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

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How to create the perfect bun

All content by Steph Hodgkinson

Create this sophisticated up ‘do whether you’re hitting the town or simply wanting to try something different. Follow Polka Dots & Potions’ step-by-step guide to creating the perfect bun…

For this you will need:

  1. Hair doughnut
  2. Lots of hair grips
  3. Hair elastics

Step 1


  • Gather your hair into a ponytail – position this as high or low as you would like the bun to go.

Step 2SAM_2925

  • Next, slide the ponytail through the hair doughnut.

Step 3


  • Fan all the hair outwards around the doughnut to cover it up.

Step 4SAM_2923

  • Your hair will now be gathered around the doughnut and look like this.

Step 5


  • Secure the doughnut in place with 2 hair elastics.

Step 6


  • Finally, secure loose strands of hair in place around the bun with hair grips. Voilà, you’ve created a bun!

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This week we’re wearing…Aztec

Me wearing my new aztec outfit - Dress, £15,; Tights, £3, New Look

Me wearing my new aztec outfit – Dress, £15,; Tights, £3, New Look

Ladder back detail on dress (£15)

Ladder back detail on dress (£15)

Words by Steph Hodgkinson

Up and down the high street there’s one trend that’s everywhere at the moment: aztec. The bright and bold print is quickly becoming this summer’s hottest trend and a staple for every girl’s wardrobe.

Whether it’s monochrome or multi-coloured, there’s something eye-catching for everyone this season. New Look are particularly nailing the look with their extensive collection of crop tops, bandeaus, midi and maxi dresses and shorts. Boohoo have also followed suit with their ‘Aztec Invasion’ collection.

Sally Crosby, who works for Topshop, says the look is back in: “It’s definitely on-trend to wear aztec this season, and it’s one of this summer’s staples along with midi and maxi dresses.”

Ashley Tisdale in a sequinned aztec dress

Ashley Tisdale in a sequinned aztec dress. Image courtesy of

Dress down the look for daytime with an aztec top and stonewashed jeans, or glam it up with wedges and a colourful midi dress – the perfect alternative to a maxi for petite girls.

Celebrities from Ashley Tisdale to Megan Fox have been spotted rocking the trend recently. So what are you waiting for? Here’s our pick of the best aztec pieces from the high street…

Megan Fox rocking an aztec dress. Image courtesy of

New Look

Red & blue aztec midi, £16.99

Red & blue aztec midi, £16.99

Monochrome stripe sleeveless aztec midi dress, £14.99

Pink and black sleeveless crop top, £9.99

Cameo Rose multicoloured crop top, £7.99

Cameo Rose multicoloured crop top, £7.99

Pink and purple zig zag maxi tube skirt, £16.99

Pink and purple zig zag maxi tube skirt, £16.99






Amie embroidered denim hotpants, £20

Amie embroidered denim hotpants, £20

Frankie strip aztec crop racer shirt, £15

Frankie stripe aztec crop racer shirt, £15

Izzy tie front playsuit, £18

Izzy tie front playsuit, £18

Astrella aztec monochrome leggings, £8

Astrella aztec monochrome leggings, £8

Ezra light aztec leggings, £8

Ezra light aztec leggings, £8

All images above courtesy of New Look or Boohoo

Read more from Steph here

Diet pills: do you really know the dangers?

2, 4-dinitrophenol – or DNP as it’s commonly known – is yellow and odourless in capsule form. Image courtesy of Daily Mail

Words by Steph Hodgkinson

This week, 23-year-old medical student Sarah Houston died after taking diet pill DNP – which was banned in America for its dangerous side effects in 1938. The Leeds University student had been suffering from bulimia and depression for the past three years and had been receiving treatment.

DNP – also known as 2, 4-Dinitrophenol – is an extremely toxic industrial chemical which is used a pesticide. Although it’s banned for human consumption, it’s easily available over the Internet in capsule form.

The possible side effects include raised body temperatures, dehydration, exhaustion, excess sweating, irregular heart rates and heart attacks. It’s also been linked to 62 deaths worldwide. So why is it still readily available to buy in pill form?

Sarah Houston isn’t the only person in recent times to be killed from the toxic diet pill. In February, 18-year-old fitness fanatic Sarmad Alladin collapsed and died just hours after praising the fat-burning tablets on Facebook.

And in 2008, Selena Walrond, 26, died of a heart attack brought on by DNP. The pill caused a rapid rise in Selena’s heart rate and her temperature soared.

Selena’s mother was quoted in The Daily Mail as saying: “I’ll never forget her yellow fingernails and skin – the drug was sweating out of her. Selena’s life has been cruelly snatched away, all because she was desperate to lose weight. DNP is lethal. If you want to lose weight, do it the sensible way.”

Leeds University medical student Sarah Houston died after taking DNP. Image courtesy of Mirror

Leeds University medical student Sarah Houston died after taking DNP. Image courtesy of Mirror

Last year, the Food Standards Agency issued a warning to avoid taking DNP due to two deaths linked to the drug. Yet despite the warnings and fatalities, it’s still widely used amongst young people, particularly in the bodybuilding community.

Numerous bodybuilding forums participate in discussions and share their experiences of taking the drug to bulk up. The majority of the users encourage it and trivialise the potential death factor. One user on the Iron Den lists the side effects (including death) then says: “Other then [sic] that, it’s relatively safe, if you start low.”

One user on The Student Room forum said: “[sic] If your even thinking of taking DNP then you want to do your research first, if done rightly then its possible to lose around 1lbs of fat each day!!! – but done wrongly you could end up dead.”

Dietitian Sophie Leicester says: “A change of diet and an increase in exercise is the only safe and effective way to lose weight. Diet pills are no substitute for this, not to mention the life-threatening risks involved in taking these unknown chemicals.”

The fact is there is no “safe” way to take it; it’s a poisonous pesticide which isn’t worth the risk. Coroner David Hinchliff at Sarah Houston’s inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: “This tragic case has highlighted the potential dangers of buying slimming pills online. These pills can contain powerful ingredients such as DNP, which is not suitable for human consumption.

“We urge people not to take any slimming medicines or products bought online without consulting with a pharmacist or doctor. It simply is not worth the danger to overall health to buy and use these products as you just don’t know what is in them. Any weight loss results they offer could come with a huge risk.”

Sarah’s parents are now campaigning to ban the tablet form of the drug and prevent any further tragedies. Watch Daybreak’s interview with her parents here.

Weight loss: the safe way

  • Never take any diet pills without consulting a doctor – you don’t know what could be in them, particularly if you order them online
  • Try swapping fatty or sugary snacks for a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks with a houmous dip. Making small changes can make a big difference in the long run
  • Join a fitness class with a friend – it could be the best thing you ever do
  • If you’re strapped for cash, take a walk around the park a few times a week
  • Check your BMI (body mass index) online – often we see ourselves as ‘fat’ when we’re actually a perfectly healthy weight for our height

Have you ever taken diet pills, or would you ever? We’d like to hear your opinions and experiences on diet pills.

Read more from Steph here

Style Icons: Katy Perry

Words by Steph Hodgkinson

Katy Perry

Katy Perry. Image courtesy of Daily Mail

California girl Katy Perry, 28, burst onto the pop scene in 2008 with her promiscuous debut single “I Kissed A Girl”. She grew up listening to gospel music and both her parents were pastors who devoted their lives to their faith, so her controversial image as a popstar is a far cry from her strict upbringing.

Katy’s been nominated for nine Grammy awards and was Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2012. With numerous hit singles, sell-out world tours and over 30 million Twitter followers under her belt, she has become one of the most influential and successful female stars of our time. As well as her successes, Katy’s also known for her individual kooky style.

She’s one of the few female style icons who is not afraid to stand out from the crowd with her often humorous, fun, bright and sexy outfits. She has described her style as “a bit of a concoction of different things”.

Katy rocks a quirky movie themed outfit. Image courtesy of

Katy is known for her trademark jet black curls (she’s actually a natural blonde) – which she’s been known to dye purple and pink.

Perhaps one of her most iconic outfits came in 2010 when she released her single “California Gurls”. The video is set in a candy world, similar to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. This created various confectionery-inspired outfits, the most iconic being her blue wig, cupcake bikini and ‘Daisy Dukes’ (denim hotpants).

Arguably Katy's most iconic outfit to date -on the set of "California Gurls"

Arguably Katy’s most iconic outfit to date -on the set of “California Gurls”. Image courtesy of

Last year she told Parade magazine: “I have a very short attention span, so I’m always experimenting. I like the darker look right now. It seems like I’ve been the candy queen for a long time, and as much as I loved creating that look, I know that if I don’t evolve people might get bored. I’ve been thinking about a new record, and I think that will kind of define the next evolution.”

Controversial, cheeky and cute all rolled into one, Katy Perry certainly enjoys experimenting with style and for that, we salute her!

At 2011's MTV VMAs in an Oriental-inspired outfit

At 2011’s MTV VMAs in an Oriental-inspired outfit. Image courtesy of

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Animal testing on cosmetics banned after 30 years

Words by Steph Hodgkinson

Today, activists celebrated the success that they’ve been fighting to achieve for 30 years: an animal testing ban on cosmetics in the European Union.

The new law means that cosmetics companies are banned from selling products which have used animal testing outside the EU.

The ban includes products such as make up, soaps, hairsprays, bath and shower products and deodorants.

Embedded image permalink
Animals will not be used in the testing of cosmetics within the EU.
Image courtesy of Animal Equality

Fighting Animal Testing posted this picture on Twitter in celebration after their hard work and campaigning paid off

Animal Equality – whose motto is “Defending Animals, Promoting Justice” – took to Twitter to express their delight at the legislation. They tweeted: “AMAZING NEWS! Finally the EU ban on animal testing comes into effect!”

Lush Cosmetics said: “Animal testing: something to celebrate, plus something to fight for!”

While cosmetics companies and animal rights groups rejoiced about the long-awaited legislation, animal rights charity PETA warned that there was still a long way to go:
“Companies making cosmetics and toiletries will still be able to profit from products containing chemicals which have been tested on animals in horrifying ways.”

The campaigning has paid off in the EU at least, but The Body Shop – who helped to spearhead the campaign, along with global activists and organisations – now have the task of making animal testing illegal worldwide.

The Body Shop UK Facebook page said: “It’s been a long journey. We continue to campaign for a global ban on animal testing in cosmetics, so that all countries are like the EU. Watch this space.”

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90s fashion: back with a vengeance

Words by Steph Hodgkinson

The decade which gave us Nirvana, ‘girl power’ and Art Attack is now making a comeback. The ’90s has made a sensational return to fashion and is big news right now.

London Fashion Week 2013 saw Topshop Unique, Vivienne Westwood and Henry Holland offering punky tartan, oversized boyfriend jumpers and clashing prints on the catwalk. Topshop in particular are nailing the look with their ‘Rave New World’ collection which includes acid brights, Aztec prints, checked shirts and even bumbags!
So I asked the people who grew up in this decade what the latest revival of their childhood fashion meant to them. Was it a good or bad decade for fashion?
Sophi Ward, 20, says: “It was a good decade for fashion. I used to wear double denim like B*witched, jelly shoes, bandanas and Spice Girls t-shirts!”
Saved By The Bell were ’90s style icons. Source:

Nicole Wood, 19, says:  “I used to rock a white t-shirt with a bright pink net top over the top and bright pink denim shorts to match. And you can’t forget the dungarees.”

Alex Askham, 28, has fond memories of the fashon: “I loved pedal pushers – in fact it took me til the mid-noughties to get rid. I loved my baggy combats too with a crop top, All Saints style.”

Nicola Beal, 30, adds: “Who could forget Sweater Shop jumpers and hair scrunchies?”

There were also fashion blunders aplenty as Sally-Ann Henderson, 20, recalls: “Those skirt/trouser all in one things were horrific! So glad I was a little kid through it. How embarrassing!”
Love it or hate it, it looks set to make an impact time and time again with its constant revivals. Here’s our round-up of the classic ’90s fashion pieces from the high street…


Boyfriend Jeans, £29.99, H&M
Patterned aztec dress, £9.99, H&M

Patterned earrings, £2.99, H&M
Pink jelly shoes, £16, Topshop
  Dungarees, £38, Topshop
Rose cord pini dress, £42, Topshop


Black and white flatforms, £20, River Island


Purple crop top, £4.99, New Look
Dip dye crochet vest, £16.99, New Look
‘Lost In Your Love’ dip dye top, £14.99, New Look

Cerise lycra disco pants, £10,
Floral leggings, £10,
  • Do you have fond memories or fashion blunders of ’90s style? Let us know what you thought!

Read more from Steph here