Tips and hints

Male grooming tips and hints from the Vanity Van team

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Male Grooming

Male grooming is as popular as ever, and Vanity Van is always inundated with requests for pampering treatments for men at the events and festivals we attend. Below are some quick grooming tips for the boys:

The Beard Craze

Many have predicted the end of the beard craze, but it’s still going strong! We love good face hair, but remember, it needs proper maintenance. For a sleek look, follow our handy tips:

26 - Our bearded assistant rocking Bobos beard preening kit

  • Invest in a beard wash, which unlike many shampoos will not strip out all your natural oils. Wash it daily, then dry and comb it through for a sharper, less scruffy look. You can buy a beard comb to make this easier, but any sturdy comb will do. Wooden combs are the best.
  • Next, apply a good conditioning beard oil (remember, you don’t need to rinse it out). The more often you do this the softer your beard will be, and it also gives a nice sheen.
  • Do go to a good barber regularly, to maintain condition and shape – and don’t undertake a radical change of style without professional help! You can tidy up split ends and stragglers in between appointments with some good quality beard scissors.

Beard baubles

The hottest looks for 2016 will be the full beard, the tight beard and shadow or stubble. Just make sure you pick a style that suits your face shape and hair style. We hear that beard dyeing will be in too… Love it!  And check out the latest glitter beard and bauble looks for Christmas!glitter-beards_0




Wet shave

  • For smooth-cheeked gents, a luxury wet shave at your local barber is a real treat. You get a smooth, clean cut, a smart finish, and baby soft skin. The best way to recover from a big night out, pep up your skin, or indulge in some relaxation. We highly recommend them.
  • One of our luxury wet shaves includes a facial using hot towels, luxurious shave oils and creams, a massage and cologne. Our clients love them.24 - Luxury wet shaves

Beauty hints and tips

  • Whether you are clean shaven or bearded, it’s still important to maintain smooth healthy skin. To do this, avoid harsher products such as scrubs, or anything that contains alcohol. Daily moisturising is a must. Use an oil based product to form a protective layer if you tend to have dryer flaky skin, or a lighter one if you have oily patches.
  • Use a gentle exfoliator once a week to get rid of dead skin cells and brighten up sluggish skin. Take care around your eye area, and invest in a good eye cream to avoid dark circles.
  • Lots of our male clients book manicures, to keep their hands soft and well maintained. Your hands will crack easily in the cold, if they are frequently in water or if you use them a lot for manual work. Even with office based work your hands can dehydrate and age, so don’t forget to look after them regularly. A full manicure that includes a moisturising arm and hand massage is just the job.
  • Remember to keep hydrated. 8 glasses of water a day is ideal for keeping your skin looking healthy.

27 - Beard styling with Bobos

If you fancy pampering your teams this winter you can book any of the above treatments with Vanity Van as a reward for staff in the office for their hard work this year, or to say thank you to clients or customers.  We provide a full range of treatments for men, and have multiple bookings over the winter season from our corporate and retail clients, such as H&M, to provide full pampering sessions for men of all ages.

Get stuck into body painting this festival season

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Body painting top tips…


  1. Get creativeCome up with a theme and research it online and experiment – practice makes perfect. Confidence in brush strokes comes with experience. 
  2. Copy and practice – Find other peoples pics online and copy them until your picture perfect then start being imaginative and let your creativity go wild.
  3. Use the right tools – Use the correct brushes for the job. Good quality vinyl brushes are the best. You can pick up these up in most arts and crafts shops like the Range or Hobby craft.
  4. Try different techniques – Play around with lace, fish net, powders, feathers, diamantes, make up such as eyeliners, liquid eyeliners, stick on shapes – the world is your oyster. Eyelash glue is great for attaching things to skin in a safe way.
  5. Try different types of application for your base – Bases can be created with dusts, powders, sponging on, stippling with kabuki brushes, mixing liquid combined with powder, make up etc..
  6. Consistency of paint – Use a spray bottle on the paint to get the right wetness and consistency – it’s vital that the sponge is not too wet and that brushes have the right consistency of paint so you can brush with confidence in one stroke. Spray the paint and lather the paint onto the brush – always test on the back of your hand for consistency and use the back of hand to help make sure the brush fibres are pointed and ready to brush.
  7.  Hold your brush correctly – Turn your brushes as you work to fit the purpose, hold it like a pen and change direction to suit the design. Use fingers as balance for a steady hand.
  8. Correcting mistakes – always have baby wipes, cotton buds to correct things and tissues to dry things to hand.
  9. Fixing – use a makeup fixing spray or hair spray to give staying power to your designs
  10. Hygiene – change your brush water frequently, clean your hands and use anti-bacterial gel.
  11. Bindi application – put a little cream or Vaseline on the skin and on the bindi and dip it in the powder. Add extra details and colours using cocktail sticks and get creative with diamantes and similar. Fix with spray for lasting hold.

Essential tools:

  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Sponges
  • Glitter
  • Water spray
  • Water pot
  • Tissues
  • Baby wipes

 Product tips

  • Sponges can be picked up cheaply from supermarkets – baby sponges are great for the right density for application and are very cheap
  • Mehron and Snazaroo are the main paint patty providers. Mehron also do a fantastic range of metallic powders which can be applied dry or with mixing powder for background and finishing effects. Charles Fox also have a great range.
  • Stargazer do an amazing range of thick UV neon paints & glitter dusts. Wolfe do neon palettes.
  • Look for fine glitters if the glitter is the wrong size it will show up too much on the design and not give the right shimmer. Although larger flake glitters are great to create their own effects.

Leopard print

Vanity van body art leopard

  • Create a base either using paint and allowing to dry a little or a metallic dust or powder
  • Using a brown paint create random sized splodges
  • Using a black paint and a medium / small sized brush draw two uneven C shapes around the brown splodge
  • Use a white and a small brush to highlight 
  • Dust with glitter 
  • You can use a stencil for this


Vanity van body paint tribal

  • Create a base either using paint and allowing to dry a little or a metallic dust or powder
  • Spray water onto paint and sponge. 
  • Using a flat headed straight brush to create thick bold and straight black edged lines and patterns. 
  • Dust with glitter 
Tips for using stencils
  • Always ensure your base colour if there is one is dry
  • You must get the consistency of the sponge / paint right – too wet a sponge and runny paint and you will end up with a bleed of colour
  • Hold the stencil carefully in place use medical tape to stop it moving
  • Stipple with light movements
  • Finish off with glitter really makes the design pop!
  • Clean the stencil thoroughly with baby wipes after use


Vanity van Body art flowers

  • Using a petal brush – which is one with a full middle and pointed tip, dip into water, dry off a little then soak in the main colour.
  • Make the end slightly wet and pointed and dip the end of brush in water and into a different complimenting colour.  This will give two tone effect
  • Create petals by placing onto the skin in a flower formation
  • Use nib of brush and paint  to create the stigma (middle of flower )
  • Use a small detail brush to create  vines and leaves 
  • Dust with glitter 

Vanity van body art experiment

  • Play with products!
  • Use paints and powders to create different looks – this was created by painting black paint and sponging on a metallic powder over the top
  • Flake glitter can create some amazing effects
  • Use colour body sprays and lace, fish net tights or similar to create some insane patterns and scale like effects
  • Characters – recreate your favourite characters from film, cartoon or books. Super heros, wildlife, fantasy, horror the possibilities are endless…


Check out our top tips for summer plaiting

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Plaiting Top tips…

Here are a few tips and hints on how to perfect your plaits and braiding techniques – perfect for summer styles to rock at your local festival…..

  • Head face and shape – Hair is like contouring, for really sticking out ears or a big nose, do not scrape the hair back, have hair up half down style.
  • Hair texture – thickness or thinness will affect the finished plait. Some hair is deceiving; fine hair hung loose can look normal in texture, but when plaited, it can look really thin and wispy. Thick hair can cause problems when sectioning – be as dominant as you can be and keep the hair you are not working with, sectioned out of the way. Hold the hair with good tension and be as firm as you can.
  • Hair density – sometimes hair is too sparse meaning it isn’t thick enough for a particular style.
  • Sectioning and securing – Neat precise clean sections are as important as the plaits themselves even if your plaiting is perfect, if your sections are uneven then your work will not be deemed competent.  To section, you must have a visual plan of the plaiting design and where you want to go.
  • To create the pulled out plait look create your plait as normal and leave a decent section unplaited at the bottom. Band it up in the normal way then pull through the plait and loosen it through to create that deconstructed look.
  • Don’t be afraid to start again. If you start the plait and then feel that you haven’t done it right do not be afraid to start again. If the beginning of the plait starts off poorly it cannot really be recovered later better to start again – remember practice, practice, practice!

   Essential tools

  • water spray and/or products eg gel
  • pin tail comb or a dressing brush
  • sectioning clips
  • wide tooth comb
  • rubber bands to secure the plait.
  • grips / pins if the desired result requires it

 Product tips

  • Sprays – used before and after plaiting hair to keep style in place
  • Serums used before plaiting to secure cuticle scales while plaiting
  • Gels – strong liquid based products used before plaiting which dry and then hold the plait in place
  • Batiste conditioning mist – great to tame fly aways a dry conditioner in a spray
  • Plumping powder and dry shampoo are great for create texture and hold in the root of the hair to help with plaiting

French plait

Vanity van hairstyle french plait

  • Take a small triangle of hair and split into equal sections
  • The outside section is crossed over the centre section of hair.
  • The outside section on the opposite side is crossed over the centre section. Each time an outside section is crossed over the centre section, a new sub section is added in.
  • Repeat


Vanity van hairstyle fishtail

  • Take two equal sections of hair
  • Using you forefingers take a small subsection from the back of left hand section and pass this over to the right hand section. Maintain good tension.
  • Now take a small sub-section from the back of the right hand section and pass this over to the left hand section, maintaining good tension throughout.
  • Repeat this method keeping good tension and small even subsections until all of the hair is plaited.
  • Secure the end with a hairband

Fringe plait

Vanity van hair style fringe plait

  • Loosely tie all of the hair into a ponytail leaving the fringe loose. With a comb section from the temple on one side around 2” into your hair (if the fringe is quite full you may want to go deeper or you can go less if you want a small plait).
  • You now want to section the front section of hair all the way along the head and finishing behind the ear on the other side.
  • This is the hair to plait! you can do french or dutch
  • You can continue this as a normal braid for a little section and pin this behind your ear or continue to the end of your hair!

Double Dutch

Vanity van hair style double dutch

  • Divide the section into three parts – where the middle part is the thickest and the other two sides are thinner.
  • Now take the middle part and again divide into three sub sections. Place the right sub section under the centre, and then place the left sub section under the centre. So basically the braiding begins like a normal one, the only difference is that instead of placing each part over another – you place them under.
  • Now slowly start adding strands from the main right part (the one belonging to the original parting) and add them to the strands of the right sub section (the sub parting which is being used to make the braid) when you are placing them under the centre.
  • Repeat the above step with the left main part and left sub section.
  • Keep on repeating the above two steps till you run out of strands from the main part to add to the Dutch braid. At this stage make a normal braid till you reach the tips of your hair

Side braid

Vanity van hair style side braid

  • Steps 1-3: begin by choosing a deep side part and sweeping it around the back of your crown so the part doesn’t continue down the back of your head.
  • Separate a triangle at the top of your part, divide it into three sections, and french plait
  • When the plait is complete, scoop the remaining hair around to join the french plait.  
  • Now that you have all of your hair in one hand, proceed to turn your french braid into a fishtail
  • Finish it all off by tying up the braid with a hair-tie, and by tugging your hair out here and there to loosen everything up.
  • Spray a bit with some hairspray

Messy braided crown

Vanity van hair style messy braided crown

  • Start with wavy hair. So use wand if needed, if hair is too silky, use dry shampoo to add texture.
  • Divide crown into two sections
  • Start your plait. Instead of passing the pieces above one another, pass them underneath. (i.e. take a piece from the outside, pass it under and into the center) this is called DUTCH Plait
  • Continue plaiting. When you get about two inches behind your ear, continue the plait without adding any more strands. Pin temporarily in place while you work on the other side.
  • Do the same on the other side.
  • Take both plaits and tie them together at the back of your head with a clear elastic.
  • Now you can go back and loosen up the plaits a little bit for that carefree look.
  • Pull out a few pieces to frame the face and you’re done!
  • Secure in place with a hair elastic.

Nail art top tips and tricks

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Nail art top tips…

  • Before applying nail art – Prep nails as usual, apply base coat. Apply two coats of chosen colour. On the 2nd coat paint the nails which are having the nail art first, this allows a little extra drying time while you paint the rest of the nails which are going to be plain.
  • To finish Nail Art – Apply top coat to all ten nails leaving the signature nails until last, try not to put too much pressure on the brush or drag it, lightly hover it over, this will ensure it does not drag the design!
  • Application Use foil to dab on nail colour to work with for dotting and sponging. For stability always rest your pinkie of the hand holding the striper on the two fingers of the opposite hand which is holding the finger. Always be in control of you nail art tool, ‘You control the brush, the brush does not control you!’
  • Clean up mistakes – A small makeup brush/art brush/old acrylic brush dipped in acetone / polish remover is amazing at cleaning up mistakes, tidying cuticle area and cleaning polish of surrounding skin (if you want to invest for your personal kit Leighton Denny does an amazing product called precision corrector, it is slightly pricey but it is fantastic for cleaning up all mistakes, you can find it on Amazon and it comes with the brush also)
  • Using a striper Before using a striper ensure that all the bristles are poker straight, if not then nip them with scissors into a fine point, this will give you perfect detail every time
  • Straight lines – When painting straight lines wipe any excess varnish off into the lid so brush is evenly coated, and then instead of using just the tip, lay the brush on the nail at flat angle so you already have half of your line then complete the line by dragging it down to as far as you need
  • Economical nail art A personal empty striper filled with acetone can be your best friend! This can be dipped in any polish and as it is kept in acetone it is always clean and fine pointed ready for accurate detailing. Clean it in between each colour and sometimes in between using the same colour to ensure the brush is precise for detailing and even lines.
  • Using Nail Art Pens Always squeeze the pen onto the back of your hand before using it in case there is any air bubbles or blockages in the pen which can splatter over your painted nails or design. Don’t squeeze the pen while you are working with it, instead let the polish form a small ball on the nib and work with this so you don’t flood the design, you can also wipe the nib on the back of your hand between each stroke/ detail so you are not working with big amounts of polish
  • Using a dotting tool – Always dab out chosen polish on a piece of foil or bottle top so you can dab your tool in to this as you are working on your design, polish dries quickly so if the blob begins to dry and get sticky which will not give good definition for dots etc, just dab out some fresh polish to use. After dabbing tool in polish you can dab it on to back of hand to take any excess polish of if you are doing tiny dots or detail. If you want a bigger dot skip this!
  • Sponging nails – Use a flat sponge. Have all the colours you wish to use out open and ready. To create a striped nail gradient, paint on one colour at a time in a stripe. Be fairly generous with the polish and don’t worry too much about the colours merging when you paint them on. Then lightly sponge on the colours with the sponge to the nail. Great for creating rainbow effects.
  • For fading/ombre – Always dab the sponge on to foil or back of hand to remove excess polish before doing the fade, too much polish and you won’t get a fade effect but a block effect. During this the nail can get polish on it quite easily use the brush dipped in acetone tip to tidy up – never use a cotton bud otherwise you will end up with strands of cotton wool ruining your design. Kitchen sponges are perfect for ombré fades, pull a tiny piece of to work with the smaller the better so you do not get it all over the skin.

Ombré Vanity van nail art ombre

  • Blob a small amount of polish out on to some foil/lid top etc, using a small piece of kitchen sponge dab into polish and then lightly on to back of hand or foil to take excess off
  • Then dab lightly 3/4 of the way up the nail from the tip area, use light pressure to create a fade effect
  • Using sponge again or brush from chosen polish paint it denser on the tip to create the ombré fade look.

Glitter FadeVanity van nail art glitter fade

  • Using your chosen glitter polish apply polish to the tip/end of the nail but thicker than usual, working on one nail at a time, brush excess polish/glitter of brush and turn brush upwards so you will be doing a backward stroke (as opposed to usually painting forwards)
  • Using light stokes of varied pressure gently drag the glitter up in the direction of the cuticle but only go up about 2/3rds creating a fade effect so the glitter goes from dense to sparse giving a scattered look.
  • After you have done this on all signature nails go back and add more glitter at the tip to make it denser, this time you do not need to drag it unless any areas were missed first time around.

Tiny Love HeartsVanity van nail art tiny love hearts

  • Using a small dotting tool or nail pen and working horizontally create two dots just touching each other, this will great the top of the heart
  • Gently add a V which joins the dots below them, this will create the bottom of the heart
  • Go back and do the same all over the nail


  • Using a black nail pen or tiny end of dotting tool draw small circles made up of several dots to create the flower centres
  • Add 5 petals to each centre, to create the petals, use a striper in 3-4 short joined dashes to make each individual petal
  • Using a striper add little stalks coming from the edges of the nail

Leopard printVanity van nail art leopard print

  • Using a nail pen, end of striper or even brush from polish with chosen colour(s) make irregular shapes over the nail, almost like messy circles / triangles
  • Apply these irregular shapes to all nails having the art
  • Go back to first nail and outline the shapes in 2 or 3 black comma like lines , leave space between each one and alternate using 2 or 3 lines (for this you can use a nail pen, striper or dotting tool dipped in small amount of black polish)
  • Add little random messy dots on the base colour in between any area of the leopard print shapes that looks bare