Sunday, July 5, 2015

13 Ways to Revive Damaged Hair

My hair and I have had a long, tumultuous history, but we are currently working on good terms.  After many years of trials, tribulations and heartache over hair issues, I've learned a thing or two that has helped keep my hair healthy, soft and loved by hairstylists far and wide.

Going way back, I always saw my mom and the attention she gave to her looks: She'd blow dry, curl and hairspray the hell out of her hair every single day, even if she wasn't planning to leave the house, was headed to the hospital for surgery, planned to work in the yard all day, etc.  She applied makeup with the same steadfast reliability as well.  Never a day without being beautiful.  As for me, I haphazardly tried different hairstyles (it was the 80's and 90's, so spiral perms and teased hair were still in) and didn't find a good fit with any of that jazz.  My hair wasn't much of a fan of holding curl back then, and it really hasn't changed a lick.

In high school, my mom (a corporate accountant) became part-owner of an Aveda salon in my hometown as an investment, so I got all products at cost and 1/2 priced services. (Any girl would love that!)  Not surprisingly, I had my hair highlighted and dyed professionally from the time I turned 15 years old, and I used great quality products for a long time.  In college, my mom sold her stake in the salon when she moved across the state, so I was on my own, but still addicted to Aveda hair care and went to pricey Aveda salons near my college and in the town where my parents then lived.  That was around the time when I became more experimental with my hair color and it was often some combination of blonde, red or brown with different colors (or combinations of colors) of highlights.  At one point, I was so over-highlighted that my hair was virtually blonde.  People who know me now find this quite amusing.  (Apparently I don't strike anyone as a vivacious blonde type.)

Throughout those years, I heat-styled my hair regularly with my arsenal of hot rollers, curling irons, flat irons and blow dryers.  My hair was always beaten into submission by these tools, but ironically, they only made the condition of my hair worse.  I was also using styling products loaded with alcohol, which (again) ravaged my hair, and soon my mop of hair became increasingly frizzy, messy and brittle.  So much so, in fact, that my mom had a habit of reminding me how "wild" my hair was nearly every time I saw her.  (Thanks for the love, Mom!)  The combination of chemical treatments, an over-abundance of styling products and heat styling really tortured my tresses.

Sadly, I've found just about every way imaginable to damage my hair, short of lighting it on fire.
However I've learned my lessons by trial and error, and now I'm here to share them.  If you, too, are a member of the Damaged Hair Club, here are 13 things you can do to bring your hair back to shiny, bouncy, fabulous life.

1.  Just say NO to extensive heat styling.  This may sound unrealistic to some who can't function without their hair dryers or flat irons, but hear me out.  When you stop using crazy hot, drying heat on your strands, fresh, uncompromised hair grows in it's place, and this hair is usually more manageable and smooth.  If you can't live without heat styling every day, using a thermal protectant will improve the health of your hair dramatically.  I like Aveda Brilliant Damage Control, which protects against heat and adds loads of shine, as well as Chi 44 Iron Guard Heat Protectant spray.  Spray these products on damp hair, and heat style as usual.  When I hear that someone blows their hair dry, followed by flat-ironing it and finally curling it, following up with a healthy dose of alcohol-laced hairspray, then they wonder why their hair is a mess, I tell them it's no secret--Their hair is being tortured!  Healthy hair doesn't require you to use 3 heat styling tools every day to achieve a decent look.  Yes, some hair product and a bit of heat styling are the norm for most of us, but cutting back will help improve the health of your hair.

2.  Choose wisely when coloring your hair.  Coloring your hair frequently damages your hair, even if you use great products.  Hair dyes strip your hair of its lipid coating each time you use it, and those lipids are what keep your hair, soft, shiny and strong.  That's why frequent dying causes hair to become dry, brittle and prone to breakage, which also makes hair more resistant to holding curl or straightening from other heat styling tools.  It's a vicious cycle!  Fortunately, you have several ways of dealing with this.  First, you can dye your hair less frequently.  Second, only dye your roots rather than all hair every 2nd or 3rd visit to the salon.  Finally, you can just go au natural and stop dying it at all,  I chose to go au natural a number of years ago just to stop the madness.  To minimize the issues with my highlights growing out, I dyed my hair a color close to my natural shade so the highlights would be less noticeable as they grew out.  If you MUST color, consider scaling back on frequency or choosing more gentle products (i.e. semi-permanent or henna dyes).

3.  Protect hair from the sun.  I cannot stress this enough now that summer is here!  If you're going to be spending a length of time in direct sun, there are steps you can take to keep your hair healthy.  Wear hats, scarves or bandanas over your hair.  Use strengthening products, daily if you spend a lot of time in the sun.  Use a great UV and heat protectants for sun exposure (I like Fekkai's Soleil line).  If you wear your hair in a ponytail in direct sun for long stretches of time, the heat and sun will break down those protective lipids and could cause your hair to snap, especially right where your hair elastic sits.  Not cool.  (I speak from experience on this one.)

4.  Make pool chemicals your enemy.  I grew up spending my summers in the pool, and also swim whenever I have a chance now that I'm an adult.  I've found that my hair has often smelled like chlorine and broke easily after swimming, since I didn't wash the chemicals out until hours later in some cases.  The sound of my hair snapping has stuck with me to this day, and it's like nails on a chalkboard!  One very simple and cheap way of protecting your hair is to simply spray it with tap or spring water from a small spray bottle right before you get in the pool or hot tub.  And when I say "spray it", I mean hose it down, get it sopping wet so the fresh water absorbs into your hair before the pool water and their associated chemicals have a chance to do so.  It makes a HUGE difference, as the chemicals won't infiltrate your hair and break down the protective lipids.

5.  Beware of hard water!  Have you ever noticed your hair smelling like a copper penny?  I did when I was in college, and a friend of mine who was a hair stylist said, "Oh, that's because you have hard water and the minerals in that water can build-up on hair and damage it.  That's why your hair breaks easily."  Sally Beauty Supply had a great treatment by Ion (Effective Care treatment in a foil pouch) that I used a lot while living in the dorms, and it helped ensure that our un-softened water wasn't destroying my hair.  Soft water does help with some damage control from minerals.  Well water is the worst for your hair as it's typically full of minerals, as evidenced by sinks and tubs stained a lovely coppery, orange color.  Also, ask a blonde who has lived in a home with well water about what that does to his/her hair color.  No bueno.  City water is typically softened a bit already by the time if reaches your house, so that's helpful.  Water softeners are also helpful with either water type, but they use other additives to create softer water (i.e. salt) which can dry out your hair.  In either case, city or softened well water are your best bets to keep your hair healthy.

6.  Exercise caution with wet hair.  We've all heard not to brush wet hair, as it can cause breakage. (Again, with that hair snapping sound in my head... *shudders*) However, that cautionary statement was built off of old plastic bristle brushes, which were not exactly gentle on wet hair.  Wet hair stretches and will eventually break when brushed with the old style brushes, harsh pulling, etc.  With the invention of the Wet Brush, however, we needn't worry any longer.  These brushes are gentle on wet hair, and I haven't noticed any increase in breakage since I began using one a year ago.  If you're still scared of the brush, a wide-tooth comb works great on wet hair, too.  Wet brushes cost less than $10 and a good wide-tooth comb only costs a few dollars at Target or Sally's.  If you have troubled tresses, it can also be helpful to use a detangling spray or leave-in conditioner (I like It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product) before attempting to de-snarl your hair with one of these tools.

7.  Use good quality hair products.  I know, I know, you probably think I'm saying this because I've used many salon quality products in the past.  However, this is not the case.  After college when I was out on my own, I wasn't earning much money, so I purchased the cheapest hair products at Walmart.  We're talking White Rain shampoo and conditioner at a buck and change apiece.  While it was effective for my pocketbook, it only made my hair more brittle, dry and unmanageable.  I started using better products as my salary increased, and my hair's condition improved.  Products that are sulfate-free and have minimal or no alcohol are typically most gentle for troubled strands, but you really do get what you pay for with many hair products.  Right now, L'Oreal has the Ever line of sulfate-free products that I really enjoy, and the price points are great.

8.  Befriend hair oils.  A great way to smooth and soothe damaged hair is using hair oils, like those with argan oil.  I have oily hair, so I always thought hair oils would only make my head look like an oil slick.  Not the case!  I've used a number of hair oils, and find that they coat and protect my hair well while softening and adding tons of shine.  So far, I've liked Moroccanoil and Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil best, but John Frieda makes a very affordable and effective hair oil, too. Finding products that tame fly-aways and moisturize dry hair well without making my hair look greasy has been a big win.

9.  Hair elastic hell.  Hair elastics can be brutal on dry, damaged hair, and help seal the deal on any possible breakage that is looming on fragile strands.  Using coated, metal-free (AKA snag-free) hair elastics helps tremendously, as does using the newer ribbon-style knotted hair elastics.  The ribbon-style elastics claim not to leave a dent in your hair, but I have news:  They do!  However, they are made of softer, wider material than a traditional coated hair elastic, which disperses the pressure of the band over a wider section of your hair, meaning that the chance for breakage is dramatically reduced and the dent is less noticeable.  Yay!  Don't ever use uncoated elastics or plain rubber bands in your hair.  No matter how healthy your hair is, you're asking for trouble, and that trouble is called broken, messed up hair. Yuck.

10.  Maintain a regular haircut schedule.  Whether you get a full haircut or just a trim, getting haircuts regularly (every 6-8 weeks, depending on length and style) actually helps promote healthier hair. You're not only trimming off the frizziest parts of the hair and any split ends, but trimming those split ends off helps prevent individual hair strands from continuing to split up the strand, making hair an even frizzier mess.  This ensures that you also keep healthy hair from root to tip, and you'll notice a difference in how well it holds its hairstyle and it's manageability.

11.  Dry hair gently.  Aside from skipping or minimizing hair dryer use, don't over-do your post shower hair drying by rubbing a rough towel over your tresses too vigorously or for too long.  Simply squeeze excess water out of hair and wrap in a lightweight towel, such one made by Aquis, which absorbs water from the hair without the bulk or rough texture of a traditional towel.  In this method, there's no rubbing involved, and I've been doing it now for years.  I recently heard that others sometimes wrap their hair in an old t-shirt, but that only works well if your hair isn't long and if the t-shirt is thick and 100% cotton.

12.  Invest in good quality hair brushes.  Mark my words:  Crappy brushes will destroy your hair.  While someone may debate that they've been using the same dollar store brushes for years and their hair is "just fine", there's a reason why some hair brushes cost big bucks and people swear by them as their hair saviors (ahem, Mason Pearson).  Good quality brushes will have flexible tines to minimize breakage, and those tines are typically made of materials like nylon or boar hair.  Good brushes should last you for 10 or more years with regular cleaning and careful use--Yes, really!  I have an Aveda paddle brush that I've owned for 11 years and it's still in great condition.  Brushes with tines or bristles that fall out of the base, have bristle/tine tips that fall off exposing rough ends or have tines that break are usually signs of poor quality brushes.  However, money isn't always the sign of a good quality brush.  While I've found that good quality brushes typically cost a little more, the Wet Brush is fabulous AND inexpensive, with its flexible tines that keep your hair from breaking.

13.  Special treatments.  Just like your facial skin needs an occasional treatment, so does your hair.  There are two special treatments for my hair that I swear by.  The first is using a deep conditioner once per week.  There are many wonderful deep conditioners out there at various price points.  On the higher end, I like Redken Smooth Lock Butter Silk Rinse-Out Treatment and Macadamia Deep Repair Masque.  However, I find myself always going back to my favorite budget-friendly drugstore alternative, Aussie 3 Minute Miracle deep conditioner (any of the varieties will do).  The second treatment I love is to use a clarifying shampoo.  I use this periodically if I feel a build up of hair product and/or sweat.  Please note that this type of shampoo is only for occasional use and truly does strip all oils, build-up and gunk out of your strands.  Since it will get your hair squeaky clean, always follow up with a deep conditioner.  Treatment oils are popular now, and I've even seen hair exfoliators, like one sold by Oscar Blandi!  I can't wait to try that one.  I have a feeling that it's just a creamier version of a clarifying shampoo, though.  In general, treatments can be really helpful in revitalizing your hair, even if it's generally healthy.  It brings wonderful bounce and shine back to your hair, and who doesn't love that?

Some of you may have noticed that none of these involve natural remedies.  I'm not a fan of slathering olive oil, avocado or mayonnaise on my hair, and honestly, those I know who have tried such things never had anything good to say about them.

Overall, reversing hair damage can take time and care.  Knowing your hair type, scalp type and any issues will help you to choose the best possible options to care for your tresses.  Using scalp treatment products can also improve the health and appearance of your hair, as solving scalp/root issue, will ultimately lead to improved hair quality in new growth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July is... Beauty Month!

Happy 1st of July!  We're now officially in the second half of 2015, meaning that a lot of great holidays and events are coming up!  

Anyway, one of the things I've been hoping to do for over a year is a month-long series of posts about to beauty--Things I like, things I don't, and things I want to do to achieve looks that make my heart sing. 

I've got several posts coming that are focused on hair care, skin care, makeup, my routines, and a review of skin care and makeup empties with my thoughts on those items.

I'll also be posting about a Q&A sesh when my product-loving pal, Tracy, and I had a deep, meaningful discussion about products, subscription boxes, and what it's like to be a beauty hoarder.   I really should learn to vlog because I think ya'll would have been highly entertained by watching our chat/debate!

Although I will have many posts about beauty, there will still be updates about my family, our mascot (Bella) and what we're up to these days.

I've always loved July, with memories of wonderful fireworks, vacations, outdoor concerts, sun tea and days by the pool.  I can't wait to see what this July brings!

What do you love about July?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Avery is 10 months old!

Baby Avery has now hit the ripe ol' age of 10 months, guys!  

My girl is growing faster than I ever dreamed.  I swear, she'll be asking me for gas money and lip gloss next week. Sheesh. I'd love to put the brakes on this whole growing up business.  She can stay a baby for a little longer!

Some new milestones this month are eating sold grown up foods like soft cooked vegetables, fruit (she loves bananas, but not peaches), macaroni and cheese, deli turkey, toast, cheerios, baby cereal and yogurt snacks.  She still drinks some formula and baby food purees, too.  We bought some baby yogurt to try out this week, as well as new fruits and veggies.

Avery is now moving non-stop.  She's a pro at cruising around the living room and took two steps consecutively yesterday without holding on to anything!  She's going to be walking/running any day now.  She zooms around the house in her walker and loves her huge playpen that daddy built in the dining room with a big baby fence system. 

She's showing more and more of her personality every day.  She babbles in the cutest way, squeals and screeches to find her voice and smiles at the sweetest moments.  I love the person she's becoming and can't wait for her to start talking.  If she's anything like me, the house will never be quiet again!

Here are a few pictures from her 10 month birthday...

Also, it's time for some new headbands.  I feel like this one has made more than one appearance in her pictures lately, so it's time for some new hair accessories!

So there you have it, our sweet, sassy bundle of joy.  Happy 10 months, Avery Jane!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Friendship Circle-Back

For quite awhile, I've struggled with maintaining friendships with friends who are horrible at the friendship basics:  Staying in touch, being available, being there during important times in my life, etc.  I ended up choosing to stop pursuing communication with those people because I FINALLY decided that one-sided weren't worth my time.

Miraculously, over the past year, several of these friends have come out of the woodwork and contacted me.  I won't lie--I was elated to hear from them, as I really did miss the friendship we once had.  However, it takes more than a brief message on Facebook or an email to bring someone back into my life.  I don't make them beg and plead for my friendship, but I don't let things pick up right where they left off either.

One of these friends, a former best friend from college, initiated contact shortly before Avery was born and sent me a box of gorgeous baby clothes for her.  It's been great communicating with her again, and she was very apologetic about her lack of communication over the years.  She blamed it on depression, bad relationships and a slew of other things.  I didn't care about the why, but I was glad that she reached out to me after over 5 years of radio silence.

Another friend contacted me because she is considering moving back to Florida, not far from where I live.  We talked about her job search, what has happened in her life over the past 6 years, and how she's planning to start over.  She was a good friend at a time when I really needed one, so it's great to know she still thinks of me in wonderful ways.

A third friend, who I assumed was long gone, send me a handwritten letter several months ago.  She explained how her life had changed in the past year and she knew she had been a horrible friend to me.  She acknowledged knowing about my baby and apologized for not being present when I had such a huge moment in my life.

What I learned from these situations was that people stopped being great friends with me when their own insecurities took over and their lives, frankly, fell to hell in their own handbaskets.  It had nothing to do with me.  In fact, they all thought enough of me to reach back out to reestablish our friendship after they started to get their shit together and move forward in life.

As a sensitive person, I'm so glad it wasn't about me!  I never knew if it was or not, but knowing for a fact that it was due to their own personal failures, unhappiness, disappointments, etc. validated my conjecture that people stop communicating sometimes when they feel like they can't contribute anything positive to a relationship.  They feel like it's better to go silent than to unload and admit their problems and shortcomings to a good friend.  It's not my style, personally, but I get it.

Nonetheless, this past year has been a year of amazing things.  My own life has changed a lot, but my relationships have seen change too.  Things are definitely not what they were a year and a half ago, but sometimes that's a good thing.

Just remember that while some friendships may go quietly into the night or enter and exit your life like a hurricane, there is often the possibility of the Circle-Back.  Don't count anyone out just yet.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

May 2015 GlossyBox

GlossyBox is another subscription I've kept up with since having my baby, mostly because I've enjoyed the products and I've been discovering new favorites beauty items I would have never known about otherwise.

GlossyBox costs $21 a month and contains primarily cosmetics, skincare and haircare products.  Also, many of the items are full-sized, and each box may contain a couple of deluxe samples.  I really appreciate getting larger sized items that I can use for longer, which is why I prefer this service over Birchbox.

I'll apologize in now for a lack of great pictures in this month's sub box postings.  My camera was having difficulty with lighting and the best photos were those that contained only the products in their original packages.  I'm going to have to work on improving my equipment very soon!

Here was the box I received in May...

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Here is a breakdown of the box's contents...

  • Clearista Retexturizing Gel - $10
  • GlamGlow Powermud - $19
  • Teeez Head Over Heels Nail Lacquer in Clear - $14
  • Doucee Mineral Matt Lipstick in shade 907 (Mauve) - $20
  • Sebastian Stylbrid Multi-Benefit Hairspray - $5
Total value of this month's box:  $68

Overall, I liked the products in this box.  I've never met a GlamGlow product I didn't love, so that was a great addition, and the Sebastian hairspray was very nice, too.  It wasn't sticky, had a light hold and made my hair look healthy and shiny.  Not bad at all!  I haven't tried the Clearista or Teeez nail polish yet, but hopefully they work well.  The lipstick color is nearly the same as my natural lip color, and it's matte, so it was a bit dry and took 4 passes on each my upper and lower lips to be able to see the color on me.  However, once I applied a little bit of non-glossy lip balm over it, the color looked much better.  

That's it for this month's boxes.  I'm truly hoping that the June boxes blow me away!  I find that every third box usually wow's me, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

May 2015 Popsugar Must Have Box

Newsflash:  I still get a couple of subscription boxes.

Shocker, I know!

I always said I'd stop getting them after I had my baby, but much like the Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade,  I couldn't quit them.  At least not all of them.

One of my perennial favorites has been the Popsugar Must Have box.  It's a monthly subscription box that costs $39.95 per month (plus tax) and contains a variety of items from beauty, accessories, food/snacks, home and lifestyle items.  I always love opening each month's box to see what goodies will be packed inside.

Here were the lovely products in this month's box...

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In this box, there was a good variety of items, some of which were were great for any time of year, while others were distinctly perfect for summer.

  • Sisters of Los Angeles Surf Sand Love Beach Towel - $40
  • Middle Kingdom Mini Plum Vase in Coral Red - $20
  • Kitsch Tri'd & True Y-Shaped Necklace - $32
  • Batiste Travel Sized Dry Shampoo in Cherry Scent $4
  • Sage & Row Bare Shave Cream - $17
  • Hammond's Candies Taffy in Banana - $1
Total value of this box:  $114

As you can see, the beach towel and shave cream were definitely Summer themed, but the rest of the items could have been in any month's box.  This box wasn't quite as well themed as most tend to be, but I enjoyed the items nonetheless.  I plan to gift the Kitsch necklace in the future since it's a very delicate necklace and I don't know if I would wear it often.  The bud vase is also beautiful and simple, but the coral red just doesn't match my house decor at all,so that may also be gifted in the future. 

I absolutely adored the beach towel!  As a Floridian, you can never, ever have to many beach towels or products with SPF.  I also LOVED the shave cream, but I'd have a hard time spending $17 on a tube that small in the future.  Additionally, I wish that they had made the Batiste dry shampoo full-sized rather than travel-sized.  The full-sized product wouldn't have cost much more and would have made the box feel more valuable, in my opinion.

While this was not my favorite Popsugar Must Have box ever, it did have some very nice items that I will enjoy using this summer.  Give the Popsugar Must Have box at try!  You really can't go wrong, and the products are always wonderful and surprising.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Avery is 9 Months Old

Avery is now 9 months old!  Hooray!

At her last appointment, she was 29.5" long and weighed 20 lbs, 4 oz.  That's apparently the 97th percentile for height (which explains why she wears 12-month pajamas) and 74th percentile for weight.  She's growing tall and strong, just like her daddy.  I just love our little stringbean!

This past month, Avery started pulling herself into a standing position, cruising along the furniture, and standing up on her own without holding on to anything. We finally went out and bought her a good pair of shoes of Stride Rite so she'd have good supportive shoes for learning to walk.  Much like her dad, she has big, wide feet.  She's also getting into everything these days, including the dog's food and water bowls!  She also loves to chase after our dog, Bella, and really loves it when Bella licks her (even though Bella likes to lick Avery right on/in her mouth--EW!).  They're like star-crossed lovers, Avery and Bella. I'm just thrilled that they like each other and that Bella removes herself from the baby's line of fire when she's not in the mood for having her fur tugged on or being chased by our munchkin.

Avery's also teething like crazy, even though only two teeth have popped through her gums to date.  I am sure that several will come in all at once, the way she's going.  We just call her our little drool monster because her chin and neck are always soaked with her saliva and she loves chewing on Sophie the Giraffe and her pacifier.

Avery is starting to eat solids, though some days with them are better than others.  She is mainly still eating bottles and pureed foods, but is learning to enjoy Cheerios, cheese, turkey lunch meat and bananas.  We found out that she hates the pureed foods that have chickpeas in them, since they were the only foods that have made her gag--twice!  This week, we're going to try various cooked veggies and toast to see how she does.  She's kind of a lazy lion about eating in general, so we're taking it slowly to see if we can have her start eating the foods that we eat.

Happy 9 Months to our princess!  Now it's time to start planning your first birthday party!

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Tampa, Florida, United States
I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

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