Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Easy High Ponytail with a Hair Clip

Almost Any Hair Clip Will Work - Just Start With a French Pleat

Earlier this month I had a styling consultation with a customer who wanted to learn how to use some different hair accessories. She had very long (about bra strap length, maybe longer?) hair. And thick. And straight with slippery tendencies. She is an independent consultant, working with senior level corporate executives all over the world.

She has a sporty, creative, high energy personal style and likes to have her hair back out of her face.

10-Second High Ponytail hair style
So one style I taught her was a high ponytail style that looks very grown up, created with a hair clip instead of an elastic.

This is a very versatile style that can be dressed up or down simply by changing the hair clip you decide to use. It also takes literally 10.16 seconds (including checking how you look in the mirror). I know this because Claire timed me, and I wasn't trying to do it uber quick, either.

All you need is hair that is at least past shoulder length, with not too many layers and a single good hair clip.

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

French Pleat with a Crystal Strand clamp
For a less dressy claw, try the 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

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Our Silk Bags are back!

Store Your Stone Bridge Hair Clips With Love

A Woman's Favourite Thing to See in the Morning's Post
A few years ago we had some wonderful silk drawstring bags made for us. All our luxury hair clips and Ficcare hair clips were shipped in these bags, which we included for free.

After all, if you're going to spend a lot of money on a hair clip, you want to be able to keep it safe and not get it scratched.

But ... sadness ... we ran out. And then the bad news was we couldn't get any more. We searched high and low for a new manufacturer. We looked in England, we rang specialist drawstring bag makers in America, we even contacted people we knew in China. No luck. Strange, huh?

Then, after months of looking we found a wonderful community in Cambodia, the Watthan Artisans, a school and cooperative for people and children who had been disabled by landmines providing training and employment in traditional crafts.

Making so many bags for Stone Bridge was a major undertaking for them. They were concerned they couldn't get enough silk at their local market in Stone Bridge red, for instance. One solution we discussed was that they would build a loom and actually weave our silk for us!

We are delighted that even our bags reflect the Stone Bridge values of quality, durability, craftsmanship and beauty. They are not mass produced, but made by hand by good people we are delighted to call part of our Stone Bridge family.

So, our bags are back, protecting beautiful hair clips and supporting the talented people at WAC.

You can't buy our bags. You can only get them free when you order from the Ficcare collection, or individual items priced over £35. The only way you can start collecting yours is to treat yourself to a few new hair accessories!

Come see all our hair clips new in this week

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Pantene Pro-V's new Aqua Light shampoo review

Does It Really Give Your Hair "Swish"?

As you know if you follow this blog much, I don't just whitter on about really nice hair clips. Oh no. Give me half a chance and I'll yack away about hair care products too. As you can imagine, I'm a right laugh at the old Hill homestead.

A few weeks back my oldest daughter told me off for lingering too long (again) in my favourite haunt which is the shampoo aisle at Boots, doing a bit of comparative reading of ingredients lists.

I may have also been laughing like a drain (again) and embarrassing the bejeezus out of her.

Anyway, I bought a selection of shampoos for a little light reading later.

And I was inspired, so I wanted to do a little review for you of the new Aqua Light shampoo by Pantene Pro-V which has been so much on the telly, promising to give your hair "swish" - whatever that is.

Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light vs. Pantene Pro-V Classic Care

The label reads:

DO YOU HAVE: Hair that can feel weighed down?
BUT DO YOU WANT: Hair that is beautifully nourished with virtually no weight?

Then Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Collection with virtually no weight is for you!

"Whoo hoo!" I thought. I bet that means there's no silicone in it. And guess what? Running a side-by-side comparison of Aqua Light with Pantene's Classic Care formula reveals ... no silicone derivatives, conditioners in smaller quantities, and a handful of ingredients that basically rinse out of your hair a bit better.

Okay, so Aqua Light is good for fine hair or for straight hair that seems to get oily quicker than you like. However, you can still be weighing your hair down if you follow this with some heavy duty conditioning all over your head. Don't do that. Just use conditioner in the spots where you tend to get tangles and at the ends. Leave the rest of your hair alone.

Then, just for fun and because Aqua Light is more expensive than Pantene's Classic Care formula (about 15% more expensive by volume), I also had a look at Johnson's Baby shampoo (which is so cheap when it's on offer it's not even funny).

Johnson's Baby Shampoo

Baby shampoos are designed not to be gentle on your skin or hair. Let's just make that clear. They were developed when they found a detergent that was less irritating when it gets in your eyes.

This is what is meant by "mild." Johnson's is perfectly clear about this. The label reads, "... the NO MORE TEARS formula is as mild to the eyes as pure water."

However, I am sure they are very happy for people to believe that "mild" means kind to your skin, kind to your hair ... whatever imagined benefit the customer dreams up.

Detergent is detergent and its job is to lift oil and dirt. Its strength is pretty much managed by how concentrated it is in the product. People want clean hair after shampooing, so by and large, detergent makes up about 10% of your bottle of shampoo. (And, yes, nearly 90% of your bottle of shampoo is simply water - imagine the reduction in packaging if we were allowed to "mix our own" at home? But we witless members of the public are not allowed to handle commercial concentrates of detergent, so just forget about that eco-fantasy.)

Saying all that, Johnson's Baby Shampoo could be a great choice if you have fine hair for the following reasons:

1. It works - it cleans your hair, as any decent shampoo should
2. The detergents used could be good alternatives for you if you suffer from eczema
3. When it's on offer, it is very cheap indeed

If you've subscribed to my Healthy Hair Advice articles, then you'll know that if you want a gentler shampoo, the best thing to do is not go buy yourself a more expensive one, but to just dilute the one you've got already. Oh, and only wash once. It's probably all your hair needs.

If you haven't subscribed to these yet, you can get a little preview right here on the blog with the first article about Shampoo.

Which is Better?

Oooo! How do I choose the better shampoo? I actually feel torn here.

Johnson's is so seductively simple. Compared to Pantene, it's got a beautiful short list of easily identifiable ingredients. The labeling doesn't promise to do miracles for your hair, and I like honesty like that.

However, Aqua Light (and Classic Care) have a few added ingredients that are good and will help you have cleaner hair. Tetrasodium EDTA is a good one. It is a chelator, which means it stops minerals in hard water from sticking to your hair. That is really good. And it's got really effective antifungal and antibacterial preservatives, which could be good if you have a mild case of dandruff. They aren't in there for your dandruff, mind, but if you've got an itchy head sometimes every little helps.

And you can't deny that the Pantene line of shampoos does contain more conditioners than Johnson's, which helps keep the hair "slippy" while you're washing it which prevents a lot of damage to your hair.

I think my instinct is if you have fine hair to recommend Johnson's Baby Shampoo and see how you get on. If your hair doesn't get clean enough with Johnson's, then you need a shampoo with more detergent and I would say Aqua Light could be your next port of call.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Rolled Under Half Back Style

All You Need are Grips and an Elastic

This is a nice looking style that is an alternative to the normal half-back style that you might hold with hair clips like a small barrette or mini hair claw.

For this version of the half back, all you need are a few grips and a hair elastic. You can then dress this up with a fancy hair comb or a pretty crystal barrette if you wanted to. Or you can leave it just plain for a clean, simple look.

The benefit of this particular technique is that it adds height to your crown with no backcombing, so it can be good if you have long, fine hair. It can also be good if you have a lot of hair and the traditional half-back style brings too much hair to the back of your head and just looks poofy.

In this video, I only had one of our thick knotted elastics to hand, which I wouldn't normally use for this style. Usually for the rolled under half back style I would go for just a regular thin elastic like you might get from the chemist's or the supermarket. However, if you want to create more height than you can using your hair alone, using a thick elastic that is close to your hair colour (so, not Fern Green like I've done here!) works really well.

How To Do a Rolled Under Half Back Hairstyle

Hair Clips to Dress Up Your Rolled Under Half Back

Portofino Crystal Small Barrette
Baroque French Side Comb
Verrou Crystal Side Barrette

Visit Stone Bridge to browse all our French Hair Accessories

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Your hair colour and choosing the right hair accessories ...

Tortoiseshell ... and Nine Other Colours of Neutral

Classic French Extra Large hair clamps
Most hair clips you can buy on the high street are any colour you like as long as it's tortoiseshell or black.

At Stone Bridge, our French handmade hair accessories come in 10 classic colours, chosen to coordinate across the full spectrum of hair tones.

So how do you choose which neutral will work with your hair? Watch this video to find out which hair clips are best for your hair.

Now, for some reason I refer to our palest colour as "Vanilla Cream" through this whole video. At Stone Bridge this colour is really called "French Vanilla" in case you wonder why we would name a colour after a biscuit. We didn't. I must have been thinking about taking a coffee break.


Choosing The Right Colour Hair Accessories For Your Hair Colour