Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic

This week’s photo isn’t magical in and of itself, but the editing that I did to it feels like some sort of voodoo magic that produces amazing pictures. It’s for the WPC found here

I edited this picture with GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a free program that’s just like photoshop. I know a lot of people probably already know how to do stuff like this, but this is the first time I’ve done anything so complicated and I feel really excited by the result! What do you think? Old hat or still a fun technique?

black white red monochrome color isolation GIMP photos picture example rose
It’s not a “true” color isolation, as there’s yellow in with the red, but I really like this effect.

UV Glow In The Dark Rainbow Hair and Make-Up Tutorial

Today’s video is how to do UV Glow in the Dark Rainbow Hair and Rainbow Eye Make-Up, and it’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done on camera.

….Scratch that.

It’s definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done on camera and then uploaded to Youtube!  Stop sniggering at the back, girls (and stop texting in class).

Coming in at around 18 minutes, it shows you how to get the glow in the dark hair trend that’s gone viral on Buzzfeed!  I’ve taken it to it’s logical extreme and done it as a rainbow braided effect.  The best part?  You don’t even need to bleach your hair!  Even if your hair is black!  Next time I go raving THIS is what I need to look like:

The rainbow glow in the dark UV hair tutorial came out like this.
The rainbow glow in the dark UV hair tutorial came out like this.

But that’s not all.  It doesn’t take 18 minutes to do some braids, make them rainbow then speed it up for Youtube.  What else is in the rainbow glow in the dark UV hair video?

You guessed it, there’s this awesome full rainbow eye tutorial as well!  That’s right, it’s a double rainbow!!  I have wanted to put this rainbow eye tutorial on Youtube since April 2014 when I first came up with it, it’s actually what prompted me to start my blog in the first place because I wore the rainbow eyeshadow look to a party and literally everyone (even the boys) were asking me how I did it.

 

And you’ll have to watch the video to see how to do it:

To get the UV glow in the dark hair gel back out of the hair, unfasten the braids, gently comb them out (or unravel with fingers – be prepared to get fluorescent UV gel under finger nails and all over the floor so I did this in the shower cubicle because I hate cleaning) and then wash the UV paint glow gel out of the hair with shampoo.  Paint Glow UV Gel is 100% safe,* it contains no radioactive ingredients, the glow is caused from the fact that it’s more reflective of UV light (although technically UV hair gel doesn’t have an SPF)!  I used Alberto children’s shampoo followed by plenty of conditioner because this hair tutorial can dry your hair out a bit.  It did wash straight out in the shower though.  I was very disappointed by the size of the Paint Glow UV Hair Gel tubes but each braid used about a toothpaste-on-toothbrush amount of gel, and next time I’m buying anything for a similar tutorial I will buy the more expensive UV hair dyes that last a week or two instead.  The UV hair gel is obviously MUCH better if you have a job and don’t want to turn up fluorescent on Monday after partying all weekend.

*But don’t eat it.  C’mon.  Moisturizer is safe to wear, and we don’t eat that either.

I purposely designed the hair look to be androgynous so anyone with enough hair can do it.  The eye make-up, of course, is down to preference.  This would be an AWESOME look for a pride march, a rave or dubstep gig, or any other time you want to show that you love glow in the dark rainbows!

Rainbow eye make up from the front (goes with glow in the dark rainbow hair)
Rainbow eye make up from the front (because what else goes with glow in the dark rainbow hair????) in normal light.
Rainbow glow in the dark UV hair and make-up tutorial results.
Rainbow glow in the dark UV hair and make-up tutorial results: In a UV light AND normal light together.

What do you think?  Do you like it?  Next week I’m doing a rainbow UV glow in the dark no-shave mohican because I’ve wanted to try a mohican since I was like 6 and saw my stepdad’s mohican (y’all probably call it a mohawk in the United States but we invented punk so I’m not fully translating this one).

How to find your perfect red lipstick

perfect red lipstick

Have you ever fallen in love with a beautiful bright red lipstick that you had to stop wearing because it didn’t look right? When we get the wrong shade of red, we look washed out or sickly, regardless of skin tone. I decided to investigate exactly what you need to do, to find your perfect red lipstick to wear this season’s most daring lip color so you can look like a sparkling ruby, rather than a shrinking violet.

There are two schools of thought on finding the right shade of red lipstick: The traditional method says that it’s got to match your skintone, by which they don’t mean you should choose a lipstick that’s the same colour of red that your face goes when you accidentally inhale a cranberry.

red lipstick mouth
Apparently, four is the number of lipsticks I can fit in my mouth at one time, so the fifth had to remain in my hand.

Instead, you should look at red lipsticks closely and decide whether they are a yellow based red (are they slightly orange) or a blue based red (are they slightly pink). By matching up the base colour of the red with the amount of orange or blue in your skintone, you should apparently find your perfect red.
Problem: We aren’t orange and blue based. If you are warm toned, you have yellow base, and if you are cool toned, you have a red base. And most of us are neutral-toned anyway, and just veer more towards one or the other.
Second problem: If everything you wear (clothes, make-up, hair etc) matches your skintone, you start to look a bit invisible, a la Jennifer Aniston in 1999, fading into the sofa at Central Perk in Friends:

jennifer aniston 2002

See how her hair, skin and clothing are all nearly the exact same shade, and so is the sofa behind her?  If she was next to someone else, you’d be able to see that they popped out of the screen while she faded away, which I’ve noticed about Rachel in quite a few episodes of Friends.  This is a real danger if you are almost 100% neutral toned (like me) because everyone tells you that you’ll look good in neutrals (which is true, but it’s also only part of the story; you’ll look good in most other colours as well, including red).

I decided to investigate whether this was a good way to choose the perfect red lipstick by buying the W7 “The Reds” collection from Amazon (which was £4.79 for six tubes of red lipstick: scarlet fever, racing red, red hot, bordeaux, very red and kir royale, which isn’t really red so got ditched at the start of the experiment) then I swatched them on my arm before trying them on my face. That (putting one on my face) was when I discovered I was allergic to one of the red lipsticks (apparently lipstick allergy is the most common make-up reaction but I’d never heard of it before my lips started getting bumpy swellings and a lovely couple of splits in them). When my lips swelled down 2 days later, I tried again with the protection of two layers of foundation and a layer of silicon primer.  Turned out the one that caused a reaction was the only red lipstick didn’t remotely suit me anyway.  Apparently orange-based red lipsticks look best on me but I can also wear neutral based ones (neither orange nor blue is predominant), which figures.  I’m slightly on the warm side of neutral skin tone, so I expected the neutral red lipstick colors to look best, but the orange-based shade really surprised me, I think it was my best red colored lipstick.
Here’s the video of me showing how to find the perfect shade of red lipstick using this warm and cool method:

The second school of thought, invented (as far as I know) by Makeupgeek.com, is that the perfect shade of red lipstick isn’t anything to do with blue or yellow undertones, it’s to do with the vibrancy of the lipstick, and how that matches up to the vibrance of your skin colour.
For example, if you have a very pale or fair skin, you don’t need a PALE red, you need a MUTED red lipstick, one that can be as light or dark as you like, as long as it’s not super-vibrant, because vibrancy will overpower the color of your skin, your eyes, your hair and everything else. If you have dark skin, your red lipstick can go as vibrant as you like, the brighter the better.
You can read more about this theory here:
https://www.makeupgeek.com/best-of/my-top-5-red-lipsticks/

And if you’re still stuck between all the shades on offer, according to most well-known glossy magazines, MAC’s lipstick in Ruby Woo is apparently somehow flattering to everybody. Whether you’re fair, dark, olive, neutral, warm or cool; this red lipstick will suit anyone.  That sounds very mysterious (but I expected nothing less from MAC); I look forward to trying Ruby Woo out.

Check out this article if your lips are on the skinny side and you want to know how to plump your lips (without getting a filler).

Do you wear red lipstick?  Do you have a perfect shade?  I suspect red’s going to be popular again this year since we’ve just had two years of neutral and nude lip colors!

Beautiful Saturday: To straighten or not to straighten?

I got my first pair of straighteners (called flatirons in the US) back in 2003.  I was 16, and they’d been out for about a year.  I had the Babyliss 4×4 straighteners, that came with 4 different interchangable metal plates – ceramic coating was a couple of years away – and the options were: standard crimpers, wide crimpers, “loose wave” (which was utterly useless) and the flat plate to make hair straight.

The straight plate took about 5-10 minutes to heat up.  The temperature it reached was probably fairly low.  Because the plates were made of aluminium metal, they did not glide through the hair.  You had to use them like crimpers, where you spray the hair with loads of hairspray, then close the plates around a piece of hair, held it still for a count of 10-20 (depending how long you wanted it to last vs how much time you could spend on this), then opened it and moved down, closed the plates around the next part of the piece of hair, held it still again for a count of 10-20, then did it again, all the way down each piece of hair.  Then you could do the next section.  It would generally take about an hour to do a full straighten and even then it didn’t make the hair sit properly flat unless you used excessive amounts of hairspray, which defeated the point.

A straighten done like this would basically have the same effect as when you blow-dried your hair straight, where the heat of the hairdryer would fix the hair straight when combined with the pull of the round brush.  It would take longer, because you had to dry your hair first, and generally was a bit of a waste of time.

The BaByLiss 4X4 crimpers in all their glory.  Source: www.toutvendre.fr
The BaByLiss 4X4 crimpers in all their glory. Source: http://www.toutvendre.fr

Fast forward two years, when in 2005 the ceramic straighteners exploded onto the UK mass consumer market.  GHDs had been out for around a year but nobody could really afford them.  Suddenly, glossy, long-lasting, straight hair could be anyone’s.  But there was a drawback.  They got too hot.  There was a problem in 2006 because particular high-end branded straighteners were causing house fires and property damage, because people were leaving them plugged in and they didn’t have an upper limit on how hot they would get.  The best case scenario was that they would melt and you’d need to buy a new set.  The worst case scenario was that they’d cause a house fire.  Whilst researching this article I discovered this is still happening.

To try and improve safety, manufacturers of most straighteners fitted thermostats and many also gave consumers the option to set the temperature – my 2007 model wet 2 straight straighteners had a range of 160 to 230 degrees celsius and would stay there.  The problem was, the lower temperatures produced a less lasting straighten, while the higher temperatures, as I’m sure everybody knows now, damaged the hair.

Enter heat protection spray.  Nobody really knows how it works (I spent serious time on Google recently trying to find out), although manufacturing blurb likes to point to “proteins” “keratin” “amino acids” and other ingredients as the thing that prevents hair damage.  I couldn’t find any research that showed how much these sprays actually protect the hair (as opposed to a placebo effect) and beauty bloggers seem to only know what they’ve been told by the companies that make them, which is the same as what the manufacturers say on their adverts.  It’s all a bit circular, like so many things in beautyworld.  The thing that’s most worrying, though, is that people think they can use the same high temperatures on their hair and not damage it.  It still weakens the hair to straighten it, no matter what you do.  If your hair is stronger to start with, you can probably get away with doing it every day and only suffering slightly more wear and tear than if you didn’t straighten.  For you, it’s probably a pretty good payoff.  If, however, you have the sort of hair that I have (frizzy, stands on end when cut short, prone to breakage under light stress, prone to dryness), you have a choice to make:  You can either bleach your hair white or straighten it regularly, but not both.  I chose to have white hair, that I sometimes tone silver or platinum.  Because of this, and because my hair has grown past shoulder length, I cannot straighten my hair every day.  If you have thicker hair to start with, you may get away with straightening regularly, I’m not sure.  I blow dry my hair when I wash it, and wash it two to three times per week (I know I should only wash it once a week, but I still struggle with this).  I find that my natural shape and frizz of hair actually doesn’t look too bad when it’s very blonde, it looks fluffy and softening rather than frizzy and harsh, which is what it looks like when I have my natural very dark hair.

All through school I used to get bullied for the unruly hair that I was born with.  Growing up in a 100% white British area, having 1/4 Afro-Caribbean genes makes big hair something the other kids would seize on and be very nasty about.  They weren’t exposed to other cultures enough to understand that hair was just like that for some people.  They thought I didn’t brush it, or that I had “cheap shampoo” because the shampoo and conditioner adverts told them that good shampoo = sleek straight glossy locks.  When I had dark hair, even last year, I was still getting told by people that I need to use X conditioner to fix my hair (when I’m blonde, they blame it on the bleach).  When you get treated like this by enough people, you start to believe them, especially when there’s no-one else around with hair like yours (I’ve never knowingly met the man responsible for my frizzy genes, and as a child, I didn’t really remember what people’s hair looked like when we lived until I was 5 in the Jamaican community in South East London).  When ceramic straighteners came out they were top of my Christmas list and I would use them daily (or put my hair in a bun), and have done for years until I discovered chemical relaxants aka chemical straightenings.  I went for those for a while but didn’t like how much more frizzy my hair was when they wore off, or how much more breakage there was, so I stopped everything when I grew my hair for my wedding.  As a result, I was very worried about bleaching my hair because of not being able to straighten it, but I have had icy white hair, generally toned silver, for about 8 months now, and I’ve never really looked in the mirror and said to myself, my hair needs straightening.  So through bleaching my hair, I’ve learned to accept it’s natural frizzlike tendencies, which is great.

I did straighten my hair last week, for a Youtube video because I was playing a character, and it had been so long since I last had straight hair that I didn’t recognise myself when I did it.  It felt weird, like some of my width was missing, like the very first time I straightened my hair.  I could definitely get used to having straight hair, but the time; effort; money on hair products such as primer and protein sprays; and the misery of having dark hair (which actually makes me depressed, I wish I was being hyperbolic) all outweigh the benefit of having straight hair.  Most of the time these days.  I’d rather have unruly sproingy white hair than sleek straight dark hair.  It fits my personality better.  Now my styling priority goes: 1st choice: Naturally springy hair.  2nd choice: Curled with my curling tongs (for special occasions).  3rd choice: Straight.

Are you pro-straightener?  Do you prefer straight hair, curled hair, or au naturel?