not one the hair).
  • Avoid shampoo with SLS. It completely strips your scalp of its natural oils, which aggravates your oil glands even more. When you switch to a gentler shampoo your scalp may be even oilier for a week or two (since it's used to hard shampoo) but soon it will calm down and you will see the improvement.
  • You can try the no-shampoo method: washing your hair with conditioner brings the scalp to normal. Read about how to do it and which conditioner to choose here. I've washed my hair with conditioner for a long time and was pretty happy with the results.
  • After shampooing, rinse your hair with cool water with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar in it. This is acidic and restores the pH balance of the scalp.
  • Let your hair dry naturally, or use the cool setting on your hair dryer. Hot air aggravates the oil glands on your scalp.
  • Herbal tinctures can help with an oily scalp, especially those of rosemary, mint and salvia. A tincture is prepared just like a tea: just pour boiling water (2-3 glasses over 1 tsp of the herb). Rub on the scalp every day.
  • Remember that the rest of your hair is probably dryer, and might need oils and heavy conditioners. Apply those from the ear down, concentrating on the ends.

Bonus washing tip:
   Before shampooing, wet your hair with lukewarm water. Then, for 10 seconds or so turn the water to the coldest setting. Then, turn it back to lukewarm. Repeat if you want to. This will cause the tiny muscles on the scalp constrict (you'll get goosebumps on your heads) and this will push out the excess sebum which otherwise would have come out only a day later.

Bonus styling tip:
   If you have to go out, and your roots look greasy but you have no time for a shampoo, sprinkle a bit of corn or potato flour/starch or them, and after 2 minutes brush it out. This should remove some of the greasiness. Alternatively use an alcohol-free dry shampoo (alcohol will aggravate the oiliness).

   Are your roots greasy? How do you deal with them?

photo credit: fourth photography via photopin cc

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Must-haves: Kessa Peeling Mitt + Savon Noir Black Moroccan Soap

   Hey everyone, today I wanted to show you what is probably the most best exfoliating tool on the planet. The Kessa glove is a traditional scrubbing mitt from Morocco, used in the Hammam baths. It gives you the most amazingly buttery soft skin and is more thorough than any other scrub or exfoliating tool I have used. After exfoliating your entire body with it, try turning it inside out and you'll see a huge amount of skin flakes -- even if you have been using scrubs regularly.
   A peeling session with the Kessa mitt not only makes your skin crazy smooth, it prepares the skin for creams and oils which get absorbed immediately. It also oxygenates the skin by boosting the blood circulation. The Kessa mitt helps against ingrown hair and keratosis pilaris. With regular use it firms the skin a bit and can help against cellulite.
   If you have never tried an exfoliating mitt yet, give it a go! It is a fail-safe and more frugal and less messy alternative to scrubs.

    The Kessa glove is rather thick and knobbly, with an elastic around the opening to keep it from slipping off the wrist. It reminds me a bit of Korean scrubbing mitts, but is much coarser and more effective. In spite of it being so thorough, it doesn't irritate the skin unless you really try to rub too hard. The only minus of the product is that it takes time to dry, usually two days in the winter.

   Traditionally the Kessa glove is used together with the Savon Noir, so I picked up some as well. The Savon Noir is a liquid soap which is rather thick. It's pH level is basic, and the soap works as a chemical peel by loosening the dead skin cells and ideally prepares the skin for exfoliation with the Kessa glove. It can be used on all skin types. The ingredients are Potassium olivate (salt of olive oil fatty acids), Eucalyputs oil and Argan oil. The eucalyptus is anti-fungal and the Argan oil is moisturising. The smell is a bit like black olives.
     If you don't have any Savon Noir lying around, you can also use the Kessa mitt with your favourite shower gel or soap, or for an even more thorough exfoliation without anything , like Garance. Some Kessa gloves are made of 100% natural silk, these should be used without soap.

How To Do A At-Home Hammam Ritual

   Here are my tips to get the maximum out of your Kessa glove. For best results, pick a day when you have a bit of extra time, and you'll be awarded with the most amazingly silky smooth skin in your life. This should be done once or twice a week.

* For best results, soak in the bathtub or shower for a few minutes to soften the skin.
* Apply Savon Noir, a clay or a shower gel all over your skin, and let it stay on for a few minutes. Rinse off.
* Wet the Kessa mitt lightly before use to soften the fibres.
* Exfoliate with movements in the direction of the heart, using a lighter touch on the chest. Scrub ankles, knees and elbows in circular movements.
* Rinse your body well, pat dry.
* Apply a rich body moisturiser. I like to use oils, since they sink in really nicely after exfoliating with the Kessa glove.

   From time to time you can throw your Kessa into the washing machine (only with natural detergents please) or wash it really thoroughly in the sink. Depending on where you bought your Kessa glove, the quality may really vary, so maybe it will last for a few months or a few years if it has double stitching.

   I bought my Kessa glove at a village market in the south of France, but you can buy really cheap Kessa mitts online. Slightly smaller ones are easier to use since the don't slip on the hand. It's a good idea to wash it in hot water before use, because I heard that some of them might leech a bit of colour.

   Have you ever used a Kessa glove? How do you normally exfoliate?
Photo credit: me

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

How To Keep Your Feet Really Warm This Winter

How To Keep Your Feet Really Warm This Winter

   Last week a friend was complaining about how her feet get cold even inspite of wearing winter shoes with really thick soles. So I shared my method with her,  developed over years of being a person with low blood pressure who spends too much time waiting on bus stops in minus temperatures.

  First,  you need good shoes

    It's worth investing in something warm,  snow-proof and non-skid. Actually shoes like this should be the main investment piece in your entire wardrobe. If you live in a place that gets snow, you should own one pair of boots that gets you through snow, slush and polar temperatures.

Isolate the shoes with an insert

    Get a good insert, most of the regular ones I have tested don't make much difference when it gets really cold. If you want to experience foot heaven, get the kind that are lined with shearling, like the ones from LL Bean. Merino wool isolates really well, I have a pair of merino inserts from the DM Drogerie.

The two socks method

   The trick to this method is two layers of socks.  With just a single layer the feet sweat in the first minutes when you are still warm, and then get really cold in the moist socks. With two layers the sweat stays in inner layer and the outer layer stays dry. Plus two layers means more warmth. 

   For the inner layer regular thin socks are nice,  though if you have nice socks that breath bonus points for you. For the outer layer get long thick socks. I recommend Smartwool, or anything with a high percentage of Merino wool. or at least sheep wool. Polypropylene is really warm too which has the added advantage of wicking away sweat.  Your best bet here would be brands that make clothes for Alpinists,  like Ice Breaker. If you wash the socks with care,  and wear an inner layer to protect them from sweat and toenail snags,  they should last you years. My favorite warm socks were thrifted, I think they were big men's socks out of really nice merino wool that shrunk a bit in the wash. Obviously how thick the material is also makes a difference. Plus,  longer socks are always warmer,  so something that goes mid-calf is  great.

So,  to recap:  
    good shoes + really good isolating inserts + inner layer of thinner socks + outer layer of thick socks = cosy feet!

   Does it get really cold where you live? How do you stay warm?
photo credit: Lo& via photopin cc

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beauty Tool: Spray Bottle

Spray bottle as a beauty tool

   I thought I'd share this haircare tip with you because even though I thought it's something that probably everybody does, but then a couple of my friends didn't know it and found it really useful.
   Hair masques or conditioners before shampooing are a very important part of my hair-care routine. Now, conditioner is best applied on wet hair, but not soaking wet. It's easier to apply the conditioner evenly is the hair is moist, the wetness of the hair keeps the conditioner from drying up. But if the hair is too wet the conditioners will run right off, plus nobody likes water dripping down their neck while they are doing whatever it is that they do when their hair is up in a plastic shower cap.
   I used to experiment with wetting my hair with a short burst of water and then toweling it off. It more or less worked. Then I started using the misting bottle to get my hair the exactly correct amount of wet. I think I picked this up from my hairdresser, he uses a misting bottle to keep my hair moist when he cuts it. You spray all over your hair till it is slightly wet, apply conditioner and voila! The gardening misting bottles are the best because you get the right amount of water out of the nozzle, and they are very comfortable to use. You can also spray your bathroom ferns with it.

   There is another use for the spray bottle: moistening face masks that are drying on your face. Face masks should always stay moist, once they dry they don't work, and they might even dry the skin. As soon as you feel the mask tightening, spray with the misting bottle.

   Have you tried something similar, or is this too gimmicky? Also, I'd really like to own some pretty spray bottles, anyone knows where to get some?

photo credit: Diego3336 via photopin cc

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Monday, December 1, 2014

My Beauty Basics -- I Get Interviewed By Biconi!

   Ever wondered how this blog came to be? A while back the folks at Biconi interviewed me as a part of their beauty expert series and asked me exactly that. I also share some of my best beauty tips, and talk about why taking care of your skin is not just about wanting to look pretty. You can read the interview here. Biconi is a Singapore-based brand that sells natural skin and hair care based on Noni and coconut oil.
     If you want to ask me anything else, I'll be happy to answer! Just comment with your questions, I'll do my best to answer (almost) everything.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Weekend Reads 29-11-2014

      Hi everyone, have you been? I'm in the middle of a flu, and it's not fun, especially as kids don't let you have a day off.
   Autumn ends for me with the beginning of the first advent. I have been auditing my winter wardrobe, which is much smaller than my summer one -- commuting by bike and public transport means my winter clothes have to be really warm and comfortable. And it's not so easy to thrift sweaters that are made of nice wools and not acrylic or cotton.  

* Style: This post really showcases the power of alterations.

* Bras: or rather breasts. An photographer interviews women (from lap dancer to priest) and asks them how their feel about their breasts. The photos are NSFW. Also, the 101-year-old Jewish lady is seriously badass.

* Travel: "It is forbidden to take photos of soldiers relaxing", and other unexpected images from North Korea.

* Body: Renee Zellweger had plastic surgery done, which I normally don't judge. However, it pained me that the work done to her epicanthic eye folds seems to have been done to get closer to stereotypical north european woman look. Renees original eye shape is a characteristic of her Kven/Sami heritage. For me, they were a reminder that what is unromantically called hooded eyes can be really charming.

* Food: This pumpkin mousse is amazing, and easy to make. You can store it for a pretty long time if you pour it directly into airtight jars (I get mine from Ikea) that you have thoroughly sterilised with boiling water. Make a double batch, it's a great gift!

* Funny: This guy experiences a $24,000 flight.

* Inspiration: This amazingly shot editorial makes me want to go o Italy next summer. Or at least do my eyes like her.

* Movie of the week: Speaking of Italy, this is one of the most beautiful films I  have sen this year is La Grande Belazza (The Great Beauty). Every shot is mesmerising, and I love the touch of surrealism. For best results watch in original Italian with subtitles. Dubbing takes away one-third of the film's beauty.

Speaking of Italy, this is one of the most beautiful

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