Go Forth and Dye Fearlessly: Preparing Your Hair

'Go Forth and Dye Fearlessly' is a weekly feature on my blog for the next five weeks; as a hair-dye veteran I will be explaining what dyes and bleaches to go for, how to prepare your hair for dying, dying and bleaching your hair and appropriate aftercare. Of course, this is all stuff that has worked personally for me but as you're obviously not me don't take my word as gospel and please do as much research as your feel necessary to prepare yourself for transforming your hair.

Preparing your hair is a very important step to dying it; because unfortunately the process of bleaching and then dying can be very taxing on the hair. Just think of the scene-kids of a few years back with bleached white hair that looked like haystacks! This could happen to your hair if you don't take care of it first.

If your hair is in bad condition from previous dye use, I don't recommend bleaching. If your hair is currently dyed with a more normal colour (e.g. black, brown, red) my recommendation is to use Colour B4 by Scott Cornwall, which retails for around £13. I've reviewed it in a previous post and found the results excellent and my hair in far better condition for bleaching. I'd recommend leaving your hair at least a couple days after this to allow it to settle.

Switching to a moisture shampoo could also be very useful; I use Herbal Essences and occasionally Aussie and find it makes my hair feel far less dry and damaged. It's not worth buying a large one of these though as you'll probably prefer to use colour protect after dying unless you find your hair is really dry. Personally I've never used hair treatments such as Aveda's restructuring treatment but I've heard good reviews, so if you're still nervous about your hair condition it might be worth a try.

And finally, before bleaching make sure you have no cuts or sores on or around your scalp. From past experience, trust me when I say it hurts a lot if you get bleach in a sore as I have bleached my hair with psoriasis in the past. Really not recommended!

next week: bleaching your hair!

Big Decisions

Over the past few days I've had to make some big decisions about what I am doing at Uni and regarding where I'm living; It's all come to a head now and next year, my final year of Uni, I will be taking travelling from home. It's a pretty sad moment for me because I like being more independent and living close to where everything is but it just isn't feasible for multiple reasons; whoever said students are rolling in it couldn't be more wrong! So come May I will be back at my parent's house and saving money for when I finish my course in the hopes I'll have enough to make my way up to Stoke when it's all over and rent a house with the boyfriend, and finger crossed start a masters course in counselling. It's all very scary and real right now but I know it will all work out for the best :)

The Burgundy Polka

Other acceptable titles for this post would be 'my boobs aren't big enough for this dress' and also 'the belt is two sizes too big but damnit, I'm going to wear it anyway!'. The belt was a spur-of-the-moment purchase off ASOS; it was only £1.50 and a size 20 but I figured, the holes will go small enough for my waist. Nope. It works itself down until it's one of those 90's mid-stomach belts. Bleh. The dress actually one looks pretty dowdy because It's got the room to accomodate a far bigger bust than mine; I keep pulling apart the crossover a bit so it's a bit less so, but it creeps back. Saying that, I adore the colour of this dress! I'm wearing this for sunday lunch with my family, and to celebrate my nan's husband's birthday. Apologies for the photo quality too, I'm still getting used to Cedric's controls and the weather is rubbish today so they didn't turn out as well as last time.

dress - new look inspire // belt - asos curve // necklace - gift // flats - draven

I Heart Patterns: Topshop 2012

I am an unabashed fan of patterns at all times (I'm not sure I own even one plain item of clothing) and browsing the Topshop selection yesterday I was happy to see my need for patterns, patterns, patterns met! There seems to be a huge variety in the upcoming seasons and in particular the sheer amount of differences in pattern, style and length of dresses means there's something everyone will like. Here's some of my favourites for you to ooh and ahh at;

Fleur Rose

I've been feeling a bit down lately, so my mum visited and brought me flowers :) Pink and floral, my favourite. It gave me a chance to test out the macro focus on Cedric, too;

Review: 17 Magnetized Polish in Green

I know I'm late on the bandwagon for this one (as per usual) but I'm so in love with this polish! Seriously. It makes the prettiest, unique patterns and I already reckon it's going to be at least as popular as crackle polishes. I picked mine up in boots for the lowly sum of £5.99 plus a free hide n' chic concealer and I know I'm going to get a tonne of use out of it!

The magnet is on the lid of the polish bottle and can be removed so it can be held over the nail; there's even a little curved section to rest your cuticle on but as you can tell from the picture my fingers were none too steady and on the first attempt most of the polish ended up on the magnet. A word of warning though; you need to paint one nail at a time then use the magnet otherwise it will dry and you will have to start over.

What I find most clever is the way it works; there are tiny magnetic particles within the polish that react to the magnet, creating the effect you see. The way the curved lines darken is pretty, too. I like my beauty with a bit of science attached. Oh, and please excuse the messiness of my nails as per usual, I am super lazy and just wait for the excess to fall off in the shower/from washing the dishes.

Driving Onwards

Just a very simple outfit today; cute and comfy and perfectly suitable to my second driving lesson. I can almost go around corners and indicate at the same time, so I'm nearly there right? Ahem. This is the first set taken with my fancy new camera (Cedric) and I found one of the issues I had was on auto it had trouble focusing on a white wall. I suppose I can find ways around that but I can see why a remote could be very useful! Oh and please excuse the wonky septum piercing; I didn't notice until after, haha.

dress - topshop outlet // hoodie - new look
watch - gift // jeggings - new look tall
converse - tk maxx // nails - barry m lilac foil and pink crackle

Yesterday Evening...

...I tried all my nail varnishes and sorted them;

...I sorted through my makeup;

...I finished Kate Beaton's Hark! a Vagrant;

(can you tell I'm loving my new camera?!)

Meet Cedric;

My brand-new Canon EOS 1100d DSLR camera! If you follow my twitter you know how much of a palaver it was actually getting him here (my advice: don't buy from Jessops.) but he's here finally and I've never owned such a fancy camera! Now to relearn the manual settings that I haven't touched since A-Level photography...

Sarenza in Subculture: Lolita Style

Many of my older followers know my love for the (very expensive) japanese lolita fashion trends; the puffy skirts, the cute patterns, the adorable wigs and bags... and of course the shoes. When I picture lolita I think cute mary-janes with bows and thick soles, cute accompaniments... and when I spotted this pair on Sarenza I thought they would be perfect! With white tights, a blue JSK and a short sleeve blouse for summer; too cute!

Go Forth and Dye Fearlessly: How to Pick Bleaches and Dyes

'Go Forth and Dye Fearlessly' is going to be a weekly feature on my blog for the next five weeks; as a veteran of dying my own hair I will be explaining what dyes and bleaches to go for, how to prepare your hair for dying, dying and bleaching your hair and appropriate aftercare. Of course, this is all stuff that has worked personally for me but as you're obviously not me don't take my word as gospel and please do as much research as you feel necessary to prepare yourself for transforming your hair.

The first step of getting ready to dye your hair is picking out your bleach. I wouldn't recommend one of the blonde dyes you can get from brands like Garnier or Boots as these have toners in designed to stop your hair being too orange/yellow. When you're dying over the top that's ideally how you want your hair as white can be too harsh on certain hair types.

Bleaches come in two varieties generally; 30 vol (red) and 40 vol (blue), of which 40 is stronger. The only bleach brand I can actively recommend is Directions Bleach as this is what I've always used and always gives me good results. I use the 40 vol for faster results but if your hair is mouse brown or lighter 30 vol would work fine too; for darker hair 40 vol would be best. Also base this decision on the condition of your hair. You can buy Directions four about £9.99 from a variety of online shops and also Blue Banana. 

What kind of dye you want to buy depends a great deal on the effect you want. For example, if you want dye that is absolutely permanent go with Elumen, which can currently only be purchased through salon type shops or eBay. For slightly less permanent go with Special Effects, which is my current brand. On bleached hair this will last until it is grown out but will fade over time far quicker than Elumen. If you want something more temporary go for Stargazer or Crazy Colour as these will fade out entirely over time and are also cheaper. I've never used Manic Panic so I can't vouch for it.

Colour also plays a large part in how permanent dye is; pink and reds are more likely to stay in forever whereas blues and greens drop out far quicker requiring more touch-ups. Base your colour decision on how often you are willing to dye and how much time your want to spend on your hair. One final consideration is how much dye you need to buy. I use about a third to a half a bottle on my VERY short hair so longer hair may require one, two or three even!

next week: how to prepare your hair for dying.

Getting my Pin-Up Fix; Collectif

I love vintage and pin-up fashion. Admittedly it's a very expensive hobby beyond my usual student funds but having one or two pieces can be nice. Collectif is one of my favourite brands; both due to it being based in the UK, which means no chance of customs fees, and also because it has the most adorable patterns. And the huge thing that puts them one-up over other retro brands is that fact that not every dress is a halter-neck, a shape of dress that at this stage I am sick of on 50s frocks. I own one collectif dress myself but I'm always scanning the website and they go up to a 22; far better than most retailers. Here's three of my current favourites;

Review: Good Things 'Miracle Mattifier'

I'm not very high maintenance when it comes to any sort of daily regime but two things I always use are toner and moisturiser after a shower. Having run out of my last moisturiser (usually whatever is aimed at keeping spots away/the cheapest in the shop) I noticed this at 1/3 off in Sainsburys and being bigger than the other ones available at the price (why do they make them so small?) I picked it up with my weekly shop. I love the packing which is why I spotted it in the first place, modern and girly.

The first thing I noticed on putting it on my hand was that the smell is very strong and artificial; I wasn't expecting this as the tube states all the things it is free from, and made from 'only good things'. The second thing I noticed was how thick the moisturiser was. It was a slight struggle to get it out of the tube and in comparison to other ones I have purchased very bulky and heavy.

However, once rubbed in it felt a lot lighter and a little goes a long way. I'm not sure about mattifying properties but the skin on my hand does feel a lot softer and more hydrated. This cost £7.99 and even though it feels great on my face (I haven't needed my eczema cream since I started using it) I might be hesitant to purchase when I run out due to the lower prices of other brands.

+5 Pink Prowess

Just a quick webcam-photo-type post (I'll take better photos soon, don't worry!) to show you my new hair and my adorable new nose ring! It's pretty and pink and a tiny bit longer than my previous horseshoe so you can see a little more of it. And to those ladies out there who haven't yet changed yours, it was seriously so easy, my mum helped me but there was no pain and removal wasn't bad at all. Better even than ear piercings in my opinion! :D As for the hair, I got it cut for free as a hair model in a local hairdressers, then bleached and dyed it myself last night with Directions 40 vol and SFX Virgin Rose. Love!

Sales Haul: A Dress Saga

So, I went into town yesterday for the first time since before Christmas. And obviously, I caught the tail-end of the January sales and was immediately pulled into a world of insane bargains and sparkly party pieces going unloved. No prizes for guessing what ended up in my basket. If you know me in any way, it's pretty obvious!

New Look Inspire Polka Dot Wrap Dress, £12 (+ student discount)

I kept coming back to this dress when it wasn't in the sale but I wasn't quite willing to pay £25 for it; half price is far more reasonable! There were no 18s left so I went for a 20; a little big all over but the waist has a tie and I can wear a tank top to make up for the slightly large neckline.

Topshop Blue Patterned Bodycon Vest Dress £5 (+ student discount)

I'm into bodycon vest-type dresses at the moment; not so much on their own but they are wonderful layered with a baggier or cropped top when it's cold or even to hold you in as a form of (MUCH cheaper) controlwear under some of your more fitted clothes.

New Look Inspire Retro Tunic/Dress £7 (+ student discount)

When it comes to shopping, I have no shame. I will merrily browse the mens, womens, kids, petite, tall, plus-size and maternity sections and if I see something I like (that fits) I won't let some silly label hold me back. This tunic looks lovely on and because of the shirring fits me pretty well even if it is a little large, also a size 20.

River Island Floral Cord Shift Dress £9

This dress reminds me of being a little kid! I was forever in cord and denim pinafores and dungarees, so this dress is pretty nostalgic. It would also look super cute (and be super warm) with some thick tights and brown boots but just as sweet with thin tights and basic flats. Love!

How to keep safe on the Internet: Spotting a DSLR Scam

This post is a slight departure from my usual fashion-related items but after surfing the 'net for DSLR cameras I felt the need to write this post; about the camera scam. Being internet-savvy as I am (I've spent a LONG time on here and as such am incredibly paranoid of anything and everything) I immediately smelled a rat, but I know others wouldn't. And I particularly know many bloggers and my readers love photography, cameras and in particular shiny, fancy DSLRs and the prices can be very enticing to a skint student like myself. So, here's how to spot a fake or a scam;

Your first sign is the prices. So you've been looking for a website that's doing the £500 DSLR for cheap for just about forever, and then up pops this site offering it for £200. Now is the time for your alarm bells to start ringing; the store isn't one you've ever heard of and yet they are offering ridiculously low prices on all their items.

The next thing is the payment method. Unless it's someone you know or something you have arranged contractually with a company never ever ever just send money to a bank account. There will be no record other than on their end, you will not receive a receipt and poof! your money is magically gone forever, and you will never receive that too-good-to-be-true Pentax K-x.

Other things to keep an eye out for is the company address; if it's registered to a house rather than a business then most likely it's a scam. Also always check the website you are on is genuine - and the URL spelt right - as often these sort of scams will impersonate a real brand, and some are definitely cleverer than others making spotting a fraud very difficult.

I hope this was helpful to you! I certainly know if I were a couple years younger it would have been invaluable to me, and unfortunately there are some very nasty people out there. Keep safe on the internet, everyone :)

Back to Reality

Exams and Christmas are over, thank god! This feels like the first time I've gotten dressed properly in a month, haha. I made full use of the huge amount of light pouring into my room this morning (and highlighting all the places I haven't dusted..) To take some non-flash photos; which also explains the little bit of grainy-ness going on here. I spent the day with my mum and we went food shopping, one of the most exciting activities known to man. It was nice to see her anyway though. These photos just highlight how badly I need a haircut! The time of the shaved patch has come to an end and I'm growing it out and then chopping off a fair bit of the long side and going for full pink again. I'm so impatient for it to grow, grow, grow!

dress: primark / shirt: gift / tights: peacocks / necklace: gift / nails: george matte pink and barry m crackle

Addicted To: Paul's Boutique

I'm not normally one for expensive bits and bobs; I'm not brand-loyal at all and as a student a lot of the time cheap rip-offs and eBay items from China are my only option. However, last year for my birthday and for Christmas I received a Paul's Boutique diamond-print bag and patent blue purse. I'm in love! I find myself browsing the website at odd moments and finding all sorts of cute patterns and I adore the fact you can buy replacement or switchable 'charms' for the bags (even if they are £16! eek!) It's more of a window-shopping experience for me but a very nice one. Here's some of my current favourite eye-candy from the website;

charm - £16, card holder - £10,
cosmetics bag - £25, tilly twister bag - £66