Monday, October 16, 2017

The Rich Simplicity of Oils for Beautiful Skin

For many years, I used to rely on creams, lotions and fluids of all kinds and in all price ranges. Due to my skin disease, Psoriasis, I threw away half of the products over time, after noticing a change for the worse. The other half was as well stripped-down to a minimum of a moisturizer and occasionally a vitamin E capsule.
Oils were usually something that was either included in on of these products, or simply not the very first on my list of required ingredients. Since I‘ve learned early on, that oils cover the face like a blanket, make it incapable to ‚breathe‘, and cause breakouts. Now, I am one of the people who only has to look at a jar of skin cream and my epidermis seems to get highly emotional.
The use of foundation has been an interesting journey as well- to put it mildly- so I had to learn the hard way, that I‘ve learned a lot about skin, but not much about my own.
And that is where the illumination begins.
We don’t just all have different skin types, like dry, oily and so on. We all have different genes, lives, levels of stress to deal with, diets, health issues and live in different climates.
Yet, every week there is a new skin product globally hyped as the new holy grail of ointments, that allegedly frees us from the ongoing cycle of breakouts, patches and other unwanted skin attractions. I sure can understand these trends with clothes and other items. But when it comes to the individuality of our skin, it is simply counterproductive to believe or even claim that one solution applies to all. We don’t even stumble over this issue early, because there are enough waymarkers on the products that guide us to the lifting, boosting, filling, tightening, cleaning results we desire. And please don’t get me wrong, some of them are really good. They do their job perfectly on many people and I did come across a few products myself, that I would buy again any time. But the jungle of skin care products has become too difficult to cut across, without a little more knowledge about ones very own skin.
So I’ve decided to temporarily forget about everything I’ve ever heard about oils as a breakout-guarantor, and first gave coconut oil a try. My face wasn’t as delighted as the rest of my body. The moisturizing effects were better than expected, but my face area still tended to show a few impurities. For others, it works beautifully on the face too. (See, individuality)
As a body oil- including neck and chest- it worked wonders. It was soothed from the very first week I applied it on the red, sore psoriasis patches, kept me from scratching and made my skin finally feel soft again.
I blame the alcohol in some of the body lotions I had used previously, for the always tender and way too dry skin. That problem is now a thing of the past.
After weeks of research, I’ve decided to give pure, sweet almond oil a try and used it generously on my face at night. After I’ve cleaned my face with a cleansing milk, warm water and- attention- coconut oil(!) with a washcloth, I massage it into the still dampish skin and the result is amazing until this day.
My skin looks tighter, the impurities seem to have gotten tired of turning my face into a dance floor, plus my pores are smaller. Which gives altogether the impression of a much better skin than I’ve ever had. Since I had my oil-epiphany, I as well use the almond oil in the morning, after cleaning my face with water. I let it set for the time I have breakfast and then apply my makeup.
On top of all that, it is a good feeling to know that there is no animal testing or usage of animal products involved. Which is to me personally, a very nice aspect.
The simplicity of this beauty regimen is mind-boggling to me, since I always thought it takes a ton of (pricey) products to keep my skin from flipping out. But even when I am an advocate of glamour- in this case, less is truly more.
Preparing my skin for the harsh winter makes me feel more secure when I’m going on my usual long walks on the beach. Knowing, that my skin is protected by the oils.
During winter, I like to add a drop of wheat germ oil at night with the almond oil, for that extra vitamin treat.
As one of the many people with a beauty- Youtube-channel, I am extremely cautious about suggesting products to my viewers. Simply because I don’t know if it could work for others too. (The one-solution-may-not-be-for-all-scenario)
But, what I hope is, that everyone who struggles to find their right products for several skin issues, might open their mind for simplicity and tries, that may not stand in every beauty book. As long as it is pure and natural, like oils, and even organic, it might be worth trying it. Even if it's just for a while, to give the skin a break from dealing with too much product.
Brands are of course different in many countries, but it is sure no problem to find oil, without any
My personal favorites are the Bergland Mandelöl, the Kneipp Mandelblüten Hautzart, the native vegan Kokosöl DM (drugstore) and the Wheatgerm Lipigran Weizenkeimöl by Dr. Grandel.

Organic Coconut Oil
- contains fatty acids (medium chain triglycerides)
- firm texture that melts at 24 °C (76 °F) and quickly in the hand.
- easily seeps into the skin pores.
- takes a little while to be absorbed. Leaves a soft and very reserved scent of coconut.
- is a great makeup remover
- is allegedly a mild sunscreen, which has not been verified in studies as far as I know.

Organic Sweet Almond Oil
- liquid oil texture
- is rich of vitamin E, zinc, fatty acids, proteins and minerals
- is a mild hypoallergenic oil
- easily penetrates deeply into the skin
- helps with blackheads
- may help with acne
- helps with dark under eye circles
- brings relief with eczema / proriasis

Wheat Germ Oil
- liquid oil texture, yellow color
- effective moisturizer
- contains vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins and antioxidants

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A rainy day sixties style

This autumn starts quite stormy in Germany, which requires the vintage gal to be prepared for a few more days (and months) of rougher walks through the parks. To me, jeans are never an option, so I grab my Bexleys trousers and make the black and white theme complete, with a turtle neck, a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. The 1960s inspired style also gets me to enjoy my beloved Cloony jacket, that is not too warm for these days, yet works as a rain coat for me too. I like the simplicity of the look, that is wearable with flats, as I wear here, but just as well with heels.
My hair is gathered in a bun that shall keep the hair out of my face while walking goal-driven against the wind. Thinking: Autumn, here I come!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Superfood Pomegranate

Although I am not a fan of studies, which tend to regularly get refuted, or apply as outdated, I can't imagine that the ones that claimed pomegranates (punica granatum) to be among the healthiest foods on earth, will ever be debunked. Even though there is still relatively limited research data.
Looking like the apple’s eccentric twin, the pomegranate belongs to the family of berries. It’s seeds- called arils- are crunchy, sweet and make the perfect addition in any healthy dessert, or interesting side dish.
Based on excavations of the early Bronze Age, it is believed that the pomegranate was one of the first cultivated fruits. Aside from the great taste and wonderful color, it has inflammatory effects, which is one of the reasons I put this little sweetheart antioxidant on my personal top-list of ‘superfoods‘.
As a long time Psoriasis patient, I couldn’t praise it enough, as a method to reduce the inflammatory activity in my body. It helps to go against my joint pain, especially during the colder, damp months of the year and if I may trust the studies I‘ve read about, the pomegranate is a little fighter against the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and fungal infections.
Now, when it comes to the well-known claims that a type of superfood may be actually able to cure diseases, I am the first sceptic that rolls her eyes. Haven’t there been too many people, who followed self-proclaimed health gurus and overstuffed themselves with a single food group, while wondering about sudden blurred vision and other side effects.
Personally, I believe in the regulation of all things, including food intake. Eating in moderation and as unprocessed as possible, has turned out to be the way for me.
As for the skin, pomegranate makes a partner in crime against early signs of aging and in the improvement of our biggest organ.
Even it’s inedible peel contains the precious antioxidants and works as a great moisturizer.
Altogether, my favorite apple-sister (as I called it as a child), will definitely be on my food-shopping list for a long, long time.

I regularly enjoy the seeds with some Greek yoghurt and a spoon of honey. It makes a satisfying dish when the munchies stop by and a piece of chocolate just doesn’t do the trick.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Comeback of Hats

As a fashion accessory, hats have become one of the trickier options, for men as much as for women. It’s widely considered to be a rather eccentric part of the package we call outfit.
Once been a protective coverage, blocking heat and rain, as well as other threads to the sensitive head, the hat rose to become a flattering style element and finally was a hit- fashion item.
So why did hats disappear from our culture; our everyday life? Some people say the roots of this big shift in appearance, lie in the lack of necessity to cover the head. Due to the increased use of owned cars, instead of public transportation, men for example, did not feel the need anymore to constantly leave the house with a topping on their well-groomed hair.
And there is another reason to be found, deep in the fingertips of men and ladies who would rapidly cut back on their millinery-days: Was it common to clean your scalp once a week, washing your hair in increasing intervals, now made the habit of covering the beautiful and well-scented result obsolete.
The demise of formality may be as well a big reason for our almost hat-free society. Who would guess nowadays, that it was once even considered subversive, when a woman decided not to wear a head piece, as the common forms of etiquette required her to carry a hat in grace and acceptance of her place and role in life.
Transforming the imagination of men greeting by quickly lifting their hats, or women waving with theirs in sheer excitement into the here and now, seems almost comic. Then again, I have just recently witnessed a scene like that: A man in his early thirties who wore a laid back outfit, completed with a hat, that he tipped on twice as a gesture of friendliness, as he let a lady get ahead of him in line at the grocery store.
And I wondered: Why did this moment make me feel so warm and fuzzy? The lady smiled in delight, and none of this looked odd, or silly.
Then I realized that it was the way he carried himself, wearing this long gone fashion statement, that let everyone around him know how little important their understanding of proper looks was to him. Nothing in this man said ‘Look at me!’… ‘I am so different, I need to make it official’. All he did was just be. And be with pride and calmness.
That is the key, I thought. People in our time and age have often lost the ability to carry themselves with grace, which makes aspects of you that stand out, exactly what let you look harmonic.
Instead, showing off a hat that is not worn right on the beach or even presented in the city on a warm fall day, would be too ‘intense’ for many of us. As we have silently accepted that the risk to over-accessorize in our society seems worse, than to fade into the grey wall behind us. In fact, compared to past decades, our style has on too many occasions become as exciting as a wallpaper in a broom closet.
Up to the 1980s, ladies would enjoy their hats, often completed by matching handbags, shoes and gloves.
As Joan Collins first appeared in the hit-series Dynasty (1981-1989), she wore a big hat that first covered her immaculately made-up face, before the viewer got the first glimpse of the future bitch-goddess she played so well. Producer Aaron Spelling did get the intensity of that moment immediately, and said: 'Put hats on her, put a lot of hats on her!' And the millinery-marathon began, as thousands of women watching the series, got inspired by Alexis’ style manoeuvres.
Today, the hat has a little comeback that implies that it was never really gone, but still a thing for either super young fashionistas, or eccentric contemporaries. But as fashion trends also change as quickly as the weather in London, a revival of this simple, yet flattering item is in sight. I’m already waving with my hat, to welcome the trend back in our midst.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Vintage Country Style

Growing up in a farm town near the Baltic Sea in Germany, was an experience full of adventures, created by us kids in our own little cosmos. In our eyes, the fields became the wild desert, explored by horse. A small farm became a giant ranch to be taken care of.
Although I personally did not live on one, I spent many of my teen days with my friends on working farms, helping and being with animals, which was the best part of it all.
There was this old farmer, who we made a deal with: If we help cleaning out the stables and gathering in the harvest, we would be allowed to jump from a high point of the timbered framework, into the haystacks. And since money wasn’t half as interesting at this age as that prospect, we agreed.
After a long day of gathering the crops I heard every bone in my body yelling at me. Yet, jumping into the giant haystacks was the highlight of the summer. We screamed and giggled, climbed up to the beam again and dived into the itchy material again, like Scrooge McDuck into his money.
I am not exactly sure if our parents would have approved of these risky adventures, but we kept the focus on our labour and how wonderful the nature was, when talking about our farm days at home.
These beautiful memories come back every time I dress (up) for a weekend or day in the countryside.
Back in the days, I actually wore jeans and t-shirts, sometimes with holes in them, from playing; rider boots and my hair gathered in a messy ponytail.
Nowadays my interpretation of a vintage country style leans a lot more into the 1940s and 50s.
A soft skirt and blouse, button up dresses and cozy pants, provide the perfect country-feeling with little effort.
Today, I don’t explore the world on a horse anymore, nor have I yet found a farmer who would let me jump into his haystacks. (And I assume this would lead to even more risky situations than back then.)
But there are still days that bring back these memories quite vividly, when the sunset dips flora and fauna into a warm, golden blanket of colors. And the apple trees let me harvest their precious fruits while the cows friendly gather in a half-circle. Yes, they do that. Cows are smart and wonderful animals. So are pigs and geese…
I can’t wait for the next time I can dress up for a visit to my childhood, enjoying a few hours of peace, merging with nature. Then my batteries will be recharged for some time at a place that is far from that reality. My desk.

"...Don't sit under the apple tree, with anyone else but me..."

Vintage dress with rose print & sandals

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The lost habit of wearing dressing gowns

Every morning, when I prepare the breakfast, cuddle the cat, check my emails, I do all this in a very old fashioned manner: I’m wearing a dressing gown. And only when it’s time to get dressed and leave the house, I feel the need to take it off. Wearing it for simply being quickly covered, to avoid getting cold, or because it’s faster than picking the clothes for the day, is not the only reason I enjoy robes so much. It’s a lost habit. Gone with the newly discovered way of putting on an oversized T-shirt or- and that’s my worst case scenario- jeans, right after getting up.
A robe hugs you. It is the comfort blanket that gives you a feeling of being up, but not yet in the cold harsh reality of the day. It is the consoling fabric that relaxes you on a rainy afternoon; or an entire Sunday, that you’ve decided to be a lazy break from engaging with the world.
But how we view this piece of clothing has changed over the decades. In Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Marnie” (1964),  Tippi Hedren floated around in a cream colored robe de chambre that could nowadays easily be mistaken as a formal gown, worn to the opera. If people would dress formal for the opera today, which they usually don’t do either.
Back in earlier decades, like the 1940s and the thirties, ladies presented themselves on the big screen as if just jumped out of a musical, rather than out of bed. The hair in perfect waves and with flawless makeup, waving the busy husband goodbye at the door, while he jumps into his car, armed with a suitcase, a hat and the morning paper.  
Although I cannot say that I have in any way the need to wear that kind of makeup in the morning- let alone already when waking up, nor my hair in flawless layers- I do miss the normality of being a little more ’lady’ in one’s one home. It seems utterly uncommon to shop for pretty bathrobes, or getting exited when size and length are just right.

Other things excite us now. A pretty cell phone case… a chic new flat screen that to me looks exactly    as dull and cold as any other black surface. Or the occasional high heels that look cool on a shelf with umpteen other high heels, that one isn’t capable of wearing for more than three hours.
Nifty things to excite ourselves while just “being”, seem to be obsolete. A thing of the past, when women and men all over the world enjoyed their morning coffee in appropriate attire. In case the milk man rang at the door, or you quickly had to chat with the nosy neighbour while picking up the morning paper. 
A man in a robe is these days, is rare as a horse in ballerina shoes, since we believe it’s a thing of certain magazine editors, surrounded by busty blondes. And although picturing that must be at least a little motivation for some man, to try the whole-robe thing, it seems rather odd and fallen out of time.
And as a man usually decides to wear anything else but a robe, it would be nice to bring back the old habit of a lady wearing not the exact same thing as her lover. It can be cute to run around in your partner’s button up shirt, or a t-shirt in the size of a tent. But then again, a little dressing up that only takes two seconds and instantly makes you look neat and put together, could make you feel twice as good!
Shopping for dressing gowns on the other hand, can be a rather tricky undertaking. Not only do I find myself often in a too short version of something that seems oddly asymmetric. I also look like a beefed up version of a polar bear, in a terrycloth bathrobe. So if there will ever be another trend or movement towards the lost habit of wearing beautiful robes at home, I will smile in my dressing gown in which I write this piece, in this very moment. Thinking: These are the hours at home that comfort me most. The time of celebrating my sanctuary and the freedom this clothing gives me, before facing a world full of jeans and t-shirts.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Asian inspired retro style

A new addition to my video series about world makeup and style, inspired my different cultures, is the Asian inspired retro style. As the biggest continent, Asia would be impossible to reflect in a single look. So I was focusing on typical style components of- for example- China, Japan, Thailand or Indonesia to inspire me here. Also, I combined style elements of the 1930s up to the 1950s for this retro-mix. Asia is so large, that it takes up a third of the entire world’s land area.
Some countries are geographically in Asia, but belong to very different cultures and therefore other traditional roots of style. Yet we usually think of particularly Chinese or Japanese basics when an Asian style is aspired.
I too have chosen a traditional Chinese silk blouse, to go with a 1940s style skirt and 50‘s shoes in a plum shade. To complete the retro-look, I‘ve decided to wear my hair in a 1930s faux short bob, that I simply achieved with the help of pin curls.
The makeup was often sophisticated and rarely overdone. The Asian ladies of the past- as many of the present- loved their sheer skin to be treated well, for an excellent even complexion and often went completely makeup-free.
I leaned into that idea and chose a truly simple makeup look with a 50s eyeliner, 1930s thinned eyebrows, fresh cheeks and a soft shade of lipstick.
The colors of traditional Asian clothing were often not only pretty, but often were specifically associated with various dynasties. The Chinese Shang dynasty was clearly connected with white, while black was the dominant shade in the Xia dynasty.
Aside from the- until this day- often seen immaculate makeup of the Asian lady, there are still people who imagine a geisha makeup when referring to traditional looks of Japan for example. In reality, the geisha style was and still means an impressive effort for the skilled woman entertainer. Who is known for her talents and grace in various fields, like music, calligraphy, literature and other cultural and intellectual aspects.
The daily style routine of many women in Asian countries though, would be a very clean, mellow one. The desired complexion changed here and there. So was a pale skin the ideal in one decade, in another a tan was seen as a positive statement of being proud of the hard work done by people on farms and in the fields. A similar shift to many other countries in the world.
To this day, traditional clothing and a particular approach to style and beauty, is what often defines a culture and enchants another. It does not only teach us the new, but inspires us with old ways of creating and maintaining a beauty that is more than skin deep. I was especially exited to try a few things myself and create my own little version of an Asian-inspired retro style, that makes me feel transnationally connected to this beautiful, impressive continent.