Thursday, December 22, 2011

Zoya Jade

This is Zoya polish in the color Jade.  Why is a red polish named Jade?  All of Zoya's polishes have women's names.  So why is a red polish named Jade?  No idea.  This is a red jelly polish with red sparkles.  It took three coats to make it opaque.  The red sparkles are sort of floating within the polish itself in three different layers.  I haven't had a polish quite like this one before.  Photos just don't capture how pretty this is.  I stamped a silver snowflake on my index finger with my new nail stamping kit.   
On my nails Zoya polish wears like iron.  It grows out from the cuticle and needs to be removed before it even begins to chip.  I've had issues with getting Zoya to dry.  It has stayed wet for hours for me, and usually gets some kind of bump or dent before it dries.  It dries with no issues for my sister.  Polish is a very your mileage may vary product.  How it performs varies from person to person.  I'm still experimenting with different top coats and ways of applying Zoya.  Hopefully I will get it to work for me.  This time I waited 10 minutes between coats, and it seemed to dry faster.
Notice the green grass poking through the snow at Christmas time.  So much better then the several feet of snow and sub zero weather we have had for the past few years.
Edit:  I'm now using Essie Good to Go topcoat and this polish dries without an issue for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Be Nice to Your Hair Tip #4: Avoid Heat

Treat your hair like a cashmere sweater.  Would you set your iron on high and iron the heck out of your cashmere?  Nope.  Well cashmere and hair are both made of keratin protein and both will be damaged by high heat.  Both will be damaged permanently.

Heat is bad for hair.  Avoid blow drying on high heat, curling irons, and the dreaded flat iron.  Heat damages the cuticle by causing bubbling, cracking, and chipping.  Heat also damages the hair's natural oils.  Heat can damage your hair's color (melanin).  In addition, heat damages the stretchy protein chains inside the hair's cortex.  This makes the hair more prone to breakage.  The heat can also cause the water inside your hair's cortex to boil and damage your hair from the inside out.
If you do choose to style with heat, use a heat protectant.  This helps, but doesn't completely protect the hair from heat damage.  Avoid heat protectants with a lot of alcohol in the formula.  How hot is too hot?  Above 150 degrees, the consequences of using heat become more severe.  However, all heat will cause some damage to your hair. Keeping the heat under 130 degrees is even safer.
 If you do blow dry, remove as much water as possible from the hair first.  Gently wrap your hair in a microfiber towel, a flower sack towel, or a 100% cotton t-shirt.   Don't use terry cloth.  Terry cloth towels damage the hair.  It also helps if you don't blow dry your hair completely dry.
Remember, if you are nice to your hair, it will be nice to you.

For more info, see these links:
Hair hot iron damage
How to protect your hair from heat damage
Thermal Protection:  Do they really work

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to Figure Out Your Hair's Porosity and Elasticity

When your hair grows out of your head, it is born perfect.  The hair's cuticle lies flat and smooth.  When your hair gets damaged, the cuticle begins to open up.  Hair with a closed cuticle is non porous.  Hair with a cuticle that is open, or missing chunks is porous.  Some hair is naturally susceptible to damage.  Some hair will become porous from sun damage, wind damage, etc.  But perming, coloring, flat irons, etc. are common causes of porous hair.

Non porous hair-  Is hard to get wet.  Water runs off it like off a ducks back.  Non porous hair takes a long time to dry (8 hours-ish).  It is hard to get water in the closed cuticle, but once the water is in there, it is locked in tight.  It will sometimes squeak when you run your hands over dry hair.  Non porous hair is resistant to color, but once is is colored, it won't fade.  It is also resistant to perming or straitening.  These solutions will have to be left on the hair longer for them to be effective.  Low porosity hair is healthy hair.  It is shiny, especially if it is dark.  Hair products seem to sit on top of porous hair and do not soak in.

Normal porosity hair- Is relatively easy to deal with.  It takes perms and color treatments predictably.  If you always get the color on the box, this is a sign you are normal porosity.  It dries at an average rate (3-4 hours-ish).

Porous hair- Is easy to get wet.  Porous hair dries quickly (1-2 hours-ish) without product.  With conditioner and gel, it may take a long time to dry.  Porous hair soaks up hair products like a sponge.  Porous hair will dye darker then the box (if dying hair a darker color then your natural color).  But, the color will fade quickly.  Perms will take curlier then expected, but then relax quite a bit.  Porous hair is damaged hair.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that your were doing terrible things to your hair.  Some hair is just naturally susceptible to damage.  Porous hair tends to be dull.

I should note that the drying times are my guestimations.  Drying times will also vary with hair thickness and length.  Drying times are based on hair without conditioner or gel.  These can greatly increase the drying time. Drying times will also be affected by length, thickness, humidity, temperature, etc.

My porous hair will get wet from the steam when sitting in a hot bath.   My hair will dry in an hour or two without product, but will take all day to dry when I used a heavy conditioner and lots of gel.  I need lots of conditioner and gel for my hair because it soaks it up.  When I dyed my hair darker with a permanent dye, it would dye much darker then the woman on the box.  Then the color would fall right out of my hair.  All the color would be completelly gone in three weeks.  When I used to perm my hair (darn 80's) I would look like a poodle the first few days, and then my hair would relax to a normal perm.  The first day people would always say "Oh, you got your hair permed.  It"  Then I'd say "Don't worry.  It won't look like this in a few days."  The right hair products have gone a long way to help me with my porous hair.

For info, I love this curl chemist article.  All of her articles are interesting. You may also like reading The natural haven:  Porosity:  Definition and Causes 

Take a hair from you head and firmly grasp each end.  Stretch it gently.  If it breaks, it has low elasticity.

If is stretches up to 1/3 of its length and returns to its normal shape, it has normal elasticity.  Good for you.

If it streeeeeeeetches and does not return to its original shape, it is overly elastic.

Overly elastic hair is a sign of over conditioning (too much moisture).  Low elasticity is often a sign of dry hair, but can have more complex causes.  My hair used to have zero elasticity, but now has low elasticity.  I consider it progress. :)  You can do the elasticity test on dry or wet hair.  You may find it easier to take a few shed hairs and sort of twist them together and then pull on the whole wad of hair.  This is an easier way to test my super fine hair.  It is very hard to grasp just one of my hairs.

So what does all this stuff mean?  The link will explain it.

How to Classify Your Hair with the Fia System

 The Fia info was copied from this site.  The info in purple was added by me.

Fia's Hairtyping System


The straight ones
1a - stick straight
1b - straight but with a slight body wave, just enough to add some volume, doesn't look wavy
1c - straight with body wave and one or two visible S-waves (e.g. nape of neck or temples)

The wavy ones
2a - loose, stretched out S-waves throughout the hair Beachy waves, Rock star waves
2b - shorter, more distinct S-waves (similar to waves from braiding damp hair) Princess hair.
2c - distinct S-waves and the odd spiral curl forming here and there Mix of waves, curls, and some pieces that have mixes of S and C shapesOn it is often called "wurly" hair.   

The curly ones
3a - big, loose spiral curls Like a telephone cord (anyone else old enough to know what that is)
3b - bouncy ringlets Ringlets the size of a pinky finger.
3c - tight corkscrews Ringlets the size of a pencil or straw

The really curly ones Common among African Americans.
4a - tightly coiled S-curls
4b - tightly coiled hair bending in sharp angles (Z-pattern)

What (most of) your individual strands look like

F - FineThin strands that sometimes are almost translucent when held up to the light. Shed strands can be hard to see even against a contrasting background. Similar to hair found on many people of Scandinavian descent.

You can also try rolling a strand between your thumb and index finger. Fine hair is difficult to feel or itfeels like an ultra-fine strand of silk

M - MediumStrands are neither fine nor coarse. Similar to hair found on many Caucasians.

You can also try rolling a strand between your thumb and index finger. Medium hair feels like a cotton thread. You can feel it, but it isn't stiff or rough. It is neither fine or coarse.

C - Coarse
Thick strands that where shed strands usually are easily identified against most backgrounds. Similar to hair found on many people of Asian or native American descent.

You can also try rolling a strand between your thumb and index finger. Coarse hair feels hard and wiry. As you roll it back and forth, you may actually hear it.

Your overall volume of hair

Put your hair in a ponytail with as much hair as possible in it. Don't bother with the way it looks - the goal is to have most/all of your hair in there. If it means it sits smack dab on top of your head, put it there.

Measure the circumference of the ponytail. If you have bangs and/or you can't get all of your hair in there adjust according to how much of your hair you have measured.

To measure the circumference - take a piece of string, or a soft tape measure (the kind used by dressmakers). Wrap the string or tape measure around your ponytail - just below the elastic you have in to hold the ponytail together. Read the corresponding number from the tape measure, or hold the string at the length you've measured and use a ruler to determine how much it is. The number given is the circumference of your ponytail.

i - thin (less than 2 inches/5 centimeters)
ii - normal (between 2-4 inches or 5-10 centimeters)
iii - thick (more than 4 inches/10 centimeters)

Naturally Curly link with pictures of curl patterns.

Your curl pattern (or lack of curl pattern) may not fit neatly into one category.  It is common to see a mix of curl patterns on one head.  Some hair just simply doesn't fit any description.  
Figuring out hair texture can be tricky as well.  Your hair stylist should be able to tell you what your texture is.  If you compare hair with friends, this should help you to figure out your texture. has a service where you can send in your hair and they will tell you elasticity, porosity, and texture. 

My hair is 2bFiOn a good day I'm 2cFi.

What does all of this mean? The link explains it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Revlon Photo Ready Foundation Review

When you read the reviews of pale skinned people for Revlon Photo Ready on Make Up Alley, you hear the same word over and over:  Cullen.  What is a Cullen?  Cullen is the family name of the vampires in the Twilight books/movies.  The vampires in that series are pale and sparkle in the sunlight.  I planned only to wear this in the winter when I’m mostly indoors and there is a lot of cloud cover..  My plan did not work out.  Despite not being in direct sunlight, I’m still a Cullen with this foundation.  
Revlon Photo Ready Foundation
My Skin Type:  My skin type is normal to slightly dry in the winter.  But, my skin doesn’t seem to like a lot of lotion-y/moisturizing products.  Those products will make my skin act more like oily skin.   
My experience with this type of product. I’ve tried lots of different foundations and different styles of foundations.  I’ve only tried drugstore foundations.
What I am looking for in a foundation:  Number one, I’m looking for a foundation that matches my very pale, warm toned skin (NC 10).  There aren’t many drugstore options, and I really want to stay with inexpensive foundations.  I want a medium to full coverage.  I hate light coverage foundations.  I put them on and I can’t tell that I did anything at all.  What’s the point?  I tend to prefer cream to powder formulas in winter.

My rating:

What I like about it.  This is the exact right color for me!!!  And it looks nice when I first apply it (although too sparkly).  I love that this is in a pump bottle.  It is easier to use and more hygienic that way.  I plan to keep the bottle when I finish the foundation to pour another foundation into. .

What I hate about it.  Obviously I’m not a fan of the sparkling.  The sparkles and foundation eventually settle in my wrinkles and pores.  After a few hours, this will often start to look slimy on my skin.  This is probably a better foundation formula for dryer and darker skin types then mine. (almost everyone is a darker skin type then me:)) This formula is not terrible, it just isn’t for me.

Would you buy this again?  No.  I have winter foundation options that I like better.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

CVS Sale Alert

CVS is having their semi annual (I think semi annual) beauty clearance.  There are lots of things 75% off. Here is the link to the master list (scroll down for the list).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Came Early This Year

My Aunt asked me if I wanted some of her old nail polish.  I said sure.  I was expecting 3-5 bottles.  I hit the mother load.  She has decided to only use certain brands and I got the rest.  Thanks Auntie!  I sure wish I hadn't just finished painting my nails the day I got them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why is some hair curly and some straight?

Why did some hair evolve to be curly and some hair evolve to be straight?  The answer is heating and air conditioning. (That is why there is a picture of the Lennox Man on the left.)  Straight hair hangs close to your head and keeps you warm in the cold northern winters.  It is like having a blanket for your head.  Type 4 kinky-curly hair grows straight out from the head, often in an afro.  In warm climates, the hair wicks sweat away from the head.  As the sweat evaporates, it helps cool the head.  Its nature's air conditioning system.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Silver Gradient Polish

For the Gradient Silver Nails I used 3 nail polishes.  Milani in Ms. Milani, L'Oreal in Silver Star (appears to be discontinued), and Wet n Wild in Kaleidoscope 460D.  First, I added a base coat.  Then I used a make-up sponge to sponge on color.  I painted Ms. Milani directly onto the sponge.  Then I sponged the color onto the nail, about 1/3 of the way down the nail.  I sponged a second coat of this polish starting further up the nail.  Next I used Silver Star and sponged near the tips of the nails.  Then I used Kaleidoscope and painted on a coat starting halfway down the nail.  Finally, I added a second coat to the last 1/4 of the nail.   Sponging on color leaves thin coats and dries quickly.  There is no need to wait between coats of polish.
To reuse the make-up sponge for another manicure, just snip off the dried polish from the sponge with a scissors.

Your Blackheads May Not Be Blackheads

The rule of thumb is that if the black head like stuff on your nose is all a uniform size, they aren’t blackheads.  They are sebaceous filaments.  Another clue is if you remove the black head like thingys, they are back in a few days.  The good news is sebaceous filaments are normal.  The bad news is that there is nothing you can do about them.  The good news is you can stop trying to make them go away.  See this link for more info.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

3 Free Nail Polish and Why You Might Care Even if You Don't Care.

What is 3 free nail polish?  3 free nail polish is Formaldehyde, Toluene, and Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) free.  These chemicals are reported to have health risks and be bad for the environment.  I know there is some debate about the health risks.  I’m just a schmo who has no idea how to review the science, so I can't give an informed opinion.  There is more info in the link below.  Most nail polish formulas these days are now at least 3 free.  

Link with laymen info on the chemicals and contains links for more info
Link that lists 3 free (and more) nail polishes
In addition to the polishes listed in the link, Jordanna (at K-mart) is also 3 free.

Why you might care even if you don’t care?  Big 3 free top and base coats are not as common.  If you mix a non 3 free top or base coat with a 3 free polish, it could mean trouble.  If you use a toluene containing top coat over a 3 free polish, it may come off in large chips.  (*Light bulb appears over head .*  This may be my issue with Wet n Wild Gray’s Anatomy pealing off in sheets.)  If you use a base coat containing formeldehyde,  you may get yellow staining on your nails.  I believe this what was happening to me when I was using Rimmel Pro Top Coat/Base Coat as a base coat.  My nails looked like I was a chain smoker (I don't smoke).  The base coat didn’t react with every polish formula/color, so it took me a while to figure it out.    Essie, Zoya, Nubar and Carolyn New York top and base coats are 3 free.  
Link with info on mixing 3 free and non 3 free top/base coats and polishes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro Polish

I have two bottles of Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro Polish.  I have Midnight Blue and Purple Rain.  I'm in love with the color Midnight Blue.  It is exactly what I wanted this color to be.  It is light enough in color to read navy, and not black, in all lights.  But it is not so light in color that it only reads royal blue instead of navy.  This is a fine line to walk for dark polishes.  The picture of the three nail polishes illustrates this point.  The Wet n Wild is royal blue on my nails, the Rimmel is navy in all lights, and the Orly is Navy blue in bright light, but black in most lights (Pic 3).   I've added one picture of  Midnight Blue on my nails with a regular top coat (Seche Vite, pic 1) and one picture with a matte top coat (Hard Candy Mattle-ly in Love, pic 2).  I'm a fan of how this polish looks with both finishes.  I think this is a particularly nice color on pale skin.

I wanted Purple Rain (Pic 4) to be a similar polish, but in a purple.  This color was a disappointment.  It just skews way too brown for my taste.  Midnight Blue makes me feel sophisticated.  Purple Rain makes me feel like a 40 year old who is trying to be a disgruntled teen.  I know that dark or black polishes are now acceptable for all age groups, but I just didn't like this one on me.

This formula is a winner for me.  It wears 5-6 days without any noticeable chips.  This is basically my one and only true criteria for judging nail polish.  Other then that, it preforms the way you expect nail polish to preform.  I'll add my declaimer that nail polishes preform differently on everyone.  What works for me may be terrible for you.

See also my post on the Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro color Gold Silk and Rags to Riches.

Wet n Wild Fast Dry in Gray's Anatomy

Wet n Wild Gray's Anatomy is a really interesting color. This has a duochrome finish.  The base is gray.  But depending on which way the light hits, it looks either purple or green.  This is gorgeous in the bottle, but didn't fulfill all of my hopes and dreams on my nails.  It is still a very nice, unique color.   This polish is very sheer.  It took me 4 coats to get this opaque.  My guess is that it is designed for people who prefer to see some of their nail bed through their polish.  This is a very thin polish, so even after 4 coats, it isn't thick on the nail.  It really is fast drying.  By the time you finish nail ten, nail number one is dry and ready for a second coat.

Before I go further in this review, I'll point out that nail polish formulas work differently for different people.  What wears well for me, may chip on you.  What takes forever to dry on me, may dry quickly for you.  The only way to know what works best for your nails is to experiment with different formulas yourself. 

With that disclaimer, this nail polish peeled of in sheets for me after I wore it for a few days.  :(  Like most polishes that don't wear well on my nails, it wears perfectly fine on my toes.  I will probably try this again in the future with a different base or top coat to see if the results are different.  I also plan to try is layered over a gray or black polish.  This is a fun color and it is only around a buck if you want to give this one a whirl.
EDIT:  I tried this polsih with Essie All Bases Covered base coat and Essie Good to Go top coat and it did not peel off in sheets.

EDIT:  The duo chrome is really brought out when you later Gray's Anatomy over a turquoise polish. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be nice to your hair tip #3: Don't wet your hair more often then necessary

The term that describes damage to hair done by water is Hygral Fatigue.  When hair gets wet it absorbs water and gets heavier.  This stretches the hair downward.  When it dries, it shrinks back to its original shape.  Doing this repeatedly is bad for the hair's cuticle (See The Structure of Hair).  Think of hair as being like a rubber band.  You can stretch a rubber band and it goes back to its original shape.  But, if you stretch it enough times, it doesn't return to its original shape.  This is Hygral Fatigue.

What do you do?  First off, don't wet your hair more often then necessary.  Another option is to oil your hair with coconut oil 20 minutes to overnight before wetting and washing it.  This oil penetrates the hair's cuticle.  With the oil in the cuticle, there is less room for water to soak in.  Some people will find coconut oil hard to remove from hair.  If you are sulfate shampoo (like most shampoos), odds are it will be easier to remove.  You may want to try adding coconut oil to a small section/curl of your hair the first time you use it.  I plan to do a post on coconut oil in the future.
For more info, see these links:
The Natural Haven:  Mineral Oil-Proof is (not) in the Hair 
The Natural Haven:  Coconut Oil-Knowledge from our Ancestors to our Scientists 
Remember, be nice to your hair and it will be nice to you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Be Nice to Your Hair Tip #2: Fight the Friction

These tips are not just for curly/wavy haired girls.  They are also helpful if you want long hair, shiny hair, or otherwise healthy hair.  If you want more info on growing hair long, check out The Long Hair Community.

Avoid friction on your hair.  It will rough up the cuticle of your hair.  If you damage your hair's cuticle (see The Structure of Hair) it is less healthy and not as shiny.  You don't want your hair to rub against itself.  Don't pile it on top of your head when you shampoo.  As I said in a previous post, don't rub it dry with a towel.  Squeeze it dry instead.  Don't let the strap of your bag/backpack/purse rest on your hair.  Be sure to move your hair out of the way.  Don't let your hair whip in the wind and crash into itself.  Get your hands out of your hair.  Stop absent mindedly twisting it and playing with it.

Also, be careful with hair accessories.  Don't use ones that will pull too much on your hair.  Use ponytail holders without metal clasps (I still use these.  Shhhhh...Don't tell).  Don't put your hair into a super tight pony tail.  Pulling it tight puts tiny breaks in your hair.

Remember, be nice to your hair and it will be nice to you.

Find Your Foundation Color in Almost Any Brand

I'm still on a quest for a winter foundation.  I used to think that I was only really pale in February and March and my foundation was only a tad too dark for my skin in the fall.  Lies!!!  I start to get really pale in the end of September  I can admit that now.  The Temptalia Foundation Matrix has been very helpful in searching for a new foundation. If you have a foundation color you like,  you can use the Foundation Matrix to figure out what skin tone "number" of that foundation is.  I knew I needed one shade lighter then the foundation I was using.  So I found the one I was using on the chart and looked for foundations that were a shade lighter.  My shades are NC10.  If you want to try a new foundation, you find that foundation on the chart and see what the shade name is for your skin tone "number".  There are some shade recommendations that are slightly off, but all and all the foundation matrix is a great place to start any foundation quest.

The letter and number combinations are based on the MAC cosmetics system for classifying skin tones. Think of NC and "not cool".  These are the warm shades.  Think of NW as "not warm".  These are the cool shades.  It is totally backwards and confusing, but this is the most commonly used system on make-up sites.  The numbers start at 5 for very pale and go up 55 for dark skinned people.  I think most people from North Dakota will be between 20 and 30.  Some brands have mostly cool foundation shades and some have mostly warm ones.  This helps explain why I could never find my color in some brands.  The Foundation Matrix has been very helpful in narrowing down my choices because there are not many drugstore NC10 options available.

The foundation matrix asks are you warm toned or cool toned?  Most people are warm toned.  Even if you are cool toned, you may be warm toned when you have tanned skin. 

Warm toned skin (NC): Gold jewlery looks better on you.  You look better in tomato reds.  Olive skin is warm.
Cool toned skin(NW):  Silver jewelry looks better on you.  You look better in brick reds.  If you have a dark hair and pale skin like Snow White, you are probably cool toned.  Nordic blondes are often cool toned. 
Neutral toned skin (N):  If both descriptions seem to fit, you are probably neutral toned.  Neutral skin tones can wear silver and gold jewelry equally well.
There is actually a range of skin tones, rather then it being either/or proposition.  I'm warm toned, but lean neutral.  Someone may be neutral, but lean cool.  I say just make your best guess when searching the foundation matrix. Have fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Be Nice to Your Hair Tip #1: Toss the Terry Cloth

Treat your hair like a cashmere sweater.  If you read posts about hair, you see this statement over and over.  It is a bit of a cliche, but it is true.  Once you damage your cashmere sweater, the damage is there forever.  This is also true of your hair.  Would you rub your sweater vigorously with a terry cloth towel to dry it?  No way.  You shouldn't do this to your hair either.  Terry cloth is a very rough fabric and rubbing your hair with it will rough up the hair's cuticle (see The Structure of Hair) and cause permanent damage. This is true for all hair, straight or curly.
First off, don't rub your hair to dry it.  Squeeze or press out the water.  Rubbing is unnecessarily damaging.
Secondly, use a fabric that is gentler then terry cloth.  Here are some options:

Microfiber towels-  You can use microfiber towels from the automotive section or you might find microfiber towels marketed for cleaning.  You can also get microfiber towels made for hair.  The brand name of mine is Aquis.  Turbie Twist makes a microfiber version of their hair turban.
Flour Sack Towels- found in the kitchen towel section of stores.
100% cotton t-shirts-  It is a good use for your old 100% shirts.  Some people find long sleeve t-shirts work best for plopping (see below).

If you have curly or wavy hair, you you may want to scrunch your hair to a damp state with one of the options above.  For some people (like me), scrunching breaks the curls into smaller curls and/or causes frizz.    Another option is to Plop.  Plopping is accordion folding your hair upside down onto a non terry cloth towel and then wrapping the hair up with the towel.   Here is a good video.  They call plopping plunking in the video.  If you want more videos, do a search for "plop hair" on  You will come up with several videos.
Jessicurl's plopping (A.K.A. plunking) video
As they say in the video, 20 minutes is a good amount of time to plop.  People have luck with longer or shorter plopping times.  I find at some point the microfiber towel has pulled out all the water it can from my hair.  At this point the damp towel is keeping my hair wet, rather then making it dryer.  I take off the towel at this point.  You have to experiment to see what plopping time works best for you.  For some curlies and wavies, plopping simply doesn't work because it causes frizz. You also may want to experiment with types of towels.  For example, some people find microfiber to cause frizz, but flour sack towels don't.
You have to keep trying things to find out what works for your hair.
Remember, if you are nice to your hair, it will be nice to you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to Tell if Your Hair is Wavy

Determining if you hair is wavy is not always as cut and dry as you think.  There are lots of people on the 2 boards (a.k.a. wavy board) of the discussion boards of didn't figure out that they had wavy hair until they were older.  I'm one of them.  I thought I had naturally fuzzy hair.  Some people think their hair is naturally scraggly or naturally poofy.  Others thought they had "stupidly straight" hair.  They were sure their hair was straight, it just didn't dry straight when it air dried (a.k.a. wavy).  Wavy hair often needs a good gel and some styling help (scrunching, diffusing, etc.) to reveal it's true form.  In the picture above left, I combed my hair with a wide tooth comb when wet and air dried.  I finger combed a few times as it was drying.  As you can see, there is almost no wave when styled that way.  The picture to the right shows my hair when scrunched and partially dried with a diffuser and no touching as it finished air drying (no curling iron).  The pictures were taken within a month of each other.  As you can see, wavy hair can hide itself from its owner unless you know to look for it.

So how do you know if you have wavy hair?  Was your hair curly when you were a baby or toddler?  If yes, then it is probably wavy now.  Here is another easy way to find out.  The next time you take a shower, wash and condition.  Comb your hair using a wide tooth comb with the conditioner in and then rinse.  Add a pea size of conditioner to  wet hair when you are still in the shower.  Scrunch you hair with your hands and look in the mirror.  If your hair looks wavy and has bends, it is wavy.  If the bends fall out and don't want to stay, your hair is straight.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The structure of hair

You can find better explanations if you look elsewhere on the web, but here is my cliff notes version of the structure of hair.
The inside of the hair is the cortex.  The cortex is filled with strands of keratin protein.  The proteins form long stretchy rubber band like strands.  These strands give hair it's strength and help support waves and curls.  Fine hair (small diameter of a single hair) is always lacking in protein because the cortex is smaller and can't hold the proper amount of protein easily.  Coarse hair (large diameter of a single hair) has enough protein and and adding more protein (in hair products) can be too much protein.  More on this in later posts.

The outer layer of hair is the cuticle.  The cuticle is like scales on fish or shingles on a roof.  It is actually 4-12 layers of fish scales or shingles on a roof (estimates vary and it varies by ethnicity).  The closed cuticle keeps the proper balance of moisture and protein inside the cortex.  The "shingles" laying flat (closed) also reflects light and make hair shiny.  When the cuticle becomes damaged from heat, sun, wind, brushing, dyeing, straightening, perming, etc., you may lose a layer or more of "shingles", the "scales" will open up, or it may loose some individual "shingles".  You may even get a hole in you cuticle.  Through these openings, the moisture and maybe some of the protein will escape.  When this happens, you hair is not as healthy.  Again, more on this later.  The picture (above left) is of damaged hair under a microscope.

If you looked at a cross section of hair, very straight hair would be a perfect circle like looking at the top of a straw.  The curlier hair gets, the more egg shaped the cross section gets. It is like when you squeeze a straw between your fingers.  Kinky curly hair, usually found in African Americans, is almost flat.  Kinky curly hair not only has C shaped bends like curly hair, it also has torsion twists.  Now try to envision shingling these hair shapes.  The straight, circular based straw would have the "shingles" lie flat against the straw.  The flattened oval shaped kinky curly hair with C shaped bends and twists would have shingles that did not lie flat against the base.  The curlier your hair is, the more likely for your "shingles" to be open (a.k.a. porous).  If your hair is porous, you need to replace the moisture that has escaped and close the openings in the cuticle using protein.  (more on this in later posts)  The structure of curly hair causes it to have very different needs then the needs of straight hair. Curly hair must be treated differently to keep it healthy.
For further reading on hair structure see these random links I have bookmarked:
Exploratorium Magazine, Better Hair Through Chemestry 
Black Girl Long Hair- Sturcture of Hair Close Up

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Newspaper Nails

You'll notice as I start posting pictures of nail polish, that my manicures are never perfect.  They probably never will be either.  :)

This manicure is really easy to do, but looks impressive.  The base polish color is Zoya in the color Harley. You can use any color you want as the base color, but it must be light enough for the newsprint to show up. You cut nail sized squares of newspaper.  It doesn't matter what it says, since it prints backwards anyway.  You want to pay attention to where the paragraphs on the newspaper end, because you could end up with blank spaces on your nails.  I filled a shot glass part way with rubbing alcohol.  I dipped my nail into the rubbing alcohol.  Then I pressed the newspaper clipping against the nail for 30-40 seconds and pealed it away.  I topped my manicure with a matte top coat (Hard Candy's Matte-ly in Love from Walmart).  I wouldn't use a matte top coat with this particular polish color again, but it might be nice with a newspaper mani on a white or cream nail polish.  A normal top coat works just fine, but you must use a top coat to prevent the newsprint from wearing off. Here are a couple of newspaper mani tutorials that I have bookmarked:
Ask me What's-News on Nails
Youtube video from Cutepolish

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Before and After the Curly Girl Method

Before and After (after in blue tank top):

In October of 2009 I began using the Curly Girl method of hair care. It is based on a book by the same name by Lorraine Massey. As you can clearly see from the pictures, this method has completely changed my hair for the better. In the first picture, you see my hair at its all time wavy best, pre Curly Girl (CG) method.  In this picture, about half of the ends were touched up by a curling iron.  Picture 2 is a more accurate reflection of how my hair actually looked before starting this method. At this time, I completely gave up on wearing my hair wavy.  As you can see in the second picture, my hair was more naturally fuzzy then naturally wavy.  Before using the CG method of hair care, my hair was always dull, had a 1/4 inch of split ends every 2 months, it had only s pattern waves, my hair always felt like straw,  and my hair was so much dryer then I even was aware of. 
As you can see in the after pictures (blue tank top), my hair is now shiny, has a mix of S and C shaped bends and even has a couple of spirals.  I get almost no split ends and my hair feels soft and lovely.  My hair stays moisturized without a struggle.  In the after pictures, I diffused my hair part way dry and air dried the rest of the way.  I did not use a curling iron.  In my humble opinion, it is worth trying the CG method for any person with wavy or curly hair because the results are often amazing.  For more curly girl before and after pictures, go to this link.  The link is from the curltalk forum on  Curl talk on Naturally Curly is the unofficial headquarters of the CG method, although many members don't follow this method.  For an explanation on the method itself, this blog post on The College Curly explains the method really well.