B&B! Q&A: Ellen Kavanagh of Waxperts

ELLEN KAVANAGH Ellen Kavanagh is the brains behind Waxperts — not only the salon in Dun Laoghaire (represent!) but also the brand in general, which includes her bespoke wax, and the multitasking Ingrown Hair Pads. Born and bred in Rathfarnham, she studied beauty at Coogan Bergin College of Beauty Therapy part time, and returned to do the Comité International d’Esthétique et de Cosmétologie (CIDESCO) course. “I knew I had found my future,” she says.

As regards her business model, it’s pretty simple. “I am always thinking of the business from the clients point of view, first and foremost. They’re the ones getting waxed and I want it to be the most amazing wax they’ve ever had.”

I’ve got a fairly high pain threshold, and haven’t found being waxed to be too taxing — but I gotta say, my Waxperts experience was pretty amazing. I found myself actually getting sleepy towards the end of my full leg/bikini session. I had to know more about the brand — and how in the world I could possibly want to snooze during a leg wax — and so asked Ellen some Qs; here are her As…

Was there a specific ‘Aha!’ — or more like, ‘Ouch!’ — moment that lead to your developing Waxperts Original Hot Wax?
When I began working for myself, I simply couldn’t find a wax I felt was good enough for my clients. Naively, I just thought “I’ll make my own!” and that was the start of it. I had been solely waxing for 3 years full time — I’m 10yrs waxing this year! — so I had a good idea of how I wanted a wax to perform and what qualities it should have.

How does one even go about developing one’s own brand of wax?
I tried and played around with absolutely every wax on the market. So I had a clear idea of what I didn’t want! Then I researched and found a chemist to work with me formulating the technical side and then I sourced a refinery to produce the wax.

There was some back and forth, mostly to get the colour and fragrance right. We hit on our unique formula and ingredients pretty quickly, so I knew after testing a few attempts that we had perfected it. I figured if I could create a wax suitable for even the most sensitive Irish skin type, pale and red haired, it would suit everyone. And it does. It’s lower temperature, which means it’s more comfortable for clients and the composition of it means it removes coarse or fine hair in one go.

We launched our second hot wax, Rosie Pearl, earlier this year and I’ve been creating that for around a year. It was trickier but so worth it! It’s an ultra thin film wax that sets on application but remains flexible. It’s ideal for experienced waxers and warmer treatment rooms or climates. Again, there is nothing like it on the market and it’s been a huge hit. The Waxperts range has grown but we are very careful not to bring out products just for the sake of it. We focus on innovation and gaps within our own market and take it from there.

I found my experience of the Original Hot Wax to be super pain-free, and also was completely chilled at the end of the treatment. How is that even possible?
The lavender scent throughout the range sets the relaxing atmosphere. It’s not about ripping someone’s hair out. We want to out the ‘treat’ back in treatment. Waxing is the number one treatment in salons so we aim to make the procedure as amazing as possible for client and therapist. WAXPERTS Ingrown Hair Pads

What lead to the development of the Ingrown Hair Pads?
Again, it came from clients that had issues with ingrown hairs. Although getting regular Waxperts waxes helped the ingrowns improve, some clients had stubborn ones or had them on areas where they shaved instead. We tested tons of applications, like lotions and masks, but we knew it had to be easy to use daily. That’s when we decided on the pre-soaked pads.

Also, what are other uses for them, if readers don’t suffer from in-grown hairs?
The pads are pre-soaked with salycilic acid, rosemary and panthenol. Salycilic is used widely to treat acne, so they work great on breakouts and spots as well as helping to clear blackheads. Upper arm bumps can be tackled easily just by using the pads on the area daily. We get tweets from people telling us new uses they found for them all the time! They’re magic!

Any advice for future entrepreneurs?
> Find something you absolutely adore. You’re going to be working and thinking about it 24/7 and if you love it, it won’t feel it’s work.

> Trust your gut. From the moment I planned Waxperts salon I knew it was all about the brand. Having faith in that helped me grow the business solidly.

>Help others. We work hard helping and supporting our stockists so they in turn can grow their business. In fact, one of our Galway stockists has taken the distribution for Poland and we’re helping her start that new business back in her home city.


Full leg wax: €40; basic bikini: €20. See waxperts.com for more information.

Waxperts Ingrown Hair Pads: €9.95 on waxperts.com


Danger! Cosmetics to Go: A Q&A with Mira Manga, Author of Lush’s First Book

It’s not so unusual, a beauty brand branching out into the world of publishing — sure, Bobbi Brown’s got several titles to her name. So when the call came to have a chat with Mira Manga, whose book, Danger! Cosmetics To Go is a look at the origin story of the Lush brand, I certainly wasn’t going to say no.

Particularly as another one of my hats is that of books editor for the Herald. I like to mix things up in the column, and especially like having the chats with other* authors. The Q&A with Mira can be found here, along with reviews of some other beautyfull books.


*Other authors? Yes, indeed! THAT MAGIC MISCHIEF And it occurred to me that I have been talking about my most recently published novel, That Magic Mischief, many times this week. So, here ’tis! Available for download for whatever digital reader you currently own, this is a contemporary romantic comedy set in Brooklyn, but with Irish interest (as in the hero) and a paranormal aspect as well (as in a Pooka).

I’ve also got two more! Drama Queen and The Fidelity Project are also available for purchase from the Ether — and I reckon I was talking about all my titles because: thank God for digital! I’m especially fond of it as regards these two: printed in a short run, they would have disappeared entirely if not for the Advances of Modern Technology.

Something{s} for the weekend, so?


Ask Andrew! Mr Dunne From Mane Salon Answers Some Knotty Questions

ANDREW DUNNE from MANEAndrew Dunne is the Irish Colour Ambassador for Wella, and one of the hand-picked colour specialists who represent Wella and P&G on the global stage. Winner of The International Trend Vision Colour award 2009 for Ireland, he was voted Colourist of the year,  and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, in 2010.

So, clearly, he knows about colour + hair. His work on my own head appears here, and it’s one of the more popular posts on Bright & Beauytfull. Since people ask me about hair allll the time, and since I’ve only got expertise as relates to my own, Andrew kindly agreed to answer some of the more frequent questions…

1} I dye my hair black, always have, always will. Lately, though, the colour is not lasting past ten days. It looks like growth, but it’s not — it seems like the colour is washing straight out. Going lighter won’t suit me, and on top of it all, my hair is dry. I can’t understand why this happening, or what to do about it. Can you help?
Mary, Co. Kerry
Hi, Mary! The answer to your problem is in your question: the products you are using are working at dyeing your hair and not colouring it. The dyes just stay in the hair and have very strong, heavy pigments in them; a good professional colour will open your hair to allow new micro-pigments to enter your hair, so the shine will come from within. Not all salon carry products like this, so do your research before choosing a salon that’s the real deal.

2} How can a lady in her 40s update her look without looking like an eejit? There are so many new technique out there, and I want to be on trend, but I don’t want to, like, chop all the hair off and then dye what’s left turquoise. Any advice?
Bridie, Co. Dublin
Hi Bridie! First off, go to someone who know how to break it all down, let’s start with the colour and the way choosing the right tones works its skin and eyes first, then hair. If it works on your skin and makes your eyes pop, then the hair comes alive. Then regarding the shape, look for the focal points on your face as in: eyes, lips, cheekbones, jawline, and create a shape that shows off your best features. Now bring the cut and colour together and that’s the best trend in the world to follow: your own trend.

3} Fringe: yay, or no way? I feel like it took me about six years to grow out the hair around my face, and I like it sweeping back, but I am always thinking about chopping a few lengths over my forehead. This is cheaper than Botox, can just a few locks be sacrificed to the cause, locks that could maybe be tucked back in somehow?
Sue, this blog
Well, Sue, most of the time it comes down to the size of your forehead; that determines the type of fringe that you can wear. The general rule of thumb is: the bigger the forehead, the fuller the fringe. The biggest mistake most people make is not committing to a proper fringe, as it must be the focal point of the whole haircut! Instead, they half do it and it just doesn’t work — and they start growing it out a week later. I’d say go to someone who understands face shape and how fringes impact on them.

4} Do colour protect shampoos really make a difference?
Matilda, Naas

The difference between professional products sold in a salon and cheap products sold in smaller chains is massive, and getting bigger by the day. But if your hair is not coloured properly in the first place — as in, low volume of peroxide, the right colour for the right skin tone, the right technique — no colour protect shampoo is going to make a difference. Make sure your hairdresser uses the most gentle products possible while colouring your hair so as not to damage your beautiful locks.


Mane Salon is located in The Grooming Rooms, 16 South William Street, Dublin 2. Prices range from €100-160 for colour and €60-80 for cut.
Ring 01 672 5177 for an appointment.


Coming Soon! Dude Week on B&B!

In honour of the above, here’s a link to a thing about dudes. Added bonus: that link within the link, via La Roche-Posay, is still live and kickin’.

Dude Week on B&B! will include Q&As from:
> Simon Duffy of Bulldog Skincare for Men.
> Peter Brennan, the man behind the distribution in Ireland of Polish skincare brand Ziaja.
> St Tropez’s celebrity tan man, Jules Heptonstall.
> The man behind the colour of The Hair, Andrew Dunne of Mane Salon — which will come as a surprise to him because I haven’t even sent him the Qs yet. Hi, Andrew! See you tomorrow!
> … and one more dude of some stripe, any ideas? Any dudes you want to hear from? That is within the remit, like. Like, don’t say Obama, or Aaron Paul who plays Jesse Pinkman. Soz, bitches.

In closing, here’s a screengrab of my Vichy Dude, from my personal video message.
My Vichy dude. Mine. No matter what this wan thinks.


B&B! Q&A: Sebastian Pole and Pukka Ayurveda

Sebastian in a field of organic Marigolds copyWay back in April of 2012, I came across some press info about Pukka Ayurveda, and its founder, Sebastian Pole. I ended up taking a quiz on their website that informed me of my dosha, the designation of which would then inform me as to how to improve my life.

A lifelong taker-of-quizzes-in-magazines, I wasn’t surprised by the result, but I was intrigued by the resulting tumble down the ayurveda rabbit hole. The Hindu system of medicine is ‘deals with physical health, mental balance, spiritual well-being, relationships and environmental issues’, as described on the jacket of Pole’s 2011 book, A Pukka Life.

Pukka Ayurveda offer a line of teas and other health remedies, as well as skincare. ‘The essence of Ayurveda fits perfectly with what we want to share at Pukka,’ says Pole. ‘We want to plant, grow, harvest and blend herbal teas and remedies to enhance life.’

There’s natural, and then there’s organic: could you talk about how Pukka Ayurveda is an industry leader in the latter?
The organic movement is our religion and we pray at the altar of the compost heap! Organic stands for sustainability. You put back in what you take out. You regenerate the soil that feeds you and your family. You try and improve what you have been given.

The principles of organic farming are also embodied within the essence of Ayurveda. They support and nourish the health of the whole: air, sun, water, soil are all equally interdependent in the well-being of our ecosystem and society. Respect for the billions of microorganisms in the soil is as important as practising the highest animal welfare standards. Nurturing wildlife is as important as not spraying toxic chemicals.

Organic farming really does stand for life. One of the best ways to tell that a farm is really organic is by the amount of ‘weeds’ that you can see. Weeds are an indication of the health of the ecosystem: attracting insects, raising nutrients from the deeper layers of soil. Of course weeds are often healthy herbs themselves, just think of dandelions!

Everything we make is certified 100% organic. The Soil Association, the UK’s leading organic charity, says ‘consumers who purchase organic products are not just buying food which has not been covered in pesticides (the average apple may be sprayed up to sixteen times with as many as 30 different pesticides), they are supporting a system that has the highest welfare standards for animals, bans routine use of antibiotics, and increases wildlife on farms.’

Can you talk about how you have created a sustainable community for your growers, and by extension, for the brand?
Realising that we could contribute to conservation through commerce was a light bulb moment for us. It seemed clear that if nature has more value ‘alive’ than ‘dead’ then we will protect her. And rather idealistically — from our spare bedroom in Bristol — this is what we wanted to do with Pukka.

We saw a society in need of a deeper connection with nature, and communities seeking a more natural life. It was something we craved ourselves, and realised that it was something many other people wanted too. Our dream was to create a pukka-quality company that would bring people and plants together. Our passion for health, for nature and for the wisdom of Ayurveda was the catalyst for founding Pukka Herbs and it still is today.

Through making organic Ayurvedic products we could bring some value to these threatened forests. By paying farmers and collectors above market prices for the herbs we use at Pukka we could help protect the dwindling eco-systems. By making organic farming practices worth more than soil-destroying conventional methods we could incentivise conservation of the earth. Commerce could lead to conservation.

I think that many people may be glancingly acquainted with the principles of Ayurveda – could you explain its essentials for us?
Ayurveda is amazing. It’s India’s ancient system of health, and yet so much more. It’s a way to live and a way to understand and transform your life. It is often translated as ‘knowledge of life’ and encompasses the idea of how to live wisely. In particular it is the knowledge of how to live according to your unique and individual constitutional make up that puts the choices of how you exist firmly in your court.

At its core, Ayurveda teaches respect for nature and an appreciation of life, by showing how we can empower ourselves as individuals. It understands that our individual health cannot be considered as separate from anyone else’s — from our family, work, society and planet’s health. It describes in intricate detail how you can fulfil your potential.

What could be a better guide for us to have at the centre of Pukka’s values? The wisdom of Ayurveda is an anytime, anywhere, anyone sort of wisdom. It is expressed as a way of life that flows with the changes of the seasons, weather, time and place. It teaches dietary and behavioural adjustments that can be adopted as you mature from childhood through to adulthood and into old age.

It also gives advice on how to prevent illness as one season becomes another, and specific recommendations on how to adjust your daily habits. This way of wholesome living prescribes a routine for all the different climates and geographical regions of the world.  At the root of Ayurveda is its focus on the uniqueness of each individual. As such it is a universal system applicable to every individual living in any part of the world. It is personal medicine at its best.

I don’t like toners, but I love the Uplifting Toner. I love to moisturise, PUKKA productsand I have been using the Deep Moisture Day Cream to great effect. What’s particularly special about both?
What is particularly special about these two products, as well as our whole skincare collection, is two main things: the excellence of the ingredients and the brilliance of Ayurveda at rejuvenating the skin.

The Uplifting Toner is 100% organic and like all of our skincare products is certified by the Soil Association. It firms, uplifts, repairs and encourages cell renewal. It’s also anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and the toning and soothing effects are all due to the benefits of the delicate flower waters and plant extracts.

The Deep Moisture Day cream contains premium pressed seed oils and butters with a superior fatty acid profile to hydrate and enhance absorption deep into the skin. Skin active anti-aging plant extracts are used to target mature, dehydrated skin whilst also nurturing, deeply hydrating and restoring.  The exotic, sweet scent of ylang ylang and  uplifting and regenerating neroli blossom immediately lift your spirits.

I’ve tried the teas, too! The Pukka ethos seems to be holistic, and health as an inside-and-out proposition seems to be a big part of it. Can you talk about we can actually find better balance in life?
A simple way to find a more balanced life is to learn more about Ayurveda. It contains many insights into wise living.

I realised in my early twenties that there is no difference between our health on the inside and that of the world around us. Working towards a deeper awareness of each helps to nourish the whole of your life.

The best thing to do is to make sure that you spend as much of your life as possible doing what you love and being surrounded by people that you respect and enjoy being with.


See pukkaherbs.com to take that quiz! Specific info re: skincare can be found at pukkaherbs.com/skincare.

Pukka Ayurveda Upliting Toner is €22; Deep Moisture Day Cream is €32.60

A Pukka Life by Sebastian Pole is available where good books are sold.