The One Where I Nearly Ruin my Landlords Bathroom

i.e. the one where I attempt to dye my hair for the first time ever. With henna.

Left: the day after dying (Monday), Right: two days after dying (Tuesday)

Sunday 3rd May 2020, Around 6.30pm

For my whole life, my hair has been the same color. And the same style. As I have eczema on my scalp I have to be super careful about what products I use on my hair, and I avoid going to the hairdresser’s. But I have always been fascinated about dying my hair. Through the no poo process I learned about henna and the idea of a using a natural, nourishing product to turn my hair lovely and red really appealed to me. The mess did not. From what I read henna was difficult and extremely messy. I was also worried I would not like how it looked in the end.

But now we are in quarantine! I found myself impulsively buying some henna one night, after watching a YouTube video where someone dyed their hair and thinking about how much I would like a change too. It seemed the perfect time to experiment when no one is going to see the result immediately. I had time, both to apply it and deal with the mess, and to deal with any bad results without anyone seeing it. (So I convinced myself.) I bought one of those henna bricks from Lush, which wouldn’t be my first choice as I don’t like Lush, but it felt the easiest path to go down. They were out of stock of their fiery red henna so I chose the chestnut one instead, and had to admit to myself that was probably the best choice as something more subtle and thus, hopefully, less likely to go wrong. It took about a week for it to come, by which time the impulse had died away and I was no longer quite so interested. I admit what drove me to use it today was that my flat was slowly, after just a day and a half of the parcel entering my abode, starting to stink of Lush and I couldn’t take it any longer. 

So today I:

Washed my hair and trimmed it, yes myself, and yes badly. (As an aside, last time I discussed my no poo routine I talked about starting to use shampoo again. Since then I have found that I do not like using shampoo regularly,  as it dried out my scalp too much,  but that using a sulfate free shampoo every couple of months works wonders to clarify my hair and does not have any affect on my hair or scalp or my usual nopoo routine. So today I used that shampoo to get my hair nice and clean in preparation for dying. I had hoped that I could just rinse my hair with water for this but from what I read, the cleaner the better for dying the hair. One site even suggested using a little bit of dish soap to really strip the hair, but having done that before (don’t ask, though it may be on the blog somewhere who knows) I really didn’t want to do that again. This was to be a nourishing thing as much as a hair dying thing. The whole point of choosing henna was that I could change up my hair without affecting my eczema and getting out the dish soap or even a sulfate shampoo seemed to defeat that, so I just used the sulfate free shampoo and hoped that would work…)

The henna was suggested to be applied to dry or damp hair. So I thought I could wash my hair and then prepare the henna whilst it dried off. As my hair is quite fine I thought it would be too difficult to work with when fully dry.

To prepare the henna, I lined a glass bowl with tinfoil and set that in a bigger bowl of hot water. I tried to hack up the henna block but it wasn’t working and I was concerned about the mess that was making so I just stuck the whole thing in the small bowl, added a little bit of boiling water and slowly, slowly, melted it down into a paste. It took absolutely forever to do and I had to change the big bowl once to get the water hot again but eventually I got a nice, thick paste to work with. (Why can’t Lush provide their henna as a powder? It would be so much more convenient and easy to work with.) I had been super careful to not add too much water to the bowl as I had read that if I made it too runny then it would be messy and not stick to the hair, so I was pleased I had seemingly got this right. At this point I was excited and optimistic. I laid some cardboard down on the bathroom floor to protect it, then took my henna in  and got to work, sectioning my hair and applying the henna with a face mask applicator and my bare hands. Yes, you read that right.

Tools you need to apply henna:

Hair Color Brush
A small mirror 
Paper Towels
Cling Film or a Shower Cap
A fabric headband , hat or something similar to keep the hair wrapped up and warm

Tools I actually had:
A silicon face mask applicator
A handheld mirror 
Paper Towels
A shower cap 
One of those cloth hair turbans used for drying the hair 

It was close, but not close enough. My poor hands were clearly turning orange even as I applied it. (And the color is deepening as I sit with my hair wrapped up and waiting for the color to develop.) And it was so messy to apply. I had watched exactly one tutorial, as well as reading the instructions lush had included and a couple of online tutorials. None of those dealt with applying to long hair and I really should have investigated that. I found it so hard to get all my hair coated and to get it all to curl around itself into a giant bun on my head, as per instructions. The paste was quick to dry and crumble, falling onto my shoulders, into the sink, and onto the floor , seeming to go everywhere but on my head. At this point I hated it and was no longer excited, just frustrated. I also could not see what was going on at the back of my head with my tiny handheld mirror and struggled even more with doing that part.

Eventually I got all my hair just about coated and twisted around onto the top of my head , and somehow I even got my fringe coated and pasted on top of the whole lot of it. I went over with more henna, as much as I could, but the whole thing was threatening to fall apart so I had to give up and accept it as it was. I hadn’t used all the hair dye so I wasn’t convinced I had used enough to get a good result. I rinsed and dried my hands, definitely orange then, and applied my shower cap- one of those plastic ones you get in hotels that I steal for the express purpose of containing my hair when I do hair masks. (Can I admit that online?) Then I put on one of those hair turbans which I usually use for drying my wet hair, to keep the shower cap in place and to try to keep everything warm, as apparently this helps the red color to develop. Now I am sitting here waiting impatiently to rinse it out and see the results. It smells a bit but feels stable enough and I am pleased that my scalp doesn’t feel too itchy or uncomfortable , which gives me hope that it will be nourishing , or at least not give me a bad reaction. 

Oh, and I cleaned everything up immediately afterwards and it wasn’t too bad. Most was in the sink and on the cardboard. So I cleaned  the sink immediately and put the cardboard in a bag. There was some bits outside the cardboard but as it was so dry and crumbly I could vacuum those up and there were only a couple of areas that needed a wipe down. The bathroom looks fine. I am not sure how washing this stuff out will go though, and am nervous for that. 

Also my hands are bright orange, even my nails are stained , and they smell of the product. I really should have invested in some gloves. I thought I could maybe use some plastic bags on my hands instead but that quickly proved impractical so I boldly removed them and now I am stuck with the results. I hope it fades soon.


Sunday 3rd May 2020, Around 10pm

I left the henna in for between 3 and 4 hours (I didn’t time it exactly but it was definitely on for at least 3 hours.) During that time I kept the henna warm by applying a hot pack to my hair, in order to intensify the red as much as possible. When it finally came to rinse it out, it was pretty intense with a rush of henna mud racing towards the drain and the stuff speckled over the shower walls but once I had got most of it out, just rinsing with water, I just took the shower head and rinsed my surroundings and that was fine. Then I rinsed my hair some more, still with just water, rinsed off the shower again and that was that. Once out I quickly wrapped my hair in a towel incase it was dripping any colored liquid and inspected the shower but it seemed ok. There is perhaps a film left on the tub but it is not clear if it’s just the oils Lush used leaving a film (it did feel a little slippery underfoot) or some of the mud leaving a residue and hence a possible stain. I am a little concerned for it but I will only be able to tell tomorrow. It really wasnt the giant mess I was expecting though, which is a relief. As of now the bathroom seems to have survived , though I will need to check tomorrow in sunlight.

As for my hair, I kept it wrapped up until it was partially dry/no longer dripping, then I undid the towel, nervous but anticipatory, only to find…nothing. My hair looked its usual dark brown self. Shining a torch I on it I could definitely see lighter highlights, slightly reddish in tone but not really. My hair felt so soft though and my scalp also felt…fine. It started to itch as my hair dried, which it usually does, but it doesn’t feel any more irritated than normal. 

It was as my hair dried that I could finally see the color appear. I admit I started to laugh when I saw myself in the bathroom mirror, in the harsh bathroom light. It didn’t look bad, it was just so different. I am not used to seeing myself look different. It was not red exactly, just in the light, it seemed lighter and glossier , with a touch of red, actually it seemed a bit darker, more maroon . And my hair feels so thick and soft. I am excited to see how the color develops overnight. I read that when you henna your hair it can go a bit gingery at first and it takes a day or two for the true color to develop. I am anticipating that the color might be a bit here and there, what I see tonight won’t be it tomorrow and what I see tomorrow probably won’t be it either. But it seems like the result may be more intense than I was expecting. I was fully expecting something very subtle , only a bit of a red sheen when the light hits. It’s quite exciting to think I may actually end up with red hair. 

My bath on the other hand? I hope that doesn’t develop any color overnight. 

(And, come to think of it, I hope my already orange hands don’t get any more orange. )

Monday 4th May, Around 12pm

I woke up today and my hair definitely didn’t feel clean. Indeed, the towel I had covered my pillowcase with was green all over. Some had gotten on my bedsheets too. It was clear the henna had not fully washed out. As for my bath? There was a definite residue there too. So I showered and washed my hair with shampoo, twice. By this point my hair was feeling stripped and my scalp a little irritated, and who knows what all this washing will do to my nopoo regime. My bedsheets and towels are in the wash. The tub will need scrubbing, though I’ll bleach it and leave that for a bit first.

My hair looks like some parts took the dye better than others- some bits are lighter and others remain very dark. There is a slightly orange sheen to the lighter parts but that should hopefully go away after a couple of days. I am still not convinced all the henna is out and I am hoping I won’t put fresh bedding out, only to turn that green too, but I think there is that possibility.

My hands are still orange.

I feel rather over it all, to be honest. This has been very messy and time consuming. It’s a whole lot of effort. The henna I had left over I wrapped up and stuck in the freezer. If it makes my freezer stink like Lush, it’s out, but if it doesn’t..I am not sure if I should keep it and use it. I am not sure I want to do this again. It seems even with my dark hair that achieving firey red would surely be possible, if I took the time to source some good quality pure henna, but I am not sure it’s worth all this.

Monday 4th May, Around 7pm

The stuff came out the washing machine with light stains remaining :( My bath however came very clean with hardly any elbow grease required. My hair dried much softer and less stripped than I expected , but the reside definitely feels gone. My hair feels thick and healthy and the color is developing beautifully – it’s subtle but when my hair hits the light you can definitely tell I’ve done something. I am pleased with the result. Oh, and I realised that lush provided gloves with the henna so that was extremely stupid of me. I am keen to see how the color develops over the next few days. And pleased to put all the mess behind me (staining notwithstanding) I can’t stop looking at my hair, I am quite fascinated by it. It’s different and it’s never been different before…

Tuesday 5th May, Around 10pm

The color has deepened, the gingery-ness gone and its a subtle change that is only noticeable when the light hits my hair. It is not that intense, fiery red of my dreams but it is nice and, I think, appropriate for now. Suddenly dying my hair bright red would definitely be a little drastic and also much riskier. There was still some light staining on my pillow, which I had thankfully covered with an old t shirt I don’t particulary care for, so I guess it must still not be out? I don’t see how. My hair feels lovely (so soft!) and my scalp definitely not irritated. My orange hands are fading, slowly. (Maybe I am just getting used to them.) I remain pleased with the results, but not a big fan of the process. I posted some pictures of the result at the top of the post! Ignore the silly poses and focus on my shiny, squint a little and you can see the red hair. :) For reference of my usual color, its basically just the same chocolate brown, but there are some photos under the posts of this category too.

The One with Another List

A couple of years ago I posted about some of the things I was trying out to live a more sustainable, greener lifestyle. I cannot believe that post is so old now! It feels very recent that I started to consider what choices I was making and where I could improve things, whilst working to accept the ways in which I was not able to or would not change.

So, since I have the old post open I will go over the next steps I wrote then and see how I am doing.

Then: I switched to renewable energy. My next step was to put standby loads on remotes.

Now: I am actually no longer on a fully renewable plan as it became too expensive / far more expensive than a standard plan, which is a shame, and I forgot about my goal to be better on turning standby loads off. Oops.

Then: Switched soap and started moving to greener cleaning products. My next step was to use more reusable cleaning tools, such as microfibre clothes.

Now: I since discovered that washing microfibre cloths in the washing machine releases microplastics into waterways and therefore is not very good for the environment at all. This was a bit disheartening as I had started using a microfibre, washable sponge for my dishes and incorporate microfibre cloths into my daily light cleaning, such as dusting surfaces. So I stopped using those. And switched to biodegradable cellulose sponges for dishwashing, combined with a dish brush for scrubbing. I also use plain cotton towels, the cheap face clothes you can buy, for some of my light cleaning and again, cellulose sponges. I could definitely be better still but I admit I don’t really like putting the dirty cloths into the washing machine, I worry about the chemicals of them lingering in the machine. Although I do use the more eco friendly brands now I still don’t want that kind of stuff on my skin. I am thinking I could just hand wash them, but that feels like a lot of effort? 

Then: Switched to cloth menstrual pads and liners, reusable face cotton rounds, cardboard ear buds. Next step was none, though I did mention sewing my own liners.

Now: I actually have been experimenting with sewing my own liners! I am not very good yet but I will get there. (Hopefully.) For bonus sustainability points I have also been ripping up old pajamas for the cotton flannel to make said liners, and also to make more face cotton rounds. As well as this, I made myself a wash bag, basically a cotton bag with a waterproof lining and a zip, which I can use for my dirty washing when travelling instead of a plastic bag. I already use reusable wash bags for my cloth pads but I wanted to learn how to make my own so I could customize the sizes for other uses. Right now I have a giant one for long trips, but I haven’t yet made the smaller one for short trips, so I just use the giant one for all trips. It’s not ideal as they are a bit bulkier than a plastic bag. But it works nicely and can just be chucked in the machine with the washing. It’s actually more convenient than trying to find a plastic bag to use, since there aren’t many in the house since I mostly reuse the same ones or use other reusable bags.

This leads nicely to…

Then: I was working hard to carry and use reusable bags for shopping. My next step was to become even better at this, and to help myself by keeping a stash in my car.

Now: I do keep a stash in my car! Though I am still not good about replenishing said stash once I’ve used them up/used them and taken them into the house. I find it difficult to use them when travelling too, as I don’t tend to carry one around with me. I probably should start sticking one in my bag before every trip, just in case. Also: see above as I have also been thinking about the other ways I use plastic grocery bags and starting to move away from them too.

Then: I started using a bamboo toothbrush. My next step was to perhaps experiment with alternative toothpaste.

Now: I still use a bamboo toothbrush – I like it! I have realised it is unlikely that I will replace my tooth paste though- I take pride in the good condition of my teeth and worry about that being affected. I have been thinking about floss lately though; I do need to find a greener solution to that.

Then: I was becoming better at taking a reusable cup to Starbucks and wanted to buy some steel straws.

Now: I bought steel straws! Though with everywhere now using paper straws it doesn’t feel so important anymore, which is nice as I found it difficult to carry them around. I admit to struggling to always use a reusable cup too. I tend to have Starbucks when I am on the go – buying a drink before taking a train for a overnight trip for instance. And it’s in these instances that a reusable cup just doesn’t feel feasible – I don’t want to be carrying around a bulky and dirty used cup when I am already loaded up with my luggage. A reusable cup also requires planning, you have to know that on that day you will be going to buy a drink at a coffee shop. Sometimes I am more impulsive? I just find it inconvenient really, which makes me feel bad, as I know how bad coffee cups are for the environment. I haven’t really found the answer here to be honest. 

Then: I had switched to a steel water bottle and wanted to buy a smaller one

Now: I have bought a smaller one and I use both sizes regularly, depending on what I am up to and well, how much water I need. I really love how steel water bottles keep my water cold. I do find them a bit noisy though, but that’s a very minor complaint. 

Then: I changed my lightbulbs to LED bulbs and there were no further steps noted.

Then: I was trying to be good about recycling and I wanted to make the effort to recycle glass and my old clothing.

Now: I have not made much effort in glass recycling. I have also discovered that my local council won’t take shredded paper. So let’s note some of the things my local council won’t accept- shredded paper, plastic type 5, plastic type 1, hard plastics, black plastics, any and all glass, UHT cartons… It’s just pathetic, really. These limitations can be super frustrating. On the plus side! I did gather up some old clothes and I took them to H&M for recycling and earned a shiny £5 voucher in return. (I am not sure that H&M are that trustworthy, but at least I tried.) I also segregated some old clothes, mostly old pajamas, for tearing up and reusing the material for liners, face cotton , wash bags, any sewing project really. Then, I took some items to charity. And finally, I have been experimenting with selling some stuff on Depop.

Depop has definitely been a game changer for me. Sadly not in selling; it is still super difficult to sell old clothes. However with Depop at least there are no listing fees like eBay so you don’t lose anything trying (the post also stays live until you remove it compared to eBay where it expires and then you have to pay again to relist.) ( Note it’s been a while since I sold on eBay so this is just from my memory and I could be wrong, but that is what I remember.) I have been loving buying from Depop though. There are some really good items on there. And so finally, I am moving away from fast fashion towards the second hand market. Here in the UK the main place to buy second hand items are charity shops, which requires dedicating some time to go out and shop. I rarely go out shopping and usually choose to online shop, in the evenings after work usually, which makes fast fashion so much more appealing and is why I never really got into second hand shopping. But Depop allows for the convenience and ease of buying fast fashion but with second hand items, at least that is how I feel. And again, I love eBay, but the interface of Depop is much nicer for clothes. I have found some amazing items on there. The main thing that annoys me is that not all sellers list the materials of the clothes they sell and they may not response quickly to enquiries about that, or at all, so I have missed out on items because of that. (And you then rely on the seller being honest, which is a thing too.) Also items tend not to be returnable so you better hope it fits. This makes buying certain items, like pants and skirts , a bit of a gamble. But still, it makes second hand shopping much easier, much more convenient and thus much more fun. I am enjoying it greatly and have found myself turning to it when I need something instead of going to my usual online shops and buying new items.

Some other things…

Now: I have switched to a safety razor! 

These always terrified me, I had visions of innocently cutting open an artery in the shower, but they aren’t actually that bad at all. I haven’t cut myself even once. I started with this (stunning) MÜHLE rose gold one with a closed comb and I didn’t like it. A closed comb came up in my research as the best for beginners as the blade isn’t as exposed, but I found that to be the main downside – it got clogged up really easily. Thankfully I could just switch the head to an open comb and that changed everything for me. Benefits: I rarely have to change the blade, it’s super easy to clean, it never gets clogged up mid shave like my old disposables did (or the closed comb), it is sharp and stays sharp even after multiple uses and I get less ingrown hairs with it. It’s an absolute dream, basically, and I feel stupid for not buying one sooner. The only snag is I have no idea how I am eventually going to dispose of the used blades. I am currently just….keeping them. I don’t know what else to do. They are too sharp to go into the trash and since I can’t recycle glass, I can’t use the put them in a glass jar trick as I saw recommended when I researched. It’s a puzzle…but for another day. The blades are small and thin enough and I change them infrequently enough that it’s not going to be a problem for a while, thankfully. 

Now: I tried using beeswax wraps for my daily sandwiches.

I am not convinced I like them though. I normally use plastic sandwich bags. I find Tupperware bulky and a faff to clean, so I would use a bag a few times and then stick it in the recycling. I know that is not sustainable though. So I looked at my options- paper bag would still be pretty wasteful. There are silicon food storage bags, but apparently silicon is horrible for the environment and eventually the bag would need throwing out/replacing most likely so I figured that’s a no go, then there was beeswax wraps. This seemed to offer the lightweightness and laziness I wanted – wrap it up, chuck it in my bag, rinse it off after a few uses. And yes, that was all good. But I found the wrap added a sort of dry texture, perhaps a film?, to my sandwiches. I could like, taste the wrap. I also found that the sticky wraps stuck to all the lint in my bag and would pick up hair and dust like crazy too, so it did not really feel like it was protecting my food from outside influences, but rather attracting them to it. I have considered making a cotton pouch to put the beeswax wrapped sandwich in, but that feels like a lot. So I don’t really have a solution here either. I am going to keep experimenting though.

These may be the only things I have done since that last post. I am perhaps moving at a snails pace here , and in some ways , not doing so good with this whole goal of mine. Some changes are easier than others, sometimes they feel better, such as the safety razor and cloth pads which have both been incredible, and sometimes it just feels like a total pain, such as the reusable cup and recycling.  It’s also disheartening when you thinking you are making the better choice but then you find out it’s actually not that great, such as realising that microfibre clothes release microplastics into the environment. And there is always the question- are the eco friendly products I have switched to just clever marketing?  It feels like everything has a “down side” and/or a corporate intent, especially with how ‘trendy’ it is these days to be ‘sustainable’. I mean, who knows if H&M are really recycling the clothes I give them, that the cleaning products I use are actually better etc. Also, does it even matter that I do these things, when I also do “bad” things, like driving?  And it can feel demotivating and a little depressing, that. What are the right choices? Is there such a thing? Does any of it make a difference at all or is it all counteracted by my “bad” choices or the “bad” choices of other people or the fact that this sort of sustainability/green lifestyle stuff is incredibly priveledged, really?

Nonetheless,   I will keep going as always and see where this journey takes me. It remains an interest of mine and something I want to keep learning about anyway. 

A List

I thought this would be a good post to follow up the last no poo update! So: Ways in which I am attempting to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle, in no particular order-

Switched to renewable energy
When I came to renew my energy plan I realised that switching to my suppliers green/fully renewable electricity plan was similar in price to mixed fuel so I went for it. Really pleased to see my fuel breakdown on my bills now.

Next step: put standby loads onto remotes so I don’t leave anything on standby that doesn’t need it.

Switched soap and moving to greener cleaning products
Switched my liquid hand soap from the supermarket brand to soaps from the The Little Soap Company and Handmade Naturals. They are way better on my hands, smell gorgeous and are, well, more expensive, but I get to support small UK businesses. I have also been looking at using more eco cleaning products, and am currently switching to products by Ecover and Method. I think both of these are based in Europe so it’s not as good as supporting a smaller UK business would be, but both are affordable and I can pick them up in my local supermarkets which makes a huge difference. I love my liquid soaps above, but it’s a pain that when I run out I need to order them online and wait for them to come – I want to be able to nip to my local shops (again local, not have to go to the city center or anything either!) so I’m compromising a little with the cleaning products and looking at what I can get in my supermarkets, rather than being fussy about using only UK brands. At least the products themselves are much better for the environment. On saying that, I do need to do more research about homemade cleaners, such as white vinegar. Though I can’t get white vinegar in my local shop actually :/

Next step: use more reusable cleaning tools, such as microfibre clothes. I probably use way too many paper towels.

Switched to reusable pads, decomposable pads
I am still happily using cloth pads and liners. The first pads I bought are only now beginning to fail on me, over 5 years (I think) after buying them. It’s pretty cool. (And well the cost of these is really high up front despite long term savings – so it’s good they last!) I was struggling with using cloth pads when traveling though – whether for the day for a client visit, or going on holiday. Thankfully my mom told me about a brand that produces fully decomposable, cotton only pads. (Not sponsored- but I love the Organyc brand) I like to use those when I need to be on the road or when travelling abroad as a happy middle ground between cloth pads/liners and the normal ones.

Next step: learn how to make my own liners. (Not ambitious enough to try pads yet!) The plan is to turn old cotton clothes into new liners, or something like that.

Switched to reusable face cotton, cardboard ear buds
As well as cloth pads I have been using reusable cotton rounds to apply my face toner, which I sew up myself (as it’s very easy to do, and they don’t exactly need to be pretty!). I also use a lot of ear buds for my eye makeup, or to apply spot treatments, and I was totally lost as to how to what the reusable alternative to those would be. So I was pretty happy to discover ear buds with cardboard stems. Again, it’s a happy middle ground. Still producing waste, but at least its better waste. Less plastic.

Next steps: none.

Carrying and using reusable bag(s)
I try to always take a reusable bag with me to the shops. I like the envirosax bags, which are available on Amazon. They are huge, strong, and lightweight and, if you can be bothered with it, you can fold them up into a tiny parcel. It’s amazing that something so flimsy feeling and looking can actually be so strong. Oh, and they come in beautiful patterns, with lots of styles and colours to choose from. Cath Kidstons shoppers are also wonderful – but almost too cute to use. (Again not sponsored, just in love.)

Next step: stop forgetting the reusable bag at home. Must start keeping a stash in my car.

Using a Bamboo toothbrush
My most recent experiment – I bought and started to use a Bamboo tooth brush. It’s honestly no different, though I’m keen to see if it lasts as long as the plastic ones. Once I’m done with my toothbrush, many months after its recommended to change them admittedly, I tend to hang on to them to use for cleaning. I would like it if the bamboo toothbrush had the same life cycle, and if in the end would it make as good a cleaner? It was very expensive. :/

Next step: alternative toothpaste maybe…?

Taking a reusable cup to Starbucks
The 25p off is a good incentive. I admit I still use the plastic straws they provide – must remember to buy steel ones! On the subject of steel….

Next step: buy steel straws.

Switched to a Steel Water Bottle
I tried to use reusable plastic bottles but no matter how much I cleaned them I always found they gave my water a funny smell and taste. Mildew built up really easy in them. So now I’m trying a steel bottle. It’s bigger and heavier, clumsier and louder to use too, than I’d prefer, but so far none of the problems keeping it clean and fresh like with the plastic ones. And it keeps my water cool for a long time which, as a fan of cold water, I really appreciate.

Next step: buy a different steel bottle, with a smaller design.

Changed my lightbulbs to LED types
More efficient (should save me money!) and equally bright. Totally easy to do (or for my dad to do for me ;) )

Next steps: none.

As a service provided by my council this one is free, easy and takes no extra effort on my part so I’m not sure if it counts. But I recycle the majority of my paper, cardboard and plastic waste. (My council doesn’t take glass though :( ) I am currently looking into clothes recycling too. I have a lot of old clothes, which not all are in good enough shape for charity. The next thing to do would be to reuse the materials, to make cotton facial pads or liners for instance, but not all the materials are right for reuse. So I need to find a way to…do something with them that’s not throwing them in the trash. I do believe H&M have a scheme, and maybe M&S. Just got to find the courage to do it!

Next steps: make the effort to gather my glass recycling, take clothes into town for recycling.

I’ve found it all easy so far, but expensive (even if, like the pads, there are savings to be made in the long run.)(On saying that, when it comes to LED bulbs and renewable electricity – these have no become on par with older technologies, so no more expensive to do. These are the exceptions.) (I also feel there is some irony that I need to get a lot of the stuff like steel water bottle and bamboo toothbrushes from amazon. That’s an ok use of the word ironic isn’t it? If not, hope you see how it’s quite funny.) (It can also be a pain that all of this stuff needs ordering from amazon or other websites – see soap example above. I forgot to put an order through for my decomposable liners before my recent holiday and of course I couldn’t get them in the shops, not even in the city center, so I just had to buy ordinary ones to take on holiday. You can’t get hold of this stuff last minute/without planning first!)

I’m only doing little things here and there, but I hope I’m making a difference, no matter how small. I am still haunted by the last episode of Blue Planet 2 (I pretty much cried through that episode). It’s easy to feel overwhelmed – what can I do? Will it make any difference at this point? But I do care, and so I will do what I can and keep experimenting to find new ways to make a little difference. At least it’s something.

A ‘no-poo’ update

Hair that has not been washed with shampoo in seven years. Sorry for poor lighting; forgot to take last no-poo pictures in daylight :( I modelled this photo after the four year update picture, as I am amused at the fact that I am wearing yet another stripey cotton knit. Some things don’t change.

I bought a bottle of shampoo today.

This is kind of a big deal actually, as I have been ‘no-poo’ for SEVEN years now. Honestly, I was a bit shocked when I saw the dates myself. SEVEN. YEARS. For seven years I have been washing my hair using just water, and have trialled all kinds of teas and other slightly odd ‘natural’ hair masks as treatments/other forms of cleaning (I still don’t like using the term ‘natural beauty’ as I’ve mentioned before.) However for the past year, I’ve become increasingly unhappy with it. A year ago I said I would not start using shampoo again and my stubborn self really wants to keep clinging to that, to try and force this thing to work.

But. My hair doesn’t feel as clean as I want it to. It doesn’t look as clean as I want it to. It looks dull. I don’t like going to work with it looking like this. When no-poo works it’s great, but I feel you need a lot better water quality (read: soft water) than I have, and although I have a water filter, I just don’t think it does enough and for money and living-in-a-rental reasons I feel reluctant to buy a new one of those (I have been changing the filter medium every few months as required, so that’s not the problem I don’t think.) I also think its water pressure? I have found a higher water pressure helps with no poo, but my shower isn’t so strong and obviously I can’t change that. I could try the usual teas and hair masks but I want something more convenient. And this is weird, but I miss the smell of shampoo. Whenever my sister comes over the bathroom smells so nice after she has showered. I miss those delicious chemical scents. D: I feel like over the past few years that sulfate free shampoos have become much more mainstream and easier to get hold of than they were back when I first went no-poo – and that there’s a lot more of them. I bought one of those and am planning to use it. I’m super nervous about it! (I can’t believe I’m so nervous about something like washing my hair. but – seven years!) I hope it doesn’t irritate my eczema. No-poo has been amazing for my eczema – it sadly never cured it, but it did make it a lot more manageable. It also made my hair curlier, and at one point it was thicker and more voluminous too, although sadly that did pass (the volume, but I still have some waves that I like and I am worried will disappear when I start up shampoo again. T_T) (I would not mind the texture, look or feel of my hair right now, if not for the extra grease and dullness.)

I don’t regret going no-poo, and I’m glad for how it introduced me to ‘natural’ beauty products and then to more sustainable life style choices in general. I like how convenient it was and how cheap and easy. I like that it made me think about what I use and whether it’s all actually necessary, or if it’s actually just marketing/society/pressure to conform. But I want to try something new now. I just hope that using shampoo doesn’t go completely wrong, as trying to transition back to no poo will be awful, basically, especially when working.

So that’s another thing I’m giving up. 2017 and 2018 are the year where I abandon things, it seems. I feel like I’m giving up so much lately, that lately so much is just not working or has just changed for me. I’ve changed? My sister gave me a “Let the quarter life crisis begin!” card for my 25th birthday last year. Maybe there’s a hint of truth in it? As I shed the student life and enter the professional world, my world has become a little topsy turvy. I’m trying to adjust. And maybe I’m taking it out on my hobbies and my old routines – which, I suppose, is actually kind of natural. Maybe. :/


(Subtitle – A very long essay on extreme acne treatments.)

I don’t have very good skin. I’ve discussed it before on the blog– I have eczema, allergies and sensitive skin. It’s been like this my whole life. When I reached my late teens, my body decided all this wasn’t enough – I started to suffer from acne. It got worse in university, I suppose as my hormones got worse, my stress increased, and my diet worsened. I felt really self-conscious going to interviews for jobs looking like a spotty teenager, and I feel even more self-conscious going to work with it. My skin was flushed, with red marks and red, inflamed, lumps (spots sitting under the skin) and little scabs from where ok, I picked, and the subsequent scars. I had clogged pores and blackheads. My skin felt lumpy and uneven.

Armed with a salary, I decided I wanted to do something about my skin. I wanted my acne gone. It would be an investment in my professional image, I told myself.

Unfortunately after visiting a skin clinic for a consultation I was told that they could only treat me after a doctor had officially diagnosed me with acne. I really didn’t want to go to a doctor for this, after terrible experiences with going to them for my eczema. It was for that reason I had gone straight to a privately run skin business as my first port of call. But I swallowed my fear and went to the GP to get my diagnosis. The doctor was nice enough, she agreed it was acne, prescribed me something, and I went home knowing I wasn’t going to use it. I do not trust doctors with my skin and nothing will change that. I went back to the skin clinic and ended up dropping a large sum of money on eight sessions of laser treatment. I had never spent so much money on something so…so…intangible in my life. And it was only on the chance it could work. Honestly, I spent nearly half a grand on hope.

But that was one of the reasons I decided I really liked the clinic; the esthetician was honest with me that it could improve things to any degree or not at all. That and their little forms detailing exactly what side effects could be experienced, advice on how to handle your skin when undergoing treatment etc. I felt that I had been briefed so well on this treatment and given all the right expectations for it. So I went for it.

Laser treatment started out painful and my skin never really got used to it, although I got used to enduring the pain. I would lie there on the world’s comfiest bed, the esthetician would clean my face, put on the special gel, cover my eyes, then place the laser around my face. It was like a sharp burst of stabbing pain, followed by another, and another. It hurt like hell. Especially on the sensitive skin around the nose and mouth. My eyes would water. I cried once. It was not a nice treatment. It was sharp and painful, afterwards my skin felt sensitive. I’d be smothered in sunscreen and sent on my way, and my skin would be bright red from the laser and slimy from the amount of sunscreen needed to protect it. (Bet I looked really sexy on the bus ride home.) I paid a further £100+ for some products recommended to use alongside the laser – a super strong sunscreen, a gentle every day exfoliant, a tougher weekly exfoliant and a clay based mask. My skin became dry, irritated. I stopped the tough exfoliant and started to moisturise more. Had more treatments. My skin…

Was clearing up.

I had a lot of painful spots that sat under the skin, red and inflamed. I had clogged pores. I had blemishes and blackheads. Scabs and scars.

I was left with flushed skin and blemishes. My skin felt smoother, looked less angry and red, and was less clogged up.

It was kind of amazing that it had done something, but still my heart sunk a little that it hadn’t been a miracle. It still wasn’t completely gone. My blackheads remained. I still had blemishes and scars. Was still too red. Even though I knew better than to have expectations for a miracle, I still wanted it so badly. You have no idea how much I long for beautiful, healthy skin. I want my face to have that translucent glow that the Korean celebrities have.

Following the laser, I took a little break, still using the products I’d been given, and then I started on a course of chemical peels.

This was a war and I was going all out. I’d already dropped over half a grand to go from spotty to blemish-y, I was willing to keep shelling out to see the next transformation. Please let there be another transformation, I thought.

I lay on the same bed, had my face cleaned, was handed a fan, then had a substance that smelled and felt exactly like nail polish remover dragged over my face. I didn’t understand why I needed the fan – the esthetician said it would get hot. How could that be?

I soon got it. The stuff sinks in and I could feel my face growing hot, then it began to get hotter, then it began to burn. The laser was a sharp, severe pain concentrated in a small area. This was an intense all over sensation of heat. It felt like my entire face was on fire. I fanned away at myself and waited for it to be over. After the first peel I had to go to work the next day and it was not pretty- my skin was peeling off in great big chunks, it was completely raw. What have I done?! I freaked out and went to boots and spent a stupid amount on an extra hydrating moisturiser, smothered myself in if, and after a few days, my skin emerged, smooth and trying to glow. Still blemishes, still scars, still so dry.

I had two more peels. One two weeks after the first and the last a month after that. My skin never peeled as intensely as the first time and I’m not sure why or if I should be disappointed by that.

During this time I started using retinol and it scares me a bit but it is working on that redness, the blemishes and the scars.

Whilst drying my skin out.

Even more. It was getting so dry. I was trying to moisturise but everything I used never seemed to be hydrating enough, whilst at the same time clogging my pores back up. (The money I spent on that supposedly super hydrating moisturiser from boots was a complete waste, I could have stuck with the creams I already had and been in the same position. They were all useless.)

Another break.

Then I went back for a facial. This was a startling experience. The same room, same bed, but candles and low lighting, and no pain. Afterwards my skin felt soft and soothed. My esthetician recommended me a moisturiser to buy to counteract the retinol without clogging my pores and I did – another stupid amount of money – and finally my skin felt calm.

It’s not red. It’s not spotty. It’s soft and not as dry. But I’ve got a couple of clogged pores (not as bad as before though, this moisturiser is quite good), a scattering of blemishes remain, and those scars, those stupid scars are still there. It’s better, but not completely gone and I’m almost a grand poorer and I want more.

What do I do next, I wonder? More laser? More peels? More facials? I think I want more facials, but I feel reluctant to ever go through laser or a chemical peel again.

I am thinking of focusing on skincare. Facials every few months paired with a strong skincare routine. Actually I’ve had a rigid morning and evening skincare routine for years now – but I still don’t think I’ve found what really works for me. I have a few products I love and a whole bunch sitting in my drawers, gathering dust because I can’t return them and don’t want to use them.

I first tried Korean and Japanese products, then I played around with more western products, then I tried more organic and less synthesised products. After it all I think my skin looked the best when I used Korean skincare, and and I enjoyed that the most. So I’m going back to that now. Well, I never really left it…but I was drifting away. I thought for a time that I was using too many products, because Korean skincare routines tend to involve many steps, which was causing my bad skin and so I tried to simplify. But that didn’t work. I tried to go even simpler, with products that were less synthesised the so called “natural beauty” but that really didn’t work. So I’m going back to the Korean layering approach. So more serums, more essences, more masks and treatments. I’m going to smother my skin with care and hope it responds.

As for other things? I’ve tried diet and drinking water…drinking green tea… and that does nothing. Stopping eating dairy has done me some good, except I still eat chocolate. I go a few months with no chocolate, then can’t handle it anymore and start eating it again, then go without and rinse, repeat. I would like to get a handle of that to see if full and proper no dairy for the longterm will really help. I do get flare ups around the time of month, which was an interesting discovery (I was so spotty before I couldn’t notice when it got worse cos it was always so bad. Now it’s milder it’s easier to tell when things are getting bad) but that one I can’t do much about that. (I tried the pill at one point, and I’m never doing that again. It didn’t do anything for my skin and it just made me feel angry and depressed 24/7. No thanks).

I will win this battle, somehow. And I fear I’ve stopped caring about the price. I really hope that in the long term things are going to work out for me and my skin, and I’m not just ultimately making it worse.

P.S Changed the no poo category to beauty and lifestyle! :o