James Read Bronzing Products

Tanning the safe way.  Yes, that is me with a tan.  About as tanned as I get!

Tanning the safe way. Yes, that is me with a tan. About as tanned as I get anyway!

My complexion is very much ‘English Rose’.  At least, that’s how I like to think of it, it sounds better than ‘pale and pastey’.  I humbly admit that, yes I did, twice in my life, visit the sunbeds, but that’s just not for me.  Why run the risk of such nasty diseases when it’s so easy to fake it?

I’ve spent the last few years trying out different tanning products.  Most of the one’s I’ve tried are really good, but sometimes there’s a bit of a smell to then which lets everyone know you’re faking it.  As we all know, the whole idea is for people to believe you effortlessly look that glamorous and so I personally prefer ones without an odour.

This summer I’ve been trying James Read’s Bronzing Mousse Instant and James Read’s Bronzing Spray Instant.  There’s very little odour with these both, which is a plus, but each one has it’s own separate benefits also.

James Read Instant Bronzing Spray and James Read Instant Bronzing Mousse.  Or is that the other way round?

James Read Instant Bronzing Spray and James Read Instant Bronzing Mousse. Or is that the other way round?

Firstly, the bronzing mousse has an amazingly soft texture.  It feels like clouds on your skin, seriously!  Once applied, you leave it for several hours before showering (I left it overnight).  The colour is instant, so great if you’re in a rush before a night out, or in my case, a wedding.  However, once you have showered, the colour calms down leaving a very natural looking tan.  Of course, you can build up more layers as desired, but I like to still look natural.

The downside to this is you need to be quite fast in application as the mousse is instant.  If, like me, you place a dollop on your legs and then spread out from this dollop, you will be left with a dollop shaped tan line.  A few applications later and I’ve mastered it.  It’s just a case of practise.  Also, you will need a tanning mitt with this one as otherwise you’ll end up with tanned palms.  Never a good look!

The bronzing spray, similarly is instant.  This would help newbies to the self-tanning world no end as you can see instantly where you have covered and how deep your tan will be.  As it’s a spray, there’s no mitt required, but the downside would be that you need to protect your floor against the spray.  Not really downside enough to put me off buying a product, but that’s about as negative as I can be about this.  For me personally, I found the spray more difficult to use, perhaps again this is just lack of practise, I’ve never used a spray tan on myself before.  For this reason, I used this product in advance of any occasion, so I had time to correct any mistakes I might make.

Overall, I think when buying again I’d opt for the mousse.  It’s just personal choice really, but I just love the feel of it on my skin.

For more advice and information on safe tanning, check out The Look To Die For

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A Day At Wella

Wella's Illumina Range

Wella’s Illumina Range

Earlier this year I travelled to Manchester to spend a day at the Wella studios, taking in a colour master class with Laura and Dan.  I’ve been a fan of Wella shampoos and conditioners for a long time – the smell they leave on your hair feels like you’ve just been to the hairdressers and their product range is pretty extensive too.  Chances are, if you get your hair coloured in a salon they either use Wella or L’Oreal but these professional colours aren’t readily available on the high street so most people know little about them.  This is what I learned:

Perfecton is their temporary range – completely washes out after 1 shampoo.  Great for a little extra vibrancy for a special occasion.

Colour Fresh is semi-permanent, usually lasting about 8-10 washes.  This contains keratin, the protein required for healthy hair and so can actually improve the condition of your hair.

Colour Touch is what they call quasi-permanent (lasts about 20 washes).  Great for when you fancy a change but would rather it fade out than be left with massive roots.

Koleston Perfect is their permanent range, meaning it grows out rather than fading.

Illumina is more sheer kind of permanent colour and, as the name suggests, is very light reflecting.

Beachball Colour Technique

Beachball Colour Technique

It was Illumina that was being used for the demonstrations today, with two models having their blonde hair coloured.  Whilst colouring her models hair, Laura used a technique I hadn’t seen before.  It’s called the ‘beach ball technique’ and means that the hair is sectioned, like a beachball and a selection  of complimentary colours are used alternately on each section.  This helps to create a more 3D multi-tonal colour effect which I’m afraid I don’t think my photographs do justice to (sorry Wella!)

Shimmering, Sparkling Hair

Shimmering, Sparkling Hair

Now, as much as I would love to claim that my hair is natural, in fact I’ve been colouring it since I was about 15.  I recently decided I wanted to go lighter, but hated the idea of peroxide as my hair is pretty tangled already without further chemical treatments thank you very much.  However, thanks to the Koleston Perfect range, I now have lighter hair that’s in a good state, hurrah for Wella.  My colour of choice for the foreseeable future.

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Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect.... Yummy!

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect…. Yummy!  And at £28 for 50ml it won’t break the bank, hurrah!

It’s only really in the last couple of years that I’ve become really aware of the benefits of a good primer.  To date my primer-of-choice has always been Smashbox Photo Finish, but now it has a rival for my affections in Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect.

Admittedly I don’t really know much about Laura Mercier other than she is a celebrity make up artist renowned for her ‘flawless faces’ who subsequently launched her own cosmetics and skincare range.  That’s enough for me really, as soon as I hear ‘flawless face’  I’m sold.  It’s that simple!

Whereas I described Smashbox as feeling like velvet, I’d say this primer feels like silk.  It’s light and creamy without being greasy at all.  It feels light to wear and reflects the light beautifully (clearly, light features heavily in this review!)  It doesn’t even out skin texture like Smashbox’s but it gives a gorgeous dewy complexion that everybody wants in summer.



That brings me on to the added benefit of this primer.  It’s got a SPF factor 30 against UVA and UVB rays.  Even better for summer I hear you cry!  Well, yes you’d be right.  As it feels so light you can wear it with or without foundation and other skin products and it won’t feel too ‘cloggy’.  Personally I hate feeling like I’ve got a lot of make up on, which is why I only wear really light foundations and then, only occasionally.  This is a great product for me then, somehow it feels slightly cold when you apply it, not in a ‘brrr-chilly’ kind of way, more like ‘aaah-fresh’.  It’s the sort of thing I actually enjoy applying.

Although it does have SPF protection it’s always best to be cautious in summer.  Yet, sometimes in winter it’s sunny and, with the best will in the world, I never remember to wear sun cream then.  Let’s be honest, who does?  Well, now I don’t have to and I won’t feel guilty about it either.  The soft creaminess of this primer will help moisturise and protect my skin whilst faking a soft natural glow.  What more could you want?

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Ganguro Girls of Tokyo

You'd certainly notice her in a crowd!  Photo by alexdecarvalho

You’d certainly notice her in a crowd! Photo by alexdecarvalho

For a brief spell beginning in the 1990s, Tokyo girls led a new fashion craze.  Gone was the traditional Japanese idea of beauty (pale skin, neutral make up and dark hair) and in was the parody of western ideals of beauty (extreme tan, big blue eyes and blonde hair).  The term ‘ganguro’ is derived from the word ‘ganganguro’ which means ‘exceptionally dark’.

There are various sub-cultures within this subculture, e.g. Yamanbas and Manbas who are essentially extreme Ganguros.  The basic idea is this:  you have a very over the top tan, you draw in big white eyes and lips.  You outline your eyes in thick black eyeliner, stick cutesy little stickers on your face and bleach the life out of your hair.  That’s essentially it.  At least for the make up side of it, which is of course what we’re concentrating on here.

a couple of ganguro friends looking bright in the sunshine

a couple of ganguro friends looking bright in the sunshine.  Phot0 by Yukari922


To us westerners it looks extreme, indeed to most Japanese, who have a culture of blending in rather than standing out, it looks extreme.  But this is the same country who gave us Manga in which all the females look like children and have exaggerated big ‘westernized’ eyes.  This really shouldn’t surprise us at all, it’s just taking it one step further and going for the tan and blonde locks too.

Photo by Cheri Priest

Photo by Cheri Priest

Every race in the world sees others as exotic and so it’s natural to emulate others.  It’s something I’ve mentioned before, why can’t we just be happy with the way we look.  I wish I was more tanned yet I have Asian friends who wish they were lighter.  It’s even less surprising when teenagers buy into these crazes.

A more extreme Manba style ganguro.  Just look at that hair!  Photo by kitsuney

A more extreme Manba style ganguro. Just look at that hair! Photo by kitsuney

Firstly, they are looking to belong within their peer groups and secondly they want to rebel against older generations.  It’s no wonder that these new fashion crazes are cropping up all the time, with each new generation seeking originality.  Unfortunately for the creative world, the ganguro fashion hasn’t really caught on and numbers have dwindled since the millennium.  It’s a shame because it’s so bright and youthful, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next….

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Fantasy, Photoshoots and Finishing College – June 2013

Laura, my lovely sci-fi model

Laura, my lovely sci-fi model

June was mostly taken up by college work.  Trying to get the last few assessments ticked of so that I could become a qualified hairdresser, organising my wig portfolio and continuing with the Assessors Award, which will help me with my teaching work.  The last 3 assessments I had to finish (perm, finger-dry and cap highlights) were the same as the majority of the class, resulting in competition to secure clients.  Somehow we all managed to get clients in and helped each other to complete the course.

It is an unfortunate effect of this industry, and especially working freelance that competition and self preservation are a must.  If you are to be successful you must necessarily be driven to succeed.  Occasionally this goes too far, I have been duped and cheated out of work a few times, I have had things I said taken out of context, twisted and repeated to others, I have had assistant MUAs go above my head to offer to work at a cheaper rate.  Thankfully most people are trustworthy and if somebody is secure enough in their skills they won’t try and shaft you.  Little comfort in the short term, but integrity and reputation goes a long way.

My sea-serpent fantasy hair creation

My sea-serpent fantasy hair creation

One final assessment we all had to complete, on the same day, was a fantasy look, including hair, make up and fashion.  I chose the theme of ‘women from outer space’, basing my look on sci fi and B movies.  It was a hectic day, but ultimately lots of fun and I passed with distinction, hurrah!

Once college was finished, there was just a few hours to relax before a photo shoot I had booked in with SevenStreets Almanac.  The brief was to create a shoot based on the theme ‘Mood Indigo’ using local female musicians as models.  The shoot would then be featured alongside interviews with the band.  Considering the girls were musicians rather than models, they were all beautiful and looked great in front of the camera which of course just makes my job easier.  I love when that happens!

Natalie McCool in SevenStreets Almanac.  Photography by the very talented Alexander Petricca

Natalie McCool in SevenStreets Almanac. Photography by Alexander Petricca

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TIGI Bed Head Straighten Out

TIGI Bed Head Straighten Out

TIGI Bed Head Straighten Out

My hair is mostly straight.  It’s the sort of hair that, when left to dry naturally will have a bit of a wave and not a vast amount of body.  If left to it’s own devices, it’s not a hair style at all…more of a hair there.

Much more annoying than that is when it gets damp (and let’s face it, living in England – it’s going to get damp pretty often!)  It gets this really annoying layer of frizz over the top, you know the kind I mean?  It makes me want to gently shave the top layer off.  (Thankfully, I’ve resisted, so far.)

Any product that claims to get rid of this is a friend of mine and so I decided to try TIGI Bed Head Straighten Out.  The blurb on the bottle states ‘98% humidity-defying straightening cream’  So far, so good.  But what’s the result actually like?

The dreaded 'frizz layer'

The dreaded ‘frizz layer!’

Well, firstly I have to say what an absolutely delicious smell it has. I just want to eat it.  The smell lasts also, leaving that lovely smell on freshly washed hair.  The directions on the bottle say ‘Apply to damp hair and comb through for even distribution.’  Sounds pretty straight forward right? (forgive the pun)  My problem with this is that it gives absolutely no indication of how much to use.  This is a primary cause of complaints in hair care – people aren’t using products correctly.  But if the product itself doesn’t tell you how much you’re supposed to use, you’ve just got to guess right?

First time I used it, I squeezed out enough product to form a 2p size amount in my hands.  Clearly this was too much as I found out the next day when my hair already began to look greasy.  Not to be put off, I searched the TIGI website for further instructions.  There’s none there!  So, back to the drawing board, take 2:  I used enough to form a 1p size amount and this was much better, my hair didn’t need washing again for the normal amount of time.

TIGI Bed Head Straighten Out - this is how much I used.  The length of my hair can be seen above.

TIGI Bed Head Straighten Out – this is how much I used. The length of my hair can be seen above. My hands now smell amazing!

But does it do what it’s supposed to?  Actually I found it hard to tell.  Yes, it worked really well once I blow dried and straighten my hair, as the instructions say to do.  This would be impressive except my hair remains straight and frizz free if I do this anyway.  Another time I used it and allowed my hair to dry naturally.  There was the natural wave again and a reduced frizz level, but not gone completely.

Overall I think I haven’t got the sort of hair that demands this product.  It’s slightly beneficial to me, but would be better suited to someone with more problematic frizz than mine.  It’s the sort of thing I imagine would work really well on holiday, in order to tame and style the beach hair look and so I’ll try and save some for my next holiday, whenever that may be.  Realistically, in the meantime, I’m going to continue using it anyway, the smell alone is irresistible.

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Butter London – 3 Free Colour Clash Nail Lacquer

Butter London's Colour Clash 3 Free Collection

Butter London’s Colour Clash 3 Free Collection

Known as the ‘lipstick effect’, recent years of recession have seen sales of cosmetics soar, with consumers wanting a cheap treat to brighten their day.  In 2011 61% of British women bought nail varnish, resulting in £221 million worth of sales.  And yet, so few of us ever stop to think what our nail varnish is made of.

Three often quoted ingredients of nail varnish are Formaldehyde, Toluene and DBP.  Of these 3, I had previously only heard of formaldehyde – it’s what Damien Hirst pickles his cows in.  However formaldehyde is a gas and as such is never used in nail varnish. What is most commonly used is a formaldehyde compound which apparently helps to preserve and harden nails.  Toluene is used to help the nail varnish go on smoothly and stick to the nail and DBP is a plasticiser which helps prevent chips in the varnish.

So that’s the science bit done, why is this toxic trio so notorious?  The simple answer is that they’ve all been linked to health concerns.  Birth defects, certain cancers, underdeveloped genitals, kidney disease, the list goes on.  In recent years the cosmetic industry has been keen to stress that only trace amounts are used in their cosmetics, but this isn’t always enough with the EU and certain US governing bodies banning the ingredients.

Following on from all this, many cosmetics companies now advertise that they do not use any of these ingredients, hence Butter London‘s 3 Free Colour Clash collection.  I was informed that due to the lack of these chemicals the 3 Free collection, although bright, are not as vivid as some of the recent neon trends.  However, with the application of a layer of white varnish underneath, any 3 Free Nail Lacquer can become neon.  Hurrah for that, it’s like having two colours in one bottle (or, more accurately, 3 colours in 2 bottles).

Cake Hole with and without a white base.  *Please excuse my shoddy application!

Cake Hole with and without a white base. *Please excuse my shoddy application!

So how did they fare?  Actually, I loved them.  Firstly I tried ‘Cake-Hole’  a bright pink shade.  I alternated fingers, making some neon and some plain.  Personally I think I preferred the plain version of this.  It’s quite a matte colour and seems thinner somehow in it’s consistency which I felt would make it less likely to chip, clog and dry out, but I’ll have to let you know at a later date if I’m correct.  Moreover, this range is all ‘colour-true’, meaning with 2 coats you have the exact colour you see in the bottle.  Even though it feels quite thin, it doesn’t look thin.

Silly Billy.  Tasty both with and without a white base!

Silly Billy. Tasty both with and without a white base!

Next, I tried ‘Silly Billy’, a bright orange colour.  I’m quite in to orange nail varnish at the moment and this doesn’t disappoint.  Again, I alternated with normal and neon but this time I can’t decide which I prefer.  Both are ace!  Similarly, it’s colour true, nice consistency and a decent sized bottle.  Ok, so at £12-15 it is a bit more expensive than some brands, but the colours are so joyous, the packaging and names are fun and youthful and you know there’s no nastiness in the ingredients.  What have you got to lose?

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