Category: oil

skin & hair etc. updates: moisture

The weather is colder, my skin is drier. Meadowfoam seed oil is no longer up to the task. Current solution: sweet almond oil. For all the usual multi-purpose uses: pre-cleaning, makeup removal, moisturising face and body, shaving.

Next experiment: camelina oil.


Why: because it has a chemical composition and properties, when applied to skin, that are similar to hemp seed oil. Similar fatty acid profile, very high in omega-3 (linolenic acid). High in plant sterols. Goes into that groups of well-omega-ed oils: hemp seed, flax / linseed, chia seed.

Hemp oil is good on my skin, bu the stuff is outrageously damn fragile. Even if I keep it in the fridge, even the little time it spends in warm bathroom and especially in a warm shower, that’s enough to help it go rancid very fast. Sure, not as fast as keeping it out in the open (days); even with some “stabilising” oils like meadowfoam (adds maybe a few days to life).

Camelina oil is much more stable, doesn’t need refrigeration, has a long-ish shelf life. Sounds ideal.

Like some other oils I’ve liked, its main use and historical development have been as a more sustainable substitute for other oils. Its main uses recently have been for cattle feed (though the cattle industry isn’t exactly sustainable) and for biofuel. Camelina plants tolerant of cold and need little water to grow: eco-friendly compared to other plants. It’s a substitute for crude oil and derivatives, which was in turn a substitute for whale oil. It was also used in Europe as lamp oil before the 19th-century whale-oil era. Good cooking oil too.

So that’s like canola / rapeseed oil and meadowfoam seed oil. It’s somewhat related to rapeseed, they’re both members of the mustard family. No, that does not mean it’s like smearing hot stingy mustard on your skin. That’s foolish thinking.

One of the main areas for development, scientific study, and production of camelina seed is in central Canada, so I’m also supporting national and local agriculture. There have of course, as you might imagine, been forays into bioengineering the stuff; with, as you might imagine, pros and cons both ways. Corporate nasties trying to control seed supplies, ensure sterility of hybrids and thus a captive farmer market, and rule the world. And bio-engineering as a long laudable human occupation, one of the earliest human activities in technology and in scientific method / methodical science, from back around the Neolithic agricultural revolution somewhere around -10,000.

Not yet tested. Will report back once preliminary testing has been completed (so: if there are immediate reactions, and then how things go after 6 weeks or so).

UPDATE (2014-02-14): it arrived, I tested it out, and it’s a NO.

skin & hair updates


Experiment with using up old avocado oil (we just don’t use it enough or fast enough in the kitchen), alone or mixed with meadowfoam seed oil: over. Using up the last of it on body. Zits on face. It is more moisturising than meadowfoam alone, initially anyway. And less zitty than olive. But for moisture-retention by the end of the day, better results can be observed by changing from a hyaluronic acid-based serum to a moister one without (Garden of Wisdom oat serum). I tried that with the meadowfoam-avocado mix, then with meadowfoam alone.

Conclusion: face: back to meadowfoam oil for moisture, and back (actually, way back from before this here blog…) to that oat serum.

Skin being very reactive at the moment: entirely to do with work stress. But that means that many substance that are otherwise OK on my skin, or have been in the past, trigger reaction. Vitamin C (even the very mild MAP) and green tea, for example. The antioxidant serum with which there have been least reactions has been another GoW one, Majik Green Tea. Still not as good (on me, right now) as their oat one, with which there are zero reactions.

We’ll see about reintroducing antioxidant serums for boosting sun protection, once there is more sun (and once skin is less irritable). Eating antioxidants seems to be fine, fortunately; would be disastrous otherwise, as I’m more or less vegetarian (with occasional fish).


My hair is currently shortish.

Over the course of my/its/ our life it has mostly been long; if you are an actual natural redhead and your hair looks nice, there’s often family, societal, and amorous pressure to keep it long. As it’s wavy to curly, and not uniformly, certain cuts and styles don’t work. Remember that I am lazy. So I usually have more or less the same cue, one length, longish. That also means hair can be trimmed every couple of months at a cheap unisex place.

But it gets dry and tangled, can cost a lot in products (been OK recently), certainly costs time and effort. Just getting conditioner through the stuff in the shower, for example. And, for numerous reasons and sometimes for none at all, sometimes I cut it. Lots of it off.

I went into a hairdressers when the “GET IT OFF ME” urge struck. This was, luckily, not only a good hairdresser but one who knew what to do with intermittently wavy hair, and who understood lazy people. I don’t know whether she is also lazy herself, or diplomatic, or genuinely neutral and non-judgemental. But she was sympathetic, and the first hairdresser I’ve met (or remember) who didn’t try to change my whole hair routine and force me to style and blow-dry the barnet. She did amazing things. Hair stayed amazing for the next six weeks. It also grew, as usual. I returned for some maintenance, reshaping, like topiary. (Sorry, at the start of a shorter hair phase, I find I’ve forgotten lots of stuff since the last time and have to learn all this hair excitement all over again.)

Happy hair.

It does, however, need a little on the product management side. Hence re-excavating the products that lurk at the back of a cupboard under a sink in the guest room, so mostly used by visitors. Some stuff had been left by visitors too. Plus collected samples, freebies, etc. Many were off (to the trash!) and many smelled awful, or anyway, bad to my nose. Some led to sneezing.

Adding more conditioner: meh and greasy
Adding more of other conditioners: ditto
Shea butter on ends: good against dryness, not good on flyaway cowlick bits, just greased them
John Masters Organics shine on: bugger all difference, and if you add too much hair gets weighed down and greasy rather than shiny.
JMO gel, the one that smells of orange: good, but smell got to me
Giovanni, The Body Shop, Desert Essence (various): scent issues and skin reactions. See, that’s something to remember with shorter hair: more surrounding skin is exposed…
And a bunch of others that went in the trash.

So I went on an expedition, online and IRL. Looking for something gelid but unscented. There may well be others I didn’t get (feel free to add comment below…), but the one I did get, being easily obtained here, was the Curelle gel. It does what I need it to do: tame flyaways, control frizz, generally help hair to behave itself. And it does so with discretion. Apply small quantity, distribute evenly through hair, let hair dry, that’s it. You don’t feel the stuff all day, no grease or crunching or desiccation. And no sneezing.

oil update: winter skin (and other bodily parts)

futurama: bender and robot oil

A quickie post this one, mainly as a pathetic excuse to repost some glorious images of chocolate-based tasty treats!

It is now winter. Not quite officially, we have a couple of days yet to go. Unofficially, and according to older calendars, we’ve been in winter since the beginning of November and will stay here until the beginning of February. At once a more pessimistic version of the season—it starts earlier—and a more sensible and practical one. As soon as you’re wearing extra woolly layers and scarves, it’s winter. Sorry.

This older version of seasonal categorization also works out better at the other end: the start of spring vegetables (and, alas, lambs destined to live and end their lives as “spring lambs”). It may still be freezing cold in February, but you’ll also be noticing more light. Even in the horrors of extreme northerly areas such as those I’m originally from, and from which I’ve spent as much as possible of my life escaping by living in lower slightly sunnier latitudes like Vancouver.

But winter means winter skin. And hair. And nails. Continue reading

update: coconut oil experiment

dr bronner's coconut oil

EXPERIMENTAL METHODOLOGY AND RATIONALE: see tentative pre-review (2013-04-11)

NB: what works for my hair won’t necessarily work for anyone else’s hair.


1. Hair =

  • fine (strand-diameter)
  • thick (density, number of strands)
  • slightly wavy all over (2b), curly to frizzy in places (3b) especially in the underside and at the temples: this is the hair that grows the slowest and is most prone to breakage, on many people
  • dryish
  • longish: longest bits are between shoulder-blades, definitely now well below shoulder-length but not yet in the bra-hitting zone
  • sensitive scalp, can be eczema-prone
  • untreated: never been dyed, retextured, straightened, hot-iron-tortured, etc.
  • very rarely blow-dried (like maybe once a year or so, plus when at hairdresser’s even though I’m training them, slowly but surely, not to dry my hair to death every time and to respect the curl, man; may also be time to shop around on the hairdressing front)
  • and basically healthy

2. Coconut oil =


  1. Brush hair
  2. Scoop oil out of jar. Melt between palms of hands.
  3. Apply to hair, raking it through. Concentrating on underside and known frizz, then rest of hair. When all hair is oiled, I’m done.
  4. Twist into a medium-high bun and wrap up in cloth. Usually half a leg of an old pair of cotton/bamboo thick winter tights. Yay for recycling.
  5. Leave hair and oil to their own devices for an hour.* Make coffee, eat breakfast, drink coffee, read the news, start the usual daily deletion of pointless email crap, start dealing with email crap that’s not pointless (and, if very lucky, isn’t basically crap. With all possible due and undue respect to colleagues and others I work with.)  Continue reading

reviews: some experimental failures

OK, a first one would of course be the Viagra Paradigm. Today is the 1st of May. A good day on which to reflect on alternatives, and maybe do more than sit around doing so at home in an armchair. If it’s a nice sunny day, why not go and do something actively and proactively about it? Might involve some singing too, and that’s very good for you.

may day

Preamble and/or irreelevent digression over, back to folly-praising business and beauty products. Continue reading

tentative pre-review: coconut oil

Just because I know my skin reacts to 99.999% of known substances in the universe is no reason why I should not keep trying stuff out on it. And there, ladies and gentlemen, is where there may be a really interesting (and sometimes epic) conflict between rationality and common sense. This is very interesting to me right now because part of my current work—in my real life existence—kinda sorta involves these very topics. Long story. Much of it probably not very interesting to anyone else, even people in my field of work. And we’re a pretty geeky field.

But I digress.

Always a good way to start a post.

Previous use of coconut oil:  Continue reading

oh lordy


“Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!” (the venerable and sagacious Father Jack, in the great 20th-century Irish epic, “Father Ted”)

or, a continuation of our adventures in the Mysterious and Marvellous Land of Feck…  Continue reading

“Bah humbug” to New Year’s resolutions

Yes, so much for the fancy-pants complication of my life by moving from ONE to TWO multi-purpose oils. It’s just way too complicated for me, my bathroom, my clumsiness first thing in the morning, and my myopia.

Back to basics, tried and trusted, that work: ONE OIL TO RULE THEM ALL and in the darkness bind them. In a good way, Continue reading