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Category Archives: Beauty is a War Duty

A gift from things in the kitchen

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No, it’s not a cookie, and you can’t eat it, but I like the idea.  I’ve been nosing around the internet, looking for quick gifts that I can put together in a snap with a little help from Daughter.

I found this one on No Time for Flashcards, and immediately liked the idea.  Not only can Daughter do this almost entirely by herself, but I have everything I need right in the kitchen, including the empty jars.  I would probably switch the extract to vanilla, which seems to be more universally appealing, but peppermint has more of a holiday feel.

For more scent ideas, I’ve also found an archived article from Martha Stewart, which is here on-line.  Granted, not many Home Front women would have sacrificed their sugar ration to make a body scrub, but soap was equally as scarce, so they probably would have appreciated the gift…

I should briefly note that many coeliacs have reactions to skin products that contain wheat and wheat-by products.  Personally, I am horribly suspicious of mass-produced products because the wheat-by products are  hidden in the labelling, and companies are not required to list allergens since the product is not supposed to be ingested (this holds for dental products too, even though they go in your mouth).  If I make a scrub in my kitchen, at least I know it’s not going to be contaminated…

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Favorite Cosmetics Catalogue

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Yesterday, I was prattling on about how I found some wrapping ideas in my favorite cosmetics catalogue, and that it wasn’t Mary Kay or Avon.  Truthfully, it’s not really a cosmetics catalogue, but since I don’t wear much make-up, it is as close as I get to cosmetics.  That said, my favorite company is Lush, and here’s why.

Lush is dedicated to creating delicious soaps and things from non-irritating, plant-based ingredients.  The store can be a bit heady, smell-wise, but their individual products smell divine.  I love their shampoos bars, face scrubs, and lotion bars.  I have pale, sensitive skin, so I have problems with most mainstream products, but not with Lush.  If I do have any problem, I can return the bottle and exchange it for something else.  Also, they are very generous with their samples, so I can find out ahead of time which face creme leaves me greasy.

As to the price, yes, a number of their products are expensive, like their bath bombs, but I don’t think the lotion and shampoo bars are any more expensive, especially since they tend to last longer than mainstream products (this does not hold true for their soaps).  Their face scrubs and face cremes also last quite a long time and are competitively priced.

So how does this tie into the Home Front?  Cosmetics and beauty products were hard to come by, since most factories were producing things for the war and the ingredients had to be imported.  In addition, things like bottles and tubes were also hard to come by towards the end of the war.  Soaps and shampoos made from local plant ingredients would have been popular, especially if they didn’t need additional packaging.  At least, that is how it plays out in my mind = )

Beauty tricks from Grandma

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I was perusing the internet this weekend and found an article that made me smile.  The article covers all sorts of cosmetic tricks women used during the War and Austerity years.  I smiled throughout the article, because my grandmother, who used to model during the Forties, still uses many of these tricks, especially if it involves Vaseline.  She used to tell me about using Max Factor pancake make-up and an eyebrow pencil in place of stockings and how she and her best friend used to spend ages drawing the stocking lines on each other to make sure they were straight.  The one thing the article doesn’t mention that my grandmother used to do is dusting greasy roots with cornstarch, which apparently only works if you have straight hair.  By the way, I know from my mother’s merciless hand that you can iron curly hair straight, as long as it’s on a low setting and you can sit with your head on the ironing board (I don’t recommend it much).

So, here is the article, which is full of Home Front beauty remedies that are easy on body and budget.  Enjoy, and let me know what you try out, but please don’t try to iron your hair.

Conditioner for curly hair

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Imagine for a minute that you had to condition your hair without chemicals.  What would you reach for?  If you have naturally curly hair like I do, your first instinct is to panic.  This actually happened to me when I was camping in Africa and got my bottle of conditioner stolen by a baboon.  I was at a complete loss for what to do and days away from anywhere selling anything like cosmetics.  Thankfully a wiser woman took pity on me and showed me how to massage coconut oil into my hair to ease tangling.  This was so effective that I haven’t used anything else in the last ten years.

Simply take regular coconut oil like you get at the grocer, which is usually solid unless it’s really hot outside, and rub in your palms to liquefy and then massage deeply into your hair, particularly the ends.  You can do this with your hair wet or dry, and you don’t need much at all, not more than what fits on the tip of your fingernail, though this probably depends on the length and thickness of your hair.  Once you get the amount right, it doesn’t leave your hair greasy at all, and then you don’t have to use any mousse or frizz-ease type stuff to tame your curls.  As an added bonus, the oil seems to coat the ends enough to let tangles slide out when you brush your hair, so it helps with split ends too.  I’ve had numerous hairdressers ask me what conditioner I use, and most don’t believe me when I tell them that I use plain coconut oil.

Another reason that this way of conditioning is useful is because it is so adaptable.  For instance, curly-headed people have all had days when it seems like their hair has a mind of its own.  When this happens to me, I just slap some more coconut oil in and it helps tremendously.  Also, I can rub it directly on my scalp if my scalp has dried out for some reason.  I can also use the coconut oil in a pinch on other dry parts like feet and elbows.  Finally, a jar of coconut oil generally lasts me about two years, so I go wild and buy the organic, fair trade stuff.

Life being what it is, my daughter of course has thick, straight hair, and I have found that coconut oil isn’t very good for straight hair.  There is something about the curls that keeps it from looking greasy.  Still, it works for me and a number of other curly-headed people I know, so I’ve decided to pass it on.  I won’t lie and say that it solves all of the irritations involved with natural curls, but it does help most of them.