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