28 March 2013

The Dress: Check Mate

Primark has been giving me fashion life, last week it was the thin strapped heeled sandals (total YSL Jane knock offs) and yesterday I found this monochrome graphic checked print dress (think Louis Vuitton checked midi dresses and J.W Anderson's bold prints from pre fall 2012) for only £8

Charlotte Olympia Perspex Clutch, Zara Shoes and Scotch Naturals Nail Polish (The Hell With Swords And Garter)

Chloe, Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton

SS 2013 Louis Vuitton 

27 March 2013

The Midi Ring

I'm currently obsessed with midi rings, yes to some it may seem that I have had an allergic reaction and my rings no longer fit but to the trendy trendsetters I'm totally rocking the current trend of wearing your rings above the knuckle the aptly named 'midi' ring. I love a cheap and easy way to look chic, brands like ASOSUrban Outfitters, & H&M all have a selection of the coveted midi ring, or you can always buy the ring of your choice in a smaller size. Celebs like Rihanna have been seen wearing heart, spike or diamond encrusted midi rings, I personally like the minimalist look (think Balenciaga) so opted for simple gold bands that I picked up from Clas Ohlson....hold up....yes the hardware shop! I got 5 Compression Olives (I don't know what they are for!) for under £1.50 and they make great rings!


26 March 2013

Diesel + Edun + Solange

Another day another fashion collaboration, this time Diesel and Edun have collaborated to bring us a denim collection born in Africa in an attempt to further apparel trade and development. Solange Knowles has been performing and DJing for the collab this month, last seen strutting her stuff at Studio Africa Event  in LA(check out the Studio Africa Tumblr celebrating creativity in Africa)

Solange wore a Theyskens’ Theory Top, Edun Shorts and a CC Skye perspix clutch

The Diesel + Edun collection is made from untreated denim, the designs are said to be influenced by various African countries, it's a little more subdued than what some would expect from designs influenced by Africa (sorry no batik here!) its a bit more Diesel than Edun (I'd have liked to have seen more floaty fabrics and print work) so if you like Diesel go check it out if not just look at how lovely Flaviana Matata looks in the promo shots!

images via www.diesel.com

The Review: Madara Nourish & Repair Conditioner

A lot of things confused me, I literally walk around in a constant state of confusion and the list is endless...however one thing that had been confusing the heck out of me is protein, I've heard a lot about how our hair needs protein, I've also heard that I should avoid protein like the plague! So which is it
like most things it's individual to you, some people should avoid to much protein and some people need a lot, it's all about balance.

Getting the right balance of protein and moisture is key in your quest for healthy hair, Due to my hair being colour processed, it benefits from reconstruction protein treatments and conditioners. I recently purchased a conditioner from Lush Duck by Madara (£10.50 250ml) which is high in Hydrolyzed wheat Protein which increases your hair strands ability to retain moisture, reduces porosity and helps to repair damage

Madara left my hair smoother after the first use I noticed that my curls are a little more defined without product, on second use I left a small amount in my hair and did a wash and go with Eco Styler Gel and I'm really happy with the look of my hair, the conditioner also has a fresh grassy smell which made me feel like I was in some meadow (the smell of nature without the cow poop!) The grassy aroma isn't just a fragrance put in to make you feel at one with natural but come from the rich blend of Baltic flowers and grasses like sweet flag, plantain, burdock, nettle, and quince. Madara products are available worldwide check out stockists here

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin*, Distearylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Betain, Acorus Calamus (Calamus) Extract*, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract*, Plantago Major (Plantain) Extract*, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Extract*, Pyrus Cydonia (Quince) Extract*, D-panthenol (Provitamin B5), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lactic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Aroma**, Citral**, Eugenol**, Limonene**, Linalool** - * ingredients issued from Organic Farming ** natural essential oils 99% of the total ingredients are from a natural origin 7% of the total ingredients are from Organic Farming

25 March 2013

Guest Post: Ghana-5 Reasons To Go

When did this happen? When did Africa even feature as a destination of choice, I grew up somewhat conflicted about the motherland; on one hand it was the harrowing subject matter for Band Aid, charity adverts and Bono –starving children, Malaria, famine and war symbolised the Dark Continent. Yet that was my not my reality. My childhood holidays to Ghana it were fun packed, playing freely with my cousins in the neighbourhood, where I saw humanity in its most effervescent form. I saw kindness in the honest earnest ways of the people, where poverty existed but persistence and an unshakeable faith in God made them believe in the opportunities that lay ahead.
35 years on from my parent’s departure, there is nowhere else I’d rather be than in the land of abundant opportunity – Africa!
The Weather
Accra Beach

Boom! There it is....I've said it. It is my right, indeed my duty as an English woman who has seen more than her fair share of grey sunless sky, to begin and end with the weather. We Brits have made an art form of discussing the weather, needless to say it never disappoints and we are rained upon for three quarters of the year, with snow filling the momentary respite.

22 March 2013

The Editorial: Melodie Monrose For Elle

 I'm loving the 60's styling from this Elle US editorial, Hair by Fernando Torrent, Make-up by Hung Vanngo, Manicure by Mar Y Soul, Props by Luke Abbey

21 March 2013

The Cleanser: Madara EcoFace via Lush Duck

I'm on a bit of a skincare trip right now, and have spent countless downtime trawling the Internet looking for non toxic, eco friendly products, I came across Lush Duck a website dedicated to organic and natural beauty products for women, men and children they have sourced brands such as Pai, Lavera and Madara (to name a few) 

The Lush Duck team where good enough to send me some products to try from Madara a hair, make up and skin care range produced in Latvia and 100% naturally derived, 

I've had a chance to use the Madara Deep Purifying Foam (£16 150ml) for all skin types, It was great at removing the days grime, and after double cleansing removed all traces of make up with out leaving my skin tight, The foam is rich in Baltic St John's Wort, which is calming on skin and traditionally used for scrapes and cuts, with a mix of Calendula, Chamomile and Yarrow, which has excellent astringent properties. Madara Products are 100% natural and 20% of the ingredients are from organic farming, I've never used a foam before for my face I always thought I'd find it drying but that wasn't the case with this product, it's in the luxury brand price range at £16 but you can always take advantage of the current Lush Duck promotion and receive 10% off with promo code MAD10, I'd never heard of Madara before and I'm about to order their conditioner so I shall keep you posted as I work my way though the products! 

20 March 2013

The Polish: Non Toxic Brands

As kermit the frog so wisely stated, it's not easy being green! No more so than in the nail polish department. Nail polishes can be the most toxic of our beauty staples
Many containing  formaldehyde, phthalates, acetone, toluene and benzophenone which can damage your eyes, brain, lungs, endocrine system & respiratory system by absorbing into your blood stream via your nail beds and cuticles.

The three nail polish ingredients that not only unnecessary but harmful are;

Formaldehyde a gas used in household products, glue, paint and also used to embalm dead bodies (delightful!)

Dibutyl phthalate ( DBP) helps nail polish to harden oh and it's also been linked to fertility problems
Lastly Toluene is used so that nail polishes don't separate, but beware it can effect your central nervous system and cause dizziness and fatigue

Ok so this is all sounding quite extreme, but I believe that being someone that paints my nails weekly and is not willing to forgo the luxury it's time to weed out the nasties from my talons and introduce a less toxic option.

On close inspection of my nail polish collection, I'm actually not doing to bad, I have a selection of Mavala polishes that don't contain the top 3 polish baddies and Butter London polishes which pride themselves on being a non toxic option

Other not so toxic brands include Zoya, Scotch Naturals, Priti NYC  and Nars

Though you'd be hard pressed to find a completely natural polish option avoiding ones that contain the ingredients above is a good compromise.

19 March 2013

The Review: Balance Me Radiance Face Oil

I've just started using Balance Me Radiance Face Oil (£30 30ml), which is a 100% natural, super absorbent face oil for all skin types. Radiance Face Oil seeps into skin leaving it smooth and even and unlike rich oily moisturisers is a great base for make up. Balance Me suggests using it under your regular moisturiser but I find it works great on it's own. RFO contains Buriti nut oil, a rich source of Beta-Carotene which is a great skin antioxidant and a rich with Vitamin E. RFO also contains Sweet Almond Oil great at softening and conditioning skin. The mix of oils is very rich so a little goes a long way and Balance Me has made it easy to dispense sparingly with a handy pipet, to make this oil last longer you can also mix it with a simple face cream to give it an extra boost, RFO also comes in a roller ball version (£15 10ml) I have a roller ball oil from another brand and they last for ages! This is a great oil for all skin types, even oily skin as it balances as well a moisturises. 

Directions: Apply two drops into the palm of your hand and warm and massage into face, neck and d├ęcolletage  Use circular motions to help clear toxins, enhance circulation and boost cell renewal.

Ingredients: Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, Vitis vinifera (grape seed) oil, Aleurites moluccana (kukui) nut oil, Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, Rosa canina (rosehip) fruit oil, Mauritia flexuosa (buriti) oil, Moringa oleifera (moringa) seed oil, Camellia oleifera (camellia) oil, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile)*, Styrax benzoin (benzoin), Achillea millefolium (yarrow)*, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) extract, Limonene**, Linalool**, Geraniol**, Citronellol**

I'm liking the Balance Me Oil a lot, my skin feels fantastic!

18 March 2013

The Activist: Leona Lewis For The Body Shop

Leona Lewis is the new brand  activist  for The Body Shop, to highlight their campaign for cruelty free beauty (animal testing is now banned in the EU). Leona a long time veggie and animal lover has also put her name to some limited addition products, which include a Kabuki Brush, Shimmer Palette, Eau De Toilette and various Lip glosses all adorned with a floral deer, I must say it's all a bit saccharine for me but my tween cousins think it looks amazing and can't wait to try it when it launches on the 26th March so who am I to argue with the pre teen market (they know their stuff) prices start from around £8 

The Sweatshirt: Inna Modja In Fashizblack

The lovely Inna Modja has been wearing a 'Made in Bamako' sweatshirt from the Fashiz'store, I must have the 'Made in Lagos' design.

The Look Book: Ashley Moore For MissKL

The OOTD + Turning 30

I turned 30! I'm still recovering from the ordeal of leaving my 20's but it does feel good to be 30 (sort of) I started to think of all the things I should probably be giving up, Like watching teen movies, saying "init" and and genuinely acting like a dumb ass, but I'd rather continue to act like a woman child. However I will be getting serious on my skin care, dressing for my shape and eating better, I think that is adult enough at least until I'm 31......I may also buy a kitchen appliance that I don't know how to use!

Top & Jeans from  H&M , Glasses from Glasses Direct, Necklace & Shoes from Primark

Last week was also great on the product front, I have a whole bunch of goodies to try and  blog about. My best friend brought me some Shea Moisture products from LA (she knows me too well!) I also have some great skincare to try from Balance Me and Madara Eco Face which I got from LushDuck.co.uk I'll be reviewing all the above over the next week or so......for now it's back to mummy duties.

15 March 2013

Ask Belle: She has 99 Problems But Her Hair Shouldn't Be One

Dear Belle

I am also struggling to maintain my hair - being half african and white, my hair is really thin but puffy and frizzy. I seem to have obtained my mother's natural thin hair, so I lack the thickness of it even though its curly. I tend to wear it up always in a bun, scraped back - this is my 24/7 style. I am terribly bored of it but terrified to let my hair go naturally. My hair seems brittle and does not really grow - it has maintained the same length above shoulder for all my life now.

I have another problem - premature grey. From the age of 18, I started developing white hair, it runs in my family so now I have half a head of white at the age of 30. I dyed it temporarily with a wash out dye and now seem to be doing it every 2-3 weeks to touch up the roots. I would really ideally like to embrace the white and maybe introduce more white to make the most of its unusual nature and just let it be. Please do you have any tips or recommendations on what to do? Also, I live in London but I do not know where is a a good hair salon for mixed race/african hair is? I would like to find somewhere that can understand the texture of the hair and help educate me on the best way to look after it. Also possibly change the colour (add more white?)

Contrary to popular belief, naturally curly hair is often quite fine and it's not uncommon for natural hair have thick individual strands but for these strands to be spaced apart to make hair appear thin.
I suggest using products that have a lot of moisture in them but that are not to thick, like hair milk, and seal in that moisture with a light oil such as jojoba oil used sparingly and most at the ends of your hair. This is just going on the little information I have on your hair.

To better understand the right products for your hair you can try doing the hair porosity test, by plucking a strand of your hair (it has to be a plucked one and not a shed hair)

"Take a couple of strands of your hair and drop them into a bowl of water.Let them sit in the bowel for about two to four minutes.Observe your hair. If you hair is floating in the water, you have low porosity. If your hair is sinking, you have high porosity" [naturallycurly.com]

You can learn about which products you can use depending on the outcome of the test here

For combating frizz, I've found the best way is to find a curl setting technique that works for you, this can be a wash and go, Twist out, Braid out, finger coiling there are so many ways to enhance and even create curls, Try not to mess with your hair too much constant fingering or brushing will create static and frizz!

I'd be wary of wearing your hair in the same style, this may cause traction alopecia aka the dreaded thinning edges from repetitive bun wearing, try to change it up a little. If you must wear your hair up try pinning it up loosely in sections to create interesting shapes like Rinny Riot below

In regards to maintaining length there are many reasons your hair may not be growing past your shoulders. If you use heat or chemical processes your hair may be growing and breaking off just as fast, check your shed hair are in fact shed hair and not breakage (shed hairs will have a little white bud on the tip)
If your hair appears healthy it may be that your hair has reached it's maximum length, hair grows in cycles and for the most part has a cut of point where growth slows.
Also check your diet, and water intake, your hair needs moisture inside and out so make sure your drinking enough and try upping your intake of healthy hair foods such as spinach and other leafy greens that are rich in Iron (which is good for hair and scalp)

Adding grey to hair is probably the second hardest process when it comes to colouring hair (the first is getting rid of red hair)
It can be done but it is a long process, that will involve bleach and lots of toner! Due to the brittle nature of your hair and the fact that you want to maximize growth I'd avoid harsh chemical processes.
Instead opt for enhancing the grey you already have and stop using the wash out colour, The only way to completely cover grey is by using a permanent colour and permanent colour always contains ammonia or an ammonia substitute.
Try using blue shampoo such as Aveda Blue Malva which enhances grey, silver and light blond hair tones making it stand out more, Make a feature of it and embrace it!
If you are adamant on adding more grey only see a well trained stylist. I can suggest Carl Fox at Aveda Covent Garden who is a colour specialist (he can advice you on whether this is even possible for your hair type)

As for salon recommendations, I get asked this question a lot, because I work in salons I usually get my hair done at my place of work and I have also collected a lot of hairdresser friends along the way that hook me up at home.

Finding a stylist that truly understands your hair is key always have a consultation days or even a week prior to when you plan to have a service.

Ask the stylist how they intend to cut your hair, any good stylist will cut curly hair dry or damp and definitely in it's natural state.

Don't show fear or nervousness, people have a natural inclination to mirror others, so being nervous will make your stylist nervous so stay calm as there is nothing worse than a jittery person with scissors!

Ask about after care! It's all very well walking out of the salon looking gorgeous but a good stylist will help you maintain the look yourself at home.

Don't feel you need to stick to an 'black' salon, many salons have stylists that can do afro or curly hair types, Call ahead and ask if they have someone who works well with curly hair.

I can only go by my own experiences, I have had wonderful cuts with Kumi at Haris Salon Brompton Road  or visit Joon at Aveda Covent Garden 

*thses are tips from my own personal experiences, seek professionally advice in regards to, colour processes


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