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!

Another Perma-Post: The Perm Summary

So, Day 4 post-perm is over (see part 1 and part 2 of the saga at the links), and so far the hair is a hit. I went to lunch with an old friend on Sunday and didn’t mention the perm at all until right before we parted ways, and she was totally surprised – she said she thought it was just my hair un-blowdried (not a word, sorry). I thought that was a pretty nice compliment.

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A little bit of end-frying there, but not bad

On Monday I tried not washing it for a day, but then I went and put way too much extra product in it and it got crunchy and heavy. Total user error there; I am now in the stage of trying to figure out a whole new hair routine so I’m bound to make mistakes. I’ve never been one to go days without washing my hair, it makes me crazy to go every other day even, but I do think it would be better for my hair to wash less frequently, so we’ll see if I can find a way to pull that off now. I read Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl years ago (since my hair does have some curl) and tried to follow her “no ‘poo” rules but I just couldn’t swing it, and chalked it up to my hair being so fine and limp that it made it impossible. But maybe I can work some no-‘poo days into my routine now, days where I just cleanse with conditioner and skip the shampoo altogether (hence the phrase “no poo”). Then again, maybe not; one of my friends who used to perm her long hair regularly said she actually felt like she had to shampoo it more, not less, and she regularly goes three or four days without washing hers un-permed.

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I was actually using my macro lens for these shots, hence all the close-ups

Other than that, I have been using Moroccan Oil on the ends especially (blog follower Alma suggested Emollient by Aveda, but I didn’t have any on-hand and read online that it was a gloss so I thought this was similar), which has really helped with the frizz. I have two bottles of that stuff based on a friend’s insistence I buy it about a year ago – never had any use for it until now, but it’s been great so far. I also picked up Aussie’s 3-Minute Miracle moisturizer but I haven’t yet that yet, and I’ve been using Framesi’s Curl Shampoo and Conditioner when I do wash it. I put plain old grocery store mousse on it when it’s wet along with the Moroccan Oil, and have tried out various other products just to play around and see what I like.

I’m also trying to figure out what products are best to use and doing a lot of experimentation, so I’ve amassed a little arsenal of bottles to use. Probably I’ll end up sticking with my old favorites, but it’s been kinda fun to try out new things here and there. I haven’t gotten to the “Sea Salt Spray” yet because I’ve read it can be drying (which my hair does not need right now), but it sounded so tasty I had to buy a bottle (hey, remember when there was beer in shampoo? Yep, me too).

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…but don’t drink it!

So if I had to sum up the whole hair-perm experience at this point (and I know it’s still too early to do so, but that won’t stop me from trying) I’d recommend the following, if you’re considering one:

  • Go to a stylist who does perms at least semi-regularly, even if that means it isn’t your usual stylist. I went to a guy named Philippe who said most younger stylists don’t know how to do perms since they’ve been out of favor for more than 20 years, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. He did a good job though, and he was 60, so take that with a grain of sea salt. Or not.
  • If the stylist doesn’t insist on a consultation before giving you a perm, run from them. He or she should want to know about the condition of your hair and if it’s been chemically treated recently before jumping in. I called two places to make appointments for perms, and both salons insisted on a consultation before they would book it, so I felt good about going to either place (one could see me sooner than the other though, which is why I went where I did).
  • Having dyed hair does not rule out getting a perm, but talk to the stylist about it, and keep in mind that chemicals from the perm will lighten dyed hair a shade. And bleach is more problematic than plain old hair dye, so be sure to talk to the stylist about your highlights or if you’re a bottle blonde.
  • Be prepared for a shock at first if you’ve not had a perm before or in a long time; I could be wrong but it seems to me that no matter what kind of perm you say you want, there’s a good chance you’re going to look like a poodle initially, so you need to be prepared for that (still not sure mine is ever going to tone down into waves, but in my case, I like it fine as is and am not worried about it. But it’s way curlier than I asked for).
  • Don’t be averse to getting a cut at the same time; Philippe wanted to cut my hair also but I’d just spent $75 on a haircut the week before (then impulsively decided to get the perm a week later) so I insisted he not do this, but – I should have allowed it. My non-perm cut was almost entirely devoid of layers, and post-perm I’m still thinking it’s going to need more shape. So a new cut is in my future. Going from straight to curly will most likely require a different shape, so don’t be too committed to keeping the same exact cut.
  • Don’t judge the perm too quickly! It takes a few days for your hair and your nerves to settle down, so I’d caution against going home and immediately trying to wash the perm out or buying chemicals at Sally’s Beauty Supply to “reverse” it. When reading the Google results for OMG I GOT A PERM AND I HATE IT, I found loads of people recommending immediately washing the hair to “wash the perm out,” and that sounded crazy to me even in my frazzled state. I mean, I wanted the perm, so why would I immediately flush all that money ($125) down the drain just because it didn’t look like I thought it would? I’d recommend giving it at least 2-3 days before attempting to change it, and even then, go see the stylist for help.
  • If it’s your first perm, try to schedule the appointment when you at least have the weekend to hide out and let the hair calm down. I had several days to stay home and acclimate to the new me, and knowing I didn’t have to see anyone else right away really helped calm me down when I went into intermittent freak-out modes.
  • Go back to your stylist in about 4-6 weeks for a trim to get any damaged ends snipped off.
  • Don’t perm it yourself! Go to a salon, unless you know someone who is a trusted stylist and is willing to do it for you. But even then, proceed with caution!

So, did I miss anything? Am I way off the mark with any of this? Let me know if I am, or if there’s anything else we should add.

Here’s one more pic – my skin is WAY over-softened here because I actually was hot when taking these pics and my makeup was melting, so it looked awful in the original and took a lot of work to repair (too much work, I think, but hey, it shows the hair).  Our air conditioner is out on my side of the house so it gets sweltering during the day…getting that looked at Monday night. It’s always something around here!

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Too much Photoshop made me look doughy, but still, that’s way better than looking sweaty.

I’ve written a lot more about this whole perm experiment, but it’s too many posts to link. Just type “perm” into the search bar at the top right of this page if you actually want to read more about this for some insane reason.

Got Perm, Will Travel – Part 2

Holy hell, this whole hair-perm thing has been one serious rollercoaster the past few days. I went through an entire romance with this ‘do in the span of a few hours – from love to tearful breakup and total reconciliation in one night. And all it took to set me off was a shower. I actually wrote a whole blog post at each stage too, and am having to re-write it a third time now that the whole cycle is over. Here we go:

I got through Day 2 of the no-shampoo edict that was handed down when I got my perm on Thursday; the hair had calmed down a bit and I was thoroughly enjoying it. Then I went ahead and washed it Saturday evening since it was after the 48-hour time limit and I wanted to start playing around with it to see what it could do – major panic! The ends frizzed up and dried as soon as I got out of the shower, and it appeared to have suffered major damage from the perm. It looked really bad, and I was back in that “OMG I’ve ruined my hair” headspace I was in on Thursday.

Fortunately, I’d stopped off at Ulta Saturday afternoon and picked up a product called “Anti-Snap” by Redken that I had to use when I bleached and fried my hair two years ago; I figured I’d be needing some sort of deep conditioner to use regularly on my perm, I just didn’t know I’d be needing it this soon. In fact, the stylist specifically told me not to deep condition the hair right away, but this looked too bad to leave alone, and fortunately with a little Anti-Snap worked into the damaged ends it looked a bit better.

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Taken before the breakup

I don’t mind telling you that the five minutes or so I was staring at all those fried frizzy ends was almost as bad as the first few minutes after I saw myself in the mirror Thursday. I went through a depressing period of considering all I was going to have to do to learn how to work with this new ‘do.  I considered the possibility that I would have to find all new products to use; the stylist put something in it that gave the curls nice definition, but the little bit of mousse and curl cream I applied Saturday night definitely did not do the trick. I began to swim through the internet sea of products available to curly hair currently on the market – the number is somewhere around eight billion I believe – and I began to worry I might spend weeks trying to concoct the proper hair cocktail to get the curls back that had apparently washed down the shower drain, while in the meantime I pulled my newly-permed hair back into a ponytail and prayed for a miracle.

Then I considered the ways I’d need to change my normal hair routine, as my usual one was working against me. I’ve always washed my hair at night and left it alone to air-dry, then styled it in the morning. Because of this, my hair generally looks terrible in the evening after I shower; I just let it go and don’t even put much product in it, so it’s a shapeless mess. I am totally used to this, but it was painful Saturday night looking in the mirror and seeing this big puffbull atop my head, waving back at me like a massive dandelion in a breeze bidding goodbye to it’s previous curl definition. I thought I would probably have to completely change my daily routine and start washing and styling my hair in the morning until my perm grew out to avoid being depressed every night.

And then I started thinking I would probably need to add some layers to my hair to balance out the triangle-shape that was going on too…and just about the time I started regretting the whole thing, I realized it would be easier, and not really all that ridiculous, to go ahead and finish the entire styling process to see what I was really dealing with, even though the the only thing I was going to do was go to bed once I was done, and I would have to do it all again in the morning. And of course, with just a little more product spritzed in it and a blow-dryer shot with a diffuser, it looked great. At least in my opinion.

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I was so excited I stuck my tongue out and it looked terrible, and no way I’m sharing that, sorry.

Overall the curl hasn’t relaxed much and is still very tight, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it tones down a bit more it’ll look more on-trend. Curls in general are making a comeback – or so the magazines say – so in time I can figure out how to work with this and make it more current if I need to do so. Oh and by the way – the stylist did mention that since my hair was dyed back in March, the perm would lighten the color, and that has definitely happened. Not totally thrilled with that, but it was unavoidable. And I really do still think some layers are going to be necessary to make the shape work better with the curl, but that’s not a major deal and can be done without losing much length – I think adding some long layers around the crown area would do it, and I’m supposed to go back to the stylist in 4 to 6 weeks to get the dried ends trimmed off anyway. I’m not going to do that too soon though, so I have time to play around and be certain that it’s what I need to do.

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Another one taken before the split-end meltdown – actually, I think you can already see the curls getting a little softer in the photo above

On another note, I am having thoughts about the blog and ways in which I’d like to change it. I’d like to utilize better categories than the ones I have now, since it appears the blog is never going to be solely about art and will always in part discuss things like clothes, hair perms, and other frivolous life-in-generals. I figure I might as well structure the blog that way so it makes more sense instead of labeling everything that isn’t about photography “blog” and letting it all pile up in that category. I’d like to change up the look of it too – it feels so dark to me right now. Lightening it up should be easy; the rest might take awhile, so stay tuned.

You can read another update to the perm adventure here!

 

Got Perm, Will Travel

I couldn’t think of a better title, sorry. Hey, if you have one let me know and I’ll change it! Moving on.

Well the three or four of you that read here regularly know I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a perm for awhile now. About a year, in fact. I love curly hair, and I like my hair curly when I can get it to actually curl without falling out halfway through the day. Recently I bought this styling tool called a ‘bubble wand’ that can create lovely beach waves in the hair – when it works. As with all things heat-styling, my ability to consistently create the same result from it each time was sketchy at best; sometimes it came out great as in the photo below:

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And sometimes it just looked unbrushed and sloppy (for obvious reasons, I do not have photographic evidence of this). When it looked great, I loved it to death – enough to bother with the 15-20 minutes or so it took to style it each morning (and in spite of my concerns over what all that heat-styling was doing to my hair). Well, after two days of attempting to use the bubble wand and having it turn to mush almost immediately and being ticked off at losing twenty minutes of my time only to end up with it in a ponytail at the end  of all that, I decided to go for a consultation to get a perm. I’d been reading and researching and debating about this for some time, so I knew the risks as well as the flat-out truth that I was going to be frying my hair, it would need time to recover, and I was most likely going to hate it the first week or so. I was also prepared for it not to look anything like the photo above, because perms rather do their own thing depending on the hair of the person who’s getting one. I felt ready to take the risk.

I also knew you needed to go to someone who does perms regularly, even if that person is not your regular stylist. I knew my regular stylist did not give perms, and I also knew, based on an article about perms that came out in the newspaper two years ago, that the salon where I get my nails done has a few stylists that do them (the article was on how perms are “coming back,” which I have been reading about for a years or so, ever since I started to get the desire to try one) so while I was out running errands Thursday I called the salon and set up an appointment for a consultation. We met, I showed him the above photo, he told me my  hair would work fine with a perm, and we got down to it. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer:

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Yyyyyeah, not exactly like the big waves of the previous picture. But I expected that. Everything I’d read in the past year said I’d have to wait at least a week to get the curls I wanted, and that my hair would look like a frizzball at first while I waited for that to happen. But it was still a huge jolt when I put on my glasses for the first time and saw it (one thing about getting anything done to my hair – I have to take my glasses off so the stylist can work. which means I never know what is happening to my hair until it’s over and I can put my glasses back on). The whole experience at that point became quite odd – I was in shock and just trying to process (no pun intended) what was going on with my hair and stay calm, while also trying to get a read for what other people were thinking about it. And, get this – it was July 3rd, around 5:30 PM at this point, and I was literally the only client in the salon. I guess everyone else was already heading out of town for the holiday instead of getting their hair done. This salon is quite nice and incredibly big (a  huge two-story building) and none of  the other stylists or technicians appeared to have clients, so, there were loads of people standing around while I was trying to remain calm and get out of there, and not one of them looked at or said anything to me while I was at the register.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time reading people in my years of wig-wearing, going out in some fake hair and trying to get a sense of whether or not others are noticing what’s on my head, so I immediately shifted into that mode, and the lack of reaction felt ominous – this was a hair salon after all, so it’s pretty typical for the receptionists to at least comment on whatever it is you just had done to your hair, especially when it’s something drastic. But then again, I don’t normally get my hair done there, just my nails, so maybe I’m wrong about that. For my part, I was still shaking a little bit, and the only thought that was going through my head was “oh my God, I’ve ruined my hair.” I finally asked the woman checking me out why none of them were looking at me, and if that meant it was as bad as I thought. She just said no, it looked fine, and some ramble about how she used to get perms a long time ago and it always looked like that, but the whole experience was terribly uncomfortable, and the guy who’d permed me had also disappeared, so I feared the worst – that somehow the perm had gone horrible awry and everyone was waiting for me to leave so they could stop holding their breath and pretending like I looked OK and talk about how terrible it turned out. Awkward.

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Instead of heading home right away after I checked out, I went down to the Marriott hotel that is a part of the town square center where the salon is and headed straight for their guest bathrooms to get a private gander at it and think. And well, it was pretty bad. Super-frizzy, tight, 80’s-perm curls, no doubt about it. But. Everything I’d read over the year I’d been researching the subject told me to expect this and that it took days if not weeks for the curls to relax (and the stylist said the same), so that kept me from going into complete shock. I’d had no delusions going in that I was doing anything other than damaging my hair with chemicals; I’d just weighed the short-term negatives of that against the ongoing heat damage I’d get from the various methods I used to wear my natural hair either straight or curly (I was either using the bubble wand to get decent  curl from my air-dried hair or blowing it dry straight) and figured in the long run it would come out to be the same, since with the perm I could just air it dry and be done (not to mention the time I could save with the day-to-day styling). So I knew the first few days were going to be tough, but wow – I was still stunned, let me tell you.

And, I had to go home and face my husband. I don’t mind sounding a bit like a Stepford wife here and telling you I was terrified he was going to hate it – and I’m someone who has worn her hair in a manner for most of her marriage that her husband hated. I just knew he was going to take one look at it and we’d be back to that ‘we’ll just agree not to talk about your hair’ arrangement we had for twelve years, and I really did not want to go back there (fortunately I’d told him I was having the process done, so at least he wasn’t going to be totally thrown). I decided to take some time and “test run” my new hair as I often did when trying out a new wig – wander into some shops and pretend to look around while really monitoring other people’s reactions to me instead. What I noticed was that while no one was going out of their way to compliment my hair by  any stretch of the imagination, no one was reacting to my hair negatively either; I was being more or less ignored, which for anyone who wears supplemental hair will tell you is exactly what you want. If it’s not what you want, it is at least perfectly OK and way preferable to people staring at your head and smirking or scrutinizing. In short, while my hair clearly did not look amazing, it also clearly did not look horrifying, so I started to calm down.

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By this time it was about 7:15 PM and I figured I had to go home sometime, so I put on my best and brightest happy face, snapped a selfie in the Marriott bathroom, and sent it to my husband with a text that read “I look amazing!”  – which I saying to myself as much as to him, in that Stuart Smalley sort of way. Then I got in the car and headed home. By the time I got close, he’d already responded by saying that he thought it looked cute, but that it would “look even better if it was longer,” which is so typical of him it’s hilarious. I reassured him that no length had been cut and that it was just the curl shortening it up a bit, and that yes I was still growing it out and the frizz would die down in a few days and then it would look better. And by the time I walked through the door I was in the lemonade-out-of-lemons mode I can go into quite quickly when it comes to my hair, wherein I know I can deal with it and make it work as long as it doesn’t fall out – the loads of hair fiascos I’ve had over the course of my life have trained me well. It’s definitely going to help as I get through the 48-hour period here where I cannot wash or do anything to this new adventure I’ve got going on top of my head. Because right now it’s wait and see for sure.

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So it’s Friday morning now, and although it still looks like a frizzy puffball, it doesn’t feel nearly as dry as it did yesterday, so that’s a good start. And I don’t have much to do the next two days so I can hide out until it calms down, or at least until I can wash it on Sunday. I will keep you all alerted of my progress, but please, keep the comments gentle. My hair and my ego are a little delicate right now – although I think in the long run I am going to like it. If not, I’ll make it work. I always do. And I am glad I finally took the plunge and gave this a shot, since I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time and at least now can say I’ve done it and get it off the to-do-someday list. If nothing else, it will take interesting pictures!

You can read an update to the perm adventure here.

Growing out short hair, the hard way

I’ve been wanting to post a hair update for the few who read this blog who know how long I’ve been trying to grow my hair out from a super-short cut (talking to you, Lana). I was waiting to get my color touched up before taking update photos, which I did last Tuesday, but I didn’t have time to shoot during the week. I decided to snap a few quick pics while doing test shots for the photoshoot I’m planning, so I’ll go ahead and do the hair update now.

For most of my teenage and adult life, my hair has been very short. In junior high, my mom allowed me to go to a stylist and get whatever cut I wanted for the first time, and I immediately chopped it into a short feathered style a la my idol, Kristy McNichol (she was THE COOLEST chick on the planet if you were a young girl at that time – and not only that, she was actually a very good actress. Completely unknown now, I think, but there are those of us who remember what a badass she was back in the day).

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Unfortunately, that whole “feathered” hair thing was not manageable with the sort of fine, wavy hair I possessed, and keeping it all swooshing back away from my face was next to impossible; it just wanted to flop forward now matter how much Final Net I sprayed into it each morning. The  best hair to have back then was thick and fairly straight, and I remember admiring girls who could part their hair from the middle, then whoosh it all back on both side so the ‘wings’ would touch. Then they’d spray the shit out of it and it would stay that way, immobile, all day long. Not this gal. I ended up with the dreaded sausage-roll that only flipped around my face while the rest was a frizzy mess.

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Good feathered hair.

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My feathered hair. Yeah, that’s me – age 13.

From this I determined that I had “bad hair,” especially when you added to the mix that I grew up in a very conservative area of Texas, where hair that was not blonde was a huge detriment to one’s attractiveness. In ninth grade, I decided since I couldn’t pull off length, and I wasn’t all that much to look at (I never thought I was ugly, just kind of plain, and certainly not the cheerleader-y, all-American ideal guys my age at the time idolized) I decided to cut it all off and go super-short, something only a handful of other girls my age were bold enough to do (I think I recall two other girls at my high school with boy-short hair). I felt this gave me an edge, and made me more interesting and noticeable. I was probably right, as my short hair has always been one of my distinctive qualities.

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Me at 18.

Throughout my adult years I’ve had just about every variation of short hairstyle you can imagine, but it has always been boy-short. In fact, to me a chin-length bob was considered long just because the ears were covered. The four photos in this collage probably span the past 15 years, easy:

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Remember how I mentioned that before a few years ago, I knew nothing about taking photos? This collage proves that.

However, as I moved into my forties, an interesting thing happened. My short hair became less distinctive, and more, well, expected. In my thirties, short hair on a woman was still considered pretty unique, at least the short hair I wore due to my willingness to experiment, razor and buzz, and color at whim. But many women, if not most, start to chop off their hair in their forties, and I began to feel boring and predictable instead of interesting. To distance myself from the soccer moms, I reverted back to the occasional buzz-cut I’ve been known to wear at various times – but I really didn’t care for it anymore (plus, my husband has always hated my hair that short). So a few months later I decided to grow it out for real, and it was at that time I got into wearing wigs so I could keep the mess covered while I did so. I felt it was the only way I’d have the patience to do it, and I could experiment with different lengths and styles while it grew.

The thing is, I’d become so convinced that I didn’t look good in long hair; a belief I developed way back in junior high school, that I’d not ever seriously considered wearing it any longer than the aforementioned chin-length bob. But when I started wearing wigs, I realized I could pull off a much longer style. I became more determined to grow my hair out long, for the first time in my adult life.

That was about three years ago, I’d say, and I definitely hit some snags along the way. I managed to make it seven months without a single cut thanks to wigs, but right before my birthday two summers ago I decided to go get a trim. The problem was, I was between hairstylists and looking for a new one, so I not only had to go get my hair cut into some sort of style without losing too much of it, but I also had to find someone who could do a decent job. Unfortunately, I didn’t hit the hairball right out of the park with my initial stylist choices, and eventually ended up growing out, and then cutting off, most of my length twice in the span of two years. One time the cut was so bad I just chopped it all off and started over, the other time I did my best to let the mess grow and resigned myself to looking like hell for 5  or 6 months while I grew out a horrible cut that made an already crappy mess look even crappier.

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On the left was the “custom cut” I received from a pricey salon in the city; it looked cool for about a week, then transformed into a ridiculous mess. Maybe you can’t tell, but there were no two sections of hair that were the same length – it was described by a stylist who tried to fix it months later as “having been chewed on by wolves.” On the right is a faux-hawk I got during another exasperated moment of giving up on growing out.

So here I am, three years later, and I have finally got some semblance of the chin-length bob that I am determined to grow to my shoulders. I found a great stylist last year who’s been good about trimming it just enough to keep it in some sort of style but still allow it to grow. Not that we didn’t make a few mistakes along the way though – leave it to me to constantly throw a wrench into the hair growth plans. Last November I decided I wanted to do some radical color again, which I hadn’t done since starting down the hair growth path, and let’s just say I went really radical:

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This looked cool as hell, for about 24 hours. Then the red dye melted into the bleach, turning it pink. I had to wear a hat to work for two days, then make an emergency trip back to my stylist, who managed to transform the pink bleach into a, shall we say, unique copper color. For the next four months, I looked like the Heat Miser.

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Not even kidding.

Needless to say, frying my hair with bleach while trying to grow it out at the same time was not the wisest decision, and my stylist has since learned to talk me down off the wild woman ledge when I step too close to it (such as my recent desire to get a perm; he made me wait until the next appointment “so it can grow a little” before getting it, and I’d of course changed my mind by then. I later realized he’d never intended to perm it in the first place. Good boy). I eventually was able to dye over it, but we did have to wait awhile, and I actually had to be seen in public for about four months with copper and burgundy hair. And yet, like the chewed-on-by-wolves “custom cut” and the faux-hawk, I survived, and I am still determined to grow this mess to my shoulders. But for now, here’s where it is – a nice normal cut, and a nice normal color (I think we are finally at the point where the dye is going to stay this time and not fade out where all that bleach was like it’s been doing for the past year):

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I have a lot of hair, but it’s very fine, which means it’s always going to look flat. Oh well. At least it’s not orange.

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Close to my natural color, but warmer and a touch lighter. Also minus the gray that’s sprinkled throughout mine.

A Few Shots From Wednesday

I got all dolled up and shot a whopping 398 photos the other day. That may be a new record for me. For part of that time I decided to play around with my new Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT, using it as a master to control my old 430 EX-II. I bought a Field Guide to get the basics of the new flash down when I bought it, but I’ve never been much good with written instructions, or remembering  details, for that matter. My main mode of operation is to randomly punch buttons and move stuff around and see what happens, which is why I haven’t done much experimenting with this new flash; it really sucks to spend 1.5 hours getting dressed for a shoot and have all the photos turn out like crap, so I’ve been using the 600 much as I used the 430. But I spent less time in makeup Wednesday and more time screwing around with my flashes, and the end result is that I have a ton of interesting shots I’d like to process; I’ve been working on that like crazy the past day or so.

I’m including a gallery of the shots I’ve processed so far; I am not sure how many of these will end up being favorites. Much like when I wrote poetry, I tend to love everything that is new but only a few end up making the long-term cut. I also think some of these need to be re-edited now that I’m looking at them again. And I did find some nice blooper shots I can share later, haven’t had time to process those yet.

And can I go on for brief second about the outfit? I found the gold sparkly harem pants (that’s what we called them back in the early 90’s) at an online store called Thrifted and Modern; they usually have some great vintage on sale. That flowy top was bought cheap somewhere I can’t remember and has  been used in more photoshoots than I can count. The wig is called Drew, it’s by a manufacturer named Beshe, and it only costs about $40. It is fabulous and I ordered it in four colors. Oh, and you can get the glasses at Amazon here.