How I Got my Hair Back

Just before I turned thirty, I cut my hair short.  I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it, I just dropped into a London salon I’d searched up on Google that day at work, went armed with a couple of pictures I’d saved from Pinterest on the train ride, and I had the whole lot lopped off.  SNIP SNIP.  For someone who felt like her long hair had defined her throughout her teens and early twenties, this took guts.  And while the decision was impulsive and was put down by those around me to Saturn’s Return, the truth was that I did it – and decided that I needed to do it – because I felt like I’d completely lost control of my hair.  It was in bad shape and was making me miserable every time I looked in the mirror.

The long, mermaid hair I’d always thought of as “me” had split and thinned out to the extent that I’d actually stopped wearing it down, and just putting it into a lanky, limp ponytail made me upset.  It just looked awful.  Something had changed around the time that I moved to London.  London water is HARD, and the chalky residue it left behind every time I washed my hair was drying it out. It was so damaged that it was falling out in terrifying chunks in the shower or when I brushed it.  And even though Sunny and everyone around me kept telling me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, I refused to hear them.  But then I also refused to do the one thing I could to get it back under control. Instead of getting it cut, I desperately clung on to the meager strands I had even though they were beyond help.

Finally deciding to let those dead ends rest in peace was the first step I took to getting my hair back, and three years of hard work later, it’s looking so much thicker and healthier.  I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, but I’m happy with it.  I think I’ve finally found a routine that works. 🙂

Of all my weird patterned shirts (and there are a lot.  A LOT.), I think this mermaid one is my favourite.  Unfortunately, it’s a few years old now but I did find a link to one selling on eBay if anyone’s interested. 🙂

Regular Trims

When I was seventeen I had hair down to my waist and my whole hair care regime involved my Mum dragging me to her hairdresser once a year where I mournfully parted with an inch of a dead ends.  Then, during my twenties it became horribly clear that the old ways just weren’t cutting it anymore (…see what I did there 😉 ).  My fine, dry hair was far more prone to breakage than it used to be (thanks London water!) and so far more susceptible to splits.  That meant that the longer I left it between trims, the thinner my hair got as the split ends made their way up the hair shaft.  Nowadays I’m still a bit lacsy-daisy about getting my ass down to the hairdressers regularly, but as soon as I see the ends drying out and splitting, I go and part with as much hair as I need to to keep the hair I do have looking healthy.

Less Washing & Heat Styling

I used to wash my hair every day – and sure it kept my hair clean and restyled, but by doing so I stripped it of all its natural oils.  Plus heat styling every day on top of that made it dry, which in turn left it brittle.  These days I wash my hair no more than three times a week (I like the Garnier Ultimate Blends Sensitive Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner) and heat style it as little as possible.  (It also helps that the water here in Cardiff is nice and soft).

I’m a huge fan of Toni&Guy’s styling products; they smell amazing, they don’t weigh my fine hair down and they’re usually on a two for one offer either at the supermarket or Boots! 😉 I can’t rave about Vitapointe enough; it’s basically a leave in conditioner that you put on dry hair and I like to put it on my ends after styling or whenever they’re looking a little frazzled.  You don’t need a lot of it, it’s not greasy and it’s cheap!  Aaaaand, I like to put a coconut oil mask on my ends once a week – usually when I’m in the bath – just to keep those split ends at bay.

Keep it Simple when it comes to Products

When my hair was at its worst I started buying expensive shampoos, conditioners and miracle oils to sort it out.  But that was a waste of time and money.  My hair was already broken, and layering heavy moisture-rich products on top just weighed it down, stressed out my scalp and no matter how expensive they were they were never going to be able to bring my dead ends back to life.  These days I’ve stripped my products back and only use ones that work with my hair type – and, they’re all cheap as chips! 😉  Oh, and I stick with them – no more chopping and changing.

Ditch the Hair Ties

It got to a point where I was so depressed about my hair that I stopped wearing it down and instead scraped it back into a bun every day.  But using hair ties was just making things worse and left me with flyaways and split ends halfway up the hair shaft.  I know there are supposedly hair ties out there that claim not to cause breakages, but for me, going cold turkey on all hair ties was the only thing that worked.  Clips and pins all the way!

No Dye

When I was at Uni I went through a whole pink hair phase – which was fun at the time, but did horrible things to my hair and scalp!  I had highlights and balayage throughout my twenties and although I loved how my hair looked with a bit of blonde through the ends, it just made it drier.  I made the decision to go Au Natural a few years ago and it’s definitely helped my hair spring back to its former glory.  I mean, I’m tempted all the time to foil up again like I used to… but I’ve worked so hard to get my hair back that I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Be Happy With What you Have!

Last time I went to the hairdressers there was teen in the chair next to me getting highlights put in.  She had the most gorgeous mass of curls I’ve ever seen and hair envy hit me HARD.  But, sometimes you’ve just got to roll with what you’ve got and be grateful for it.  Did cutting my hair short suddenly give me thick, curly hair?  Nnnnope.  But, it improved the condition of it and put me on the path to healthier locks. Sadly, thick, curly hair just isn’t in my genes.  I have fine hair.  I have dry hair.  I have annoying baby hairs around my face that like to stick up.  And, I’m probably never going to have the mermaid hair I was blessed with in my teens again.  But that’s okay.  The problem with wanting what you don’t have is that you forget to appreciate what you do have.

What are your top hair care tips or holy grail products?  Let everyone know in the comments! 💇

*This post contains Affiliate Links, read about what that means here.

5 ways to get that Spring feeling (when it’s not Springing outside)

Is it just me or has this felt like the longest winter ever?  True to form the British weather has been a right old tease the past couple of months, from that false flash of Spring back in February to the March deep freeze.  And despite the fact that we’re now over a week into April, Spring seems to still be playing hard to get.  So, if like me you’re getting tired of waiting for warmer weather to arrive, here are few things you can do around that house to get that Spring feeling. 🙂

T Shirt & Sunglasses – Primark, Trainers – H&M (similar here), Scarf – really old! (similar here)

Have a Wardrobe Clear-out

On a soggy Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was bored enough to feel like tackling my wardrobe.  I made myself a cuppa, put Youtube on, scooped out my clothes and chucked them on the bed, and then I slowly started putting them into piles.  It actually didn’t take very long, but at the end of it I’d sifted out all the clothes I didn’t wear anymore and the ones I wasn’t going to need until next winter (I held a few jumpers back knowing full well that 1. Spring got lost in the post this year, and 2. Uh, Wales).  And bonus, I found some clothes I’d completely forgotten about, worked out what I was missing and made some room for some fresh Spring/Summer togs (you should see my ASOS wishlist…).  Ah!  That felt goooooood.

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Bring the Outside Inside

Ever since Bungle moved in, I’ve become a really neglectful plant parent, and over the winter my indoor greenhouse kind of turned into a plant mortuary.  Oops!  Last week I decided enough was enough and had a crispy leaf clear-out.  I got rid of all the dead plants, cleaned their pots and then trimmed, fed and re-potted the survivors (…there weren’t many… *ahem*).  It’s surprising how empty and bland the house feels without a bit of greenery though, and so – even though I should probably be banned from ever owning vegetation again – I’m going to think about buying some new plants. 🙂

Make a Spring/Summer Bucket List

Okay, so the weather’s crap and it’s just too miserable to go out.  So, I’m going to start making a list of everything I do want to do when the weather eventually cheers up.  That way, as soon as the sun makes an appearance there won’t be any dithering and deciding where to go and what to do!  I’m ready and raring.

Eat Fresh

I find it so hard to eat healthy when it’s cold and wet!  All I want to do is stuff my face with chocolate and pizza.  But I always feel so much better and more like summer is on its way when I ditch the heavy comfort food and start eating more fruit.  Time to look up some new recipes to try!

Deep Clean the House

There’s nothing better than having a good old Spring clean, and this year – let me tell you guys – a deep clean was definitely needed.  It’s been a wet winter and Bungle’s muddy paws had not only done a number on our carpets and skirting boards, but he’d flicked wet mud off on the walls so much that they were starting to look like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Before Easter I took a couple of days and cleaned the house from top to bottom.  And I mean really cleaned.  I washed the curtains, wiped and repainted the skirting boards and went through about five bottles of Zoflora, but IT. WAS. WORTH. IT. 

So whenever Spring actually feels like turning up, I’m ready for it!  Have a great week everyone! 🙂

Here’s To the Women

Happy #InternationalWomen’sDay, which is probably my favourite day to skim social media, because today between the ads, the clickbait, and Trump’s mis-tweets there are so many stories of amazing, strong, fearless women.  We got this!

Me?  I’m not sure if I’m strong and fearless, in fact, I can think of more times when I’ve been the exact opposite.  But, I’m almost certain that during those weak and fearful moments, 9 times out of 10, I’ve been picked back up by womankind.  So, let’s raise a glass (or a mug, in my case!) to the women who scoop up other women and help them to stand tall again.  Here’s to them and their small acts of heroism.

Here’s to…

…my Aunt, who tells the most amazing stories, has travelled the world (sometimes even on her own) and is absolutely determined to learn how to use her computer.

…Brown Owl, for letting me phone home as many times as I wanted on Brownie Pack Holiday when I got homesick, but also for absolutely refusing to let me go home under any circumstances!  Would I have ever gone to University or moved to London if I hadn’t survived that week away from home?  Who knows.

…the “Swot Brigade”, I mean sure, it took us about a month longer than everyone else to work out that we could roll our skirts instead of just wearing them down to our ankles (the fashionable midi skirt wouldn’t come into fashion for at least another ten years), but  hey, we were our own brand of cool and stuck up for each other all through High School.

…the Bishop Girls of 2001, who decided that it was high time that girls were allowed to choose whether to wear skirts or trousers to school.  It was my first experience of feminist protest and we won!

…my Mother-in-Law, for losing months of sleep working on a case against the local health board whose negligence killed your mother, and for helping make my big move to London so much easier than I thought it was going to be.  Oh, and for cooking Aloo Gobi just because you know it’s my favourite 😉

…Rach, who bought me Chicken McNuggets at the end of the second year when I had no money left (of my overdraft) and was bawling my eyes out because I’d just said goodbye to my future husband for a whole year.  For telling me that she always looked forward to my Night Out Debriefing MSN Blog Posts and Photographs.  For teaching me that when Easyjet batters your luggage beyond recognition that you’ve got a right to storm up to their desk at the airport and demand that they damn well pay for a replacement – and for so, so, so much more. ❤

…the Random Old Lady on the Saturday Morning train from Swansea to Cardiff on the 17th of November 2006, who told me that I had vomit in my hair and offered to get me some water and paracetamol when I emerged from the train toilet in the midst of my first real hangover.  Cheers for that.

…my Year 7 English girls, for being so scary smart (watch out, those girls are going to run the world), for letting me know when my eyeliner was “on fleek”, for teaching me what “on fleek” means, and for that time that I said I wanted to be a writer when I grew up for saying, “Aren’t you already grown up, Miss?”

…Missy, who kicks ass in Westminster every day, never turns up empty-handed and ALWAYS sends a thank you card.  For trying some of my worst culinary creations, including a Kirsch Cake (vom) and a Jelly Baby Cheesecake (diabetes on a plate). She’s the finest lady I know, and the most hilarious drunk.

…my Year 12 Computing Teacher, for being a women who thought computers were cool and for making me feel like a total badass for being one of only two girls in my year to study for an A Level in Computing.  (Oh, and for that time you accidentally told us to “go ahead and shove our floppy dicks into the drive”)

Nina, for being my first fan. 😉  And all the other blogger babes.  You guys inspire me every single day.

…Is it me or is this slowly turning into my Oscars Best Actress speech…?

…my Mamgu, who instilled in me the importance of spoiling oneself with tea and cake and other sweet things.

…my Year 12 History Teacher, who told me to stop sniffling and get studying when I failed my first AS History paper.  You taught me that it’s okay to fail as long as you don’t give up.  Because of that pep talk, I worked hard and totally aced the resit. 😉

…my Mum, for inadvertently starting my obsession with Women’s History (I know you don’t remember teaching me about Madame de Pompadour when we went to Versailles, but yeah, you did.  That one’s on you!).  For being so brave when Dad was sick.  For having the spirit of adventure whenever we went on holiday and forcing me to try everything – no one has the “when in Rome” spirit quite like you do.  For insisting we stop and take a photograph ALL THE TIME.  For introducing me to eye-makeup remover (I’m so sorry I ruined so many of your towels growing up!), and for teaching me how to make the perfect Victoria Sponge… and then for not complaining when I decided to ruin it by experimenting with it.  For encouraging my car-singing (“I should be so lucky” – you, not so much for having to listen to it over and over again!).  For not being afraid to laugh loudly on a quiet airplane in the middle of the night.  And everything else.

Here’s to the Women.  Which women are you raising your mug to today?  ♀️

What kind of Instagrammer are you?

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Love it or loathe it, you can’t help but admire how far Instagram has come from its early bordered, Nashville filtered days. These days it seems to be changing so fast that it’s kind of getting hard to keep up (I get all excited when I log in and see a little “new” symbol glowing in the corner of the screen – a sure sign of addiction, eep!) – and yep, it’s harder than ever before to grow.

What is it that makes us tap that blue button, and why do we decide to stick around?  What drives us to like and – better yet – comment on posts?  The problem with answering that question is that we all get different things out of Instagram and follow very different accounts for very different reasons – and there are so many different accounts out there!

So, in an attempt to figure out an answer to that impossible question, I’ve broken those millions of users down into five different ‘Grammers.  Which one are you?

The Pornographer

We all follow a few of these. Whether it’s food, fashion, flatlays, fur babies or far flung adventures, The Pornographer‘s posts have made it to your feed because you know what you like and you like what you see *quirky eyebrows*. Aesthetically pleasing, they give good ‘Gram – with their flawless photography and clear style – and you’re probably going to hit that Like button before you’ve even scrolled down to read the Caption. Do you even need to read it? The picture was satisfying enough.

Tips for Pornographers (…huh, never thought I’d write that phrase…):

  • Pretty Pictures! Pornographers need to create content that’s easy on the eyes, so prepare to up your photography game!  I cannot rave enough about editing apps like Snapseed (VSCO’s good, but the amount of fine editing you can do with Snapseed is seriously in-cred-ible – plus, it’s completely free!), Color Story and Lightroom.  Whereas Apps like Prisma are great for creating special effects, and Apps like Hypetype, Fontmania and App for Type allow you to add text.
  • Plan Ahead. Apps like Planoly and Mosaico are gold dust for helping schedule your posts and see how they’ll look on your feed… y’know, if you’re one of those types who’s super serious about their “theme”.
  • Develop a “style” which – alright, yeah – is so much easier said than done.  A good starting point is to figure out what colours/filters you use the most, your favourite physical settings to snap, and which photos perform the best.  Apps like VSCO allow you to create editing “recipes(and Snapseed has a “last edits” feature) which help keep all your photos similarly styled.
  • Organise Inspo. Use the bookmarking feature to create mood boards and save pictures that might inspire your own future posts.

The Soul Mate

The Soul Mate is the total opposite opposite of The Pornographer. I mean sure, you were probably reeled in by that candid of them eating brunch or a snap of their cute doggo, but the truth is that at some point you made a connection with the person behind the account. They could post literally anything now because the truth is you’re scrolling to read their caption, nodding along to news about what they’re binge watching or how rubbish work was and then commenting “Same!”.

Tips for Soul Mates:

  • Connect! For Soul Mates, their following is completely dependent on building a connection with their followers, and to do that they need to remember that Instagram – at its core – is a social media app.  So go find your own Soul Mates; like, comment, message and work on building relationships within the app. 🙂
  • Micro Blogging is a great way of building a connection with your followers.  For Soul Mates, this means telling little stories of their daily lives within every caption.  The days of getting away with posting just a hashtag and an emoji are OVER.  Soul Mates should be revealing pieces of their soul in every caption and adding a call to action to get conversation (engagement) going; ask your followers a question, even if it’s as simple as, “What are you up to today?”
  • Micro Vlog. Instagram Stories is one of the best ways of allowing your followers to see the real you (or as much of it as you’re willing to let them see!).  Just as captions are a great way to Micro-Blog, Instagram Stories are great for Micro-Vlogging.  Take your followers on  one of your daily adventures – even if it’s just a trip to Tesco.
  • Bookmark your Besties. Because of the pesky Algorithim (grrr!) some of the accounts you want to be interacting with might not always pop up on your feed.  So, why not use the Bookmarking Feature to organise who you follow and easily keep up with their new posts.  Or failing that, turn on the notification feature.
  • Block the spammers.  Nifty little trick this, to stop all those spammy “Love this!1!” and “Cool! Check out my page!” comments, head into your comment settings and type those phrases into the box to block them (read more about that here).  Bye bye bots!
  • Instagram Live. Go Live; If you’re brave enough, it’s a great way of having a heart to heart with your followers or bringing your followers in on special moments or adventures with you.

The Insta-Famous

You can spot The Insta-Famous a mile off because most of their comments are just the word “Gooooooals” repeated over and over and over again, and they’ve probably got the social media badge of honour on their profile (the big blue tick!). You might not be able to relate to their lifestyle, but behind the eye roll you’d be lying if you said that you didn’t enjoy snooping in on them from time to time.

Tips for The Insta-Famous:

  • Schedule. The Insta-Famous haven’t got time to mess around on the app like they used to and so scheduling apps are their best friend.  There are so many scheduling apps out there all bragging different features – like Hootsuite, Buffer and Tailwind – so find one your like, and use it!
  • Insights and Analytics. Now that you’re in the big leagues you’re going to want to keep track of how your profile is performing.  Apps like Iconosquare allow you to get a peek into your analytics and better understand who’s following.
  • Use your links!  Once you hit 10,000 followers you can add swipe up links within your stories that can funnel followers to your blog, business page (or through an affiliate link – kerching).  Outside of stories you’re only allowed one link on your profile page – so be sure you add one!
  • Tag Brands and other Big Accounts. For a chance to blast your content out and gain even more followers (greedy, much?), don’t forget to tag brands both on the grid and within stories.
  • Hashtags are the obvious way to boost followers, but if you’re only using them on your grid, then you’re missing out.  Stories are a whole other… uh, Story.  Hashtag, tag users and brands and most importantly of all, tag your location.  Your story will appear within Location Stories, blasting it to a whole new group of users who might just click through and follow.
  • Be careful with Location settings.  It kind of goes without saying, but be safe!  Don’t ever post pictures of the front of your house, important documents, and never ever post your home’s location.

The Teacher

I’m not suggesting that we all start stalking our old Geography Teacher, but we’ve all got a teacher or two on our Instagram feeds. The Teacher has something to offer their followers other than photography. Maybe they know all the best brunch spots in your home town, or are always sharing their latest Primark steals (uh, not literally…), or know how to do winged liner without shoving the tip in your eye every damn time (teach me your ways!). You follow them for their wise words, hacks and tips and then do the homework yourself.

Tips for Teachers:

  • Videos and Tutorials. For Teachers, their followers rely on their tips, tricks and words of wisdom.  So teach!  Create video tutorials of recipes either for your grid, or within Instagram Stories.
  • Highlights. One of the best new features within the app is the ability to save your stories within an easy to navigate (and very easily organised) bar on your profile page (read more about how to do that here).  So if you do some DIY, bake something, film your makeup or come up with a cheeky hack, pin it to your profile so your followers can easily go back to it whenever they like!  If you have a blog and post a recipe, why not add a link to your Instagram profile within the post letting people know that there’s a video tutorial there if they want to see it?
  • Special Effects. Video editing apps are GOLD.  Apps like Videoshop allow you to speed up and slow down videos, trim them and add music and sound effects.  You might also want to download a screen recording app like AZ Screen Recorder which allows you to record your phone screen – handy for tutorials, eh? (…Or if you want to show your followers what you’re listening to in Spotify… that’s what I use it for 😉 )
  • Class is in Session!  Go Live!  Take your tutorials and demonstrations live!  Let your followers know what date and time you’ll be giving a live demo within a post 🙂

The Real Lifer

That old school mate who keeps posting photographs of their baby, Dave from accounting who posts photographs of every craft ale he drinks, or your Mum (MY Mum), who’s on a mission to turn all your old baby photos into digital ones (thanks Mum!). You follow them because they’re a Real Lifer; you know them off the grid and it would risk an awkward face to face conversation if you UNfollowed them… right?

Tips for Real-Lifers:

  • Privacy Please. So Real Lifers might not need or want tips on using Instagram, but if you’ve got a few Real Lifers on your follow list then you might want some tips on how to manage them!  You could set your account to private if you’re worried about who’s viewing your photos, and you can even block users that make you nervous.
  • Hide Your Stories. But what if you don’t want to get extreme?  Unfortunately, you can’t pick and choose who sees your actual Instagram posts unless you go private or block, but you can control who sees your Stories.  If you go into your story settings, you can hide them from certain followers.  So you can hide that story you posted when you were drunk from your Mum, or the stories of you living it large from your co workers who all think you’re off sick.  They’ll never know!  😉

What type of ‘Grammer are you?  Are there any I’ve missed?  Leave your Instagram links below! 🙂

 

Happy Birthday Bungle!

My bestie turned one on Saturday, and seeing as today is the dreaded Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year according to the media) what better way of bringing a bit of sunshine to your feeds than a bumper, image-heavy Bungle post?

It’s been such an amazing year.  Sunny and I had always wanted a dog – especially a Golden Retriever – and we couldn’t believe our luck when a Goldie not far from us had a litter last January (Friday the 13th, which should have been an omen really!).  Bungle is one of a kind.  He can be difficult and stubborn (I’m pretty sure I’m the neighbourhood laughing stock – he drags me around the block, knocks me off my feet and decides to hump me in the middle of the road on the daily), but we love him to bits.  He’s the friendliest dog in the world and makes us laugh every single day (check out his Instagram for a daily dose of his trouble making).  And because of that, we spoil him rotten. 😉

Oh come on, of course I made him a birthday cake!  It’s a dog-friendly cupcake with a cream cheese and peanut butter blob of frosting.






Have a great week everyone! ♡