soft light vs. sulfates

Yesterday, with a much needed help from local police reinforcement (i.e. my brother-in-law) we finally put the curtains up in the living room. Now the very photogenic corner that you've seen many times already is glowing with soft light.
I was always against the idea of the curtains because they make the room look smaller and block the light which is lacking in Belgium anyways, and I was scared of the 'cave' effect. But upon seeing the final result of Sunday's work I realized it was the right thing to do - now the furniture has a luminous backdrop against which the details are finer and the view of the neighbouring buildings does not interfere. That done, my next project is the dining table. This flat has a narrow and poorly planned dining space, impossible for a standard sized table to fit in, thus making my own long and narrow table is the only option. 'Making' is a big word though, in reality I'll be just assembling a table from Ikea trestles and some random table top cut to measure at Brico.
Yet the main reason for this post was something little related to interior decoration. I wanted to talk about beauty products that have made wonderful changes in my own beauty regimen.
It all started with a routine visit to a hairdresser. I went for a regular trim but ran into an old acquaintance of mine who used to work for Toni&Guy in the 90's and now runs his own hairdressing saloon in Antwerp. He came to present a new line of haircare products, and it just happened so that he explained all the benefits and tested every single thing on me. Bright eyed and bushy tailed I went home and threw all my old shampoos and conditioners away. Soon the shower gels and liquid soap found their way to the garbage bin too. Why?
Well, to cut the long story short, the trick behind the haircare line Peter so well presented is that those products did not contain sulfates, and were rather multifunctional.
First and foremost - the sulfates!
Sulfate is a petroleum derivative substance that is a kind of salt. Sulfates are used in beauty products to make them foam easily, which means that most shampoos, face soaps, shower gels, etc... get a good load of sulfates. The effect they give while using the product is not only foam, but a squeaky clean feel. Sounds good...but...
As every salt, sulfates are not different - they dry out every surface they come in contact with. Remember last time you went swimming in the sea, and then your skin went dry and flaky...that's the effect of salt (sea salt - natural product, not a petroleum man-made synthetic, now imagine the effect on your hair of the latter!). Sulfates dry your scalp out - welcome dandruff, irritations, dry scaly skin. This is applicable to the rest of your body too, not only your scalp is sensitive to sulfate, but pretty much the rest of your skin too. I often had a feeling when stepping out of the shower that I need to use body lotion because my skin feels dry even though my shower gel is supposed to have moisturizing properties... I think that I know the cause now.
You can guess and suppose, believe or don't believe the urban legends about sulfates - internet is full of them, but that's not my point. I've told you before that I am always very careful about what I use on my skin, and that I would like to revert to the healthiest ways possible of using beauty products, so cutting out on sulfates is yet another small step to this goal. One and a half month into my completely sulfate-free regimen, and:
  • I am able to wash my hair every other day instead of every day like I did before. Sulfates are very powerful detergents and when they wash the grease out they wash all of it, even the natural protective oil of your skin, which makes your skin produce even more oil (to compensate the frequent loss), hence greasy hair. That is no more.
  • My hair colour does not fade and does not need retouching. Sulfates open up the scales of your hair and weaken the hair shaft making it loose colour.
  • My hair grows! In wintertime! I did read about damaging effects of sulfates on hair follicle, not being 100% sure whether I should believe everything written on internet, but in one month and a half I need a trim like I used to only after 3-4 months, so may be that's a fact.
  • I do not have any dry skin whatsoever, and I haven't used any body lotion since. Note that I've been using my new shampoo also as a body wash and face soap - it is basically the only cleansing product I use at the moment.
  • The black dots on the nose got smaller... Well, since I use sulfate free shampoo as face wash, I feel the difference. The face soap I had before would rip the dirt out of the pores and clean them well, but five minutes later the skin felt greasy like never before. Now I have a feeling that my skin has less moodswings.
  • My hands feel different too. My skin would always turn red in reaction to cold weather and get dry and flaky - none of that ever since.
Well, now about the product itself - I did not buy anything from the hairdressers, because I wasn't too convinced about the price/quantity ratio. The sad truth is that good products are expensive, and it may seem like you need to spend a lot of money all at once to be able to change the products you already own, because changing gradually will not show you any positive effects - even if the rest is sulfate-free in your beauty closet, that just one sulfate containing product you did not have courage to throw away will spoil everything! And of course, if you think that way, it's worthless. But I always believed that there are too many beauty products being sold to women (and men) - every single crease of your skin seems to get a separate product in variations - I've been always against that. Just like Peter said, the good moisturizing product can be used on your skin and hair, good cleansing product on all of your body, and the best anti-aging tip is a healthy diet and active lifestyle - I nod in agreement to every word! I bought ONE product, which costs a bit more than the average shampoo, but it doubles as soap and triples as face wash, so I feel that the price is more than justified.
So in search of my shampoo I combed through the shelves at Di, and surprisingly, did not find anything that suited me. I was looking not only for sulfate-free shampoo but for a paraben-free and silicone-free one which is suitable for sensitive skin, because I intended to use it as a face soap too. It was a long tiresome quest, I realized that even at the pharmacy products are loaded with sulfates and parabens - it really surprised me, I probably naively believed that now we know about the dangers of parabens and pharmacies sell only the stuff that has been clinically tested...well, well, well, so many things need to be changed!
I have found one shampoo that had been my best ever since. It is sold at a pharmacy, labeled as 'hypoallergenic' treatment and recommended for sensitive scalp. The conditioner is for dry and damaged hair, but having used if for a while I can soon change to a simple soft conditioner, because my hair feels much healthier.
The makeup remover needed and update too, I found the BioPha lotion at the organic counter at Di. It does not dry the skin, washes all makeup and dirt off with one swipe of a cotton pad, does not contain parabens or phenoxyethanol, no silicone that clogs pores, no PEG, no chlorine-based substances or any chlorine derivatives and no genetically modified ingredients - oh, if only all products were like that, this world would be a better place!
I also got rid of BB crèmes and replaced the nasty stuff with mineral powder. This powder can give quite a good coverage if applied with kabuki brush, but most of the time I just use a tiny bit of it just to smooth out the skin tone. When I had my old products this powder would leave my skin dry, but now it goes on smoothly, so I guess it wasn't the powder that was messing my skin up.
Then goes a veil of my favourite Holygrace perfume.
And one trick I keep from the old beauty regimen is tea tree oil and green clay (not pictured), I use it before going to bed on occasional zits to make them disappear when the morning comes.
Vichy sensitive scalp shampoo
Vichy dry and damaged hair cream conditioner
BioPha makeup removing lotion
UNE mineral foundation
Undercover 'Holygrace' eau de toilette
Bodyshop tea tree oil 
I don't mean to start changing people's lives or preach about things - the internet is full of crap already. But I just hope that you take a moment to reconsider the amount of beauty products you use, and definitely its ingredients. I find lately that too many products are being sold to us as 'necessary', but none of them actually do the job, instead they require more different products to take care of the side-effects. Myself, I'm opting out of this useless race for perfect skin, because real perfect skin is so much closer than we are made to think.


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