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Good Morning America (and Amalah)

Wednesday Advice Smackdown

Lord, y'all, the question queue is HOPPING lately. So many good good questions. So much crappy crappy advice I have to give.

Since today's column ran a bit (crazy insane ridiculous) long, I'm going to save a few questions for next week. If your question didn't get answered, I'm sorry, but I promise to answer it soon. If you need immediate assistance, please hit 0 on your keyboard and someone will be with you shortly.

(Except for Amber, with the shoe question, because the shoes you were asking about are no longer linkable or on sale, and I'm so so sorry, because they were cute, and if you did buy them I'd say money well spent, unless you didn't, and then I'd say good because actually I didn't like the bell-bottom heel that much.)

Got a question? Preferably one with a shelf life of a week or two? Send it to and blah blah blah I'll answer it when I damn well feel like it.


What is a kick-ass brand of lip-liner? (Bearing mind that I SOLEMNLY SWEAR TO NEVER MISMATCH MY LIPLINER WITH MY LIPSTICK, EVER. I've never done it and never will.)

Can you advise me on getting very pretty day and evening looks for my lips/lipstick/gloss?

Thank you, Amalah-lah-lah. You are the BESTEST.

I actually don't have a brand perference for lipliner. I buy whatever brand has the color I want in the type of liner I want. (Hint: PENCIL. No crayons, liquids, high-tech-self-sharpening-retractables, etc. I like a soft pencil and an old-school sharpener.)

Currently I'm using a Sephora-brand pencil which is a ridiculously fabulous buy at just $4. I wear it with a variety of sheer neutral glosses during the day, and then use tinted glosses for evening. I cannot remember the last time I bought an actual lipstick.

And yes, I use the same lipliner for both day and night looks. This is because (NEWS FLASH!) your liner should match YOUR LIPS, NOT YOUR LIPSTICK. (Unless you're wearing some screaming red lipstick that's 400 shades redder than your lips, of course. Then you can match the lipstick, but this is a moot point because you should never, ever wear a screaming red lipstick that's 400 shades redder than your lips, because guess what! You look like a whore.)

The liner should match your lips because, duh, it tends to last a LOT longer than even the longest-lasting lipstick. This is what happens: you line your lips in that nice deep raisin color in the morning, put on the coordinating lipstick, proceed to leave said lipstick all over the rim of your morning coffee cup, and then you're left with clown lips because honestly, who has the energy to reapply their lipstick 10 times a day?

And before any of y'all say anything about filling in the entire lip with liner? Don't. At one time we've all suddenly thought we're total rocket scientists when we go, "Hey, since the liner lasts so long, why don't I just color my whole lip with it? Dude, I'm a GENIUS." And then you proceed to have cakey, dry-looking lips all day because even the creamiest liner craps out when overused and rubs off in the center of your lips and suddenly you don't look like such a genius anymore.

(Oh, and anyone who takes their lipliner above and beyond the natural line of their lips? I'm sorry, I cannot help you. Please go back to trailer from which you came.)

So, the Lipliner Manifesto, in summary: use a pencil, match your lips and natural skin tone, line only the actual outer edge of your lips, the end.

Okay Queen of Everything, I am in desperate need of some advice.

I quit smoking about four years ago (yeah for me) but unfortunately, the damage to my teeth was done. I've tried all the whtening toothpaste that I can find and nothing works all that well. I've tried those trays but I can't keep them in my mouth (I have kind of a strong gag reflex). Short of shelling out the hundreds and hundreds of dollars to have them whitened at the dentist, are there any other solutions? I so want a sparkly shiny smile.

Please help me!! Thanks so very very much!!!

Crest WhiteStrips. They really, truly, totally honest-to-God-and-the-Baby-Jesus work.

I haven't tried the new "premium" ones that claim to whiten for six months or more, but I agree that you do need to start over with the original strips after a few months of coffee and red wine to keep the whiteness level up. But for just $30 and 30 minutes twice a day, they are easily the best whitening product this side of the dentist. And the dentist's method will mostly likely use trays, unfortunately, so you'll have the same gagging problem with the $500 professional treatment.

(Although I remember seeing some kind of laser whitening treatment on Queer Eye once that they recommended for a guy with serious Austin-Powers-on-three-packs-a-day teeth. Then they followed it up with a box of WhiteStrips, so if you have some really stubborn staining you might need to kickstart the process with some professional help.)

And wear the strips during your commute so you aren't constantly fixated on the fact that you can't eat or drink for 30 minutes. Otherwise you'll slap the stips on and then be overcome with a craving to eat that package of salami from the fridge and open a bottle of wine RIGHT THAT INSTANT.

I just read the last advice smackdown, and can I just say? I love my hair. I really do. It's long, naturally curly, and all the people that stop me to tell me just exactly how much money they'd pay for my hair makes me feel, well, like I have more money than they do.

Here's my thing, after a lightbulb cut when I was 13 years old, I've been cutting it myself. I'm now 31. The goth bangs, mine. The choppy layers, all by these hands. This is the thing: I sort of want a long cut, but the bangs are outdated, the layers, well, I'm giving myself the same lightbulb cut I had when I was 13. It's just now longer and a mishmash of lengths. My problem? My face. It's as long as a mule's. Eyes? Love 'em. Lips, great. Face? All my pictures make me look horsey and old. I want to bray. The only reason I can't send a worse picture is because I have ripped up/deleted them all. So, shorter, more layered, natural curls, the way the internet says I have to cut my hair for my face, make me look even more like a lightbulb when it gets fluffy. The longer, more even cuts that my hair needs to fall flat make me look equine. I will go to a good hairdresser, but, I want to be able to give some sort of idea to him about what I'd like. Are there NAMES for the kind of cutting technique I want? What would you recommend to a girl whose hair needs to be long to not frizz out like the coarse but extremely lightweight hair I have, but that needs a shorter cut, at least around the sides, to not make me look mammalian and like I'd give good saddle?

(BTW, the first pic, in which I look great, was taken in Phoenix, where the humidity is lower than my cat's weight. I now live in Colorado, and it rains alot this time of year. I had to wear a hat for a year when I was in high school, because my hair grows so slowly. Help?)


I hope you'll believe me here, but I think that your hair? Is great. I love it, really and truly. And I think you are being way, way too hard on your features and what you are "supposed" to be doing with your hair and blah blah blah.

Guess what! We're all different, and even the most general of rules has its exceptions and baby, you are it. More layers, especially around the face, would NOT work for you. They might make your face look wider, but not in a good way. With curly hair and a long skinny frame? You'd look like a Q-tip. And I LIKE the little half-forehead-goth-bangs on you. I get the sense that they fit your personality and honestly? If they work for you, then they work for you. Enough said.

It certainly couldn't hurt to get a professional's opinion, especially about the self-cut, growing-out laters. Unfortunately, some professionals can sense weakness and a vague desire for change and decide to do something drastic. Like more layers. Which have I mentioned? Would NOT work for you? A little texturizing would be the most dramatic thing I'd suggest and could take a teeny bit of the weight off the bottom while keeping your hair the same length and NOT giving you separate, definable layers.

If you are looking for a change, it's best to NOT get that change on your first visit to a particular stylist. Make them earn your trust by doing exactly what you say (even if it's just "take exactly a half inch off, no more, no less") the first couple times you see them. If you get the sense that they do listen to you and aren't trying to push the latest technique they've learned, ask their advice. You can always say no.

And for the frizz? That's all about the product, not the cut. Oh, and a really, really good blow-dryer and diffuser.

Y'all know my deep, dark love of Tigi products, so I'd suggest combing Bed Head Control Freak through wet hair, followed with Cat Walk Curls Rock Curls Booster and a few good scrunches. Then blow-dry with your diffuser and finish with Bed Head Headrush spray shine. These are all products I use on my own lightweight and frizzy thin hair, so I know they won't weigh you down with gobs of pomade and goo.

If they aren't strong enough to fight your frizz, then again, get a stylist you TRUST to recommend something. (Also don't ask on your first visit, as they could be all, SUCKER and sell you a bunch of discontinued crap that's about to be marked down 50% in two days.)

Dearest Amalah, Homecoming Queen of All Blogs,

I have a couple of questions that I was hoping that you could help me with. You see, my best friend (and matron of honor in my upcoming wedding if we are being technical) and I have a blog. We decided to blog after our friend Mirella began hers. Throughout our readings, we came across you. You. Are. Great. Why won't you be our friend? We have tried time upon time again to comment, post, and email and we got nothing, nada, nunno (is that a word) from you! We are funny, hip, stylish, and must have "please comment anonymously and rudely" stamped on our bloggie address, but we don't have your comments. I am aware that sometimes this blogging business becomes quite a chore, but if you could so kindly stop by our site and perhaps, comment, we would greatly appreciate it. Oh yeah, here's our site:!

Secondly, I am also planning a honeymoon. It has become apparent and obvious while reviewing every post you have ever made, that you are quite the traveler such as myself. I am a Caribbean queen and have been a lot of places, but I want to go... AGAIN. My fiance has never been out of the Northeastern United States (pity him, I know) and doesn't care where we go, so it is up to me. I have been on two cruises to the western caribbean, and I have vacationed in the Bahamas and Aruba. I want to go somewhere NEW! Where do you advise us to go? Do you feel a cruise or an all-inclusive trip to another island would be our best bet?

Need A Honeymoon and U As Our Friend

Okay, let's divide this question up into Part A: Please Be Our Friend and Part B: Vacationage. And let's begin with Part B, because I think that just makes good sense.

As for Part B: Vacationage, I'm actually not so much with the world travel. We were so poor when we got married we honeymooned in Williamsburg, Virginia. We've been to Aruba twice and once went on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas with my entire company. Oh, and I went to Europe with my high-school Spanish class, which is where I bought the plastic shoes.

I hated the cruise, and only partially because of the overwhelming Disney-ness of it all. I didn't like being stuck on a boat, I didn't like the tiny cabin with the weird toilet, and I didn't like the big group dinners where you had to sit and eat and converse with OTHER PEOPLE. I don't like other people, especially on vacation. So I'd say no to a cruise on your honeymoon, because there are simply too many other people in very close quarters, and also you have to waste valuable sex time on those stupid lifeboat drills.

Have you thought about Costa Rica? I am dying to go to Costa Rica, ever since seeing the first season of Temptation Island (shut up), which was filmed at this resort. It's not yet a huge tourist trap like Aruba or the Bahamas, and there's tons of cool stuff to do, like seeing monkeys in the rainforest or bathing in volcanic(!) hot springs.

If we were to go on another big trip that was 1) not in August, which is when our anniversary is, and GODDAMN, it's either 150 degrees everywhere or in the middle of monsoon season, or 2) not when I was pregnant, which eliminates any cool activities like hiking around the rain forest to see monkeys or swinging across zip lines, we'd do Costa Rica on an all-inclusive adventure package.

Mostly because I really like monkeys.

And now, Part A: Please Be Our Friend.

Y'all, I suck at stuff like that. It's really nothing personal. There was a time, a long time ago, when I did not suck. I answered emails. I responded to comments. I read 450 blogs a day and commented on at least half of them. And I met some very cool people by doing this.

I also met some not-very-cool people, and some people who at first seemed very cool and then turned out to not be so much with the cool. And I got hurt by some people and then I inadvertantly hurt some other people and finally came to the conclusion that the Internet functions at about a seventh-grade level and I don't want to talk about it anymore; I'll be in my room.

So I don't really comment on a lot of sites anymore, even though I still read about 450 sites a day. Ask even my very best Internet friends in the world when I last commented on their sites, and they'll stare at you blankly and mutter something about the Clinton administration.

And I turned off that "email new comments" feature some time ago. I've been trying to respond to comments IN my actual comments section a little more lately, although I know people don't like this as much as the replying-to-comments-by-email thing, but y'all, look...


1,086 unread emails. And they're all from comments made to this site. (Or at least I thought they were until I did some inbox cleaning recently and found unread emails from 1) a literary agent wanting to discuss book ideas, 2) a reporter wanting to interview me about non-anonymous blogging, and 3) four emails from my mom. Whoops.)

So when you comment to this site, rest assured that I read it. I check my comments many times a day and read every one, but with an average of about 40 comments per entry, I just can't reply to each one personally. (It's a trade-off though...when I responded to comments I received far fewer comments from assholes. Now I get the drive-bys from strangers who want to tell me how stupid I am for buying a dry-clean-only diaper bag or that I'm being childish for wanting an ultrasound at 20 weeks or that I am just generally a bitch and they hate me for no particular reason.)

(To these people: Hi, I'm Amy, and I don't know you at all. And this may come as a shock to you, seeing as you spent an afternoon with my archives and clearly feel that your opinion matters to me, but you don't know me either. AT ALL. So while you're certainly free to say whatever you like in your comments, I'm also free to publicly make fun of you later. Don't like it? Get your own damn site and see how you feel when random strangers crap all over your life.)

And as for all the nice people who send me email directly, I read these too. (Or I do now that I'm not drowning in new-comment notification messages.) And this is where I frankly, just suck. You've taken the time to tell me how much you enjoy the site and my writing and what do I do? I blush and I smile and then I never write back because I can't think of a clever way to respond. Perhaps this stems from me not knowing how to take a compliment. Like would it kill me to just reply with thanks for reading, and you smell nice too?

Apparently, yes, it would. For I do sure suck.

ANYWAY. Thanks for asking this question and letting me vent all this crap and explain myself and provide some frantic justification for my suckitude as a member of the web writing community.

And I HAVE been to your site. And I HAVE read it and know who you are and consider you to be friendly happy commenters. And your site is fun. I love a good collaborative blog and your collaborative blog is definitely a good one. So will you forgive my inability to become your VBFF if I tell all readers to check out today and leave you a pretty comment?



I vist to read and laugh. I am very bad at commenting. Since I saw there were no comments today so far, I decided to leave one. It will not surprise me at all that by the time I click the post button there will be more comments for you to read. Btw, good advice.


Dearest Amalah - You are deeply forgiven, nor were you ever in trouble. haha! However, we do enjoy your site mucho and you are great inspiration. Thank you for the advice on the honeymoon, we have moved away from the idea of a cruise and onto some all-inclusive Sandals resort - preferrably Antigua and one of those sweets with the pool outside your living room,and by pool, I mean your very own private pool -mmm sexy and will make room for looks of valuable...'er whatever, :). We do appreciate it and keep up the good work, because YOU. ARE. AWESOME. (and don't worry we aren't like the creepy commenter who is like in love with you and stuff). :)
-Career Woman


Look, I commented! Which I never seem to do anymore either. Nor can I often muster up the energy to respond to comments or e-mails. Yay -- we both suck!


ack! my name! up there!

since everyone is probably dying for an update: i didn't buy the shoes. i went back and forth with myself over this for a day or so, then thought, "okay, i'ma gonna do it." and they were gone! DRATS! and then i even emailed the company, and they wrote me the equivalent of this:

dear amber:

shoes? what shoes? peon.


sigh. there will be other shoes. maybe with better heels! but those little buttons with the little flowers? i fear those are gone from my life FOREVER...FOR-EV-ER...(fade out like sandlot).

p.s. diaper bag = SUPER CUTE


wow...this makes that one time when you commented on my blog really really super-special. I'll never wash that post again.

suzanna danna

Dear Amy,
Love you, Mean it.


And I meant "suite" not "sweet"


1,086 unread emails? Good lordy, girl.

Something to add for Painted Chef - I totally second the advice on the Whitestrips, they rock. Also good is the Sonic Toothbrush - I've been using one for about three months now and not only do my teeth feel all "fresh from the dentist chair" clean but they are noticeably whiter. I paid about $65 for the brush. Definitely a good investment.


Thanks!! I was a little afraid of those strips because i'd heard that they left spots on your teeth. But I do believe a stop at CVS on the way home is in my immediate future.

Thanks so much for answering my question Amy--makes me feel a little "spay-shul" (I live in Georgia ya'll, embrace the accent.)


I love your website and you are true inspiration. I really mean it.

Thank you


Love the diaper bag. My diaper bag was machine washable (Land's End) and guess how many times I actually washed it? Okay, I can't tell you because if I did you'd start gagging and I don't want to be responsible for a pregnant woman losing her lunch.


can I add something about costa rica for the honeymooner? costa rica is wonderful - but if you are taking your honeymoon in the summer, be aware that the summer is their rainy season, and there will be at least once a day in the afternoon torrential downpours with thunder and lightening. (that's of course when we choose to go...) now it was only once a day, and that may be the perfect time for a "nap" -- but just plan for rain.


This is for the honeymooner...I've travelled extensively in the Caribbean AND Costa Rica. My husband and I went to Provo, Turks and Caicos for our honeymoon and stayed at The Sands at Grace Bay. Beautiful. Relaxing. We are going to St. Lucia this fall, staying at Stonefield Villas and those look awesome. Costa Rica is amazing, stay near Arenal Volcano...nothing like an erupting volcano for honeymoon action! :)

Spurious Plum

That diaper back makes me wish I was pregnant. Which would be a big surprise to my husband. Your site as awesome, awesome, awesome. Don't ever stop writing.


Lipgloss. Check. Totally agree.
Whitestrips. Check. Although I find trouble wearing the bottom ones.


Aw, Amy. You're just too popular for your own good, aren't you? I can't believe 1086 emails. Holee sheet. Not to fret though, even though you are commentally challenged, it's obvious we all still loave you and think you're pretty.

Crazy Ride Lady

I vote for Costa Rica too! AWESOME!

Help! - Where do I send my question for the Wednesday Advice Smackdown?


Two comments - I've been on a cruise recently (Norwegeian Line). The great thing about freestyle cruising is that you don't have to sit with other people. You get private tables, and you can dress as you like. Secondly, you can skip the drills because they show them on a channel in your room anyway!


Y'all are so nice. And pretty. Never before has the Advice Smackdown culminated in the comment-section-equivalent of a big group hug.

Crazy Ride Lady - send your question to advice[at] Or amy[at] Or amalah[at] It really doesn't matter, as all three addresses end up in the same black Gmail hole with the 1,086 other unread messages.


She said we're pretty!


Hey Amalah
Long time lurker, first time posting.
Congratulations on Squishy, BTW!
RE your advice for Dayna, I'd like to recommend some good curly hair products. I'm currently using Tigi Bedhead Ego Boost as a leave in conditioner, combined with either Wella SP Hypercurl or KMS Curl Up Control Creme. Both Hypercurl and Curl Up help define and control the curls, without being crunchy. Re the haircuts, find a hairdresser that understands curly hair is best cut dry and knows not to bring a hair dryer!!
Thanks for all the advice - keep it coming!


Hmmm... have you EVER commented on my blog? I cannot remember.

But I luuuuurve you anyway. Dry-clean snobby diaper bag and all. :D


So I was thinking the other day that my daydreams of a big romantic Italian honeymoon next spring were looking a little too pricey for our budget and I was starting to wonder where we could go instead. And then there you were with the answer-Costa Rica! Monkeys! Waterfalls! A place where the dollar is still worth something! And so I've spent the rest of the afternoon daydreaming over Costa Rica honeymoon packages. My boss thanks you. :-)


Someone commented that they've heard Whitestrips will leave spots on your teeth--they do, but it's only temporary...My spots would always go away within a few minutes of taking off the strips. And they work fantabulously well... My teeth totally glow in the dark now. :D


Oooh! Since it's 7th grade, I'm going to send you a note. (mainly because I'm jealous and want to get called pretty too)


I [heart] you. Do you like me too? Please circle yes or no.

Yes No



I work with 7th graders everyday. They are more mature than the internet.

I really think we should all remember what Thumper said, if you can't say anything nice, come sit next to me. No, no, no, if you can't say anything nice or at least funny, don't comment nimrod.

Amalah, start a post on circing the baby, or breast feeding, or disposable diapers and watch the scary comments come. EEK!


Mir: Shut up, you ungrateful asshole. :-P I've commented like, AT LEAST twice on your site. Probably when I was drunk too, which makes them freaking collectors' items today.

L: (yes) Do you want to hold hands after school?


I know.. let's ALL hold hands after school! In a big circle of mutual adoration while we smile simperingly at each other and secretly work out who has the prettiest hair. (n.b. that is NOT going to be me).
I think soon-to-be Mamalah is great, particularly since she responded to my letter on a previous smack-down and it made me feel like a not-quite-so-rich-or-well-dressed celebrity..
What did people do before the Internet? Did they all write diary entries on scraps of paper and leave them in a big pile somewhere so everyone could come and rummage through at will? Hmm..

Sarcastic Journalist

I'll tell you a secret. Sometimes I like a blog and we've had "good" email and then I think to myself (probably because my comments are turned off because I also have delicate little feelings) that I like them more than they like me.

And I feel like a stalker.


Amalah - I love, love, love your blog! I hope you won't abandon us once Squishy arrives.

A quick note for Dayna. I don't know where you are in Colorado but I have a kick-ass stylist. She LISTENS to what you say and will talk you through the whole cutting process (ie. I am going to do _____, do you want me to do _____, I think doing _____ through here would help _________). She is spendy and hard to get into, but SO worth the money and the wait. She has also never recommended a product that I haven't totally loved! I too used to live in Phoenix and I do miss the lack of humidity... but NOT the heat :o)



Okay, okay so you're busy! Don't feel bad about it. Most people are lucky if the person at the grocery store says thank you, fo rsobbing out loud. I think nyou're doing a fine and dandy job.

Here's what I REALLY want to know, tho. When you click on the link to the Crest White strips you get a one-time pop up for organic lavender sunscreen? What? Does it turn me lavender? Make me smell like lavender? Which is pretty for 5 seconds but then is kinda sickening? And if it smells like lavender when I put it on? What happens when I go swimming with it on? Does it turn lavender then? I am so puzzled and intrigued by this. This might even qualify as a future Wednesday Smackdown question.


Kathy: BTW, it's really good that you didn't come back to you-know-where for the you-know-what, not only are there no plastic spoons, we are now out of FORKS.

(How's THAT for in-joke-favoritism, y'all?)


Amy, I come to read and learn and hope my hair doesn't suck. But I do color my entire lip with my lipliner and as long as I use lip moisturizer (I LOVE Clinique's Moisture Stick) I don't have a problem with drying out. It's nice when you do respond to comments (like my Coach one) but when you don't I understand.

Keep on keepin' on!


One of the perks of being a student is being able to travel on whim. Hopefully, this July 4th, a friend and I will be able to travel out of the country via travelocity's last minute deal.

PS I empathize about responding to comments and emails. I think I got lambasted for not replying to some comments someone made on an article I wrote. Oh well.
PPS I want to go to Costa Rica, too.


My parents took a windjammer cruise to Costa Rica for their 25th anniversary a few years ago and they did what is possibly the coolest vacation thing ever. The took a ZIPLINE tour of the rainforest. How fun does that sound?

Crazy Ride Lady

My parents, ages 65 and 60, went to Costa Rica, ziplined the rainforest, took a whitewater rafting trip down from Nicaragua AND spent three days on a boat sail fishing. It's the place to go! They've been back three years in a row since then.


Amalah, you are pretty.

And now so are my lips.

Will you make us a list of the best online shopping links? I totally didn't think of Sephora ONLINE. D'OH!


I second that. We want a list as our shopping guide..Great idea Shiz!

Dr. Johnny Fever

I want some in-joke favoritism. Do ME, Amalah! Do MEEEEEE!

Also, no bullshit, I bought a package of Crest Whitestrips Premium yesterday and my teeth have already gone from the color of urine to that of an under-ripe lemon. I'm healed!


Love the advise. Thanks for the laughs and I'll be back.


I tried to send a question this time around and it got bounced back to me. Was the address having some trouble for awhile?

I guess it doesn't matter as I've totally forgotten my questions, so they couldn't have been that important. One was definitely about my hair. I think. Maybe.


we love you amalah! On the honeymoon thing, we stayed at Sandals Negril and LOVED IT!!! Yum food, yum drinks, beautiful beach, and oh god the pool. Sigh. I wish we could go back. And on your honeymoon they will give you a free upgrade, so we intentionally booked the room right below the 24 hour room service room and then they bumped us up to the 24 hour room service room and we had a blast! I ordered coffee and fruit at 3 in the morning, just cause I could. : ) Good advice this week!

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