Monthly Archives: August 2015

My No ‘Poo Journey

Having discussed in my previous posts about why perhaps you should ditch commercial shampoos and how I suggested you should do that – I thought I would use this post to discuss my personal experience with going No ‘Poo.

I had previously started a blog in January talking all about my No ‘Poo hair journey and doing a week by week account of what changes were happening to my hair. I never kept this blog up though and decided to delete it in favour of starting this blog (which I have already been so much more successful with writing!). So I thought I would rework that previous post from my old blog to here and explain my hair journey.

If you have read my previous blogs on this subject I would have hinted previously on my hair condition and the fact I had alopecia (hair loss). So I thought I would give a brief history on my hair what I did with it and then go into my No ‘Poo transition journey.

My hair was naturally very, very fine, straight hair. It could never hold a curl and it was also quite prone to fly aways. When I was a teenager, I was a bit of a punk and experimented with hair dyes – I went red, purple, green, black, cosmic black (black with a very cool hint of blue). All these were home dye kits. One day I ordered a cosmic blue hair dye kit and I dyed it myself. Big mistake – it was a permanent dye and I had not applied it evenly. I added up with Black with a hint of blue hair…with bit streaks of my natural brown. IT DID NOT LOOK GOOD. I immediately tried to correct this disaster and tried stripping and fading the colour with Baking Soda – not to self or anyone else who has ever done this. Black Hair dye gets into you hair shaft and is VERY hard to remove, you can lighten it, but you cannot get it to go back to your original colour…you must grow it out. Naturally I was heartbroken (teenagers are always so dramatic) and I went to a hairdresser asking them to fix it, they couldn’t so they just covered all my hair evenly black. I wanted a very long time to grow that black hair dye it. It put me off black hair dye so I usually stuck to red after that.

When I developed Alopecia when I was 19, I stopped using dye altogether, naturally after Blackgate, I always got a hairdresser to dye my hair. With Alopecia they wouldn’t touch dying my hair in case it irritated my scalp even more. At this point I also stopped applying heat to my hair – after all I was straightening my ridiculously straight hair anyway…just thinking about that now…I think what an utterly pointless task. My hair was so damaged because I kept straightening it – that I needed to straighten it more. Now my hair is beautiful straight and I don’t do anything to achieve it. I stopped with fancy shampoos as well and tried to stick with brands like Simple, which had no perfumes or things like that. I didn’t comb or brush my hair when wet. These changes really helped improve the condition of my hair…but eventually I switched to more commercial shampoos and for a long time favoured Lush shampoo bars and Schwartzkopf. However, Lush bars in particularly use to dry out and irritate my scalp.

One day I stumbled across blogs on No ‘Poo and became very interested. I decided I wanted to try this but wanted not to waste my shampoo products – so vowed to use them up before making the switch…this took a long time and eventually I got bored of waiting – I still have a lot of conditioners lying around in the cupboard, I did manage to use up all the shampoos though.

Eventually I got to try no ‘Poo and used a Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar combo – which is quite popular in the blogging community. Looking back over my old blog post, it suggest that Week One of my No ‘Poo journey was fairly straight forward…I went to the hairdresser and she washed my hair, and then I just didn’t wash it for the week. This was quite normal…as I had trained my hair, when using shampoo to not need to wash it more than once a week – it would be greasy and it did need washing…but it wasn’t horribly awful (just no perhaps anything more than a day in the house watching movies hair).

Weeks Two-Five my hair was nice, fluffy and clean. My Baking Soda would do some funky crystallising within the bottle, which I googled but it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary. I had been given the all clear with Alopecia for a while and had been dying the ends of my hair again. So every two weeks I would use a natural shampoo bar to clean the ends of my hair and and put purple dye over my bleached ends.

By about Week Six, my hair had become itchy on the scalp and super dry at the ends, almost straw like. It looked horrible and I really missed conditioner. I decided to put an intensive hair oil conditioning treatment in the bottom. BIG MISTAKE. If you are No ‘Pooing a golden rule is do not mix Commercial with Natural Products. If you decide your hair is dry and you want to use a commercial product…that’s fine but wash it out with a commercial product. No natural products will get that out. The intensive oil stayed in my hairs and they looked like I hadn’t even attempted to get it out with a natural shampoo. I managed after two shower attempts and a vigorous scrubbing with a natural shampoo bar to get it to a manageable state. But the problem with my hair was not solved. It was still straw like – so not having learnt my lesson, week seven came along and I did exactly the same thing again…clever me! My hair had also developed a reaction to static it would be do flyaway it and weird. I’ve hardly ever experienced it before but it happened a lot those two weeks.

I had however started reading about dry ends and how to fix them…enter the Boar Bristle Brush. I bought one and I can’t believe I had attempted seven weeks without one. If you have read my previous blog you will see that I said it was essential – and believe me it is essential. By this point I was largely shampoo free – however the putting of the oil into my hair twice a week had left me no option put to wash it out with commercial shampoo. I couldn’t believe it – I got out the shower and my hair was clean, beautiful, soft. Nothing like it had been for weeks – the straw ends had gone. No itchy scalp. My hair was clean – no random parts still greasy from missing the Baking Soda mixture. I felt confident about my hair again. I nearly gave up my No ‘Poo journey at this point.

My old blog ends with Week Eight, which says I have gone back to No ‘Poo but I was less than impressed. My itchy scalp had returned and my hair didn’t look clean. I decided that Baking Soda was just not for me any more and I remembered Blackgate – my hair went straw like then too and was awful and the ends were breaking off. I decided Baking Soda just was not good for my hair and I shouldn’t be using it. I looked for alternatives and that when I picked Rye Flour.

I have not stuck faithfully to rye flour – sometimes if I wake up in the morning and my hair looks like it needs a wash and I have to be somewhere – I will just jump in the shower and wash it with commercial shampoo. I like the reliability of commercial shampoo. I know my hair will be clean no matter what. However, since using Rye Flour my hair is always clean…it just takes longer to get there. I normally leave it on for 20-30 minutes…which I don’t always have time to do. With my Alopecia, I developed a patch of white hair than have never regained it’s hair colour (all my hair started off white when it was regrowing before going back to my natural brown). I have started dying this with a Schwartzkopf brown hair dye that matches my natural colour.

My hair doesn’t really get unmanageable between washes – I normally leave it at least a week, possibly ten days before washing. During that time, one good spray session with a dry shampoo (or I use a homemade dry shampoo which is actually a liquid) will get my hair looking as if I have just washed it…if I do that normally on day five, I can go ten days without washing my hair.

I have learnt a lot during my journey. That’s not to be afraid of the odd commercial shampoo use. If you do not use it twice in a row and if you are keeping a regular washing cycle (Ie. you wash your hair once a week whether it’s a natural or commercial method). You will not affect your transition method.

My hair now is very lovely, it is soft and silky – it can hold hairstyles. The other day I put a plait in on Sunday and it stayed and looked good until the Wednesday! It just looked slightly more scruffy each day, but I was happy to go out in public with it like that and it looked good. Am I glad I went No ‘Poo? Yes I am. My hair is thick and lovely. It is growing really well and it is in great conditioner – despite the fact I dye it. My hair grows very quickly and I am happy. I like that I can just get up give it a quick brush and go, if I want to do something more fancy that works too. It’s great. I am in love and happy with my hair.

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All About My Mother (3 Stars)

A post written for Film fan.

All About My Mother is a 1999 Spanish film directed by (yes you’ve guessed it) Pedro Almodóvar.

The film is about Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a nurse for a Transplant Clinic in Madrid and a single parent to her 17 year old son, Esteban (Eloy Azorin). On Esteban’s birthday he is killed by a car as he races to try and get a autograph from Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), an actress performing in A Street Car Named Desire, the play Esteban had seen for his birthday. Following the death of Esteban, Manuela returns to Barcelona, in search of Esteban’s father, Lola, a transvestite, who Manuela has not seen since fleeing Barcelona after finding out about her pregnancy. Returning to Barcelona, Manuela reconnects with an old friend Agrado (Antonia San Juan), also a transvestite, and meets a nun, Rosa (Penélope Cruz). The production of A Street Car Named Desire, the same one Manuela and Esteban saw on the day he dies, also comes to Barcelona.

This film, I wanted to like it, it seemed to be an original and different script, and I admire that. I like variety and originality; but I don’t know. It just lacked meaty substance, everything is all wrapped up lovely with no lose ends and it’s all very…safe. I loved the character of Agrado and thought she was quite funny, but her alone couldn’t save what was quite a slow film with very little character development throughout. It’s worth a watch but you’ll struggle to be bowled over by this one.


Going No ‘Poo

In my previous post I mentioned a little bit about my hair history and highlighted why commercial shampoos were perhaps not worth all the hype the luxurious TV commercials will show us. Today, I am going to do a step-by-step guide of how to whine yourself off shampoo. This is going to be a long process and will not happen overnight. Your hair will enter a transitioning phase – this is a phase where your hair is still overproducing oils, but you are not using anything to remove those oils. So the greasy build-up can be bad and it can take six week to three months for your hair to regulate itself.

Things you’ll need:

  • A boar bristle hair brush (this is a must!, I tried No ‘Poo without it and quickly learnt you need one).
  • A dry shampoo (you can buy one either as a spray, powder, use talcun powder or you can make one)
  • An alternative to shampoo, a No ‘Poo if you will. I will discuss a couple down below.
  • An alternative to conditioner (optional), I don’t feel the need to use a conditioner any more, but if I do I use diluted Apple Cider Vinegar, if you find that does not work for you, you could try White Vinegar.

Getting Started:

Before you start no poo, it’s a good idea to look at how often you wash your hair. If it is everyday then it is probably too dramatic for you to completely give up shampoo just yet. As I mentioned in my last post, every time you wash your hair you are stripping away essential oils. If you wash your hair very frequently, you scalp is going into overdrive producing these oils. If you give up shampoo at this stage your scalp will still over produce these oils and you’ll have nothing to soak it up. I suggest to stick with commercial shampoo but extend the time you do not wash you hair by a day. On a no hair wash day you can use dry shampoo to get you out of those sticky spots. Once you are able to comfortable go every other day. Extend not washing your hair by another day or so.

Boar Bristle Brush:

Your Boar bristle brush is an essential tool and you should start using it every time you brush your hair. A Boar bristle brush is very good at breaking up the oil in your hair, soaking it up in it’s bristles and then will help you work some of that oil down your hair shaft. When I first started out with my Boar bristle brush I liked to give myself a good massage with my fingers for 5 minutes, to help break up my greasy hair. I would then go in with a Boar bristle brush for about another first minutes to help carry some of that oil down. When I woke up in the morning I found that my scalp was less greasy because some of that oil had travelled down my hair shaft. I use this one.

No ‘Poo:

You can google a range of different mixtures people have come up with for different no ‘Poo shampoos. The most popular one seems to be Baking Soda. This is the one I first started off with, I use to take one Tablespoon of Baking Soda and mix it in a 6oz sauce bottle dispense like the one below. I got these really cheap off amazon here. I would shake it up and then distribute that through only my scalp – working it in and letting it sit for about five minutes. Then I would wash it out and follow with One tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in the other bottle and filled with water. I do not recommend this method at all – not only was it hit and miss and found that I would come out of the bath and my hair didn’t look clean. My hair just didn’t feel good and was in worse condition then when I was using commerial shampoo. After reading other blogs about alternatives to Baking Soda, I realised that this product is alkaline and is disrupting your hair’s pH levels too much. So I searched for alternatives.

J.R. Liggett’s Old-Fashioned Soap:

This product reminded me of the lush shampoo bars which I use to adore (until I started going against Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). The company itself makes this shampoo from an old pre-commercial shampoo recipe and would have been similar to the shampoos that were available before commercial shampoo. I like this product, very much, but I’m not in love with this product. After coming off the Baking Soda mixture, this shampoo felt great – like a traditional shampoo. It lathers and you can dispense it well through your hair, you know exactly where you are cleaning your hair through the suds and you get good results with it. It says you do not need to follow up with conditioner, I felt I did so I would use my Apple Cider Vinegar mix. The thing I didn’t like about this shampoo, was that when I was washing my hair…it felt sticky. My fingers wouldn’t slide through my hair that well and when I went to wash my hair it didn’t feel that easy. That might not be the shampoo in itself – it could have been product build up from commercial shampoos that was still in my hair – which is a normal process. I was not completely satisfied though. So I searched for alternatives.

Rye Flour:

My current shampoo routine is a mixture of the J.R. Liggett shampoo above – followed by a second shampoo with Rye Flour. Rye Flour I have been using for a couple of months and it is safe to save I am completely happy with my No ‘Poo hair routine. I wash my hair with the Liggett shampoo, work it through my hair, focusing just the scalp. I then take my Rye Flour. I always wash my hair in the bath and before I get in the bath I prepare my Rye Flour mixture. I pre-sifted the bag on the day I got the flour, to remove some of the larger pieces of Husk. You can do this every time you shampoo but I found it easier to just do it once and keep it in an old glass jam jar (I have a ton of old jam jars lying around and they are great for storing lots of things in!). Mason Jars are popular in America – but I have no idea where to get them from. Anyway back on task…I spoon around three heaped teaspoons into a bowl – depending on your hair length you can use more or less. And I like to make my mixture quite watery so I just use hot water that is into running my bath. I mix it up so it is the consistency of watery porridge and let it sit on the side while I wash my hair with J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bar. Then once I’ve rinsed my hair I scoop of the mixture, which has now firmed to the consistency of porridge onto my hair. I put this everywhere, at the nape of my neck which use to get quite oily, on my scalp and down the shaft of my hair to the ends. I focus on the scalp and really work it in like a regular shampoo. I then let it sit, normally for about thirty minutes. Before washing it out. You really need to spend a good amount of time washing it out. The little particles of husk really like to stay in your scalp. Then I get out and wrap my hair in a towel for about five-ten minutes. I never rub my hair with the towel.

After shampoo:

I never use a hair brush on wet hair. Before I had a fringe I just use to leave my hair to dry without touching it. Since getting a fringe I feel I need to comb and dry my hair with a hair dryer or it just looks ridiculous. So I take a wide tooth comb and gently comb out my tangled hair. I then part my hair and comb out my fringe. I then quickly use a hair dryer to blow dry my fringe and scalp. I literally do this for about one or two minutes. Just a quick burst to get it drying but not completely drying it out. If I see any bits of Husk in my hair I try and blow dry them out. I leave the rest of my hair to dry naturally. Once my hair is dry I turn my hair upside down and massage to get any bits of Husk left in my hair out…the better you rinse out your hair in the first place – the less husk you will have.

That’s all I do. I’ll leave my hair for a good week, even longer if I don’t have anything planned to do it’s own thing. I have a good system now and my hair feels good. I washed it Thursday (27/08) and I’ll probably leave it for a week to ten days before I wash it again. If I am going out feel it is a little too greasy I’ll even tie my hair into a plait to disguise it a bit or I will spray it with dry shampoo and brush it through. The only thing I do every day is brush my hair and plait it before going to bed.

I hope you find my walk through useful, if you have any questions you can put them in the comment bar below. I would suggest a really big top tip and that is if you are going No ‘Poo and you are transitioning and your hair just feels awful. Stop. Relax and reach for the commercial shampoo bottle. Just try not to reach for it too often. I’m talking emergency best friend’s wedding or really I can’t cope with No ‘Poo any more day. Next time you wash your hair go for the No ‘Poo alternative.

My next post I’ll try to document what happened during my transition and how I dealt with it. If you are still in transition and you’ve come across my post. Don’t worry it does get better you just need to find the No ‘Poo method that works for you and allow time for it to work!


Bad Education (5 Stars)

A review for Film Fan.

OK,  no surprises that my second blog review would come from the same Pedro Almost variety box set. This time it’s Bad Education (2004).

Bad Education explores the story of Ignacio (Gael Garía Bernal), and Enrique Goded (Fele Martínez), two childhood friends who shared a childhood sweetheart romance. Fate rips the two apart until Enrique is reunited with Ignacio, now known as Angel, as he seeks to have one of his stories, The Visit, turned into a film. The film explores Ignacio’s childhood experiences at school and the victimisation and trauma he received during his school through the hands of Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez Cacho).

The film explores childhood victimisation, sexual orientation and the reality with dealing with very traumatic events for the main character, Angel. This is not a nice film, although the suspense and mystery around the film suspend from too much of that darkness coming to the forefront. I liked the format of the film switching between different time frames, and the plot doesn’t really reveal itself until towards the end of the film. There is suspense and mystery – which is sustained well through the film. The script is very good and original. The acting is outstanding.

It’s not until the end of the film, as I sit down to write this that the message is leaves is far darker and upsetting then you initially think whilst watching the film. The film is shot is fairly bright colours and the flow of the film tends to give a more positive, upbeat feel to the film, which I think masks some of the darker elements of the film. Left now to write about the film I am focusing of the ideas of child grooming, paedophilia, child abuse in the Catholic church, struggling with your sexual identity during a time when there was little acceptance and understanding (1980) and exploring drug abuse and how all these effect not just the individual, but the others around you.

This film I find has a good balance to keep the film a float with enough buoyancy to not let you get caught up in the horrific content of the film. It makes the film watchable. This helps bring attention to and gives people an insight and consideration to the struggle some people go through with childhood abuse and sexuality. However, now I am left analysing the reality of such a person, and wondering how very different reality can be from film.


Why you should break up with your shampoo!

Shampoo is a modern convenience and obsession. The Average UK woman will spend £140,000 on haircare and beauty products in their lifetime! That’s a huge amount and could be a significant chunk towards a mortgage for a property. It’s no secret that most women want to look their best and there is nothing wrong with spending time and money to do that. However, are some of the products we use really helping us look are best? Could in fact some of these products be helping us get trapped into a cycle of dependence? Do you really need these products to solve acne, frizzy hair or get our hair to stay put – could it be, that maybe, these products are the reason we have acne, frizzy hair and slippery hair that cannot hold shape to save it’s life. It’s certainly worth considering and investigating what we are putting on our faces and hair.

This blog post is going to be concerned about hair. Now I was probably your average teenager growing up. I was obsessed with my hair! I was also a bit of a punk so crazy hair colours were in. My favourite I think was that black that gave that blue sheen – it was amazing. Also, the hair craze was to straighten hair. As you can probably imagine my hair with abuse from permanent dyes and hair straighteners was not in the best condition. My hair developed Alopecia (hair loss) and although there was no known cause for why it was happening to me – I was going through a stressful period at the time – my hair was rebelling against my rebellion. At the time, the main advice I got from the nurse was to ditch the products, the hair straighteners, the dyes and stick to Simple’s shampoo and conditioner range. My hair was awful. It was damaged beyond repair and not being able to mask it with straighteners or anything – made it even worse. It was horrific for me as a teenager. But looking back it was the best thing I could have done for my hair. I abused my hair and it wasn’t pretty. I became more self-conscious about what I was doing to my hair.

After a while, I came across a movement called No ‘Poo. Don’t worry let me explain before you look at me in disgust! No ‘Poo is all about ditching commercial shampoo. There are a range of ways you can do this – from simply just using shop-bought conditioner (this is known as a Low ‘Poo method) to ROM – which stands for Rinse Only Method, which is effectively just using water to wash your hair.

You may be asking shampoo works well for me, why should I give it up. I have a shampoo that helps stop my dry, itchy flaky scalp and I can’t live without my conditioner because it tames my frizzy locks – wait right there. Have you ever thought that your scalp and frizzy problems could actually be caused by your shampoo? Let me explain.

Shampoo has a range of ingredients in it, how often do you look at the back of a bottle and fail to pronounce half of the ingredients? Let alone know what half of them are. One key ingredient of shampoo is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which is an organic compound used in cleaning and detergent products. Organic you say? Great?! Not in this case. SLS works by removing the dirt from your hair, which is a good thing but it also works at stripping away the oils (known as Sebum) from your scalp. This is bad, SLS is a irritate which can cause your scalp to itch and flake, but it is also stripping away your hair’s own natural conditioner, which leaves your hair dry. We compensate this by using a conditioner to go with the shampoo. But you hair doesn’t know you’ve done this – it just knows you’ve removed the sebum. So you now have a fake sebum, in the form of conditioner and natural sebum working on your hair. The end result is greasy hair quicker. So you are now trapped into having to wash your hair again. The more you wash it – the more you need to wash it, because it becomes greasier more quickly because your scalp is over producing oils to compensate the loss of oils it is experiencing.

Did you know that in the Victorian times because there was no modern shampoo (which didn’t get invented until the 1930s), women only felt the need to wash their hair about eight to ten times a year? The reason why is because their scalp was in regulation with their hair and didn’t over produce the oil. It was probably a good thing they didn’t wash their hair so often – as the style was to wear it incredibly long. Anne Boleyn had hair she could sit on!

I felt intrigued by this concept, in modern shampoo has only been around since the 1930s. Women coped perfectly well without it before, and looking at historical photos, women’s hair looked long, beautiful and healthy. So what was their secret? I was interested to find out. I wanted to stop abusing my hair with shampoo that was only irritating my scalp.

I started no ‘Pooing about eight months ago, in January 2015. It’s not been an easy journey, it fact, it’s been very difficult. I have cheated and gone back to the shampoo bottle on more than one occasion. But I desperately wanted to stick at it, and by and large I have. Is it worth the long battle to try to break up with your shampoo? In my opinion yes, it has absolutely been worth it.

You have to be prepared to make a sacrifice thought and have a few bad hair days, but trust me it is worth it! Are you interested in finding out how? Stay tuned for my next post, which will be all about what you need to do to ditch the shampoo.


Volver (4 Stars)

A review for Film Fan.

This is my first venture into Spanish films. Being dyslexic I have always found it daunting to read a movie but lately I have tried watching German films to help me learn German. Not only is it a useful tool to help hear German more regularly; German cinema produces some very good films, so it is entertaining too! I have really enjoyed German cinema so I have begun to wonder what other good films I am missing out on simply because I have to read them. A friend very kindly lent me a box set of four Pedro Almodóvar’s films. I decided my first film from the set should be Volver, a 2006 film staring Penélope Cruz.

Volver is based around Raimunda (Penélope Cruz), her daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) and her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas). Raimunda is a hardworking, working class mother with a deadbeat husband. The sisters, who are still not over the death of their parents (who died several years earlier in a house fire) are shocked by the death of their Aunt. This recent death along with other events in Raimunda’s life triggers the materialisation of her mother’s spirit (Carmen Maura) to help comfort the sisters as they try to get on with their lives and overcome the difficult situations.

I found the film a little difficult as I don’t speak Spanish at and the film is a little fast-paced to begin with. I was interested by the different cultural beliefs of the women in the film, especially by the buying and maintaining of your own gravestone before you die and the belief in spirits manifesting themselves to help you through crisis. I thought Pedro Almodóvar directed well and I loved the location of the film and thought the scenery was good. The storyline is quite original, which is refreshing (take note Jurassic World!) and the acting was fantastic. However I thought the script let the film down a little. Raimunda is a very strong woman, but given what she has been through she doesn’t seem to quiver from a strong or happy disposition. It seems that in the writing of the script, the writer’s thought they didn’t have time to add a scene showing the situation overcoming Raimunda. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have a strong female lead – but it may be a little unrealistic to aspect someone to go through so much and not breakdown at least once. Another downside is the dialogue is a little fast paced and takes some time to get use to reading so quickly – but never the less a very good film that is well worth a watch!


Hello

I’ve tried many times to start and maintain a blog…starting, I find, is not the problem. Maintaining it is the problem. I’ve tried to stick to one theme and quickly I found that I ran out of motivation, interest and simply time.

I have tried writing about my research interests as an academic – that lasted two posts.

I have tried writing about my interest in all natural, do it yourself beauty – that lasted three posts.

However, now my friend has asked me to start writing film reviews on his blog post – I thought if I was going to do them there, it might be nice to have my own blog to keep them stored on – and maybe write about some of the other things I enjoy too but on one combined blog, rather than separate themed ones.

So I guess it’s wish me good luck as I try again to write yet another blog! – Who know’s maybe this time I’ll make it to four posts before giving up.

Emma