This weekend, one of my oldest, dearest friends got married. She wore purple and looked like Princess Jasmine. It was amazing! Also, it was black-tie, which meant some serious primping was in order.
Now, in preparation for said wedding, I found myself in humid Montreal at my parents’ house lacking certain key things: An appointment for a blowout, for one, undereye concealer, for two, as well as a hairdryer that actually dries hair and my Intelligent Nutrients Volumizing Spray—which is not itself a defrizzer, but plays one in the movie of my life.
Of course, I’d like to say I got crafty and went to the health-food store, bought a spray bottle and some aloe, mixed in a little sea salt and make an amazing spray for air-dried waves. But no.
Instead, I dragged my boyfriend to the closest Jean-Coutu and then spent a good 15 minutes reading the bottles and trying to pick the lesser of several evils.
There was a lot of crap, obviously, so this took some time. It was fun, in a perverse sort of way, reminding me of how before we wrote the book, Alexandra and I believed that looking good—whatever “good” means to you—meant putting your trust in mysterious potions at the drugstore and then hoping for the best.
Maybe it was the whole being-at-mom-and-dad’s-again thing but I did just that: I totally regressed. In the end, I bought a not-clean silicone-filled defrizzer (Frizz-Ease), a not-clean butane-and-silicone-packed volumizing dry shampoo (Klorane), and a not-clean silicone-filled undereye concealer (Cover Girl). I got a weird thrill out of it! I was genuinely curious and confused about what would happen next.
When my hair was sopping wet, I put in a tiny bit of the defrizzer, took one sniff of it and immediately started trying to wipe it off with a towel. Next, I blowdried halfway, things were looking frizzy and I started feeling desperate. “Can you plug in my iron?!” I called, panicked from the bathroom.
I decided to move on to makeup. I found the concealer liquidy in a bad way—it disappeared the second I put it on and was too yellow for my skin. I decided to wipe it all off and improvise with some clean mineral powder and Joy Juice instead. That worked well! Cover Girl was out. I continued to get dressed and was about to start ironing when lo! I looked in the mirror and my hair looked…kind of amazing?
Ugh. I’m sorry but it’s true. Silicone just works. Of course it’s not actually good for your hair, and when I used it regularly my hair looked like garbage when I airdried it—meaning there’s no temptation to keep this stuff in my caddy. As for the dry shampoo, I took one sniff of it on a napkin and threw the stuff away.
Sure, I’d be lying if I said my hair didn’t look perfectly unfrizzy all night and into the next day. But I’d also be lying if I left out the part where the hair stuff gave me a sweet rash on my upper back and chest.
Moral of the story: Conventionals are still, after all this time, crap. And the things I used were 0 for 3.
Have you cheated on your naturals recently with some good old-fashioned drugstore brands? Tell, tell.
Get ready, you guys, because we’re about to announce our third (third!!) annual Summer Hair Challenge, in which we ask you to forgo leave-ins and heat for a day and then send us a snap from your phone.
You can take a look at our two previous galleries of product-free, air-dried hair here and here to see what we’re talking about. Last year we got well over 100 photos sent to us, and we were over the moon. This year we want even more, so consider this your early mental-preparation warning.
First, we’re not against using leave-ins as long as they’re clean (and if they’re not clean, we’re not against that either—do your thing!) but we have a dorky maxim about cosmetics in general that goes like this: “More products, more problems.”
What we mean by that is, most conventional products—and especially ones for hair—create problems even as they try to “fix” others, which then necessitates more products. Think of silicone-based leave-ins that coat the hair, then need to be stripped off with harsh shampoo, which then requires a fistful of conditioner, a defrizzer, and maybe a finishing gloss, too.
Second, we’re not against heat styling, either. When it’s cold out, I use heat almost every single day. Whenever I can get away with it, though, I leave my hair alone, and here’s why: When I first started doing this regularly, I didn’t even recognize my own hair. Here’s what I said at the time:
I used to wake up, hop in the shower, use Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine shampoo and conditioner, or if I was feeling rich I’d use Rene Furterer’s stuff. Then I’d load Phytodefrisant onto my wet hair, and once blow-dried (and sometimes also ironed), I would use one or two finishing serums that probably had silicone or some other garbage in it.
My hair looked how I wanted it to look, but do the math: That’s expensive, and a pain. I was also unwittingly exposing myself to 11 of the 20 ingredients on the Black List in our book—daily. (For more on what’s in shampoo, check this out.)
Anyway, eventually I realized the unmanageable nature of my hair was squarely the fault of the products I was using, and when I made the switch, my hair chilled out.
So that was neat.
But this challenge isn’t really about all that. It isn’t about what’s bad or what’s good. The reason we like the Summer Hair Challenge so much is in part seeing pictures of all of you, but also hearing your stories. Some people had gone years without knowing what their hair looked like air-dried. How cool is it that they tried? And for those of you who do this every day, God bless! We’re going to want your pictures, too.
So in preparation, we want to know: Do you use leave-ins every day? What about heat? And how excited (or pissed) will you be when we ask you to stop both for a day? Have at it.
Here we go again. Ever since Siobhan asked how everyone’s preparing for the heat, my brain’s been on a one track loop that goes: highlights highlights highlights…
It’s a serious conundrum for a clean girl this whole hair dye thing, one we’ve talked about here and here and here (and about ten other places). There are many reasons not to do it of course. Par example, much like nail polish, there’s just no such thing as a totally clean dye.
Specifically for moi, getting highlights means: 1. some toxic exposure; 2. getting my hair washed and living with the subsequent frizz for a month; 3. feeling like a bit of a hypocrite. On the plus side the place I go to is sorta-natch, the highlights I get don’t touch my scalp, and freaking-A, they’re pretty!
A bit of a late bloomer on this, highlights were something of a revelation when I finally tried them last spring, lightly painted on in places where the sun would naturally lighten (if I surfed, like everyday). For a thick mop like mine, a little caramel color can go a long way in making my head look like less of a curl-helmut, as I’m sure some of you can relate.
And while I know I’m a grown woman who can make her own decisions and all that, S and I have really taken to asking you guys for your (strong, ahem) opinions and advice! So let’s hear em.
More interesting still: What do you do with your hair? Highlights? Au naturelle 4life? And how weird is this picture choice?
It’s a good hairdryer, y’all. Gotta have a decent hairdryer. It will save you time getting ready, money on products, and so many sad mornings. My last one lasted me eight good years before it began overheating and melting my hair (which would not have happened had I been paying attention, trust—this was a human error problem).
I replaced it with something someone gave me for free, and when it conked out after just a couple (very frizzy) months, I decided to repurchase the one I had before. It’s what I see at all the salons, and there’s a really simple good reason for that: It WORKS.
OK so I use the Twin Turbo, which is pictured above. There are lots of different kinds. The reason they work is that the air comes out super fast, not super hot, so it can dry your hair without much of a fuss, and no burns if you’re paying attention. You can get some versions for about $70-80 on Amazon, or for twice that at a retail location. It isn’t especially pretty, and it isn’t ceramic-fancy-Sephora-y, but it is the BOSS of my hair, and I love it.
Do you have a good hair dryer?
We are so happy to have Virginia back as a guest blogger. This week she’s taking us inside her beauty school experience, talking about her hair today, her face tomorrow and her body on Friday. Enjoy…
Hello again! It’s Virginia from Beauty Schooled. Last time I visited y’all, we talked about how toxic cosmetics and body image woes sometimes feel like different issues, but actually add up to One Big Beauty Problem. I can personally attest to this because I spent 10 months in beauty school, slathering myself with all manner of toxic goo, and watching my body image get kinda warped in the process. So I thought I’d give you a rundown of just what kind of chemical-laden beauty stuff I dealt with every day at Beauty U—and how they wreaked havoc on my hair and skin.
Full disclosure: My hair has always been my chemical-laden pride and joy. So before beauty school, I was regularly slathering it in all manner of silicone-based anti-frizz creams and shine serums. l also heat styled it straight almost daily for a good 10 years—but about a year before I went to Beauty U, I suddenly decided to embrace less frequent washing, air drying, and my natural waves. My hair was happy and healthy, and a little argan oil was pretty much all it took to keep frizz at bay.
Then I got to beauty school and the esthetics teachers told me over and over again that infrequent hair washing would lead to breakouts. “All that grease is just sitting on your scalp!” they’d exclaim. “It’s just seeping into your pores!” Every time I’d get a facial, they’d extract multiple comedones (that’s school-speak for pimples) around my forehead and hairline and tell me to wash my hair more often. So, I went back to washing it daily. Which meant my hair was dry and frizzy, which meant using gobs of conditioner and styling products to combat that. And even though the bottom half of my hair looked like straw, my scalp went into grease overdrive because I was stripping away all my natural oils with harsh shampoos. Which meant my hair looked dirty the day after I washed it. And so, I wanted to wash it even more.
To be continued tomorrow!