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?
Looking to permanently fix those under eye purple circles? I discovered there was no real information about how to permanently get rid of purple circles under the eyes, after I wrote my article on how to get rid of blue circles (you might want to read that too)! To fix that, I’ve written about how to cure under eye purple circles here and hopefully you’ll get here BEFORE you’ve wasted years on Google on unhelpful articles about getting rid of dark circles which are to do with ageing! Purple under eye circles affect anyone of any age and getting rid of purple circles without using make-up doesn’t take a lot of work. Update 2020: If you DO want to use makeup, I finally found the Holy Grail concealer to ditch purple circles!
Purple under eye circles are different to dark circles under the eye because dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation due to ageing. Purple under eye circles have similar causes to blue circles but they are more responsive to permanent remedies! So here are five ways to permanently solve the problem of under eye purple circles and one quick fix for in the meantime while you wait for the purple circles to heal, all without using make-up.
First, let’s talk about the quickest fix to get rid of purple under eye circles without using make-up (why no make-up? Because 50% of people with purple and blue circles under their eyes are men, and they don’t really want to be using make-up; a lot of women don’t want to be covering their purple under eye circles up with make-up either).
All links take you to Amazon as I’m an associate and find Amazon very convenient, and every product I mention on this page is one I’ve actually used to get rid of my own purple and blue circles under my eyes and have used and recommended to help other people with the under-eye purple and blue circles problem too:
If you want a quick fix: Fake (or real) tan: Getting a product with a small amount of fake tan in it, and building it up over the face is a subtle way to get rid of those under-eye purple circles – it works to a moderate extent but it’s not a permanent fix because as soon as you wash the tan off, the circles will come back. However, it is the fastest way to get rid of purple under eye circles without make-up because as your skin darkens, the purple circles under the eyes become much less noticeable! It’s basically the same as blending them out. In addition, the orange and yellow base pigments in most “hint of a tan” type products does the same job as under-eye colour corrector to get rid of those purple circles under your eyes. My favourite is the Dove Summer Glow with a hint of sunless tanner and even though it’s a body lotion, I just use it on my whole face morning and night for a full weekend, then go back to my normal skincare routine because it’s not a face cream, then I make sure to reapply the Dove summer glow once every couple of days, to get a circle-covering glow. About four applications should start to reduce the purple circles (but remember to use it on the rest of your body occasionally as well, so you don’t just have a darker face and whiter everything else).
To ditch those circles permanently: 1.Eat more broccoli and kale: These are both extremely high in vitamin K, the vitamin everyone forgets when they’re planning their diet. Vitamin K is the one that gets rid of redness and helps with chapped lips, and it also helps get rid of purple circles by preventing your blood from being too thin. This is the cheapest but slowest way to get rid of those circles, but they should be improved within 6 months.
2. Try Vitamin K Cream for your face: Vitamin K cream is the wonder solution to get rid of all sorts of dark under eye circles; purple circles, blue circles and brown circles. At $9.99, it’s also the very cheapest cream you can try so I would try this vitamin k cream first before any other permanent solution for purple under-eye circles. It also works to fade out bruises! You should get results on purple circles under the eyes in 2-4 weeks. This vitamin K cream is also safe for children, making it perfect for pageants. If you’re on blood thinning medication such as warfarin or aspirin, you need to be careful with vitamin K and consult your doctor.
3. Take a vitamin K supplement: Vitamin K supplements are fantastic for people who don’t like eating their greens. It works internally to ensure all your blood is the right thickness, which will also make you bruise less easily! Vitamin K supplements cost more than the cream but the results last longer, so this one is good value, but it will take a month or two to work so keep at it. As above, consult your doctor if necessary.
4. Check your iron levels: Another huge cause of purple circles is low iron levels. When your iron level gets too low, it’s clear in your face because you start to get dark purple or blue circles under the eyes, usually more of a navy blue line than a purple circle. The only long-term solution to an iron deficiency is to eat more iron-containing foods (hot chocolate made with pure cocoa is the most overlooked source of iron. Vegan? Use soy milk) on a regular basis. Covering up purple circles under the eyes caused by iron deficiency is not a good plan, you need to solve the cause or they just get worse.
5. Sometimes the skin is the problem, rather than what’s underneath it: When you’re sure it’s not a deficiency, it’s likely that you just have thinner skin under the eyes. Luckily, there is a solution for this: Regular use of any face cream containing Matrixyl will help get rid of blue circles permanently. The Olay Regenerist 3 Point Cream (which I talked about in my article on blue circles) is the absolute best cream I’ve tried for getting rid of purple and blue circles under the eyes (only use a TINY bit because it’s powerful stuff). How does it work? The Matrixyl actually helps to thicken the skin so when it’s applied to the under-eye area it helps the skin to grow thicker and when it’s thicker, it’s less transparent and less delicate, meaning this cream gets rid of the cause of the purple and blue circles under the eyes. If you don’t have $30 there’s a cheaper alternative here from Cos De BAHA at $10; although I found it was slightly stronger as it contains hyalauronic acid (so use a really tiny amount), it did still work to reduce my dark circles, so it’s up to you.
After living for years with blue circles that turned purple on a regular basis, my own method was to do all of the above together to really kill those blue and purple circles, and now they only come back if I stop doing all of those things for several months (such as when I was pregnant – I have no idea if any of these things are safe for pregnancy and had bigger things to worry about than purple or blue circles so I’m working on getting rid of my under eye circles again now, which is why it seemed like a good time to write another article about this).
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.
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:
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.
After being ill for so long, my teeth were in serious need of some whitening. Lack of nutrients coupled with vomiting millions of times a day means I look and feel like a train wreck at the moment (actually I’ve visually improved a lot over the last fortnight but I’m still not my usual self), and I’m trying to attack my problem areas head on.
Tooth whitening is one of those tricky spots in beauty, because one one hand you’ve got every sixteen year old on Youtube telling you that they’ve found the perfect homemade tooth whitening formula and on the other hand you’ve got cosmetic dentists who claim that the only way to get whiter teeth is to pay them large amounts of money for an in-office or take-home whitening treatment. Both in-office and homemade tooth whitening remedies can be extremely damaging to the teeth if you just blindly follow them, so I decided to do some research before I put anything in my mouth.
I researched exactly what these whitening products did, then tried one out myself to find out if the middle ground – store bought whitening products, such as whitening toothpastes – were really worth the money.
How whitening works:
There are a lot of scam whitening products on the market that don’t really work, and a lot of “home whitening” recipes that are complete and utter bullshit. All of the whitening products that actually work contain peroxide in one of two forms – hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or carbamide peroxide (CH6N2O3). Carbamide peroxide is an unstable molecule made of urea and hydrogen peroxide, and when it comes into contact with water or certain types of light, it breaks down into urea and hydrogen peroxide. Urea, in case you missed it at school, is the concentrated waste product that combines with water to form urine. In beauty products, it usually comes from animals because, while it can be synthesized in a lab, it’s easier to get it from pig urine.
For the purposes of whitening, your teeth have two layers; enamel and dentine. Your natural tooth colour comes from the dentine which is slightly yellow and which shines through the enamel. This is genetic. When staining occurs, it affects the enamel on the outside. This is environmental. Both genetic and environmental tooth colour can be changed by whitening products.
Professional whitening products tend to use carbamide peroxide, where shop-bought (or Amazon bought) whitening products tend to go straight for the hydrogen peroxide. How are they different? Well they’re really not. And here’s why: When the carbamide peroxide is put on the teeth and exposed to light (water isn’t used because it would wash the gel off the teeth), the carbamide peroxide breaks down into its component parts (urea and hydrogen peroxide). The hydrogen peroxide whitens the enamel which removes staining, then it penetrates into the dentine layer to change your natural shade. This double-action is why products which don’t contain hydrogen peroxide just don’t work very well – other ingredients can only affect the enamel (and some products such as salt or lemon juice can cause serious abrasion or acid erosion). If the enamel gets damaged by inappropriate whitening ingredients, it doesn’t grow back and in spite of what it says on all those “enamel repair” products, all they do is patch the holes, they can’t grow back tooth enamel, so it’s really important to avoid using abrasive products that will damage the tooth surface. That’s why I’d prefer to use hydrogen peroxide, which has been proven safe in the concentrations found in tooth whitening products, than any of those “home remedies” or other ingredients that haven’t been tested to find out whether they damage tooth enamel – enamel damage isn’t immediately obvious and I’m not going to risk my future tooth health because once you’ve ruined your teeth, you’ve only got a turd to polish.
Is peroxide safe on teeth?
Yes and no. It is safe in the small quantities you can find it in EU approved products. Not so much if you buy a bottle of hair bleach and apply it liberally – this is NOT safe. This sort of silliness causes tooth loss, gum damage, whatever. You MUST use a product that is SPECIFICALLY for teeth. If you swallow a little bit of it, don’t worry because the hydrochloric acid will neutralize it in this reaction:
As the chlorine gas gets produced, however (such as in the event of ingesting a fair amount of H2O2), the chlorine reacts with the unreacted hydrogen peroxide (remember, it doesn’t all react at once, reactions take time):
The + and – signs denote ions, which means they behave differently. This is a free radical reaction that you don’t want running round your body because it can cause cancer and premature ageing.
The concentration in tooth products is 0.1% (UK) up to 3% (US). A few molecules of chlorine won’t kill you. HOWEVER, it IS a poisonous gas, so if you swallow a tablespoon or more of 3% hydrogen peroxide, take the container and get yourself straight to the ER (or A + E) at the hospital.
Safety is a sliding scale, and on it, we can put Hydrogen Peroxide between Coca Cola (not great for you but won’t kill you for a long time) and House Bleach (contains peroxide and other active ingredients such as anionic surfactants). As an aside, all those things that say “uses pure oxygen to clean” contain peroxide. That’s where they get the oxygen from. Hydrogen peroxide is just water with an extra oxygen atom attached, but that doesn’t mean you’d want to drink it, and I’m mentioning this because it concerns me that some “health nuts” are drinking hydrogen peroxide for it’s alleged (read: none) health benefits. One day, the damage will catch up with them in the form of cancer (peroxide will release free radicals if you drink it) or loss of function of their digestive system (chemical burns, yum). I suppose that’s why the posthumous Darwin Awards were invented. So don’t drink it, that’s stupid, but using small amounts to whiten your teeth then rinsing your mouth with water is fairly harmless in the grand scheme of things.
What about gum damage? And other problems with the red squishy tissue in your mouth? Small amounts of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide don’t seem to damage the red stuff (gums, tongue etc), whereas there are a lot of reviews of “peroxide free” whiteners (usually these come with a snazzy blue LED to make you think you’re shining a UV light on the gel, which ALWAYS contains some chemical that will cause irritation) which state these have burnt people’s mouths. When that happens, people are duped into thinking the product is working, but you know what? Vindaloo curry burns your mouth and THAT doesn’t whiten your teeth. However, in high concentrations of peroxide, or if you leave the peroxide in your mouth for too long, you will end up with sensitivity in your mouth area.
Which products did I use to whiten my teeth?
I took a two pronged approach – I used two different whitening toothpastes. I started with the Arm and Hammer Truly Radiant toothpaste, which contains Hydrogen Peroxide. It claimed that it would give a “radiant smile in 5 days” and I wanted to test that. What exactly is a radiant smile? No idea. For the purposes of research (to find out if this stuff really worked), I brushed my teeth 10 times in the same day. This lifted a lot of the surface staining but I’m not sure it had as much of an effect as I would like. Also brushing my teeth so many times in one day made my mouth very sore and irritated because the toothbrush abraded the gums and the toothpaste dried out my lips. I liked the idea of using a toothpaste to whiten, but I disliked the idea of not being able to just put the stuff in my teeth, wait 20 minutes then get white teeth. In the past I’ve used Rapid White and that worked faster, but you can only use it once per day and it left my teeth feeling very sensitive so I haven’t used it for several years. I also hated having two trays in my mouth because it stopped me swallowing my saliva, meaning I had to use huge quantities of tissue to stop that saliva from interfering with the gel on my teeth.
Here is the Youtube video showing me brushing my teeth a lot to test the Arm and Hammer Truly Radiant Whitening Toothpaste:
I would recommend this for a couple of quid if you need a quick fix but it’s not the sort of results I could get from painting white nail varnish over my teeth going to the dentist, but then, I could buy 1000 tubes of Arm and Hammer for the cost of one whitening treatment at the dentist (I was quoted £500, and I was told I’d have to do the actual treatment myself at home as my dentist said that dentists aren’t allowed to whiten in the UK any more). Once some of the stains had lifted a bit from using the Arm and Hammer, I tried out the Blanx White Shock Toothpaste (with a special blue light) which cost about £10. I first tried this in January 2015 and wasn’t too impressed, but thought I’d try it again for comparison with the Arm and Hammer. It claims to be peroxide free. I tried it again this time, making sure I kept my teeth under the light for half an hour, and it STILL did nothing.
In conclusion, the toothpaste containing peroxide worked MUCH better than the “whitening treatment” with a scientific-looking blue light which did absolutely nothing to change the colour of my teeth. However, neither of them gave me the sort of results I was looking for, and I am still looking for my perfect tooth whitening product. I looked into whitening strips but all the ones for sale in the UK sound like crap.
Looking for a more natural alternative, I tried an experimental coconut oil rinse this morning. I rinsed for two separate sets of 5 minutes, which was very boring, but my teeth looked shiny afterwards. I’m not sure they’re any whiter, but I’m going to try it out over the course of a few days just to see, because oil pulling with coconut is totally harmless (unless you choke on it or something). I’ll write a new article if it works out, but I’m still on the look out for a good chemical whitener.
Have you tried any tooth whitening products? What did you think of them?
No more white hair for me!
I had to dye my hair darker again because it’s time to renew my passport, and if you look different to your old photo, they make you get people to sign that they’ve known you for x amount of years. I don’t want to have to do that, and because of our racist immigrant laws in this country, I have to produce my passport every time I go for a job interview, to prove I have the right to live and work in the UK.
Since I’m renewing it because of my name change, it seemed prudent to give them as little as possible to say “you’re not the same human being as the person on this passport, your name and face are different.”
Because of some weird trick of my face shape, I look totally different when I change my hair colour, so I have had to get rid of the silver hair.
I did a little tutorial of how I did it, and then today I’ve done this science video – for SCIENCE! Friday – explaining how hair dye, bleach and coloring all work on the hair and why it’s important to put the red back in with a permanent red dye.
I’ve done a full explanation of the science in a video, the gist of it is written in the rest of this article (but since I don’t script my videos, it’s slightly different in the wording, although the science is the same), there’s diagrams and everything! I’ve explained it all in the most straightforward way possible, so if you love science as much as I do, and love hearing it in plain English, it’s a really interesting watch!
If you like my youtube channel and find it relevant I’d love it if you could subscribe!
So how do you get rid of white, silver or platinum blonde hair?
Those of you who are astute will know that colour remover isn’t how to get rid of silver or white hair – it has, effectively, already had all the colour removed by the bleaching process, that’s why it’s so light.
To get rid of white or silver blonde hair, then, you need to put the colour back in. That’s what I explain in the wrecked your hair article – I haven’t actually wrecked my hair this time, but the process is the same (the results are much faster and better on hair that wasn’t wrecked).
So here’s what my hair looks like now:
As you can see, it’s not my best hair colour because it really doesn’t suit my skin tone (I need a bluer red and this is an orangey red), so I now (after it’s settled for a week) have two options:
I can either dye my hair a dark true-red red, or I can stick with the plan and go for brown.
Either will probably wash out in 2-4 weeks to a color I don’t like any more. So I’m thinking brown for the passport pictures, then let that wash out a bit, then true-red red.
I’ve never been a proper red before, I’ve only been ginger for years and years then dark brown for 6 months before I whitened it. Oh and a bunch of temporary rainbow colours from time to time.
Since I’m basically artificially reconstructing the core of my hair, I need to stick with warm colours so blonde is off the menu for a while.
How does one artificially reconstruct their hair core, you ask?
The video I linked to above (which I made today) is a model showing what hair looks like when it’s been bleached. The loss of colour molecules is only part of the problem – the shaft now has holes burned in it where the chemical has gotten into the shaft to do its work and the colour molecules have departed (this is the same in any hair colourant – that’s why when you dye your hair dark brown or black loads of times, then use colour remover, instead of going to your natural colour, it turns a pale caramel type of colour).
When you add a new color to that, it packs the inside with color, but because of the holes in the hair shaft (which are irreparable) the color washes out easily. Not only that, but it’s designed to go on hair with color molecules in it (because normally you’d put it over your natural coloured hair), so it tends to be designed to simultaneously lighten the existing molecules and add some new pigment molecules, but there aren’t usually enough new pigment molecules to produce a realistic result on very bleached hair. And each time you use it, it burns more holes in the hair shaft.
In the process of artificially reconstructing the hair, then, you can do more damage if you’re gung ho about it which is why I’m going slowly, letting my hair recover each time (it doesn’t heal itself, but it does get its protective oils back over time, and they are way underestimated as to how useful they are) and gradually building up to the color I want.
Once it’s been done, it obviously can’t be bleached again past a certain point, because the bleach will keep blasting open the shaft which will eventually turn the hair to jelly, at which point you just have to cut it off. This has never happened to me.
Why am I so focussed on red, you ask?
It’s standard hairdressing knowledge that in order to move someone’s hair from blonde to brown, you have to put the red back in first. This has to be done with permanent colour (I’ll explain why below) and it has to be done because the blue molecules are smaller and have been mostly unaffected by the bleaching, they’re the last ones to get taken out (when hair is bleached, it goes through these stages: black> dark brown > caramel > weird orangey colour > weird bright yellow > pale yellow > white. If your hair’s not black, it picks up to the nearest stage on this sequence, eg if you’re a natural blonde, it will go weird bright yellow > pale yellow > white depending on when you wash it off).
To make your hair pigment, “nature” (or whatever) throws together a bunch of melanin (yes, vaguely something to do with melatonin) of different shades (it comes in 3 colours), and the combination of those 3 shades and the quantity of individual molecules are what produce your hair colour.
To restore the hair to a believable darker colour, then, you have to go through the other colours and replace those first. I could have replaced the yellow before the red, but most hair colourants to achieve blonde hair are either semi-permanent or have very aggressive developer (to get lighter results for darker hair), so doing that would blast holes in my hair shafts like there’s no tomorrow, and not really put much colour into it for the trouble, so I went for a yellowy-red instead of a true red, and that’s why I always go to ginger instead of bright red (ginger has the red and yellow molecules in it, bright red has very few yellow molecules) for the first thing I do to my hair after I’ve had it very light blonde for a while.
And that’s why, now, I can either let the red build up to restore my hair or I can make it brown to restore it. If I hadn’t bothered with the red, the brown dye would most likely give my hair a disgusting green tinge.
And that’s why I don’t say I can “repair” it (because nothing does that, hair is dead when it grows out of the scalp, you can’t “heal” a dead thing), I say “restore” or “fix” because I can make it look like it’s fine, but if you put my hair under a microscope it would probably look awful.
You mentioned semi permanent colours – I’ve been told they’re really good for my hair, why don’t you use those instead?
Semi permanent colours only affect the outside of the hair shaft. They don’t have the chemicals they need to penetrate the shaft and add colour to the inside. If you imagine my white hair is an empty drinking straw, the semi-permanent is like getting a felt pen and colouring the outside of that straw – it won’t make it more stable on the inside, and the hair is still left too fragile.
The permanent colours put the pigment inside the hair shaft – so they’re less “healthy” if you have perfect, undyed hair, but they’re more “healthy” if your hair has no pigment in the middle.
I cant visualise all this crap about molecules, can you explain it with some diagrams?
Yes! Here’s a video I made, that explains it with diagrams and a whiteboard (in case you missed it above):
Just in time to make the Friday blog update, I got this video finished! I’m answering questions I’ve been asked about my hair including how I got it silver, how I get white hair, how I look after it, why my hair hasn’t all snapped off, whether I use silver shampoo and more. Check it out if you’re vaguely curious:
This article will give you 21 tips and tricks to help you to write a bestselling travel article: In the style of a well known travel website which also sells guidebooks.
I look to magazines to show me the best examples of how to write. Sometimes I have to wonder why these people get paid in money rather than in bananas. That’s right, I’m implying a relationship between monkeys and typewriters. Bearing that in mind, here are some tips on how to write the perfect bestselling travel article, including photo editing tips:
1. Pick a place that’s easy to get to, but far enough away that normal people can’t actually afford to go there.
2. Take one or two photos that are probably unrepresentative of the place as a whole, particularly if it involves the sea, rugged landscapes, or any view you can only get from a helicopter.
3. Touch up the picture with Photoshop to enhance the colours, to make it even more unrepresentative of the place, and edit out the unsightly evidence of real life taking place, such as litter, insects or children. Your aim is for travellers to be disappointed when they get there, so they go somewhere else (and buy a new guidebook) next year.
4. Write a story, embellish the details and make up interactions with semi-stereotypical characters who are always unusually aware of their global context for a farmer/mechanic/factory worker, to really show people an unrepresentative slice of life in the place where they’ll never go (because if they did, they’d find out you made it all up).
5. The opening paragraph – use at least four adjectives per sentence, the whole paragraph must be exactly three sentences long. The first sentence should have no more than 8 words in it. The second sentence can be a little longer.
6. The body of the article: Basically the first paragraph serves to describe the place in its entirety, from here on you will be talking about the history, climate, etc, and never, ever tell people anything useful such as what they could find there, how to get there, what petrol is called, what side of the road to drive on. Instead, you should find the most obscure language in the area and throw around one or two words that don’t mean anything, because it makes people feel like they now know enough lingo to go there. You never know, they might just find that one person who speaks that actual language and talk to them for long enough to use the two words they can now understand. More likely, it’s an insular community who are sick to death of white people, since their only contact with white people is when they turn up, gawk, take pictures of them as if they’re objects, then talk loudly at them and leave.
7. It is probably a place of conflict. Briefly mention the conflict, and don’t hasten to embellish on exactly how this conflict has changed all the people who live here, even if it only happened a few years ago or only happened for two days, or only affected one village that was eight hundred miles away from where you stayed. The only exception to this is if the conflict is ongoing. If the conflict is ongoing, you must mention it in less than one sentence, or even better, don’t mention it at all. They can find out for themselves when they get shot.
8. Don’t mention cultures or customs (with the exception of high days such as Carnevale or Divali, people need to know what they could have done, had they picked better travel days), after all, wouldn’t it be really funny if all the unescorted white women got arrested for immodesty, driving or being out unaccompanied. Better still, don’t tell them about the kidnap/rape problem, because that’s no biggie if it happens. The absolute best practice, though, is to tell your audience all about the cool exciting awesome things you can do in this country, which women aren’t actually allowed to do, and adding a tiny sentence at the end saying “women are not allowed in/on/at the …”
9. Do mention pickpockets or begging children, people will then think your article is honest and reflective of the “real” place.
10. Do mention that drugs are illegal. After all, the fact that they’re illegal EVERYWHERE is such a good deterrent that telling people what happens when they get caught abroad will REALLY stop them doing it. Seriously, this is like secret code for “everyone does drugs in this country.” Those are the only countries they ever point out the legality for.
11. Don’t mention any of the potential diseases you can get in the country you’re writing about. Or any of the necessary vaccinations. Who cares if some tourists die of malaria, AIDS, dengue fever or cholera as long as they bought your guidebook before they departed on their trip?
12. Don’t mention the state of the hospitals or other emergency services. People won’t take out travel insurance if they find out it’s utterly useless due to the fact that there aren’t any hospitals within 800 miles. And then you won’t get money from advertisers.
13. Don’t mention whether the destination has decent food for coeliacs, vegans, Muslims or Jews. They don’t need to eat. As a travel writer, you don’t know any of “those people” personally, so clearly they don’t exist.
14. Do talk in great detail about the “traditional dish” or “national dish” (which nobody really eats who lives there) which is usually meat stuffed with meat in meat sauce with meat and/or possibly cheese.
15. Leave out information about electricity. No-one charges their phone when they’re on holiday.
16. Keep pushing those sponsored hire car articles, but don’t tell readers ANYTHING about the various highway laws. Getting tickets abroad and putting the wrong fuel in your car is fun! Hey they could even get their car impounded!
17. Keep talking about budget options, but don’t actually make an effort to include anything that’s truly cheap. Whatever the hell you get paid to write those shoddy articles is too much if you think £80 a night is a budget hotel/hostel.
18. Never mention anything to do with accessibility.People who are disabled, people who have a guide dog to accompany them (or other support animal) and people with kids in pushchairs don’t travel. Only rich able bodied people do that. That’s why there are ramps and lifts and things all round the world.
20. Don’t mention which religious groups reside in the area or where the local churches are, or what denominations can worship here. People stop believing in religion when they’re on holiday.
21. DO mention architecturally famous places of worship. Particularly if nobody can worship in them any more. Because travellers want to see the stunning results of religious buildings but don’t want to actually thank the people that made it all possible.
If you follow this guide, you too can produce financially lucrative, but boring and uninformative travel articles with exaggerated details, that editors will pay to publish. That’s a highly popular way that you can make a living off travel writing – because selling out and selling lies to the Man is everyone’s dream come true right?
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.
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?
This is the updated 2020 version of one of my most popular articles, discussing my favourite silver shampoos. I have tried quite a few over the years but there are now dozens on the market! I still think these ones are truly outstanding (although some repackaging has happened since I wrote this).
A hairdresser who I know, who shall remain anonymous, believes that all silver shampoos are created equal. I have also seen conflicting advice on the internet about how, exactly, you’re supposed to use silver shampoo, with some people seeming to think it is used to tone the hair. See this article on toning to find out about my toning routine.
For new and aspiring platinum and silver blondelets, here is a breakdown of how you get any light cool shade of blonde, basically you stop when you’re happy with the colour, although see my other articles to find out SPECIFICALLY what I mean:
1. You bleach your hair. I would use a powder bleach and developer combo, such as John Frieda B Blonde High Lift Powder Bleach (or L’Oreal Quick Blue in the US) and bottles of peroxide (see my other hair articles to learn more about bleaching and what products I’ve used, and why I use the ones that I do), although I have had success with box dyes in the past.
2. You wash all the bleach out.
3. You tone your hair with a toner. These work like either semi-permanent colours (directions silver toner or directions white toner, any of the toner mousses, Jerome Russell Platinum Blonde Toner, Manic Panic Virgin Snow) or permanent colours (Bleach London White Toner; Wella Color Charm T18 White Lady). Basically, if your toner requires a developer, it’s not semi permanent.
4. About a week after you toned your hair, start using silver shampoo and/or conditioner as a maintenance to prolong your toning. Use it once or twice a week, depending on how frequently you wash your hair.
5. If you wanted platinum blonde, and your hair is getting too silvery, use the silver shampoo less.
I have tried out four different silver shampoos so far this year. I will post pics and review them in order:
Superdrug Wash-In Wash-Out Conditioning Colour (this is a shampoo with a tint to it – someone on another review of this used it as a conditioner – please don’t do that, condition after with a nice repair mask or silver conditioner)
Balea Silber Glanz (that’s German for “Silver Shampoo”)
Pro-Voke A Touch Of Silver
Bleach London Silver Shampoo
L’Oreal Professional Silver
Tigi Catwalk Silver
The Superdrug one is a-maze. It only comes in a tiny travel size bottle so if you’re going on holiday, I think you could get it through carry-on security without any issues, although check before you go as I drive to my exotic holiday destinations because I loooove road trips. This Superdrug one came with me to Rome the first time I went, in 2006, and I am convinced it protected my hair from the sun. One of the things I love about **being a light blonde abroad** is that your hair reflects the sun’s heat and you get less hot. The Superdrug shampoo is the cheapest to buy but not the cheapest per-100ml, because the bottle is tiny. It says up to 3 applications but my hair is waist length and super thick, and I get 2 applications out at the very most, so I’d say if your hair is shoulder length you’ll get more than 3 applications out of this.
Pros: The colour is very grey, and covers a multitude of sins including uneven toning and bleaching, accidental use of argan oil, and smoking. When I was pure white in 2008, I used this shampoo to get rid of nicotine stains from my housemates’ 40 a day habit.
It’s good for airport carry on – the bottle is tiny.
It’s easy to use, and you can leave it on for up to 15 minutes for a stronger colour result (it doesn’t say that on the packaging any more but it still works).
Cons: The colour is a very DULL grey, I don’t like the lack of sparkle to my hair after using this too frequently.
The colour builds up very quickly, meaning your hair colour keeps changing. I find this annoying.
The bottle is tiny, and at the price, it gets expensive if it’s your regular use one.
Conclusion: Take this one on holiday (in its own sandwich bag – if this leaks, you got a purple MESS), don’t use regularly at home, but can correct toning errors as long as you use another silver shampoo regularly.
Balea Silber Glanz:
I found this in Austria, where it was E1.65 for 200ml, I bought one for the rest of my journey. Then I found it in Germany, on the way home from Italy, where it was E1.45 for the exact same bottle, so I bought 6 to bring home for personal use. Recently, I found out Balea are selling to the UK on Amazon. I like this as a maintenance silver shampoo.
Pros: The UV filter protects your colour (no I don’t know how that works, but I tested in August in Rome; no colour shift at all and minimal drying to hair).
It comes in a very reasonable bottle size, unlike Pro:Voke or Superdrug.
It has a gentle effect so it never builds up.
Cons: It has a gentle effect, so if you need something stronger you might want a different product.
You can only buy it cheaply in Germany, or slightly more expensively in the rest of mainland EU; the prices on Amazon Marketplace UK are shocking, I’ve seen Balea shampoo go for over £4 which I wouldn’t mind but it’s E1.45 in Germany! Stock is also limited on Amazon, to the point that it’s currently sold out.
Conclusion: I really love this shampoo, but it’s hard to get hold of and doesn’t deposit much colour, so I might be in a minority. You’ve got to hand it to the Germans; they really know how to take care of Ag and Pt hair for cheap. I’m looking forward to seeing if Sweden has similar exciting products if I ever get to go!
Pro:Voke A Touch of Silver Shampoo and Conditioner:
This is a really confusing one to review because they actually do two different shampoos and two different conditioners – they do tiny, more expensive bottles which are supposed to be the stronger stuff, known as Touch Of Silver Twice A Week Brightening Shampoo 150 ml for less regular use, and they do the cheaper, larger bottles called Touch Of Silver Daily Shampoo. I’ve finished an entire bottle of each of the four products – two shampoos, two conditioners – and am finally ready to comment.
Pros: They’re relatively cheap and readily available.
The tiny bottle of twice-weekly shampoo makes a bit of difference to your hair.
Cons: The regular use shampoo and both conditioners are less than useless. I get a much better result from using a better silver shampoo and a decent non-blonde conditioner made for normal people’s hair. Both conditioners left my hair dull and dry, despite claiming to contain optical brighteners. The tiny weekly shampoo didn’t make that much difference to my hair, even after 20 minutes, and the result was always uneven, no matter how long or short I left it on for. Personally I am not going to buy this range again, and I suspect they’re only so popular because people don’t know what other silver shampoos are out there.
Conclusion: These are for sale everywhere and if I totally ran out of every other silver shampoo and this was the only thing for sale, I would buy the weekly use shampoo. If I had absolutely no other choice, I still wouldn’t buy the regular shampoo or either conditioner again they have done more harm than good and my hair looked less silver after using them.
Bleach London Silver Shampoo:
Where can you get it?
You can buy it here: http://www.boots.com/en/Bleach-Silver-Shampoo-250ml_1401400/
And here’s the conditioner: http://www.boots.com/en/Bleach-Silver-Conditioner-250ml_1401402/
As far as I know, this is a relatively new product. Since I first saw it’s empty shelf with a price tag in Boots, it’s been sold out every time I’ve been in, for a few months, but I finally ran out of the Pro:Voke last week so could buy this guilt-free and it was FINALLY in stock. I got the shampoo and conditioner, but I haven’t tried the conditioner yet, and here’s why: The shampoo is enough. Literally, it leaves my hair more silver, but doesn’t dull it or leave a nasty residue, the colour result is even and smooth, and I’ve washed it again with non-silver shampoo since I first used it, and this silver shampoo hasn’t faded at all.
Pros: See above. Plus you don’t seem to need as much product to cover your hair as any of the others I’ve tried. Update June 2015: I have used a full bottle of the conditioner now, and feel it’s nowhere near as good as the shampoo, and it’s not very conditioning either.
Cons: It’s the most expensive out of all the ones available in normal shops, at £5 a bottle (as of 2015), but it’s worth it, and I know that bottle will last because I don’t have to use it every time I wash my hair, or even every two times. I could finally wait ten days between silver applications! You do get product build up with this one though, which dulls the colour of your hair, and it’s quite harsh on the hair, and very drying. I team it with Schwarzkopf Gliss Liquid Silk Gloss Conditioner to get more sparkle from my hair strands. The silver conditioner is definitely good for extra cool tones.
Conclusion: It’s good on the colour side if you want dark silver, it’s less good for white or platinum. I would buy it again but only if I couldn’t afford either the L’Oreal Professional silver or Tigi Catwalk Violet shampoos.
L’Oreal Professional Silver Shampoo
Where can you get it?
I bought it from a professional hairdressing store, they generally sell to the general public these days; otherwise it’s available online at the well known shopping giant Amazon. I found the lid was quite flimsy so I wouldn’t order it online unless my local professional stockists stop selling it.
Pros: I absolutely love this one. It’s the most even coverage, gives the best silver result, doesn’t dull down the colour of your hair, and offers the least product build up. It’s nowhere near as abrasive on the hair as the Bleach London one. It’s about £7.50, making it the most expensive gram-for-gram, but it’s the best one there is, and of the six I’ve tried, this is the one I’ll be buying again, once my Tigi runs out. It also has a more blue base than the others, so it brings the hair to a whiter silver than the Bleach London or the Superdrug ones.
Cons: It’s lid is really flimsy which means that I wouldn’t trust a mail order company. Also it’s hard to acquire if you don’t live in a city with a professional hairdressing store.
Conclusion: I love this shampoo and once I’ve finished the Tigi one, this is what I’m going to buy again.
Tigi Catwalk Silver Violet Shampoo
Where can you buy it?
Again, it’s available either from professional/specialist hair stores, or you can get it online.
Pros: It was £17.50 for about a litre and a half of this stuff. So it’s the cheapest per gram of any of them. It leaves your hair really soft and nourished, and is the least abrasive of any of the most pigmented ones. It has a pump top so in the shower you can just press down on it to get the product out of the bottle.
Cons: It’s in a really big bottle, so if you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it for ages. Its coverage isn’t quite as even or as pigmented as the L’Oreal one, and it really works best on towel dried hair rather than wet hair in the shower.
Conclusion: I like this shampoo, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through the bottle now, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as the L’Oreal one, so I’ll be using the L’Oreal one once this bottle is finished.
So there you have it, my favourite is L’Oreal Professional’s Silver Shampoo. Obviously this is my subjective opinion based on results I have observed on my own hair, so I don’t want to urge you to rush out and buy it, but personally, I’m so glad I did.
Also, it’s not good for your hair to use a silver shampoo every time you wash. With the exception of the Balea one, none of the others actually clean your hair much, they just fix the colour. Only if I’ve used dry shampoo on my hair, I would shampoo with a non-silver before using a silver shampoo just to clean my hair so it’s ready to take on the colour. I do this because when I was a brunette last year, I had the brown dry shampoo, and two wet shampoos later, I’d still be getting brown residue of dry shampoo washing out of my hair. At the end of the day, dry shampoo is still a product and it still builds up in your hair, it’s not a real shampoo, it’s actually powder that absorbs grease, and it needs to be washed out before you use silver shampoo otherwise your colour result will be disappointing because it’ll stick to the dry shampoo residue and wash straight out.
28-03-15 For a review of what I’ve used between silver shampoos, I’ve written a separate article which is now published!