Wednesday Advice Smackdown
June 29, 2005
DISCLAIMER: It has been recently discovered that your advice-giver's kitchen is completely infested with a common household pest known as the "confused flour beetle." So please think twice before taking advice from this individual, because 1) ew, there are tiny little bugs in all her dry goods, and 2) even those tiny little bugs are confused and stupid.
Dear Amalah, Queen of Everything,
I have an embarrassing problem, which I am sure you do not have because you are so polished and lovely. I have not been able to find an anti-perspirant that works for me. The deodorant part works fine, so it's not like I smell bad, but I get sweaty and it's completely disgusting.
My question for you is: do you know an anti-perspirant that works? I do not mind if it is expensive, as this is clearly an important problem that is worth spending money to solve.
Please help! If you can't help me, I don't know who can. You are the best!
Name Withheld Because, Well, Duh
Actually, you know who can help you? Sars and all her readers over at her advice column, The Vine. (That she does DAILY. Which means EVERY DAY.)
My take would be to first try different men's deodorants/anti-perspirants (if you haven't already), because no matter how much bullshit Secret tries to pile on about being strong enough for a man, it isn't. I mean, I love my Secret Platinum Invisible Solid With Olay Conditioners to death, but I'm not a very sweaty person, and I never really give it much of a challenge, since I don't exercise. Ever. Try Degree, Mitchum or Arrid. Stay away from clear gels and experiment with roll-ons vs. solids.
If those fail, consider moving on to the industrial-strength types: Certain Dri or Drysol (requires a prescription). These are treatments that you use only at bedtime, and are a no-go for anyone with really sensitive skin. Unless you decide some irritation is worth it if you could JUST STOP THE SWEATING BECAUSE EW.
Or you can Botox your pits, apparently. Which, okay! Good luck with that.
Oh pretty and wise Amy,
I have lots and lots of hair. It is kind of pretty and sometimes shiny if I braid it or something but notsomuch normally because it is curly and curly hair doesn't take well to shiny (light refracting and all that jazz). My hair is my security blanket. I want to cut it...but I have nightmares about it... I know that keeping my hair long means that it goes straight and flat around my face making it appear even more round and pudgy. Which I hate. But? Am scared!
I don't use any products in my hair, nor do I blow dry it or use any styling implements on it besides a detangling comb. I've had shorter hair before and, while very cute, took *hours* of blow-drying straight, curling ends up or down with fat curling iron, and fighting Texas humidity with Aveda's purefume humectant pommade... okay, well not *hours* but it felt like it. And it's really too humid up in Texas to be standing around in a hot and foggy bathroom with a hot-ass blow-dryer making you all sweaty and i-need-to-take-a-shower-again-but-oh-my-god-my-hair!. And I *love* being able to get out of the shower, comb my hair, pull it away from my face and go... takes all of 5 minutes. Lurv!
But I am losing lots of weight and trying to get wee... and when you start losing lots of weight you start to say to yourself "Self, you are lookin' mighty fine but all that hair? that you were hiding behind? because you were hugemongous? Girl, that's got to go!" So here I am, ready to get The Cut and ready to spend The Money (assuming it's under $150) but can I find a flattering cut where I don't have to blow-dry/straighten it? Am willing to use product. But I.hate.blow-dryers! And curling irons! hatehatehatehate.
So please pretty and wise Amalah & Squishy, save me from the hair and from blow-dryers & curling irons?
Hair down to there
This is a tough one. Every woman on earth is in search of that perfect haircut that lets us step out of the shower, toss our heads and then ta-da! Breck girl super fantastic!
But the problem usually lies with our hair, which will keep doing the annoying things it does no matter what haircut we get.
Case in point: My hair is long, fine and mostly straight. I currently have a nice layered cut that lets me forgo blow-drying...but only if I wear my hair wavy with lots of scrunching and product. If I actually want to wear my straight hair straight...I have to blow-dry, or else it gets frizzy and bendy. Hair: It's A Confusing, Stupid Bitch.
You can ask your stylist for a low-maintenance cut, but their idea of low-maintenance will probably be different than yours. My hairdresser blow dries his wife's hair every morning and doesn't understand why Jason refuses to do the same for me. "It's easy!" he exclaims, while taking 20 minutes to dry my hair one tiny tiny section at a time.
So try cutting your hair gradually. You don't have to do it all at once like they do on the makeover shows. Cut off a few inches at a time and add some long layers for texture. (And layers make blow-drying much, MUCH easier, as they remove a lot of weight from your hair. It's the heavy, all-one-length kind of cut that requires hours and hours of blow-drying.)
By going shorter gradually you'll be better able to pick the length that compliments your new, thinner features. If you go from looooong to bob-length you're more likely to flip out, hate it, and then be stuck with styling a cut you don't like for months and months while you grow it out. But by cutting two or three inches off each time you get a haircut (every six to eight weeks), you may find that you only need to go shoulder-length for best results, and if you do go a bit too short...well, it'll be back to the length you liked in just another month or so.
And if you do find a short cut you love, even if it requires blow-drying, there are ways to speed up the process -- especially once you've taken length and weight off. Buy an ionic dryer with an angled attachment and a cool-air setting. Blow-dry your roots first, using high heat. Then separate your hair into about six sections (two on each of the sides, two or three in the back) using duckbill clips and dry each section individually with a round brush. Use the cool setting on the ends to prevent frizz. Then give your whole head a blast with the cool air to set your style.
I have bra issues. My situation is that I have small "ones" that are about an a/b cup (this is a guess). I've never been properly fitted and wouldn't know the first thing about where to go to do this or what to buy. Because of my small size, I had always bought the three-to-a-pack kind of bras (the Barely There), which I've come to find out...Barely Work. As I've gotten older, I don't deal with sag, but I do deal with the boobies kind of "looking off to the side" if you know what I mean. With this very thin bra, my straps fall down, the bra rides up in back, I'm falling out (yes, even I'm falling out). I was coming to realize that, yes, even I needed a good bra.
At about that time, I saw this great show on Oprah titled "Oprah's Bra Intervention" for which I could have easily been a candidate. I watched in awe as several well-endowed as well as small chested women were transformed with proper fittings and proper bras. Some looked 10 pounds lighter simply because of their bra. It was even mentioned that 85% of women wear the wrong bra size! It wasn't until I saw these makeovers that I realized what I had been missing and that there is the perfect bra out there, even for me. It's time to grow up and get fitted and then get a wonderful bra (or five).
So, my questions are these: (Pre Pregnancy) - where did you get fitted? Was it a good fitting? What is the best bra you've ever had for regular, every-day wear?
Ah yes, the days of small boobs. I remember them well. Mostly because they are STILL HERE, AS I AM STILL ONLY A FREAKING 34C (BARELY) AT SIX MONTHS ALONG, GODDAMN IT ALL TO HELL. I mean, it's better than the 32A I was before, but still. I was just expecting something a little...more. Like Pamela Anderson more. Was that unrealistic of me?
Anyway, I have never been "fitted" for a bra, because I don't like other people touching me, particularly in small fitting-room settings. I've always measured myself, because you CAN and it's EASY, particularly for smaller-chested girls. (Once you get into the larger and hard-to-find sizes, I've always heard that yes, it's best to get fitted by a "bra professional," whatever the hell that is, but HI, 32A HERE.)
(By the way, that "85% of women are wearing the wrong bra size" statistic has reached urban legend proportions at this point, with every upscale lingerie shop screaming it to lure women in for fittings even though YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF. I found it on four different websites while fact-checking my measuring procedure for this column.)
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR BOOBS*
*Hello Googlers! This is probably not what you were looking for and has absolutely nothing to do with Britney Spears. Sorry.
1. Stand upright, yet relaxed, in an unlined or lightly-lined bra.
2. Using a soft tape measure, go around the bottom band of your bra, along the top of your ribcage. Pull the tape taut, but not too tight.
3. Add five inches to this measurement to determine your band size. My ribcage measurement is currently 29, which means I'm a 34. If you end up on an odd number, you most likely want the next even size up, but not always. Try both sizes on and see which one fits better (no riding up, no slippage, and no marks left on your skin).
4. Next, measure LOOSELY around the fullest part of your boob. Keep the tape at an even level all around your torso. The difference between this measurement and your band size determines your cup size, with each inch of difference equaling one cup size. My bust measurement is 37 -- three inches more than my band size. That's a C-cup, baby.
If the difference is...
Less than 1 inch = AA cup
1 inch = A cup
2 inches = B cup
3 inches = C cup
4 inches = D cup
5 inches = DD cup
And so on and so forth.
Now, as for my favorite bra, it's nothing earth-shattering. I like Victoria's Secret. Sure, they're expensive and the catalogs are annoying and neverending, but hey, it's a convenient place to order from and they make really pretty bras in the 32A size and only rarely have I had a problem with a 32A not fitting like I expected it to. I also like Gap Body for plainer, t-shirt-style bras, although they really don't last as long as the VS ones do. (But they're cheaper, and I have a short attention span, so I just chuck them and buy new ones.)
(For pregnant girls? With the ever-changing chest sizes? Just go to Target. Really.)
Another option for small-chested girls is to just scrap bras and wear camisoles instead. I have dozens of them -- from Gap, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, VS, etc. -- in cotton, lycra, silk, you name it. I mean, there's no bra in the world that could give me cleavage anyway, so why torture myself with the straps and the hooks and all that when you wear something pretty like this instead?
(Now if someone could just explain the complexities of nursing bras to me, I'd be set. Could I buy one now? Should I wait to see what size I am in September? Or will I be even bigger once these puppies are, ahem, fully functional? And also, I really, really don't want to talk about my boobs anymore.)
I am looking for a really good way to dye eyebrows. I am trying to change my husband into a metrosexual.
Also, I, like the sheep before me, love your blog. I wish I wrote that stuff, but, alas, I didn't.
In a word: Don't.
Eyebrows should NEVER be dyed at home. It's dangerous. It's unpredictable. And it's not worth it.
Eyebrows are wiry and coarse -- and home dyes (already a crapshoot) take to wiry, coarse hair differently than normal head hair. So that nice shade of blond you put in your husband's hair, when applied to his brows, could result in a screaming shade of orange.
And also, you know, blindness.
I colored my eyebrows ONCE, and I let an actual Salon Professional do it. (And I only did it because my highlights came out a different shade than we'd been expecting so she darkened my eyebrows to make it look more natural.) And it looked nice, but within two weeks I had VISIBLE ROOTS. ON MY EYEBROWS. Eyebrows grow FAST, people.
But if you really, really think he needs his brows colored (to cover up gray, perhaps?), then by all means, drag him to a salon and let a colorist do it.
DISCLAIMER #2: Flour beetles, y'all! In my flour! And other starchy foodstuffs! Do you know how gross that is? It's hella gross, is how gross it is. Luckily, we're demolishing our entire kitchen in two weeks. (Although our contractor said that two weeks ago. And possibly two weeks before that.) But hey, once demo begins? It's only supposed to take two weeks to finish! Why does this sound vaguely familiar to me?
Anyway, questions for the Wednesday Advice Smackdown can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, however, there's currently a two-month backlog, so please don't send questions about how you're currently on fire or something.