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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Annabel Boys; ‘Abseil raised £1,300 for Verity to help PCOS sufferers.’

by Railah Iqbal

Annabel Boys abseiled down a 400-foot tower to raise over £1,000 for Verity, a charity helping 6,000 Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome sufferers every year.

courtesy of Annabel Boys

courtesy of Annabel Boys

Annabel, Health Coach, said; “I saw the abseil in a newspaper. At the time my sister had a list of things she wanted to do before she turned 30 so I recommended this to her.”

As Annabel was struggling to commit herself to the challenge, she made it into a ‘public’ statement and decided to turn it into a fundraising event. “I realised that it was a mental challenge above all and I felt Verity deserved the money because their work is very important to women suffering with PCOS.”

At 25 years olf, Annabel was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. She was advised that she would have fertility problems but she no idea of the sorts of health problems attached to the condition. At the time, there not much available in terms of advice for PCOS sufferers.  Annabel said; “After several years of fertility treatments we were very lucky to conceive after our first round of IVF about 10 years ago, sadly my marriage didn’t survive the stress of the treatments and  my husband left shortly before my daughter was born.”

Verity website- screen shot

Verity website- screen shot

She added; “Verity provides vital information and support for women with PCOS. I just wish they had been around when I was first diagnosed with it because it could have made all the difference. At the time I had no idea that my diet and lifestyle was affecting my hormonal health and I had no idea there were alternatives to the fertility drugs.”

Unlock My Health website- screen shot

Unlock My Health website- screen shot

With a background in health and a PhD in psychology, Annabel is looking to focus her health coaching practice on  helping women with PCOS  to examine their diet and health choices.
Annabel explains; “I feel so strongly that young women in particular should have access to advice and support about all the options available to them. Small changes to diet and lifestyle can massively improve PCOS symptoms which could mean that less opt for the route of medication.”

To hear more from Annabel , check out her page

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1 in 10 young women have PCOS and 75% of us don’t even know it

by Railah Iqbal

1 in 10 young women suffer from Polycystic ovary syndrome, however, as PCOS Awareness’s survey shows; 3 out 4 sufferers are unaware of it.

PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, fertility problems, sudden mood changes and weight gain. PCOS starts as early as during a girl’s teenage years.

café press- press shot

café press- press shot

Many of my friends suggested that I showed symptoms of PCOS because I have always struggled with maintaining my weight and I have unexpected mood swings. I did not take it too seriously because I thought that I would not delve into until I was considering having children.
The doubts increased when a course of laser treatments to reduce my excessive facial hair had proved ineffective. I took to the internet to look for explanations for the failed treatment and 80% of the sites linked the issues to PCOS. I went for the PCOS test which proved the suspicions right.

press shot

press shot

My discovery of PCOS was encouraged by Verity; a UK-based charity who supports and advises 6,000 women directly suffering from PCOS related issues.

The relief I feel now is unbelievable because I no longer have to go through umpteen fad diets or pay hundreds of pounds for hair reduction treatment because there is an explanation behind my struggles and Verity have shown me ways of dealing with them.

Rachel Hawkes, Verity’s chairperson, explained that Verity was set up in 1997 as a support network for women suffering from PCOS and it now aims to educate women on PCOS-related issues especially those which people would not generally link  to the disorder such as; type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, increased risk of heart attacks and unexpected pregnancies.

Rachel Hawkes- Verity press shot

Rachel Hawkes- Verity press shot

Rachel said; “It is hugely important that young women understand the importance of PCOS because it is not just fertility condition. Like many of them think they can’t have children because of irregular periods, so don’t use contraception and end up with surprise pregnancies.”

Verity has a team of volunteers running 10 local groups whom give direct advice to sufferers and  its webpage has a discussion board where sufferers can advise and relate to one another.  There are also yearly conferences, as part of PCOS UK, where medical experts attend to advise people on how to deal with PCOS and the treatments available.

Rachel also unexpectedly discovered she was suffering from the condition. She visited the doctor to discuss her menstrual problems. “I found it so strange when he was asking me about having excessive facial hair and whether I was putting on weight. I thought I have a few on my chin but what is that got to do with my periods?”

When Rachel found out she had PCOS, she was oblivious to what it exactly was. Rachel said; “Not very many people knew about this issue because popular magazines for women like Cosmopolitan had never wrote about it even though a lot of us have it.”

As Rachel has a background in marketing, she joined Verity to help raise awareness about PCOS. Rachel added; “Raising awareness of the related issues will help us make young women medical advocates armed to support one another when dealing with PCOS.”

What causes PCOS?

The disorder, caused by elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone, leads to the ovaries being covered in tiny fluid-filled cysts which causes hormonal imbalance.

What signs do I look for?

  • Acne.
  • Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
  • Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
  • Fertility problems. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
  • Depression or mood swings.

What do I do if I think I am suffering from PCOS?

  • Go to your doctor right away.
  • Look to Verity for advice and support.
  • Don’t panic because there is a cure for everybody.

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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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Lisa Hempstock; home-grown designer fashion label ‘Sister,’ charity fashion shows and online global market

by Railah Iqbal

Sister boutique on Ecclesshall road in Sheffield

Sister boutique on Ecclesshall Road in Sheffield

Lisa Hempstock- owner of 'Sister'

Lisa Hempstock- owner of ‘Sister’

Lisa Hempstock started as a teen business woman specialising in lingerie and is now a leading fashion entrepreneur for designer clothes with an upcoming charity fashion show.
Lisa owns boutiques; ‘Sister’ for ladies designer fashion in Sheffield and Chesterfield and she has built a worldwide customer network through her online retail business.
The inspiration for Lisa to own a business spurred from her father’s business. Lisa explained; “I’ve always had a passion to be self-employed and my father had a business in machine and engineering which was seen as a man’s world, so I was not allowed to join it.”
Lisa first took to the fashion industry when she decided to set up a brand and build a career rather than undertaking job roles in other people’s companies. Lisa said; “Whilst I worked for others, I put in a lot of hours and always gave 200%. So one day I thought why don’t I put all this effort into something for myself and I have always had a passion for fashion.”
Her first trademark in the fashion world was through a lingerie store; ‘Caress’ in Sheffield’s city centre in the 1980s. She sold creative underwear to “fill the gap in the market because M&S started had taken ‘knickerbocker’ concept but it was nothing as creative as people wanted.”
‘Caress’ developed into ‘Sister’ when Lisa decided to specifically target professional clientele. Lisa said; “I cater for those who understand good quality clothing.”

Model showing Lisa's latest collection

Model showing Lisa’s latest collection

However just before the first store opening Lisa fell severely ill and ended up in hospital. With the help of her family the store saw its re-launch and is now a popular brand across South Yorkshire.
Lisa explains that a successful fashion business should be customer orientated; “we will wrap a £25 tunic in the same nice tissue paper as a £200 dress, because good customer experiences are important to a healthy business.”Locations of fashion businesses are important in its success and Lisa is hoping to branch out her business in southern areas.
Lisa added; “ I would love to have a shop further down south because I feel there are more opportunities for new businesses there.”
Further Lisa’s recent uptake on the e-business industry through ‘Sister Online’ was a successful move. She explained; “It had a positive effect and it has reached people globally as well as brought people into the store. I should have done it time ago.”

Lisa's fashion leaflet

Lisa’s fashion leaflet

Lisa also established that fashion shows advertising her products are a key marketing device. Her most recent one, held in-store at Sister on Ecclesshall Road, modelled Lisa’s collections and customers were able to purchase items at the end of each show. Lisa said; “I wanted to do a fashion show in-store so people can come in, have a glass of wine, enjoy the show and then are drawn to buying our clothes.”
This show is a taster of the big event happening in Chesterfield on Thursday 16th May and all of the proceedings from this, Lisa is donating to the Ash-Gate charity. If you are interested in attending the event, check out Sister’s page for further information.

Check out Lisa’s fashion show exclusively here:

Photography and video by Railah

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Rejection spurred ‘stalker’ to give death threats

by Railah Iqbal

A month into starting university, Hanna Ryaz, 21, was bombarded by phone calls and text messages by an unfamiliar individual which turned threatening which the police had to put a stop to.

Initially ‘the stalker’ was being friendly and claimed he wanted to get to know Hanna but soon he began threatening her when she refused to speak to him.

Hanna reading texts

Hanna reading texts

Hanna explained: “At first they made it out that they were trying to be friendly and just a bit flirty but when I rejected the person, they started stalking me.”
She added; “I came to Uni and not many people had my number and I began getting texts off an anonymous number.”
The stranger told Hanna that he was watching her every move. Hanna recalled; “They knew where I worked, they knew when I went to Uni, they would say ‘we know where you live’.”



At the time, Hanna began to question who she was speaking to and found it difficult to trust the new friends she made at university.
Hanna’s day-to-day activities were affected as she started missing work in a bid to avoid leaving her flat.

When the threats started, Hanna told the security team at her accommodation. “They would say they were going to kick my door down and kidnap me, even abusive things like rape were mentioned… I did not know what to do.”

Hanna's emergency contact numbers card (courtesy of Unite accommodation)

Hanna’s emergency contact numbers card (courtesy of Unite accommodation)

Because of the seriousness of the threats, the team advised Hanna to contact the police. The police came to see her the next day.

Hanna urged the police to track down the stalker and he was given a warning which has stopped him from contacting Hanna since.

Hanna advises others in similar situations; “If you are living in a flat where there isn’t much security, you should be very careful with who you trust and not let information out as well.”

Further National Stalking Helpline; an advisory unit,  is available to victims of stalking in need of advice and counselling. NHS is most helpful for those who wish to remain anonymous.

NSH’s spokesperson commented; “For young people who may find themselves in a position of being subjected to stalking behaviour, our advice would be to make contact with their local police service to report the behaviour. In addition we would advise getting in contact with the National Stalking Helpline, which provides a lot of advice for victims. ”

The helpline added that other students in Hanna’s situation should  get in touch with their university as soon as possible because “there are usually support mechanisms there to help.”

Photography by Railah

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City centre flashmob shows ‘fearsome’ fashion through experimental make-up

by Railah Iqbal

Photographer: Anwar Suleman Models: Emily, Lia, Emily, Nieve (stood up) and Polly (left to right) Courtesy of Lauren Eaton

Photographer: Anwar Suleman Models: Emily, Lia, Emily, Nieve (stood up) and Polly (left to right) Courtesy of Lauren Eaton

Lauren Eaton, Freelance Make-up Artist, put together the recent Sheffield flash mob when models took on the city centre, exhibiting gothic fashion.

Lauren, 23, of Sheffield, used experimental make-up artistry with a collaboration of fearsome fashion, to explore onlookers’ reaction to non-cliché looks. She said; “This was an exploration of public fashion. I incorporated the looks that people did not enjoy into the flashmob to test reactions to horrific looks.”

Photographer: Anwar Suliman Model: Polly Make-up artist: Lauren Eaton (left)

Photographer: Anwar Suliman Model: Polly Make-up artist: Lauren Eaton (left)

To produce the models images, Lauren explained that she used peculiar and unconventional make-up ideas and pure experimental make-up. Further she took inspiration from the new romantic art, fashion and underground club-culture eras; “where individuals would peacock to dress for attention.”

Photographer: Anwar Suleman Models: Emily, Nieve, Emily, Polly (left to right)  Courtesy of Lauren eaton

Photographer: Anwar Suleman Models: Emily, Nieve, Emily, Polly (left to right)
Courtesy of Lauren Eaton

She added; “I contoured the face and was vastly inspired by androgynous themes where men dressed like women and women like men. I aimed to shock people with my experimental make-up techniques.”
This project, as part of Lauren’s degree in make-up artistry and special effects make-up at Bradford College, was an idea branching out from a previous project where Lauren produced a ‘hypothetical’ campaign for High-street mogul; Topshop where she identified the looks that people detested and feared.

Topshop campaign (courtesy of Lauren Eaton)

Topshop campaign (courtesy of Lauren Eaton)

The team behind the execution of the flash mob included models, photographers and cameramen from numerous places in Yorkshire. She said; “I was lucky really because all these different people came together to help me form this amazing project.”
Lauren said she had audience members follow her and the team throughout Sheffield which was unexpected because “I went for a look totally out of context to the ordinary. I thought people would look once and then look away.”

A public exhibition of Lauren’s creations for the flashmob will be shown in Bradford College next month.
Lauren also specializes in bridal, editorial, catwalk fashion as well as experimental make-up and resources throughout South Yorkshire. To check out her work, visit Lauren’s webpage.

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