1) Blonde highlights –
For me, the blonde highlight phase was the ultimate disaster to come out of the entire decade! In 2012, I strutted into the hairdressers and demanded that they dyed my hair bleach blonde, in one sitting.
My hairdresser looked extremely worried, and summoned for the salon owner to come and talk me out of my request.
“I’m not sure it’s such a good idea,” he said reproachfully. “Your natural hair colour is very dark, so we certainly wouldn’t recommend going blonde in one appointment. If I were you, I’d start with some subtle lighter highlights, and if you like them, we can look at making the full transformation over the course of a few months. How does that sound?”
“But I wanna’ look like Mariah Carey – TODAY!” I retorted defiantly, brandishing a photo on my phone of Maria’s new blonde 'do.
“Right, okay...” My hairdresser said dubiously. “As long as you know the risks...”
While my hairdresser set to work mixing the dyes, looking as though she needed a good dose of Valium, I sent a text to the group chat: OMG adults are SO ANNOYIN.’ At the hairdressers now goin’ blonde and the woman is all like ‘do you know the risk?’ I’m like OMG go away it’s MY hair!!
You’re going to look stunning, hun. You’ll look like a real life Barbie doll, a friend typed back, cementing my confidence.
It took four hours, a perplexing amount of foils, endless Custard Creams, and an entire year’s worth of OK! magazines, but finally, it was time for the big reveal.
... Didn’t stop crying for about a year.
Honestly, THE worst thing I have EVER done.
Half of my hair came out with the foils.
I didn’t look like Mariah Carey, or a Barbie doll, for that matter. I looked like a severely scorned 18 year know-it-all IDIOT.
Of course, being a teenage girl, I’d heard the hair salon horror stories that usually went hand in hand with blonde dye jobs, but being 18 and therefore obviously never wrong, I didn’t quite believe them. But now I found myself the main character in such a tale.
My hair has always been my crowning feature. Dark brown in colour, it touches the bottom of my spine, and is naturally very thick and wavy. Following my decision to go blonde, a week later, I had to have it dyed back dark and cut off up to my shoulders. It no longer curled in pleasingly natural spirals, instead opting to stage some sort of traumatising protest by falling out in actual handfuls.
I took a fortnight off college to recover, rang in sick from work, and spent hours trying to find a solicitor who would willingly represent my case of suing the hairdresser. When that failed, I even looked into suing Mariah Carey for inciting the idea in the first place.
It took five long years for my hair to recover from this particular ordeal, and I still don’t think my mental state is completely over it, if I’m brutally honest. In fact, I may even have PTSD.
^ 2012: One of the only photos I have of my blonde hair from that fateful day!
2) Foundation, worn over lips –
I mean, what on earth were we thinking, really?!
The only reason I haven’t mentioned the infamous Dream Matte Mousse fiasco is because that trend had thankfully been eradicated by the time I reached college, however, it didn’t prevent a whole host of other questionable foundation decisions!
In 2011, for some reason – and God have mercy upon whoever started this ‘fad’ – it was considered both cool and alarmingly attractive to smother one’s own lips in foundation.
Like... you’d apply foundation to your face, and then you’d just keep going, and cover your lips in the stuff, too. And that would be that.
Looking back, I do have a few questions – the main one being WHY?!
I only temporarily dabbled in this visual travesty, instead opting for...
3) ... Superdrug sparkly lipstick –
Superdrug’s MUA brand was the absolute BOMB back in 2011. For students on a budget (EMA – Educational Maintenance Allowance – money was reserved solely for fake tan, after all), these £1 items of make-up were a God send.
I had about nine different glitter-infused lipsticks in varying shades of pink.
Heaven only knows what was in them, but they dried your lips out no end. By 10am, all that would be left of your morning appliance was a clump of glitter gathered at the corner of your smackers, and a load of dead skin.
Our remedy? Slather another six layers on over the top, of course!
How any of us pulled at Tiger Tiger, I really do not know.
4) Superdrug fake tan –
I’m not debating the fact that St Tropez might have left one with a more natural finish, but back at college, Superdrug’s own tan – dubbed Soliat – was all I could afford (especially given the fact that I was ploughing through around 85 bottles of this stuff a week)!
Sadly, I spent the entirety of my college existence resembling a burnt ginger biscuit that had taken a dive into a bag of Wotsits. There was nothing convincing about my ‘tan’ whatsoever.
I had to buy foundation five shades darker than my natural skin tone to keep up with the questionable tint of my body.
The thing is, fake tan is absolutely fine and can totally enhance your complexion - if used correctly. And that, ladies and jellybeans, is where I went drastically wrong on so many levels.
Instead of simply adding a modest slither of tan and then leaving it to darken gradually, I went FULL HOG with the foam, applying layer after layer until I had pretty much doubled my own body weight with the stuff. This obscene procedure would occur night after night... After night – pretty much six nights a week.
Sunday was my ‘exfoliation day,’ which basically meant that I’d leave a repulsive orange ring around the edge of the bathtub, before starting the whole process again.
I spent three years solid absolutely reeking of digestive biscuits, ruining anything white that was brave enough to come within half of a mile of my grubby hands.
I guess it also didn’t help that I used an old bed sock as a tanning mitt.
And God forbid anyone who dared to comment on the sheer STATE that was my skin tone.
“Yeah, it’s ‘cause my Dad was born in Mal-taaaaaaa,” I’d snap, like that was a valid explanation as to why I looked like I’d had a horrific accident with molten lava and acid.
5) Barry M Nail Varnish -
I am not ashamed to say that I bought into every single Barry M craze to hit the shelves. I had the Crystal Rocks glitter collection, the Gelly Shines, the Quick Dry (which was anything but), the Molten Metals, the textured range (what was the point?!), and my absolute GO-TO: the foil effect polish (again... what was the point?!).
At the back of maths was my favourite place to paint my nails. If I was feeling particularly bored, I'd even whip my feet out of my Ralph Lauren pumps and Crystal-Rock-up my toes.
... Imagine behaving like that in the workplace! Just casually banging your gammy heels out in the middle of a meeting and giving yourself a pedi. The more I relive the shocking conduct of my youth, the more I realise that college really was a free for all!
6) Barry M Dazzle Dust -
I spent SIX whole hours getting ready for my first ever house party, and a good four of those were dedicated to ensuring that every last inch of my body had been doused in this stuff.
Yes, I am aware that the intended usage of Dazzle Dust is meant to stop at one's eyelids, but where's the SASS in that?! Mate - back in 2011, when it came to Dazzle Dust, it was go hard or go home.
I wore a cheeky crop-top and low-rise leggings combo to ensure that the 'boiz' got a good eye-full of my glittery gut. (Naturally, I wore a belt with my leggings, but that's another 'trend' that we WON'T talk about!)
One girl at the party wrote a catty status, dissing my Dazzle Dust, proclaiming that it was 'Sooooo 2010.'
HUN, Dazzle Dust will NEVER die. 💁♀️
I mean, it was probably a very uncool error to pair body glitter with butterfly hair clips but come on, give me a break - the last party I'd gone to had seen me receive a bag of cake at the door, so that should give you some indication as to how naïve I was!
7) So...? Body Sprays –
Britney's Fantasy was too expensive to be lugging to and fro college in my fake Paul's Boutique bag every day, so I needed a cheap, portable alternative to mask the smell of fake tan.
The So...? body sprays were perfect.
The undeniable beauty of this vast range was that you could match your scent to your mood.
Feeling flirty? So...? Kiss Me was deffo your gal.
Dreamin' of Malia 2012? Whack on So...? Pina Coloda. (Sadly, they didn't do a tap water variation for teetotal me.)
Got the cute vibes? Your choice OBVS had to be So...? Toffees & Cream.
Simply just wanted to smell like a cake? So...? Red Velvet had you covered, babe.
8) Lee Stafford Miracle Growth Hair Mask –
One girl in my travel class didn’t get her hair cut for like two years, and so it quite inevitably grew. When anybody asked how she’d managed to achieve such long locks, she’d admit to her lack of haircuts, and also recommend this product.
Well, that was it – the whole travel class invested in Lee Stafford Miracle Growth. Even me, with my already bum-length ‘fro, feverishly raided the shelves of Boots for my fix of the stuff.
Us girls would talk animatedly each and every lesson, comparing ‘growth’ and hailing the delicious smell of the mask. We genuinely believed that in a matter of weeks, we’d be a literal class of mermaids, with hair swaying around our kneecaps.
... Literally made no difference to my hair, whatsoever. (This was before blonde-gate, BTW). And as the rest of my class’s hair also remained of a modest length, I can only imagine that they also received the same lack of results.
So that was that. No career in mermaid-ing for the 'Cheeky Travel Huns.'
9) Sunglasses – whatever the weather –
Not a beauty disaster as such, but still a catastrophe of the accessory kind to round off this painstakingly cringey article.
One of our friends went to Thailand for the summer between the first and second years of college. She brought us back a pair of fake baby pink Raybans each, which we all wore TO DEATH.
I don't like to brag, but we were basically Destiny's Child.
Come rain or shine, night or day, my entire group of 'angels xox' sported these little babies for 12 months solid.
Night time drives to Maccies were our usual platform to show them off, as we blasted out Like A G6 while spinning dramatically around the drive-thru, sending God-awful broadcasts on BBM like 'Anyone want anything from Maccies, holla @ ya galz!'
(Side note: Why I felt the need to talk 'street' will forever remain one of life's not so great mysteries. I lived in the tiniest, most countrified village imaginable, and I wrote novels, collected cupcake candles and rode ponies in my spare time.)
READ NEXT: COLLEGE FASHION DISASTERS OF 2011-2013
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©