Get really (really!) gorgeous hair with these simple backstage tricks

Backstage at Fashion Week, the going is always insane. In the hair and makeup tents, stylists are working overtime to tame models’ frazzled manes, creating cool hairstyles in minutes. So, to make the magic happen, all those magicians need to have some fabulous tricks up their sleeves. Right? I thought so too and set out to investigate. Here is the result of an entire season’s worth of question-asking, observing and note-taking. Read on to discover the best tips, tricks and shortcuts to amazing hair.

The head prep

  • When a model’s mane is looking more greasy than gorgeous and there is no time to shampoo, the stylists often bring out a translucent powder compact. Sweep a fluffy powder brush over its surface and apply to the hair roots. The powder sucks up the grease and has a mattifying effect, making tresses look instantly clean and sexy.
  • To keep hair healthy and shield against the drying effects of product overload or heat styling, many a model has learnt to only rinse conditioner out 70% of the way and then let strands air dry.
  • Backstage pro Laurent Philippon mixes Bumble & Bumble’s Thickening Spray with a few drops of essential oil and sprays it on towel-dried hair from roots to tips. This keeps tresses healthy and shiny.

fashion-week-hair1Style it up!

  • To prevent the bumps left behind by metal clips, backstage hairstylists keeps playing cards handy – the thick paper and smooth surface make them ideal for the job.
  • I always began my blow-out from the back of the head, till the backstage hair pros taught me to start at the front. The reason? That’s the area everyone sees first, so work on it while it’s still wet and you have more control. Once you’ve gotten the top party completely dry, pop in 2 Velcro rollers to add body.
  • We’ve been using the flip-head/comb-hair-forward/mist-with-hairspray/stand-up trick since before memory but it turns out we had the technique wrong: hair spray takes approximately 30 seconds to dry and set. Let it take hold of the root before you stand upright.
  • Need to create instant waves? Loosely braid hair into 6-8 equal braids, then used a flat iron to gently press the braids section by section. After each section cools, undo the braids, finger comb the hair and spritz on the hairspray.
  • This is the season for bouffants. Hairstylist Jimmy Paul’s trick for getting intense volume is to first prep the hair with salt spray – it makes the texture of the hair denser and allows for easier backcombing.
  • Want to get cool, bedhead texture? Rub conditioner into dry hair, pinching and rubbing the strands together to create hair that looks rough and matted, yet is actually soft.
  • This one is a favourite of celeb hairstylist Mike Vogel: after styling your hair, pinch small sections of ends between your thumb and pointer finger and gently rub together in a back and forth motion. This breaks up clumps and separates ends for a fuller look.
  • If you are plagued by little bits of frizzy hair along your hairline, mist a toothbrush with hairspray and use it to sweep those pesky hairs into place. This works even in the most humid environments.
  • Updos are notoriously difficult to keep in place. Bumble & Bumble stylist Amy Farid has the solution: “Spray hair with texturizing spray first. This will give hair great grip for bobby pins, which is what you need when creating an updo.”


The colour story

  • To increase the life of highlights, pick up a deep conditioning mask meant for coloured hair within 48 hours of the highlighting treatment. Apply to dry hair, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse well; your highlights will retain their tone for a longer time.
  • Christophe Robin, creative colorist at L’Oréal Paris, has this tip for longlasting hair color: scan the ingredients lists on shampoo bottles and watch out for formulations that contain colour-leaching sulfates.
  • Camouflage roots by zigzagging your part rather than making it straight.
  • Eye shadow can be used as a quick-fix to hide roots, especially for dark hair with light or gray roots. Simply match your hair colour to a shade of shadow and brush it on.

What’s the best tip you’ve ever learnt from your hairstylist?

Your skin’s 24-hour cycle (because for skincare, timing is EVERYTHING!)

If I was to force feed you a rich beef stew at 6 am, followed by a roast chicken an hour later, it’s a definite possibility that your digestive system would rebel AND your energy levels would go into free fall. Similarly, there are reasons we don’t (usually) hit the gym at 3 in the morning, nor do we schedule killer tasks for midnight. Our bodies have a definite internal clock, which predetermines the best time to do work, eat meals and sleep. And for most of the time, we’ve learnt to understand and respect the same.

Unfortunately, we forget that our skin is also a biological entity (in fact, it’s the body’s largest and fastest growing organ) that has a similar internal clock. This internal clock determines the best time to moisturise, shave, wax or apply a treatment. There is also a time when skin will be most vulnerable, most oily or most sensitive. Often, we ignore this skin clock, which may well explain why all those creams, gels and serums are not delivering their promises. So don’t ignore your skin’s daily schedule, as that’s what decides the ultimate effectiveness of any product or treatment. Here you have it in a nutshell.

skin-clock7 am – 10 am

  • This is the prime time for puffiness and creases, as lymphatic fluid pools while you sleep, especially under the eyes. So try a cold compress, apply an eye mask or opt for an eye gel that’s enriched with refreshing botanicals like briar rose, cucumber and chamomile.
  • Skin is at its most sensitive right now, so save the deep cleansing, exfoliating, spot-squeezing and massaging for later; instead keep your morning skin routine simple – cold water, mild cleanser and toner.

10 am – 1 pm

  • During this period, our levels of adrenaline (which fight stress) and endorphins (natural painkillers) are highest, making it the perfect time for ouch!-inducing treatments like electrolysis or waxing.
  • Going in for fillers or Botox? Try it during these hours – it’s advisable not to lie down or rub your face for several hours as this could make the serum leak into adjoining areas, causing unevenness and drooping.

1 pm – 3 pm

  • These are the hours when the skin is at its best and the natural barriers are functioning optimally, making it the best time of the day for exfoliating treatment, including DIY peels and clinical microdermabrasion.
  • However, this also the time when you face peak sun damage. Twenty minutes in the midday sun can cause more skin damage than two hours in the early morning, so reapply the sunscreen.

3 pm – 5 pm

  • There is a reason behind the dreaded afternoon oil slick: oil producing glands pump out twice as much at this time, compared to the rest of the day. That’s because androgens (male hormones) increase mid-afternoon, making sebum levels rise to peak-production. To foil the shine, soak up the grease with blotting papers, then apply a thin layer of matte translucent powder.

skin-clock-25 pm – 7 pm

  • These are the most polluted hours of the day, stepping up risk of free radical damage, which can gradually disintegrate skin cells and accelerate the ageing process. Make sure you wear moisturiser that’s spiked with the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E.
  • A study from Manchester Metropolitan University shows that this is the best time to hit the gym: your energy levels are high and muscles and joints are at their warmest, lessening chances of injury. However, avoid having a beauty treatment for at least two hours after the workout, as the rise in body temperature adversely affects the skin’s natural protective barriers, making it extremely sensitive.

7 pm – 9 pm

  • Blood vessels are at their most dilated now, making us go red most easily. So make sure you use some concealer to spare the blushes.
  • As blood flow to the skin increases and endorphin levels drop considerably, you will also become more aware of pain and irritations such as allergies, insect bites or eczema, so keep some calming lotion at hand.

skin-clock-39 pm – 11 pm

  • Your face is more receptive in the evening, when skin temperature is higher and the surface layer more porous, allowing for greater penetration of active ingredients. Start by washing away makeup and grime to prevent clogged pores, blackheads, breakouts and lackluster skin, along with providing a clean canvas for treatment products, helping them penetrate faster and work better. Now is the best time to have a warm, relaxing bath and a cleansing facial massage, followed by the heavy-weight treatments.

Post-11 pm

  • That old adage ‘an hour before midnight is worth three afterwards’ is true; the hormone that triggers sleep – melatonin – peaks at around this time, making 11 pm the hour we should go to bed for maximum skin benefits. But more on this later as it’s a chapter in itself!

Have you noticed your skin responding to an invisible clock? Let’s talk.

10 genius ways to use Vaseline in your beauty routine (It’s not just for lips!)

Who says Vaseline is boring? Simple? Yes. Classic? Always. Cheap-as-chips and value for money? Absolutely. Boring? NEVER. And to underscore that point, the fourth limited edition of it’s cult status Lip Therapy comes dressed in striking black and gold, with a delicate honey flavour as an added bonus. Called Vaseline Queen Bee, it’s available till stocks last and is available to dress up your day for just $5. Want it much? You’ll have to run – not merely walk – as this one’s already selling out worldwide!

vaseline queen beeIncidentally, Vaseline is such a diverse product that you can use it for a whole range of things. You will see big tubs at literally every fashion week, photo shoot, red carpet event, dermatologist’s office and hair salon, hiding in plain sight. Here are some of my favourite ways of working it, gleaned from picking the brains of leading beauty professionals over many, many years.

1. Vaseline as eye makeup remover: A dab of Vaseline can remove even the most stubborn mascara while soothing the eye area – just massage it in gently and wash off with warm water.

2. Vaseline as body scrub: Vaseline mixed with a handful of sea salt (or sand, if you are on the beach and want to make like the Brazilians) works as a great exfoliator.

3. Vaseline as lip scrub: Apply a thick layer of Vaseline to your lips and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then scrub it off with an old (gentle) toothbrush for fabulously soft and smooth lips. Re-apply a thin layer to seal in moisture.

4. Vaseline as manicure mender: Dabbing a bit of Vaseline on the base of your nails will stop the colour from running onto the fingers.

5. Vaseline for shaving: Run out of shaving cream? Apply a thin layer of Vaseline and then shave. Don’t use water and remember to keep rinsing the razor as you go. It can be slightly greasy but will leave you with superbly soft and smooth skin.

vaseline uses6. Vaseline as highlighter: Professional makeup artists do this all the time, especially during catwalk shows – apply a very thin layer of Vaseline on cheeks and under the eyes for that dewy look.

7. Vaseline as cream blusher: Want a rosy flush? Mix vaseline with your lipstick to make your own cream blusher.

8. Vaseline as fragrance fixer: Applying a thin layer of vaseline on your wrist (and other pulse points) before spraying on perfume will make the scent last much longer.

9. Vaseline to protect skin from hair dye: Every hair colourist worth their name knows this one – you need to apply a layer of Vaseline around the hairline before colouring your hair. This not only prevents stains but also protects skin from the harsh chemicals in the dye.

10. Vaseline to seal split ends: While nothing can mend split ends, rubbing in some Vaseline can temporarily seal them, creating the illusion of sleek, damage-free hair.

Did you know that the first ever Vaseline Lip Therapy limited edition – Crème Brûlée, launched in 2011 – was the fastest selling product in Selfridges’ entire history?

10 top tips to make your face look thinner (NO contouring required!)

Gained a few pounds? Pre-disposed to bloating? Have a round face that makes you look heavier than you are? Try these simple makeup, hair and accessory tips to create the illusion of a much slimmer face.

Look thin #1: Make your eyes pop

make-face-thinnerBigger eyes equal slimmer face. So, apply a neutral shimmer to the inner corners of your eyes. Next, glide a dark brown, gray or black pencil liner across the entire upper lash line. Skip liner on the bottom lash line: it’ll make your eyeslook smaller. Curl lashes and apply two coats of volumizing black mascara.

Another eye look that slims the face: a cat’s eye. This helps elongate the lash line and eye shape in an outward and upward direction, thereby drawing attention to the corners and making your face look leaner.

Look thin #2: Fill in your brows

Thick, angular brows can help your face appear thinner by adding contour and a point of interest. On the other hand, thin, over-tweezed brows can contribute to a rounder-looking face. The Rx: use a brow pencil or shadow one shade lighter than your natural eyebrow color.

Look thin#3: Go deep!

A pressed matte powder that’s one shade darker than your skin can be a round-faced girl’s best friend. Here’s how to make it work: lightly shade the jawbone, sides of the nose and temples with only a hint of product; it should be barely noticeable.

Look thin #4: Add some shimmer

Apply a translucent shimmer powder or cream with fingertips along your cheekbones and collarbone. Highlighting bone structure reflects light, making it more noticeable (thus making you look thinner).

Look thin #5: Pick the right part

Opt for a side part – a center part makes your face look round. A good rule of thumb to find the most flattering, face-slimming part: use the arch of your eyebrow as a guide. Start the part above the arch and go back from there in a straight line.

Look thin #6: Rethink your bangs

make-face-look-thinnerSoft side bangs create a natural frame around the face, while longer layers downplay a rounder shape. But skip short bangs, which make your face seem wider and rounder.

Look thin #7: Add volume

Hair that lies too flat on the head makes a full face appear even bigger. Add slight volume in the crown to slim a round face. How? Lightly tease the hair near the crown; keep the rest smooth and past your shoulders for a sleeker look.

Look thin #8: Try a ponytail or an updo

Building extra height at the crown of your head narrows round features and makes your face seem thinner. For the simplest ‘do, twist hair into a high knot and fasten with a barrette. Or try a pony – for the most slimming effect, match the ponytail height to the tips of your cheekbones.

Look thin #9: Color your hair darker around your face

Lighter, face-framing highlights open up the face, making it appear wider. Darker tones, on the other hand, have a slimming effect. So keep the strands closest to your face a shade or two darker than the rest of your locks.

Look thin #10: Think long jewellery and rectangular shades

Long, dangly earrings and sleek pendant necklaces elongate and slim the face and body with their vertical lines. Almost any style works, but avoid hoops that hang from below your ears; hoops that go through your ears will do the trick, though.

And score face-slimming shades: if your face is on the full side, wide rectangular-frame sunglasses give you a sleeker look.

What do YOU love most about your face? And the least?