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 Tips | Food for Healthy Hair

Beauty, Hair

You may have heard that beauty comes from within – and when it comes to hair, that’s most certainly true. I have recently written about tips & tricks to improve your hair’s health and appearance, and though those are wonderful tips I apply on a daily basis, eating a healthy and balanced diet is absolutely what made the most difference for me. Your hair can only be as healthy as you are, so I’ve put together a list of which foods and nutrients really help strengthen those tresses.

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BIOTIN

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin necessary to metabolize glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. It helps strengthen weak nails and hair, and also protect skin from fungal infections, acne and dryness; among other benefits. Common sources of biotin are eggs, almonds, cheese, yeast, avocado and whole grains.

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IRON

Iron helps hair follicles to grow – low iron levels, known as anemia, can contribute to hair loss. Animal sources of iron, such as lean red meat, chicken and fish; are more easily absorbed by the body than vegetable sources, which are better absorbed when coupled with a source of vitamin-C (oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli and blueberries). Vitamin-C not only boosts iron absorption in the body, it is also an antioxidant. Vegetable sources of iron include lentils, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.

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OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Omega-3 fatty acids are acids our body needs for proper functioning, but cannot produce, making ingestion essential. Fatty acids contribute to hair growth and moisture, as well as a healthy scalp. A good source of fatty acids are fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel; and also flaxseeds, walnut, walnut oil and pumpkin seeds.

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PROTEIN

Protein is one of the building blocks of the human body, hair included, so ensuring that you’re getting enough in your diet is crucial. Chicken, fish and low or nonfat dairy products are excellent sources of lean protein – as are beans, lentils, legumes and nuts.

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SELENIUM

A mineral and trace element, Selenium is an antioxidant which aids in suppressing free radical damage, helping to prevent premature aging and weakened hair follicles. It is also found in large amounts in the thyroid gland, and so thought to help regulate hormones. Sources include Brazil nuts, walnuts, whole grains, beef liver, and certain types of fish.

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ZINC

Zinc is an essential mineral required to, among other things, proteins synthesis – that and its strengthening of hair follicles makes it crucial for healthy locks. It also helps boost the immune system, as does selenium. Foods high in zinc include oysters, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, mushrooms and beef.

In the end, having a healthy and diverse diet is key to making sure your body gets all that it needs to function properly, so make sure to get all of your 5 a day and enjoy yourself while you’re at it!

Lady Tips | Hair Care

Beauty, Hair

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a love of long, silky and luscious hair – back then, it was just a matter of admiring women I saw on TV; but nowadays, I actually strive to get that gorgeous look, everyday.

To my joy, I discovered that it’s not really necessary to take frequent trips to the salon or spend a lot of money (or time) to do that. After reading recommendations from experts on improving both the health and appearance of hair, I’ve put together tips & tricks to better help you achieve and maintain the tresses of dreams.

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DON’T OVERWASH YOUR HAIR

The frequency of hair washing is widely disputed – some people claim that it is better to wash it everyday, whilst others claim that washing two to three times a week is best. So which one is really better?

It really boils down to hair type and personal habits. Straight hair calls for more frequent washing, since the oil wicks down faster; as does frequent exercising, because of the sweat. Curly or coloured hair call for less washing. There is no universal formula which will work for everyone – you should really experiment and play around to find what works best for you and your hair type.

Though there is no universally flattering formula, there is something universally harmful, and that is overwashing. Our natural oils, which condition and protect our locks, can be stripped away by it – this will dry the hair, and in time, create an excessive production of oil. The excess will lead to a need for more frequent washing, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Using dry shampoo is a great way to help lower the regularity of washing. It will instantly refresh and add texture, whilst reducing the oil buildup and helping mainly the roots retain moisture. I really enjoy Batiste for their refreshing, hassle-free and affordable products.

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ROTATE SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS

There are shampoo love affairs which start out everything you could hope for – your tresses are drop-dead-gorgeous, bouncy and full of life, and it feels like nothing could ever go wrong – and then, suddenly, it happens: the shampoo’s effectiveness is gone. In its place remains limp, dull and flat hair; the remnants of a once happy affair.

So what’s up with that?

Shampoo’s byproducts, much like our natural oils, can build up in our scalps. By rotating shampoos and conditioners every 4-5 days, this buildup is removed, allowing our natural oils to reach the hair shafts and renew shine and softness.

SHAMPOO YOUR SCALP AND CONDITION YOUR ENDS

Shampoo isn’t meant to be scrubbed into the ends of your locks – rather, it is supposed to be massaged into the scalp (which also encourages circulation and detoxifying), then rinsed down onto the ends. Conversely, conditioner should be applied on the ends, to avoid your roots from getting greasy too quickly. Removing excess moisture from the ends before applying conditioner also helps – that’s because when hair is soaking wet, it can’t really absorb anything else, so taking your time to squeeze out water with a towel (your hands will also do the job, just not as well) will really help in allowing the product to penetrate the hair shafts.

DETANGLE IN THE SHOWER

I use my fingers to gently detangle my mane, from the bottom up, with conditioner on. This helps in really massaging the product in and boosting its effectiveness; and also makes detangling after the shower much easier.

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AVOID HOT SHOWERS

I’m not telling you to take cold showers, but the fact is that excessively hot water can dry and break off your hair. Cooler temperatures, on the other hand, can contribute to its strength and beauty – which leads me to…

FINISH WASHING WITH A SPLASH OF COLD WATER

At the very end of most showers (I skip this step in really cold days, or when I’m feeling lazy), I like to splash my hair with some really cold water. It not only helps seal in moisture, making it less frizz prone, but also increases shine. The only drawback of this step (other than the cold) is that since it does such a good job of smoothing your hair, it may cause finer hair to flatten out.

BRUSH FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP

Brushing from the roots down can cause breakage – try, instead, to carefully detangle from the bottom upwards. Wet hair is weaker and more fragile, so brushing isn’t recommended, but if you must, using a wide toothed comb is preferable. It is also a good idea to regularly remove hair that gets stuck in your brushes, and clean them with lukewarm water and a little bit of shampoo.

BLOT OUT MOISTURE WITH TOWEL

Try gently pressing your locks with a towel, from the ends up, instead of mindlessly rubbing. The rubbing action can rough up the hair cuticle, leading to breakage and frizz.

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BLOW-DRY AT LOW TEMPERATURE WITH THE NOZZLE POINTED DOWN

Overheating hair causes it to become dry and brittle. Ideally, blow-drying should be done with a low temperature setting and the nozzle turned down. If you really need the heat, try to mitigate it with a heat protective product, such as this one from Kiehl’s, or this one from TreSemmé. Finishing with a blast of cold air will do the same as cold water in the shower, helping to seal in moisture and shine.

Pointing the nozzle straight down helps avoid the frizzy messes that tend to come with blowing hair out sideways. Moving your hair around whilst drying also helps in creating volume and bounce.

USE HAIR OILS

Coconut oil works wonders for me – my hair gets shinier, softer and stronger whenever and however I apply it. Sadly, it does not work as well for all hair types, with people reporting adverse effects such as hair loss.

Other natural oils that are highly recommended are jojoba, castor and argan oils. I really love using a couple of drops of argan oil to style the bottom 3/4 of my mane – it’s the fastest way I know of to defrizz and create a sleek, lustrous look.

These tips, as well as they have worked for me, have only been a part of how I achieved healthy locks. For the best possible results, I strongly recommend a healthy and balanced diet along with external hair care.

Lady Tips | Vegan Cosmetics

Beauty, Hair, Makeup, Skincare

What are vegan cosmetics?

According to vegan ideology, a vegan product should be free of animal products and animal testing, but since there is neither widespread knowledge of it, nor regulation, the term can be misused or misunderstood.

Vegan Action’s Certification, much like Vegan Society’s, is a trademark which is issued to some (but not yet all) products which are free of both animal products and testing. This helps in not having to examine ingredient lists for certified products, but keep in mind that not every vegan trademark will be certified cruelty free.
I have labelled cruelty free brands below and written a post about them, which you can find here.

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Skincare

skyn ICELAND (vegan, cruelty free)

Iceland is rich in natural resources, such as mineral rich waters, antioxidant berries and soothing algaes – many of them are used in skyn ICELAND’s products to soothe, stabilize and nourish skin. One of their main concerns is how stress affects our skins, and how to counteract these negative effects.

Nature’s Gate (vegan, cruelty free)

Skin, hair, oral and sun care – Nature’s Gate has it all. They have the largest selection of natural toothpaste flavours I have ever seen, including Anise and Cinnamon. The company is focused on Holistic Beauty and achieving beauty from the inside out, with a clean and healthy lifestyle.

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Makeup

Cover FX (vegan, cruelty free)

Specialized in foundation, Cover FX products are free of what they call “inflamatory 5” – parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil and talc. Their wide range of over 40 shades is meant to provide a precise match for all ethnicities and undertones, and all products are formulated to be safe for very sensitive skin.

Kat Von D (vegan in transition, cruelty free)

Kat Von D makeup is famous for its even pigmentation and for being budge-proof – it is a high-end, all-rounder and cruelty free brand which carries many vegan products. Kat has stated that she and her brand are working to reformulate the entire line to be vegan.

100% Pure (mostly vegan, cruelty free)

No synthetic chemicals, preservatives, artificial coloring or fragrances are added to 100% Pure products – they are coloured with fruit and vegetable pigments, and preserved by vitamins and antioxidants. Some products contain beeswax or honey, but all of their vegan products are labelled clearly on their website. The brand carries skin, body and hair care; but their makeup really caught my eye – especially the Gemmed Luminizers (in shades Rose Gold and Moonstone Glow), coloured with fruit pigments and light reflecting gemstones.

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Makeup Accessories

Beauty Blender (vegan, cruelty free)

The Beauty Blender’s popularity is entirely justified. It promises and delivers perfect application of base products, though some beauty gurus use it to apply powder as well.

EcoTools (vegan, cruelty free)

EcoTools has a wide range of eco-friendly brushes (hair and makeup) made with renewable bamboo and recycled materials. They also carry facial sponges, both for makeup and skincare; maintaining affordability and quality throughout.

Real Techniques (vegan, cruelty free)

Brushes and sponges by Real Techniques are not only vegan and affordable, they’re also very high quality – a recommended first splurge for people who are just getting into makeup.

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Nails

KL Polish (vegan, cruelty free)

KL Polish is the beauty YouTuber KathleenLights’s nail polish brand. I can’t get over how gorgeous and chic the shades are, and on top of that, they’re all vegan and 5-free (free of potentially allergenic chemical ingredients commonly used in nail polish).

Hair

Arctic Fox (vegan, cruelty free)

Get bright and colorful tresses without any animal products, drying alcohols, and harsh or allergenic chemicals. Some people have even used Arctic Fox dyes on their pets, though the company recommends consulting with your vet before doing so. They also donate 15% of profit to animal welfare organizations.

Avalon Organics (vegan, cruelty free)

The company’s concern with using pure, organic plant-based ingredients walks hand in hand with their sustainability – their products are biodegradable, free of harsh chemicals, and synthetic fragrances or colours.

Morrocco Method (vegan, cruelty free)

With shampoos, conditioners, hair brushes, henna hair dye and even pet care available, Morrocco Method is not only a great option for people looking for vegan hair care, but their products are also soy-free, chemical-free, gluten-free and raw.

I’m not vegan myself, but I think it’s never a bad idea to choose a product you know was crafted free of animal suffering. Putting this list together surprised my pleasantly, as I found the niche expanding, and hope for it to continue to do so.