One of the most fun things I did while I was in the US was to make my own avocado face mask. It was SUPER moisturizing and all you need are these things:
Half an avocado (per face).
One sprig of fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
A hand blender, smoothie maker, full-size blender or food processor (any of these will work).
Open your avocado by cutting around it in a circle from top to bottom then from bottom to top. Twist the avocado, and pull it apart. You should now have two neat halves of avocado (no drama).
Scoop out the insides from half the avocado (ignore that big seed in the middle). Put it in a bowl, if you’re using a hand blender, or put it straight into the jug/container for your blender/smoothie maker/food processor.
Make sure that rosemary is finely chopped. You don’t need much of the stem. When it’s all chopped up, there should be about a big teaspoon’s worth. If not, you may need to chop up another sprig. I use scissors to chop herbs because they don’t seem to cut as easily with knives. Add it to the blender.
Blend the ingredients until they have formed a smooth, creamy paste. If your avocado was unripe, it won’t turn creamy, in which case, add about a tablespoon of coconut milk and blend it again. Luckily, if you put it on your face before you realize (like I did… the hazards of inventing recipes I guess) you always have another half an avocado to work with. 😉
Now it’s ready, apply to your face and leave for 10-15 minutes. I found cotton wool helped remove it. As well as eliminating dry areas, I also found this face mask really helped my skin with redness. This mask gets very messy, though, so make sure you’re not wearing anything that might stain with avocado, and I applied it with my fingers, and then I couldn’t take any pictures because the avocado got all over my nails so I couldn’t unlock my phone!!
We all know that vitamins and minerals are the key to being fit, healthy and beautiful (yep, there’s a bunch of other factors, nope, I’m not going into them). What better way to get vitamins and minerals than to blend them into an easy-to-drink smoothie? I’ve been collecting photos of my smoothies for this article for about 6 months (I never knew it was so hard to get a remotely interesting picture of a smoothie). I’ve been drinking one smoothie a day (apart from during pregnancy) since I bought my Kenwood 2Go Smoothie Maker about half a year ago (it’s AMAZING and the plastic cup goes in the dishwasher. Even when I left it a few days it was really easy to clean). This is literally the best £12.99 I ever spent on a gadget! Most days I just have blueberry and banana (see recipe 4, use water instead of coconut milk) or strawberry and banana (see recipe 1, omit lime), but in addition to those, here’s my favourite recipes that are a little bit more exciting for days when I’ve got lots of fruit in the house:
Strawberry, banana and lime: Ingredients: 1 banana, about 100g of strawberries (or by volume, slightly more strawberry than banana) and 1tsp of lime. I fill my pod blender with the fruit and lime juice, then take it to the tap and pour water in up to the top of the highest piece of fruit. It’s not an exact science and the consistency varies. Blend for about 40 seconds.
Banana, blueberry and cantaloupe:
Ingredients: 1 banana, about 80g of blueberries (their flavor is stronger than the strawberries). I put the fruit in, then I top up with water to the top of the highest piece of fruit. Usually this comes out like a light smoothie. Blend for about 60 seconds as the blueberries need lots of blending so you’re not just drinking huge pieces of blueberry skin. Drink it fast or it separates!
Blueberry, banana and coconut milk:
Ingredients: 1 banana, about 80-90g of blueberries, pour coconut milk into the container to the top of the highest piece of fruit. For a thinner smoothie, use 50% water and 50% coconut milk instead. Blend about 60 seconds. If you don’t use enough liquid this makes a very tasty yoghurt!!
Carrot and orange:
Ingredients: 1 carrot, chopped finely. About 200-300ml of orange juice (depending on size of carrot). You can add ginger to this to make a really perky drink, but ever since I was pregnant I’ve been unable to stand the smell, sight or taste of ginger!
Mango, papaya and orange:
Ingredients: 1 mango, chopped into cubes, 1 papaya, chopped into cubes. Add orange juice to the top of the highest piece of fruit. Blend for about 60 seconds. Optional: For a thicker smoothie with less mango/papaya flavour, add a banana.
Raspberry, cantaloupe and banana:
Ingredients: Raspberries, cantaloupe (melon) and banana. Blend for 30-40 seconds. The only thing I don’t like about this one is the ridiculous amount of raspberry seeds. But it tastes sooooo gooood!!
Banana, black grape and almond milk:
Ingredients: 1 banana, a generous handful (maybe 2 hands if you don’t have freakishly large man hands like me) of black grapes (take them off the vine thingy and if they’re not seedless, you’ll have to de-seed them too), put in blender and top up with almond milk (coconut milk also does a nice job). 60 seconds usually does it but expect to chew some grape skins anyway.
If you want or need added protein and minerals from any of these smoothies, why not make it crunchy and drop a table spoon of chia seeds or poppy seeds into your smoothie (poppy seeds are MUCH cheaper to buy, and they have similar nutritional content to chia seeds). Other nuts blend but the result is a crunchy yoghurt-type foodstuff. A yoothie??
What are your favourite smoothie recipes? Let me know in the comments!
I got my first pair of straighteners (called flatirons in the US) back in 2003. I was 16, and they’d been out for about a year. I had the Babyliss 4×4 straighteners, that came with 4 different interchangable metal plates – ceramic coating was a couple of years away – and the options were: standard crimpers, wide crimpers, “loose wave” (which was utterly useless) and the flat plate to make hair straight.
The straight plate took about 5-10 minutes to heat up. The temperature it reached was probably fairly low. Because the plates were made of aluminium metal, they did not glide through the hair. You had to use them like crimpers, where you spray the hair with loads of hairspray, then close the plates around a piece of hair, held it still for a count of 10-20 (depending how long you wanted it to last vs how much time you could spend on this), then opened it and moved down, closed the plates around the next part of the piece of hair, held it still again for a count of 10-20, then did it again, all the way down each piece of hair. Then you could do the next section. It would generally take about an hour to do a full straighten and even then it didn’t make the hair sit properly flat unless you used excessive amounts of hairspray, which defeated the point.
A straighten done like this would basically have the same effect as when you blow-dried your hair straight, where the heat of the hairdryer would fix the hair straight when combined with the pull of the round brush. It would take longer, because you had to dry your hair first, and generally was a bit of a waste of time.
Fast forward two years, when in 2005 the ceramic straighteners exploded onto the UK mass consumer market. GHDs had been out for around a year but nobody could really afford them. Suddenly, glossy, long-lasting, straight hair could be anyone’s. But there was a drawback. They got too hot. There was a problem in 2006 because particular high-end branded straighteners were causing house fires and property damage, because people were leaving them plugged in and they didn’t have an upper limit on how hot they would get. The best case scenario was that they would melt and you’d need to buy a new set. The worst case scenario was that they’d cause a house fire. Whilst researching this article I discovered this is still happening.
To try and improve safety, manufacturers of most straighteners fitted thermostats and many also gave consumers the option to set the temperature – my 2007 model wet 2 straight straighteners had a range of 160 to 230 degrees celsius and would stay there. The problem was, the lower temperatures produced a less lasting straighten, while the higher temperatures, as I’m sure everybody knows now, damaged the hair.
Enter heat protection spray. Nobody really knows how it works (I spent serious time on Google recently trying to find out), although manufacturing blurb likes to point to “proteins” “keratin” “amino acids” and other ingredients as the thing that prevents hair damage. I couldn’t find any research that showed how much these sprays actually protect the hair (as opposed to a placebo effect) and beauty bloggers seem to only know what they’ve been told by the companies that make them, which is the same as what the manufacturers say on their adverts. It’s all a bit circular, like so many things in beautyworld. The thing that’s most worrying, though, is that people think they can use the same high temperatures on their hair and not damage it. It still weakens the hair to straighten it, no matter what you do. If your hair is stronger to start with, you can probably get away with doing it every day and only suffering slightly more wear and tear than if you didn’t straighten. For you, it’s probably a pretty good payoff. If, however, you have the sort of hair that I have (frizzy, stands on end when cut short, prone to breakage under light stress, prone to dryness), you have a choice to make: You can either bleach your hair white or straighten it regularly, but not both. I chose to have white hair, that I sometimes tone silver or platinum. Because of this, and because my hair has grown past shoulder length, I cannot straighten my hair every day. If you have thicker hair to start with, you may get away with straightening regularly, I’m not sure. I blow dry my hair when I wash it, and wash it two to three times per week (I know I should only wash it once a week, but I still struggle with this). I find that my natural shape and frizz of hair actually doesn’t look too bad when it’s very blonde, it looks fluffy and softening rather than frizzy and harsh, which is what it looks like when I have my natural very dark hair.
All through school I used to get bullied for the unruly hair that I was born with. Growing up in a 100% white British area, having 1/4 Afro-Caribbean genes makes big hair something the other kids would seize on and be very nasty about. They weren’t exposed to other cultures enough to understand that hair was just like that for some people. They thought I didn’t brush it, or that I had “cheap shampoo” because the shampoo and conditioner adverts told them that good shampoo = sleek straight glossy locks. When I had dark hair, even last year, I was still getting told by people that I need to use X conditioner to fix my hair (when I’m blonde, they blame it on the bleach). When you get treated like this by enough people, you start to believe them, especially when there’s no-one else around with hair like yours (I’ve never knowingly met the man responsible for my frizzy genes, and as a child, I didn’t really remember what people’s hair looked like when we lived until I was 5 in the Jamaican community in South East London). When ceramic straighteners came out they were top of my Christmas list and I would use them daily (or put my hair in a bun), and have done for years until I discovered chemical relaxants aka chemical straightenings. I went for those for a while but didn’t like how much more frizzy my hair was when they wore off, or how much more breakage there was, so I stopped everything when I grew my hair for my wedding. As a result, I was very worried about bleaching my hair because of not being able to straighten it, but I have had icy white hair, generally toned silver, for about 8 months now, and I’ve never really looked in the mirror and said to myself, my hair needs straightening. So through bleaching my hair, I’ve learned to accept it’s natural frizzlike tendencies, which is great.
I did straighten my hair last week, for a Youtube video because I was playing a character, and it had been so long since I last had straight hair that I didn’t recognise myself when I did it. It felt weird, like some of my width was missing, like the very first time I straightened my hair. I could definitely get used to having straight hair, but the time; effort; money on hair products such as primer and protein sprays; and the misery of having dark hair (which actually makes me depressed, I wish I was being hyperbolic) all outweigh the benefit of having straight hair. Most of the time these days. I’d rather have unruly sproingy white hair than sleek straight dark hair. It fits my personality better. Now my styling priority goes: 1st choice: Naturally springy hair. 2nd choice: Curled with my curling tongs (for special occasions). 3rd choice: Straight.
Are you pro-straightener? Do you prefer straight hair, curled hair, or au naturel?