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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    abby jimenez author of the friend zone
    Abby, the writer of The Friend Zone, has shared a hilarious story of her husband overdoing the laxatives (Picture: Abby Jimenez)

    It’s the end of the week, it’s hot, the world is burning, and we could all do with a good laugh.

    Thankfully, one man has been kind enough to share his highly entertaining misfortune with the world, and so we can laugh at his expense without feeling too guilty.

    Author Abby Jimenez, whose debut book The Friend Zone is out now, shared the story of her husband making her worry ‘he was dying’.

    We know that doesn’t sound funny yet, but bear with us.

    Abby thought her husband was dying because he managed to unintentionally take twelve doses of laxatives.

    The mistake was all thanks to the packaging. The laxatives the couple had at home came in the form of a chocolate bar, by Ex-Lax, with the instructions to eat one to two squares.

    Abby Jimenez - Husband eats way too many laxatives
    Abby’s husband thought ‘one square’ meant the entire chocolate bar (Picture: Abby Jimenez)

    That’s all fine and dandy unless you open the box upside down, and can’t see the little segments of the chocolate bar. Abby’s husband assumed one square was the entire chocolate bar, so gobbled it all down.

    Of course, the poor man’s wife was highly sympathetic… despite being unable to stop laughing.

    Abby shared the story on Facebook, where it was promptly shared more than 62,000 times and flooded with comments from others cackling at the mishap.

    Abby wrote: ‘So last night my husband took some Ex-lax. Then this morning, some shit started going down. Like, literally.

    ‘He looked at the packaging and realized that when it said to eat 1-2 squares, it meant the tiny squares, not an entire block.

    ‘He ate 12 DOSES of Ex-lax.

    Picture: Abby Jimenez Husband eats way too many laxatives
    You can see how he got confused (Picture: Abby Jimenez)

    ‘So I’m calling Poison Control because he thought he was dying and I literally cannot stop laughing. I’m barely able to talk, I’m laughing so hard.

    ‘The guy on the other end probably thought it was a prank call. I swear to God, I hope they record their calls and enjoy that one at the staff meeting later because even thinking about me trying to explain that my 39 year old husband just ate a whole brick of Ex-lax is making me wheeze.

    ‘The guy was like, “The biggest risks are cramping, dehydration, and diaper rash”.’

    Naturally, the mention of diaper rash only made Abby laugh harder, yet she persisted.

    ‘I was NOT ready for this dude to come at me with diaper rash,’ she wrote. ;I completely lost it. My husband was so pissed (from the bathroom of course).

    ‘The Poison Control guy kept chuckling and going, “Oh boy. Oooooooh boy. You’ll need to get some Desitin.”

    ‘I am not equipped to deal with this kind of crisis. I know it could have been super serious, but OMG.

    ‘And the funniest part of all is he thought he only took a half dose because he only ate one bar.

    ‘He said the level of diarrhea that hit him was so violent, he immediately knew something was wrong.

    ‘He said he grabbed the box of Ex-Lax and read it like that scene in the movie Into the Wild when Chris McCandless realizes he’s eaten the wrong berries and he’s going to die.’

    Don’t worry, the man is totally fine, and he agreed to let Abby share the story publicly – although we doubt he knew it would go viral.

    Hours later, Abby is still laughing.

    ‘I’m still crying,’ she said. ‘I can’t even drink my latte because I keep choking thinking about it and spitting my coffee back into my mug.

    ‘I had to lay down sideways in a restaurant booth because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, three full hours after this happened.

    ‘I kept clearing my throat on the call with Poison Control like, “Ahem. Okay, I know this is serious. Please continue. AHAHAHAHAHA!!!”‘

    Abby’s husband might take some comfort in knowing he’s not alone in having taken far too many bites of laxative chocolate.

    The comments section of Abby’s post are filled with people sharing similar stories.

    ‘My dad recently had to get a colonoscopy and had to drink a little bottle of liquid exlax,’ wrote one commenter. ‘My mom was wailing with laughter all night and when he accidentally scratched a zit on his nose and sneezed, he sh*t himself and my mom peed her pants because she was laughing so hard.’

    The lesson here: check the dosage, even if your laxatives come in the form of a chocolate bar.

    And if you do make a mistake, be kind enough to share your story with the internet. We greatly enjoyed this one.

    MORE: Simple trick lets you see when a Tesco offer will run out

    MORE: Constipation: What is it, what causes it and how can you treat it?

    MORE: Hilarious video shows man escaping on a jet ski as girlfriend catches him on Tinder

    Husband eats way too many laxativesHusband eats way too many laxatives

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    metro illustrations
    It’s not just your skin that needs protecting in the sun (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    With the arrival of August, and with July being the hottest month ever recorded on earth, staying protected against the sun is of the utmost importance.

    But we’re not just talking about skin. For years skincare talk has dominated the beauty industry (and still does), but looking after your scalp and hair in the heat is just as important.

    Scalps and hairlines are often overlooked but being at the highest point of your body, they are prone to burning.

    Make scalp care a priority with our tips on how to give your head and hair some TLC this summer.

    Apply SPF protection to scalp

    Most people don’t use a traditional sun cream on their scalp because it leaves their hair greasy. But it’s important to use SPF protection on your head.

    Research has found that the most fatal melanoma skin cancers occur on the scalp – often because they are spotted later due to the fact they are hidden under hair. This means that cancer has had longer to develop and has often spread faster because the scalp is rich in blood vessels and lymphatics.

    Thankfully, there are plenty of products on the market specifically designed for scalp care – so you can sunbathe safely.

    Sprays are perhaps the easiest products to apply – they’re also great for keeping in a beach bag, in case a top up is needed after a swim.

    A product with great reviews is the Nuxe Sun Milky Oil, which is a water-resistant spray that protects both the scalp and hair.

    Be wary of the sun, salt and chlorine

    A combination of sun, salt and chlorine can not only dry hair out but can cause serious damage too. The best way to prevent it is to rinse hair after getting out of the pool or sea.

    It’s also worth noting that dry hair absorbs chlorine and salt, but wet hair doesn’t – so rising hair with fresh water before you enter the pool or sea will stop this from happening.

    Hair protection is big in the beauty industry so there are ample products which can help. Phillip Kingsley’s Swimcap is a safe bet – it’s a water-resistant mask that shields hair from chlorinated and salt water.

    Keep powders in mind

    Most people are familiar with putting powder on your face but it works a treat for scalps too.

    In fact, there are a number of powder products with SPF which can be applied to hairlines and partings to protect against the sun. They’re a safe, non-greasy alternative to sunscreen.

    Sunforgettable Brush-On Powder has SPF 50 and protects against UVA and UVB. It comes in five different shades too.

    products to protect hair and scalp in the sun
    Some great products for scalp and hair protection

    Pay special attention to exposed areas

    Make sure you cover exposed areas like partings, hairlines and your forehead with SPF, just like you would with skin. Otherwise sections will be left exposed to the sun and you’ll be left with a peeling parting as well as a flaky scalp.

    The best way to avoid burning these exposed areas – and to prevent burning in general – is to avoid the sun when UV is at its highest, which is usually the middle of the day between 11am-2pm.

    Tie your hair up

    It may sounds simple, but tying your hair up will conceal your scalp, protecting it from harmful UV rays.

    An up-do such as a top-knot or slicked back ponytail will help to fully cover your scalp.

    Just be aware that areas such as your forehead, neck and ears may be exposed with hair tied up, so be sure to apply sun cream generously.

    Wear hats or a hairband

    It might seem like it’s stating the obvious, but hats and hairbands create a literal barrier between your head and the sun.

    Hats also shield your face from the sun, making your head all the more cooler.

    Use UV protection hair products

    Just like skin, hair can burn. In fact, studies have shown that sun exposure is the most damaging factor for the structure of hair – so it’s important to take protective measures.

    Bumble and Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil is a great choice for heat and UV protection as well as L’oreal Serie Expert Solar Sublime Conditioning Spray, which is designed with a UV filter. It also creates a lightweight protective film around hair to lock in hydration.

    MORE: What a student thought was an ingrown hair was actually a sign of a rare type of cancer

    MORE: Woman says that wearing a hair tie on her wrist left her with permanent nerve damage

    MORE: Spot under woman’s eye turns out to be skin cancer

    illustration of girl playing with hairillustration of girl playing with hair

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    Cheapest place for a pint in the UK
    How does your city rank?

    Brits love a pint – or four for that matter.

    To mark International Beer Day, new research has revealed the cheapest and most expensive places in the UK to grab a beer.

    Northern cities topped the list for bargain beverages, with Preston’s pints proving the cheapest on average, at £3.06.

    Perth was tied with pints also costing £3.06 and Sunderland won third place at £3.07 – Liverpool and Kingston upon Hull followed behind, with the average pint coming in at £3.27 for both.

    Stoke-on-Trent, Southend-on-Sea, Dundee, Swansea and Sheffield all placed within the top 10 for cheapest beers.

    It hardly comes as a surprise that London topped the list for the dearest pint, coming in at £5.18 for an average pint.

    The research, which was carried out by price comparison site finder.com, also found that Brighton, Cambridge and Bristol all followed the capital in having the most expensive drinks in the country.

    Edinburgh was the fifth most expensive city for a pint, at £4.19, followed by Oxford at £4.14.

    Other cities that placed within the top ten for dearest pints were Reading, Portsmouth, Manchester and Belfast.

    On the whole, the study showed that northern cities were more likely to offer cheaper pints whereas in the midlands and down south, pints go for considerably more.

    Also, according to finder.com’s research, London is almost twice the average cost of a pint of beer across the globe.

    Preston £3.06
    Perth £3.07
    Sunderland £3.25
    Liverpool £3.27
    Kingston upon Hull £3.27
    Stoke-on-Trent £3.29
    Southend-on-Sea £3.29
    Dundee  £3.29
    Swansea £3.31
    Sheffield £3.37

    The list of most expensive pints, according to finder.com:

    London £5.18
    Brighton and Hove £4.53
    Cambridge £4.40
    Bristol £4.36
    Edinburgh £4.19
    Oxford £4.14
    Reading £4.12
    Portsmouth £4.11
    Manchester £4.11
    Belfast £4.05

    MORE: How to pretend you know about beer

    MORE: You can now get tea that tastes like beer so you can have a pint anytime

    MORE: Spill It: How much booze a 26-year-old video journalist drinks in a week

    Cheapest place for a pint in the UKCheapest place for a pint in the UK

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    Some prefer almond, some ballerina and others natural – we’re talking of course about nail shapes.

    But have you heard of the latest shape for 2019? The lipstick.

    The clue is in the name, the nail is filed at an asymmetric angle for a dramatic finish and this slanted bullet shape is reminiscent of a fresh-out-the-box lippy.

    The extra-pointy stiletto and its sister coffin have proved popular styles over the past few years, with celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Love Island stars opting for them as their nail shape of choice.

    The lipstick appears to be the 2019 update on angular nails – so we’re expecting to see the new shape sprawled across our social media feeds very soon.


    Celebrity and editorial nail artist Park Eunkyung of Unistella Nails is the woman behind the term, first coining it on her Instagram page earlier this year.

    Park’s inspiration behind the shape came from her love of cat-eye sunglasses, as she was determined to style her nails much like her favourite shades.

    Her Instagram account provides plenty of nail inspo – or nailspo – for how to wear the quirky shape, from red tips and ombré pastels to more muted light pink polishes.


    Whether the new nail shape is practical for day-to-day tasks is yet to be determined – but Park seems confident that they are in fact comfortable, claiming that they combine the qualities of a short and long nail into one.

    Practicality aside, they certainly look impressive and it’s likely we’ll be seeing much more of them over the coming months.

    MORE: If you want to attract foot fetishists, long toenail acrylics are now in

    MORE: Woman loses all her finger and toenails to mystery condition

    MORE: The best ways to protect your scalp and hair in the sun


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    Transforming school houses and haunted app are Lego's next big thing
    Transforming school houses and haunted app are Lego’s next big thing

    Lego has started a whole new line of augmented reality toys that enable kids to discover a ghostly other world via their phones.

    Lego might still be the most popular toy in the world but anyone with kids will know that children today aren’t necessarily interested in physical toys, but rather what they can play around with on their phone.

    The Danish toy giant has been experimenting with augmented reality (AR) for years, where you can point your phone at a set and see animations and moving figures superimposed over the real-world view from your camera – a bit like Pokémon GO.

    They’ve mostly been one-offs though and it’s only with the new Hidden Side line that Lego has made AR the whole focus of the toys.

    Most of the sets look like normal Lego City builds at first – a school bus, a boat, a truck, etc. – but they can be transformed both physically and with the help of a free Lego app.

    If you look at the sets through the app you find that there are ‘ghosts’ flying around nearby, with the AR adding lots of other background details – such as extra gravestones to the graveyard set.

    The app also highlights various switches and levers, which kids can turn in order to solve simple puzzles that make the ghosts vulnerable enough that they can be caught by the phone.

    Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 comes with a haunted toilet
    Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 comes with a haunted toilet

    At the same time the sets themselves transform, with the school set turning into a giant creature with snapping jaws and the school bus coming with a portable toilet that transforms into a projectile-shooting monster.

    There’s a whole backstory with the two main characters – kids using their own Lego-sized smartphones – that will be explored in other media but they’re also able to use the ghost-zapping equipment attached to most vehicles in simple shooting games via the app.

    The idea is that not only will the smartphone angle get kids interested in normal Lego but that by updating it with new ghosts to catch it’ll keep the toy sets fresh with new things to do.

    J.B.'s Ghost Lab is the cheapest set but it's still very interactive
    J.B.’s Ghost Lab is the cheapest set but it’s still very interactive

    Plus, you can download the app before getting any of the sets and still play some of the mini-games for free, if you want to judge how interested kids are likely to be in the general concept.

    There are eight sets at the moment on the Lego Shop, ranging from the £17.99 J.B.’s Ghost Lab to the £109.99 Newbury Haunted High School, but Lego are already hoping they’ll do well enough to lead to a second wave next year.

    If it doesn’t work out then the worst that happens is that you’re left with some cool transforming toys, but if Hidden Side is successful it could open up a whole new world for Lego.

    Transforming school houses and haunted app are Lego's next big thingTransforming school houses and haunted app are Lego's next big thing

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    A boat trip in Ibiza
    A boat trip in Ibiza (Picture: Deliciously Sorted concierge

    ‘But… what’s the point?’

    That was the general response when I revealed I was going to Ibiza for the weekend. A friend and I wanted a sunny getaway to escape rainy London and we only had two nights.

    ‘You’ll need that long to recover,’ they replied.

    Well, actually no. Forget super clubs and all-nighters. I am not your traditional Ibiza raver. Ibiza for me has always been about sunshine, long boozy beach lunches, paddle boarding, the odd hike or yoga session, sunset dinners and roof-top drinking.

    All of which you can do in two days, flying on Friday – after work for a 10pm arrival if you are really short on annual leave – and flying back at midnight on Sunday.

    You can be at dinner by 11pm Friday, wake up in the sunshine to a full day on Saturday and have all of Sunday on the beach with dinner before an airport taxi at 10pm.

    So, that’s exactly what I planned on doing on our speedy getaway.

    Here’s how you too can do Ibiza for 48 hours and still come back refreshed.

    1. Use a concierge service

    You are in Ibiza for 48 hours – you do not have time to waste in the wrong bar, wishing you were in the right one.

    It’s easy to miss out on the best parties / restaurants / beach experiences in Ibiza – so if time is tight, it’s worth recruiting the experts.

    Self-proclaimed ‘manager of expectations’ Serena Cook of Deliciously Sorted has over 18 years of experience in the luxury sector and offers guidance and insider knowledge which is essential for whatever you are looking for your trip on the island. For us, that was paddle boarding, lounging and bars.

    We were in good company: she has curated Ibiza agendas for clients that include George Clooney, Hugh Grant, Alice Temperley and Johnny Depp – plus they have been voted Conde Nast Travellers’ top travel specialists and we wanted only the hottest spots.

    VIP concierge packages start from €50 per booking or €1,500 for a weekly packages. For more information visit deliciouslysortedibiza.com or call +34 971 197 867

    2. Make your hotel part of the experience 

    TOD Talamanca hotel in Ibiza
    OD Talamanca hotel at Talamanca Bay (Picture: OD Talamanca)

    Choose one that is away from the crazy temptations of the party scene and near the places you want to go, if possible – taxis can get expensive here. We made our two-night stay at OD Talamanca count. This five-star boutique hotel is located at Talamanca Bay, conveniently only 15 minutes from the airport and close to one of our favourite lunch spots: Nobu Hotel.

    The hotel has a lovely rooftop so we had dinner and Laurent Perrier with a view there on the first night. With a coeliac to cater for, we were especially impressed with the quality and substitutes that were designed to suit her diet.

    Standard room rates at OD Talamanca range from 270€ (approx. £233) to 420€ (approx. £362) per night, depending on the time of booking. Rates include wifi, breakfast and soft drinks in the minibar (first refill), service charges and VAT. For room upgrade and Smart car access, rates start from 310€ (approx. £300) per night.

    OD Talamanca, C/ Jesús, 28, Playa Talamanca – 07800 Ibiza


    3. Hippy market, Las Dalias

    Home of the legendary Saturday hippy market which started out in 1954, Las Dalias, located between Santa Eulalia and San Carlos, has become somewhat iconic on the island. We love it for people watching –  it really does live up to the ‘hippy’ name. It can get very busy at times but there’s such a fun atmosphere it doesn’t seem to matter too much.

    Falafal stall at Las Dalias
    Falafal stall at Las Dalias

    There are both indoor and outdoor bars, with an additional ‘sky-bar’ on the roof terrace and a small club on site. Las Dalias Cafe downstairs does a really good watermelon mojito (14 euros) and there’s a vegan falafel place upstairs run by a husband and wife team that lives up to the claim of one of the ‘best in the world’.

    Be warned though: there’s usually a huge queue for these falafels.

    The market has plenty on offer besides shopping – live music, dancing, eating, drinking – but if you are in the mood to shop, there’s something for everyone, from bespoke Balearic jewellery to leather goods, fashion, furniture and arts and crafts. It’s great for unique, bohemian-inspired finds. Personally, the jewellery stalls are a favourite: we left with a handmade ring and a bracelet.

    While there are some places that will take card the smaller stalls and food stalls are cash only.

    For more info and events go to the website 


    4. Sunset dinner and cocktails at Hostal La Torre

    Recommended by many Ibiza regulars for being one of the best spots for sunset dining, this relaxed hotel-restaurant is a must. We arrived just after the sunset as unfortunately cabs on the island have a mind of their own and you can’t book in advance.

    The 30 minute drive to the Hostal La Torre from our hotel on the east coast to the most westerly tip near San Antonio will cost around 40 euros each way.

    Sunset was around 9.30pm while we were there in July so depending on the time of year, book dinner an hour before – the sunset should not to be missed, despite us doing so.

    Cocktails at sunset at Hostal La Torre
    Cocktails at sunset at Hostal La Torre

    The restaurant specialises in Mediterranean cuisine and their seafood is very fresh. Do try the delicious garlic prawns (18 euros), prawns, Iberico ham (30 euros) and the grilled octopus with smashed edamame, lemon, tomato chutney, peppers, sesame mayo and wasabi spheres (32 euros).

    For cocktails, Javier’s Margarita (17 euros) is a must: tequila, orange syrup, rosemary and lime, what’s not to love?

    As you’ll end the night in San Antonio, you might want to move on to the nearby Pikes Ibiza, which is legendary for its party scene. Interesting fact: it was featured in Wham’s Club Tropicano video.

    Visit latorreibiza.com for more information.


    5. Paddleboard with Paddle Ibiza

    For an active addition to the itinerary that is is still super chilled, I can’t recommend this enough.

    Paddleboard with Paddle Ibiza
    Paddleboard with Paddle Ibiza

    Guide Luke left the rat race of London to move to Ibiza a few years ago and set up Paddle Ibiza. He leads the fun session and is the perfect host – it’s like chatting away with an old friend as you paddle away enjoying the most scenic views.

    He gauges your level pretty quickly and will only challenge you as far as you’d like. We went to Sol Den Serra beach as we were having lunch at Amante beach club after our session, but Luke will work out the best place and will either meet you at the agreed beach or pick you up from your hotel if convenient. An absolute superstar all round.

    For details and bookings with Luke go to the website Paddle Ibiza

    6. Lunch at Chamboa at Nobu Hotel at Talamanca Bay 

    Chambao is Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay’s laidback chiringuito beach restaurant and was a stone’s throw away from our hotel.

    Located in the picturesque bay of Talamanca, a 15-minute walk along the marina from Ibiza Town, Chamboa is possibly one of our favourite places to book for lunch on the island. You can dine on the beach as we did. Booking is easy – we walked past one day and just popped our names down while sipping one of the hotel bar’s special pina coladas (30 euros, and special because it arrives in a whole pineapple).

    The food is perfect. If you’re feeling adventurous, let your waiter order for you, as we did. Chamboa specialises in freshly caught fish and Balearic specialities so it comes as no surprise that the first dish to arrive was pil pil red prawns (24 euros) – fresh and smothered in a lovely, garlicky red sauce.

    Lunch at Chambao at Nobu Hotel
    Lunch at Chambao at Nobu Hotel

    The green avocado salad (19 euros) with cucumber, wild rocket, mint and home-made mustard dressing was one of the best we’ve had. Delicious, fresh and a divine dressing. More than once we tried to extract the recipe for this ‘simple honey and mustard’ dressing from our waiter – but he was having none of it.

    Their signature dish, seafood paella, is made up of a lovely mix of mussels, clams and squid and is priced at 39 euros per person.

    It arrives in its own skillet and is more than enough for two.

    Their summery cocktail list is good, too. We liked the Sensation (19 euros) – refreshing kumquat – and White Fresh (19 euros) – spiced gin and white wine with a touch of elderflower. Lunch for two was around 200 euros.

    Nobu have just recently launched their Bali beds which are good for a different kind of indulgence – you can fit up to 3 people and they are like gold dust but if you are lucky you can book in advance for 300 euros.

    Included in the price is water, a bottle of champagne, fruit platter and service to your beds all day.

    7. Sunbathe at Amante Beach Club

    Amante beach club is situated above Sol Den Serra beach in Santa Eulalia and is good option for a whole day session. Get there early to book a bed, as it’s difficult to book in advance. This place is uber popular and you have to cough up 70 euros for a double, as we did. The cost includes service to your very comfortable bed. It’s a great way to to relax, read a book, chit chat with your pal and be waited on all day (it’s also dangerous as it’s so easy to keep ordering).

    We loved the beetroot and avocado salad, but the blue fin tuna fillet tartare with watermelon was the one to get.

    Amante Beach Club
    Amante Beach Club

    The full day – food, drinks and the bed between two of us – was around 250 euros for two.

    The beach club also does ‘yoga and breakfast’ classes but these are near impossible to get into, especially on weekends, so book in advance if you are planning on including fitness in your itinerary.

    Book yoga and breakfast at Amante here for 30 euros.

    More details available on their website, Amante Ibiza, 07849 Cala Llonga, Spain


    8.  Patchwork in the Sa Punta, trio of restaurants

    We had spotted Patchwork from our hotel balcony and were curious to see what this place was. A quick investigation revealed we had stumbled upon a very chic celebrity hangout. The bar-restaurant is a beautiful, colourful setting beside the sea and boasts the most beautiful Dalt Vila view.

    Patchwork bar in Ibiza
    Patchwork bar

    Patchwork is the rooftop restaurant and bar, which also happens to be the island’s first and only Lebanese restaurant and possibly the inspiration behind the eclectic décor. We went for after-dinner drinks, missing out on the food this time, but did find reasonably priced Ruinart at 19 euros a glass.

    In the garden of Sa Punta (the fine dining restaurant on site) is Ginger, the venue’s Asian food bar with its animated ambience and delicate gastronomic treats of tuna sashimi, tempura or dim sum.

    There’s also a chic interiors shop within the space that had a very Graham & Green feel. The shop featured animal-shaped furniture – such as a flamingo or giraffe lamp – as well as bohemian-style prints and nautical place mats.


    Metro.co.uk was hosted by OD Talamanca.

    Flights from British Airways are around £300 return from London City Airport depending on when you book. 

    Nobu Hotel, Ibiza BayNobu Hotel, Ibiza Bay

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    Love, Or Something Like It

    In Love, Or Something Like It, our new Metro.co.uk series, we’re on a quest to find true love.

    Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day.

    Apparently when you’ve found the one, you ‘just know’ –  and I thought I knew – but clearly, given I’m single again at 33, hindsight would beg to differ.

    A few things have changed since I was last dating, the main one being that I’m now a recovering alcoholic, which presents you with a new set of challenges.

    Alex Cooper poses in front of a dinosaur statue
    A friend of mine joked that I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve, I threw it at crowds of women (Picture: Alex Cooper)

    Dating for me always had alcohol front and centre. I believed I had to drink to have fun, to take the edge off and give me a much-needed injection of self-esteem. I felt it was on me to make the dates I went on go well so I was prepared to be whoever I needed to be to convince them I was worthy.

    Alcohol was also a way of keeping my emotions in check. My emotions tended to go haywire when it came to women I fancied – so much so, I was perpetually convinced I’d found ‘the one’. A friend of mine joked that I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve, I threw it at crowds of women.

    Alcohol helped me appear cool, calm and collected when in reality I was a fragile extrovert who gave off the unmistakable air of desperation, neatly covered by Davidoff Cool Water.

    Somewhere along the way however, it had stopped being my anaesthetic and had started turning me into a social hand grenade, and nearly meant I lost the girl who was the ray of sunshine my life had been looking for.

    On 4 September 2017, I finally saw the damage I was doing. It’s awful when you realise your repeated actions are extinguishing the flame of someone who burns so brightly.

    So awful, infact, that I decided to stop drinking. And whilst our relationship ended last year, I’m still making good on that decision. 22 months and counting.

    It took me a year to get to a place where I felt ready to date, adamant this time round I wasn’t going to use it as a crux for my self-esteem…plus, I’d run out of Cool Water.

    Dating sober therefore has been an entirely different experience.

    As part of recovery you have to face your fears head-on which has helped me build up my self-esteem, learn to be honest and I have finally started to accept who I really am, which in turn helps me quell wayward emotions.

    Alex Cooper smiling at the camera
    Conversations are so much more interesting than the ones I used to have drunk (Picture: Alex Cooper)

    It’s meant dating has become a lot more enjoyable. Sober me is who I am now, so if I don’t click with someone then clearly it isn’t right, and crucially, it’s not my fault if it doesn’t go right (it took a lot of therapy to get to that realisation).

    I put less pressure on the date to go well, which in turn has helped me relax a lot more and enjoy it.

    Conversations are so much more interesting than the ones I used to have drunk, and that is the same with dating in general: I actually find out who the other person is, and genuinely listen to them, rather than half-listening, half-working out when I can interrupt the conversation to get another round in.

    Sober dating saves you an absolute packet, too: typically, I’d wake up after a date and fish countless receipts out of my pocket, knowing I’d pissed a lot of money up the wall, and spent even more money on the novelty crazy golf round I’d booked in an attempt to be ‘fun’.

    Dates now set me back about the cost of a few coffees, which means that if I wanted to, I could go on more. When I was drinking, I had to limit myself to three per month as otherwise I’d find myself playing debit card roulette in Tesco while trying to buy a packet of ham.

    My love life is a lot more conscious now. I’m learning what I value and what I’m looking for, rather than employing my previous scattergun strategy, based on any woman being loosely being ‘my type’.

    I don’t explicitly state that I’m a recovering alcoholic in dating app profiles but I’ll tick the ‘doesn’t drink’ box if that’s an option and I’ll say I don’t drink when asked. Mostly the reactions have been really positive – lots of women have said it doesn’t bother them or that it’s not a deal breaker and have commended me for my honesty. Apparently that’s a bit of a novelty in the world of online dating.

    Alex Cooper posing against a backdrop of ice mountains
    Without alcohol clouding my vision, I’m so much clearer on what ‘the one’ looks like to me (Picture: Alex Cooper)

    I have had women ghost me after I’ve told them I’m sober. One woman responded: ‘I’m sorry to hear that but congrats!’. I never heard from her again. That experience aside, the quality of the dates I’ve had has gone up, and mostly I feel like we have more in common – I don’t tend to match with someone whose typical Friday night involves ‘hammering down Aperol’.

    Without alcohol clouding my vision, I’m so much clearer on what ‘the one’ looks like to me.

    I still believe in the fairytale but I now know you can have more than one soulmate. I feel like I am constantly evolving and I guess what I look for in a partner is a willingness to understand more about life and evolve too.

    When I was drinking, I thought that someone else’s love would give me everything I needed, that they would fill in the blanks I felt were in my personality.

    Now I know I have all the tools I need within me. And I am fundamentally a different person, so the love I’m going to give back will be different as well. Now, true love to me means having someone kind to walk beside you for a while. That’s it.

    Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: Online dating can be fun as a widow

    Write for Love, Or Something Like It

    Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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    Love Or Something Like It: Alex Cooper sober datingLove Or Something Like It: Alex Cooper sober dating

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    woman colouring in a book
    Many adults still enjoy using colouring books (Picture: Getty)

    Yesterday was National Colouring Book Day (it seems as though there’s a day for bleedin’ everything, these days!)

    This seems as good a time as any to consider the adult colouring book trend, which really took off in the UK in 2015 and… hasn’t been talked about much since.

    Are adults still using colouring books? Are they as good for mental health as people claim?

    First, the bad news: these are hard times for adult colouring books. Hailed as the saviour to the publishing industry in the middle of the decade, by 2017 sales had plummeted so dramatically that there were a spate of articles concerning the death of the trend.

    But that said, a quick Google suggests that the trend is soldiering on. You can still buy books with titles like ‘This Nurse Needs a Mother F**king Nap’ (aimed at nurses), ‘I Hate My Ex-Husband’ (aimed at people who hate their ex-husbands),  ‘Swearing Like a Motherf***er’ and ‘F***ing Adorable – Cute Critters with Foul Mouths’. What could be more rib-ticklingly funny than using swear words in a genre of book traditionally thought of as being aimed at children!

    During the boom years, adult colouring books were bought en-masse, whether by people trying them out for themselves or as stocking-filler gifts for their least favourite relatives, many of whom would find that they weren’t that into them. But there seems to be a small, steady market of people who simply enjoy doing them, or else find them therapeutic. In that sense, the trend is unlikely to vanish outright.

    As for the much discussed mental health benefits, these have been backed up by research. One 2017 study showed that using adult colouring books does actually reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety – which confirms what plenty of people had been saying all along.

    But are people who experience anxiety or depression still using these books as a way of improving their mental health? If adult colouring books really are an effective way of alleviating symptoms, this doesn’t seem like something which would simply tail off as a passing fad. We spoke with Olivia, who lives with anxiety and still occasionally uses colouring books, though not as much as she used to.

    ‘I find they’re really good when you just need to step outside of yourself for a little bit,’ she says. ‘Even though making my own art is a good outlet when I’m really anxious, I sometimes find having to create from the self can be a bit daunting and anxiety-inducing in itself. Colouring books take that pressure off. They let me zone out and reset.’

    ‘I always compare them to Buddhist monks creating mandalas,’ Olivia continues, ‘it’s about focusing on one thing in front of you. It’s definitely meditative. Even destroying the pages afterwards is a really nice reminder that everything is impermanent, and that this too shall pass.’

    Although, in one sense, the whole point is that colouring books don’t leave much scope for individual creativity, Olivia says that she still makes her mark.

    ‘When looking back on certain pages, I can immediately tell what mental state I was in when I did them: how hard I was pressing, how loose or manic my strokes were, what image or colours I chose,’ she explains.

    But not everyone speaks about adult colouring books in such an enlightened way.

    Becky, 24, still dips in from time to time. ‘It’s just a bit of fun,’ she says, ‘I don’t use them for mental health reasons.’

    Why does she find them so enjoyable? ‘Because it’s pictures of sex and willies,’ she says, in the tone of someone stating the obvious. Fair enough.

    For Olivia, and many others like her, adult colouring books are more than a short-lived publishing trend. Instead, they are an important act of self-care which helps them to manage their conditions – and there’s nothing childish about that.

    Becky, on the other hand, is simply a pervert.

    MORE: How to pretend you know about beer

    MORE: Exercising outside can improve your mental health – as well as your fitness

    MORE: How to start exercising to help with your mental health

    National colouring book day: do adults still use them?National colouring book day: do adults still use them?

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    Illustration of woman squatting with weights
    Can your star sign help you to improve your workout? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Is there anything that can’t be determined by looking to the stars?

    Honestly, they have all the answers. From who to date, to what porn you should be watching – believers are certain that your zodiac sign will guide you in the right direction.

    For hard-core enthusiasts, there is no area of life that can’t be influenced and enhanced by looking at your star sign. That includes fitness and health.

    We asked a fitness expert and astrology enthusiast to create bespoke workouts for each of the 12 star signs. Tom from Nature’s Healthbox, has suggested the perfect exercises to help each zodiac sign reach their full potential:


    You’re practical and independent, able to setup the perfect home workout, making the most of the area and equipment around you and embracing anything you can find to enhance your workout.

    Wall squats: Keeping your back straight against the wall, lower yourself down to a chair position and hold that pose for 30 seconds.

    Repeat this three to four times, with a 60-second break between sets.

    Chair dips: Make sure you use a sturdy chair with no wheels at the bottom, unless you want to end up on your bum.

    Start by sitting down on the chair. Keep your back completely straight, with your hands gripping the chair and slide forward till your hovering above the ground and your arms are extended, with your knees slightly bent.

    Lower yourself down and back up again, performing 12 reps, for 3 sets.

    Stairs: Who needs a Stairmaster when you have a set of stairs in the house? If you don’t have one, find an public area local to you with stairs.

    This should be performed as a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training), so go fast paced for 40 seconds before having a 20-second break.

    Repeat this as many times as possible before you hit the floor. Remember to write down how many times you completed this, so you have a benchmark for future sessions.

    Aquarius individuals tend to be a little hasty, so make sure to slow it down and do controlled movements, helping you to get a greater brain-muscle connection and prevent any potential injuries.


    If you’re a Pisces then you will often have a great level of determination, allowing you to remain motivated even when the tasks get tedious and you feel the temptation to quit.

    For this reason, you can take on those workouts that others dread.

    Illustration of woman running
    Pisces’ are determined and motivated. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Burpees: Don’t worry if you can’t do the press-up version, the important element is that you keep form and push yourself to your limits.

    Starting in a standing position, drop down and bend your knees before kicking your legs back into a plank position (you can then perform a press-up if you wish).

    You then quickly kick your legs back up and lift yourself up to a standing position and jump, before repeating the exercise. This is a great HIIT exercise, so set a timer on your phone.

    Jumping lunges: A great exercise for smashing the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, as well as helping to improve your balance.

    With your feet shoulder width apart, jump one foot back and the other forward, bending at the knees, before jumping again and switching the legs.

    Do these in 40 second rounds, with a 20-second break, going relatively fast without losing form.

    Mountain climbers: Working those core muscles and improving mobility, mountain climbers are a great exercise that can be performed with minimal space.

    Get into a plank position and then bring one knee forward up into your chest with the toes off the ground, before swapping for the other leg.

    Keeping consistent with the other exercises, perform these for 40 seconds before having a 20-second break.

    Pisces have a tendency to be indecisive, so make sure you stick to this workout in the exact order written.


    Aries’ are full of passion, are brave and adventurous, ready to try something new. So I want to introduce some equipment into your home workout.

    Kettlebell swing: You will see multiple variations of this move, whether double or single handed and which ever type of form you choose you can be assured of a great exercise, working your shoulders, back, legs, glutes and hips.

    Figure of eight: I like this exercise as it pushes people to tense their core and get used to doing so, something people often fail to do when working out in certain positions.

    It can be quite tricky for new starters to get the form right, but once they do, they will be better at co-ordination, balance, strengthening the core and keeping the posture correct, again all very important for future exercises and workouts.

    Kettlebell thrusters: These are a mix of shoulder presses with squats.

    A large percentage of people either leave shoulders to the end of the week and skip it, or they just don’t work them at all.

    It can be tempting to focus on either the chest, back or legs, but the shoulders are critical. However, this move also includes your legs with a deep squat.

    I know Aries are very impulsive, so if you feel there are any other kettlebell exercises you want to add in, don’t hesitate.


    Taurus’ tend to be a little more needy. They love being around others and bounce off their energy, so I’d recommend getting someone you like to join you for a regular workout.

    Below are some great two-person workouts you should try.

    illustration of two women running together
    Taurus’ are needy – so workout with a pal. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Partner row: A great back exercise, you don’t need a barbell in your living room when you have a friend who can support you.

    Taking turns, you need to hold them up with your arms stretched outright, bent over and with knees slightly bent but your back completely straight.

    You then pull them up with your arms going in beside your stomach. Make sure to take this slowly and focus on form. I’d recommend performing 8-10 reps for three sets.

    Squat jump high fives: Nothing says motivation like a mid-rep high five!

    Just make sure not to get into a giggling fit, it can happen quite often with this exercise.

    Standing beside each other, but one foot back and facing opposite directions, you both perform a squat, before jumping into the air and high fiving each other, then landing and repeating the exercise.

    Go for 15-20 reps for three sets.

    Leg toss: Whether pushing straight forward or to the sides, this is a great ab exercise.

    Taking turns, one person will lie on the floor while the other stands over them. With the back flat on the floor, the person lying down needs to lift their legs, keeping them as straight as possible, while the other pushes the feet downwards to the ground.

    You need to try to offer resistance and push the legs back up rather than just allowing them to completely drop down.


    While some exercises can leave people in a muddle, Gemini’s are very smart and great at finding solutions and solving problems.

    Spider crawl: Hitting your back, shoulders, arms, legs and core, this is a great total body exercise.

    Starting in a push-up position, bend your elbows and tighten your abs while drawing one knee up, before rising back up and doing the same for the other side.

    Stability ball push-ups: Forget your usual push-ups, this is the next level, embracing your core and pushing you to work on your balance skills.

    Place your feet on the ball and perform a push-up to the ground, but if you are struggling a little with this then you can start with the ball under your knees before progressing to it being under your feet.

    Lunges with overhead extensions: While performing a traditional lunge, you also need to lower the dumbbell/ball/kettlebell behind your neck before lifting back up as you go to a standing position.

    Make sure your upper arm remains locked while your forearms are moving.


    You are naturally drawn to water, being one of the three water zodiac signs, therefore it might be time to sign up to a swimming pool near you.

    I’d then recommend trying the exercises below at the side of the pool.

    Illustration of two men swimming - from above
    Cancer are water babies – head to your local pool. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    The bicycle: With your arms rested comfortably on the side of the pool, elbows back, you need to use your legs to kick in a cycling motion.

    The importance here is to mix up the speeds you are going at, don’t just stick to a comfortable pace, throw in a cycling sprint every now and then, but not so fast that you lose your balance.

    Dips: Facing the outside of the pool, place your hands on the pool edge at shoulder width apart and lift yourself up in a controlled motion, before slowly lowering yourself back down and performing this again.

    Don’t try to go fast, keep this exercise slow paced and focus on feeling the muscle work.

    Water planks: You will need a foam water log for this, as you hold on to it, facing forward and then lift your legs into the air while keeping your head facing forward.

    You then need to utilise your core to stop your legs from dropping down.


    Calm and reflective, you like to take it all a little slower. Add yoga into your life, with a number of great videos available to watch easily on YouTube at the edge of a click.

    Plank: Keep your breathing steady and make sure you don’t allow your back to bend or your bum to lift, with your abdominals tensed throughout the exercise.

    You should be aiming for a minute for each set, at three sets, but if you can’t do a full minute, don’t be ashamed, just set a benchmark and aim to increase this number of time.

    Pelvic curl: Lying down on the ground, facing upwards, bend your knees and have your feet flat on the ground.

    Curl your tailbone upwards, using your feet and shoulders to lift your midsection until in a straight line, then lower back down. Focus on your breathing and tensing the muscles.

    Teaser: Lie down on the ground and start with your knees in to your chest.

    Stretch your arms up into the air, extend your legs 45 degrees and then curl your chin towards your chest and roll yourself up.

    This can take a while to learn so focus on getting your form right.


    Highly methodical in your approach to a workout, or life in general, I want to keep these exercises well ordered, with a natural progression from one to the other.

    For this reason, all exercises are performed directly after completing 10 reps of the last exercise, meaning 30 reps before having a break as a tri-set.

    You will need an exercise ball for this tri-set.

    Jackknife: Starting in a push-up position and with your feet on the back of the ball, roll your knees into your chest, keeping your arms and upper body steady, with your heels hitting your bum, before returning to the starting position.

    Hamstring curls: Now switch to lying on the ground and place your feet on the middle of the ball.

    With your back slightly off the ground and your arms to your side, roll your feet towards you, with your knees going up and bringing your heels to your bum.

    Make sure you keep your core tight as you perform this exercise.

    Stability ball roll-out: Place your hands on the exercise ball and have your knees on the ground, with the toes facing downwards.

    Roll the ball forward, as you lower yourself down while using your core to keep yourself steady.


    A Libra myself, we are known for having strong social skills and enjoying the company of others, so this will be another two person session.

    Illustration of woman wearing fitness gear
    Libra’s are sociable – so make your workout about seeing friends as well. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Body weight squats: Standing opposite each other, stretch your arms out and grab hold of each others arms.

    Then, both of you lower yourselves down into a squat, performing this at a very slow pace, going in time with each other.

    This is a great exercise to perform together, slowing the other person down and ensuring neither person is rushing it.

    Push-up with shoulder touch: If you’re not so great at performing push-ups then feel free to keep your knees on the ground.

    After completing each rep, touch one shoulder, before repeating the exercise and then touching the other shoulder.

    Resistance band core twist: With each person grabbing hold of one side of the resistance band with both hands, you need to stand opposite each other at a distance where you feel a little resistance in the band.

    You both need to then twist your body, while keeping your arms in front of you steady and locked in. Twist the body to one side, before returning to the centre and then twisting the other way.


    Some may call you devoted, others may go as far as to say obsessive, either way you need an exercise routine you can stick to on a regular basis.

    For this reason, I have put together something you can do first thing when you wake up before having a shower and heading off to work.

    Half bridge: Start by sitting up with your legs stretched out on the bed in front of you and your hands on the bed behind you. Then lift your bum into the air and keep your head back so you are looking up at the ceiling, making a straight line with your body.

    Hold this pose for 30 seconds before returning back to a seating position. Perform this three times before moving on to the next workout.

    Straight leg raises: Lying down on the bed, have one knee bent and the foot on the ground, with the other straight and slightly elevated off the ground.

    Lift the elevated leg up and down while keeping your core tight. Perform this ten times before then swapping legs. This should be done for three sets.

    Side plank: Going onto your left side, straighten out your body and place your left forearm on the ground, lifting your body off the ground, so only your left foot and left forearm are touching the ground.

    After completing 30 seconds, switch to the other side and finish the minute off. Perform this one three times.


    Lively, brave and open to new activities and taking on new experiences, I want to throw you out of your comfort zone, give you some exercises that meet your passionate side.

    Illustration of woman boxing against a bag
    Brave and passionate – boxing fitness could be perfect for a Sagittarius. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Crunch and punch: This exercise can be performed with or without a dumbbell depending on your ability, which also allows you to progress as you improve.

    As you crunch upwards, punch out in front of you with one arm, then lower yourself down and as you come back up, do a punch with the opposing arm.

    Five punch KO: This one involves a bit of memory and learning the routine.

    You start by making a jab with your left hand, then another jab with the left hand, a full right cross punch, a left uppercut and then a right uppercut.

    You can then alternate these so they go the other way.

    Squat and double punch: As the name suggest, perform a complete squat and when you are fully standing, swing with one arm and then the other, before repeating the exercise again.


    Capricorns can have a tendency to get too focused on the little details, therefore I’m going to keep this workout simple.

    Knee high raises: Push yourself and make sure your knees go very high and you don’t allow them to dip lower as you get tired.

    This is a normal jog on the spot, but making sure your knees go almost your chest height.

    You can hold an arm out in front of you at the right height, so you will softly touch it with your knee and ensure you are going high enough.

    Side lunges: Great for your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip and groin, side lunges are great for strengthening and toning.

    With feet shoulder-width apart, step out to one side, as wide as possible. Drop your hips down and make sure to keep the other leg straight, you should feel a good stretch in your groin, before pushing back up and doing the same for the other leg.

    Bulgarian split squat: This is a brutal one to finish off with.

    With a bench or chair behind you, place on foot flat on the equipment and your hands on your hips.

    Bend the knee down towards the ground, while the other knee goes 90 degrees, while keeping your back straight, then move back up again.

    Perform 10 reps for each leg, for three sets.

    I am Team GB

    Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

    Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

    Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

    To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com


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    Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in the world of sport and fitness.

    Sport England has reported that 40% of adult women aren’t getting active enough – and a huge factor in that is a fear of judgement.

    We want to remind everyone that women of all ages, shapes, races and abilities can be fit, strong and love their bodies. You don’t have to look a certain way to be healthy.

    Each week we meet a woman who is redefining what it means to be strong, challenging perceptions and carving her own path in the fitness world.

    Jay Hyrons was a competitive bodybuilder for years, but life dealt her a difficult hand. After being widowed young, she faced a head-on car collision, colostomy surgery and a cardiac arrest that almost killed her.

    But now, in her 60s, Jay is body building again. She’s proud of her scars and has even recorded a fitness video to inspire other older women to push beyond their limits.

    Headshot of Jay
    ‘Perfection doesn’t actually exist. It’s about acceptance of our uniqueness.’  (Picture: CliniMed)

    Tell us about your relationship with fitness and body building?

    From a very young age fitness was always a huge part of my life.

    On top of the usual school sports and swimming, I was a dancer; that was my real passion. At 10 years old I made my stage debut singing and tap dancing as the lead in Baby Face. I really wanted to be a ballet dancer but my mother wouldn’t allow it.

    When my husband died in the Falklands War in 1982, I also lost my home as it went with his job.

    I moved back to Somerset but I felt lost and a friend suggested I join her health club – that was my first introduction to weight training. A couple of years later I went on to run the same health club and got my first fitness qualification to teach.

    Bodybuilding followed because I loved pumping iron.

    Gladys Portugues was my inspiration. I just got carried away after the birth of my second child and then, as I built up the muscles, someone suggested that I compete.

    Though I was used to being on stage as a dancer, it felt like a whole different world parading my body on stage in a bikini and being judged for what I looked like.

    Jay poses in a bikini during a bodybuilding competition in the 1990s
    ‘My heart made a full recovery and the doctor agreed that all my years of training had made the difference.’ (Picture: Jay Hyrons)

    What challenges have you faced in your life?

    My life has felt like a roller coaster of constant challenges.

    I had my first major surgery aged 20. It was an emergency c-section and it was touch and go whether my baby and I would survive.

    In the years between I have suffered four miscarriages, a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, car accidents and multiple bereavements. I have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, asthma and spinal problems.

    It’s difficult having invisible illnesses as people often think you look fine when you are in fact in pain, feel awful and the last place you want to be is the gym.

    People can see physical things like a broken leg, but when your husband has been killed in a war and you become a widow at just 24 it’s devastating. That’s not something people can see or understand.

    I have recently been diagnosed with severe and complex PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – after a medical negligence left me both traumatised and with a colostomy.

    By the time I had this last surgery it was my fourth laparotomy, and I have also had four lots of keyhole surgery over the years. That’s more than eight times my abdominal muscles have been cut through.

    Since the surgery I had experienced chest pains but they got worse, coupled with a breathlessness I could not put down to asthma. My GP fast tracked me and during an angiogram I experienced a cardiac arrest.

    Jay bodybuilding in a bikini
    ‘I will never be able to bodybuild to the level I could before, but I’m still more active than most 25-year olds.’ (Picture: Jay Hyrons)

    The hospital staff were amazing, they eventually got me back into sinus rhythm and informed me that it had been hard to bring me back, technically I was dead for two minutes.

    During a nine-day stay on a cardiac ward the doctors discovered the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest was a stress cardiomyopathy.

    Even if you arrest in hospital, the survival rate is only 17-20%. As you can imagine, that’s really scary. So I am a survivor in more ways than one.

    How has fitness helped you through the difficult times?

    From a very young age I would lose myself in dance and found it the most amazing stress relief.

    Fitness also helps recovery time from surgery and illness. As long as we do not over exercise, which can have the opposite effect, we can improve our immune function, our recovery rate and diminish risks of complications because our cardiovascular health is good.

    After my colostomy, I heard someone say that the hernia rate amongst ostomates is 75% – and that is both sad and unnecessary to me.

    I am five and half years down the road now and still hernia-free even though I’m almost 62.

    Strong abdominal muscles are very significant in that, so last year I made a fitness video in collaboration with CliniMed Ltd for hernia prevention. It is my dearest wish that we can reduce the hernia rate and the associated misery it brings.

    When I had the cardiac arrest, that’s probably when fitness helped me the most. I was initially told that there would be heart muscle damage, which devastated me. But my heart made a full recovery and the doctor agreed that all my years of training had made the difference.

    What made you decide to return to bodybuilding? 

    From the time I had the head-on car crash in 2000 that knocked me out of bodybuilding competition, I always wanted to bodybuild again.

    The orthopaedic surgeon said I could never train again and that I should just get used to it. As you can probably tell, I am a very resilient and determined woman and somehow, I just knew I would find a way.

    I’m a qualified clinical personal fitness trainer and knew that there would be a way to train around my injuries, I just had to find it, and I did.

    My recovery from my colostomy surgery was fraught with complications and the heart attack could have been the last straw, but it was like it flipped a switch in me.

    They offered me rehabilitation at the cardiac unit and I declined because I had always done my own. The nurse politely told me most patients lose their confidence after a heart attack and needed the emotional support. I almost laughed at that. For me that was not a problem.

    Jay doing an exercise on a mat
    ‘I am a strong woman, not because I look like one, but because I have gone to the deepest depths of despair and I’m making my way back from it.’ (Picture: CliniMed)

    I researched everything about it and followed the doctor’s advice to the letter. I had no fear because the care was so amazing that there are no PTSD symptoms around that trauma. My physical recovery was all important.

    Four weeks after I left hospital, I went to the gym and had to use the lift as I was still walking with a stick and couldn’t manage the stairs. I did six sets of bicep curls with 2.5kg dumbbells and went home.

    Two weeks later I managed a five-mile walk.

    Within a few months I had upped my leg press to 160kg and was walking on air, bodybuilding was back in my life. Though far short of the 250kg of past training sessions, it was a huge achievement.

    The thing that I have found is that my cervical stenosis and fibromyalgia hold me back way more than having a stoma.

    That’s where my nickname #BrokenBodyBuilder comes from. I will never be able to bodybuild to the level I could before and at my age I wouldn’t want to, but I’m still more active than most 25-year olds.

    Bodybuilders are always striving for the perfect bodies, but if we are privileged to grow old, we somehow have to accept the way it changes. I just have a bag and a huge scar on top, I won’t let it make me feel bad about myself, it’s who I am inside that matters. Women are under way too much pressure to look perfect.

    Being incontinent and the trauma of what happened has caused me much mental anguish, yet it has played a significant part in my personal growth and self-acceptance.

    Of course, what I look like is important to me, as it would be for anyone, but now there is a major difference – what I look like is not what defines me.

    What does the term ‘strong woman’ mean to you? 

    When people talk about strength it can have so many meanings.

    It’s interesting, when I was physically able to free squat 120kg, I looked incredibly strong. My nickname was Lyndsay Wagner, who used to play the Bionic Woman, and all my life people have told me how strong I am, but I didn’t feel it, not inside.

    The past five years have without a doubt been the toughest of my entire life, including my husband being killed in the war.

    When they brought me out of the induced coma in intensive care, I couldn’t compute all the tubes in my body, they were everywhere. Coping with the vulnerability that goes with not even being able to turn yourself over in bed was so incredibly hard for me.

    Then to nearly die again a year later, before I had even recovered from the first time, that was a big ask. It was almost too much for me. I’ve never felt so utterly fragile and vulnerable. And I came through it, though I am still battling with the PTSD, treatment is getting me there.

    Now, I do think I am a ‘strong woman’, not because I look like one, not because I’ve survived, but because I have gone to the deepest depths of despair and vulnerability and I’m making my way back from it.

    I’m not ashamed to have PTSD or the fact that my journey is still ongoing. These things take time just as building muscle does. It really is ok to not be ok.

    What do you hope your story will teach younger women?

    These days, many young girls are lost, with unrealistic expectations of themselves.

    Body image can only be healthy if our mind agrees that what we see in the mirror is good. That should never be about perfection, any bodybuilder will tell you perfection doesn’t actually exist! It’s about acceptance of our uniqueness.

    Fitness will stand you in good stead for challenges which we all have to face in our journey through life. It helps us physically, mentally and spiritually and most importantly gives us a quality of life.

    How cool would it be to live to see your kids have kids, and even those kids have kids and still be able to play with them?

    I now log my fitness journey on YouTube, and I am passionate about sharing my life experiences and knowledge with people. I’m now a motivational speaker, inspiring people to live the best life they can.

    To quote Sylvester Stallone, ‘It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’

    I am Team GB

    Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

    Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

    Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

    To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘The pain was all-consuming – but tennis re-balanced my life’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘Not being able to breastfeed doesn’t make me a failure as a mother’

    Strong Women: JayStrong Women: Jay

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    bottles of milk on an orange background
    Got milk? (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)

    A quarter of Brits drink plant based milks… and yet, Starbucks charges extra for a splash of almond or oat.

    Which is why nearly 50,000 latte lovers are petitioning the coffee giants to stop making a quick buck off their non-dairy choice.

    Starbucks currently offers a tonne of delicious vegan drinks, from coconut lattes to almond milk frappucinos.

    But baristas still charge more for vegan milks when it comes to standard coffees.

    A new petition by PETA is asking Starbucks – which has 988 stores in the UK alone – to ditch the plant-based surcharge.

    The animal rights group says that in light of the fact that so many of us are choosing coconut over cow’s milk for environmental/animal welfare/health concerns, it’s time for Starbucks to rethink their approach to costing.

    ‘Starbucks should be encouraging customers to choose animal-friendly, vegan milks rather than cow’s milk,’ the group says, citing other coffee houses that offer alternative milks for free.


    The petition, which currently has 49,194 signatories, offers concerned coffee drinkers the opportunity to put the following to Starbucks chiefs:

    ‘I love Starbucks and frequent the chain to order coffee with either coconut, soy, or almond milk.

    ‘But I’m disappointed that I continue to be charged extra for ordering dairy-free milk in my drink. Customers shouldn’t have to pay more for choosing a healthy, animal- and environmentally friendly option.

    ‘By charging an additional fee for vegan milks, Starbucks is likely deterring some people from trying them in their drinks. Everyone should be able to order nondairy milk at no extra charge.

    ‘A massive chain such as Starbucks can afford to offer vegan milk without tacking on a surcharge, and I hope you’ll consider making this move to “earn points” and not only keep customers who already order dairy-free milk coming back but also encourage others to make healthier, more compassionate choices.’

    PETA claims that Costa Coffee doesn’t charge extra, despite them doing so when they first introduced alternative milks into their menu last year.

    We’ve asked Starbucks why they charge extra for non-dairy milks, but haven’t heard back yet. When we do, we’ll update this article to include their response.

    So why might there be a surcharge in the first place?

    Well, it could be a question of numbers.

    Buying small quantities of plant-based milks can be more expensive than bulk buying dairy that’s guaranteed to sell. But then again, we know that loads of Brits drink non-dairy milks, and giving people the option to do so without making them spend more is how you encourage others to give it a go.

    And then there’s the fact that many baristas will argue that cheaper plant-based milks simply aren’t as good as cow’s cream for frothing or thickening. That’s why there was a massive shortage of barista-grade Oatly last year.

    Coffee shops in London found themselves unable to cope with the demand for the creamy milk last November.

    James Penn, owner of east London-based Hackney Coffee Company told Sky News that he’d contacted his suppliers and they’d all run out of Oatly – and that it was totally out of stock everywhere.

    That was because Oatly had experienced a 100% growth over the previous year, due to the fact that oat milk is supposed to be so good for making hot drinks with (it doesn’t separate and froths up well).

    So using less expensive ingredients like watery soy or cheap coconut might not be as easy as buying cheap cow’s milk.

    But campaigners disagree that ‘buying the best’ should necessarily apply to one dietary choice and not another.

    The petition asks for price parity – meaning that it’s up to the customer to decide whether they want the standard of milk on offer at a standard price, or whether they want to go elsewhere for a more cup of joe.

    No wonder millennials can’t afford to get on the property ladder…

    MORE: London’s 100% vegan fashion and beauty show is back

    MORE: Anti-vegan fined for eating raw squirrels at food market

    MORE: Going vegan could reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes


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    Caption: METRO ILLUSTRATIONS (Picture: Virgin Miri/ Metro.co.uk) Social infertility is very real and very shit Is there a word for when you find out there???s a name for something you???ve been feeling or experiencing? Because if there???s not, there should be. You see I recently found out (via this wonderful piece my friend Emily Maddick wrote for Grazia magazine) that there???s a snappy term for the fact that I desperately want children but might not be able to have them because I???m still fucking single. It???s called social infertility. While plain old medical infertility is something you hear about all the time, social infertility is so rarely spoken about I only just came across the phrase a couple of weeks ago and I???m afflicted by it. Like mental illness - which is only now starting to be treated as seriously as physical health issues ??? social infertility is seen as something that???s either made up or totally avoidable if only the person concerned would just pull their socks up and bloody get on with it. But I???d like to make it very clear here and now; I am not being too picky, I am not playing fast and loose with biology because I???m a spoilt brat who thinks she can always get her own way, and I am certainly not prioritising my career and purposely putting procreating on-hold to climb the greasy pole - I simply haven???t met anyone I could possibly, under any reasonable standards, have children with. And believe me, no one???s more disappointed or upset about this fact than me. To give you some background, I???m 35 and have been single for all of my 30s and a decent chunk of my 20s. Yes, I???ve dated. Yes, there have been people I???ve liked and others who have liked me (although, unfortunately, rarely the twain have met). I???m the product of a stable, loving, two-parent family, and have always envisioned creating my own equally traditional family unit with marriage and kids. And yet, despite my long-held hopes, dreams, and many, many dates, it hasn Copyright: Virgin Miri/ Metro.co.uk
    You don’t have to have children, no matter what some guy on Twitter says (Picture:Virgin Miri/ Metro.co.uk)

    Twitter is a place people go to say some very dumb things.

    So it shouldn’t be a surprise that this week, a parent and radio present sent out a couple of ridiculous tweets about women’s purpose and the meaning of life.

    Naturally, though, people still reacted to the nonsense, replying in droves to say ‘this is bad. Delete this’.

    The ‘this’ in question is a series of tweets that essentially suggest that women should have children before the age of 30, and if they don’t they’re big idiots who will have miserable, meaningless lives.

    ‘Ladies, by the time you are 30, 90 per cent of your eggs are dead,’ wrote Stefan Molyneux, apparently completely aware that when you write things on the internet, people see them.

    ‘Get married young, have your babies, THEN have your career.


    ‘You have 40 years to work if you want to, you only have a short time to have children.

    ‘Listen to Mother Nature – she loves you and wants you to be happy.

    ‘Women get mostly infertile at 40, but live to be 80.

    ‘Without a family, what are you going to do with those 40 long long years?’

    Stefan is obviously very confused about what women do if they don’t have children, so I’m going to be very helpful and break things down – for him and for all other people who genuinely believe that life is pointless unless you push some tiny humans out of your vagina.

    If you don’t have kids, what will you do for those long 40 years between your fertility dropping off and imminent death?

    Whatever the f*** you want, basically.

    Life doesn’t actually have a set purpose or meaning – that’s why stoned dudes will ponder what it all, like, means until the end of time. It’s an open question without an answer, and there’s no official body of life that can send a world-wide email saying ‘hey, just a head’s up, the point of being a human is to do this one thing, and if you’re not doing it, you have wasted your years.’

    We can all get caught up on defining the meaning of life. It’s a super fun question when you’re experiencing depression and everything feels pointless.

    But really, we’re each responsible for determining our own purpose.

    metro illustrations
    Being a parent is great, if you *want* to be a parent (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Making that decision is the tricky bit, yes. Figuring out why you’re on the earth is a far more complicated mission than choosing what you want for lunch, and we struggle with the latter.

    But it’s your life, your choice, and you have to do whatever will make you feel like you’ve done the whole life thing properly.

    For some people, that’s becoming a parent. These are people who are really keen on the idea of leaving something (namely, another human) behind when they leave this mortal realm, who think perhaps they can make the world a better place by bringing a newbie into it and raising them well. Hopefully, these are people who would also be good at parenting, although that’s not always the case.

    Not everyone should have that same purpose, though.

    For one thing, the human race really isn’t in danger of running out. The earth definitely doesn’t need every one of us to have children. It could actually do with us reducing our output, so it doesn’t become so polluted and hot it’s just a giant ball of trash that’s on fire.

    Plus, not all of us would be good at raising a child.

    The idea that having children is just what people do results in loads of parents who never stopped to consider that reproducing isn’t actually what they want. Those parents are then miserable, they have less-than-great relationships with their children, and those children grow up to be unhappy adults.

    It’s not a pleasant feeling to know that your parents didn’t really want to have you, and a lack of dedication and care really isn’t great for a person’s wellbeing.

    Illustration of a mum looking at her phone while her baby sleeps on her shoulder
    Not having children doesn’t mean you’ll be bored and have nothing to do for the next 40 years (Picture: Phebe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    Imagine the misery that could be saved if we encouraged people to question not only if they want children, but if they would actually do a good job at being a parent – and if we then made it perfectly okay to decide that actually, having kids isn’t the right choice.

    But no, instead we get this fear-mongering cr*p that suggests if you don’t have children, for whatever reason, you’ll be missing out on any potential for happiness or meaning… which simply isn’t the case.

    Once you decide that parenting isn’t your purpose, you aren’t then left directionless – you can just choose a different thing.

    You could run for office and create political change! You could write a load of books! You could save the polar bears! You could take action against the climate crisis! You could be there for your friends! You could just focus on living out your days as happily and damage-free as possible!

    Not having children doesn’t mean you’ll be bored and have nothing to do for the next 40 years. Instead, being without kids frees you to run off and do whatever the hell you like without having to worry about raising a tiny human.

    Obviously, yes, parents can still do those things (you can do more than one thing in life, if you didn’t know), but children do tend to take quite a bit of time, effort, and money to look after. If having kids isn’t your priority, other stuff will fill that mystical gap.

    A life without children is not empty, unless you choose to leave it that way. A life with children can be filled with all the wrong stuff.

    The choice to have or not have children doesn’t automatically make your life more meaningful. It’s all down to how you fill your time, whether that’s with caring for kids or not.

    Not to sound like a fortune cookie, but your life is your own and no one else gets to decide what it’s all for. Not the looming weight of societal expectations, not your parents who are desperate for grandkids, and definitely not a random dude on Twitter being controversial for clicks.

    It is perfectly okay to decide not to reproduce tiny humans. If that’s the right choice for you, you won’t feel like you missed out or wasted your youth.

    Work out what you care about and make that your metaphorical baby; bring it into the world, care for it, protect it, value it. Let it be your life’s work, meaning, and purpose.

    If life feels empty, fill it up. Kids are not the only thing that fit in that 40 year space.

    MORE: How to avoid despairing when the world is going to sh*t

    MORE: The online wellness industry is an unregulated Wild West and it’s time to duck for cover

    MORE: Kindness is the number one quality women want in a partner

    Social infertility is very real and very shitSocial infertility is very real and very shit

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    Woman shaving her armpits in the mirror
    Don’t shave without water (Photo by Andrea Blanch/Getty Images)

    When it comes to getting rid of body hair, you can’t afford to take short cuts.

    Rushing a wax or epilation session can result in all kinds of pain, while being half-arsed about shaving is a one-way street to nicking yourself.

    But there’s also another reason why giving yourself a quick once-over with a razer without water is best avoided: it can make your skin darker.

    Now, no one’s saying that you should remove your hair or that patches of darker skin are necessarily unsightly but if you are shaving your armpits then you’re probably not here for hyperpigmentation in those areas.

    Speaking to Refinery29, dermatologist Dr Sheel Desai Solomon explained that shaving dry skin with a dull blade can make the skin darken over time.

    She said that dark underarms are really common and while they can be caused by genetics and conditions like diabetes, they can also come from our everyday habits.

    One of those is shaving without water.

    That, Dr Solomon says, can cause the skin to darken and thicken over time – as can shaving with old, blunt blades.

    Some deodorants are also responsible for irritating and darkening the skin over time, especially if they contain aluminium (which can clog the pores).

    So, what can you do about darker armpits?

    First things first, swerve the scrubs and exfoliaters because that’ll only increase irritation in the area.

    Instead, make your own skin masks at home using either a tablespoon of lemon juice or blended cucumbers and some aloe vera.

    Dr Solomon advises to mix the lemon/cucumber with aloe before smothering on the armpits and leaving for ten minutes before washing off.

    Cucumbers are packed with silica which can help to stimulate tissue growth – helping with the rejuvenation of tired, inflamed areas, while lemon juice is supposed to have a lightening effect while aloe nourishes stressed out skin and can help relieve inflammation.

    Be careful when using acidic substances like lemon in case you have any cuts or sensitive skin. Lemon juice can also make your skin way more sensitive to the sun so if you do go for that option, be sure to either cover up your skin when you step outside or apply sun cream (imagine the pain of having burnt armpits).

    If your deodorant is causing a problem, try an aluminium and paraben-free option. Not only might your ultra-chemically antiperspirant be making your armpits darker, but it may also be responsible for the grim yellow stains on all your white shirts.

    Those off-colour marks are caused by a reaction between the aluminium and your sweat. Eliminate synthetic aluminium from your armpit and you’ll eliminate the staining.

    We previously tested out nine natural deodorants so you don’t have to.

    It’s also worth saying that if you are experiencing dark underarms or patches of hyperpigmentation in other areas and you know that it’s not down to shaving or deodorant, you might want to chat to your GP.

    Diabetes can cause dark patches because it affects the small blood vessels of the body that supply the skin with blood. Those changes can cause a skin condition called diabetic dermopathy, which presents as light brown or red scaly patches.

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also be a factor in pigmentation changes.

    Acanthosis nigricans is the name for the brown patches that can pop up on the neck, under arms or groin and they’re caused by insulin resistance. Up to 80% of women who have the condition live with insulin resistance, even if they’re not overweight. Essentially, too much insulin can cause the outer layer of skin cells to start producing rapidly – too fast. And that then leads to a build up on skin which get darker and more velvety as they increase.

    Your dark underarms are probably down to your habits – and they’re easily rectifiable – but if that’s not the reason, then definitely get them checked out.

    MORE: London’s 100% vegan fashion and beauty show is back

    MORE: B&M is selling a beauty fridge for £34.99 and shoppers are loving it

    Woman shaving armpitWoman shaving armpit

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    The Bernie Sanders ice cream
    Only 40 people will have the chance of winning this ice cream (Picture: Getty/Twitter)

    The founders of Ben & Jerry’s have created a new tub of ice cream to celebrate Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

    The ice cream, dubbed ‘Bernie’s Back’, features a hot cinnamon flavour with ‘one very large chocolate disc on top and a (very stiff) butter toffee backbone going down the middle.’

    Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the masters behind the popular ice cream brand, created the flavour to support Bernie Sanders with his campaign.

    The website states: ‘The chocolate disc represents all the wealth that has risen to the top 1%.

    Tubs of the ice cream stacked up
    It’s not been branded under the Ben & Jerry’s name (Picture: Twitter/@yobencohen)

    ‘The backbone represents Bernie’s steadfast determination to un-rig our economy. And the hot cinnamon is our political revolution holding politicians’ feet to the fire to make America work for working people of all races and genders.’

    You won’t be able to find the ice cream in stores, as it’s not actually being advertised under the Ben & Jerry’s brand – however it comes in a the same style tub with a similar design.

    The flavour instead falls under the banner Ben’s Best and is named ‘Bernie’s Back!’

    Ben is Bernie Sanders’ campaign co-chair. He personally designed the ice cream, and jokes that if Bernie is elected president, he will be appointed as ‘minister of ice cream’. What a great job.

    Currently, the ice cream is available to win from now until 9 August – but only 40 people will have the chance of winning.

    MORE: No, your life will not be empty and devoid of meaning if you don’t have kids

    MORE: Nearly 50,000 people are petitioning Starbucks to stop charging extra for vegan milk


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    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series
    Oh cool, I shall prepare for nightmares (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)

    Babies can be pretty cute.

    They’re not all adorable. Some look like wrinkly potatoes.

    But there are ways to make a baby cuter (a onesie, a little hat, a good Instagram filter) and ways to do the exact opposite.

    It turns out that giving babies full sets of teeth offers some truly disturbing results.

    Amy Haehl, a 36-year-old photographer from Shelbyville, Indiana, decided to edit some of her portraits of babies so that they each had toothy grins.

    She claims this was ‘funny’ and ‘made her laugh’.

    We, meanwhile, will have nightmares about these babies and their biting potential for weeks. Thanks, Amy.

    ‘I’ve made it my mission to try to always put positive and heartwarming content in my followers’ news feeds,’ Amy told BoredPanda.

    ‘I feel like we are all bombarded with negativity and the depressing parts of the world we live in, and I love it when I have the chance to make people laugh and smile and forget all of that for a moment. I felt like these photos were a perfect way to do just that.’

    Look, you’re either going to find these cute and chuckle-inducing, or they will haunt your dreams.

    These are photos of babies edited to look like they have teeth. Behold.

    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series
    The baby is looking into our souls (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series
    Haunting (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    If babies had teeth
    Not even a nice headband can soothe us (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby laughing while clutching hands
    What is he plotting? (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby sleeping in blanket
    I do not trust this baby (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby smiling and wearing white jumper
    I’m not saying this baby is ‘evil’, but… (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    If babies had teeth - twin babies lying together
    Nooooooooooo (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    If babies had teeth - baby in a bucket wearing pink headband
    Why is the baby in a bucket? You’ll never know (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby resting head in hands and smiling
    Those teeth are simply too large (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby lying in purple heart and blanket
    That lilac is nice, though (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby surrounded by pink rose petals
    Just focus on the flowers. Ignore the baby. (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - twins wearing headbands with face in their hands
    Do these babies want to eat your bones? We couldn’t possibly comment (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby lying on front in bed
    Oh, cool (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby laughing
    We don’t want to know what this baby is laughing at (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)
    Amy Haehl's if babies had teeth series - baby cuddling soft toy lamb
    Little lamb, blink twice if you need help (Picture: Amy Haehl/coffee creek studio)

    MORE: Baby names inspired by gems and fancy rocks are a big trend right now

    MORE: Writer shares hilarious story of her husband eating an entire bar of laxative chocolate

    MORE: Warning to parents to be careful giving children hot chocolates and babycinos

    If babies had teethIf babies had teeth

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    Illustration of woman looking stressed and holding her hand on her face, with a purple background which includes a wedding dress, veil and wedding ring
    Weddings can be stressful – for couples and guests (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Weddings do funny things to people.

    Seemingly chill, fun couples turn into raging dictators on everything from outfit colours to plus ones… simply so that they can get the perfect pics.

    Take the bride who recently demanded one of her guests fork out £250 to have her hair and makeup done, despite not being a bridesmaid.

    Yesterday, the guest, known as sweets2017, took to forum WeddingBee to ask if she should ‘suck it up’ or go head-to-head with bridezilla.

    She said that the bride had asked if she wanted to get her hair and makeup done with her and that despite agreeing, it wasn’t completely clear if they were just getting ready in the same room or if stylists were being brought in to work their magic.

    ‘Either way, I figured she would provide more info later,’ sweets2017 explained.

    ‘I just got an email from her addressed to all the ladies getting ready with her. She is expecting $300 (£246) from each of us to pay for hair and makeup. I think this is a lot of money, and frankly, I’m very happy to do my own hair and makeup.’

    So, sweets sent her bride a message saying that she didn’t want to have her makeup done by professionals but that she was still cool to get her hair styled. But the bride replied that it was ‘too late’.

    ‘I feel like she should have disclosed the cost prior to signing me up, especially since it’s on the higher end, and not just tell me a day before her wedding,’ sweets continued.

    ‘I’m already annoyed that she made me book a much more expensive hotel room than I normally would have chosen for myself, but I sucked it up since I thought I could better afford it than her other guests and space is limited.’

    Other site users seemed to think that it was a pretty low move to rope her into such an expensive set up without being upfront about the cost.

    In fact, every comment in the thread advises that sweets simply does her makeup at home and refuses to pay.

    ‘It is extremely rude of a person to sign someone up to spend xx amount of their own money without having checked with that person if it is OK,’ writes one person.

    ‘If you only want your hair done, then stick with that and she can figure out the rest. You also were not even made a bridesmaid (not to rub salt if there is a wound there) so the fact she had you pay for some hotel room you wouldn’t normally is also pretty crap. You need to draw the line.’

    Other users have blasted the bride for making the big day stressful for her guests.

    But sweets2017 actually seemed to calm down about the situation a little later.

    She said that it hadn’t occurred to her that the beauty therapist may have put a numbers clause in her contract, meaning that bride would have to find a certain number of people to have their makeup done – and that sweets may have been needed to make up the numbers.

    ‘I don’t want to be the source of stress right before a wedding,’ she write. ‘I will let her know that I think the price is high and I wish I had known about it beforehand. This will hopefully help her realise for future endeavors that I’m not made of money.

    ‘Then, I will give her a much smaller wedding gift than I had originally planned for.

    ‘Hey, I had a budget for her wedding.’

    Seems like a reasonable compromise. Don’t agree? Let us know in the comments below.

    MORE: Couple wants to pay someone £5,000 to prepare a roadkill banquet for their wedding

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    Revealed: The Average Hen or Stag Do Will Set You Back ?204.82Revealed: The Average Hen or Stag Do Will Set You Back ?204.82

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    pregnancy test
    Fewer people are having babies than ever before in England and Wales (Picture: Getty)

    Your social media feeds may all be swamped by your mates’ ultrasound pictures but us Brits are actually having fewer kids than ever.

    In fact, last year, birth rates in England and Wales fell to the lowest level since records began back in 1938.

    A new report from the Office of National Statistics has revealed that the number of live births across the two countries in 2018 was 11.1 per 1,000 people, or 657,076 births in total.

    That’s a 0.5% decrease on the year before and a 45.9% decrease since 1947 – at the height of this country’s post-war baby boom.

    So why are we having fewer sprogs?

    The ONS said that falling fertility rates and an ageing population where to blame, with an increase in the number women above childbearing age.

    The report also found that the total fertility rate (TFR) was lower than almost every year on record. That rate specifically measures the live births for women who are of ‘childbearing age’ – between 15 and 44.

    Over the past six years, that rate has gone down every year.

    And again, that’s being put down to a number of things including better access and knowledge of contraception, lower levels of fertility and more women waiting until later in life to try for a baby.

    Almost half of babies were born to unmarried parents, while the birthrate of married couples was found to have suffered the largest decrease since 1973.

    So what does this all mean?

    It suggests that our ideas of family and marriage are still changing. We (rightly) don’t expect women to be chained to the maternity ward and more of us are aren’t allowing kids to determine who we end up with or the legislation around our relationships.

    But it is a fact that fertility drops off – and that fertility for both men and women seems to be increasingly compromised.

    Back in 2017, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that sperm counts among men in the west have more than halved over the past 40 years and are currently falling by an average of 1.4% a year – something experts have called a fertility ‘crisis’.

    ‘The results are quite shocking,’ said Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

    ‘This is a classic under the radar huge public health problem that is really neglected.’

    The World Health Organisation has warned that our current knowledge of male infertility is ‘very low’ – and that fact means that a lot of the chat around infertility and low birth rates tends to focus on women and female fertility.

    We know that as we age, the likelihood of getting pregnant naturally falls, but the lack of attention and study in the changing fertility of men is putting women under massive pressure to take the hit. Even when the problem is with the guy, the woman is still the one who actually has to have IVF performed on her.

    Perhaps more research into male fertility will impact on birth rates, as would research in to common but chronically under-studied female fertility-affecting conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

    But ultimately, less pressure on women to have kids – particularly given the current climate crisis – can only be a good thing.

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    artist fandagoe kid in front of one of her works, reading 'gimme that oxytocin'
    London artist The Fandangoe Kid wants to get us talking about death (Picture: The Fandangoe Kid)

    London print artist The Fandangoe Kid works with dancing and rituals to unpack and change the way we talk about grief.

    In her new film collaboration, Into Your Light, she seeks to smash taboos around the complex subject matter of death.

    ‘In 2011 I lost almost all my family in an accident on the East river,’ reads the first scene in The Fandangoe Kid (Annie Nicholson) and Tara Darby’s new short film. The quote is a chilling line out of The Fandangoe Kid’s experience – and the paragraphs that follow are similarly heartbreaking: ‘In 2016, my father, the only remaining survivor of the accident, died after a long battle with cancer.’

    The words, white and bold on a black background, are being projected onto the Manhattan bridge in New York City. It’s 6 June, the premiere night of The Fandangoe Kid and Tara Darby’s film, and beneath them flows the East river, silently and unstoppably.

    ‘If someone had told me 8 years ago when my heart was smashed to smithereens that I would be telling my story BIG BIG BIG on the Manhattan Bridge, right by the river where I lost the people I love the most, one after the other, I’d NEVER have believed them,’ The Fandangoe Kid writes on her Instagram page later that night.


    Their new film focuses on dancing as a ritual for survival and as a unifying force.

    ‘After losing most of my family in an accident and spending a lot of time with my dad for the making of this film, I noticed that everyone has their own rituals as a means of survival,’ the artist explains. ‘It’s often these really small things that someone takes pleasure in that help them get through the day. For me, one of these was dancing.’

    The Fandangoe Kid is interested in looking at different rituals that help the process of unpacking trauma and grief, ‘and this film is also meant to be a prompt to come together and have a unifying dance.’

    The film will be screening in London at an event by Pem People at Tate Modern on 17 August and 18 August as well as City Hall on 10 October

    The Fandangoe Kid trained in graphic design at the LCC and first started focusing on narrative-driven pieces during her studies in film and visual arts in Paris. Her art focuses around dismantling taboos around complex subject matters such as death, trauma, mental health and gender constructs.

    Her art is almost always easily accessed on the streets and she aims to create a platform for dialogue, especially for young people.

    ‘Releasing stories inspired by loved ones over the last years in different storytelling approaches has been a real catharsis for me,’ The Fandangoe Kid tells Metro.co.uk. She hopes to help other people dealing with trauma and to help shape a new way we approach grief.

    Tara Darby and The Fandangoe Kid first started working together in 2015, after The Fandangoe Kid had seen a trailer for Darby’s film Run it Out and reached out via email.

    ‘After noticing that we both lived in Hackney, we met up and there was an instant connection,’ Darby recalls. By the end of their meeting, they had decided to collaborate on the film.

    Tara Darby explains how they initially wanted to make a more traditionally structured documentary but soon realised that they wanted to explore different themes that came up in a more unconventional way.

    ‘Grief can be so alienating and death is still such a taboo in our culture – we want to explore the cycle of life and death,’ says Tara.

    For both creators, streaming the film in a public place is an important part of its message.

    The Fandangoe Kid says: ‘The film evokes this real dancefloor vibe, even though its such a heavy subject, and that’s exactly what grief is all about: Parts of it are extremely difficult, and others are pure joy and gratitude.’

    The artist duo hopes to offer a platform to open up the conversation surrounding death and trauma with their film, and plans on exploring more themes and workshops around love and loss.

    The Fandangoe Kid asks: ‘A lot of people around me always had a very strong drive to try and rationalise or normalise death. But why is that?

    ‘Why can’t we open it up and make it a mainstream conversation?

    ‘It’s like life, people’s weddings and having babies are the biggest, most normal things that are talked about, when there’s another big certainty: death. We’re all born, and we’re all going to die, and it should be something that binds us.’

    Into Your Light is screening at Tate Modern on 17 August and 18 August and at City Hall on 10 October. It was edited by Phillip Osborne and features music by Penelope Trappes and The Golden Filter as well as dancing by Housewarmers Collective, headed by Everton Bell-Chambers.

    MORE: Ikea teams up with artists to make upcycled homes for animals in the wild

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    Copenhagen exists almost in the same breath as fairytales. As the home, for many years, and eventually the burial place of Hans Christian Andersen, it’s synonymous with enchanting stories and whimsical thinking.

    And then there’s Denmark itself. The Danes, with their almost insulting levels of joie de vivre, are the stuff that ‘happily ever afters’ are made of.

    Yes, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. If you’ve been hibernating under your duvet (in winter) or umbrella (in summer) like any self-respecting Brit, then this fact – repeatedly proven by all manner of tests and indexes – may have failed to penetrate your cynical consciousness. The Danes happily pay incredibly high taxes, smilingly believing that these create a better society and, what’s more, they cycle a LOT – so there’s less pollution and their bums are summer-peach-firm.

    And let’s not even get started on hygge, a sort of national understanding of the simple benefits of spending quality time with good people in pleasant surroundings: something that this country futilely seeks to emulate with cheap candles and itchy blankets.

    If we’re missing a trick, then fear not. There’s a delicious and, occasionally, dark underbelly to all of that ‘too good to be true’, squeaky cleanliness: irreverent, fun and frequently edgy.

    the little mermaid statue in copenhagen
    The iconic Little Mermaid statue (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    After all, in the original version of The Little Mermaid, she loses not only her voice but also her tongue, and the legs for which she’s traded them cause her agony. Nor does she get her Prince at the end, instead dissolving, tragically, into sea foam.

    Let it not be said that the Danes don’t know how to put a twist on things.

    Our weekend starts at the Moxy, an offshoot of the Marriott group, which is dedicated to letting you make the most of your time in the city by offering slightly out-of-centre accommodation and functional bedrooms, offset by the most Insta-friendly public spaces imaginable, all geared towards allowing you to spend your money where it’ll buy you the most fun. After all, sleeping is for comatose princesses, right?

    Think eccentric murals, the best elevator selfie backdrops, life-sized Jenga and Connect 4, crazy statues and tongue-in-cheek neon. Throw in a light fitting made of bicycle wheels and bar staff well-versed in pouring generous measures, and your very own ‘happily ever after’ is off to a splendid start.

    hotel the moxy in copenhagen
    A lounge area in The Moxy (Picture: The Moxy)

    As for getting ready for the ball… the Moxy partners with various local suppliers to enhance your in-lobby experience, so don’t be surprised to find that you can partake in nail art, hands-on screen printing and even tattoos at the same time as you’re carb-loading bar snacks.

    Don’t fill up on those snacks too much though: it’s virtually impossible to have a bad meal in Copenhagen.

    We head to Reffen by way of an evening boat ride along the canals, into which locals are post-work plunging; established just last year, it’s all about luscious street food with a sheen of sustainability.

    Over the course of its 6000m2 area, there are no fewer than 50 vendors, and a further space devoted to harbourfront relaxation – but throughout, materials have been reused and upcycled to create a beautifully ramshackle city of huts and stalls from which insanely good aromas emanate.

    danes soaking up the sun by the water
    Danes soaking up the sun by the water (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    As for the vendors themselves, they’re all committed to a strict ‘reduce and reuse’ mantra, so it’s locally sourced and free range edibles as far as possible, with compostable servingware and eco-friendly waste management. Every mouthful is a joy, and that’s even without the effortlessly gorgeous looking people sitting around firepits against an incredible sunset.

    Sustainability and eco-goals are things for which Copenhagen is well known – the city has pledged to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025 – but if there’s an element of overzealousness or haughty virtue that sometimes seems to accompany such worthy principles, you won’t find it here.

    It’s just… cool. There’s no other word for it.

    a boutique in copenhagen
    Copenhagen is undeniably cool (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    Take Jægersborggade, in the Nørrebro neighbourhood, gleaming with cobblestones in the early summer light.

    Lined with shops promoting, in one way or another, a No Planet B approach, it’s less a street than a community; one with common values of social and economic responsibility.

    But oh my word. Could it be any more chic?

    From Copenhagen’s first zero waste supermarket, Løes Market, to a clutch of second hand and vintage shops and the sinfully excellent Istid, where organic ingredients combine with liquid nitrogen to create out-of-this-world ice cream, we’re hooked on our first wander – and that’s even without stopping off at any of the hip wine bars or cafes en route.

    Inge Vincent, pottery artist in copenhagen
    Inge Vincent, a pottery artist (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    This is also where local ceramicist, Inge Vincents, crafts and sells her ethereally insubstantial, hand-shaped pottery. Each colourless, translucent piece is like a whisper – a beauty far removed from the equally appealing works of prolific artist Bjørn Wiinblad.

    I collect a few of these from one of the street’s antique shops; they depict whimsically fanciful and detailed scenes on more substantial plates, vases and bowls.

    The Danish vendor I meet in the antiques market by the Christianborg Palace a few days later is less enamoured of Wiinblad, for reasons that his facial expressions and gestures are presumably supposed to make perfectly clear, although I’m left none the wiser.

    Antiques Market by the Christianborg Palace - copenhagen
    Antiques Market by the Christianborg Palace (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    That said, he doesn’t seem too keen on Germans either, showing me what I think is a statue of a seated boy, until I see that his head lifts, attached to the body by a spine-like rod. Turns out that it’s a mustard pot: fill the cavity with the condiment, pump the head and bright yellow mustard will dispense from a conveniently placed hole in the rear of the boys britches. ‘Germans,’ shrugs the vendor. ‘Everything filthy like this.’

    The memory returns to me as I contemplate condiments later that night at Paté Paté in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking district, where we’re having yet another mind-blowing meal.

    The area and its surrounding streets used to be seedy and synonymous with red light shenanigans but is now a hive of hipster activity, a draw for those in search of nightlife as well as creativity and independence. Located behind the Tivoli Gardens, which dates back to 1843 and is one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks, many of its buildings are listed, and hence unsigned – a fact that melds historical integrity with unselfconscious coolness.

    carousel at the tivoli gardens
    The carousel at the Tivoli Gardens (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    There’s no mistaking the sign on the nearby Spunk Bar, though: reimagined spaces and revitalised areas are all very well, but walking into Copenhagen’s original dive bar is like stepping back in time, an impression that’s heightened by the thick swirl of smoke that envelops you, like a time-travel spell, as you enter. Yes, there’s a smoking ban throughout most of Europe but… ?

    Staying out late is easily done – many bars stay open until 4am or so – but, come daylight, you’re best advised to head out early if you want to nab that must-have shot of the sherbet coloured houses of Nyhavn without a hustle of influencers photobombing your efforts: this iconic confection of a backdrop gets, understandably, crowded by mid-morning.

    There’s more of a reason than the ‘gram to get to Nyhavn early though – check out the epic brunch plate offering at Fyrtøjet (The Tinder Box, named after the Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name). Washed down with strong coffee and fresh juice, its combination of poached egg, bacon, sausage, yogurt, muesli, two kinds of cheese, two kinds of salami, Pata Negra ham, smoked salmon, salad, fruit, bread and butter is guaranteed to shake off the fug of a hangover.

    borrow a bike from the moxy to see copenhagen like a local
    Borrow a bike from The Moxy to see Copenhagen like a local (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    The weaver of fairytales lived in no fewer than three Nyhavn houses during his lifetime – numbers 20, 67 and 18 – but his final resting place, at Assistens Cemetery located behind a long yellow wall in Nørrebro, also merits a visit. By day, it’s used by locals as a park – expect to see joggers, sunbathers and picnickers among the tombs – but in the summer months, when it’s open until 10pm, it’s worth visiting as the light disappears for a more atmospheric experience.

    Sadly, Christian Andersen himself won’t materialise to tell you a tale but, back at the Moxy, you can hit up the brand’s signature in-room bedtime story service to lull you into a state of sleepy calm.

    The following morning, grab one of the hotel’s rental bikes to hit the streets – or bike lanes, as it were – to seek out the Little Mermaid statue. She gazes pensively out to sea, looking all the more tragic surrounded, as she is, by jostling tourists and spiky selfie sticks.

    I feel for her. Not only am I annoyed by the crowds but, in addition to that, unlike a shiny happy Dane, my legs aren’t used to all of this cycling.

    Rooms at The Moxy Cpenhagen start from £115 for a twin room.

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    How aromatherapy can improve your scalp and hair health
    Got a dry, itchy scalp? Then essential oils could be the way forward (Pictures: Getty)

    When was the last time that you were concerned by your hair health? If it’s dry and full of split ends, you probably think about it quite often.

    Now consider the last time you assessed your scalp health.

    Again, unless you suffer from dandruff, it’s probably not cropped up on your agenda. And even if your scalp is irritable, most of us use anti-dandruff shampoos or shove a load of coconut oil on there and that’s about it.

    One healthy hair consultant has made it her business to reeducate people on how to achieve and maintain properly happy hair and scalps.

    Eugenia Shaw is the founder of Ommi’s Beauty Hair care and author of Hair is Hair. Her whole ethos involves using aromatherapy for stressed out scalps.

    She set her brand up because she was ‘faced with a problem and wanted to fix it’.

    Eugenia tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I wanted to cure my daughter’s scalp problem and improve my scalp and hair. But this was not always my passion.

    ‘After having survived and then fled the Liberian Civil War, with the barest minimum for creating a new life elsewhere and living on a refugee camp six years all my hopes of my future career of being a Veterinary Doctor were rudely dashed.

    ‘Doing hair was a hobby for me then because I seemed to have a knack for it.’

    The more she concentrated on hair, the more people around her seemed to be struggling with different scalp and hair problems.

    ‘The final momentous catalyst was my daughter losing her hair at 5-years-old,’ says Eugenia.

    Within a year of developing a scalp infection, her daughter had lost over a third of her total head hair. After six different diagnoses, a bunch of steroid shampoos, lotions and creams, the problem seemed to be getting worse.

    ‘I was finally referred to the hospital after I confronted the lead GP at my then surgery with all their diagnoses and prescriptions,’ Eugenia tells us. ‘That is when we found out it was a fungal scalp infection.

    ‘Owing to the delay in treatment, the infection had entered into her bloodstream and would almost certainly return later in her life, and if and when it did, we would not be able to receive treatment as the treatment given now was so strong that it could only be administered once every 10 years.

    ‘Suffice to say, I was determined that neither my daughter, nor anyone else, I would relive that ordeal we had both been through that year ever again.’

    Eugenia set about burying herself in research and practical solutions for scalp and hair problems faced by people of colour, and by the time her daughter was a teen, she had bum-length hair.

    An interesting conclusion she came to was that ‘ALL human hair is the same’ – regardless of race or style.

    Eugenia Shaw, the author of hair is hair
    Eugenia has written a book about her research into hair health, which concluded that all hair is essentially the same – regardless of race or style (Picture: Eugenia Shaw)

    ‘It’s made out of the same cells and the same structures and therefore needs the same nourishment to flourish,’ says Eugenia. ‘The research extended to testing the products to see how they would best benefit people of colour and other races hair types.’

    That research formed the basis of both Eugenia’s book and hair products – the foundations of which is aromatherapy.

    She says: ‘Aromatherapy is the use of plant essential oils to help heal, balance and harmonise the human body and has been used for thousands and thousands of years. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and it reaps great benefits from the use of aromatherapy.

    ‘As essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin, their carrier base starts to work topically, and the essential oils penetrate to work from the inside out.’

    That’s why aromatherapy oils are useful for dealing with scalp issues. The scalp is still skin and yet, we often think that we have to treat it differently from the rest of the body – smothering it in harsh chemicals that get clogged around hair roots.

    Eugenia continues: ‘For me, it was about finding a carrier base that offered maximum benefit to the scalp whilst the essential oils worked on the inside, creating a sandwich effect.

    ‘That balancing, harmonising and healing effect of the essential oils means it tackles problems at the root cause, creating a long lasting effect. I wanted my products to offer that for my daughter’s scalp, and mine and every one else’s.’

    Essential oils not only moisturise and make hair and skin smell divine, but they also have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties – and these help to keep the scalp and hair in an optimally healthy condition.

    But you are struggling with hair issues, you need to think beyond beauty.

    Diet plays a massive role in the health of every part of our bodies – including the hair and scalp.

    ‘If we eat poorly, our cells will be deficient in what they need to function at their best, and this includes our skin/scalp and hair cells,’ Eugenia explains.

    ‘So the healthier we eat, the stronger and more robust is our cell formation. And who doesn’t want more robust cells on their scalp? The stronger our scalp and hair are, the better they’re going to withstand the daily stresses we inflict on the them.’

    The thing about hair care is that like our general health, it requires a holistic approach.

    It’s not enough to give your head a scragging in the shower with rubbish shampoos, blow dry it straight, tie it up tightly at the gym and then expect it to be healthy – or expect our hairdressers to work miracles after six months of abuse.

    That’s something that Eugenia has lots of experience with.

    A hair stylist for a number of years, she says that clients often turn up to hair appointments with totally unrealistic demands.

    If you think about the times that you’ve been to a salon and left with gorgeous hair, only for it to never look like that again, that may be because of your general routine and hair health. A stylist can relax, curl, and moisturise your hair to look great in the very short term, but it’s going to be your persistent routine that’s going to achieve looks in the long term.

    So what can we do to both manage expectation in the salon seat and try to extend that salon finish?

    ‘Be very open with your concerns and goals about your hair with your hairdresser, and don’t forget to include your scalp in that discussion,’ Eugenia suggests.

    ‘Be open to changing your routine up, or giving something a rest or a try for a bit (minimum time four to six weeks) if your scalp and hair are not where you’d like them to be.’


    She also insists that we all deep condition our hair: ‘Moisture means flexibility and shine, and that means less breakage.’

    Eugenia is currently crowdfunding to get her line of products tested by the Cosmetic Product Safety Report authority – a necessary step in order to get them in shops. The range is free from synthetic ingredients and is cruelty-free.

    She’s looking to raise £6,000, and if you’re interested, you can back the project on Kickstarter.

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