Thursday, 30 May 2013

Haircare Advice for Blondes

I'd been planning this post before my disastrous trip to the hairdressers, thinking that my return to blonde would create the perfect opportunity for this post. Unfortunately, post-highlights I am still pretty much brunette (siiiigh). But hopefully there are still some blondies out there who will enjoy this post.

Lightening or bleaching your hair is always going to be damaging, and so keeping blonde hair in good condition can sometimes be very tricky. It's worth mentioning that if you have ever had bleach in your hair, dying over the blonde will not repair the hair - you should continue to look after the bleached hair as if it were blonde until the whole lot grows out. So, here are a few little things you can do to keep your barnet looking its best...

  • Use a deep conditioner regularly. This applies to all hair types, but is particularly important for people who have damaged their hair with harsh colours. Choose a hair mask that is specifically designed to hydrate, since the main trouble with lightened and particularly bleached hair is that it dries out extremely easily. It's not exactly a bargain, but my favourite deep conditioning treatment of all time is Molten Brown's Mer-rouge Conditioning Mask - read my full review here. Whatever treatment you choose, try to use it overnight for best results. If you don't have time then try wrapping the hair in clingfilm once the mask is applied and leave for an hour. Use a treatment at least once a week.
  • Use a hair oil. Using oils regularly can make such a difference to the moisture levels and therefore condition of your hair. Use an oil after washing your hair for soft and hydrated locks - I use Mythic Oil by L'Oreal which I love, but their popular Extraordinary Oil is cheaper and a massive favourite with the housemates. Make sure you choose the version aimed at coloured hair if you're not a natural blonde.
  • Use reconstructing shampoo. Shampoo is one of the harshest products you will use on your hair - its primary purpose is to strip your locks of their natural oils that keep them healthy. A hairdresser recommended I try L'Oreal's Absolut Repair Cellular Shampoo, which is designed specifically to reconstruct the damage caused by bleaching or over-treatment of the hair. The salon price of the shampoo is around £14 a bottle (no chance) but I managed to find a huuuuuuge salon-sized bottle of the stuff on Amazon for a tenner. It's fairly heavy for a shampoo so I wouldn't advise you use a huge amount of it, and be sure to wash it out thoroughly to prevent your hair from feeling greasy once dried. If you find that the shampoo leaves your hair feeling a little heavy, use it on the ends only, and use a natural ingredients shampoo on the roots. 
  • Get regular trims. Boring I know, but it's true. Even if you're trying to grow your hair out like me, it really isn't worth putting off a haircut when your ends are starting to go minging because it will only get worse, and you'll end up having to lop off more than was necessary. Try to have a trim every 6-10 weeks, even if you only get 1/2cm off each time.
  • Wash your hair less often. If you are a bottle-blonde and wash your hair every single day, OH MY GOD STOP.  Nobody, nnoobbooddyy needs to wash their hair every day - it might feel nice at the time but you are doing your hair serious damage, particularly if you blowdry and heat-treat your locks every time. Your hair will be retaining very little of its natural oils, making it dry, brittle and probably causing sluggish growth. Accept that at first your hair might look a little greasy, and skip a day before you wash it. The key is to keep going - don't relapse back into your old wash cycle or your hair will quickly become dependent. Try not to wash your hair more frequently than every three days, I promise you will notice the benefits before long and be amazed at how much longer it takes your hair to become greasy.
  • Don't brush your hair when wet. This is one of the most common mistakes people make, and one of the biggest causes of hair breakage, particularly on brittle coloured hair. Wet hair is weak, and yanking a hairbrush through it will rip the shafts apart. Instead, take your hairbrush into the shower and brush your hair whilst the conditioner is in. Then leave it until it's dry. Your hair will thank you for it.
Reading back over these tips I do realise that they are pretty basic, but if you follow them all then I promise you will quickly see a difference in the condition of your hair. I also realise that none of these tips are exclusive to blondes either, but if you have used harsh colours on your hair then this is when these things become more important. The obvious regulars also apply - try to cut down on the amount you straighten or curl your hair, and if possible avoid blow drying.

What are your top tips for keeping coloured hair in good condition?


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review: Rose Gold Blush by Sleek

I've been looking for a new favourite blush for a while now, and although I'd been hankering after a lovely NARS one, I couldn't bring myself to part with over £20 for it. Instead I thought I'd check out a powder blusher from the Sleek range, as they are so often raved about on some of my favourite blogs. At only £5.49 each, I saw these as a definite potential beauty bargain. I went for Rose Gold, a lovely peachy pink with golden tones.

First impressions...the product is probably about half the size of a NARS blush, but the packaging is very sophisticated and feels sturdy. The lid contains a mirror which is always a nice touch. There is no brush included. 

The product has a good consistency, the powder doesn't fly everywhere when you apply the brush. The colour is subtle but beautiful, and works well when applied on top of bronzer. I find that this blush lasts a good proportion of the day - I've only had to reapply when going from day to night. Here are some more close up shots to give you a good idea of what it would looks like when worn...

I reckon this would be a pretty universally flattering shade, perhaps particularly suited to those with paler skin. The colour is very shimmery so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that prefers a matte blush, but I'd still recommend Sleek powder blushes. You can get these online or from most superdrug stores.


Friday, 24 May 2013

The Dangers of Groupon / My Latest Hair Disaster

This is my first post since I finally finished my degree (!!!) and so I'm hoping that from now on I will be able to post a bit more frequently. As a result, I'm no longer going to post each individual blog I write on Facebook as it will probably start to annoy people - if you enjoy reading my blog and don't want to miss out then I'd love it if you could follow me. You can do so via your Google account, through Bloglovin (simply make an account on their website, it takes seconds), or by entering your email address. All three of these options are displayed to the left. You can follow anonymously if you would prefer.

(Edit: the following post turned into a bit of a rant. Oops.)

So, as a post-exam treat to myself, I decided I wanted to retreat from the dark side and get some highlights put back into my hair, which was a kind of patchy light brown / dark blonde colour from where I'd been trying a few home dye kits with unsuccessful results. The problem: highlights are damn expensive. To just rock up to a chain salon such as Rush or Headmasters you are looking at around the £100 mark for a full head plus cut and blowdry, and this is certainly not within my price range. So you can imagine my delight when I found a Groupon deal for a local salon offering a full head of highlights, a cut and blowdry AND  a conditioning treatment for a mere £36. I snapped up the deal immediately, thinking it was a miracle and far too good to be true. was. Upon arriving at the salon (Envy in Slough) I was ingored by the receptionist for a good ten minutes whilst she was on the phone to another customer. "Oh no, you're lucky you missed the Groupon deal", she told the woman on the line. "To be honest we only use our junior stylists on Groupon customers and they're very inexperienced. You might not have been happy with the results". FANTASTIC START. I was literally standing right there.

I'd noticed in the small print before I headed off to the salon that there was a £10 surcharge on the day for customers with hair below shoulder length - I was hoping that since my hair is only slightly below my shoulders and hardly what you'd call long hair, I might get away with it. No such luck, I was told straight away that I'd be paying £10 extra. Then (after sitting in the chair waiting for a further 15 minutes whilst all the stylists were having a mothers meeting behind me) my stylist came over and made a few suggestions as to what would look good in my hair. "I think definitely two colours would look nice, maybe a bright and a honey blonde or even a few lowlights. We'll use a toner to remove any brassiness. How does that sound?"

It sounds good, thanks.

"Brilliant okay. Just so you know, that'll be an extra £15 for the second colour, and an additional £13 for the toner."


I look grumpy 'cos I hate having my photo taken
If you're no good at maths, this now meant that I was being asked to pay an additional £38 - more than the original cost of the Groupon, meaning I would have paid a total of £74! Against the salon's advice I scrapped the second colour because I literally couldn't afford it, but had to accept that the toner was necessary in order to stop my hair from going orange and stripey. How such a basic thing could count as an optional extra, I honestly have no idea.

Once my stylist finally started putting in my foils, I couldn't help but notice that the client next to me, who wasn't a Groupon customer, had at least twice as many foils as me despite the fact that I had paid for a full head. When I queried this I was just told that I was being given a more natural look as this was what would suit my hair. Total con, of course.

Oh, and the "treatment" advertised in the offer turned out to be conditioner left in for a couple of minutes - brilliant.

To be fair to the salon and my stylist, the end result is fine. It's a very natural look, probably more natural than what I was hoping for - you definitely wouldnn't call my hair blonde, but I guess it will continue to get blonder as I keep topping up the roots. Annoyingly, I think the end result would have been exactly what I was hoping for had I been given a proper full head of highlights like the woman next to me, very annoying. Likewise, I would have walked out of the salon happy with the results if it had only cost me the original £36 rather than the grand total of £59, plus a £5 train ticket to Slough (I would literally never in a million years have been to Slough had it not been for the Groupon).

So, the moral of the story is: if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. If you find yourself tempted by a Groupon, DO NOT BUY IT UNTIL YOU HAVE RUNG THE SALON AND ASKED IF THERE ARE ANY ADDITIONAL CHARGES. Even then, I wouldn't touch Groupon with a barge pole ever again - it was very clear that Groupon customers received very different treatment to regular clients.

Have you ever used Groupon for a beauty treatment, or for anything else? Please share your experiences in my comments section down below. If you can't see the comment box, Click where it says 'X Comments' (depending on how many comments have been left) and it should appear. You can leave your comment anonymously if you would prefer.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

May Magazine Freebies

Hi all. This is gonna be a very quick post to let you all know what beauty freebies are available with various magazines this month. I'm going to try to remember to do this post on a monthly basis :)

Three magazines have beauty giveaways this month (so the June editions of the magazines). They are: 

Elle - They're Real! Mascara by Benefit (miniature) 

This is a really great mascara, I've been using the full sized one on special occasions and it's fab. The full sized version is around £20RRP so this miniature is probably worth about a tenner. The mag will set you back £4, but it's a good bargain overall.

InStyle - Nails inc. Nail Polish

This freebie comes in a few different colours, my favourite being 'You're a Peach!', a lovely summery yellowy peach shade. Nails inc. polishes usually cost around £11 each. InStyle is priced at £3.70

Marie Claire - various Avon products 

You can pick up a 'glimmerstick' gel eyeliner, brow definer pencil or lipstick with this month's Marie Claire. I use Avon products fairly often, and I can vouch for the face that the twist-up eyeliners are amazing. The mag costs £3.80.

Happy shopping! 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Beauty Hacks

For this post I've put together a list of a couple of little tips and tricks I've learnt that save time and money in my beauty regime. I will probably have to do a Part II post at some point because I've probably forgotten a few things, and I'm discovering new ones all the time, but for now here are a few little beauty cheats to keep you occupied. You probably already know at least a few of these, but if you don't then happy days!

  • Remove stubborn nail varnish with foil and cotton wool. This is a particularly useful tip at the moment since glitter and special effect nail varnishes are all the rage, but if you've used them then you've probably realised by now that they are notoriously hard to remove. Instead of scrubbing away with cotton wool and nail varnish remover to no avail, simply soak a cotton wool pad in remover, wrap around the nail and wrap a piece of kitchen foil over the top, and wait five to ten minutes - even stubborn polish will slide right off. 
  • Remove every last trace of makeup with Vaseline. If you've got stubborn makeup that doesn't want to budge (waterproof mascara being the culprit that immediately springs to mind) then rub a little Vaseline onto a cotton wool pad and gently use it to remove makeup. It will remove every last trace of makeup. Make sure you use a cleanser afterwards because Vaseline is obviously greasy. I have a feeling I may have orinally heard this from my friend Natalie.
  • Rescue gloopy nail varnishes with nail varnish remover. If your favourite polish is starting to get a little dried out, put a drop or two of nail varnish remover and shake it. If the nail varnish isn't too far gone, it will be back to normal.
  • Recreate a fibre mascara with some loose powder. Apply one coat of mascara, then use an eyeshadow brush to dab a little loose powder onto the lashes before the first coat dries. Apply a second coat of mascara, and the powder will do the same job as a fibre mascara, lengthening adding volume to the lashes.
  • Make a hair doughnut out of a sock. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but I've been doing it lately and it really works. Take an old sock (try to vaguely match it to your hair colour if possible), cur off the toe end, and roll it up into a doughnut shape. Use as you would a normal hair doughnut and secure with bobby pins.
  • Create makeup storage out of rubbish. Yep! I buy way too much makeup and needed somewhere to keep it all, but dedicated makeup storage is very expensive for what it is. I have a gorgeous Ted Baker makeup box for the majority of my products, but wanted somwhere seperate for my lipsticks, eyeliners and makeup brushes as it took me ages to root through the box to find them all. For my brushes and pencils I use an old jam jar, which I  have simply tied a piece of ribbon around to prettify. I pinched this idea from my housemate Anna, who in turn pinched it from Pinterest. The jar containing my pencils I keep inside the makeup box, but I keep the brushes out on the surface. I also discovered the other day that an upcycled Malteasers box makes the perfect lipstick container - use a bit of old wrapping paper or magazine to cover it and you've got a lovely makeshift box.

     Do you know of any beauty hacks that I should include in a potential Part II? Click below to leave me a comment, it can be anonymous if you wish.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Beauty and the Bey

Hello all! Once again this is a different sort of post because I'm in the middle of my finals at the moment so don't have time to be reviewing products, sorry about that.

Anyway, last weekend my friend Emily and I were lucky enough to get to go and see the GORGEOUS Beyoncé on her Mrs Carter World Tour, and it was an absolutely brilliant night. Because I'm strapped for time at the moment I've cheated a bit and searched the internet to find some of her top beauty tips, because if there's one person worth listening to then it's Queen Bey. Emily and I also got to visit the Sky Backstage Lounge before the show (a lot less exciting than it sounds, we were in no way backstage), where we were greeted by a team of makeup artists offering to do our makeup for free. Emily took up this offer and was given a smokey eye look - this is definitely worth doing if you are heading to the Sky Backstage Lounge (all you need to do to qualify is be a Sky customer), and in hind sight I wish I'd had mine done too!

We got chatting to the makeup artist and she told us how she uses a lot of  budget friendly products on her clients, and had particularly good things to say about Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation, pictured right. The foundation costs £10.99 from Boots or Superdrug, smells delicious, and according to the makeup artist (who's name escapes me) is brilliant for building layered coverage without looking cakey. Even though I usually swear by Maybelline's 24h Superstay Foundation, I am now dying to give this product a go. She also recommended MUA blushers, which are just £1 each, so I will probably be giving those a try soon too.
In the meantime back to Bey, and here are a few of her beauty tips that I have managed to track down from various sources (needless to say none of this is my own content):
Beyoncé on the Mrs Carter World Tour (not my photo)
  • "A woman is most beautiful when she smiles. Other than that, the most valuable tip I've learned is always use a skin moisturizer!"
  • "To beat the fatigued look, I put a little gold eye shadow in the inner corners of my eyes—it's more subtle than white, but it still really makes you look more awake."
  • To keep her makeup in tact on stage or on the red carpet, Bey says "I use a makeup primer, and then I use a lot of powder to keep everything in place. I usually go for a waterproof mascara, or a strip of false lashes when I'm onstage, so I won't get smudgy." Bey also uses M.A.C. Fix+ spray to keep everything where it should be. 
  • Beyoncé's biggest beauty sin is not always removing her makeup before she goes to bed (clearly it never did her any harm...).
  • "I love L'Oréal Elnett hairspray. It's very light and holds whatever hairstyle you want."
Anyone else out there managed to bag tickets to the Mrs Carter Show? Let me know what you thought!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Meet the housemates ...and their favourite products!

I'm doing something a little different with this post, partly to spice things up a little but but mostly because I'm in the middle of my finals exams and thought it would be a convenient time-saver to effectively get somebody else to write for me! In order to get some fresh ideas, I've asked my uni housemates to talk about their favourite beauty products, one budget and one blowout. If you don't know me personally then you definitely won't know the nutters girls I live with, so here we are (I should point out that we are in fancy dress in several photos)....

If you're looking at the bottom right photo (90s night) then we are Prema, Nat, Anna, me, and Rachel. Here's what they have to say...

"My blowout is Mary Kay Timewise Matte Foundation (left) because its good for sensitive skin and oil free but still manages to give good coverage. My saver would be Bourjois Chocolate Bronzing Powder (right, Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder, £6.99) because its really cheap for a good bronzer, has lasted me ages, isn't too shimmery and smells lush. Also I can't live without the Superdrug coconut oil. Literally addicted!"

My splurge product is definitely Benefit's  Boi-ing concealer (left, £17.50)... I can't live without it as its the only concealer that actually works on my dark undereye circles! My make up necessity. My budget favourite is Max Factor's False Lash Effect Mascara (right, £11.99). It's still a over tenner bur for me, a mascara addict, it's the best value one I've used and worth it when compared to luxury brands!


 My best budget product would be Rimmel's Stay Matte Powder (right, £3.99), because I've found a lot of foundations to be too heavy, but the powder is light and still gives a great even finish and saves my skin from looking greasy. Rarely need to touch up during the day, so great value for money. My splurge is Benefit's They're Real! Mascara (left, £19.50). I have quite short lashes but this mascara works wonders and makes them look full and long without looking clumpy and lumpy, and only needs a couple of coats tops.


"My favourite budget product is Fast Stroke Eyeliner by Collection (formerly Collection 2000, right, £2.99). It's easy to apply, lasts all day and night and is a brilliant bargain for under £3. My favourite splurge product is Garnier's Moisture Match moisturiser (left, £5.99). I consider it expensive since you don't get a lot of product for your money, but it's so luxurious and rich - I have very dry skin and this has completely sorted out patches of dry skin on my face."

So there you go! We are a pretty keen house of bloggers and three of my housemates also write blogs - if you would like to check them out then I've put the links below.

Have you tried/do you plan to try any of their reccommended products? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Anna: writes a foodie blog (she's a proper domestic goddess)

Nat: blogs rants, raves and reviews on a whole host of different things.

Rachel: has been writing a music blog for years, loads of reviews of singles, albums, gigs etc.

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