Monday, 24 December 2007

Busy? Me?

It's all true! I've been busy :( I haven't had time to do anything lately! Anyway, I probably won't be back until I return to Australia on Thursday. So till then, I would like to wish everyone a very


and (just in case) a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Be happy!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Off To Langkawi!

Hello, I'm off to Langkawi for a few days! I've been busy and I recently found out about something which is pretty devastating news to me. But it's not something I can't fix and I'm trying not to let it get to me.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays as well. Have fun everybody and I'll see you again in a few days :)


Thursday, 6 December 2007

Make Your Own Massage Bar!

A massage bar is a solid block of oils that you can apply to your body of someone else's body slowly easing sore muscles while pampering your skin with its wonderful moisturising properties. And they are notoriously easy to make. The simplest recipe I can give you is this:

  • 2 parts hard oils
  • 1 part soft oils

Hard oils are basically oils that are solid at room temperature and soft oils are liquid at room temperature. However, there are degrees of hardness and softness. For example, shea butter and cocoa butter are both "hard" oils but cocoa butter is more solid so it has a higher degree of hardness.

When I make my massage bars, I always use a very hard oil and a soft oil. For example, I use 2 parts of cocoa butter and 1 part of macadamia nut oil. You could substitute cocoa butter with illipe butter. It's the only very hard oil I know of. But who doesn't love cocoa butter, right? Say no and you must be a man. What?! I am NOT sexist, how dare you! Go change a lightbulb.

Hehe, I'm just kidding! Oh, I got sidetracked. You'll get to know me, I do this very often. My friend says I'm like a radio because I just keep on talking and changing topics and he just keeps on listening. Argh! I'm doing it again! Okay, back to where I was.

So, you've melted your hard oils and then added your soft oils. Add any essential or fragrance oils. If you add too much, it may affect the hardness of your bar so substitute some of the soft oils with the essential or fragrance oils. Pour the oils into a massage bar mould. Or layer the bottom of a normal mould with uncooked chickpeas or azuki beans. Leave it to harden or speed it up by putting it in the fridge, the oils may stay a little soft in summer so keep them in the fridge.
This is a massage bar so scent plays an important part. Try searching the internet for scent blends keeping in mind what kind of effect you're looking for it to have. Energizing, relaxing, and so on.

Relaxing Scent Blend

  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 3 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 2 drops ylang ylang essential oil

Now all you need are some candles, clean towels, soft music and a willing partner. Enjoy!
If you prefer, you can toss the massage bar into a nice warm bath minus the chickpeas or azuki beans and use it as a bath melt. In which case you will also need some candles, clean towels and soft music. Willing partner is optional.


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Green Tea, Anyone?

Chelsea's Japanese tea set and part of her breakfast. It was so cute I couldn't resist taking a picture. Sorry about the bad quality pictures, they're from a phone camera. We have two cameras in the house and no one bothered enough to charge them.

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They were taken in the garden, under the outdoor shower. Seemed a good idea at the time!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Happy Birthday Amanda!

I've been busy again! :(

I can't believe I cannot find lye anywhere! It frustrates me. I've been baking to keep my hands occupied or at least trying to.

I went to Pavillion today. It's a new mall and it's gorgeous! I'll post up pictures when I get them off my sister's boyfriend's phone.

It was Amanda's birthday's on the 1st of December. She's turned 19 and still whines like a little girl. She can irritate me like no one could ever and yet she is my bestest friend in the whole world. I could not ask for a lovelier and more cuddly sister.

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Thursday, 29 November 2007

Throwing a Tantrum

Chelsea snores like a drunk cow. I don't know if cows snore but boy, if they did they must be taking some serious lessons from Chelsea, drunk.

So here I am, still up at 6 a.m here in Malaysia and throwing a tantrum to anyone who cares to listen. I have to be up in 5 hours to take Chelsea to her friend's birthday party. Her friend has bought two tickets for Amanda and I to watch a movie with the group and paid for us to eat at the restaurant with them. Now, I'm not too cool to watch a movie with a bunch of 12 year old girls or eat at a restaurant with them but I am too cool to have someone almost a decade younger than me pay for my movie and dinner!

There are so many things wrong with this.

Number one, we're not going out.
Number two, she's female (That's not how I roll).
Number three, she's underaged (That's not how I roll either).
Number four and probably most importantly, I don't even know her name.

So I'm sorry, I must either decline politely and offer to pay my own way or fork out a whole lot of money for a present that someone is going to find very suspicious.

The movie we're watching is Enchanted which is rated a stunning 8.2/10 at IMDB. It's going to be good!

I hate geckos and lizards. I absolutely hate, HATE them. This goes back a long time ago when I was about 3 and a FAT house gecko ran over my foot. I ran around the house screaming at the top of my voice and causing everyone to come running to me. Well, ever since then I've been traumatised. Yesterday, I stepped on one. I didn't see it but I felt it wriggle underneath my foot. Have you ever seen a lizard wriggle? It is the single most devastating thing that can happen to your mind. I assure you, I'm like a doctor or something.

Anyway, I jumped like I'd stepped on acid or a lizard made of acid and ran around the house screaming at the top of my voice. Only this time, no one responded to my tearful cries. Because I'm not 3 years old anymore, they said. Does anyone else feel the ageism? There ought to be some kind of law for this.

Well, I'm officially not sleeping tonight so goodnight everyone, I'm off to amuse myself with the television.

P.S Number five, I have a boyfriend.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Dragon's Beard Candy

This is my youngest sister's favourite sweet. Dragon's Beard Candy is a form of spun sugar and is said to have been invented for the emperor 2000 years ago in China. The candy is made of very fine strands of sugar wrapped around a filling of crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds.

The trick to making the fine strands of sugar is shown in this video. You might want to turn down the sound though. I still can't get it out of my head.

It looks like fun and the candy is worth the hassle, or at least, I think it is :D

If you're ever down in Chinatown, I encourage you to try this sweet! Unless of course you don't like peanuts or are allergic to them, in which case, don't eat it! Make the candy and eat that instead! Still yummy.

We also bought some, umm, I have no idea what it's called. The girl at the shop called it mochi but I'm quite sure it isn't mochi.

This is mochi. Japanese rice cakes with fillings such as red bean (azuki). Sometimes they fill it with ice-cream then they call it daifuku. Another must-try!

That's my beautiful sister, Amanda, on the left who has fallen in love with the aspirin mask.

See ya!

Strawberry and Yoghurt Mask

Let me first warn you that this mask is incredibly sticky, messy and NOT for sensitive skin. On the bright side, it smells sweet, is a lovely pastel pink and according to Chelsea, tastes yummy.

I found out that Chelsea has incredibly sensitive skin. She complained that the mask stung which is understandable considering it's an astringent. So, I made what was supposed to be a soothing cleanser containing fine oatmeal, honey and milk with some aloe vera gel. Yet, she still complained that it hurt. I shot her an incredulous look. "Really?", I asked. So, I cleansed her face with a little bit of honey water and dabbed just a tiny bit of jojoba oil on her face as moisturiser which she admitted felt better.

The key to cleansing ultra sensitive skin is to keep things simple and it's probably wise to dilute everything with distilled or spring water. Acidic ingredients like citrus fruits are best kept at bay. Another very important thing you have to remember if your skin falls into this category is to always, always do a patch test on the inside of your elbow.

Rub a little of the product you are testing on the inside of your elbow and cover with a band aid. Remove after 24 hours. However if it any time at all your skin starts itching unbearably (sometimes a mild tingling action is normal), remove the band aid immediately and wash with lots of cool water. To be safe, assume you are allergic to it. After 24 hours, if you experience any redness, wash the area and discontinue use immediately. If the reaction is strong or severe, meaning the skin is raised and thickened with large blisters and intense redness, I would advise you to see a doctor about the allergy. It might be worthwhile.

I'm scaring you, aren't I? Don't be, patch tests are the only way to determine if your skin is allergic to something. Then, all you have to do is avoid it!

  • 1 very ripe strawberry
  • 1 teaspoon of yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • oatmeal

Mash the strawberry until it's pulpy. Add the yoghurt and honey and stir to combine. Add the cornstarch and thicken the mask with the oatmeal. You may want to lay your head on a pillow covered with a towel after applying the mask. Wait 10-15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

Strawberries are wonderful for softening skin and contain AHAs. It's great for oily and acne prone skin. The mild enzymes and acids in yoghurt is another skin softening agent. But oats and honey again you cry? I'm sorry I can't seem to stay away from them :( They're my staple in natural skincare.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Smells too edible?!

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Aren't they pretty? They're bath bombs from Lush. A going away present from Dan, he knows I sometimes obsess over Lush but never get anything for myself because I refuse to be blinded to the fact that they chargecrazy prices.

However I'm so happy with these fizzies! They smell terrific. My favourite as you can tell is the christmas pudding lookalike one. It smells faintly edible because of the benzoin (smells like vanilla) and clove. The purple glittery one smells the best which I put down to the tangerine and ylang ylang oil. The green fizzy smells very citrusy and I'm not a huge fan of citrusy smells.

Oh, want to hear something funny? I made bath jelly and scented it with strawberry and vanilla then shoved it in the fridge. Everybody commented it smelled like strawberry ice cream, it was absolutely divine! Anyway, my grandmother spotted some left over in the bowl I was using and decided she would eat it while my back was turned. All of us started yelling and screaming "Don't eat that, it's soap!". So for most of the whole afternoon, she berated me for making my soaps smell "too edible". I don't think she appreciated the fact that I burst out laughing every time she mentioned it.

Oh, I made the papaya scrub but unfortunately I don't have any pictures :(. I'm not very camera savvy but that wasn't the problem this time.

Remember the 7 kids I mentioned that were over last night in my last post? Well, one of them ate it. Yes, he ate it. I blame Chelsea as I saw her sneaking a couple of spoonfuls into her mouth. It's a good thing that this time the scrub is edible! My scrubs are usually not and to think I was planning on adding the Polysorbate 20. Chelsea just said,"I knew it! You're trying to kill us!"

Sometime ago, a friend of mine tried to eat a cocoa butter bath melt when they were drying in the moulds. He kept insisting I was lying to him when I told him it wasn't chocolate. Then, he found the cupcakes and it all went downhill from there.I should start scenting my creations with airplane fuel to stop them from getting eaten!

I didn't forget about the strawberry and peaches! It's coming right up although I'm pretty sure it's going to get eaten as well. I'm also making castile soap in a couple of days if I can just get my hands on some lye.

Scent for the soap? Oatmeal, milk and honey. ;)

Monday, 26 November 2007

Have Your Say!

Please feel free to ask me anything you like at all. Is there a certain homemade skin care product that you would like a recipe of? Are there tips you want on something like combating dark undereye circles? What is it you would like to see me blog about? I'm open to anything at all! I'll do the research :)

Have your say! I will try to help in anyway possible.

I adore strawberries and peaches so I will be posting recipes containing this ingredients for an astringent cleanser and a moisturising mask in my next post complete with pictures and a guinea pig model (my 12 year old sister, Chelsea).

There are 7 children sleeping over tonight, thanks to my brother and sister's impromptu slumber party. This is what I miss about my home in Malaysia. It's always alive with the sound of people's voices. No one is ever home alone because there are so many of us.

In Australia, it's just Dan and I and it does get lonely sometimes. Probably because being around a lot of people is what I'm used to.

I made a cookies and cream cheesecake for Amanda yesterday. Everyone liked it! I couldn't even get a picture, I left it in the fridge thinking I'd come back and decorate it then take a picture. However when I came back there was only a quarter left.

Is anyone interested in the recipe? I'm curious to find out if it's really that good or my family is just being nice to me cause I'm home :)

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Ingredients Listing - How to Read Them

"Hi Evani! It's no problem. Feel free to ask me whatever you want and I'll try to help you if I can :) Yes, you can use mica to colour your lip balm. However, be sure that they are approved for use in lip products as some aren't. Also be careful not to use too much or the lip balm may feel scratchy. There are also dyes specifically made for use in lip products and you can check with either Brambleberry or From Nature With Love. Both links are on my side bar. Or you could cut off a sliver from old lipstick and use that. If you want to keep things all natural, alkanet root colours lipbalm a natural reddish colour with hints of purple, a few drops of beet juice (or you can use beet powder) gives it a lovely red colour. I hope that answered your question and have fun making the lip balm :)"

The Food, Drugs & Cosmetics (FD&C) Act has many rules when it comes to listing ingredients on cosmetic products. First, ingredients must be listed in their correct International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) terminology. It is a system of names for the ingredients used in cosmetics based on scientific names and other Latin and English words.

For example:
Vitamin E = Tocopherol
Jojoba Seed Oil = Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
Peppermint Leaf Oil = Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil
Beeswax = Cera Alba

The ingredients must be listed in descending order of predominance. Meaning from the most to the least. If the cosmetic product is 70% water, then water should be listed first. They do have some exceptions to this rule:

a) If the cosmetic is also a drug, the drug has to be declared before declaring the cosmetic ingredients.
b) Ingredients not exceeding the concentration of 1% can be listed in any order after listing the ingredients exceeding 1% in descending order.
c) Colour additives of any concentration can be listed in any order after the listing of ingredients that are not colour additives.
d) Approved FDA ingredients that are a trade secret does not have to be disclosed on the label.

Fragrances or flavours can be listed as "fragrance" or "flavour". If they serve as both a fragrance and flavour they must be listed as "fragrance and flavour".

You can read more about the Act if you wish at theFDA website.

Be a smart consumer and know what you are buying. INCI names are very confusing and reading it straight off the label will probably not make any sense to you. However, Google is your friend and it is wise to educate yourself on what you are putting on your skin.

If you're like how I used to be then you'd never bother reading the ingredients list. I do it all the time now and I don't buy ingredients that contain Petrolatum, Mineral Oil and SLS especially if it's high on the list. And if shea butter is listed along the end of the label and the product says "Whipped Shea Butter", you'd probably know better than to get it.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


"Thanks, Evani! have a great Thanksgiving yourself!"

There are several different types of clays but they all serve a similar purpose and that is to cleanse and invigorate skin with remarkable results. This beauty treatment has been with us since ancient times but have only recently become popular again. Some clays are edible and taken internally for their medicinal properties. The various clays work well for various skin problems. They are easy to use and effective. If you are going on holiday, all you need is a packet of clay to be mixed with liquid and you have an impromptu facial mask!

French Green Clay - Is naturally green as the name suggests and cannot ever be white or gray in colour. The colour determines a good or poor quality clay. It contains valuable minerals such as montmorillonite, several (up to 9) important mineral oxides, magnesium, calcium, potassium, dolomite, silica, manganese, phosporous, silicon, copper, and selenium. It is quarry mined, sun-dried and heavily processed. The result should be fine, powdery, green clay. It is considered to be the best and most active clay as it is super absorbent and tones and tigthens the skin. Suitable for all skin types except sensitive. Especially suitable for oily skin.

Yellow Clay - Is naturally yellow and also determines a good or poor quality clay. It is a mild clay and believed to stimulate blood circulation while gently exfoliating and cleansing the skin. Rich in minerals, it is good for all skin types.

Red Clay - Is again naturally red :P. It is a powerful astringent for oily skin and hair and has the ability to draw excess oils from the skin and stimulate circulation to the skin.

White Clay - Is the mildest of all clays and is suitable for sensitive skin. It does not draw oils from the skin and can be used for dry skin.

Pink Clay - A combination of white and red clay and has medium absorbency. It is a balanced blend of iron oxide, silica and mineral salts. Suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive and delicate skin.

Bentonite Clay - Is a combination of montmorillonite and volcanic ash. It is a highly absorbent clay that pulls oils and toxins from the skin. It is best suited for oily skin and used in shaving soaps.

These are the most basic of clays. There are more including Dead Sea Clay, Rhassoul Clay, Fullers Earth, Multani Mitti and Green Illite.

Clays can be mixed with other powders such as milk powder, honey powder, yoghurt powder, buttermilk powder, fine oatmeal, cornstarch and so on to make a truly luxurious facial mask. Just combine all the dry powders together and mix with a liquid when you're ready to use it. Clays on their own keep indefinitely but should be used within four to five years to ensure freshness.

Lavender and Rose Clay Mask and Cleanser

1/2 cup of your choice of clay
1/4 cup of finely ground oatmeal
2 tbsp of honey powder
2 tbsp of goat's milk powder
few drops of lavender essential oil
2 tbsp dried and grounded rose petals
2 tbsp lavender buds

Mix the clay, oatmeal, honey powder and milk powder together. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil, depending on how strong you like it. Add the rose petals and lavender buds and then store in an airtight container.

When you are ready to use it, remove a teaspoon of the clay and add enough water to make a paste. Better yet, try a floral water like rose water or orange blossom water. Then cleanse your
face, wash off with water and pat dry.

To make a mask, take enough clay and add it with water or floral water to make a paste and smooth it all over your face and neck. Lie down and relax for 10-15 minutes, the mask will dry and tighten. Wash off with warm water and pat dry.

If you're not into floral scents, try instead adding orange essential oil and dried orange rinds to the clay. Or you could try adding other herbs instead.

Here's another tip. Try mixing and matching different types of clay, you may come up with something that works extremely well for you! One of my favourites is equal portions of Kaolin and Bentonite Clay.

You could keep the clay in a ziplock bag when you go on holiday and although the packaging may not be very pretty, you can be sure the contents are 100% spa-worthy ;)

Edit: I would like to wish everybody who is celebrating thanksgiving, a Happy Thanksgiving! Sorry, I got in a little late :(

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Granola Body Scrub

For some reason, my chatbox isn't working so I'll reply you here.

"Hi Evani! Including titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide in your lipbalm is an option and offers an SPF of 2 - 45 depending oh how much is put in which also depends on the recipe. If you can't find them, some oils have a natural SPF. Sesame seed oil, jojoba oil and shea butter have an SPF of about 4. Just substitute them for the macadamia oil in the lipbalm recipe. Clickhereif you want a set recipe for a lipbalm with SPF."

Okay, well I've got my luggage back. Most of my stuff has been completely ruined as expected when put in the care of baggage handlers. I'm going to file a claim, I doubt I'll get any compensation though. Sigh.

3/4 cup of fine oatmeal
1/2 cup of ground almonds
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of demerara sugar
1/4 cup of apricot kernel oil
2 tbsp of honey
few drops of vanilla extractA dash of cinnamon

This will smell like cookie mix :)

Add the oatmeal, almonds and sugar and combine well. Then add the oil and mix thoroughly. Drizzle the honey over the mixture and stir well to combine. Finally, add a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract.

On a totally unrelated topic, adding milk powders to yourbath bomb recipereduces the fizzing somewhat so if you like strong fizzy action, don't add milk or opt to add hydrolyzed milk protein instead.

I'm making some peppermint jelly roll soaps and bath cupcakes tonight with my sisters. Hopefully everything goes as planned! See you soon!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Uneventful Weekend: Lost Cockatiel

Well, I'm back! It's been an uneventful weekend all in all. First, MAS left my luggage back in Melbourne which contains some fresh food and would most likely be spoiled by the time it gets to me. Also, my mother had her handbag snatched from her again. Both times when she left the same bank. Two men came by on a motorcycle from behind her and grabbed her bag, it was a while before she realised she was being dragged along on the road and had to let go.

She now has these huge scratches along her back and legs. These things are very common in Malaysia, I've had several relatives experience the same thing. One was even slashed on the hand with a knife. Tourists are targeted as well because they tend to carry large sums of money and things are worse for them because they carry passports which are a hassle to lose, a HUGE hassle. So carry your handbag on the side of your body which doesn't face the road. As much as I love my home, this is the reality and there is really nothing the incompetent police of Malaysia can do about it.

It truly has been a terrible weekend. Steph from Playing with Soap lost a a white face cockatiel with white/light gray feathers near 70th Street/Boulevard East in Guttenberg, NJ. So anyone from Hudson County, NJ please keep a look out for this little bird. She's said to be tame and will perch on your finger if you allow her to. Steph has more information on her blog. Even if you aren't from NJ, please visit her blog and show her some support. No matter in what form, it is always painful to lose a loved one.

I've decided to post the recipe for my Granola Body Scrub tomorrow. So check back soon.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Taking a Break

Hello, everyone!

I've been a little busy these past couple of days and still am and apart from that I've somehow injured my knee :( Might have something to do with my shoes and walking non stop from 9 in the morning to 11 at night. No, it was not some crazy exercise program I had planned. In fact, it wasn't anything I had planned at all! However I had things to go and places to see. Yes, I'm trying to sound important.

The horror isn't over yet. I'll have to be doing more walking later and tomorrow, then flying away to Malaysia. I never sleep on airplanes because I always fly economy and they don't mean for you to sleep in economy I'm sure of it (lousy chairs). I used to love airports when I was younger because it always meant I was going on holiday or going home. Now, I travel every 6 months back and forth between "homes" and I'm getting weary.

Also, I have to work soon :(

On the bright side, I'll be going for a nice japanese dinner with Dan and his parents later. They thought it would be nice to have one last dinner with me before I leave to Malaysia which I think is really sweet. Also, I'll be making more bath cupcakes tomorrow and some other goodies I plan to be taking back to Malaysia. My sisters are dying to help me with the production of my toiletries so I'll bring back some stuff for them to make. Amanda is the creative one so I might just bring back plain cupcakes for her to decorate.

I've just finished exams on Friday and already I don't have time to rest! I kind of like being busy although it does make time pass so much faster and when you're on holidays that isn't a good thing. Well, I do hope I don't burn out before the next week is over as I plan to post about more and more about my failed and successful attempts at this amazing craft. I might see you all again on Tuesday!

I know you're all out there! I see my blog counter steadily rising. Drop a comment sometime, show me some love! :)

Have a wonderful weekend everybody and I'll bbs (be back soon). Bye!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Want a Bigger Bust?

Don't want surgery?

Today, I introduce to you if you don't already know of, herbs that purportedly have the ability to increase the size of your breasts!

The first one is fenugreek which is used by nursing mothers to aid the production of breast milk. The seeds and sprouts of the plant have been known for centuries as effective breasts enlargers and contain diosgenin which is used to make synthetic estrogen and has been shown to promote the growth of breast cells.

The second one is fennel which contains phytoestrogens, plant chemicals similar to the female hormone estrogen. However, fennel oil is not to be taken during pregnancy and can cause miscarriages. Use it to complement the fenugreek.

The third one is saw palmetto which is actually a popular and effective treatment for prostate enlargement in men but has its origins as a breast enlarger. Is still recommended by naturopaths today for enhancing breast size. It can also be used as an aphrodisiac.

The fourth herb is wild yam which is also an estrogenic plant. If the outer bark is stripped and the inner bark reduced to a paste in the blender, it can be used as a salve for the breasts.

These herbs can be taken internally and topically. You can find some of these herbs in tablet or capsule form at health food stores. Fenugreek powder can be made by grinding up the sprouts and seeds in a blender then mixed with liquid or lotion to form a paste and then massaged on to the breasts. The herbs can also be steeped in to a tea and then drunk.

I've decided to give this all-natural treatment a go and will fill you in on the results, if any! Oh, if you are pregnant, I strongly advise you to consult with your doctor before attempting use of any of these herbs. I know its reported to be safe, but if I were you I would be extra careful. Note that most essential oils are not to be used during pregnancy.

Edit: Ahh I forgot to mention! If you're on any medication at the moment (e.g. the Pill or depression pills) check with a doctor before you take any herbs! For example, those on depression pills cannot take St Johns Wort and people on the Pill should stay away from saw palmetto. I don't know if it's the same with essential oils but doesn't hurt to check!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Yummy Brown Sugar Body Scrub

There are many types of exfoliating granules like ground walnut shells, ground almonds, coffee, salt, sugar, bentonite beads, jojoba wax beads and so on. You can use one or combine two or more! Mmm, exofliating without fish. I'll be going back to Malaysia on Sunday. I have a friend who knows someone who works at a place that offers such a service. Although I'm a little squeamish, I can't help but be intrigued. I'll let you know if I do gather up the courage to take the plunge!

This delightful and ever so popular sugar scrub smells incredibly delicious and will leave your feeling oh-so-smooth and moisturised without the greasiness!

  • 200 g of brown sugar
  • 35 g of sweet almond oil
  • 20 g of macadamia oil
  • 13 g of Vitamin E oil
  • 9 g of polysorbate 20
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the ingredients thoroughly and spoon the mixture into jars. The polysorbate 20 is used as an emulsifier and detergent in pharmaceuticals and will help get rid of the greasy feeling left behind by sugar and salt scrubs.

Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg for a truly wonderful sweet smelling scrub or combine brown sugar, turbinado sugar and coffee grounds for a more interesting scrub. Remember the recipe is not set in stone. Be creative! Add some clay maybe to draw out toxins from your body. Lemon juice is a natural disinfectant, oats are hypoallergenic and will soothe the skin. Honey and glycerine will draw moisture to the skin and keep it soft and pulpy.

Scrubbing your body not only gets rid of dead skin cells and encourages the growth of new skin cells but it also gets the blood flowing and helps with cellulite! I have so many yummy recipes for body scrubs like the granola body scrub and the papaya body scrub. If anyone is interested in these recipes, do let me know!

Anyway, enjoy! Go forth and scrub.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Doctor Fish

Has anyone heard of the new exfoliating spa treatment that is currently all the rage in Japan, China, Turkey and Europe? It has nothing to do with salt scrubs or even non abrasive AHA/BHA
exfoliation. It does have everything to do with tiny fish eating the dead skin off your body.

Do I hear screams of disgust? Oh, wait they're coming from me.

Back in 1917, a shepherd dipped his wounded leg into the hot springs in the hills of central Turkey, in a town called Kangal. These little fish, which are a little under 4 inches, or 9.7 cm, long, nibbled off the dead flesh from the wound. “Miraculously” his wound healed nicely.

Doctor fish, appropriately named for the fact that they consume the affected and dead areas of the skin, leaving behind a fresh healthy new layer of skin to grow. What you do is immerse parts or your entire body into a warm spa pool that is host to thousands of tiny fish who immediately zoom in on the dried, flaky parts of your body.

The experience is known to be quite ticklish. However, the effects are said to be amazing as you emerge from the pool with smooth and glowing skin.

Commonly used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. Apparently, the fish exude an enzyme called dithranol (anthralin) which prevents fast developments of cells from the skin, therefore preventing psoriasis. You'd think they'd do the opposite wouldn't you? So more dead skin would form, more food?

Anyway, the effects are temporary for most and they have to revisit the spa approximately every couple of weeks. So no worries there for the fishies. The food will be coming back.

These little fish are dying to feast on the diseased parts of your skin. Trackback to the article can be found here. Read it, you won't be disappointed.

While you must excuse me, I feel like I need a shower.

How Pure is your Olive Oil?

Remember what I said in the post below about cutting costs and increasing profits with big companies? Classic example here with olive oil. Read this interesting article here on the olive oil scandal. Do read it, it's interesting. What it's basically trying to tell you is that there are no strict regulations for controlling the production of olive oil and nowhere does it say that your olive oil has to be made 100% of olives. Who's to say you couldn't substitute some of it with soy or canola oil? As much as 20% hazelnut oil can be added to olive oil and still be undetectable to the consumer.

Buying "extra virgin" olive oil is sadly, no guarantee of a good quality oil. The way they grade olive oil is by measure of its acidity and nothing much else.

However, we are NOT stupid consumers, right? Right.

So, we will test the purity of our olive oil. How innocent are you, my little bottle of olive oil? Hiding any deep dark secrets? Canola oil, maybe?

Thanks to my fitness nut of a boyfriend who read an article which tells you how to test the quality of your oil through its smokepoint.

Basically start with a cup of olive oil in a frying pan and a baking thermometer. Heat the oil on high and watch for when it hits 350 degrees F. Then turn the heat down low and shine a strong flashlight down on to the pan. Watch for when it starts to smoke then note the temperature on the thermometer.

You want to watch for when the olive oil starts to smoke, a good (one with 20% free fatty acids) olive oil will start smoking at 375 degrees F but anywhere between 355 to 375 will do. An olive oil with 4% free fatty acids will smoke at 425 degrees F.

So short of running your olive oil through a lab analysis, this is the best you can do right at home. Be a smart consumer!

Tip: Don't buy olive oil stored in clear glass containers, light destroys oils. Especially don't buy it if dust has settled on the oil, a sign it has been there a long time. If you must, buy one from the back of the shelf away from direct light.

What do you look for?

What do you look for when you shop for bath and body products?

Be honest, if something is aesthetically pleasing and sheer olfactory delight, would you buy it? Do we really care if the Blueberry Cheesecake Body Butter we buy is 50% mineral oil or the Sugar Cookie Shea Body Wash contains just 1% shea? The truth is, most of us don't. That's why huge companies like Bath and Body Works make so much money.

I admit, I'm a sucker for anything that smells and looks good. What really got me interested in soapmaking was soap cakes. Soap designed to look and smell just like a cake. It was amazing, I honestly didn't care what the soap was made of, only that it was pretty and yummy smelling. I never bought unscented products, really.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tell me you don't want to buy this! *drools* Yes it's all soap! Images are from CakeofSoap.

Before getting into making my own bath and body products, I never bothered to look at the ingredients list. The fact that the ingredients are all listed by their INCI names didn't help either. The average consumer would not be able to tell that Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit really means shea butter or that the ingredients are listed by weight from most to least. So who really knows what I was putting on my skin?

I stopped buying from companies like The Body Shop, Bath and Body Works and L'occitane long ago. Not all but most big companies focus on increasing profits and cutting costs. For example, a Japanese restaurant I know swapped japanese cucumbers for ordinary cucumbers in their food as they noticed how much money they would save. However, you'll notice that smaller companies (Etsy!), again not all, are greener and not only do they put more emphasis on the good things that go into their products, they look and smell fantastic! Plus, something handmade has a certain charm to it.

Or better yet, make your own! :)

So is it only me or are other people like this as well? What do you look for?

p.s. Scent for the cupcake below is a pineapple base and coconut frosting complete with sugar flower ;)

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Creative Fun

Another bath cupcake from yours truly.

What do you imagine it smells like? I'll give you a hint, it's tropical :) I'll reveal the mysterious scent in the next post.

Experimented with frosting and added a bit too much of soft oils. Doesn't firm up properly. Oh well, mental note to self.


Saturday, 10 November 2007

Make Your Own Bath Bomb!

I remember excitedly telling a friend of mine (he's a guy by the way) about the first time I made a bath bomb and he goes "Ewwww, I don't want to know what you do in the toilet." Well, lucky for you, that wasn't what I made and that's not what I'm going to teach you how to make.

A bath bomb or bath fizzie is a ball that when dropped into a tub of water effervesces, basically meaning it fizzes and releases scent, colour or other properties in to the water depending on what it's made of. It is a combination of bicarbonate of soda and citric acid. When combined and added to water creates a chemical reaction and carbon dioxide is released.

Basic Bath Bomb

There are many good recipes for the most basic of bath bombs and you can find one here, here and here

Bath bomb moulds and colourants can be found at Brambleberry if you are living in the U.S and Aussie Soap Supplies if you live in Australia. Links are on my sidebar.

Tip: Don't have a mould? Cut a tennis ball in half, makes a lovely mould. In fact cut open any hollow ball in half and it'll pretty much do the trick.

You can add almost anything your little heart desires like salts, fine oatmeal, oils, milk powders, honey powder, herbs, flowers, cornstarch and the list goes on. Do check out some great recipes for bath bombs at Bath and Body Recipes or At Home with Arista after you are familiar with the technique. Again, links are on the sidebar.

Hereare a list of other fun things you can do involving bicarbonate of soda and citric acid like making a rocket!

Lush Handmade Cosmetics has obtained cult status here in Australia and their bath bombs are part of what projected them to fame. Celebrities like Kylie Minogue and Halle Berry are big fans of Lush.

Below is their bestseller bath bomb called the Butterball.

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cocao), Synthetic Musk, Ylang Ylang Oil (Cananga odorata), Perfume.

Let's make this clear now; it doesn't have your usual kind of butter in it, the kind of butter that comes from cows. It does have cocoa butter, made from the roasted seeds of the cocoa bean, to condition and soften your skin to make it gloriously smooth to the touch. As the Butterball fizzes into oblivion, the bathroom is scented with ylang ylang with a touch of (synthetic*) musk and a hint of chocolate from the tiny shavings of cocoa butter that melt in the water's warmth. Your whole body will be moisturised and perfumed so beautifully that you won't want to put your clothes back on. Use Butterball just before bedtime or whenever you're going to wear something that reveals an expanse of bare skin.

The picture and passages above are taken from the Lush Australian Website. I used Lush as an example because of their popularity and because this particular bath bomb is notoriously easy to make. I am assuming by now you have already read the basic bath bomb recipe. Please do so as I'm running quickly through the instructions and not covering everything.

Basic Butterball Bath Bomb

  • 1 cup bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup grated cocoa butter
  • Musk Fragrance Oil (to your liking)
  • Ylang Ylang Essential Oil (to your liking)
  • 60 mm bath bomb moulds

1. Combine the bicarbonate of soda and citric acid and run it through a sieve. This makes it easier to work with as bicarbonate of soda tends to clump and form hard little balls.
2. Add the fragrance and essential oil and blend well.
3. The trick to getting grated cocoa butter is to use a drum grater. Cocoa butter melts at skin temperature and the less you touch it, the better. Add the grated cocoa butter.
4. Spritz lightly with witch hazel while stirring continuously until you get to the stage where the mixture JUST sticks. Yes, a little bit of cocoa butter will melt, we can't help that.
5. Pack the mixture into both halves of the mould and squish together. Let dry for a few minutes, pop out and let dry for a further 3 - 4 hours on wax paper.

Should make about 4 bombs. Well, you know what? You just made 4 butterball bath bombs that would've otherwise cost you AUD 5.95 each.

1 cup bicarbonate of soda (AUD 0.50)
1/2 cup citric acid (AUD 0.48)
1/2 cup grated cocoa butter (AUD 3.60)

AUD 0.50 + AUD 0.48 + AUD 3.60 = AUD 4.58

You get 4 bath bombs for less than the price of 1 Lush bath bomb! I just amazed myself. I never bothered to do the calculations before. I only knew it was cheaper, now I know how much cheaper.

Discounting the price of the fragrance and essential oil because I don't know how much you will be adding...but still!

I hope you enjoyed that. Bath bombs are so fun to make and fantastic to use. Have a great weekend! I leave you with another pretty picture of a bath bomb from Lush. Another bestseller called the Sex Bomb.

Lush Official Website
Lush Australia Website

Thursday, 8 November 2007

I failed...or did I?

Well, yes that is the chocolate soap. It's a mess in so many ways. Normally I give the soap a good whizz with the stick blender to incorporate the ingredients but as it was seizing I thought this was not such a good idea. So, I gave it a quick stir by hand and ended up with little lumps of mica and powdered goat's milk here and there.

Though, still useable it isn't very pretty. Alright, alright, it's not pretty. So, I had a brainstorm! I thought I'll just make it prettier! And ta-dah! Hehehehehe!

Felted soap. :)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Lisa Lavie

My taste in music is pretty simple. I enjoy listening to artists who have unique voices like Rob Thomas, Maroon 5, Nickelback ,the Calling, Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, Elvis, Jason Mraz. Their voices must be distinguishable. I have so much respect for people with musical talent. It leaves me in awe. I found Lisa Lavie by accident today.

I was looking for the song "Angel" by Sarah Mclachlan, who by the way is also a fantastic singer, and I found "Angel" by Lisa Lavie. She hails from Montreal, Canada and you can read about her here. Long story short, she has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard. She is incredibly talented and I think she is just starting out in the music business. Canadians should be proud, she's awesome!

I've posted her song below.

Isn't she just wonderful? I love her energy and I'm absolutely smitten with her voice, it's so strong. I hope you enjoyed her music as much as I did.

Lisa Lavie's Myspace
Lisa Lavie's Youtube

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

What's Your Skin Type - Part II

I love the scent of chocolate and if anyone can recommend a fantastic chocolate fragrance, it would be great! I'm waiting for some chocolate fragrances from From Nature With Love. Hopefully, they'll be yummy!

Anyway, decided to try making layered chocolate soap today BUT the soap seized in the pot so I couldn't layer and I had to frantically spoon it into the mould. I've never had soap seize on me before (not saying much as I've only attempted cold process soapmaking three times). So there I was thinking "Hmmm, is it me or is this soap getting thicker really quickly.......hmmmm.......hmmmmmmmmmm...........oh my god!"

Well, hopefully it'll turn out ok :( If not then well, back to the drawing board. I'm determined to make my layered soap! And when I do, I'll post it up. Oh, my lecturer told me two stories yesterday regarding caustic soda. She was working at a hospital when a little girl of about 2 years old was admitted for swallowing caustic soda .Long story short, her esophagus melted into her trachea. Her food pipe melted into her wind pipe. She will never talk again and will always have trouble eating. Basically, her life barely began before it was over. Can you imagine? A 2 year old would only have been talking for about a year or so.

In another story, this is a real case by the way. It is either Meah v Roberts [1977] 1 WLR 1187 or Goulder v Rook [1901] 2 KB 290, I can't remember BUT caustic soda was served as lemonade in a restaurant.

Moral of the stories? Be VERY careful what you do with lye, don't store them in containers meant for food and drink and keep pets and children out of the way. Read this separate incident on TeachSoap here. Okay, onwards.

Sensitive skin
Sensitive skin is thin or fine-textured and may have a translucent quality to it. Surface veins are commonly visible and the skin reacts to changes in temperature and some detergents and cosmetics. They sunburn and windburn easily and some products will irritate the skin causing it to become red and blotchy. People with sensitive skin tend to also have a sensitive disposition and are prone to stress.

What you must do
You must all the more diminish your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Always wear a UVA/UVB sunscreen. Control and manage stress. Use appropriate cleansers, moisturisers and cosmetics for sensitive skin. Use a concealer in a green shade and it will help mask redness.

It likes
Essential oils - Lavender, jasmine, neroli, rose, German chamomile, sandalwood, everlasting
Foods - apple, avocado, banana, honey, oats, papaya, wheat germ
Milks - buttermilk, goat's milk, soy milk
Carrier oils - Jojoba, sweet almond, apricot kernel oil, calendula (marigold) infused oil

Easy Mask Recipe

  • 2 teaspoons dried or 4 teaspoons fresh chamomile
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon pectin or xanthan gum or agar agar

Place the chamomile in a mug with the boiling water and cover. Let steep for 15 minutes. Combine 2 teaspoons of the liquid with the rose water, then add the honey and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle over the pectin and whisk until the mixture forms a gel. Leave on for 5-10 minutes then wash off gently with water. Moisturise.

Mature skin
Fine lines and wrinkles are becoming more noticeable especially around the eye and mouth area. Skin is generally dry and prone to red blotchiness and uneven pigmentation. Skin can appear loose and patchy as there is insufficient sebum production.

What you must do
Seek out skincare products that contain retinol and Vitamin C, A and E. Smoking accerelates the aging process so stop. Minimise alcohol and caffeine intake and drink lots of water. Place more emphasis on eating a balanced nutritional diet. Wear sunscreen.

It likes
Essential oils - lavender, jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, neroli, rose, patchouli
Foods - almonds, avocado, carrot, banana, egg, honey, papaya, peach
Milks - cream, full cream milk, soy milk
Oils - avocado, borage, carrot infused, evening primrose, rosehip, macadamia, jojoba, olive

Easy Skin Serum

  • 1 teaspoon wheat germ oil
  • 1 teaspoon apricot kernel oil
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • 1 capsule evening primrose oil

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, squeeze the oil out from the EPO capsule and mix in as well. Use a cotton ball dipped in the serum and sweep all over the face, sleep on it overnight and wash your face first thing in the morning. Moisturise.

Acneous skin
Your skin is prone to blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. Skin is oily and sebaceous glands are overactive. This is commonly due to hormonal changes in the body like puberty, pregnancy and periods. It isn't caused by eating greasy foods.

What you must do
Cleanse face twice a day with a mild cleanser and warm water. Do not attempt to scrub away acne as it doesn't work this way, exfoliate with a gentle exfoliant and cleanse gently in a circular motion. Make sure makeup or sunscreen is non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. Lotions or creams containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide help dry out acne but beware that it can also dry out your skin. If your acne is severe, consult a dermatologist.

It likes
Essential oils - lavender, Roman and German Chamomile, geranium, clary sage, tea-tree, eucalyptus, thyme, palmarosa
Foods - alfalfa, apricot, cabbage, carrot, Manuka honey, watercress, tumeric, yeast, plum
Milks - skim milk, rice milk
Carrier oils - borage, evening primrose, hazelnut, jojoba

Easy Spot Treatment

  • 1 tablespoon myrrh tincture
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil

Mix all the ingredients and apply a small amount to individual pimples. There is no need to wash off.

Read this to find out what whitening products can do for acne scars.

Phew! I'm tired. Goodnight everyone!

Monday, 5 November 2007

What's Your Skin Type? - Part 1

There are 6 basic skin types.

Dry skin
Your face commonly feels "tight", is prone to cracks, flaking and premature wrinkling. This is due to underactive sebaceous glands.

What you must do
I've mentioned this before, drink lots of water. 2 litres a day won't kill you and will effectively keep your body hydrated. Some dry skin is caused by a Vitamin B deficiency so include this in your diet. Carry around a spray of floral or mineral water to mist on your face throughout the day. Avoid harsh soaps and cleansing too much. Moisturise face with creams and allow for a thin layer to coat your face. A good time to do this is immediately after washing your face while the skin is still damp. Yes, you can moisturise too much and end up getting clogged pores.

It likes
Essential oils - lavender, ylang ylang, patchouli, palmarosa, rose
Foods - egg yolks, avocado, carrot, honey, lecithin, papaya
Milks - cream, full cream milk, goat's milk
Carrier oils - avocado, macadamia, kukui, camellia, olive, wheat germ, *coconut

*Use in small amounts. Too much can be drying for some.

Easy Mask Recipe

  • 1 egg yolk, whipped
  • 1/4 of an avocado, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon powdered full cream milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • oat flour

Combine ingredients thoroughly. If you wish, add oat flour to thicken. Then apply on to face and neck and relax for 15 minutes. Wash off with warm water, apply a very gentle toner like cucumber juice neat on the skin. Moisturise well.

Oily skin
Are probably due to overactive sebaceous glands. The skin is shiny, dull and has enlarged pores and a greasy feel.

What you must do
Clay and mud masks are excellent for drawing toxins from oily skin. Oil based cleansers are actually effective in cleaning oily skin as they dissolve sebum. It is probably wise to cleanse face with a gentle cleanser three times daily especially in hot, humid weather. Skin does need moisturising and choose ones for oily skin. The skin around your eyes is very delicate and don't forget to moisturise it. Carry around a packet of rice paper tissues to wipe your face with. In a pinch, pull apart the layers of a normal tissue and use them to soak up the oil on your face.

It likes
Essential oils- lavender, lemon, lime, mandarine, orange, tangerine, geranium, bergamot
Foods - apricots, carrot, egg white, honey, lemon, lemon zest, pineapple, strawberry, tomato
Milks - buttermilk, skim milk, yoghurt
*Carrier oils - fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, hazelnut oil, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil

*Jojoba oil balances sebum, hazelnut oil is a mild astringent. All oils are non-comedogenic (no clogging pores)

Easy Mask Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey (substitute with aloe vera juice)
  • french green clay

Best to warm the lemon juice, rosewater and honey so that they mix. Add enough clay to form a paste and apply to face and neck. Relax for 10-15 minutes then wash off with warm water and tone. Then apply a light moisturiser.

Combination/Normal skin
This is the most common skin type. Oily areas tend to be around the T-zone while the cheeks tend to be a little dry, however areas tend to not be as severe as dry and oily skin though it does happen. Skin has medium pores and a smooth,even texture. The colour is healthy and circulation is good. You are unlikely to have completely "normal" skin unless you are very young or very lucky.

What you must do
If the oily areas and dry areas are very dry then do treat them separately and refer to the above. Otherwise use a combination skin cleanser and light moisturiser. It's difficult to tell you exactly what to do because I find combination skin is very different and varies according to each individual. For example, the skin on my T-zone is slightly oily and more so when the weather is hot and humid. The skin on my cheeks is normal and I am prone to eczema breakouts all over the face. Therefore if you think about it, I have oily, normal, sensitive skin.

It likes
Essential oils - lavender, neroli, geranium, ylang ylang, chamomile, jasmine
Foods - almond meal, apple, honey, seaweed, papaya, oats, cucumber, wheat germ
Milks - buttermilk, goat's milk, soy milk, yoghurt, skim milk
Carrier oils - apricot kernel oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, *coconut oil

*Use in small amounts. Too much can be drying for some.

Easy Mask Recipe

  • 1 chunk of a ripe papaya about 2 inches in length, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon of yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • kaolin clay

Combine ingredients thoroughly and add enough clay to make a spreadable paste. Smooth over face and neck and relax for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with water then gently tone and moisturise.

That's it, for now! However, remember that the best thing you can do for healthy skin is to nourish it from the inside out. Drink lots of water and eat a balanced nutritional diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. Take fish oil which helps your skin, nails and hair and evening primrose oil is rich in essential fatty acids and also helps clear skin conditions like eczema. Get lots of exercise and the required amount of sunshine. Not smoking and drinking alcohol help as well ;)

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Dolphin Killing

I decided to take a break from studying my law and thought I'd read the news. And I'm greeted with this. Basically, its in regards to Hayden Panettiere (celebrity from Heroes) and a group of people who surfed out to sea in Japan to try and stop their annual dolphin cull. To be honest, I never knew that dolphins were killed yearly by the japanese, a tradition that stretches back for centuries. People can be so ignorant, I know and we take it for granted thinking the world is really alright when it clearly isn't.

I don't know how the japanese can be so cruel as to kill these peaceful, loving, trusting creatures and their babies. What have they ever done to anyone? And for what? For their meat? I'm sorry, maybe I've been living under a rock these past couple of decades but are the japanese running out of food? Are chickens, cows and pigs or fish going extinct at the moment? Must we now resort to eating dolphins, whales and turtles? What are we going after next? Possums?? Maybe we're going to realise one day that the skunk is a delicacy and that baboons taste good in a stew.

You'd have to have a heart made out of stone not to feel for the poor dolphins. It makes you so angry and so helpless because really, what can you do? I don't eat dolphin meat, I don't buy anything that comes as a result from harming a dolphin and what does that change? How are you going to encourage the market for dolphin flesh to just...give it up? The japanese eat it, no use putting up videos of the killings cause they get to see it, front row seat, and it doesn't bother them in the least.

The breaking and torture of baby elephants in Thailand, the whaling and now dolphin culling in Japan. It all makes you want to cry. These gentle animals have no way of defending themselves against us, they just don't stand a fair chance. How can man be so cruel? I just cannot fathom. Can anyone out there imagine having to kill a baby dolphin by slashing its throat and watching the blood gush out, while it screams and just not cry your entire heart out? Those men are ruthless and they all deserve to feel the pain and agony of the dolphins 10 times over.

There is a documentary titled Earthlings that you can find here. It is NOT for the faint hearted and only goes to show you what man is truly like. We kill ourselves, we kill the animals, we kill plants. Is it just...human nature?

I'm not a vegetarian as I've said before but I don't eat ostrich, kangaroo, turtle, dolphin/whale, snake and monkey meat to name a few. I've been reading up on the killing of dolphins in Japan and I have to say I've read quite enough.

Please, if you are reading this, help spread the word. Hopefully, people are inherently good and something will come out of this.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Make Your Own Lip Balm!

Burt's Beeswax Lip Balm - How it works

"This natural lip balm moisturizes lips with ingredients like ultra-emollient lanolin, coconut oil and sunflower oil, and seals in hydration with beeswax. You can use it on healthy lips for a little peppermint tingle. Take your pick of an old-fashioned yellow tin or a recycled plastic tube. No wonder it is our most popular product.

Ingredients: Tube: beeswax, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, tocopheryl acetate, lanolin, symphytum officinale (comfrey) root extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, tocopherol"

The above excerpt was taken from the Burt's Bees website. I chose to use the ingredients list for their lip balm cause it happens to be insanely popular.

However, today we're going to formulate our very own honey and beeswax lip balm!

I'll tell you what we won't use in our recipe though. Lanolin. It is a greasy yellow, almost waxy substance that is obtained from the serbaceous glands of wool bearing animals such as sheep. No sheep are harmed when lanolin is extracted as it comes from the wool itself and not the animal. It is an excellent emollient and lubricant, absorbs readily into the skin and is wonderful in treating chapped lips among other dry skin conditions. So why am I omitting this wonderful ingredient? I'm not vegetarian, I just have this thing against using animal fat like beef tallow, lard or human fat from liposuction (think Tyler Durden in Fight Club!) in things like my soap. And I don't want to be licking off wool fat from my lips. So all my creations are vegetarian (includes eggs) and mostly vegan. Do incorporate it if you like though!

Fact: Lanolin is a key ingredient in Oil of Olay.

One thing we will add though: honey! Honey is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the skin and it keeps it soft and hydrated. Vegetable glycerine works similarly and you can use that if you are allergic to honey, it even tastes sweet! However, we use honey here because of the beeswax, because it tastes yummy and because its all-natural! Glycerine is a sugar alcohol and depending on how you look at it, it is either nearly natural or natural. It is a by product of the oils from soapmaking and biodiesel production.

Regarding peppermint essential oil, there have been contradicting reports . Some experts claim that peppermint oil can be drying for the lips and the tingling sensation is addictive. On the other hand, some claim that peppermint oil is moisturising. Lip plumpers contain peppermint oil sometimes as it is a mild irritant causing blood to flow and the lips to swell temporarily. What do you think?

Now what oils do we use! Desicions, decisions. Okay! I leave the decision up to you! Olive oil, jojoba oil, macadamia oil, shea butter, cocoa butter. In this recipe I use cocoa butter for its emollient properties and the light chocolatey scent and macadamia oil because its nice and rich, doesn't absorb as readily so you get a nice glossy layer on your lips.

However, for the pictures I was experimenting with a different oil and used avocado oil because the avocado is an amazing fruit and so good for you in so many ways. I was worried the green oil would colour the balm and I was right. Yellowish green, umm not very attractive. Still it felt divine on my lips and stayed on well despite my constant licking. You know, I think extra virgin olive oil may colour the lip balm as well so use a lighter coloured olive oil if that's what you plan on using.

Beeswax and Honey Lip Balm

  • 3 tsp macadamia oil
  • 2 tsp beeswax
  • 2 tsp cocoa butter
  • 1 capsule of vitamin E
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 5 drops of vanilla extract (optional)

Heat the beeswax, cocoa butter and macadamia oil in a double boiler or a saucepan on low heat.

When the beeswax and cocoa butter have melted, add the oil from the Vitamin E capsule. Just prick a hole with a knife and squeeze out the oil. Add the honey then remove from heat. Take the top pot out of the bottom pot if you're using a double boiler. Keep stirring and add the vanilla extract. Continue stirring until it has cooled somewhat or thickened slightly (I let it thicken a little too much).

This way you can make sure the honey and vanilla wont separate. Really, it's not meant to as the beeswax is an emulsifier (helps bond water and oil). Spoon it in to a lip balm pot.

I used up all my lip balm pots for my various lip balm recipes so in a pinch, I used empty contact lens cases which I sterilised in boiling water. See!

Well I had to use something! And I'm recycling :)

That's it! Experiment, it's always fun! Enjoy!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Azuki (Adzuki) Beans

What in the world are azuki beans? Azuki beans are simply red beans (hong dou). The kind that is used to make red bean paste. They resemble kidney beans somewhat. To all the Malaysians out there, you'll know red beans for sure, the kind that your grandmother likes to make into a sweet, aromatic soup :)

They are an old east asian skincare secret and when ground to a fine powder, gently polishes the skin without damaging it. Leaving it on as a mask will tighten the face and lift it. Supermodels are known to eat azuki beans for its ability to cleanse the kidney and remove dark circles under their eyes. Red bean buns!

They are a joy to use because the recipes you can come up with that include adzuki beans are only limited by your imagination. To start you off, I will provide you with the simplest recipe of them all.

Azuki Beans Cleansing Mask
  • 1/4 cup of adzuki beans
  • water
Grind the azuki beans to a powder in the blender. Let it settle for a minute or so before taking it out to avoid getting the powder in your eyes. Put a teaspoon or two of the powder in your hands and add wnough water to make a paste. Gently exfoliate your face and allow to dry approximately 10 minutes. Then rinse off with warm water.

Easy! I can give you soooooo many variations on this mask. If you find it too drying, soak a cotton pad in some jojoba oil and use it as a moisturiser afterwards. Combine the powdered beans with the clay that best suits your skin (kaolin clay is the gentlest) and/or powdered herbs and/or powdered kelp then add a liquid such as green tea if you want to stay true to the east asian recipe :) Oh, did I mention you could add oats and honey?

Red Bean Soup

You can drink this while letting your mask dry. It is sweet, delicious and will nourish your body from the inside out! Reminds me of home.

  • 1 cup azuki beans
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 strip dried mandarin peel
  • 1/4 cup gluten rice balls (found at asian grocery stores)
  • 1/3 cup lotus seeds (found at asian grocery stores)
  • rock sugar to taste

1. Soak the azuki beans in water overnight. Drain.
2. 2 hours before making the soup, soak the lotus seeds in water.
3. Bring the water and the mandarin peel to a boil in a saucepan. You can add more water if you wish for the soup to be thinner. I like mine semi-thick.
4. Turn down the heat and add the drained adzuki beans and draines lotus seeds. Simmer partially covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the beans have softened and are partially breaking apart.
5. Add the gluten rice balls and cook for approximately 20 minutes.
6. Add the sugar and stir till dissolved. Add more boiling water if it's too thick. Remove the peel and serve hot or cold.

Mmm, yummy! You can substitute the lotus seeds for sago, I prefer this. By the way, this is an old chinese recipe. The korean and japanese version is thicker leaning more towards the consistency of porridge. It is served with mochi, a japanese dessert. Commonly eaten during winter, so it is served hot with the melted mochi. It sounds absolutely delicious.

Oh, I'm getting hungry. Red bean ice-cream anyone?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Icy Push Pop Moisturising Mask

Here's a fun, fun way to keep your skin cool and moisturised. It's really good for sunburn or windburn and besides that, I think it's a really cute idea!

I found my camera! So I have pictures.

Frozen Honey and Egg Mask
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of finely ground oats
  • 1 cardboard tube (the kind you use for toilet paper)

1. Melt the coconut oil (if it's solid) for a couple of minutes on HIGH in the microwave.
2. Beat the egg until it's foamy.
3. Slowly drizzle in the coconut oil while whipping furiously. It should slowly start getting thicker and have the consistency of mayonnaise.
4. Add the honey and whip again.
5. I love my oats. Add in the finely ground oats at this point.

6. Stand the carboard tube on a plate and spoon in the mixture.
7. Freeze it overnight.

To use, peel off the top layer of cardboard and smooth it all over your face.

Leave on for 20 minutes and then gently dampen your hands and massage your face to exfoliate and rub off the mask. Then wash off with warm water. The oats are soothing and mildly exfoliating while the coconut oil and egg moisturise. I wonder if adding aloe vera gel is an option. Hmmm.

Apple Cider Vinegar & Green Tea Toner

1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part green tea

Make a cup of green tea. Steep a green tea bag or loose leaf green tea in some freshly boiled water. Let it cool. Combine 1 cup green tea with 1 cup apple cider vinegar. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and sweep over your face in gentle circular motions.

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and the apple cider vinegar will help balance the ph of your skin. Apple cider vinegar is an old folk remedy and beauty secret said to cure ailments when ingested and remove product build up and keep hair shiny when used as a hair rinse.

You may substitute apple cider vinegar with lemon juice, cucumber juice or tomato juice. I added this particular recipe for a toner because some people worry about oil clogging their pores. This will get it right off.

Some people can't stand the strong smell of the vinegar. So do what I do and go over it again with a cotton ball dipped in plain green tea.

It can be drying so moisturise afterwards. On to my buttercream!

These are the ingredients I used for my Apricot Buttercream.

Apricot Kernel Oil
Coconut oil
Emulsifying Wax
Conditioning Emulsifier
Distilled Water (not shown)
Vanilla Fragrance Oil
Vitamin E
Phenoserve (preservative)

And this is my Buttercream! It has a more creamy, buttery colour in real life because I infused the apricot oil with calendula flowers. The flowers cooking in the oil smelled so delicious, I kept going back to the pot just to smell it.

All those huge bottles you see at the back belong to Daniel. He's a fitness nut and clutters up my pretty kitchen with his protein and what not. Working at GNC and doing his personal training course seems to have further fueled his already flaming desire to purchase more and more vitamins and bodybuilding stuff.

Pretty soon, he's going to take up the entire kitchen! The good news is I get to take some off the supplements he has that are good for skin, hair, nails and general well-being!

Anyway, have fun with the recipe, I'm going back to studying. Wish me luck!

Being Organised is Important

Well it's 4:30 a.m in the morning and I can't sleep! I blame it all on the fact that I have a law exam on Monday at 9:30 a.m. I'm too tired to study and the words don't make any sense but I can't sleep.

Solution? Blog.

Nadia was asking me to make some cream for her hands as the skin around her nails are peelings and she has a habit of pulling at the skin *stop it, Nadia!*. So I decided to formulate a vanilla scented apricot cream for her using real pureed apricots.

I took a picture of my pretty cream, however, my camera has gone missing. I vaguely remember having it in my hand and then she said something which made me laugh and I forgot where I put it!

I thought I'd take a look around my house but instead I found other random things that I'd lost at some point or another. And yes, it can happen to you if you're me.

"Oh, there are my glasses! Ah, the hairclip I lost two weeks ago! So there's where the piping bag went!"

Yes, the piping bag. I lost the piping bag. Notice the frosting was not piped onto the bath cupcakes in the post below. Where was it? Oh, umm under the couch. How did it get there? I honestly have no idea.

I have a habit of being really messy, and the boyfriend helps with that too, then doing this whirlwind clean up. So, I spring clean every week or so then find all these goodies.

However, I am very confused about the camera! It's just gone *poof* disappeared. I'm peering around on the floor and my computer desk as I type this. Either I am the world's most unorganised person or there is a mini David Copperfield running around my apartment. I'm going with the latter. Denial is not just a river in Egpyt.

I'll post the picture of the cream next time if mini-David will so kindly return it.

Anyway, I am thinking of the next fruit to incorporate in my creams. Any ideas at all will be welcome and appreciated!

Reminder to self: Blueberries dye your skin and clothes blue.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Move!

Hi, everyone. I've moved from! I've put in on private for now and am still wondering what I should do with it. I've had it for about 2 years now and have lots of memories stored away in there. Anyway...

First off, a Murad skincare specialist replied me. Here is what they have to say about the sodium hydroxide in their facial cleanser.

Sodium Hydoxide is an alkaline however there are different ph of alkalines especially when it is mixed with other ingredients. You are correct that too much of an alkaline or an acid can have a burning affect on the skin. However I assure you that all our products our PH balanced.

We do follow the guidelines given to us by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board.

We also use anti-inflammatory agents and anti-bacterial agents as well as Retinol to normalize the skin cells. By using all of these different ingredients, we are creating the best environment for the skin.

Basically, she didn't tell me why they include the sodium hydroxide only that it won't harm the skin. However, I wasn't able to save the comments from my previous post which is a shame because there was a particularly helpful one by Anne-marie.

From what I've read about her in her blog, I understand that she is a young entrepreneur who is the founder of Brambleberry (I have a link in my sidebar), Otion (which offers soapmaking classes and parties) and Organic Fusion (organic skincare). I strongly encourage you to read her blog! She has a fantastic recipe for bath cupcakes and chocolate lipbalm among other things. Basically, she leads a fascinating life, being able to juggle leisure time and work (something I struggle to do) and best of all, she's funny and her blog is a great read.

Also, she suggested that it may have been used as a ph balancer and secondary emulsifier.

My flight's booked for 12:45 a.m on the 19th of November. I'll be back in Australia on the 27th of December for summer school :(

However, my course ends next semester. I can't believe I've been here almost 2 years! Time sure does fly. On the bright side, my family including my aunt's family are planning on packing up and heading to switzerland for a few weeks in July to stay with an uncle who lives there. We'll be taking the train down to Paris and then maybe, just maybe we will then head off to London. I can't wait, the last time I went to London I was three years old and all I remember from the experience was falling head first into a fish pond.

Till next time!

p.s I took Anne-marie's idea of bath cupcakes and made my own below. Although I didn't use her recipe.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Dangers of Sun Tanning

Ok, I'll start off with the good news. Every living thing in this world; plants, animals and people need sunlight. Sunlight can give your skin a healthy glow, is the most important source of Vitamin D and helps clear up skin problems. It feels good on your skin and is essential for your overall well-being. Try staying indoors for several days without going outdoors to bask in the sunlight and see how depressed you get. It's because sunlight boosts your body's production of serotonin.

This is the reason many people suffer from depression in winter. Everyone can benefit from 30 to 45 minutes of unprotected sun exposure before 9.00 a.m and after 5.00 pm. Don't worry if it's overcast, the sun's rays will still get to you.

Now, as is the same with all things, too much can prove to be bad. Baking yourself in the sun for several hours especially when the sun's rays are at their strongest between 11.00 a.m to 3.00 p.m puts you at a real risk for skin cancer and premature aging.

Please do read this article. It is not long winded and still provides you with a great deal of information. Please use your good judgement. If you must tan, educate yourself so you minimise your chances of getting melanoma.

Know this, there is no safe way to tan yourself in solariums or tanning beds. Don't do it, period. Read this story about a young girl in her twenties named Clare Oliver who died from melanoma after years of visiting solariums about a month ago. During the incredibly short time she had left to live, this brave lady spent it campaigning hard to try and spread awareness about the cancer eventhough she was in pain and weak most of the time. She has touched many hearts and I hope that you will also benefit from reading about her story.

I have a couple of friends who frequent tanning salons. Their skin is dry and tough and the one thing that always strikes me about their faces are the pockmarks. One is only 22 and the other is 30. Yet they both have the same unsightly, leathery skin.

Ok, enough about that. As you all know there is an alternative to achieving that bronzed, golden, sun-kissed glow you all crave. Fake it! 5 top bronzers are tested here in this article. There also tips on how to achieve an even, smooth and long lasting fake tan.

Steps to Tanning "Safely"

1. Exfoliate. This will rub off dead skin cells and help the tanning oil to better penetrate your skin.

Easy Sugar Scrub

  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil (puncture and squeeze out from capsules)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of essential oil(s)*

Combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Scrub your body in circular motions starting from your feet and move upwards.

*Note: Some oils are make you photosensitive meaning more sensitive to sunlight and more likely to burn like lemon and orange essential oil. Best to check before you use!

2. Slather on the tanning oil. A fun recipe you can all make right at home for a tanning oil with the SPF of about 8-10. I have several more advanced recipes which allows you to vary the SPF. If you are interested, do drop a comment.

Tropical Scented Tanning Oil

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup jojoba oil (may substitute with another oil like extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa butter
  • A few drops of coconut fragrance oil and vanilla essential oil (optional but produces wonderful aroma)

In a double boiler, melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil gently. Remove from heat and combine thoroughly with the jojoba oil. Add the fragrance and essential oil if you so desire and stir again. Pour it into a bottle and allow to cool then cap it and let rest for 12 hours before you use it.

This oil will have a thicker consistency in colder weather and you can warm it in a bowl of hot water. Shake bottle vigorously and apply immediately to the skin after shower or bath while it is still damp. You don't need alot so start with a small amount. Head out into the sun and dont forget to apply lip balm with an SPF of at least 15!

3. Moisturise. Re-apply the tanning oil and drink lots and lots of water. Don't do any vigorous excercise and rest. Don't hop into the sauna. Basically don't overheat or dehydrate your body any further. Lots and lots of water!

Tip: Take fish oil rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They provide you wih natural sun protection from within.

Ok, that's the end. I hope you have found the information helpful. Have fun but mostly importantly, be safe!

Check back next time for the fun skin care recipes you can create with a bag of almonds!