Create An Express Makeup Station




  A neighbour of mine works as a nurse and has a crazy schedule. She likes to always wear makeup and to style her hair, as it makes her feel pulled-together. Often she has to get up and get ready in the middle of the night. To make the process faster, she uses a simple system that she showed me.

   She puts her everyday makeup and hair products on a tray, which she places on her living room table every evening (that's where it's convenient for her to do her makeup at night). On that tray is everything she needs to use to get ready for work: moisturiser, mascara, hair spray, hair brush, mirror. She doesn't have to rummage for her stuff, it's all there in one place.

   I adopted this system from her. When you own quite a few makeup products, it is nice to have the basics in one place when I just have a few minutes to get ready. It also actively reminds me to put on my makeup -- yes, this is a habit I have adopted only recently.

   If you are often in a rush, or are trying to remember to use makeup, you can easily create something an Express Makeup Station. Use a pretty tablet, bowl or box; and put the stuff you use everyday in there. It can be just two or three products and a mirror, in fact the less you have the less overwhelmed you will be. It can be just makeup, or you can add skin or hair products.Keep the tablet wherever it is convenient for you to apply your makeup in the morning -- if using your regular spot wakes your spouse, you can take your little tray to another place in the house. You can also keep other essentials on your tray: medicine or supplements that you take in the morning, jewelry or keys.


   Here is my daily makeup tray:



  On the tray are my tried-and-tested products. Depending on how much time I have, I might just use hide-a-pore + mascara + perfume, or all of them. I keep my skin and hair care products in the bathroom, so I use my Express Makeup Station after I have applied my sunscreen and done something with my hair in the bathroom. Here is a breakdown of what is on the picture:
* Sweetscents hide-a-pore: sometimes it's the only thing I use, when I just want to matte my sunscreen. Otherwise it is my primer and my last coat.

* Catrice concealer: Best concealer I've had so far.

* Makeup Egg from Ebelin: I apply the concealer with it, it's the best dupe to the original Beauty Blender.

* Alverde False Lashes Mascara: I love it for it's silicone brush. I almost always wear mascara, as my lashes are one of my favourite features.

* Alverde Eyebrow Gel:  I wear this almost daily because not only are my eyebrows unruly, they look weird when they don't match neither my hennaed hair nor my lashes.

* Mineral foundation from Lumiere: I reach for this when I have a bit more time.

* Kabuki brush from Lumiere Minerals. It's too small and chubby it fit in the glass where I store my brushes. I use it to apply the mineral foundation.

* Green mineral corrector from Lumiere minerals: I use this if I have a bit more time

* Ambrozia Bronzer from Lumiere: I use this as a bronzer and to contour my face.

* Perfume: Fleur For Women from Hobbythek. More on this soon!

* Lip Gloss: I rotate the lip products on the tray. At the moment I use Couture Lip Polish Stain from P2. It's a nice bright shade, great for women with a warm colouring.

* Mirror (not shown): with a 3x magnification on the other side

* Makeup fixing spray or thermal water (not shown).

  My tray lives on the dresser which doubles as my vanity table.

    Do you have an express makeup station? What's on it?





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How To Keep Your Ears Clean + Tips






  Because we see ourselves from the front in mirrors, we often neglect the care of certain body parts. Today I'll talk about the ears, and behind the ears.

   I can't tell you how many well put-together women (and guys) with icky ears I've seen. Most of the time we can't see what our ear area looks like, but others do. For example when someone stands behind you when you are showing them something on a computer.
   Depending on your wax situation, you might need to clean your ears anywhere from twice a week to once a fortnight. I like to clean my ears every time I wash my hair, since I really really hate wet ears.

   You have probably heard that Q-tips aren't very good for your ears. This is because most people clean too deep, and end up pushing the wax back into the ears. This can cause really painful infections! Aggressive cleaning inside the ear canal can also increase the production of wax, and scratch the ear canal or ear drum. The solution? Buy the thick Q-tips meant for kids which will let you clean the outside of the ear tunnel but not the inside. Or pour a bit of warm water onto a muslin cloth, add a bit of cleanser or soap (if you want to), wrap it around the small finger and clean the outside of the ear canal.
   A nice way to get a deep-clean is to put a few drops of oil into one ear and lie down with this ear up for 1-15 minutes. You can use a plant-based oil or mineral oil. Then, tave a warm shower. The warmth of the shower and the oil will help the wax to dissolve and flow out of the ear. Next day, do the other ear.
    If you have a lot of ear wax coming out, don't worry about it too much. Better out than in. Do clean the outside of the ear canal regularly, and you're set.
   If you have really dry ear wax (usually east Asians), you might want to wet your Q-tip, or wax-dissolving ear-drops, or try one of those ear-picks (again, only on the outside!).

  Don't forget the folds of the outside ear. Use a Q-tip, cotton swab or a corner of a washcloth or microfibre cloth or towel. Wet it, and if your ears tend to be greasy you can use a dash of face cleanser. I like to use my micellar cleanser for this. Don't forget to clean behind the ear! The area is not as hidden as you think, especially if you have short hair or wear your hair up.

  If you have piercings, it is really important to remove them regularly and really clean the hole. Dead skin and grease builds up there. Use moist cotton-wool or a washcloth for the skin (you can add a dash of soap or cleanser). Give your piercings a clean as well: soak them in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and brush of the gunk with an old toothbrush.

  If you tend to have a sticky-wound situation in the folds of your outer ear or behind the ear, you need to be extra careful. This usually means that the folds are "closed" (unlike those of the girl in the photo on top), and things have to be kept clean and dry. The best time to clean is after taking a shower, when the skin is soaked. Dip a cotton wool or Q-tip in oil, and very gently remove the scabby skin. A drop of an antiseptic oil (tea-tree, manuka or tamanu) mixed with a regular oil can help the skin to heal faster, or Homeoplasmine or any other balm meant for wounds or irritated skin. Always dry those areas after showers.

  And a last small tip: if you are sensitive to earrings made of non-noble metals, you don't have to be limited to pricier earrings. Here is what I do: buy earring hooks and small pliers from a hobby store and swap the allergy causing hooks on your old earrings. Depending on how sensitive your skin is you can decide between simply zinc-free, or silver coated, or silver. Switching the hooks takes just a minute!

   How do you clean your ears? Do share your tips! I was thinking to do a couple of posts to cover other neglected body parts: elbows, bikini line, back. Is there any other body part you'd like me to cover?
photo credit: Katie Tegtmeyer via photopin cc



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3 (Non-Fat) Reasons You Might Have A Big Tum





This post will cover three reasons someone might have a disproportionally bloated / big belly, even though they are not overweight.

   So sorry about the radio silence. Life has had rather big ups and downs, and I needed time off to deal with them. I couldn't bring myself to churn out content when my heart wasn't in it.

   So, today I wanted to talk about "fat" bellies, that aren't actually fat. A lot of people attack their abdominal regions with crunches (or simply hatred), when very often the problem is a different one.

Food Intolerance

     If you wake up with a flatter belly but bloat over the day, or if your belly seems to change size from day to day, your body might have trouble digesting some kinds of food. Basically, your digestive lacks the chemicals to digest certain parts of the food, and so it lands up undigested in the intestine, and there certain bacteria cause the bloating. And gasses. Other symptoms may include skin problems (I know several people whose acne or dermatitis cleared up after they quit diary or gluten), sluggishness and lack of energy, constipation, headache and even mood swings.
    I realised that something wasn't right when I noticed instant bloat after eating yoghurts. When I ate a cheese raclette and new year's eve, I looked more pregnant than my then 7-month-pregnant friend. I decided that I was lactose intolerant, but was confused that lactose-free milk caused bloating too. So I got myself tested (a quick test where you take a dose of lactose and blow into little containers), and it turned out that I can digest lactose, but I have a hard time digesting milk proteins. And eggs.
    If you live in a place without free health care and can't afford to get tested, you need to try to watch how your body reacts to what you eat. Try removing a suspect food for a couple of days from your diet and see what happens. People are often intolerant against lactose, gluten, eggs and soy, so you might start here first.



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Anterior Pelvic Tilt

   Or what I call the Strippers Posture. The lower back is too arched, the butt is too far back, the belly sticks out in the front and the abdominal muscles are usually not engaged at all. Not only does the belly look bigger in this position, the posture can cause back pain. The upper body bosture is thrown off balance as well. Persons especially prone to the anterior pelvic tilt are women who wear high heels (which push your spine into this position) and women who have been pregnant (the big belly means that the gravity point of the body is further in the front), and overweight people.

    You should maintain a neutral pelvis at all times. Tuck your tailbone in, pull your navel towards your spine, and lift your torso from the navel up. You will look slimmer, and your butt will look tighter, and you will protect yourself from back pain.
     To find your neutral pelvis position, try this Pilates exercise: stand with feet shoulder width part, knees slightly bent and soft. Imagine you have a pendulum or a bell attached to your perineum. Now, slowly tilt your pelvis back and forth, imagine you are swinging the pedulum. After doing this a couple of times, stop in the position where the pendulum would be hanging straight down. Now, tuck your tailbone in an extra inch, and stand up straight. This is your neutral pelvis position.
     I really recommend a couple of Pilates classes, they will teach you o automatically adopt the right posture. Some usefull exercises that you can do at home to correct the anterior plvic tils are the teacup exercise, back to wall,
Yogis will love this page that explains how the wrong pelvic tilt throws the whole Asana out of alignment.


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Diastasi Recti or Abdominal Muscle Separation

    If you've been pregnant, chances are you might still have an abdominal muscle separation. Basically, muscles separate to make place for the growing bump, and don't always get together again. This means the abdominal "corset" doesn't keep things in place anymore, also your abdominal muscles are weakened and chances are you are using your back muscles to compensate for that.
   In many countries women aren't checked for diastasis recti. I remember writing about in once on a Polish forum, because I didn't find anything about diastasis recti in Polish on the entire Internet. A couple of years later I googled again, and I found lots of hits -- most were copy-pasted from my forum post!

   Here is how to check for diastasis recti.


   If you do have diastasis recti, I highly recommend the book Lose Your Mummy Tummy by Julie Tupler. If you recently gave birth, it is imperative that you first deal with your abdominal muscle separation before you attempt any kind of ab exercises! And you must get the Mummy Tummy book!


Abdominal Fat

  Now that we have covered the non-obvious causes of a big belly, here is the obvious one: you might have fat stored there. You can check by pinching your skin on your abs and other body parts, and comparing the thickness (the layer of fat attached to it). What is not so obvious is that belly fat does not go away with crunches and other ab exercises -- these create muscles that will still be hidden under that fat. The simple truth here is that abs are made in the kitchen. Nutrition is the key here -- a clean diet.
   Of course some kind of exercise is necessary too, and here is an observation -- crunches and exercises meant specifically for the abs are thankless exercises, most people tend to focus too much on them. If you want to invest your time and energy better, try limiting your crunches to a max of 100 and instead focus on engaging (lightly flexing) your abs during your entire exercise routine, or when you are running or riding your bike. (This is especially important for women with kids, as often we unlearn to use our abs during pregnancy). A lot of exercises mean for other body parts involve the abs as well. At the gym, your ab muscles should be engaged during every exercise. This also protects the lower back. As my Pilates teacher told us before starting every set: "pelvic floor up, pull navel towards spine!", and only then would we start.


    I am not a doctor and the stuff I shared in this post is a result of my own research to solve my own problems. I'd like to encourage you to use this as a springboard for your own research.


   I hope that this posts inspires you to research more and tweak your habits if necessary. And always remember that changes are easiest to implement if they come from a place of acceptance and positivity. By that I mean an attitude of positive feelings towards your body (it is, after all, your home during this lifetime), while at the same time deciding to work on things that could be improved. It's like renovating your home because you like it and want to make it nicer (much more rewarding than renovating a home that you hate), or helping a kid to learn new habits (much easier if you both like each other).
   And if all fails, shapewear is a girls best friend!

   In case you are wondering, I am stuggling with all of the four problems that I described here! How about you? Also, if you have any interesting resources that could help me or other readers, like books, websites, apps, or advice from your mom, do share!
photo credit: !ºrobodot via photopin cc



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