Monday, 19 December 2011

Business, Politics, Sex and Science: 5 Fresh Ideas For Your Hair

I thought you might be cruising towards a few days of leisure time ... maybe.

So if you've got some time to chill out in your jimmy jams and surf the internet, here are 5 articles to get your creative juices flowing in the hair department.

Shoot, you may decide to toss your iPad aside and go experiment with some new styles. It's a great time of year for it.

Happy reading!

Corporette has a really great blog for you overachieving type businesswomen, giving fashion tips and career/lifestyle advice that is *actually* useful. In this post she opens a discussion about stylish professional women who have inspired you in your life.

Total Beauty posted this slide show of celebrities working the red carpet with hair accessories in a way that is acheivable and simple. Great ideas here for your New Year's Eve out (or in, heck!)

The Beauty Brains has been a long-time favourite online read for me. Want to know the real scoop on pretty much any beauty product? Check here first for a no-BS look at all things cosmetic. In this post she answers the question "Why is soap bad for hair?"

Sexy hair secrets. Find out what men really love about women's hair, from The Daily Mail Online.

Hillary Clinton And The Claw. The most controversial post of 2011 from the Stone Bridge blog. And my follow-up with How To Do The Hillary Style ... The *Right* Way.

Visit Stone Bridge for some pretty nifty-looking hair clips

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

7 Secrets To Better Looking Hair

The classic cartoon image of a woman losing it always shows her hair going madly awry. Indeed, I once came across some guidance for (male) medical consultants on how to spot post-natal depression, with messy hair topping the list.

Hair, for women, is an important part of our self-identity. It cannot be denied that how we feel about our hair on a day-to-day basis can set the tone for the entire day ahead.

Whether you're scrubbing up for the commute or morning school run, knowing that your hair looks great provides a bedrock of confidence that will pull you through a stressful day.

Knowledge of a few simple tricks and techniques can help you wrest control back over your hair, and your self esteem.

1. Work With Your Texture

A leading cause of damage, not to mention frustration, is styling your hair against it's natural texture. If you have straight hair, accept its straightness and opt for daily styling that works best for this type. If you have curly or wavy hair, make sure you have a cut that compliments your hair's natural tendencies.

Forcing your hair into a style which is opposite it's nature requires heat, strong styling products as well as time and effort. This is all very well for special occasions, when going to town with a style is part of the fun of dressing up. But for a daily routine, your hair will be better behaved for you if you appreciate what your natural texture brings to the table.

2. Choose Hair Accessories That Aren't Just Pretty

Most high street hair clips are designed only with fashion in mind. The reality is hair clips, like your shoes, have to actually work hard and stand up to more wear and tear than a belt or piece of jewellery.

Hair clips and headbands which can handle your hair, whether it is very fine or very thick, won't have to be frequently readjusted during your busy day. Ideally you should be able to do your hair so that you won't need to fix it again at least until lunchtime, if not until cabernet o'clock.

3. Know Your Face Shape

Hair styles, like dresses, flatter different shapes. Knowing what looks best for your face and profile will easily make you look younger and more groomed than having the wrong style.

Longer hair simply worn down can be aging, so playing with updos, half-back styles and different ways of parting your fringe are very worth the time. Ask friends and your stylist for advice, as it is easier for them to see you from all angles.

4. Exercise Damage Control

Most damage to hair is caused by salon treatments, such as colouring and permanents, followed next by mishandling your hair when it is wet, such as using a brush or straightening irons on wet hair.

Your hair can generally tolerate one form of abuse, but not both. If you colour your hair, go easy on heat styling. If you are addicted to your straighteners, you should avoid any chemical processes to your hair.

If you can manage to give up both, your hair will reward you with less (or even eliminating) breakage as well as becoming increasingly easy to style as the internal structure of the hair will be stronger and more resilient.

5. Listen To Your Stylist

Stylists are usually at the mercy of the demands of clients, faithfully delivering whatever you ask them to do.

They are really untapped resources of information about current styling trends. A good stylist will keep up to date with cutting techniques and be able to help you evolve your look so you stay on trend. At least once a year, talk to your stylist for some ideas that might work for you. They'll be so glad you asked!

6. Use Your Mirror

Mirrors should be your second best friend (after your diamonds, natch). Invest in a great hand-held mirror. The best is about the size of a normal A4 size of paper as it will give you a good view of the back of your head, but not be too heavy to hold.

Check your hair before leaving the house: front, back and sides. Don't rely on how you look just face on. The rest of the world doesn't see you only from the front.

7. Broaden Your Repertoire

You don't have just one outfit in your cupboard. Why only put your hair up in the same old style all the time?

Knowing a variety of ways to wear your hair up or back means you will have more fun with your hair, but you will also have more tools in your arsenal to deal with a bad hair day quickly and easily.

At Stone Bridge, we have a whole library of videos and "how to" articles on our blog.

If you want a personalised crash course, it is well worth investing in our full-service personal consultation. We will come to you and work out a whole range of styles that not only look good specifically on your, we will take the time to make sure you can create these styles yourself easily.

Exercising these seven secrets will transform your relationship with your hair. Have you got any tips for better looking hair? Share them in the comments so we can all look and feel better!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Disappointing Headband

A Call From A Disappointed Customer Who Wanted To *Keep* Her Stone Bridge Headband

Classic Tortoiseshell Headbands
I had a phone call from a new customer who received one of our Super Comfy Skinny Headbands this week.

She wanted to tell me about how it actually didn't work for her.

First, this is great stuff. We love, of course, hearing about how successful our products are for you.

We also really value hearing about "when hair clips go bad."

This helps us make better recommendations for all the rest of our customers, so we truly like to know how you and your Stone Bridge hair accessories are getting along, if indeed you are getting along.

The Disappointing Headband

This customer has a graduated bob style hair cut. This means it is layered and short behind her neck and longer towards her chin. She also has fine hair.

When she first came to us, she explained that she loves headbands but they always hurt behind her ears.

Ouch! I hate that feeling. Don't you?

Melissa Recommends ...

I explained for our fine haired customers, generally we recommend the try the Super Comfy Skinny Headband. The material is very flexible and it will gradually conform to the shape of your head as it warms up from your own body heat.

This quality is no good at all for you if you have thick hair because your headband will lose the oomph it needs to work at holding the weight of your hair back from your face. The headband will become too loose on your head and slip forward.

So annoying!

However, if you have fine hair, as you already know your hair has very little weight to push out against the band. So in general we find this design suits fine hair very well.

But, you will recall my customer commented that all other headbands hurt those bones behind her ears.

While our headbands are very soft, or our metal headbands can be easily reshaped for comfort, some people are very sensitive in this spot and the sad truth is if you have this problem you will struggle to find a traditional headband that will work for you without hurting.

The Headband Test

My lady did decide to try the Super Comfy Skinny Headband and I assured her that if it didn't work out, she could of course return it for a full refund. No problem.

Today she rang and shared the sad news that even our headband caused her pain.


Send it back, I told her.

But no, she wanted to persevere with it. How long would she need to wear it, she asked, before it reshaped itself? Perhaps that would solve the problem?

Well, I'm a big believer in hard work and perseverance, but physical pain is kind of my limit.

I don't think people should suffer for a headband.

(Shoes, on the other hand, that's another scenario entirely ...)

Get The Dern Headband To Fit

So I shared with her how we reshape headbands here at Stone Bridge if and when we need to.

Cellulose, the material which is used to make our French handmade hair accessories, is easily softened by heat.

So you can reshape pretty much any of our products by warming them slightly, like near - never directly on - a radiator. You want to put the piece in the desired shape, so for flexing headbands out you can use a rolled up towel or sofa cushion.

To tighten a headband back up, lay it flat on a soft surface with a ribbon tied round to just gently pull in the sides.

For flattening a French pleat comb or U pin which may have gotten twisted in the hair, we use a heavy magazine, such as the September edition of Vogue.

Check your headband, or whatever you're reshaping, twice a day.

Again, don't put your hair clips and accessories directly on a heat source as you can melt them. We know from sad experience!

Visit Stone Bridge Hair Accessories UK

Or, check out some of our independent customer reviews ... (and write your own!)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Got Split Ends? Science May Finally Have The Answer ...

Ooops! You caught me reading my research journals again ... doh!

I'm a bit famous for looking at the marketing claims behind shampoos and conditioners and then either smacking my forehead in amazement or tipping my head back and laughing wide-mouthed like a muppet.

But not this week.

I was an eye-popped nerd reading about a new compound being studied by Unilever that might actually be great news if you suffer from split ends.

Click to read why 2012 may be an interesting year over on my other blog

Visit Stone Bridge and see all our newest hair clips

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Love Must Be Hair Clip Shaped

When Men Start Shopping At Stone Bridge Hair Accessories

Over the years we've had the privilege of meeting sons, nephews, husbands and fathers of many of our customers.

Where you do you hide these nice guys all year?

The nicest thing about these conversations is we are always struck by how much you are loved and admired by your favourite man. How do we know this?

  1. They *always* say they don't have a budget
  2. They know a heck of a lot about your hair
  3. They tell us your hair is gorgeous
  4. They will go to incredible, heroic lengths to get your gift.

We've had fiances drive through blizzards to pick up hampers of amazing hair accessories.

We've had husbands on the phone, children on their lap dictating adorable gift card messages.

We've had men in the armed forces ringing from all over the world, making sure we can get a lovely box of hair clips sent home to their wife in time for Christmas.

And of course we've had long, detailed conversations about your hair and how they like you best.

If you're cynical about Christmas, man, you need to get yourself into the hair clip business.

This is a very romantic time of year!

Have you got a lovely gift-giving man in your life? Does he know you like hair clips?

Point him towards Stone Bridge.

A Happy Christmas Guaranteed in every parcel!

Husbands Who Shop

Hoping For Hair Clips Under The Tree? Tell Your Husband Now.

Hair Clips For Christmas?
There's a certain time of year when we get a sudden rush of men ringing up for hair clips.

That time is now, indicating that husbands are getting themselves organised for Christmas.

So if you had your eye on something Stone Bridge, today would be an excellent day to send your husband the link.

Or, if you'd rather be surprised, tell him to ring us on 01732 883820 during regular business hours and we would be very happy to guide him to the best hair clips suitable for your hair.

Visit Stone Bridge Hair Accessories UK

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hair Clips And Men

Nope, There Isn't Much Of A Connection There

"You Need A Hair Clip, Lady."
The more I find out about men, the stranger I think they are.

The children, Beloved Husband and myself struggled through Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong last week.

It took a couple days.

It was hard for me to stay interested because there were literally NO hair clips in this film.

The theme was basically that Beauty can tame and captivate the Beast, so there was a lot of dewey-eyed posing going on with the heroine while slack-jawed men (and gorillas) found themselves overwhelmed and distracted by her charms.

So I asked Husband, "Is that how men see romantic relationships? The right woman wafts before your eyes and suddenly you are distracted from the grubby hurly burly of fighting dinosaurs?"

Husband replied, "No. I think that is women's view of romantic relationships. Men just go along with it and we just say you look beautiful because you seem to like it.

"Mostly we see boobs and then a sign saying either Available or Not Available."

My colleague Claire had a similar discussion with her partner, Jonathan.

He describes dating women as being like grocery shopping.

"You go in and there is so much choice, so many women. You have to look at the packaging, read the labels, decide how much work is going to be involved. I mean, do you want to do a roast dinner from scratch (which would be lovely) or will this ready-meal do the job just as well with less fuss?"

Jonathan adds, "Also some women you look at and think those are going to be past their sell-by date pretty soon."

Husband liked this analogy, but he commented that the trouble with dating from the male perspective is once you make your choice you find the women get huffy and demand to be taken out of the basket.

Aren't men weird?

I tell this story because I had a meeting with a man last week and we were talking about business stuff.

I told him that at Stone Bridge we view our job as matching the right hair clip to the customer's hair. We're totally service-oriented because we want your experience with our hair accessories to be a long and happy one.

"Do you understand what I mean?" I asked him.

"Not at all," came the reply.

His view was you lay the goods out, the customer takes a look, chooses the one she likes best and decides whether or not she wants to own it.

"The Stone Bridge approach is not commercial. You'll never make any money," he pronounced.

Hmm. Sounds like grocery shopping ... or dating from the male point of view, doesn't it?

Visit Stone Bridge Hair Accessories UK for hair clips I know will work for your hair. Long and happy relationship guaranteed.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Shampoos For Coloured Hair: Do They Work?

Colour Conserve, Colour Preserve, Colour Lasting ... Is It Real?

Q: Melissa, I read your article about shampoo with interest. But my stylist was horrified recently when I told her I used Pantene on my coloured hair. She insisted I purchase Aveda Colour Conserve shampoo at great cost. What do you think?

A: My first instinct is to say there is no such thing as a shampoo which can make your salon-fresh colour last longer.

Hair colour fades as the pigment molecules either wash or simply fall out of your hair with time.

Even the naturally occurring pigment in your hair degrades over time, which is why if you have very long hair you can often see a difference in hair colour between your roots and your ends.

If you truly want to make your hair colour last as long as possible, always wear it up, protect it from sunlight with a hat or scarf and never use shampoo on your hair.

That is a regime which is too draconian for me, not to mention too much like hard work.

I'm a "wash 'n' go" type gal myself.

But getting back to shampoo formulas for coloured hair, your question needled me.

I hadn't looked at a colour-conserving formula for a number of years, so for all I knew the brainiacs at Aveda had come up with something good.

Anything's possible.

Shampoo 101

If you've not read my Healthy Hair Care series of free articles, here's a recap of what you need to know about shampoo:

  • Shampoo should remove oil and dirt from your hair while maintaining the integrity of the cuticle

That's it.

Most main brand "normal" shampoos do an excellent job of this. In fact, they are so good, you need to use way less shampoo per wash than most people think.

About one-eighth as much as the average person uses in a single hair wash.

The Stone Bridge method of shampooing is this:

  1. Squeeze out the smallest pea of shampoo you can from the bottle
  2. Lather up between your hands
  3. Wash one hand off
  4. Only shampoo your head where you truly need it

You won't get a great sudsy head full of lather doing this. But you will get over time healthier and more manageable hair.

Think of it as eating just one biscuit instead of the entire packet. I know eating 18 biscuits is a nicer experience, but you just don't need that many.

Limit yourself, and you'll end up a healthier and more manageable person.

The Aveda Formula Inspection

For my own entertainment, I bought two Aveda shampoos to compare: Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo and Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturising Shampoo

If you're a formulator the hair issues that need to be addressed are quite different.

Coloured hair is, frankly, damaged.

Dry hair, however, has a "fingertouch feel" that is not agreeable to the customer. Often the integral health of dry hair is actually fine.

When considering coloured hair, the formulator is thinking of how to create a product that:

  • minimizes friction (and further damage) when hair is wet
  • slathers loads of conditioning agents on the hair that will stay there after rinsing
  • feels smooth on your fingers when your hair is dry
  • oh, and maybe doesn't wash out your expensive colour job

Turning to the problem of dry hair, the formulator is thinking about

  • adding ingredients that encourage water to cling to the outside of the hair, even when "dry"
  • slathering loads of skin moisturising agents onto the hair so your fingers feel nice
  • including heavy duty anti-static ingredients

And this is just what Aveda have done, using more expensive ingredients (some of which Aveda have exclusive license to, making then even more expensive but still probably just as effective as some of the more widely available alternatives).

Let's get down into the details.

Aveda Color Conserve

The first thing I noticed with Color Conserve is that the first ingredient is not water, but  basically essential oil type water infusions of a bunch of different plants.

Why would they do this? Because normally when you pick up a shampoo chock full of magic plants the amount used is actually so small (compared to the gallons of detergents etc) that these little beauties end up at the end of the list.

Crickey, the customer might be so bamboozled by  the palmamidopropyl trimonium methosulfate (and so forth) that they may never see that someone managed to squeeze in some aloe leaf juice - not that it's doing anything anyway.

But by formulating with "aqueous extracts" they get to list all the ingredients the hapless public think are beneficial in the same space that all those other, dumber shampoo companies use to print the word "water".

Phew. Clever.

Moving on to the real meat of this formula, we get to the true second ingredient which is .... wait for it ....

Ammonium lauryl sulfate.

This is a very common, very effective, not expensive detergent that cleans your hair perfectly well.

This guy is backed up by some not very unusual lather boosters and thickeners until you get down to Aveda's baby: babassuamidopropyl betaine.

Aveda has made a big commitment to ingredients derived from the babassua nut, which is harvested by a collective of indigenous people in the Brazillian Amazon. Aveda have established an extraction and processing facility in the area which allow them to source their imputs directly from this area, bypassing large chemical suppliers.

Other shampoo manufacturers should not worry about this (and I doubt they do) because I have a sneaky suspicion that the very widely available palm kernelamidopropyl betaine works just as well.

But anyway, why this particular ingredient is so interesting for shampoo for coloured hair is that, no matter what kind of palm nut it is derived from, it has good conditioning qualities, so deposits a little bit of slip into your hair that doesn't easily wash out.

I noticed this when I gave my own Colour Conserve sample a try. I didn't actually put it in my hair because I was freaked out when I tried to wash it off my hand and noticed it felt ... uh ... unrinsed.

I don't have coloured or damaged hair, so I don't need extra stuff clinging onto my hair. But if I did, this slippery coating would be a good thing.

I washed the Colour Conserve off with Revlon Flex Clarifying shampoo, a straight boring detergent with no magic ingredients, that also happens to be dirt cheap and smell REALLY good.

At least I think so.

Moving through the formula, there is no other interesting ingredient that would do the least little thing to preserve your hair colour.

I also didn't like the scent of Colour Conserve, personally. Too piney for me.

Saying all this, it is a perfectly good shampoo, with great conditioners in it. But Tresemme, for the cost, works about the same and at about 25% of the price (but with no Save The Amazon, feel-good benefits or suspicious save-the-planet "organic" credentials).

Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Shampoo

Rats! So having failed to find any exciting new developments in Aveda's Color Conserve Shampoo, I turned my attention to their Dry Remedy formula.

Ooooo, I said to myself as I noted a lack of aqueous extracts of magic herbs. These were trapped in the middle of the ingredients list.

After water, the primary detergent used is sodium cocoyl isethionate, coupled with sodium methyl cocoyl taurate. These detergents are pretty widely used, but more in body washes and that kind of thing rather than shampoos. They are more expensive, but why they may be good for a "dry hair" shampoo is because they are mild on the skin.

Which is to say they are mild on your hands.

Which is what you use to check how your hair feels, right?

Next, after the detergents we find glycerine, which is the world's best moisturiser for ... mostly skin.

When it gets used in hair products, what it does really is sit on the outside of the hair and feel moist. It also adds a bit of weight to the hair and would help to prevent static, a problem with hair that has a low moisture content.

Glycerin is a pretty good conditioner in its own right. You can buy a giant bottle of pure glycerin from your chemists for next to nothing.

But they'll probably look at you funny and want to give you advice on how to use it.

Moving on down to the ingredients included in more minute quantities are a handful of magic oils, which I would bet good money just get rinsed out.

If you want magic oil in your hair, best to put it on there yourself when your hair is dry and you've got nothing better to do for half an hour but lie around with a towel around your shoulders and a mess of oil on your head.

That was a bit offhand, but if you suffer from dry hair, this is a perfectly good and effective shampoo to use.

But it does make me think that maybe you shouldn't use shampoo hardly at all. If you want to learn more about this, sign up for my free series of Heathy Hair Care articles where I explain this in greater detail.

Inescapable Conclusions

Aveda make great hair care products. I cannot deny this.

But they've also got some smart marketers working for them, who have clearly thought long and hard about women's insecurities about their hair and the personal care products they choose to buy.

The real reason to buy any Aveda product is any single one of the following:

a. you want to help Aveda continue to be major employers of the babassua nut crackers in the Amazonian rainforest
b. you like the smell
c. you like the bottle (which is seriously unlikely)
d. you like your stylist and want to supplement her income without simply giving her a tip

Visit Stone Bridge and check out our really nice hair clips

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Easy Updo Style For Formal Events

Q: I've got a black tie event coming up and I'm wearing a backless dress, so I'd like to wear my hair up. My problem is that when I twist it up, my ends are a good 6 inches or more.

When I try tucking them in, it all looks untidy (more down to my bad technique, I'm sure). I'd like to wear my large sparkly barrette. Is there a sophisticated way to pile all my hair up on top of my head and secure it with a barrette?

French Pleats Are Always Reliable
The timing of this question is perfect as we are moving into the season of Black Ties now. A French pleat style is alway a reliable option if you are doing your own hair.

However, ponytails were HUGE on the runways last month in New York, London and Milan. So if you are comfortable wearing ponytails normally on a day-to-day basis, this could be a successful look for you with  a little dressing up for your formal event.

French Pleat High Ponytail

An Easy Formal Ponytail Style

One updo that I love combines the pleat technique with a high ponytail.

This style has a number of advantages for you if you are doing your own hair:

  • It's easy. Your hair should be up and looking gorgeous in about 30 seconds.
  • It's sexy. As your hair moves, people get a cheeky flash of the bling you're working underneath.
  • It can be saved. If you need to, you can easily re-adjust your hair during the evening.
  • It's reliable. If you wear ponytails already, you will feel confident with how you look all night.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One tip I'd really like to stress is that practice makes perfect. I'm a big believer in preparing yourself for formal events well before the invitations appear through the letter box.

Buy your dress when you don't need one. Have your jewellery and hair accessories stashed away and ready.

And for goodness sake, practice your updos on those quiet Sunday afternoons or Wednesday evenings when Beloved Husband is watching the Formula One or something.

Following is a copy of my original tutorial on this style ... Enjoy!

Here's how you do it:

Start with a high French Pleat
Step 1: Make a high up French Pleat. 
You want long ends, so unless your hair is to the middle of your back, start your initial ponytail at the centre of your head or higher.

Here, I only twisted my hair around once.

If you have very long hair or want to use extensions (so to your bottom rib or longer), start with a more traditional French pleat, making the first twist of your pleat nearer the bottom of your hairline.

To learn more about the basics of the French Pleat style, click this link and scroll to the bottom to watch my video on how to make a French Pleat.

French Pleat using the Fiori Swarovski barrette
Step 2: Secure your pleat near your crown. 
Hold the style with a barrette or close-holding hair claw very high up on your head, near your crown. 

Choose a hair clip that is really strong, particularly if you have long ends. 

The longer your ends, the heavier your ponytail will be, so you need a properly designed hair clip. I recommend any barrette that we call at Stone Bridge a "large" barrette. 

French Pleat with the Estiva Swarovski barrette
Here I have used our Italian crystal barrettes, both the Estiva Swarovski barrette and the Fiori Swarovski barrette

The Estiva is excellent for a very formal occasion or top drawer black tie sort of event. 

Hair claws are best if they can get right around and under your pleat. Here I'm using our Crystal Strand Large volume hair clamp (no longer available). 

French Pleat with a Crystal Strand clamp
For a less dressy claw, try the Interlocking medium hair claw or our Cadre Rectangle hair clamps.

The downside to using claws for this style is that most types of clamp will stand proud, which kind of spoils the ponytail effect, so really barrettes are easiest. If you have enough hair and are will to experiment, our French Pleat medium comb also works for this style.

Our Stone Bridge Classic Beak clips are also good because they lie flat under your ponytail and also help spread your hair out to create more fullness. 

If you have a lot of hair - either very thick or very long and heavy - I would go for a small Ficcare Maximas clip.

Back view of my High Ponytail
Step 3: Arrange your ends.
Spread out your ponytail just above the clip so the weight is evenly distributed out the top of your pleat.

This gives your hair much better movement and makes your profile more attractive.

Get experimenting, and have fun!

Visit Stone Bridge to see what new hair clips we have in this week

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hair Care Advice You Won't Get From Your Stylist

What You Want Isn't Always What You Need

I was having a read through one of my industry formulators' books not too long ago following up on a question about shampoo which had been bothering me.

Now, if you've signed up for my Healthy Hair Care series of free articles, you will already know that pretty much all hair care products you can buy are chock full of irrelevant stuff that do nothing for your hair.

They just get added to the shampoo or serum to sound good when you read the label on the bottle.

You will also know that chances are you don't need to use nearly as much shampoo in your usual hairwash as gets normally recommended.

However, I was still astonished to find this following fact spelled out in my formulators' handbook:

Customers ascribe a measure of overall product quality to the feel of a shampoo's lather. To clean hair in an average hair wash, a concentration of detergent of only 5-8% is needed. But to produce the type of lather the consumer prefers, a concentration of about 20% is required.

Our Brains Make Us Stupid Sometimes

We human beings can be a bit simple.

We gather a lot of information through our senses, which is how our brain is designed to function. Our brain is always busily sorting through all the sensory data streaming in about the world into two piles: "good" and "bad."

The problem with this is because our brain wants to sort the world out speedy quick, it can latch on to the wrong indicators about quality.

Just as salty food tastes nice, our brain compels us to crave more of it, even when we know it's not good for us.

Shampoos, along with a massive range of personal care products, are designed to feel nice in your hand, a quality completely divorced from their actual ability to gently and effectively clean your hair.

So when you have your shower, your brain is loving the lather. So much so, you decide to wash your hair twice through. The result is that you might be using 8 to 10 times the necessary amount of detergent your hair actually needs.

When you read the typical anti-shampoo article on the internet, saying shampoo "strips" your hair of your natural oil, this is only true if you use too much of it with too much enthusiasm.

It doesn't mean you need to go out and buy some super special expensive shampoo, with loads of organic stuff (one of my favourite cons in the personal care industry) or crushed pearls or something.

It means you can continue to use whatever shampoo you like. Just use less of it, less often.

How Much Shampoo Is Enough?

Some people actually only shampoo their hair once or twice a year.

Personally, I shampoo my hair almost every day. But this is how I get the right amount of shampoo for my hair:

  1. I squeeze the tiniest drop of shampoo I can out of the bottle, about the size of a pea.
  2. I rub my hands together to lather it up.
  3. I wash one of my hands off.
  4. Using my fingertips I target just the spots on my scalp that need scrubbing.

Working out how much shampoo you need for your hair requires experimentation over time.

Start by not shampooing your hair at all, just getting your hair wet through, conditioning and styling as normal.

When you feel your hair is too oily, then you have a shampoo. But try using only a little rather than going for that head full of lather.

Increase and decrease the amount of shampoo you use to work out how much your hair truly needs.

What's really cool about this is that your hair will reward you with better manageability over time.

Some people see results within a week, while for others it can take a few months to figure out the perfect amount of shampoo for their hair.

Want to learn more interesting industry secrets about caring for your hair? Sign up for my free series of articles. You'll be glad you did!

(And don't worry. You can always unsubscribe if you change your mind. I hate spam too.)

Healthy Hair Advice Free Article Series

Want up-front and personal advice about the health of your hair?

We accept a small number of personal consultation appointments around the country each year reviewing in detail the health, care and day-to-day styling of your hair.

The advice we provide in these consultations is backed by a 3 month guarantee. If you feel after 3 months that you learned nothing of value from your consultation, we will give you your money back. Guaranteed.

Learn More About Our Personal Consultations

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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Adding Volume To Your Ponytail Style

All you need is a good barrette

I've been messing around with the ponytail barrette a lot recently, ever since I saw an interesting "loose" sort of style on the catwalks for the Autumn/Winter collections.

When I was fooling around with the fashionista version, I discovered this technique where you can really alter the shape of your profile easily and quickly.

So I made a video for you to share with you this method.


Barrettes Shown In This Video

Portofino Crystal barrette
Classic Wide barrette (Sold Out!) See our Classic French Oval Barrette
Classic Long barrette (Sold Out!) See our Arc Oval Medium Barrette

Browse All Stone Bridge barrettes 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

How To Make A French Pleat

A Silly Hair Styling Challenge


Hair Accessories Shown in This Video

Ficcare Maximas hair clips
(For a handmade French clip, our Moana French Beak Clip is very popular)

Double Scroll large barrette (Sold Out!)
(For lots more like this clip, take a look at these Barrettes for thick hair)

Arpege Short hair fork

Allegro hair fork

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Hair Clips: The Best Way To Cheer Yourself Up ...

Whoops! Gremlins strike again ... 
If you're looking for my post "Love Must Be Hair Clip Shaped" > click here 
If you're looking about how to cheer yourself up, then read on fearless Internet Sailor!

"The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up." -- Mark Twain

A few years back I met a woman who was devastated after her husband left her for another woman.

She was still young, gorgeous with a good career. But with the sudden collapse of her marriage, she felt worthless and unattractive.

Fortunately, she had a very wise pastor who told her the best way to see out of your own problems is to help others out of theirs.

She embarked on an enthusiastic programme of voluntary work, which helped her put her troubles into perspective, gave her self-esteem a huge boost, and was also of enormous help to the community.

Small Actions Spread Happiness Too

This is a dramatic example of Mark Twain's advice about your own happiness.

But small efforts work well too.

I was reminded of this when I got an email yesterday from one of our very nice customers, Ruth from Glasgow. She wrote:

Hi Melissa,  re your small business and your  lovely request for your customers to spread the word. Can I suggest an alternative strategy?
I first bought one of these clips with  Christmas gift vouchers. I would not have believed the difference in cost to the others was in proportion to the difference in quality until I owned one.
Sometimes you just want something new and different and I think it would be a good idea if the clips that a person had moved on from were given to someone else because a practical test is always more convincing than a testimony.
Best of luck, Ruth

Now, Stone Bridge is a small business and our success over the past few years (during one of the worst recessions in 100 years, remember) has been entirely down to customers like you being so pleased with their hair clips that they've spread the good word about us.

But I love Ruth's idea.

She's probably a marketing guru or something up there in Scotland, because this is a beautifully simple, genius idea.

Basically, you could let your friends try out your Stone Bridge hair clips.

Think about this.

1. Your Stone Bridge hair clips give you happiness.
2. Your friend doesn't know how happy a hair clip could make her. Tragic.
3. By passing on your hair clip to your friend, you are both a little happier.

Mull this over a little.

Hey, and if you want to start a Stone Bridge swap site on the internet, I'm totally okay with that.

Recycling is a good thing!

Oh, and if you have got some creative ideas that might help us spread the good word about Stone Bridge, don't hold back. Some of the best business ideas have come from our customers.

Email me! I'm all ears. And eyes ... or something ...

Visit Stone Bridge Hair Accessories

What a 6 Year Old Can Teach You About Hair Clips

What Truly Makes a Hair Clip Perfect And Other Philosophical Questions

Here we are, in August and true to seasonal form, my kitchen is infested with flies.

Spoon collection, Jurgen Lehl, 2008
Good for rice. Not good for flies.
I’m stalking the house with my damp teatowel, making my husband jump every few minutes with an enormous “THWACK” pounding the furniture.

At lunch yesterday my youngest daughter, who’s six-and-a-half-and-don’t -you-forget-it, was getting herself a spoon from the drawer to finish off a bowl of rice when she got a rude fly-by by a fly.

“Oh!” she said. “I nearly whacked that fly with my spoon.”

“That wouldn’t have been nice,” I said.

“No. Spoons are no good for whacking flies.” Then she paused while she contemplated this new philosophy. “And fly swatters are no good for rice.”

This is just so true.

Things usually are only good for one job, and terrible for others.

This is true, of course, about hair accessories too.

Hair Clips That Are Good Not Good

I’m sure to you this is totally evident, but we get calls – very rarely, mind – from people who’ve ordered something from us and shout down the phone, “This clip is terrible! The WORST hair clip I’ve ever seen. WHO could even wear this?”

The WORST hair clip ever?
So obviously, the clip was not suitable for this person’s hair.

That’s fine.

She can send it back.

Not a problem.

However, what we then find this sort of person has difficulty understanding is that there is no such thing as the perfect all round, good-for-everybody hair clip.

And no, she doesn’t want any suggestions of a clip that might work better for her.

How dare we.

Good Not Good In Action

Last week I was lucky enough to visit a customer for a Personal Consultation in Oxfordshire. 

She has such a gorgeous cottage style garden, absolutely alive with butterflies and bees. Wonderful.

She also has extremely fine hair, but she likes it long and being an active person she needs to be able to put it up securely.

The claw that turned out to be the great success of the morning was our new Debouche Cutout Narrow claw.

Perfect hair claw for very fine hair
Other claws that could close down securely on her hair either had teeth too long, that stuck out through her hair, or were too deep and sat proud of her head and joggled about.

But the Debouche claw had the perfect balance of design elements that made it work brilliantly for her hair type.

She also, as I expected, got on very well with our Moana Etched Beak clip, which is superb if you have very fine hair.

It is also selling like hot cakes, and you WILL want to grab one for yourself soon-ish, if you're interested.

So the Debouche claw is fantastic for fine to very fine hair.

But it is TERRIBLE for thick hair. The WORST hair clip I’ve ever seen!

See? Good, not good. That’s how it is.

Better Hair Clips For Thick Hair

I promised last week I’d stop being so darn helpful to our fine haired readers, so good news for you if you have thick hair.

I’ve got a bevy of new clips just for you today.

Rectangle French Large Claw
If you have thick hair, this claw is the one for you. Handmade in France, this claw is easy to use and will hold your hair all day. 

This French Claw has interlocking, rounded teeth that provide a really firm hold. What better than keeping all that hair off your neck? 

And if you like barrettes, I’ve got two pretty new large barrettes for you here.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hair Clips At The Cinema

How The Latest Transformers Film Can Help You With Your Hair

We took the full Hill brood to see the new Transformers film, "Dark Of The Moon", which was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Popcorn was consumed by all.

But more importantly ...

I learned useful new hair clip tricks and fortunately we've got a brand new little hair clamp that is perfect for the job.

First, if you have fine to medium hair, but not too thin of a ponytail, there was an interesting style sported by no less than the National Intelligence Director, played by the brilliant Frances McDormand.

McDormand has hair tending to the fine side, but a fair amount of it.

For her, and for her character, this gives her a ponytail of average size.

Click to enlarge!

The Style

McDormand had her hair in a very low ponytail, twisted once and secured by a rather cheap looking hair claw close in to the nape of her neck.

I thought we could do this one step better, of course, with a French handmade hair claw, in a colour that tones in with the hair.

Here I've used our new Classic Mini hair clamp, which is 5 cm long.

I experimented with a longer clamp and it completely overwhelmed the back of my head, so I don't recommend this style with a clip that is any larger than 5 cm in length.

Normally, I would choose for my own hair either our Silver Shell or pretty silvery Graphite colour.

Just so it is easier for you to see what I've done, I used the French Vanilla colour, which is one we usually recommend for you as a beautiful colour if you have blonde hair.

Not Only Pretty, But Also Useful

On my way out of the cinema, I passed a teenaged girl whose hair was pulled back very prettily into a half-up style.

Naturally, the Classic Mini clamp also works brilliantly for this style, again if your hair is medium to thick, or "fine but a lot of it".

If your hair is more fine and thin, this is a fantastic style for creating height at your crown, but I would choose a smaller claw in your case.

Something more like our Classic Mini claw.

How this style looks from the front ...

Again, I recommend you choose a colour that coordinates best with your hair colour.

Fortunately, we've got not 3, not 4, no not even 5 naturally inspired colours for you to pick from.

We have this clip in a whopping 6 colours for you, so you are guaranteed to find just the right colour to suit your hair.

Click here to order your Classic Mini clamp

Check out all our new hair clips

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Crime Statistics And Hair Clips: A Little Story For You

How Becoming A Crime Statistic Taught Me The Value Of Good Hair Accessories

"Everything's connected," as my father likes to tell me. And good quality hair clips are no exception, of course.

Bear with me on this and you'll see how small details can indeed matter. Even in an incident of violent crime.

You Can Become a Victim Anywhere

A couple weeks ago I became a crime statistic.

If you've been following my blog or emails for a while, you probably know that I am a bit keen on figure skating. I skate 3-4 days every week and I have hopes of competing in the British Nationals next year (at a low level, though - I'm not that good!)

So I was squeezing in a short practice at the ice rink during the public session in the afternoon when a group of five young teenagers decided they took a dislike to me.

They had been fooling around on the ice earlier playing a dangerous game and the management had very strongly told them off. They were actually lucky that they hadn't been banned.

They subsequently decided that I had been the one that had "grassed them up." Which I hadn't.

When I later stepped off the ice to get a drink from my bag, two girls from the group skated up and shouted at me, demanding to know why I had reported them. This became more heated, even as I explained management had CC TV covering the ice and everyone had seen them.

The girls swore at me and one then threw a water bottle cap in my face before skating off.

I figured that was the end of the matter. As they were clearly not afraid of threatening behaviour, I decided it was unsafe to return to the ice with them around. Not wanting another confrontation, I took my skates off and packed my bag to leave.

It is my habit to keep my skatebag near one of the side fire exits. This is because I can put my skates on close to the gate and it is only two steps from the bench onto the ice. This helps keep my blades sharp. Unfortunately is also a corner of the ice rink that is rather isolated.

As I stood to go, the two girls stepped into this corner and positioned themselves, blocking both exit passages.

I approached one of the girls as I made my way to leave, and put a hand on her wrist so I could pass.

"Don't you push me," she said.

"I'm not pushing anyone," I replied, and firmly holding her wrist I moved her arm aside and stepped through.

"Where are you going?" she shouted after me.

I said nothing and suddenly I was punched in the back.

Never Underestimate Your Opponent

I'm sure with my grey hair I probably appeared to this girl like a weak target. She had no way of guessing that I train to fight in both karate and kickboxing three days a week and I have one hell of a reverse punch.

I spun around, and without thinking grabbed her upraised arm. I was about to follow through on what would have been for me the instinctive and well-practiced second strike.

She was in a bad position, physically weak, on skates with poor balance, standing at the top of a set of stairs.

"What, think you're tough?" she spat into my face. And thank goodness she did.

I immediately recognised that this girl had her blood up and was only interested in escalating the fight.

The image that immediately came to my mind was a scene from the original Karate Kid film, where Mr Miagi councils his young student Daniel that "the best defence is to not be there."

I immediately released her, saying "No. I'm not tough. I'm going."

Then I turned my back to her and started walking away.

Now this was very risky for me.

Because, and this is important, I didn't have my hair up in a good hair clip.

Long Hair Can Be a Liability

My biggest worry as I turned from this girl was that she would go for my hair. When I later talked about the assault with my karate teacher he agreed that was the point when I was possibly the most vulnerable.

If she had got my hair and used that advantage to get me to the ground, with them wearing ice skates it would have gone very badly for me.

She hit me twice more in the back as I walked away, but she was fortunately hobbled by her skates as her friends called for her to leave me.

I reported the incident to the children's teachers (who were having tea and a nice chat in the cafe), and to the management. Then I left.

After getting home I phoned my husband, then the police and officially joined the massive pool of statistics recording violent crime.

What I learned by becoming a crime statistic

I have two lessons from this experience that I want to impress upon you:

1. Every woman should take up a real martial arts course. Not some girly "punch in the air" boxercise class at the gym. A proper course where you repeat "double jab, cross, duck, hook, reverse" over and over and over until you can do it instinctively both with power and speed. You might just need it. Plus your husband will probably thinks it really cool.

2. Have a good hair clip, for crying out loud. Not only does it keep your hair out of your way and looking good, whether you are battling work colleagues or feral teenagers, once you're a bit handy with your left hook punch a strong barrette or beak clip makes for a nasty, nasty weapon.

And I can almost guarantee your assailant will be extremely surprised to find you suddenly armed.

Shop All New Hair Clips and, uh, Weapons

Visit Stone Bridge Hair Accessories

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Monday, 27 June 2011

Hair Clips In Harrogate, Or How To Grow Out A Fringe?

New Styling Tricks For Your Fringe

I returned Sunday afternoon, lugging my case full of hair accessories back from a personal hair consultation with a customer with a new trick for you, if you have decided to grow out your fringe.

All you need is your favourite small hair slide or side barrette.

The Client
The client has hair past her shoulders, fine but a lot of it, with long layers cut into it. She was frustrated with her hair and usually pulled all her hair back into a high-ish ponytail.

As a mother of two small children, she needed a fast and easy style that kept her hair out of the way without fuss. But she wanted to look nice and groomed, and if possible stay that way all day.

The Challenges
Even though she had fine hair, the volume of it meant that it was quite heavy.

This restricted her choice of hair accessories. The design couldn't be too open, because her hair had a definite slippery texture and the weight of her hair would just pull her hair out of most clips.

Her personal style is very clean and classic, so as Claire highlighted in her recent series about styling layered hair, you have the difficulty of your layers falling out of most updos.

This can look charming, if you have a more casual or sporty style. If you don't, then it can just look scruffy.

My client was in the process of growing out her fringe (which, with her square face shape, was the right decision, in my view), but it seemed to only be "put in its place" with a scraped back style, which didn't flatter her angular face.

The Solution
I had brought along one of our brand new small French hair slides, the Slim Oval, which is a pretty slender oval shape.

We did a very gentle quiff, with the Slim Oval holding the very front of her fringe all the way back towards the back edge of her crown.

This could be made more secure with a very light misting of hairspray, to make sure the style holds all day.

Another alternative which would give a more secure hold, is our new Classic French small comb.

Unfortunately I didn't have any of these with me on the day, but we have other customers with fine hair who do prefer their combs for quiffs and half-back sorts of styles.

We then made a French pleat with the rest of her hair, using either the Silk Wrapped Cutout claw or the French Pleat medium comb, leaving the ends of her hair fanning out at the top.

This mostly covered the Brise small slide so it couldn't be seen. But if her ends ever fell to the side as she went about her day, then she had a pretty little hair slide showing, which was completely inoffensive.

The Verdict
The client announced she felt like Audrey Hepburn! I think that counts as a good result.

See all Stone Bridge hair slides and barrettes

Visit Stone Bridge Hair Accessories UK