Henna tattoos; what are they? where can I get one?

by Railah Iqbal

With the festivals and wedding season in full swing, Henna; a form of semi-permanent tattoo is back on the beauty scene.

Sunya's henna pattern- courtesy of Sunya Hira

Sunya’s henna pattern- courtesy of Sunya Hira

Henna also known as ‘mehndi’ is a paste of crushed leaves, from a henna plant and the paste is used to make decorative body art.

Designs can be created all over your body and it is quite popular with both males and females. It generally tends to last for 3-4 weeks.

The most popular form is bridal henna as brides gett their hand and feet covered in the Arabic art form. Henna is thought to complete the beauty of the bride in eastern Asian culture and this form of make-up artistry is trending in Western parts of the world too.

Sunya's henna design on me- courtesy of Sunya

Sunya’s henna design on me- courtesy of Sunya

You can go along to any beauty salon or most melas or festivals, held in the summer, to get your henna tattoo and prices range from £3- £8 for one tattoo, depending on the area of the body you want it on.

Henna is not at all dangerous; it merely stains the thicker part of your skin to leave behind imprints of the design.

Sunya Hira- Henna artist (courtesy of Sunya)

Sunya Hira- Henna artist (courtesy of Sunya)

Sunya Hira, a freelance henna artist speaks to Polka Dots & Potions about how she developed an interest in henna artistry, the popularity of the art and how to make sure your henna design stands out.

How did you become a freelance henna artist?

“From a young age, I had an interest in henna when I saw people do it during festivals and occasions.

As I’m a creative person anyway, I like to take art forms and experiment with them. Henna artistry gives me the best opportunity to express my creative streak because if it doesn’t go to plan, it will wash off and I can start over.”

When is it most popular for people to want henna designs?

“I am busiest on occasions especially celebrations and henna parties. During the summer is best to get a henna tattoo done because it is a cold substance so the warmth in the air makes it come on better.

I have both men and women clients come to me for henna tattoos. People have a choice to pick their own designs from a range in a henna catalogue or they can let me free-style with the designs.”

How do people get the best results out of their henna tattoo?

“To make sure you get the most from your henna tattoo, you have to keep the henna paste moist for at least one hour then apply a lemon and oil mixture for extra moisture. You can then wrap a cloth or cling film around the designs after it dries, to make sure the paste stays on.

The shade of the design depends on which body part it is applied to, henna works best on your hands and arms. The best result is when it turns into a dark red colour.”

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, check out this tutorial:

Read more stories from Railah


Make up artist Sally Bunting: “Never let your creativity be caged, let it out”

Words by Steph Hodgkinson

Make up artist Sally Bunting

Make up artist Sally Bunting. Image courtesy of Sally

Make up artist Sally Bunting, 21, has been freelancing for the past few years. She gives Polka Dots & Potions an insight into the highs and lows of her job…

Being a make up artist might seem like one of the most glamorous careers, but life as a make up artist isn’t easy. Freelancing is particularly difficult in the current economic climate, as make up artist Sally Bunting says: “It’s a very expensive career and the work isn’t always constant.

“It’s hard because people assume I can get to all the locations easily. There are always people who want something for nothing as well but the products are expensive, so I have to think whether it’ll be of any benefit to me and my portfolio.”

The 21-year-old from Sheffield has been freelancing for the past few years and does make up for everything from weddings and proms to music videos, photoshoots and fashion shows. She studied cosmetic, theatrical, special effects and media make up at Sheffield City College.

Sally's 'wound' special effects make up

Sally’s ‘wound’ special effects make up. Image courtesy of Sally

Sally is under pressure to get the look right to ensure her clients are satisfied with their makeovers. She says: “There is a certain amount of pressure, but I always emphasise that if they want anything changing that they tell me. I wouldn’t be offended.

“A lot of it comes down to personal preference, especially with weddings, but I include a trial with my wedding packages to prevent situations like that on their big day.”

Sally’s favourite shoot was one of her first shoots for a photography student. “Her theme was ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’. It was really fun, and I enjoyed how I had a theme to stick to, but each look was totally different.”

Sally on the set of a photoshoot. Image courtesy of Megan Smith

Sally on the set of a photoshoot. Image courtesy of Megan Smith

She says the highlights of the job outweigh the expenses, though: “One of the best things about the job is the proud feeling I get when I get the images back, or when I help to make a bride’s day special.”

Her dream client would be Lady Gaga or Marilyn Manson because “both are incredibly individual and their looks are very creative.”

So which products does she swear by? “There’s a discontinued No7 Highlighter, which I cherish! It looks amazing for any look, especially bridal makeup. Brand-wise I use a lot of MAC, Illamasqua and Ben Nye. I’m also HD airbrush trained, so I use Airbase for that.”

Although it can sometimes be tough, Sally’s found her ideal career. What’s her advice for aspiring make up artists?

“Save up as much money as you can! It helps when you can afford high quality brushes and products. Also, never let your creativity be ‘caged’, let it out.”

Make up by Sally, modelled by Sally

Sally modelling her make up techniques. Image courtesy of Sally

Read more from Steph here

Knitting back in vogue: Interview with designer Shirley Bradford

By Lucy Howell

Credit: hhbc.com

Credit: hhbc.com

Shirley Bradford has over thirty years experience working for women’s magazines in knitting departments as a designer and pattern checker, as well as working for yarn companies.

Currently working as a freelancer, Shirley is commissioned by magazines or book editors with a brief, produces drawings and knitted swatches then after the final design is chosen, writes instructions and has the sample garment knitted.

Polka Dots & Potions spoke with the designer about the rise in the popularity of knitting, the return of 40’s and 50’s patterns, and tips for new knitters.



Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?

I’ve recently been working on several patterns for Woman’s Weekly magazine where they’ve given me patterns from their archive that they featured in the 1940’s and ‘50’s and I’ve had to re-write the designs using current yarns. The old patterns were usually only written in one size, and often in very fine yarns, so I have to adapt the new instructions to include a wide range of sizes, using yarns which are more popular today, while still keeping the look of the original garment. The magazine found that this is very popular with their readers; they print a little black and white picture of the original photo with the date it first appeared.

Are you surprised when old patterns come back into fashion?

Not at all, home and interior trends are constantly re-working styles of the past e.g. mid-century etc, so fashion is no different. There’s always a call for nostalgia. Not sure about 80s/90s big shoulders and picture knits, but a lovely fitted 40’s top always looks great, and every year the top designers do their versions of classics like Aran and Fair Isles.

A lot of younger people are taking up knitting. Is this unexpected?

No it isn’t  I think young people like to look individual, and to be able to create something unique is wonderful; the sense of achievement in making something yourself that you won’t see on anyone else. It used to be economical to knit your own sweaters, but these days it’s so easy to get nice-looking fashionable clothes very cheaply, like Primark,  so that’s not a reason for knitting any more. I think there’s a case for intelligent-thinking young people to buck the trend and do something more ethical and green, while satisfying a creative urge to make something with their hands.

What advice would you give to new starters?

Try to find someone to teach you, it’s difficult to learn to knit from books. There are demos on knitting techniques on YouTube which are really helpful. Also, there’s a growth in knitting clubs and workshops, look on the internet and you can usually find a local knitting shop, coffee shop or pub which runs a regular ‘knit and natter’ type event, it’s a lovely social thing to do, as well as getting help and tips on your knitting.

Where do you find inspiration?

For my own things, I always have at least one or two things on the go for myself, it could be after seeing something in a magazine or well known and out-of-price-range designers’ catwalk shows, maybe even a textile, ceramic or rug design.

What is your favourite style and why?

Anything really, depending on the mood. I love working with colour: Fair Isle patterns are fun to design, either based on traditional patterns or with a modern twist; lovely chunky cables or delicate lace. The only types of knitting I’m not too fond of personally are ‘novelty’ yarns which give you a multi-coloured or crazily textured effect, e.g. fun fur, without any patterning as such – not great yarns for a designer like myself, but actually quite good for a beginner as you can get the effect without too much effort. I like a bit of design and effort.

Do you think the skill should be taught at schools?

Yes I do, and there is a change in schools doing more practical lessons such as food and nutrition these days. The only thing with knitting is it’s better taught as one-to-one or in small groups. The school where I help runs an after-school knitting club which is quite successful.

Where is the best place to buy good quality knitwear?

How long is a piece of string…? Knitwear, as in finished sweaters etc, the list is endless: Missoni, Burberry, Sonia Rykiel, Isabel Marant to name just a few, if money’s no object.

Good quality knitting yarns: John Lewis has a good wool department, also Liberty. There are loads of good online ‘wool shops’, the trouble is it’s such a tactile thing that unless you’re familiar with the yarn you’re buying, it’s unsatisfactory because it’s impossible to judge the colour and feel of a yarn on a computer screen.

Get some inspiration from the high street:


1: Ivory/pink ombre jumper, £25, Dorothy Perkins 2: Grey pearl cluster jumper, £45, Miss Selfridge 3: Metallic jumper light silver, £39,99, Mango 4: Marl striped jumper, £30.40, Warehouse 5: Jumper in vintage pattern with fringing, £38, ASOS

(Press images)

Read more stories from Lucy here

“Pole dancing has really improved my confidence!”

by Leigh Morley

If you’re bored of the gym and need a change in routine, then pole dancing could be the fitness regime that’s perfect for you. 21 year old Becky Field explains how this new craze can build your confidence and keep you fit as well, whilst breaking the stereotype that pole dancing is just for strippers.


“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, ever since I saw that White Stripes video  with Kate Moss pole dancing in it,” the Sheffield Hallam student explains. “I just thought it looked like so much fun.”

Becky immediately looked into starting pole, but the nearest studio was 20 miles away from her home town and she doesn’t drive. Luckily, other students at Sheffield Hallam had set up a society to teach beginners, and Becky jumped at the chance. “It was perfect, because I was really intimidated at the thought of going into a regular class with other scared people and being completely hopeless.”

Becky, who is also president of the Psychology Society, started classes every other week and soon became addicted. Every other week became a weekly activity, and before she knew it, she was scheduling pole lessons in between classes. Becky explains that she hasn’t been lately due to exams, but confesses that she’s suffering withdrawal symptoms and cannot wait to get back to it.

“It’s such a good laugh, nobody takes themselves too seriously and we can all get on well together and have a good joke in our lessons,” she explains. “It’s helped me make so many friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to.”

Since starting a few months ago, Becky has improved her strength and learned tonnes of complicated moves, her instructor building up her confidence and coordination at the same time. “I’m not hitting myself on the pole every time now, and my strength has definitely improved,” she adds. Because of pole, Becky explains how she’s found muscles in places she’s never imagined and finally has the strength and confidence to do moves she would never have dreamt of in her first lesson. “The only problem is that now my arms don’t fit in some of my more girly shirts,” she laughs.

Unfortunately, not many people would think that pole dancing comes with such benefits, as the stigma attached to it is quite a negative one. Often associated with the seedy side of stripping, pole fitness is anything but. An article was recently published earlier this year by the NUS Women’s Officer, which had an incredibly pessimistic view of pole dancing, calling for university societies across the UK to ban classes. The pole community caused a huge uproar and eventually the article was retracted.

“There is so much stigma attached to pole it’s unreal,” Becky says. “People need to see past the stereotypical stripper view and see it as a brilliant, fun way to exercise. People like that should even try classes themselves.”

Becky even talks about how her parents were slightly wary of her new hobby at first, when she arrived home one weekend with bruises on her legs. “They weren’t too thrilled at first,” she says. “But I showed them one of my favourite videos online of a performance at a pole dancing competition. It showed the strength and dedication that it requires and they came around. This is why more people need to see things like this, they need to realise how amazing pole fitness can actually be.”

Becky’s experience with pole dancing has been nothing but positive. Since she started, her confidence and health has significantly improved, and she’s been having a lot more fun than she does at the gym.

“I’ve loved every second of this, and I can’t wait to get back to classes and improve over Summer!”

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

Tutorial: How to do daisy nails

By Kim Perry

With summer approaching learn how to do your very own daisy print nails by watching our quick and easy tutorial below:

Remember to file and buff your nails before painting and apply a top coat so there is no chipping.


The final result will look like this:


The Nail Equipment used:


Read more stories from Kim here


Tribes: on their new album ‘Wish To Scream’, craziest outfits and support slot for The Rolling Stones

TribesBy Lucy Howell

Polkadots & Potions caught up with Johnny (vocalist/guitarist), Jim (bassist) and Miguel (drummer) from Tribes before their first gig of the tour in Sheffield. The Camden quintet will release their second studio album, Wish To Scream, on May 20th. They are currently touring the UK, as well as playing at several festivals this summer alongside rock royalty, The Rolling Stones.

How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never listened to you before?

Jim: British Rock ‘n’ Roll

Which bands would you say you’re most influenced by?

Jim: I think the ones we all have in common are Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, real sort of song crafty writers.

Miguel: We actually just found out we’re playing with Stones at the Hyde Park gig.

That’s pretty impressive! You must be excited?

Jim: Yeah it’s gonna be wicked. We’re doing Glastonbury as well, so we’re driving  down from there for Hard Rock Calling on the Saturday then gonna drive back up to Glastonbury to watch Stones. So we’ll see them twice within about 10 days.

Here’s Jim talking about the concert :

Can you tell us a bit about the new album?

Jim: We recorded it out in La Sound City Studios with a guy called Kevin Augunas who was a great man to be around. He is a very passionate music fan with great ideas, so it was an amazing experience. And to be out in LA doing it was a dream come true.

What song were you most excited about when you were recording?

Jim: Personally ‘How the other half live’ which is the first track released off the album. It just came from being a really simple demo, then working with Kevin through it and getting these incredible sounds out and just transformed it.

How does the new album compare to your debut?

Miguel: I think it’s more mature.

Jim: The main thing with the writing is that the first album was very much based on experiences and it was retrospective in a way where as this one is way more optimistic and forward thinking.

When it comes to fashion sense, they certainly look like they know what they’re doing; but Johnny tells us that’s not always the case…

You have a great following. Are you big users of social networks? Do you it has an important role in a band’s success?

Johnny: Not at the start. It’s so sad to see bands spending all their lives on their phones instead of writing tunes. But as time went on, and we signed to Island, they were keen on us using it. Now we have someone to help us out with it. You can’t really live without it because everyone relies on it.

Do you have any final words for your fans?

Johnny: The album is out May 20th, it’s on pre-order now.

You can listen to the full interview here

Photograph by Lucy Howell

Read more stories from Lucy here

Style Icons: Taylor Momsen

By Leigh Morley

Taylor Momsen has been silent for the last few months, busy writing and recording the second album with her band, The Pretty Reckless. At just the age of 19, the singer has toured the world, had an incredibly successful acting career and has modelled for a number of massive designers. It seems there is no end to this girl’s talents, and it looks like she’s only just beginning.

aaataylormomsen3 Taylor Momsen for Nylon magazine


Taylor Momsen at Warped Tour

Taylor’s parents put her into acting and modelling at just two years old, and she landed her first commercial for American company Shake ‘n’ Bake immediately. As she grew up, she modelled for various companies and played the role of Cindy Lou in The Grinch, followed by other movies like Spy Kids and Spy School. At fourteen years old, she got the part of little Jenny Humphrey on the hit American drama, Gossip Girl. The actress was catapulted into fame and became known for her alternative dress sense outside the soap.

After two years on the CW show, Taylor decided to quit after finding her calling, singing for her band, The Pretty Reckless. Despite facing some scrutiny by alternative music publications for her glamorous acting past, Taylor proved she was a true musician by hitting number one on the iTunes rock chart and the band’s first single, ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ became the theme song for super hero flick, Kickass.


Taylor Momsen in Versace

Soon The Pretty Reckless were touring the world and scored headline spots on America’s massive Warped Tour and some of the world’s biggest metal festivals, England’s Download Festival and Germany’s Rock AM Ring.

If that wasn’t enough for Taylor, she became the face of Madonna’s Material Girl line and Samantha Thavasa handbags, both companies choosing to snap her up because of controversial dress sense.

“This is how I want to dress,” Taylor told FHM magazine. “I’m not a slut because I dress the way I do. What’s wrong with dressing like this?”

As well as her dress sense, Taylor was criticized for being the next Courtney Love, but she bit back at critics explaining recently to Nylon Magazine: “I don’t want to be Courtney Love, I want to be Kurt Cobain.”

Taylor Momsen isn’t the type of girl to shy away from controversy, with antics like smoking and flashing on stage, licking a knife and posing with a sword during a photo shoot, and performing a rather racy show with rock god Marilyn Manson at last year’s Golden Gods awards.

With her individual style and amazing shoes, Taylor is one lady worthy of style icon status.

With her band, The Pretty Reckless

With her band, The Pretty Reckless

Read more stories from Leigh here