Rosemary Soap

I have finally made my first soap of 2020! It certainly took me long enough.

It’s a base mixture of Castor oil, Coconut oil, Olive oil and Palm Oil.

I used Rice Water for my water. I soaked rice over 24 hours in water and then put it in the freezer to make ice cubes. Later mixed with Lye to make my Lye water.

I kept it simple by not adding colourant but added Rosemary essential oil for the fragrance.

Now the waiting game to wait for it to cure…

Sodium Coco Sulfate and the SLS free Myth

When I was 19 I developed Alopecia, which is a condition that causes hair loss. Now, I went through a lot of tests to try and understand what was causing my hair loss and the results were inconclusive, it wasn’t my Thyroid and the Doctors could only determine it might have been stress-related. At the time I didn’t feel particularly stressed, but I did after my hair started falling out.

I spoke to a nurse and she recommended that I needed to be incredibly gentle on my hair – gone were dying my hair crazy colours, the straightening iron was out too, as was brushing or combing my hair whilst wet. She always recommended that I use Simple shampoo and conditioner because they were more gentle and kept the ingredients simple.

In my 20s I discovered Lush, their skincare and their shampoos and conditioners. I was in love. I was in love with their New shampoo, particularly as it was designed to boost, shine and stimulate my hair. I also adored Veganese conditioner – it smelled divine, didn’t weight down my hair and made my hair shiny. Completely sold and in love.

Now because my hair was delicate I was told not to wash it every day, which I had been doing and stretched to every other day. I tried a few more Lush shampoos, Seanik and Squeaky Green. I had real issues with Squeaky Green, at first, it made my hair squeaky clean and I loved it, but my scalp did not love it, it became very dry, itchy and I developed flakes. Unfortunately, because I was washing my hair every other day as well, the problem just became worse and I stopped using Lush’s haircare products.

I later discovered the No ‘Poo movement and the use of a chemical called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is often abbreviated to SLS. People were saying that SLS is that chemical that makes shampoo lather and produce those nice bubbles that get hair so clean…heaven…but they also strip out all your natural oil. Your hair will produce more oil to compensate for the loss and so you get into this vicious cycle of the more you wash your hair, the more you need to wash your hair because it becomes greasy at a faster rate. In fact, you only need about 5% of SLS in a product to cause irritation in a ‘normal’ scalp, those with more sensitive scalps will become even more irritated by it. I looked at the Lush ingredients and discovered that all the shampoos I had been using and the Veganese conditioner contained SLS. So I decided all commercial shampoo was ‘evil’ (I didn’t really but did think natural was best). I am a historian and have always looked at women’s hair of a bye-gone era and thought how beautiful it was (apart from the wigs, powdering of hair phase etc). I read and discovered that Victorian women washed their hair about once a month, and it was not until the 1930s that commercial shampoo came into prominence. So I decided to go no ‘poo. It wasn’t a great experience, often it is difficult to wash your hair and not miss bits because there was no foam to see where you are washing. My hair also felt incredibly dry from the Baking Soda mixture and it just didn’t look great. So I went back to using commercial shampoo but avoided SLS, thankfully I had transitioned a little so I can get away without washing my hair all the time, I generally wash once or twice a week now, I aim to leave my hair a good 4 to 7 days before washing it again.

Now some companies that make shampoo bars have been jumping on this anti-SLS bandwagon and producing shampoo bars without SLS and marketing them as SLS free. I’ve stumbled across two of them so far this month.

One is sold by a company called Soul Good Stuff and it is marketed as being a Soul Good Stuff product, one of the company representatives said it was not their brand. It claims to be:

A nourishing and easy to use SLS-free Shampoo bar which leaves hair feeling soft, shiny and clean – usually achieved without the need for apple cider vinegar rinses or a transition period due to the use of a milder coconut based detergent which helps to clean hair.

Mint Sorcery Shampoo Bar at Soul Good Stuff

Another shampoo bar that labels themselves as SLS free, is Grüum. However, the key ingredient they use in both the Soul Good Stuff and Grüum shampoo bars is. Sodium Coco Sulphate. Now I had actually come across this sulphate in late February because it is now being used in some of Lush’s newer shampoo bars and I researched it. Turns out it is actually wrong for companies using this sulphate to label their product as SLS-free because it contains SLS. Let me explain:

SLS can come from petroleum, coconut oil or palm oil and it basically is isolating the lauric acid within these products and then mixing it with sulphuric acid and then neutralising with an alkali.

Now Sodium Coco Sulphate is a little different because it takes all the fatty acids from the Coconut and then mixes them with sulphuric acid and then neutralising it was an alkali, in the same process that creates SLS. But if SLS is made by isolating one fatty acid from a coconut, and Sodium Coco Sulphate using all of the fatty acids from the coconut…I think you can see what I am getting at here…shouldn’t SLS be present in Sodium Coco Sulphate? The answer is yes. At least 50% of Sodium Coco Sulphate contains SLS.

Now, I read that Sodium Coco Sulphate is more gentle than SLS, and I went to Lush last week and looked into some of their new shampoo bars and conditioners. I was talking to one of the servers and I explained that I used Lush before, loved their products but my scalp did not love SLS and I read that some of your new shampoo bars use less SLS. She actually said it was great that I was aware that these shampoos are NOT SLS free and they cannot say they are SLS free, but they are REDUCED in SLS compared to some of their older formulas. I got two new shampoo bars and a new conditioner from Lush to try.

What annoys me is the other companies that market themselves as SLS free, Lush do not and they state that Sodium Coco Sulphate contains SLS. So why if Lush is not doing it, why are the other companies. It goes back to my Devacurl: What Should We Be Learning? post in February. We should be looking at what is in our products.

I did speak to Soul Good Stuff on Facebook when another individual asked if their products were SLS-free. I took a screenshot from my phone and I went back today to get a clearer picture but I could not find the post, please excuse the fact I misspell Lauryl:

What really gets to me, is that people selling these products market it as SLS-free, when it is not, and then they don’t even know what is contained within some of their own ingredients. It makes me more concerned than ever about reading the labels and understanding what is in them because it seems that companies are happy to market a falsehood and do not always understand their products. I have to say though, I was really impressed with Lush, the person I spoke with’s knowledge and then ethics of the company, that even if it contains a tiny amount of SLS, and by requirements they do not have to advertise that it contains SLS because of the trace amounts, Lush will list it and acknowledge what is in their products.

Free Soul Recipes

Here are some of the Free Soul recipes I tried during the month of February.

Banana Milkshake:

  • 1 Banana
  • 2 scoops of Vanilla Free Soul powder
  • 200ml of Water

Berry Good Smoothie:

  • 80g Frozen Strawberry, thawed
  • 80g Frozen Blackberry, thawed
  • 40g Mixture of Frozen Redcurrants and Blackcurrants, thawed
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Scoops of Vanilla Free Soul Powder
  • Water, depending how thick you want the consistency to be.

Mango Lassi:

  • 80g of Frozen Mango, thawed
  • 1 Banana (will give it the creamy texture instead of yoghurt, plus one of your five a day)
  • 2 Scoops Vanilla Free Soul Powder
  • A little water to get it moving, be careful not to dilute the Lassi too much

Protein Pancakes (do not make, so disgusting!):

  • 1 banana
  • 2 scoops of Vanilla Free Soul Powder
  • 1 egg
  • A little Vanilla Extract
  • Mix together to make a batter and fry for a couple minutes on either side. Burning slightly improves the taste!

Tropical Smoothie

  • This has to be my favourite.
  • 80g Frozen Mango, thawed
  • 80g Frozen Pineapple, thawed
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Scoops of Vanilla Free Soul Powder
  • Water, depending how thick you want the consistency to be.

Yoghurt and Granola

  • 100g yoghurt of your choice
  • 1 scoop of Free Soul Powder of your choice
  • Top with the amount of Granola you want.

Protein Shakes: Her Free Soul

As part of my quest to try and be more healthy (and maybe loose weight in the process), I decided that being vegetarian reduced my protein intake. A lack of protein can effect an intake of B vitamins which help with cell metabolism. Simplistically B vitamins can help in the production of red blood cells and neurotransmitters. The benefits of having B vitamins can help with the reduction of anxiety, depression and improve energy. I have known for years I have lacked B vitamins being vegetarian and these past couple of weeks I have been tired and lethargic. I wanted to address that and thought I would introduce a protein shake into my diet.

I have and probably never will be a big breakfast fan so I figured instead of skipping breakfast I could introduce a protein shake into my diet. Similarly rather than reaching for that very tempting bag of chocolate of an evening I could instead supplement that with a protein shake. These are not intended to be a replacement meal with in my diet but more adding a meal I would rarely eat anyway and offering an alternative to an unhealthy (well at the levels I eat chocolate it is unhealthy, as I have no moderation when it comes to chocolate) snack in an evening.

I had been looking at meal replacement shakes and looking at different brands before Christmas before deciding that I did not think it was healthy for me to give up a relationship with food and replace it with shakes. Unfortunately I have not always had the best relationship with food. I am quite neophobic – I hate trying new foods and new meals. If I have it into my head that I will not like a food for possibly trying it when I was a child, to not liking the texture (for example, I could cook a load of vegetables and make a stew and eat it, but blending that into a soup…I won’t eat it). I still need to have a relationship with food and work on making it as positive as I can. So meal replacement was not an option, but adding something additional to my diet was.

I decided on trying Her Free Soul shakes. What drew me to them was the aim of their product which was to:

Help regulate female hormonal balance

Sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre

Improves energy, focus and athletic performance

Contribute to physical and mental well-being

Reduce tiredness

Improve mood and psychological function

Her Free Soul

This appealed for me so I decided to take a little more of a look around the website. They have a Whey powder which is vegetarian and a Vegan powder. I decided to take advantage of their New Year 20 percent discount code and ordered the Whey Protein Starter Pack. This pack included two bags of Whey Protein Shake, a tumbler drinks container and a bag. I would have opted for the Whey Protein Blend + Shaker or just the protein shakes on their own but with this discount it meant I wouldn’t have got free shipping with them and this allowed me to order both flavours (the Whey Powder only has two flavours, whilst the Vegan option has more).

I loved the slogan on the box the products were delivered in. My slogan now comes with bite mark customisation

Delivery was fast and I was able to get them within 48 hours.

My initial impressions of them are quite positive. I really like the taste of the vanilla one and that is my favourite of the two. The chocolate one I did not feel was very chocolatey, at first I thought this was because I added 400ml rather than the recommended 250-300ml of liquid. I followed the recommendations the second time and I still didn’t feel it was as chocolatey as I would like. Third time I added a teaspoon of Hot Chocolate powder to it, and the fourth time I added 2 teaspoons and the taste is more to my liking. It is chocolatey enough now that I consider it a treat shake and an equal replacement to giving up a bag of chocolate. For now I have only tried them with adding water (and the additional chocolate powder), but over the course of February I may experiment with adding different liquids or food items to the shakes. I might even experiment with baking with the powder. I did transfer the contents from their original packaging to a glass container so I could see how much powder I had left and I am not always the best at keeping the sealed packages closed.

I’ll check back in at the end of the month to give another review of how I feel about the shakes and whether I feel they have made an improvement to my diet.

Box was successfully upcycled into the Kitten’s playbox. Result.

Plan of Action: March

Spring is here, maybe? I don’t know. The weather of late has been pretty sad and depressing. It has definitely put my off last month’s plan of walking more. However, I am still trying to make small but permanent changes that will hopefully over this year actually become permanent.

  • Protein Shakes

I started this last month and I’m going to continue in March. My plan is to have 4 scoops a day.

  • Exercise!

Last month didn’t really go down for exercise. My aim is to do 10,000 steps a day with running and walking. I’d also like to start working on my core and strengthening it, but this month will be more trying to work it into my day rather than pushing myself. So I will look at beginners plank challenges and work up to trying to survive a minute of planking (hate planking). My plan is also to get out when the weather is nice but if it is not I will go to the gym…and push myself to actually go.

  • Corset/Waist training

I own a waist trainer and I briefly used to wear it when I slept. However, I have been looking into it a bit more and I read about someone who wears a waist training for Anxiety. Since I am starting a new job this month I really want to focus on trying to find techniques to help my anxiety and depression. I also think that waist training will help to target the area of my body I have self esteem issues. It’s an experiment for a month with an inexpensive waist trainer and I’ll see how it goes.

  • Mindfulness

As mentioned above. I am starting a new job. So I planning to take me time in the evenings to relax and rest. I’m planning to make some cooling DIY sheet masks and I have just purchased an Aromatherapy Humidifier Light. I’m going to focus on relaxing and maybe look into mediation. Also I am going to try body brushing and Gua Sha for my face take the time to do something that feels good and take the time to relax whilst doing it.

  • Vegan-ish

I’d like to try and look at a vegan diet. Now my protein shakes contain Whey powder so they are not vegan. I also want to eat some butter and cheese to help promote healthy hair so there will be some limits to a vegan diet right there. That being said I also want to explore more vegan proteins, more vegetables and would like to aim to have one vegan meal a day. I would also like to try to explore alternatives to bread or a least cutting down my bread consumption, which isn’t high to begin with but I find that quite often when I do not know what to eat I turn to a sandwich and bread as a quick option. I’d like to try to meal prep a little more and look at freezing more portions of healthy meal preps and looking for healthier options when I am in that ‘I don’t know what to eat’ phase.

  • Water

I did have a pretty revolutionary break through with water last month. I’ve found it slipping a little bit this last two days. So that slight transgression needs to be nipped in the bud because it becomes a regression back into old habits.

I’ll check back in at the end of the month to see how well my goals have been progressing.

February in Review

How cool is today? The 29th of February. This is the 9th Leap Year I have lived through and the 8th 29th of February I have seen (I wasn’t born in February 1988 to officially see it). I cannot believe we have two months of 2020 under our belts already. Where has the time gone?

I think February has been a productive month in a sense. Looking back over my goals for February I wanted to:

  • Do 10,000 steps a day
  • Introduce Protein Shakes to my diet
  • Not calorie count
  • Up my Water consumption

The 10,000 steps a day was a fail. I started off so well and pushed myself to go out…but when Storms Ciara and Dennis developed, I did not want to go out walking in the at times 80mph winds and the impressive rains. So I did not do as many steps as I would have liked to. I think hopefully with the turning point in seasons, we are very much at the end of winter so hopefully with Spring the weather will improve to encourage outdoor activity.

I did write a first impressions of the Protein Shakes, why I choose them and I still want to post this, even though my first impressions were over a month ago now. I would like to give a more prolonged view of them. The thing that held me back was taking photos. I did introduce protein shakes to my diet and stuck to it really well until perhaps this past week. With a new month though I am going to remotivate myself to take them.

I was successful in not calorie counting. I did make some delicious meal preps that focused on putting a lot of vegetables and looking at healthier options. This past week I have slipped though so I would to jump back onto that. I have also been looking at promoting healthy hair, whilst I think the quality and condition of my hair is very good, I would like to continue looking after it. I think it is important to keep a certain amount of good oils and fats in your diet so I have been trying to eat cheese and butter regularly. I think with the addition of Protein Shakes I am going to start getting a lot more protein into my diet to help with healthy hair promotion.

Water. By far this month I am impressed with my water consumption. I posted that the Microcurrent Facial was instrumental in getting me to drink water, prue water, not mixed with squash. I have largely drank either 1,600 or 1,200ml of water everyday since the 10th February. However, for March I am thinking of dropping this down to a goal of 800ml to 1,200ml. If you are not used to drinking at lot of water or you are not sweating it out…you body in the beginning does not know what to do with all this water, particularly as it is winter – you are not losing it through sweat as much. So I find I am going to the toilet ALL the time. Well that is an exaggeration but it feels like I need to go a lot more than normal, so I am cutting down for the moment. If I find myself becoming thirsty I will drink more.

I am really impressed though. This month I am not as bloated as I have been previously and I am finding I am not conscious about my weight. My issue I have always had is my stomach. I am happy with my body apart from my stomach which I felt was were I was carrying my stomach. Whilst it is still not flat and beautiful it is not as bloated as it used to be and this makes me feel better. I think I need to look into core exercising. Something I’ve never really done before to see if I can tone my stomach. I think trying to boost a healthy diet and tone my problem area is more important than what the scales are telling me and that I need to count calories.

My Relationship With Water Has Completely Changed in 10 Days

I used to hate water and never drink it. I hated the taste. I know that may sound weird to some people. I mean water tastes of nothing right? How can you hate the taste of it? I don’t know. I think there was a little bit of a mineraly taste to it.

I live in an area which has hard water. So it makes sense that I could taste something additional in the water. Hard water contains calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. This occurs when rain water falls into water supplies which have a bedrock with limestone and chalk deposits.

Now when I go to North Wales, where I have family. I loved the water there. The water from the tap didn’t taste as minerally and my hair felt so soft and nice when washing with the water. This is because the water is soft water which has a higher sodium content but is low in other minerals.

So as I didn’t particularly like the water taste I drink a lot of other things. My drink of choice for years has been Cola. Mostly either Coca-Cola or Pepsi. I used to drink full sugar Cola. Now thanks to the Sugar tax that was implemented in 2018. Soft drinks companies began to lower their use of sugar in drinks to avoid being charged more for sugary content. Places that served drinks such as Restaurants and Pubs also began switching to lower sugar content. I switched to Sugar Free Cola such as Pepsi Max and Coke Zero. That I did notice a transition period as I whined myself off so much sugar but I was still getting the caffeine I was addicted to.

Now I have tried to do previous New Year’s Resolutions to drink more water. These often went hand in hand with drinking no Cola. The result previously was a major sugar and caffeine withdrawal. You feel crappy. You work Cola back into your diet. Cola intake goes back to normal. Water goes out the window.

So what has changed in the last 10 days? To break this cycle. Well on the 10th of February I got a Microcurrent facial, which I have documented in this blog post. The therapist said I may be thirsty more and need to drink more water when I got home. I did need to drink more water. In fact, I drank 1,600ml which has been my water target since getting a fitbit about three years ago. I rarely, if ever reach that target.

I was thirsty from the microcurrent facial and I craved water. But rather than mixing it with sugar free squash etc. I wanted the water immediately so just drank the water. I found the water easier to drink than squash and could gulp down a glass much more quickly then I could with squash.

The next day. I woke up and was still thirsty and again I drank 1,600ml of water.

The next two days I drank 1,200ml per day.

Then I have been drinking 1,600ml of water everyday until yesterday.

Yesterday I felt a bit meh. I woke up with a headache and a sore throat. I felt crappy. Yesterday was a Wednesday. For Monday and Tuesday I had been really good with drinking protein shakes and smoothies, eating yoghurt (topped with too much Granola which is a vice of mine) and eating a lot of rice and vegetables for meals. I wanted to eat these crisps (chips for an American audience) which I am completely in love with. The problem is they don’t come in the small 30g bag we are used to in the UK. They come in the bigger share pack sizes more similar to American crisps packages. I can’t seem to say no and will eat the whole bag. So I convinced myself and rationalised that I wasn’t hungry. I wanted to eat them. I didn’t need to eat them and I promised myself on the Wednesday I could eat what I wanted.

So my Wednesday what the hell day started with a can of Cola. I hadn’t opened a can of cola on the Tuesday (I did drink cola though…I have discovered that if you open a can of cola in the evening and don’t drink much of it it still retains it’s fizz overnight and you can drink it the next day). As I wasn’t feeling great by 11:30 I reached for some comfort food. Crisps and Peanut M&Ms. Currently addicted to them. I did drink some water. 800ml…but that is half of what I have been drinking recently. I went out for dinner and the cinema. At the restaurant I ordered a cola. They didn’t have Pepsi Max so I went for full sugar, which although full sugar, it has actually reduced in sugar quite a bit following the 2018 Sugar Tax.

Last night I struggled to sleep. That’s not unusual for me and I do have medication that can break my sleep pattern a little bit. But I was also thirsty. I craved water, but I didn’t drink more than 800ml because I didn’t want to spend the whole night waking up and going to the toilet because my body does not know what to do with all this sudden influx of water.

Today. Woke up. Had my protein shake…mixed with water. Measured out my 1,600ml of water for the day and I’m sipping my way through it. I think I am finally on the drinking water bandwagon, which is a good bandwagon to be on.

I will still maintain a steady intake of Cola. I do enjoy drinking Cola. I like the taste and I do think I am addicted to the caffeine. Not drinking tea and coffee my only other source of caffeine is chocolate. However, I am hopeful that maybe finally I have a better balance with my intake of water being higher than my intake of cola.

This might actually be a New Year’s Resolution I have completed and I might finally have made a permanent change in my life. I hope so.

Devacurl: What Should We Be Learning?

For the past two days I have been watching YouTube videos about a haircare product brand called Devacurl.

I am based in the UK and I have straight, straight hair – like no curl or wave whatsoever. No joke, I onced curled my hair and it ended up straighter than when I started. Another time, I went out with curly hair and my friend walking behind me asked if I decided not to curl the back. I curled it – the curls just fell out before my night out had even begun. Naturally, coming from an Irish family though, I love Irish dancing and Irish dance music (it is literally music for my soul) and I dream of curly hair like the beautiful Gillian Norris and would have killed to have beautiful curly hair. So not only was it difficult for me to potentially get Devacurl products, as I think they have only just begun distribution to outside America (correct me if I am wrong)…but I would have zero need for them on my hair. That does not mean I cannot sympathise with people experiencing potential reactions to Devacurl. When I was 19 I developed Alopecia (hair loss). I don’t really know what caused my Alopecia. I remember sitting in a Doctor’s Office with the Doctor saying, that you are experiencing Alopecia. We do not know what causes it. We do not know what can be used to treat it. We cannot tell you how much hair you could lose. We cannot tell you if your hair will grow back. But there might be around an 80 percent chance that if your hair does regrow it could fall out again. We can do some blood tests and investigate a bit. My blood tests came back fine I had no underlying health issues. I do not know what caused my Alopecia. SO I know how devastating it is to be in a society that is so beauty conscious and experience hair loss.

However, just because you do not use a product on your hair, does not mean that you should ignore what people are potentially saying or experiencing from using a product. I once volunteered in a school and there was a class in which the teacher was going through the answers to a recent GCSE test paper. She was giving the class the model answers to the most popular set of questions answered. There was a girl sitting there chatting with her friend. I asked her why she was not listening to the teacher and not writing the information down. Her response was that was not the question she had answered. I said it does not matter. She is giving you a model answer, that is great for the information alone. You will firstly learn something. You will learn how to build and structure a model answer for a future exam you are taking next year. You could also be given a model answer for a question that could likely come up in an exam because there is a limited about of material covered in the syllabus and often examiners do repeat questions or word questions in similar ways; so you could very well have the same if not a very similar question on your paper. The girl did not care, she did not write down the answers. However, I think this potential Devacurl situation has a similar parallel. Just because you do not use Devacurl and just because you did not use Wen Haircare (I so wanted to use Wen Haircare products when I saw a glossy hair advertisement for them), does not mean you should not learn the lessons that are being taught from these two companies.

In brief, there may be people reading this that have no idea about Wen Haircare and Devacurl so let me explain.

Wen Haircase is a company that specialised in a cleansing conditioner type product. It was supposed to revolutionise the way people washed their hair. I first came across it when I was looking to move away from commercial haircare and follow the No Poo method (basically giving up using commercial foaming shampoo and looking to reduce how much oil is stripped from the hair whilst washing. I did document that journey on my old blog and I no longer follow a No Poo method). Wen’s Cleansing Conditioner was a thick conditioner like substance that was not cheap, and it required you to use a lot of product, from what I remember it could be up to 16 pumps, four pumps on each section of hair, with your head being divided into four sections. Wash off and get beautiful hair or so you thought. If you did get beautiful hair though it was temporary and a lot of people using the product reported hair loss. So much so that a lawsuit was filed and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to look into the product. When I went to look for the product information just now I found I could not buy products directly from the Wen website and was directed to Amazon and the Cleansing Conditioner is not sold on there. The FDA reported that they had received 1,386 complaints up to the 15th November 2016. A subsequent investigation by the FDA into Wen Haircare found that the company had more than 21,000 complaints into the use of their product and the reporting of hair loss, hair breakage and hair balding.

However, what the Wen Haircare scandal highlighted was just how unregulated the hair and beauty industry is in America. The law in the US does not require companies to share a beauty company’s safety information nor the number or nature of complaints it’s products receive. The FDA said that although still in the process of conducting an investigation, it did not know what effect Wen Haircare was having to people to cause a hair loss reaction. It also stated that Wen Haircare could also not provide a correlation to their hair product and hair loss. More alarming is what really the FDA can do about a product. Firstly, it could tackle a product that did not comply with the law (if it is adulterated or misadvertised). It could work with law enforcement to seize a product to prevent it being sold on the market but it cannot recall a product off the market. It can only request that a company does recall it. Now, I live in the UK. I could not tell you how products are tested and what safety standards are in place. I know that all good imported into Mainland China have to be tested on Animals, which is why a lot of companies choose not to distribute their products in China, or even in Chinese Airports which can be subjected to random (not mandatory on all products) Animal testing.

Now, fast forward to Devacurl. Stephanie Mero, who has the instagram tag of @thecurlninja started reporting her hair issues and concerns that it was linked to Devacurl six months ago. Over the past two weeks to a month this issue has exploded with more people reporting similar issues and a lawsuit has been filed against Devacurl. Now Stephanie Mero, reported that her hair reacted very badly when she attempted to dye her blonde and ended up with dark purple hair. That should not happen. She noticed on herself and her clients (she’s a hair stylist) that their hair was being damaged. Issues being reported include suffering dryness, hair breakage, loss of density, scalp irritation, burning sensations, dandruff and baldness. Stephanie has also developed Raynaud’s phenomenon which has been also reported by others in the Facebook support group. Now Mero was alarmed when she read that Vinyl Chloride exposure could cause Raynaud’s phenomenon. Why is that important?

Well, Devacurl retains samples from their batches and they had released statements saying they have tested them and the product is fine. Yet Mero does not necessarily think it is the formulation of the product that is the issue. It could be what the product is packaged in or how it is distributed or a combination of the two. So Devacurl makes the product and retains a sample of that product. The product is then packaged and shipped off. So if the issue is not in the formulation of the product, but the packaging and the distribution then Devacurl’s sample would not show any issue. So the FDA is relying on Company’s doing their own tests to maintain the product is safe, they are only testing the batch product. Not the product on the shelf, not the product in your home.

From making the product and taking the sample. There are then multiple more steps from adding it to the packaging, to transporting it from the origin of manufacture to the place of sale, to the consumer. There can be a lot of additional steps. Mero believes that perhaps something in the distribution phase or the packaging is causing a problem. Now if Devacurl has not reformulated their products it would not be the formula that is the problem. Yet, over the past year or so that Mero has been noticing changes to her hair, and doing some subsequent digging there is a report that suggests this may coincide with Devacurl potentially began changing the way they package and distribute their products.

Now, why is this important? Mero was concerned that Reynaud’s phenomenon could be caused by Vinyl Chloride, which is used to make Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), a plastic. Now, Mero is not saying Devacurl has caused her Reynaud’s phenomenon. She is merely stating that she has Reynaud’s phenomenon and that a potential component of plastic can cause Reynaud’s phenomenon. This highlights that perhaps how a product is stored before it reaches the consumer and what it is stored in is just as important as the formulation of the product itself.

Now the lesson I was beginning to learn by watching skincare videos and I began to learn when I started No Poo is: What am I putting onto my skin and my hair? Do I know? Honestly, I sometimes use Honey, Lemon and Bananas in my hair and skincare routine. I know what I am putting on my face and hair then. I make my own soap, sometimes I use it on my face and hair, but mostly on my body. I know all the ingredients that go into the soap I make, but I don’t really understand the chemical reaction of saponification (the process of turning oils into soap) and how that alters chemicals. I also heard about the hype and wonderful benefits of Coconut Oil, one of the oils I use in my soap, but there has been a bit of a backlash questioning if Coconut Oil is actually that great for your hair and face.

One of the things that drew me to No Poo in the beginning was that prior to the 1930s, when commercial shampoo as we know it came into being. Women did not really wash their hair anywhere near the amount we are used to today. The Victorians were very particularly about how often they washed their hair, about once a month. We see from photos that their hair was beautiful. Personally for me I would LOVE to go a month without needing to wash my hair and it look great. Who wouldn’t? It may also seem that because we now wash are hair more regularly because of commercial haircare products that potentially we are stepping away from remedies in the past that were better for your hair? BUT, the old methods don’t necessarily mean they were any good. Queen Elizabeth I, suffered from the Pox, had awful scars on her face and used to cover it with a thick white paste/powder…that contained Arsenic. Arsenic was a very popular method of poisoning because it was so readily available.

The message I am taking from this is to really begin to think about what products I am putting onto my face, how they are packaged and how far along in the distribution phase (in terms of time since manufacture and location and methods of transport) am I from the product. Just because a product has a big chemically important name does not mean it is necessarily bad for you. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is going to be great for you (I used to wash my hair with Baking Soda, and with Rye Flour, my hair wasn’t happy with the results. I wasn’t happy with the results and I am now using commercial shampoo).

I think for me, it is time to look at the ingredient lists, question what is contained within them. Question is this safe to put on me? In producing the product, is it causing a negative impact on the environment? Is the packaging having a negative effect on the product? Is the packaging having a negative effect on the planet? How could the distribution of the product affect the product? Does the company have full control over that? Does it store the product in it’s own warehouses? Does it rely on another company to do that? Does that company store the product according to the manufacturer’s guidelines? Does the store/supplier I buy it from store it safely? How old is the product when I get it?

I currently rely on the fact that I pay for products and the amount I pay equals quality and efficacy. Yet, companies may not always be passionate about their product being the best quality it can be or be kind to the environment. They might just be driven by profit and as a result people might be being hurt by that. In writing this I am beginning to internalise what I am thinking by watching this products and it has helped me to question what I am putting on my face and hair – and if it is good for me. I hope in voicing this, you may also begin to consider these things and I hope that it has a positive impact on you.

Microcurrent Facial

Yesterday I went to try a Mircocurrent Facial. I went to my local beauty college who had a deal to try a Microcurrent Facial for £10. This treatment was part of the student’s exam. I thought it would involve having an examiner in the cubicle/room with the student and watching over them but it was more relaxed as the examiner observed over a couple of students doing exams and so rotated. I never noticed an examiner at all.

I do watch a lot of YouTube videos about various people going off and trying a range of Celebrity facial treatments at ridiculous price tags (seriously jealous and would love that job…who wouldn’t?). I was aware of the Mircocurrent Facial and I really wanted to try it.

It started with a Dermalogica precleanse and then followed by a second cleanse with Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel. Next she applied SBC’s Collagen Skincare Moisturising Gel and began with the Mircocurrent machine.

The Mircocurrent tools she used on my face reminded me of a shaving or toothbrush plug with the two prongs. She had two tools, so four prongs in total.

She began by placing the Mircocurrent tool above my top lip and asked if I could feel the Mircocurrent. I couldn’t feel it at all so she kept adjusting it and I still couldn’t feel anything. She said she would adjust it lower because it was a bit high and asked me to let her know if I felt it when she started the massage. I could feel it once she started.

The Mircocurrent has a tingling sensation, reminds me of when you stand near something who is using a pneumatic drill or similar to a acid peel, but not painful at all. When she past by the teeth, either on the chin or upper lip it did feel a little weird, like your teeth were vibrating a little, again not uncomfortable. When the prongs moved near the eyes there were strobes of light. It reminded me as when you pass in and out of tunnels on a train with your eyes closed. There were times as well that the Mircocurrent did feel like a train, that little thumb, thumb, as you pass along the track, it was rhythmic. When she passed on the forehead, it felt like someone was stroking, combing your hair, a gentle tug although she never touched my hair.

The therapist applied four layers of the collagen gel in total. I did not feel the Mircocurrent after the second or third application of the gel but I did on the fourth. Even though I couldn’t feel the current I enjoyed the facial. The prongs were cool on the skin and it was like massaging with slightly warmer ice cube on my skin. I found the massage with the prongs very soothing, they didn’t dig at all into the skin, with very gentle and extremely relaxing.

Towards the end of the facial I felt a slight sensation on my temples, like when you are tired, dehydrated or have been staring at a screen a little too long. It wasn’t unpleasant.

When she finished the Mircocurrent she gave me the option of keeping the Collagen gel on or taking it off and applying a toner and a moisturiser. I opted for the toner and moisturiser. She used Dermalogica again but I couldn’t tell you which toner or moisturiser she used.

After the facial the therapist advised me not to wear makeup for eight hours and to drink plenty of water. By the time I got home I was very thirsty and did drink about 800ml relatively quickly afterwards. In addition, I had the feeling that my jaw was a little sore, like when you have done too much talking. My temples still felt a little headachey, I’m not sure if that is because I was still thirsty or whether it is like my jaw and the muscles being worked.

24 hours on I don’t see a big change to my face but then again I didn’t expect to. I think Mircocurrent is a treatment that needs several treatments and ultimately it is about exercising and toning the muscles. However, from the relaxing element and the encouraging me to drink more water (I drink 1,600ml yesterday which is practically unheard of for me, especially as I didn’t add squash to it to make it more bearable), I think this is a treatment I will continue.

Below are some before and after pictures.

Before the Mircocurrent facial
After the Mircocurrent facial