Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hair and Beauty: My Top 10 (to 12) Recommendations

When I'm not knee deep in piles of outfit options, I'm trying to make sure the garment hanger looks its best too (I owe it to the clothes). So I thought I'd share a few of my favourite hair and beauty finds, products and tools:


It's not easy to maintain hip grazing hair - for anyone who can't grow their hair past their shoulders, console yourself with the fact that I spend, on average, an hour a day just brushing mine - go out in the wind and I'm at it all evening... and forget having the (car's) top down on the motorway - Bridget Jones alert! But I have found a few things which make my life a little easier.

Best Everyday Haircare Range: John Frieda Full Repair

I was sent a full set of products from this range to trial as part of the Cosmopolitan Reader Panel just before Christmas and it was a revelation! I had seriously thought that my only option was to have a drastic cut before it came into my life. It really improves condition without compromising on volume or adding grease - I use the shampoo and conditioner almost exclusively now and, in my opinion, the Perfect Ends pre-blow dry protective treatment is as good as my usual Kerastase. I wasn't too sure about the Deep Conditioner though, which didn't seem to improve condition significantly - I actually preferred the standard version.

Best Hair Treatment: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

I cannot rave enough about this product - it cut my nightly 30 minutes of Tangle Teezing down to 5, and my typical post-windy-day brushing time of at least an hour to less than 10 minutes! Breakage was also dramatically reduced, and the effects lasted until my next wash.

The only downside is that, sadly, they didn't persist after another wash without using the treatment, so to maintain the effects, you'd probably need to use it before every wash (it needs to be worked through wet hair, then wrapped up in a cap/towel for 10-20 minutes before shampooing and conditioning as normal), which could end up being quite costly and time consuming. I definitely intend to persevere with it though.

Best Hair Colour: Clairol Nice 'N Easy

Ah-mazing. Recommended to me by my mum after years of use, we both swear by it. On my modelling travels, several hairdressers have mistaken my hair for virgin, so I think that indicates that it's a good use of £5.99! OK, I need 2 packs for my ridiculously long mane, but they're always on offer in Superdrug anyway, and I prefer the results to those of the £100+ gamble I used to take at the salon every 6-8 weeks! Despite being really easy to use (pretty much just slap it on all over), the effects genuinely are multi-tonal, working with your natural tonal variations to endow you with gorgeous "sunkissed" highlights and a "naturally" darker under-layer if going lighter.

I've experimented with several shades from medium brown to ultra light blonde (OK, that one was never mistaken for being natural) - for anyone naturally dark blonde/light brown (let's avoid the term mousy, yeugh) like me, the medium blonde and darker light blonde shades will look great if you want to lighten up a bit (currently switching between medium natural and medium champagne if you're interested).

The only not so good points: 1. The brown shades don't last long on previously lightened hair, but that's to be expected with any home colour. 2. They seem to have developed an annoying habit over the last year or so of experimenting with the formulations without notification on the packaging (I've always used the traditional colour rather than the foam) - for a while the blonde shades appeared much darker than usual after the initial colouring, but gradually lightened over the next few washes; then recently some shades seemed to become lighter than they had been historically! Still, at this price, I'd take a gamble with this brand, having never had a "bad" result, even if it's not always entirely what I expect!

Best Hair Tool: The Tangle Teezer

This lives up to the hype - wet or dry, it really cuts down on brushing/combing time and breakages and is the only detangling implement I really use from day to day now - it's great to be able to brush from the roots too rather than having to do the starting-at-the-tips-and-moving-infinitesssssimally-slowly-upwards thing all the time, although I still have to do this when it's tangled (which is quite frequently - sadly, it's not quite a miracle worker).

Runner-Up for Best Hair Tool: The Doughnut

For anyone who still painstakingly crafts their own up-dos, go out and buy one of these right now! They now come in different sizes, so however much or little hair you have, you're covered (well, you'll be able to cover it).

I never really liked fiddling around with kirby grips and just used to twist my hair up and force a band around it, but using one of these is actually easier - the perfect evenly rounded shape is pre-scaffolded for you, I can get away with as few as 3 grips to fix my hair in place around it, and it seems to provide more support, so it doesn't pull on my scalp as much as when I don't use one.

You can just fix your ponytail at whatever level you prefer to construct your bun at - low, mid or full-on ballerina, whatever your heart desires - stick the doughnut round the base, wrap and pin; that simple. And using a doughnut is the only way I've ever managed to create a half decent full beehive!

I've also invested in several foam rollers (part of the Umberto Giannini Vintage Hair Kit - review coming soon) and a little mini doughnut/roll hybrid on a comb (Primark), which are really useful for victory rolls and half-up beehives, respectively. I got my doughnut from Boots, but you can get them pretty much anywhere now, including Primark.

A few looks I've created with a little help from my foamy friends (no backcombing was involved in the production of these images):


My skin is... OK... still prone to the odd hormonal/stress-related breakout but also quite sensitive and with a tendency to dry out and flare up with mild rosacea around the nose if I'm not careful (mmm.. sounds lovely doesn't it?!). These are my current face savers:

Best Value Skincare Range: Marks & Spencer

I am a now-not-so-secret M&S superfan - their own-label beauty lines are just one of their far-too-well-kept secrets - they produce multiple age-targeted complete everyday skincare ranges at frankly ridiculous prices - day and night creams starting from £7.50! And we all know M&S is synonymous with quality, right? I have to admit I didn't even realise they had a beauty section until I saw one of their moisturisers recommended in Psychologies a couple of years ago and went on a mission to seek it out. Check out their new beauty department in the Marble Arch store - it's unbelievable!

Best Cleansing Tool for Sensitive Skin: The Body Shop Luxury Facial Flannel, £4

I thought I was the only person in the world whose skin got worse after using Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish - every beauty editor in the world seems to use it, my BFF uses it, my mum uses it, even my dad uses it... but my skin just got redder and more irritated the longer I tried harder and harder to "cure" it with this apparent miracle potion! Then I discovered a few other people online who were finding the muslin cloth too harsh for their skin, and the penny dropped. This is fantastic for removing every last trace of make-up, cleanser and other pore-cloggers without irritation.

Best Everyday Facial Treatment: The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Serum, £10

I'm not really at an age where serum is an essential skincare step yet, but this is a nice bridger product for people between the "teenage" and "ageing" skin stages. It makes my skin feel lovely and nourished without being overly greasy, and I do feel a tad more radiant since I started using it!


Runner Up for Best Everyday Facial Treatment: Dr Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light, £23.95

I use this every day around my rosacea-prone area (topped with another moisturiser containing SPF, as this doesn't) - it's meant to reinforce your skin's moisture-retaining barrier and soothe/prevent dry, red and/or irritated skin, and it has definitely made a big difference to me. As I use another moisturiser on top, the light version is perfect for me - the non-light one can be a tad greasy.

Best Beauty Tool: The Hairdryer (moonlighting as The Eyelash Curler Heater)

I had to get this in somewhere - I found the tip in More! yonks ago and can't believe so many people, including pro make-up artists, still use unheated eyelash curlers when heated ones work soooo much better. No need to splash out on an expensive self-heating pair though - blasting your standard curlers with a hairdryer for a few seconds works just as well (just don't burn your eyelids - test them with your finger first!!).


Best Everyday Body Moisturiser: Jergens

Super moisturising, and the Cherry-Almond and Shea Butter scents are heavenly... and they go a bit further than the equally deliciously scented butters from The Body Shop and M&S. Just discovered that they also make a range of gradual tanning moisturisers with SPF20 and broad spectrum UV protection built in (which is not yet widely available in the UK *sadface*) - best. idea. ever. Although they should surely produce a normal Jergens body moisturiser with sun protection too - otherwise you have a choice of sun-damaged or orange hands, feet, knees, elbows etc...

Best Value Fake Tan: St Moriz

So talking of orange... I have tried most brands of fake tan going, and I have to say, St Moriz, which you can get from Amazon or possibly *whispers from behind chair in embarrassment* >your local Savers store< (my nan dragged me in there, honest) for less than 400 pennies, is right up there with the best of them for results. The mousse lasts for aaaages too, especially now I've settled on "light glow" rather than radioactive as my go-to shade. They've also expanded into wash-off tan enhancers and Airbrush Legs rip-offs now too - I haven't tried them yet but they seem to have good reviews.

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