Robert Neil – Review

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I have (sorry I mean had) two-tone hair. Work got crazy, my money ran out, I went on holidays and somehow managed to go a whole 4 months without having my hair highlighted. I know, I am a traitor to the blonde race. To be fair, the job the girls did at Jo Hansford was so brilliant, I didn’t actually need to do anything until month 3, pretty good going given that most women get the hair highlighted every 6-8 weeks. So given that I can’t unfortunately afford the £300 it would cost at the Jo Hansford salon, I trotted down to the Robert Neil salon in Sheen, as recommended by best friend Jess Young, the ultimate blonde babe.

My first impressions of the Robert Neil Salon were how insanely it busy it was, which can only mean a good things. I met my colourist who discussed the various options for colouring hair and decided to follow the three soft types of blonde that I had previously had. Michelle got to work very rapidly and managed to whip a full head of highlights in, in 40 minutes. Once washed, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the awful dark roots were a thing of the past. The colour was a decent, mix of light blonde, gold and honey which was a little bit brighter than what I am usually used to but a nice change for the summer. Once my hair had been delicately combed, I met with the lovely Adam, who is the son of the Robert Neil himself. Adam explained how the salon was a proper, family-run business where he is joined by his brother and cousin and even still his Dad which is pretty impressive given that Robert opened the salon 40 years ago – very The Godfather! The salon atmosphere was very friendly and had a buzz that is only created around an Italian, family dinner table.

Once back to the job in hand, Adam explained that whilst I thought I needed about 5 inches of my rat-tails chopped off, he could easily get away with just taking off a generous 2. He also explained that he would create a touch of shape around the face whilst keeping the rest of the hair an even length. Perfect. Chatting away about his family, and how his initial ambition was to be a chef rather than follow in his father’s footsteps, Adam got to work snipping and cutting away. Once blow-dried, after demanding as much volume as possible, I was met with a wonderful, healthy swish of blonde hair. A week on, my hair is a very manageable length that requires almost no styling at all which is SUCH a time-saver in the morning. After a few home washes, the colour has toned down as well leaving me with the perfect, sun-kissed, beach babe hair.

Make your reservation at the Robert Neil salon by visiting: http://www.robertneilhair.co.uk

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Fit for a Queen

Quite Literally. Kate Middleton and I technically have the same hairdresser. Well… I say “technically” maybe I should elaborate on what essentially is a truthful white lie. Whilst Kate Middleton may not have had her actual hair done at the Jo Hansford salon, rumors do have it that the in-salon manicurist was responsible for her nails pre-Royal Wedding. Whilst admittedly this isn’t quite the same as sharing a hairstylist, Jo Hansford is also the woman and expert behind the tresses of celebrities such as Liz Hurley and Camilla Parker Bowles (I know she’s a late comer but she counts as royalty right?). The Jo Hansford salon is a bit different in that the staff are trained up to be a specialist in either colour or cut which sounds all very wise to me. Therefore you can only imagine my glee when I was offered the chance to review the salon as well as a colourist and stylist.

All booked in and counting down the weeks until I could rid myself of what was rapidly turning into two-tone hair, my appointment luckily quickly came around. One rainy Thursday afternoon I found myself on the corner of Grovesnor Square outside a large Georgian townhouse with wrought iron fences and manicured flowerbeds lining the glossy windows whilst grey tarpaulin sheltered me from the rain. The Jo Hansford salon literally shon out like a beacon of hope promising me and my dull and tired hair comfort and warmth from a miserable, London afternoon.
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I wasn’t wrong to assume that the Jo Hansford Salon would be my sanctuary, on entry I was greeted with shining marble floors, fresh bouquets of expensive flowers, copies of Vogue strewn across glass tables and a smiling receptionist greeting me like I was completely expected, despite the fact that the large two story salon was full to the brim of Mayfair ladies. I was then whisked to the “cloakroom” where my “cloaks” were hung up to dry. Whisked off again, I was sat down and presented with a lunch and drink menu (huh? That’s right I can lunch whilst I have my hair done?) and immediately offered a coffee. Still not having to wait even a second to be tended to, I was introduced to my colourist, Ashley, who like the receptionist greeted me with her most genuine smile.
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During my consultation with Ashley (who by the way is the friendliest, chattiest in the non “where do you holiday?” hairdresser I’ve ever met) she sought out the advice of none other than Jo Hansford herself. Enthralled to meet the woman behind Liz Hurley’s gloss, I was slightly taken aback when she grabbed a fistful of my hair and shamed me with her honest and fair words, exclaiming “what is this? What have you put in your hair? It’s dead… you need seven inches off but that will make you cry won’t it? Why do you have a block colour of blonde on the ends? It doesn’t even suit you”.

This was the kind of harsh directness I had been longing for. Years of colouring, Bastiste, back-combing, straightening, curling and hair-spraying had left my locks in a complete mess with a colour as Jo so quite rightly put just did not suit me one bit. Dark, dingy roots and over-processed block of blonde and broken ends needed to be banished and cut. Ashley, with the welcomed matriarchal advice of Jo who treats all her staff with the devotion and care of a mother hen, suggested the full head of highlights that I am used to as well as pulling a much softer and darker blonde all the way through to neutralise the block colour. It sounded like the perfect compromise and restoration to Blonde Glory.

Whilst Ashley mixed up various colours I was introduced to my stylist, Roxy who was equally as friendly and pacified me that she would cut off two rather than seven inches and make my hair as healthy as possible. Once Ashley got going with the colour she talked me through the process which was different to any other I had come across. Ashley explained that at Jo Hansford all the girls (who are so well trained that they have all loyally worked for Jo for a minimum of three years) are taught to build colour up like bricks, working towards your natural parting. Each strand of hair was perfectly painted whilst the foils were folded into a more triangle than square like shape and then wrapped tight with another strip of foil to stop the colour from bleeding. As you can see below, the foils are firmly held in and sticking out at all angles making me resemble the cookie monster.
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Once every foil was painstakingly applied (which took a good two hours) I was left for 20 minutes under the rorating halo dryer so the colour could process. When finally cooked I was taken to have the colour washed out and offered the most sensual and luxurious head massage which left me half-asleep in the chair.

Once awoken and all towel dried, Roxy came over to start styling and cutting my hair and like a child on Christmas Day I couldn’t wait to see the final colour. As soon as she started drying I could see the full effects of Ashley’s handiwork… a full head of golden joy. All the block, brass colour that had built up overtime and had been completely toned down to a gorgeous, even, Sienna Miller style blonde whilst the crown was light, bright and sun-kissed. I could also see the full effects of the Jo Hansford technique, a perfectly highlighted hairline, each individual, highlight accurately placed giving the appearance that this really could be my own, natural colour. Without out a doubt it was the nicest I had ever seen my hair and I could barely stop myself from squealing with glee.

As soon as Roxy got cutting, I could see that Jo was (unsurprisingly) correct. I needed a good amount taken off to put the thickness and health back into my locks. Roxy tidied up each individual end, taking slightly more off at the front where the hair shaft had been damaged. Roxy also recommended that to maintain the quality and minimise the damage already caused I should have my ends trimmed every three weeks for the next few months.

The over effect was this:
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Prefect, healthy, restored blonde hair.

The girls at Jo Hansford are masters of beauty. The change even a week on is still so visible, my hair falls perfectly after even a rough blow dry whilst the colour looks as fresh as the day I left the salon. A full a head of highlights starts from £205 which I admit is pricey but quite frankly when the overall finish is this perfect the price seems justified. Jo clearly cares, on leaving the salon the girls informed me that Jo was keen to get me back in to make sure I maintained the colour and health, fearing that I could get back to what I had before. Come on Jo… not a chance! Not only am I absolutely thrilled with the colour and cut I was pleasantly surprised to find that an up-market salon in the heart of Mayfair is so welcoming and friendly rather than stuffy and exclusive. The overall experience in itself gets a 10/10 and regardless of price I wouldn’t hesitate to make Jo Hansford my local salon.
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The Suitcase Experiment

After what seemed like a glorious and fully deserved holiday I have been back in the motherland for two weeks and I am still suffering from a severe case of holiday blues. As a few of you know, every year the Annable family and close family friend Mandy embark on a two week Club Med holiday which always turns into what I continue to call for the rest of the year ‘the best two weeks of my life’ as it is usually fun filled, alcohol fueled, full of laughs and jokes and serious sunbathing. Better still, the majority of the clientele are French so I spend 14 days vous-vousing and s’il-tu-plaiting which makes me feel like my whole degree was worth while.

This year was the first year away where I could technically call myself a beauty blogger so I used it as an opportunity to find what truly are my holiday essential beauty products. This didn’t mean that I cut down on what lotions, potions, creams and bottles I pack, quite the opposite. The idea behind the experiment was pack as much as products that baggage allowance would permit and keep a log of what I used ‘frequently, often, sometimes and never’. I was so dedicated to the experiment that I actually had minimal clothing and became what Lizzie McGuire refers to as ‘an outfit repeater’.

So I am aware that I probably use a lot more products than most. Not everyone has the time every day to remove their make-up, polish their skin, tone their pores and moisturise their body, oil their legs, wash their hair in the shower, then dampen in the sea for the beach effect, whilst trying to actually commit to some form of sporting activities as well as the  seven hour sun bathing stint. Thus the products that I used ‘frequently’ may not be a complete necessity for every gal, however for those who are interested please see below.

Avène

I kept to my normal skin care routine using Liz Earle and all the Avène Cleanance range products however for the day I replaced my normal Hydrance Optimale moisturiser with the SPF version which came in factor 20. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. Unlike most sunscreens for face, it was light weight, non greasy and gave maximum protection. I applied morning and mid-afternoon and didn’t burn once. All in all, a total win.

Hawaiian Tropic

 

The first products I used every day are obvious… sun cream. An absolute must for protecting the skin from those UVA rays. I used 30 down to 15 throughout the holiday to make sure I was getting maximum protection whilst getting the tan I spend the rest of the year trying to maintain. This year I used Hawaiian Tropic’s Silk Hydration which has THE most DELIGHTFUL smell I have ever come across in a suncream. Rich coconutty and tropical aromas filled the air as I creamed up next to the pool, so much so that the sunbather next to me commented on the heavenly scent. Furthermore, the lotion has ’12 hours of hydrating ribbons’ which not only create delicious candy-like packaging but seriously moisturise the skin leaving it soft and supple. Unlike a lot of sun creams, the lotion is easily absorbed, feels silky and lightweight rather than thick and greasy.
In addition to the suncreams I tried out Hawaiian Tropic’s  Silk Hydration After Sun. I’m always skeptical about after sun because whilst they promise to be ‘soothing’ I find they don’t offer as much hydration as a usual moisturiser. That is until I came across Hawaiian Tropic with those oh so clever ’12 hour hydrating ribbons’. As well as soothing my post-tanned (I did not burn once HURRAH) it provided excellent hydration and smelt just as divine as its sun cream counter-part.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

A dark horse that trumped as a total surprise for ‘frequent use’. I’ve used this product from time to time at home when I fancied a little bit of luxurious TLC but I wouldn’t have ever said frequently. I thought the last thing I would have wanted in a hot, sweaty climate would be oil but it turns out my parched skin lapped up this nutritious mix of vitamin E and sweet almond oil. It gave a lovely dewy glow in the evenings, particularly on the legs.

Tangle Teezer

Before I went away I invested in what I would now call the best tenner I ever spent. Advised by Damien, the highlighting prince at The House of Rush, I bought a Tangle Teezer to get through my ALMOST nipple-length  locks. The disadvantage with trying to get my hair to this desired length is its incredible ability to knot up and tangle… queue the Tangle Teezer. This little beauty has moved permanently into my handbag and worked wonders at brushing the tangles out of my post wind-swept beach hair. Like magic, the tiny little bristles work through even the knottiest and matt hair (often the outcome of backcombing, Batiste and big nights out). Apply conditioner and brush through to achieve the silkiest, tangle-free, princess style locks.

To be honest the products I used frequently were the only products I used. Turns out I am low maintenance when on holiday… the sun clears up my complexion, I am make-upless in the day, my hair has genuine beach waves and lets face it everything looks better with a tan. The product I used often was Sudocreme which is a regular favourite of mine. I used this product less than I usually do at home, purely because for the first 10 days my facial skin was in tip top condition. However when a few blemishes struck and struggled to heal in the moist and exotic climate, like the good post drunk  girl I am I applied large patches to each blemish.

The products I never used were hair products, I simply didn’t need them. Being as vain as I am, I used to make sure I washed my hair post-pool at midday and then thoroughly rinse it in the sea and let it dry naturally. It was SO nice being such low maintenance and the overall effect was even better than all the lotions and potions I use back home. Flushed cheeks, a facial tan and real beach girl waves cut my evening getting ready time in half. I simply added a touch of bronzer to even me out, strokes of greys, bronzes and brown eye khols to accentuate my eyes, and finished with a slick of Chanel’s Le Voume De Mascara which truly is the business and a new personal favourite.

Unfortunately I don’t have a permanent year-round tan or a beach at my disposable to continue such an easy and low product ritual. In fact since I’ve been back I’ve been using and trying whatever I can get my hands to recreate that low-key, natural beauty look…next blog post to come 🙂

The Quest for Perfect Skin Continued…

 
‘It’s like rain on your wedding day… a free ride but you’ve already paid’ One song which perfectly summarised exactly how irony feels. Well maybe Alanis Morisette should have written a beauty blog… it would have certainly provided her with extra lyrical material. Ever since I wrote the blog The Quest for Perfect Skin it has been like an ominous dark, overconfident cloud hanging over me ready to thunder and pour at any moment. I knew as soon as I hit ‘publish post’ my radiant and what-was-then clear complexion would shove two fingers up at me and scream in my face ‘Not for long sucker’. Yet I wanted to share my advice and the results I had seen with my loyal and now growing (thank you ThisIsOurVillage.Com) readers. Whilst my skin on the whole has generally improved, I haven’t seen it look as glorious as it did when I wrote that what now feels like a doomed post.
I have attributed this to several factors. The first is the Pill. The Pill that was initially taken to clear up my skin somehow turned into a three year stint. After a long-consideration I decided now would be a good time to come off it. I suddenly felt all hippy and new age and worried about the amount of extra hormones I was putting in my body. Since I have come off however, whilst there hasn’t been a massive outbreak my body definitely seems to be trying to adapt and normalise itself which has come in the form of a few outbreaks.
The other factor I attribute to my skin is this RIDICULOUS but DELIGHTFUL change in weather. I love the sun as much as the next worshiping sun-goddess. A recent 5 day trip to Mallorca saw me setting my alarm for 8am and tanning straight through until sun-down. However the downside of not living on the beach in some glorious, poolside villa is that this hot weather in London mixed with pollution, the commute and topped off with a 6.20am rise is not doing wonders for my skin. The air-con at work is drying it out whilst all the other factors are making it perspire and oil up. I was in need of some serious game-changing skin care so got in touch with the good people at Avène and Liz Earle.
Avène
 Avene Micellar Lotion Cleanser and Make-up Remover 200ml  
So as a lot of you know I am completely sold on the French beauty brand Avène. Their Cleanance range turned my skin from from a dull and blemish prone nightmare to a glowing, clear fresh face. I loved the mattifying and smoothing effect the emulsion had however with air-con and sun exposure drying my face out I needed something a little more hydrating whilst baring in mind that the summer is my most ‘oily’ period. Katie at Pegasus PR recommended their Hydrance Optimale moisturiser in ‘légère’ which is super light and sheer but hydrating. As expected, I wasn’t disappointed. Combined with the Clenance toner (dedicated fan) this beauty provided the prefect balance of moisture vs oil and kept any threats of nose peel at bay. All in all, an essential summer buy!
In addition to this Katie recommended Avène’s Micellar lotion which removes make-up as well as cleanses and tones all in one. As part of my double cleanse routine I replaced my Bioderma with this product to see how they matched up. Far better than unhygienic make-up wipes  and far more accessible than France’s scared Bioderma the Avène Micellar lotion proved to be hydrating, refreshing and effective in removing all traces of make-up whilst leaving me blemish-free. Another triumph from Avène.
Liz Earle Hot Polish Cleanser
 
So whilst I am still seeing glowing results from Avène’s soapless gel cleanser, with this change in weather I need something a little more soothing and a touch less drying than a wash. However having that said, I can’t go to bed without washing my face in some shape or form. I have always read great things about Liz Earle’s Hot Polish Cleanser and hearing it is excellent for all skin types I requested a sample. The product itself is a cream cleanser that has spot-fighting and soothing essential oils such as eucalyptus, rosemary and chamomile which make a delightful pre-bed relaxant. Applying this all over and using the hot cloths provided I soak one under the hot tap and then checking the cloth isn’t scolding I place it over my face to open up the pores and let the cleanser sink in. Then, carefully rubbing around in circular motions the cloth and balm effectively work to gently exfoliate the face whilst leaving it super cleansed and soft. Nourishing my dry and slightly burnt patches whilst tackling the blemishes makes Liz Earle’s Hot Polish Cleanser a perfect bed-time cleanse.
NB: be sure to machine-wash each hot polish cloth after a couple of uses do they don’t collect a build-up of bacteria.
Oil Up
 
During a recent PR campaign I got to pick the brains of make-up artist to the stars Justine Jenkins and explained my current complexion issues. She took a good long hard look at my face and said that the localised blemishes on my chin are due to hormones which she claimed is no doubt due to my body trying to regulate itself now I have come off the pill. She explained that whilst the hormones will eventually settle, in the mean time I should use an oil, yes an oil, to balance out my skin. Justine firmly believes that oilier skins are just as much in need of a facial oil as dry skins are.
The way she explained the process is that if you feed the sebum glands (responsible for producing oil) a facial oil they start to produce less oil as they are already satisfied and balanced out, crafty eh? With this in mind I have been applying NUXE Huile Prodigieuse for body, hair and face every few nights or so which is a ‘unique concentration of 6 Precious Oils (Borage, St. John’s Wort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnut and Macadamia) and Vitamin E.’
 As well as my face I apply it to my body which gives my sun-parched skin the nourishing hydration it needs. To top it off, the oil also has that rich, comforting smell that you tend to get from luxurious, high-end products!
So you see, whilst I am still slapping myself for my overconfident boast of clear skin, the change in climate has provided me with new blog material as well as offering me the opportunity to try a few products I may not have given a chance before. The problem with combination skin is getting the balance right. As I quote almost in mantra-like form, getting your skin care regime right is all down to trial-and-error. In the mean time, enjoy the weather even if your skin doesn’t!

Bumble and Bumble’s Beach Babe

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My dream beauty look has always been ‘beach babe’ and I mean BABE in every sense of the word. Soft, wavy, blonde hair, super toned body with beautiful sun-kissed, make-upless skin frolicking around with a handsome, European god as the waves crash against the shore. You know the girl I am talking about, ‘that girl’ – the one you enviably watch from behind your copy of Fifty Shades as you artfully position yourself on your towel so you are facing the sun for optimum tan yet at your most flattering angle.

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This year I promised myself that whilst I will never be ‘that’ girl I would do everything in my power (and that I could afford) to mimic her look. I thought it was easiest to start with the hair so when I got my hands on Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Foam Wash shampoo (£18.50) I knew I was heading in the right direction. The bottle alone filled me with beach babe hope, delightfully turquoise with promises of ‘buoyant body and soft, sea breezy texture’. With this in mind, I made sure I packed a hand-luggage size sample so I could try it out during a five day break in Mallorca.

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I had already had my hair coloured to the perfect shade of blonde at the House of Rush in Piccadilly Circus by Damien (I strongly advised all blonde-aholics to pay him a visit) so happily marched myself off into the shower with my Bumble and Bumble to begin stage one of operation ‘Beach Babe’  – just without the beach. As I lathered up the shampoo, joyful beach-like smells filled the shower with a heady aroma and I even had a splash and frolic under the showerhead. I washed my hair twice for a thorough cleanse and then applied a dab of NSpa’s Full Body conditioner (£3) that contains extracts of shea butter and collagen which lightly nourishes my fine hair to perfection.

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Once towel-dried and combed through I apply a few squirts of Bumble and Bumble’s Thickening Spray (£21.50) to my lifeless, fine hair to get full body and bounce. Doing the blow-dry-head-upside down technique I brushed my hair through to tip myself back up and see big, bouncy hair! Wow, buoyant it certainly was – Bumble and Bumble don’t break promises. Furthermore it was thick yet no sticky product residue, which tends to be the way with cheaper products. It is certainly worth investing in the Thickening Spray if like myself you are plagued on a daily basis with flat roots.

Now for those waves. The most natural and best way to achieve the ‘beach wave’ is actually…um… go to the beach. I am so obsessed with beach hair that I have gone as far as to washing my hair in the sea (South Pacific style) so all that salty goodness and texture is fully absorbed into my blonde locks – believe me, you may get some odd looks from the shore but the final effect is worth it.

If you don’t have oceans of salty water on your current doorstep then the best way to achieve the ‘beach-wave’ I find is a good, old French plait. If you don’t know how you should be ashamed that you didn’t pick it up in the school playground. In case you need a little reminder here is a step-by-step guide.

1.Start at the crown of the head, take and brush a small section.

2.Begin at the root exactly how you would start a normal plait, however after your first weave, pick up another strand of hair from the left-hand side of your head and weave it in.

3.For the next weave, pick up from the right hand side and continue by alternating sides until you reach the nape of the neck.

4.You then can finish off the plait as a normal leaving a nice chunk of hair at the end and securing with an elastic.

Remember to keep the plait quite tight for nice, strong waves and then set your alarm and sleep with the plait in. When you awake and release the plait you will have mermaid style waves that will cascade down your back with boho elegance. Secure the waves with a couple of mistings of Elnette.

French plaits, salt water and Bumble and Bumble are certainly a sure start to being ‘that girl’. Whilst the super-toned body is a ‘work-in-progress’ I worked bloody hard on my tan during my luxurious boat and beach break in order to take me one step closer to beach-babe heaven.

The Definition of Beauty

When I got to thinking about what I could write for my next blog post I thought about the definition of beauty and what it actually is that makes somebody beautiful. The main focus of this ‘beauty’ blog has always been about using products and cosmetics to enhance or create beauty.  Other than my two week stint of drinking 2 liters of water a day, all the posts have been product-led. There is hardly anything on well-being and general happiness and health.

I struggled with this for a good twenty minutes because talking about health and happiness isn’t really what this blog is about. My blog is superficial. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but essentially make-up and cosmetics are about superficial beauty. I have never tried to be dishonest about that, there is a part of me that IS superficial. I like changing and improving my surface appearance but the person I am stays the same. However I then thought health is the first and very fundamental basic of being ‘beautiful’.

When I looked up the definition of beauty it said this:
•    A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, esp. the sight.
•    A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense.
I would say 75% of this definition is relating to appearance rather than anything slightly more profound. Yet there were words and phrases that couldn’t be translated as just physical. For example ‘moral sense’ and ‘qualities’ which got me to thinking.

I have a friend who is always harking on about ‘beauty’ on the inside. Whilst I know that people ARE beautiful on the inside I always thought it was a hippy thing to say or something parents tell their children to fill them with the necessary initial stages of confidence. However although I hate to EVER let her be right, I always had a secret inclination that she may be on to something. There is nothing more attractive than somebody genuinely laughing or smiling. Positivity and and general self-acceptance rather than over-bearing confidence can be beautiful. This often derives from a general sense of happiness. It may be that you are head-over-heels in love or you have a great, blossoming career. Maybe you have the support of an amazing set of friends and a loving family who stick by you… Maybe you have it all! Unlike cosmetics, these intangible types of happiness can’t be purchased or physically applied.

Whilst I may pay for my gym membership…the dedication and hard work it takes to get into shape and eat healthily is also something that can’t be bought.  Whilst the ‘junk food’ days come and go, I think I can finally say that I am currently at my happiest because for once I have gained some form of control over my diet. I am trying not to gorge on addictive sugars and sluggish carbohydrates but eating properly and regularly and spending a solid but not excessive amount of time in the gym. The hard work has paid off (it has taken 6 months) and I can actually see new sets of definition and muscles. I know this has contributed to my overall appearance, not because my clothes fit better but because it makes me happy and confident which no doubt shows on my face. There’s no amount of make-up that could fake that.

A friend of mine joked yesterday about the state many girls find themselves in post break-up or mid-depression, a welcomed loss of weight but with the gaunt, worried face that says ‘whilst I may look great on the outside, I’m screaming and crying on the inside’. And she’s right, you do look good… We’ve all been there. During moments of depression or upset, the appetite just goes and suddenly the weight drops off and your thin without even trying. Then the compliments come and for a moment you feel good about yourself.  Accept if you move your eyes upwards the face is full of angst and upset. When you compare this with the happiness of somebody who has a toned, svelte body that derives from working out it doesn’t seem so desirable.

So I guess what I am asking is if it isn’t the billion-dollar cosmetic industry that makes us ‘appear’ to beautiful then what is it?

It’s about loving the life you’re living and keeping good health. If you don’t love the life you live you need to figure out what it is that is stopping you from being the positive person that is laughing for no reason other than they’re happy. If you’re unhappy you probably aren’t in good health either so I guess the two go hand-in-hand. Once you’ve tackled truly tackled the inner (CRINGE) beauty it is only then you can purchase products that work to enhance that natural, positive, smiling face.

Your hair is ‘fine’ by me

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My best friend hates my hair. She will deny it until the cows come home, but I know deep down she hates it and that’s okay babe (no names given) because you know I hate it too!

She is the envy of all fine, limp-haired ladies. Gloriously thick hair with a completely natural chocolatey, dark colour. It looks stunning straight and boho-beautiful in its naturally wavy form. And volume? I don’t think lack of volume has ever crossed her mind. In fairness to her, her luscious locks aren’t admin-free. She invests serious time in perfectly straightening it which she claims is an art in itself (small price to pay for a bouncy, thick ponytail in my opinion!). I can’t even take jealous comfort in the fact that her tresses must be damaged beyond belief after eight years of straightening. Her Trinidadian/Welsh mix means her hair is strong and resilient and divinely shiny. Do you hate her a little bit? Well please try not to hate on my best friend, here are a few products to add volume, thickness and care for your hair. Like my quest for perfect skin, I am on a quest for perfect, big, volumised hair!

Care for your hair

Like with the perfect base, the perfect hair begins from within. Eg. tackling the problem before disguising it. I have the advantage (and don’t think I undervalue this) of living with one of Headmaster’s style directors. I am the bane of his life. I continually ask him to style, colour, cut and shape my hair whilst simultaneously boring him to death with hair/product related questions. Whilst he may hate me, I can now share this information with all fellow fine-haired ladies. When it comes to hair condition, KH (as I said, no names) says this should ALWAYS be your number one priority. Especially, if like me you have lied about being a ‘natural blonde’ all your adolescent and now adult life. Here are some of KH’s tips for keeping the condition of your hair tip top!

Cut

Always spend money on your cut before your colour. The condition of your hair is dictated by the amount of split ends you have. KH recommends getting your hair trimmed, if not styled, every month in order to shed the split ends and allow the new hair to grow through. Whilst I argue he is just trying to make beer-money out of me, you must always trust a professional! When I’ve put this process to the test, the condition and more notably the length has been 100 times better.

Care

KH’s second most important tip, is spend money on your shampoo and conditioner. Like the Clarin’s moisturiser, this seems extravagant because we use it up relatively quickly. However, when you have coloured your hair as much as I have, you need to realise that being blonde comes at a price which is damage. KH recommends the Kérastase range as a whole, particularly the elixir oils for ultra nourishment. I use the Kérastase Resistance Bain de Force range (prices start at £15.90 for 250ml) for chemically treated hair, which is a mix of pro-keratine and ceramides to replenish and restore my parched, bleach hair. The results are instant, unlike cheaper shampoos, the silky softness doesn’t just ‘sit’ on the hair, it nourishes all the way through for a lasting effect. Top tip – make sure you thoroughly rinse all product out of the hair (I rinse, rinse, rinse) so there is no residue and my fine hair is super clean and ready for my volumising attack! I’ve been using the Kérastase range for only three weeks, and I can proudly say, that a boy (yes an actual boy) unprompted, told me I have really soft hair. I smiled my thanks, no need to reveal my secret weapon!

Volume

If you entered my bedroom prior to a night out you would find me with my head shaking upside down to the incessant roar of the hairdryer whilst enveloped in a hazy cloud of L’Oréal Elnett and other volume, gravity-defying products. This is of course topped off with a full Girls Aloud dance routine (don’t EVEN pretend you don’t do this too) with 5 rollers in my hair. I will do whatever it takes and spend whatever it costs in order to achieve, full, bouncy, volumised hair. So here are a few tried-and-tested products that will help achieve the effect. Eat your heart out Cheryle Cole!

Bumble and Bumble Hair Thickening Spray (£20.50 for 250ml)

Winner of this year’s InStyle beauty awards, this product is truly worth every penny. Non-sticky and wondrously light, this spray instantly thickens the hair and adds volume to the roots. Hassle-free, you simply spray to the roots, tip your head upside-down and blast with a hairdryer for naturally bouncy hair that lasts all day. For extra texture spritz some Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray (£20.50 for 125ml) onto the lengths of hair and french plait before bed… et voilá, wake up to beautiful, mermaid waves . Out of the hundreds of volumising hair products I have tried, the Bumble and Bumble Hair Thickening Spray is without a doubt the best.

TIGI Bed Head Queen for a Day Thickening Spray (£11.50 for 300ml)

This product is great for a night out, slightly sticky but with a great hold. Spritz it onto the roots and massage into partially dried hair and using a large round brush blow dry the hair upwards. If you have a side parting, dry the hair on the opposite side and then flick back over for extra lift. Perfect lifted roots look great with glossy straight hair. Finish with hairspray (always L’Oréal Elnett – what else?) and you are chic, sleek and ready to go.

Andrew Barton Shiny Happy Hair I Love Volume Maxi Oomph Thermo Rollers
(£6 for 5) and I Love Volume Big Hair Lifting Hairspray (£3 for 250ml) available at all Asda Stores

Like my make-up, unless specifically recommended, I would be unlikely to buy my hair care from Asda. However when I heard professional and celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton had created a very reasonably priced hair range for Asda I was willing to try it out.

At £3 I expected the I Love Volume Big Hair Lifting Hairpsray to do the job but not exceed expectations. How wrong could I be? This is the ultimate beauty budget buy! Unlike most cheaper hair products, this left no sticky residue, had a delightful fruity smell whilst instantly volumising my roots when blow-dried. When money is tight (pretty much all month) this is my staple beauty buy.

For ultimate volume, you have to go that extra mile and opt for rollers. Fiddly but they achieve results. Now, there really is no need to go all out and buy expensive ones, as getting it right actually comes down to technique. However you do need nice, big ones, so I opted for the Andrew Barton Shiny Happy Hair I Love Volume Maxi Oomph Thermo Rollers. Once hair has been completely dried with volumising products, starting at the crown of the head, take an even length of hair that matches the width of the roller, and slowly roll down. Use a grip to secure it and repeat with two other rollers on the top of the head and two at the sides. Using a finger to secure the roller, blast each one with the hairdryer. Then leave a good 40 minutes for them to cool down and set before taking them out (go gently and don’t pull the hair). It apparently is this process that achieves the volume. So the longer the hair has to cool the bigger the bounce. Sprinkle and massage some TGI Lust Dust (£9.80 for 1g) into the roots and your hair will stay big and beautiful all night!

See this rather embarrassing photo as an example of how to pin the rollers in…

Image

You see, I really have tried and tested every method in order to achieve the dream of thick, volumised hair. Whilst I will always be envious of my friend’s lovely locks and hate the natural form of my own hair, my loss is my blog’s gain. I can personally research and share my findings with all Blog Ciao Bella readers, so that fine-haired ladies can go forth and be volumised!

If you would like your hair cut by Keron Haynes (he doesn’t care for my no name policy) without the salon prices (!) please contact him via facebook: http://www.facebook.com/keron.haynes?fref=ts

Image credits:

http://groceries.asda.com/asda-estore/search/searchcontainer.jsp?trailSize=1&searchString=andrew+barton&domainName=Products&headerVersion=v1&_requestid=39623

http://groceries.asda.com/asda-estore/search/searchcontainer.jsp?trailSize=1&searchString=andrew+barton&domainName=Products&headerVersion=v1&_requestid=39623

http://www.kerastase.co.uk/products/resistance/for-chemically-or-naturally-weak-hair/bain-de-force.aspx

http://www.feelunique.com/p/TIGI-Bed-Head-Superstar-Queen-for-a-Day-Thickening-Spray-300ml

http://fashionsmostwanted.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/i-love-big-hair.html