The one where I get angry about endometriosis research…

*A Pre-warning, that this blog post contains details that may be considered as ‘TMI’ or ‘oversharing’. If menstruation makes you uncomfortable…don’t read on!*

I don’t talk about this on my blog much anymore, mostly because until very recently this illness that I unofficially got diagnosed with at 22 has not affected my life as much as it once did, thanks to the wonderful NHS, the availability of a contraceptive treatment that also works to control my symptoms in the form of injections into my butt cheek/hip area every 12 weeks. But the other week, this article popped up on my twitter feed, and I felt just a tad enraged about it.
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Why did it make me angry you might ask? Well. First of all the fact that hardly any research money goes into endometriosis. I’m one of the lucky ones. At 22 my life was miserable. I ended up in A&E more than once because of the horrific pain I was in for about 1-2 weeks of every month. I never took myself to A&E…it was usually a friend, or one time a doctor who was driving past when I was collapsed on the pavement dizzy and in pain. I imagine this is because watching their friend wretch (and then start panicking because she has a phobia about being and seeing people be sick) because they are in so much pain while also passing out because they are in so much pain (sometimes hitting their head off bathroom furniture in the process) was a little bit scary to watch. Especially when you are a young adult and not entirely sure what to do because all of a sudden your parents aren’t there to call on. My friends made me go to GPs multiple times and watched as they came up with the most ridiculous answers to the problems I was facing.

Part of the issue was that doctors didn’t know about endometriosis, how to diagnose it and how to properly treat it. Add the fact that at 18 I’d had quite a radical change in my religious beliefs and had chosen to not engage in a particular activity ever again unless I decided to marry someone. Most doctors I met didn’t see the point in checking for a diagnosis or investigating further unless I was at a point of deciding to start a family.

There was no support whatsoever. It was just let’s keep trying every medication we can think of to deal with your symptoms and hope you don’t find out your totally infertile later.

There is little research into treatments, what causes it or cures.

And oh what a shame for these poor men! What about how it effects OUR lives? Or are we still under this weird assumption that women don’t like doing that activity (I’m not a prude, if we were in person I’d say the word, but know if I type it all sorts of issues are created in terms of search engines, spam and people not being able to access this blog).

There is so little funding for women’s health research, so why is THAT a priority?

And then the photo chosen.

How is THAT representative of a woman suffering from endometriosis?

First of all…one hot water bottle ain’t going to do it. I would have them on my front, my back even between my legs because the pain was basically from the inside out and down (if you catch my drift).

Second of all…I would not be that relaxed. If you had a picture of me in the foetal position lying on the floor screaming and crying…sure. Perhaps holding onto a toilet bowl. Basically writhing in pain trying to find anything that makes the pain bearable, and praying to anyone to be able to like…stand, sit or whatever.

Third of all…I would not be lying there in a white vest and pants. Dark clothes, anything comfy and tatty because chances are it’s going to have to be soaked in warm water and be treated with any remedy I’ve heard of that removes blood from clothing before I’m able to put it in a washing machine if I have a chance of being able to wear it again. I might even be wearing two pairs of pants (something my friend used to do – both pairs with a sanitary pad that was meant for ‘night’ use). Even then we could still wake up soaked with blood stained pyjamas and bed sheets…so we would sleep on top of towels.

Fourth of all…I’m going to be a lot more gross and sweaty. Because all those heat packs to try and deal with the pain are making me way too hot and I’m probably wearing a cold wet flannel on my head and arms to compensate….not to mention the pills I’ll be surrounded by and taking maximum doses of every hour I’m safely allowed to.

That’s the reality.

And as I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. At 25 they put me on injections which stopped my menstrual cycle and for the most part that has worked. I put on 2 stone in weight (and thankfully lost 1/2 stone of that eventually) and my hair started falling out and going grey but it was a small price to pay for no longer being in pain and spending a fortune on tampons and sanitary towels which I needed 40% of the month at times. Yes, in the last few months it would seem that I’m having a return of some symptoms and now I’m on a new medication to see if that works before they go down a surgical route. But if you go on the Endometriosis UK forum, there are women who had far worse and symptoms 24/7. I could tell you so many stories of doctors who have been clueless and unhelpful…but some of that is not really their fault. It’s because women’s health is not studied or seen as a priority for research and treatment. You can bet your ass if men had to deal with a uterus and ovaries things would be different.

Ok.

Rant over.

(For now).

 

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The one where I don’t give up my oyster card…

So it’s fair to say that’s it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the UK. And I have to say that I’m so thankful to live in a country with decent gun control laws.

“Terrorism” has been something I’ve been aware of all my life. We were dealing with it long before September 11th 2001 before a certain American made it purely to be synonymous with “Islam”. Some of my earliest memories are of the Lockerbie bombing on the news and being evacuated from shopping centres because of IRA bomb threats. My friends who grew up in Northern Ireland have even more memories of what “terrorism” meant. Bombs and checkpoints were just part of daily life there for a long time.

I saw on social media before news officially broke that something had happened in Manchester. My friend posted a warning telling everyone to stay out the city centre because something bad had happened, and wanted to let people know he was safe. Later I found out that I knew two people who were at the Manchester Arena that night, both taking their daughters to their first Ariana Grande concert. My friend, a proud Mancunian, got emotional telling me of being woken up to hear the news knowing that it was totally chance that her nieces weren’t there that night.

And last night I saw the news about London Bridge and Borough Market.

I’ve seen the news headlines in the USA as a certain “president” uses this news as some kind of fuel for his fascist like ideas and hate. Republicans and NRA enthusiasts telling us how if Muslims didn’t live here we wouldn’t have terrorism, or that everyone would be alive if we were armed. Thankfully, we came together as a country after a mentally ill man went into a primary school to massacre a bunch of innocent school children with a gun. We don’t get to go into shops to buy guns here. Otherwise there would likely be far more victims when people go on a rampage of violence like this.

I’ve also seen comments like “London is reeling” or “Britain is bleeding“. I think…No we’re not. Right now as I type, most people are settling down to watch a live concert organised by Ariana Grande in Manchester.

I mean, I can’t speak for everyone who shares this bunch of islands as their home. We’re more than mildly ticked off. You might see a few of us using some cuss words. Apologies, but…some circumstances I think allow for strong language. But this morning, my pals in London were still posting their Sunday brunch pictures on instagram. Everyone carried on as usual, while still thinking of those whose lives were forever changed last night. Sure, those of us who are teachers and youth workers are thinking about the ‘unexpected emergency incident’ element of our risk assessments when planning trips to concerts and city centres a bit more than usual. But as my Mum and I are always saying “one of us could get runover by a bus tomorrow” (she used to say “Don’t say that!” to me but now she replies with something like “well, exactly.“).

In 3 weeks I’ll be boarding a train to London Kings Cross. Just as my Nana did many times in the last years of the war to go visit her family. My Nana was born and bred in London until she married her Scottish husband during the war and moved up here. She told me of how the sirens would go off and the train would have to stop in a tunnel as bombs were dropped on the city. Of patrolling the streets of West London during the Blackout. Of going out to the dancing.

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My Nana (we shared a middle name). She was 84 in this photo I took of her in Christmas 2003. 

And folks, my Nana was a WORRIER. This was the woman who freaked out if I didn’t arrive home from school 5 minutes after the bell went. Who was convinced if I got my ears pierced my lobes would get infected. Who told her eldest daughter (in her 40s at the time) to be careful crossing the road to the corner shop to get the paper and a pint of milk. She died before I got my tattoo, but I’m pretty sure that if she’d known about it, she would be fretting that ink on my skin would most likely lead to me being a future member of a prison chain gang or something.

I don’t know if it’s because part of my family grew up in London, but it always feels like a second home to me. My friends who live there always tell me how everyone is rude and doesn’t speak to each other. I never have that experience when I visit. I’m always catching the eye of someone riding the tube sharing a look about something we see that amuses us. In 2013 me and Miss Sweetroot were having a giggle about some of the station names on the Northern Line, and I caught the suited up Londoner smirking as he overheard our conversation about how “Goodge Street sounds like a place filled with bogies” (when I caught his eye, he of course went back to staring straight ahead, but I know our chat cheered you up dude). When I was there before Christmas, I got stopped several times to be asked about the green Hulk bear I was carrying in a box for my godson. London is so used to ‘security threats’ that most of the time when you hear an announcement about it on the tube, everyone just sighs, grunts and goes back to reading their papers/books/kindles/phones while we wait for the tube train to start moving again. And you bet your ass when things do happen, Londoners band together. That’s why you had cabbies yelling warnings to pedestrians near Borough Market and doctors and nurses running out of hospitals across Westminster Bridge. It’s why we have pictures from the 1940s of people drinking cups of tea sitting on piles of rubble that was once a building they called home. And it’s why not a single Brit is surprised to see a picture of someone running away still carrying their pint of lager without spilling a drop…because London prices people. He paid £6 for that pint, and no ‘terrorist’ was going to keep him from it.

So I’ll go to London. My Mum might worry a little bit, though logic will tell her that I could just as easily go into our city centre and be caught up in something there. I’ll likely be on the tube, riding the escalator singing the “London Underground” song in my head. I will be that annoying Scottish lass who totally ignores the proper London etiquette and smiles at strangers, tries to engage them in conversation and thanks TfL staff. But don’t worry Londoners: I won’t do what really annoys you… I’ll have my oyster card ready BEFORE I get to the ticket barriers. 😉

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In all seriousness…let’s remember that acts of evil, acts of hate, acts of violence have been happening since humans roamed the earth trying to exert their power over other humans. It is heinous. It is awful. And we must raise our children to understand these power dynamics, to recognise their privilege and how they should not use it to continue the oppression of others. We must raise our children to love.

To everyone who has been affected by events led by people trying to divide us and kill the good in this world. I’m thinking of you.

I’m also going to keep calm and carry on.

Because it’s exactly what they don’t want me to do.

Adam Hills is an Aussie, but a lot of us Edinburgers have loved him since he first came to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe a couple of decades ago. I pretty much see his and his wife’s shows every year they are here. What he said on his show, The Last Leg I think really does reflect the sentiment of most Brits I know. (Just a heads up, there is a swear word that rhymes with ‘buck’ in his rant if you are offended by curse words).

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Much love,

The Chatty Brunette Koala who intends to keep using her Transport for London Oyster Card x

The one where I’m glad I bought the Kleenex that was on offer…

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I was about to start getting back to how I used to blog. Job hunting has become such a huge part of my life, I actually had to stop myself going into places that had ‘Staff Wanted’ signs and every evening I’m still reaching for my laptop to go on websites looking for jobs and will be clicking on links before I realise “Oh yeah…I don’t need to do that anymore!”

I have 3 days off this week, the first two were used to schedule meetings and appointments that I’ve had to put off for ages and to catch up with a friend who’s about to move South. I’m now house sitting while my Mum and her husband are on holiday which means I have a house to myself and the use of a car. Today I finally felt my body starting to relax…and in true BK style, as the day has gone on I’ve got steadily more and more filled with snot. Yep. I’ve got that cold people. (My friends Ruth and Lynn have reported colds too and starting to wonder if they can actually be passed through facetime. Ha ha!)

Not to worry, this Girl Guide is always prepared – she saw boxes of tissues on offer a while ago and bought them because she knew they’d get used at some point when she next caught a cold. And hey, when you work with children, you know it’s inevitable that it will happen!

And I’ve got my food shop in, paid my rent, bought s’mores supplies for the next campfire, put the dishwasher on, done all my laundry and I’m almost caught up with The Good Fight. In case the parentals have discovered my blog…yes. I remembered to put your bins out. And I’ve thought of about another page worth of stuff that I should put on my ‘to-do list’ for the next fortnight. So all in all, I feel like I got quite a few things accomplished before I have to go back to work for the weekend.

And one of those things on the to-do list is….WRITE THE POST ABOUT THE ETHICAL MAKE UP!

🙂

The one where the door finally opens…

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And so hopefully it’s now ok to share with you some news. If you’ve followed me from Musings of a Koala to Learning from Sophie to here, you’ll have known me for close to 10 years. You’ll know my journey and that it’s been somewhat tumultuous. Some of you knew me, supported me and prayed for me when I made the decision to go out to South Africa in 2009. Some of you even remember the jokey pictures a few friends and I had about a camper van and doing church on the beach. You’ve been there when I was asked to speak at conferences and FREAKED OUT about it. You let me into your homes when I was a total stranger to you when I went on my road trip around the UK in my first summer working as a partner for the pregnancy crisis centres network. You were there when I struggled to lead worship. You joined me in praying for people who were very sick. You signed up to be organ donors. You joined in with Airmail Christmas. You cheered me on when I went back to Girlguiding, and then when I went back to university. You were there for me when I lost my job. And lots of you have been there to encourage me for the last 3 years where I’ve faced rejection, after rejection to the point where I wondered if there was even a point of still living.

Apparently jobs are like buses…you wait for 3 years and then two come at once.

They were both jobs I really wanted, but never dreamed I’d get offered both. What is more amazing is they are both part-time, so I can DO both!

On 10th June I’ll be saying goodbye to my lovely colleagues at my current part-time job, and taking a week off before starting the first of the two jobs – as long as my PVG update comes through on time (it should, since I’m already registered through volunteering with Girlguiding, People Know How and Scripture Union Scotland. I’m pretty sure people working in the Disclosure Scotland office must know exactly who I am from the amount of times my paperwork has been sent through their offices over the last 16 years!). Then the week after I head down to London to do my induction for the second of the two jobs.

One job is a youth work job engaging with young women.

The other is a fundraising job for a national charity that I’ve supported for a very long time, since a friend of a friend told me about the support she received from them years ago after her second child was born premature.

There is a lot to do – like I need to get my own car, I need to clear out space so I have room to work from home (the ergonomics of working on my bed which is what I have to do with girlguiding admin is probably not a good long term strategy!) and just trying to get my head around it all.

I am nervous, but excited.

I’ve had so many lovely messages since I shared the news with friends on social media, and I appreciate every single good wish. Quite a few people told me that recently they’d be praying more than usual for me about finding a job, so I guess that tattoo on my foot and all those rainbows I’ve kept seeing haven’t been for nothing after all. 😉 Thank you kind friends xx

Here’s to the next adventure…

And to all those still waiting for a door to open…please don’t give up knocking on them. At times I did, and it was hard to keep trying new doors when they remained closed or got slammed in your face. Eventually, one is going to say ‘Open Me’. I really believe that for you and I know that’s not easy to keep believing…

BK’s Book Pouch: What I’ve finished reading…

At the start of the year, I was reading lots but then I lost my energy. In the last week though, I’ve felt able to pick up a book and focus on it and I’m now trying to catch up on the reading challenge I set for myself this year. I’ve finished a couple of books that I’d been trying to read for a while, and hopefully close to finishing a third.

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – This has been on my ‘I better check out’ list for a while as some of the young women I work with through Girlguiding had mentioned this book to me a few times as one that had really made them think. They recently started a library of books to share, and this was one of the first books they requested for the shelf. Of course then the netflix series based on the book aired during the Easter Holidays, and I was more than slightly concerned about what I watched. So the girls allowed me to borrow a copy and I was relieved to find it a lot less dramatic and more realistic than the TV series. (The TV series has added A LOT of extra stories). Mental health is one of the biggest taboos and issues facing young people I work with today, and I don’t think any book, film or TV show will portray issues perfectly, but hopefully these forms of art can help bring taboo subjects into the open and discuss them in a way that leads to people being more aware and better supported.

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Happy Mum Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher – A strange one to be on my list as I’m not a parent, but lots of my friends are and I’ve spent a lot of years of my life supporting women through pregnancy, pregnancy loss and parenting. I’ve followed Giovanna Fletcher, her husband, Tom’s and his sister Carrie’s vlogs on YouTube for a while. I really enjoyed the read, and appreciated the honesty and oversharing! I’m sure it’s a book that will encourage lots of parents and I’d love to see a similar book written by a Dad.

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The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – I was slightly dubious about the tables full of ‘hygge’ books I’d seen in the bookshops, especially with the following of people posting about their ‘hygge’ on instagram and facebook all.the.time… I was concerned about the cultural appropriation, how authentic the books claiming to be experts on this thing called ‘hygge’, and what the Danish thought ‘hygge’ was (because if I’m to believe Sandi Toksvig, who is actually Danish, it just means going round to someone’s house and drinking wine and chilling out). However, a certain blogger convinced me to try it out, and I trust her book recommendations. I also appreciated that the book was written by someone who was Danish and lived in Denmark as opposed to someone who had visited Denmark a few times! I still think his idea of living hygge on a ‘budget’ shows the privileged position he talks from, but it was an interesting read and echoed some of my beliefs about community.

Is there anything you’ve been reading recently that you’ve enjoyed?

The one where I see baby penguins…

It’s been a crazy month. And I haven’t been able to talk about it much. If you know me and have been around my blogs and social media a while, you’ll know already that I’m an over-sharer. So many nights in the last week I’ve gone on my laptop wanting to write and I’ve had to just shut it again. I’ve also had a lot of friends checking in with me and it’s been difficult to reply as so much at the moment is up in the air. And then my heart has been hurt with some upsetting news from South Africa followed by the horrific news from Manchester (home to several friends, and it turned out my friend’s daughter & grandaughter were at the Ariana Grande concert – they are thankfully fine and physically unharmed. But many were not so lucky. Several Scottish girls who travelled down to the concert are still missing). So instead of talking about all that is going on in my brain right now, I’m going to share about new baby penguins.

On Saturday, I finished work earlier than usual. It was a miserable day, with bucketing rain but I wanted to stop by Edinburgh Zoo before I went home, camera in tow. Because BABY PENGUINS people…BABY PENGUINS. Yes, this happens every year. And no, it doesn’t get old.IMG_2249

I mentioned on my last blog that for the first time in many years, a baby Rockhopper penguin has been born at the zoo. Another regular visitor hiding from the rain gazing at the gentoo nests pointed me in the direction of the Rockhopper nests. The nest is located in a bit where you can’t get very close to it – there’s a garden area on the other side of the fence of their enclosure. It’s maybe a good thing though for the little chick to get some peace and quiet. With some difficulty and the help of my long lens, I did manage to get this pic…

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I really hope this little one survives and thrives. I love the rockhoppers, and they are always the ones that come right up to the fence and pose for my phone and say hi! Case in point: Exhibit A below…

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Quite a few of the penguins are looking a little scruffy and uncomfortable at the moment because they are moulting. Usually the King Penguins are all very tall and sleek, and felt very sorry for this poor dude. It’s really strange to see a King Penguin looking so cuddly, fluffy and rotund!

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I hope the photos make you smile, and please know that if you are reading from Cottonlands or been affected by what happened last night in Manchester…I am thinking of you.

Much love,

BK x

The one where I visited some fairy woods…

So, it’s safe to say I’m pretty wiped out. Last week I struggled through with sore throat so I figured it was another cold  coming on care of the children of Edinburgh, but on Sunday I woke up with no voice. New self-diagnosis: laryngitis!

Suffice to say, it’s hard to do my work without a voice, so I’ve been resting it as much as possible today before I have to do some youth work stuff tonight. In an attempt to stay awake I thought I’d blog to share some photos from last weekend…

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For the first time in a long time, I rode in Davina. She is still green rather than blue but I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have to pray for her engine to start. Sadly though it was a grey drizzly morning at the beach…so no beam work. Luckily though, members of the church had this very luxurious RV with a canopy for everyone to shelter under. I say everyone, most of the kids wanted to climb all over Davina and run around in the rain.

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While people ate bacon rolls (I keep kosher) I sat in a camping chair snapping pics at strange angles in between having conversations. But this lad may have been my favourite subject to photograph. Even my friend who is an actual professional photographer saw pics and said “That is the most photogenic dog!”. He also woofs along when people sing Happy Birthday.

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While we were there we looked up to see a group who were galloping across the beach on horseback. I’ve only ever seen one or two horse riders at a time, and it was really cool to watch. Especially with the backdrop of Bass Rock in the background. I felt so sorry for the horse that kept lagging behind. I can empathise.

And after going back to my friends’ home to warm up and collect their lovely beagle, we ventured back outdoors to a wood where fairies live…

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I’ve also heard that some baby penguins have been born including a baby rockhopper (the Northern Rockhopper penguins are my faves…they always come to say hello through the fence, and they look like punks so what’s not to love?). It’s the first time in 8 years a baby Rockhopper has been born. Usually it’s only gentoos that hatch eggs. A visit to the zoo is on my to-do list. 🙂

 

The one where I’m headed to the beach…

Hi folks,

It’s been a busy week, with no sign of things slowing down. But I DO have a Sunday off, and it happens to coincide with a certain growing kahuna’s birthday. I rarely get to go to a church these days so taking the chance to check out my friends’ church plant down the coast. I may see if I can still balance on the car park log fence thing.

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I have been testing out some make up – it’s been going much better than I thought. Still on a search for a few things, but will update you when I get the chance. I also need to try out Lindsay’s flaxseed gel (thanks for posting that recipe video for it in the comments Lindsay!!)

I’m really hoping that soon I’ll be able to post some good news too. I got asked by someone today “What has been your proudest achievement this past year?” I had to be honest and say it’s been simply surviving it. I’ve been desperate for change for a long, long time. It hasn’t come. At least not yet.

Anyway, it’s past my bedtime and I need to get to sleep so I can get up early and locate breakfast before work since I just discovered my raspberries have gone mouldy already. Booo.

Much love, BK x

The one where I stop to capture the flowers…

I got bored while heating up soup in my Mum’s kitchen and decided to grab my camera and take pictures of some flowers I spotted in her back garden. One of our neighbours is a keen gardener, and she also kindly allowed me to go into her front garden to snap some pics of her plants and flowers too. I have no idea what these flowers are, I just like their colourfulness. I also like the ones that have little antennae on the inside. The biggest challenge was focusing on close up to the flower without creating a shadow in the picture and capturing it during the split second before the next gust of breeze blew the flower out of shot.

Anyway, hope the colours brighten up your day…. 🙂

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The one where I talk about no-poo haircare…

So just before I started blogging over here, I shared about my hair issues. I’ve had wavy curls since I was a teenager, but didn’t realise it until I was at university and someone told me about hair mousse and what that weird flying saucer with spikes attachment was that came with my hairdryer was for. Suddenly I discovered what my hair had been needing all those years before GHD hair straighteners were invented.

However, depo provera has (I think) caused me to age more prematurely. My hair began to fall out and started going grey. I started getting it dyed blonde. I was using heavy conditioners and washing my hair every day because my scalp was in a terrible state and the conditioners left build up, plus stripped my hair of natural oils. It was a state.

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Before I went shampoo free

In addition to this, I was concerned about my environmental impact after learning more about marine litter from Surfers Against Sewage. I wanted to find a haircare routine that was better for my hair and for the environment. A few curly haired pals suggested the Curly Girl Handbook, and it was a godsend. I went investigating, tried lots of things. 6 weeks of ups and downs as my hair and skin got used to it’s ‘new normal’ I began to find the products that worked vs. the ones that claimed to be all-natural that were actually full of rubbish. My hair is still not something that people desire, but it’s so much better than it was before I went shampoo free.

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My hair today – it needs cut and hasn’t had a deep condition treatment in a while, but a vast improvement in my opinion!

Shampoo Alternatives: From Sulphate free to none at all!

My first step was trying sulphate free shampoos, as I wasn’t *quite* brave enough at first. There were also people on internet saying that using baking soda and apple cider vinegar was terrible, had done really horrible things to their hair. However, I didn’t find the sulphate free shampoos all that much better. I tried the Body Shop’s Rainforest range, L’oreal sulphate free  and ‘botanical’ conditioner ranges (they were awful), Naked Bodycare (which was good, but then got bought over by Boots and disappeared) and then I gave up as they were all pretty rubbish.

So I decided to try baking soda solution laid out in the Curly Girl handbook. I was mainly worried about how to manage it, given that I’m not a morning person so tend to be in a rush because I’ve hit the snooze button too many times.img_8476I found a friend in a small measuring jug and measuring spoon. I was able to run the hot water tap while I used the toilet (TMI? Well, I always have a pee before I get in the shower!!) so the water was running warm by the time I washed my hands, then could fill the jug to the 1 cup mark, then add 3 teaspoons (as the tablespoon didn’t fit into the baking soda recepticle) of baking soda into the warm water, stirred it quickly for a few seconds until I heard the fizz and then took it into the shower with me. I have a little metal basket thing that I can place the jug in that is out of the shower stream while I soaked my hair, then poured the solution over my head and hair. I massage the whole of my scalp, and then rinse it out. Voila! Clean hair. I was also astounded on how long it took for my hair to get greasy again. I still had issues with my hair frizzing and tangling (so I wore a lot of headscarfs and also carried around some conditioner in a travel pump bottle, a comb and some lavender water spray during that first winter – as wooly scarves and long frizzy hair didn’t mix well) but I was soon only washing my hair every 4-5 days instead of every 1-2 days. I also used coconut oil on the ends of my hair if I did straighten it (which sometimes I did for work during that first winter because it was very long and still knotting badly), and a few times I went to bed after putting it all over my hair and scalp and washed it out the following morning with baking soda solution. I eventually cut it short as I realised that it was so badly damaged from hair dye, but was shocked to find the next winter that though my hair was getting longer it wasn’t tangling and knotting as it previously had against woolly scarves and jumpers.

I saved my baking soda containers that I got from the baking ingredients section of the supermarket, then was able to get a larger bag from my local health foods store to continue refilling it. This helped me reduce and recycle the plastic containers.

Although I will admit that this week, I did get totally sales pitched into trying out and then buying this shampoo. The health food shop hasn’t had baking soda last two times I was in, so on my way home I stopped in Lush…

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It was a shocking £11.50 (thank goodness for birthday money) but I couldn’t resist how yummy it smelled. You do not need a lot – like literally a coin sized dollop – so hopefully it lasts for months! I also like that Lush let you bring back in the tubs and they’ll reuse them.

Finding a conditioner

The conditioning part was harder. My hair was so damaged, and my scalp was a mess. I tried lots of the ‘recipes’ in the Curly Girl handbook, and eventually I found a conditioner that has served me well. I need quite a lot of it to detangle my hair, but it doesn’t seem to make my hair go greasy or leave build up on my scalp like others did. It is annoyingly £5 a pop (which is expensive in my book) so I try to wait until it’s on offer in Boots and stock up. The other annoying part is that it doesn’t come in a recyclable container. However it is free from lots of nasty chemicals we don’t want in our water.

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Scalp Treatment

On the scalp issues. I now don’t have as much of a problem, other than I’ve not shifted the scalp scratching habit I picked up from when I had psoriasis in my early teens and years of itchy scalp. My scalp is rarely itchy now, but I still scratch and pick at it out of habit. YUK! (Again, sorry for the TMI). But during those first months, I used a conditioner and some quinoa to make a hair scrub. It’s about 1tbsp of quinoa to 3tbsp of conditioner. You mix it up, and then massage all over your scalp from the base of your neck up. It helps exfoliate your scalp, and moisturise it at the same time. I was trying out the ‘Yes-To’ brand at the time, after the original conditioner I was using went out of business. I’ve found their scalp relief conditioner best for doing the scrub with. Weirdly I don’t find it great as a hair conditioner, but it has worked for the scrubs.

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I will however warn you that the quinoa scrub will make quite the mess in your shower or bath. Do make sure to rinse it out quickly, and unclog your plug hole. Also, don’t do what I did at surf camp one year and pre-make your quinoa scrub and keep it ready made in a container. That quinoa sitting in moisture filled conditioner will start to sprout and smell really bad after a few days. BOAK!

Styling Curls

Onto the curls…I wanted to stop using hair mousse because of the aerosol type cans that again, I don’t think are great for the environment. Curly Girl Handbook recommended using aloe vera gel, however I’ve never been able to find a shop that sells this (other than as a drink and I don’t think that’s what she means). I’ve also killed all my aloe vera plants because I’m basically a serial plant killer. The best thing I could find was in the ‘Afro Hair’ section of Sally Hair Design (according to the hairdressing world, everyone should have straight hair, and it’s only recently that places have started to properly cater for curly hair, and it all seems to be in this section).

The closest hair gel I could find to the Curly Girl recommendations was this one:

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I found it a bit sticky still though, but when I went back to get more, I found some new products in a range called Cantu. They’ve also started making leaflets for curly hair care, and this got recommended for wavy hair so I’ve been trying this

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It smells divine, but I have to say that if I use too much it makes my hair a little greasy. I find it’s usable if I put a dollop’s worth on just on the ends of my hair and scrunch it in when my hair is soaking wet. I’ll then blow dry with the diffuser.

From hair to skincare?

I’ve also been going make up and other beauty product free for the last two years after realising that my headaches seemed to  coincide with wearing eye make up, and last year after a bout of eczema got it on my lips every time I wore a lip gloss. However, after a year of unsuccessfully applying for jobs, I’m wondering if my natural look is hindering me at interviews. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I guess most women in their 30s are expected to turn up with tamed hair, a face of make up, skirts and heels. So I’m now looking into ethical make up and trying some products out. Again, it’s expensive for my budget, but I do miss wearing make up and if it helps me get a job that I love then I’m willing to spend a little bit. I’ve discovered some products at Lush, and been recommended Neal’s Yard who do a few things as well. I expect that will be a whole other post though!

I hope this helps for those of you asking me about going ‘no-poo’ and trying to use more ethical products. I definitely recommend Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl handbook if you have curly  hair. I also found the Ethical Consumer website hugely helpful too, and trying to use that more to inform where I shop and what I buy.

I will say that this is just what worked for me. All of us have different bodies and different hair. I had someone who I massively respect and is experienced ‘no-poo’ natural haircare person (much more than I am). She swears by using a boar bristle brush to stop you having to wash your hair as often. I tried it and my hair went nuts. She told me it would definitely work when I said it didn’t on curly hair, so I did keep trying because I knew from experience of it taking a while for my hair and scalp to appreciate the no shampoo and being washed less it might be that…but nope! It just makes my hair greasy at the top and frizzy and static. It’s not a good look. So please know that if you try anything and find it doesn’t work for you…that’s ok! I’m personally sticking with my brush free life with just my wide toothed wooden detangling comb for company (and it only gets used on wet hair).

Let me know if you’ve got any tips on what has worked/not worked for you, as I’m sure others would like to hear your experiences too.