Skin care routine – Revised

Last year in September I wrote a post about my newfound ideal skincare routine. It involved doing absolutely nothing to my skin except washing my face twice a day. I kept it up for a few months and it kind of worked, until I flew back to Europe over Christmas and my skin turned into a desert.
My skin is naturally on the dry side, however since I live in New Zealand I haven’t really experienced THE REAL WINTER: Wellington is very wet even when it’s cold, so in the past year and a half I’ve had to deal with different skin issues.
But while in Italy I knew I needed some extra moisture. Since I hadn’t brought any face cream with me, I thought I’d be a good idea to hunt for something locally made and as Zero Waste as possible. My mum is a big fan of L’Erbolario (they are awesome: all their products are cruelty free and locally made, mostly packaged in glass, and the company is really into environmental sustainability and social responsibility), so we went to one of their shop where I purchased this amazing face cream which I mainly picked because it smells delicious (it’s made with Argan leaves) but also because it was recommended for skin types that are prone to dryness.

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Back home it really helped make my skin softer and more nourished, and I’m still using it now that I’m back in New Zealand.
So in the morning I still only wash my face with lukewarm water, then apply this face cream and that’s it.

In the evening, though, I decided to spice things up a little, especially because when I came back from Europe it was the middle of an uncommonly hot summer, which required me to wash off layers and layers of sunscreen every night.
I’d seen the local vegan community writing good reviews on this particular face wash barso I thought I’d give it a go. It’s made of activated charcoal, French clay and peppermint oil, and it’s designed to remove impurities and fight blemishes, which I have a bunch of. It’s going down quite quickly and I can definitely see myself purchasing it again because I love it.

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After my face is all nice and clean, I take a homemade cotton round (find out how to make your own here), and I tone my skin with Thayers alcohol-free rose petal witch hazel toner (could the name be any longer?). This is definitely not a Zero Waste product but I’ve been wanting to try this toner for years and I eventually gave in – hopefully it’ll last me a long time. I really like it so far and my skin definitely feels cleaner at the end of the day.

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In those rare occasions when I wear make up, I would use a bar of African Black Soapwhich is a bit drying for me so I need to make sure I moisturise profusely afterwards. However I still prefer to remove my make up with this rather than coconut oil, as I found that coconut oil makes me break out if I use it too much.

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(My homemade face scrub is still coconut oil-based, but I only use it maybe twice a month. You can find the recipe for that here.) Talking about scrubs, I also have this face polish that I got from work, I’ve only used it once so far and it’s very gentle which I appreciate.

As for moisturiser, I switch between a few products at night.
The first one is my loyal and forever favourite Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask by Origins, also not Zero Waste but I’ve had the same bottle since way before I even started thinking about reducing my impact on the planet. In fact, I purchased this baby in Canada back in 2013. I haven’t used it every single day, but man this face mask will last you! A tiny bit really goes a long way, and as I’m approaching the bottom of it I’m getting more and more torn on whether I want to repurchase it. I do love it a lot but it obviously come in plastic and – alas – Origins is not cruelty free (they sell their products in China). So yeah I guess the answer is pretty straightforward.

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I also got myself some rosehip oil, which I’ve had my eyes on for a while. Other than coconut oil, I had never used “liquidy” oils on my skin and I was very intrigued. I can’t say love it (I really don’t like the smell), but it does the job: the morning after my skin feels soft and nourished. I picked rosehip oil because it’s supposed to help with discolouration and even out your skin tone, but I don’t think I’ve been consistent enough in using it to see any results just yet.

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Talking about oils, the final product I’ve been using is Jason’s Vitamin E oilwhich I also got from work.
(I should specify, I do get free skincare products from work, and that’s the reason why I have so much stuff. I’m experimenting, but mostly I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase all these products, especially since most of them come in plastic.)
Anyway, I haven’t been using this oil for very long but I am LOVING it so far. I might even dare to say it’s running right behind the Origins overnight mask in my favourite skincare products ever.

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Finally, I’m still using up the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque that I’ve had for ages, I’m almost out now but this is something I’m definitely not going to buy again. Its successor is going to be this Antipodes mask which I also got from work, I’ve used it once so far and I like it, although my favourite face mask ever will forever be Mask of Magnaminty from Lush, which I haven’t used since I ran out of it last year but I am considering getting myself some when I go back to London in October.

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Overall, my skin feels good. I regularly get a few pimples on my chin when I’m on my period but I know that’s hormonal and there’s nothing I can do about it. (Also this is new for me: I used to get pimples on my cheeks or around my nose, as well as some small bumps on my forehead, but only recently I started getting them on my chin. I wonder what it means?) I’m eating pretty healthy since I started working in this organic supermarket, but I also know food has nothing to do with the state of my skin. Finally, I’m not drinking enough water, which is also nothing new. So I’ll probably keep all this up and will check back in a few moths.

(I apologise for how gloomy these pictures look, it’s 2 in the afternoon but the Great Flood is happening outside and it honestly feels like the end of the world.)

Money tracking – March

As I mentioned in my latest post, I did a No Spending challenge in March, and I’m pleased to say that it went really well. I was not expecting to spend zero money (there were some expenses I couldn’t avoid, such as my phone bill, as well as things I deemed as necessities, such as groceries); my goal was to spend as little as possible, mainly relying on the fact that I could get free food from work and I wanted to see it if I could live off it and how long I would last.

Here’s the verdict:

  • Groceries
    I spent $84.79 on groceries, however I forgot to separate actual food from things like soap or dishwashing liquid. Things I missed from my diet that I couldn’t get for free at work included milk, nutritional yeast, bananas and oats.
  • Coffee/eating out
    I spent $97.80 in meals out, $23.50 of which was coffee (well done, me). I’d like to point out that, with the exception of one dinner for our anniversary, I would have been happy to avoid eating out altogether. However, I do live with another person who was not happy to be dragged into my No Spending challenge. Let’s just say if I had been by myself I would have spent $56 in meals out.
  • Op shops
    I did not set foot into an op shop until the CubaDupa weekend. I decided to cut myself some slack for this festival as I freaking love CubaDupa and I didn’t want to punish myself too much. Let me just mention, I had been on the hunt for a desk lamp and a mid-season jacket, and I managed to find them both second hand for a very good deal. I thought it would make more sense to just get them despite my challenge rather than wait and spend more money on them/never find them again the following month. So I ended up getting a super cool lamp at a garage sale for $5 and an amazing vintage corduroy jacket for $49. I’m not mad at all.
  • Other shopping
    I had been thinking about getting more reusable menstrual pads as my mooncup has been feeling a bit uncomfortable lately. I got my period a few days ago so I had a look online to see if I could find some deals on pads. This is where I bought the pads I’ve been using and I noticed some where on offer so I got myself some more. Since it was 31st March I didn’t see a difference in waiting one day for my challenge to end.
  • Health
    I did very well for the whole month of March until I got tonsillitis last week and only decided I need antibiotics the day before Easter, when my GP was obviously closed, so I had to go to A&E and ended up spending $104 for a visit. I would have happily avoided that (and tonsillitis).
  • I didn’t spend anything on sport or experiences, and I spent the usual on my phone ($19) and transport ($40 – this I could probably cut down if I didn’t live so freaking high uphill).

As much as I’m happy with how I’ve done, I can’t deny that there have been some challenges:

  • On March 12th, I ran out coffee. I was very sad that I couldn’t use my two-person plunger that I’d been having every day to replace my Starbucks fix, however I did not repurchase any coffee just to see what would happen. And I survived. I also slept better.
  • I missed breakfast food. I get lots of greens and bread at work, and I have been known for having unconventional meals first thing in the morning (cold pizza, anyone?), but I do love a big bowl of oats or muesli for breakfast. I tried going without for a while until I gave in and bought some.
  • I guess the biggest obstacle of all was doing this challenge with someone who didn’t want to do this challenge. Giac had to put up with me pointing out how much we were spending as opposed to how much we could have been saving up for a whole month. And although he did an amazing job at supporting me, at times I had to give in and pay for stuff. Which is fair enough.

Conclusions:

I’ve picked up lots of shifts in March, ending up earning more than I’ve ever had since I started working. I’m not going to talk numbers, so let’s just say last month I’ve spent 43.43% of what I’ve earned.
Since I’ve confirmed that I can limit my expenses, I’m going to continue my challenge in April, however with a few tweaks. Because I found that completely depriving myself of things like coffee or a treat from time to time, in spite of giving me an immediate sense of pride and satisfaction, also makes me feel miserable in the long run, I’ve decided to give myself a budget. I think I’m going to try with $25on coffee max. I’m going to cut Giac some slack and maybe eat out once a week. I guess I could grant myself one treat (which is probably going to be a book).
Also there are a few expenses that I know are going to come up in April (we are signing up to a half marathon and I would also like to get a swimming pool pass, plus I want to get more involved with CoLiberate and prioritise my mental health), but that’s all good.
March was meant to challenge myself and understand what’s important; April will be focused on taking care of that.

Wardrobe review

About a year and a half ago (holy cow) I wrote a post about The True Cost , where I reflected upon the impact of fast fashion on the environment and the people involved in the clothing manufacturing industry.
At the time I went through all my clothes to get an idea of how bad I was doing (turned out: pretty bad). During the following months I’ve been revamping my wardrobe with the double goal of getting rid of things I didn’t like/use and moving towards a more ethical collection. I am now proud to announce that I finally got to the point where I love everything I have and have everything I need.
So today I went through my wardrobe again to reassess the situation. This is what my wardrobe looks like, plus a couple of other places where I store my clothes:

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And below is the final verdict.

NOTE: “Ethical” to me indicates a piece of clothing that either comes from an ethical brand, or I purchased second hand, or it’s a hand-me-down (so it could be from an unethical brand but I haven’t personally purchased it).

Sweaters
Total: 19
Ethical: 9
Unethical: 10
Not sure: –
Hoodies
Total: 4 (plus 1 I’m not sure I want to keep)
Ethical: –
Unethical: 1
Not sure: 4
Sweaters I lounge around in
Total: 4 (plus 2 I’m not sure I want to keep)
Ethical: 3
Unethical: –
Not sure: 3
Dresses
Total: 2 for winter, 3 for summer, 3 for both
Ethical: 1
Unethical: 5
Not sure: 1
(Go me, I used to have 12 dresses that I never used!)
Skirts
Total: 3
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 1
Not sure: –
Shorts
Total: 2 plus a pair of dungarees
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 1
Not sure: –
Flannels
Total: 2
Ethical: 1
Unethical: 1
Not sure: –
T-shirts (short sleeves)
Total: 12 (plus 2 for work)
Ethical: 5 + 2
Unethical: 4
Not sure: 3
(I used to have 43 t-shirts! Forty three!)

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Tops (long sleeves)
Total: 7
Ethical: 4
Unethical: 1
Not sure: 2
Tank tops
Total: 7
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 3
Not sure: 2
Jeans
Total: 4
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 2
Not sure: –
Other pants
Total: 5 pair of leggings (2 ethical and 3 unethical), 2 pairs of harem pants (not sure), 2 pairs of lounge pants (one ethical, one not sure)

Not listed: underwear, sportswear, ski stuff, coats and jackets, shoes.

Last year I owned 39 pieces of unethically produced clothes out of 89 pieces of clothing in total. As of today, both numbers went down: 29 out of 48 pieces of clothing I own are unethically produced. In more mathematical terms, I went from 43% to 60% of my entire wardrobe being unethically produced.
As bad as this sound, the reason behind these numbers is not me purchasing unethical clothes, but me getting rid of ethical ones. (Although well, I guess I did buy a couple of sweaters from H&M.) As I went through my decluttering process, I found that lots of items I purchased second hand were not in good conditions or the quality was quite poor, whereas most of my favourite clothes are – alas – from unethical brands. I don’t want to keep something just because it’s second hand, I’d rather stick to the clothes I love most until they last, and purchase second-hand replacements only when the original ones are falling apart.
All in all, I’m happy about my wardrobe now: I have everything I need, and everything I have I love.  I don’t have any desire to buy new clothes nor to let go of anything (except a couple of things that are already in my “Maybe” pile). It took me years to get to this point, and it might not be the more sustainable collections of clothes ever, but it is the best I have ever done, so perhaps it means I can stop spending hours in my closet getting rid of stuff. Success!

Nothing is sexier than confidence

(First written on Feb 28th, edited on March 16th/17th)

Last Monday I was having a lazy day. Winter came all of a sudden, and I spent the morning having ginger tea and working on some video projects feeling cosy in a warm sweater, the rain tick-ticking against the window. Then the rain turned into storm, and I wasn’t really feeling like walking all the way to Newtown t meet Kate for coffee. But I did, and boy was that an afternoon that made a difference.

Kate is not someone I really know. I met her through some volunteering we did together and she seemed like an interesting person but we’d never really had a proper conversation, so I was quite excited to finally get to sit down with her and lay the foundations for a possible friendship. We went to one of my favourite cafes, and over our soy lattes we found out we have so many things in common.
I hadn’t planned this, but as we spoke I opened up like I hadn’t with hardly anyone else before. It might have been because Kate is so chilled and friendly and she made me feel at ease straight away, but I found myself talking about how tough last year was, how it felt to be back home for Christmas, how accomplished I feel with my life now, and what I’m working on for the future. I talked about self love, mental health, self discovery and growth – with a terminology and confidence I wish I could use on a more regular basis.

I wouldn’t normally bring up any of these topics on a first conversation with someone I don’t know, as my inner self tells me it’s not “appropriate” to get too personal with somebody you’ve just recently met.
Being a hopeless introvert, I suck at small talk and I have very poor social skills. I’m always very conscious about what comes out of my mouth when I first meet someone, and I tend to only say things that I think the other person would want to hear, with the result that my conversations often sound clumsy and forced. My worry is that I won’t come across as who I really am, and that by the time I feel ready to open up these potential friends will have an idea of me that is completely different from the real deal, and it will be too late for me to talk about all the things I want to talk about because they will not expect me to have all these repressed issues, they were probably already thinking I was not worthy of their attention anyway and if I reveal my inner self now they’ll be taken aback and I would sound fake and unexpected, so instead I will continue to pathetically cling to these shallow relationships until everybody loses interest in me and I’ll be left to die alone. (In all this I obviously spend hours recreating past conversations in my head where I am the life of the party and always have the perfect comeback and I sound natural and relaxed and people actually like me.)
These thoughts have been haunting me since I can remember. Trust me, it’s not fun to have this voice in the back of your head that constantly reminds you that you really should be concerned about how people perceive you.

By the time I moved to New Zealand, I was done with it.
I saw moving overseas as an opportunity for a fresh start in many senses, and when I settled in Wellington I made a point that I was going to be myself one hundred percent.
It obviously didn’t happen overnight, but I have been working hard towards becoming better at meeting people and at feeling confident talking about myself. What really helped was reminding myself of how it makes me feel when somebody is honest and genuine with me even if we don’t know each other very well. When someone opens up to me, it always makes me feel good about myself, because it means I’m creating a safe space for them to feel relaxed enough to talk abut anything. It means I can be trusted.
I do believe very few traits are sexier than confidence: I admire people who are not afraid of putting themselves out there and expressing themselves for what they truly are. That’s what I aspire to be: confident, genuine, not afraid of whether my feelings are “appropriate” or what others might think of them.

Moving to a place where I didn’t know anyone was the perfect occasion for me to present myself as truly me. If people were ok with that, great; if they had a problem with it, also great – I wouldn’t need them in my life.
In fact, I’ve been getting more and more used to the idea that it’s ok not to be friends with everyone. I’d much rather have fewer friends I can spend quality time with, instead of acquaintances I have hardly anything in common with. After learning it’s ok to say you don’t want to do stuff because you don’t want to do stuff, it became much easier to stop seeing people who were not adding anything to my life.
As harsh as that sounds, it’s true: I’m done with small talk and wasting time building relationships that I already know will not lead anywhere. I only have one life, and what I want to fill it with is authentic interactions. I want to surround myself with people I can be myself with. People who support me and who understand me. People I can drop my barriers and preconceptions with. People who make me feel good about myself, who make me feel at ease and like it’s ok to talk about all my repressed deep shit and who can do the same with me.

So thank you Kate for being one of the first people who made me feel valid and accepted. Our conversation made me realise that being honest and genuine is not as scary as I thought. I can tell people I’ve had a rough year and they will not think I’m not worth of their time.They might even think I’m actually cool. Can I be your cool friend? Ok maybe I still need to work on those social skills after all.