Hair Fray

Another hair post! Just what you were waiting for, I’m sure.

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Not my real hair.

After completely abandoning my latest attempt at using the Curly Girl Method, I was a little stuck on what to do next with my ‘do. I’d been growing out my bangs for a few months, but was undecided about whether to cut them in again or keep growing them out. In looking for ideas on Pinterest, I kept finding photos of this one particular woman whose hair I loved:

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Her name is Sophia Amoruso; she was the owner of a company called Nasty Gal that I think is no longer in business. Whatever, more power to her – and to her hair!

When I showed my stylist some of the pics I’d found, just to show her the bangs, she asked me if I wanted to also color my hair as dark as the photos. In looking at all these pics of women with long hair and baby bangs, I’d gotten used to looking at the style on dark hair because for some reason there seemed to be more brunettes than blondes in this style, so on a whim I said sure, why not.

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I wouldn’t mind having her lips and decidedly younger skin also, but you can’t have everything.

I’ve always found going from light hair to dark more jarring than doing the reverse; the difference always feels more drastic and takes a bit of getting used to; but this time I could tell right away that I liked it. The style really does work well with dark hair, and even though it’s been several years since I’ve worn my hair in my natural color, so far I am loving it!

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Right after I got it colored and styled

I’ve been playing around with how best to style my hair as usual – Pinterest really isn’t good for one’s hair-esteem at all. Everyone has these perfectly formed waves that I could never attain; I get that the pics on Pinterest are professionally styled and all that, but it doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying. The thing about my hair is that it has just enough wave to kind of go beachy, but not without some extra curling involved, and when I try to curl my hair I always over-do it and end up looking over-styled. If I let my hair totally air-dry it will have wave but it looks a bit unbrushed and it gets frizzy; I can blow it dry straight but then I need to take a flat iron to it to smooth it out, and since my hair is fine that makes it super straight, like nineties-style straight, and it gets kind of scraggly on the ends. In the photo above, my stylist had blown it dry, so it looked a little better than when I do it, but still pretty straight and flat as is its way.

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I felt like I didn’t look like myself in this photo, which is why I liked it. It totally looks like my grandmother, in a good way. 

What I really wanted was the sort of slightly mussy, I-woke-up-like this wave that Sophia’s hair had – but as I said, whenever I try to do it myself with my curling wand I end up looking TOO styled and air-drying alone doesn’t get me there either. But, trial and error led me to a process that works, and now I am going to share it. Exciting, right?

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For starters, I usually do blow my hair dry because it gets it smooth and looks less frizzy after styling. As you can see in the shot below, that leaves me with hair that’s fine, but pretty flat.

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Sorry I’m so yellow in this photo. Great bangs though, right?!

So, how to take this and add in just enough wave to make it look soft and natural? After plenty of experimenting, I eventually tried pulling my hair up into a ponytail on top of my head, and just curling it from there in several big sections, like so:

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 Pulling it up and giving it a curl with my wand

Then, when I take the ponytail out, I’m left with a perfect amount of wave. I usually have a few places I need to hit with the wand for consistency all the way around, but this whole thing takes maybe five minutes, tops, and gives me just enough wave to make me happy.

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But I’m not quite finished – here comes the product placement! A friend of mine sent me a link to a styling tool called Voloom – it’s basically a fancy hair crimper that you use to add volume to your hair. It’s expensive, and I thought it was probably too good to be true, but I watched some YouTube videos where it really seemed to work and be easy to use, so I figured what the hell, and tried it out.

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For all my wig-wearers out there, this thing basically adds perma-tease to bio hair! I think any hair crimper would work, but there are some benefits to this one: it isn’t hot against your head, the heat is adjustable, and it heats up super-fast. It comes in two sizes, and I mistakenly bought the petite size when I should have gotten the regular one. No worries, this one’s working fine, at least for now. All you do is lift up your top layer of hair, then crimp the underlayer of your hair right at the base. I just clamp down on it three times for each section of hair; starting right against my scalp and clamping down for just a few seconds and then moving it down a little and clamping again. I do this three times, and when I’m done the hair definitely has more lift. It can’t take super-flat hair like mine and turn it into Jennifer Aniston’s, but it does add some noticeable body and fullness. And it only takes maybe 2-3 minutes for me to do.

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Some people have said that the crimped sections of hair show through the top layer, but maybe this is more of an issue with lighter hair or something, because it doesn’t show through at all for me. You also have to be careful not to crimp any of the hair around your face or it will look weird; this also isn’t something I’ve had issues with. It basically worked for me from the first time I used it, which is rare for me-it took me months to figure out how to use a curling wand, for example. But this thing really is a breeze to use.

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The final result 

The volume the Voloom adds will last until I wash it again; I can also brush it and it maintains its lift. It’s a great little product – and again, I do think if you don’t want to spend $170 on it, it would most likely work with any hair crimper as long as you use it properly. Let’s get a full before and after, just because I like them – from blown-dry straight, to curled in a ponytail, to the final result after being ponytail-curled and Voloom’ed:

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Overall, I am loving the bangs, and the color, and the style. This is more length than I’ve ever had as an adult, since I’ve generally worn it pixie-short, and as I mentioned the darker color seems to make my hair look thicker. I’ve found I do need to wear more makeup, which may be the style as much as the color. Oh and one more thing – I’m thinking of actually cutting in some short bangs on one side, like this:

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…But I think it might be too close to mullet territory to be a good idea. What do you think?

A Hair-Waving Scheme

DISCLAIMER: Since writing this post, I’ve abandoned most of the process I list below. I’m leaving it there in case anyone wants to try it, but in the end there are things I prefer to do that the Curly Girl method frowns upon (namely, not brushing through the hair after washing and not using any heat) and I wasn’t seeing enough of a change in my hair to stick with it. I do really like the products, though, and am going to continue to play around with how best to use them.

As mentioned in my last post, I went back to the George Ranch Historical Park to finish up the tour I didn’t get through the week before, and I took more pictures. Not that I really needed to; I took enough the first time out to have easily filled a second post without going back for more, but I wanted to fit the rest of the park in before it got too hot outside to be able to stand it. But before I do that, I thought I’d give a little hair update:

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No curling irons used here – just my natural wave pattern

I’ve written a lot in the past about using the DevaCurl line of products, mostly because after I got that perm back in 2014 their stuff really worked to control the frizz and give my curls some definition. I also mentioned at that time that I’d tried the whole Curly Girl method before, back in the early 00’s right after it came out, and that I didn’t have much success with it. However, back then my hair was quite short and I was in the process of growing out a pixie cut, so I don’t think my hair would have looked great no matter what method of cleansing and styling I was using. Since my hair has gotten quite long now (for me, anyway) and I quit blow-drying it straight once I quit teaching, I realized that I do, in fact, have a decent amount of wave to my hair and that perhaps I should give the whole Curly Girl ‘method’ another try. Ironically, I made this decision about a week after finally boxing up all my old DevaCurl products and shipping them to a curly-headed friend, so I had to buy all new stuff (which turned out to be a good thing, because in the years since I last used their line they’ve come out with some better products for my particular curl type so I ended up with more appropriate stuff for my hair anyway).

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Curl close-up – not sure why I look so pissed here

As soon as I started using the special conditioner and cleanser made for wavy hair, I noticed a nice change in my curl pattern; while I will never have hair I could actually call curly, it does have a pretty clear wave to it, and when using the DevaCurl shampoo and conditioner without sulfites and all that other jazz, I felt like the waves had a bit more fullness and bounce (I started out trying the full-on No-Poo products, but those are much better for tighter curls, like I had when I had my perm). I also switched all my other styling products to either DevaCurl or another brand that had no sulfites or alcohol (I find alcohol drying on my hair, and although a lot of people who follow this method worry about silicones, I actually like them and don’t try to exclude them from anything I use). I got my hands on some more of the DevaCurl mousse I always loved, and the same spray gel I used before; my Moroccan Oil that I have loved for years still gets used, and I found a spray wax without alcohol to use as a finisher (although for some reason, the DevaCurl Set It Free finishing spray that was a huge fail when I had my perm suddenly works like a charm on my non-permed hair, so I haven’t even needed to use the spray wax that often). I also still use a dab of the Mirror Curls because it adds definition like nothing else, and I got another ConAir bonnet hairdryer to sit under to dry my hair without blowing in a bunch of frizz (links to all this stuff is at the bottom of the post, if you’re interested).

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But for the first week or so, I was still using my curling wands to add curl to my hair in places where I felt it fell flat – mostly on my right side around my face. However, I always had a bad habit of not stopping with just adding curl where it needed it – once I get started, I end up curling everything which takes a lot longer and doesn’t really need to be done. Not to mention that I bought this super small-barrel wand that can give me the sort of tight springy curls I’ve always wanted, which made curling my whole head extra-tempting. But I was curious if the assertion the Curly Girl book makes was true – that the longer you go without using heat on your hair (bonnet dryer excepted, the method considers bonnet dryers an acceptable way to use gentle heat so I swear it’s not cheating) the more curly your hair will become. I’ve never actually believed this claim; as I mentioned earlier, the first time I tried to use the method I found it added some curl and bounce right away, but it’s not like it improved over the months at all, and in fact it ended up being more trouble than it was worth, but mostly because I was growing out a short cut as well and my hair was just a mess in general. Then when I had the perm, that idea didn’t really apply because my curls were chemically-induced and were therefore outside the purview of the Curly Girl method entirely. I don’t have any real reason for not believing this claim is true, I just kinda doubt it. But, I decided I might as well experiment with this and give it a shot.

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So, I’ve decided to use no heat styling on my hair for one month and see if, in fact, the flat parts of my hair get less so, or if any other hair miracles occur. One thing has happened already; when I really stopped forcing my hair to do anything I noticed that on the right side of my head – the side that tends to fall more straight – the curl pattern is actually curling towards my face rather than away from it (as you can see in the photo above) but on the left side, the side that always looked nicer and more curly, it’s curling away from it. Now, I don’t know anyone who heat styles their hair by curling it towards the face – it’s fairly common practice to curl the hair to move away from it.

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Nope.

And, even when air-drying my hair, I would sort of nudge the curls on the right side to move away from mine, which was part of the reason why those curls would look a bit flat – I was forcing them to curl against their natural pattern. I can still use heat to curl the hair away from my face quite easily, but since I’m trying not to use heat for a month, I was just going to have to live with these weird curls on one side of my head that went the ‘wrong’ direction. But, I did come up with a bit of a solution, and moved my part from the left side of my head over to my right side, so that more of those forward-moving curls have now been shifted to the left side of my head where, of course, they are now magically moving away from my face! This has helped my wave pattern look more even, but as you can see I’ve still got one side of my head with curls waving forward instead of back. Oh well.

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I took this shot earlier, when I was still using the curling wand. I think I even used the small one here to get tighter curls. It REALLY works and is so tempting…but I’m determined to give this a month!

I’m also trying to grow out my bangs a little right now to see if I prefer having longer ones when wearing my hair curly; I am torn between doing that or getting some micro-bangs that are even shorter than what I’ve been wearing. In the end I think I do need some sort of bangs framing my face – I have 2b waves, which means the hair is flat up top and the curls hang close to the head, and when combined with my long face I still need something to reduce the appearance of length and bangs are the best way to do that. But I’m thinking if I get these bangs a bit longer they can curl up and be cute; they’re already starting to form little ringlets if I don’t do any straightening, and I think I will like the effect.

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I could see my bangs doing this...

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But I dunno, this is pretty damn cute  too…

To sum up, for anyone with waves like mine who wants to know what I’m doing and using, here you go:

  1. Cleanse with DevaCurl Low-Poo and One Condition
  2. Add DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam
  3. Scrunch dry with t-shirt, then spritz in some DevaCurl The Curl Maker Spray Gel 
  4. Air-dry and sleep on it as normal (I don’t pull my hair into a ponytail, but I do sleep on a silk pillowcase)
  5. In the morning, I re-wet my hair until damp, then scrunch in some Garnier Nutrisse Wonder Waves Hairspray (I don’t know why this stuff works so well; it does leave the hair crispy but other products I follow up with soften it. It really adds curl for me and always has, but it’s a hard product to find now.)
  6. Scrunch in the TINIEST dab or two of DevaCurl Mirror Curls (if I put this stuff in my hair right after washing, sleeping on it will add frizz; but using it the next morning reduces this).
  7. Sit under my Conair bonnet dryer for about 20 minutes or so while I drink my coffee (this is so oddly comforting and to be honest, I’d sit under it the night before too if my husband didn’t complain about the ridiculous amount of energy this thing uses)
  8. Once the hair is dry, smooth in a dab of Moroccan Oil and finish with the DevaCurl Set It Free spray

For day two hair, I am still trying to figure out what works. Some mornings when I wake up it looks fine and I should probably leave it alone, but being me I end up messing with it anyway and making it look less than fine. So far, it appears that if I’m going to do anything, I should just wet it down a bit and scrunch in a touch more Mirror Curls – that does the best to add some definition and bounce back when the waves have gone flat, but damn does it also give me frizz! I may try out some of DevaCurl’s dry shampoo that I found too greasy when I had my perm; like the Set It Free it may work better for me now.

So what do you all think about the fringe? Do you like the longer curly ones, or the micro-bang? Let me know in the comments below! More park pics coming soon!

From Hair to There

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Some of you may remember that I recently wrote about wanting to change up my haircolor again (because it’s been at least six months since I’ve inflicted any real damage on my tresses, which is unacceptable). At the time I wrote about it, I shared the following photo as my inspiration:

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As you can tell from the pic of my fringe at the top of this post, I didn’t quite get there, but allow me to explain (and share more photos)!

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This photo was pretty unfocused originally, and I had to work hard to get some clarity out of it, but I liked the view of the haircolor so I made it happen.

The stock photo of the haircolor is from the Goldwell Color Zoom 2017 collection – my stylist had just returned from some big hairstyling shindig when I flipped through the Goldwell lookbook she’d brought back from the event while waiting to get my hair cut about a month ago. I’ve always wanted to do really crazy, unusual color, but I’ve never been able to due to the jobs I’ve held. Well now I work for myself, so I can do what I want – but I still wanted to ease into it and do somthing that incorporated wild colors but still appeared acceptable while meeting with potential clients or particularly judgmental family members (I actually don’t have any family members like that, in fact on my side of the family everyone will love it and possibly go out and get the same thing to done to their own hair – but my father-in-law, who isn’t particularly judgmental, also is not very fashion-forward, as you can imagine, so he might have something to say). So, I thought something like that photo might be a nice place to start, since when you look at it you see some wild colors but it’s so blended it comes off more interesting than outrageous.

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This photo is a total cheat; I layered a different picture of the bangs over this one because in the original photo they were parted in a funky way, and I actually layered a second copy of my hair over the first one because my hair is so fine and flat and I wanted to give it some volume. Terrible I know, but I couldn’t help myself.

You can see that the end result doesn’t look too terribly much like the advert photo, but that isn’t really a problem for me because I didn’t expect it to. I understand that photos I show a stylist are merely guidelines and that everyone’s hair is different and will therefore look different from a photo; not to mention that if anyone understands how much editing goes into a picture before it gets seen by the general public, it’s me, so there’s that. Who knows how many Photoshop and lighting tricks they did to get that much depth and and drama out of the original result. But my biggest surprise upon sitting down in  my stylist’s chair yesterday at 10:00 AM to get going with this was that the Goldwell book, which included instructions regarding the proper hair dyes to use to get the look, did not in any way mention any sort of blue color. I was convinced the hair in the photo had blue in it, but my stylist pointed out that the hints of what appeared to be blue were actually silver, and she showed me the instructions to verify that. The colors used were neon red, neon yellow, and silver (I don’t remember the actual color names, but I’m sure they were awesome as all color names tend to be – bright papaya or nuclear lemon or something like that). So, no blue. Okay.

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I must do blue hair someday; or maybe green. Or both, more likely.

One thing that has always baffled me a bit about hair stylists is how they often – at least in my experience – don’t explain well the consequences of the choices their clients make when they come in with an idea about a cut, color, or other process they’ve chosen to undergo. Or maybe it’s just me, and everyone else knows to ask for such information. I always end up thinking of that scene in Death Becomes Her when Meryl Streep has just chugged the magic, youth-inducing potion down and Isabella Rosellini tells her there’s just one warning, and Meryl looks at her in her fabulous Meryl way and says, “NOW a warning?!” When I got my may-or-may-not-have-been-a-good-idea perm, I was told after it was done that I shouldn’t pull my hair up or back or out of my face/off my neck IN ANY WAY for at least 48 hours, and if possible to go longer than that. I don’t know, that just seems like something I should have been told before we got started, mostly because it sent my mind reeling to think what could have happened to my perm if the stylist had forgotten to off-handedly throw that  little nugget of vitally important information to me as I walked out the door (I mean really, I came so close to not being told something that could have resulted in me wearing ponytail-head-looking hair for the next six months. Really?!). Or getting a ‘custom’ short cut that entailed getting regular trims every two weeks if I wanted the ‘structure’ that was, in fact, the ‘custom’ part of the equation (‘structure’ in this case was the magic word that made the difference between looking like I had a super-cool, edgy short style or hair that had been gnawed on by wolves). You know, stuff like that.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my ‘custom cut’ of 2011.

Well, what I wasn’t told this time was that the process of getting these “very thin little highlights of color” woven into my hair would take four hours. Now, I love my stylist (whose name is Gracie, by the way), and give or take a few years here and there where I cheated on her, I’ve been going to her for close to 15 years, so this isn’t so much a complaint as it is an observation. And I do think the process took longer than even she expected (because again, everyone’s hair is different and will take or lift color differently), but when I finally asked about how much longer it was going to take, she explained that to do the funky colors involved stripping the hair first of color, and going through the entire bleaching process and then doing another entire coloring process (which involved coloring, washing out, toning, etc) after that. Perhaps I should have known this, but since the only color I’ve ever done involved adding dark brown to cover gray or bleaching a bit to get some highlights, I had no idea, so a process I expected to take, an hour and half, tops, ended up taking four, and since I got there at 10 AM I was absolutely starving by the time we got done around two o’clock. I was also pretty irritable, which is not usually an emotion I feel when visiting a salon. If I’d known it would take that long, I would have been better prepared. And brought snacks.

So okay, if you’ve read this far you probably kind of have had the experience I had of waiting four hours for my hair to be done. You’re welcome.

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See the little peek of silver in the fringe? And my husband pointed out to me that I made my lips look ‘enhanced’ in this photo with too much editing. I tried to fix the problem, but much like real plastic surgery, it could not be repaired. Whatever, I still like the way it shows the color, even if it gives too many of my Photoshop secrets away. And yeah, if I wasn’t both cheap and chicken (and married to someone who’d divorce me if I did it) I’d plump the hell out of my real lips too. 

The end result is not quite as dramatic as this photo, as I’ve done two things here – Photoshopped the color vibrancy, natch, but I also shifted my side part from the left to the right to really show the color. Gracie did a great job weaving the color into my hair so that when it’s parted properly, you get hints of interesting color rather than being bombarded by it, but if the wind blows or I change the part to the right side (which I never do) you can see the bright colors lurking just below the surface. The end result is pretty darn cool, although overall it came out far more  red-and-yellow than I expected (if I allow my mind to wander, this takes me to some dangerous places such as McDonald’s, OR the school colors of my former workplace, which are, you guessed it, red and gold – so I shut that internal dialogue down quickly). The silver is there, but it’s quite subtle – in the pic above you can JUST see a hint of it in the fringe, and there’s a long strip of it going down the left side that you can’t really see in any obvious way unless I pull all my hair over to show it off. I realize this was the point, and that I explicity told Gracie to work the funky in in such a way that I could still pull off looking ‘normal’ from a distance (and I do like the idea that if I really want to go for funky I can just part my hair to the other side) but it is a bummer that the silver, which is soooo pretty, doesn’t really show unless I try very hard to show it. That is what I asked for though, so I’m not complaining.

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Another little peek at the silver streak

Anyway, this definitely introduced me to the world of truly funky color, so from here who knows where I’ll go. I do think I’d like to do some blue at some point. And another fun side note – my husband didn’t even notice the change. As long as I do not cut my hair short again, he really doesn’t care what it looks like. I do think I had Gracie cut the bangs too short this time; I thought with the new funkier colors I’d like an edgier cut, but as usual I had her go a touch too short and the end result isn’t the best on me (I am terrible about this – any time a stylist shows me a haircut and asks if the length is OK or if I want to go ‘a little bit shorter,’ my answer is ALWAYS ‘a little bit shorter.’ It’s not so much that I want shorter hair as it is my frugal side kicks in and I think, well shorter means I can go an extra week without needing a trim. So there it is).

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Color TOTALLY enhanced here. Like, times ten.

In the end, I like it. It’s a bit more ketchup-and-mustard than hip-techno-mermaid like the original photo (okay, so it’s a lot more ketchup-and-mustard), it’s still something fun and different, and it’s opened me up more to the possibility of doing something really fun and crazy somewhere down the road – who knows what I’ll do next! As long as I don’t cut it short, apparently, at least my husband won’t complain.

In other news, I have more wig reviews to edit and upload, I finally landed another client for tutoring, and I’m heading back for a short weekend retreat to the Ruah center tomorrow. Happy almost the weekend, everybody!

Pause for Gauze

Last week I mentioned that I’d become obsessed with an online store called Oh My Gauze, and at the time I said I’d take some pics of my new outfits eventually, so here’s part one of me fulfilling that promise. I’m also going to link to items when I can, so you can go check them out if you want (some of the pieces I bought were discontinued and are no longer for sale through the store, although many times you can find them on eBay). You’re welcome.

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Photography nerd alert: this is a composite shot – my upper body is from one photo while the lower body is from a different one.

I say part one because I seriously bought a lot of pieces from this store in the past few weeks. About 8 items are at the tailor right now, because in tops and dresses especially OMG clothing tends to run a little large on me. I’m skinniest in my shoulders and torso area, so with the generous sizing of this brand those things can look sloppy even though they’re already intended to be loose. Pants and skirts, though, are generally fine, although I did take one skirt in for alterations as well, because the balloon hem combined with big pockets made it a little heavy and it was pulling the skirt down (the waist was a little big, but it wouldn’t have mattered had the skirt not been on heavy side).

I will say that my outfits were a big hit at the tailor’s; it was a holiday here today so a lot of parents were taking their kids in for alterations on this or that (no idea what sort of kid-events go on in October, but there sure were a lot of people there) and as I kept coming out of the fitting room with more artsy, funky outfits, women began to notice and ask where I got all this fabulous stuff. I told them, of course; I have no need to keep a good thing secret. Since my last beloved baggy-clothing store, CP Shades, shut down, I certainly want to send OMG as much business as I can so I don’t lose another manufacturer that I love.

This past Sunday I decided to throw on some of the new clothes and shoot some photos; but pictures of me just standing around in outfits isn’t of much use to me beyond this blog, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do some jumping shots I could have more fun with. Little did I know how fabulous these clothes would be when they are in motion! Sure, I knew they were made to move and flow, but they created such amazing shapes I almost jumped myself to exhaustion playing around with it all. If you’ve followed my blog or Flickr page at all, you know how much I love using fabric in my movement photos to create interesting shapes, but most of the things I wear in those photos aren’t things I’d be caught dead in day to day. With OMG I have finally found a clothing line that works wonderfully in jump shots but that can also be worn out of the house! Heavenly.

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Yep – right after the shutter snapped that shoe hit the ceiling

Those pants are called the Ida pant and they are a new style to the store. I about died when I saw these, as I’d seen pants like them all over the Lagenlook boards I’ve been following on Pinterest, but as I mentioned last time, usually this stuff is pretty expensive. The Ida pant is only $63, though, so they were really affordable. They are amazing, and in spite of their general craziness they look great on; not bizarre at all, just interesting, and almost like a skirt if you don’t look closely at them. Comfortable and fun and no one else I know is going to have a pair of these. Moving on.

The top is called Vanna and I have two of them; as I mentioned earlier, OMG’s tops can often be big on me, and even when altered their slouchiness can weigh me down and make me look like I’m drowning in clothes, so a top like this is perfect for me. A flowier top balances my skinny torso out with my bigger hips, and this one with the cropped length gives me a waistline. It’s also very easy to wear; like most of OMG it’s a throw-it-on-and-go affair.

Some of their items, though, are not so convenient:

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PS – I had NO makeup on during this shoot as I’d spent the whole day in the pool, so I thought some funky glasses would detract from that. Not sure if it did or not.

OK, this is another new piece from them called Jeane; they call it a dress but it’s actually more like harem-pant overalls. Some of you know how much I love overalls and have been lamenting their lack of cool-factor since the 90’s, so a combination harem pant and overall seemed to be a slam dunk for me. However, the entire jumper is resting on those tiny little straps, which are basically shoestrings that tie in the back, and they are not up to the job, in my opinion. First of all, I despise anything that ties in the back (bathing suits come to mind; I love the look of a halter-style bathing suit top but they almost ALL tie at the neck and I just can’t stand that. And yes, I’ve been looking at a lot of bathing suits lately, too) and secondly, those skinny little straps don’t feel resilient to me at all. Plus, the first time I washed this one of the straps came ‘unthreaded’ (not sure what else to call it) and I had to use tweezers to force it back through, so they are not secure at all. I started to send this one back, but then I took these photos and realized how amazing the whole thing is, so I took it to the tailor and asked her to replace the shoestrings with something more sturdy that I would not have to tie. I don’t think I can get the straps in the same green, but I told her black would also be fine.

See what I mean, though, about the pictures proving that I really need to keep this piece? It takes some amazing photos – only one of which I’ve had time to edit (trust me there’s more):

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My eyes went really wonky in this shot, so I ended up actually copying the left one and pasting it over the right one, then flipping it horizontally. I still look weird here, but not nearly as weird as I did before. Sorryboutit.

The shoe match here was great; those are from Urban Outfitters and are always on sale two for $20. I have a ton of them and find uses for them all the time, aside from photos (I learned long ago that bare feet are not the business for jumping shots unless you have pretty ones and can point your toes well; shoes make for a more flattering photo without the distracting dragon toes or, in my case, super-long skinny feet that look awkward). This was one piece people at the tailor’s place today were really freaking over how cute it is. Really unique; I just hope she can fix the straps to make it more manageable.

And while I’m thinking about it, I want to link here to another fabulous clothing discovery I recently made: Sleevey Wonders. I’ve always hated having to wear full-length tops under sleeveless dresses and things, but I also am not a big fan of sleeveless things (I just like being more covered than not; I’m not modest, I just think covered arms are prettier). Sleevey Wonders give you, well, sleeves, without the bulky top attached. Brilliant! They aren’t cheap, but for me they’re worth it. So far I have a blue mesh one and a white jersey, and I’m going to be picking up an ivory one soon. I wear the two I already have all the time – including in the pictures above. Moving on.

Now this next item is also unusual, and I was uncertain whether or not I’d like it, but in the end I’m glad I tried it out:

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This is a color I’d generally never wear, but OMG is having a sale of discontinued colors right now that’s up to 50% off, and I couldn’t bring myself to buy this in a more wearable color (for me, anyway) and pay twice as much. So, chartreuse it is. I paired it with a pair of Chico’s Black Label satin cargo pants and a long-sleeved tee from Ann Taylor Loft, and bingo – I really like this look. It’s especially nice how well all this stuff goes with so much of what’s already in my closet – it’s not my first time at the artsy-flowy-fashions rodeo, people. Remember my Free People obsession of about a year ago? Most of what I bought from there works great with this stuff too, so my wardrobe has literally doubled over the past three weeks. It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s all good. This can also be worn on it’s own as a dress, by the way.

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Also good for leapin’ – YEP!

Speaking of overwhelming, I had to quit editing outfit shots after these last two, but believe me, there’s more where this came from.

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The hair is Laine by Rene of Paris, by the way

The top here is called Lynn, and it’s a narrower cut that didn’t require alterations for me. They also make a short-sleeved version of this called Grace that is great under other things. The whole line has some really interesting hemlines – there’s lots of angles and asymmetry that makes layering really eye-catching. The pants are pretty fabulous – they’re called the Osprey and I kept resisting buying them, because the price was around $85 and I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much when the sale pants were around $30 – finally they also went on sale and I snatched up two pair (in this color, called Fig, and also in Bone). I will say these pants looked AWFUL right out of the box, and I thought I’d made a mistake until I washed and dried them and they fell into place. The shoes, by the way, are another pointy-toed flat slide from Free People that I bought recently – so comfy and so unique with the shiny fabric. Love them.

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Simon is also impressed

I have a lot of really fantastic jumping shots to process later, and more outfits for a future post, but I did want to go ahead and show off some of this stuff now. I think I’ve calmed down on the purchasing for awhile, but I definitely plan to go back often and add to my collection when I can. Dressing has been so much fun the past few weeks, and I think you can see why – this stuff was made for me. And comfy, and easy to clean (machine wash and dry), and affordable! Love.

I’ve also got some self-portraits to share that I’ve edited recently, but I’ll upload those later. For now, enjoy the rest of the week, and I hope you have as much fun getting out of bed and putting on clothes as I do!

Blogenlook

OK, that title is gonna seem so awesome in a second, I swear.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve become obsessed with a certain designer and it’s where my money’s been going the past few weeks. I want to talk about it here since it’s on my mind at the moment, but I’m going to have to do it without sharing any pictures of myself in the new clothes I’ve acquired. Bummer, but I haven’t had time to take photos yet – I will do so soon and share a few outfits in another post in the near future, I promise! Moving on.

It’s not so much a designer I’ve become enchanted by as it is a manufacturer, I think – and the manufacturer relates to a certain “look” I discovered a few weeks ago called Lagenlook, which is German for “layered look.” How I discovered it was rather random, as these things often are; my husband and I got into an HBO show called “Grace and Frankie,” which stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston. The show can be twee and sitcom-y. but come on, how often do you get to see a sitcom with awesome 70-year-old actors in the starring roles? I’ll take the twee since it comes with the awesome, and fortunately Doug agreed. We had fun binge-watching Season 1, and I became obsessed with Lily Tomlin’s attire as the hippie-dippy Frankie.

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OMG I WANT THAT SWEATER. AND THAT NECKLACE. And also, GREAT wig. 

Some of her outfits were too crunchy and bizarre for me, but more often than not she was trouncing around (stoned, usually) in stuff I just loved. Then one night Frankie wore this awesome, bubble-hemmed pinafore-style linen funky number, with some baggy pants underneath it, and a blue mesh long-sleeved top underneath all that, and I finally just said to myself, that’s it. I have to find out where she’s getting all this cool stuff. I went on a Google search to find out (and yeah, I was bummed when I asked my husband which of these two women I’d be when I was in my seventies, and he said, “duh, Jane Fonda.” Which personality-wise, is totally true, because there’s no way I’d ever take peyote or smoke dope and meditate my blues away and Fonda’s character is the one that wants everything to be exactly like she wants it or she gets pissed off, so yeah. But I don’t want Grace’s wardrobe – although holy hell Fonda looks freaking AMAZING) .

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Hee hee – okay, not this so much

Frankie’s style on the show reminded me so much of another company with clothes I used to love called CP Shades. I’m not sure how I discovered them, but soon after I did they made up my entire wardrobe. Their stuff was mostly washable linen, with some rayon thrown in here and there and velvet during the holiday season, and it was all big, loose, flowy, and very relaxed. And, it was pretty expensive. Back in the early 2000’s, when I discovered them and started wearing their stuff, $98 was a hell of a lot for a pair of pants; even though I’d still rather not pay that much for them now, it certainly isn’t as unheard of to me as it was back then. But still, I’d suck it up and pay because I loved them so freaking much, and their clothing was well-made and would last forever (and was also made in the USA at their own factory in CA). They’d have huge sales twice a year where everything in the one store that existed in Houston would be, like, twenty-five bucks, and me and everyone else in the city, it seemed, would line up outside at five in the morning and wait to rush the store as soon as the doors opened so we could all stock up.

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Ads from the 90’s, I think

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Now, the one little store my city had was in the richest area of town (River Oaks, you know – where they filmed Terms of Endearment, and where the notorious murderer Robert Durst lived), and it was generally a slightly older clientele than my age at the time  (I’ll never forget the time I was trying things on at the same time a woman in her late 60’s was in there buying a TON of linen items, all in white, and when I asked her if she didn’t get nervous wearing all that white clothing, she responded ‘oh no, I just wear all this when I garden. That way when it gets dirty I can throw it in the wash with some bleach and I’m good to go.’ We’re talking at least five or six hundred dollars worth of clothes she was buying – to wear while she worked in the dirt in her backyard! I was duly impressed). I was in my early thirties, and I was generally about 10 years younger than most of the women spending money in that store – but I didn’t care. Well, I cared about the high price point, but about the fact that most of the women buying these clothes were a little older than me, I didn’t care about that at all. Because I was in clothing heaven. It was all so comfy, and it was all long and oversized, and it all FLOWED. Anyone who’s seen my photos knows how obsessed I am with long, flowy fabrics and fluid shapes, and CP Shades had that in spades.

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Sadly though, the company, I suppose, had overextended themselves, and the downturn the economy took after 9/11 did them in. They managed to stay open until about 2004 or ’05, when they shut down all but their original stores in California and even – much to my dismay – shut down their online site where I could buy online. For the next few years I could find stuff on eBay, but eventually that dwindled down to nothing, and I did my best to forget they ever existed since it was impossible to get their stuff for quite awhile. I never did totally quit looking for them online, but over the years their styles have changed quite a bit, and their prices have gone even higher, so they’re no longer making anything I want to wear or pay for even when I do find a site online carrying their new stuff. It’s mostly plaid button-ups now, from what I’ve seen, instead of the lovely kurta tops and tunics they used to sell.

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You can’t really see it here, but she has on this blue dress that’s amazing, with a longer black and white striped skirt underneath. So cool.

Fast-forward to Grace and Frankie. I found exactly one online interview with the costume designer for the show, and she threw out a couple of names as references for Frankie’s style. I looked those names up, and although they were all very obscure European designers with astronomical prices, somehow I eventually drilled down to a very affordable option – a store called Oh My Gauze, which specializes in, you guessed it, gauze clothing. And, the prices were really affordable. Oh joy! They even had a sale going on when I found them, and so I bought a ton of stuff for around $30 per piece, on average. I don’t think the photos on their website really do their clothing justice – they’re small and awkward and not put together to show entire outfits as much as individual pieces, which doesn’t give the right effect – but there are lots of other photos out there that show them off nicely:

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I bought this dress in brown

I also discovered the term Lagenlook, which I’ve used to start up a Pinterest board where I’ve collected some of my favorite photos so far; as you can see, when they say it’s a “layered look,” they mean it – pants under dresses, shirts under other shirts, long-ass vests over long-ass skirts – and yeah, I know. It’s kinda crazy, and borderline weird, and possibly frumpy, and WAY too much if not done properly. When I wore this stuff back in my CP Shades days, there were some people who hated it terribly, and thought that I was dressing “old.” This is a style that is usually called “artsy,” and I guess it’s associated with women of “a certain age,” but I’ve never given a damn about that and I’m not likely to start now. I freaking love this stuff, and I’m thrilled to see and know that it’s an actual style with a name and everything.  Besides, I’m probably the age now that those “older” women were back when I shopped at CP Shades anyway. Believe it or not, I actually think it’s all quite lovely. It’s definitely more common in Europe than in the states, but I was always able to pull it off fairly well, and even now I’ve gotten compliments on what I’ve worn so far. I do have to be careful not to take it to the level of costume, but I’m a pretty good self-editor when it comes to clothing, and I think for the most part I can pull it off like I did before. The dresses are my biggest love right now – which is interesting, since I generally do not wear dresses at all, and stick to straight-leg jeans or pants. But I find these dresses so unique and interesting and yes, pretty, that I can’t get enough of them right now. Even if they keep throwing pants under them in the pictures.

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As I said, I just started getting my stuff in the mail, and I am still trying to figure it all out as far as how it’s best for me to wear, and what works best on my frame, but I do want to take some of my own photos eventually. And that last photo was just posted on OMG’s Facebook page a few days ago, as a new style dress they don’t even have up for sale on the site yet, and it’s called – this has to be a sign – the Planet Cynthia Dress, so yeah, More purchases are coming for me soon.

In Stitches (Stitch Fix Pix)

Hey everyone! I’ve not done much in the way of photography, and haven’t done anything relating to wigs (in fact, I went ahead and sold the last wig I bought to review – Stevie by Amore in Chocolate Frost – because I knew someone who wanted it and it was going to take me way too long to get it filmed) because I’m knee deep in work at the moment. But, in a good way. I’m enjoying things so far and finally feel like I’ve got my groove back after going back to work three years ago. Had no idea it would take this long, but whatever. At least the worst is behind me.

However, I did get a new Fix in the mail last week, and Sunday afternoon I finally got a chance to take some quick photos. I do mean quick – I had no makeup on in these shots but did my best to add some in Photoshop, so while I look a little weird, at least my face isn’t naked (Sunday was the first day in awhile that I didn’t have anywhere to be, so I just wasn’t in the mood to put on my face). I not only kept the entire Fix this time, but I upped my shipment frequency from once a month to every 2-3 weeks; Stitch Fix has become the main way I buy clothes now and I hardly ever go out clothes shopping anymore, so I figure why not get my Fixes on a more regular basis. Because why spend money on clothes once a month when you spend more often? I knew you’d understand.

This Fix had a maxi skirt, two sweaters, a circle scarf, and a button-down top. Both of the sweaters were beige, which immediately made me think of Susan Sarandon’s character in The Banger Sisters:

Aside from that, I really like beige sweaters, so I kept them both. I won’t be able to wear them until November, probably, except that every building I walk into, including the school where I work, is always freezing, so I can at least carry them around and throw them on from time to time. Here’s the first one:

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Collective Concepts Wulf Open Cardigan, Gilli Allison Printed Maxi Skirt, Ann Taylor Loft Woven Hem Tank in Seafoam, Necklace by Free People, Seville by Noriko wig in Macadamia-LR. “Fang” Double Buckle Flatform sandals (which you can’t really see) by TopShop.

The Allison maxi skirt is also from Stitch Fix; it’s the typical Gilli knit with that awful fold-over waistband that I can’t stand but have learned to tolerate because it’s unavoidable (unless you are tucking in your shirt or wearing a crop top, it just makes your waist look bigger; seriously I don’t get the appeal); aside from that it’s great. It’s very long, and comfortable, and the print is terrific. It’s got a slight A-line so even with my pear shape I can pull it off. The Wulf cardigan sweater is a fairly open-weave knit that’s pretty light and definitely comfortable. Yeah, it’s beige, but I’m sure I’ll wear this one a ton. It also looks interesting from the back:

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I’m not sure what happened to my face here – Photoshop, what can I say. 

Next up is a little top I almost sent back, then decided to keep so I could get the 25% discount. I’m not a huge button-down fan, but tops like this are good for work so what the hell.

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Fun2Fun Mallorca Henley Top; Ribbon Skirt by Athleta; “Fang” Double Buckle Flatform sandals by TopShop; necklace from Stella & Dot; “Stream” wig by Ellen Wille in Flame Lighted.

The Mallorca top has a pretty narrow cut and it’s a little short on me; it has a shirttail hem that shows my skin on the sides if I lift my arms; the neckline is also a little low for work so I’ll wear a cami underneath it to remedy both issues. It’s a nice print, though, and will go with everything, and although it’s very light it’s not see-through, so you could go without the cami if you wanted to. Due to the narrow fit, it’s a bit hard to get off and on unless you undo the buttons, which I hate doing – my long stiletto nails are fabulous but not very practical for shirt-buttoning. Moving on.

Here’s the other beige sweater:

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RD Style Calandra Side Button Hooded Poncho; Alzora Zig Zag Infinity Scarf; Leggings by Hue; Hopewell Moccasin by Free People in Brown; Angelica wig by Noriko in Macadamia-LR. Also, enjoy a rare sighting of my headless cat, Simon – appearances from him are rare, since, as you can imagine, he has a hard time getting around. 

The Hooded Poncho has a bit of an acrylic-sweater feel, but it’s lightweight so it’s not too bad. In fact, it’s so light I thought it might need a cami underneath, but I don’t think it’s quite light enough to be see-through; it’s probably fine without one. The infinity scarf is fabulous; I love the colors and the print, but it’s pretty heavy sweater material and I couldn’t get it to look right doubled and just wore it long. I’ll have to work on that. Plus, it’s August in Texas and hot as hell, so between the sweater and the wig I was already sweltering and couldn’t stand the idea of wrapping any more of that scarf around my neck. Those shoes are fabulous, by the way – Free People still sells them and I’m considering getting two more pair since they’ve come out with some new colors.

All in all, a nice Fix to start of the school year, with a bunch of keepers this time around. We’ll see what the next 2-3 weeks brings…I think I’m due for another box around September 3rd.

Batting an Eye(lash)

Well, we can add a new chapter to my never-ending quest for frivolous, over-priced beauty enhancements. But this time, the results were less than impressive; in fact, they were almost disastrous. Because this time, I decided to try out getting eyelash extensions.

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Pretty much the only way I’ll wear extensions again

Usually I have good luck with these sorts of procedures, but of course, I usually do my homework and read up on the possible complications ahead of time so I can make an informed decision. When I finally decided to perm my hair last summer, it was with full awareness that I might fry it to hell and back, or end up looking like a deranged poodle; I’d weighed my options long enough to feel comfortable with whatever outcome I might encounter. I’d also researched the steps needed to provide me with the best chance of success – don’t go cheap, ask questions of the hairstylist and be sure he or she did perms regularly, have a consultation first, etc. I did the same amount of research before getting Botox, or fillers (only did that once and didn’t care for it), or hell, even highlighting my hair a month ago. I know the risks, and I know what to expect when I sit down in a stylist’s chair or doctor’s table. So, while I may not get the results I’m hoping for, at least I’m not surprised by what transpires.

However – about a week ago I read an account from someone I know who’d gotten eyelash extensions, and although I’d heard of them I’d never considered them before. But hers looked so wonderful, and I’d never been able to make glue-on falsies work on me, that it gave me the itch to try them. Remember that word itch, ’cause it’s important later on.

I did do some Googling about them, and mostly read pro-and-con type blog posts about how great they looked, but also how time-consuming and expensive they can be to maintain. Well hell, maintenance isn’t such a big hassle to me if it’s something I really want, so after a few hours of reading I decided to book an appointment at my regular salon to give them a go. My nail salon is a pretty upscale place, so I felt confident that I’d be getting a qualified technician to do the job. The price also indicated professionalism – $200 for a full set, and about $75 for each refill.

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The technician was incredibly booked, so I snagged the only upcoming appointment I could get, which was a Tuesday at 5 PM. This just so happened to be two days before school started up for the fall semester, so I knew I’d be really busy, but the thought of having lovely, fabulous lashes for my first day of teaching (the day we also take photos for the yearbook and our staff IDs) was appealing enough for me to set that time aside.

I met with the nail tech, and we discussed maintaining the lashes and what to expect during the procedure. I mentioned to her that my eyes could be sensitive, but usually weren’t, and she told me it was normal to feel a little burn from the glue while the lashes were being applied,  but if the burn turned into real pain I needed to let her know. I agreed to do so, then laid down on the table under a bright light, so she could get to work.

Now – here comes the first part of this process that I had not anticipated: in order to ensure that none of my lower lashes accidentally got stuck to the upper ones, they had to be covered with a pad. After mashing the lower lashes under the pad, which is done by pushing it right up against the waterline, I was to close my eyes so the technician was working with only my upper lashes, which would be resting on top of the white eyepad. However, we had to try six times to get the pad to fit under my eye in a manner that didn’t cause me great discomfort and irritation, as well as making my eyelids flutter and water instead of staying closed.

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It was at this point I realized that hey, I really did kinda jump into this without doing my research, because I never get surprised by a part of the process when I try out cosmetic enhancements like this. And this time, I just didn’t bother to do good homework, because I never even saw this coming. How anyone can keep their eyes closed while mashed down on what felt like a piece of paper pushed up against the waterline is beyond me, but the technician said most women don’t have a problem with it. I really was thinking that if I’d known I’d be lying on my back for two hours with pads shoved into my eyes I would have re-thought the entire procedure, but there I was, so I decided to soldier on.

My eyes never did stop watering, not once during the two hours I was getting each individual synthetic lash attached to a real one. I also noticed that I was far less relaxed, and much more chatty in nonsensical, nervous kind of way, than I usually am. I was also wiggly, and uncomfortable, and very nervous – again, not my usual demeanor when doing stuff like this. And the eyes watered on, and yes, they did burn, but that tingly little burn you sometimes get when you apply regular lash glue, the kind that irritates a little but stops when the glue dries, and isn’t that big of a deal.

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The last 45 minutes, though, were pure torture. I was thinking things like, OMG I am going to have to insist that she stop now, and asking her repeatedly how much longer we had to go. I was even apologizing constantly for being one of “those” clients who spent the entite time on the table whining and nattering on. It was just…weird, and I kept visualizing the woman sneezing or something and sticking me right in the eye with her little needle. In short, I was freaking out.

When she was finally done and showed me the results in the mirror, I was awestruck. The lashes were gorgeous. I was so pleased I managed to convince myself that my red-ringed eyes would calm down, just as she told me they would, and that the fact these gorgeous lashes felt a bit like pine needles scratching my lids would subside, but once again, I was really doubtful, and nervous, in a manner I am usually not. several times I asked her if they were supposed to feel this way, and she reassured me once again that different people experience different level of discomfort at first, but that in an hour or so it should be fine. She did tell me to be sure and come back in if I wanted them removed, and not to do so at home.

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I must admit, they were gorgeous. For about an hour.

To make this already too-long story shorter: I was uncomfortable all evening, and even swallowed a few Benadryl to try and relieve the swollen lids and itchy eyes; but when it came time for bed I found it too uncomfortable to close my eyes. I could just feel those suckers poking at me and scratching my skin.  Then I made what may or may not have been the worst mistake of the night: I Googled “lash extensions irritation” and was bombarded immediately with images of women sporting puffy, swollen-shut eyes, and reading horror story after horror story about the dangers of the procedure.

Normally, even when something doesn’t go the way I would have liked, I accept that and move on in whatever way I must do; this time, I went into a complete panic. My heart was racing, I hyperventilated, I got dizzy and terrified. I calmed myself down by making plans: OK, in the morning if you’re really swollen, you can call in sick and get to a doctor or back to the salon right away, if you’re just still feeling a bit off you can make it through the day and then decide, or maybe you’ll just wake up with these gorgeous lashes and the irritation will have gone away. By running through the options in my mind, I finally calmed myself down enough to fall asleep around 12:30. But then, at 1 AM, I leapt up out of the bed with distinct feeling that my throat was closing up. It was so intense that without even fully waking I ran out of the bedroom into the den where my husband was still up watching TV, panting at him with what little breath I had left that…well, that nothing, because by the time I made it into the den the sensation had stopped, and while I could breathe again, I was panting like a madwoman and clawing at my own chest like I still thought I might die.

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I muttered something to Doug about a bad dream, and some mascara I couldn’t wash off (I didn’t tell him about getting the extensions for no real reason except that it didn’t come up, and in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t because he would have given me hell for weeks if he’d known, in light of what happened). I remembered that the technician had said not to get the lashes wet for 48 hours, so I figured that meant it would break down the glue and the lashes might come off; straight to the bathroom sink I went to stick my face in handful after handful of cold water and slowly rub those suckers off. In my Googling before falling asleep I’d read that anything oil-based might also cause them to fall off, so I used both some oil-based makeup remover AND olive oil from the kitchen to weaken the glue further (Doug did not even ask why I dashed into the kitchen for a bottle of olive oil to take with me into the bathroom, which leads me to believe he thought I was experiencing some sort of bizarre sleepwalking episode he didn’t want to interrupt).

It only took about ten minutes, but I managed to snap off every single one of those $200 worth of false lashes – along with most of my natural ones. My eyes were red, puffy, itchy, and ugly as hell all the next day, but honestly I did not even care. The five hours I had those lashes glued on were the most beautiful and excruciating hours of the life of my damn eyes, and I would have done anything after that horrid panic attack to get them off. I managed to get back to sleep around 2:30, then had to get up at 6 AM for work – let me tell you, I looked a hot damn mess that day, but again, I did not even care, because I have never been so relieved to get rid of false eyelashes in my life. I kid you not when I say that I thought those things were going to kill me.

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So, it’s off to bed I go again, so I can get up for the first day of school tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be able to put some makeup on my eyes tomorrow to conceal the lack of lashes, but if not, I’ll just show them the picture of how great I looked for about an hour before it all came crashing down. Let me be a warning to you people – don’t get lazy about doing your research before getting anything done, no matter how simple and harmless it might appear to be. And trust your instincts, not your technician! If it doesn’t feel right, just get on up and tell them no thanks. Your eyelashes will thank you for it later.

PS: I typed this up really fast, so I apologize for typos and lack of clarity or eloquence. I think I’m still shaking off the effects of my brush with death. I also realize the pictures are cheesy, but again, I was in a hurry.

Grin and Hair It

I posted this briefly yesterday, but it was too whiny, so I am trying again this morning. I know there are a lot of people who follow my blog and have hair loss, so I am going to apologize upfront about this post to all of you: I am going to complain about my bio hair  I don’t have hair loss, and I realize it must be obnoxious to hear women without hair loss complain about their perfectly good bio hair, but I am still frustrated, so I apologize for being obnoxious about this.

In fact, I think wigs have spoiled me a bit when it comes to dealing with my own hair. I always wore my hair pixie-short, until I started wearing long wigs; then I realized oh wow, I can look really good in long hair! So, I started growing mine out. I’ve spent several years doing it, too, and all along I’ve been telling myself that when it gets to some certain, magical, future length – it will start to look as awesome as, say, Angelica, or even something more tame like Star Quality. The reason it didn’t look amazing yet was simply that it hadn’t gotten long enough.

Except that, it really is a length now where if it was going to look amazing, it would by now, and it doesn’t. It’s not horrible, but it is baby fine, and it’s limp. It’s hair that would definitely look better if it were shorter than it currently is. So, okay. I have fine, limp hair, that would look much better short but I am not yet willing to cut all this length I’ve worked so hard to get (if not cutting one’s hair for five years can be considered hard work). So I don’t like that my shoulder-length hair looks flat instead of full and has no bounce, but I can accept it for now to keep some length and have something different for awhile.

But, my hair is also very dark, and I know from my wig wearing that I look better with lighter hair – so surely that’s something chemicals can correct, yes? So, Tuesday I went to a hair appointment that I’d been looking forward to for a week, because I was going to say to hell with keeping my hair natural and color it to death. I found loads of beautiful photos of caramel-and-blonde highlighted brunettes, showed them to my stylist, and we set to work. Allow me here to show you the photo that best represents what I was hoping for – color only, obviously:

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And by the way, yes, that does look like a rather complex collection of colors on one head, but this stylist is one I’ve known for at least ten years, and although I have not colored my hair in the past five, when I was coloring my hair all the time she is who I used. She was always very skilled with color and my hair came out at least this amazing every time, if not more so. She put some fantastic colors on my hair over the years. Moving on.

It took about 45 minutes just to get all the dye slathered on, and about 30 minutes later we washed it out. I am blind as a bat without my glasses, and of course I take my glasses off while my hair is being cut and colored, so I didn’t get the big reveal until everything was over two hours after sitting down in her chair. Allow me to show you first what my hair looked like before the cut and color:

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And now, the after:

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Yeah, you’re seeing that correctly. It looks exactly the same.

Since my hair was virgin hair (no dye or other chemicals), my stylist believed she could treat it like hair that had never been colored before, and go easy on, I dunno, whatever it is colorists go easy on when dying virgin hair. And it did not take at all. So, she cut and styled it while I sat there blindly thinking everything was going according to plan, and it was a HUGE disappointment when I took my first look and saw not only the same color but what appeared to be the same cut as well.

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I actually don’t think the cut is too far off, really; the model is probably 21 years old at most, with much fuller hair, so something may have just gotten lost in translation to my baby-fine mop and it didn’t do anything to give it a boost. And hair dye often changes the texture of fine hair and makes it more coarse, so it has added body, and I guess since the dye didn’t take I didn’t get any benefit from that either. So this was seriously disappointing all around. But, I’m going back Friday so we can try again, so this will all be corrected soon.

Anyway – the point of all this? Is that I had NO IDEA how surreal it would be to sit in a salon chair for two hours with no inkling of what’s going on only to finally see the results and be starting back at THE EXACT SAME PERSON I was before you sat down. It was so bizarre, I actually looked around for the hidden cameras. Where did all that hair dye go? What was all that snipping and blowdrying about? Am I dreaming? Have I gone insane? Granted, it would have been much worse to see the big reveal and have it be fried, or bright orange, or cut up over my ears on one side, but that is at least a story we’ve all heard before, and have probably experienced ourselves once or twice. This? Was just too freaky for words. And I couldn’t help but over-analyze, just a bit, why it was so disappointing to look into a mirror and just see me. Sheesh, what a downer! I mean, it was only because I was so built up to see something different, but still. I had to check in with my self-esteem for a minute to be sure I wasn’t suddenly spiraling into self-hate. But no, I just wanted pretty highlights, and I didn’t get them; I think my self-esteem is still OK.

Anyway, I’m looking forward now to Friday, when I get to do this whole process over again and, hopefully, come out the other side with a different look. Shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll see how it goes.

Curly Planet

Before I got called out of town Saturday, I’d made an appointment at a new salon in the city called Planet Curls. I’ve known about the salon for awhile, but never made an appointment before because it’s about 50 miles from my house, and I am much too spoiled by the suburbs to deal with traffic and bad city parking on a regular basis. But since I’m not actually getting my hair cut frequently (I get a trim every three months) and I had no other options, I figured if I was going to try out someone completely new I might as well make it someone who is good at cutting curly hair. As a bonus, Gerri, the owner of the salon who did my cut, also knows how to give perms, so I figured she’d be good to know in the future if I decide to get another one. But since it turned out I was in a hurry to get the cut done and get on the road to Hallettsville, I didn’t take such great pictures (Gerri has a little dog that follows her all over the salon, for example, and in my rush to get out of there I forgot to take a picture of it. Boo).

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View of the street in front of the salon, and a little glimpse of the front porch – the phone camera focused more on the screen that I thought it would. Oops.

I read up on the salon before booking the appointment, so I knew I wanted an early slot as Gerri spends a lot of time with each client and by mid-day tends to be running late (this is what a lot of her reviews said), so I grabbed a 9 AM spot to get ahead of that, and then showed up about ten minutes early. As I suspected, the parking lot was small and the area is prone to traffic, so getting there early is definitely a must for me even if my stylist doesn’t tend to run late (nothing rattles my nerves more than bad city parking). The salon is an old house and is very small and quaint, which made me a little nervous – I tend to prefer big, busy salons to small quiet ones, so i can blend in and be more anonymous (in a small salon like this, everyone can hear each other’s conversations, and I get a little self-conscious about that. Weird I know). Plus, there’s usually not a decent waiting area and you end up crammed into the odd chair here and there waiting for your stylist…I am a spoiled little princess, it’s true. Anyway, getting there at 9 AM took care of that too, because there were only a few other people in the salon while I was there.

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The hair-drying area doubles as the waiting area – yep, it’s a small salon!

Gerri is a devotee of Lorraine Massey, who wrote the Curly Girl book and created most of the products I use, and actually trained with her, so I was interested to see how she did with my hair. I knew that Massey always recommended cutting curly hair dry, to avoid cutting too much off when wet that would then shrink up after the hair is dried, and that is how Gerri cut mine. Massey also says you should take the cut curl by curl, being very careful at what point in the wave pattern of each curl that you snip to avoid those curls that stick out like horns. Sure enough, Gerri just sort of snipped away at individual curls while we chatted – she was friendly and just opinionated enough to earn my trust. I don’t like stylists that insist their way is the only way, but I do want one that will give their honest opinion of what I should do with my hair. Gerri had that nice balance; she agreed with me that my hair will look good a bit longer and encouraged me to keep growing it, but she disagreed with some of my styling choices and explained why she thought I should try to do some things differently. Not pushy, but confident, and accepting when I disagreed. Perfect.

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Here are some of the tips and suggestions Gerri made while she worked on my hair:

  • Even though I so far have not been able to stand it, I should continue to strive for not washing my hair every day. To her logic, my hair should look better on day 2 or 3 after washing because “it has more product in it,” which is exactly why I’ve always thought my hair looks worse! She gave me suggestions for how to style day 2 hair and even used her own as an example, wetting her hair down and putting more product in it like it was no big deal – OMG I’d never do this at 10 AM after already styling my hair for the day! But to her it was nothing to just put more in. So, I’ll work on that.
  • I am a bit too focused on having perfect curl definition and it’s making me dissatisfied with my hair when I shouldn’t be. So, let some of that go and move on.
  • Put all products in my hair after washing when the hair is still dripping wet. I’ve never done this; in fact, I’ve always thought my hair should be semi-dry before putting product in it, and have always let each product “settle” for 10 minutes or so before putting the next one in. Gerri just put them all on at the same time, one after the other, without even towel-drying my hair first, so I’ve been doing it that way too since the haircut and I think it does make a difference.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase to reduce the amount of frizz generated in my hair at night while I sleep. I’ve read this recommendation in the Curly Girl books before and just always forget to try it. I’ve got some pillowcases on order, but they are not in my possession yet.

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Gotta love having loads of reading material to choose from while you wait

We also disagreed (in a friendly way) about some of the products I’ve tried and liked/disliked. Here’s where we differed:

  • She was very surprised I liked Mirror Curls, and felt it wasn’t made for hair of my texture and type. But, since I expressed such love for it, she put some in my hair anyway.
  • She thinks Set It Free is an ideal product for my hair, whereas I’ve never been that impressed with it. Based on her recommendation, I’m giving it another chance.
  • She felt the Dry Shampoo probably was too oily for my hair and would weigh it down, and didn’t recommend I use it to get through no-shampoo days. I rather liked the effect of using it as a refresher, but I can see what she means about it being oily.
  • She wasn’t surprised by my dislike of Set Up & Above, agreeing that it tends to make hair pouf out more as the day goes by. But she did say I could try just applying a bit of it to the roots for volume.
  • She was very surprised by my hatred of Heaven in Hair, but didn’t get much into it. Maybe she could sense by my tone that I was not to be persuaded otherwise.
  • The ArcAngel gel that I tried and wasn’t impressed by, in spite of its rave reviews, she also felt wasn’t a good choice for my hair type. She used a bit of gel called Ulta Defining Hold and I liked the way it worked for me, so I’ve ordered that one (of course – should have bought some at the salon but I forgot).

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Cool chandelier. Enough said.

Some things happened during my Curly Girl Cut that I didn’t expect – after the dry cut, she then took me into the shampoo area and gave my hair a good wash (wish I’d known that was going to happen; thinking that I would get a dry cut and then be on my way for the day, I washed my hair the night before and styled it that morning). It was after the shampoo that she loaded up my hair with product by having me lean my head over my knees and scrunching everything in. Then she did something I really didn’t expect – she had me sit under one of these for about 20 minutes:

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Old-school hair-dyer!

The only other time I’ve sat under one of these was, I think, when I got my perm; it was a surprise to me but it made sense, because this way I could get my hair dry without disturbing the curls at all. I liked the idea so much, while I was sitting there I got on the Amazon.com app I have on my iPhone and found a portable one I could buy for about $40. So yeah, I guess I’ll be reviewing that some time soon. She also did a much better job pinning the crown of my hair for lift than I could ever do (I still pretty much suck at doing this):

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Look at all those pins! No way I could do this myself.

After I came out from under the dryer, I was ready to go. I asked her when I should come back for a trim and she said four months, to which I promptly replied I’d come back in three so I’m not sure why I bothered to ask her in the first place. Moving on. I also said at that time I’d want to discuss the possiblity of another perm, and she was game, so that’s nice. She did say, however, in response to my statement (made here many times) that I wished I’d gotten a tighter curl initially, that it probably wouldn’t have mattered if I’d tried to get tighter curls and my hair would most likely have come out looking the same way. She was surprised when I told her what a light wave I was actually going for based on how curly it turned out, and then said it was probably just that my fine hair really took to the perm and was going to look like this no matter what. She also did say it looked nice and Philippe (G-d rest his dear soul) did a good job – and she said my hair didn’t look too damaged, just had some dry ends. So yay, a nice curly haircut and possible perm-partner for later.

Here, then, was the end result:

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I can’t believe she got all that curl out of my hair without the help of a curling iron or even all that much styling; it was just the cut, lots of product, and the hair dryer that did it. Oh and all the pins in the top for lift. I will say as I went through the day the curls relaxed a bit and looked less “stiff,” and it also looked great the next day even after sleeping on it and putting zero product in it the next morning (because I was at my cousin’s and didn’t bring anything with me). However, I have not been able to re-create this look, and my hair looks more like it does in other recent pictures, just a touch shorter and springier. But perhaps when I get the portable hair dryer in I can pull this off. Anyway, it always takes me a few days to get used to styling my hair when it’s freshly cut, and I’ve only had one shot at it since Saturday.

In total, I was at the salon for about an hour and fifteen minutes; Gerri definitely took her time with me and did a great job. The cost wasn’t cheap – $80 before the tip – but when I’m only getting it cut once every three months that’s fine by me. I definitely plan to go back in December (already have my 9 AM appointment set up) and continue to grow this hair out a bit, as well as consider another perm in the future. Although, if I don’t perm again, Gerri can still be my stylist. Her own hair has just the slightest wave, but she still uses the  Curly Girl method on her hair, and she said a lot of her clients with curly hair actually straighten theirs too, so it’s not like I can’t keep going to her if my curls fade.

Mirror Curls = Miracle Curls! (for me, anyway)

Two completely trivial hair events happened last week almost simultaneously, and of the two of them I really thought the arrival of my Q-Redew hair steamer would be the more exciting development so I blogged about it first – because never let it be said that I won’t write about trivial matters here over subjects of substance. Sadly, that steamer thing turned out to be a bust – seems my hair doesn’t need more moisture right now, but that might change once winter arrives and the air turns dry. So, that $80 might still end up being well-spent if it helps me out once the humidity outside dies down. For now, though, all it did was make my already-frizzy hair frizz more.

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Exhibit A – volume yes, but also frizz, and not a lot of curl definition

I was in Ulta last weekend stocking up on No-Poo shampoo and spied a little sample bottle of DevaCurl’s Mirror Curls, and decided what the hell, since it was one of the few products by this line I still hadn’t tried. I’d always bypassed it because the reviews it gets on Amazon are sketchy, and it isn’t recommended for the type of curls I have. Plus, as the title implies, it’s primarily meant to add shine, and most shine-enhancing products leave my hair looking oily (since my hair has a tendency to be oily anyway). Certainly the Shine Spray I bought awhile back had that problem, but it was there and I was in the mood, so I gave it a go, along with DevaCurl’s Flexible Hold Hair Spray, which came in a small travel size, so I didn’t mind giving it a try.

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Mirror Curls looks like a serum when you pump it into your hand, but rub your palms together and it feels like syrup or glue – incredibly sticky. The first thing I discovered was that you need the tiniest bit of this stuff to work; I use less than a dime-sized amount for my shoulder-length hair. And although the directions say you can use this stuff on dry hair, I found that to be awful. But when I put it on my hair wet, it performs MIRACLES; excellent hold that retains curl definition without much frizz. I wash my hair at night and let it air-dry, so in the morning I have to re-wet it and use a diffuser to revitalize the curls, and adding Mirror Curls to my nightly routine has changed my hair overnight. People actually noticed how much more spring my hair had once I started using this stuff; it’s been pretty amazing.

Both of these pictures were taken in the same week, the first one on a day I didn’t use any of the Mirror Curls because I decided to play around with the Q-Redew instead and I wanted to see if it would give me a similar effect. They were also both taken at the end of the day, after I’d been out about and all morning and afternoon.

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Without using Mirror Curls

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With Mirror Curls – yep, it’s THAT good.

Finally I have fairly frizz-free curls with a lot of definition! It’s a tiny bottle that feels like a ripoff at $25, but I use so little of it, it works out. Of all the crap I’ve tried this summer for my permed hair, this is the tip-top, number-one ingredient in my opinion, the one I’ve noticed the most marked improvement when using. It’s made me love my perm again (I even took down the post I wrote a few weeks ago about regretting getting it done), so even though I just wrote a product review a few days ago, I had to share this one too, sorry. The hold also lasts all day – I’ve abandoned my long-loved KMS hair wax and started using the DevaCurl Flexible Hold instead, so I’m 100% Curly Girl method now (meaning so sulfates or silicones in any of my hair products).

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I’m also rather amazed at how much longer my hair looks than it did back in July, but perhaps that’s because the perm has relaxed?

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Right after my last haircut mid-July

I don’t know, it sure looks longer to me anyway. However, tomorrow I am going to a haircut appointment at a salon in the city that specializes in curly hair, so it may be shorter again soon. The salon uses the dry-cutting technique that Lorraine Massey recommends for curly hair, and I’ve never had that done, so I’m interested to see how this works out. As a plus, the woman who is cutting my hair also is experienced with perms, so I’m hoping I like her and she can be my next go-to stylist when and if I decide to perm my hair again. We’ll see how it works out!