Backcombing For Beginners

If like me you’ve got fine hair, one of the best ways you can cheat the appearance of having big hair is by backcombing. For years I actually had no idea what backcombing was but basically, you comb the underside of your hair backwards and then smooth over the top section so it looks volumised and has added height. If you’re creating a beautiful ‘up-do’ or hair for a special occasion, backcombing is a great place to start. It is also how hairstyles such as Amy Winehouse’s trademark ‘beehive’ are created. Before you try backcombing your hair for yourself, there are some points you need to consider. Firstly, if you are trying to add some volume to your hair, it’s a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo every so often. These work by stripping away gunk and oils that have built up from other products that you have used which can weigh your hair down and make it appear flatter.

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Backcombed hair on my wedding day

You can also use volumising products such as shampoos, conditioners and mousses which can help to boost volume. Apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair only though as applying it to your scalp can weigh your hair down and make it appear greasy. Aussie have some really good volumising products which I highly recommend. Personally I find my hair easier to style a day or two after shampooing. I have very dry hair and if I try and style my hair when it’s freshly washed, it’s too slippery and the style just doesn’t hold as well, if at all. If you wish to backcomb freshly washed hair, try adding products that make your hair feel less slippery such as salt spray. 

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I like Aussie volumising products as an inexpensive, salon brand alternative 

Another good tip for adding volume to your hair is to blow dry it upside down. It’s an old trick which my mum was taught by a hairdresser years ago but it really does work as it dries your hair almost weightless. Next time you dry your hair, turn your head upside down and use the diffuser attachment on your hairdryer. And remember to use your hairdryer on a lower temperature setting to minimise heat damage. In terms of actually backcombing your hair, I would suggest watching some good tutorial videos before you attempt it yourself as backcombing can damage hair if done incorrectly. The basic technique is to take a section of hair that you wish to add volume to (most people choose the area right on top of their head and sometimes the sides too) and hold it straight and taught as close to the end of the hair as possible so that no strands of hair can work loose.

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L’Oreal Elnett is an easily available, inexpensive hairspray that works well for long lasting hold 

Then using a brush or comb halfway between the roots of your hair and your hand, repeatedly and firmly brush downwards towards your scalp to create a volumised ‘cushion’ of hair. If done correctly, it should look a complete mess at this point! But don’t worry, the next step is to use a brush to smooth over the top layer of hair. Work from the roots and brush very gently over the top layer only so you don’t remove the backcombing or flatten the volume you have just created. Once you have finished styling your hair, you can then set your style in place with hairspray. L’Oreal Elnett is a good, inexpensive hairspray to hold your style. I’m not overly keen on the smell but it holds really well and brushes out very easily so it is still my ‘go to’ hairspray. Backcombing isn’t the ‘dark art’ that many people consider it to be and as long as you use the correct technique, it’s a style that you can easily achieve at home. 

Until next time, stay beautiful x 

Ogx Argan Oil

You may recall that I recently wrote an article about argan oil and how it can benefit your hair. Following on from this article, I have recently been using argan oil products from one of the most popular brands in the UK. Here’s how I’ve been getting on with it…

I’ve been using three products from the Ogx range – Extra Strength Hydrate + Revive Argan Oil Of Morocco shampoo, the matching conditioner and Renewing Argan Oil Of Morocco Extra Penetrating Oil. Ogx products are easily available from many large retailers such as Boots and Tesco so you should have no problems finding them in shops. I have used Ogx products in the past, some of which have had fantastic results and others which haven’t really suited my hair. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect with these products. 

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The products are beautifully packaged 

Amongst other ingredients, all products contain argan oil (please refer to my previous article to find out more) and the shampoo and conditioner also contain silk proteins. These are known to increase hair’s elasticity and shine. So the products themselves contain good ingredients and the description on the bottle says that they will ‘intensely hydrate and lock in moisture to give hair a second chance at silky perfection’. Great! I have really dry, heat damaged hair so I need all the help I can get! 

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The main active ingredients are argan oil and silk proteins 

The products themselves I think are really attractively packaged. The bottles are chunky, nicely designed and have a premium feel. They are certainly the sort of product you’d be happy to display on a bathroom shelf rather than shoving in a cupboard out of embarrassment (this is what I do with my husband’s giant bottle of supermarket value shampoo!) The shampoo and conditioner themselves are a nice, pearly white colour and have a sweet smelling fragrance. Some people will love the smell but personally it wasn’t really a scent that appealed to me. The shampoo itself is quite a thick formula and is easily worked into a lather. I have long hair and even a small amount went a long way. 

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The shampoo is easily worked into a lather 

For me, the conditioner had a slightly more pleasant smell than the shampoo. The formula is quite runny and slightly more ‘watery’ feeling than other conditioners that I have recently used. However, after rinsing it out  I could feel a big difference. Even when wet, my hair felt really smooth. The final step was to use the Extra Penetrating Oil before blow drying. Again, like the other products in the range it is beautifully packaged. Before blow drying, you apply a small amount to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. It is quite a rich oil and a small amount goes a long way. 

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The conditioner had a runnier consistency than the shampoo

After blow drying, I was really impressed at how soft and silky my hair felt. My hair is fine but has quite a wiry texture, almost like fine fishing line so it was definitely a big improvement. It didn’t leave my hair greasy like some hair serums and it added a nice shine. You can also use the oil on dry hair too to lock in moisture. 

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Like the other products in the range, the oil has lovely packaging

After using all three products together for several weeks now, I am really pleased with the results. Other Ogx products that I have used haven’t really been suitable for my hair and I’ve been a bit disappointed with the results but definitely not this time. My hair is soft, shiny and silky and that’s what we’d all like our hair to be isn’t it? The products are not the cheapest out there but they contain quality ingredients and a small amount goes a long way so although expensive compared to some other high street brands, I think they are good value for money and worth trying (sometimes Ogx products are available together in multi-buy offers so keep an eye out for those). 

Until next time, stay beautiful x

The Properties And Benefits Of Argan Oil

There are so many different lotions and potions available to care for your hair and skin these days that it’s difficult to choose the right one. If you take a trip into your local drugstore, you will be greeted by row after row of shelves full of various products, all promising to work wonders and create miracles. I think really the only way to find out which products are right for you is to experiment and try for yourself. One of my favourites that I’ve been using for a while now is argan oil.

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Argan oil is renowned for making hair soft and manageable

Sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’, argan oil is a natural product, extracted from the kernels of the argan tree which is native to Morocco. It is often used as a moisturiser as well as in products to care for your hair. This is due to the fact that the oil has a high nutrient content and is rich in fatty acids, anti-oxidants and vitamin E which is vital for healthy skin and hair. Argan oil is renowned for making hair soft, silky and shiny and to help make frizzy hair more manageable. Other reported benefits of argan oil for hair include the promotion of healthy hair growth, prevention of scalp dryness and itching and the restoration of dry and damaged hair. As a non-greasy, easily absorbed oil it is often used as a skin moisturiser which can benefit dry skin in particular. It is also known for it’s anti-ageing properties and many advocates of argan oil have stated how it has helped their skin conditions such as acne and eczema. I have used argan oil to help treat dry skin on my elbows and knees and it worked very well for me and left my skin beautifully soft and smooth with no irritation.

Because of it’s beneficial properties, celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Kylie Minogue, Madonna and Taylor Swift are all users of argan oil to help care for their hair and skin. It’s even beginning to appear in mascara formulas as it’s claimed it helps to make your lashes longer and more lustrous. My hair is very dry and has a wiry texture (it almost feels like fine fishing line) and argan oil in it’s pure form really helps to add moisture and softness to my hair. Even if you are lucky enough to have naturally soft hair, argan oil is a nice finishing touch to add extra gloss and shine.

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Argan oil is extracted from the fruit of the argan tree

Although finding shampoos, conditioners, hair styling products and skincare products containing argan oil is easy, due to the oil’s rarity they come at a relatively high price. As I mentioned before, the oil is extracted from the argan tree which is found in southern Morocco. The traditional method of extracting the oil was to collect argan fruit, dry it, extract the nuts, crack them to reveal the kernels and then to crush them to release their oil. The process was done by hand and took fifteen hours of labour and thirty two kilograms of fruit to produce just one litre of oil! These days the kernels are mechanically cold pressed (heat damages the oil’s chemical properties). The tree is rare, extracting the oil is labour intensive…hence the high price. However, the good news is a little oil goes a long way.

The scarcity of the argan tree is where the problem lies. There are so many products on the market now which contain argan oil or are marketed as ‘argan oil’ or ‘Moroccan oil’. But if you examine the label, there are often other ingredients (such as silicon) in larger quantities than the actual argan oil. Cosmetic companies need to work hard to ensure that the supply of argan oil is sustainable and of a high quality, untainted by other oils or substances.

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Look for products that contain as much unrefined argan oil as possible

So how do you know you are getting the real deal? If you are buying a product containing argan oil – check the ingredients. Look out for ‘argania spinosa kernel oil’, it should be high up the ingredients list and ideally, the product should contain as few ingredients as possible. The more ingredients that the oil is mixed with, the less effective the oil will be. If you are buying pure argan oil, make sure it is in a dark coloured bottle as the light passing through a clear bottle can break down the oil’s chemical properties. Some products that are marketed as argan oil also contain a carrier oil such as olive or sunflower oil. Also be aware of the price you are paying. Argan oil doesn’t have to cost a fortune but at the same time, it is a rare oil that is labour intensive to produce and so isn’t usually sold at a ‘giveaway’ price. The best argan oil product isn’t necessarily the most expensive but remember the saying, ‘you get what you pay for’.

I am currently using hair products containing argan oil from one of the best-selling brands in the UK and will follow up this article in the near future with a product review…

Until then, stay beautiful x

Must Have Hair Accessories For Every Woman

Many of us have a ‘signature’ hairstyle, one which we have been sporting for years, maybe even decades. And some of us wear that hairstyle in the exact same way, day in, day out. Well what if you fancy a change? Maybe nothing as drastic as a radically different haircut but just ways of making it look a little bit different. This is where hair accessories come in. Every woman should have a variety of accessories on standby for when you want to add a little bit extra to your hair. I have compiled a list of popular hair accessories which I think every woman should own, whether your hair is long, short or somewhere in between.

Alice bands – These aren’t just for little girls. Practical as well as stylish, they are great for when you want to wear your hair down but kept away from your face. They are available in lots of different sizes, styles and colours and can compliment the rest of your outfit whether dressed up or casual. Popular for many years now, Alice bands are often associated with the ‘Sloane Ranger’ look – a velvet Alice band teamed with pearl earrings. But don’t let that put you off.

Kirby grips (Bobby pins) – When found on carpets and under beds, these have been puzzling men as to what they actually are for decades. In the right hands, kirby grips can be used to transform hair into beautifully sculpted creations. Personally, I hate them. I find them fiddly to use, they don’t stay in place after I’ve put them in and I end up pulling out hairs when I remove them. But…so many other girls find them easy to use and create all manner of beautiful, innovative styles with them. So if you haven’t tried them, see if you are more skillful with them than I am.

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My hair on my wedding day, a French twist created using kirby grips. Not by me I must add, this is the work of my hairdresser Hayley Gage

Claw clips – Ah now these are much more like it. Just snap in and go. No frills, simple to use, these are a must for every woman.

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The classic claw clip

Fascinators – Faintly ridiculous for everyday use but a must have for a wedding or a day at the races. When choosing a fascinator, consider your hair colour and face shape as well as your outfit. If your outfit is relatively plain, fascinators can be used to add a burst of colour, especially when matched with shoes.

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Wearing a fascinator at my brother’s wedding

Hair bows – I quite like these. They snap in easy (always a good thing), they come in lots of colours and styles and are a nice little touch to compliment the rest of your outfit. Black and polka dot ones are my favourite

Snap clips – These are handy for controlling lumpy bits of hair or nasty flyaways. The only problem with them is they are pretty damn ugly. No matter what colour you buy them in, they just never seem to look nice in my opinion. They are cheap and practical though so I still think they deserve a place on the list.

Hair flowers – Like hair bows, a strategically placed flower (or flowers) is a pretty way to jazz up your look.

Elastics – Ah where would we be without the good ol’ hair elastic? Make sure you always keep a plentiful supply of these, preferably ones without metal as they are less likely to damage your hair.

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Hair elastics, an everyday essential

Head chains – I have included head chains in the list as I’m seeing more people wearing these now. They’re not something which I would personally wear, I tried one on once and to say it didn’t suit me is putting it mildly. But if you have the style and confidence to wear one and pull it off – good on you!

Headbands – I like fabric headbands for all the same reasons that I like Alice bands. What I don’t like however is the way they always end up pinging off my head. Usually at inappropriate moments. Maybe it’s just the ones that I’ve tried or perhaps it’s just me.

Headscarves – Like head chains, I think these take a certain panache to pull off well. But if you are one of those women that can, they can look seriously cool.

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Nicely coordinating scarf, lips and nails

Mini claw clips – The miniature version of the ever popular claw clip. I don’t see people wearing these as often but I find them a useful, easy alternative to kirby grips for a variety of hairstyles.

Scrunchies – Yes, scrunchies. I would actually like to see these make a comeback. I like them as they are softer than many other hair ties and less likely to damage your hair. They were all the rage back in the 90’s but they seem to have fallen out of favour in recent years. I have noticed gymnasts have been wearing them a lot lately though so maybe with the forthcoming Olympics in Rio, maybe we will see a scrunchie revival. I hope so.

Barrettes (hair clasps) – Easy to use and available in so many different colours, materials and styles, these are the classic, go to accessory for many women who want to inject a bit of sparkle to their hair.

Tiara – A very formal hair accessory, unless you are royalty, most women will only have the opportunity to properly wear a tiara on your wedding day. If you are choosing one to wear, make sure it compliments the rest of your jewellery and doesn’t clash. Consider your hairstyle carefully and make sure the ends of the band of your tiara are covered. There is no excuse to wear the naff, plastic tiaras ever. Even if it is your birthday or hen do, don’t do it. They look cheap and common and I’m sure that you are neither.

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Coordinating jewellery with a tiara

Bun ring – It has taken me almost thirty years but I finally know how to use one. I find them fiddly but I think a pretty ballerina style bun looks chic and elegant so I think it is worth the time it takes to master.

So there you go. Have a rummage around and see how many of these you are missing 🙂