Hair: Ban the Blow Dry - Week 1

Last week, I declared that I was giving up one of my favourite habits/addictions/essential for life things. It's been hard.

Yes. I'm Rachel, and I'm in love with my hairdryer.

Giving up my almost daily blow dries has been a huge wake up call. So far I've learned that:

  1. Hair as thick as mine does not need daily washing/drying. I'm currently on day three and a bit of a dry shampoo spritz has it looking just fine. Lesson learned.
  2. That I absolutely shouldn't have left it somewhere in the region of ten weeks between trims (shocker!), although I was rewarded with only an inch off (better than the predicted two inches) and a delightful new hairdresser.
  3. That I no longer trust any hair product which claims itself to be an 'oil'. The primary ingredient of oil tends to be, well, oil. The primary ingredient of most hair 'oils' is the strangely non-oil product, silicone. I have a serious short-term love/long-term hate relationship with silicone, and I can't believe I have been a total marketer's dream and not checked ingredients lists. Actually, I totally can believe it. Shame on you, Rachel! I will be talking more about silicones next week, but the short version of the story is that they give gloss to start with, but can then block moisture from entering the hair, resulting in serious dryness. Sad, when you think that the gloss they do give you is almost getting you into soul-selling territory...
  4. Oil which really is just oil is a pretty nifty conditioning treatment. Just make sure you wash it out. There really isn't enough dry shampoo in the world!
So, as promised, here are this week's #bantheblowdry hero products!

From left to right, we have Philip Kingsley's Weatherproof Hairspray, John Freida's Luxurious Volume dry shampoo and Tara Smith's Shining Moment Glosser. Onto the reviews!

Let's jump out of order and start with John Freida. This spray does exactly what it promises: it gives you volume and it's luxurious. Need I go on? Well, yes! It feels like grown up dry shampoo: you know, the kind that looked at its powdery finish and felt it needed to get a little more refined. Essentially, it's the spray equivalent of a woman in a Chanel blazer who's sporting a perfect manicure and a pair of nude Jimmy Choo courts. It leaves you polished, as though your hair was blow dried that morning. Basically, it's my dream dry shampoo and I have one at home and in the office. Purchasing for multiple locations is a sure sign that I love something. It's available for the bargain price of £5.89 at Boots.

Next comes Philip Kingsley. Another product that meets its claims: this has enabled me to leave the house in icky damp weather and arrive at the office with hair that looks exactly the same as it did when I left the house. As my hair is frizz-prone in bad weather, and especially now I'm not having permanent blow dry treatments, this is a total godsend. Nothing short of a miracle! Available from around £7.

Finally, I don't need to tell regular readers anymore about this product, but I will anyway. It's been the perfect thing to boost my hair when I've left it in its naturally curly state. Flat, dull curls are blitzed in a few quick spritzes. Another one I don't want to be without. £12 from Marks and Spencer.

So, we're entering week 2 and my willpower to keep going is pretty good. That said, it's completely freezing tonight, so I feel a sneaky cool-setting date with my hairdryer coming on. Help me!!


Style: Wear It At Work

Gah. Just as I was getting into a nice little routine of Monday and Thursday posting, my wifi decided to go crazy and without a stash of scheduled posts and no desire to faff about with the Blogger app, I find myself a post late. Bad!

We're into week two of #bantheblowdry and it's going pretty well. I can't say I'm in love with my hair at the moment, particularly as I'm on a silicone ban as well (more on that later this week) but I'm off for a trim later which will hopefully improve matters. All I'll say is that those of you who don't need to worry about blow drying/straightening your hair are very, very lucky indeed!

To try and detract from my average hair situation, I had a little splurge on asos, and with 25% off, who am I to say no? I need a few work wardrobe additions, and as I tend to favour dresses over separates, these gorgeous wrap dresses are the perfect thing to throw on in the morning: plenty of style with minimal effort.

Asos midi dress with chain belt, £38
Asos wrap front pencil dress, £32
 These leggings have the potential to be a total disaster on me, but I feel I need to give them a whirl. As I'm on a bit of a weight gain quest, my beloved leather skinnies are no longer a comfortable option (alas). I'm certain I'll invest in another pair when I've reached my target weight, but for now, I feel like something is missing. Hopefully this leather-look pair from Mango will bridge the gap without making my look like I'm wearing a bin liner.
Mango leather look leggings, £22.99
Finally, I love, love, love a pencil skirt, and this will be perfect with a cute sweater and some ankle boots at the weekend. The black dress above is basically something I'd be happy to live in, so casual outfits are always a bit of a struggle for me. My new approach is a slightly dressed down version of my preferred work attire. I just need this weather to warm up!
Asos stripe pencil skirt, £18


Hair: #bantheblowdry

To trim or not to trim: that has been the question on my lips for much longer than my usual six weeks between hair cuts. I can't actually remember the last time I went to the salon, and as my hair routine has been working so well for me (combined with a little at home split end snipping), I've been feeling recently that my hair has been in the best condition I've ever known it.

Sadly, today I'm realising that I'm going to have to take myself back to the hairdresser, as the temptation to trim wayward ends is becoming a daily fixation. What's bugging me the most is the prospect that I'm going to return to the salon for my hairdresser to say, 'yep, you're going to need a good two inches off' which effectively takes me back to a bob, and back to where I started. That may not be the case, but it's what I'm preoccupied with at the moment.

I've spent literally thousands (shudder) on my hair in recent years and on days like today, I wonder if it's all been worth it (no!!) Yes, my hair is 100% healthier since I stopped colouring it almost three years ago, but I've entered into a dependent relationship with various high-end central London salons, and I'm still sitting here twisting my dry ends and hoping I don't end up back at the beginning. Permanent blow dries, expensive trims, oils and elixirs add up to an amount I don't even want to consider (I would certainly be happier if it were still in my pocket and ready to be added to my deposit on a flat, let me tell you!) and yet here I am. This may not sound like typical beauty blogger territory, but I just have to get it out there that my quest for perfect hair is driving me mad! As someone with naturally dry, unruly hair that's prone to damage, should I just accept that long, sleek locks aren't meant for me? That I'll always get to a point where the growth stops and the breakage starts? Well, I wouldn't be able to hang on to my beauty blogger stripes if I didn't take that to the extreme, so it's in this spirit that I'm setting myself possibly the biggest hair challenge of my life:

I'm giving up my hair dryer.

Yep, you read that right. I, Rachel, of unsound mind and unruly hair, will be booking myself in for a trim (pray for minimal end-ectomy, please!) and will then be handing my hairdryer to somebody who won't cave and give it back to me, however much I beg, and I'll be trialing everything to get my hair into properly good condition. This may not sound like a big ask for some of you, but for me, it's pretty terrifying. Without a good blow dry, I feel unfinished, less confident and generally not myself. It makes me realise what a comfort blanket hair can be, but if heat is what's keeping me in this damage cycle, I'm determined to break it. I won't be returning for a permanent blow dry just yet, but I'll be testing as much as I can lay my hands on: moisturising and styling products and anything that will keep my locks tamed on the road to improved health. I'll be tweeting everything with the hashtag #bantheblowdry, so please share your favourites there, and also over on facebook where I'm looking for a guest reviewer for a fab Charles Worthington product.

I'm also really excited to say that I will be running an amazing giveaway in the next few weeks for a heat-free styling tool that I've completely fallen in love with. If you're not already a follower, click over on the right to subscribe so you know as soon as it launches (you'll need to be a follower to enter so it saves you some time later!) It will be perfect for those of you who want to look like this...

Or this...
Or maybe even this...

What's your biggest hair gripe? x


Workspace: Cherry Wood Phone Stand

How absolutely beautiful is this cherry wood phone stand? I've ordered one for my desk at work to try and encourage me to keep the mess at bay. Who wants clutter when you have something so beautiful to look at!

Available here for £15.80.


Love: The Alternative Valentine's Day

I am no big fan of Valentine's Day. The last thing of note I did on Valentine's Day was two years ago when I split up with my ex, so you can probably gather I'm not really the card and chocolates type!

When I was younger though, it seemed like the most depressing thing not to be going on a romantic date, getting a card from a secret admirer (there was no secret about the fact that there were no admirers!) or generally getting to do anything other than watch a slasher movie with girlfriends whilst talking about what idiots boys are anyway.

If you're spending Valentine's Day with yourself - I'm not having any of that negative 'on my own' nonsense around here, if you don't mind! - here are my tips for the best alternative Valentine's Day money and the internet can provide!

1. Who needs real men when you can have...a pocket manfriend!

Seriously, I think these are the most hilarious things in the world. We all know somebody who's desperate to find the perfect guy, so why not get her one of these for a giggle?

Available from Etsy here
The very talented Nicola Rowlands, who also hails from Manchester, has designed these hilarious portable chaps which you can 'take anywhere for moral support'. I think I might need to get one just to take him into big meetings, put him on the table in front of me without saying a word, and having everyone think I've gone totally nuts.

It's hard to choose, but I think Ray is my favourite. I love a good ginger beard.

2. Do a Carrie and Miranda

...and go out for a 'romantic' meal with a friend. Preferably, don't get into a huge fight about said friend's life choices, but don't feel like the world is off limits to everyone but couples. Go to your favourite place, order something delicious and laugh about disastrous dates, bad boyfriends and realise being single isn't so bad after all.

3. If you want to stay in and eat junk food, luxe it up!

That big bar of Dairy Milk isn't for today. Oh no, tonight you're spoiling yourself. Light some candles, slip into your most glamorous onesie, and crack open the Haagen Dazs. Mini bottle of champagne calling to you? Who are you to resist! If you're going to indulge, do it in style.

4. Realise it's not all bad

Apparently, requests for divorce lawyers in the US go up by 40% in mid-February, so if you're single, at least you're saving on legal fees!

5. If you're all loved up, enjoy it!

After all, some of us will be at home watching Psycho in a giant romper suit...ahem.

**What are your Valentine's plans? And most importantly, who is your favourite pocket manfriend?! I want to know which of these handsome chaps is your dream date!!**


Life: A Bit About Me

After discovering lots of new blogs on Sunday night's #bbloggers, I realised that I don't do the one thing I really like about other people's blogs: that is, share *anything* about my life! I realised that the blogs I like the most are the ones where you have a sense of who the author is, their likes and dislikes (not just beauty product-related!), and it's what keeps me coming back to my favourite blogs. I, on the other hand, just write about the things I like, so maybe it's time to introduce a bit more of who I am and what I get up to.

And if this post gets no hits, I'll just quietly wind it down like it never happened... :)

So let's start. Here I am, wearing a silly hat which I loved but everyone I know thought was totally ridiculous. I got rid of it, but here it is for one final outing!

I have thus far been a bit nervous about posting personal pictures on here, but given that there are apparently 361,000,000 beauty blogs, the likelihood of anyone that I work with stumbling on my tiny corner of the internet is something close to impossible. With that in mind, let's get on to the detail. I'm Rachel, age 30, a northern girl who works full time in health policy and lives in south London. I'm an only child, a big football fan (Manchester United, if you're interested), and it goes without saying, a beauty product junkie. I set this blog up almost three years ago and am only just getting into regular posting and getting properly involved in the blogging community. Interacting more with my fellow bloggers and readers has made the blogging process infinitely more fulfilling, and it's on that basis that I'm pushing the boundaries of my blog content a little more!

The past two years have been a bit of a rollercoaster of self-discovery - splitting up from my ex who I lived with and realising that I was living a life that didn't make me especially happy has meant I've brought in some big changes. I've let go of my all-consuming work ambitions, learned to relax and focus on enjoying the simple pleasures in life. It's been a long road, but hugely beneficial. I'll be talking more about this in a new series soon (assuming you're not all already asleep!) A healthier approach to eating, running, yoga and meditation are all now part of my routine and I feel the happiest I've ever felt. I'm lucky enough to have some incredibly special people around me who've helped me on this journey and taught me to let go of the control and just be. Again, I'm hoping that can start to translate into what's written here.

So, what else might you want to know? Here are some random facts:

1. If it's a sunny day, you will, at some point, find me taking a picture of the sky. I absolutely adore  the sun, and have a bizarrely huge collection of sky photos, which I one day plan on getting printed. Read the same for sunrises, sunsets and rainbows. I can't help myself.

Sunbathing in Grosvenor Square, W1
Sunset from Frank's bar, Peckham Rye, which has one of the most incredible views over London
A rainy day rainbow from my window
Sunset, as seen from my bedroom
2. When I love a book, I stop reading it close to the end

This is a really peculiar habit of mine, but there have been a few books that I have been so utterly in love with that I haven't wanted them to end! 1Q84 by Haruki Marakami, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and The Lord of the Rings have all had this treatment. I put them down and it can be months before I start them again. I always get there in the end, but sometimes, I like to delay the pleasure. This has rubbed off onto my TV habits, and I refuse to finish Twin Peaks and Arrested Development knowing that once I've seen them all, they're officially over! Weird, I know :)

3. I'm ticklish everywhere

I was tickled on my face last week and collapsed into hysterics. There are some who know this is a weakness to be exploited!

4. I am on a diet to gain weight

Yep, you read that right. I'm working really hard to put on about 14lbs, and so far, have achieved half of that target. I've spent most of my life as a tiny size six and gaining weight has always been really difficult for me (not because of an eating disorder; just because it doesn't seem to stick!). It's taking me a long time, but I'm determined to get some meat on these bones, and so far, I'm delighted with the change it's made to my body. I've stopped running in the short term, so I'm building up to a routine that enables me to keep gaining weight and maintain my fitness. Once I'm closer to that goal, I'm aiming to start writing a separate blog that will hopefully help other people in the same position.

5. I want to travel more

Last year, I took my first two week holiday since University (yep, that's nine years, folks!). Now that my work obsession has slipped into the past, I want to make the most of my annual leave and start seeing the world. Top of my list is a trip back to New York, maybe followed by a road trip across the US (although I need to make sure I take someone who can drive as I don't have my license yet!). I'm a huge Man vs Food fan and I have several diners on my list to visit!

6. I'm a full makeup rather than an au natural girl

It wouldn't occur to me to leave the house without at least a bit of makeup. I'm not vain but being a bit of a pale ginger, I definitely look more human with it than without it! I don't tend to wear foundation, and if I were only allowed three products, they would be concealer, mascara and blush.   I've inherited my beauty habits from my Mum and Nana, both of whom had routines that had me captivated from a young age. Watching my Nana apply her brow pencil every morning and my Mum spritz her Rive Gauche perfume (evidence that I was a child of the 80s!) before she went out always left me excited for the day that I could play dress up every day, too.

I hope that's not been too boring a post. I've actually really enjoyed writing it! Do you like these kind of personal posts or do you just want more reviews?! As always, your comments really mean a lot, so do let me know your thoughts



Offer: 20% off at Cult Beauty

I'm not normally one for posting about discounts but the fabulous Cult Beauty has 20 per cent off until midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 12 February and the site carries some of my all time favourite brands. It would be rude not to take advantage!

I'll be stocking up on some of my favourite shampoo and conditioner, what is, in my opinion, the best cleansing and moisturising masks out there by a certain spa brand and sampling some of the Rose Otto range from REN. I'm also really tempted to try some of the Perricone MD range - it all looks so amazing!

What's your favourite Cult Beauty buy? Shop their selection here.


Beauty: Brows

I have a bit of an obsession with eyebrows and two in particular...


Aren't they amazing? Cara Delevigne has been my eyebrow poster girl for many years now, but beyond getting some new ones transplanted (yep, they do that now - scary), I'd never really thought about changing my natural shape until I came across this Michelle Phan video and was stunned at just how easily her look was altered with just a few tweaks to her brow makeup. The first look in the video, The Audrey, is what I've been using the create Cara brows, and I'm delighted with the results! It's definitely what I'll be doing until I go back to get this done!

Which is your favourite look from the video?

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Style: Mood boards

One of my favourite rainy day activities is to make a mood board: perhaps it's a hangover from craft hour as a child. I find nothing more soothing than combing through the stacks of magazines I have at home to clip and curate gorgeous images to help keep me inspired. 

The picture below is one I made before my 30th birthday in August when I felt I needed to make some kind of style declaration. Unsurprisingly, it's the same kind of theme I always go for: proof that we don't change that much despite our advancing years!

With so much choice out there and, for most of us, limited budgets, mood boards really help to keep your style focused and stop you going too far off piste with those occasional random pieces that have, at some point, found their way into all of our wardrobes (I'm thinking of the black and white striped blazer I bought a couple of years ago...) Whether it's for a special event or just a bit of a style makeover, they're the perfect way to work out what you really love.

I love using Pinterest as a starting point for building a new look or getting inspiration for an interiors project, but nothing will ever beat my Muji A4 pad for a bit of cutting and sticking action!

Do you make mood boards or are you inspired to start?

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