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?

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!

Video Wig Review: Jenika by Escara in Toast Brown

UPDATE: This wig is currently $14.95 at Ebonyline. You’re welcome. 

In this video I couldn’t recall how much I paid for Jenika; turns out it was less than I thought! I found her for $30 on Amazon. I’m tempted to try her again in a different color for that price.

Unfortunately, although there are quite a few styles in this line I don’t like any of the other ones. It reminds me of the Mimosa line; another low-priced decent line of wigs that only has one style I like (Juniper). I’m not sure why some of these manufacturers make so many short wigs in the same exact style and then try to pass them off as different by being half in inch longer, or something else so minor it barely makes a difference. But I won’t complain too much since I’m really impressed with both the cap and the fiber on this $30 wig.

The color, Toast Brown, is WAY darker than I expected though. If I get another one I’ll do Choco Frost or Coconut Spice and see if it’s better. I’m a bit concerned the permatease is going to be an issue if the color is lighter, but for $30 it is probably worth finding out (I notice that on Amazon different colors are different prices, but they are all reasonable with nothing over $50).

Video Wig Review: Indie Waves by Forever Young in 8/12/14 BHL

Hm. I always want Forever Young wigs to be better than they are. Their photos are always so trendy and stylish, and they come up with such fun new looks, but the biggest problem I have with them is how damn THIN they are throughout the crown and back of the head.

From what I can tell this is due to the lack of permatease in their wigs. I think this is what keeps the cost down, because I’ve noticed the same thing in other less expensive lines; the problem is there’s just no way to generate enough thickness in this area without it – the wefts are just hanging there, and there’s no base beneath them to conceal them. I’m not sure what the solution is to this except to ignore it and not let it bother you; this wig is a bit lighter than my bio hair, but it’s close enough of a color match that if color matching were going to conceal the wefts by blending in with them, it would, and well, it doesn’t.

It’s a bummer, because I’m so over the prices of synthetics these days and constantly looking for cheaper options. As always, my conclusion is that for less expensive synthetics, short hair is the way to go. I still love my $30 Mary wig, and it doesn’t need any PT because there’s not enough hair to hang down from the wefts and get thin and noticeable. I’ve yet to find longer ones at a low price point that really work. They can be trendy and fun, for sure, but there’s no denying the thinness at the back of the head is an ongoing problem.

Ah well. Here’s Indie Waves anyway (and I have another Forever Young coming later). If any of you have solutions for the wefts being visible in the back, let us all know in the comments. 🙂

Video Wig Review: Leela by Sensationnel in DXR1376

I feel like Leela should look better on me than it does; the style is right for me, but I think the bangs and crown are too thick or something. It’s close but something’s a little off. Probably fixable, but I probably won’t bother.

The color is fun for sure, but not something I’d wear out of the house. As I mention in the video I can’t recall if I bought it knowing how it was going to look or not – sometimes I’m all about trying the funky stuff, but then again this doesn’t seem like a look I’d ever choose. Clair Hair shows a lot of the wigs in special colors on mannequin heads so you can see what they look like, but I can’t recall if this was one of the wigs where I got to see the color before ordering and I’m too lazy to go look.

Perhaps it’s the lack of PT in the crown that is throwing this one off on me; the lower-priced wigs usually don’t have it, and while that can  be a good thing I find it can often to lead to a lack of support and/or shape where it’s needed. Not sure. Maybe it’s just too think and it’s overwhelming me a little. Either way, it is a style and cut I usually like, and the price on it was really nice, so I’m OK with trying it out even if it didn’t work.

Video Wig Review: Pure Allure by Raquel Welch in R6/30H – Chocolate Copper

For some reason I kept confusing the Pure Allure with the Editor’s Pick and thinking it was HD fiber, which made me hesitate to buy it when I saw it on sale. It was a really good deal, though (barely over $100) so I finally bought it anyway, and was relieved to find that it wasn’t heat-friendly fiber after all. I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked right out of the box, however, because if you just throw it on quickly without playing around with it, it looks very shapeless and blah. But when I tried it on again later I came to love it. By the time I made the video it was a new favorite. As I say in the vid, it reminds me of Samantha by  Amore which was one of the first wigs I fell in love with back when I started wearing them; it’s funny how sentimental I am about some of those first wigs I tried on that felt like “my” hair. This one has the added lace front that Samantha lacks, which is nice, but other than that they are very much alike.

Pure Allure is fairly pricey, but nothing compared to RW’s latest releases; she retails for $211 and can usually be bought for at least 30% off if you buy from the right store or wait for a sale. She does come in the new shaded colors, too, so that’s nice. The color I’m wearing here is an older one that I’ve worn tons of times, so it’s nothing new or exciting but still pretty.

Oh, and I on me I don’t think Pure Allure looks the slightest bit like the advert pictures.

Video Wig Review: Elle by Jon Renau is in 6F27

As I mentioned in the Shaded Praline Elle review I posted previously, here’s my Elle in 6F27. I love this wig! The color is a very close match for my bio hair right now and the length is just a touch longer than mine, too. Of course, Elle looks way better than my bio hair ever could, but I can put this one on and go places where people normally see me in my ‘real’ hair and generally no one clocks it as a wig. It’s basically a good hair day in a box, which is what we’re all looking for, right?

Anyway, here she is. I also have a Janelle by Noriko waiting to review, but time is limited right now; and I’m finally trying out the Katherine by Jon Renau I’ve been curious about forever but haven’t bought until now. I’m still trying to keep my wig purchases on the cheaper side, and Katherine’s another mid-length style you can find for well under $200. Now I’m off to drink my coffee and peruse Wow Wig’s clearance section, since they’re having another 30% sale over there – have a nice Wednesday, everyone!

Oh, and by the way, the wig by Estetica I mention here that got clocked for being ‘too perfect’ was called Jamison. Not that there’s anything wrong with the wig, but I rarely have anyone comment about my hair out in public for being wig-like, and that did happen to me in that one. It was a very lovely older gentleman in the post office who I’m sure meant no offense; he said my hair looked so perfect he thought it had to be a wig, seemingly without realizing that it really was!

Video Wig Review: Elle by Renau in Shaded Praline

All these blondes I’ve been reviewing lately have reinforced for me why I don’t review more blondes. It’s harder for me to pull off than I at first realized – and I had no idea Shaded Praline was soooo light; it doesn’t look this light on other people, at least not that I could tell. Not a good look on me, but it was on sale and it’s an Elle, which is one of my favorite wigs (review of a 6F27 coming soon) so I couldn’t pass it up. But yeah, not necessarily a good look on me. Speaking of which:

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It actually looks OK with ten tons of Photoshop! Anyway, on to the review:

Video Wig Review: Tessa by Noriko in Butter Pecan-R

First of all, Tessa was a longshot for me, and one I should not have taken. It doesn’t look as awful on me in the video as it does in real life, but even in the video it’s not great. This is a hard style to pull off, I think, because it’s a pretty weird shape, but there are a few reviews on YouTube where it looks much better than it does on me here.

Secondly (and most of you aren’t going to care about this one way or another), I filmed several reviews two days ago, but in the end I just could not STAND the poor quality of the results. While having a separate video camera for making reviews is wonderful from a convenience and ease of use standpoint, it’s terrible for creating movies of high quality, and with as picky as I am about my photos I just couldn’t tolerate all the washed-out color and graininess of the videos I made. Definitely there are issues in the actual filming process that I need to work to improve on this – I’m still experimenting with camera settings and lighting, etc. – but this little Sony is limited, which is why it was so cheap, and I’m never going to get the results I desire. While I accepted that when I bought this thing, I still can’t help myself from trying to make the vids look better through editing.

Editing video is such an unruly beast, though, compared to editing photos (which still took me YEARS to learn) and it is so cumbersome for your average computer; Tessa here took TWO HOURS to process after I edited it, and during that time I couldn’t do much of anything else with my laptop while it was working on it. I’m still playing around with how to cut all this time down AND still end up with footage I like, but for now this Tessa vid is as good as it’s going to get. It’s OK, and I still have to make concessions; I can’t get the clarity I prefer unless the video is so grainy it’s almost distracting, so the focus came out really soft. However, I was able to get rid of most of the grain as well as improve the color dramatically from the original, so that’s good. I wouldn’t recommend making this video full-screen, though; the closer you get to it the more blurry it looks! I’ll keep working on perfecting the noise reduction, I promise.

One other annoying thing here that I can only correct in-camera while filming is the annoying color shifts; I used Auto white balance while filming which means the camera kept re-calibrating as I moved around or zoomed in and out, so sorry about that. Next time I film, I need to be sure and set a continuous white balance somehow so those color shifts don’t happen. I know, I know – most of you probably don’t care about any of this and just want to see the damn video, so here it is.

Video Wig Review: Kenzie by Noriko in Almond Rocka-R

Kenzie is a pretty wig, but as I say about 1,000 times in the video, she is way too much hair for me. It looks so lovely on Christine at BlondieLocks and Wiggin’ Out (don’t know her real name) and Lauren at Corner of Hope and Mane, that I thought I could pull it off, too. But alas, much too thick for my head. Still, it’s a pretty wig – for a better idea of how it looks on the right person, check out some of those links and take my video with a grain of salt, I guess. Or talcum powder, to reduce shine.

And yes, I do look like Pam Dawber in this wig! I Googled her after I made it just to be sure I was right, and well…

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Yep. Nailed it. And RIP, Mork from Ork…

Oh, and here’s my comparison of the Almond Rocka on my Misha to the Almond Rocka-R on Kenzie. I do think Misha had more red.

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Disclaimer: I bought this item with my own money and no one paid me to do this review. Opinions are my own; your mileage may vary.