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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