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:

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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

Halo hair Extensions

by Bethany de Thierry

I am a total girly girl I love everything to do with makeup, fashion and most importantly hair. From the age of 13 I have been wearing hair extensions. I remember when I first turned thirteen I had the hair cut from hell and ended up with a ridiculously short mess. It was safe to say my hair was well and truly butchered and it was at that point that I opted for my first set of hair extensions.  From that day forward I admit I became addicted to hair extensions. At nearly 21 years of age I still wear my 18 inch locks.


I’ve tried clip on extensions, full head weaves; you name it I’ve had it. It was only last year the constant use of hair extensions began to take their toll on my real tresses. My hair began looking dry and dishevelled and in the famous words of Cheryl Cole, weak limp and lifeless.

Worst of all I began to notice my hair was seriously thinning, any girl would understand that the thought of going bald at 20 is extremely distressing. Just before Christmas of 2012 I went to have my hair weave redone which consists of tight plaits through the real hair and then fake hair is sewn into the plaits. The weave originated from African American women but now weaves are popular amongst inner cities and towns in the UK and other countries


My hair dresser at the time, told me to give my hair a break and to stop wearing hair extensions for a few months. It would have been a sensible idea to take her advice but if there’s any girls reading this who regularly wears extensions then they will fully understand the mini panic attack I had when being told that my long luscious locks were a thing of the past and that I would have to make do with my boring shoulder length hair. It was safe to say I wasn’t very happy. The last 7 years  I’ve been used to having long luxurious hair and it has become part of me.

It sounds silly and shallow but without them I felt vile!

I knew I couldn’t continue to damage my hair by using clip in extensions or hair weaves so I began scanning the internet for a new way to have long hair but without the damage.

I came across a website called Halo Hair the website specialisies in hair care. The site has recently introduced a brand new product called The Halo. The product professes to be a “simple and quick” way to apply hair extensions. The halo is worn by being placed on to your head and then you pull your original hair through the ‘miracle wire’. It really is as simple as that.




  • The halo comes in a range of different colours so is easy to find the perfect colour to suit you.
  • The halo is around £90 depending on what length you choose.
  • It is easy, efficient and quick to use.

The Highs : The Halo hair is super easy and super quick wear. The hair is 100% real remy hair and a good quality. It doesn’t damage your hair like other extensions which for me was a huge selling point

The lows: The extensions don’t feel fully secure unlike a hair weave, and when I first started wearing them it often felt like they were going to fall off.

Ratings: 9/10

Bethany de Thierry

Stiletto Nails

by Bethany de Thierry

A simple French manicure is now a thing past as Stiletto nails are the new beauty craze of 2013. To achieve this off the wall look, the nails have to be outrageously long, razor sharp and graduate in to a point. This bizarre and animalistic trend is really taking off.

The talons have been sported by some of the biggest names in Showbiz. Pop star and fashion icon Rihanna was one of the first celebs seen with this dagger like design. Lana Del Ray, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are also some of the A-listers caught rocking these spiky and almost weapon like nails.

Below : Rihanna rocking red claws.


I couldn’t resist trying out the latest celebrity obsession so thought I’d try out the one of the latest nail trends for myself.  I instantly fell in love with my dramatic acrylic claws.

However as you can see, these towering talons are far from practical. Completing everyday tasks such as typing on my keyboard, cooking my dinner and getting myself dressed in the morning all became a very difficult and long winded process. At the time I was working in a nightclub and by the end of my shift I had lost two of my claws. The stiletto nails are impractical but I still think they’re an amazing look and I love the uniqueness of them.

My friends and family were certainly not a fan of my wacky nails; one of them even went to the extreme of saying that my hands resembled those of Tim Burton’s uncanny fictional character Edward Scissor hands!


I tried a splash of fruity tangerine…..


And a shade of pink and sparkle!

I spoke to Lawrun Kennel a nail technician who works in Divine Nails in Birmingham. The 23 year old beautician tells me how the wacky style is hitting the high street and what she thinks of this controversial look.

What style of nails do girls usually ask you for?

I’ ve been working in the salon for 4 years and I usually do a French manicure or just acrylics with a block colour. But over the last 6

Imagemonths I’ ve had so many girls asking for claws – it’s crazy.

When did you first hear about the nails?
We have a nail book in the salon; which is where I saw the trend. When I first saw them I thought they were absolutely vile and that they would never take off! But I have to say I actually love them now.

Have your customers been happy with the results?

I’ ve had so many girls ask for the nails. Some have them ridiculously long and some have them a bit shorter so they’re more practical. Usually the girls that go for the long ones do come back a week later because they’ve lost a nail! I had one girl who works in a restaurant and she said she lost one of her claws in the food!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of having stiletto nails?

I think they look amazing. The only advice I have is if you are going on holiday or are in a job where you don’t do a lot then they’re perfect. Just be aware that they can break and if you do break a nail then it will cost a little bit extra to have the acrylics repaired.

This eccentric style is not for everyone but without a doubt this trend is sweeping the streets. The question is, are you brave enough to possess a pair of daring daggers?

To the right : Lawrun beautician and converted claw lover

Bethany de Thierry

CTPA confirms; ‘European Union bans lead in lipsticks’

By Railah Iqbal

Websites; ‘Urban Legends’ and ‘Snopes’ have claimed that rumours stating designer make-up brands which allegedly use lead in their lipsticks for longer wear, are untrue. Also, the European Union has banned lead in lipsticks explains CTPA; cosmetics’ authority.

Courtesy  of ‘Urban Legends’ site

Courtesy of ‘Urban Legends’ site

Make-up brands under question include; Avon, Christian Dior, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent.

Courtesy of ‘Urban Legends’ site Urban Legends state that using metal such as lead which leads to cancer development is true however the lipstick rumours are a hoax and a Facebook message, 2013, stating; ‘After doing a test on lipsticks, it was found that the Yves St. Laurent (YSL) lipstick contained the most amount of lead’ is fake.
Further statements claiming the more lead there is used in the lipsticks, the longer they are likely to last is untrue and checks such as the “The Gold Ring Test” can be done at home to prove whether the lipsticks contain lead are not 100% viable.

Diorific’ lipstick advertisement on Christian Dior’s site

Diorific’ lipstick advertisement on Christian Dior’s site

Elena, Christian Dior’s’ representative, said; “She had not heard that the Christian Dior have ever or would ever use lead in any of their cosmetics.”
She added that Christian Dior’s cosmetics department policy enables them to send out details of ingredients used in their products, especially the two longer lasting lipsticks; ‘Diorific Extreme’ and ‘Dior Addict,’ to people to clear doubts over their cosmetic’s contents.

Further, Eleanor O’Connor, The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association’s co-ordinator, confirms that CTPA as the UK’s cosmetics’ industry  representative and is its authoritative public voice, “would not allow Lead in lipsticks because all cosmetics and personal care products (which include lipsticks and lip glosses), made in or imported into the UK and Europe, must be safe. There are strict European cosmetic laws, and these require manufacturers to carry out a rigorous safety assessment.”

CTPA site-- Screenshot

CTPA site– Screenshot

CTPA states; “The use of lead in cosmetic products is specifically banned in the European Union by the cosmetics legislation… it is possible that minute traces are carried into cosmetic products from the environment or during manufacture. These extremely low levels are taken into account in the safety assessment to ensure their presence does not risk human health.”

If you fancy doing “The Gold Ring” test, here’s how it works:
1) Find a 24-Carat gold ring.
2) Rub some lipstick on your hand.
3) Then wipe the gold ring over the lipstick.
4) Wait a couple of seconds for any colour change.
5) If the colour changes to black then there is alleged Lead content.

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Style Icons: Zooey Deschanel

by Bridget Owen

Credit: Walls Data


New Girl’s Zooey was congratulated yesterday in coming #31 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World. It seems that her beauty, style, musical and acting talent is not the only thing that’s been noticed across the world by men and women alike.

Deschanel, 33, was born in Los Angeles California, and first recognised for her role alongside Will Ferrell in Elf. She was later praised for her part as Summer in box office hit 500 Days of Summer, and now plays endearing Jess Day in ongoing American rom-com New Girl. (Today it was announced that Taylor Swift will star alongside Zooey in a one-off episode.)

Aside from acting, she has a passion for music and produces her own alternative tracks individually. She was previously married to Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard but the couple divorced in 2012. Zooey maintains her ideals that there is a true love out there for her.

Zooey: “Well, I like creative people, so whatever that means… Yeah, authentic and creative.”

Zooey and Ben, divorced 2012: Credit Chris Pizzello

Deschanel is also part of an Indie duo ‘She & Him’ with guitarist Matt Ward. She has also been known to collaborate with other actors such as co-star in 500 Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon Levitt. (Looper, Batman, 50/50.)

Zooey’s complexion always looks clear, and her skin always looks completely refreshed, so it’s not surprising she was chosen to be one of the faces for Rimmel London – following in the footsteps of models such as Kate Moss and Lily Cole.

Her make-up palette is always natural, but she occasionally wears a thick line of black eyeliner across her top eyelid or some red lipstick to add a little glamour to her fresh-faced look. Since her blonde look in Elf, 2003, Zooey has gone back to her original hair colour and usually maintains the same haircut but always keeps it in top condition, with a perfectly face-framing fringe.

Zooey speaking to the Huffington Post: “The weirdest compliment I’ve ever received on my eyes was that I looked like an alien — or that I look like a doll.”

Zooey for Rimmel London: Credit Sneak Peak

So- onto style. This is where Zooey really excels. Again, maintaining the same style throughout most of her outfits she keeps a cute, innocent and individual look. Vintage tea dresses, little shorts, polka dots, floral patterns, cute prints, peter pan collars, chiffon blouses and cardigans are her ‘staple’ looks.

Where most of us would end up looking like a frump, Zooey manages to make old, recycled clothes look elegant.

Zooey in 500 Days of Summer: Credit The Clothing Menu

Though her day look is very ‘cutesie’, Zooey knows how to turn on the glamour in the evening by picking a statement colour with a flattering and tasteful feel.

Zooey wearing Oscar De La Renta at the Golden Globes: Credit NY Daily News

Through all of the parts of Zooey’s beauty and style, there is still one big thing that makes her stick out from the crowd. She has a reputation for always being herself and being comfortable over her individual personality and style. Her confidence and nature only magnifies her beauty.

FHM on Zooeys #31 place: “Hollywood’s brand-new Queen of Quirk: smart-but-daft, adorable-yet-edgy, sexy-but-approachable. She’s the ideal girlfriend, basically.”

Credit: Glamour

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Top 10 Nail Effects : Tried and Tested

By Bridget Owen

Nothing sets off an outfit like the perfect shade of nail polish, but now its not just about colours, its about having fun with effects too!

It’s only in the last few years that I’ve become especially interested in different effects that I can create myself at home. Without looking like they have been done at home!

My favourite nail varnish brands are OPI and Nails Inc. I go back to these brands as their quality always remains the same, but that’s not to say there are many other cheap alternatives that can work just as well!

I have ten favourite pieces for your nail essentials bag that will leave you with a shade and look for every occasion!

1. Base coat & Top Coat
Most importantly, a good base coat needs to be applied before you can start decorating with your favourite shade.

The nails need to be clean, dry and filed before you apply the base.

My top base coat is OPI, that comes in a small set with a top coat. You can buy both for £10.00 at Amazon.

2. Pastel Shades

Pastel pink and blue can look really fresh for spring and summer. Barry M sell a lilac shade called Berry Ice Cream – it’s perfect. Barry M have an extensive range of shades and you can buy them for 3.99-5.99 in Superdrug and Boots stores.

Illamasqua have created a special range of ‘speckled’ pastel shades, created to look like birds eggs. They are around £14.00 from Debenhams and other beauty retailers. The collection includes pink, blue, yellow and green.


Credit: Llmasqua


3. Matte Effect Shades

Nails Inc Kensington Matte effect top coat has been designed to go over any shade and give it a matte effect!

I love this trick after looking for matte shades in 2012 this handy polish will make any shade look chic! I think it looks best over grey, black and brown shades!

Nails Inc. Kensington Matte shade is available at Debenhams, House of Fraser and online for £12.00.

Credit: Pandora’s Nails


4. Nail Caviar

Nail caviar has only recently been seen in the beauty industry but is already available for you to do yourself at home.

The effect is created by many little balls sat together on your nail to create texture- very much like the look of caviar.

Different brands sell nail caviar, but a brilliant cheap version is Nail Constellations by MUA.

They come in 5 different colours and are available at £3 per bottle. They’re so easy to use- apply a base coat and then pour on the beads to the nail to stick them on.

I bought ‘Libra’ and this is how my nails turned out on first attempt!

Remember, if you’re using nail caviar just paint and stick beads to one nail at a time. Once all your nails are done, go back over them with a base or top coat to keep the caviar beads in place. If you have any gaps you can stick more beads to the clear top or base coat too!


My Caviar Nails

5. Feather effect

Nails inc have created a creation of feather inspired nail polishes. These multicoloured confetti like strands go onto your nails in a clear polish to sit on a base coat or alone. I love this effect, and the cute little bottle it comes in! Nails inc shades can be bought for £10-£15


Credit: Nails Inc


6. Glitter!

We all love to get out the glitz and glam for girlie nights out and dressed up dates- but how about for your nails?

On first seeing this trend, it reminded me of painting my nails for the first time, using cheap glitter from a girls magazine- but OPI had bigger ideas for glitter.

The James Bond Skyfall collection flew from shelves at Christmas as OPI brought out their special collection for the new Bond release.

I bought 5 of the shades from the collection, consisting of bright reds, sultry greens and glittering golds. Their is also a special edition ‘man with the golden gun’ which has real 18k carat of gold in.. Could you get any more luxurious?

Glitter can be over-done, but can also be worn in so many ways. It’s all about being creative and seeing what will work.

Fur effect

Yes, I know, fur effect nails sound a little different.. But this is how they look!




Credit: MUA


The fur again sticks to nail varnish much like the caviar effect.

You can buy a little pot of fur effect by MUA from Superdrug stores or online for £3.

This is the effect I’ve had most doubts about- but the finishing look of the nails is really good and the effect is really unique.

8. Magnetic effect

It’s simple to create this effect. Magnet nail polishes are available to buy from Boots and Superdrug for around £5.00 for Barry M shades and around £10.00 for the Nails Inc. version.

Each bottle of varnish comes with a magnet in its lid. After you have coated your nails with varnish, you hover along the magnet over the top of the nail creating a ripple or wave effect which you can see below!


Credit: Nails Inc


9. Nail foils/wraps

Without a steady hand, nail wraps can be a nightmare to apply and look professional.

I first tried Primarks own nail wraps, which were Zebra print and only cost £1. It took hours to do both my fingernails and toes.

The nail wraps were much too big for my fingernails and toes and cutting them down was really difficult.

Once I’d got the right size the wrap would no longer be sticky or there would be an air bubble when I tried to apply the wrap.

I have since tried Superdrugs nail wraps (£4.99). Again they were too big and really fussy to apply to look professional, but they were a better quality and made an impressive leopard nail effect.

If I was going to use wraps again, I’d go for some from a trusted beauty retailer like Superdrug or Boots, I wouldn’t buy them from clothes shops such as Primark or New Look.

I’d get a really cute design too, like these beauties!


Credit: Beautyblog


10. Nail art pens

So you’ve tried magnets, fur, caviar and all sorts of other beauty crazes. Now it’s time to get creative and do your own! Express yourself 🙂

Nail art pens are brilliant! Sally Hansen has a brilliant range of pens for any design you can imagine.

I love creating cute little floral designs, daisies are my favourite for summer- but it’s so hard to paint them on my nails without these pens! (They usually look like fried eggs.)

So go ahead, mix and match your nails and see what effects you could achieve…. without the hefty salon prices!


Credit: Sally Hansen

You can go into any large Debenhams store across the country to find a Nails Inc counter, where you can test all these effects on your own nails, and get a beautician to show you what you can achieve too!

Read more from Bridget here