The Black Cat Blog
Skin, Hair & Ideas for Living Kindly
The Black Cat Blog
Skin, Hair & Ideas for Living Kindly
We use organic Jojoba oil in some of our products (facial oils, scalp & hair oils and shampoo bars) but do you know where it comes from and why we use it?
The oil, actually a wax which is liquid at room temperature, is pressed from the seeds of a grey/green shrub called Simmondsia chinensis, grown in North Mexico and South-West USA. I think they look a bit like brown olives! Its chemical composition closely resembles the sebum that you find naturally on your skin and so it is easily absorbed into the skin and is suitable for all skin types including oily, mature and sensitive skin.
It is highly nourishing and an excellent moisturiser, reducing moisture loss from the skin without blocking the pores. It's great for use on face, body, lips, cuticles, scalp and hair. Basically everywhere! It's full of essential fatty acids and vitamins and has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties, making it good for a range of skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.
It is absorbed into the skin very easily. It soothes dry, itchy and flaky skin (including on the scalp) and is also wonderful for mature skin, helping to reduce fine lines & wrinkles and can help keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated if you find it's changing during the menopause. When used on hair, it nourishes and softens and is even said to strengthen the hair and help prevent hair loss! With all these wonderful properties, it is one of my favourite oils.
As soap bar specialists, we also have a passion for soap dishes. We have a wide selection to suit all bathrooms and tastes, from coconut bowls to handmade porcelain trays.
All the natural soap dishes which are made of wood or bamboo are compostable and when they get to the end of their life you can break them up or just put them in the compost or in with the garden waste. This is a great zero waste product!
While it’s normal for them to get darker as they get wet, what you don’t want them to do is start the composting process while they’re in your bathroom! So here are some tips to keep your soap dish nice for as long as possible.
For us , it's always been about the animals.
I met a vegetarian for the very first time in 1988 and that year I tried giving up meat instead of the usual chocolate! That was it! I was a veggie, albeit one with a craving for bacon.
Becoming a vegan never even occurred to me at that point.
When I moved to Turkey in the early 90s it was quite hard as a vegetarian. People just didn't "get it". I remember being offered tripe soup with the pieces of tripe carefully taken out so that I could eat it, or being brought a plate of fried chicken because I had said I didn't eat meat. Even the potentially veggie dishes, like bean and chickpea stews and rice were often not an option because they were made with meat stock. I usually ended up with omelettes and chips when I was out!
The day we moved back to the UK in 1999, Haluk stopped eating meat and so we became a vegetarian family and brought up our children as vegetarians too.
When I was a veggie I thought that I was doing the right thing - until I became vegan - and then I asked myself why it had taken me so long. But now looking back I realise that I had already begun the journey to veganism long before but I just hadn't recognised it as that. I had been taking more and more steps along the road. I'd stopped using cow's milk long ago, only bought leather shoes if they were second hand, didn't buy cosmetics if they contained ingredients from animals, only bought cruelty free skincare, went around the neighbourhood in Izmir at night taking lids of dustbins so the street cats could find food, helped ants across the road - promise I'll tell you about it one day!!
6 years ago on New Year's Day Haluk announced that he had become a vegan. I was surprised as he hadn't mentioned it beforehand. When he stopped eating meat people said it was because of me. Perhaps that's true. I was the first vegetarian that he had met. When he became vegan the tables were turned and he motivated me to do the same.
By Easter I was also vegan!
We both believe it is one of the best decisions we have ever made and our only regret is that we didn't do it sooner.
But what does being vegan actually mean?
The Vegan Society definition is this:
"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."
Preventing the exploitation of and cruelty to animal is why we and many others become vegan but it's not the only reason. A vegan lifestyle can have a positive impact on your health and is a more sustainable option for the planet and for people around the world. The Vegan Society website is a great source of information and advice so take a look.
Wherever you are on your journey and whether you're doing it for the animals, the planet or your health .... or for all 3 .... we know that it can be tricky sometimes to find vegan alternatives for the things you love. And that includes the products you put on your body as well as the ones you put in it.
There are lots of big brands out there which are now offering vegan alternatives and while it's great that there is more and more choice for us all, it also means that some of the money we pay for purchasing vegan products ends up supporting the very same companies that use animal ingredients or carry out animal testing of some of their other products.
As a vegan business and vegan ourselves, you can rest assured that the money you pay won't end up supporting a company that exploits animals.
We know very well that going vegan is a journey. Even if you stop eating animal products over night, being vegan isn't just about diet and it may take some time before you have a fully vegan lifestyle. We've been on that journey. In fact we're still on it! It's incredible that over 5 years down the line, we are still discovering products and processes that aren't vegan.
One example is when I was drinking fresh orange juice last year, glanced at the bottle and saw the dreaded words "not suitable for vegans". It turns out that some oranges and other fruit are coated in shellac which is resin from the lac insect. Another example was when we were looking into getting paper made of recycled cotton off-cuts from the fashion industry. It sounded like a great, sustainable idea and we were very keen on it until doing our research and finding out that gelatine was used in that particular paper making process. And only a few months ago, I have learnt that many pencils contain animal fats, especially the ones with the softer "lead".
I'm not sure if it will ever be possible to live a 100% vegan lifestyle but I think we need to remember the definition provided by the Vegan Society that describes it as a "way of living which seeks to exclude--as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose".
I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but my feet always need some extra care and attention when spring comes around. I hate cold feet and so they spend most of the year snuggled up in cosy socks and boots. When they eventually see the light of day, they look a bit sad!
Over the past few years I’ve worked out a routine which I use to get them back into shape in time for sandal weather and to keep them feeling soft and comfortable until they get hidden away again!!! Here are some tips:
We were really excited in January to be featured in the local Courier!
It all started in December when we signed up to join an online meeting organised by Sustainable Kirriemuir to hear about the support offered to local businesses by Circular Tayside, an initiative helping people identify circular economy opportunities within their businesses. This led to ....
Have you ever wondered how your humble bar of natural soap was made?
We make all our soap (and our other skin and hair care products) ourselves from scratch, from plant-based ingredients.
We use the traditional "cold process" method for our soap. Here's an outline of the process we follow from initial idea to final product:
You've read our previous blog and heard about the benefits of using organic oils on your hair and scalp. But how do you actually use them and make sure you're making the most of them?
Here are 5 Simple Steps for using the oils so that your scalp is healthy and your hair is happy.
A healthy scalp means healthier hair.
We treat our face to oils and potions, pamper our body with butters and lotions, smother our lips, hands and feet in balms and creams. But what do we do to look after the skin on our scalp? It often misses out on our care even though we’re subjecting it to intense heat from our hairdryers and potentially harsh ingredients in our hair dyes and styling products.
Plastic Free July is just about over and I’ve been feeling a bit disappointed with myself this year because I haven’t really made any major changes.