Wednesday Advice Smackdown
January 13, 2005
SPECIAL THURSDAY SLACKER EDITION
Blah blah blah witty introduction to the concept here plus life updates (HINT: BUSY AND COLD AND SOME HEATING FIXER GUY LEFT A SCARY FLANNEL SHIRT IN MY CLOSET YESTERDAY AND ALSO I GAVE CEIBA A BATH AT 3:30 A.M. LAST NIGHT AND I ADVISE YOU NOT TO ASK ABOUT IT.)
Anyway, there is no time for any of that today! No time at all! Go directly to the advice! Do not pass go! Do not listen to a SINGLE HYSTERICAL WORD that I am typing today!
I have fine, stick straight, doesn't hold a curl hair. I am currently growing out my bangs. Growing out your bangs when you have fine straight hair, quite honestly sucks. I can't master the side swept bangs, I'm thinking because I had really thick baby bangs.
I look awful with longish thick bangs, because of the chubby cheeks. I just have the two clumps on either side looking sucky. Unless, I use a bobby pin to hold them back, but that just looks flat and weird.
So, in the meantime I have been toying (and by toying I mean the appt. is Jan 29) with getting a body wave, just for something different. The last perm I got was in the late 80's and they burnt my scalp, and the damn thing fell out in about 2 weeks.
I just want some nice soft waves that are not poodley and not crunchy while growing everything out.
Am I crazy to be doing this?
(Actually, so strong are my feelings about this issue that I broke format and e-mailed Megan the instant I got her question and ordered her to cancel the appointment because I was afraid that maybe I'd get hit by a bus and be in a coma and not be able to warn her otherwise.)
The gentle, soft body wave is a MYTH, propagated by the perm industry to sucker in otherwise stylish young women who would otherwise never, EVER go near those malevolent little perming rods.
I know because I was one of them once. Aaaaannnnd...we shall never mention that again.
And my mother and I spent HOURS on Thanksgiving morn trying to undo the damage done to her hair by a so-called "body wave." Her hair was so dry and overprocessed and crunchy and permificated that I had to send her home with a week's supply of hot oil, a $27 bottle of shampoo and a shopping list for about $150 in smoothing/conditioning/volumizing styling products.
Yes. Volumizing. Because here's the thing: if your hair won't hold a curl, it's NOT HOLDING THE BODY WAVE either. Your hair will curl and kink up around your face, but the heavier layers on the back of your head will continue to just sit there. <sit> See?
Again, I may know this from personal experience, but we are NOT TALKING ABOUT IT.
Anyway. So what to do about the bangs? And what to do about the Ricky Martin "She Bangs" song now stuck in my head?
First, you must accept that growing out your bangs is a painful and tedious journey. Many have failed. Many have taken the kitchen scissors to their foreheads and undone all the progress in a tantrum, only to begin again.
Second, you must use quality volumizing products like Pureology Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner and Root Lifter Spray Mousse. Not on your bangs, but bodytastic hair will help mask the bangs.
Third, you must master the sideswept thing. It sounds like your bangs need to be thinned out. I just had this done on Saturday (by someone who was NOT my regular stylist, Neat, who is on bedrest because apparently babies are more important to her than me, but more on that later).
Here, in an outtake from the Scarf Entry, you can how formerly blunt-cut bangs can be given some texture.
Now I've got pointy-ish whispy bangs now instead of a fringe, which are much, MUCH easier to push over to the side.
And by "push," I mean "blow-dry." Blow-dry your bangs last, use lots of tension from your brush, and blow them straight out with only the slightest last-minute tug over to where you want them.
NotNeat also advised me to push my bangs AGAINST my natural hair growth. This is an excellent theory, as this will give your bangs the allusion of body and make them more...um...not flat. So far, I'm not digging it for me, because I've got the faintest widow's peak (OKAY, it's a cowlick) on my forehead that really, REALLY doesn't like being pushed around in any direction it don't rightly feel like goin' in, pardner.
But hair, like small rat dogs, needs to be trained. Don't worry if your bangs fall straight in your eyes at first. Just keep parting them and pushing them in the same direction every day and they'll start doing it naturally after awhile.
Lay off the products, as you don't want to weigh them down and make your forehead all zitty. I use BedHead Head Rush spray shine on my bangs and then run my fingers through to separate out the wispy pieces. If they are misbehaving, I'll use a styling paste (not pomade or fiber or wax) to give a little more hold. Use a tiny bit of hairspray right at the roots while your "training" them to go in a certain direction.
And! Don't be afraid to pin them back. Because whatever, some days they just look like shit. But to keep them from being all flatty flat, give them a twist or two before pinning them loosely. And always use more pins than you actually need. Like five bobby pins (mixed maybe with a sparkely one) or a couple snap barettes. This gives you the look of, "Yeah, I'm fucking Carrie Bradshaw and I MEANT to look this kooky and totally did not NEED to use a bobby pin to get my ratty ass bangs out of my eyes."
(This look works especially well if you have a layered cut and use Bumble & Bumble's Surf Spray to scrunch your hair into a wild, textured bed headish look instead of blow-drying.)
Oh! And this is the LAST thing I am going to say about bangs because this has gotten so boring and blah but this is really important. I asked NotNeat what his #1 advice would be for growing bangs out and he said, "Um. Don't cut them?"
Sigh. Come back, Neat!
Dear Amalah Who Has Such Pretty Pretty Hair,
Luckily, my question does not have an immediate time limit so feel free to get to it whenever you get a chance (however I am in a wedding in June so before then would be helpful). Anyway, thing is I moved a year and a half ago to rural Vermont... which is redundant I know. Anyhoo, worst part? Finding a stylist/color genius. Luckily I found the greatest stylist ever (1 hour away, but still, it's HAIR, it's worth it) who I have gone to until, apparently, now. When I called to check on the exact date of my appointment later this month I was informed she had left. No forwarding address, no contact info, nothing. The bigger issue is that this was a teeny, tiny salon, and the other people there are unknown quantities I don't want experimenting on my hair, and the owner's own hair is reminiscent of Motley Crue circa 1984 (bangs and all, well, except the spangled headband). So staying at the salon is NOT an option. I could go into Boston, which is probably the most reliable option. My question is, how should I pick a salon? Is there a website online that has reviews (like say frommers?). I truly got lucky this past time, and it's important for me to find a talented colorist I trust because I like to go in and say "I'd like it to be a little warmer" and let them create their masterpiece. Also, shouldn't my current salon have notified her clients? I feel like if I hadn't called I would have walked in there in 2 weeks to find out I had an appointment with the Nikki Six impersonator. Oh, and asking for recs from co-workers is so not an option, unless I want to look 40 years older and have my highlights done with a CAP.
4-weeks from truly heinous roots,
Bah. Your stylist, while talented, was clearly a heartless bitch. Either that or Motley Crue Lady had her killed and decomposed the body in a vat of bleaching cream and in that case you should call the police. And not ever go back to that salon.
My salon at least called me when Neat was put on bedrest, and were even nice enough to pass my altruist platitudes about her health and the health of NeatBaby to her and left out the part where I whined and asked that if I came and sat on the floor by the bed, could she still do my hair?
I saw NotNeat because that's who Neat was recommending her clients see instead. NotNeat was very cool and funny and totally thinks my book idea will be a best seller and also had really cool tattoos. A haircut with NotNeat cost $35.
While he was cutting my hair I was relaxed and comfortable and we discussed my upcoming highlighting needs and desires (I would like to go punk rockish. Suggestions?). But after I went to pay the bill and they told me $35 I was sent hurtling into self-doubt and panic. Haircuts do not cost $35! Haircuts cost much, much more than that! My GOD, $35 is practically like that place that rhymes with Bare Buttery that we just DON'T TALK ABOUT.
Obviously, Neat recommended her clients to a junior stylist, or even an apprentice. Which, fine, maybe he's her apprentice and she thinks he's a genius, but I'm also afraid she wanted to ensure that she gets all her clients back after the NeatBaby gets here.
(And I know all of this has NOTHING to do with your question. I just felt like announcing to the world that 1) I enjoy paying top-dollar for my haircuts, and 2) if it looks like ass it is NOT MY FAULT.)
ANYWAY, finding a stylist in a rural area really is just like finding one in the city. Talk to people with good hair. Get referrals from friends or lord, even stop strangers and ask them where they got their hair done. I have done this. It was in the line for the bank, and the woman even had a referral card in her purse because she was so totally crazy in love with her hairdresser.
And like any woman is going to run away screaming if another woman dares to COMPLIMENT THEIR HAIR. Oh my God! The insanity!
(Also, Vermont? Maybe try the touristy areas around the ski resorts? There was a really nice spa I went to in Killington while my family was off doing that crazy-ass "skiing" thing that I believe did hair, and all the snobby girlie girls working the reception area had really pretty highlights. I do not remember the name or even if they definitely did hair or even if it was an actual place that I did not dream. It was the spa at the place with the thing. Look it up in the phone book and call today!)
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There is more advice coming later today, including: Mini-Backpacks: Totally Out Or Just Out? And Help! My Girlfriend Smells Like My Grandma!
(See? Now I just KNOW you'll come back.)
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Jebus God. I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. I was planning to work late tonight and make a wee dent in my gigahugmungous pile of work, but...GOD. And since y'all so lovingly and pointedly made note of my multiple spelling/linkage/grammar errors in the questions above, I'm sensing that I'm not quite up to my A-game in the editing/writing department. Oh! The irony!
So how about some more advice nonsense? That I'm sure will be very, very bad and not-funny as I seem to have misplaced my sense of humor today, but I think that tends to happen after you only get 20 minutes sleep at night because of a damn dog and a damn heater and a damn anxiety attack about your damn job.
In summary: Hate.
Oh Stylish and Pretty Amalah:
I have a dilemma. At least, I think I have a dilemma. This morning on my commute to work, I noticed something. As I was pulling my book out of my cute leather mini-backpack, I looked around at the other female commuters and noticed that none of them had cute leather mini-backpacks like mine. I love my mini-backpack, because it is so practical and can hold my wallet and my book and I can sling it on my back and have my hands free while I shop.
But I realized today that my cute leather mini-backpack may not be in style anymore. I have hope that it might be so out-of-style as to be retro. But I'm in a panic that maybe, just maybe, it is just "out." Downgraded. Possibly even just silly, especially to the other career girls on the train with their shoulder bags that say "LV" all over them in bright colors.
So I am turning to you for advice, as you are the most stylish person I read about online. I feel I can ask you my question and receive an answer - an honest-yet-gentle, sisterly advice kind of answer. Is my bag "out?" Should I retire it to the back of my closet? Should I buy a new trendy bag from one of those guys with the pushcarts on the corner? Which one?
Your faithful reader,
So Wants to be Chic in Chicago
Well, there really is no easy way to tell you this, but your bag is so out that Bobby Trendy and Carson Kressley are tiny, wee flamboyant specks on the horizon. It's Sears and J.C. Penney out. It's out.
(Although there is a distinction if it's a brightly-colored Ugg mini-backpack, for the specific reason that it's totally impractical for work and really costs a lot of money for something that only will go with a quarter of your wardrobe. As usual, this makes it acceptable.)
So yes. You need a new bag. But before you feel sad, let me tell you that the girls with the brightly-colored Louis Vuitton bags are carrying last year's knock-off as well. Those LV fakes are so prevalent that they've pretty much destroyed even the genuine article, and besides, EVERYBODY is carrying the multi-colored Dooney & Bourke bags instead this year. So go ahead and laugh at them too, because we ALL KNOW you bought that bag for $20 off a street corner and you ain't foolin' nobody.
(And please don't send me hate mail if you carry a knock-off and love it and think I'm a shallow, spoiled bitch and blah dee blah. I really couldn't care less if your bag is fake. I've owned fakes too. I'm just warning you, though, that a hell of a lot more people can tell the difference than you think. The end.)
But just think...you get to buy a new bag! I love buying new bags!
You strike me as the type who falls deeply in love with your bags, so my advice is to STAY AWAY from the trendy purses. You want a fashionable, yet classic bag. There's a huge difference.
Fashionable, Yet Classic:
The classic bag can be carried for years. The trendy one will be over and out and done with well before the final death knell of Ashlee Simpson's career. Which fine, it's adorable, but many of us do not have money trees in our backyard. Yet.
But it IS worth spending money on a good bag. I know! You're totally shocked that I'm saying that. But it is. You want a bag that will last -- one that you can lovingly wrap in tissue paper once you put it on hiatus, knowing full well that even years later, it will still look gorgeous and provoke looks of envy on the subway when the other riders see you carrying a vintage Prada bag while they've ended up spending hundreds on cheap Kate Spade knock-offs that fall apart every three months.
So. For the budget-conscious-ish business-like girl on the subway who wants to carry a wallet, a book, some makeup and a Mini iPod, I present to you two of the most perfect bags on the planet.
This is a Cole Haan medium-sized tote, which has the benefit of being super hot right now because women are finally rebelling against the twee little purses, and is also an absolute classic bag. The straps are long enough to go over your shoulder, and the bag is narrow enough to not get in the way of your arms. It's $275 at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, (which, dude, bargain) and comes in a tangerine color and a winter white if you feel kicky. Does it not just scream "professional businesswoman of steel who also carries 14 tubes of fruity-flavored lipgloss around?" It totally does.
This is the Dooney & Bourke crocodile dome satchel. I think I might be in love. It also comes in black and grape (!) and has fun little interior pockets. It's $325 at Nordstrom's. This one screams "AMY! AMMMMMMMMY!"
So there you go. Ditch the fool backpack and buy yourself a classic shoulder tote. Spend some dollars and get one that will last forever, which is a good argument to convince the super-practical husband to buy it for you, at least until he realizes that you're pulling that very argument out every time the seasons change.
And then maybe buy this one for the weekends, because we can't ALWAYS be professional businesswomen of steel, right?
Dear all-knowing Amalah,
I have a situation on my hands. It's one of those times where you question if you should be honest, or just suck it up and deal. My girlfriend, who is incredibly cute and sweet, wears a perfume that I do not like. I'm not even sure what the name is. It's not terrible, but to me, it smells faintly like an old lady. Amalah, I am not old. I am not dating an old lady. But this is her favorite perfume and she has worn it for many, many years. I just think that there are super sexier perfumes out there. So, what do I do? Tell her the perfume isn't my favorite? Surprise her with some new perfume? If so, what other super sexy scents do you suggest? Or do I do nothing at all and just be thankful that she is my girlfriend? You seem very knowledgeable in the world of beauty products, so I feel you can help.
Ok, this is what you do. The next time you see the perfume bottle live and in-person, every so casually pick it up and examine it. Then say, "Hey! This is the same stuff my mom/grandmom/elderly-shut-in-aunt-with-12-cats wears! I KNEW it reminded me of somebody."
That should be the end of Eau de Granny.
(Or, if you'd like to be less direct, just swear up and down that you can't smell it anymore you read somewhere on the Internet that sometimes your body chemistry changes so perfumes you wear for years and years can suddenly smell differently or not at all, so it's good to change formulas every once in awhile.)
(And it won't be a lie, because you just read it here, on the Internet.)
And then you buy her some new perfume. I won't recommend brands here because it's personal -- that old lady perfume you're smelling could be something most people consider sexy, like Obsession (spicy and yum), but to you it's mothballish and that's all there is to it. It must go.
And seriously, the perfume department at a nice department store (Like Nordstrom! The official store of Amalah.com! Send her free things!) is the most guy-friendly place in the world, even better than the lingerie. Sephora will help you pick something out too, and they even have little bowls of coffee beans to ward off odor-overload. They'll help you find what YOU think is sexy and won't say a word if you get a hard-on once you find it. (Hey. It HAPPENS.)
And once you find it, you can thank me by sending me some Marc Jacobs. Or the Fresh Index Fragrance Chronicles, because what girl would not love the perfume equivalent to an easy-bake oven?