Retro Hair, Modern Tools

Retro Chick is taking a well earned holiday, but never fear, she has arranged some fabulous guest bloggers to keep you entertained.

Todays post comes from Ava Knightley, the founder of Beauty, Bottled. Head on over for reviews of the latest cosmetics and hair products!

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I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t watch old films.

My favourite film bar none is “Singin’ in the Rain” and I lusted after Debbie Reynolds’s blue shoes in “Good Mornin’” along with swooning over Jean Hagen’s fabulous, expertly crafted up-do’s.

I love looking at hairstyles. You know when you go to the hairdresser and they have those well thumbed copies of “Hair” and “Hair Now”? I adore finding the most ridiculous style in there and admiring the craftsmanship. I myself would struggle to pull off a lilac toned pixie crop, but I admire those that do.

For me, while super modern styles have their place, they have no place on my head. I’m not saying I really do anything truly spectacular with my barnet – but I always err towards the classic. My wedding hairstyle was a high chignon, accented with pearl and diamante pins. I love soft waves in my hair, half up/half down do’s and sweet ponytails that swing.


Do I style my hair in a vintage way every day? No, usually sleep is far too tempting. I usually do a very quick ponytail/bun style and accessorise with huge flowers in red, dusky pink or purple. However, I love doing something with my hair for special occasions (or even just drinks in the pub with friends) and even more so, styling someone else’s hair. Here are the tools and accessories I believe you need to give a professional finish to your hair and will certainly help to give that vintage edge.

Curling tongs

I was actually quite anti-curling tongs for some time. I didn’t like the idea of using something so hot on my hair. Then, ones I had used only held the curl for a few hours at most – not exactly worth trying. However, I invested in a set of curling tongs by Carmen, the “Moisture-Lock Multistyler”. Now, I wouldn’t say that it would be wise to use this every day, despite it’s ionic/moisture locking claims. What I have found is that this particular tool holds curls brilliantly, keeps your hair looking healthy and shiny, and comes with a wave, ringlet and curl attachment that all work exactly as you would want them to. Lovely.

Bendy rollers

Ah, these always make me think of getting ready to go out when I was younger! I think these foam covered rollers are great – you can roll them into your hair wet or dry (and then mist it) and leave them in all day. They’re light, incredibly cheap, quite comfortable and can be used to create a bigger curl (more hair round each roller) or a tighter ringlet (more rollers, less hair on each) and If you treat your hair nicely while rolling, won’t actually cause any damage. You can find them in plenty of discount pharmacies (Savers, Bodycare et al) at £1.50 for 12, which as far as I’m concerned is an absolute steal! They are also a good foray into the world of curling when you don’t want to invest too much money.

Velcro Rollers

Now, some people use Velcro rollers for curl. However, I find them far more useful for shape and volume (note from Retro Chick: I also find them better for adding volume and bounce rather than actual curl!). They are particularly good for giving a lovely bounce to your hair with a minimal amount of effort. They are better for shoulder length hair upwards – my hair is far too long for them to have any effect these days, but I remember using them with my bobbed and shoulder length hair for a lovely full shape and plenty of volume. These are also suitably cheap – I picked up 4 for a £1 from another of those local discount pharmacies.

Hairpins and Kirby grips

Now, hairpins are the looser pin, more “open”. Kirby grips are the typical hairgrip that we all use. Both are very useful – I actually use them both for securing hairstyles rather than creating curls (although I know for most people that is exactly what hairpins are for) but that’s the beauty of them – hairpins are brilliant versatile and are probably the go-to hair accessory for most people. Victory rolls? You need hairpins. Low chignon? Hairpins. Ballerina style bun? Hairpins. Half up/half down do? Hairpins. As seems to be a running theme with this post, both kinds of pins are cheap cheap cheap! You can get them from Boots (I confess I do due to the blondeness of my hair, Boots do them in white, the closest to my colour!) but any other pharmacy will stock good ole’ hairpins. Ah, I do like value for money….

(note from Retro Chick: Boots do a value pack of 100 for £1.69, rather than the ones on the cards. Great if you shed hair grips all over the place like I do!)

Duckbill/Single prong clips

These have one small, simple purpose – keeping your hair out of the way when you are styling other sections, or if (like me) you are adding wefts/hair extensions to your hair. They are also good at keeping your hair out of the way while you do your makeup. Don’t forget to place a tissue between the metal prong and your hair though to prevent the dreaded kink!

L’Oreal Elnett Hairspray

Now, I don’t usually recommend brands, as usually there’s very little to persuade me that this product or that product is amazing beyond all others. Especially with something that can be so cheap, a la hairspray. However, Elnett has been the one I keep coming back to again and again. It seems to last longer, holds the style, brushes out easily and doesn’t make my hair feel clumpy and sticky – something I’ve always hated with hairspray. Don’t feel you have to pay that little bit extra for L’Oreal if you really don’t want to, but you WILL need hairspray if you want to hold that curl, style, whatever! Some people even use it to set their makeup. I do not recommend this.

(Yet another note from Retro Chick: Personally I’m a Tresemme Freeze Hold fan….)

Natural Bristle Brush

I confess, when it comes to natural bristles, I am all about the Mason Pearson hairbrush. My brother bought me one for my birthday, and I’ve never looked back. I felt like I’d never brushed my hair before – they just feel like they grab every teeny tiny wispy little hair and give it a damn good brush. They’re just wonderful – and if you look after them, will last for decades. The main reason for needing a decent bristle brush is for teasing, backcombing and brushing out tight curls for hair with volume. A good bristle brush is just brilliant for every day use.

Tailcomb

A tailcomb has one particular purpose – to help you section off your hair precisely and easily. I use my tailcomb specifically to section off the top level of my hair when I’m attaching my hair wefts – it just gives a nice, simple, clean line. It does the job it is meant to do, and does it well!

Hair wefts/extensions

Don’t start panicking – we’re not heading down into WAG territory. I don’t tend to use hair extensions to thicken up my hair when I wear it down as I don’t think anything can blend well enough with my blonde hair. What I do use them for is a base when I wear my hair up. I use a very thick one piece extension – a Jessica Simpson one, no less – that is hugely helpful at creating a thick base of hair to work from. As it wasn’t hugely expensive, it doesn’t matter that I’m sticking pins in it or covering it in hairspray from time to time. The main issue for me is that I simply do not have enough hair to create some of the styles I love. If you suffer from a similar affliction, I highly recommend investing in some extensions.

Hair doughnuts

I honestly believe the day I discovered hair doughnuts in Boots was the day I started styling my hair differently, and seeing the different things I could do all of a sudden. They create instant volume and shape, are incredibly light, can create chignons effortlessly, hold pins wonderfully….you get the idea. There are two kinds you can get from Boots – ones that permanently round (there’s no seam) and the other which has a popper that joins the ends together. Both are brilliant – the round one is great for buns and up do’s that require volume, whereas the one you can separate is brilliant for using to roll hair up at the back (fake bob or fantastic “sausage roll” effect when done the other way) or creating that fabulous 50’s fringe. They’re cheap, easy to use and just create the “look” with ease.

Scarves

When you just can’t face doing any of the above? Reach for a light, chiffon scarf. Tie it around your ponytail. Go for a really vintage look, using it to cover your whole head, knotted at the nape of the neck. Tie it at the top of your head with a big bow. You get the idea – they can cover a multitude of sins, add an element of interest – but more than that? Simple to use!

(Final note from Retro Chick: 5 ways to tie a head scarf vintage style)

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