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.

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.

How to travel with cosmetics: Complete guide

This guide to travelling with beauty products is going to cover every different type of travel, including taking cosmetics on airplanes (carry on only and checked luggage, domestic and international), high altitude travel with cosmetics, including mountaineering, and protecting cosmetics from extremes of temperature, especially during overland travel with beauty products or flights to/from hot countries.

My cosmetics go nearly everywhere I go, and you’d expect nothing less since I’m a travel and beauty blogger. I’ve had to make up my own solutions to some of my travel-with-cosmetics problems because the hacks most people came up with only work for very specific situations. I’m in the process of writing a separate article on how to decant literally every cosmetic, and will update this article with links when that one is done.

This article contains:

Carry-on beauty hacks for travelling light.

Checked luggage beauty hacks to protect your cosmetics (and your other stuff).

How temperature and altitude affect cosmetics: Read before going ANYWHERE (especially overland)!

Carry-on beauty travel hacks:

When you’re travelling with only a carry-on, your cosmetics need to be as pared down as possible. I know when I pack for a longer getaway, I’m always in a dilemma because I want to travel light but my cosmetics case could easily fill half a normal-sized suitcase, never mind a little carry-on bag.

All airlines worldwide have limits on how much liquid you can take onto planes these days, which makes it even more complicated for women to travel and look their best.

Here’s how to pack cosmetics for 7 days with a carry-on:

  1. Shampoo: Instead of a bottle of shampoo, take a shampoo bar. You could make your own, using one of my recipes such as my green tea shampoo bar, or buy a ready-made one. When you only have one sandwich bag at the airport in which to put all your liquid cosmetics, a bar makes sense.
  2. Conditioner: Another unnecessary liquid. The way I see it, there are three ways to solve the conditioner issue. Either buy some when you land (potluck as to whether you’ll find any as soon as you need it, so not great if you’re going long-haul), make your own conditioner bar such as my easy natural hair conditioner bar recipe, or forego the conditioner completely and use coconut oil instead.
  3. Deodorant: Take a deodorant bar. The only good one I’ve found (ever) is the Lush Aromaco bar which is unisex and actually works as advertised, unlike most natural deodorants. Unfortunately, I don’t have a homemade alternative yet.
  4. Toothpaste: If you can get to a dentist before you travel, they almost always have free samples from toothpaste companies, and these are perfect for travel. If not, a full-size tube will use up your liquids allowance, but you may have to suck it up or buy a new tube when you land. No one wants dirty teeth.
  5. Lotion: If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll usually get a new tube of this every day. If not, my conditioner bar, above, doubles up as an intensive on-the-spot treatment for very dry skin (use sparingly).
  6. Face cream: If you’re going to South Korea, absolutely under no circumstances take face cream. They have face cream. And it’s better than anything you have at home. Otherwise, decant your face cream into a smaller pot such as a mayonnaise pot (these tend to leak less than the cheaper “travel cosmetics bottles”) or a miniature jam jar. Remember to label it.
  7. Sunscreen: Take a travel mini if your face cream doesn’t contain an SPF. You can also make powder sunscreen using zinc oxide but it’s not suitable for dry skin like mine.
  8. Foundation: Take a cushion or a powder foundation, or boldly go natural with no foundation. A cushion with a high SPF is great for hotter countries.
  9. Eyeshadow: An eyeshadow pencil is your best option so you don’t have to worry about powder breakage on the flight or use up that precious liquid allowance!
  10. Eyeliner: Is very small, so unless you’re seriously pressed for space, just take liquid eyeliner if that’s your go-to, and put it in the baggie at security. Otherwise, an eye pencil can double up as a brow pencil if you choose your shade wisely and take a makeup pencil sharpener.
  11. Highlighter and contouring kit: Ditch. Not worth the extra space in your makeup bag. If you want to contour, very lightly apply your brown eyeliner or eyeshadow pencil to the areas you need to contour and blend, blend, blend until it’s looking natural. White eyeshadow or concealer doubles up as highlighter if needed.
  12. Lipstick: These are often classed as liquids. I prefer a tinting balm with an SPF unless I have a very formal occasion or a cosplay to attend.
  13. Mascara: Get a miniature sample of your favorite mascara either from a store like Bloomingdale’s or from Amazon. It takes up way less space than a big chunky plastic mascara tube. I prefer waterproof brown mascara for travel, and I pair it with Mascara Melt-Off by Too Faced.
  14. Perfume: If you can’t get a travel miniature, just leave it at home. It will only attract unwanted stray men.
  15. Blusher: I use the Benefit Do the Hoola miniature.
  16. Pore strips: If you’re prone to blackheads, especially if you’re traveling to a hot country, take some Bioré pore strips.
  17. Concealer, if you use it. The Urban Decay ultimate holy grail concealer travels REALLY well and covers up tattoos (ideal for travel to Japan).

And here’s what you don’t need when travelling with a carry-on:

Spray Deodorant: Buy this when you land. A big spray bottle will use up your liquids allowance with carry-on luggage.

Dry shampoo: It’s actually really bad for your hair and unless you’re going for an interview when you land you could just shower, instead.

Setting spray: Seems useful, but if you’re in a situation where your makeup won’t stay put, consider whether you need it on your face or not. In the sort of heat that makes makeup migrate down your face, your pores are open, leaving you undefended against blackheads and spots.

Lip plumper/lash growth serum/false lashes: I love all of these, but unless you’re travelling for a big event, you can live without them for a week.

Hair spray/mousse: Use coconut oil (or a small amount of my homemade conditioner bar applied to dry hair) instead to fix flyaways.

Checked baggage beauty hacks

The first time I travelled with a checked bag, we were moving to China. I stared at my open suitcase thinking I could take anything at all and it would all fit in this ginormous case.

Unfortunately, I soon learned that wasn’t true. I also didn’t know about excess baggage, so I thought I could only take this one case and a carry-on. In case anyone else has never been on a long-haul flight, you just pay for more suitcases and it’s not an abominable amount (about $80-ish with the US airlines; about half that in China).

On the plus side, I’m not a huge fan of traveling with tons of bags and, if you’re a solo female traveller (or a lone female heavily-pregnant traveller, as I was on one infamous long-haul flight from China to Helsinki to Heathrow), you will absolutely want as little crap to carry as possible because you will have to lift your bags at various points.

  • Take all cosmetics out of their boxes/packaging. If you’re Youtubing, film the unboxing video before you pack! Remember to keep any applicators/spare parts and photograph any instructions in case you need them later.
  • Decant unwieldy products into smaller, lighter containers.
  • To avoid leaks, wrap any cosmetics in cling film/saran wrap and put them in a waterproof cosmetics bag before putting them in a checked bag. Especially ampoule type sleeping packs!
  • To minimize damage, keep powder cosmetics and any container that won’t easily wipe clean in a separate waterproof cosmetics bag to your liquid cosmetics! Store these in another part of your case.
  • Put anything like books, electricals, clothes that may stain, etc, in packing cubes or supermarket bags to protect from cosmetics or food leaks. The supermarket bags can then be used to go food shopping when you reach your destination! I had a carton of wine explode in my suitcase once because I packed it wrong on a 17 hour flight, and the mess was not pretty! I was gutted because it was the nicest wine I ever tasted, too (a Californian Pinot Noir, if you’re curious).
  • Protect your cosmetics from damage in checked luggage by wrapping them in (bagged) clothes, so if your bags are dropped or crushed, your cosmetics are safe.

How heat affects cosmetics during travel

The issue with taking cosmetics in checked bags isn’t so much space, but whether the conditions your bag will be in are safe for cosmetics. For example, at Dubai Airport, temperatures can regularly hit 45 degrees celsius, sometimes reaching higher, and while your bag is on the tarmac waiting to be loaded onto a plane, things could melt.

Most cosmetics are intended to be kept between 10-25 degrees celsius, so any major divergence from this could cause the active ingredients in anti-ageing creams to become… well… inactive. Essential oils also have problems when they get too warm.

Collagen in our bodies degrades even in average room temperature, although in cosmetics it’s safe to about 45 degrees celsius (120F to be precise) when collagen breakdown’s reaction rate increases [reference] to the point where it can be broken down within about 6 hours.

Hyaluronic acid is even more susceptible to heat damage – just 30 minutes at 50 degrees celsius causes 81% of the hyaluronic acid in a product to break down [reference – PDF download of research paper]. This actually happened to me when I took my By Nature New Zealand eye cream on a long round the world trip including Kathmandu, Dubai, Istanbul and Athens in the August heat during the 2018 European wildfires. By the time I got back to China, the creams were no longer effective and when I looked into the science, I found out it must have been all the airports where my bag sat waiting to be loaded onto/unloaded from planes. Anything with hyaluronic acid should say home or go in your carry on.

Peptides like Matrixyl are the most resilient to heat exposure. Even at temperatures of 100 degrees C, they won’t break down! [reference]. Peptide creams with no other active ingredients can go in your checked bags with no problems!

Vitamins fare even worse! Vitamin C breaks down from 30 degrees C (86F) [reference]. That same reference states pro-vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), found in many haircare products, is also very heat sensitive.

Vitamin A (a retinoid that converts to retinol) is partly affected, too – after 3 months at 45 degrees C it degrades by about 30% [reference], which isn’t an issue for anyone in transit, but will be a consideration for archaeologists and aid workers, and anyone else camping out in warm climates for prolonged periods who uses retinol cream. On your return to a cooler country, you may need to replace retinol-containing cosmetics. The same reference shows Vitamin A also loses 10% of its potency when stored at 13.5 degrees C for 3 months, up to 34% loss of potency after 9 months.

On the other hand, most other cosmetics can stand to be frozen – in fact, they will often reach freezing temperatures during transport. When I worked for Avon (cosmetics company) my deliveries would regularly arrive frozen.

The main exception to this is Coenzyme Q10, aka Q10, a well-known anti-ageing ingredient which is actually very difficult for your body to absorb. It won’t absorb properly if it’s anything other than body temperature and at low temperatures, it forms crystals and becomes ineffective. In fact, it’s less effective at any temperature below 48 celsius (10 degrees hotter than body temperature), although this is likely to be a temporary effect that will go away when the cream is warmer [reference].

So using this science, we can see that most anti-ageing creams need to be carefully packed in a stable temperature to protect them. For this reason, I reiterate they must be taken to hot countries as carry-on luggage to maintain their effectiveness.

Anything containing Q10 or retinol also needs to be in your carry on when travelling to or from very cold countries. Anti-ageing creams are usually expensive and packaged in bulky or heavy containers so I recommend leaving the container at home and decanting your product into a smaller jar with enough for your trip.

How does altitude affect cosmetics?

There was very little published research about the effect of temperature, I had to cross apply studies on food or other biological applications of certain ingredients, and there’s even less work done on altitude.

Kinetic theory tells us you can increase the effectiveness of any chemical reaction by increasing temperature or pressure (or both) of a reactant. This is why products break down in heat.

But this means they will also break down under very high pressure (e.g. when diving, but who takes their cosmetics SCUBA diving?) and that low pressure (e.g. at high altitude, on mountains or high cities like Lhasa, Kathmandu, or most parts of Peru and other areas in South America) will usually make things less reactive. Except for one issue…

The boiling point of water is lower at altitude. All other liquids are affected in a similar way. This means the temperature at which ingredients will denature will also be lower at altitude (the pressurised cabin of an aircraft doesn’t count here).

Most high-altitude areas are quite cold, but some, such as Kathmandu, can get hot at certain times of the year, so don’t leave your cosmetics on windowledges or anywhere without air con. This is especially true of Lhasa, which is over 3600m above sea level (that’s 11,800 feet).

Cosmetics also have a bad habit (due to the low-pressure environment) of working their way out of jars at high altitude. This is more likely in the low pressure cargo hold of some planes rather than on land but if you’re doing Everest, the last thing you need is to faff with cosmetics (my recommendation for cosmetics to take up a big mountain like Everest or K2? Just SPF 50 sunscreen, chapstick with an SPF or coconut oil, and some soap for hygiene).

If you’re overlanding, you might not even know you’ve reached high altitude, so pack your cosmetics well and don’t take any big expensive ones, just in case they get ruined.

Humidity

Humidity is another consideration for travelling with cosmetics. Powder cosmetics suffer most from this. They can go hard and difficult to get onto an applicator or brush, or they can even dissolve. You could keep powder cosmetics in a makeup bag with a sachet or two of silica gel to protect them. Keep silica gel away from babies and pets.

Humidity will also affect electricals. Beauty devices are more robust than a lot of devices, however, so are unlikely to stop working unless they actually get wet (aka 100% humidity).

If your bags are likely to get wet, e.g. travelling in a rainstorm or typhoon, put beauty devices in a plastic bag and surround them with clothes to absorb any potential liquid. Also keep them well away from any part of the zippers as these are the weak point in most bags and suitcases, where water is most likely to get in.

In a campervan or other long overland adventure, humidity is the biggest danger to your cosmetics because you’re breathing in your vehicle and causing the air to become saturated with water vapour. This becomes very problematic at night (you’ll see the windows steam up from it).

You can get a non-electric dehumidifier which uses crystals, they’re available at most bargain stores like Home Bargains (UK) or Dollar Tree (US). It could be worth taking one of these with you and putting it somewhere where it won’t get knocked over (they get messy and then they cause more issues than they solve because the crystals are toxic). Keep these well away from children or pets.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the science behind exactly how to pack to take the best care of your cosmetics while travelling, which cosmetics travel well and which ones you can do without! Some cosmetics are seriously expensive, so if in doubt about whether you can safely pack them, leave them at home (especially if they’ve been discontinued and are therefore irreplaceable).

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

How NOT to get rid of turquoise, blue and green hair dye.

Oh, wow, did I ever mess up. If you’re here, I’m guessing you did, too. Let’s commiserate together and talk about how not to get rid of unwanted turquoise, blue and green hair dye.

Some of them may say “semi-permanent” on the box, but as I found out, and you probably have, too, there is no such thing as a semi-permanent blue, green or turquoise dye. That stuff never leaves your hair. And now there’s a lockdown and the hairdressers can’t fit you in, and even if they could, you’ve lost work hours and can’t afford to pay a stylist to do a colour correction. Life really throws lemons sometimes, doesn’t it?

I’m assuming here that the reason you need to get rid of this blue or green dye is because your employer or school has a dress code that specifically says you’ll be in some kind of trouble if you show up with green, blue or turquoise hair. The goal of this article is to get your hair looking like a natural colour again so you don’t get a disciplinary or suspended or something like that.

Unfortunately, from a chemistry point of view, these blue and green dyes actually are semi-permanent. But any hair dye with a blue base (so, blue, green and turquoise, also some purples) generally causes a lot of cuticle staining, especially if you put it on bleached hair, so getting rid of blue hair is nigh on impossible.

It’s worth noting that colour remover doesn’t work for semi-permanent dyes, if you want to know more about why this is, check out this article about how colour remover works).

To diagnose how bad your problem is, wash your hair two or three times in the space of a day, drying it between washes (condition loads in between and maybe add coconut oil so your hair doesn’t dry out from shampoo).

Ideally, use some anti-dandruff shampoo such as Head and Shoulders, because there’s something in the anti-dandruff part of it that makes hair dye fade.

If the green, blue or turquoise is fading, you might be able to get it to disappear enough that most people won’t notice it. If it’s not fading much, keep reading to find out what to do.

My experience with two blue-based hair dye disasters and what I learned

I have made the mistake of using semi-permanent blue and green twice in the past 18 months. Once was on purpose, the other was a tragic accident.

First, I used the L’Oreal Colorista Teal semi-permanent dye when I was in California. I put it on bleached hair. I thought it was a fun colour when I first used it. Then it faded to a Halloween witch colour. It said it would be gone in 6 washes and I believed it. When I discovered I was stuck with this green colour, I Googled straight away and found an article on a mom blog from someone who said her son had used the exact same dye and she’d found an amazing homemade remedy to fix his hair (tl;dr she hadn’t).

It said to mix baking powder with dish soap (washing up liquid), make a big paste, put it on my hair, cover it with a bag and leave it for about 15 minutes.

Almost immediately, where the mixture touched my neck, it irritated my skin. Stupidly, I left it the full 15 minutes on my hair. Bad plan. Such a bad plan.

…Yeah, so, long story short, that shit burnt my hair so bad it was permanently frazzled and STILL BLUE-GREEN! I had to cut the ends off. I was so glad I’d only done a teal ombre. Dawn is GREAT on dishes but it wasn’t designed for hair dye removal.

how to fix blue hair how to get rid of green hair dye
Don’t use this on your hair!

DO NOT USE BAKING POWDER WITH DISH SOAP ON YOUR HAIR! I guess I’m putting it in shouty capitals for all the people who aren’t on this page yet in the hope they hear me before it’s too late.

This is what my hair looked like after I dried it (you can see how frazzled and damaged it is, and it still has that green tinge. I was so upset I had been such a beautiful silver a few days earlier):

Anyway, 12 months later, I was in New York for a crucial work conference and I’d picked up some violet Crazy Color, so I put it on the ends of my hair.

Violet Crazy Color is a lie. When I started applying it, it turned out it’s bright blue. I stopped applying it and washed it off immediately but it had already stuck, as you’ll see in the next photo. Horrendous if you were expecting a delicate pale purple tint like the bottle implies. I’m starting to wonder if whoever names/labels the bottles at Renbow Crazy Color is a sadist who purposely mis-names the colours so people have hair disasters.

Seriously, I should have suspected after the Crazy Color Silver was a platinum blonde and Crazy Color Platinum was a beautiful silver shade. I forgot. I was beyond upset. But really it was partly my own fault because I should have strand tested and I was in such a hurry I didn’t.

Anyway, during that disaster, I knew better than to try the baking powder again, and I didn’t have time to fix it any other way so I put L’Oreal Colorista Lilac on the blonde bits which made a nice effect that at least looked intentional but didn’t hide the blue.

When the conference was over, I tried bleaching it out instead.

That didn’t work either. So I put a silver dye over it all. That sort of worked but it faded in a few weeks to a sort of very very pale pastel blue staining that was patchy, and every time I tried toning it out with the Crazy Colour Platinum (yeah, I keep going back to them… I have a problem haha), it made the blue (which by this point had washed out to a nasty seaweed green shade) more obvious. So I eventually coloured over it with a medium brown and left it alone.

Basically what had happened is called “cuticle staining”. This is more common with semi-permanent, bright colours, but can also happen with permanent hair dyes, especially red hair dyes. Cuticle staining is where the outside of the hair shaft has been permanently stained with a colour. At that point, normal bleach for hair will only lift the underlying shade, not the staining, and, even worse news, colour remover can’t get at it, either.

Okay, so from my story you now know you probably can’t take the blue dye, turquoise dye or green dye out of your hair because they have caused cuticle staining. Take a deep breath.

We can still fix this. Just maybe not the way you wanted to. You can still get your hair to a point where you can go to school or work again, but you will need to be flexible about what colour your hair ends up because it can’t be blonde now until the stained parts grow out again.

At that point, cuticle staining needs to be cut out of the hair before you can bleach, and in the meantime, you need to take care not to accidentally use another product that might cause cuticle staining further up the hair shaft. This is especially important if you intend to go blonde at any point in the next two years, if that’s you, avoid bright red hair dyes while trying to fix the unwanted green or blue colour.

When trying to get rid of blue dyes (ones with a blue base), you have three options, and three things that don’t work.

What doesn’t work to get rid of blue or green hair dye:

Bleach

Baking powder and washing up liquid

Color remover

What works to get your hair looking natural again:

Dying your hair red (avoid bright or deep shades of red if you want to be white blonde in the next year or two)

Dying your hair ginger

Dying your hair brown (avoid dark brown or black as it seems like a great idea, but it’s a nightmare to get back out of your hair and you’ll be left with the green again. Also some black dyes use a green base which will make your cuticle staining even worse if you ever bleach it)

My suggestion (actually this is similar to the answer to what you should do if you’ve wrecked your hair with bleach) is to choose a box dye in one of the three colours above, either red, brown or ginger, and put that over the blue, green or turquoise. If your hair is bleached, remember you need to add some red to your hair before you can get a brown permanent dye to take.

Your only other option, if you can get away with it is to completely own this shade of green/blue (or put a nice bright colour like purple or turquoise on top) and learn to live with it until it grows out. I hear washed-out mermaid is pretty big in some places.

Other hair colouring articles you might like: 

How to get better results from colour remover and how colour remover works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair colour remover FAQ

Hair bleaching 101: How to bleach your hair

What do I use between the silver shampoos?

Silver toning routine

What colour will that box dye really go on your hair?

Silver and white hair Q and A

Vegan green tea hair shampoo bar recipe that you can even make in a campervan!

My love affair for all things green tea began long before I ever moved to East Asia. Being in Japan last year really cemented it.

The rumors about Japan are true. They use matcha green tea for everything. In our hotel, the shampoo and conditioner were green tea. And they were phenomenal.

So since lockdown, when soap and other cosmetics suddenly vanished, I decided to start making my own cosmetics. I had planned to make a melt-and-pour shampoo bar before anything else, but I ended up making soaps successfully, first, and getting product safety tests done on my essential oil soaps. At the same time, my shampoo bars were not going so well.

I couldn’t understand it. Both my soaps and the shampoo bars were made using the correct bases (don’t use soap base for shampoo bars! I know a lot of bloggers say you can do it with soap base, but if you care about your hair, you need to use proper shampoo base) but my shampoo bars weren’t mixing properly and when I tested them on my hair, they left residue. Eeek!

Eventually, I found out where I was going wrong. The rubbing alcohol in this recipe is essential. Do not skip that step.

You will need (makes one 100 gram bar; scale up for more than one):

  • A glass jug
  • A saucepan of boiling water on a stove
  • A spoon
  • 85 grams Stephenson’s Solid Shampoo Base (this doesn’t seem to be available to buy on US Amazon but you can get it shipped to the US from the link above which is UK Amazon)
  • 1/4 tsp Green tea powder
  • 1 tsp Rubbing alcohol (I’ve linked to Amazon there in case you can’t get out to a store, but you can get cheap rubbing alcohol in the Dollar Tree so don’t spend more than you have to).
  • 5 grams Avocado oil (substitute with another oil such as olive oil, jojoba or almond oil if you don’t have this)

    If you’re in the UK/Ireland you can get your green tea, rubbing alcohol and avocado oil on these links, instead.

How to make vegan green tea melt and pour shampoo bar:

  1. Cut the melt and pour shampoo base into small squares and put it into the jug.
  2. Place the jug inside the pan of boiling water.
  3. Remove when the shampoo base has melted.
  4. In a small cup, mix the green tea powder with the alcohol.
  5. Once this is mixed, add it to the shampoo base.
  6. Add the avocado oil.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Pour into your soap mould. Leave to harden for about an hour and a half, then wrap.

I am so happy with this recipe (finally)! Let me know what you think in the comments! If you have a microwave, you can melt the melt and pour shampoo base in your microwave, checking every 30 seconds to be sure not to scald it!

Vegan hair conditioner bar recipe that you can even make in a campervan!

I searched and searched the WHOLE DAMN INTERNET and none of it had a recipe like this. I wanted a recipe using natural, vegan ingredients, so I could make my own conditioner bars. I also wanted something that didn’t require expensive or bulky equipment to make it.

I needed this recipe to make a bar, not a liquid, because I travel a lot and I have super dry curly hair, and I am very fed up of not being able to take conditioner on a plane unless it’s in my checked baggage or in a very tiny bottle.

When I didn’t find a vegan hair conditioner bar recipe for travel, I made my own.

This bar is super-nourishing for very dry hair, you really don’t need much of it. I like to use it by working it into the ends first, while my hair is wet, then moving up slowly until I get to my ears. Lastly, I put the rest onto my hair from my parting downwards in one or two swift strokes.

If you accidentally use too much, get a bit of your shampoo bar and rub it between your hands then wipe the lather onto your hair where there’s too much conditioner.

This conditioner is a little bit soft, I’ve played around with the recipe and every time I’ve tried to harden it, it just goes oilier but not harder. So I find the original bar cracks into three or four pieces after a few uses, but after that it seems pretty stable.

If you’re a fan of using a bit of coconut oil to moisturize your hair, you will LOVE this recipe as it incorporates coconut oil but makes a solid bar for travelling with!

You will need:

  • A glass jug
  • A spoon for mixing
  • A soap mould
  • 40g shea butter
  • 30g olive wax
  • 20g cocoa butter
  • 20g coconut oil
  • 10ml rice bran oil
  • 10ml avocado oil
  • 30 drops lavender oil (or other essential oil of your choice)

Method (no microwave… scroll for microwave method)

  1. In a saucepan, boil some water and place your glass jug in it.
  2. Add the cocoa butter and olive wax as these take the most heat to melt.
  3. When they have melted, add the rest of the ingredients except the lavender oil.
  4. Once the whole lot has melted, remove jug from saucepan, add lavender oil and mix well.
  5. Pour the mixture into your soap mould and leave it to harden. This takes about 2-3 hours.
  6. Pop it out of the mould. Wrap to keep moisture out and it’s ready to use!

Microwave method:

  1. Put the cocoa butter and olive wax in the microwave and heat in 30-second bursts until they have melted.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the lavender oil and heat in 20-second bursts until everything has melted.
  3. Add the lavender, pour into a mould and leave to harden for 2-3 hours.
  4. Pop out of mold. Wrap. Enjoy.

So there you have it, a 100% vegan conditioner bar recipe that requires nothing complicated or weird, no dodgy chemicals and you can even make it in a campervan. Let me know if you’ve used it!

If you want to learn more about making cosmetics in a campervan, you might like my really long and comprehensive article on soapmaking for vanlifers!

“Protein filler ruined my hair” At-home vs salon protein filler review

Protein fillers are being touted as the best thing to ever happen to hairdressing. So I wanted to try them out. To make this a fair test, I waited 1 year between treatments, to be sure the first product was completely out of my hair.

For the at-home treatment, I used the Superdrug protein filler.

For the salon treatment, I got a Brazilian blowout at a local salon.

My hair type is 2c-3b naturally, and I don’t follow CGP (curly girl protocol) because it left my hair greasy at the top and dry at the bottom, something I’ll talk about at some point in the future.

The at-home treatment looked promising, and I’d seen some good reviews of it online, but I wish I knew then what I know now: Not all protein treatments are created equal, and if you have even slightly African hair, like mine, you need to be very careful about what products you use.

God I wish I’d known that. I even Googled “Is protein filler safe” and “can I use protein filler on frizzy hair” and all that came up was girl after girl with really ordinary hair before and flatironed but still ordinary hair after. The hype for at-home protein treatments drowned out any voices of dissent and my hair suffered the consequences.

The at-home hair protein filler went on according to the instructions. I’ve been beauty blogging for 5 years (6 in December) and I have used a LOT of boxed hair products, so I was confident I could do this. I waited the time. Rinsed when I was supposed to.

Funny, my hair felt rougher after I rinsed the product out than before I put it in my hair. I assumed it was because the final conditioner needed to go on, so I left it on for the right amount of time then rinsed again. I even rinsed with a blast of cool water at the end to close the cuticles and let it dry naturally to avoid heat damage. I gave this product every possible chance of working.

The next morning, I had to face the grim truth: The product had left my hair in a worse state than before I started. And later that day, I had to get onto a plane to New York for a book signing, where I’d wanted to look my best in front of readers and other authors, and instead, I looked like my hair had been styled after Ronald McDonald. I didn’t have time to research salons and sit still for someone to fix it because my schedule was too tight.

My hair was drier, brittler and more porous than before I’d used the protein filler.

All in all, I decided that protein fillers weren’t as good as I’d heard, and I moved on with my life.

Fast forward a year, I went to a new salon to get a haircut and the hairdresser suggested I try the Brazilian Blowout.

OMG what a difference that made. It didn’t straighten my hair (a lot of people have described it as a straightening treatment but this isn’t quite accurate), it just improved each individual strand. My hair was glossy, bouncy, and, for the first time in my life, manageable.

I. Was. Impressed.

Unfortunately, I have had to put a second treatment on hold indefinitely until the lockdown ends. The stylist said it would last 3 months but actually, it’s taken 5 months for it to become frizzy again and I’m left wondering how on earth I managed for 32 years without this in my life. This treatment is such a revelation. It cost £70 and took about an hour and a half but it’s worth every penny, and every minute, if you have hair like mine.

It’s just a pity the off-the-shelf at-home treatments only work if your hair is “normal”.

 

L’Oreal Colorista Hair Dye in Teal and Violet

So last week I bought these in Walmart for about $9.99 each.

Honestly, I think that’s more than a little excessively-priced for a semi-permanent, but L’Oreal and Walmart seem to think differently.

I got three colors, but first I tried teal and indigo in a sort of ombre.

They applied easily, didn’t smell funny, and I liked that the packs came with lots of gloves and a brush for precision.

The purple worked a lot stronger on my highlights than on the rest of my hair. I wasn’t in love with that, to be fair. It seemed a bit dull and toned down. I think my hair needed to be lighter than the darkest picture on the box, whereas my hair was exactly that same color of medium blonde.

The teal took to my hair easily and the color was vibrant and didn’t look flat or dead like a lot of green dyes do. I liked the result and would use it again.

I also liked the fact neither color ran and they didn’t stain the bathroom or my towels.

L'oreal colorista teal and indigo

You apply the dye to wet, towel-dried hair, which means you have to get in the shower twice; once to make your hair wet and once to rinse the dye out. The downside of a wet application is that it’s difficult to see if you’ve covered every part of your hair with enough dye or not. The dye seemed to need to be applied more heavily than I did, especially the indigo (I used the enclosed brush) and I didn’t know that until I’d washed my hair out and dried it:

IMG_6541

As you can see, it’s tricky to tell whether it’s completely covered or not.

The dye that went on my skin took about 24 hours to come off, btw.

The teal was a shiny color that left my hair looking happy, where the purple made my hair look a bit lifeless and dull. Honestly, when my hair dried, the indigo reminded me of this purple hair mascara I had when I was a 13-year-old in the ’90s.

IMG_6545 2

I also felt like the purple came out much more patchy than the teal, as seen above.

IMG_6581

The next day it settled better, but the purple still seemed patchy despite the fact I’d covered all those brown bits in purple dye. I have never had a dye do this to me before and I applied this with a brush so I’m not sure what else I could do.

Overall, I think I liked the green a lot more than the purple, which says that your experience of L’Oreal Colorista will completely depend on what color you get.

It’s also worth noting that, despite the claims that this lasts 4-8 washes on the purple and 8-16 washes on the teal, they both looked a little less vibrant after 2 washes, and by wash 5 or 6 I doubt the purple would still be visible. You would probably want to reapply this at least once a week, possibly twice, to get a color buildup that lasts a bit longer than a couple of washes.

You can get the teal here on Amazon currently for just over $8, but I’m not linking to the indigo because it wasn’t great so I can’t recommend that anyone buys it.

I’ve also got one of the red ones to try so I’ll maybe write about that at some point soon, too.