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Guestpost: The Garra Rufa Fish Pedicure

The Garra Rufa pedicure has become somewhat of a global craze

The Garra Rufa pedicure is one of the latest innovations in spa treatments.

This unique approach to removing dead skin and calluses is creating quite a splash (and more than just a little controversy). Fans of the fishy procedure have even hailed it as the best pedicure they have ever had.

Spa patrons immerse their feet in a warm water tank where a hundred or more tiny carp nibble away at the exposed hard skin. It is a painless, albeit somewhat ticklish procedure, as the little fish don’t bite (they have no teeth). Simply by sucking and licking your feet they eradicate dead skin cells gently and naturally. What you feel is a tingling sensation that mimics a stimulating, yet relaxing, foot massage, as the inch-long fish run their suction cup mouths over your tootsies.

The Garra Rufa is a bottom-feeding freshwater carp native to Turkey and the Middle East where it has been used for centuries in the treatment of skin conditions. It is believed that their unusual behaviour, consuming dead skin cells from anyone who happened to be in the water with them, was an adaptation to the scarcity of food in the warm water mineral pools that are their natural habitat. Visitors to the pools soon discovered the benefits of being nibbled by the Garra Rufa, as the fish seek out and remove dead skin, bacteria and calluses, rejuvenating the skin. People suffering from skin conditions, like psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema, noted a marked improvement with repeated visits to the pools, earning the tiny nibblers the title of “Doctor Fish”. Research into the exact mechanism by which the Garra Rufa can actually improve skin health, has identified an enzyme in the saliva of the fish, called Dithranol, believed to have properties that revitalize the skin.

It wasn’t until 2006 that the Garra Rufa began to find its way to commercial hot springs and spas throughout Asia and Europe. In Southeast Asia fish foot massages rapidly became a craze as outlets opened up in shopping malls and department stores where busy shoppers could come and dangle their feet in a tank full of fish. Garra Rufa pedicures were soon introduced in the UK and by 2010 they had begun to capture wide interest. Initially only available in up-market salons and spas, the tanks are now appearing in shopping centre salons all over the country. The reception hasn’t been quite so warm in other places, where the practice has come under the scrutiny of health authorities and become the target of animal rights campaigners. Fish pedicures have even been banned in regions throughout the United States and Canada.

A Garra Rufa pedicure generally involves a fifteen to thirty minute session in the tank, followed by a standard pedicure, made easier by the treatment’s prior softening of the feet. The fish indeed replace the need for pumice stones and razors to remove hardened skin from the feet. In the UK, you can expect to pay around £1 per minute for the procedure. Aside from the fresh, soft, supple look of your feet after the fish have had a go at you, a Garra Rufa pedicure is sure to put a smile on your face.

Guestpost by Muzammil Bashir, who works alongside the Senior Editor of Pretty-small-shoes – a company that specialises in small sized shoes for women


Red Hot Annie, Burlesque make-up artist, Interview

Red Hot Annie specialises in burlesque-inspired make-up

Red Hot Annie is a professional make-up artist from Chicago. Spending a lot of time doing hair and make-up for catalogues, commercials, and corporate clients, most of which require basic, clean looks, Annie was eager for more. So it was a special treat when her favourite Chicago-based photographer, Callie Lipkin, asked her to do tutorial make-up videos that showed the process of applying a more dramatic, burlesque look for her Women on Top burlesque series in 2010.

Asking two burlesque performers from her production company, Vaudezilla, she created a make-up look that is typical of burlesque, employing an editing technique which speeds up the process so you can see what it looks like in the time lapse.
Annie would like to say a special thanks to Wham Bam Pam and her friend, Maria, for being a part of the project.
1. Why did you decide to get into the beauty industry?
I stumbled into the beauty industry.  I started as a pinup model, and I would do my own hair/makeup for shoots.  I met a local photographer, Joe Branske, who mentored me through the “how-tos” of being a make-up artist, which I immediately fell in love with!
2. You specialise in Burlesque make-up, what do you like about this look?
I really love dramatic looks – so having the opportunity to put those looks on other people is a really fun part of being a make-up artist.  I’m surrounded by a lot of great Chicago artists, who inspire a lot of the looks I like to create.
3. What’s the best beauty tip you’ve learnt to date?
I think my favourite beauty tip is to have a lighter concealor or foundation handy in your kit for covering under-eye circles – it’s one of the most overlooked steps in makeup application.  Most of what we learn about applying make-up is stuff we learned from watching our mom or older sister, and we watch them apply make-up like a mask, forgettting that the whole point of foundation is to make your skin look flawless and well-rested.  Spot coverage of darker pigmented areas is critical!
4. Who are your beauty icons?
As a burlesque-lover, one of my beauty icons is Dita Von Teese.  I also love Tyra Banks & Salma Hayek because they rock some pretty dramatic looks, but aren’t afraid to be more natural, when necessary.
5. What do you enjoy the most about your job?
My favourite part of being a make-up artist is making people feel good about themselves.  I like working with people to find a perfect look.  It’s really gratifying when someone looks into a mirror and says, “Wow.”
6. What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on?
Here in Chicago, I collaborate regularly with Callie Lipkin, who is always cookin’ up some sort of special project.  I’ve worked with her on her burlesque-related projects the last couple of years, including a series on “Everyday Burlesque” which juxtaposed burlesque performers in every day situations (like shopping, taking a bath, holding a parking spot), last years “Women on Top” which showed burlesque dancers as an owner of a company, the president of the United States, and a banker, and this year, I got to be featured in her project called “Hysteria.”
7. What’s next for you?
I’ve been working on a business with my long-time makeup artist partner, Ashley Vest, where we provide make-up classes for everyday women who want to learn how to do their own make-up.  It’s called Beauty Parlor Chicago.

From bold eyes and flawless palours... statement lips and a captivating aura


Festival beauty essentials

With the festival season now well underway, girls across the country can be found packing away their wardrobe, wellies and warpaint in preparation for their weekend.

However, the rational approach is often cast aside with bags overspilling with unnecessary items. In fact when it comes to cosmetics only a handful of essentials are required.

So whether you’re bragging about Bestival, gaga for Global or vying for V, here are the make-up indispensables that will ensure you’re anything but an unprepared festival goer on the field.


3 in 1 make-up wipes

No matter the time of day, make-up removal should be a firm fixture in your daily activities. By investing in some good quality 3 in 1 facial wipes, you can satisfy your typical skin regime in the comfort of your pop-up tent, cleansing, toning and moisturising in one single sweep. Boot’s Vitamin E enriched wipes are a cert for hydrated skin, as are Johnson’s.


Waterproof mascara

Defy the effects of the sun, wind and/or rain with a few coats of a trusty waterproof mascara. Set lashes high with volume aplenty and proceed to bat them at the bands. Splash out on a good name to ensure the mascara satisfies its promises (YSL’s waterproof mascara continues to receive rave reviews and is available in a variety of hues).


Travel moisturiser

A reliable travel-sized moisturiser will secure glowing skin throughout the sleep-deprived period, counteracting the results of heavy drinking and raving until the early hours. MAC’s brand new Sized to Go collection offers a miniature version of their popular Studio Moisture Cream that will leave your skin feeling and looking top notch.


Oil-free foundation & blotting sheets

When you’re front-of-stage there’s nothing worse than feeling your foundation slip in response to the sweaty proximity with other ravers.  Make sure your face stays put with an oil-free foundation; drier skin types should opt for liquid-based formulas, such as Barbara Daly’s foundation (a snip at £6.75), while those prone to excess oil should reach for mineral powders, such as ELF’s range. To remove unwanted greasiness in an instant, oil blotting sheets could be your saviour, clearing skin and maintaining personal freshness wherever you may be.

Alternatively brave bare-faced chic for an entirely hassle-free canvas from day to night.


Bright lipstick

Embrace the extravagance of festival season by going OTT with your make-up palette. A bright lipstick can transform your festival look from one of a demure introvert to that of a loud-and-proud extrovert. Check out Barry M’s bold lip colours – think Vibrant Pink, Robot Blue or take Jessie J’s lead with a gothic, yet statement, Black. Complement your chosen colour with lashings of face paint and body art.


The graduated bob is back

Victoria's graduated bob has made a comeback

When Cheryl Cole stepped out last week sporting a sophisticated blonde graduated bob the media was sent into a frenzy. News stands nationwide were plastered in front covers showcasing and praising the former X Factor judge’s new do and it appears that this shorter cut is here to stay.

A classic bob with a modern twist, the graduated bob employs an asymmetric cut which boasts face-flattering properties. The short cut at the back is set higher than the graduated sides with the pieces of hair that frame the face forming the final longest point.

The graduated bob has always been around, but was perhaps made most famous by Victoria Beckham’s aptly named ‘pob’ in 2007 which saw a plethora of women sporting the cut in the months that followed.

Cheryl’s haircut however modernises the style yet again, with the graduation falling just below her shoulders (as opposed to at her jawline) for a longer version of the style. These bobs smack of cool sophistication and can be worn both tousled and straight, maximising practicability.

Heavy fringes can be incorporated into the haircut (a la Charlotte Church) but Cheryl has optimised the flattering effect of her bob with a less drastic long side fringe.

Anyone can have this haircut, but be aware that those of you blessed with thicker tresses may have to succumb to the wrath of the hairdresser’s thinning scissors in order to achieve a less ‘block’ cut. If you’re taking the plunge you may prefer to stretch your budget and splash out on a more expensive cut with a senior hair stylist. Whatever the case, be sure to attend a consultation meeting with the hairdresser beforehand to make sure they know exactly what you want or alternatively, take along a picture of Cheryl.

Telltale tip: To achieve Cheryl’s style, with volume aplenty, set hair in large heated rollers before blow-drying into shape and fixing with hairspray


Top 5 Exfoliating Scrubs

Exfoliating your skin promotes radiance and health

“The body is meant to be seen, not all covered up”

Marilyn Monroe

Exfoliating our skin every few days is key to achieving glowing body parts in the summer months, especially when said body parts have not seen the daylight since the sunny season came to an end nine months ago.

The ingredients in exfoliating scrubs serve to buff our skin by removing dead skin cells and subsequently expose the layer of new skin cells underneath. Yes, it’s a chore and one extra thing to add to your shower-time ‘to do’ list, but the results are undoubtedly worth the effort. What’s more, it can combat the long term effects of aging and minimise cellulite. So grab yourself a mitt, sponge or brush and get scrubbing with our top 5 exfoliators!

1. Elemis Devils Mint Body Scrub, 150ml, £24

If you’re looking for top-of-the-league skincare, then look no further than in Elemis’ range. Although slightly pricey, Elemis’ spa-worthy products can do no wrong, offering quality ingredients and skin-friendly cosmetics. This refreshing mint-infused scrub uses revitalising sea plant particles and antiseptic Essential Peppermint Oil to rid your torso of old skin.

2. The Sanctuary Radiance Exfoliator, 100ml, £10.20

The fine particles of this scrub promotes a non-abrasive and less harsh formula, combining apricot granules and grape seed for exfoliation purposes with natural pumpkin, pineapple and papaya extracts to renew. While this exfoliator is specifically stated for facial use, The Sanctuary’s Body Scrub employs orange oil and pumice particles for a more rigorous all-over exfoliation.

3. Simple Exfoliating Body Wash, 250ml, £2.05

For those of sensitive skin type, try Simple’s dermatologically tested and non-perfumed body wash. Pro Vitamin B5 softens and smoothes the skin, as natural loofah ensures pesky dead skin is washed away. Use alongside Simple Oil Balancing facial exfoliator of the same brand which incorporates witch hazel and zinc to exfoliate the face while simultaneously eradicating oil build-up.

4. L’Occitane Brightening Instant Exfoliator, 75ml, £24

For those who suffer from an uneven skin tone or mild Rosacea, L’Occitane’s offer in exfoliation is a good bet. The Bellis Perennis extract is responsible for evening out your complexion, while the pure and organic Immortelle Essential Oil stimulates collagen production and cell renewal for more youthful, healthier skin.

5. DIY exfoliator

The cheapest of the bunch and just as effective, a homemade body exfoliator can work wonders to enhance skin radiance. A Honey Cinammon scrub will work wonders for sufferers of mild skin conditions – mix 2tbsp of honey with 2tbsp of cinammon, apply in circular motions to the desired areas and wash off with warm water. Alternatively 2tbsp of white/brown sugar mixed with 4tbsp of olive oil, infused with an optional few drops of Essential Oil such as lavender, acts as another revitalising scrub.

Telltale tip: Always moisturise after exfoliating in order to lock in hydration and protect the new layer of skin from the drying effects of the summer weather


Guestpost: Summer hair removal methods

Rough legs are a thing of the past with hair removal methods aplenty at your disposal

Accompanying the thought of summer fast approaching and plans to wear skirts, dresses and bikinis comes perhaps one of the biggest headaches of the year: removing that unwanted body hair!

While every girl certainly has her own unique areas that need attention, the bikini line and the legs are undoubtedly two of the areas that most girls want to do something about. Luckily, there are many different hair removal methods to choose from for those of us who want to prepare ourselves for the hotter months.

Hair removal can be divided into two categories – temporary removal and permanent/prolonged reduction methods.

Temporary hair removal

The most popular temporary methods are shaving and waxing. The trick to a good shave is investing in the best razor one can find, and pairing it with shaving cream or soap that lathers well. Gently pressing the razor against the skin while moving it upwards against the direction of hair growth and rinsing the razor between strokes is key, but no shave in the world leaves skin smooth for more than a day.

That is where waxing comes in, serving to remove hair and keep re-growth at bay for up to two weeks. However, even waxing has its fair share of inconveniences: getting waxed professionally once a month can prove expensive, while doing it yourself can turn into a tricky, and sticky, mess. Yet the biggest disadvantage of waxing by far is that hair needs to be a certain length before it can be removed, which means putting up with not-so-smooth body parts for a week or two. Therefore, before a special event or occasion, waxing can be quite a convenient solution, but in the summer time, when more of your body is on show on a regular basis, this isn’t the best option. So what’s a girl to do? For me personally, prolonged reduction is very helpful!

Permanent hair removal

While a lifelong absence of hair cannot be guaranteed, with repeated treatments hair can be drastically diminished, or

Brave it and bare it with a hair-free bikini bod

even disappear altogether, and for a long period of time. Hair removal methods that come close to offering permanency are minimal (there are only three) but readily available: laser hair removal, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and electrolysis. Out of the three, IPL and laser hair removal are the most comparable, and are the only two considered a realistic solution for the legs and bikini line. In contrast, Electrolysis treats one hair at a time and is thus considered impractical for areas other than the face.

Laser hair removal and IPL can certainly be efficient for hair removal on the legs and bikini line, yet a single treatment is never enough, and learning about the hair growth cycle can help you to understand this. The number of sessions needed is always unique, depending on size of the area, coarseness of the hair and progress, but about six to eight sessions is average. Exact results are hard to predict in advance, but in the hands of an experienced practitioner, laser hair removal should take care of most growth and leave skin feeling smoother for much longer than both shaving and waxing.

Guest post by hair removal enthusiast Maria Bastet, who has undergone numerous temporary and prolonged hair reduction treatments


Bare-faced chic: Is less really more?

Paris Fashion Week 2011was adorned with models showcasing the latest trends amid luxe fabrics and extravagant materials. But had you casted your eyes upward you would have noticed that the faces of the cat-walkers were played down with au naturel, muted make-up. While it is in every designer’s best interest to avoid make-up that detracts from the outfit, detract it certainly did not last month, due to the fact that it was barely there. Bronzed bodies were discarded in favour of natural pallor, mascara-free eyelashes were embraced and lips were neutralised with only a hint of lipbalm.

Bare-faced beauty is bang on trend

So does this spell a new trend taking over the fashion world? Could bare-faced chic overtake our desire to cake ourselves in cosmetics this summer? Indeed, the thought of a slap-free face is extremely appealing as the thermometer ups its ante in the heat stakes. And as we continue to spend many a day in the baking heat with our make-up sliding southwards, it seems ridding ourselves of masked lips and heavily made-up eyes could just be the way forward.

What’s more, you don’t even have to go completely bare – trick others into thinking you’re a natural beauty by simply enhancing what you’ve got. Clear mascara will work wonders to define lashes without the added pigment, or for those fair of lash, a waterproof mascara will do the trick; just check out Miss Sporty’s range of cheap mascara wands.

Mineral foundations, such as those sold by Elf Cosmetics and Lily Lolo, will also provide sheer, even coverage without looking like its painted on. Moreover a mineral foundation infused with SPF, such as the ones suggested, can kill two birds with one stone by offering UV protection as well as a flawless face.

If you’re prone to dry skin, why not give tinted moisturiser a go? A lighter and more breathable form of foundation, tinted moisturiser is an alternative solution for those who can’t bear the thought of leaving their house without face make-up. MAC boasts a range of colours to cater for your complexion.

Bold lips and bare faces go hand in hand

Combining two beauty trends in one look, you can even sport a completely natural face with a bold lip (as pictured across). This is a very high-end beauty look because of the extreme contrast exuded by a statement lip and make-up-free surround, so for those brave enough…give it a shot.

Will you dare to bare this summer? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Bubblegum hair, a la Katy Perry, Amelia Lily & Fearne Cotton

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