Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Black Cumin Seed Oil As A Nutritional Supplement

I booked a treatment on Wahanda and went to Edgeware Road for the first time. The area and it's shops intrigue me. So exotic, it's like being in the middle east. Similar to my Oz home in Auburn, I went browsing in the grocery stores.

I came in looking for tea and ended up with Alwazah tea which was very cheap (79p or 25 tea bags) and a bottle of black seed oil (100ml for £3.99). I've heard about black seed oil and I couldn't resist trying atleast one beauty product behind the counter.

The brand is "Sofra" from Pakistan and the shop guy assured me that it's decent although the packaging is of poor quality. There's a leaflet inside with arabic and english instructions. The seal on the cap is a bit of a joke. The safety ring, or the thing that supposed to remain on the neck after you've opened the bottle, comes off with the cap so you can't tell if it's been tampered or not. But at least it's in a dark glass bottle and it's supposedly cold pressed virgin oil.

I was planning on applying it on my scalp but after doing some research on the internet, I figure I'm better off ingesting this stuff, assuming it's pure.

The list of benefits in the leaflet are long, ranging from weight loss, increasing sperm generation, supporting the immune system, recovery of hair loss to curing asthma. This oil is said to be rich with anti-oxidants, vitamins, essential fatty and amino acids. It has been used for over 2,500 years as a food supplement or a cure-all. There are also scientific studies on it's effect on cancer cells but nothing substantial as I figure it would have been more well known if it was actually effective.

The oil is pale brown and I poured it in a teaspoon and drank it straight. The instructions say to take 2 teaspoons morning and night but I'm generally healthy and too lazy to do this. The smell and taste is fine in my opinion. As long as you're not expecting it to taste good that is. The scent is similar to it's taste, light fragrant onion. It's not bitter and leaves a slight oniony after taste. I didn't need a chaser like honey or an acidic drink but it helps it go down.

I'm going to take a teaspoon at night and will add to this post with results when the bottle runs out.

Just to note I put some oil on my eczema and there was no positive effect. I think there was even a slight reaction. Also I put some on the ends of my hair and it felt sticky and smelt like onion. I will not be using this oil topically!

Monday, April 6, 2015

DIY Bentonite Clay Hair Wash Cleanser And Using Litmus Paper

I bought a huge tube of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay and I found a new use for it. My hair was oily after a heavy co-wash and I remember how this clay sucks oil right out of my pores when I used it as a mask. I could feel a strange contracting sensation on my skin as it dried so this clay is powerful stuff. 

Calcium bentonite clay has lots of uses from insect bites to clay body soaks. It can be used to clean hair naturally. There are several ways of preparing it as a hair wash. I felt the important thing was to ensure that the ph of the mix was not too acidic because apple cider vinegar was the common ingredient to neutralise the the clay which is alkaline.

There needs to be a balance in ph for hair. I've used Dr Bronners Soap to wash my hair and ended up with a matted knotty mess. That's because the soap is very alkaline, causing the hair cuticles to open and the strand's surface becomes rough. To keep hair smooth and the hair cuticles lying flat, products needs to be a ph of 4-5, the natural ph for hair. 

So I started with a simple mix of 1 part clay to 1 part apple cider vinegar. I'm trying to achieve cleansing properties so I didn't add oils. Some recipes call for baking soda but it's of my opinion that the clay substitutes for that since it is also alkaline. If baking soda works for you, the mix needs to be a ph greater than 7. 

I bought a book of litmus paper from Ebay when I first started making my own hair products. It's really useful to know the ph because it has a direct impact to your hair and the product's  effectiveness. After mixing I put some on to the paper and the wet part changes colour to reveal the ph.

I compared the colour on the chart and it was 3, slightly acidic. I mixed a little more water (typically a ph of 7) and clay to make it more alkaline. As you can see in the second reading underneath, the ph has changed to 4. 

I then diluted the mix so it was runny. The clay is very drying so I didn't to apply it thick. I mixed it with my leave-in hair conditioner mix to get a liquid consistency and put it in a bottle with a nozzle. The ph was 7, which is considered neutral. I could have added more vinegar to bring it down to hair ph but I didn't want to make the mix runnier.  

I gave my first batch of clay wash a try. Since it was really watery I applied it straight on to my scalp and dry hair and distributed it around. (I didn't apply to my lengths because they didn't need to be de-greased. My ends were dry enough already!) I let it sit in my hair for 15 minutes before rinsing and doing a light co-wash. 

The results were good. My hair was clean, shiny and felt soft. There was no frizz! Next time I'll skip the co-wash and make the mix a little thicker. It's a case of getting the proportion of ingredients right but I'll practice. Washing with clay does work and it cleans better than a co-wash. I would use this once a week. 

For convenience I keep premixed clay/apple cider vinegar on hand to use as a face mask or mix with water/ACV for a hair cleanser. The clay is so versatile and best of all, 100% natural!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Neem Oil and Eczema - It Didn't Work For Me

There's a funny video on Youtube about neem oil and as much as I was warned about its smell, I had to buy some from my local Indian grocery shop. My eczema has been flaring up and I'm willing to try anything.

I had a choose a cheap Indian brand that's featured in the video over a organic UK brand which was four times the price. I could upgrade later if it worked and if it didn't, I didn't lose out on much. 

At home I opened the bottle and took a whiff. It was indeed bad. To me it smells like wet rotting garlic, onions and peanuts. So pungent, I had to put the cap back on straight away. 

Neem oil is lumpy, thick and golden brown. It was almost solidified in the store. I asked my Indian friends to translate the hindi and apparently the label simply just says Neem Oil.

For the treatment of eczema, I diluted the neem oil with another carrier oil before applying. I mixed 40% neem oil with 60% black Jamaican castor oil. I find the the latter works to calm down the itch and inflammation of eczema. 

My eczema felt itchier after I applied it twice a day. I should have diluted the neem oil further but I figure with such a reaction, it's unlikely to give the desired result in smaller quantities. It still stinks after it's mixed. I tried it for a week and there was no improvement until I stopped using it. 

I'm sticking to neat BJCO and recommend it to anyone with eczema. 

With the remaining amount of oil mix (not to waste that lovely BJCO), I've been adding it to Cholesterol Cream, which I use as a deep conditioning co-wash. On it's own, it's a heavy cream so I have to emulsify it well with a little warm water to get it foamy before rinsing. The surfactant in CC, sodium lauryl sulfate washes out before the oil will and I don't want to end up with oily hair.

As for the rest of the neem oil, I think it's best used for keeping bugs out the garden!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

DIY Leave In Hair Moisturiser

My hair is suffering dryness and I can't even pass my fingers through it without it getting tangled. Resisting the urge buy a new hair product I made do with what I had a home. 

It took a bit experimenting because you have to get the balance right with the ingredients. Too much glycerin and it makes my hair sticky. Same with oils-you don't want an oil slick.  

Because of the lack of added preservatives, I only made enough to fill a 50ml spray bottle. 

Rosewater (or distilled water)
Sweet almond oil or any other light oil
Vegetable glycerine
Silicone free conditioner such as Suave Naturals

From my first mix of 90% rosewater, 5% almond oil and 5% glycerine, my hair felt sticky and knotted easily. It needed slip so I diluted the mix with a tablespoon of silicone free conditioner. I need to shake it every time I use it because the conditioner floats on top. But aside from that, it was the missing ingredient to help smooth my hair. The ceteryl alcohol in the conditioner helped to emulsify the ingredients.

My hair still felt sticky so I added more water. Still not sure if glycerin works for me - it seems fine after it dries off. It's in the mix because it serves as a humectant (reduces the loss of moisture).

I spray this after washing and whenever my ends feel dry. It works to soften my ends and adds shine. DIY saves money and space from storing yet another hair product in my bathroom!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Marc By Marc Jacobs Baby Groovee Fall 2007 Bordeaux

As much as I love my Longchamp Pliage, I had serious handbag envy to kill. There's a chilli red Mulberry I perv on in the ladies change room at my gym. 

I used to think that red was not my colour but I found a red I like. It's burgundy, the colour of the MBMJ Groovee bag I bought from Ebay. I took a risk because I've never seen one in real life. 

It's a funny story. At first I was happy when it finally arrived from the Netherlands. Then I realised the lining was nothing I had seen on the internet. Upon closer inspection, the bag I received was different to the other Groovee bags on Ebay so I swiftly sent a message to the seller:

"I received the bag today and it s clearly a fake. The main reasons are: 1) The lining is wrong-it should be the oversized Marc Jacobs lettering in monochrome print. 2) The main zipper pull and large hexagonal rivets do not have Marc by Marc Jacobs imprinted on them. 3) The shape of the hardware on the shoulder strap is completely wrong. Also there is no designer name imprint and the buckles connected to strap should be round, not square. If you do a comparison of other Marc By Marc Jacob Groovee bags on Ebay or the internet, you will see what I mean. Photos of the bag I received is attached. I require a full refund and if you wish for the bag to be returned, you will need to reimburse me for the shipping cost. Looking forward to hearing from you."

After trawling through The Purse Forum, I realised that the bag was one of the first to be launched in the Groovee line. This bag was from the Fall 2007 line and the features I pointed out were actually legit. Oops! 

The seller told me that the bag was bought in 2008 and in fact the leather is better then than the current line. At the point I was happy and very apologetic for making a rash accusation. 

So here is my lovely new/old red bag. It's much heavier than my Longchamp but it's cuter and the leather speaks for itself. For it's age, it's in excellent condition. 

I moisturised the bag by smothering it with Wheelers Natural Beeswax Leather Balm. I massage it in generously with my hands. But not too much as it will smooth out the pebbled leather. I let the bag hang out to absorb overnight. The next morning I buff the excess out with a soft sock and voila! 

After buffing I let it hang to dry for another 12 hours to ensure the balm fully absorbs.

Pebbled leather, eye-poppingly luscious!


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