Beauty

Today, I smile.

A wonderful thing happened to me last night.
I received this comment from one of my followers on Instagram…

12592406_443729105826646_2987259939652496416_n….in response to this image I posted to my Instagram account last night. I was feeling bummed about how ugly disability aids are – my wrist splints (worn most nights) are a hideous shade of ‘nude’ and are really really ugly…

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I’ve written briefly about my hidden illness before. I don’t often post images of myself when I’m having a flare up, but if on the rare occasions I do, I get this sort of response from just one person, it makes the pain of living with my condition, so much more worth it.

Here is my message to the world:

You may see me on Instagram with a full face of makeup on, my hair clean, nails done… but what you don’t see is how I feel once I’ve done all of that, or on the many days in a week where I physically cannot do any of that – which is why I posted this image above. To remind everyone that we’re all human and sometimes, we just need support – physically and mentally.

I’m sat right now wearing yoga pants, a hoody and a dressing gown with my hair scraped into a bun. I have no makeup on and I’m in a lot of pain all over my body but the comment above has brought a real smile to my face.

So thank you, Shewolfcollective, thank you for recognising my struggle and thank you for your kind words.

 

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A permanent decision…

Love them or loathe them, they are now more popular than ever; I’m talking about tattoos.

Tattoos are an emotive subject and everyone seems to have an opinion about them so I thought I’d share my somewhat surprising views (or so I’ve been told!)

Now, on the surface, I look like an ‘alternative’ lady. I have dyed black hair, wear a lot of black clothing, skulls being a particular theme I go for so people naturally assume I am tattooed. The surprising thing is, I’m not – well, I was but I’m not any more.

As I’ve written previously, I began an apprenticeship in body piercing when I was 24 and absolutely loved it; I had lots of unusual piercings in my ears, had skin divers along my arm, a nipple piercing, tongue piercing, navel piercing to name a few. But, I had one lowly tattoo on the inside of my right wrist and that was it.

Customers were surprised that unlike my fellow body piercers and tattooists, I wasn’t covered in inkings and my piercings weren’t all on my face. I liked being the odd one out (shocker, I know!) and eventually, got sick of seeing people covered in tattoos; it wasn’t shocking or interesting any more – particularly as the tattooist at the place I was piercing at wasn’t actually very good at all. But that’s another story for another day!

When I left the piercing place, I ended up being a full time vintage and pinup model and spent a lot of time with other models. It didn’t take long to notice a fascinating overlap when it comes to pinup and tattoo modelling; I was surrounded by “alternative” models who did both alternative and pinup modelling.

During the two years I spent with one group of models, it seemed to me as though they were getting tattoos simply to get photographed for front covers of magazines. Whilst, I applaud their dedication, it really did put me off being tattooed because to me, they all started to look the same.

A part of who I am is my need to be different. In a world where everyone seems to be tattooed, I decided I wanted to undo my foray into being tattooed myself. So I went about having laser tattoo removal.

Before I show you what my non-tattoo-tattoo looks like, I’ll show you what it looked like when I had first had it done.

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I chose to have my favourite name tattooed on my wrist – my late Grandma’s name and the name of my favourite Monarch, Elizabeth I. Yes, my name is also Elizabeth – cue the jokes about forgetting your own name so having this to remind me… blah blah blah!

My vintage modelling was going really well so I decided I wanted to remove my black tattoo and have my ‘blank canvas’ back. Vintage modelling is as it sounds – I wore all original vintage clothing from the 1940s and 1950s, set my hair in rollers and wore a lot of red lipstick. As you can guess, tattoos weren’t a hugely popular look back in the 40s and 50s so I wanted to look as authentic as possible; this meant removing my tattoo.

When people talk about tattoo removal, the first thing people say is how painful it is. Let me say right now, they are absolutely right – laser tattoo removal hurts. It hurts a lot. Even more than having the tattoo in the first place, so to anyone wanting a tattoo who isn’t quite sure… think hard before you are tattooed because it is absolutely no fun at all, having it lasered.

Luckily my tattoo is black; a colour that is more easily removed than others (red, being one of the hardest colours to remove) and it is quite small. Unfortunately I did have my tattoo on the inside of my wrist which is I’m told, quite a tender place for a tattoo.

I’ve now had around 5 sessions of laser removal leaving a minimum of 6 weeks between each laser session. The longer you leave it, the better, as the tattoo will continue to fade after each session and for weeks after.

This image was taken after the 3rd laser session. IMG_1939

This was after the 4th session so it had already faded quite a lot by then. This was taken around 20 minutes after having laser on it. It was extremely swollen and tender – feeling much like severe sunburn… Immediately after having it lasered, it looks a lot more faded than it will the next day. This is normal, but won’t last.

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This was taken around 6 hours after the session, as you can see it has all blood blistered.

And this…. is how it looks now, after 5 sessions – the last one was  a year ago.

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As you can see, it hasn’t entirely gone. It has scarred. Apparently this is a common issue with laser removal, as the skin doesn’t always react the way we want it to. I may have one more session to see if it does any more lifting. I’m quite happy with it now, as no one seems to notice it any more.

For anyone considering having a tattoo, I cannot stress it enough how important it is to be sure of who you are before you do it – or, be absolutely okay with having a painful removal procedure that isn’t 100% effective. It is extremely unlikely to disappear entirely and sometimes the only way to get rid of a tattoo is to have an expensive, dark, obtrusive cover up tattoo over the top.

So that’s my experience with tattooing and why I’m strictly on the nay camp when it comes to being tattooed. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Black Lipstick

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Ever since I was a teenager I’ve loved the look of black lipstick. I was your average teenage goth back then; though favouring purple lipstick over black because my Mum had some big opinions about black lipstick (to this day, she still screws up her nose when I walk around the house in it and I’m 29!)

I think I’ve been tainted for life because even now, I can’t bring myself to wear black lipstick seriously. I’ve never been a cyber Goth who shaves their brows and paints them in, or wears dread falls or tutu mini-skirts; not because I don’t like the look (I love it on other women) but I just don’t think it suits me. I would consider myself a minimalist Goth in that I like wearing plain black clothing and then accessorising with vintage or antique jewellery and a skull or two. I also loved dark red lipstick as it’s very glamorous. I’ve always been into hollywood glamour of the 40s and 50s so red lips come naturally to me….

But, I keep coming back to the black lipstick. I’m not sure if it’s a nostalgia thing (which seems to be a big thing right now) but I keep playing around with the look. I love it. I love how as soon as you put black lipstick on, you feel like you. All the deepest darkest parts of your soul are suddenly out there, on show, for the whole world to see. You finally feel you are part of a specific subculture that has been around for decades; the Goth subculture.

There’s been a running topic among the Goth subculture which is

Am I Goth enough?

and I think I’m guilty of having these worries myself, particularly when I go to an event that is specifically aimed at the ‘darker’ parts of life like the Satanic Market I went to recently, I found myself comparing myself with other ladies who attended the event, worrying that I don’t fit in because I’m not goth enough.

Isn’t it funny that you can get to your late twenties and STILL be comparing yourself to others? It’s sad, isn’t it? The thing to remember is that we all have insecurities. The woman I’m admiring is probably feeling a similar feeling to me.

So what have I learned – I’ve learned to acknowledge when I’m feeling insecure in myself and remember that it’s normal to have a wobbble. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you just have to go for it. Out of curiousity I posted a picture of myself wearing black lipstick on my instagram page and it has had some really positive comments. Now, I know that seeking validation from people online (or anyone for that matter) isn’t  a legitimate way to feel good about oneself, but if you can see it from a more objective perspective, it can be helpful.

To conclude; fuck it. I’m going to ROCK that black lipstick and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. It’s something I’ve always admired on other people, so why don’t I just bite the bullet!

Brand Spotlights

Over the coming weeks I shall be writing a few blogs about a few brands, designers, independent businesses and friends that I believe need to be talked about and admired.

I am a firm believer in helping those around you rather than competing blindly and carelessly to get yourself ahead. While this may not be the best way to make money, I believe authenticity and integrity are more important. Of course, money helps (especially when you are naturally more disadvantaged than most) but it’s not the be all and end all.

So keep your eyes peeled to see where I shop, whose music I listen to, what I like to drink and pretty much everything I like!

If you’re looking to get your name out there (like myself) feel free to get in touch. Email me at bethvonblack@hotmail.com

 

The Claws

Apparently, I am obsessed with my nails. My best friend actually tells people “she paints her nails for a living” which, sadly isn’t true because I don’t get paid to paint my nails – If only!

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But, I do enjoy caring for my hands. Because I have been blessed with amazing genetics, I have naturally long nails without even trying. Believe me, I wish I knew some miracle cure for the ladies out there who can’t grow their nails. I really really do sympathise and if a scientist wanted to study my nail growing genetics, I would gladly give my genes to the cause.

On a more serious note, I have been asked by MANY ladies what I do with my nails, so I thought I’d write a blog about them.

Let me start by saying the most important thing about my hands – I DO NOT DO ANY WASHING UP! I’m serious. I would rather cut my arm off, than wash up the dishes without a pair of marigolds (and even then, I usually use the dishwasher). Soaking your nails in a detergent like washing up liquid is DEATH to a healthy nail.

Another extremely important part of my nail routine is that my nails are never naked, they are always painted with at least 2 layers of a decent brand of base coat.

I use mostly OPI and China Glaze but am also happy to dabble with Barry M for their glitter top coats, Chanel for their inimitable shade of Rouge Noir and Essie for their nude ranges but I do not favour ‘high street’ brand polishes as in my experience, the lasting power doesn’t quite cut it for me. OPI however, is my all time favourite brand.

A friend of mine recently launched her own nail paint called Radioactive Unicorn and I’ve been fortunate enough to try a couple of them and they’re bloody brilliant. Super pigmented and have great staying power.

Here’s her shade ‘Franken Fine’ that I wore for Halloween this year – and got many compliments! It’s a crazily glittery shade. I love it.IMG_3936

Another thing I will say is that my nails are far from perfect, which is another reason why I wear nail polish on them 24/7 three hundred and sixty five days a year. I was born with a skin condition called Psoriasis, and it affects my nails and skin. It makes my nails look all ridged and bumpy. It also makes my nails grow in awkward ways. So to hide the ugliness, I keep them painted – it seems to help them stay strong because as soon as I take off my polish, they tend to snap.

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Unfortunately, when this happens I have to pop to a nail place and have an acrylic tip put on until it’s grown out enough to match the others. I do not hack all my nails off because I’ve had one break – I know some people that do this!

In terms of shape, it’s absolutely down to you what shape you have. For the past couple of years now, I’ve been filing my nails into what’s called a Stiletto shape. It’s quite a strong look and nail polish doesn’t particularly like the sharp points – it tends to wear off the tip pretty quickly, even with top coats galore. With acrylic nails, it’s not so much of a problem.

Nail Shape Image

When I was working as a full time vintage model, I kept them filed in an almond shape, as this was the shape that was in fashion in the 1940s and 1950s. I will be writing a blog about the look that Dita Von Teese favours – the half moon manicure.

For the most part, my nails are usually painted black (Liquid Leather by China Glaze is my absolute favourite) or Red (Big Apple Red by OPI or Christian Louboutin’s signature red) but I do like to play around with some nail art occasionally.

 

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A while back there was a new trend of creating a Christian Louboutin underside of the nail – which I tried. It was fiddly and took ages to clean up afterwards. It’s an interesting look, but I wouldn’t wear it regularly.

The bottom left image you will see how short I used to keep my nails. This was around the time I was training to be a body piercer and couldn’t have my nails long, so I always had a half moon manicure instead. I cringe at how short they used to be!

If you have any questions you’d like to ask me about anything to do with nails, feel free to drop me an email at bethvonblack@hotmail.com