Music: All is fair in love and war (Oriah original)

All is fair in love and war ~ an original Oriah song

One of my favourite Yogis just took the brave step of following her dream; and she made a video encouraging others to follow there’s. Here she is with the first full-length song I’ve ever heard of Oriah music, mostly, all her other songs have been covers like Bill Withers, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine Anymore,’ sung wonderfully so. The lyrics of ‘All is Fair in Love and War’ blow me away; the way she sings them brings up raw emotions that I didn’t know existed. (They are written at the bottom of the video if you click on the previous link.)

Meet Viktoriya Georgia Kosta singing ‘All is Fair in Love and War’:

Kosta Yoga: Website

 KostaYoga YouTube: Kostayoga

Oriah Music:

Uriah Music: Facebook Oriah Music

And tumbler

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

10 Uses for Foil

During Creative Nonfiction class at Victoria University (VU) with the wonderfully inclusive teacher and writer, Michelle Fincke, one of our assignments was to write for something for Weekend Notes. We learnt about writing listicles and blog posts (Like, short articles, which, for a verbose writer, and rarely a concise one, was a challenge!) and we practised writing news articles. One of the examples up on the board was a Weekend Notes article called:’Six Uses for Aluminium Foil’; now as my readers know, I can tell you a lot about uses for aluminium foil! However, on that day in the classroom, the air being uncontaminated by fragrance, petrochemical and solvents from personal care products, the HEPA air filter supplied by Vic Uni’s Disability Services was blowing filtered air, and I, without the mask impeding on conversation, put up my hand to say, “I could write that article even better; I have a heap of uses for aluminium foil.”. I wasn’t joking, for I was sitting on a piece that had been carefully laid across my chair before sitting down for class.

My Trusty Heavy Duty Foil used to protect my clothes from fragrance chemical residue and/or fabric softeners

My Trusty Heavy Duty Foil Over a Chair Trick!

I’d already let it slip, during a previous conversation with my teacher, that I live in a house where the floor is covered in aluminium foil and we all need to wear socks so as to delay ripping it and having to change it so often, so I knew she was in on my self-depreciating joke trying to burst the bubble on my illness. We then spoke about how, yes, indeed I did have a lot of inside knowledge on the use of foil, but if I were to write about it in listicle form, then the uses would need to be audience appropriate. (The example used that day was about uses for the average consumer not yet effected by chemicals.) So, without further ado, here are my top ten uses for foil for the average chemically sensitive consumer:

  1. Chairs: Not only can it be used on public chairs (like the one above) that are ordinarily, but also wrongly, sat on by people wearing clothes washed, dried or sprayed with products containing fragrance, solvents and petrochemicals, but it can also be used over car seats to protect your clothes from petrochemical fumes embedded in the fabric/leather (How many times have you got out of a car, gone inside to shower and change clothes, then came back to your clothes later and found your clothes reek of engine oil/fragrance chemicals? How long did it take for you to recover this time after going out? Try the foil trick, you may recover faster next time and save yourself a set of clothing.) And you could also use it to cover a dentist’s chair.
  2. Floors: Have you seen those newspaper articles where they wonderfully sensationalise the stories of people who are chemically sensitive? You know the ones where they show everything wrapped in foil including the area that houses the kitchen sink? Hey, it’s not so sensationalistic. Wake up, come to my house; it’s reality: my whole floor is covered in heavy duty aluminium foil (I have more photos, and I’ll post about my new improved floor-covering technique next). My rental property has pine floors, and even though they are really old (surely old enough to have outgassed?), they release fumes that impact on my health. On days were the weather is warm, it’s blatantly obvious that the previous tenants were smokers and that the floor’s been cleaned with fragrance-based cleaners and it releases terpenes from the pine floorboards. My eyes sting and burn and I get a headache. As soon as the temperature goes over 22 Celsius I have to put the air-conditioning on so as to calm my symptoms or avoid them all together. But it’s the foil that’s really helped. This is a quick-fix solution for a rental property. (The ideal remedy, but often not possible, would be to have tiles laid; or concrete polished with low VOC sealers.) (Additionally, if you have carpet to deal with, due to the amount of VOCs emitted by the materials and glues, and possibly by any cleaning agents used, this may not work at keeping in the VOCs for very long.)


  1. Steering Wheels: Yes, I used foil tape (over other materials to protect the leather from the adhesive) on my car’s steering wheel because of the fragrance left over from the previous owner. (Foil can be reflective so if it’s put near the sun it needs to be covered with something else to protect your eyes from the harsh glare.) My only other choice to fix the fragrance-emanating-from-the-steering-wheel problem was to buy a new one; and, due to the cost, it just wasn’t an option.
  2. Money: I keep foil in my purse so I can wrap money in it. I don’t even sniff it, or get anyone else to sniff for me anymore, I just assume it has fragrance on it and fold it between the foil so that it doesn’t embed in my purse. I learned this trick from other people who have this same problem. (Don’t leave home without it!)
  3. Shopping: My partner does all our shopping but if I’m in the car we always keep a roll of foil spare so we can wrap or cover anything that’s come from a shop that sells fragranced-based cleaning products. This way fumes are not released into the cabin space; it doesn’t take long for a warm car to become extremely uncomfortable for someone sensitive to chemical irritants. (Again, don’t leave home without it.)
  4. Incremental Uses: Foil can be great to use in an emergency for when you just don’t have a solution to chemicals outgassing into your immediate breathing space. My treadmill has plastic housing over the motor. I’m not usually sensitive to plastics but lately (like, three months now), these particular plastic fumes cause a sharp headache around the sinus area in my forehead during or after my workout. Solution: I’ve laid a piece of foil over the vent, taping it down only on the side that points in my (jogging/walking) direction. My theory: the fumes are released in the other direction and soaked up by my Austin Air Purifier. (Tip: Buy foil in bulk.)
  1. Food: Yes, conventional use, I know. However, convention also suggests we use plastic cling wrap to seal in freshness. In chemically sensitive circles, due to phthalates in plastics, it’s de’ rigueur to use foil! (Get with the status quo.)
  2. Kitchen Cabinets: Again, we’re back to the “sensationalistic ‘Chemically Sensitive Person Must Cover Whole Kitchen in Foil Just to Make a Sandwich’ theme” again. I am being hyperbolic about it: it wasn’t the whole damn kitchen, it was just the unsealed particle board underneath the brand new kitchen cabinets that belonged to the house I rented four houses ago. (Do not try this yourself at home; get someone not—or at least less—chemically sensitive to do it for you.)
  3. Camping or staying in alternative accommodation: a layer of foil is the perfect—if not noisy—way to protect your clothing and bedding from a mattress that may be embedded with fragrance-chemical irritants. It can also be used to block dampness rising from the soil, if you’re sleeping outdoors.
  4. Building or Caravan Wrap: Yes, another conventional use, however, I must list it as a building wrap because as far as ‘renovating’ goes, I pray this will be the last use I have for using foil for any large scale projects, all just so that I can have a safe living space. Building foil (so long as you get one without paint or fire retardants on it) is a great product to use to seal in heat, lock out the cold and make your home more energy efficient. During our build (coming up), wrapping the house in foil is one of the jobs I’m scheduled to work on. And I’m actually very excited about that! (We are using Kingspan.)

Do you have conventional (in chemically sensitive circles) uses for foil?

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

How to Get a Shop Assistant’s Assistance Without Going Into the Shop

Sometimes, there are essential items just waiting for us, sitting on shelves inside buildings that are impossible to access. This is most commonly true when it comes to accessing Australian pharmacies that dispense medications and medical items, and sell personal care products: it’s the fragrances that are the problem. (Ironic isn’t it? Going to get medical items causes you to get sick?!)

I know, getting sick while trying to cash a prescription prescribed to you so that you don’t get sick, or that is to help you with pain, is just plain butt-naked, cruel irony.

Most ‘designer’ fragrances are kept guarded behind an impenetrable wall of glass, locked up like the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum (but without the alarms)! Yes, their prices are high but it’s the status of wearing them that is valuable–to some. Designer or fake, it makes no difference because they all contain solvents and petrochemicals and whatever else is hidden behind that controversial and contentious term, ‘fragrance’.

However, due to lack of monetary value, the fake Dior, Armani and Brittany Spears bottles line the shelves; testers positioned prominently and imminently, just daring shoppers to seize a free spritz (or drench) of ‘pretend status value’. Or for the really time–and money–poor, perhaps, they can don a few short bursts of each, in the hope of skipping their next shower. Because, *hey*, no-one will be able to smell yesterday’s and today’s BO, nor will they smell the le-undouched-smelly arse odour. Or will they? (I mean, if a person’s immune system is fully misfiring and they have a heightened sense of smell, well, they are going to be able to smell EVERYTHING!)

Consequences abound for canaries, and the immune compromised: these free testers make it inhumanely difficult to access the services we so direly need such as trisalts, pain medication, sinus medication, various steroidal medications, eczema creams, eye drops and whatever else it is our doctors, specialists or natural therapists prescribe. Another consequence is that we sometimes have to go without. And, then there is the amount of time spent trying to find the right pharmacy who have ‘non fragranced’ staff available to make up our prescription without getting fragrance on it (or in as in the case of compounding medicines (those that are made to a physicians specifications, or rather, recipe)), or getting fragrance in it: light years beyond cruel irony.

Try finding a pharmacy that does not sell fragrances? Try finding one that doesn’t have testers out on display? It’s a fucking minefield of women, men and free range children, spraying testers out onto their necks and into the air beyond. While the unsuspecting trample past through chemical molecules floating through the air.

A man who suffered with chemical sensitivities had to walk this exact fragranced conundrum. Admirably, he took his problem to the Australian Human Rights Commission:

“A man who has adverse reactions to perfumes complained that he was unable to access his local pharmacy because of fragrances, in particular near the checkout area. The matter was settled when the pharmacy chain agreed to develop a system of zones in its premises including fragrance free aisles, and a home delivery service.”

If you cannot access a pharmacy because of fragrances, here are some other things you can do:
  • If you need items that are nonprescription, then phone from home and ask if they can post your items out. However, depending on your postcode, you will be waiting 2-5 days, possibly more.


  • Stand outside, call the phone number on the outside of the shop, then ask the assistant to come outside to fill your scripts… For newly chemically sensitive people, often, this is the first thing they try, only to end up standing there, feeling like a mongoose wearing a mink coat mask in summer, because the whole caper is a symptom-inducing-futile experience. Earnestly, even though they are avoiding the fragrance chemicals inside the shop, the chemicals– from the traffic fumes and fragrance wearing passersbys–outside the shop can bring on debilitating symptoms. Ergo, for people moderately or severely sensitive, an experience like this can severely impact on their health, taking them days, or even weeks to recover.



  • Stay at home, phone in and ask if they can “please take your order over the phone”. This can work for non-prescription items like Trisalts but for scripts, you will need to have visited there at least once so that they can access your information and know that you are who you say you are. You could post the prescription in, or if it’s possible you could have your doctor fax it in, then he/she could post the original in later: this option usually takes prearrangement and a pharmacy and health professional willing to do this (trust is huge factor).


  • If you have a car, drive to the pharmacy, phone them and ask the assistant to come out to your car. Forget about this if your script is for any kind of pain relieving medication; we no longer live in that kind of world: they may peg you for a junkie who wants to rob them.



  • Wait until someone you know (who doesn’t use fragrance) can go in as your ‘agent’ and pick up your items



  • Any of the above may work for items like make-up bags, heating pads or fragrance free personal care items. (Hint: if buying something like these, it may be best to ask for something that has been kept out back, or at least, is still wrapped in its plastic. Yes, fragrances, by their very nature, are shared, but not only that, the molecules land on everything that’s in their vicinity. If your purchase has been in the shop for a while, you could be airing it out for twice that amount of time, or end up giving it away to charity because the fragrance chemicals may never air out.)



  • You can call and ask if they have the particular item(s) you need.



  • Next, ask if it’s stored near the fragrance testers. (Explain that breathing in, or/and touching fragrance causes you to have health problems. Then ask “could they please do you a favour?” But first, you need to find out if they are wearing any fragrance or any aerosol types of products, if so, then ask if you could ‘please’ have another assistant who is not wearing these. (If they have no-one available, thank them kindly, hang up and find another pharmacy. (*Don’t feel like an nincompoop. Hey, you just planted a tiny seed of awareness in someone’s head.*)))



  • If they do have the item that you need, ask them to sniff it and see if it’s got any fragrance on it. It’s a dumb thing to ask, seriously, everyone’s perception is different, and if fragrance is not acting as an irritant to the person’s immune system, then it may or may not be noticeable, and if it is, it will be “only a tiny bit; and actually, it’s a *nice smelling one. Not one of those cheap yucky ones!” Once you’ve found the item you need, ask them to take a photo of it (or a selection of photos of different colours and/or styles), and text it to your phone. After, you’ve decided, ask the shop assistant to wrap it in a plastic, or preferably, put it into a paper bag, ready for you or your carer to pick up later. At this point, you may have to pay, by credit or direct debit card, over the phone.



Photos of Personal Care Product Travel Bags, Texted to Me By a Shop Assistant

Photos of Personal Care Product Travel Bags, Texted to Me By a Shop Assistant

The Big One with the Handle is the One I Chose

The Big One with the Handle is the One that I Chose

These are just some ways that you can get your items from shops. Of course, the easiest way is to order online. But staff still need to be made aware of the fragrance issue. You, like me, can slowly chip away, creating awareness, or you can do what this man did:

“A man who stated that he has sensitivities to a range of chemicals complained that a retail shop was inaccessible to him because of strong fragrances worn by checkout staff. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the store agreed to request staff to avoid strong fragrances, and to raise with its departments issues of use of the least toxic paints, glues and building materials available, non-allergenic carpeting, and warnings when toxic materials were present.”


Australian Human Rights Commission 


Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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