Soapmaking: What is a water discount?

A water discount is a reduction in the amount of water needed to dissolve sodium hydroxide lye. When you use a water discount, the soap will harden faster because there is less water in its batter (the mixture that eventually becomes soap). You only use a water discount for cold process or hot process soaps that use lye. You don’t need a water discount for melt and pour soap because the oils are already saponified and the lye has been used up before you ever get the melt and pour container!

Advantages of a water discount:

  • Your soap will cure faster
  • Your soap will be harder (ideal for Castile soap)
  • The soap can be taken out of the mold more easily
  • The mold will be easier to clean (less residue = less cleaning of the little corners of your molds is required – a constant problem I’ve had with homemade cosmetics, especially my all-natural conditioner bar).
  • A water discount helps balance the recipe if you’re adding other ingredients that contain water such as if you are using milk (including breastmilk) or if you’ve mixed mica powder with water rather than alcohol before adding it to your soap.
  • If you want to force a strong gel phase for a specific soap design, a water discount is a great addition to the other things you can do such as using heat pads around your soap while it’s curing.

Disadvantages of a water discount:

  • Your soap batter will thicken (solidify) faster, making it harder to work with. If you’re doing a color effect such as a swirl, you will want your batter to reach trace (ideal thickness) then to solidify slowly, to give you time to make your desired effect.
  • It can also effect your colors by messing with the heat of the soap. The reaction between lye and oils (saponification) is an exothermic reaction — it gives out heat. And if it heats up too much, it will affect what the soap looks like. If you want to avoid gel phase (e.g. when making cold process breastmilk soap, you do NOT want it to get too hot or the milk will spoil before the soap is done), don’t water discount more than you need to for the extra liquid in the milk.

To calculate a water discount, you use a percentage:

The usual amount of water to lye is 70% water to 30% lye. That means you use 70ml of water for every 30g of lye.

Discounting the water by 10%, you would have 63ml of water to 30g of lye.

Discounting the water by 20%, you would have 56ml of water to 30g of lye (this is a heavy water discount).

You also need to factor in whether your recipe requires a superfat (leftover oil for more nourishing soap bars). In this case, you usually wouldn’t discount your water.

Stuck? The very best resource on calculating the amount of oils, water and lye for your recipe is the Brambleberry Lye Calculator (it also calculates fragrance, but beware in the EU some of the fragrance results are higher than permitted under EU law if you’re selling your soaps). This tool is phenomenal!

I just want normal trousers

I have a shopping problem. Tops are fairly easy. But every time I need to buy a pair of trousers, I take hours. I don’t know why clothing retailers waste money making trousers in shapes and sizes that no one actually wants. I mean, let’s say you’re in a marketing meeting. You’re working for a big company. You’re well respected and until now, you have quite a good track record at making sensible decisions about products.

Then someone gives you the trouser account. And instead of thinking, legs haven’t changed for tens of thousands of years, let’s just go with what works, you decide that the way for you to make your mark on trouserland is to change everything. And to test the market, you decide to manufacture these monstrosities in size 2-4 only.

Not satisfied with your contribution to the world, you flood every single online retailer with your stupid designs. Cropped jeans. Skinny jeans. Super skinny jeans. Ultra-high-waist jeans. Jeggings. Wide leg jeans. Extra wide-leg jeans. The low-rise. The high-rise. The rise-and-shine (now made without leather)…

And that’s just the jeans!

Dear God is it too much to ask for a fucking pair of trousers that go on past my feet, and go around my legs, and fasten at the waist without making me look like one of those nurses from the 90’s with those awful elastic belts, and simultaneously not gaping at the back showing my knickers to all and sundry? How hard is it to just… make a pair of jeans? I don’t want options other than “these ones will fit you”. I don’t have some weird body type. I am a normal-sized woman with average-sized bones. I am 5’6” tall so my legs are regular. I don’t want jeans that scrape the floor when I walk and therefore the seams get ruined after about three hours and I have to buy another pair. I don’t want jeans that look like someone dropped paint on them or vomited on them. I don’t want them to look like the man at the dyehouse was drunk and incompetent and somehow made the seams dark blue and a big oval around my arse light blue so everyone behind me thinks I sat in bleach.

When men buy jeans? They walk to a shelf, pick up their size, pay and leave, knowing this pair will fit exactly the same as all their old pairs did.

I want that. I want to find all the jeans and trousers in one category in any given online store, and I want two options. Jeans or trousers. We only have 500 options because every last one of them is an inadequate trade-off designed to ruin our self-esteem so we are forced to go shopping again.

I am sick of taking on the mental load of thinking about clothes. I just want to not be naked in public. That’s really all I want from my clothes. Why can’t the clothing industry make that happen with the least amount of fuss and fanfare as possible?

Could you imagine if some totally random industry, like the car industry or the gardening industry, had options as stupid as women’s trousers? They’d never get investors!

“Uh, yeah, so I want to bring out a brand of car that has seats that are too short, so the headrest stabs people in the back. I want the steering wheel to be triangular so it looks really cool but doesn’t turn the car around corners. And I want no cupholders or those little door pockets. Gloveboxes are right out. Every car owner will need to buy a trailer which will be sold separately and may or may not actually fit their phone and purse. Oh, and the paint will flake off after six months so you have to scrap it and buy a new one every year, and we’ll manufacture them in Shantytown, Nowhereistan, so those people who attend protests all bully their friends for owning our cars. For colour ranges? Why don’t we just get a cat to shit on it and sell it like that? We’ll call it post-post-postmodernism.”

“Hi, I’m designing a new seed for people’s vegetable patches. The plant will have no leaves, flower heads, fruit, vegetables or petals and the root system will only work in a climate that’s Everest in the summer and the Sahara in the winter. We’ll make it sell by removing any actual vegetables from the seed catalogue this year. Oh and we’ll size it so there’s half a seed in each packet. It will be inedible. We will call it post-foodism and target 18-25-year-old gardeners with about two acres of land who live in the inner city.”

It’s like clothing companies utterly misunderstand the average requirements of their customers. And they’re wondering how the Arcadia Group and Debenhams collapsed within about a year of each other, emptying half the British high street in any given town. We don’t want to be sold shit that is impractical and has a lifespan of about 3 months unless you wash it. There’s only so many times you can rip off customers before they just stop buying.

So if you’re a clothing designer and you just got your first big contract, how about making trousers like this:

  1. They actually fit. Around the waist and the leg. At the same time.
  2. They are made of a fabric that you can’t see daylight through when you hold it up to a window.
  3. The seams are stitched so they don’t tear apart or unravel in normal use.
  4. The button holes are big enough for the buttons.
  5. The colour is something you could see the average woman wearing on a rainy day in Sutton Coldfield or Twickenham.
  6. There are no stupid words on them. If you must put your brand name on them, the only appropriate location on trousers is a leather patch near the belt loops.
  7. Don’t ruin them by embellishing them with some stupid ribbon down the sides of the leg that means I have to buy new trousers in a year and can only wear them with two jumpers unless I buy more.
  8. Refer to an actual size chart with measurements before calling something a size 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 etc. In this day and age, people don’t want a size 8 that only fits a size 10, or a size 16 that a 12 couldn’t get into. People are shopping online and returns are expensive and make people mad because they didn’t get to wear their clothes when they wanted to. Standardize your fucking sizes. I had to send about £125 of a £200 order back to ASOS.com recently because sizing is meaningless to clothing companies. I am a very consistent middle-of-the-road 8. There is no reason for jeans to be sized with a different system to trousers, they both go on my same legs. I don’t know what a 26, 27, 28, S, R or L mean, or how you’ve sized the hips if 28 is the waist. I know I am an 8. Make trousers in an 8. Jeans are trousers, stop kidding yourself that they’re special or different.
  9. If your clothing is targeted at over 30s (which I recommend; there are a lot of us and we’d be more economically active if you sold stuff we wanted to buy), consider the fact that we are likely to have had at least one pregnancy, and therefore our ribcages and waistlines have shifted. Letting out the waists by about 1-2 inches would give a much better fit for each size.
  10. Don’t bother making clothes in a size 2. I can 100% guarantee you’ll have several thousand pairs of trousers left over in a size 2 which you won’t even be able to get rid of in a sale.

Sort your shit out and make normal trousers for normal people. What is normal? How about stop wasting time on pointless unanswerable pontifications and go make some better trousers, fashion industry!

Dr Jart+ Cicapair beauty tips for the new year

The weather is improving, and the Chinese Lunar New Year is approaching quietly. The Spring Festival symbolises the start of the New Year, bringing new surprises and joy. In this warm festival, the temperature of the heart brings people to resist the cold of the season and brings a glowing new beginning. In the laughter, they tell the hopes and expectations of the upcoming year, and puts kind blessings into joyful sweet gifts. . In this happy and warm season, Dr.Jart+ presents new beauty tips and brings new facial mask products: the Cicapair range, with a repairing and rejuvenating soothing mask, and a new lock moisturizing repairing mask, creating a New Year’s beauty for the skin, making you smile this New Year! At the beginning of the New Year, skinimalism starts!

Tips for perfect skin this year:

  1. Sleeping mask: Getting your beauty sleep has never been more important. And now, with the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Sleepair Ampoule-In Mask you can ensure your skin is repairing while you drift into the land of nod! Inspired by the legends of tigers in Asia, this mask is infused with K-beauty wonder-ingredient, Centella Asiatica (tiger grass). Get yours here.
  2. Color correction: For those with problem-patches of redness, the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF30 is your new hero. Pricey for only 50ml (2oz), nevertheless this product is currently getting rave reviews amongst K-beauty aficionados in the know. Get it here.
  3. No more irritation! If your skin is dry, red, irritated by daily life and you have swollen blue veins beneath your eyes, the Dr Jart+ Cicapair Cream could be the answer you’ve been looking for! Check it out!
  4. Double up: Always use any face cream with a serum as part of your K-beauty routine! The matching serum is designed to work with the cream and increase the bioavailablity of ingredients. Here’s the serum.
  5. Spritz your way to perfect skin with the Dr Jart+ Cicapair facial spray available here.

These products are selling out fast because they are the new beauty trend of 2021. They may not be available by the time you read this article. Cica has taken the K-beauty world by storm and is the miracle ingredient on everybody’s lips right now, so this is definitely 2021’s hottest skincare trend.

This article contains affiliate links which do not affect the price you pay. All opinions my own.

The beauty trends to know for 2021 (Guest post by Wang Fang in Mandarin)

这些美容和化妆趋势将主导2021年 
无论您是要更新妆容,头发,指甲还是皮肤,我们都会请专家(例如Vincent Oqendo和Elle)来告诉我们本年度最佳的美容和彩妆趋势。
去年是改变一切的一年-包括我们的美容习惯。我们中的许多人发现自己在家里被隔离,无法修指甲,少化妆,甚至剪自己的头发。豪华水疗,睫毛膏和鲜艳的唇膏的时代已经一去不复返了-我们将它们换成面膜,环光灯和精选护肤品。
随着我们翻开新的一页并进入2021年,美容趋势已经适应了这一时刻-明亮动人的眼睛在面膜后弹出,大量有趣的指甲趋势等等。我们聘请了化妆,指甲,头发和皮肤方面的专家,向我们提供了一些有关到2021年将要出现的最大趋势的内幕信息。
多彩的眼睛
在2019年,亮妆出现了。从那时起,五颜六色的化妆就变得最受欢迎了-特别是现在我们戴着口罩。名人化妆师文森特·奥肯多(Vincent Oqendo)预测,大胆的眼影膏颜色将在2021年流行,在每种彩虹色中都如此。
裸钉
名人指甲艺术家埃勒(Elle)预测,今年中性凝胶修指甲将成为主流。她说:“它可以是哑光或有光泽的,可以看作是手的延伸,可以延长手指的外观。”如果您想使外观更上一层楼,她建议您添加金色饰物或一些火花,以打造精致而又不至于过于压倒性的外观。专家提示:选择杏仁或圆形指甲形状可以使手指看起来更长。
大胆的眉头
奥昆多说,他今年已经看到了更多的眉毛。“我听到很多人说,隔离区使他们终于长出了眉毛,”奥昆多说。走。”
柔和的指甲设计
根据Elle的说法,花卉印花设计在2021年春季的跑道上非常庞大。您可以在沙龙里索要花卉粉彩,但在家里比您想象的要容易得多。挑选出香蕉黄色的阴影,然后选择淡粉色或绿色等花瓣颜色。将牙签浸入花瓣阴影中,使点围绕中心点形成花瓣。薄荷色阴影也可用于在花朵周围创建叶子。”
秀色可餐
现在是时候用前所未有的眼妆玩游戏了:“我发现眼睛周围有很多贴花,” Oquendo说。考虑在眼影周围添加珠宝或闪闪发光,或尝试使用阴燃的眼线笔-这是本季的另一大趋势。
自然皮肤
许多人选择抛弃沉重的粉底和遮瑕膏,以不间断地炫耀其皮肤。这种趋势全都围绕着您所处的皮肤。Kagha博士说,她看到越来越多的患者进入办公室,例如填充剂和提拉皮肤,这些过程可以使皮肤无需化妆即可看起来新鲜。
您想尝试什么新趋势?在评论中让我知道!谢谢

Translation:

The American trends in 2021 are very exciting. Make up artists share their fashions for the face and nails in this article.

Our beauty habits have changed. We did not make our nails, wear cosmetics or cut our hair. In the new world, trends transformed into the new era.

  1. Eye color is bright and inspirational.
  2. Nails are plain with neutral colors and gel manicures.
  3. Eyebrows thicker and darker people will not have thin eyebrows because they were at home with no threading.
  4. Flower nails a second design for nails is flower blossom or lotus flower design.
  5. Jewel eyes stick jewel to eyes to make attract attention on video conference.
  6. Natural skin with no foundation or powder, skin will mention the times without hesitation!

What new trends do you want to try? Let me know in the comments! Xiè xiè!

Flow: Join the Thursday Photo Challenge

Welcome to the weekly Thursday Photo Challenge, a weekly photography challenge for everyone who likes to take photos! Anyone can join in, all you need is a WordPress blog and a picture you have taken with your camera!

This week’s challenge is flow. This is a super open-ended one, so it’s going to be hard to choose your picture!

Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.

Lao Tzu

Mine is from an artistic waterfall in the Dubai Mall near the Burj Khalifa. The Dubai Mall is possibly my favourite shopping centre in the whole world. I really adored visiting Dubai and look forward to going again in the future.

Alongside all the myriad literal interpretations of flow, you could go metaphysical and look at the flow of life’s rhythms, or perhaps examine the impact of too much or too little water flow, cash flow or electricity flow on a community. If you’re in Minnesota or Canada, a frozen waterfall might be the way to go! I look forward to seeing what you can come up with.

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
  2. Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
  3. Comment on this post with a link to your page so others can see your contribution.
  4. That’s it! Super easy.

This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, I will post the next challenge!

Steps: Join the Thursday Photo Challenge

Hello and welcome to weekly Thursday Photo Challenge, a weekly photography challenge for everyone who likes to take photos and share them once a week!

This week’s challenge is steps!

My steps are from the Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu, Nepal.

What photos can you come up with? Are your steps dance steps, following on from last week’s challenge? Do you have some literal steps to share, like I do? Or did you find a photo that represents the metaphorical steps in a journey of self-actualisation and personal growth? Maybe you have the steps in a recipe or beauty routine? A worn out shoe? I can’t wait to see all the inspiring images people will create!

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Chinese proverb

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
  2. Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
  3. Comment on this post with a link to your page so others can see your contribution.
  4. That’s it! Super easy.

This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, I will post the next challenge!

How to donate your hair to charity for a child’s cancer wig

Over lockdown, many of us have grown our hair longer than we usually would, as we haven’t been able to go to the hairdresser’s salon. This is the perfect opportunity to grow your hair and help a child with cancer.

Why do children with cancer need wigs?

Children with cancer are often undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. These treatments make an area of the child’s body too toxic for the cancer cells to keep existing, so the child gets very sick. They lose weight because they can’t keep their food down. And all their hair falls out. This makes them feel very miserable and self-conscious at a time when they are already going through a terrible ordeal.

Why can’t they just buy a wig?

Children with cancer spend a lot of time in hospital. This can either be as an inpatient, or, more commonly these days, visiting the hospital two or three times per week (or even daily) for treatment. Many children don’t live near to the hospital they are treated in. Their parents have to spend lots of money on petrol to drive to the hospital, food to eat while they are out, and accommodation near the hospital so they can visit their baby and hold their hand.

Wigs for children with cancer typically cost hundreds of pounds (or Euros, or dollars). That’s because the raw materials (good hair) are expensive and the labour to make a wig is intense (wigs have to be handmade). For decades, this has been a problem (basically, since chemotherapy was invented). In the past ten years or so, however, a solution has appeared.

Do you have very long hair?

If your hair is long enough, you can donate it to charities that make wigs specifically for children with cancer. Right now, however, the best thing you can do is let your hair grow another inch or two. Those extra inches could make the difference about whether your hair can be used in a longer wig–the most in-demand type, as little girls usually have long hair before their treatment begins, and adults rarely have hair as long, so it’s hard to get wigs at this length.

The goal is to help the children feel as normal as possible, at a time when nothing feels normal to them, so a wig close to how they used to wear their hair is very important.

Do I have enough hair to help a child with cancer?

Another point to bear in mind is that your hair is cut above the ponytail, but the rest of your hair will stay attached to your head. There could be 6-8 inches of hair before your ponytail. When thinking about how long a wig would be from your hair donation, remember that first 6-8 inches will be needed, too. So a 12 inch wig will only actually give 4 inches of drop past the ears. And a 12-inch wig needs more than 12 inches of hair, because some will need to be used to sew it to the woven cap part of the wig, just like you need extra fabric when you are sewing, to account for the seams.

They will also need to cut the hair after it’s been woven into a wig, to turn it into a hairstyle, because it’s unlikely that your ponytail will transform itself into a perfect bob, for example. Suddenly, even a 12-inch hair donation doesn’t seem like much. So whatever length your hair is, letting it grow for another couple of inches will make a huge difference overall to what can be done with it. Just remember in the meantime to take good care of your hair, don’t bleach it intensely or dye it any unnatural colours, or it usually can’t be used.

How to do it:

When it’s time, choose which children’s wigs for cancer charity you want to donate to (some are listed below), and follow their instructions to be sure your donation is in tip-top condition. NEVER send them wet hair. It can’t be dried properly once it’s cut. In fact, washing it the night before you cut it is best. It’s also important to use top-quality scissors, as blunt scissors can damage your hair donation, so if you can, get your donation cut at a hairdresser.

If you’re impatient, of course, you can cut your hair at home, just be sure to follow the instructions about cutting your hair, which are different for each charity, and always cut above the bobble/elastic. Make sure when you cut your hair, it is tied into a ponytail with a bobble/elastic you don’t mind donating along with your hair.

However, your contribution doesn’t have to stop there.

It costs a lot of money to process your hair and turn it into a wig. Setting up a Justgiving page, sharing this with your family, friends and colleagues, and sending the proceeds to your chosen charity, is a great way to help them with the costs of making not just a wig from your hair, but other people’s too.

While in-person events are currently off-limits for many of us, you could still set up an online event, and get your hair cut live on Facebook, and get people to sponsor you to do it, then they can watch it happen.

Some hair donation places will give you a certificate to thank you for your contribution.

What has really shocked me, researching this, is that the Canadian Cancer Society isn’t linking to or telling potential hair donors about the FOUR Canadian charities giving real hair wigs to children going through chemo! And they don’t accept donations which they could have passed onto these organisations, claiming people prefer acrylic wigs. Of course, that’s fine if you’re an adult because your head size will fit something bought on eBay, but a bit useless for kids. I hope they update their site soon.

Resources:

Little Princess Trust (UK) Little Princess Trust UK works to provide children across the UK with wigs, and also works with the Lauralynn Hospice in Ireland. Minimum hair length: 7 inches (as mentioned above, growing it another inch or two could make a huge difference).

The Rapunzel Foundation (Ireland): The Rapunzel Foundation is an Irish charity working to provide wigs for children. Minimum hair length: 16 inches.

Hair Harvest (UK): They pay you for your hair (minimum 14 inches) and they turn it into wigs for people undergoing chemotherapy or who have alopecia (hair loss). A percentage of the value of your donation goes to the Katie Piper foundation, who help fund wigs for people with medical hair loss.

Chai Lifeline (Canada): They deal specifically with wigs for children in Canada undergoing chemotherapy. Their hair guidelines are here.
Minimum hair length: At least 10 inches (curly hair can be pulled straight to measure).

A Child’s Voice Foundation (Canada): They do hair for children with alopecia or undergoing chemotherapy. They don’t give set guidelines on their website but ask that you contact them to figure out if your hair is going to be a good match for their program.

Hair Donation Ottawa (Canada): They raise money and solicit hair donations for wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. Minimum hair length: At least 12 inches (no bleached hair). Their submission guidelines are here.

Wigs for Kids (Canada): A hairdresser set up this charity to help children going through hair loss. Guidelines are here. Minimum hair length: 12 inches.

Freedom Wigs (New Zealand): This Kiwi business sells hair solutions for men, women and children suffering from hair loss due to chemo or alopecia. They pay you for your hair donation. While their wigs aren’t free, they are at least able to offset the cost if you donate them your hair. Minimum hair length: 14 inches (33cm)

Ella Wigmakers (Australia): This Aussie company works in conjunction with Kids With Cancer (Australia) to ensure hair donations make it to the kids you want to support.

Small Business (USA) has a great resource on the best ways to donate hair in America, since there are quite a few different avenues depending on whether you want to donate nationally or locally. Please don’t email me to add US sites to this article.

Conclusion:

Donating your hair to help kids with cancer is possible in every country in the English-speaking world. Right now, the best thing you can do is let your hair grow one or two extra inches, because that could make an enormous difference to what the charity can do with your hair. It can take 12 donors’ ponytails and €1000 to make a wig, so any money you can raise in the process will help these vital services keep working miracles for children.

There’s a better way to get the vaccine out. Why aren’t they doing it?

In the 1950s Britain, a district nurse used to go from house to house giving life-saving medication to people with a certain illness. The medication was insulin. The illness was diabetes. Nowadays, around the world, diabetics are injecting themselves with insulin every day. They are in better control of their illness and able to monitor it themselves.

What changed?

One day, the NHS (national health service) decided they didn’t have the resources and staffing to send a district nurse to people’s homes to give them their insulin. So, instead, anyone with diabetes who was deemed capable, was taught how to inject themselves with their insulin.

But surely that’s quite hard? Surely there must be a lot of practice and trial and error, before people learn this skill?

What if I told you there wasn’t?

When I had a Caesarian Section last year, I was discharged with eight pre-loaded syringes of something called Clexane. This is a blood thinner to stop you getting a blood clot after major surgery while you are recovering. I had to inject myself with it for eight days. It was as straightforward as finding a place to put it, putting the needle against my skin and pressing the plunger down. It stung, and sometimes left bruising, but it was only for eight days so that was largely irrelevant.

But surely that only works for that one thing?

Nope. In January, my son was rushed to A + E with anaphylaxis. He has a peanut allergy. We were given an Epi-Pen and told how to use it. An Epi-Pen, like Clexane, is a pre-loaded syringe which anyone can use.

They are saying they can’t get the vaccine to people fast enough in the UK because they don’t have enough trained clinicians who can do it. My question is, why are we using trained clinicians at all? Why are we not just going door-to-door, asking how many live in the house, and handing out the right number of pre-loaded vaccine syringes?

Normally, we have accepted the cultural myth that vaccines are delivered in a clinical environment such as a hospital or school, but right now, in the current state of emergency, when the whole world is depending on getting this vaccine before life can return to normal, it makes absolutely no sense that trained clinicians are the limiting factor stopping the vaccine from being rolled out. Worse than that, the mass clinics, like the one I was asked to attend for my flu vaccine in December, are a hotspot for spreading a virus like this. People will get the virus before the vaccine can protect them.

Now, some of the approved vaccines need to be stored in a particular way. But there is already capacity to maintain those storage conditions during delivery, otherwise it wouldn’t safely get to clinics. Other Covid vaccines don’t need to be stored in such specific conditions. Assuming the pre-loaded syringes can cope with the temperature at which the vaccine needs to be stored (some plastic goes very brittle under extreme low temperature), all of them could be put into pre-loaded syringes.

Nothing about this approach makes any sense. If the vaccine is the sole end-point of this mass vaccination program, it would be good if the vaccine companies re-think their delivery method, put the vaccine into pre-loaded syringes and give them out that way.

If not… then what is the purpose of this program? Is its secondary purpose to record who has definitively received the vaccine rather than who was given the correct number of syringes for their household? Why? If, as has been said, there are no plans to restrict the movements of those who have not been vaccinated, why is the vaccine not being manufactured in pre-loaded syringes and given out to people door-to-door for immediate use?

Top 5 ways to cut your own hair at home alone

Many of my friends have been wondering how to cut their hair at home without any help. With so many of us being under lockdown this holiday season, it’s not surprising. I have done this a few times with varied results.

So here’s my top 5 ways to cut your own hair at home, alone.

First, figure out if you really need to cut your hair or if you could wait until you can next see a hairdresser. This is obviously up to you, but the things I’d consider are:

  1. Is your hair looking really wiry and/or dead?
  2. Has it grown so long it’s unmanageable?
  3. Can you live with the results if your hair ends up not turning out perfectly?
  4. What is the natural texture of your hair?
  5. Looking at the ends, are they splitting or are they looking healthy?
  6. Have you damaged your hair by over-bleaching it?

If the answers to these questions don’t make you think, “I definitely need a haircut” then you can probably leave it for a while longer. If a hairdresser is an option for you, do that instead.

If, however, you are looking in the mirror and wondering when your hair started to look less Kate Middleton and more Kate Bush circa 1985, then cutting your hair at home might be an option.

There are so many ways to cut hair, I’m going to go through the main ones you can do at home. I’ve tried all of these on myself, except the last one, which I’ve only done on an ex-boyfriend (with his permission haha).

1. The Pudding bowl cut

Who is it for? Anyone who wants shorter hair.
Who should avoid this: Anyone with very thick hair that curls unpredictably.
Difficulty: Easy
How predictable are the results? Very.

The result of this will make you look like one of the Beatles. This is a very androgynous look but was traditionally used for children by mothers. If you’re an adult man, you may prefer your hair shorter. You may not.

What you need:
A plastic mixing bowl that goes over your head. The size of the bowl will determine the length of the cut. If your bowl is too small you will look like a monk when you’re finished.
Scissors. Ideally, you want some quality hairdressing scissors but in a pinch, any sharp scissors will work.

The method:

Put the bowl on your head and line it up. You may like to get someone to help you, but this is doable alone. Hold the bowl on your head firmly with one hand. Cut around it. In my experience, this works best as a dry cut, because my hair curls and I like to see exactly how it’s going to turn out.

If you mess up any other haircut at home, the pudding bowl is the go-to fix to get an even, straight cut at home.

What this style looks like:

Source: Styleinterest.com
Source: Pinterest.jp

2. The bobble cut

Who is it for? Your hair needs to all go in a bobble (hairband) to make a high ponytail with at least a foot of hair AFTER the bobble. If you can’t put your hair in a bobble, this won’t work. Additionally, if your hair is a medium thickness (or more) this won’t work. And if your hair isn’t naturally straight, guess what? This won’t work.
Who should avoid this: Anyone with hair that isn’t stick straight and a bit thin.
Difficulty: Hard
How predictable are the results? Unpredictable.

You will need:
A bobble (a hair elastic, if you’re American)
Scissors with a long nose.

Method:

Put your hair in a high ponytail in line with your crown (the tip of the curve at the back of your head). Tie the bobble tight so your hair doesn’t move around while you cut it. Cut in a straight line. Ideally, you want to cut once.

Honestly, having tried this, I would totally avoid this one. It’s not a good way to cut your hair. Likewise, putting it into about four to eight smaller bunches and cutting doesn’t work well, either. I’ve included it here so you have the information to make a good choice on how to cut your hair.

What this style looks like:

According to this Daily Mail article, you can look like a 70s pop star using this method, but look at the “before” and “after” pics and you’ll notice her hair hasn’t actually gotten any shorter, despite the fact she’s holding a big chunk of hair in one hand in the second pic. Genuinely, where you position the bobble and how straight you cut into a giant thick chunk of hair will both determine the success of this hairstyle. But at least if you mess this one up you can do one of the others to fix it! When I tried it, I ended up with the back really short and the sides CRAZY long then the front was short again, like a weird pair of dog ears, because my hair is too thick for this one. It’s a really fiddly style to get right (and yet it looks so easy) if you have thick hair, but will work out better if you have very thin hair.

3. The Half-Shaved Bob

Who is it for? Anyone who has at least shoulder-length hair. This is best for thicker hair.
Who should avoid this: Anyone with very thin hair that needs volume.
Difficulty: Medium
How predictable are the results? Medium.

You will need:
A bobble
Sharp scissors
A razor or clippers
Sectioning comb/tailcomb

Method:

Sectioning from above your ears, tie the top half of your hair into a bobble. Using the razor (for a REALLY short cut) or the clippers, clip off all the hair that isn’t tied up. If you don’t have clippers, you can do this with a pair of scissors by cutting really close to the scalp but it will be hard to get such a short cut even without a razor or clippers. Check you’ve done this evenly then let the tied up hair down, and cut it level with your jawline.

What it looks like:

You can see an example here and here on Pinterest here’s a preview:

3b The Layered Bob

Who is it for? Anyone who wants shorter hair.
Who should avoid this: No one, but anyone with curls bigger than 3a might struggle to get a straight edge to the cut.
Difficulty: Medium
How predictable are the results? Less predictable than the shaved bob.

This is a variation on the half-shaved bob that leaves the bottom layer longer, and will suit people with thinner hair (or people who don’t have a razor or scissors). The key to making this work is to cut the bottom layer slightly shorter than the top.

You need:
Scissors
Clippers or a razor
A bobble
You might need a sectioning clip or fine-toothed comb

The method:

Section your hair from above your ears and tie up the top half firmly out of the way. Cut the bottom half in a straight line, holding the hair in place with a fine-toothed comb or a sectioning clip if necessary. Next, tie up the bottom half if necessary, release the top half and cut in line with your jawline (if you do it right, the top layer of this cut should be longer at the front and shorter at the back).

4. The side-by-side straight cut

Who is it for? People with long hair.
Who should avoid this: People with hair that’s only a little past their shoulders.
Difficulty: Easy
How predictable are the results? Fairly predictable

You will need:
A hairbrush
Scissors

Method:

Part your hair exactly down the middle at the back and bring it forward. Brush it either side of your shoulders. Make sure there are no knots or kinks as these will affect the finished look. If your hair is curly, you might want to do this as a wet cut to make it easier to get a straight line. Using a pair of scissors, cut from the outside in. If you cut in a completely straight line, your hair will fall in a bit of a diagonal and meet in a point at the back, Instead, angle your scissors up very slightly, so you’re cutting in an upwards diagonal towards the middle. When you’ve done one side, do the other, taking care to cut at the exact same angle as before. If your hair is moving too much or bunching up in the scissors, keep it in place using horizontal sectioning clips.

What it looks like:

how to cut your hair at home with no help
Ok, so this was 2005, and you have to ignore the crazy bleach job and look at the cut itself. It’s straight and neat. You can easily cut this shorter.

5. The Skinhead

Who is it for? Anyone who wants to be free of the burden of hair.
Who should avoid this: Anyone who likes to keep their ears warm.
Difficulty: Easy but time consuming.
How predictable are the results? Very.

You will need:
Clippers or a razor

Method:

Starting on one side, move the razor or clippers over your head. If you are using a razor, you will need to stop very often to remove hair from the blades.

Have you tried any of these? Let me know how it goes in the comments or tag me in your Tweets/Instagram @mamaadventurez

Note, I am not with you in your house and not responsible if you wreck your hair. Exercise your judgement and always practice safe scissoring.

Review: Innisfree Jeju Orchid vs Cauliflower Mushroom range

Today, I’m reviewing the Innisfree Jeju Orchid and Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom (aka Innisfree White Fungus) range.

Let me start by saying “cauliflower mushroom” and “white fungus” are both terrible names for a beauty product, even if that is the active ingredient. That’s the elephant in the room with this range.

I was lucky enough to get a set of miniatures of both the Jeju Orchid range and the Cauliflower Mushroom range. I’ve reviewed the comparable items here.

This article covers:

  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Skin (toner) vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin (toner)
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Essence vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Essence
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Lotion vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Lotion
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Cream vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Cream

I’m going to start with the toner.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Skin (toner) vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin (toner)

I decided the best way to test the toner was to put orchid skin on one side of my body and cauliflower mushroom skin on the other side of my body.

I have been using K-beauty for a while (about 3 years now) and although I used to follow a 10-step routine, I have largely developed my own K-beauty routine which works best for my skin. But I could never quite figure out where to place the toner, and where other people said to put it (after essence and serum) didn’t work for me at all.

For the record, I’m 34, my face skin is still looking under 30 but my arms and legs have been ageing faster since my late twenties due to spending a lot of time in the sun in foreign countries. It’s the price you pay for being a travel blogger. But I’d still like to improve things and I’d heard that skin/toner was the product to use.

See, some K-beauty skin/toner products are exfoliating, using AHA or BHA to reveal the fresh skin and clear away the dead cells on the surface.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know what’s in Innisfree products imported from South Korea because, of course, the labels are in Korean. When I bought their products in China, the labels were in Chinese. Go figure. And the American products are so translated that half the time I can’t even tell if something is the same product or a reformulation for the US market.

So anyway, on the one hand we have a bottle of gloopy toner in pretty purple packaging that is orchid scented and on the other, we have a bottle of toner in brown packaging that is… you guessed it. Cauliflower mushroom scented.

That’s about as good as it sounds.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether these toners should be left on or washed off, and toner seems to be one of the steps in the K-beauty routine you hear the least about. Maybe because no one else is sure whether to wash off their toner or not, too. Or maybe because most people doing K-beauty are, like, seventeen (I’m sorry, but statistics show most beauty bloggers are on average fifteen years younger than me) and therefore have no need for anti-ageing products.

So I used the orchid toner on my left arm and leg, and the cauliflower mushroom toner on my right arm and leg, then I left them for about ten minutes. They went on slightly sticky, feeling a bit like shampoo, meaning they definitely have things in them that should be washed off again. Like western exfoliating face washes.

I stepped into the shower and washed off. I had applied them to dry skin because they were quite watery and I wasn’t convinced that they would do much on wet skin, and I’m far too impatient to make my body damp then stand around in the Belfast November cold waiting for gloop to work.

When I came out of the shower, the difference was profound. The orchid skin toner had given a very mild effect, but the crumpled paper sort of appearance of the surface of my skin still remained when I pinched it (when you get to a certain age, when you pinch or squeeze your skin all these lines appear that you don’t usually see), and it felt rough to the touch, like it needed moisture ASAP.

The cauliflower mushroom skin toner had done something completely different. It had left my skin feeling smooth to the touch, and when I pinched some of my leg skin between my fingers, the crumpled paper appearance had drastically reduced.

My skin felt renewed and looked and felt younger.

I was very impressed. And also shocked that I had never seen anyone writing about this product because it’s incredible! I don’t know if it’s because the name cauliflower mushroom doesn’t sound appealing in English or because the packaging is a lot browner than the orchid’s pretty purple packaging (which I’ve commented on before in my review of the orchid eye cream vs. the perfect 9 eye cream).

The Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin/Toner is the best exfoliating toner for anti-ageing needs I’ve ever come across.

I don’t say it often, but Holy Grail alert! And I’ve had it sitting in my cosmetics drawer for months and never used it!

I wish this toner was more accessible to the UK market.

I wasn’t planning on doing this, but given how good this toner is, I am going to compare it to the Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peeling Exfoliator in a separate article.

Wow. So let’s look at the other products:

Innisfree Jeju Orchid essence vs. Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom vital serum

Essence and serum are sometimes used interchangeably but actually, they can sometimes be different things, such as in the Innisfree Soybean Energy range, where there used to be a (now-discontinued) serum which was different to their mega-amazing bestselling Soybean Energy Essence (which I swear I will review one of these days). Usually, however, “serum” is the English translation of “essence” which is a shame because essence is a prettier word. In the case of these two products, the word is interchangeable.

An essence or serum is sort of like someone put all the active ingredients of a cream into a container without any of the moisturising or hydrating properties. Sort of.

I’ve been using the Innisfree Orchid Essence on my face for several months, now and if I’m entirely honest, I’m not very impressed with it. I spent ages researching which products to get to replace the Soybean Energy Serum which is now discontinued and was my favourite product ever. The research I did said Orchid was just as good.

It isn’t.

I’m sorry if you’re a fan of the Innisfree Orchid Essence and I know it’s one of their bestselling ranges alongside the green tea seed products, but honestly I don’t like the Orchid Essence and I don’t feel like it’s doing anything to my skin. All told, I’m glad I got it in an Autumn Festival sale rather than paying full price for it.

So the bar was pretty low and tl;dr, the Cauliflower Mushroom essence was a lot better. I’m not rushing out to buy a full-priced bottle because there are so many serums out there to choose from and I don’t think it’s the very best, but at the same time I felt like it was at least doing something for my skin. It left my face feeling soft and hydrated.

I didn’t use the essence on my arms and legs because the bottle is a miniature and it’s even smaller than all the other miniatures in this set, so there isn’t much product.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Lotion vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Lotion

After my shower, I did put the Orchid lotion on my left arm and leg, and the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion on my right arm and leg. The Orchid lotion was thinner and came out of the sample bottle very easily, whereas the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion led to me doing the Innisfree Miniature Bottle Dance, which is where I spend about ten minutes tapping the mouth of the open bottle against my hand until enough product comes out to actually use.

If you’ve ever had an Innisfree gift set, you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean. They don’t put anything in a squeezy bottle.

Anyway after many minutes I got the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion out of the bottle and applied it to my arm and leg. It was honestly worth the wait. The Cauliflower Mushroom lotion was instantly hydrating and made my skin feel smooth. The paper bag appearance when I pinch my skin was totally gone, and I credit the Cauliflower Mushroom skin/toner and lotion combo for this.

For a lotion, the effect was very impressive.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Cream vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Face Cream

This is the last pairing in this review and I am not sure I need to really write it, at this point, because if you’ve been following this article, you can clearly see what I’m going to say. Except I’m not.

I have been using the Orchid cream for a few weeks on my face. I hadn’t opened the Cauliflower Mushroom miniatures set until today.

The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is not as startlingly good as the Perfect 9 eye cream, which I think is my favourite Innisfree product right now. The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is richer than the Orchid face cream, though, and which one you prefer will depend on your current skin needs.

It was super clear-cut that the Cauliflower Mushroom Skin/Toner, lotion and serum was better than the Orchid range, but when it comes to the face creams, I’m not so sure that’s the case.

The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is a lot richer than I currently need, and my skin wasn’t able to absorb it very well, suggesting it’s aimed at ladies who are ten or fifteen years older than me. The Orchid face cream was largely ineffective. Both creams left my face feeling weighed down (if that even makes sense) and over-saturated, and neither addressed my anti-ageing needs especially well.

So when it comes to the face creams, I wouldn’t buy full sized versions of either of them. And I’m glad I didn’t (I almost bought a full size pot of the Orchid one).

Conclusion:

Need a toner? Cauliflower mushroom. Need a lotion? Cauliflower mushroom. Need an essence/serum? Cauliflower mushroom. The Cauliflower mushroom range does these products extremely well.

But if you need a daytime face cream, I would suggest you keep looking, because neither of these quite hit the mark for me.