My Tips for Great Hair

Ever since chopping off my long locks three years ago, I have become very particular about my hair care. Now that I’m currently in yet another phase of trying to grow out my pixie cut (I’ve made it to bob length twice, only to chop it again after seeing one too many perfect pixie cuts on Pinterest), I’m especially careful to be kind to my hair as I coax it to grow.

Whether you have the shortest of pixies or waist-length strands, there are things you can do to keep your hair looking great….and bad habits that can harm it. Here is my comprehensive list of tips to keep your hair looking amazing.

Do bring photos with you when you get your hair done. Anyone remember that episode of Friends when Monica asks for Demi Moore’s haircut, but Phoebe gives her Dudley Moore’s instead? Don’t let yourself fall victim to a mistake like that; bring photos of the haircut and color you want. Even better, bring photos of both styles you love AND hate…it’ll give your stylist a better idea of what will make you happy (and help them avoid what will make you cry).

Do invest in good styling tools and products. It blows my mind when someone spends upwards of $150 on getting their hair cut and colored, only to stop at the dollar store on the way home to buy shampoo. Even though high-end products are more expensive, the good news is that they’re also more concentrated, so you don’t need to use a ton of product every time you style your hair. I recently made the change from traditional shampoo and conditioner to New Wash by Hairstory. It doesn’t contain detergents and is much gentler on my hair, eliminating my need for conditioners, masks, and detanglers.  When my hair is wet, I protect it from heat styling with TGI Bed Head After Party, and I like to finish my style with Ion Styling Solutions Texture Spray Wax to give it a bit of a piece-y look.

Along with using quality product, I upgraded my heat styling tools so that they are easier on my hair when I do need to blow dry/flatiron it. I recently scored the Bio Ionic GoldPro Speed Dryer for 50% off at Ulta, and I like to style my bangs with my LumaBella Dual Touch straightener (I also use this great tool when I curl my pixie cut!).

Don’t lie to your stylist. When your stylist asks you questions about your hair care routine, ESPECIALLY when you’re getting your hair colored, be honest. It’s okay if you’ve only used box dyes up until now; a good stylist isn’t asking you these questions to judge you, they’re asking because different dyes and chemicals will react differently, and they don’t want to inadvertently turn your black hair green. Being upfront about your hair’s history will help you get the look you want, without having to endure any unpleasant hiccups along the way.

Don’t cheat on your stylist. Once you’ve found a stylist you love, who makes your hair dreams come true, don’t ditch them just because of scheduling issues. A good indication that your stylist rocks is that his or her calendar books up quickly. It’s always a good idea to schedule your next appointment as you’re leaving the salon to ensure that you can get in when you need to. Schedule changes definitely happen – I recently had to move a cut/color appointment so that I could attend a family gathering – but be prepared to wait a few weeks with some root grow-out if you do reschedule. Trust me, it’s always worth the wait. Going to a different salon just because your regular stylist can’t see you, like, yesterday, is probably going to end up with you getting a cut you’re not in love with. I would much rather veer into sheepdog territory for a week or two than have my hair butchered.

Do get regular trims. Even though I’m trying to grow my hair out currently, I still get my hair trimmed regularly. Your hair will look much healthier and will hold its shape much better if you go for regular cuts.

 

December Birchbox Review

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Birchbox review! Since Birchbox went away from awarding points to its subscribers for each review, I haven’t been doing online reviews of products on the site anymore unless I really love a particular one.

I felt like December’s haul was particularly fantastic, so instead of just leaving quick reviews of a single product on their site, here’s a complete review of the contents of the entire box for your enjoyment.

Ardency Inn Modster Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliner 
As I’m usually more of a liquid eyeliner girl, I was skeptical of this eyeliner pencil. However, I’d just run out of my regular eyeliner, so I was excited to try it out. I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it glides on, and it’s a lot easier to remove at night than liquid liner. While $16 doesn’t seem like a lot, this is a travel-size eyeliner, and I’ve seen comparable ones at drugstores so I probably won’t be purchasing one.

Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel 
This is a lightweight gel moisturizer Okay, you had me at energizing, as I’ve been noticing that I just look tired in the mornings. I gave this sample a try and I love it. It’s lightweight and doesn’t make my face look shiny or greasy. I just wish it had an SPF in it, I prefer moisturizers with sunscreen to help protect my sensitive skin.

amika Bombshell Blowout Spray
I absolutely love amika products and this one is definitely no exception. It helps add volume to my hair while protecting it from the damaging heat of my hair dryer and flatiron. It leaves my hair feeling soft and smelling pretty. Since I do a LOT of heat styling, $26 is a bargain for a bottle of this, especially since it doubles as a volumizer!

Atelier Cologne’s Vanille Insensée Cologne Absolue
I have been a fiercely loyal wearer of Dior J’adore for years, and I don’t really venture out of that fragrance comfort zone. That said, I do really enjoy getting little perfume samples. If I like them, I throw them in my travel bag when I’m going out of town so that I don’t take my beloved J’adore along and risk breaking it. This scent was surprisingly light for a vanilla scent, which is usually a lot heavier than I care for. I asked Bill what he thought of it and he liked it as well. Truthfully, I don’t see myself straying from J’adore anytime soon, but it was nice to have the opportunity to try a new scent!

Hey Honey Walk the Walk Propolis Foot Cream
Our weather here in Seattle this December has been unusually cold and clear,  which has resulted in my skin feeling dry and alligator-ish. This foot cream was just what I needed to make my feet feel soft and smooth. The cream is lightly scented, but very pleasantly so, and didn’t feel heavy or thick when I put it on. This sample definitely made me a fan of the Hey Honey line, and I hope I receive more of their products to try in future boxes!

 

 

August Birchbox Review

 

This month’s Birchbox theme is ‘Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’, and it is filled with great products that stand up to a busy lifestyle. We’ve been having a heat wave here in Seattle, so my box arrived just in time to stock me with product samples that can withstand both the higher temperatures and my crazy summer schedule!

This box was one of my very favorites so far this year, it was filled with samples that I just loved!

stila Matte About You Liquid Lipstick in Patina

My first foray into using a liquid lipstick wasn’t exactly a positive experience (it was a bright red shade and NOT flattering on me!) so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this sample. The Patina shade I received is a soft pink and pairs perfectly with my lighter summer makeup routine. 

Davines Your Hair Assistant Blowdry Primer


I’ve tried Davines samples before, and I love their products! I’m desperately trying to grow out my hair, and I rely on heat protectants to keep my hair healthy and able to withstand a bit of heat styling (right now I’m addicted to flatiron beachy waves!). Not only did this blowdry primer smell nice, it didn’t make my hair sticky or greasy. It’s reasonably priced and I would definitely buy it!

derma e Purifying Daily Detox Scrub


I confess, I am addicted to face products. The skin on my face is very sensitive, and I do my best to take good care of it I loved this product, as it left my skin super soft while not being overly abrasive or scratchy. It’s only $15, which is a ridiculously good price for a product that works this well!

Davines Your Hair Assistant Prep Shampoo and Cream Conditioner   

I have to admit, as much as I love this brand, this product was not my favorite. Both the shampoo and conditioner smell amazing, and the shampoo lathers nicely. However, it left my hair feeling a little stiff and dry, and I had to use quite a bit of detangler to comb through my knotted hair after I rinsed it. For the price, I can get shampoos and conditioner that leave my hair much softer.

Manna Kadar Cosmetics Daydream Palette

The sample I received was a highlighter and bronzer, and I really like both! The colors compliment my fair skin tone nicely and I get good color pigment without having to cake on the powder.

Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask

I confess, I was a little hesitant to try this sample as it bears the warning that it is not for sensitive skin. However, after reading good reviews about it I decided to go for it, and I was pleased that it left my skin glowing and didn’t cause any redness or adverse reactions. I get enough samples like these that I probably won’t spring for a purchase, but I did like the way this product made my face look.

April Birchbox Review

This month’s Birchbox theme is Spring Awakening, and the box was filled with samples that were definitely refreshing after the cold of wintertime!

My box came in the mail the day before I left for Hawaii, which worked out perfectly because I got to take all my little samples with me and enjoy them during my vacation.

Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
This exfoliating face wash was perfect after a day of enjoying sun and sand on the beach! It kept my skin looking clean and refreshed, even after being exposed to sun, salt water, and sand all day. Plus, it smells light and clean, perfect for freshening up for a casual outdoor dinner or luau.

Supergoop! Daily Correct CC Cream SPF
This was another product that I was so happy to have for the beach. It’s lightweight, unscented, and works as a primer with a built-in SPF 35 sunscreen (regular sunscreen makes my skin break out!). I was able to put this on before heading to the beach, or wear it in lieu of my primer when I wore makeup around town. My only wish was that the sample had been bigger!

Davines OI/All in One Milk
Of all my April samples, I think this one is probably my favorite. I am incredibly fussy about my hair right now because I’m trying to grow it out. Having this leave-in cream to spray into my hair after I showered was a lifesaver after a day at the beach! It supports hair growth (which I desperately need right now), protects from the UV rays I was getting an abundance of in Hawaii, and leaves my hair soft and smooth.

Davines OI/Shampoo and Conditioner
For as in love as I am with the All in One Milk, I wasn’t as in love with the brand’s shampoo and conditioner. They smell really nice, which I do like, but the sample was a one-use portion (even on my short hair), so I couldn’t really tell much of a difference between these products and my regular shampoo and conditioner. I did like them, but I probably wouldn’t seek them out to buy them just based on these little samples.

Acure Organics Lip Lush in Birthday Suit
I’m something of a lip gloss/chapstick addict, and have been since I discovered my beloved Lipsmackers back in the ’90s. I was happily hooked on the Pina Colada Liplicious from Bath & Body Works until those jerks discontinued it. This Acure Organics Lip Lush was a nice new gloss and I did like it a lot. It isn’t sticky and doesn’t make my lips overly oily-looking (as Jen Lancaster points out in her book Bitter is the new Black, no one wants to look like they’ve just licked an oily dinner plate. Since the gloss was nude-colored, it went on over my lipstick without distorting the color, which I also liked.

Juliette Has a Gun Anyway Perfume
I am extremely picky about perfumes and fragrances, and this little sample made me very happy. It’s a light, citrusy scent that I felt was perfect for a night out in Maui. The scent lingers without being overwhelming. At $100 a bottle, it’s a little pricey, but I would definitely consider splurging on it for summer!