A quick word in your ear please.

No reviews today, just some follow up comments on previous posts.

Firstly after four months of owning my silk bedlinen I am disappointed with the wear of the duvet cover in particular. It looks at least 2 years old and has bad pilling on the surface. This has happened to the sheet too but only very slightly. I spoke to Jasmine Silk and they were not very helpful. I wanted to say that maybe this was not the best quality bedlinen after all. I would suggest looking somewhere else if you wish to – maybe a large well known store such as John Lewis as they would have better customer service. I have not checked if they sell silk bedlinen, but I know they have great customer care.

I am still very much in favour of silk and will continue to use my lovely bedlinen, but in the future I will look else where when I need to replace them.

Secondly I thought it was important to mention that I always use my apple cider vinegar spray on towel dried hair, no matter what shampoo or “no poo” product I use. If I had to say hand on heart what was the most successful method of washing my hair it would be my “no poo” method using bicarbonate of soda and the apple cider vinegar spray – this makes my hair look and feel the best over any bought product.

Until next time.

marilyn monroe

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‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your … totally natural, soft, shiny, beautiful … hair’

beautiful-hair-style161

A few months back I promised that I would write a post about my favourite natural shampoos – so here they are in no particular order of preference.

Lets start with a well-known organic brand – Neal’s Yard. There are two shampoos with their fellow conditioners that I really like. On a quick side note – I do not need to condition every time I wash my hair since going “no poo”, but I do when I have time as a special treat to myself. Firstly Neal’s Yard’s ‘Nurturing Rose’ twins.

neals yard nurturing rose shampoo and conditioner

This shampoo and conditioner was my first foray into this brand. I wanted something that would nourish my platinum dyed blonde hair. The rose smell is divine and it left my hair soft and shiny. The description on the bottle is as follows:

“Gentle cleanser combined with vitamin-rich rosehip, sea buckthorn and passion flower oils to nurture dry, damaged or coloured hair.”

After I made the decision to go back to being au natural with my hair colour – with  maybe a slight cheat of soft colour every now and then, but don’t tell anyone – I found that I didn’t need something so rich. I did find that after a few days my roots would become a little greasy with the rose so I tried another handsome one of theirs – Rejuvenating Geranium. Here is the bottle description:

“A cleansing infusion of apple vinegar, witch hazel and nettle to restore vitality and shine with geranium to balance hair and scalp.”

Neals Yard Remedies Rejuvenating Geranium shampoo and Conditioner.jpg

As you all know I am a huge fan of apple cider vinegar and witch hazel and I was not disappointed. This was perfect for days when I didn’t need something so nourishing and yet it still left my hair lovely and soft and well looked after with no greasy roots. The only downside to this – and this is just personal preference – I am not wild about the geranium smell. Neal’s Yard is a little pricey with all of these costing £11.50 each but I do think they are worth the money and they look so pretty on the shelf in their lovely blue bottles.

Now onto a totally unknown brand – well it was for me anyway. Essential Care Gentle Herb Shampoo.

essential care gentle herb shampoo

I buy this online at naturisimo for £10.50. Now this does not come with a partner but it does its job so well you don’t need to use any conditioner. I love that it has hardly any ingredients and really works. I also use this to wash my young daughter’s hair as it is so natural and makes her very long hair beautifully soft and tangle free.

Lastly, when my hair needs a proper cleanse – when it feels sad and overloaded – I find myself reaching for this wonderful cleansing shampoo and conditioner – the Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying duo.

avalon organics clarifying lemon shampoo and conditioner

My hair looks fabulous and fresh after one wash. I can’t use this more than once a week though as it is a tiny bit stronger than the others and my scalp goes into a strop. This is at the lower end of the price scale at only £5.99. Here is the description on the bottle:

“Gentle plant-derived cleansers enriched with Vitamin E, Wheat Protein, Aloe, Chamomile and Lemon wash away dulling residue and impurities without stripping for instantly renewed colour and shine.”

You may now be asking yourself why I have all these things in my shower – or you may not – but lets pretend you are. Well as you might have guessed I love trying new things and Neal’s Yard and Avalon can be picked up in my local Waitrose whereas Essential Care needs to be ordered – which can be a pain.

Now which one am I going to try tonight? Decisions, decisions!

Can part of my fairy-tale come true?

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a princess – live in a castle, sleep in the clouds in a bed made of silk  (no peas under the mattress though) and marry a handsome prince and live happily ever after.

the ordinary princess

(The fabulous illustration above and the one at the very bottom of this post are from the beautiful children’s book ‘The Ordinary Princess’ written by my grandmother MM Kaye)

Unfortunately I did not marry the handsome prince but the evil villain and certainly did not live happily ever after – my story is the cautionary tale we tell our children not the fairy-tale. I do though sleep in silk – maybe not in the clouds or a castle but in a beautiful house in the countryside so close enough for me.

If you only want to change one thing to help your skin fight against ageing, silk should be that one thing. Way before I jumped on the natural beauty bandwagon I had read about how sleeping on a silk pillowcase can protect your skin against wrinkles.

“It’s long been a secret of the beauty industry that silk pillowcases can make an amazing difference to the appearance of your skin. Wrinkles appear smoother and there are no creases or marks from the pillowcase.

Silk does not absorb face creams like cotton can. Instead it allows your night cream to work while you are asleep for maximum benefit and a more radiant, deeply moisturised complexion.(quote taken from Jasmine Silk website)

I didn’t really believe it but I wanted my princess moment so I went out and bought a silk pillowcase. I have been sleeping on silk now for over 10 years and I would never change.

83517-2952x2268

This year I decided to be extravagant. If I couldn’t have the fairy-tale prince I really could have the fairy-tale bed. I changed all my bed linen to the softest most beautiful silk. My pillow and duvet are also silk filled – maybe I am finally living in the clouds. It certainly feels like it when I close my eyes at night.

fluffy clouds

Not only is silk extremely good for your skin – you will no longer wake up with lines on your face or body where your bed linen has left its mark behind. It also helps reduce allergies. Bed bugs and nasties do not live in silk like they do in feathers and manmade hollow fibres.

“Silk is repellent to dust mites and moths so it’s perfect for anyone who suffers from asthma or allergies. It also resists mildew and mould. Silk is naturally hypoallergenic so it can also be highly beneficial for those suffering from eczema or sensitive skin conditions.” (quote taken from Jasmine Silk website)

It is not only fabulous for your skin but your hair benefits as well:

“Wake up in the morning with hair that’s smooth as silk. The natural proteins present in silk together with its amazing smoothness mean that your hair doesn’t get matted or dried out when your head rests on silk overnight. That’s why top models always insist on silk pillowcases.” (quote taken from Jasmine Silk website)

silky hair

Silk filled duvets or pillows regulate your body temperature.  They are cool in the heat of the summer and warm in the cold of the winter.

“ Breathable and comfortable, the natural properties of silk wick away moisture from the body to keep you cool and comfortable all night long. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone who suffers from night sweats or hot flushes. 

Silk is great in the winter too, especially if you want to feel supremely warm without being weighed down by heavy blankets. Silk duvets feel so light that it is almost impossible to believe they can effectively keep out the cold.

Sleeping under a silk-filled duvet is like sleeping under a light fluffy cloud. Even in the depths of winter it keeps you warm and snuggly. That’s partly because of the natural drape of silk that some people call the “hugging effect.” which also helps to keep in body heat when it is cold.“ (quote taken from Jasmine Silk website)

mulberry_silk

You never need to clean a silk duvet – every summer just air it in the sun for a day.

In fact I would say the only downside to this is that I feel uncomfortable sleeping on anything else. Cotton or manmade fibre sheets scratch and irritate my skin and I find it hard to get comfortable and a good nights sleep. I long for the feel of silk on my skin as I know how fabulous it feels and how good it is for me.

Maybe I should mention one other thing. I do find I can’t have a silk duvet cover and fitted sheet on at the same time  – the duvet slips off at night. Instead I alternate between a silk fitted sheet and a cotton duvet cover or a silk duvet cover and a cotton fitted sheet. This might not bother you but I found I spent most of the night pulling the duvet back over me otherwise.

It is expensive as it must be 100% pure silk – but once you have invested and you wash the bedlinen with care, it is the best investment you will make and you will never look back.

I have looked for the best quality and the best price on the Internet in the UK (sorry those of you in the US you will have to look for one over there) Jasmine Silk comes out on top at the moment. Quality is important; you must have silk that has a heavy momme weight. Mulberry silk for silk filled items and Charmeuse silk for bed linen are the best type to go for. Cheap lightweight silk will not last and will not work in the same way. Jasmine silk may seem more expensive than places like eBay but you are guaranteed quality and that is what you should be buying. Below is another rather long extract from their website but it explains the differences in silk quality clearly (no I do not work or know these people but I have done my research and I wanted to pass this on to my readers):

Mulberry Silk

Mulberry silk is the highest quality silk available. . . Jasmine Silk duvets, pillows and toppers are made by 100% grade A long-strand mulberry silk. Because of the rising price of mulberry silk, there are many suppliers selling cheaper silk duvets which are filled with a mix of polyester and silk, or chopped strand silk which is essentially off cuts of silk that can’t be used for anything else. . .

Momme weights

Mommes (mm) are units of weight traditionally used to measure the density of silk. It is similar to the use of thread count for cotton fabric. The usual range of momme weight for different weaves of silk are:

  • Gauze – 3 to 5 momme weight
  • Chiffon – 6 to 8 momme weight
  • Habutai – 5 to 16 momme weight
  • Charmeuse – 16 to 19 momme weight

Charmeuse Silk

Charmeuse is a luxury fabric made from silk with a satin finish. It has a floating appearance which drapes very well, especially for formal wear and luxury bed linen. We use the heaviest weight (19 momme) Charmeuse silk for all our silk bed linen.

For silk sheets a momme weight of 12-19 is considered good quality with silk sheets in the range of 16-19 being very high quality. Cheap silk sheets almost always have a low momme weight, because physically less silk has been used to make them. Anything lower than 12 momme feels lightweight and flimsy, and not particularly smooth or luxurious. It tears easily, is difficult to wash and doesn’t last long.

A-Grade Long-strand silk

Not only is our silk heavy in weight, but we also insist on using only long-strand silk. Although not often discussed outside the textile industry, the length of the strands makes a big difference to the feel of the silk and its strength and durability. Longer fibres produce smoother yarns. Shorter fibres have tiny surface ends which result in a fuzzier yarn that doesn’t feel as smooth.

Go on! Let the princess in you come out and play!

the ordinary princess

Back to the baking aisle one more time please.

This post might be one of my weirdest natural solutions so far. Bear with me –  you won’t be disappointed.

Dry shampoo – a chemical mix in an aerosol can – or does it have to be? We all have days when our hair looks a touch limp and greasy. We all have days when either we cannot be bothered to jump in the shower and wash it or really do not have the time. Well, dear readers, thanks to the great blog Wellness Mama I have a fun solution for you.

Ditch the dry shampoo in a can and look on your nearest baking aisle for two ingredients (just one if you are super blonde or white haired).

ground arrowroot powder

Ground arrowroot powder

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder (not chocolate powder, it must be plain cocoa).

You don’t have to go for expensive organic cocoa powder – this was all I had in my cupboard from baking yummy chocolate muffins (mmm. I digress).

Pour some arrowroot powder into a little dish or bowl (I pinched my daughter’s lovely, melamine, flower bowl).

ground arrowroot powder

Then scoop a little bit of cocoa powder into the bowl and mix together. Go as dark as you need depending on your hair colour. If you are light blonde or white don’t add any cocoa powder. I am dark blonde so I didn’t need much. You will need to experiment until you get the right mix for your haircolour. The arrowroot is the ingredient that absorbs the grease and dirt so you need a higher ratio of arrowroot to cocoa for it to work – bear this in mind when you mix your colour.

diy dry shampoo

Using a brush – I used an old foundation brush –

foundation brush

brush the powder onto the parts of your hair that need it. Do not make the mistake I first made of tipping it on to your scalp as it turns your scalp a funny red colour (white if you are using no cocoa powder). You need to take your time and just brush onto the hair. I thought there was no way this was going to work. How wrong I was. It is amazing. Immediately my hair looked clean and boy did it have volume!

Yes, you do smell like chocolate but who doesn’t like the smell of chocolate? If you really don’t (how strange you are!) then you can add a drop of your favourite essential oil to the mixture but be light handed as you don’t want to make your hair greasier.

It does take a while to get used to the application but once you do you won’t need to wash your hair as often and will smell delicious!

Some of the readers commenting on the Wellness Mama website suggest using cinnamon instead of cocoa – this might be good for redder hair. I haven’t tried it as I love the smell of cocoa and it works brilliantly for me.

Arrowroot not only makes a fabulous dry shampoo it also works miracles as a finishing powder or a mineral veil. Just brush it on before or after your foundation and away you go.

“I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts.”

At this time of year time runs away from me. I have not a moment to do all the things I want and my blog posts have taken a back seat to all the festivities. I do not want you to think I have forsaken my duties so here is a short but sweet post to keep you all going.

If you are going “no poo” with your hair but finding it needs a little pick me up – especially on the ends – coconut oil is the answer to your prayers.

It must be pure coconut oil. I buy mine from Holland and Barrett but many online stores sell it too. If you can find it buy organic but I found that harder to procure and this does the job just as well.

pure coconut oilpure coconut oil

This wonderful product will bring life, moisture and bounce back into your locks. You can treat your hair once a month, once a week – really however often you want to or have the time to spare.

Start with dry hair. Take a huge dollop of coconut into your palms and rub them together so it becomes a liquid. Saturate your hair from roots to ends with the oil. This can get a little messy so I recommend doing this in the shower or at least in a bathroom. If you want a quick fix wrap your hair in cling film (I think the Americans among us call it saran wrap). Then wrap it all in a warm towel. Sit down and relax. You can leave this on anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or more. If you really want to go to town leave the coconut oil in all night – sans the wrap and towel of course.

Then wash it out as if you were washing your hair as normal. You might need a few goes to get it fully out but I find no more than two is needed.

Voila! Beautiful, shiny, soft, bouncy hair.

Olive oil on my skin – am I mad?

I am going to talk about olive oil soap in this post -­ not plain olive oil (but I have to say that that is an amazing product to use too. ­ I will post about it later on). From your local Holland and Barrett store you can buy Oliva soap for just over £1. I cannot find it on any websites in the US, but I know you can find something very similar as I did when I was on vacation there in the summer. I must stress that if you find another brand be very careful and look at the ingredients first. Many olive oil soaps are in fact a dash of olive oil mixed with SLS, parabens and other synthetic substances. Always try and buy any natural products with as little ingredients as possible. Oliva soap has only 2 ingredients: Saponified Olive Oil and Mineral Salts. Here is the description from the Holland and Barrett website – “Made from pure unrefined olive oil, Oliva is kind and gentle to the skin. Oliva is not tested on animals, contains no artificial colours or perfumes, is completely vegetarian. 100% biodegradable.”

oliva soap

I absolutely love this soap. It never dries your skin and has no nasty synthetic fragrances or chemicals. I use this to wash my face every day. I don’t splash out on expensive cleansers as this cheap, lovely soap does the trick and will not strip my skin of its natural oils or mess with its pH levels. I also use this as an all over body soap. I even use this to wash the delicate skin of my 5 year old daughter. I have in the past used this to wash my daughter’s hair as well when I didn’t have anything else to hand. It worked really well ­- left her hair soft and shiny.

The packaging is simple but elegant -­ I believe most of us would be happy to have this on display nestled on our sink.

Go on, ditch the expensive soap, body washes and cleansers and be kind to your skin with this lovely moisturizing very natural soap.

A quick side note for you all ­- I wouldn’t recommend chomping down on this soap or using it to cook with. A friend who took my advice and uses this soap on her family told me her husband had a quick bite and confirmed it wasn’t very tasty! It is a soap after all no matter how natural.

In my defence, your Honour, the packaging was just so beautiful!

I felt I needed a follow on post from the last one about my “no poo” method of hair washing.

For the last week or so my scalp had been writing me rather mean letters. I couldn’t understand why it had turned against me and was throwing an itching fit. My first worry was that my daughter had brought some unwanted critters home in her head from school and we were all infested – just the thought makes you itch and feel your skin crawl. But she seemed perfectly fine and her scalp was sending her love notes not hate mail so it must be something else. Off I went to my shower and had a peek at my newly bought and expensive purchase from Korres. It seems dear reader that I had fallen foul to everything I had been preaching to you all about. The beautiful packaging and snazzy words had made me believe this was an all natural product free from all the nasties I so hate – for some reason I had been taken over by the old Mollie and not looked at the ingredient list. There in black and white (actually I think it was a lovely taupe colour) was the dreaded Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, number 2 on the list. On further inspection there was fragrance and alcohol! How I held my head low in shame. Straight in the bin went the shampoo with its lovely smelling conditioner too. I sat down and spoke lovingly to my hair and scalp and apologised for not being more careful – promised it wouldn’t happen again and that I now understood its rebellion.

To get everything back to a happy situation I brought out the bicarbonate of soda and went to work. Immediately my scalp started singing my praises – bur unfortunately my hair wasn’t quite so easily placated. It has been a while since I had done the “no poo” method at my home in England. I had forgotten that bicarbonate of soda and hard water are not friends. There is a way around this though. Firstly use much less powder, no more than 2 teaspoons with water – rather than a heaped tablespoon that I usually use. Make sure it is thoroughly washed out. Then follow with conditioner on the ends and dry parts of your hair. Natural conditioner please – Neal’s Yard does some good ones.(I promise to cover natural shampoos and conditioners soon.) Wash or leave in the conditioner as the directions tell you.

Bicarbonate of soda and soft water though love each other dearly. When I was in Maine, for a month over the summer, I only used bicarbonate of soda to wash my hair and my apple cider vinegar spray – my hair was lovely, soft and healthy.

I do hope this got to you all before any of you had tried the method in a hard water place. If you did, please try again. Trust me it does work.

No more itchy, flakey scalp – let’s cook up a storm.

Don’t worry I haven’t decided to give you my secret recipe for fruit cake – I am still talking about natural beauty. This is going to be a long one though so do hold in there – I promise it will be worth it.

It was my hair that started off my obsession for natural products so I thought it was only fitting to write a post about my method of shampooing – or as it is known the ‘no poo’ method. If I was being totally true to this method it would mean that I would be advising you to never wash your hair again. Apparently the natural oils in your skin and scalp will cleanse your hair. It will become beautiful and natural just as it would have been if we were cavewomen (or cavemen for you males reading this). Firstly I see a major flaw with this. We live in a society with pollution – not running around in the forest with no exhausts being pumped in to the atmosphere. We need to have someway of washing this out of our hair and scalp. Secondly who wants to look like a cavewoman! What I mean by ‘no poo’ is – there is rubbish in your hair washing product.

One of the major ingredients in all shampoos (even baby shampoos) is Sodium Laureth Sulfate or its cousin Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). These ingredients produce that lovely foam that we associate with cleanliness and especially with shampoo. These ingredients are used in many other skincare products – something I will mention another time. To explain why this is a horrible ingredient and why we don’t want it anywhere near us or our children let me quote from the natural health information centre website:

Unfortunately, both sodium laureth sulfate and its cousin are also very dangerous, highly irritating chemicals. Far from giving “healthy shining hair” and “beautiful skin”, soaps and shampoos containing sodium laureth sulfate can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.

When you are washing your hair not only is this poison getting into your hair and scalp it is also running down your face and body when you wash it out.  So coating and drying out your skin – eczema anyone!

Shampoos not only have this ingredient but many other irritating and poisonous chemicals – the list of which is too long and boring to go into now. Alcohol is also another ingredient found in nearly all hair products – this is extremely drying on the hair and skin.

I do realise that some new products are now available in our chemist (drug stores) and supermarkets (grocery stores) that claim to be low in SLS or free from parabens (another nasty) but if you look at the ingredients you will be forgiven for thinking you are reading a chemistry table. To be totally sure you are not harming yourself or your hair I would recommend my method below.

I say in the title ‘let’s cook up a storm’ because most of the ingredients you need can be found in your very own cupboards.

Firstly let start with one of my favorite products – this can be used for more than just your hair – more another time though. Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Soda for the Americans. This is not to be confused with Baking Powder.

This is the brand I use only because it is what they sell in my local store but you can use any brand.

bicarbonate of soda

You will also need organic (yes, it must be organic) apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and a little spray bottle.

organic cider vinegar vinegar and witch hazel spray

Again you don’t have to use the same brands as I do. I would recommend Sainsbury’s witch hazel – it is the only place I can find that sells witch hazel sans alcohol. You must buy the witch hazel without alcohol as this alcohol will only irritate your scalp and skin and make your hair dry. I am sorry to say when I was in America I found it nearly impossible to find any without alcohol – so good luck, I am sure there is some out there.

If this is the first time you are doing this I would recommend washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to get rid of any build up of plastics and nasties from your other products. You can buy natural clarifying ones. Right – now onto the good bit or should I say weird bit as we are all so used to using foaming shampoos:

  • Wet your hair as normal.
  • Tip a good sized lump of bicarbonate of soda into your palm and add a small bit of water to make a paste.
  • Use it as you would a shampoo – really getting it in to the scalp. It might feel drying and horrid but trust me it won’t when you have washed it out.
  • Squeeze any excess water from your hair.
  • After you are out of the shower or wherever you are washing your hair then you need to add the spray. The reason for this is your skin is a certain pH and you want it to be the correct one. Bicarbonate of soda is alkaline and apple cider vinegar is acidic so the two complement each other. You make up your spray by using the ratio 1 of vinegar to 5 of witch hazel. You don’t actually have to use witch hazel; you could use water – I just like that witch hazel is moisturizing and I use this on my face too (again more another time). Mix together in your spray bottle and liberally spray your hair.
  • Then comb through and dry as you want.

I will warn you here that your hair which is used to being coated in plastic and stripped of all goodness will probably freak out. It takes at least a week for you to see the benefits (hopefully sooner for some). My hair looked a little strange at first – then it was fuller and bouncer than it had ever been. It was no longer weighed down by the strands being coated in plastic – no longer stripped of any natural and healthy oils. But best of all for me – no more itchy scalp!

Okay, I wish I could say that I was a total zealot about this and never used another product again – but I love the feel and smell of shampoo and conditioner and I am not quite ready to give them up. I will never use “high street” or big brand products. I am not fooled anymore by brands pretending to be natural. (Yes, Aveda I am talking about you among many others). I have in my arsenal some gorgeous smelling, wonderful, natural shampoos and conditioners that I use – I promise to let you in on the secret of those soon. I do though have to frequently come back to the baking soda method. This is because no matter how natural and how small the ingredient list I will still get the itchiness back and this is the only thing that cures it without fail every time.

Wow that was long – I hope some of you managed to get through all that. Happy natural hair washing – until next time.

Disclaimer: If something works for me I am not saying that it will definitely work for you. ­I do hope it does but I cannot promise or give any guarantees. Your use of these products or suggestions is entirely at your own risk. Please use any product or idea with caution and of course do not use anything with an ingredient that you know, or think, you might be allergic to. Thank you and happy reading.