Tag Archives: hair

How to Dye

For those of us who are going gray, or want to jazz-up their color without making a permanent change, today’s post is devoted to semi-permanent dyes. There aren’t too many options out there for ammonia-free hair color, which lasts about six shampoos before it starts to fade. Permanent dyes contain ammonia which can cause breakage, and they they don’t wash out, they need to be stripped out of your hair using very strong chemicals, so you’d better make sure you’re in love with that color before you apply it to your head. Trying a Semi-permanent dye can be helpful since it lets you do a trial run, and if you don’t like it, just shampoo until it fades.

Let’s take a look at three of the options for semi-permanent dyes on the market today.

Garnier HerbaShine Color Creme, $7.99

Herbashine was unfortunately a let down for me. First off, I wasn’t a fan of the smell, maybe it’s the bamboo extract and I’m a crazy person for thinking chemicals smell better than plants, but the scent really got to me.

It’s a cream formula rather than a liquid which is helpful, and the bamboo extract is supposed to make hair stronger and shinier which is also a plus. Garnier is actually describing this product as a “soft lift” rather than a semi-permanent dye, but sorting out the difference between the two gets very chemical, and since I dropped my high school chemistry class (in favor of art classes to the dismay of my guidance counselor) I really couldn’t explain any of it to you.

Herbashine did leave my hair shiny, soft, and bouncy, but it didn’t cover the grays very well, there were more than a few stragglers. I’ve read some other reviews of this and it seems that a lot of people have had bad allergic reactions—so remember to do a strand test before you dye!

Pros: Creme formula, soft hair, comes with nice conditioner packet (which smells much better)

Cons: Uneven gray coverage, strong smell

Clairol Natural Instincts Rich Color Creme, $8.99

I tried Clairol Natural Instincts when it first launched in 1999, I was in high school and I thought the color Egyptian Plum was totally amazing. I hadn’t tried it since then, but when I started dyeing my hair again this year I went back to it. The rich color creme is especially good because you don’t have to worry about dripping. The only problem with the creme is it’s only available in 10 shades rather than the 54 available in the original formula.

I find this stuff covers my gray pretty darn well, the smell isn’t great but it isn’t bothersome either. It also always seem to be on sale at my Stop & Shop so that’s a bonus. This is an ammonia-free dye, and I’ve found it lasts 4 weeks if you wash your hair about twice a week.

Pros: Nice gray coverage, creme formula, shiny, soft hair

Cons: Limited shades in creme formula

Lush Caca Noir Mama, $22.00

If you can’t stand the idea of putting chemicals in your hair, or if you’re vegan, or if you aren’t going for a dramatic color change, you might want to try one of the all natural henna hair dyes from Lush.

I personally can’t endorse this product since I don’t have the time or money for it. In theory it’s a great idea, and I was excited to try it, but I’ve found with Lush I either love their products or I regret buying them. Dyeing my hair with this stuff became a full day ordeal. After researching the proper way to melt it, painstakingly chopping it up as fine as possible, and then trying to apply the gloppy, drippy, muddy substance to my hair, by the time it was ready to wash out I was glad to be rid of it. Sadly, rinsing this stuff out isn’t as easy as one might think. I must have gotten the chemistry of mixing it wrong (maybe I shouldn’t have dropped that class after all?) because although it was smooth when I first applied it, it dried in big clumps on my hair, which not only hurt but also made me fear clogging my sensitive shower drain with mud. This fear resulted in me furiously shaking my head out in my backyard at 10pm, freezing my ass off while my fiance (now husband) alternately cracked up and painfully pulled chunks of henna out of my hair. In the end after struggling to get it all out, I guess my hair was softer, but it didn’t cover my grays at all which was the whole point. These dyes have a very strong, earthy smell, not necessarily bad, but definitely distinctive.

The hair hennas get mostly great reviews on the Lush website, so I have to guess it takes some practice and patience to get the application correct, but I have neither the time nor the money ($22) for this hair dye. If anyone else has tried it and liked it, I’d love to hear about it.

Pros: Vegan, all natural, gentle

Cons: Difficult application, cost, poor gray coverage

Whatever method you decide to go with for dyeing your hair, here are some essential tips:


1. Do not do your nails first! – It seems obvious, but the number of times I’ve ruined a manicure from dyeing my hair makes me question my intelligence. It’s usually not until I’ve shaken the bottle up that I realize I have pastel nails which will soon be stained brown. Obviously you should be wearing plastic gloves when you apply hair color, but it’s the wash-out process that always ruins my polish.

2. Vaseline – Before you dye, rub some Vaseline all around your hairline, try not to get it on any grays you want to cover, but definitely rub it around your ears and your forehead, it really cuts down on staining.

3. Witch Hazel – If like me, you still somehow end up with dye everywhere (how do I always get it on my forearms?) Witch Hazel is your best friend. After you’ve rinsed out the dye, just dab a cotton ball with some of it on any stained parts of your skin, it really fades the color. You can get it at the drug store, it’s usually with the astringents.

4. Brush your hair – This also seems like a no-brainer, but you should brush your hair before you apply hair dye, especially if you have long locks. Struggling through knots with dye in your hair is not only messy, but can cause your dye job to look uneven when sections of your hair are so knotted they avoid saturation by the dye.

5. Wear a shower-cap – I’m a big fan of shower caps, not just because they protect your hair from frizz in the shower, but also because they trap in heat when you’re dyeing or deep conditioning your hair which supposedly helps penetrate the hair faster and better, it also keeps you from dripping dye all over the place.

6. Shampoo – You may notice the instructions on these hair dyes tell you simply to rinse the product from your hair and then apply the conditioner without shampooing. Some might disagree with me here, but I always shampoo after I dye. Maybe the color doesn’t last as long, but it saves my sheets and towels from turning black (which has happened to me numerous times), so if you have dark hair, it’s something you might want to consider.

If you have any of your own hair dyeing tips and tricks let me know about them! Don’t forget to come back for Beauty in the Movies tomorrow!

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Filed under cosmetics, hair

Questions Anyone?

A while back my friend Katie suggested I open up Beauty Dart for questions, Katie is a very smart gal so I’m (finally) putting her suggestion to action. I originally created this blog because I applied for a job giving beauty advice, unfortunately I didn’t get it, but I had such a good time answering the sample questions that I thought it would be fun to start my own discussions on beauty.

I used to work as a makeup artist, I have more cosmetics than I will ever need, I am always sampling and buying new products, I enjoy doing online research, plus I love to talk to people about their beauty routines and I have a sick love/hate relationship with the glossies mostly because I enjoy looking at pictures of pretty cosmetics. If I can’t help you with your question, I’ll find someone who can. So ask away! Questions on products, beauty, life, whatever, please don’t be shy—I’ll be nice I promise! Shoot me an e-mail at justinezwiebel@gmail.com, or drop a note in the comments anytime.

As a perfect way to get started, last week in the comments Corrie asked a question:

“I started going grey as a teenager. I’m almost 30 now, and I’ve got a thin stripe at my temple, and greys all throughout. I used to dye my hair as soon as I thought they were too noticeable, but about six months ago, I decided it would be the last time I put colour in my hair. I think it can actually look refined, especially when you see a nice, shiny streak in an updo. I’ve even thought of trying to enhance the streak a bit (like that X-Men chick), but I’m not sure how. Any suggestions?”

Corrie, I think you’re definitely right about gray looking refined. Stacy London of What Not To Wear rocks that gray streak and she always looks very classy. There isn’t too much information out there about encouraging or containing gray in certain areas. I’ve always thought once I go totally white I’ll leave a streak out and dye the rest, it seems like it might be hard to section off though, so I’ll have to experiment. If you have an area that is heavily concentrated with gray already, you could peroxide the hair around it to make for a more dramatic streak. You might try stressing yourself out or shocking yourself to turn your hair whiter, but that’s apparently an old wives tale, so don’t go inflicting trauma on yourself, gray hair is actually determined by genetics.

If you’re encouraging your natural gray, there are a bunch of shampoos and conditioners formulated to help gray/white hair look shinier and keep it silver rather than yellow—just don’t use them too often (just once a week) unless you’re going for the little blue haired old lady look. Try one of these:

Shimmer Lights Original Conditioning Shampoo, $8.99

Rene Furterer – Okara Mild Silver Shampoo, $23.00

Something else you can do to keep those grays in good shape is use a deep conditioner. I try to deep condition as often as possible (especially around my temples) because the grays are so much dryer than the rest of my hair, it helps keep those hairs from being wiry and gives them a smoother, glossier look. I like this one:

John Frieda Frizz Ease Deep Condition Reinforce Strengthening Triple Creme Masque,$9.95

I hope that helps a bit Corrie, thanks for the question! I will be on the constant look out for other gray encouraging/taming products for both of us.

I’m staying on this hair dyeing trend a bit longer, tomorrow I’ll be bringing you some reviews of semi-permanent dyes along with other hair dyeing tips. For those of you lucky people who are blessed enough to love your natural color and/or remain free of gray, well just think of these posts as informative—and here’s a picture of a cute fuzzy animal (a Loris?) if you were feeling neglected.

Awwww.

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Do you Dye?

My whole life I’ve had people casually say to me “you dye your hair right?” it’s usually more of a statement than a question, whether it’s friends, acquaintances or salespeople shilling products. It’s pretty insulting when people assume a part of you is fake, especially when it’s not, it makes you feel bad, like everyone thinks you’re a poser. People don’t seem to think you can have pale skin and dark hair naturally, maybe because of Dita Von Teese or Elvis. We do exist though, just like natural blonds or redheads, or size zeros, or straight teeth, I promise. Unfortunately in my case (and most of my family’s) that natural color soon finds itself streaked with silver, proving to the skeptics just how natural it is.

I found my first gray hair around age 15. I might have had them earlier, but I was in a punk phase so they were probably camouflaged by purple or blue manic panic.  After I found that first gray hair, bleaching and streaking didn’t seem as appealing. At that moment I decided to enjoy my natural color as long as I could, and then when I went totally white (somewhere around age 30) I would just dye my whole head purple, and I wouldn’t even need the bleach! I’d only just gone through puberty when i started graying, so I wasn’t panicking it was a sign of aging, maybe that’s a blessing. My first thought was actually The Fairy Rebel a book by Lynne Reid Banks, in which there is a girl with 20 blue hairs at the nape of her neck that hold magical fairy powers—if my gray hairs were imbued with magic I wouldn’t mind them so much.

I didn’t take much notice of my gray hairs for a long time, it was only once people started pointing them out to me as if I didn’t know they were there, or like they were shocked by them, that it started to bother me. Especially good was when someone would first ask about my natural color, and then follow it up by saying “oh yeah, you’re going gray already”, yup, thanks for pointing that out. Despite being sick of people’s interest in my grays, or awkwardly telling me how cool they were after putting their foot in their mouth, I was content to keep them until I saw them standing out in pictures, more and more obviously.

What people without gray hair don’t understand is that the color isn’t what is hard to handle, it’s the texture. Gray hair is twice as coarse, so when you go salt and peppery, those gray hairs stick out at funny angles, just to make sure people know they’re there. I eventually got self-conscious about wearing my hair anyway but down, and I stopped wearing a ponytail outside the house because someone would inevitably mention my gray hair to me. There were also the requisite visits by a colorist at every salon I went to whether I wanted them or not (god-bless my current stylist who kept the colorists away from me after the first time I told her I wasn’t interested). If my grays grew in sleek, perfect, contained streaks like Rogue from X-men or Lily Munster, I wouldn’t mind them, but gray hair rarely works that way. Whether the plethora of starlets with ironic gray hair know it or not, gray is harder to manage, harder to make glossy, and can be a general pain in the ass whether you want to cover it up or get it to sit right.

When I realized I didn’t want gray hair in my wedding pictures, I started putting a rinse in my hair. I wanted to look 26 in my photos, and I didn’t want the hairs on my head turning up whiter than my dress. So far I have no regrets, I had a hard time letting go because I worried I was betraying myself somehow. Now whenever someone knowingly tells me “you dye your hair” I  have to say “yes—but only a rinse, and it’s really naturally this color—I swear, I’ll show you my elementary school pictures!”.

Honestly though who gives a crap if I dye my hair or not? Lucille Ball wasn’t a natural redhead, neither is Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, and god knows that natural blonds are as elusive as unicorns—but if they can pull it off, what does it matter if it’s real or not? I always wished I could play with my hair color more, having dark hair makes it hard to experiment, I’m sure I would look natural with my black eyebrows and strawberry blond hair. Whether you dye or not shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of, but we also shouldn’t assume anyone with a certain hair color dyes it either, we people come in an astonishing number of colors and combinations, there are endless possibilities, and even if it’s obvious that someone dyes their hair, mind you own beeswax, they probably look good!

Maybe one day I’ll let my hair go totally white, and I know when I do I’ll look exactly like Emmylou Harris (dreams can come true). For the time being though, I’m going to put a rinse in my hair each time I notice those little white strands sprouting from my temples again, because I’m just not ready for it yet—maybe after I turn 30, or maybe I’ll have my grand-kids come dye my hair in the nursing home for me, who knows?

So, what say you readers? Do you dye your hair, do you love your natural color? Hate it? Are you prematurely gray?

Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow everyone!! Watch the parade, listen to Alice’s Restaurant, tell the people you love how awesome they are, and then eat turkey until you fall asleep—god I love this holiday!

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Filed under acceptance, hair

A Wedding Miscellany

I’m sorry to do another wedding post, but I have them on the brain. I am breathing, eating, and sleeping weddings recently. Whether it’s putting together my wedding play-list, ordering candy for our wedding candy bar, or painting bridal card boxes for others with upcoming nuptials, it’s a huge part of my life right now.

I’ve written before about the stress of planning a wedding, but there are so many things to keep track of that you can’t keep your mind from running all over the place, so this post might be a bit scattered, and I apologize for that.

All of the illustrations featured below are from an adorable little book my mom bought for me when I got engaged—it’s called The Little Big Book for Brides, and it has all sorts of cute advice, customs, and strange facts you never knew about weddings, here are some examples:

“Feed a cat out of your wedding shoe for good luck”—hmm, kind a gross, but I could try it!

“If in October you do marry , love will come but riches tarry”—this doesn’t surprise me at all, sounds about right actually. Darn.

My favorite part of this book is a whole long excerpt from an article entitled “The Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride”, it was published in an 1894 newsletter and it will blow your mind! For example:

“One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise, what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.”

Cracks. me. up. Here’s some more sage advice:

“Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage.”

I hope you’re listening ladies!

Moving on, today I am officially starting my pre-wedding diet. I know, I wrote a whole post about how I wasn’t going to let the pressure get to me and I wasn’t going to starve myself, but here’s the thing; I went for my final dress fitting and things changed. The good news is that the dress fits perfectly—too perfectly. It fits so perfectly that breathing is a bit of a problem. If I had money to spare I’d probably just let it out a little, but money is an issue, and the cost of alterations on bridal gowns are astronomical. So in the interest of saving a few hundred dollars, I have to cut back on my beloved cheese, ice cream, fried anything, and all the rest of my favorite foods. It’s just for a month, so I can handle it, and I just need to keep thinking about all the food I won’t be able to eat on my wedding day and my inability to dance if there is no room to move in my dress as motivation. So for the next month I’m counting points, snacking on carrot sticks and praying that come October 29th, I can breathe, move, dance,—and eat comfortably.

To those of you who are getting married soon, or planning on getting married soon, or have some kind of big party or event to plan in general, here is some advice—start planning now. Months ago, even a year ago, I kept poo-pooing things “oh, we have time” I’d say, and now I wish I could go back in time and knock myself upside the head. Not only do I wish I had taken care of some things earlier, but also, spending money in small bursts over a year is far easier than doling out large amounts all at once. So, if you see something you like—whether it be a wedding dress or favors, buy it, or at least bookmark it now, you’ll thank yourself later.

So, right now I have to order my favors, and research hairstyles and follow-up with the florist, the hotel, the venue, and so much more, and every phone call will hopefully soothe a bit of the madness, but really all I can hope is that I fit into that dress and actually get to eat some of my wedding cake, and of course, cheese.

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Body Hair: To Wax or Not To Wax?

Alright, so I have this dilemma—that’s probably a bad way to start a post about body hair, but stick with me, the problem is I’m wearing a tea length dress at my wedding and my legs will be visible. So, for the first time in my life I’ve been thinking of getting my legs waxed, which I find terrifying. Being forced to think about this dilemma has really gotten me thinking about body hair in general, and all the painful, expensive, decisions that go with it.

I’ve only ever had my eyebrows waxed and I can’t say that I loved it, with the lasting redness and localized breakouts it caused, I’ve mainly stuck to tweezing. I can only imagine that waxing large areas of skin is far more painful, and also pricey, but for my wedding it does seem somewhat appropriate. My main goal for my wedding day is to not have to think about too much, low-stress is the goal, so even something stupid like shaving my legs could become a disaster.

I know there are people out there who wax on a regular basis, some who wax everything all the time, and I have to say I find the subject both fascinating and unnerving. What it makes me wonder about specifically, is why our culture feels so strongly about ripping all hair out from the root in what can be a sometimes excruciating procedure.

I totally understand that we have hair in places we might not want it, and that eliminating it, or shaping it, can lend to the attractiveness of our appearance, but I think when all body hair (and other people’s body hair) becomes cause for ridicule, things have gone too far. I shave my armpits, maybe not as thoroughly in the winter, but I prefer it. I’m not sure if it’s due to a real personal preference, or a result of habit. From the time I’ve had hair under my arms I’ve been shaving it off. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to let it grow in all the way, but frankly, when it gets past an inch, I feel compelled to shave it down again. Women who don’t shave their pits usually get some absurdly generic label slapped on them, like “hippie”, or “feminist”, or “European”, but why should shaving your armpits (or your legs) be any different from filing your nails, it’s simply a personal choice.

For most women, the act of hair removal is as commonplace as shampooing, it’s expected to the point of annoyance. I completely understand women who have laser treatments and electrolysis to remove hair so that they don’t have to worry about it anymore. Because that’s my main issue with hair removal—having to worry about it at all. I have a beauty routine, I moisturize, I exfoliate, I deep condition my hair, and I don’t really mind any of those things, I actually enjoy them, but for me, excessive hair removal has always been where I draw the line. It’s not just the pain, I can handle the burning wax, the awful sneezing that results from eyebrow plucking, and the inflamed skin, it’s the upkeep that makes me crazy. It’s the fact that the hair grows back, sometimes so quickly it’s shocking that nature could be so cruel.

When a celebrity dares to neglect the removal of visible body hair, they’re not only ridiculed, but added to photo galleries to be remembered for their foolish transgression for all internet history. For this reason, it’s become quite clear that body hair is disgusting. To show body hair is to demonstrate a flagrant disregard for your own hygiene, despite the fact that it naturally, and persistently, sprouts from all of our bodies. While looking for images for this post I was shocked at how offended some were at a celebrity’s follicular “neglect”.

Not shaving your legs or pits isn’t like deciding not to brush your teeth or wash your hands, there isn’t anything un-hygienic about having body hair. In fact the removal of hair is far likelier to result in “un-hygienic” results—such as rashes and infections, so why all the hatred?  When I saw Mo’Nique at the golden globes instead of thinking it was disgusting I thought it was awesome that she could stand there looking gorgeous, happy, and confident, hairy legs and all. It wasn’t one of those “Celebrity Oops” moments where they catch a starlet in pimple cream, this is a woman who just doesn’t like to shave her legs, and says “so what?”, pretty admirable if you ask me.

Despite my admiration of Mo’Nique, I don’t think I’ll be going the hairy legged route on my wedding day, call me a conformist, but I’m not there yet, maybe one day though. For now, I need to decide whether a leg wax is in my future.

I’m curious to know how other women feel about hair removal. I’m not condemning or condoning either practice, but it seems important to understand why we do it, why we suffer the pain or choose to avoid it, and why either choice should be the business of anyone else but you. So share your opinions—oh, and if you have any advice or experience on the leg waxing dilemma, I’d love to hear that too!

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Filed under acceptance

The Basic Beauty Essentials Everyone Should Have—For Real

There are a lot of fun items involved in beautification, there’s lipstick, eyeliner, deep conditioners, toners, and hundreds of other “important” things for you to buy and use, but sometimes it’s the simpler items that are essential. You always keep them stocked, you use them more than pricey products, and they’re available at your local drug store. It’s not usually that exciting when you re-stock them, but if they ever stopped making any of these products (god forbid) you know you’d be really upset. If I run out of any of this stuff, or lose any of these tools, I have to make a rush visit to the drug store to replenish ASAP.

A lot of these items also have multiple uses, they’re tools, honest to goodness tools, just like hammers and nails. Who needs a pliers when I have a cuticle clipper? I’ll never forget working at MAC and listening to one of the very masculine stock guys going on and on about the wonders of nail polish remover and how it could erase sharpie marker. He was impressed by the untold usefulness of beauty products, and so am I, most women have an arsenal of tools disguised as beauty products sitting on their bathroom shelf—we’re savvy like that.

Hair elastics are about as essential as it gets if you have hair past your chin. I’m a Scünci girl, Goody is alright, but I don’t find them as well made. I like the no damage elastics without any metal on them, and they’re strong too. Hair elastics have many purposes, I never have rubber bands so they end up being used for a multitude of things, like bundling pencils or keeping shutters closed, oh yeah, and putting your hair in a ponytail too.

Scünci Elastics, Medium Black, $2.69 for 28

My hair is a battle ground for hair accessories, only the strong survive. My strands snap hair elastics like nobodies business and they laugh at silly little hair clips. I’ve tried dozens of hair claws and clips, so when I found these heavy-duty, no-slip gripped clips, my hair finally met its match. They still break sometimes, but they stand up to my hair like nothing else. They’re also essential for keeping curtains closed and you can clip them all over your bathroom so you always have one on hand.

Scunci No-Slip Grip Jaw Clips, $3.19 for 2

There is always one of these looped over my bathroom doorknob, if you have bangs or even long layers around your face, you need one of these to push your hair back when you put on a cleansing mask, or just wash your face everyday. I treat them like crap and they always end up looking ratty, but you can throw them in the wash, and whenever I lose them I realize how much I need them, especially if I’m in need of a bang trim.

Scunci Hairband, Assorted Colors, 5 for $5.69

One of my favorite things about beauty supply stores is the huge tub of bobby pins you can get for like, 2 bucks, so cheap and they last forever. Unfortunately when you can’t make it to a real beauty supply, you have to settle for the slightly more expensive (but still pretty cheap) Conair or store brand bobby pins. If you’re growing out your hair, or you like to wear up-dos, you need bobby pins. They’re also great for cleaning up nail polish in the corners of your nails, unlocking doors, and so many other little things.

Conair Brush Styling Essentials Matte Minis Bobby Pins, Black, 60 for $1.29

Ok, so this one is hard to use as anything but soap, although Wendy does try to re-attach Peter Pan’s shadow with a bar of soap, but mostly I just love this stuff because it’s extra gentle and I have very sensitive skin. I try to get someone with a BJ’s membership to buy it for me or let me tag along on a trip because they have it there in bulk. I’ve been using it forever and it never disappoints in making my skin soft and irritation-free.

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, Antibacterial, $4.49

A cardinal rule of skin care is “don’t touch your face”, and it’s really true, my skin has gotten so much better since I started following that rule, I should have listened to my mother when I was teenager. If you must pop a pimple or squeeze a blackhead, use this loop, it’s worth the $9.00 to keep your skin clear and satisfy the urge to pop. It looks like a torture device, and you can go a little squeeze-happy with it, but it’s a great thing to have on hand when you need it, always clean it off with some rubbing alcohol (another essential) between uses too.

Tweezerman Skin Care Tool, $8.99

These are an ultimate essential product, I actually buy mine in bulk at Costco, but I’ve tried these Johnson’s wipes and they’re good too. I know that Terrence Howard thinks they’re essential for other reasons, but they’re great for cleaning out your makeup cases, and they can be critical for makeup application. If it’s hard to get a straight line on your eyeliner, or if you screw up and need to wipe it all off, you need some of these babies on hand.

Johnson’s Baby Hand & Face Wipes 25 for $2.99

I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t wash my hair that often. It takes literally six+ hours to dry and it doesn’t get greasy very quickly. So when I shower I need to protect my hair from the water, otherwise the steam has a field day creating frizz. I like these Goody shower caps because they’re super cheap, brightly colored and they last a long time. My fiance things that shower caps are hysterical, which is why I’m considering ordering one of these immensely silly caps from Urban Outfitters, because he’ll get a kick out of it, it’s fun—and who cares? You’re in the shower anyway!

Goody Shower Cap Large, $1.49 or

Urban Outfitter Shower Caps, $8.00

This tool is probably the most essential of my essential products. It’s meant for clipping cuticles and it does an amazing job with its super sharp edges, but it’s also great for clipping the tags off clothes. To me, it’s a standard do-everything tool. I use it to open stubborn products and I pretty much use it as a pliers most of the time, I have a toolbox with a legit pliers, but this guy works better for everything. I’ve had mine for about six years and it’s still pretty sharp, I think I might send it back to Tweezerman for a sharpening and re-aligning though, because they let you do that, so it’s worth the investment too.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper, $24.99

We all need a nail file sometimes, especially in a nail emergency—this is a no-brainer. I’ve also used them to sand wood, but I’m weird, I use a lot of these products for art projects. These Trim boards are the way to go. I’ve bought cute nail files with hearts and patterns on them, and they’ve given me cuts under my nail, seriously—those things can be dangerous. Stick to these, they’re effective, last a long time, and the price is right.

Trim Salon Boards, Grit Heavy Duty/Medium 2 for $2.29

Ok, so now I want to hear about your essential items, I’m sure I’ve left some great products out, but I think it’s different for everyone. These are items that are either very cheap, or last forever and are used often, you can get them at the drug or beauty supply store, and you always need them, extra points for products with multiple uses! Let’s hear what you got!


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Beat the Summer Gross

If you live in the New York City area, you’ve been either sweating your butt off for the past couple of weeks, or adding money to your electric bill by cranking the AC day and night. Earlier this month records were broken from Central Park to La Guardia Airport. Just this past weekend more heat records were set across the area, and we still have another 2 weeks of July. Even when records aren’t being broken, the temperature has been sitting at an average of 90 degrees each day, so it’s hard not to feel like this:

Maybe you’re one of those people who thrive in the heat, who soak up the suns rays with pleasure and feel invigorated by the sweat—if that’s you, I’m in total awe.

If you see a girl looking sweaty, angry, tired, sunglasses slipping down her nose, a halo of frizz around her head, blisters on her feet, and using her skirt as a means to fan herself, well that’s probably me. I was not made for the heat, I am of hearty eastern European and Irish stock, I flourish in winter and was born in December, heat and humidity have always felt foreign and unbearable to me.

What drives me nuts about the heat is that you can’t escape it, the air just bears down on you. When you’re cold you can add on more layers, drink hot tea, start a fire, snuggle up with a buddy, do some vigorous exercise—you have some (usually inexpensive) options besides turning up the thermostat. When it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and the air is wet with humidity, all you can do is turn on the AC, or bathe yourself in cold water.

What’s worse is dealing with the back and forth between superficially freezing places like office buildings or supermarkets and the baking heat of the outdoors, it makes you nauseous. Then you have the constant worry of bringing a sweater wherever you go, and having to carry it around since it won’t fit in your bag—and maybe you should just bring a bigger bag, ugh, frustrating.

I recently read in a magazine (I have no idea which one, I can’t keep them straight at this point) that around 75% of women feel more beautiful in the summer, I found that sort of shocking. I guess it makes sense when you think about it, people work out more because you end up showing off your body more, and if you tan then you feel better about yourself too. For me though, the summer means frizzy hair, shiny skin, visible sweat stains and eww—chafing.

Chafing is gross, and while it’s stigmatized as something that only happens if you’re overweight, it can happen to anyone at anytime. It occurs from sweating and rubbing and it can happen anywhere on your body. It can even happen on your feet when you’re wearing cute new sandals and decide that even though you haven’t broken them in, it will probably be OK to walk around the city in them all day—big mistake.

The summer makes me long for socks, and boots, and comfy sweaters, but come February it will be a different story. Anyway, it’s hard enough to bear the dumbing heat, but trying to look attractive on top of it—who even cares? Unfortunately there are also a lot of events in the summer; parties, BBQs, weddings, and when you attend these events you want to feel you’re looking your best. So, I’ve put together a list of a some products that help keep me feeling human when I can’t sit around the house in my underwear with the fan blowing on me.

If you’re going to wear make-up in the summer, you have to be prepared for it to slide off your face, so what I suggest is a tinted moisturizer with SPF because it’s very light and gives you sun protection too. Now the problem for me is that I’m incredibly pale, so even the “fair” shade in most tinted moisturizers is too orange for me. I don’t think I’m alone here, a lot of these products only come in 1-3 shades and people come in a lot more shades than that. Laura Mercier makes this one in a variety of shades, it has a nice light coverage, but is a bit pricey, there is also an oil free version available.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, $42 for 1.5 oz.

I like to make my own tinted moisturizer by using my normal moisturizer and mixing it with concealer. This way you have control over how light you want your coverage to be, and it’s much cheaper. You can just mix it together on your hand and then apply it, or you can get fancy and actually mix it up in a container, just make sure it’s well sealed.

M.A.C Studio finish SPF 35 concealer, $16.50

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15, Fragrance Free, $11.49 for 4 fl oz

I’ve spoken before about my love of powder, specifically Lush dusting powders, but they’re $11.95 for 3.5 oz and in the summer I go through powder fast. I always keep this Johnson & Johnson powder on hand because it’s inexpensive and with the lavender and chamomile scent you won’t have to smell like a baby either.  If you dust yourself with this stuff after a shower you will stay smelling sweet and you’ll minimize sweat too!

Johnson’s Baby Baby Powder, Lavender & Chamomile, $5.49 for 22 oz.

Frizz is the enemy. During the summer months it can be completely unavoidable, but I’ve found that if I use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and then while my hair is wet I work in an anti-frizz finishing creme, I manage to keep the poof under control. I also give my hair a blast of ice-cold water right before I jump out of the shower, it’s supposed to seal the cuticles and increase shine or something, also the cold water feels invigorating when it’s this hot out. I’ve also decided that the Fekkai glossing conditioner is worth the hefty price tag, because it really works. I’m still on a quest to find a conditioner that works as well for less money. That all sounds complicated, but avoiding frizz is a battle people!

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme, $5.99 for 4 oz.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo, $35 for 16 oz

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner, $35 for 16 oz

Nexxus Humectress Luxe Ultimate Moisturizing Leave-In Spray, $11.49 for 5.1 fl. oz.

Remember when I mentioned chafing? Yeah, it happens whether you want to admit it or not, and Aquaphor ointment is a great way to sooth yourself after you’ve fallen victim to the rub. I love this stuff, it is great for chapped skin in the winter, chafed skin in the summer, burns, small cuts, even bug bites.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment $5.99 for 1.75 oz.

This one is more for after you’ve been in the heat and you’ve forgotten your sunscreen and are now suffering from a painful and unattractive sunburn. When you get home from the beach or a walk in the park and notice that your skin is turning a brighter and brighter shade of pink each moment, you’ll be very glad you bought some aloe gel and put it in your fridge. My mom always kept a bottle in our fridge year round, and it remains to be one of the most comforting things for a bad sunburn, you can also just put it on if you’re really hot, anything helps right?

Up & Up Green Aloe Gel, $3.49 for 16 oz.

Lastly, but most importantly—put your hair up! Seriously, this seems like a no brainer, but when I see girls with their long hair sticking to the back of their necks, it instantly makes me feel hotter. I think sometimes we’re willing to sweat our butts off and be miserable to avoid ponytail bumps in our hair. But for real, this instantly cools you down, unless you’re lucky and can sport a cute short hair cut, then you have us all beat!

Goody Ouchless Hair Elastics, $2.99 for 14 pieces

I’d love to hear what other tips people have for managing to feel human when you really just want to seek out the nearest air conditioner. Please give me more tips, I need them!!

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Finding the Beautiful

I’ve touched on this before and it’s part of the whole idea for this blog, so I wanted to do a post specifically about feeling beautiful. It seems that feeling beautiful and being beautiful are completely different things. You can see a woman in a fashion spread in perfect make-up with glossy hair and thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes, but if you ask her, there is a pretty good chance she will tell you she doesn’t feel beautiful. She might be dying to get home to her cooking, or her husband, or her dogs, or somewhere else that turns the world into a place where she feels like she fits into it, even if she is wearing sweats.

That’s the funny thing about beauty, it happens in the most unexpected of places. I’ve had days when I spent hours trying to make myself look beautiful so I would feel confident (see yesterday’s post), sometimes it works, but it’s an external form of “beautiful”. Then there are days I’ll be working for hours on a project, I haven’t showered or even noticed my hair, and I’m probably still in my pajamas, maybe with a dirty painting apron thrown on top, and I stop to look in the mirror, before my brain even lets me think something else, I feel beautiful. Of course that is a rare occasion, usually I take a whiff of myself and march right into the shower, but it happens. When I have that rare moment of beauty, I know it has nothing to do with the actual face staring back at me, it’s that I’m at a point where it doesn’t matter, because I’m more concerned with something else I love doing.

I think if you asked most women “when do you feel most beautiful?” they would give you responses that didn’t have much to do with physical beauty. After hours of plucking, curling, dyeing, brushing, and smearing on makeup we often feel like we’re in a costume, but we don’t truly feel beautiful, it’s more like playing a part. I’m sure actresses must feel like this all the time, and when they actually might be feeling beautiful, like when they’re walking around with their kids or something, then they get slapped on the cover of Us weekly for the regular “Gross: Celebs Without Makeup” article.

We are conditioned to think that we can’t be beautiful if we don’t meet certain criteria, or at least try our hardest to look like we’re making an effort, but what sucks is that it keeps us from noticing when we actually do feel beautiful. That’s not to say that it doesn’t help sometimes. I’ve watched What Not to Wear and been so moved when you can see someone finally getting to feel beautiful, and it’s all because of external stuff. I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling beautiful because you’re all dolled-up, there are situations where that is exactly what we need, but I think we tend to forget that there are other things that make you feel beautiful too.

I posed the question to myself, and it can be a hard one to answer. If I have a new outfit that I think looks awesome, or I just got my haircut, or found a great lipstick, it can give me a huge confidence boost and it’s easy to feel beautiful. I feel the most beautiful though when I’m in my element, when I’m doing something I love, creating something, or just singing to myself in my own world. When you notice moments like that, it’s like you catch yourself, and it’s perfect. You don’t need a mirror, or a good picture, or validation from someone else, because you know how you feel, and that’s all that matters.

I know this seems like a small thing, but feeling beautiful is something that everyone deserves, I hate that we narrow down the definition so much that I can’t even remember what it’s supposed to feel like if it isn’t attached to a product.

It’s weird because all these studies show that what really makes people attractive is confidence, and I bet it’s probably true, but that isn’t what anyone is actually selling, it’s just a gimmick. Magazines, TV shows, what they’re really selling are tools that will help you think you’re confident, or give you confidence that is tied to something external. Real confidence is the feeling that what you have to offer is valuable, and that you’re crucial to this world in some way, even if it is small. I think that is the real “beauty” everyone is always talking about, it’s self-worth, and I think so many of us are really lacking in it.

I don’t now what makes confident people confident, I truly believe a lot of it is genetics and personality, but I do think confidence is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight, it shows up in fits and starts, always being punched back down by our nasty inner voice. When I’m doing what I love, or with the people I love, that voice just drops away.

When you paint or draw, you have to be confident. If I think about that line before I draw it, it’s going to be sloppy. When I just give in and turn off my mind, that confidence kicks in. I think at times we even take that confidence for granted because it comes so easily. I imagine that’s what it takes to be a tight-rope walker, you just have to release all that fear and know that you can do it. There is so much beauty in being able to let go, to give in, and let yourself have the freedom to feel that gorgeousness that can come rushing in. Beauty isn’t something you need to get, or make, it’s something you already have, you just need to find it.

Ok, so that last bit is a little cornball, but I don’t mind. My point is that we need to shift our idea of “beautiful”, because it keeps us from noticing when we actually do feel great about ourselves. I know there is that old adage that if everyone is beautiful than no one is beautiful, but sorry, beauty doesn’t work like that. The whole idea of beauty is something that is pleasing in any way, it has no absolute definition, and it exists in each one of us—old, young, man, woman, tall, short, chubby, or slim, it doesn’t matter.

So I ask, what really makes you feel beautiful? There is nothing to be ashamed of if it is a product, but I want to know for real, what makes you feel like there is beauty everywhere and that you’re a part of it, inside, outside and all around?

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Live a Lush Life

Have you heard of Lush? I’m assuming most of you have, it’s been around for a while, but if you haven’t heard of it you should. Let me tell you why.

Firstly I want to say I think more advertising should be done by people who genuinely like the products and are happy to promote them. I’m not saying companies should ask anyone to do this for free (although I’m about to do that right now), but if you can’t find people to promote your product who really like it and use it, then maybe it’s time to change the product.

Lush seems to understand this, they put out a great newspaper called Lush Times every season with new products and tons of reviews by real people who love the brand and are happy to talk about the products they use. They share their stories and pictures and It feels both authentic and fun, two things not seen too often in normal cosmetics promotions.

In the cosmetics world, Lush is a very unique brand. Although they don’t sell makeup, they do sell lip balms, hair products, and perfumes as well as bath products. It’s all organic and natural (like actually totally, not just labeled that way to appear “green”), has quite a selection of vegan items, and they make products that do amazing things while smelling absolutely delicious without the addition of chemicals. They also tell you exactly what is in the products they’re selling you, wild idea right?

It’s  nice that Lush doesn’t use model or celebrity endorsements or feature them in their ads, in fact they don’t seem to advertise much at all from what I can tell. They seem to function mainly on word of mouth and getting people into the stores—and it should be a lesson to other companies that if you make a good product, you don’t need to spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns.

One way that Lush cuts down on the cost of their products is by making their packaging from recycled plastic. Sometimes it’s a little wonky, but for the cost and the green factor it’s worth it. So often with cosmetics 75% of the cost goes into the packaging, so I’d rather get more product for the price anyway, although I can be a sucker for good packaging. Some of their products don’t use packaging at all, like their bath bombs.

My sister and I first stumbled on Lush when we were visiting family in Ireland in 2002, we took a day trip to Dublin and the most fun we had the whole day, aside from Dublinia! an interactive exhibit for children in the basement of Christ Church, which we played in like we were four-year olds, was discovering Lush (we made the mistake of going on a day when all the museums were closed). We could literally smell Lush from down the street, and wandered into the shop mesmerized by the colorful products and friendly staff. I think our Irish relatives thought we were crazy when we came home that night, each with a big bag of bath bombs and bubble bars, but it was exciting, we had never seen cosmetics sold in such a way before.

When we arrived home in New York, our whole suitcases, all our clothes, everything, was filled with the beautiful aroma. From then on, every time someone was going overseas we begged them to get us some Lush—I’m sure this was incredibly annoying, but we couldn’t get it in the states, so what could we do but beg? Finally after several years they opened stores across the U.S., unfortunately they don’t produce products in the states so they have to import them from Canada which drives the prices up a bit, but the cost still doesn’t touch what other cosmetics brands charge, so it’s worth it.

I’m going to run-through some of my favorite products, and if any of them appeal to you I hope you’ll check them out!

if you haven’t discovered Lush yet, or even if you have, you can find a store near you here. And if there isn’t one near you, they’re opening new shops all the time.

Let’s start with a soap that is great if you like your products earthy, scrubby, and delicious smelling. If you don’t like little bits of leaves in your soap you might not like it, but if you don’t mind bringing some nature into your shower you’ll love it.

Also a note on Lush soaps, at the stores you can get them cut into any size for you, so if you only want say a $5 piece to try, just ask them. Isn’t that nice?

Figs and Leaves Soap,$7.60 for 3.5 oz.

This is my favorite moisturizer, and it’s so much less expensive than a lot of department store creams. It smells like vanilla and cream and it is specifically made for sensitive skin which is great for me, also a little goes a very long way.

Celestial face moisturizer, $22.95 for 1.5 oz.

I’m very upset that I no longer have a bathtub because it means I can’t use Lush bubble bars anymore. I love bubble baths, and these bars create so many bubbles and leave your skin so smooth and sweet-smelling it’s perfect for the end of a stressful day. You can cut one bar up into pieces and save them so it lasts longer too, because they really do produce a lot of bubbles.

Creamy Candy Bubble Bar, $7.25 for a 3.5 oz. bar

Probably my all time favorite Lush product. If I could afford it I would put this on my hair every week. It’s one of the products my sister and I were completely hooked on as soon as we discovered Lush. It’s a hair mask, you put it on your dry hair (you need to saturate your head, I usually end up using half the container on my hair) and then leave it on for 15 minutes, or put on a shower cap to keep in the heat, and leave it on for hours. After you wash the treatment out you’re left with shiny, lovely, amazing, spicy scented hair. I love it, but I love most things that smell spicy, so if you do too, you will definitely love this. Your hair will smell like a spice market in some beautiful far-off eastern country, yum.

H’Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment, $18.95 for 7.9 oz.

Do you like Almonds? I love almonds, I love marzipan, I love the smell of almonds, I love almond milk, and I adore this soap. The only downside is that it is so creamy it melts away fairly fast, but it leaves your skin smelling heavenly, so it’s worth it.

Alkmaar soap, $7.95 for 3.5 oz.

Since I can’t take baths anymore, I have re-discovered shower gels, and this is one of my favorites. It’s great if you shower in the morning and have trouble waking up because it has a bright, cirtus-y scent that gives you instant pep for the day.

Happy Hippy, $26.95 for 16.9 oz.

I’m a little obsessed with body powders. Especially in the summer, I cover myself in powder every-time I get out of the shower, the cloud of dust scares both my cats and my fiancé, but I wouldn’t stop it for the world. If you don’t powder I highly suggest it, I love that in yoga class once I start to sweat, instead of smelling gross, the people around me are treated to a gorgeous vanilla aroma, lucky them. I love Lush’s Silky Underwear, but I just bought this new scent and it’s making for some serious competition.

Vanilla Puff Powder, $11.95 for 3.5 oz.

I did a whole post about shampoo because I’ve been questioning my whole hair care procedure recently. So I went back and tried Lush shampoo bars again, and now I can’t remember why I ever stopped using them to begin with! They can get a little crumbly in the shower once you get near the end of them, but no more so than a bar of soap. It is amazing how much lather these things produce, I mean seriously, I had enough lather on my head for three more people, and like everything Lush, they smell spectacular (except for the soak and float bar which is for dandruff, and kind of stinky, but supposedly effective).

Karma Komba, 9.95 for 1.9 oz.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bath tub, you should definitely try one of Lush’s bath bombs. I love the Butterball which smells (obviously) buttery and creamy and has little pieces of coca butter that melt into your skin, ugh, it’s so good.

When you go into a Lush shop they will give you a bath bomb demonstration, that way you can see how it fizzes and buzzes around your bath tub, sometimes changing the water colors, or releasing sparkles, but always smelling amazing.

The next time you’re feeling romantic, or sharing a bath with someone else, I recommend trying out this bomb. It releases a whole jumble of flower petals into your bath, as well as the incredible smell of roses and lavender. You may have to clean the petals out of your drain, but who doesn’t want to bathe in rose petals?

I like to buy bath bombs (or bubble bars) just to keep them in my drawers, they make all my clothes smell incredible.

Softy, $6.25 for 6.3 oz.

Anyone else have some Lush product recommendations? I’m sure I could go on forever because I’ve sampled most of their products, so feel free to ask questions too! Happy bathing!

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What is “good hair” and does it really matter?

Last night I watched the Chris Rock documentary Good Hair, specifically this film is about, as Rock refers to it “Black hair”, it was an interesting watch and provides a lot of food for thought about the lengths we go to for beauty. I really recommend everyone check it out.

So if you’re wondering why Chris Rock decided to make a documentary about hair of all things, the explanation is he has two young daughters and was understandably caught off guard and heartbroken when one of them came to him upset that she doesn’t have “good hair”.

Rock then goes on a quest all over the world to discover exactly what “good hair” is. I don’t think he ever really finds the answer, but he does help to open up a really great conversation, and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know.

For example, there are hair thieves in India who steal hair from women while they’re at the movies, all because India is one of the top exporters of human hair in the world. Who wants this hair? Chris Rock says it’s all Black women, but we know there are a lot of women who wear hair extensions, so I’d say the market is women who don’t like their own hair in general.

In India they either steal hair or, more commonly, it’s auctioned off by temples after a ritual hair sacrifice practiced by many Hindus (and other religions as well) called Tonsure. Hindus believe it is a way of shedding your ego before god, your hair is shaved off by an appointee of the temple and it’s usually done to ask for a blessing, or re-pay a blessing received. I’d like to know exactly when the temples got hip to how much that hair is worth and started selling it for literally millions of dollars—hair is gold people, seriously.

Once the hair is bought it’s made into weaves and sold to buyers in Los Angeles and other parts of the U.S., what is a weave you may be asking? Well, it’s human hair sown together which is then weaved, or sewn, into a woman’s own hair, to find out more about it check out the documentary. It’s interesting that the movie only focuses on Black women wearing weaves, because I’m pretty sure there are starlets of many ethnicities out in Hollywood and elsewhere in America wearing them too. Which brings me to my first real point.

It’s so super great that Chris Rock made this documentary, and he is lucky enough to have the kind of funding to get it made, but it touches on a lot of issues and never really resolves any—mainly why do women do this to themselves, and why is hair so important? In the film, Maya Angelou says “hair is a woman’s glory” it’s true that it defines the way we look more than most other aspects of our appearance, so of course we seek to control it as best we can.

I do wish there were some women behind the camera in this film (the writers and director all seem to be men) instead of just in front of it, because for the most part this is a very feminine topic, and I don’t think there was enough focus on really why the hair industry is so huge. The documentary kind of plays out like Chris Rock walking in on a conversation that has been going on for hundreds of years among women, and it’s so new to him it’s overwhelming, and can’t be tackled.

Early in the film Rock mentions that “good hair” might equal “White hair”, well it’s sort of glossed over that the Black women Rock interviews who wear weaves are buying Indian hair, not the hair of White women. This gets into the whole issue of race and who is really considered White (the Kardashians? Rashida Jones?) and who is considered Black? Is it defined by what you are genetically or how you appear to the world? Either way there are tons of White women, Spanish women, Asian women, Jewish women, Italian women, Greek women, who all might dislike their hair just as much as Black women, we’re all hating ourselves here, all striving for some unknown “good”, and there has got to be a reason why.

Here’s a pic of my mom from the 70’s with her natural hair, looks good right? Why was natural hair more acceptable in the 70’s? Maybe it wasn’t, My mom has stories about being called out and ostracized for wearing her hair the way it came out of her head.

What I’m always fascinated by is the invisible standard, I’ve written about it before in my post about unconventional beauties. This ideal is the fuel for the entire cosmetics industry, and fashion too. They have to protect the idea of “standard”, it must remain or the whole thing falls a part. I’m not saying they started it, certainly humans always want what they can’t have, these industries just use that desire to make money. It’s just like the fashion magazines telling us how studies prove women like to see “aspirational images”, you see? We want to be better, they’re just giving us the tools we need to be our best possible selves, how sweet of them!

So my feeling is if Black women want to wear weaves or use relaxers to make themselves feel more beautiful, that’s great, when things get bad is when they feel like they have to use them. That seems to be the point Chris Rock misses too, it’s a choice, and there is no reason to look down on a women (or praise her) based on what she chooses to do with her hair.

There was a moment in the film which I found heartbreaking. Rock is interviewing a group of high school girls and asks what they think of natural hair. It’s obvious that one girl in the group is sporting an afro while the rest clearly have altered their hair in some way. Without a thought, the girls all point out how unprofessional the girl with the afro looks and how she can’t be taken seriously, the girl looked embarrassed, and didn’t speak up to defend her look, she was ganged up on after all. I hope she didn’t cave into the pressure and go get a weave because she really looked great, and I hope she finds some better friends too. This moment wasn’t explored at all though, and it’s deeply important.

It’s not just Black women, though obviously it’s far more common in that culture, many of us are faced with this issue. When I’ve gone on job interviews I always have the inner debate about whether I can wear my hair curly, or if I should straighten it so I look more professional. I usually end up compromising, like wearing it curly but pulling it back. I hate the idea that anyone can look at my hair (or any part of me for that matter) and judge my ability based on it. For some reason we have decided that the stuff that grows naturally from our heads can discern how capable or competent a person you are.

How do men play into this issue? They don’t have to deal with the problem as much, but there are curly-haired men I’ve met who clip it so close it doesn’t get a chance to curl. Why does everyone hate curly hair so much? Let me make that naturally curly hair, we have no problem with curls if they’re perfectly smooth and put in with an iron. I’ve stood there cursing myself in the mirror, knowing how ridiculous it is when I blow out my hair, straighten it with an iron, and then use another iron to put curls back in. The result is not that far from my natural hair, just without the frizz and unpredictability.

I’m sharing a photo of my hair after several days of not washing, that way most of the curl has been slept out of it leaving waves, and it’s usually the way I wear it. I always have to blow out my bangs straight, or they curl, and curly bangs isn’t a good look for me. I’ll have to post a pic of what it looks like when I first wash it at some point, it’s about four times bigger, which is why I don’t wash it so often. Honestly, I like my hair, and it’s not that hard to deal with, mostly because I’ve come to accept its natural texture, but I still obsess over it all the time, which proves what a common thing it is for most women.


The millionaire matchmaker, Patti Stanger (as a Jewish woman from New York I have a guilty love for this woman) tells the women she wrangles for her millionaires that they must straighten their hair, because “men don’t like curly hair”. I also think the implication there is that curly hair makes you stand out and gives you a personality, a big no-no. I’m betting Patty’s hair is about as straight as most Jewish girls—which is not so much, so there is a bit of self-hate going on there too I think. In my experience men don’t hate curly hair anyway, my fiance actually hates when I straighten it, so there Patty!

Anyway, I could go on about this for hours (and already have!), but you probably have important things to do so I’ll stop here. I hope this conversation continues, I hope more documentaries about the beauty industry are made (maybe by women next time), I hope we all at least take the time to think about why we do the things we do to feel beautiful, and try not to let pressure dictate what we do to our bodies.

So people, what about you? Curly hair? Straight hair? Somewhere in-between? Do you feel a pressure to change your natural hair in order to be taken seriously, or do you do it just because you like it? Or do you not do anything to it at all? Do we always want what we can’t have? I want to know!

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