Sunday, 22 August 2010

Adding Height to Your Hair Without Backcombing

All You Need is a Grip!

You don't need any hair clips really for this one. This is a technique I've been wanting to share with you for ages, so I just decided to sit down and take a bunch of pictures showing you how to do it.

A Posh Bouf 
I've had so many requests for an alternative to backcombing. Backcombing or teasing the hair is so damaging to your cuticle. If you've got fine hair, this bumping method is perfect for you.

Here I show you how to add height to a modified bouffant (what we call a "bouf" here at Stone Bridge) which is so fashionable at the moment. I'm doing a basic half-back style, but you can combine a bouf with a ponytail, an alice band, a pleat ... just experiment and see what you can come up with.

Step 1

Step 1: Take a section from the centre top of your head.

This will cover your bouf in the last step. Let it fall forward or clip to one side.

Step 2

Step 2: Take a second section from the back of your crown.

This will form your bump.

Step 3

Step 3: Fold the section half.

Basically, depending on how long your hair is, you want to get it to a manageable length. My hair is just past my shoulders, so I fold this section just in half.

Step 4

Step 4: Place your grip across the middle of the section.

Keep your hair spread out through the grip. Again, this isn't rocket science. The grip just helps to keep your hair under control for Step 5 ...

Step 5

Step 5: Fold the section again and start rolling your hair under.

Keep the hair to the front of your roll sort of smooth. Whatever happens to the back isn't important. Messier rolling should produce a bigger bump, but if you practice and have a play you'll see what works for your hair.

Step 6

Step 6: Secure your bump at the bottom with another grip or two.

At this stage you can either hair spray or not, depending on how naturally slippery your hair is. I don't need any hair spray for this to hold its shape.

Step 7: Nearly Done!

Step 7: Pull your front section back to cover your bump.

You can make this nice and tidy with some hair spray and a comb, or leave it a little messy for a casual, beachy look (very fashionable right now, especially if combined with a sharply styled fringe)

Step 8

Step 8: For a half-back, secure with a small hair barrette.

If you have thicker hair, you can try brushing your hair over the bump and then hair spraying the bejezus out of it so it doesn't move. This just gives you bigger, slightly messy-on-purpose hair.

I generally see younger women holding back this top bit with more grips, but if you are over 26 years old and have plans to go out in public please do not do this. It looks too unfinished. And PLEASE do not opt for bendy clips. No no no.

And that's me done.

This little version took me five minutes to do and that was because I was photographing each step for you. In real life, with the help of a mirror this should take you about 30 seconds. And it should stay in place all day for you, no problem.

Here's how the bouf looks from the front.

A back view

And here's a back view. You don't have to use a barrette for this. You can use a French comb, or even a Classic Mini hair claw.

The cool thing about this method is you don't have to worry about anything "showing through" the top layer of your hair because it's your own hair underneath. Plus you don't have to buy anything, except maybe grips if you've not got any lying around already.

Bouf from the side

Also, your bouf can be all shapes and sizes. You can pull up more hair from the sides to pull back. You can place your bump higher or further back on your head. It all depends on your headshape and what flatters you best.

Go on, go have a play. If you've read this far I know you're not busy right now!

Browse All Stone Bridge Small Slides And Clips

Friday, 13 August 2010

Negative Ions: The Ultimate Hair Fix?

Why Have Ordinary Straighteners When You Can Have Ionizing Ones!

Brookhaven Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider: The Future of Hair Conditioner?
Step into any high street retailer selling hair dryers or straighteners and you can buy your cheap but cheerful bog-standard ones or you can get some fancy schmancy "ionising" ones.  All the celebrities use them, so they must work.

So what is this magic that negative ions bring to hair styling? Fear not. Google has the answers. I found a brilliant bit on on-line wisdom about why negative ions are so excellent for your hair.

The Hype

Apparently "research" shows that negative ions break water molecules down into "micro fine" particles which then get into the hair and restore the moisture balance of your hair. It's all natural and will solve frizziness problems. Isn't that great?


Oh, brother. I don't know where to begin with this load of nonsense. I guess we can start with the concept that if you break down H2O (water) you get a couple H's (hydrogen) and an O (oxygen). You can't reduce a water molecule into some micro form of water.

Maybe they meant the molecules get compressed? Well, the only way to do this is to use a relativistic heavy ion collider, and there's only one of them ... in New York. Somehow I don't think this technology is being used in the hair care industry, but I could be wrong.

Okay, and anyway water gets into your hair in its full-molecule wet form already, no problem. Just stick your head under the shower and Bob's your uncle. "Moisture balance" restored, right?

More Hype

Apparently your hair is unruly and needs help because it carries a positive electrical charge from the friction of your hair rubbing together. This makes your hair dull and unhealthy. Using heat styling with negative ions cancels out the positive ions, giving you smoother, straighter and healthier hair. The negative ions actually rebuild and repair your hair.

Whoa! That's amazing! And so bogus the mind boggles.

More Reality

Negative ions in an electrical field are attracted to positive ions, and positive ions are released by hair that has a damaged cuticle. The negative ions are attracted to the damaged sites and help the chemicals used in conditioners to bond more strongly to the site.

Your hair will feel smoother immediately after straightening because it is more heavily coated with styling product. This does not actually help your hair very much and the heat styling itself is probably causing more damage along the length of the hair.

Negative ions are not “neutralising” anything in your hair, they are only attracting clumps of styling product to the weakest points along your cuticle to make your hair feel nice to the touch, but it is a very temporary fix. It is not – I repeat, not – making your hair healthy.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Do Straighteners Damage Your Hair?

If We Ever Found the Best Straighteners in the World, We Still Wouldn't Sell Them

I often wrestle with the idea that Stone Bridge ought to carry more styling tools, like brushes and straighteners and so forth, and not just concentrate only on great quality hair accessories. Straighteners, in particular, are a huge market. So, if I ever came across the best straighteners in the world, would we sell them?


Because they will probably damage your hair. And I'd feel guilty about that.

I want to tell you exactly why straighteners work and what they do to your hair. I hope you will stop using them except on very special occasions.

How does heat styling work on hair?

When you straighten or curl your hair using heat  you are temporarily resetting the chemical bonds that give your hair its natural texture. Inside, your hair is dotted with sulphur "points" that pair up adn bond together as your hair dries, pinching your hair up into it naturally occurring wave or curl.These bonds break apart when your hair is exposed to water.

The number of sulphur bonds in your hair is different all over your head, and it of course varies from person to person as well. The amount of sulphur in your hair determines not only how wavy or curly your hair is, but also how well your hair can held a set hairstyle. Naturally straight hair, for example, can have a tendency to refuse to hold a curl if it's sulphur content is very, very low. Permanent wave treatments simply "lock" your sulphur bonds together, so hair that is already low in sulphur may not take a permanent treatment either.

For most women, though, all that is needed to set a curl in your hair (or to straighten it) is for the hair to be shaped when damp and left until it is completely dry. The sulphur bonds will hold the set shape until exposed again to moisture, whether it is in your shower, perspiring on a hot day, or simply humidity in the air. Once water is introduced back into the hair, the bonds break and reset themselves along their natural alignment.

We use heat in the styling process mostly because it helps the hair dry faster, which give you more control while styling. There is also an added benefit that a low level of heat can help the cuticle dry flatter, smoother and stronger.

Done properly, you can use blow dryers and straighteners without causing too much damage to your hair. The way to do this is by using these tools only on damp - not wet - hair, on a low setting. Using a high heat setting can cause the water inside the core of your hair to boil. The steam will burst through the protective cuticle of your hair and cause irreversible damage to your hair.

Heat protection serums can provide a little protection, but only when the heat setting is kept low, not at the 200-degree level many straighteners are pre-set for. Hair which is straightened every time you wash your hair is at high risk of damage. Manufacturers of these tools are not going to tell you this and they will encourage you to believe that if you buy special conditioners and serums (ideally from them) then your hair will be in wonderful, healthy condition.

In my next post I will explain about "negative ions" and the relationship they have with the magic smoothing and heat protecting serums you are encouraged to use with your straighteners and blow dryers.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Top Tips for Serious Hair

How to Style Your Hair When Sexy Is Not The Look You Want

Ficcare Maximas clip
In spite of my heroically feminist mother and step-mother, and a girlhood being told that boys and girls are the same, I have come to the conclusion that men are different from women. That's just my opinion.

Proof No. 1 that Men and Women are Different

I had a conversation about this with my friend Steve, who is very into cars. I was telling him about Polyvore, which is a site pretty much devoted to the female interest in collecting pictures of things you think look pretty and allowing you to make collages online to share with your friends. Whenever I have a bad day, I'll go off and make myself a Polyvore collage.

So, I'm explaining this to Steve who is giving me a completely blank look.

"It's very girly," I say. "Do you know any sites like that for men?"

Steve screwed his face up at me. "None of the men I know make collages on the internet to share with their friends, no."

Okay, so collages are difficult to understand by the typical bloke. My husband still struggles to see why I would want to spend even twenty seconds doing this.

Proof No. 2 that Men and Women are Different

Another thing that makes men different from women is that, on average, men find women with long hair worn down unbelievably, and occasionally mind-bogglingly, sexy.

Whenever I have a consultation with a client and have the chance to speak to their husband or partner, these men almost without exception like their wife best with longer hair, worn simply down or just with an alice band.

Claire and I also, in the interests of science, quiz men on their thoughts about women's hair. Their answers aren't terribly surprising. On average, long hair is sexy. Short hair is not so sexy.

Now, there are plenty of times when sexy is not the look we want to go for, namely for serious business-focussed occasions. This is not a time for men to have their minds boggled by your hair. They need to be boggled by your brainy brilliance.

How to Get Serious Hair

I don't have much advice for achieving brainy brilliance, but I can help you with your hair. Here are my top tips to achieving serious hair:
  • Wear your hair up. Hair down is sexy. We're not going for sexy so let's not distract the men from the business at hand. This, honestly, is true for women at any age, not just for young women.

  • Go for a simple style. The tidier your hair, the greater the unconsious impression you create of being "in control". This is particularly important if you have curly hair. Men can almost uncontrollably judge a curly-haired woman as being "wild" if her hair is not neatly tied back. Unfortunate, but surveyed and tested. You can write to the editors of the papers if you like about the unfairness of it, but there you have it. A French pleat, particularly with your ends tucked into your pleat is the most conservative updo.

  • Choose high quality hair clips in a simple style. Men may claim to be baffled by women's clothing, but that isn't to say they can't recognise quality. Indeed, I hear from plenty of husbands of our customers asking with fascination about the material we use in our hair accessories, it is so obviously different from your average high street hair clip. High quality hair accessories in a classic style give a more serious impression.

  • Select colours that blend in with your hair colour. The more invisible your hair accessories, the less distracting they are and the less attention you call to your hair. If you have brown hair, choose dark colours. If you have blonde hair, gold-toned or cream coloured hair clips will be less noticeable. If you have ash-tones in your hair, consider silver or grey hair accessories, such as our Silver Shell colour.

Hair Accessories for Serious Hair

Rectangle Large Barrette
French Handmade U pins
French Pleat medium comb