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!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Salicylic Acid

No, don't run away! This is not a chemistry lesson. I'm going to talk a little about these acids as they are the key to fantastic skin and the good news is they are readily available! Lets start with Alpha Hydroxy Acids commonly referred to as AHAs which I'm sure many of you have used and didn't know about.

It is basically a class of chemical compounds that is used widely in the cosmetics industry in things such as facial peels. The different types include glycolic acid found in sugar cane and considered to be the most effective of the AHAs, lactic acid which is found in SOUR milk and is the reason why yoghurt and sour cream is commonly used in home facial recipes, citric acid from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, malic acid from apples and tartaric acid from grapes.

Now salicylic acid is a form of beta hydroxy acids (BHA) which are closely related to AHAs. They are commonly used in anti-aging creams and have been medically proven to unclog pores (blackheads, whiteheads), exfoliate dead skin cells and generally provide you with smoother, softer skin!

I'm not going to bore you with the science behind the two acids. I'm here to tell you where to find them. You already know how to find AHAs and regular fruit facial masks will keep your skin in tip top shape although they are generally considered the least effective of the AHAs. Best to mix them with yoghurt or sour cream (lactic acid) and powdered unrefined cane sugar (glycolic acid). Salicylic acid is available at chemists and pharmacies. If not, you can find them in aspirin. Yes, aspirin and if you google aspirin face mask you are bound to find loads of recipes for it as well as many people raving about how soft their skin feels after just one application.

Here's the fantastic thing though. I have found a facial exfoliating cleanser containing AHAs and BHAs and I'm going to share it with you. I guarantee you will be amazed at how soft and smooth your skin will feel!

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This is Murad's AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser and it is selling for about 70AUD. It contains salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids. Jojoba beads for exfoliation and Sodium PCA which naturally occurs in human sebum.

I have taken a look at the ingredients and the only thing I can't work out is why Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)/Caustic Soda/Lye is included. Lye is an alkali used to make soap, however you will never see lye on the ingredients list for soap. The reason for this is that although lye is used to make soap, it is not present in the soap anymore when it reaches the consumer for use.

Lye is extremely caustic and can cause serious burns and blindness if it gets in your eyes. Extreme care must be taken when lye is handled. Therefore, I see no purpose for it to be in this cleanser. Something you would use on the delicate skin of your face.

I have written to Murad and expect to hear from them in about 3 or 4 days. So I'll get back to you on that.

Meanwhile, do try the aspirin mask. It is quick and easy, most importantly cheap and will provide you with the results you crave.

Crush a couple of tablets of aspirin (if you can find non-coated aspirin, they dissolve on their own when sprinkled with water) into a powder and sprinkle water on it to achieve a paste like consistency. Try mixing it with a little yoghurt or sour cream as well as water. If you can find unrefined cane sugar, grind it to a powder and you can use it too for a mild exfoliation. However it exfoliates just fine without the cane sugar. Concentrate on the T-zone and areas prone to blackheads.

Please consult a professional before using it on sensitive skin or do a patch test on the inside of your elbow. If redness occurs or you experience a burning or tingling sensation, DO NOT use it. You don't want to burn tour precious skin. Trust me. The cleanser can be drying and it is best to use it once every three days for oily skin, once a week for normal skin, once a fortnight for dry, mature and sensitive skin. Eczema (i.e. me) and Rosacea sufferers are strongly encouraged to speak to a dermatologist before attempting this mask.

Always, always moisturise after this mask. And please, as always be careful what you do to your skin. Never scrub too hard, never vigorously wash, never pull at your skin. Drink 2 litres of water a day and WEAR sunscreen! I don't know if this will get through to anyone but do not ever tan. Not in natural sunlight and definitely NOT in tanning salons/solariums. Please, for the love of god. Skin cancer kills so many young people nowadays. If that's not enough, your skin will age dramatically leading to pigmentation, wrinkles and leathery skin (YUCK).

Sunscreen should be SPF 30 at least! If you MUST tan and I know you still will. Oh, I beg you don't use SPF 0 tanning oil! SPF 8 is better than nothing and won't affect your tan. I will include a tropical scented coconut tanning oil recipe you can make at home in my next post which I hope you will consider trying! It contains all natural ingredients.

More on tanning and its side effects along with a couple of fun recipes next. Stay tuned!

Love Your Hair - Part II

This is a lot of fun to make and it smells oh-so-yummy. However, please be forewarned that for this mask to work effectively you may need to leave it on for a couple hours. In fact, the longer you leave it in the better. I've tried leaving it on for about 20 minutes and I didn't feel any difference. This is a conditioning mask and NOT recommended for oily hair.

Fruit Smoothie Hair Mask

  • 1/2 a banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
  • 2 tablespoons yoghurt
  • 1 egg yolk

Blend everything in a blender. Massage it into your scalp and hair then wrap it up with plastic wrap. Read a book, cook some food, watch some TV, ignore that you have the smoothie in your hair. Leave it on for at LEAST one hour. Shampoo your hair twice and condition. Voila! Easy-peasy.

Make your own fresh mayonnaise and it can do wonders for your skin and your hair and it's so versatile! You can use it as an all over cleanser or use it in a body wrap. Below is a fantastic recipe especially if you don't skimp on the ingredients and it will keep for 2 weeks.

Mayonnaise Hair and Skin Treat

  • 1 organic egg yolk
  • 1 cup of your favourite oil (eg. jojoba oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (substitute for lemon juice)
  • 20 drops of essential oil*

Beat the egg yolk in a blender then drizzle in the oil and continue mixing until the mixture gets thicker. Slowly add the remaining ingredients and mix well until combined. Follow the instructions as per above.

*There are many, many essential oils that I cannot possibly list them all. They have many therapeutic values. For example, lavender is relaxing, aids depression and can be used on minor burns and cuts. However, I have to warn you to never, EVER use essential oils neat on your skin. They have to be mixed with a carrier oil which in the above recipe is listed as jojoba oil. Lavender essential oils is one of the few that you can apply directly on your skin. I encourage you to do research on the subject.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Love Your Hair - Part I

Ive decided to put up a couple of fun recipes for hair masks :). My favourite is the fruit smoothie mask, just because its so much fun to make and it smells delicious.

Hot Oil Hair Treatment

This is a popular kind of hair treatment and so easy to do and very effective if you know how to do it. My favourite kind of oil to use for the hair is extra virgin or virgin coconut oil. You can read more about how good it is for your hair and skin here. In a pinch, you can use regular coconut oil but trust me, there is a difference between virgin and non virgin coconut oil, apart from retaining its fresh coconut smell and your hair will be able to tell.

Other popular kinds of oils to use on your hair are olive oil and jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-bah) oil. Olive oil would be a good substitute and I personally feel jojoba oil works better on your skin than your hair with its ability to mimic human sebum. Apart from that, its expensive. However I know people who swear by jojoba oil for the hair.

If you are feeling particularly spendy, hemp oil and rosehip seed oil can do wonders. I can go on and on, I encourage you to do your own research as everybody's hair is different and will respond differently. Below is how I do my hot oil treatment, there are many variations to this technique. However, I think this works great.

Depending on how much hair you have, use up to 1/2 cup of the oil you've decided on. Place the oil in a ziplock bag/sandwich bag and place it in a bowl of freshly boiled water. Leave it in there for 5 minutes then remove and check the temperature of the oil. If you feel it could do with a little more heat, put it back in the bowl. Give your hair a good rinse with hot water then apply the hot oil to your hair, gently massaging it into your scalp and the ends of your hair. If the oil has gone cold, blast your hair with hot air from a blowdryer. Wrap a heated towel or a towel soaked in hot water (I prefer this) around your head. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, I have mine on for an hour or hell you can even sleep on it provided you use a dry towel and some clips.

Once the towel has gone cold, remove it and replace it with another hot towel. At this point, I like to hop into the shower and give myself a body scrub while letting the water run. This will cause the bathroom to nicely steam up and keep your towel hot. Remove the towel and shampoo your hair twice then apply conditioner.

If you want nice waves, braid your hair and let it air dry. Once it has dried, run your hands through your hair. Apply a light styling mousse and scrunch up your hair in your hands to help hold its shape.

Check back soon for the fruit smoothie mask and mayonnaise mask recipe. :)

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

I love foody scents and these include chocolate, strawberry, cookies, coconut, steak, roast chicken, tom yum soup...erm ok I got a bit carried away there but you get what i mean! Anyway im sure many of you already know that chocolate is good for you! So here are a couple of fun recipes to try that include chocolate!

Chocolate Face Mask
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (sour cream will work as well)
  • 3 teaspoons of oatmeal powder (fine oatmeal)
Mix all the ingredients together, you may use a blender if you like. Apply on your face, massaging as you go then leave the mask on for 20 minutes. Give your face another gentle massage to loosen the dead skin cells then wash off with a face cloth and lukewarm water. This is an excellent moisturiser for dry skin!

Chocolate Body Polish

This is an excellent scrub for your body and it smells oh-so-yummy, just like chocolate mint chip ice cream! It is also a great pick me up due to the peppermint essential oil. I have used sugar in this scrub but you are welcome to substitue it with fine grain salt.

1/2 cup of sugar (I adore brown or turbinado sugar)
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey
a few drops of peppermint essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together and scrub! Scrub yourself gently as you don't want it to hurt. You can go harder once you're used to it. Pay attention to rough areas of your body, particularly knees and elbows.

Chocolate Milk Bath

This is notoriously easy to make. I have a recipe for a more advanced version involving cocoa butter and real Belgian chocolate. However for the sake of keeping things easy and being able to find things in your own kitchen, use this delicious recipe. You'll feel like you are soaking in a huge chocolate milkshake! At the risk of not being able to find epsom salts in malaysia, try using pure sea salt and not ordinary table salt!

1 cup powdered milk
1 cup epsom salts
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
few drops of essential oil like vanilla or peppermint

Combine the ingredients thoroughly. Draw a warm bath and swish in your chocolate milk bath. Then lie down and relax!

Well i hope you enjoyed that! Bye!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Starting Something Different

hello everyone. only a few of you may know about my new found hobby. basically im just dabbling in something different. its a lot of fun and all you need are ingredients that you have right at home! for example, below ill give you an idea about what im talking about. making your very own mask and cleanser at home.

Oat and Almond Cleanser

  • 1/2 teaspoon of oatmeal (flourlike consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond meal (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • milk

1. Ground the oatmeal till very fine, if you can find finely ground oatmeal or oat flour, so much the better.
2. Almond meal can be hard to find if malaysians are reading this so it can be omitted. Mix the oatmeal, almond meal and honey in a bowl.
3. Depending on how watery you want your cleanser, you can add the milk accordingly. I only add very little to my cleanser as i like the feel of the mixture gently scrubbing my face. You can even add yogurt, cream or an oil such as jojoba to the mix instead of the milk. It works just as well.
4. Gently cleanse your face and remove with warm water and a face cloth.
5. Feel the difference!

you'd think the recipe above wouldnt do an ounce of cleaning for your face as there is no soap involved but it will! honey is a humectant meaning it draws moisture from the air to your face while the milk is an excellent moisturiser. Oats are very soothing to the skin and almond meal makes a great and gentle exfoliant and if you make the mixture a little thicker you can even use it as a mask.

Milk, Honey and Egg mask

this mask is for dry skin.

  • 1 egg yolk, whipped
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey

1. Combine the ingredients well then apply to your face.

the mask will tighten after a while, leave it on for 15 minutes then wash it off with warm water. this mask is very sticky so try not to let it get on clothes. suprisingly, the mask smells quite nice which is probably due to the honey.

thats all i have for now. ill definitely be adding more later. i love experimenting and coming up with these things. people dont believe me when they ask what cleanser i use and i tell them abt the oat and almond cleanser! sorry i dont have pictures, ill post them up the next time i have a recipe to share. have fun!