Monday, May 31, 2010

Progress Update For June 2010

Well, it’s that time again.  Today I just measured my hair for June 1st.  As you may recall, I always do it the day before.

Last month I measured in at 24 3/4 inches.  This month, I measure at 25 1/4 inches, for 1/2 in growth for the month of May.

I’ve been assessing my ends, and I may have to go back to trimming every third month instead of every fourth month.  I’m already noticing that the ends are getting uneven. This means I trim this month

I’m posting a photo that was just taken today. It’s not my favourite photo, but that’s just how my hair is rolling today. I know, I know, my hair looks a different colour in every photo, but it’s really not.

I hope that my American friends had nice weather for the long weekend.  ‘Til tomorrow, my friends.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hairstyle How To: Franny's Easy Summer Updo

This is an easy summer style that is quick, easy, requires no twisting and requires no braiding.  It can be adapted for height, and the ends can be left loose as I have chosen to do, or they can be tucked under. Also, you can experiment with flipping the ponytail through more than once for a fuller topknot.

All you need for this style is a brush or comb, a ponytail holder, and a barrette or slide. A Topsy Tail Tool is helpful, but not essential.

Here are the instructions:

1. Put hair in a high ponytail.

2. Take Topsy Tail Tool and  insert it behind the hair elastic from the bottom, with the ponytail in the Topsy Tail loop.

3. Pull ponytail up behind the elastic with the Topsy Tail.

4. Now that you've pulled the ponytail through, hold it straight up and give it a gentle yank.

5. Pull ponytail down over the flip-through, smooth it with your hand and insert as small slide or barrette.  I am using a Flexi-8 slide that was given to me by a dear friend.

Lightly comb the ends, which are now likely disheveled, and smooth them.

6. The finished style.

Another view:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sometimes You Do What You Have To Do

I’ve been reading articles and topic threads for a long time, and the consensus seems to be that it’s optimal to stretch out the time between washing one’s hair to as long as possible.  Some long-haired people go four, five days, or even a full week or more between washings.

Some of these people do rinse their hair with water only every few days.  This is not for me.

While I do try to do the best I can for my hair, I’ve only been able to go from daily washing to every other day.

I did wash daily for years, and it took a bit of adjustment to go every second day, but I can’t seem to go beyond that.  On Day 3 after wash day, I can only go without washing if I know I won’t be going anywhere.

I do know that many women my age have less production of the sebaceous glands in their skin in general and on their scalp. I am not one of those women.  My facial skin still produces a lot of oil, and so does my scalp. Even trying to brush my hair with a boar bristle brush, as is often suggested, is not enough to prevent my scalp hair and beyond from looking very oily by the third day after a wash.

Additionally, with my hair so fine and straight, there is no hairstyle, updo or braid that can hide that. I don’t see any practical way around this.

So I do wash my hair every other day. I have changed my habits, such as using conditioner to wash my hair, and I’ve made a lot of other changes in the handling of my hair, but I really don’t see a time in the near future in which I will be able to go regularly for more than two days between washes.

I don’t let it bother me.  I have to do what works for me and what is practical in my life. Sometimes that just means not following the best advice.

So it’s good to remember that while there’s a world of hair care advice out there, sometimes you just have to find your own way, and be good with that.

Kahlil Gibran Quote

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good Day, Bad Day

Sometimes I have to go back and read some of my own words in order to keep from backsliding on this journey.

This morning, I was suddenly keenly aware of that patch of breakage from 18 months ago near the crown of my hair.  It’s much longer now, but it’s still so far from the ends,  creating a false layer. It was sticking out of my updo this morning as if in mockery of my past foolishness.

I also felt very frustrated because it seems as though the trek to mid-back will last forever. I just couldn’t see any progress.

I had a very strong urge to trim, but my regular 1/2 inch trim is not scheduled until July. Annoyance was really setting in.

I went back and read some of my more enthusiastic blog entries in order to try and change my frame of mind.  Then I hopped in the shower and washed my hair.

To my surprise, when I took my hair out of the towel, I could feel my wet ends touching a spot on my back that I didn’t feel last week.

While I can’t see any progress, today I could actually feel it.

Once again, thank heaven for those tiny little milestones. They always seem to provide encouragement just when I need it most.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Long Hair

Since I began my first steps in the long hair journey, I’ve never really sat down and thought about why growing my hair long is important to me.  I gave it a lot of thought today.

While my goal length is ultimately tailbone at this point, I don’t know if I can realistically achieve that with healthy looking hair.  And my goal really is to have hair as long as it can be, while looking healthy, even it that means having a shorter final goal length.

So what is it that has me driven to grow it long?  I thought of a lot of possibilities.  I never did have long hair much as a child, and never in my teens or 20s, so it’s not about recapturing my youth.

It’s not about vanity, or else I would have my hair cut and styled in the most face and age-flattering cut. I’m sure there’s always an element of vanity in wanting any part of your body to be a certain way, but that’s really not the crux of it.

I did always admire long hair, but usually the long hair I admired was not anything like my own; it was usually thick, wavy and flowing.  My hair is and never will be any of those things, so I’m not trying to achieve that.

I finally realized that a lot of my desire to grow long healthy hair is about making a long term goal and doing what I can to reach it.  Hair that is waist length, hip length, tailbone length, or however long I can keep growing, represents not days, not weeks, but years of care and commitment.  This is not something that one can do overnight.  It takes patience and a certain amount of discipline.

Long healthy hair is a visible result of that commitment, patience, care and discipline.  I really like that.

I truly sabotaged my initial efforts when I dyed my hair brown and then blonde again, but that’s in the past now.  Now I’m just about free of the damage of those experiences, and I’m back on the road of this long hair journey.

Do I think that having very long hair will change my life?  No, not in itself.  But I do think that having a long term goal and achieving it, even if it’s something as seemingly insignificant as hair, will be a very good experience for me.  It already has been so far.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hot Irons and Hot Rollers

I have already discussed why blow-drying can be damaging to hair, but I’d also like to discuss curling and straightening irons and hot rollers.
Straighteners have become more and more popular in the last twenty years or so, and there seems to be no sign of them losing popularity.  Curling irons and hot rollers continue to be ever-popular as well.

I know better than anyone how nice it is to be able to pop in hot rollers or use a curling iron and have nice quick curls.  I also understand that people like the sleek look that a straightening iron can give.

However, there are few things as damaging to the hair, or that causes split ends and broken hairs as hot irons.
There are always going to be people who use them and still have healthy looking hair.  These people are the exception to the rule, though.  They must have some pretty tough hair.

Have you ever put a drop of water on a curling or straightening iron when it’s fully heated?  The water sizzles and evaporates.  That means that it has boiled.

Many people use their irons while their hair is still slightly damp, out of necessity to save time, or because they like the results.  If your hair is damp, then there is still water in the cuticle.  Apply that hot iron to it and the water actually boils inside the cuticle of the hair. This will cause the cuticle to both swell and shrink, and this kind of damage is exactly what leads to breakage and splits.

Hot rollers are rarely as hot as irons are, but they are still hot enough to be uncomfortable when held next to the skin.  They aren’t as immediately harsh as hot irons are, but they do bake any moisture out of the hair, and over time, damage will accumulate.

You may think that if you’re using a heat protectant, you’re safe.  I admit to having bought into that idea for a while myself. However, nothing really can protect hair from such high heat.  You are bound to scorch your hair or to dry out your hair at the very least.

Hair really does need moisture in it in order to stay healthy and heat products eradicate that moisture.
I am not trying to tell anyone never to use heat products.  Everyone should enjoy their hair and do what pleases them. And even if you have chosen to give up heat products, there may be times when you feel you have to use them.

Just be aware of the facts.  Don’t ever use hot irons on hair that is even slightly damp.  Do use a heat protectant, as a slight buffer.  It’s not a cure-all, but it will help.  Don’t hold an iron in one place for a long time.  Use quick passes.

As for hot rollers, again, only use them on hair that is completely dry. It may be of some help to use some sort of heat protector, but try to use them only very rarely.

The best advice is never to use heat products on your hair, but I know that isn’t realistic for many. However, please do know what you’re about to do when you use them.

Giving up heat products was the very first thing that I did when I started my long hair journey, and it was the first thing that made a noticeable positive change in the quality of my hair.

Yes, I’ve made many other mistakes along this journey, which is why I’m not much closer to my goal than I was four years ago, but I’m doing my best to learn from those mistakes.  And I can pass this knowledge along to you, so that maybe, just maybe, you won’t make the mistakes I’ve made.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Off-Topic Tuesday: Green Tea and Summer Weather

It’s very hot here in Southern Ontario today.  I don’t know why after 48 years on this planet it still surprises me how it can be relatively cool one day and then very hot the next in springtime.  Today it went up to 30˚C/86˚F, but with the humidity it felt like 35˚C/95˚F.  It was a drastic change from the much cooler days we’ve experienced lately.  And there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky to give any relief from the hot sun.  It’s going to get even hotter in the next couple of days.

I’ve never been a fan of hot and humid weather, but I find that as I’m approaching the change of life, it’s even more intolerable.  I am so happy that we have air conditioning.  Fortunately, we tested our A/C in early spring on one very warm day, only to find that it wasn’t working, so we had it repaired and ready for days like today.  I would have been most upset to have been without A/C today.  Hot flashes are bad enough without outside influences affecting my sleep.

I’m sipping on a cup of cool green tea.  I used to drink green tea, but I forgot about it for a while.  I was reminded recently of the purported health benefits of drinking it, so I’m drinking 4 or 5 cups of it a day.  I wonder if the benefits are really what we’re being told, or if this is just another myth that will be busted in a few years.

In any case, I enjoy the taste, and it’s a very pleasant alternative to drinking plain water.  I like to drink the recommended amounts of water every day, as hydration is very important for migraineurs, but plain water can be very  boring.  Green tea is an acceptable liquid for hydration.

Nothing new to report on the exercise front.  I’m still doing battle with migraines.  One day it will subside, only to be replaced with a new one.  I am hoping very much that there will be a new breakthrough in migraine research soon.

I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I’m sure I will with this statement.  Most migraine sufferers are women, and I truly believe that if most were men, there would have been more medical advancement by now.  None of the migraine specific drugs work for me, and I know that they don’t work for many others.

I am happy to report though that I’ve lost four pounds.  It’s not much, but it’s a start. I still have a good 15 pounds to lose in order to stop looking as though I’m a few months pregnant.  I’ve mentioned before that 90% of my excess weight goes on my tummy and it really is true.  I’m not going to try to fool myself.  Losing that 15 pounds is not going to be easy at my age, and unless and until I start getting more exercise, it won’t go anywhere.  I hope by next week at this time to be able to report that I’ve at least made a start on a doable exercise routine. There; I’ve put it in print.

Yesterday was Victoria Day here in Canada, so a long weekend for most people here.  I hope that all of my Canadian friends had a wonderful May 2/4 weekend.

I’m trying to work on some new (to me) hairstyles, and I’m happy that my hair is getting long enough again to do some old favourites.  It’s going to be a few months before I can try some of the styles I really want to do.  I’ve seen some lovely ones, but my length isn’t there yet.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying being able to do a Figure 8 again, which up until a couple of weeks ago, my hair was too short to do.  My hair is thicker now than it has ever been before at this length, so it’s taking longer for me to be able to do certain styles that I used to be able to do at this stage of growth.

I’ll be posting another hairstyle tutorial by the end of the week.

Thank you everyone for reading. I do wish you all a wonderful week and I send love to all.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hairstyle How-To: Gibson Tuck

I get a lot of requests for tutorials on my website for The Gibson Tuck.  It's a very easy style to do, and it can be done with hair that is shoulder length to very long hair, depending on your hair type.  Depending on your own hair, experiment with the height of the placement of the original ponytail.

(Edited on July 29, 2010 to add: As well as this photo tutorial, I now have a Video Gibson Tuck How-to, which may be helpful to people with longer hair.)                                             

1. Gather hair into a high or medium ponytail.

2. From the crown, use your fingers to separate the hair above the ponytail. You will essentially be creating a pocket for your hair.

3. Tuck ponytail into pocket. Try to distribute the hair evenly.

4. After the hair is tucked in, use a bobby pin or two to keep the elastic held down.

5. Now you have your Gibson Tuck, almost completed. However you'll notice that the part where you made your pocket still shows. We'll deal with that in the next step.

6. Now draw together the part by holding it with a barrette, a decorative comb, or any other hair accessory that will do the job.  I'm using a France Luxe tige boulet barrette in the Elysee design. It was sent to me by a dear friend as a surprise, and it suits the Gibson Tuck quite nicely.

You're done!  Here is another view of the completed style. Some people might want to do away with the flyaways, but I actually like them. It gives a romantic touch to the style. If you do want a neater look with no flyaways, brush your hair lightly with a bit of hairspray to hold them down.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Worst Hair Disaster

It's only been about four and a half weeks since I last touched up my colour, and I've been trying to put off doing it again, but the silver roots are really growing in.  So I spent the day with my hair soaking in coconut oil and I'm sitting here now with dye on my roots.

Thinking about hair dye reminded me of the biggest hair disaster I ever had.  It was 1998, and I had been using a high lift one-step blonde colour for several years.  Since my hair is naturally dark blonde, it was easy to get an almost platinum colour without bleach, but by using extra light shades.

I'll never know to this day what possessed me, but one day I decided I just had to have one of those beautiful cool shades of red hair.  I knew that anything orangey wouldn't suit me, but I thought that a cool tone might be nice and brighten up my look.

I remember walking to the drugstore after having made this impulsive decision, and I purchased the dye.  I really didn't know all that much about hair dye back then, and I didn't know that there were special steps necessary to go from platinum blonde to a red shade.

So I applied the dye, and after it was rinsed out and dry, it looked lovely to my eyes. It was a new me.  However after the first washing, red dye was still dripping in the shower. This time when my hair was dry, the red shade was still there but there were blonde patches showing through.  It was a disaster.

I then walked back to the drugstore. I met a friend who worked there, and she said to me, "Franny!  What happened to your hair?!?!". I was mortified.  I spoke to the cosmetician and I was told that in order to dye my light blonde hair dark, I should have used a filler.  A filler is a deposit only colour that fills the hair shaft with a darker tone, and then you apply the shade of your choice over top of it.

There I was with shoulder length hair that had already been mercilessly dyed so light and for the second time in just a few days, I was applying colour all over my head yet again.

The colour held well after using the filler, but it didn't take many washings before the nice red tone faded, and I was left with dull, brown hair.  And it wasn't a pretty brown.

I knew I had really made a mistake.  I had to have my blonde back, so back to the drugstore I went, to buy a box of bleach, (yes, bleach!) and a new shade of blonde to put over top of it.

I did do a strand test as suggested, but it took a very long time to get the colour light enough.  So I applied the bleach to my hair for as long as I did with the strand test and followed with a medium blonde shade.

Well.  I don't even know how to express my horror at the condition of my hair.  When wet, it felt sticky and mushy.  It really didn't even feel like hair at all.  It felt like an old doll's hair.  I was going crazy, but I thought that some good conditioners would help restore my hair.  However, no matter what I did, my hair was beyond repair.  I simply couldn't live with it.

Every time I combed or brushed my hair little pieces of hair would fly out.  I needed to get a haircut.

So I got my hair bobbed to about chin length.  But I found that I still couldn't live with the damage of the hair that remained.  

Off to the hairdresser's again, and I got just about every bit of that damage out.  However, it left me with a very, very, very short haircut.  It was so short that my hair stuck straight up in the air in some places.  It wasn't pretty.  I just wanted to hide.

Finally, it did start to grow out, and I began to feel like myself again.  But wow, what an experience.  

Having gone through that, I'll never understand why I allowed myself to dye my hair brown in 2007.  You would have thought I'd have learned.   But I hadn't.  I think that I believed that since I had a better understanding of hair care that I'd be okay.  I also thought that I would stick with the brown.  However brown was not me, and it never was.  As well, with a dark shade, the silver roots started showing in less than a week.  At least I didnt' completely destroy all of my hair when I removed the brown dye in 2008, but I did have to sacrifice almost 2 years worth of growth in the end.

I guess in some ways I'm happy that I had these experiences because I finally know that I'll never do it again.  At least I'd better not.  

I've finally found the shade that suits me, and the hair care that works for me, so I'd best not be trying any new colour experiments.  If I ever get the urge to do any crazy colouring to my hair again, I'll make sure I write about it here first, so that you can yell at me and tell me to stop!  I promise I will listen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Long Hair Community

When you're learning a new way of caring for your hair, and you want to grow it, it's nice to be around like-minded people to give you support, education and encouragement, no matter what your final goal may be. It can really be difficult to find someone to share your enthusiasm about long hair with in the real world.

That is part of why I like The Long Hair Community so much.  There are other forums about long hair, but TLHC is one of the largest.  Also, it has many members who have been there for years, and you'll find many people there who have a lot of knowledge and wisdom and are very generous with sharing it.  There is a vast wealth of information to be found there on an everyday basis, and a veritable goldmine in searching past threads. 

Also, you will absolutely be able to find someone with a hair type that matches yours, who has long, healthy hair.  I have found that to be particularly inspiring. While I admire every head of hair at TLHC, it really is helpful to see someone with the same hair type who has been through the journey that I am going through.

There are a lot of varied opinions there on just about everything, and I think that's a very good thing, as not all of us have the same goals and not all hair care tips work for everyone.

TLHC is also more than just a forum about long hair.  If you become a member, you can become part of a real community that discusses everything from pets to hobbies to health to personal issues; you name it.  Members can have their own blogs there and photo galleries as well, after they've made a sufficient number of quality posts.

It doesn't take long before you'll find that you'll find people whose opinions on some subject you'll relate to, and so many people have made some real friendships there.  I have met some of the best people there; people whom I truly count as friends,

For anyone who is feeling the need for support in your quest for better hair care, whatever your goal length is, I highly recommend not just frequenting, but actually joining The Long Hair Community.  Even if you think you're shy and may not post much, as I initially thought about myself when I joined, you may be surprised at just how easy it is to get involved and become a part of the community.

There is something there for everybody.  Give it a try. As many of us have said, "I came to TLHC for the hair; I stayed for the friendships."  Here is the link to The Long Hair Community.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Everyday Hair Oiling

Why would I put oil on my hair every day? Well, it is mainly to add a tiny layer of protection and to help replace the natural oils that may have been stripped away from my hair. While I can't ever truly replace the oils on a longterm basis, it is possible to simulate it with daily oiling.

I never would have imagined that I'd be putting oil on my hair daily. Especially with my fine, straight hair, I would have thought that putting oil on my hair would make it look limp and stringy.

However, I put oil on my hair every day now, and it does wonders. My hair looks full and it doesn't appear oily or lank. The key is learning to use it properly.

Everyone has preferred oils. I have already discussed that I use a fair bit of coconut oil all over my hair before I touch up my roots with dye, in this entry. Now that I've started doing that, I won't ever stop. It's done really good things for the condition of my hair.

Yet, coconut oil is too rich for use on my hair every day, no matter how little I use. While there are many long haired men and women who do use it daily, I am not one who can. I like using extra virgin olive oil for deep treatments, but again, it not something that agrees with my hair for daily use. Everyone's hair is so different, so what works for one, may not work for another. Some people claim not to be able to use oils at all.  This has not been the case for me.  It did take some trial and error though, some of it with hilarious results, when I tried using too much in the beginning. Yes, there were in fact days when my hair looked like an oil slick when I was still learning.

I experimented with several different oils for every day use.  I have settled on jojoba oil for every day. It seems to have the consistency that agrees with my hair and I've learned just how much to use for it to be effective without leaving it looking as though my hair is oily.

I purchased my 8 ounce bottle of jojoba oil from a soapmaker on Ebay for less than $10.00.  I still have about 1 1/2 ounces left in that bottle, which was purchased about 3 1/2 years ago.  Another good thing about jojoba oil is that it has an extremely long shelf life, and does not go rancid.

I have a little dropper bottle that I put the oil in. Many people like to add an essential oil to their hair oil for the scent. I use lavender oil, as it's very safe for the hair, and I like the clean, green scent of it.

I use jojoba oil after I've washed my hair and when it's almost dry.  At my current length, I use about 6 drops in total.  I apply it in sections--left side, right side and back.  I put two drops of oil in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and then run my hands down one side of my hair from about the ears down, trying to make sure that the very ends get most of the oil.  Then I do the same for the other side of the hair, and then the back. When my hair is dry and I have finger-combed it, I then finish by combing my hair with my seamless horn comb. Then I will do a short, gentle brushing with my boar bristle brush, to evenly distribute the oils.
At night, before I put in my bedtime bun or braid, I usually put about 1 drop of oil on each of the three sections of my hair using the method described above.

Jojoba oil seems to sink into my hair, leaving my ends softer and my hair shinier. It also really does offer a  buffer against the elements.

There are a lot of oils to choose from, and it may take some trial and error to see which oil works best for you, but I think it's well worth the effort to find just the right oil  and how much of it to use.

On another note, I'll be doing at least two hairstyle tutorials in the coming week.  Thank you so much for reading, and I'll talk to you tomorrow. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Remembering 80's Hair

The 80s was a fun time to be a teen or a young woman.  It was a time of some interesting fashions, a lot of bold makeup and most importantly, big hair.

I wonder just how much mousse, gel and hairspray was used back then, by both young men and young women. I know I used more than my share.

I turned 18 in 1979, and it was not long after when most of the girls my age finally gave up our Farrah Fawcett hair attempts and started emulating the New-Wavers.  The disco generation was ending and New Wave was king.

I started the 80s with a pageboy, with full bangs.  Both my bangs and the ends of my hair were turned under with a small barrelled curling iron.  Not the most natural look.  To get more volume, often I would make several tiny braids in my hair, pre-coated with gel, before bed time.  It gave a slightly fuzzy but definite fullness to my hair.

Once finished off with both heavy eye makeup, lipstick and bold slashes of blush on my cheeks, I was ready for action.  Photos of me at that time make me blush for real now, but at the time, I felt quite glamourous. I was a cosmetician in a high-end department store back then, and neither my co-workers nor my clientèle seemed to think that I was overly made up.  It's only now that I see how truly hideous the makeup styles in those days were. 

I began getting light blonde highlights on my naturally dark blonde hair when I was 20.  I really felt like a blonde now. This was getting good.

After my pageboy, I had my hair cut and permed into an Olivia Newton-John styled mullet, which required a lot of care.  The perm on its own was not enough to keep up the style, so I had to curl every bit of my hair with a curling iron every day, and touch it up again for an evening out.

When that started to grow out and look damaged, I went for a bobbed style. By 1985 I grew that out to just about or below shoulder length, and my stylist cut long layers into my hair and piecey layers around my face.  This style would be my signature look for the rest of the 80s.

I have to admit, it was a good cut, and if worn today without 80s embellishments, it wouldn't look out of place.  However, of course I had to add my own touches to it, which meant using a curling iron on every layer of my hair and my bangs.  My every day look was relatively conservative and really not over-the-top.

Nevertheless, being a flathead just didn't do for going out to nightclubs or parties. I can't even recall all of the heat appliances and tricks with curlers that I tried back then to achieve big hair for a night out.

The greatest revelation was the crimper.  There is nothing that says '80s quite like crimped hair. The good thing about crimping was that it really did stay in until the next wash. That was something that my fine, straight hair had never really experienced before.

Of course, hair isn't meant to be bent at right angles, so there's no point in even mentioning how damaged my hair was.

Then a new product came out.  The waver. It was just like a crimper, except instead of a zigzag pattern, there were small S-waves. This was my holy grail. Like the crimper, the waver made patterns in my hair that held. Of course my post-wash glob of mousse and final touch of hairspray helped.

Honestly, when I think of the hours I used to spend to get my hair ready for a big night out, I roll my eyes.  When I think about how much I abused my hair with blow-dryers hot rollers, crimpers, perms, highlights, back-combing and styling products, I can only laugh.  I do recall using a "heat protectant" before using my heat appliances, and thinking that it would prevent damage, but naturally it didn't. Even at shoulder length I would already find split ends and often there would be breakage--tiny hairs falling--when I brushed my hair.

Of course I didn't do all of that for every day, but I can say that I don't think I went a day in the 80s before my daughter was born in late 1988 without putting at least a curling iron to my hair.

I honestly didn't think I was fit to walk to the corner store without full makeup and my hair done.

Were there self-esteem issues at play?  Undoubtedly. But I can honestly say that I had the time of my life playing with makeup and getting my hair as big as it could get for a night on the town or a swanky party. Good times

Sadly, I don't have any photos of me decked out for the clubs. We didn't have digital cameras then so we didn't take pictures as frequently. Most photos I have from that time are just of my everyday self.

I'm happy that I had that time to just do whatever I wanted to my hair and with makeup.  It enabled me to get that need to be like the glamourous girls out of my system.  I don't ever see a perm in my future or a renewed relationship with my blow-dryer or any of my trusty curling irons.

Now I'm content to just let my hair be my hair. While I still love makeup, I go days at a time without it.  I do wear it to varying degrees depending on where I'm going or what I'm doing.  I still do feel much more put together when I wear makeup, but I'm not a slave to it anymore.

Yet back in the 80's, the fun I had experimenting with too much makeup and with glamourously damaging my hair in the name of beauty!  I wouldn't have missed out on it for anything.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trim Your Own Hair For Total Control

I've mentioned before that I like to have 1/2 inch trimmed off of my hair every 3 to 4 months.  While not everyone agrees with trimming while growing their hair, for me, it's a must. Without trims, my ends become very shaggy looking within just a few months. In part that's due to the uneven growth rate of each individual hair. With my fine, pin-straight hair, it's very noticeable.

I like to keep my ends looking as thick as possible while still growing.  Yes, cutting off 1/2 inch 3 or 4 times a year inevitably slows my progress to my ultimate goal, but I'm more concerned with the journey than the destination at this point.  

I've seen what my hair looks like without a trim for a year, and it isn't at all the way I want my hair to look.

A small trim now and then could mean not having to have a big chop because I suddenly notice that the bottom inches of my hair are transparent, as has happened to me in the past.

If you are someone who likes to have regular trims, it can be difficult to find a hair stylist who really understand that when you say 1/2 inch, you really mean 1/2 inch.  Sometimes people don't even realize just how small 1/2 inch is.  For me, it's merely the width of the tip of my pinkie finger.

A lot of stylists will not work well with trims that small.  Of course there are many who do, but how do you find one? Believe me, it can be hard.

That's why a lot of long-haired people have taken matters into their own hands and self-trim.

I've mentioned before that I'm all thumbs, and I'm honestly not kidding.  I can't draw a straight line to save my life and my handwriting is horrendous, even when I'm trying to be neat.

Yet I can trim my own hair!  I never thought I'd be able to do it, but I can.  It's so easy and just about anyone can do it. On the long hair forums, I discovered  Feye's Self-Trim Method. What a revelation!  It's a very easy way to trim your hair in tiny amounts.  You can also vary between a straight across hemline, a v-shape or a u-shape.

I will suggest that if your hair is only just past your shoulders, it may be helpful to have a friend do the cutting, especially if you're not self-confident, but once your hair is below the under-arm line, you should have no trouble at all doing it yourself.

My second suggestion would be to try cutting off less than you plan to have cut off in total the first or second time you self-trim.  You can always cut off a bit more if necessary.

Lastly, make sure you are using very sharp barber shears.  These days, you can find good quality barber shears at reasonable prices on Ebay. If you really want to go all out, by all means, go to a professional store to buy your shears.  Sharp scissors are essential, not just for a good cut, but also to keep your hair in the best condition.  Dull scissors can lead to split ends.

It's a really fine achievement to be independent of having to go to a salon, but to still be able to maintain your own hair.  It saves money, and you are also in complete control of your own length.

Here is the link to Feye's Self-Trim Method.  If I can do it, believe me, anyone can.

Good luck with it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Off-Topic Tuesday: Twitter and Other Things

Everywhere I look these days on the Internet, I see mentions of, or links to Twitter.  

I must be a dinosaur (perish the thought), because I'm not really sure what the purpose of Twitter is.

Facebook I understand.  It's a great way of keeping friends and family apprised of what's going on in your life and to keep up with what's going on in theirs.  The ability to create photo albums there is wonderful for sharing with loved ones who are far away. Also you can write notes, which essentially can be like blog entries or newsletters, again keeping friends and family up-to-date.

However, I'm not seeing what the appeal of Twitter is. You can only post 140 characters at a time.  That's not a lot of words to express anything terribly important.

I've looked at some Tweets by some people and I often see mentions of what they're snacking on right now, or they Tweet play-by-plays of a movie they're watching. Is this what it's really all about?  There must be more to it than that.

Clearly, I'm missing something because Twitter is extraordinarily popular.  I hope that one of these days someone will sit down and explain to me why Twitter is so important.  I might really be missing out!

On another subject altogether, I honestly can't believe that we're over half-way through May already.  This month seems to have been just flying by. This coming weekend is Victoria Day here in Canada, a long weekend, and the official kick-off to summer.  

I remember when I was young, that Victoria Day also signalled the time when you could wear white slacks, white shoes, white dresses or white skirts.  Then Labour Day in September was when the whites went back into storage.  Do people still go by those conventions today?

I had hoped to have lost some weight by now. I'm sorry to say that it has not happened.  It's not the eating that's the trouble, it's the lack of exercise. I wanted to implement a program of low-impact aerobics that I could still do when having a migraine, but the migraines have been so bad of late that I quite literally can't stomach the idea of too much movement.  

So I sit here with that extra 18 pounds or so on my tummy. I really want to do away with that.  Perhaps the forthcoming better weather will treat me more kindly migraine-wise.  I hope so.

I want to thank all of you who are following my blog. I'm honoured that anyone is reading this, especially such wonderful people..

I'm really behind on reading the blogs that I myself am following.  I'll have to catch up when my eyes stop playing tricks on me.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

In My Happy Place

I've been ill for the past few days, and it's starting to get frustrating.  Often when I'm feeling down or frustrated, I get impatient with my hair.  I don't know why that is, but it happens. I know I'm not the only woman who does this.

When it came time to start thinking about my blog entry for today, I started thinking about my hair, and I realized that even though I'm feeling a bit blue, I'm feeling really good about my hair's progress, appearance and overall health. It's been just shy of a month since I last touched up my roots, but I see a lot of new growth there, which tells me just how much my hair has grown in 4 weeks .  It's kind of nice to be able to actually see with my own eyes how much it really is growing.

My hair looks and feels really good too.  Although I know I still have damage on the ends, I can't see it or feel it.  I think that's due to giving my hair a lot of moisture and making sure I oil the ends. I've finally found just the right hair care routine for me.

I'm noticing week by week that I'm able to do some of the hairstyles that I haven't been able to do for quite a long time, because my hair was too short.  In the next 3 months or so, I'll be at a point where my hair doesn't look like "longish" hair, it will look like long hair.  

I'm really happy with the colour too.  I'm glad that I found just the right shade of blonde for me--not too dark, not too light, not too golden, not too ashy.

I like my bangs.  I don't regret cutting them again as they are part of who I am.  

I guess all in all, I'm in a very happy place regarding my hair.  I wanted to make a record of being in this happy place for the next time that I feel discouraged about my hair or attaining my goal.

It really is nice to be in hair nirvana once in a while--even if I'm not feeling so great otherwise.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Conditioner Only Washing Method

I never knew until less than four years ago that I could wash my hair with conditioner and no shampoo and still get my hair nice and clean. 

It wasn't until I read some information in some of the long hair forums that I heard of Conditioner Only or CO washing.

The surfactants in conditioner will clean the hair and scalp just as well as shampoo, if used properly.  

The real benefit for me is that my hair never feels stripped or dry, and I rarely if ever get tangles. My hair doesn't look greasy as you might expect when thinking about washing your hair with conditioner.

There are a few things that are necessary to know if you want to CO wash.

It's really important to let the conditioner sit for a few minutes on your wet head in order to allow the surfactants to do their work, so applying the conditioner is the first thing I do in the shower.

Before applying the conditioner, make sure that your hair is very wet, just as you would do before applying shampoo. Then take a good handful of conditioner and work it into the scalp.  I like to use a conditioner without silicones for the scalp area.  My preferred conditioner for this purpose at the moment is Suave Naturals.  It has just the right consistency for me.  It's not too rich, but it's not too thin.

Then I take another handful of conditioner and work it throughout the length of my hair.  In the past, I used to use the Suave Naturals for my length, but since I'm still nursing a few inches of damage on the ends of my hair, I do use a conditioner with silicones. Right now I'm using Tresemme moisturizing conditioner for this.

After I have gently worked the conditioner right through to the ends of my hair, I gather it with care and pile it on top of my head, secured with a big claw clip.

Once I have secured my hair on top of my head, I complete the rest of my showerly duties. By that time, my hair is ready to be rinsed.

Rinsing well is another very important key to successful COing. I like to rinse for about 3 minutes. When I have finished rinsing, I like to take a pitcher of cool water with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in it to both remove any excess conditioner residue and to smooth the cuticle of my hair, which has the bonus of boosting my hair's shine.

It sounds as though it would be expensive to use so much conditioner. However, Suave Naturals is very inexpensive, so I don't find that I spend all that much on it. Whenever I see it on sale, I stock up on a few bottles. I always seem to have several bottles of conditioner on hand.

For the silicone conditioner, I do find that Tresemme is one of the best conditioners of its type for the price. The large bottle lasts me quite a long time.

I do shampoo once a month or so, when I feel the need to clarify, as I discussed in this entry. Other than that, I never use shampoo, and my hair is very happy.

If you're looking for a new, gentler method of washing your hair, give COing a try. It may not be for you, but it can't hurt to test it out for yourself. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Two Week Rule

If you're like me, you may often want to change your hair colour or style on a whim.  So many of us do, enjoy it for a while, and then regret it.

I recall a few years ago, I suddenly felt the need for change, and I impulsively got a lip-length bob.  My hair had been well below the shoulders, and it was before I became conscious of good hair care, so my hair was not looking its best.  One day, I flipped through a hairstyle magazine, saw that lip-length bob and the very same day I had it cut.  I even remember the stylist asking me if I was sure I wanted that much hair cut off.  Of course I said yes.

While I really liked the light feeling of the shorter hair, and I did like the way it looked, it didn't take long before I realized that it really wasn't me and I'd already grown tired of it. So then I had to wait a very long time until I had long hair again.  Fortunately, it was an easy cut to grow out, as there were no layers.

I have done some really impulsive colouring in the past as well, even as recently as three years ago.

If you ever look at any of the long hair forums on the Internet, you will hear about something called the Two Week Rule.

The Two Week Rule is to be implemented whenever you have thoughts of cutting your hair, colouring your hair, getting a fringe/bangs, or anything else that will either cause further damage to your hair, or cause regret.

I recommend that anyone who is serious about growing their hair uses the Two Week Rule, no matter what your ultimate goal length may be.

It's very helpful to not only invoke the rule with yourself, but to tell someone else. That will make you feel more accountable and less likely to be impulsive.

I will admit that it took me a while to have the patience to use the Two Week Rule, but since I have, I have saved myself from a few regrettable chops.

I hope that you will use it too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Goals and Expectations

Growing your hair from short to long can be a very long process. It can also be frustrating unless you set manageable goals and have realistic expectations.

If your hair is currently an ear-length bob, and you ultimately want tailbone length hair, it feels like forever until you get there. So set mini-goals. A great way to set mini-goals is by using body markers.  In the case of the ear-length bob, your next goal may be to lip length, then chin length, then grazing-the-shoulders length.  Keep those initial goals manageable and within reach of a few months to a year.  This really helps keep you going. You don't need to lose sight of your ultimate goal, but keeping it on the back-burner saves a lot of frustration.

I've mentioned before the importance of taking monthly length photos. It's highly unlikely that you'll see much difference from one month to the next, but you definitely will see progress when comparing this month's photo to a photo from 3 or 4 months ago. Seeing definite progress will really help to keep you motivated, and when you start to think that your hair isn't growing (and it will happen), you have those old photos to look at and they will remind you that no matter how slowly, you are making progress.

Also, have realistic expectations about what your hair is going to look like when it's long. Don't compare yourself to someone who has a completely different hair type. If your long hair inspiration is someone with thick, wavy, coarse-textured hair, and you have straight fine hair, you have to know that your hair will never look like that wavy person's whose hair you so admire.

As your hair is growing out, learn to appreciate the unique beauty that is your own hair.  Believe me, beautiful hair can be thick or thin, curly, straight or wavy. Now is the time to embrace your own individual hair type.  Look for inspiration from people whose hair is similar to yours.

These tips will keep your long hair journey less frustrating, more fun, and you'll be less likely to want to give up.

Happy growing!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hairstyle How-To: 4 Strand Box Braid

Most of us can do a 3 strand braid without too much difficulty. The idea of learning how to do 4 and 5 strand braids is both intriguing and sometimes daunting.  I know it was a daunting idea for me, even 3 years ago.

I am one of those people who is truly all thumbs.  My typing is slow, my fingers aren't nimble--I feel as though I have no dexterity.

Yet, I was so charmed by the look of the 4 strand box braid and the 5 strand flat braid that I made it my business to learn how to do them, no matter how long it took.

I started learning each braid by doing it as a half-up braid.  Having less hair to work with seemed to make it much easier.  Also, doing a half-up allowed me to have a decent sized braid with more plaits than if I tried to braid the length of my hair.

It took me at least a week to learn the 4 strand box braid. It was really something new to try to figure out the fingering, even though I had the pattern firmly in my mind.

I remember that I would attempt making that 4 strand braid, and I would get a few rounds into it and then make a mistake.  I would then start over.  As soon as I felt the least bit frustrated, I called it quits for that day.

Yet, day by day, my fingering got better.  The muscle memory was beginning to get there.  Finally one day I made that 4 strand box braid in a half-updo!  After that, I knew how to do it forever.

The pattern for the box braid is very easy. It's a really nice looking braid because it has a 3-dimensional quality. 

1. Divide the hair in 4 equal strands.  

2. Mentally number the strands from left to right: 1, 2, 3, 4.  

3. Take strand 1. Bring it under strands 2 and 3 and then over strand 3.  It will now sit in the strand 2 place.

4. Take strand 4.  Bring it under strands 3 and 2 and then over strand 2.  It will now sit in the strand 3 place.

5. Rename the strand again from left to right, 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the braid is done.

If you have trouble with this, don't worry.  You are using fingering that you're not used to.  Yet I guarantee that with practice, anyone can do this.  You just need patience, and don't be frustrated if you don't learn it in a day.

Once you learn it, you will be able to start doing it in a French style too.  

Here is a photo of my 4 strand box braid half-up. It is held with a Scunci Ouchless Invisible elastic.  They're made of silicone, and I find them to be quite hair friendly, although they need a bit more care to remove than the regular Scunci elastics that I talked about earlier this week.

Have fun braiding!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Off-Topic Tuesday: Weather, Migraines and Dealing With It

It's been a crazy year for weather here in Southern Ontario.  This past winter we had less than half of the usual snowfall.  We didn't have one snowstorm that significantly impacted life as usual here.

So far Spring has been like a seesaw.  We've had some beautiful warm days where we could quite comfortably go outside in shorts and t-shirts, but now we're back to cold weather.  No snow, just cold and windy. Even though I have the furnace set low, just in case of the cold, I was surprised to hear it going when I woke up this morning.  

This past week has been a time of blustery wind, cool temperatures, warm temperatures and thunderstorms.  This is not good weather for migraine sufferers such as myself.

It can be frustrating for me to be at the mercy of the weather as to how I feel physically.

Life with migraines is an unsteady life.  I never know from one day to the next just how much or how little I'll be able to accomplish. For a long, long time, I would get upset with myself for not getting things done. That would cause me to feel guilty, which made me feel depressed, which led to anxiety, which only made the migraines worse.  It's a viscious circle that so many migraineurs fall into.

I am trying to learn to keep my to-do lists flexible so that I'm not disappointed in myself if I'm having a bad migraine day. I have a to-do list ready for a regular day, and an alternate, realistic to-do list if I'm having a migraine day.  I keep it short and anything extra that I manage to do is a bonus.

So I do what I can around the house and other than that I try to relax and not panic about the things I haven't done. If I do a few chores and then just relax and watch a movie on television, I'm trying feel okay with that and feel no guilt. It's not easy.

I'm trying to learn to take one day at a time, and to celebrate what I can accomplish on good days, and give myself credit for whatever I can achieve on bad days, feeling no self-recrimination for what I can't manage to do.  It's taking a real shift in thinking, and not entirely easy, but I think that it will pay off, once I have really adapted to my new thinking.

The strange thing is, I'm so much harder on myself than I would be on someone else in my own shoes.  I really have to learn to treat myself as well as I would others.

Why is it that sometimes I expect more from myself and have less empathy for myself than I would a friend, a loved one or even a stranger?

I can't answer that at this point.  But I'm trying to figure it out.  I'll tell you if I ever do.