Friday, 30 April 2010

Luxury for less.

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while but a new affordable luxury haircare range was launched a few months ago and features beautiful imagery, gorgeous packaging and luxurious ingredients all for much less than you'd expect to pay!

The man behind the brand, Neil Capstick, was getting tired of ordering in a whole range of products to his salon, and then only liking a few key items, so, he has created Neal & Wolf  - a range of professional hair products which take inspiration from the hero products in various other professional brands.

The team behind the brand researched thoroughly into what women want, which confirmed that although women are after hair products that offer luxury as well as results, they felt that they had to make a choice between the two - which is where this gorgeous new brand steps in…

The range is made up of a shampoo and conditioner as well as an intensive conditioner, and 7 styling products, all having been created to give women the chance to indulge every day without having to pay for it - the highest price tag is £12.95! They also worked with the perfume house that has created some of the best known scents, so each product smells beautiful, and the packaging really does feel high end – look at the top image too (click on it to see properly, I can't do it justice in the format of my blog) – how amazing is that?!

The entire Neal & Wolf product portfolio is as follows:

Ritual Daily Shampoo and Ritual Daily Conditioner which smell amazing and are light enough to use everyday, leaving the hair feeling beautifully soft. Harmony intensive care conditioner is also absolutely fab and after just one use completely changed how my hair felt!
On the styling side there is Guard, a heat protector; Form to shape and hold the hair while adding shine; Silk, a smoothing blow dry balm; Shape, a pliable paste; Fix hairspray, Elevate, to provide volume and Glow shine spray.

I’ve not used all of the styling products but Glow is a lovely, light shine spray which doesn’t weigh the hair down and Guard, the heat protector, does the same as most but just smells so much nicer! I have also tried Elevate, but I found it was a bit too heavy on my hair and felt a bit greasy once it had dried which, considering it’s a volume lotion, most people would be using it on fine hair so it seems that it could just be that I’m used to using volume sprays which are a much lighter texture and perhaps I should have experimented with it a bit more.

Secret beauty verdict: At last! Luxurious products that don’t have to cost the earth, everything about using them is beautiful and they really have created that ‘daily indulgence’ feel they wanted to.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Spring/Summer Trend #3 - The New Natural

I think this has to be my favourite trend this season as it's just SO easy and is perfect for hair with a slight natural wave already to just dry naturally.


Versace's look is slightly sleeker than the others, and I'd say to achieve this look best, tong hair the night before and then spray a curl reviving product through in the morning such as Bumble and Bumble's Curl Conscious Reactivating Mist (RRP £17.99), followed with some serum to create a slight, smooth wave in the hair. 

Or, if you have fine hair, tong it a few hours before you want it to look natural so that it has time to drop. Alternatively take big sections of hair and wrap around a large tong like Andrew Barton's I Love Curls Professional Curling Iron (RRP £19.99) for a short time to get a light wave. Never use the clamp on the tongs as generally you will always get a mark at the end of that wave, so just wrap the hair around the whole thing and hold it there, it's also much kinder on your tresses. Another way that works really well is to tong the hair quite tightly using tongs as below, and then brush through with a bristle brush, which more or less smooths the surface but makes waves rather than curls. Style with any kind of curl cream, salt spray or serum, and spritz with hairspray.

The rest of these looks can all be styled in the same way, and it's worth having a play to see what works best for you. I've recently discovered Spun Satin Styling Souffle from TIGI's S Factor range (RRP £14.30) and it's fab. Just run it through damp hair and leave it to do it's thing! It gets rid of all frizz and keeps it looking lovely and wavy. You do need to wash your hair again the next day though as it make the hair feel a bit greasy after a day's wear.

I tend to wash my hair, put some Styling Souffle through and then wrap my hair up into a bun, just securing with a couple of pins so you don't get any kinks from a hair elastic. I then go about my usual routine (make-up etc) then take it out as I leave the house and let it dry. I always have to bring some serum with me though to tame any frizz once it has dried. Alternatively, tie hair into a loose plait being careful not to tie it too tight at the end, or if you're short on time then dry on low speed with a diffuser on your hairdryer. Sometimes the front of my hair doesn't work as well as the rest, so I'll twist or plait these back and grip them for a hippie vibe, or pin it up in a quiff.




Friday, 16 April 2010

Spring/Summer Trends #2 - Plaits.

This one is relatively self-explanatory really...plaits are still in! Loose plaits, side plaits, wet look plaits, French plait pigtails - you name it, SS10 has it! Slightly different to last year's which had a more hippy feel to them, but here are a few images for inspiration...


This was actually backstage before Qasimi took the plait out to create the 'new natural' look in my Trend Report #3, but I think it still looks nice and is perfect for throwing your hair up quickly whilst still being on-trend.

Miu Miu

I love everything about Miu Miu, especially the accessories, and the signature print this season is so beautiful. But back to the hair. Obviously, this isn't the model's real hair, but this works on any length if you have enough to bring it around to the side and plait. If you want a neater look, then grip around the back but in the same way as Qasimi above, it has a lovely, summery, chilled out feel if it is slightly messy. This also extra gorgeous on curly hair.

Alexander Wang

 I prefer this to the Miu Miu look as I think the deep side parting looks much softer. 

Day-old hair works best with this, just prepped with a product on dry hair such as Davines Defining System Protein Sculpting Lotion (RRP £18), a clear fluid to give hair slight hold whilst conditioning and leaving a natural shine with body and texture. Simply bring the hair round to the side opposite to the parting, and start the plait from behind the ear. No need to use any finishing spray having used the Sculpting Lotion if you want to keep the flyaway look, otherwise a mist of hairspray will keep it looking neater.


If you want to keep the wet look (which is another big trend this season), then start with wet hair and cover in wet look gel - simple!

Bora Asku

I love this style, it just looks so romantic and pretty! Hair should be in good condition but will work best when it's slightly dirty. 

To prep hair, use a smoothing cream such as Schwarzkopf's OSiS 4-Play Moulding Cream (RRP £10.45) to give slight hold whilst providing a natural shine and still allowing for a textured look. Take a slight side parting and taking a section of hair from the front, plait and kirby grip behind the ears on both sides, not necessarily plaiting the section of hair until the end. Then simply plait the rest of the hair each side to come down over the shoulders. A mist of shine spray will keep the hair looking glossy and natural. 

Spring/Summer Trends #1 - Buns.

It’s sunny in London and feels like Spring has finally sprung (I know that as soon as I post this blog it will pour with rain, but positive thinking and all that) so I thought I’d finally do my spring/summer hair trends as seen on the catwalks…
Trend #1 buns.

Badgley Mischka

Not quite a bun, but not quite a ponytail either - this sleek, shiny look is an alternative for an evening up-do on holiday. Relatively easy to re-create (as long as you have long enough hair), this would work best on wet hair to create the sleek look, and actually works really well for those with fringes as you can create the height on the crown by pinning the fringe back into a slight quiff. 

Prepare the hair with lashings of wet look gel, or use L’Oréal Professionnel’s Fix Design Spray (RRP £.9.95), all over, and for those without a fringe, pull your hair back up from the ear (as if you’re about to tie it half up/half down), push the hair forward slightly to create a bit of height, then pull the rest of the hair up and tie it all into a ponytail, pinning just above the band with Kirby grips to keep the height. Use more product through the length of the pony, tie a thin band around it in line with the hairline on your neck, and use a small Kirby grip here attached to the hair band and grip to the hair. For a more wearable look, either bring the end of the pony back through and pin rather than leaving it to stick up, or, if your hair is long enough, bring it through and wrap around the band at the top of the pony, pinning underneath to hide the grips and the band. Much simpler than I’ve made it sound and hopefully that makes sense! Finish with a spray all over of hairspray or more Fix Design Spray.

Bottega Veneta

This is an extremely easy one to recreate and one of my favourites. Hair is best a day old here and prepped with either dry shampoo or Matty Texturizing Spray from Clynol’s Play With Me range sprayed generously throughout the hair.

Scrape hair back into a ponytail with your hands to keep it messy, tie with a band, then randomly pin with hair pins just to secure it, but leave as messy as you’d like. You can leave it without the headband, but I think it brings the look together a bit more. I tend to wear a couple of thin bands (almost like giant hair bobbles) which I pick up from Primark for about £1 for 10 in bright colours and neutral colours.

Another take on the messy bun look is from Matijs,

Alice Palmer,

and Charles Anastase. 

All recreated in exactly the same way as above, but obviously the buns are just placed differently. They all work best without securing the pony with a band and just wrapping it into a ‘bun’ shape and pinning randomly. To finish the looks, apply Clynol’s Matty liberally to keep the look as matt as possible. 

Lanvin was also channelling the messy bun look, although they’re not quite as consumer friendly, but beautiful all the same!


This is a really fun, summer look and so easy to recreate! Again, hair is better wet to do this and prep in the same way as Badgely Mischka. Scrape the hair into a really smooth ponytail and use a bungee band to secure (for those of you who aren’t familiar with these, they’re great and keeping hair really tight. You can make your own by attaching two Kirby grips to an elastic, pinning one in the hair, and wrapping the band around the pony, and gripping the other Kirby in once it’s as tight as you want it). 

Using any kind of fabric you want (a pretty scarf would be nice), place this on the band before you finish wrapping it round the hair and hooking it in to secure it. Then simply plait or twist your hair with the fabric in it as well and pile it onto the head however you want. If you have fabric left over, wrap this around the base of the bun and then secure the bun to the head with Kirby grips to stop it from moving, and spray generously with hairspray or Fix Design Spray as before.

Matthew Williamson

This is one of my favourite looks and is so easy to do, even though it looks complicated. Malcolm Edwards who worked backstage for L’Oréal Professionnel on this showed me how to do it so I promise it’s easy! Prep wet hair as above and take a diagonal parting starting from where the centre of your eyebrow is, all the way across to the other side of the head ending up just below the ear. Make a ponytail in each section just above the parting but diagonally from each other and secure tightly, then simply wrap them around each other pinning each end securely underneath the bun once you’ve finished, gripping wherever else it doesn’t sit to the head. Finish as before.

Once you have a play around with the styles they make much more sense than just reading what I’ve written so hopefully you’ll be able to figure something out from my ramblings!

Stay tuned for more trends…

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Perfect Nails Every Time

Here’s the situation: You think you have loads of time to get ready for a big night out, so mess around doing nothing in particular, until you suddenly realise that you’re going to be late and you definitely won’t have time to do your nails. Happens to me so often! I spoke to manicurist to the stars (Naomi Campbell and Nicole Kidman to name a couple), Marian Newman, on her tips on how to leave the house looking perfect from top to toe (nail)…

If you have 3 minutes.

*If you have uneven nails, file them from sides to centre to even them up.

*Wet the end of a white nail pencil (available in most places) and run it under the free edge of the nail.

*Apply a dab of cuticle oil to each nail and rub in lightly, then buff with chamois leather.

If you have 5 minutes.

*File as described above.

*Apply an all-in-one base and top coat, or alternatively a base coat and coat of quick-drying nail polish.

*When the nails are touch dry, apply a drop of cuticle oil (or body oil) to the cuticle area and lightly rub over the nail surface. This sets the manicure quickly whilst also moisturising the cuticles.

If you have 30 minutes.

*File as before.

*Soak nails in almond oil for 5 minutes.

*Gently push back the cuticles with a rubber tipped cuticle stick.

*Clean under the nails with an orange stick wrapped in wet cotton wool.

*Massage in hand cream.

*Scrub nails with a brush and soapy water to create a smooth, oil free surface.

*Apply a base coat, followed by two coats of polish, being careful not to ‘flood’ the cuticle by painting too far down the nail. Ideally wait at least 1 minute in between each coat.

*After three to five minutes apply a top coat.

*When the nails are touch dry, apply a drop of oil as before and massage into the nails.

So girls, now you have no excuse not to leave the house without perfect nails! I spend so often doing mine on trains on the way to places that I’ve actually gotten quite good at it (if I do say so myself!), so practice really does make perfect!