Big Hair (Let-Down) - Rahua Voluminous Shampoo

After reading glowing reviews from beauty bloggers the world over, Rahua Voluminous Shampoo seemed like the logical next step in my natural shampoo journey. I agonised for days, hours, weeks, before eventually sucking it up and purchasing from SpaceNK. I've had bad experiences in the past with online shampoo purchases so decided not to risk the full-size bottle and went for the travel-size instead (and of course threw in the matching conditioner while I was at it). I hummed and hawed (again) over whether to go for the original version but seeing as my hair is ridiculously fine (read: flat), I decided a bit of bounce couldn't exactly hurt.

The famed ingredient of this product range is Rahua (pronounced ra-wa) oil, found in the Amazon rainforest. The shampoo itself is both vegan and SLS-free (yay) and has a lovely citrusy scent, sort of lemon and limey, reminiscent of those Twister ice pops you had when you were a kid. The scent is the best thing about it because it's all downhill from there.

I feel like at this point I should point out I live in a particularly hard water area, as commented on by every plumber I've ever had out to fix my washing machine (and usually followed by a hearty recommendation of Calgon tablets). I'm more than willing to believe that my shower water has a detrimental effect on my hair (and skin) and perhaps stops certain products from working as well as they would under other circumstances. Whenever I go abroad, I'm always curious to see how my hair reacts to the change.

Okay back to the shampoo. It's quite a thick gel and foams up nicely but, and this is a big but, it just doesn't leave my hair feeling clean. And I don't mean squeaky clean, I mean it leaves my hair feeling greasier than it was to start with. I tried shampooing more than once, and rinsing until others were banging on the bathroom door for their turn in the shower, nothing worked. I continued determinedly however until a recent visit to the hairdresser when I overheard the stylist telling the girl about to wash my hair that she needed to use a clarifying shampoo not once, not twice, but three times (and let it sit for a minute) because of all the product build-up in my hair.

I was shocked. Having suffered from bacne since I was a teenager, I'd stopped using any hair products (apart from shampoo and conditioner) about six months previously. I've never had to use a clarifying shampoo before in my entire life. As I sat in the backwash chair (a term I had learnt that very day!), I pondered the possible causes of such an extreme amount of build-up and came to the conclusion that it had to be *sob* my new shampoo.

And my sister, younger but wiser, completely agrees. In fact she said she had been meaning to tell me that my hair had been looking like I hadn't gotten all of the shampoo out lately. Cue major mortification on my part, I mean, what must people have been thinking? After the stylist had dried my hair, I could not believe the shine out of it; I think I actually did a double take in the mirror. And since I had requested no extra product, she said that shine was all mine. So it looks like its back to the drawing board (or should that be Google) again.

P.S. I didn't mention the conditioner because I didn't feel it was worth mentioning. I've never been much of a conditioner fan anyway but this one was seriously meh. Sad face.

Best Foot Forward - Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme

When I was younger, I hated my feet. And I mean hated them. Not because of how they looked or anything but purely because of their size. Try explaining to a child (and later teenager) that she can't wear the same pretty little shoes all her friends have because they just don't come in her size; I still feel sorry for my mother when I think back to our annual struggle to find suitable school shoes. So because someone somewhere decided that women's feet don't go past a (UK) size 8, every time I entered a shoe shop and asked the sales assistant, in hushed tones so as not to draw attention to my already highly embarrassing plight, if they carried any size 9's, I would be met with a look of scorn, pity or just plain disbelief.

I'd like to say that a decade on things had changed for the better, but the truth is many high street stores still don't cater to women with smaller or larger than average feet. Online shopping has made my life somewhat easier in that you know immediately whether a site stocks your size or not and since you try in the comfort of your own home and have the option of returning by post, the whole experience is made a lot more enjoyable. Do I wish I could wander into my favourite clothes stores and find shoes in my size, something most people take for granted, of course I do. But really I'm just so grateful that I no longer have to drag my poor mother all over the country in search of just one pair of size 9 heels (that don't scream granny chic) every time I have a special occasion.

It's taken me a long time but I've come to love my feet and appreciate them for all the wonderful things they allow me to do. I haven't always taken the best care of them, and after years of desperately trying to squeeze them into shoes that were much too narrow and at least a size too small, the effects were starting to show. That's why in recent years I've come to the decision that no matter how amazing something looks, if it's not comfortable to wear then it's just not worth it. Trying to reverse some of the damage I'd done, I hit up my local healthfood shop in search of a foot cream that would hopefully take years off my tootsies.

Despite my love/hate relationship with all things Burt's Bees, I decided to give their Coconut Foot Creme the benefit of the doubt. Touted as a "pampering natural foot cream" that will "revive and rejuvenate even the driest, most neglected feet", I was expecting a lot from this product. Boy was I wrong. Now I wouldn't go so far as to say I hated it, but it did leave me feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

My first issue is the smell; yes there is a slight coconutty scent but it is completely overpowered by the supposed "hint" of rosemary and peppermint. Then there's the texture; in no way could this be described as a cream, it's a thick, gloopy gel which is nearly impossible to rub in. I made the mistake of applying it once before work and I slipped and slid in my gladiator sandals all the way to work, and all the way home. I tried using it only at bedtime, putting on cotton socks so the heat would help it to absorb, but my feet just felt sticky and gross all night and weren't even particularly moisturised the following morning. If anything, I couldn't wait to hop in the shower to rinse the damn thing off.

I think it's safe to say the quest for my Holy Grail foot cream continues.