Beauty

Our worst beauty disasters

January 29th 2017 / Anna Hunter / 1 comment

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If you’ve ever had a desperate dye job, cry worthy cut or bikini wax that’s left you burning up, you’ll relate to the following…

In light of the fact that 1 in 5 of us has sustained an injury while applying fake tan according to Garnier, we came to reflect on our personal beauty traumas, whether self-inflicted, in-salon, or in a totally off-piste context. Beauty mares can strike at any time, as the following cautionary tales reflect...

Susannah Taylor, Editor-in-Chief- The Chop

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“Other people probably wouldn’t put it down as a ‘disaster’, but probably the most upsetting thing that has ever happened to me was when a hairdresser cut off all my hair to chin-length without asking me. I was about 26, and my hair was probably a few inches below my shoulders. I was pushed by a PR to go and see a ‘celebrity’ hairdresser I hadn’t met before, (big mistake), and I explained that I was thinking of having a long bob, probably cut to the bottom of my neck. The hairdresser and I got chatting about his family and his love of football and before I knew it, he had lopped off one side above my chin level. He finished the whole head and stupidly I left without saying a word to avoid confrontation. What could I do about it anyway I thought as I kicked through my lovely hair strewn all over the salon floor?

“When I got home I sobbed to my husband when I looked in the mirror and realised how damn short it was and how I couldn’t get it to reach into a ponytail. Weirdly, a few months later, I went to a product launch that the hairdresser was an ambassador for. He came up to me and said ‘I’m so so sorry but last time I saw you I realised I cut off all your hair without you asking’.I guess at least he admitted it but I learned right then that we can’t underestimate how much our hair is part of the way we feel about ourselves. I also learned that no matter how famous a hairdresser, always ask them to show you exactly how much they are about to cut off (i.e, get them to point to precisely where they are cutting it) before they begin.”

Ayesha Muttucmaru, Senior Features Writer - “That time I cut my own fringe…”

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“I was broke and a student - a deadly duo when it comes to the world of beauty experimentation. I remember it vividly - the sun was shining and it was a slow Saturday afternoon and so with time on my hands and a pair of scissors in them, I tentatively tried to channel my inner stylist and seek as much bang for my buck as possible. In fact, for no buck at all, but oh how I wished I’d dug a little deeper and asked somebody, anybody to stop me in my snip-happy tracks. ‘It’s just a trim’ I said, ‘It’ll only take a second’ I told myself. However, fast forward ten minutes later and there I was, looking in disbelief at the mound of black hair that sat in my sink and my reflection in the murky mirror in my halls of residence. With the cool air conditioning caressing the bottom two thirds of my forehead like a summer breeze, and the remnants of my thick but stubby fringe bouncing up almost in shock at the actions of its foolish owner, I knew that this was one of those moments I’d look back on and laugh about someday. And I think I’m just about able to do that now. Just.”

Gemma Bellman, Managing Director- My bloody bikini wax

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“Let's face it, bikini waxes aren't pleasant at the best of times. That pulsating pain, red raw skin and slight sting of the aloe vera aftermath are best quickly forgotten. Unfortunately, there's one bikini wax "experience" I'll never forget.

“It all started when I couldn't get an appointment with my regular salon and decided to nip round the corner to a place that could take me right away. I did have my suspicions when I turned up and the receptionist said that the beautician was running late and, after sitting in the waiting room for 20 minutes, then guided me through to one of the treatment rooms and announced that she (the receptionist that is) would do the wax for me to save time. In hindsight I should have legged it then and there, but I suppose I just assumed she must have the appropriate training or naturally wouldn't be offering!

“Sadly, I was sorely(!) mistaken. As she began applying the wax haphazardly to my delicate bikini line I remember thinking how incredibly hot the wax seemed, but with true British reservedness and not wanting to offend, I sat tight, tried to think about my upcoming holiday, and let her continue. Sadly, my daydream was abruptly interrupted with the shrill shriek of the beautician (a.k.a. receptionist) who was holding her hands over my bikini line in shock. I sat up with a start to see what all the commotion was, only to find that her last swipe of the wax strip had quite literally skinned me alive! My bikini line was now bleeding profusely. In a panic she started bundling cotton wool all over me, which only made things worse as it stuck to all the residual bits of now blood soaked wax. She then ran out of the room to go and find the (presumably) qualified beautician who duly came running in and helped to stem the flow. After many sheepish apologies they graciously announced that there would be no charge for the appointment - I should think not!

“Not only was I physically and emotionally scarred, but my poolside glamour was entirely ruined by their hack job - a true beauty disaster!”

Anna Hunter, Senior Features Writer- "Practically every time I’ve applied fake tan to date."

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“My fascination with fake tan began young, perhaps because the thought of turning my Celtic skintone full-on Gisele in a matter of hours seems like pure MAGIC. As usual, with any magical or miraculous concept or product, the reality is never as slick as you’d like to imagine.

“One particular and definitively non-slick faux glow incident that sticks out in my mind was when I was around eleven (told you I started young) and went on a faraway holiday with my Dad. I was determined to return looking all mysterious and tanned, so I set off to The Body Shop on landing and spent my pocket money on the darkest self-tan on the shop floor. I believe I applied it with a Holiday Inn flannel, leaving it to develop overnight. On waking, I was a patchwork quilt of mahogany, ghostly white and random dribbly bits, plus the flannel action had created a very odd, dappled cheetah kind of effect. What’s worse, it STANK (this was the mid 90s), and once the itch set it, it dawned on me that I must also be allergic to it. Suffice to say that adding red, angry bumps to the mix didn’t enhance my supermodel ‘glow’.

“Bless my Dad, he said nada, zilch, nothing, which probably indicates how dire the situation actually was. For some bizarre reason I also decided to get some cornrows put in on that holiday, and then I burnt my head in the sun and started to peel between the braids. It’s fair to say that the playground was NOT my catwalk when I got home, but in a very trite and cheesy ending to the tale, I also learned that attempting pretty much a 360º on your looks to impress others is no way to live."

Victoria Woodhall, Deputy Editor- “The day I came out of the hairdressers looking like a canary.”

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“I was sent to trial an (expensive) new salon in Kensington about six years ago and asked for a bit of colour to cover up the emerging grey at my hairline and ‘a couple of highlights’ to perk me up. The colorist wanted to go a bit lighter, so I asked him to show me the equivalent colour in a magazine. He picked out a beach picture of a woman emerging from the the sea Ursula Andress-style with darkish wet hair, but nevertheless how I imagined my own might look with highlights. Clearly he was looking at this woman thinking, ‘when dry, her hair will look yellow, like Big Bird.

“I naturally have mid-brown hair, and you can imagine my horror when he started blow drying the balayage to reveal the new ‘Easter chick’ me (that’s chick as in yellow fluffy thing, not hot babe). I was so shocked that I didn’t say anything; I was rather taken in by the swankiness of the salon, wondering whether everyone else thought it was ‘fabulous dahling’ and I was just not on-trend enough to appreciate that particular shade of jaundice. By the time I got home, I had scraped my hair back into a ponytail (the balayage had left my roots dark) hiding as much of the yellow as I could from my family. Scraped really was the operative word; my hair was so bleached that my comb got stuck in it. That’s how it remained for a few weeks until I plucked up the courage to go back to the salon to have a vegetable dye to turn it back to brown and spent the next two years growing out the poor condition.

“Note to self: stick with a colourist you trust before you say yes to a new look. I now go to Charlie Double at colour specialists Four London and would trust her with my life.”

Judy Johnson, Online Editor- The not-so-relaxing spa visit

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“In my humble opinion, I have avoided quite a few beauty disasters thanks to having two older sisters who made their mistakes first - I could live vicariously through them as they covered their entire eyelids in liquid eyeliner, pulled out their eyelashes and wore a concealer three shades too dark (no offence sisters). I’ve had my fair share of beauty experiments (white eyeshadow, anyone?) but they were so of their time that I’m not sure I could call them disastrous.

“For me, a beauty disaster is when something goes horribly wrong, such as the many mishaps involving my sensitive skin; the worst I can think of is a trip to a plush London spa, where I was treated to a complimentary leg scrub, wrap and massage just in time for summer. They used really, really, REALLY strong essential oils and products and as it was one of my first press visits I was too nervous to question anything, and the scrub (with a bristle brush of some sort) was so abrasive and the oils so potent that I could feel the tingles as I laid there trying to look relaxed. My legs promptly erupted into the worst allergic reaction I’d ever seen, and not only did my GP struggle to prescribe anything that would help in time for the hot weather, but my skin was left blotchy and marked for years to come. It was a long time before I would go bare-legged again and I swore off spas (not that that’s particularly hard) for years until I felt brave enough to try another treatment - but I’ll never be able to fully relax at a spa again!”

Alecka Micklewright, Commercial Director- The cultural exchange disaster, India, circa 2008.

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“This is almost ten years ago now but the memory still feels FRESH, and I mean vivid. Some friends invited me to a “Holi” party (Hindu festival of spring, also known as festival of colours). I knew a little bit about what happened at this festival, but being a newbie in Bombay, where I was living at the time, I don’t think I really understood the full story. Some friends had given me a gentle reminder to apply some oil to my hair beforehand to protect my blonde locks. ‘Oil in my hair? I don’t want to look like a greaseball when I arrive at this fabulous colour party!’ I thought to myself as I swiftly ignored this (key) piece of advice. ‘They’re just messing with me.. I know what I’m doing.'

“So I arrived at with my hair perfectly coiffed, only to be greeted by an assault of pigment powders…that’s right PIGMENT. Blue, orange, yellow, green..you name it, I was covered in it. Then for the final blow (to complete the cultural exchange) – a bucket of pink water over the head..whoosh! All mega lolz until I got home that night and couldn’t for the life of me wash any of the colour off my body or hair. I literally looked like Rainbow Brite’s scraggy sister. For months I think people were wondering a) why in god’s name I had dyed my hair pink and b) how had it gone so badly wrong. For future reference - the clue is in the name: PIGMENT!”

What the worst/ funniest thing that’s happened to you beauty wise? Let us know below or tell us on Twitter @GetTheGloss


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  • Sue Conway
  • January 29th 2017

When I had long hair I used to have it straightened.
We moved house and I had to find a new salon. Big mistake! They said "of course we do straightening!" They then proceeded to do it. Suddenly I realised they were leaving out a process and protested. I asked to see the manager who ASSURED me that the products they used were being applied correctly ................
The next morning I woke up with a good percentage of my hair on my pillow.
I sued.
I won excellent damages but they didn't speed up my hair regrowth! It took a LONG time to return to normal.

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