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.