Natural Hair Care – My Fight with Seborrheic Dermatitis

I recently wrote a blog post about my love affair with coconut oil here. I wanted to talk a little more about my background to how I came to discover the wonders of natural skin care.

Now, lets start at the beginning… Since I was about 12 or 13 I’ve had a skin condition called Seborrheic Dermatitis. This condition meant that I would suffer with an extremely itchy, flaky, bleeding and sore scalp. As a child I had suffered with Eczema but I was always able to treat it with cream. With Seborrheic Dermatitis I just couldn’t find a product that helped me. I went on numerous trips to the doctors, I probably saw about 7 or 8 doctors both in my home town and at university over the next 10 years. I bought many shampoos over the counter, as well as being prescribed various different shampoos including:

Alphosyl

Nizoral

T/Sal

Selsun

Nioxin

Sulfur and Tar Shampoo

Ketoconazole Shampoo

Capasal ‘Therapeutic’ Shampoo

Some of these worked for a short period of time but I was never rid of the problem. As a teenager this meant that I absolutely hated going to the hair dressers as I was so embarrassed about the condition. Little did I know that this could all have been avoided had I swapped the nasty chemicals being prescribed by the doctors with natural shampoos!

I saw the ‘Naked’ hair care range when shopping in Boots and thought I’d give it a go. I absolutely loved this stuff, my scalp suddenly felt fine, I wasn’t having to deal with build up on my scalp and sore bleed sores for the first time in about 10 years! To make matters better it is completely paraben and SLES free, as well as being Vegan and Cruelty free. It truly changed the whole way that I think about skin care and hair care products. Unfortunately the ‘Naked’ range has since been discontinued which is such a shame. I have however found an alternative:

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I must admit, I don’t absolutely love the conditioner but the shampoo does just what I need it to without any nasty chemicals! This range is also cruelty free, paraben free and suitable for vegans. You can buy this product online, it is also stocked in certain shops (in Brighton I’ve seen it in Infinity Foods). I’d definitely recommend the shampoo, however I’d like to try out some other natural conditioners to help deal with my frizz problem!

Of course, using all natural shampoos may not work for everyone but I definitely recommend trying it as in my experience it means you aren’t creating build up in your hair. This has all brought me to my stance on skin care and hair care products to date. When I buy a product I ask myself mainly two questions:

  • Has it got nasty chemicals in this product? Am I happy to absorb the ingredients into my body?
  • Have any animals suffered in the process of creating this product?

Although, generally I buy the pure ingredients when it comes to moisturisers (coconut oil, unrefined shea butter, argan oil, aloe vera from my own aloe vera plant, etc.) and add essential oils.

I hope that this has been of some benefit to you, as focusing on natural skin care has done so much for my skin. Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

Natural moisturiser and scrub recipes to follow…

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Oil – I’m in love.

Coconut oil is my staple in my skincare routine. The silky goodness is just incredible and does wonders for your skin, I’ve been raving about this for a long long time.

 

It’s great for skin irritations and since it has no parabens or any other nasties, you can’t fault it’s natural goodness! My go-to coconut oil is usually the Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Raw Organic Coconut Oil. You can buy 500ml of this from amazon for about £9 but it lasts absolutely ages.

My current pot I have had for about 5 months and I’ve only used about ¼ of the pot, this is after using it every single day as a full body moisturiser. Amazing! I know other people use coconut oil in cooking as well, the health benefits are supposed to be great. I personally haven’t really used it much for cooking, mostly due to the price of the tub as I know I’d get through it far too quickly. I have tried it out once or twice though as a frying oil instead of cheaper sunflower/vegetable oil and I must admit, it does seem to do the job, I’d definitely try in in the future.

Over the past couple of years I’ve really been getting into the most natural products possible – those that are cruelty free, as well as products that don’t irritate my sensitive skin. I might write a blog post about other 100% natural products that I use soon!

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Budapest, Hungary – April 2015

When I visited Budapest in April of this this I didn’t know what to expect; however, it turned out to be one of my favourite places that I’ve visited in Europe. It’s been dubbed the ‘Paris of the east’, although since I’ve only ever been to Paris when I was a child, I’d definitely have to visit as a 20-something to see how it compares to Budapest.

There is such a huge amount to do in Budapest – I went for 4 days but I could have easily spent a few more days there. Visiting the ‘House of Terror’ was one of my highlights (even if it does have a sensationalist name… like I’ve mentioned previously about Dachau, places with a disturbing history such as these do not need the dramatics, the places say plenty as they are!). Anyway, I’ve always found countries with a history of communism fascinating and yet Budapest appears to have recovered well. Certainly driving into the city centre from the airport the buildings are reminiscent of it’s past in the Eastern Bloc. Even the ‘apartment’ where we were staying seemed run-down from the outside, although the interior felt much more homely and welcoming. Generally I found the locals to be very welcoming and chatty if you made an effort to talk to them, although not overtly outgoing like you may find in other countries.

Another highlight of mine was visiting Szchenyi baths; I would absolutely love to go back one day in the winter to truly appreciate the heated pools, as it is difficult to appreciate them when the outside air doesn’t feel much cooler. We spent a good few hours here before spending the rest of the day walking (plenty of walking!) and sightseeing. Budapest has such grand architecture and a vast array of beautiful views. One of my favourite views was looking across the Danube to Pest from Buda Castle at night. In terms of nightlife, the ‘ruin pubs’ are a must see. I visited a couple, including the famous Szimpla Kert which was so quirky with a totally relaxed atmosphere.

I’m sure there’s plenty that I’ve missed out since it was a good few months ago that I visited, but overall I would definitely recommend Budapest. It is a beautiful city which exceeded expectations in all areas. I’ll leave you with some pictures, which of course don’t do the city justice…

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A selection of photos from the past year – London and surrounding areas

Here are just a few photos that I’ve taken and edited over the last year in London and surrounding areas. They’ve just been sat on my computer!

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Ivinghoe Beacon

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These are just a few photos that I took at Ivinghoe Beacon in September last year (2014). I used to love walking up there as it is so peaceful, despite all the wind!

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Tiger Kingdom Guilt and Animal Cruelty

I am ashamed to admit that I went to Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai in August. I had a completely conflicted mind prior to going after having read a huge mix of reviews on trip advisor but then the curiosity got the better of me. The once in a lifetime opportunity of being able to be so close to a tiger ended up swaying me. The conclusion that I’ve since come to is that the MANY positive reviews must be from people who either don’t care in the slightest about animal welfare or have convinced themselves that this tourist attraction is somehow doing the tigers a favour so that they don’t feel the guilt.

When we arrived we were greeted by a friendly lady who talked us through each of the packages available to buy. We opted to see the ‘small’ tigers (not actually all that small!) and the ‘large’ tigers. My initial thought on arriving was how much the entrance reminded me of a theme park, there were photos on big screens all over the walls and the atmosphere felt quite cheesy. I was hoping to be given information about the breeding programme and about the tigers in general, but appeared to be none. Once we paid and signed an insurance agreement we were walked through a gate to where the tigers were. It pretty much looked like a regular zoo but for tigers, so nothing too alarming at first. When it comes to whether the animals are drugged or not, I’m not convinced that ALL of them are, a lot of the tigers we saw looked VERY awake to me, but some of them certainly seemed far too sleepy/apathetic to humans getting all in their personal space.

The time in the enclosures pretty much consisted of the ‘trainer’ holding only a bamboo stick (which the tigers were VERY afraid of… alarm bells ringing), whilst trying to convince us to pose for ridiculous photos such as lying on the tigers belly and holding it’s tail – these ones were more than likely drugged. My cat wouldn’t even let me hold her tail without trying to claw me. We took our own cameras in to take photos and the photos just go to show how small these enclosures are for the amount of tigers. There is literally nowhere for the tigers to roam and there is just concrete. An attempt to replicate their natural habitat doesn’t appear to have crossed anybody’s mind.

No where NEAR enough space.

No where NEAR enough space.

I must admit, immediately after my Tiger Kingdom experience I was pretty giddy at having been so close to a real tiger but that feeling quickly wore off and now all I’m left with is guilt and anger. I really do wish now that I stuck with my gut instinct not to go to Tiger Kingdom.

This whole experience has made me question other ways that we inadvertently support animal cruelty, even in the UK, such as through visiting Zoos where the animals are usually living in enclosures that are far too small, buying products from companies that animal test (any companies that sell their products to China are required by Chinese law to animal test) and actually, just eating meat (hence the reason as of a month ago, I am now vegetarian). I’m not perfect and I don’t want to preach but if everybody did their bit it could really make a difference.

My advice to anybody unsure of whether to go to Tiger Kingdom is to listen to your gut feeling. I know curiosity is hard to put to the back of your mind but by paying you are supporting this kind of treatment, the only way that these kinds of places are ever going to shut down is if tourists just stop going all together.

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One day in Bangkok

As we boarded the night bus at 9pm at Chiang Mai Bus Station we were greeted by a friendly Thai lady who provided each passenger with two slices of cake in a small plastic container and a warm blanket. The journey down to Bangkok wasn’t too bad. The roads were fairly bumpy but no worse than I was expecting. However, I couldn’t tell whether being woken up at 2am by the friendly Thai lady, this time with a can of coke for each passenger, was an example of how hospitable Thai’s are or just slightly odd…

Getting into Bangkok Mo Chit North Bus Terminal at 6am was definitely an experience. The only signs in English are ‘Taxi’ to discourage tourists from opting for the cheaper options. Just trying to get walking directions to a bus or a sky train was an hour-long struggle. We eventually caved in and took a taxi to the sky train. The sky train was fantastic; signs in English, very clean and fairly peaceful – London needs this.

Side Note: Another positive peice of info regarding Bangkok is that it only cost 80B (about £1.70) to leave each large peice of luggage at the train station for an entire day. (This is in comparison to Bern, Switzerland where it costs about £8 per day!)

In Bangkok every Tuk Tuk and taxi driver seems to be trying to rip everybody off, with taxi drivers refusing to put on the meter. I just found this to be such as shame. In Chiang Mai everything is based on trust and as a ‘farang’ you have to learn to be less cynical, something that whilst it made me feel slightly vulnerable, it also felt so nice to be in a place where a majority of people have respect for each other and base their business on trust. However, arriving in Bangkok the guard has to go right back up. Having said all this, when people aren’t trying to scam you the locals are very friendly and keen to help lost tourists (without you needing to ask!) – we had about 5 different locals circle sites/wats/must see’s on our paper map and many more who just wanted to know what we thought of their beautiful country!

Places I visited in Bangkok visit #1:

– The Standing Buddha (free for everybody as it was the queens birthday)

– An hour-long ‘long boat’ around Bangkok. I saw a ‘mini’ floating market (very mini – a total of 3 boats). I actually found this trip a little sad; rows of derelict huts on stilts and masses of rotten stilts where huts used to be. The river used to be one of the main ways to travel around the city but now it’s a bit of a sorry state – it’s strange and sad to imagine what it once looked like.

– Democracy Monument. It was here that a man attempted to scam us with a ‘tour around the city’ which sounded far too good to be true. We politely made our excuses and left, to only then bump into the same Tuk Tuk driver 5 minutes later, waiting on a corner for us, shouting “5 BAHT EACH!”. I was certain he was just going to appear each subsequent day afterwards in whatever location we happened to be desperate for us to experience his magical tour. Luckily, he did not…

Lets just say, I’m extremely glad that Bangkok wasn’t our first taster of Thailand, as it would not have been the best start to our adventure. Bangkok definitely has it’s perks but the rest of Thailand has SO much more to offer! After this day in Bangkok we travelled down to Ko Phangan for 5 days and then back up to Bangkok for 2 days before our flight back to Heathrow. This second taster of Bangkok was much more enjoyable but it’s certainly not somewhere I’ll be rushing back to.

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Boat Trip

Boat Trip

Wat Intharawihan / Standing Buddha

Wat Intharawihan / Standing Buddha

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