5 Ways You Can Reduce Your Microplastic Waste

My head was left spinning the other day when I heard the news that microplastics were being deposited in the arctic by snow. I mean, WHAT? I know that a big part of people’s worry about the climate/environmental crises is that we all have absolutely no idea what, specifically we should be doing. So here are 5 things you can do that will have a direct impact on microplastic waste.

CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES

1/3 of all microplastic pollution comes from washing synthetic textiles like polyester, nylon, viscose, acrylic and elastane. This is because sewage treatment stations cannot filter them out (and when you imagine the kinds of things that sewage treatment CAN remove, that’s a pretty scary thought). It’s imperative that we stop buying synthetic textiles. Ideally, when we buy clothes, they should be made from natural, biodegradable fibres instead. It’s also important to note that a lot of ‘eco/sustainable’ fabrics like tencel and bamboo fibre may also contribute to the microplastic pollution – they are made from a type of cellulose that might not biodegrade. Fabrics that are guaranteed to biodegrade include linen, cotton, wool, hemp and silk.

Manufacturing any new fabric puts a huge strain on the environment in other ways, including chemical pollution and carbon emissions, so please don’t chuck out all your synthetic clothes and buy a whole new wardrobe (and don’t sweat if you simply can’t afford to buy natural fabrics, or have a uniform for work that you can’t change). For the synthetic clothes you already have you can buy a Guppyfriend Laundry Bag from Ethical Superstore (link) which will catch some of the microplastics, and allow you to dispose of them in a way that will pollute less – instead of directly into our waterways, they’ll go to landfill instead.

WASH SMARTER

Am I talking about your clothes or your body? Actually I’m talking about everything. The less water you put down the drain, the less microplastics end up in our water. Wash your clothes less, and don’t tumble dry as this wears the fibres down making them release more fibres when you next wash them. Wash your body less (use a 100% cotton cloth to wash your bits every day if you need to) and don’t use a plastic shower puff or sponge – use a soft ramie puff (link) instead. Ditching flushable wipes is another big one – there are alternatives like sprays you can use with toilet paper. Also, wash your dishes in a dishwasher or switch to a biodegradable loofah (link) or natural fibre brush (link) instead of a plastic sponge or brush to do the washing up. Finally, microfibre cloths, plastic brushes, cleaning sponges and even cellulose sponges all produce microplastics too (when you rinse/wash them after use), so switch to cleaning with a cotton or hemp cloth (link), and for heavy duty cleaning, use a coconut scrubber (link).

REDUCE AND REUSE

As I mentioned above, the manufacturing industry is hugely culpable in the microplastic crisis, and the best way to stop industrial pollution is to stop increasing demand for new goods. Repair your socks when they spring a hole, repurpose an unwanted dress into a top or a bag, buy secondhand, cut up old sheets for cleaning – quite simply, before you buy something new, try to think of an alternative way of getting what you need first. It might not sound like fun, you might think I’m suggesting a return to the housewives and domestic servants of days past – but no. People of all genders should be doing this, and unfortunately, its the convenience culture that we rely on to make life easy that got us into this mess in the first place. If you aren’t a DIY-type person, you can ask for my hourly rate and I’ll fix your socks for you instead.

STOP BUYING BOTTLED

Bottled water is obviously an un-environmentally friendly choice, but if you’re concerned for the effect that microplastics could also be having on your health, steer even clearer of them than you were before, because 90% of bottled water contains microplastics that you will ingest.

If you want to learn more about the ways in which microfibres are destroying the planet, here are some resources:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/14/microplastics-found-at-profuse-levels-in-snow-from-arctic-to-alps-contamination

https://www.whatsinmywash.org.uk/the-microfibre-issue

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How to make staying in a hotel for work easier and enjoyable

I’ve travelled for work a LOT in my life. For PR events, marketing activities, training, head office visits with companies based abroad or in different parts of the country, and even for companies that liked to hold their annual meetings abroad as a ‘work perk’. I’ve stayed in luxury hotels, I’ve stayed in Travelodges, I’ve shared hotel rooms with colleagues, and I’ve been unexpectedly upgraded to suites. After all this time I’ve pretty much perfected the art of the stress-free work hotel stay, so read on and hopefully you’ll find some useful suggestions!

Pack weather-versatile outfits – When travelling within the UK and Ireland at least, no matter what time of year it is, never ever leave for a work trip without a pair of shoes you can wear in the rain, and clothes that can be layered and removed as needed. Bring tights and a cardigan, and clothes that can be worn with or without them. It’s a horrible feeling to underestimate the weather and be cold/damp for your whole trip!

The do not disturb sign – Not just for people having a lie in after a heavy night. If you put this on your door in the morning, the hotel staff won’t come into your room to make the bed or replenish the toiletries. When you’re on holiday there’s something nice about coming back to a straightened up room, but personally when I’m travelling for work, I’m not at my most relaxed or easygoing, so I really don’t want someone in my room moving all my stuff. I have utmost respect for hotel staff because damn that’s a hard job, but it’s just that when I travel for work I really want my hotel room to be my own space. Sometimes when you use the DND sign, they even leave you an extra towel, toilet roll and shortbread packets outside your room for you to pick up on your way back in.

Bring your favourite tea with you – Come on now, does anyone really enjoy that vile Twinings Breakfast Blend? The best hotel room I’ve ever stayed in had a little bottle of complimentary fresh milk in the mini fridge, big chunky mugs instead of measly cups, and bags of Yorkshire Tea. It was heaven to come back to that in the evening, and so now I always bring my Clipper teabags (I’ve switched because they’re plastic free and taste just as good as Yorkshire Tea) with me so I can have a comforting cuppa when I get in, just like I would at home. Of course this only works if you’re travelling within the UK where we have kettles in hotel rooms, but then, who drinks tea when they’re abroad anyway?

Spend the evening doing your ‘self maintenance’ – I strongly do not recommend working in your hotel room, but even if you don’t work, it can be tricky to fully switch off when you’re in work trip mode. I often can’t concentrate on a book, or even crap TV. So instead, make a list of all the ‘body chores’ you’ve been meaning to get around to doing – your self tan, cutting/painting your nails, dying or deep conditioning your hair, shaving your legs, face masks… and spend your evening doing it all!

Laundry bag routine – If you’ve ever bought anything from Aesop, or received fancy pyjamas as a gift, you probably already own one of these nice drawstring cotton bags. They are perfect for keeping on top of your laundry, because you can hang it off the side of the desk chair, or on a wardrobe door handle, and every time you take off your socks and underwear for the day, you just conveniently stuff them in the bag. It means you never have to worry that there’s a forgotten pair of knickers under the bed when you leave, and you won’t be picking up stray socks from the floor when you’re supposed to be checking out to catch your train home. Also, it eliminates the need for a plastic shopping bag, which is what I used to use before, and, well, would never dream of using now!

Be wise about your skincare products – The key with skincare is to make it as fuss-free as possible, because you never know what kind of bathroom facilities you’re going to be confronted with. When I travel, I always bring a travel size of Caudalie’s Cleansing Oil instead because it dissolves makeup on its own and then rinses off. It’s the most convenient makeup remover ever! I also bring my bar of facial soap for a second cleanse/morning cleanse. Then I bring a small slice of soap to wash my body with too, because unless its a nice hotel, I know I’ll hate the shower gel they have (recently I’ve been trying to move away from plastic wherever I can, hence the bars of soap!). Some people recommend bringing skincare sample sachets along on a trip, but I wouldn’t recommend trying new skincare while you’re travelling for work – you never know if something will trigger a reaction, or make you so greasy that your foundation slips off your face by noon. I usually just bring my full size serum and cream because I don’t want to take them out of their normal packaging (for example, you don’t want to dip your fingers into a product that is designed to be squeezed out of a tube because the preservatives won’t work).

Fluffy slipper socks – It’s very difficult to fully relax when you’re on a work trip, but a pair of comforting fluffy socks certainly helps me.

Always be lovely to the staff – There’s no excuse for being rude to hotel staff, and it’s something I’ve seen a LOT of from people on business trips. No matter how tired, stressed or irritable you are, there’s no need to make someone feel like crap just because you do. And you never know when you might need them. If the TV broke in your room, I certainly wouldn’t rush to help you if you’d been a dick to me two hours earlier.

And lastly, a few things to never ever forget:

  • Ear plugs. As my dear favourite fictional character, Dale Cooper once said: “Once a traveler leaves his home, he loses almost 100% of his ability to control his environment.” (if you aren’t familiar with Twin Peaks, this is said while he is being kept awake by a huge group of other business people who are combatting jetlag by getting drink and singing all night. Now I’ve never experienced that, but I would have been grateful for earplugs while staying in a room next door to a very amorous couple… and now I’ll never forget them (the earplugs that is, I’m trying desperately to forget the couple).
  • Pyjamas. I’m just putting this here because I DID once forget pyjamas and it just so happened to be in the one hotel I’ve ever stayed in that didn’t have over the top central heating. I had to tear around a Primark between meetings and ended up buying the crappest pjs ever because they were ‘between deliveries’. Never again.
  • Pillow spray. Not only will this help you to calm down if you’re nervous about something big going on during your trip, it also means you don’t have to worry about any weird smelling hotel rooms!
  • A long charging cable. Even modern hotel rooms with plug points by the bed are sometimes too far away to charge your phone and FaceTime your SO (or play a game) at the same time, so make sure your cable can handle it!
  • Your takeaway coffee cup. Be environmentally responsible and don’t use travelling as an excuse to fall back on disposable cups. Plus, having your cup with you means you can fill it with filter coffee at the hotel breakfast to start your day with WAY more coffee than you’d be able to drink in one sitting!

My anti-pollution, radiance-restoring skincare routine

It’s been a while since I posted about skincare, but I’ve been working on getting my routine sorted, since I’ve started working in the city and commuting on the tube again. It’s amazing what a difference being exposed to pollution can make to your skin! I started to get blotchy patches of irritation and pigmentation after just a couple of weeks. But I’ve finally got it sorted, and frankly I haven’t been this happy with my skin in a LONG time, which, given that I’m almost 30, I’m very happy about! Let me talk you through what I’ve been doing to look after my sensitive, combination skin.

skincare over 30s liz earle aesop herbivore botanicals caudalie sensitive skin anti pollution anti ageing

First Cleanse – Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

I recently started using Liz Earle’s legendary Cleanse & Polish to remove my makeup at the end of the day, and it’s been an absolute game changer. My skin feels so clean, calm and lovely afterwards. Because of the slightly abrasive nature of their cleansing cloths, it also removes pollution particles too. I’ve never been a fan of cleansers you have to remove with a cloth, but the Liz Earle cloths really are on another level, they feel incredible on the skin and the thickness of the cream is a joy to massage on/polish off. My skin feels soooo smooth and clean after using this. You don’t have to take my word for it, just search on Youtube for ENDLESS reviews from other people who love it!

Second/morning cleanse – Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Soap

I’ve been desperate to reduce my plastic consumption, and have made lots of headway in other areas, but was struggling with my face wash. I double cleanse at night, and like to use a wash-off gel type product. Together with morning use, I seemed to be endlessly ploughing through cleansers and it was producing so much plastic waste! So I decided that enough was enough, and I started trying out my husband’s Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Soap. And omg. I was stunned. My skin loves it?! All those years of being convinced that bar soap would destroy my face, and ever since I started using it, my skin has been merrily chugging along just like it was when I was using expensive gels and foams.

Exfoliate – Aesop Parsley Seed Cleanser

A glass bottle!! Yay! The Aesop Parsley Seed Cleanser is my favourite exfoliator and has been for at least two years. It uses lactic acid, and is very gentle on the skin but really leaves it feeling smooth. It’s a gel that you smooth onto damp skin, leave for a little while and then wash off. Along with the Liz Earle cotton cloths, this provides ample exfoliation, and leaves my skin really well balanced. This also removes pollution, which is another added bonus!

Serum – Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

I used Caudalie’s anti-pollution VineActiv Serum for about two years, but recently I noticed my skin wasn’t feeling so good after I applied it. I think my skin was being sensitised by the pollution of my daily commute, which meant that the vitamin C in the VinceActiv Serum was irritating it. So I switched to Caudalie’s iconic Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, which helps to combat pigmentation, deeply hydrates and evens out skin tone and I haven’t looked back. It’s super moisturising without being at all greasy, extremely soothing, and gives my skin that glowy, plump look! I love this serum, I’m now a total convert and I see why it’s such a cult favourite all over the world. It also comes in a glass bottle – yay!

Moisturiser – Caudalie VineActiv Moisturiser

There’s a reason I use Caudalie for so many of my leave-on products, and it’s because I’m extremely sensitive to preservatives. One in particular called phenoxyethanol reacts really badly with my skin, and Caudalie is one of only two brands I know of that don’t use it (the other is Eau Thermale Avene, a sensitive skin brand, go figure). I loved their VineActiv Serum so much because of its anti-pollution formula, so when I stopped using the Serum, I decided to try the VineActiv 3-in-1 Moisturiser instead, with the logic that moisturisers don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin so should be less irritating. And I was right! My skin loves the moisturiser. Even better is that the moisturiser creates a layer on the skin which is supposed to shield it from toxic pollution particles. As you may or may not know, particulate matter is REALLY hard to get off the skin, so if you want to completely remove it you either need to exfoliate, or stop it from sticking to you in the first place. This moisturiser is supposed to do the latter. Whatever it does, my skin feels calm, plumped, and hydrated after I apply it, and my foundation sits on top of it beautifully!

Eye Cream – Caudalie VineActiv Eye Cream

If you have breasts, you may remember that short period of time (around 11 for me) where you owned a bra, but you didn’t necessarily need it, so you’d forget to wear it most the time. But then a day came months later where you actually needed it, et voila, your ‘forgetting to wear a bra’ days were done and dusted forever. That’s where I am with eye cream now. I always used to forget to use it, but now that I need it, there’s no forgetting. My eyes drink it up, and I can see a visible difference when I use it vs when I don’t. The Caudalie Eye Cream is again, very gentle, and contains the same anti-pollution formula as the moisturiser. It’s great for dark circles, and is super non-greasy – I can even put it on my eyelids!

Night time care

So I had to take a separate photo of these because one is so massive it takes over every photo I put it in and everything else becomes impossible to see, and the other just looks like a crumpled up piece of paper. Unphotogenic they may be, but these are two staples that I’ve been using for four, almost five years now: Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion and Thermal Water Spray (aka Eau Thermale). I prefer to keep it very simple at night – my skin is completely clean, it’s been well protected all day, now it’s time to just let it do it’s thing overnight. I love these two because they’re soothing, and lightly hydrating, enough to help my skin balance out after cleansing, whilst only having 6 ingredients between them.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing with my skin recently, and I’ve been finding it to work wonderfully. I don’t have any breakouts at all, my skin is calm, smooth and glowy.

How to have a zero waste shower

When the news came out about how lots of our ‘recycled’ plastic actually ends up in dumps on the other side of the world, I realised I had to start cutting down on unnecessary bottles. I’ve always been low-key worried about plastic consumption, and never really saw recycling as the answer, but I’d kind of repressed that worry for years because I didn’t know what to do about it. But after seeing those news reports, and learning about microplastic pollution, I decided that I was going to make changes. At the time, my bathroom was completely covered in tubes and bottles of shower gel (a byproduct of working in the beauty industry and being addicted to long hot showers) and so I decided that once they were all used up, I would try out bar soap in the shower instead. I was worried that bar soaps might dry my skin out – but if that happened, I decided I’d just apply body oil afterwards to counteract the effects.

What it did for my skin

It’s been almost a year since we started using bar soap full time again, and you’ll be amazed to lean that the skin on my body has barely needed moisturising at all in that time. Maybe once or twice a month, rather than after every shower. It turns out that apparently, soap and body skin (still not sure about the face) are perfectly suited, and I actually have SOFTER skin than before! There are lots of ways to use soap – if you rub it on a body puff you’ll be virtually drowning in bubbles before you know it (very fun), but obviously they aren’t ideal because they’re made out of plastic. Otherwise, you can just rub the soap directly all over your body, or rub it in your hands until it lathers, and then massage that all over. You can also buy a natural sponge, but they’re expensive as hell (and not vegan), or a loofah, but they’re pretty harsh and I can’t seem to get them to soften up.

How to shave with soap and a safety razor

Given the hundreds of shaving products lining up alongside all those plastic razors in the shops, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d need something from all those shelves to successfully shave your unwanted body hair. But as it turns out, that’s just not true. Bar soap is perfectly adequate for shaving your skin, and safety razors are brilliant! To get a thick lather for shaving, wet the soap ever so slightly, rub it between your palms to get them well covered, and then rub your hands fairly vigorously over your leg (or wherever) until you get a good layer of white over your skin. Then shave away! It is slightly different to shaving with a disposable, but this blog post is getting long so I’ll revisit that later. My safety razor is by Bambaw, and I like it because it has a bamboo handle, which lessens the amount of metal that went into making it.

What about guests?

I don’t know about you buy I’m not going to make my guests use the same bar of soap as me, or even make them use bar soap at all if they don’t want to. Instead, I keep a glass bottle of Bloomtown Botanicals’ divine Hedgerow Body Wash in the shower for guests to use.

Zero waste exfoliators

I exfoliate with this Body Shop hemp bag – you just put a bar of soap in it and rub all over yourself. But when I remember, I also like to use leftover coffee grounds – I just stir in a bit of coconut oil or tea tree to make sure they don’t go mouldy.

Which soap to choose?

There are sooooo many bars of soap out there that it can be hard to pick (and very easy to go totally wild and fill your bathroom up with them…) so I thought I’d share a list of the ones I’ve tried so far, to give you an idea of what to look for, and what to avoid!

Lush soaps

These were the first we tried, and I hated them. They don’t lather up at all when you rub them on your skin, and don’t leave you feeling particularly clean. I also got a UTI while using them, I don’t know if the two things were related, but I’ve only ever had one UTI in my life before, and haven’t had one since. Do not recommend. 3/10 (only for the scents)

BECO Soap

I’ve tried the honey blossom and spring meadow scents and I think they’re both delicate and lovely. The soap itself cleans really well, and fits into my small hands perfectly. But the most amazing things about this soap are its eco and socially conscious credentials. They employ people with visual impairments, disabilities and financial disadvantages, and go the extra mile to accommodate their employees’ needs. That is tragically unusual, and absolutely brilliant in my opinion. In addition to that, their bar soaps are totally plastic free (including unlaminated boxes, which very few brands actually offer) and their ingredients are sustainably sourced. AND AND AND!!! You can get them in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and the Co-op. Effortless, eco friendly and the most socially conscious company I’ve come across. 11/10

Aesop Cleansing Slab

I’m so frustrated that Aesop wrap this in shrinkwrap plastic! If they didn’t do that, this would be one of my favourite soaps. The scent is divine, it leaves my skin perfectly clean, and it creates a super rich lather. It’s certainly the most expensive soap I’ve tried, but at £17 it’s less than I would have expected from Aesop. If it didn’t have that plastic on it, it’d be a solid ten, but as it is, 8/10

Faith in Nature Lavender Soap

For some reason I expected this to be rubbish, I’m not sure why, but all I can say is I was completely wrong! This is a great soap, really lovely lavender scent, and the best part is, this is one that can be bought completely packaging free in some health food shops! Plastic wrapped in others though. 8/10

Oliva Soap

I like the simplicity and affordability of this soap, but it doesn’t smell good, and it isn’t the most ‘lather-ey’. My skin didn’t feel very clean when I was using it, so I did a second cleanse with the Aesop afterwards. I ended up throwing it away because I couldn’t stand the smell, but it is a very tightly packed soap so it’s good value for money. 2/10

Dr Bronner’s Rose Geranium Soap

Love love love this soap. It’s a great shape, perfect for rubbing all over yourself, and it cleans just as well as their liquid soap. It’s a great option, not too expensive, and very solid so it lasts really well. Oh and, like with BECO, this comes in unlaminated card packaging. 9/10

Suma Rose Geranium Glycerin Soap

I LOVE this soap! I find the way it goes clear when it’s wet to be really satisfying, and the circular shape is really easy to hold. It lathers really well and it also leaves my skin feeling very soft too. This is also another one that you can buy packaging free in health food shops, or in an unlaminated box. 10/10

MOR Cyclamen Tuberose Soap

This is without a doubt the most heavily scented soap I’ve ever had in my possession. Luckily, the fragrance is absolutely divine, it’s like a Diptyque candle! It’s heady and floral but not at all sweet, I really love it. And you can get it from Waitrose. When I bought it I thought I was onto a winner – wrapped in brown card with a beautiful design, held together with a rubber band… but then I opened it and discovered it was wrapped in plastic. Eyeroll. 7/10

Well, I hope you found that useful! I’m on a mission to zero-waste my entire bathroom, so keep an eye out for a follow-up blog post when/if I ever manage it…

What happened when I tried the ‘curly girl’ haircare method

It’s been a good few months now since I first adopted the ‘Curly Girl’ method of haircare, so I thought it was about time I shared my experience with the world! The curly girl method, or CGM, is a set of rules for taking care of curly hair so as to best preserve curl, strength and shine, whilst keeping frizz and dryness at bay. It was created by hair stylist Lorraine Massey in her book ‘The Curly Girl Handbook’, and it has quite the following nowadays. If you already know about CGM and you’re just wondering about my experiences and routine, then skip this next part! But if you’re new to the method, I’ll start with a quick intro…

Of course I’m also going to pepper this blog post with plenty of photos of my hair, after all, you need to see the proof, right?!

The main rules of CGM

No sulphates or harsh cleansers – these strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dryness. They can be found in almost all shampoos, even ones for dry hair! Use conditioner to wash instead, or one of a select number of shampoos that contain only the most gentle cleansing ingredients.

No harsh alcohols – alcohols can be broken down into two main types; long chain and short chain. Long chain or ‘fatty’ alcohols like stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol are moisturising and nourishing to the skin and hair, whilst short chain, like ethanol, isopropyl and others are very harsh and must be avoided.

No silicones, mineral oil or waxes – these coat the hair, which stops moisture from penetrating it, and can weigh it down. These ingredients also need to be washed out with a sulphate, so are incompatible with CGM cleansing techniques. Luckily there are LOADS of suitable styling products out there, for all budgets. You just have to know which to buy.

No chemical processes, heat or straightening – these weaken the hair and cause breakage, frizz and dryness. You can use a diffuser on a low or medium setting, or a soft t-shirt to dry your hair.

No brushing – this can lead to breakage and split ends. Detangle with fingers instead, and distribute product with a wide tooth-comb.

It can be confusing at first because there are lots of different techniques you can try, and you’ll probably have to replace almost all of your products and start a completely new routine. You also need to start becoming aware of ingredients lists, but there is a website called curlsbot.com that you can use to help you. It might seem like an effort, but it’s so worth it. For me, I’ve always worn my hair curly, so I didn’t really need to change my styling techniques, but I was using a shampoo that was far too harsh, as well as some products that contained silicones and waxes. I was shocked to learn that my ‘dry remedy’ shampoo contained a harsh sulphate, and that my argan treatment oil contained more silicone than oil!

My favourite Curly Girl Method approved products

So, here’s a quick rundown of my routine and the products I use…

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo Review
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Treatment Masque Review
Garnier Hair Food Review
Tangle Teezer Curly Hair Review
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Extra Moisture Detangler Review
Twisted Sista Dream Curls Gel Review
Curly Girl Method Products UK

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo

This shampoo is what’s known as a ‘low poo’ – which means that it contains very gentle cleansing ingredients instead of sulphates. It removes product build-up and grime without stripping the hair of natural oils. I absolutely love this product, it’s amazing how it leaves my hair feeling super clean but not dry or stringy at all. I wash my hair about once a week, so I can get away with using this every time I wash. Lorraine Massey encourages you to try co-washing to begin with, but it doesn’t suit everyone, and it definitely doesn’t work for me. This shampoo is the perfect alternative. (Buy it from Boots – £12.99)

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Treatment Masque

Because I only wash once a week, I use a really rich moisturising mask to make sure my hair is nourished and softened. This is a really thick mask, and it’s very, very hydrating. I love the smell, and it leaves my hair feeling silky smooth when I rinse it out. I apply a big glob of it to soaking wet hair, and then squish it into my hair (using a technique called ‘Squish to Condish’). When I rinse it out, I try to leave a little at the ends. I also find it to be surprisingly good for detangling! More on that below… (Buy it from Boots – £12.99)

Garnier Papaya Hair Food

This is a fairly new addition to my routine, but one that I am already in love with. The Hair Food masks (there’s also Banana, Aloe and Coconut versions) are ultra moisturising, and a LOT lighter than the Shea Moisture Masks. I like to use this if I’m going for a bouncier curl, knowing that my definition won’t last as long, but that my hair will have more body. I use it on washday in the same way I use the Shea Moisture Mask. I also use it as a leave-in when I want to refresh my hair – to do this I use a technique where I scoop a bit out, wet my hands, and then smooth it over the curls. It takes a while to dry, but it looks gorgeous afterwards! (Buy it from Boots – £3.49)

Tangle Teezer

Not CGM, so if you want to follow it to the letter, skip this part. But because of the amount of hair I have, I would be spending hours upon hours detangling by hand, and I don’t have time for that! I detangle my hair upside down in sections, and make sure to keep both my hair and the brush soaking wet – this makes the conditioner more ‘slippery’ and helps the tangles to come out without breakage. I find that the Tangle Teezer is the gentlest of the three ‘curl friendly’ brushes – the other two are the Denman Brush and the Wet Brush. I’ve used all three a lot, and I find the Wet Brush to be totally inept (the bristles bend) and the Denman to be almost impossible to get through my hair. If you’re going to brush, go for the Tangle Teezer. Another popular use for a brush when you have curly hair is to use it to define your curls – you’ll find loads of tutorials for this on YouTube, and they’re usually done with a Denman Brush, but I find that the Tangle Teezer works amazingly well for that, and I love it when I want to make my hair form big, luscious curls. (Buy one from Boots – £11)

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Extra Moisture Detangler

Whilst this has probably the worst product name in cosmetics history, it’s actually my FAVOURITE product EVER. This is a super super moisturising leave-in, which completely eliminates tangles and deeply hydrates the hair. It eliminates frizz without being heavy, leaving smooth, soft, really well defined, gorgeous curls. Seriously, I have so much love for this product it’s bordering on ridiculous, but it leaves my hair feeling SO GOOD. I apply it to soaking wet, freshly rinsed hair, and I do it in one of two ways. If I want smaller, bouncier curls I smooth this through all of my hair using a technique called ‘praying hands’, and then squish it in to get every hair coated. If I want sleeker, longer curls, then I flip my hair right side up, and smooth it over each curl individually, and again I squeeze it in to make sure it gets on all of the hairs. I was using Lush R&B for years before this, which was a sticky, heavy, waxy leave-in, and it’s such a joy to get all the benefits of that, without the gross residue. If you only buy one CG product in your whole life, make it this. (Buy it from Boots – £10.99)

Twisted Sista Dream Curls Gel

I use a small amount of this soft gel to seal in all the goodness from the rest of my products. It works brilliantly to maintain soft definition, but it’s also really good for getting a ‘cast’, which is basically where your curls are defined to the point of being crunchy. If you use enough to get a cast, you can scrunch it out once your hair is dry (apply some oil to your hands first), and by magic, you get defined, soft, bouncy, frizz free curls! (Buy it from Superdrug – £5.89)

blonde curly hair

My experience

Even though I didn’t make particularly huge changes compared to a lot of people who start doing CGM, I’ve still seen amazing results and I’m over the moon with how my hair looks now. I’ve never been so happy with it! One thing I used to struggle with a lot was how quickly my hair would tangle, and since switching up my styling products, I now no longer have that problem. I don’t have any breakage or split ends, and my hair itself is extremely strong and very healthy (I can say that because my hairdresser told me lol). My hair was doing okay before I started CGM, but I absolutely freaking LOVE IT now. I really recommend giving the Curly Girl Method a try – it will help you to truly understand and enjoy your hair!

a white woman with long curly hair wearing a green cardigan

7 Reasons why ‘detox diets’ are nothing more than a bunch of toxic lies

If you, like me, are ALREADY starting to see January detox and diet talk online, here is a blog post filled with everything you should need to help you ignore it all. With over 13 million posts hashtagged with #detoxtime on Instagram and brands, newspapers and magazines still pushing the ‘new year diet’ agenda, it’s fair to say that detox culture is still hanging on, despite the best efforts of more progressive magazines, webzines and internet users.

If you’re in any doubt as to whether or not the concept of ‘detoxing’ is something you should be buying into, here’s a fact to get you started: Detox is the process by which the liver and kidneys remove toxins that enter the body through eating, drinking, breathing etc, and flushes them out via urine and sweat. Bowel movements also play their part. There is no other form of detox that takes place in the body. No detox tea is ever going to ‘suck’ toxins out of you, it’s just a straight up lie, and you cannot ‘stimulate’ the liver to work more efficiently (at least not by using starvation techniques or drinking juice). Making yourself go to the toilet more often doesn’t mean that your body is ‘flushing’ toxins out. The one and only way to efficiently detox is to have a healthy liver and kidneys. So anyway, lets debunk some myths:

1. Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses force your body to deal with extremely high levels of sugar with no fibre, fat, protein or complex carbs to actually nourish your body. Whether it’s lemon juice with maple syrup, or a selection of various vegetable juices mixed with ‘superfood extracts’, it makes no difference. Fresh juice contains vitamins and minerals, but you’d consume less sugar if you just ate gummy vitamins (please don’t do that either). 

2. Detox Teas

Detox teas are even worse than juice cleanses. Some of them contain unregulated levels of laxatives and diuretics that will dehydrate you and stop nutrients and real medicines from being absorbed, and can upset the balance of gut bacteria in your digestive system, just like with any bout of the runs. Other detox teas just do absolutely nothing other than cost you a lot of money. Again, they might contain healthy nutrients and be better for you than a sugary coffee, but they do not do anything to ‘detox’ your body. Purging is not detox. 

3. Diets

Detox diets generally rely on you starving yourself and eating lots of leafy salads. And restrictive, temporary diets have been proven, time and time again, to be completely and utterly ineffective. A healthy diet full of veg, wholegrains and freshly prepared food is great, a crash diet is literally one of the worst things you can do, not just to your body, but also to your poor mind.

4. Drinking water to get clearer skin

Water does not ‘flush toxins out of your skin’. When you’re hydrated you sweat more – this sweat forms one half of the oil-water barrier that protects your skin. If there isn’t enough water to make sweat, your skin produces more oil to compensate. This is the only reason why your skin can start to look clearer if you drink more water. Too much oil = spots. More water to sweat = less oil. 

5. Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal absorbs certain poisons from the digestive tract in medical emergencies, but charcoal taken as a ‘detox supplement’ absorbs vital nutrients and some medicines too. Charcoal is good on the skin, but it does nothing for your health if you ingest it, and can actually damage your health by absorbing things that are actually good for you. 

6. Detox ‘symptoms’

Something really awful that detox advocates will talk about are the ‘symptoms’ of detox. They’ll tell you that having an upset stomach, no energy, nausea, headaches, shakes, bad skin, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, are all signs that your ‘detox diet’ is working. This is a big fuckin’ lie. People who give up certain addictive drugs or alcohol go through this when their bodies start to remove those substances. But it’s their bodies, the normal liver-kidney function, that are removing the substances, and it’s the withdrawal from the drugs that makes them feel terrible. It has nothing to do with a damn juice cleanse. If you feel like crap when you do a detox diet it’s because your body is starving and probably overloaded with sugar. It is not healthy.

7. Unhealthy attitudes

The idea of ‘indulge in December then detox in January’ is dangerously close to ‘binge then purge’ and it is not a healthy way for anyone to think. There are people who can’t help but think this way because of eating disorders. Stop making it harder for everyone, stop reinforcing detox culture. Hide the diet ads you see. Don’t buy skinny teas. Unfollow the celebs that sell them. Don’t talk about feeling ‘fat’ and needing to ‘detox’. It is not healthy. The only reason ‘January detox’ exists is to sell us stuff, it’s not for your health. 

Let yourself live

Detox culture is toxic. It’s unsustainable. Making REAL healthy changes like eating nutritions food (no judgement on what the food is, a pizza has more nutrients in it than a bowl of lettuce after all), and drinking more water isn’t interesting, doesn’t make for great marketing material, and certainly doesn’t make you better than anyone else. But if you want to help support your body’s natural detox functions, being well hydrated and getting lots of nutrients though your food really is all you need to do. Love yourself, enjoy winter, have a happy 2019, and ignore marketing messages that prey on your insecurities, because you don’t deserve to put your body through this all.

Further reading…

If you want to know more about detox, and just why exactly it’s a giant scam, here are a few links you might like to read:

https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-one-thing-you-need-to-know-before-you-detox/

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-cleanses

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/detox-diets-101

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox



How to make the most out of winter

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been experiencing a really weird mix of festive joy and SAD-induced low moods since winter hit this year. I wanted to try and combat this by attempting to take my depression by the horns and focus on embracing and enjoying life, so I wrote out a few ideas for making the most of the next couple of months. And I thought, well, I have a blog, I may as well share! I hope you find some inspo here, from self care to self improvement, fun social ideas and yummy treats. 

Make a seasonal wreath

I know Christmas is almost upon us, but I don’t see why a winter wreath has to be exclusively a Christmas Day thing. It’s a perfect way to bring some nature into your home, in a stylish kind of way. There are wreath making sessions all over the country that you could go to, but what I did instead was buy a handmade wooden wreath at a craft fair, and do it up a bit by adding holly leaves and painting bits of it gold. It looks lovely and wintery up in my flat!

Start a creative home project

This could involve upcycling old picture frames, making a macrame plant hanger, painting some plant pots to look cute and trendy, or even organising your books and DVDs by colour to make a striking feature out of your bookshelves. You could hand make candles or bath products, or dry out some oranges and make pot-pourri. Basically everything on Pinterest. In fact Pinterest is probably your best starting point – create a board with all the projects you would genuinely like to do, and work your way through them! 

Learn something new at home

Short, cold days mean spending more time indoors for most of us – a weekend trip or a night out can really lose their appeal when it’s dark, raining and bitingly cold. Instead, why not invest some time into learning a new skill you can practice at home, perhaps even on your sofa? I’m about to start learning BSL using an at-home course which I’m really excited about! But you could start sketching, doing embroidery, learning a coding language, photography, photoshop, woodworking, making model planes, knitting, baking, yoga, indoor gardening… so many of these things get written off as ‘millennial grandma’ activities but hell, both my grandmas are/were awesome. And actually, innocent hobbies like these are fucking FANTASTIC for your mental health (less innocent hobbies are also included! Doesn’t have to be PG to be good for you). Of course they won’t cure you, and if you have depression you’ll probably abandon a few along the way (hi, me). But carrots don’t make you see in the dark either, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat your veggies, right?

Socialising

On the complete flip side of the last point, is this. Making plans with others and sticking to them is one of the key ways that Norwegian people get through their long, dark winters. I certainly have a tendency to hibernate in winter, which I’m determined to stop doing! It helps to structure your days, get you out of the house, and spend some time laughing and smiling with others. So look up fun free/cheap things to do near you and invite a few friends along! It doesn’t matter if this isn’t something you do very often – so many people are lonely these days that your friends are more than likely aching for extra human contact too. If you really are isolated, and you genuinely don’t have anyone to ask to go out, try the friend section of Bumble or join Meetup.com to find new people. 

Volunteering

Look up opportunities in your area – you could work in the warehouse of your local foodbank, do social media outreach for a local charity, organise clothing collections or meet up with isolated elderly people for a cup of tea. The volunteering world always needs eager, friendly and kind people to give their time, and to give it unconditionally. Also, with the decimation of our social services, many jobs in the health, social care and justice services that were previously paid are now volunteer positions, which is disgraceful, but if you have the time, that’s the only way many vulnerable people will ever get the help they need. And if all else fails, I don’t think there’s a charity shop in the country that will turn you away from a stint volunteering as a sales assistant! 

Bake stuff!

Life’s too short for bullshit January detoxes, diet culture and food shaming. Winter is a time for enjoying wholesome home baked goods, and in our household we plan on embracing this completely! I’ve been enjoying making gingerbread this year, and I think I’m going to try ginger biscuits and maybe even my first ever fruitcake too. James has been perfecting a danish pastries, and he’s gotten really good at them! Here’s a Pinterest board full of yummy treats you might like to try – lots of vegan ones in there too. 

Read! 

If you’re already in the habit of reading, that’s great, but if not, here are some tips. Reorganise your space so that there’s a lamp nearby, which will mean you can read comfortably. Phones and computers can be read easily with a light halfway across the room, but the same can’t be said for books, so make sure your space is adapted for it. Set aside one or two of your evenings in each week where you don’t open your laptop or do extra work. Put music on as soon as you walk through the door, and eat dinner without turning the telly on, because you’re guaranteed to get sucked in if you do! There are so many distractions that it really can be hard for a lot of people to get in the habit of reading, but this should help you make a start. 

Rewatch your favourite films

Buy some snacks, make some popcorn, stock up on DVDs or downloads, light some candles, snuggle under a blanket and shamelessly spend a weekend rewatching every feel-good film you’ve ever loved. Not to bang on about Pinterest, but I do find it particularly useful for organising my thoughts, and I’ve actually created a surprisingly pretty board to remind myself of all the films I enjoy – here’s the link if you want to check it out!

Get outdoors

Not to get all ‘Cordially Invited’ on you, but yes, enjoying the outdoors during winter is GREAT. A winter walk is bracing, beautiful, and fantastic if you suffer from SAD. A walk that doesn’t involve too many slopes is ideal if you want something relaxed, because there’s less risk of slipping on ice (we used to go walk around a beautiful reservoir called Carsington Water when I was a kid, really chilled out but absolutely beautiful). Or you could go ALL the way, rent out some winter hiking gear and attempt Ben Nevis like we did last March 😉 Here is a website full of accessible walks if you or a friend/family member has a disability too: Walks With Wheelchairs

Cook some seasonal yummyness 

I like to keep things fresh and seasonal, and find that it keeps me interested in cooking when SAD and depression take their toll. Of course, James takes over when things get really shit, and makes us yummy, healthy comfort food. Here’s my food Pinterest board for some inspo, I absolutely love using Pinterest to find new and interesting seasonally appropriate meals! 

Declutter and tidy

I recently read an article in Breathe Magazine about a scientific study that was done on cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and its relationship to mess. Cortisol rises throughout the day when you’re at work, and in the study, people who came home to a tranquil, clean environment saw their cortisol levels fall as the evening went on. People who came back to a messy flat did not experience a fall in cortisol levels, and instead their stress levels stayed the same until they went to bed. Having a tidy space does really make you feel better. If you can (i.e. if you aren’t depressed or ill) get up and tidy the area you spend most of your time! Especially in winter when we do spend so much time indoors, being in a pleasant environment is super important.