Reason #4671251 Why I Need This Vacation

Thurwednesday Advice Smackdown

(There will not be a Smackdown next week, due to the fact that the Smackdowner will. Be. In. ARUBA. I hope y'all will be okay without me, and will not go bolting towards the nearest Hair Cuttery and Maybelline display as soon as I leave.)

Dear Amalah,

I do not, for the life of me, understand Gwen Stefani's new song. What's  a Hollaback Girl? What track? What's not gonna just happen like that? Bananas? The hell?


I have no idea. And to think, I was still pleased with myself for knowing what that milkshake song was talking about. So, so old.

Dear Amalah,

First off, I hope your energy improves. Though I should mention during my first pregnancy I think I was awake two of the nine months. I kept a journal and went back to read it a year or two ago and holy cow. I slept a LOT. Sending second-trimester energy boost vibes your way.

Secondly, I have hair issues. My hair is, for the most part, in the same exact style I've worn since at least high school, if not since infancy. I am attaching a photo which you must not share upon penalty of my extreme humiliation so you can see the extent of my problem. My chief complaint is the bangs. I've had bangs since the age of five and if you don't count that period in the late eighties/early nineties where it was fashionable (in what universe??) to have "half" bangs with the top hairsprayed into reaching dizzying heights. And I don't. I need to know what to do here. I have an enormous forehead, which if you can believe it, is actually paler and whiter than the rest of my body and could unintentionally blind people on the street. Should I nix the bangs once and for all? I know you've spoken about bangs growing out before, but I'm still not entirely clear on the best way to do this and retain a small amount of style. I like to keep my hair on the longish side, so I can put it back in a ponytail (which is how I most frequently wear my hair), but would like to remove some of the weight of it and add some interest. It's awfully thick and has a little bit of natural curl.

Thank you SO much. Your advice is always spot on. I'm just hoping you can help a helpless case like me.


Sigh. I would like to know exactly who these hairdressers are that keep cutting bangs like that. ("That" being the "thick, blunt, curled-under mall bangs.") Bangs have evolved, people! These are not your big sister's best-friend-who-took-a-night-class-at-hair-school's bangs!

Okay, advice for Callista (who, by the way, has the most gorgeous red hair ever that I sort of hate her for and I will personally hurt if she ever colors it). I think you should keep your bangs. No, really! Just not, like, THOSE bangs. I think you need to throw your curling iron out the window. And then run over it with your car.

I agree that bangs fit your facial shape, but right now those bangs are waaay too thick to be flattering. And too long. And too curled-under. (Have I mentioned the curling-under part already? Can I mention it again?)

You need to let a few parts grow out -- about a quarter-inch from each side (your bangs are wider than your face, which is Bad), and about a quarter-inch from the top (your bangs are not a fringe, they are a brick wall).

Tell your hairdresser (a new one, preferably, because some sins cannot be forgiven) that you want to "thin your bangs out." They'll know what to do and can transform that wall of hair into something more wispy and side-sweeping and textural. Remember: blunt, straight-down-to-the-eyebrows bangs rarely look good on people who are not Debbie Harry. And they look ESPECIALLY BAD on people with thick, wavy hair. (I did straight, blunt bangs for awhile last year and did not love them, not one bit, and my hair is about as thick as peach fuzz and as wavy as uncooked spaghetti. So trust me, it's a tough look to pull off.)

And of course, yes, you'll need to change the rest of your hair to accomodate the growing-out process. Some subtle layers that don't actually look like layers will work. Again, a GOOD HAIRDRESSER can fix everything just by hearing that you want to "get rid of some weight" in the longer parts of your hair.

I cannot stress the need for a good hairdresser, people. Walk-in salons are not your friends. Junior stylists who give half-priced haircuts on Sundays are not your friends. And mall salons cut mall hair. Yes, there are exceptions, but I've seen Callista's photo, people, and I cannot let her take that chance in good conscience.

Dear Amalah,

I am about to finish my master's degree. My husband got a new job and is moving. Therefore, I am moving and intend to go back into teaching. Overall, I look much younger than my (nearly) 28 years. However, I have dark undereye circles that are of the devil. (I'll try to get a good picture to show you just what we're working with here) These circles are so large and so dark they literally scream spousal abuse. I used to use an undereye circle lightening product from Mary Kay (I know...but it worked so well!) until they discontinued it. I have some left, but it's getting old and not as effective as it once was. Today I noticed that my concealer and foundation were actually creasing in the under eye area making me look like an abused 16 year old with wrinkles. It is bad. This is not the image one wants to project when applying for a new teaching position. They don't like to hire teachers in the inner city who are victims of abuse.

I have no problem spending money on this (the previous product was $30 for a very small tube). I've been told I should consider Benefit's Lemon-Aid for the eyelids (which are slightly dark) and Lyin' Eyes to cover the circles. Except my circles look much worse than the before picture on the website, leading me to believe that these are products designed for those women who just needed a few less drinks or a few more hours of sleep last night. So, dearest, I need help. I need a product to help lighten them and I need a concealer that will cover it up. And for the tough part? I don't like to wear thick makeup. I like looking fresh and dewey...natural, without actually being "natural."

Miss W

(Prepare yourselves, this maybe the most un-Amalah-sounding answer in the history of the Smackdown.)

First of all, dude, I used that Mary Kay eye stuff too. It was straight from heaven and I still have a tiny, tiny bit left for emergencies. I keep it in the fridge, next to the butter and these packets of yeast I bought four years ago when I totally planned to bake fresh bread for some reason.

Anyway. Keeping your eye masks and creams and such in the refrigerator extends their life and gives them an added cooling benefit. And it gives you an excuse to get a snack everytime you apply them.

I was at Sephora this weekend, where I bought not one blessed thing, but oddly enough, the two products you mentioned came highly recommended by the salesgirl when presented with the hypothetical eyebag problem. So I'd say you should give them a try.

BUT. I have two value-added solutions for you, neither of which involve makeup. The first one is Clean & Clear Under Eye Brightening Stick, which, I KNOW, cheap-ass drugstore crap. But I love this stick. It's no miracle-in-a-tube, or anything, but it's decent. And it's $6.49. And it just might give you the added brightness to make the Benefit and Lyin' Eyes products work better for you. And it's $6.49.

The second solution is old school, more than a little gross, and hotly disputed. And that's Preparation H. While many people claim that the ol' Preparation-H-for-the-under-eyes trick is just an urban legend created to embarass beauty queens and models, just as many people swear that no, it really does work.

Basically, I think it comes down to this: just how fucking desperate are you?

I'll admit it. I've been just that desperate. After long nights of boozing, salty bar food and no sleep, I've put the ass cream on my face.

Specifically, I've put the Preparation H Cooling Gel on my face. It's not as greasy as the original formula and barely smells at all. Put it on, let it dry, dab on your concealer and call me crazy, I think it works just fine.

And yes, I keep the tube in my fridge, hidden in the vegetable crisper.

Dear Amalah,

I am also a terribly white girl. I will be moving to SPAIN, SPAIN, YAY SPAIN!!! this summer and need a recommendation for sunscreen. Anything over SPF 30 usually gives me a stingy, red, bumpy rash (I know, yum) and I hate sunscreen that feels all gloopy and thick and strangles the skin (in other words, feels like sunscreen). Any ideas? I'm up for paying good money for this, as I will need to wear it everyday.

Thanks a frillion! I would trust only you, the lovely queen, with this humble request.




I heart Clarins.

(Any questions?)

Hi Queen Amalah!

I am a fan of yours, cos I think you're very pretty and funny. A winning combination, and then add to that your selection of bags and shoes... well. Amazing.

Right well I am a reader in London, so you and your world seems very far away from me and mine, but I love reading your blog because it makes me laugh and I like you. A lot of the reason I'm writing to you is because I have started to feel a bit strange that I have read your whole website (I don't do much work) and therefore feel a bit like I know you, but I have never actually introduced myself. So, er, hi, yeah, great website. My name's Léonie. Feeling a bit coy now.

Also you and Dooce and Martha and Miss Doxie, all of whom I read lots as well have inspired me to start my own blog! So I've written some entries ( but now I am scared Amalah! That it isn't funny, that I can't work computers well enough to make it pretty and soft and warm like yours. Also I don't have a digital camera and I want pictures to show. I am worrying, Amalah. Concerned. Please give me advice. Or maybe a camera.

Thank you oh Queen of All that is Nice.



Dude, you live in LONDON. And you talk like you live in London. That automatically makes your blog Cool and Quirky and people who read it are going to be all, "Cheerio! She's so cute! And clearly so superior to us Americans, who go to the Hair Cuttery and eat breakfast burritos from 7-Eleven while she's shopping at Harrod's and having a spot of tea."

And you totally don't have to actually shop at Harrod's or have spots of tea, but we'll assume you do, because all we know about England is what we learned from that Pride & Prejudice miniseries and from the Confessions of a Shopaholic books.

IN OTHER WORDS, I'll stop rambling, because I haven't eaten lunch yet and my blood sugar is dropping and I'm making no sense. Your blog is JUST FINE. Your blog is you, right? Don't write to entertain an Internet-rock-star-sized audience, or even a small-modest-blogger-sized audience. Write to entertain YOURSELF. Tell stories, rant, bitch, and endlessly amuse yourself. Don't be fake, and don't be afraid to look or sound stupid sometimes.

If you want readers, get out there on other blogs and start commenting and start linking and pretty soon you'll get linked somewhere and people will come and it'll be just like Field Of Dreams: The Internet Version, Without All The Daddy Issues.

And yes, a digital camera is a great tool for any blogger. You can post pictures instead of saying anything intelligent! Buy a cheap one or get someone to buy you one for your birthday. That's the English spirit!*

*I have no idea what the English spirit is, or if it even exists. I am also not usually this into stereotypes either.**

**Oh, but I am.

That's all I have time for today, chickies. Apologies if your question didn't get answered this go-round. I could be still pondering its complexities or waiting for the person on whom I ultimately dumped it to write me back with their answer. I cheat like that sometimes. Got another question? Or would just like the benefit of some free linkage? Write to and tune in week after next.


Dr. Johnny Fever

Hold on a sec. You put ass creme on your face?

Guess I don't need to feel so bad about shaving my eyebrows anymore.


great column, as usual. Have FUN in Aruba! We'll be waiting for lots of great photos.

bond girl

I'm terribly jealous of your poster who is moving to Spain!

Also, I would like to recommend to Callista that she get thee a copy of the Coach Spring catalog and consider wearing scarves like headbands such as the model wears throughout its beautiful, glossy goodness to get through the awkward growing-out-of-the-bangs phase. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)


I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I go
to the Hair Cuttery and get compliements (Gasp!) on the cuts. Then again I've been told I have nice hair. Please don't publicly flog me.


I am shamed for using cheap hair cutters. ;) (I should probably not mention that more often than using cheap hair cutters I have my husband trim my hair. OH THE SHAME!)

Thank you SO much, oh wonderful Amalah... You give such fabulous advice. I will take the plunge. I will go see an ACTUAL STYLIST. ;) No looking back.

And bond girl...the scarf idea sounds fantastic and so flirty/fun! I may just have to try that. :)


Hello lovely Queen Amalah! I just couldn't help myself and had to post a comment in response to Miss W's question about the dreaded under-eye circles. I too suffer from this affliction, I have spent countless hours sampling product after product. I have tried creams, concealers, cover-up sticks, spackle, paint, you name it. After all my searching I finally found a combination of products that works wonders, and she was on the right track with Benefit. They have three products that I could not live without, starting with Eye-Con. It is an under eye cream that is specifically designed to diminish the appearance of dark circles, and since I have been using it I have noticed pretty dramatic results. The next crucial step is Boing, an industrial strength palette concealer that is simply a godsend. It is light on your skin, not at all cakey or greasy, and it won't crease either. If she gets herself a good concealer brush she will be good to go. The crowning glory is their EyeBright Stick. It is a very light pink color that blends in like magic. It makes your eyes look so perky and awake, you will feel more rested and rejuvenated just looking at yourself in the mirror. I hope I am not stepping on your beautifully manicured toes Miss Amalah, you being the offial Smackdowner and all, but I just couldn't help myself, I simply had to share my treasure with a fellow under eye circle sympathizer :)

Real Girl

Yayyyyyy for the Confessions of a Shopaholic reference!...I edited the first 3 books in the series when I was still a book editor...

And the author and I went shopping at Harvey Nic's in London, where I bought something I couldn't afford because it was in POUNDS and therefore just colorful paper.

Sorry for commenting about something other than your always expert and fabulous advice, but I got so nostalgic!

Also? Jealous of Aruba. Jeallllllous.


Have a fabulous trip to Aruba!

That Shopaholic series is like crack in book form. I picked one up at the library last summer and just COULD NOT STOP reading them.


Um, Amalah? Did you notice that after the letter from the English person that you started writing with an English accent? Especially your last paragraph. Are you having a spot of tea now?


Once again, Queen Of Everything, I bow at your feet in praise of your infinite wisdom.

And I totally read your reply to that letter with an English accent too, it was all BBC-like. I am English, but I'm from Liverpool so my accent sounds absolutely nothing like that (and btw I hate tea!). However, before any English readers judge me, I don't have a horrible Scouse accent either.

What the hell am I saying? This means nothing to most of you.

Have a great time in Aruba! I look forward to seeing some pictures :)

P.S I looooooooooaaaaaaaaavvvvveeeeeeeeee the Shopaholic books!


Amalah, have a great trip! And also the prep H, it totally works. But I'm also a fan of clinique's all about eyes and it's not embarressing to buy!


Thanks ever-so-much for the sunscreen advice. I should be able to get Clarins in Spain, too, cause it's all french-like, right? And yes, moving to Spain is very exciting, especially since I've been living in Japan and it's...nice.

Thanks again and hope things are going splendidly and have fun in Aruba. Can't wait to see the pictures!

The Muse

I completely swear by BeneFit products, too! And yes, the Eye-Con is heaven in a mini-jar, and during the drier winter momths, I use Dear John moisturizer daily, and now just at night. Oh, and if anyone is looking for a good lip gloss, try BeneFit's The Gloss - Rave Reviews is an amazing color!
Okay, I'm off to update my site with a linkto the great and wonderful Amalah.


I, too, suffer from curiously dark undereye circles. I recently started using "Boing!" by Benefit INSTEAD OF LemonAid and I love it like Amalah loves Clarins. Vincent Longo also makes an amazing undereye booster - although I'm not completely sure of the name.

Love the blog, Amalah - I've been lurking for awhile now. Keep up the good work!


For sunscreen on sensitive skin, I once read that Oxybenzone is the culprit behind the red bump reaction. I looked long and hard last year for a sunscreen without it (many of these are zinc oxide based and tend toward the greasy spectrum). I haven't found a brand I love, but no more bumps!

good luck!


anotheramy - Yes Clarins is sold EVERYWHERE in Spain.

Amalah, I have done some research on the term "Hollaback Girl". seems to come up with various explanations for this phenomena, the a popular one being:

An attractive girl but not the cream of the crop.
When Tom sees Juile at a club, He hollas at her because she looks good but then when he sees Becky he forgets all about Juile. At the end of the night Becky won't put out so he 'hollas back' at Juile.

However, another explanation which seems more coherent with the song is:

a girl who spends her time discussing issues and trying to win over others with logic.
In Gwen Stafani's song. When another girl said some bad things about her thinking she wouldn't find out, the character in Gwen's song didn't want to discuss the matter, she simply went to the offender and kicked her big mouthed butt. (Cuz She Aint no Hollaback Girl)

From this scientific study, I can conclude that while the meaning of "Hollaback Girl" is still ambiguous, with perhaps various explanations being correct, we definitely know that Miss Stefani in fact ain't no Hollaback Girl, which narrows it down slightly.

I feel personally that the second one is correct. Cuz Gwen don't take no shit. And her shit is BANANAS.


Care of Urban Dictionary:

Hollaback Girl:
An attractive girl but not the cream of the crop.
**When Tom sees Juile at a club, He hollas at her because she looks good but then when he sees Becky he forgets all about Juile. At the end of the night Becky won't put out so he 'hollas back' at Juile.**

Totally baffled about what the spelling of bananas could mean, except I once read Gwen was dyslexic. So maybe, you know, good for her or what-frickin'-ever.


LOVING the Hollaback definition.

This pasty white girl wears Obagi sunscreen SPF35 -I swear by it!


had to come back to tell you that yesterday i bought that clean 'n' clear brightening stick and it REALLY helped -- you ARE a goddess. Enjoy Aruba!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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