Top 10 Hello Kitty gadgets for adults on Amazon

I’m a huge Hello Kitty fan. I have so much Hello Kitty stuff.

Her real name is Kitty, not Hello Kitty. She is also from London, like me. And we met in China. I didn’t really get the whole Hello Kitty thing until we moved to China. Now my life is full of Kitty. I miss the amount of Hello Kitty stuff we could get in China. Then I found out there was loads on US Amazon — which ships to the UK and Ireland. Happy Kitty. So here are my top 10 Hello Kitty finds on Amazon:

10. The Hello Kitty cutlery set, featuring a pair of chopsticks, a fork and a spoon. Everyone in China and Japan has one of these sets for when they are out and about, and I love this Hello Kitty one. Note there’s no knife, and the fork and spoon are small, so it’s perfect for kids or to pop in your purse.

9. These cute Hello Kitty socks. I love these, there are several different options but I like the ones that come up past my ankles, so I don’t get cold on those winter walks that have become the only time I go out this year.

8. The Hello Kitty table lamp. When you want everyone who comes into your home to know how much you love Hello Kitty, this should be sat casually on a side table near the TV, where all your friends will see it.

7. A Hello Kitty humidifier. Because the air-conditioning messes up her fur, don’tcha know.

6. Super-soft full-size Hello Kitty blanket. I have two of these. They are huge. One is on our king-size bed and fits perfectly.

5. Hello Kitty Schick Razors. Because who knows hair removal better than a talking cat?

4. For a decadent breakfast, the Hello Kitty toaster. It puts Kitty on your toast, for mornings when you can’t get up without saying Hello, Kitty! For lunch, there is also the Hello Kitty toasted sandwich maker. This puts a Hello Kitty face into your grilled cheese sandwich! How exciting is that? They will also make your kitchen look SWISH. I can’t say I’ve reviewed these ones, though, because we have different electricity in Ireland to the stuff in America and I’d need a step-up transformer, which I don’t have room for in our tiny house. 😦 A girl can dream, though, can’t she?

3. For a Christmas gift for the Hello Kitty fan in your life *hint hint, husband* these delicate 925 Sterling Silver Hello Kitty earrings are so sweet!

2. Speaking of the winter holidays, these Hello Kitty Holiday Cards are a bit pricey, but you could make your own with some card and Hello Kitty stickers!

1. And if you like stickers, this stick on car decal is gorgeous, I can’t wait for mine to arrive!

Honorable mention has to go to the Hello Kitty Tamagotchi and this cute white apron (although the pink apron seems to have a problem on the graphic as Kitty’s ear has been colored in) which could make you feel super-cute in the kitchen.

Leonarda Cianciulli: The dark side of soapmaking

When I think of soapmaking, I imagine someone working in their kitchen making cold process soap with colourful swirls. I don’t think of death, crime and cannibals. Yet that’s all swirling in the murky past of this beautiful-and dangerous-hobby.

The Soap-Maker of Correggio: Leonarda Cianciulli

Forget Sweeney Todd. This real-life soapmaker from Italy killed three women and turned them into soap. And teacakes.

Leonarda Cianciulli was a respected middle-aged woman, a mother of four sons, but who had lost ten children in infancy and had three miscarriages.

Taking her time to groom her victims, she picked women who lived alone and she claimed to have solutions to their biggest problems.

Her first victim, Faustina Setti, was desperate to find a husband, and Leonarda claimed to have found the perfect man for her.

Her second victim, Francesca Soavi, was in need of a job, and Leonarda told her she knew of a school, far away, which was recruiting.

Her third victim was a former opera singer, Virginia Cacioppo, who wanted to work in theatre, and was only too willing to believe Leonarda had found her a job working in Florence.

Instead of helping these women (I mean, she’s not called “the life-fixer of Correggio”, is she, we know she did something pretty grim), she killed them with an axe, cut them up, then used sodium hydroxide to turn them into soap. Which she then handed out as gifts to her neighbors. Not only that, but she then baked them into her teacakes which she also (you guessed it) handed out to all her neighbors as well as eating them herself and feeding them to her four children.

Why did she do this?

Good question.

Her oldest son had decided he was going to join the Italian army during the second world war and Leonarda, having lost ten babies before, and being superstitious and visiting fortune tellers besides, decided the only way she could protect her son was by making human sacrifices.

Yep, Italy is still a Catholic country. And Catholicism is still a major world religion which doesn’t do human sacrifice. I don’t know what bizarre mental leaps she had made but this woman’s actions were and still remain completely irrational. She died in prison in 1970 of a brain apoplexy (a bleed in the brain) so maybe she’d had one before. Or maybe she had undiagnosed post-natal depression.

Moral of the story? Don’t believe do-gooders who give you offers that are too good to be true. Or don’t eat teacakes given to you by middle-aged women. Or don’t sacrifice people. Who knows?

Happy Halloween.

The dark side of soapmaking

When I think of soapmaking, I imagine someone working in their kitchen making cold process soap with colourful swirls. I don’t think of Mafia, crime and cannibals. Yet that’s all swirling in the murky past of this beautiful-and dangerous-hobby.

The Soap-Maker of Correggio: Leonarda Cianciulli

Forget Sweeney Todd. This real-life soapmaker from Italy killed three women and turned them into soap. And teacakes.

Leonarda Cianciulli was a respected middle-aged woman, a mother of four sons, but who had lost ten children in infancy and had three miscarriages.

Taking her time to groom her victims, she picked women who lived alone and she claimed to have solutions to their biggest problems.

Her first victim, Faustina Setti, was desperate to find a husband, and Leonarda claimed to have found the perfect man for her.

Her second victim, Francesca Soavi, was in need of a job, and Leonarda told her she knew of a school, far away, which was recruiting.

Her third victim was a former opera singer, Virginia Cacioppo, who wanted to work in theatre, and was only too willing to believe Leonarda had found her a job working in Florence.

Instead of helping these women (I mean, she’s not called “the life-fixer of Correggio”, is she, we know she did something pretty grim), she killed them with an axe, cut them up, then used sodium hydroxide to turn them into soap. Which she then handed out as gifts to her neighbors. Not only that, but she then baked them into her teacakes which she also (you guessed it) handed out to all her neighbors as well as eating them herself and feeding them to her four children.

Why did she do this?

Good question.

Her oldest son had decided he was going to join the Italian army during the second world war and Leonarda, having lost ten babies before, and being superstitious and visiting fortune tellers besides, decided the only way she could protect her son was by making human sacrifices.

Yep, Italy is still a Catholic country. And Catholicism is still a major world religion which doesn’t do human sacrifice. I don’t know what bizarre mental leaps she had made but this woman’s actions were and still remain completely irrational. She died in prison in 1970 of a brain apoplexy (a bleed in the brain) so maybe she’d had one before. Or maybe she had undiagnosed post-natal depression.

Moral of the story? Don’t believe do-gooders who give you offers that are too good to be true. Or don’t eat teacakes given to you by middle-aged women. Or don’t sacrifice people. Who knows?

Happy Halloween.

Which countries can you go to without a long quarantine? Complete list.

The advice is constantly changing but some countries are still letting you go there (and return to the UK) without having to quarantine. If you get it wrong, you could end up spending 28 days in quarantine — 14 days when you get to your holiday destination and 14 when you return to the UK!

So many people need to travel for various reasons, such as to see families, get business done, or because they booked a dream holiday last year, and a lot of people are looking for ways to get out of the UK, safely, to countries where the risks are lower.

I was surprised when I went to look at flights that the information on where you can travel is muddled and unclear in a lot of places. After doing a bunch of research for myself, I am sharing it with you in the hope it saves you a bit of time if you’re looking to leave the UK safely right now.

I’ve looked through the travel advice for every country on the UK’s “no quarantine on return to the UK” list and found out what the rules are for all but two of them.

There are currently 11 countries not enforcing a long quarantine on UK arrivals right now and whom the UK aren’t enforcing an arrival quarantine on, either.

Countries with no quarantine at all include the Canary islands, Dominica, Madeira, Maldives, St Barthelemy and Sweden.

Countries with no quarantine after you’ve gotten a negative PCR test (usually under 24 hours) include Bermuda, Greece.

Three further countries are still not impossible to take a short trip to, with up to 72 hours of quarantine in Finland, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Technically, Antigua and Barbuda could be interpreted as no quarantine, if you go to Dominica for a couple of weeks, first.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough clear information about Akrotiri and Dhelekia or the Pitcairn island group, although given that Pitcairn doesn’t have an airport you would have to travel through another country with a quarantine rule to get there by boat.

Name of countryQuarantine on arrival?Source:
Akrotiri and DhelekiaUnknown
AnguillaQuarantine
Antiqua and Barbuda No quarantine if you arrive from Anguilla, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, or St Vincent and the Grenadines (the “Travel Bubble”)Source
Australia Borders only open to Australians and people coming from New Zealand
The AzoresQuarantine
BarbadosQuarantine
BermudaQuarantine 12-24 hours (until PCR tests available) (this may be about to change).Source
British AntarcticaQuarantine
British Indian OceanQuarantine
British Virgin IslandsQuarantine
BruneiQuarantine
Canary IslandsNo QuarantineSource
Channel IslandsDepends which island and where in UK you are coming from. Tier 2/3 lockdown areas have to isolate on arrival.Source
CubaBorders don’t seem open?
CyprusQuarantine
DenmarkTravel ban
DominicaNo quarantineSource
EstoniaQuarantine
Falkland IslandsQuarantine
Faroe IslandsTravel ban
FijiQuarantine
Finland72 Hours quarantine (unless positive PCR test, then longer)Source
GermanyQuarantine
GreeceQuarantine until PCR test results are available (so not a full quarantine)Source
GreenlandTravel ban
Grenada5 day quarantineSource
Hong KongPartial travel ban and quarantineSource
IrelandQuarantine (except Northern Ireland)Source
Isle of ManBorders not open
Latvia10-day quarantineSource
MacaoBorders not open
MadeiraNo quarantine (unless positive PCR test)Source
MalaysiaQuarantine
MaldivesNo quarantine for tourists at all (but quarantine for returning residents)Source
MauritiusQuarantine
MontserratQuarantine
New CaledoniaQuarantine
New ZealandQuarantine
Norway10-day quarantineSource
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and OenoUnknownSource
SeychellesQuarantine Source
SingaporeQuarantine
South KoreaQuarantine
South Georgia and the Sandwich IslandsVisit by permit only from Falkland islands (who have quarantine)Source
St BarthelemyNo quarantine (unless positive PCR test)Source
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan De CubaQuarantine
St Kitts and NevisQuarantine
St LuciaQuarantine
St Pierre and MiquelonBorders not open
St Vincent and the Grenadines48-72 hour quarantineSource (pdf)
SwedenNo quarantine for EU citizensSource
TaiwanQuarantine
ThailandQuarantine
VietnamBorders not open

Remember to always check with the UK Foreign Office before travelling anywhere. All the information about quarantining on arrival in other countries applies to the whole UK (except Ireland, as noted above), although some devolved governments within the UK might have different lists of countries where you need to quarantine on return to the UK.

These rules are changing all the time, sometimes for no reason at all or at very short notice, especially on the British side of things, so unless your plan is to take a longer trip or just ride out Covid in a foreign country, be prepared for the Foreign Office to randomly remove your destination from this list a few hours before the rules come into force (like they keep doing).

Please check current quarantine rules from trusted, reputable sources like the ones linked above before booking flights, paying for a PCR test, or travelling to another country. There’s so much to consider right now when travelling to and from the UK.

My lavender essential oil doesn’t smell strong in soap

This article aims to help you get the perfect lavender fragrance in your soap – every time! Be sure to also check out my 10 ways to make your essential oil show up in your soap for more tips!

Lavender is such a strong fragrance in the plant, you would expect it to be the ideal candidate for a good, intense soap scent, especially in melt and pour, where essential oils are usually stronger than in cold process. Instead, I’ve found homemade soap often seems to absorb lavender essential oil, so the homemade soap doesn’t smell strong enough.

Eek!

There are several types of lavender; the most common are French lavender and Bulgarian lavender, both of which use the Latin name Lavandula Angustifolia. French lavender essential oil is more expensive but Bulgaria now produces most of the world’s lavender oil, so you are more likely to find this in shops.

There are over 400 different species of lavender worldwide, which can have different potency and fragrance, but the commonest is still Lavandula Angustifolia.

If your lavender soap doesn’t smell strong enough, there are several ways around this, depending on what you’re more comfortable doing.

1. Add more lavender. Be bold! This is the most obvious solution, and probably the one you would try first. However, it doesn’t always work, and you need to be careful not to put more scent in your soap than the EU guidelines tell you to.

2. A better way to get your lavender to smell stronger is to let your melt and pour soap cool before adding the fragrance. Stir it to stop a skin forming on the top and wait until it’s reached about 37 or 38 degrees celsius, then add your lavender oil and pour straight into your soap mould. This takes practice because the soap will solidify very quickly, but adding the lavender at the lowest possible temperature will give you the best scent results.

3. The third way (if you want to cheat) is to use artificial lavender fragrance oil as well as your lavender essential oil. This will give your soap the fragrance you would expect from lavender soap while the essential oil sits in the background with its skin-loving properties. Obviously whether you would do this or not depends on how comfortable you are with artificial fragrance oils. I’m not the biggest fan of them, but if you find the right one they can be good.

20 best things to see and do in Beijing

In this article I am going to share the 20 best things to see and do in Beijing. If you’re in Beijing and you find some time on your hands, any of these are good options. Some, like Tiananmen Square, are essential must-do sights, where others, such as the museum of natural history, are perfect for a rainy afternoon or for expats looking for something to do at the weekend in Beijing. You don’t need to leave the city limits to have a great Beijing day out or an afternoon walk to see something interesting!

1. Tiananmen Square – 1 full afternoon along with the Palace Museum and Imperial Ancestral Temple which are part of the same area.

2. Mausoleum of Mao Zedong – Pay your respects to Chairman Mao, next to Tiananmen Square.

3. Zheng yang men City Walls Gatehouse Museum – A gatehouse dating to 1419, with a museum, all situated beside Qianmen underground station, near Mao’s Mausoleum.

4. Beihai Park – behind Tiananmen Square is a 1000-year-old park which has only been open to the public for the last 95 years.

5. Temple of Heaven – The world-famous Temple of Heaven will take 1 very full afternoon to see!

6. Summer palace – The summer palace rivals the Temple of Heaven for beautiful remains of a bygone era. It takes 1 full afternoon to see.

7. China Science and technology museum – A hands-on museum with lots of practical things to touch and explore. 1 full afternoon. Great for kids!

8. Beijing zoo – A zoo with pandas. 1 full afternoon. Great for kids!

9. Beijing Aquarium – Behind the zoo! Great for kids!

10. Palaeozoological Museum of China – A dinosaur museum behind the zoo! Great for kids!

11. CCTV (China’s state TV) building – A unique building for fans of MC Escher!

12. Chaoyang theatre – If you love live arts, you can see a stunning live performance by China’s acrobats or hear the beautiful opera here!

National Centre for the Performing arts – another venue where you can find singers, ballet, theatre and more!

13. Beijing Lama Temple – a beautiful Buddhist temple.

14. Capital museum – A good general museum giving you a sense for China’s history with ancient Chinese statues, porcelain, paintings and artefacts.

15. Central Radio and TV tower – A sky-high tower tourist attraction with revolving restaurant and stunning views of the city.

16. Beijing World Art Museum – A free art museum where you can explore Chinese art and worldwide art. Across the lake from Central Radio and TV tower.

17. Nine Dragon Screen, Wulongting, Kuaixuetang and Qianhai lake – all beside Beihai North Station, beautifully intricate and interesting historic Chinese architecture to look at.

18. National Art Museum of China – an enormous art gallery with work showcasing China’s culture. Free entry.

19. Beijing Museum of Natural history – a natural history museum covering plants, fossils, animals and biology. Free entry (some exhibitions charge).

20. The military museum of the Chinese people’s revolution – if you want to see how China threw off the reins of feudalism and got to where it is today over the past century, this museum is the place to go. You need to book in advance either over the phone or via WeChat.

Where do you love going in Beijing? Let me know in the comments!

All About Essential Oils In Melt and Pour Soap: Infographic

Essential oils are often put into homemade melt and pour soap. They can create delightful fragrances that make your soap feel more luxurious. But there’s a lot to know about essential oils in soap. A lot of articles only focus on cold process, ignoring melt and pour, despite the fact melt and pour is a better choice for people with young children, pets or making soap in a campervan.

When I started soaping, I assumed essential oils would behave the same way in cold process soap and melt and pour soap, but this is not true. I have experimented with a lot of different essential oils and found that they definitely don’t react the same way in melt and pour!

Here is an infographic with the essential facts about essential oils in soap:

This infographic shows some basic facts about essential oils in soap along with the results of an experiment I did with several different essential oils.

I tested eight essential oils (lavender, spearmint, lemon, 5-fold orange, rose geranium, eucalyptus, citronella and sage) in clear melt and pour and white melt and pour. The scent seemed to last longer in the clear (colourless and translucent) melt and pour soap base than in white melt and pour soap base, and the results in the infographic are from that.

I have seen some chitchat that citrus oils don’t come out as strong in cold process, and that lavender tends to come out stronger, so it’s interesting to me that my own experiments with melt and pour had the opposite result.

As a conclusion to that experiment, I would say if you want to make lavender soap, do it in cold process, and if you want to make citrus soaps, use melt and pour, because the citrus scents have come out really strong in all my melt and pour soaping so far.

Other articles about essential oils in soaps:

How to get the essential oil scent to show up in soap

History of essential oils in soap

How to safely use essential oils in home-made soap (and infographic)

How to make soap: Everything you need to know to make soap even in a campervan.

Other articles about making home made cosmetics:

Vegan green tea shampoo bar recipe

Vegan hair conditioner bar recipe

One-ingredient avocado face mask recipe

Easy melt and pour breastmilk soap recipe

At-home DIY facial for new mamas!

How to safely use essential oils in home-made soap (infographic)

Essential oils can cause harm if used incorrectly because they are potent substances. Putting the essential oil on the skin neat (undiluted, or straight from the bottle) causes irritation and can leave your skin burnt. The oil is diluted in soap to a rate of about 3% (average) which makes it less likely to cause irritation although some sensitive souls are still allergic to some essential oils even at this low concentration.

Check out the infographic and follow these tips to use essential oils safely in home made soap:

1. Buy from a reputable seller

This is the most fundamental first step. It’s not always easy to spot a fake, especially because they’re being sold online where you can’t inspect the product.

A clear bottle is a dead giveaway as genuine oils degrade in sunlight so have to be stored in dark bottles (amber is most common).

The label or online listing should tell you the Latin name. There are many oils with the same common name. If you can’t see the Latin name anywhere in the product listing, there’s a chance the oil isn’t the one you expect it to be, which will ruin your blend at best, and at worst, could cause skin irritation because you might use the wrong quantity.

The listing should always tell you the country of origin. For example, “French lavender” might say “Product of Hungary” at the bottom of the page. This would make it apparent that it wasn’t genuine French lavender from France.

Of course, real malicious fakers and counterfeiters would not honestly write “Made in Kevin’s backyard out of olive oil and artificial lavender fragrance” so the most important thing to weigh up is whether you believe the website you’re shopping on is genuine, or in the case of Amazon, whether the seller is genuine or not. Product reviews can very easily be manipulated so don’t rely on them alone. Soapmaking groups online can help warn you against scams and recommend genuine, reputable suppliers.

2. Always follow the recommended quantities

The FDA and EU both have guidelines about the amount of any fragrance (including natural essential oils) you can use in cosmetics. Usually this is somewhere between 1-5% depending on the oil and its potential toxicity. It’s very easy to want to use more essential oil when your soap hasn’t turned out very strong smelling, but there are other ways to solve this problem. Check out my article 10 ways to get the fragrance to show up in your soap.

3. Do not overheat (above 50 degrees) and ideally keep under 40 degrees (102F).

Overheating oil causes it to release free radicals as the oil’s fatty acid chains break up. Free radicals are carcinogenic as they contribute to cell oxidation. Overheating an oil is the fastest way to change it from safe to dangerous.

When an oil gets too hot, it also loses its fragrance, which is another great reason to take care over the temperature.

4. Do not eat!

This should be self-explanatory but some people do try and eat (or drink) essential oils. Unless they have been certified for food use and sold as such, it’s best not to risk it, especially when it comes to children. Just because something came from a plant, that doesn’t make it safe. All the traditional poisons of Greek tragedies were plant-based.

Conclusion:

Essential oils can be safe in soaps if you take care and follow some simple guidelines. If you need to check any information e.g. chemical compounds present in your essential oil or the maximum concentration for use in various cosmetics and soap making, contact the seller for the product safety documentation (or download it from their website if they’ve made this easy. The Soap Kitchen makes this very easy, as an example of best practice).

Sources:

Turek, C and Stintzing, F (2013) Stability of Essential Oils: A Review https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12006

Bejar, E. (2019) Adulteration of Oregano Herb and Essential Oil https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ezra_Bejar/publication/337113671_Adulteration_of_Oregano_Herb_and_Essential_Oil/links/5dc5cb74a6fdcc5750348535/Adulteration-of-Oregano-Herb-and-Essential-Oil.pdf

Check out my other articles about essential oils in soaps:

All about essential oils in melt and pour soap (and infographic)

How to get the essential oil scent to show up in soap

History of essential oils in soap

How to make soap: Everything you need to know to make soap even in a campervan.

Here’s a selection of my other articles about making home made cosmetics:

Vegan green tea shampoo bar recipe

Vegan hair conditioner bar recipe

One-ingredient avocado face mask recipe

Easy melt and pour breastmilk soap recipe

At-home DIY facial for new mamas!

10 ways to get essential oils to be more intense in your soap (melt and pour and cold process)

So you’re probably looking for how to get your essential oils to be more intense in your soap. You might be making cold process soap or melt and pour soap. Maybe you’ve made some homemade soap with pure essential oils and it didn’t come out with a strong scent, or perhaps you’re planning your first homemade soap making project and are hoping to execute a perfect first-time soapmaking recipe.

Here, I’m going to go through ten ways to get essential oils to be more intense in your soap. These methods for increasing the scent of your soaps are all based on principles of chemistry. Essential oils are volatile compounds which means they evaporate easily. That’s actually why we love them! They wouldn’t smell so good if they weren’t made exactly the way they are by nature.

Getting a stronger essential oil fragrance in soapmaking is one area where melt and pour soap really outshines cold process, and is one of the reasons I prefer melt and pour soap. Secretly, I think a lot of soapmakers prefer melt and pour, but it’s more profitable for them to write about cold process because it takes more skill to make it (so there’s more to write about).

Essential oils do really well in melt and pour soap. Cold process soap tends to eat the fragrance. But these are not hard and fast rules. It took me several attempts to get lavender essential oil to show up in my melt and pour soap.

If you look at my infographic on essential oils in soap, you’ll see the results I got when I tried a range of essential oils in melt and pour soap. Lavender oil was particularly problematic in melt and pour, and I’ve written a separate article on this.

1. Have you used the correct amount of your pure essential oil in your soap?

This is the easiest fix! All handmade essential oil soaps require different quantities of essential oils to get the perfect fragrance. Bramble Berry’s Soap Queen blog has a fragrance calculator that can help you out. You can find it here.

2. Add a clay as this can hold the fragrance in the soap.

Typically, this works to intensify the scent of essential oils in cold process soap, but I found it made a noticeable difference to increasing the scent of melt and pour soap too. French clay, kaolin and bentonite are all great choices, but some of them will colour your soap so be sure if you plan to sell your soap that the colour matches what you would expect for the scent (e.g. yellow-coloured lavender scented soap would probably be a bit confusing, but yellow-coloured lemon soap or grey lavender soap would make more sense). I prefer French clay and it produces interesting muted colour effects in transparent melt and pour soap base (you end up with a beautiful translucent glow).

3. Is your soap getting too hot?

For melt and pour, it’s easy to overheat the soap while you’re trying to get it to melt, particularly if you use a microwave (which is another good reason to make melt and pour soap without a microwave). For better results, don’t add the fragrance until the soap has cooled to about 37 or 38 degrees celsius. For cold process, pack your soap with ice packs to keep it cool. If you absolutely need your soap to go through gel phase (where it gets very hot), you might have to just accept that your soap won’t smell very strongly if you use essential oils.

4. Consider using a blend of essential oils instead of one individual oil in a soap recipe.

If you have a base note, a middle note and a top note, the fragrance is more likely to permeate the soap in a more nose-catching manner. An example would be lavender as the base note, chamomile as the middle note and lemon as the top note. There are other ways to blend essential oils (you can blend them by effect, e.g. for sleep you might use lavender, chamomile and valerian, or you can blend them by group, e.g. you might want an overall citrus scent incorporating lemon, ten-fold orange and citronella. Different scents have different volatility (evaporation point, which is when fragrance is unleashed from your soap), so a blend of oils will mean your soap has a nice scent regardless of the air temperature, pressure or humidity.

5. Consider using melt and pour instead of cold process, and avoid hot process entirely if you want your essential oils to smell more strongly in your homemade soap.

There is more going on during soapmaking than the soap getting hot. The process of oils turning into surfactants (cleansers) is called saponification, and this is a chemical reaction. The heat is just a byproduct.

6. Wrap your soaps in something as soon as they are able to be unmoulded.

The wrapping needs to be something that doesn’t let oxygen in. I’ve gone through twenty alternatives to plastic for wrapping soaps in this article.

7. Burn incense when you make soap.

Sounds crazy, right? But from a chemistry point of view it makes sense. Scent escapes because it goes from an area of high concentration to one of low concentration. If the air in your soapmaking place is already saturated with a smoky scent, such as an incense stick (not the scent of an oil diffuser) you can prevent scent loss in the same way smoked salmon’s flavour is sealed into the fish (only, you don’t want your soap to smell of smoke which is why you don’t want to go too far with this method). This is a balancing act because you must always follow ventilation safety when working with chemicals.

8. Let your soap harden (and cure) near a dehumidifier or a big bowl of rock salt.

An electric dehumidifier or a big bowl of rock salt will pull the moisture out of the air, which means the scent will have nothing to evaporate into, so it will remain in the soap for longer.

9. Add a sea salt such as Himalayan pink sea salt to your soap.

Himalayan pink sea salt looks beautiful in cosmetics, and especially when it’s embedded in bars of homemade soap. The pink crystals sparkle in bright lights giving your soap an ethereal quality.

Himalayan sea salt will work as a nice exfoliant as well as helping stop the scent escaping. Just don’t put big chunky pieces of salt into a facial soap or you will get redness.

10. Mix in some charcoal, or do a charcoal swirl.

The benefits of charcoal in soap include being fantastic for acne and great at purifying in warmer climates, as well as being a good additive to prevent your fragrance disappearing before you ever get to use your soap! However, charcoal is a black powder and it will change the colour of your soap. Doing a swirl with charcoal is another option, so part of the soap is more fragrant, which will improve the overall effect while still letting you use nice colours in the rest of the soap.

That’s my 10 ways to fix your soap if your essential oil fragrance is too faint or if your essential oil fragrance doesn’t last. Do you have any other ways? Share them in the comments!

Silver Hair Tutorial: How to get silver hair at home

Are you wondering how to dye your hair silver at home? This silver hair tutorial article brings together all my knowledge about achieving DIY silver hair at home! The salons are closed, so it’s officially open season on hair dying!

There are several different methods for achieving silver hair, these ones are the ones I’ve tried and tested, and I have made YouTube videos showing you how to dye your hair silver with normal products.

Method 1: Bleach and silver toner.

This is the tried-and-tested traditional method for getting silver hair. It’s great because it’s customizable depending on the state and texture of your hair, and your base colour.

First, you bleach your hair (I’ve split this into a separate tutorial because there’s a lot you need to know before you do it). You need to bleach it to a light blonde (no orange at all) before you can go any further.

This is why the two-step method scares off a lot of people. Without good preparation and planning, you can easily wreck your hair with bleach and color remover doesn’t work on bleach because you have to bleach your hair within an inch of its life.

After your hair is bleached, it’s time to use a toner. You can do it on the same day that you bleach your hair, or you can go old-school and let it rest for two weeks first (you used to need to do this but bleaches are a lot better these days due to the huge demand for silver hair and white hair).

Your toner options are varied, and it depends on what sort of silver you’re looking for. I like a space-silver, so my absolute favourite ones are Directions Silver Toner and Crazy Colour Platinum Toner. If you’re looking more for a natural look (which I flatteringly called a granny grey in one video) Scott Cornwell silver toner is the one to pick. Here are my tutorials for them:

Silver Hair Tutorial With Directions Silver Toner:

Crazy Colour Silver vs Platinum Review and Tutorial:

Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Silver Toner Tutorial And Review (this one won’t embed):

youtube.com/watch?v=pa4Id-s1AOA

Method 2: Use a Silver Box Dye

I did all those silver hair reviews between 2014 and 2016 on my YouTube channel, although I’ve been dying my hair shades of white blonde to silver since 2004. Those are still good ways to color your hair, but they are not the only ways anymore. In 2018, some new, very exciting products exploded onto the market: Silver box dyes that actually worked! Better still, they work even if your hair isn’t bleached to a pale white.

My favourites are the Schwarzkopf Live Urban Metallics Permanent Blonde Quartz and the L’Oreal Colorista Permanent Silver. The semi-permanent dyes from the same two ranges are crap but the permanent ones are amazing. The advantage of using one of these permanent silver box dyes is you don’t need to bleach your hair as light to get the result, meaning your hair will be in much better condition. I 10/10 recommend these permanent dyes if you have longer hair. I did mine in 2018 (I did it as an ombre technique with red “roots” at the top) after bleaching my dark brown hair and it came out an absolutely stunning dark silver:

Before (you can see in the pic it’s almost black at the ends, so the above pic is a great result):

I did use the silver box dye later in 2018 after bleaching my hair a very light blonde and the result was a much lighter silver shade on the ombre’d half of my hair, so your base color will still determine how light you can go with silver hair dye.

Bear in mind permanent silver hair dye contains peroxide which will lighten your hair while it colours it. This means if you need to use colour remover, you can’t go back to your natural colour (you can’t just remove the dye and get your original colour back after using any permanent dye… that’s why they’re called permanent dyes).

Do you need to bleach your hair before using silver box dye? Check out my silver hair dye infographic flowchart to find out:

silver hair dye infographic hairdressing infographic flowchart mamaadventure

If you need to bleach your hair first, my Hair Dye 101: Bleaching Your Hair article has some great tips.

Once you have dyed your hair silver, you will want to maintain it by using a silver shampoo. I’ve covered my favourites here.

More articles on this topic:

Color Remover FAQ

How to use color remover and how it works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair Dye 101: Bleaching your hair

Silver Shampoos Reviewed

Breastmilk Face Mask Recipe

Just in case it wasn’t exciting enough that you can make breastmilk soap, you can also make a DIY purifying breast milk face mask which is so easy, you can even do it in a campervan! Here’s my recipe for a fabulous breastmilk face mask, which you can make at home or in your van!

You will need:

Bentonite clay powder

About 30ml expressed breast milk.

A bowl

A spoon

Method:

In the bowl, mix about 3 teaspoons of bentonite clay with about 30ml expressed breast milk. Everyone’s milk consistency is different, so you may need more milk or more clay powder. Once you have a fine paste, you can apply it straight to cleansed skin.

Relax!

Leave on for about 10 minutes then wash off in water. I know people say that with clay masks you should wait for the clay to dry before washing it off, but I find with my dry skin, this is too much, so I opt for taking any clay masks off before they’ve fully hardened. If you have oilier skin, you may prefer to leave the mask on for longer. I also tend to use cold water to wash off clay masks (perfect for vanlife haha) because it closes the pores.

Pat face dry then put on your essence and moisture. Your face may be a little pink after using this mask so this is beauty maintenance for an at-home day, not a pre-wedding mask (opt for a sheet mask before a big event, instead, as they deliver quick-fixes).