Sunday, 7 September 2014

SUNDAY READS: 3 Things I've Learnt In August

The month of August has come to an end, I thought I might share with you what I've learnt in the past 31 days. A lot of things have happened in the past four weeks - I've learnt what it means to be strong, I've learnt what it means to be confident, I've learnt what it means to 'fake it till you make it'...

So many lessons were learnt and I continue to be grateful for every experience that comes my way. 

1. There will always be noise
I've finally realised that everyone has an opinion and the large majority want someone to listen to their ideas. Sometimes, people's opinions can be really useful. I met a wonderful executive coach by chance last year and, with a few words, she was able to completely change my way of thinking. She really empowered me to take a path not taken by most, so that I can be happier than most. 

But it's not everyday that you'll meet someone like that. In fact, in this past month, I've been meeting some of the most negative people I've ever come across. I've sat in front of people who hate on other people's ideas because they are 'too big/small/stupid/insignificant/outlandish/impossible/impractical'. The list goes on. 

I confess to being a pessimistic and cautious type of person. So to be surrounded by these type of people only makes me more unsure about the path I've chosen. Uncertainty has also lead to inaction. Inaction has led to more uncertainty...

It took awhile for me to actually catch on to what was happening. And it took just as long to realise that what people have been saying to me have all been opinions. They are not facts. They do not know anymore than I do about what the future holds. 

I've learnt to take things with a grain of salt. There will always be people who want to let you know their opinion. Don't only hear what you want to hear. Hear everything but also examine everything to know whether what they're saying is valuable or not. 

Obviously, if people have a point, then it's best to take note and to really question whether their concerns are well founded. 

If not, then, at the end of the day, so long as it makes sense to you and it makes you happy, cut out all the noise and do exactly what you were doing before. 

via West Willow

2. Rephrase your words. Say what is useful
I think it's always important to be aware of what your words can do to others. Even though you mean well, your words might still hurt someone. 

I've been on both sides this month - I've been the well intentioned one and I've also been the hurt one. I know how wronged you feel when the person you're speaking to throws back your good intentions. I also know how uncomfortable it is to hear someone offering well-meaning, but just unhelpful, advice. 

I don't think I can completely decide never to be the one who gets hurt in this equation. But I have decided that I don't want to be consciously responsible for someone else's unhappiness or stress. I think one of the best ways to approach this is by only saying what is helpful to others. 

It's not like I'm going around sugarcoating everything or straight out lying to them. It's just that I've chosen to rephrase my words. Instead of blatantly pointing out someone else's flaws, I offer suggestions by saying things like 'how awesome would it be if...'

It makes such a big difference. No only is there no negativity exchange during the conversation, but people seem so much more receptive to what I have to say. 

via PDG

3. Get your priorities right
If only I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were busy. I totally get it - You're busy. I'm busy. Everyone is damn busy, especially since we live in times where being pressed for time is equated to productivity. 

We're THAT busy that we're often forced to choose between our work, studies, partners, families, friends and interests. But sometimes I wonder if the words 'I'm busy' is an avoidance mechanism. 

I'm beginning to think that if we really wanted to do something, we would make time for it. We would diarise it and use it as motivation to get through all the mundane stuff.

I've found that if a task comes across of mind more than a few times and I don't make a firm commitment to complete it, I know that it's not something I really want to do. And then I have to ask myself some honest questions about why that is so and what I can realistically do about it.

Sometimes it's as straight forward as 'Well, even though I don't want to do it, I still have to because the consequences are unwanted or something I don't want to deal with'. Other times, it's a huge wakeup call and it calls for a rethink about what I'm doing.

Either way, I think it's important to have a look at where your priorities lie and to see whether they are aligned with what you want out of life.

Do any of these points resonate with you? What have you learnt in August? 
Always love to hear your thoughts on life!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dry or Itchy Scalp?

Recently, the haircare market has seen the oncoming of sulphate-free shampoos. Most of the time you'll see the words 'sulphate-free' in big bold highlighted letters on shampoo bottles - so you definitely won't miss them!

But why the sudden influx of these shampoos? More importantly, what are the benefits of a sulphate-free shampoo?

It's easier to first look at what's bad about sulphate in shampoos. More often that not, the first ingredient listed on the back of shampoos is sulphate, a grease-cutting detergent that is commonly found in industrial cleaners and beauty cleansing products. In shampoos, sulphate is the element that assists in the forming of soap, helping you to get that nice lather that leaves your scalp feeling clean. 
The problem with sulphate is that it can irritate the scalp and skin. It's responsible for that burning sensation when you get shampoo in your eyes. It can also contribute to an itchy and dry scalp, which in itself can lead to or aggravate problems such as dandruff and eczema on the scalp. Bad news for sensitive skin types!

Sulphate is also said to make hair dry, dull and brittle because it can dissolve the natural oils in our hair. Colourists say that, by extension, it can make your new hair colour fade faster. Some state that, because the ingredient is so corrosive, it can damage hair follicles and make you lose hair. This is made even worse if the shampoo isn't properly rinsed out. 

There are some other research studies floating around the internet claiming that sulphate can contribute to a plethora of more serious health issues such as organ failure and cancer.
I've been using Kao Essentials Rich Premier shampoo, which has sulphate in it, for years already and   it honestly is the best shampoo I've ever used. Not only does it clean really well, it smells absolutely divine. Their conditioner is even better, keeping my hair nice and soft. Sometimes, I'll even substitute the conditioner for their Damage Care Intensive Hair Mask for a bit of pamper!

You may have heard about the dermatitis on my hands and how it's been the bane of my existence for such a long time. My hands are permanently red looking and, when it's at its worst, I'll have open wounds. 

It's just plain scary. 

I actually have dermatitis on my neck and sometimes on my scalp as well. 

I've seen a truckload of dermatologists and herbalists, and nothing has helped. Until I met my current Chinese doctor who told me to stop using shampoo with sulphate in it. 

And would you believe that its seriously helped?! Alongside a few courses of Chinese herbs and a few changes to my diet, my hands and scalp are blister free and are finally looking skin-coloured! Wooo! My neck sometimes gets itchy but I feel like it's more to do with the Hong Kong heat/humidity more than anything else. 

But why the sad face? 

It's because sulphate-free shampoos are a totally different ballgame. They don't lather like normal shampoos and so my hair doesn't feel as clean as before. When I first started using sulphate-free shampoos, I had to wash my hair twice and even then I noticed that my hair gets oiler much quicker than before. I'm assuming that this because there is no longer any sulphate present to wash away my natural oils. 

I tried to use my normal shampoo a few times and my hands started to itch again - so it's a no go for me from now on!

I continue to use the Essentials Rich Premier conditioner but have found that my hair feels less soft than before - not coarse and necessarily drier but less softer to the touch. I'm actually still on the hunt for the perfect sulphate-free shampoo. 

Having said that, I am extremely happy that the skin on my hands and neck, and scalp are healing. So I'm going to have to stick with sulphate-free shampoos. 

I really recommend anyone with a dry or itchy scalp, or redness on their neck or around their eyes to give sulphate-free shampoos a go. A few friends of mine with mild eczema on their scalp and the back of their necks made the switch and it all healed up!

What hair type are you? Oily, normal or dry? 
Have you ever used sulphate-free shampoos before?