Lady Reviews | Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser, B & Tea Toner and More

Beauty, Review, Skincare

As I’ve mentioned in my Cruelty Free Cosmetics post, Aesop is one of my favourite skincare brands of all time. Established in 1987, they have since aimed to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality, using only ingredients of proven safety and efficacy. Each of their stores are uniquely designed by collaborating with a plethora of designers, always reflecting local particularities.

Their Amazing Face Cleanser has become my go to daily cleanser.The brand describes the product as a low-foaming gel cleanser for combination to oily skin, which will thoroughly cleanse and balance the skin, while absorbing excess sebum. It is also recommended for use in warmer months and for those residing in humid or polluted environments.

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 I’ve been using it for the better part of a semester and though I adore the look of the packaging (I just think utilitarian design is so lovely, don’t you?), I must admit it’s screw cap isn’t the most practical. It doesn’t hinder my experience with the product in any way, but I dislike that this type of dispenser can be a bit wasteful.

The cleanser delivers all that is promised, providing a gentle, yet effective cleansing of grime and oil (though it will not remove makeup alone). It soothes, smoothes and softens my skin, leaving behind a luminous complexion. It has a very fresh and citrusy scent, and a light texture which will not irritate sensitive skin. The product does not claim to contain pore-diminishing properties, so the fact that it hasn’t substantially diminished my enlarged pores isn’t really a drawback.

As for the B & Tea Balancing Toner, it is described by the brand as a gentle everyday toner, suited for all skin types. It is named after the inclusion of Provitamin B5 (a form of Panthenol, which helps in hydrating and smoothing the skin) and green tea extract, both of which work as antioxidants to balance skin and refine pores. The product seems to last forever – I’ve been using it (though not very assiduously) for the past six or seven months and my 200ml bottle is still halfway through.

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It feels very watery and refreshing on the skin, and helps remove whatever grime didn’t get washed off by the cleanser. As it is alcohol-free, it feels very gentle and is suited for more sensitive skin. Both the cleanser and the toner will not leave the skin feeling tight after application, being ideal for everyday use.

Though the only two products I actually purchased were the cleanser and toner, Aesop is very generous with their samples and provided me with samples of other three products: the Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque, the Lightweight Facial Hydrating Serum and the Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste.

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Both the Cleanser and Toner are available in 100ml (3.4 fl oz) and 200ml (6.8 fl oz) containers

The Chamomile Masque is an astringent masque which can be applied either on single blemishes or on troubled skin. It is a deeply cleansing clay-based formulation which extracts impurities, absorbs excess oil, purifies and calms the skin. The brand recommends that the masque be applied twice a week, though a single application a week seems sufficient for me. It has a very fine and smooth texture and sits comfortably on the skin. I find my skin much soothed, refined and refreshed after application, especially coupled with lighter moisturizers such as Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (another favourite of mine. Its review can be found here) or the serum reviewed below.

The Lightweight Facial Hydrating Serum is a daily facial moisturizer ideal for combination, oily or sensitive skin. Like the Amazing face Cleanser, it is recommended for those who live in warmer climates and humid or polluted environments. It goes on aqueous, as most serums do, but stays tacky for an instant before drying down completely matte. The Sales Associate who recommended the product to me said this was due to the gel-like texture of Aloe Vera. It provides the skin with a lightweight and fresh hydration whilst helping contain excessive oiliness.

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And as for the final product tested, the Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste is also an excellent product. Fine Quartz particles and Lactic Acid offer both a physical and chemical exfoliation, which despite being very effective and deep cleansing, does not aggravate the skin. It is a mild product which provides a polished, purified and softened look and feel to the skin. It also contains Lavender and Rosemary oils, which help boost circulation and contain anti-acne, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, thus helping rejuvenate, detoxify and tone the skin. The only drawback I can think of is that I really dislike its earthy scent.

I have yet to try an Aesop product that doesn’t deliver on what is promised. If you are unsure whether the products will suit you and your skin type, do visit one of their beautifully designed stores and ask a consultant for samples! Their products are a bit on the pricier scale, but I found them to be worthy investments, and I hope you will as well.

Lady Talks | The Importance of Saying No

Inspiration, Quotes

Our words are of utmost importance for the maintenance of our interpersonal relationships – keeping your word is the most direct and immediate way of cementing credibility. We have all heard someone say they will do something which never gets done – and also been the culprit at some point.

Making too many promises (especially those we can’t keep), letting our feelings step in the way of being sincere, and saying we will do small things we end up not doing – I believe we’ve all been there at some point, and the most frequent excuse to not getting things done is that “they’re only the small things”. Which makes you think… who will trust you with the larger things if even the small don’t get done?

Why do we do that? Is it an attempt to control what others feel about us, of avoiding their disappointment – even if we have no interest in concluding what was asked of us? Do we say yes thinking we can actually do it, then give up halfway through?

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs

When someone disappoints us a number of times, our trust in that person is severely undermined – their word becomes something to be questioned rather than taken to heart. Since relationships need trust to flourish and prosper, this type of behavior can be very taxing for those who want to be taken seriously and respected. When we are promised something we don’t get, we can feel manipulated and disappointed; which becomes even more troublesome when it is perceived as the rule, rather than the exception.

What does your word represent? Is it taken lightly? You should treat your word as you wish it to be taken by others: with respect, integrity and seriousness. It should be a bond of trust. People might not always like to hear “no”, but they will respect that you rationalized and calculated that you were either incapable or unwilling to execute a given task. This will lead to a higher valuing of your “yes”, since you’ve demonstrated it isn’t freely given. The act shows not only your strength and conviction in saying no,  but also the calculation of your capacity and willingness to say yes.

An incredibly easy way to lose credibility is to say yes to something and not make it happen. The next time you are requested something by the same person, your reply will be taken with less conviction and seriousness. That’s why it’s important to keep up with “the small things”, first – that way, you build a history of credibility with the person to pave your way into being entrusted with larger, more important tasks.

To conquer trust and respect, your “yes” should mean yes, and your “no” should mean no. Any sensation that leads you to reluctantly agree with something that you really don’t should be controlled – it is an obstacle in your path to maintaining yourself a trustworthy, transparent and frank person.

 

Photo by Andy Tootell on Unsplash

Lady Talks | Blade Runner: Is Deckard a Replicant?

Film

In the wake of the release of Blade Runner 2049’s trailer, my love of Blade Runner has been rekindled. It is one of my favourite films of all time, and in my opinion, one of the best scifi films ever made. But this post isn’t about the movie itself – rather, it is about the movie’s main character: Rick Deckard, a police officer specialized in hunting and retiring escapee androids.

For those who haven’t watched the film, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat – though I do not recommend reading this post before you do, since it is peppered with spoilers which might affect how you perceive the film.

br2.PNGThere are many indicators to suggest that Deckard is a replicant. From lines such as “You are the Blade, Blade Runner” and “You’ve done a man’s job, sir!”; to visual clues, such as the presence of photos and memoirs with no physical characters to anchor them (such as the photographs of his wife scattered around his flat, even though there is no mention of her or his life prior to the movie’s events) and his eyes reflecting and glowing as replicants’ eyes do. There are scenes indicating his superhuman strength and endurance, such as enduring beatings from three different androids and climbing to the roof of a building with two broken fingers; plus, his lack of a reply to Rachael’s inquiry of his taking the Voight-Kampff test himself provide additional ambiguity.

What does Ridley Scott have to say about it? In the following video, he voices his opinion that Deckard is, in fact, a replicant:

This opinion is more fleshed out in the Director’s and Final Cuts of the film which feature Deckard daydreaming of a unicorn. The dream is meaningful because of the unicorn origami Gaff leaves at his door at the final scene of the film, which would imply that the dream he had is an implanted piece of imagination which Gaff has knowledge of (the same way Deckard knew of Rachael’s implanted memories).

I suppose, then, that the answer would be that it depends on which version you watched, and on your interpretation. Though the unicorn scene really doesn’t allow for any other interpretation other than Deckard being a replicant, it is only present in alternate cuts of the film: the theatrical cut maintains the ambiguity which I personally find to enrich the film much more.

Although Scott believed that Deckard is a replicant, Hampton Francher (original screenwriter) preferred the film to remain ambiguous, and Harrison Ford believed Deckard to be human; so I really do not believe that even though the director believes him to be a replicant, that the audience should as well. What makes the whole film so impactful and touching, is how Roy Batty showed himself much more humanized than Deckard himself, who became dehumanized in the process of hunting down the androids.

The themes discussed both in the film, and in the book the film is based on, gravitate around humanity, sentience, and emotion. To me, the ending of the film and the beautiful Tears in Rain monologue lose so much of their resonance and weight by shedding the juxtaposition between man and machine, by losing Deckard’s questioning of the difference between himself and them as Batty expires.

This is one of my favourite scenes of all time. Such a touching, mesmerizing and resonating message spoken by a machine which should be free of sentience, emotion, desire, forgiveness – and yet, is not. As Deckard watches him, shock written all over his face, one might glean that he is learning from a machine what it truly is to be human.

I have really come to see Deckard as a dehumanized being hunting a creature which proved itself much more human than he ever was. To me, that is more important than any answer the ambiguous film could ever present.

The screenshots used in this post are single frames used to illustrate the post, which has no commercial nature whatsoever. No public domain images illustrating the film have been located, and the presence of said images does not impact the copyright holder’s ability to profit from the original film.

 

Lady Tips | The Perfect Nude Lipstick for Your Skin Tone

Beauty, Makeup

I think most of us have been through the ordeal of trying to find the perfect shade of nude lipstick – choosing a shade that looks gorgeous on the tube, only to put it on and end up looking like you’re really unwell. It can be tricky to find a shade that matches the undertones of your skin, but the most appropriate choice should match your lip colour, not your skin tone – a colour that’s too light might wipe away the face’s natural pigments, making you look pale and sick. Here’s how to pick a flattering shade according to your skin tone:

Fair Skin With Cool Undertones

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If you have fair skin with cool undertones, like Emma Stone, rosy colours will suit you best. Either pale, powdery pinks; or peachy colours with caramel undertones will add some warmth to the complexion. Steer clear of light beige tones, which can make you look ghostly, and orange or coral tones, which can turn your complexion sallow. Matte finishes, especially on lighter shades, can end up giving a washed out effect – glossier formulas are more flattering.

Fair Skin With Warm Undertones

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Light skin with yellow undertones, like Lucy Liu’s, calls for more warmth and pigment than cool undertones. Pink, beige, caramel and peachy shades are all flattering options.

Medium Skin With Cool Undertones

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Lea Michele’s skin tone can get away with most shades, be them lighter or darker than the skin. Darker nudes work as well as soft, pale pinks, which won’t make the lips disappear.

Medium Skin With Warm Undertones

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For this skin tone (think Jessica Alba and Jennifer Lopez), rosy beige shades with warmer undertones, like caramel, will keep your complexion warm and avoid that washed out look which might come with cooler, grayish tones, or yellow undertones. Peachy and golden shades, no lighter than your skin tone, will enhance your complexion and won’t clash with the warmth of your skin.

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The skin tone of Rihanna and Eva Mendes. Rosy, beige and caramel tones will add some definition and separation between skin and lip, while glossy finishes add some extra definition. Pink-toned shades slightly lighter than the skin tone look subtle without being dull.

Medium Dark Skin

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Deep colours rich in pigment will suit medium dark skin tones, such as Beyoncé’s and Ciara’s. Lighter browns and more plummy tones are very flattering.

Deep Dark Skin

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The deep, chocolaty skin tone which Lupita Nyong’o and Alex Wek have can benefit from playing with light and shadow to create definition – glossy formulas, or products with shimmer, add some brightness to the face and look more natural. Copper or bronze tones also work beautifully, as well as darker berry tones.

Lady Reviews | Etude House Face Blur

Beauty, Review, Skincare

The Face Blur by Etude House is a primer which promises to even out and brighten the complexion, and cover up pores and blemishes. It is said to provide multi-filtering effects for refined, smooth and flawless skin. It should be applied as the last step of your skincare routine, and can be used by itself or under makeup. It is also a sunscreen, with SPF 33 and PA++, providing moderate protection against both UVA and UVB rays (I’ve written a post explaining such labels on sunscreen, which you can find here).

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The product comes in a 1.2oz (35g) bottle with a pump which dispenses just enough product for the whole face. It is lightweight and moisturizing, with a powdery scent. The product’s texture and colour remind me of calamine lotion – a light pink, medium texture cream which spreads easily on the skin. I like to apply it with my fingers, right after moisturizer, then wait for it to be absorbed before putting on makeup, if I’m using any. Though it goes on a bit tacky, it becomes very comfortable and hydrating when absorbed, leaving the skin dewy and slightly whitened.

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My skin does look smoother and more even (both in tone and in texture) after application, though it doesn’t do much to hide my pores. It also gives the skin a healthy glow, however it is used, which is what I most enjoy about this primer. Though I did enjoy this product, I found that the lasting power of my makeup wasn’t terribly improved – though it did keep my skin from getting shiny for a couple of hours longer than usual.

An overall great product which I would recommend for anyone who loves a luminous, radiant look and doesn’t suffer from large pores; and also to anyone who would like a brighter and more even complexion without having to wear makeup. Considering that it is also a sunscreen, I’d say this product is more than worth a try.

Lady Tips | Boost your Metabolism

Beauty, Diet, Exercise, Fitness, Health

Not all of us have been blessed with ultra fast metabolisms which keep last night’s chocolate cake from becoming a tummy pooch, but the good news is you can trick your body into burning more calories. Though our metabolism’s speed is typically preset by age, genetics and gender, we do have some control over it, with our lifestyle and diet habits. Here are some ways you can speed up your metabolism:

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Eat The Right Amount of Food

We all know that eating too much can make you gain weight, but did you know eating too little can have the same effect? Most people think eating less will necessarily induce weight loss, and though it might, not ingesting enough calories causes muscle mass loss, which decreases metabolic rate, as well as making the body work more slowly to conserve fuel. This can also lead to a variety of nutritional deficiencies, as the body is receiving less food than it needs. You can find a calorie calculator to estimate the amount you need per day here.

Eat Breakfast

Having breakfast shortly after getting out of bed helps in waking up the metabolism – eating a healthy, nutritious and balanced morning meal also helps control cravings, which should keep you away from unhealthy snacks. Good options are slow to digest, which will make you feel fuller for longer: oatmeal with nuts and berries, an omelet with greens and low-fat cheese (such as rocket with feta, or spinach with buffalo mozzarella) – as a general rule of thumb, mixing lean proteins with complex carbs and healthy fats will yield a complete meal.

Drink Cold Water

The body burns calories by heating the cold water to core temperature – and though a single glass won’t do much difference by itself, making this a habit can help increase metabolic rate.

Drink Caffeinated Beverages

The average metabolic rate of people who frequently drink caffeinated beverages is higher than those who don’t – caffeine stimulates the nervous system by increasing heartbeat rate and breathing. Though coffee is a great option (especially if it’s sugar-free), green tea also contains antioxidant polyphenols and catechin, which increase thermogenesis (burning stored energy) and fat oxidation.

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Ingest Healthy Fats

Healthy fats help regulate metabolism and keep it healthy. They can be found in nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oils, avocado and fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna.

Maintain Muscle Mass

Strength-training helps prevent muscle decay and the decrease in metabolism speed which comes with age. The more developed your muscles are, the more calories you will burn while at rest.

Keep moving throughout the day

Most people stay sitting down at work for hours at a time on most days, which will make the body sense that it’s not using a lot of energy – this causes calories to be stored as fat. Taking a walk around the office at least once every hour will help mitigate the long-term risks of sedentarism, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Give Your Workout a Kick

HIIT, high-intensity interval training, boosts calorie burn during and after a workout. This tactic makes cells consume more oxygen and work harder to burn energy, and consists of aerobic interval training which intersperses high and low intensity exercise. Though there are plenty of routines online (such as these workouts for beginners), I recommend that you have a fitness professional tailor a workout for you and your needs.

Lady Talks | Monday Inspiration

Inspiration, Quotes

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of reading inspirational and motivational quotes to get myself pumped up for particularly busy or intense days – and as it happens, this week will be filled with them.  I’ve mourned my weekend’s untimely end, then written this post in the hopes that it will get you as motivated as it did me, so here are some quotes and photos to help get you through the day, and ready for the rest of the week.

will-van-wingerden-87463.jpg“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

I’ve been confronted with this feeling one too many times – looking into the horizon and seeing nothing but hurdles. Fortunately, it is often succeeded by a flush of relief which comes with crossing the finish line. As impossible as some tasks may seem, they depend only on your perseverance and hard work to come to fruition.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you” – Jim Rohn

Many of us have had days in which we just go through the motions until the day is over – and to me, that feels so much worse than talking myself into setting goals for the day, and getting them done. When we don’t know what we want, we can end up with a lot that we don’t.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

Dreaming provides us with the goal we desire to achieve – but an act, as small and slow as it might be, will turn a dream into a possibility.

132.jpeg“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence” – Helen Keller

I really love this quote. It always reminds me that as complicated as achieving a goal can seem, the most important element is an exercise of self-love and confidence which begins inside of us and is entirely within our own control.

 

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best” – St. Jerome

Whoever you are, whatever you do; self-improvement will inevitably be one of the most powerful tools you can use to improve the quality of your life. Diligence, focus and persistence are important qualities in becoming the best version of yourself there can be – being the best is a never ending mission.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self” – Aldous Huxley

Huxley is one of my favourite authors, and this is one of my favourite quotes of his. Change has to come from within – a positive change within ourselves can be the spark that ignites our will and capability to change the world around us for the better.

133.jpg“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines” – Robert H. Schuller

Turning problems into challenges makes them a valuable source of learning material. Analyzing the challenge and trying to find ways to overcome it means you have turned a wall into a hurdle and refused to let it stop you.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with it” – Charles R. Swindoll

Our mindsets, attitudes and behaviors can completely transform our lives and the facts which affect us – for better or for worse. They are able to make or break everything we build, even being able to change our perception of inevitable facts or events. Attitude is a matter of choice – make it count!

“What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows” – Ralph Marston

To me, this statement encompasses all the elements of the post: self-improvement, confidence, diligence, attitude, inspiration and motivation. The habits of today create the rewards of tomorrow – we plant what we sow, so it is very important to put in effort in what we do to create an abundant harvest in all of our tomorrows.

Happy monday! I wish you all a lovely week!

Lady Reviews | Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

Beauty, Review, Skincare

The Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel by Clinique is an oil free face moisturizer which promises to hydrate and balance combination to oily skin. It’s been my favourite moisturizer for close to a year – like expected of a gel moisturizer, it is lightweight, refreshing, and free of that tacky, greasy sensation one can get from a thicker moisturizing lotion.

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My skin is normal, though my T-zone can get a bit oily occasionally, and it’s also very sensitive. It’s not uncommon for me to try products which end up irritating my skin and making me break out, so finding a soothing, balancing, fragrance-free product with mattifying properties such as this one was such a dream. It is absorbed very quickly by the skin and won’t interfere with any products you put on top of it (sunscreen, primer and makeup), which makes it an ideal morning moisturizer. Though Clinique recommends that it be used twice a day, I like using other skin care treatment products at night instead of it.

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A little bit of it goes a really long way – normally, a single pump is enough for my face. On warmer days, I find that the product isn’t that effective in oil control, but in milder and cooler temperatures, the gel helps to keep my skin from developing shine for a least a couple of hours longer than usual.

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6.7oz (20ml) and 1.7oz (50ml) containers

It comes in two sizes (though I did buy a third size, of 6.7oz-200ml, in a Singaporean Duty Free shop, I’ve never seen it anywhere else): a 1.7 oz (50ml) tube, and a 4.2oz (125ml) container with a pump.

Overall, this is great moisturizer for people with oily and/or acne prone skin. It makes skin soft and smooth, and is comfortable and mattifying. It’s one of my favourite skin care items, and a product I really recommend for anyone who dislikes the texture of traditionally thicker lotions.

Lady Reviews | Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen

Beauty, Review, Skincare

Shiseido, one of my favourite skin care brands, is parent company to sunscreen specialized Anessa. I’ve only been able to find this brand physically in Japan, though their products are sold through various websites which ship worldwide.

Years ago, I hated the greasy feeling and white cast associated with sunscreen so much that I’d skip it completely. Fortunately, there currently so many satisfactory products which offer high protection and comfort, that there are no excuses for leaving home unprotected. The Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen is one of such products.

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The sunscreen is a lightweight, fragrance-free product which goes great under makeup. It is very runny and milky, and though it does go on a bit oily and wet, it is absorbed almost immediately by the skin, drying down matte and free of white casts. It also seemed to aid in oil control and prolonging makeup wear.

It is water and sweat resistant, and stays put for a long time after application, needing to be removed with an oil-based makeup remover. Sometimes I’ll apply it by early morning and find it almost intact before going to bed. Though it does make my skin soft and smooth for the most part, it can make the skin under the nose pads of my glasses go really red and dry if I don’t reapply moisturizer.

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It comes in a sturdy, golden 2oz (60ml) tube, which should be shaken well before use. As for protection, it’s UVA protection grade is the highest currently available (PA+++) with a 50+ SPF, meaning it has very high protection from both UVA and UVB rays. If you’re interested in better understanding these labels, I’ve written about sunscreens here.

I would recommend this sunscreen to anyone living in hot and humid places, or anyone who goes frequently to the beach – since it has high protection and is very comfortable and moisturizing, it can be worn anywhere, anytime. I definitely think it’s worth a try!

Lady Talks | All About Sunscreen

Beauty, Skincare

Sunscreens are products which help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from damaging the skin. Sunlight consists of two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB, with varying sunscreen protection.

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet radiation is part of the sun’s light spectrum and is invisible to the naked eye. Generally speaking, UVA (the longer wave UV ray) causes skin aging and lasting skin damage, and UVB (the shorter wave UV ray) causes sunburns and skin damage. Both can increase skin cancer risk, though the risk associated with UVB rays is larger.

Understanding the Labels

SPF

The Sun Protection Factor, shortened to SPF, is a measure of a sunscreen’s protection of UVB rays. Products with a SPF between 30 and 50 are recommended (SPF 15 blocks out 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 and 50 block out, respectively, 96.7% and 98% of UVB rays). The numbers work like this: if you can typically stay out in the sun for 10 minutes before getting a sunburn, applying a SPF 30 product (properly) should allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer without getting burned. It’s obviously not an exact science, since the amount of UV rays that reach us depend on a variety of factors.
The + sign sometimes used means “more than” – so a label of 30+ means a product should test higher than 30.

PA

PA is the protection grade of UVA rays and contains three levels of protection: PA+, PA++ and PA+++. The lowest protects sensitive skin against low to medium UVA radiation, the medium provides moderate UVA protection and the highest protects against very strong or direct UVA radiation.

Broad-Spectrum or Multi Spectrum

This label means the product offers protection for both UVA and UVB rays.

Application

Though the protection level is important, the application is even more so, since a sunscreen must be applied liberally to achieve its labeled protection. Most people do not use enough sunscreen to fully protect their skins, which may result in protection far lower than labeled.

Another thing to take notice is that water-resistant does not mean waterproof: even though a product may be resistant to water, that does not mean it will stay budgeproof and offer the same protection it did before a swim. Reapplying the product after swimming or towelling, or after two hours, is important to guarantee protection.

Lady Tips | Coconut Oil Beauty Benefits

Beauty, Hair, Makeup, Skincare

Coconut oil has made its way into the pantries of many people looking to have healthier lifestyles and diets, and though it’s a great cooking oil, it is used in my beauty routine way more often than in my kitchen. Here are some ways you can reap the benefits of this versatile oil.

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Hair

Deep Conditioning

Coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft very efficiently, moisturizing and nourishing it from the inside out. Homemade hair masks are my favourite way to use coconut oil – I usually apply them once a week, or whenever I feel that my hair needs a moisture boost. Here’s how:
Coat the hair lightly in coconut oil – you really don’t need to use much: half a tablespoon should be enough for long hair. Applying it on the scalp is also recommended, especially for people looking to treat dandruff.
Leave it on for at least an hour or two – though you can leave it on for only ten minutes, it’s best to do this when you’ve got more time on your hands. The longer it stays on, the better.
Wash it off with shampoo, then condition as usual – you might have to shampoo twice to get all the oil out. The mask does not substitute conditioner, as the latter seals the hair cuticles and moisturizes more superficially.
The most practical method I’ve found is to apply the oil before bed, then wash it as soon as I get up.

Flyaway Hair & Frizz Tamer

With dry or damp hair, apply a small amount of oil to the ends to detangle and style hair. This helps combat frizz and split ends, whilst making hair soft, smooth and shiny.

Pre Wash

Using an oil before washing your hair can help keep it from getting too dried out, as it adds strength and flexibility to it. Lightly coat the shafts with oil about ten minutes before washing.

Though coconut oil works great for some people, others report adverse effects such as hair loss or brittleness. In general, it seems that coarse and dry hair types do not work well with it – fine to medium hair will generally be able to achieve the strength, volume and shine expected.

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Body

Moisturizer

Apply all over the body after showering.

Body Scrub

Add half a cup of coconut oil to a half cup of sugar (white or brown, though I’d not recommend coarser sugars such as demerara) and combine. Optionally, add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil (oils and benefits listed here) or half a cup of ground coffee, which is packed with antioxidants and is said to help fight cellulite.

Foot Bath

A great way to treat dry or smelly feet. Melt two teaspoons of coconut oil in warm water and soak your feet for a few minutes, then pat dry.

Massage Oil

An excellent choice for a massage oil, it’s not excessively greasy whilst retaining its glide.

Natural Deodorant

Mix ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ¼ cup of arrowroot powder (or baby powder) and ¼ cup of baking soda for the basic recipe. Amp it up with a teaspoon of grape seed oil to increase shelf life from 2 to 8 months, and/or 5-10 drops of essential oil for added benefits and scent.
Though this recipe works well for most, it should be noted that some women with more sensitive skin develop adverse effects from the baking soda, such as redness and irritation.

Shaving Cream

This oil’s antimicrobial, emollient and soothing qualities make it ideal for this task – apply it to the legs right before shaving.

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Face

Facial Scrub

Mix one tablespoon coconut oil with one tablespoon fine sea salt and, as an optional step, a couple of drops of essential oil for added benefits (my favourites are Lavender and Tea Tree).

Lip Balm

Apply directly over the lips for a quick and natural moisture boost.

Makeup Remover

Massage a small amount of oil onto your face to remove makeup, then clean it up with a clean cloth or cotton round.

For all the purposes and benefits listed, a cold-pressed, extra virgin, non-hydrogenated coconut oil is recommended for its better quality.

Lady Talks | Types of Tea

Drink

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of all things tea – my blog was named in homage to what is known as the Champagne of Teas, after all. Tea has been my choice of an afternoon pick-me-up for a couple of years, now; and though I’m no expert, I feel that I’ve come to better understand the nuances of different tea types.

There are five basic tea types: White, Green, Black, Oolong and Pu’erh. All tea types come from Camellia sinensis and its cultivars, though variations in growing conditions and processing methods yield different flavours. The process is composed by five steps: plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing (the step which most crucially affects flavour profile and caffeine content) and firing. Generally speaking, the less oxidized a tea is, the lighter it will be in flavour and colour. More heavily oxidized teas tend to be darker and more robust.

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White Tea

The most delicate of teas is made by plucking and drying young leaves. When brewed correctly, at a low temperature (temperatures around 170F/75°C are advisable) with a short steeping time, it will yield a light, clean and floral beverage with low amounts of caffeine.

Green Tea

The tea leaves are kept from oxidizing by either steaming or pan-firing, which works similarly to blanching leafy greens. The low withering and oxidation means the vibrant colour and flavour will be retained, and they are better extracted by water temperatures between 140F and 185F (60°C-85°C), depending on the green tea variety. Though it can result in a range of flavours, all of them are smooth, subtle, grassy and springy.

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Black Tea

Perhaps the most common tea type. All five steps of the process are followed, typically with full oxidation and high firing. Known for their strong, bold and robust flavours, they are also high in caffeine. Darjeeling, Ceylon, Assam, Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong are among its varieties.

Oolong

Being partially oxidized, this type of tea develops complexity and richness in flavour whilst not becoming robust and brisk like black tea. It is a broad category of tea, being described as halfway between green and black – both in flavour, and in caffeine content. This tea type is smooth and fragrant, with a hint of floral and fruity complexity.

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Pu’erh

A fermented and aged black tea from China, it is prized for its smooth, deep flavour and its medicinal benefits. Like wine, it develops better flavour and more value with age – the aging process can take from months to many years. Its rich, woodsy and slightly sweet flavour are only part of what makes this tea so special – it has been shown, among other health benefits, to lower cholesterol and triglyceride amounts in the body.

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Herbal Tea

Since these are not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, they are not considered true teas and are also known as infusions or tisanes. Herbs, flowers, nuts, fruits and spices are among the ingredients that can be infused to achieve a typically caffeine free beverage.

Rooibos

Rooibos is grown exclusively in South Africa and its brewing results in a sweet, floral and mellow beverage filled with health benefits such as being nutritious, an iron absorption aid and powerfully antioxidant. It also has soothing properties, which coupled with it being caffeine-free, make it a lovely option of a drink before bedtime.

Hibiscus

This beverage’s flavour is as vibrant as its deep magenta colour – tart and reminiscent of cranberry juice. It has antioxidant and diuretic properties, is rich in vitamin C and contains polyphenols, which stimulate the digestive system.

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Chrysanthemum

The steeping of chrysanthemum flowers yields a softly flavoured beverage very popular in East Asia, where it is used as an aid in the recovery of fever and influenza, as well as a natural stimulant to awaken the drinker.

Mint or Peppermint

Peppermint tea is widely used as a home remedy for an upset stomach, but that’s far from the only health benefit the infusion offers. Its relaxant and antispasmodic properties contribute to helping relieve stress, and coupled with the menthol present in the plant, will loosen up congestion and relieve coughs. Peppermint also has an antibacterial quality which can not only boost your immune system, but also help treat bad breath.