I am not the go-to person when it comes to beauty advice, tips on makeup and hair, or anything else that is remotely girly or considered one of the many areas of expertise of a drag queen. I’ve never gotten a manicure or pedicure, I don’t know how to use a curling iron or that weird contraption that makes your eyelashes curly, and I haven’t the faintest idea what I should do when it comes to plucking and tweezing my eyebrows into shape. I guess I’m lucky I don’t have a unibrow; things would be quite ugly considering my skills.
That all said, I tend to go crazy over hair and beauty products. I always have half a dozen conditioners on hand, all different varieties, along with the same number of leave-in conditioners or sprays. I adore eyeshadow and eyeliner; my current supply is a bit ridiculous and I’m constantly having to stop myself from adding to it before I need to. I’m an eSalon member and have to struggle with my urges to dye my hair more often; as it is, I have to change up the color and highlights at least every 6 weeks to keep from going crazy. Mary Kay representatives could have a field day with me if they catch me at the right moment; I’ll buy things I don’t need just because it’s cute and I can’t deny myself whatever product in question has caught my eye.
For me, the majority of my purchases are part of an experiment to find what works best for me. What makeup products can be applied quickly and last throughout the day. What hair dyes will last the longest without fading but still allow me to drop in high and low lights. Most important for me though is my hair. I have incredibly annoying curly hair. My diverse ethnic background has given me very strange hair that doesn’t like to cooperate with me at all. Wearing it curly presents a world of challenges for me, so I tend to turn to my Jilbere flat iron six days a week to turn my mess of curls into something smooth and sleek.
It’s easy for most people, but the straightening process has always taken me far too long and left my hair feeling dry and stiff. My ends will be split and frizzy, my hair will break easily and litter my bathroom counter, and I will be tempted to just shave the whole mess off before I lose patience and get it cut super short again. It seems as though every time I think I have found a solution, my hair will adapt and stop responding to whatever conditioning treatment I’ve given it. I feel as if I’ve been on a never ending quest to have decent hair, and every time I see my goal in sight, I realize it’s nothing more than an illusion.
By chance one day, as I was annoying Google with questions about good products to use for low lights I planned on doing at home, I came across a blog that a very blond woman has posted. It was nothing more than a few photos of her before and after, plus a couple of her must-have products for hair bleaching. One of them was argan oil. I’ve never heard of the stuff, but her hair looked fantastic and I could get a decent amount for a low price on Amazon. I’ve been using it for about two months now and I definitely think I ripped off the seller. This stuff is a miracle in a bottle.
My hair is unbelievably soft, something I have really never been able to say before. The frizz is nonexistent and the breakage has stopped. I can run my fingers through it, which is something most people will shrug and say “so what” at, but it’s something I couldn’t do before without getting my hair tangled in knots. My slow-growing hair has begun to grow noticeably faster and behaves so well that I don’t have to use hairspray unless it rains and I get paranoid. It has also made the straightening process much easier; I have cut the time it takes in half because my hair will now go straight easily and without frizzing or drying out. I love my hair right now.
I know this seems like such a trivial thing, but for me to be happy with my hair is a very big deal. It’s always been a curse, something that was a chore instead of something I enjoyed. It’s made me feel insanely pretty again and allowed me to be the low maintenance person that I am. I’ve used various oils in the past, but argan oil is the only one that has given me real results, not just shiny hair for a few hours. It has allowed me to cut out all my heavy leave-in conditioners, as it does the job better and without weighing my hair down. It’s also great on all hair types and can be found at pretty fair prices on Amazon. I know I’m the last person that should be giving beauty advice, but this is the one thing I feel more than confident in recommending. Go get some.
Christmas was very good to me, and by that I mean my husband outdid himself on the gift giving. Being a fan of product reviews, mainly ones on Amazon, I decided to give you a rundown of some of the gifts I received and whether or not they are worth a try.
Overview: I saw an infomercial on WEN cleansing conditioner and other products and immediately wanted it. I am somewhat addicted to trying out new conditioners because my hair is addicted to being a frizzy mess. WEN promises to “take the place of your shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, detangler and leave-in conditioner” and “won’t strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils.” It’s one of many products on the trend of insisting the sodium lauryl sulfate in most shampoos is bad for your hair since it is the same thing used in floor cleaners and car washes. It can cause “eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and split and fuzzy hair.”
The Verdict: After just one use, I noticed a drastic difference in the softness of my hair. Over two weeks of using the cleansing conditioner, styling crème, and re moist treatment, I am blown away at how soft my hair has become and by its improved appearance. I’ve rotated how I use WEN; I’ll use the styling crème on days I use another conditioner, use another styling substance when I do use WEN conditioner, and so on. Just using one product in their line per wash has produced amazing results. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but I can now get a comb to go through my hair with one swipe, something I have never been able to do before. I’m definitely committed to the continued use of WEN products.
Overview: I can’t remember if I saw this product somewhere or my husband heard me complain about putting on makeup, but I was very excited to try this out. I hate putting mascara on and hate the mess it makes even more. 28 day mascara is pretty self-explanatory. It is a “permanent eyelash tint delivers rich, long-lasting color that doesn’t need to be reapplied for up to four weeks” and “contains 25 applications for up to two years of gorgeous lashes.”
The Verdict: It was pretty easy to apply and comes with pads so you don’t end up with gorgeous black circles under your eyes. The activator is applied first, then the colorant; the two react to dye your lashes either black or brown. I noticed the difference immediately, but after giving my lashes a splash of water as instructed, the dramatic results were gone. I don’t know how they get away with the before and after photos they advertize with. That being said, it does make my lashes look slightly fuller and more noticeable. If you’re looking for this to match what mascara can do, you’ll be let down. I am happy with the minimal results I got though; for someone like me who enjoys makeup but fails at applying it, this product is perfect.
Overview: My first encounter with this author was with the book Along Came A Spider, a book I loved that turned into a movie I hated as they cut out a big chunk of the story that was also my favorite part. I loved his work and he’s always had a place on my bookshelf. My mother-in-law got me about 5 new books of his for Christmas.
The Verdict: Unfortunately, he seems to be more concerned with churning out novels than he is about coming up with quality stories. His frequent use of coauthors leads me to believe that he’s running out of ideas, as does the wasted page space in his books due to making two or three pages into a chapter, or starting/ending chapters by putting only a few lines on an entire page. I read Fang in an hour, and that was with frequent stops to tend to the boy, the dog, or talk to my husband. The last dozen or so books of his I’ve read have gone the same way; quick reads due to unfilled pages and over simplistic plot lines. It must be working for him, as he seems to be rolling in dough, but I wouldn’t recommend shelling out any dough for one of his books.
Overview: Okay, this is a gift I bought myself, but I have to include it. I read an article about how stylists hate this product and how I could try it for only the cost of shipping. Being a hair dye fanatic, I couldn’t pass it up. You start by answering a “custom built set of questions formulated by our colorists based on their years of expertise working at salons in Beverly Hills, New York and Paris.” It only takes a few minutes and after uploading a photo of yourself and paying the $4.95 shipping cost, your color is mixed especially for you and shipped within 48 hours. They use “the same high quality dyes mixed in high-end salons. This means superior gray coverage and rich, vibrant haircolor in permanent and demi-permanent (ammonia free) haircolor including ingredients such as vitamin E, B5 and aloe vera to help condition your hair.”
The Verdict: My kit arrived three days after I placed my order, and after opening it up and seeing my name on the bottle and all of the wonderful goodies I received, I felt like I had cheated the company by only paying five bucks. The application process is just like any other dye but the added bonus is that the kit comes with a stain removing liquid and pads, perfect for a klutz like me. After rinsing, my hair was left silky smooth with wonderful color. Generally, my color noticeably fades within two weeks and since the eSalon color was covering up a few bleached streaks in my hair, I expected to see fading in those areas at least. However, after 4 weeks, the only place where my color still wasn’t as perfect as the day I applied it was right at my roots. I’ve since signed up for automatic delivery of my color, which I can change at any time.
Overview: Noticing a hair care trend here? Sorry! I stuck a boar bristle hairbrush on my Christmas list after reading something about how great it is for your hair. Boar bristles are “easier on hair and redistribute oils throughout hair, boosting shine.” I also read they are great for hair that is hard to manage and tangles easily, so I was sure it would do wonders for me.
The Verdict: Ouch. It pulled on my hair, pulled OUT my hair, created a good deal of frizz, and made my hair look awful. I hope my husband didn’t spend too much on it because I just can’t use it.
Overview: I got a Dyson vacuum last Christmas and it was one of my favorite gifts, so I think my husband was counting on me to be just as excited about the fan this time around. The fan works by magic, although some believe that it works by “accelerating air through a narrow aperture around the fan loop creating a jet of hot air that passes over an airfoil-shaped ramp, which channels its direction. Surrounding cool air is drawn into the airflow, amplifying it 6 times through processes known as inducement and entrainment.” Yep, magic.
The Verdict: Sir James Dyson is my hero. First, the cool factor of having a fan and heater without any of the normal elements you’d associate with a fan or heater is just AWESOME. Just look at the thing, it’s an oval on a stand. Yet this oval somehow can blow air like it’s no one’s business and can heat up a room within a minute. It rotates up and down, oscillates, and shuts itself off when it has heated the room to the desired temperature. It also functions as a regular fan (assuming regular fans are BLADELESS) and can cool down a room just as quickly as it can heat it up. I love my Dyson to pieces. It took a lot of effort for me not to type all of this in caps in order to properly express my excitement over this thing. It’s up there in cost, but being able to stick your limbs into a fan/heater while it’s running doesn’t come cheap.