Hair Trends for 2016: My Favourites

So there’s been enough fashion shows by now to be able to work out what’s trending and what’s over for 2016.  Here are my 5 favourite hair trends for 2016 (I don’t own any of the images in this article):

1. The very slightly off-centre parting: Of the 10 best trends chosen by Vogue, 5 of them incorporated a parting which was lined up with the center-tip of one eyebrow or other. I like the natural parting look because it looks so DIY and ‘normal’ compared to those unachievable looks of recent years, which were very contrived.

Natural hair
Image from: Buzzfeed.

2. Anachronistic accessories: Ok, so I’m not completely sold on this one, because the last time I put princess crap in my hair, I was probably 7, but I have a feeling this trend is going to grow on me. Fashion-wise, it’s being teamed with boyish clothes and wellies, to create a gender-bending look that I know is going to either be totes awesome or an utter disaster.

Accessory hair style trend
Image source: Harpers Bazaar

3. Big Fringes: I knew big fringes were going to be big news because there’s a lot of 70’s imagery in popular culture this year. The fringes I’ve seen coming from catwalks are all very 70’s-style, so I think this is a case of a back-door revival – nobody’s actually said “this season’s a 70’s revival” but when I look around at the designs people are using, the influence is very definitely there.

Hair fringe trend 2016
Source: Harper’s Bazaar

4. Braids and Cornrows: The thing I’m most excited about for the coming year are the braids and cornrows. My stepdad had dreads when I was growing up (after he got rid of the mohican lol) and I always loved getting the chance to spend hours plaiting my hair into different styles, but I had to take them out for school because braids and cornrows were NOT what the cool kids did in my all-white village school (later I realized they weren’t so much cool kids as narrow-minded insular bullies, and that it wouldn’t have mattered whether I’d had the same hair as them or turned up with a pink clown wig, they were going to bully me regardless as I was different). I can’t wait to do my hair in some of these styles again. If you teamed this up with number 2, you could put beads and stuff in your braids and it would be da bomb. Both Valentino and Chanel showcased models who rocked cornrow braids on the catwalk.

Cornrows example
Source: Listaddicts.com

5. Bleach blonde: The platinum blonde trend of 2015, which reached its zenith in Autumn/Winter 2015 with silver hair being the biggest trend of the year (I should know, I’ve made loads of tutorials on how to achieve silver hair on my Youtube channel), has turned it down a notch. Now that silver hair is starting to look a bit shit, because there’s people wearing it when it a) doesn’t suit their complexion, general skincare routine or clothing choices, and b) not looking after their hair so it looks scabby rather than deconstructed and c) People are doing it in a half-assed kinda way so I’ve seen quite a lot of skanks whose silver colour is literally sitting on top of their hair instead of shining out of it, it really just looks terrible. It’s put me right off wanting to be silver again for a long while because there’s just too many people who are doing it badly. Like Lycra leggings in the early 90’s were ruined for a whole generation by fat women with bad pantylines, this silver hair trend has gotta die! If you’re wondering where to go next with your hair colour, block colours are still really big, and bleach blonde is still the base colour that celebs are choosing this year. If you are still tempted to go silver, check out my silver, platinum and white hair tutorials on my Youtube channel (scroll to “popular uploads” and take your pick) so you can do it right and rock it like you got it done in a salon (or at least like you didn’t just wash out some greeny-blue).

zig zag parting
Source: Harper’s Bazaar
freckles makeup 16 1
Source: Harper’s Bazaar.

So that’s the top 5 hair trends of 2016, of course I couldn’t wear all of them together, and I can’t wait to maybe do some tutorials on some of these styles, although, oddly enough, I’m considering keeping my hair dark for the time being because after hating my colour all my life, I’ve started to like it.  There are several other trends I haven’t mentioned here, chiefly the “lob” (long bob) which is a stupid name for a nice hairstyle, and the “bronde” (light brown/dark blonde hair colour) which is another stupid name for a nice but utterly unremarkable hair colour.

Have you seen any of these trends out and about yet? What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Images are attributed to their owners in the captions.  All interpretations and explanations are my own.

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?

[hair] Silver toning routine

I thought I’d show you all my silver toning routine today.  I last toned my hair about a week ago, and took lots of photos for you.  I’ve done a video in real time of how it’s done but here it is in pictures:

1. I get Directions Silver Toner.  In the past I’ve always bought three tubs but this time I only used one and a half.

This is what the tub of silver toner looks like.  I use a pyrex dish for mixing/containing messes whenever I color my hair.
This is what the tub of silver toner looks like. I use a pyrex dish for mixing/containing messes whenever I color my hair.

2. I washed my hair then wrapped it up in a towel for ten to fifteen minutes – this diffuses the moisture out of the hair to leave it damp but not dripping (diffusion: movement of a substance from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration).

3. I went back to the bathroom, opened the silver toner, scooped it out with my hand and splortched it onto my hair until it was completely covered in purple.

This is what the lengths of my hair looked like when covered in toner
This is what the lengths of my hair looked like when covered in toner
And this is what the top of my head looked like.
And this is what the top of my head looked like.

4. I covered it in a white plastic bin bag so it didn’t stain my skin or my dressing gown.

Mmm this is a sexy look (not).
Mmm this is a sexy look (not).

5. I left it for about twenty to twenty five minutes (enough time to drink a cup of tea).

6. I rinsed it off and conditioned with the Nice N’ Easy Colourseal Conditioner (it comes with hair dye or you can buy it separately from almost anywhere that sells shampoo).

7. Ta-da!  Finished result:

silver hair using directions silver toner for lightest white blonde hair directions silver toner6

It didn’t take on my roots because they weren’t light enough.

Here’s the video if you want to watch it for more specific application techniques:

Hair Dye 101: Bleaching your hair

Ag (silver) and Pt (platinum) blonding 101

“It started as a sudden fancy…” Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment

I believe that we are inspired to take our hair to its blonding limits. It sometimes feels like a labour of love – certainly, the frustrations and disappointments that can be felt if it all goes wrong is akin to losing a sporting event or getting an unexpectedly low mark in an exam, compounded by people’s negativity and their failure to understand that a slight mistake isn’t proof this was a bad idea, it’s an opportunity to learn. The triumphs and successes are commented on by far more people than any other colour. There’s something very special about a good blonde, it has the power to delight, uplift and inspire awe and wonder like no other hair colour. I can wax lyrical all day, white blonde, Ag and Pt blonde are my favourite colour range. They are where science and art meet to create perfect harmonics with beauty and perfection in a delectable barbershop quartet. Okay I’m done with the poetics.

To start blonding, you need to think like a hairdresser. A highly imaginative and intelligent colourist. Think you’re up for it? If not, go to an actual hairdresser (not an average one; just because they did Sheryl up the road’s highlights does NOT mean they know how to take your hair to within an inch of it’s physical limits. If you want above average hair, you will need to either get an above average hairdresser, or do it yourself).

It’s not arrogant to think you can colour your own hair, and here’s why – you have lived with this hair for how many years? You know what you’ve done to it, you can’t lie to yourself, you know where you chopped that fringe when you were twelve, which bits still have henna on them (get these cut before you start colouring, henna and bleach don’t mix), how often you comb your hair when it’s wet or overheat the straighteners when you’re in a hurry. You know what shampoo and conditioner you use, and how often you REALLY use that protein spray you bought. Most hairdressers take a history of your hair, but they don’t have the time or memory to go very in-depth. And here’s the thing. You can tell them you colour your hair every 6 weeks, and they’ll say “it’s in good condition, let’s bleach it with SUPER STRENGTH” and they’re not the ones who have to go home with ruined hair. You do. I get my hair cut by hairdressers (although I’ve done that myself in the past). I don’t let them colour. I used to, but they just crapped on my trust and took my money anyway and left me to go home with awful hair several times, from several different hairdressers, in different parts of the UK, so I just don’t trust them to colour. The hairdresser who cuts my hair even got in on the action this year. She tried to tell me I could bleach my hair more, that it could take another round of maximum strength 40 vol peroxide. I could see signs that she couldn’t, that told me this was a terrible idea. I did a test strand, and lo and behold, it burnt clean in half. What she didn’t see was the red wasn’t my hair colour, it was cuticle staining from the last time I let a hairdresser colour my hair, 2 years ago (this was a trainee who needed to do it to qualify so I have never told them how badly they wrecked my hair). Or perhaps she was hoping I’d come for a colour correction.

There are two ways you can bleach your hair:

1. None of the hair currently on your head has any colour on it or has been coloured in the past, unless all the coloured bits have been totally cut off.

2. You have coloured it, even if only an inch of colour is left.

Method 1: None of the hair currently on your head has any colour on it or has been coloured in the past, unless all the coloured bits have been totally cut off.

Do not follow this method if someone else coloured it for you, if you have got highlights, ombre or any other sort of colour, even if it’s the same colour dye as your natural colour. I’ve got another method for you, why follow the wrong one?

Firstly, you will need the following items:

1. A box of hair colour. I would use a pre-lightener such as Belle Blonde or Born Blonde on fresh hair as they are easy to use and work well enough.

When I box dye, it takes 3 boxes to cover my hair. Mine is waist length and very thick. Make sure you buy enough.

2. Something to cover yourself with, such as a bin bag (sexy!) especially if your hair is long. Hair dye can burn your nipples. Just saying.

3. Something to cover the floor with. Another bin bag or some sheets of newspaper will do.

4. A clock, watch, or VERY accurate sundial. I sometimes use my laptop so I can listen to music during the development time.

Your natural haircolour will determine how long you need to leave the dye on for. I would do a strand test if possible, following the instructions on the packet. Here’s why: people are often shocked by the range of colours hair goes through before it finishes at blonde. If you see your hair turning orange, would you panic and wash the bleach off? If you’ve seen it all on the strand test, then when your whole head of hair starts going through a series of colours you’ll not even worry.

Note: Wash the pre-lightener off at the maximum time, even if your hair isn’t as light as you want it. While most of the product will become inactive before the development time is over (meaning that if you leave it too long it’ll start to go patchy), there’s still enough active product on your scalp to cause damage. Wash it all off, let your scalp recover (I recommend at least a week, and two if you can wait that long) then pre-lighten again if you need to. While your hair won’t “heal” itself, your scalp will, and that can make the difference between being a healthy blonde and being plagued with hair loss and permanent scalp damage.

Once your hair is as light as you want (for platinum and silver, you need your hair to be a very pale yellow before toning), move on to toning your blonde hair.

Method 2: You’ve got some other colour on your hair:

If your hair has a COLOUR (e.g. red, black, brown) on it, you need to use a colour remover before bleaching, then wait two weeks before bleaching (because the bleach will re-oxidize any remaining colour molecules in your hair and it’ll go very dark and possibly greenish, see how colour remover works for details). The reason to use colour remover is that there’s only a certain amount of bleaching a hair can take before it melts. Colour remover stinks and washing it out is tedious and it leaves your hair so dry but its an important step, particularly for darker dyed hair. It doesn’t bring your natural colour back, it just gets rid of dye colour, so once that’s done, you’re ready to bleach.

You have two options, I prefer to pre-lighten then blue-bleach because pre-lightener is idiot proof and takes it to just enough blonde that if there are patches of brown it’s less conspicuous until you fix it, which is always good on your first step. If your hair is light, you’re probably done after pre-lightener and ready to tone, but this is unlikely.

After pre-lightening, get some powder bleach, in the UK, Jerome Russell’s B*Blonde Maximum Lift Powder is for sale everywhere, and depending on your CURRENT hair lightness (I know, the box says natural, it assumes you haven’t just prelightened/colour removed etc), use either medium or high peroxide cream. Peroxide comes in percentages. Medium is 30vol, high is 40 vol. If you’re not sure, go for medium, you can always bleach it again if it’s too dark. If you go too high, you can burn your hair off, this is called a chemical haircut and you can’t dye your hair again once it’s happened (but hairdressers will tell you they can “fix” it by putting more peroxide-filled chemicals, or worse, semi-permanent colour, on your hair). Once your hair has been damaged that badly, it cannot be repaired (see also: how to fix hair that’s turned to chewing gum). We’ve all wrecked our hair, it’s a rite of passage. But you’re going to try not to, so go for medium if you’re unsure.

Mix the bleach in a bowl (I use a pyrex glass bowl, most people use plastic ones that are specially made for hair dye) and use a spatula (non-metal), so your brush doesn’t get full of lumps of unmixed powder that lands on your hair and makes a splotchy mess later. Once it’s mixed, apply it to your hair according to the instructions (usually brush on lengths and ends first, then roots 20 mins later because roots develop much faster. I find this hard so usually just leave my roots to do on a further application when the rest of my hair is dry and not tangled up in thick creamy bleach, it’s more of a faff but my hair would be much shorter if I just yanked it around and treated it like a Stretch Armstrong), basically wait until your hair is the colour you want, and wash it off. Let hair dry. Congratulations, you should have some pale yellow bleached hair, and if it’s pale yellow, contrasting with your complexion and looking a bit unnatural, you’re ready to tone!