July 19, 2006

Franck Provost at Les Galeries Lafayette

HaircutparisThe colourist spoke no English. The stylist spoke a little English. My French is very basic (and probably degrading by a fraction everytime I sit back and let my fiancé, Antoine, do the talking here - which is, erm, everytime talking needs to be done). Yet, somehow, tragedy was averted. (That is, if you don't consider aubergine-coloured hair dye stains all over your neck to be a tragedy. In the scheme of things, I do not.)

Total cost for the colour, conditioning treatment, haircut, and blowdry: 92 Euros (approx £63 or $115) - much cheaper than in London.

My hair hasn't been this short since I was about seven years old, if I recall correctly. It's going to take some getting used to ("Ohmygosh! My hair's too short to put into a ponytail!" I shrieked tonight) but I quite like the cut. The colour is a violet brunette. I think I'm going to have some fun with clips and a whole new range of products.

Franck Provost (Centre Beauté) at
Les Galeries Lafayette
40, bd Haussman
75009 Paris

July 13, 2006

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream: Eh

Tina I spent yesterday at ValueClick's Commission Junction University event, where I presented to CJ's publishers on how they and advertisers can monetise blogs, podcasts, and RSS feeds. At left, the super cute Tina Judic, CJ's operations director, who told me to go to Fordham White for my next cut and let stylist Jason work his magic. Will do!

Other tips I picked up from various beauties at the conference:

1) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick is a worthy balm.

2) Unlike Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, which is just plain greasy (this has also been my experience). Another product for the 'whistle that only dogs hear' category, methinks. (In Paula Begoun's words, it is an ordinary emollient moisturizer for dry skin that contains mostly Vaseline (over 55%), lanolin, mineral oil, fragrance, salicylic acid, plant oil, and vitamin E. The teeny amount of salicylic acid here is ineffective as an exfoliant.)

3) My gorgeous friend Susie K is still very much in love with Decleor products. She cannot speak highly enough of their various creams and lotions, and is also a fan of the Decleor massages you can get.

4) The 20% discount offer for Jack & Hill readers at Lookfantastic.com struck everyone as quite an exceptional deal. I totally agree, and suggest that you hurry to take advantage of the savings before the bargain expires at the end of July.

June 27, 2006

Good hair day

  More than meets the eye... 
  Originally uploaded by dynamist.

...Yesterday, hot on the heels of my bad hair day, though the photo does not do it justice. I had washed it the afternoon prior, and only put a few spritzes of Bumble + Bumble South Surf Spray in my mop before letting it air dry. In the morning, I plonked my favourite hat (which used to belong to Exbrayat, my boyfriend's late grandfather) on my head and walked Hillary to the train station in the rain.

It rained allll day. I had no meetings scheduled, so I wore warm, comfy clothes to match my new Robot Love necklace. (I didn't carry the sweet robot lunchbox Hillary bought me yesterday, without even knowing about my necklace purchase, around all day to complete the ensemble, though.) Nobody saw my good hair day except me and my boyfriend, and that's okay, because my opinion matters most. That said, I did feel compelled to share it with a few more people, hence this post.

June 26, 2006

Discount for Jack & Hill readers extended through July!

Pinkbag The 20% discount for Jack & Hill readers on Lookfantastic.com has been extended! Now you can shop on Lookfantastic.com throughout July and enjoy a further 20% discount on red-starred items when you quote the code 'jackandhill' at checkout.

If you'd like some inspiration, here are a few products I would recommend picking up:

If you make use of the discount, leave a comment and tell us what you got and how it worked out for you!

June 24, 2006

Bad Hair Day

Nomakeup Bad Hair Day is definitely going to be an addictive blog for me. I seriously thought Keira Knightley's eyebrows were drawn on with a Sharpie. If all of this is Liv Tyler's real hair, I'm a fig. And yes, Christina Ricci would look awesome with a fringe! I'm going to join in the fun by posting my own bad hair day photo, taken today. (This is also the first, and probably the last, photo I will post of myself wearing no make-up whatsoever.) It's a Saturday, I drank too much last night, and my boyfriend's too engrossed in the World Cup to notice my lack of effort, so I can't summon up the will to care very much.

June 16, 2006

Sebastian Body Double Thickefy Styler

Jackieshels I'm back from San Francisco, with a new camera, lots of new products, and a stonking great cold to boot. Oh well.

In case you are wondering, I didn't make it there without an explosion of products: Both my Bumble + Bumble South Surf Spray and my new Sebastian Body Double Thickefy Styler (purchased with the Jack & Hill exclusive 20% off for June at Lookfantastic.com) leaked en route. Actually, the Sebastian bottle must have a hole in it, because the product is still leaking. I quintuple-wrapped it in hotel shower caps and plastic bags before double-wrapping it in tote bags for the journey home, and I'm pleased it didn't leak through all those layers and onto my clothes.

I'm loving the Sebastian Body Double Thickefy Styler, so I was pretty crushed to see any of it go to waste. It really does give good volume, and the day after I use it, my hair still looks great (so much so that I can skip a day of shampooing). Two thumbs up.

Photo above by Brian Oberkirch, taken in author Shel Israel's beautiful garden. His biz partner, Alex Muse, took a picture of my hair looking good with the help of Sebastian, too:


June 07, 2006

Lookfantastic.com offers free hair loss products to our readers

In the comments to my post on Gail Porter and alopecia, Lookfantastic.com's Jason Russell says:

Just seen your Alopecia article and thought I might as well mention that we have some really good products that help this condition. (Really sorry for the plug) David Satchell & Eucaderm. David is one of the industry's leading lights on this delicate subject...We have had some great reviews on these products. Thought I would offer the chance for your readers to try them, so I am offering the first 2 people to email me (jason@lookfantastic.com) about Alopecia and I will send them a shampoo & conditioner (Have a look at our site as there are different alopecia products for different hair conditions).

There is no catch - Jason only asks that you genuinely have alopecia if you ask for these products. It would also be nice if you could, after trying them out, post a review on Lookfantastic.com - positive or negative, as long as you're honest and your comment helps others decide whether or not the product is worth trying.

I suggested to Jason that he also contact the Help4Alopecia.com bloggers and extend the same offer to their readers, which he has now done. He also is sending some of the products to a close friend of mine who suffers from alopecia. Yay, Jason!

NB Jack & Hill readers get an additional 20% off Lookfantastic.com red-starred products through the end of June.

June 06, 2006

Gail Porter and alopecia

Gail Yes, I'm pleased with my new haircut, but I don't always feel so positive about my hair. But read about Scottish TV presenter (and former model) Gail Porter's struggle with alopecia, and you'll be more grateful for your bad hair days than you ever believed possible.

I have several friends who suffer from alopecia, and know from their experiences how horrendously damaging it can be to lose some or all of your hair. One friend dealt with it by having fun with wigs (saying she wished she'd been wearing them for years, so much did she enjoy being able to wear so many different styles and colours), while another got a very expensive hair integration piece, and another just muddles through with no real treatment. Gail Porter is doing very important work and helping so many people who also struggle with the consequences of alopecia, perhaps the most devastating of which are the emotional ones. For more about the condition and resources for coping with it, check out Help4Alopecia.com's blog.

June 05, 2006

God bless Antigona

Junehair My last haircut was a £175 job by celebrity stylist Richard Ward in chichi Chelsea. Today I had a £38 haircut by Antigona at Holistic Hair & Beauty Services in shabbily trendy West Hampstead. Antigona put Richard Ward to shame. If you want a great cut and friendly service, throw yourself at Antigona's mercy and tell her I sent you.

Holistic Hair
186/188 West End Lane
West Hampstead
London NW6 1SG

Tel 0207 435 7514

NB Yes, I know my brows are jacked. I'm getting them sorted at Blink Eyebrow Bar tomorrow.

June 01, 2006

20% off all products in June for Jack & Hill readers!

My new pal Jason Russell, head of marketing at Lookfantastic.com, has set up a great deal for readers of this blog. Here are the details:

During the entire month of June, you will get 20% off all red-starred products at Lookfantastic.com when you use the discount code jackandhill. Just enter the code on the checkout page and bob will be your well-coiffed uncle.

Thanks, Jason! And guys, do let us know what you buy and how you get on with it. (For starters, I recommend the KMS Hair Play Molding Paste.)

May 31, 2006

Butterfly clips from H&M

ClipsI can't remember how much these cost, but it certainly wasn't much. I love them for holding back my bangs/fringe - big enough to grab hold of my thick hair, tiny enough not to be distracting, pretty enough that you wish they were.

These came from H&M, which has the most useless website in the world.

May 30, 2006

KMS Hair Play Molding Paste: Quickie Review

Kms_1 After I met up last week with Jason Russell, head of marketing for Lookfantastic.com, he was kind enough to send me a small sampler box of hair goodies. The product I was most excited to try was KMS Hair Play Molding Paste. In to and out of my life, gels and mousses have moved, but never a molding paste. The allure of strange fruit had me washing my hair just so I could try out the KMS.

What I had on my hands was actually strange glue. I've never come across a product like this. To wit:

  • It was not sticky.
  • Applied to wet hair, it first gave my locks a gelled 'wet' look that soon settled into soft, bouncy waves.
  • My hair did not look as if it had any product in it.
  • My hair did not feel as if it had any product in it.
  • My hair had more volume.
  • The next day, my unwashed hair still looked good.

I don't quite understand what distinguishes molding paste from gel or mousse in physical terms, though the results are quite different. The next step is to apply the KMS molding paste to dry hair, for a 'piece-y' look.

Vintage Hair Styles

Nocturne Looking at the picture of Estee Lauder I posted last week got me reminiscing about the way my grandmother used to set my hair in pin curls, or winding it around torn strips of old bedsheet for Shirley Temple "rag curls."  So I started poking around online and stumbled across buried treasure at Nocturne's Vintage Hair Styles, a delightful place full of pageboys, pincurls, bobs and snoods with step-by-step instructions for creating the 'dos.  Back then, hair artists named and signed their creations. At left is the "Sleek Contour" by Lura de Gez, from Woman's Day, 1949.

Now that my hair has grown out considerably, through no fault of its own, I'm going to buy some bobby pins and a vat of Dippity Do and give some of these styles a whirl.  But not until I can afford a new camera.

If you live in the LA area, Nocturne includes links to two local stylists who specialize in creating vintage looks, including Frenchy's Beauty Parlor in Burbank, "For girlie girls and greasy guys."

May 28, 2006

Estée Lauder High Gloss Lip Gloss

LipglosssmileLike Hillary, I'm loving the Estée Lauder High Gloss Lip Gloss. I say this as someone who stopped wearing lip gloss some months ago, because the irritation of having strands of my hair sticking to my lips just got to be far too much to handle. While High Gloss can stick to your lips, it is much less tacky than any other lip gloss I've tried, and doesn't tend to do so very much.

That said, my enjoyment of the various colours of High Gloss (here, I'm wearing Ivory, which at first looks pale on lips but soon settles into a your lips, only fuller and shinier look) has brought me to the point where I am considering cutting my hair short enough that it won't fly in my face. You know a product is good when it has you re-thinking your approach to a completely separate part of your self.

I think my bone structure is far too severe - massive jaw and chin, with a very fleshy face - for shorter hair to work, but I do think about it daily. Maybe something jaw-skimming and breezy for summer, with lots of volume and movement...

May 24, 2006

Lookfantastic...for less

Let me introduce you to the truly addictive Lookfantastic.com. They have great deals on Aveda (my brand of choice for experimentation right now), TiGi bargains (including buy one get one free on Bedhead Manipulator), and free leather gifts with purchase of Kérastase (one of my favourite hair product ranges - I'd highly recommend the Kérastase frizzy hair pack; my boyfriend's mother usually buys our Kérastase stuff in France, where it's cheaper, but Lookfantastic has it for even less than she gets it over there)...actually, just check out the page of beauty offers for May and other discounted beauty products while I grab my credit card.

What's also cool about Lookfantastic is that not only is the site is stuffed full of fun features and reasons to keep coming back, but it's all RSS-enabled. Excuse me while I throw my head around and make moan-y, scream-y noises, because RSS subscriptions to beauty bargains is the kind of thing I've only dreamed of until now.

Saint_etienne_155_1 I had the chance to meet up with Jason Russell, Lookfantastic's head of marketing (that's him, at left, doing a deliberately cheesy pose), this afternoon in Covent Garden. We talked a bit about what else is on the horizon for the site and the overall brand, and it's all extremely cool. I wish I could blog about it, but suffice to say that Lookfantastic is a website to watch, brimming with super deals and plenty of value for beauty junkies like me - and, presumably, you. Just to whet your appetite, check out the Lookfantastic virtual celebrity hair salon:

Ever wondered whether Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson or Brad Pitt's style would suit you? Now you can find out with Lookfantastic's Virtual Celebrity Hair Salon. Upload your own photograph and stretch and shape each cut to fit your face perfectly!

Unfortunately, you have to be a registered Lookfantastic.com member to use the feature. But if any of you do register and try it out, please do share any particularly fetching (or hilarious) results with us!

May 22, 2006

Elaine Benes hair

DirtyhairI wear my fringe up like this when I don't feel like washing my hair. I think of it as Elaine Benes hair. But looking at pictures of Elaine Benes, I see it looks nothing like her style. I guess I'm going to have to start calling it simply bad hair.

May 18, 2006


Moustache I hate moustaches.  I hate them so much that sometimes I will change seats on the trolley to get a particularly egregious model out of my sight lines.  It's not about facial hair.  It's about bizarrely isolated facial hair.  A moustache without a beard is like... a beard without a moustache.  Just wrong, wrong, wrong.  I'd probably watch a lot more porn, come to think of it, if it weren't for all the moustaches.

But all that said, I do like this one.  From a series by Iranian photographer Peyman Hooshmandzadeh (linked via swissmiss).

May 08, 2006

I never wear my hair up

Saint_etienne_155 ...But sometimes I do. In general, I don't like having so much of my face exposed. The other day, though, we were eating dinner and my boyfriend said to me, "Your skin looks really good [I wasn't wearing any make-up]. And because I can see you properly with your hair up, I can also tell you've slimmed." So now I'm thinking, well, maybe I should wear my hair up more often.

We met up with Antoine's parents in France, and his mother had bought me a couple of necklaces which are just my kind of thing. I'm wearing one of them in this photo, along with my trusty wrap dress - it never wrinkles, no matter how you ball it up and smash it into the bottom of your bag, so is great for travel. (For three nights and four days abroad, which included a day of formal events, we had a backpack and a small carry-on between us. And we still overpacked, I'd say. We're getting better, though.)

May 02, 2006

Colourist in London?

Reader Liz writes with this heartfelt plea:

I've just been reading your website, having quickly logged on before going to bed about an hour ago to check out Shavata eyebrow shaping I am still sitting at my PC!

Anyhow, your website is great to read and I will be back to visit in more depth!

In the meantime, I'm wondering if you could recommend a good colourist, in London. Having had highlights for the last few years (the last 2 at Vidal Sassoon) my hair seems to be overloaded with colour. Although my colourist at Vidal is good, I feel I need to go somewhere where there is far more focus on getting a great colour (and healthy looking hair in the process).

Readers, can we help Liz? I wouldn't send her to Jubilee Salon, where I recently had my colour done, as the language barrier is pretty big and it sounds like Liz wants to be able to communicate easily and well about what she wants. (My situation was a much easier "Please make my hair the same colour as my eyebrows" one.) Who's got a great colourist in London? 

April 25, 2006

RepHair Volumizer by Pierre Michel

I have finally found a volumizer which actually does what it's supposed to do. PTL! I received a big box of RepHair by Pierre Michel goodies, sent to me by Courtney Peterson at Goldstein Communications. Courtney is now in the running to be godmother to my firstborn, because the RepHair Volumizer is my new not-so-secret weapon against flat, limp hair.

I know this sounds like a cheesy commercial, but it's true. I've wasted money on the Frederic Fekkai  Volume Spray and Volume Shampoo, both of which were utterly useless. I won't even catalogue here the other products that I thought would be my great hope in giving my fine, insanely thick hair a big lift. I was starting to think that volumizers were my version of anti-ageing 'solutions'.

But no, because I've found this, and it works. Thanks Pierre Michel, whoever you are!  (Here is the RepHair by Pierre Michel online shop; if you really must, you can check out the pointlessly, annoyingly, frustratingly Flash-added main Pierre Michel site here.)

April 21, 2006

Charlotte Church

She should know better. This look is almost as bad as the vaguely Dorothy Hamill-esque/Louise Brooks wannabe thing Lottie recently tried (she can't quite pull it off), but she can do better. She can do so much better! I mean, WAY better!

I, too, sometimes don't feel like doing much to my hair. Spraying some gel in it and giving it a few scrunches while I fry it with the blowdrier is so much easier than making a real effort. But then I'm worth a few million fewer dollars than Charlotte Church is, and I don't often perform for thousands of people and slobbering paparrazi.

I know that Charlotte is down to earth, plainspoken, etc - and that's refreshing, even if a lot of what comes out of her mouth is downright stupid. But please, girl: You've got a styling budget. Don't be afaid to use it.

April 15, 2006

Good hair day

This is what happens when I spend a half hour on my hair. Not much of an improvement, actually. The real difference comes when I spend half an hour AND pay someone £30 to style it for me. (That doesn't happen very often, but when I'm rich, it will.)

That necklace is my favourite new thing to wear - it matches so many items in my wardrobe. Don't tell anyone, but I got it at Superdrug and it cost £3.

April 12, 2006

Karine Jackson, London

A colleague of mine, Simon, just nipped out to have a haircut at one of the local barber shops, but was dismayed when the barber told him - after cutting his hair - that they don't do shampoos. So Simon dashed into Karine Jackson and asked if they could give him a quick wash. Not only did they sort him out with a shampoo, but they didn't even charge him. Nice - not to mention unusually good and friendly service for London.

Simon came back with a price guide for their services, and the girls here are oohing and aahing over the neat way that Karine Jackson has structured their pricing. For instance, if you get highlights for £85, you can add a haircut for £22 - a really great value. And Simon says that the salon itself is very nice, with a great atmosphere.

Time to check this one out for myself, methinks...

Karine Jackson
24 Litchfield Street
Phone: 020 7836 0300

April 08, 2006

Buddy Wash

If it was anyone else telling me that dog shampoo works wonders for human hair, I'd be deeply skeptical. But it's Amy Alkon, a friend and one who has very high standards in all areas of life - including when it comes to her gorgeous hair:

Yes, I used dog shampoo on my head, and what a revelation. Not just any dog shampoo. I get this all-natural lavender-mint stuff called Buddy Wash for about $8 at Drugstore.com. Oh yeah, and that's $8 for 19 fluid oz. And same with the conditioner. Well. My hair was soft, unfrizzy, and fabulous. What a revelation.

I called the company, based in San Luis Obispo, because I was wondering about the "coconut base" listed on the label. The woman I spoke to said that's what makes the shampoo lather, and that everybody who works there uses it on their hair. And now, I do, too. I can maybe buy an apartment in Paris with the money I'll save on shampoo!

Buddy Wash is made by CloudStar. More info about them here.

And yes, Amy's hair is beautiful.  Check it out, along with her syndicated advice column.

March 31, 2006

Back to brunette

Img_4199Excuse the pulled-back-between-washings look of it (thanks to a wonderful product I will write about here soon, I can actually go a day between shampoos now. Yay!), but I have to tell you that going back to my dark-haired roots is one of the best things I've done for myself in a while. I feel more like myself, and it just seems a million times easier to get ready in the morning now. Plus, all of my clothes suddenly look better on me. Why did I wait so long to do this?

Many thanks to my friends at the Jubilee Salon for doing such a great job (colour and low-lights plus style comes in at £109, and you get a £10 voucher towards your next service with that).

March 29, 2006

Richard Ward: Tale of a $300 haircut

For some reason, I got a bee in my bonnet a couple of months ago about how I needed to start spending more money on myself. (If my boyfriend is reading this, he won't know whether to laugh or cry.) Specifically, I realised that I wasn't keeping up with my New Year's resolution to become high maintenance, and decided it was time to do something about it. That I had a professional photo shoot coming up may also have had something to do with this sudden resolve.

RwrSo I started looking around online for a good, expensive hair salon in London. Since I wear my hair every day, I can't really feel that spending money on making it quick and easy to have good hair is a waste or extravagance. Yes, dammit, I am worth it.

Eventually, I happened upon Richard Ward. I'd passed his old salon in Sloane Street - where Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Versace, and all the others have their shops spanning the road that stretches from Chelsea to Knightsbridge - many, many times. I had also read about him in In Style and seen him on television plenty of times, as he does the hair for Trinny and Susannah's What Not to Wear and tons of celebrities, including the royals. He'd moved to a brand new salon in Chelsea's Duke of York Square, and I was able to get an appointment with less than two days' notice. Score.

Continue reading "Richard Ward: Tale of a $300 haircut" »

March 11, 2006

Quickie Review: Frederic Fekkai

FfsI never did go to see him in Chelsea, but I did buy a couple of Frederic Fekkai's products the other day. Neither has bowled me over, and they are very expensive (£15 for each - about $25, though in the US they're priced at around $19). I got the Volume Shampoo and the Volume Spray; John Frieda's Thickening Shampoo strikes me as MUCH more volumising than FF's, and my Charles Worthington volumising gel is better than FF's, too. (The holy grail of volumising sprays is a L'Oreal Elvive one that I used at my friend Lisa's parents' villa in Spain last year. I have never seen the product in any shop in the UK - and believe me, I look.)

If I had to sum up the Frederic Fekkai line in one word, I'd have an awfully hard time choosing between 'underwhelming' and 'overpriced'.

January 08, 2006

Why I'll sleep an extra 15 minutes tomorrow morning

I think I've posted before about my hair situation: It looks greasy and my scalp itches if I don't wash it every day, but everyone (including every hairdresser I've ever had) tells me not to wash it every day.

SamiaSeveral months ago, I read an interview with Coronation Street's Maria, Samia Ghadie (that's her at right, and this is where my excuses for reading such fluff would be if I could be bothered to make them). In the interview, Samia was asked about her beauty regime, and she said that if she's in a hurry, she'll tie her hair back in a ponytail and only wash her fringe (bangs). That way, her hair looks mostly clean, but she hasn't spent all the time on washing and drying all of it. I don't have a fringe, and so didn't spot the obvious solution to my own woes in Samia's words. Note to self and you all: Always heed Samia's advice!

At my company's Christmas party, I was in the loo chatting with a girl who works in one of our other offices (we'd never met before, but you know what work Christmas parties are like). Somehow, in the two minutes we spent talking, we got on the subject of how often we wash our hair. "Many days, I just divide my hair off at the crown and wash the front bit," she told me. "It looks and feels clean, but only takes a minute to wash and dry."

Lo, has this bit of guidance changed my life. I now wash all of my hair every other day. In between, I just wash the middle and top sections and blowdry as normal. My hair looks fine, the scalp doesn't feel funny, and I get to sleep a little longer on the days when I'm not soaking my whole head.

AvalonOn my in-between days, I like to use Avalon Organics Revitalizing Peppermint Shampoo (for which I can now see I have been paying 100% more than I should have been. Damn British prices.). It smells nice (check out Avalon's peppermint shower gel, too) and gives my scalp a pleasantly tingly feeling. There's no sodium laureth sulfate, so it doesn't lather too well, but it gives a very clean feel and fragrance.

December 02, 2005

I need a haircut

Joplin_1The other day, someone accused me of looking like Janis Joplin, which is somewhat scary. I've been a bit, er, busy lately, and personal grooming has not been a high priority.  I'll put it this way: when you're in such a hurry that, instead of taking the time to actually put on your underwear, you stick them in your purse in hopes of finding a spare minute sometime later to duck into the loo and put them on, and then five days later there is still a pair of underwear in your purse, and you find yourself thinking, I'd save a lot of time if I just gave up on underwear altogether....a lifestyle modification on a par with mastering the art of brushing teeth while parallel parking in front of Starbuck's. In fact, the only reason I'm finding the time to write this post at all is that I am demonstrating typepad to an IT person at work. She probably doesn't need to know about the underwear in my purse, but I don't have time to think of something else to write about....

October 12, 2005

It's white trash Wednesday!

Picture_002As you might imagine, my hair product collection is broad, deep and exotic.  So I am highly amused that ever since I started, on a whim, to use my cretinous boyfriend's Head & Shoulders last week, and must now grudgingly admit that my scalp problems have all but disappeared. I used to use perscription Nizoral shampoo, but right now I don't have health insurance and can't get a perscription (and the over-the-counter kind isn't strong enough).  Why there should be such a thing as perscription shampoo mystifies me--gotta keep it out of the hands of the lather addicts?  But even so, I'm disappointed that I'm now using Head & Shoulders, even though it is a tremendous relief now that my scalp now doesn't itch all day.  It's a shame that we are forced to choose between luxuriousness and utility--what I really want is an antifungal additive I can mix into my fancy shampoo to make it work on my dandruff.

To complete my five 'n dime look today, I used some $3 spray on gel by Garnier Fructis that I bought recently as an emergency stop gap when my hair outgrew my current product during an out of town trip. 

As you can see, the whole thing is working for me and my non-haircut.   I guess the moral of this story is that you can take the girl out of the Dippity-Do, but you can't take the Dippity-Do out of the girl.

September 08, 2005

Oily roots, banished

OilyrootsYes, it's gross, but it's true: I can't wash my hair any less often than once a day, because the day after I wash my hair, my roots reflect light. That is to say, they look oily. And my scalp itches. Every hairdresser tells me NOT to wash my hair more than three times a week, max, but this is not possible for me.

Or at least it wasn't until this week, when I popped into Boots on my walk from Piccadilly Circus to my office. After all, there's nothing like a little early morning cosmetics perusal to prepare one for the day. (Unless you count a good night's sleep, which obviously is a lot harder to come by.)

That's when I spotted this product, called R U Taking Protection? From Oily Roots [sic], from Lee Stafford. It was £3.99, which to me is somewhat pricey for a hair product that isn't from a salon, but if it worked, it would be a major weight off my burdened, vain shoulders.

Well, count my shoulders as lightened. Boy, does it work. I washed my hair on Tuesday, and Wednesday morning just sprayed this in at the roots and gave it a gentle rub into the hair. (The directions said to rub it in, so I did, but I don't think the product was conspicuous.) All day, my hair looked clean and fresh, and my scalp was fine - no itching or other irritation.

This is officially a miracle product. I can't tell you how great it is to find something that solves one of my biggest beauty woes, all for less than £5 and available in a basic shop like Boots. Lee has a salon in Soho, the neighbourhood which my office is (practically) in, and when I bought this product, I thought to myself, "If this gets rid of my oily roots, I'm going to Lee's salon in person to thank him." So it looks like I have a mission to complete...

August 29, 2005

I got a haircut at the Jubilee Salon

Because I needed one, remember?

The Jubilee is a Korean hair salon within sight of my office in London, about a five second walk from our front door. I walk past it at least twice per weekday, and noticed that the place really comes alive at night (it's open from 11AM till 9PM, six days a week - my kind of working hours). But whenever I'd walk past and think, "I really need a haircut," I'd be on my way home and not in the mood to hang around a salon for an hour.

But Friday, I was having an "I really, really hate my hair" day. I had waited until about 2PM to take my lunch break, but wasn't hungry, and didn't really feel like wandering around the clothes shops. Suddenly, I knew exactly what I was going to do: I was going to get my hair cut.

So I hopped over to the Jubilee, which is one of several Korean businesses in the St Giles High Street/Denmark Street area (Denmark Street being home to Tin Pan Alley, and one of the most famous streets of music shops in the world). As soon as I walked in, I was told that I could definitely have my haircut right then. After a ten minute wait, I was getting shampooed by the girl who would cut my hair. (She also gave me a rather painful head massage. I'm sure it's good for the scalp circulation, but there's something about having my head squeezed like a melon that I could do without.)

I was somewhat concerned, because I was already sitting in the salon chair with freshly washed hair by the time she asked me how I wanted my hair cut.

Britney_spears_012The best approximation of the sort of shorter cut I wanted is one that I have had in mind every time I've taken the plunge and had substantial amounts of hair cut off over the last five years or so. And it's the haircut that Britney Spears had for about thirty seconds back in 1999 or something, and yes, you can shut up right now. The example at right is quite close to what I wanted, except my hair would be clean and combed and not a rat's nest. But everything else about the cut is what I wanted.

Of course, I didn't have this photo with me, and I had a hard time describing what I wanted. I indicated collarbone length, but said that I wanted my hair thinned out quite a bit - there's way too much of it, no matter how much I shed on a daily basis (a LOT). I also wanted the ends a bit thinner, but not wispy. Believe me, if you think this paragraph is inarticulate, you should have heard me try to describe it to the hairdresser.

Cue much panic as I sat in the chair and she got to cutting. I tried to concentrate on the interview with silly, pretty little Scarlett Johanssen in the magazine I was reading, but all I could think was, "Okay, well, if I hate it and I cry, she seems like the nice sort of hairdresser who would try to fix it for me," and "I've always wanted to try out wigs, but August seems a bad time to start..." At one point, I was convinced that she had cut my hair a good two inches shorter than I wanted.

Then, all of a sudden, it started looking awesome. When it was still damp and sort of wavy, I thought it was perfect. But I sat back and let her continue styling my hair, until it was sort of straight but curled under and smooth. (One thing about me: I have a huge head. So it's a bad idea ever to style my hair too sleekly, because this only emphasises how massive my noggin is. Plus, I'm convinced that the tiniest bit of serum makes my hair look greasy, but it seems that hundreds of hairstylists disagree.)

Newhair08_2So this is what it looks like after a few minutes with the blowdrier and a round brush, no products. This is nice, but I think it looks even better when I leave it wavy and full. The front bits are about chin-length, while some collarbone-length chunks have been left on the bottom.

I was pleased, with the cut and with the Jubilee Salon. It has sort of a hipster feel to it, with all of these really cool Korean and Japanese young people running round and seeing to clients young and old, but is also unpretentious and chilled out. It's the kind of salon where you wouldn't, in your typical daily office wear, feel washed out and boring. There's a nice buzz about the place. Even better, the prices are ridiculously low. My shampoo, cut, and style was priced at £29, which must be unheard of in central London. (Even in the London suburbs, you'll pay at least £35 in a Toni & Guy-style salon for a shampoo and cut.)

All in all, my kind of cut and my kind of salon.

Jubilee Hair Salon
28 Denmark Street
London WC2H 8NJ
Tel 0207 240 5999

August 28, 2005

I needed a haircut

MopheadAs you can see from the photo at left, taken on an all too rare t-shirt and jeans day in Amsterdam a couple of weekends ago, the subject of this post is undeniably true. The whole tousled look is one that I don't feel able to pull off; maybe if I were a lot more pulled together in every other way, it would work. Alas, alas...

Lately, I've found myself fantasising about a collarbone-length haircut. This fantasising includes, but is not limited to, looking at other women with long hair and imagining what they would look like with a collarbone-length cut. I think you'll agree that when haircuts become fodder for fantasies, it is well and truly time to just get a damn chop job.

So, on Friday, I did. Find out tomorrow whether I should have stuck to fantasising.

July 26, 2005

For Hungarian Gibson Girls

Patyka_1How many Hungarian beauty products do you own?  I received a sample bottle of this charming Patyka shampoo from Luscious Cargo. Know how a lot of products claim they smell like honey and then they actually smell like sugar? This one smells like honey--close your eyes and you'd swear you were pouring sticky goo on your head.  And it comes in a heavy glass bottle.  Reminds me of the Victorian house we lived in when I was a kid, where the bathroom was a shed off the kitchen with a clawfoot tub and a wooden water closet--with the gravity-fed wooden tank up by the ceiling.  If you have a Victorian house you should have a bottle of this shampoo on display.  At $28 a pop, you may want to use it on special occasions. 

July 24, 2005

Conditioned or indoctrinated?

As much as I love my Sebastian Shaper Volume Boost Conditioner, I don't always want big hair. And after reading somewhere recently that the best thing for girls with thick hair that tends to frizz (like mine) to do is use only the scantest amount of conditioner, I tried that out and found that it was true. Add to that the fact that I am usually in a rush to get ready for work in the morning, and the next logical step was to forgo conditioner all together.

I am now convinced that the less conditioner I use, the better off my hair is.

After years of time and thousands of dollars spent in search of the perfect conditioner, I am still trying to wrap my head round this latest revelation. Anyone who has conducted their own experiments in this realm should leave their comments below or send me an email, because I'm not going to get through this without help from fellow travellers. Thank you in advance.

July 09, 2005

Portland haircut(s) #3

Almost two weeks in Portland and the only shopping I’ve done has been at yard sales ($50 cent Revereware tea kettle, $30 lawn mower, $2 abstract painting, etc.) Today I put on real clothes and went downtown, using my need for a wifi café as an excuse to look at pretty things. Every time I’m inPortland_101
Portland I stop in to 3 Monkeys on NW 23rd, and inevitably leave with a $24 shirt or $38 skirt. Their buyer is clever, and while the racks are thick with clothes, there’s no filler. I am easily attracted to shiny objects, and I hate it when you plow into a festive-looking rack of clothes only to find that the individual pieces are poorly cut or otherwise weakly designed. 3 Monkeys carries the same genre of clothes you buy on Melrose Avenue in LA, but here each piece stands up to scrutiny. And, all the women in the store have “statement” looks, as these pictures show.

Next door to 3 Monkeys is another shop called Galaxy Department Store, where the shag carpet turns out on closer inspection to be really deep-pile Astroturf, and the window displays a stunningly well-edited collection of $30-40 shoes. And next to that is Seaplane, the cooperative where you can find innovative clothing and jewelry by local designers. If you’re looking for a molded plywood clutch purse to go with your molded plywood Eames chair, you can buy one here, in maple, for $120.

Portland haircut #2

This is my mom, Ricki Grady. Like a lot of 60-ish women in Portland, she let her hair go gray naturally. Hers took a very long time to do so, settling into an almost mauve roan color with bright gray highlights. Since she favors plum and earth tones in both clothing and home decor, it works nicely on her. She’s been getting her hair cut short-short-short by Dee Dee Simmons at Salon Lumina for at least ten years.

June 30, 2005

Portland haircut #1

New_house_018_editedHere is Jill, who has one of those haircuts that so perfectly suits her face that it doesn't read as being a style--it's just part of her.  The best sign of a good haircut is when you can't imagine the person in a different cut.  Also, Jill could wear this hair any time in this century or the last with perfect aplomb.  Jill is a television writer and LA transplant, and I went to a clothing exchange party at her house in the Northwest hills a few nights ago.  A dozen stylish Portland women brought their high-end cast-offs to Jill's house, where a frolicsome yet civilized sample sale ensued. I came away with several Portland-friendly shirts and trousers, which I've been wearing ever since.

June 22, 2005

Surf Spray redux

I'm on the road with my new job this week, living out of a suitcase and careening from hotel room to hotel room. To avoid dragging all my smooth hair implements with me (big round brush, sack full of big rollers, large barrel curling iron), I decided to have a curly hair week.

But due to my love of sleep and very early morning starts, letting my hair dry naturally after a spritz of Surf Spray was not an option. And - who knew? - Surf Spray gives an incredible amount of volume when used in combination with a hair drier. Some products give volume for the first five minutes after blow-drying, but Surf Spray gave me big hair all day and brought out all the spring in my wavy-but-not-quite-curly hair.

For this, I hereby elevate Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray to the Products We Love category - and only three months behind every other media entity. Such is the price of being a cynical beauty reader and customer...

June 17, 2005

As seen on TV

Jonathan_hair_006Over the past couple of days I've spent some time couch-bound with a migraine, which led to the inadvertent viewing of an episode of "Blow Out," the reality series about hairdresser Jonathan and his pink-haired minions.  I had never watched the show before, but I did once have my hair cut by the kid Jonathan fired in the first season, the motorcycle-riding Brandon.  It was the second worst haircut I've ever had, surpassed only by the one I gave myself at the age of three. It was also the cause of the one and only episode of hair-related crying in my lifetime.

So it was serendipitious when the FedEx guy rang the bell while I was still in my nightie this morning and delivered a box of Jonathan's new line of hair products.  Having just watched Jonathan piss off the company doing the formulating by being a quibbling perfectionist, I was exceedingly curious to try the stuff.  The shampoo, I can now report, is frothy, and the conditioner with basil essential water and almond protein is heavy--this isn't what you want to use if you want 80's big hair. But who does?  And here's the best part:  mousse!  I haven't seen hair mousse since the 70's.  The actual product is called "Thickening Foam," but it's mousse, oh yeah.  Check it out: don't I look like Kristy McNichol circa 1976?  I'm into it.  Hope I can find my pukka shell necklace and Hang Ten t-shirt.... Hey, it's a cheaper midlife crisis balm than a 240Z.

There is a modern twist, however: Jonathan doesn't test his products on animals.  Just celebrities, according to the bottle.

June 12, 2005

Frédéric Fekkai, for free

Celebrity hair guru Frédéric Fekkai (WARNING: Horribly user unfriendly Flash site) will be giving free hair consultations and product recommendations at the Space NK (WARNING: Horribly user unfriendly Flash site) at Duke of York Square, on the King's Road in Chelsea, next Saturday (June 18th) from 11 AM till 3 PM. I suspect he'll be recommending that everyone use his own products - and he'd be a poor salesman if he didn't - but I think Miss Media Influencer and I are going to go talk to him anyway. If you see us, say hello.

June 11, 2005

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray

Surfspray_1When I needed change from a £50 note to buy a bus ticket after my ChocoTherapy facial at Re-aqua in Kensington yesterday, I took it as a sign from God that there's an outlet of Space NK Apothecary (WARNING: Horribly user unfriendly Flash site) a few feet from the bus stop. (Actually, I took it as a sign from my very wide selfish streak.) So in I popped, looking for something inexpensive to buy.

I've been reading in all the magazines this spring that Bumble & Bumble's Surf Spray (£12, or $25.99 in the US) was the hottest hair product going. A favourite of Sienna Miller and other boho types, Surf Spray is a salt-based, summery-smelling spritz that gives hair that day-at-the-beach look and feel.

SshairI was skeptical about whether it would work, but it totally did. (Rad! Awesome! Etc, etc.) I just sprayed it on damp, freshly washed hair and combed it through, then scrunched the hair a bit to encourage body and let it air dry. (You can also use a diffuser-equipped blowdrier if you're in a hurry, or spray it on dry hair.) Unlike spray gels and mousses which can give hair a hard, very '80s texture, Surf Spray just leaves it looking piece-y and pretty, yet still touchable. And at £12 a go, I don't think I'd classify it as overpriced. After all, it works.

(Note: That is my hair at right, all Surf Sprayed, but my hair is not actually red. Trick of the light, I guess.)

Recommended look: Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray + Haphazard Heidi braids = The ultimate in I-don't-give-a-scheisse-and-I-still-look-great beauty

UPDATE: Okay, this is definitely a keeper. I had dinner with my boyfriend and his parents last night, and didn't say anything to anyone about my Surf Spray experiment. "Your hair looks very good," my boyfriend's mother said to me. Boyfriend agreed. I was all, "I know, it does, doesn't it?" but did reveal the secret behind it. Yay for Surf Spray.

June 01, 2005

Exec: Hair and beauty don't go together

This news story on the popularity of Indian Ayurvedic beauty in Russia is interesting, but this one on the competitive Israeli beauty market is more relevant to those of us outside Russia and India: Estee Lauder-owned MAC's world HQ is studying the approach of Israeli beauty companies like Elcalil, which combines beauty stores with hairdressing salons. The owner of one of MAC's competitors sniffs:

The combination of hairdressing and make-up doesn't work. A woman who comes to a salon is focused on her hair. The hairdresser tries to bring out the best in her as much as possible, with highlights, styling etc. She spends about NIS 800 there and has no thoughts of buying more products.

Oh, I don't know about that. I, for one, always have thoughts of buying more products. And while it's true that many women are financially tapped out after spending the money for a cut, colour, and style, there are lots of women who spare no expense when it comes to these things. A salon that's known for its stylists' way with a blowdrier could make a killing: Women who pop into the salon for a relatively inexpensive blow-out before a party are very likely to be looking for a fab new lipstick or killer eye makeup, too. (It goes without saying that the first company to develop a solution to sticky lips - either hair-repellent gloss or gloss-repellent hair products - has permission to print its own money.)

May 31, 2005

My Sharoni

I promised a few days ago that I would report back on the new Yuki Sharoni hair product line. And since I actually have a Yuki cut at the moment, what better lab rat could there be?  I've been using his Naked shampoo and conditioner, which leave my hair feeling nice. But most shampoos do, to be honest, because my hair's too short to sustain much in the way of damage.  So I judge shampoos by their feel and smell--their recreational value in the shower.  The Naked shampoo has a quaint smell, kind of like the cosmetics I remember my grandmother using (Yuki says he was going for a product that evoked his own childhood). But what I like about this shampoo is the later, which is quite dense, more like whipped cream thanLemonhead meringue. So if you enjoy a good lathering, try it.  The olfactory reward comes from the Naked conditioner, which is also nostalgic for me, but in a different way: it smells exactly like lemonhead candies. Which were childhood favorites.  Yum!  Call me lemonhead.

Teen boy chic

Tyroneband_013_1There have been a flurry of school assemblies, band concerts and open houses at my son Tyrone's middle school, and one thing I've clocked has been how utterly stylish the young boys' hair is of late.  And how equally uninspired the girls' looks are.  There doesn't seem to be a hairstyle for girls at the moment.  My boy denies the rumor I heard that the long hair is a clever ruse to disguise i-pod headphones from teachers.  I think it actually has more to do with Ashton Kutcher, though my boy doesn't watch the show and neither do his friends, so the influence is second-hand.  What do they watch? South Park.  Tyrone did, come to think of it, spend a couple of weeks wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood cinched tight over his face, ala Kenny, but I think the look was just too hot in the SoCal climate....

May 29, 2005

L'Oreal Series Expert Power Dose

When I had my hair cut last week, the guy who washed my hair at Toni & Guy - he calls himself "Edge," somewhat unoriginally - offered me a special treatment called Power Dose. Frankly, the explanation sounded like a load of old cobblers - something about balancing and the inner cortex of the hair and the latest technologiezzzzzzzzzz (I almost fell asleep during his spiel) - but he promised me that it would help cure my own big hair problem: I can't go a day without washing my hair or the roots go greasy and my scalp itches. Everyone tells me not to wash my hair more than twice a week, but there is no way on earth I could manage this without looking like an absolute scrubber.

Power Dose, "Edge" told me, would change that. I didn't understand how it was supposed to do so, but am willing to try most things that could help me here; my last resort will be to shell out £17.50 for Bumble & Bumble dry shampoo.

Well, "Edge" wasn't whistlin' Dixie. I washed my hair on Friday morning, spent all day Friday running around in the heat, humidity, and pollution of an unseasonably warm London, and on Saturday night it wasn't looking particularly dirty at all. As of writing this on Sunday evening, I still haven't washed my hair. It may not look its absolute best, but I am amazed that I haven't been scratching my scalp red raw at this point.

"Edge" told me that the full strength Power Dose is only available in salons, but that a diluted version is legal for home use and works just as well. (I refrained from launching into one of my ususal tirades about the government interfering in my beautification efforts.) I have to wonder, though: If the diluted version is just as effective, why use the stronger one at all?

May 25, 2005

Jack & Hill meet Toni & Guy

Or at least Jack meets Toni & Guy, anyway. Actually, though, that headline is not quite true: I've been a fan of the Toni & Guy (WARNING: Terribly user unfriendly Flash site) chain of salons here in Britain for several years. This was based not on a wide range of experience at several different Toni & Guy locations, but on word of mouth and my own positive results after multiple visits to the Toni & Guy branch in Sevenoaks, Kent. That outlet is consistently good, with the time they gave me brick red streaks through chocolate brown hair being a particularly happy memory.

Beforecut1_3It had been seven weeks since my last cut, at U/Umberto in Los Angeles, and - as you can see at left - things were getting a little out of control. So last week I paid a visit to the Kensington branch of Toni & Guy, for a cut and style by Gary France, who co-owns the salon with his wife Kirsten. Gary has won loads of awards for his work, and is known for working successfully in the mainstream while creating cutting-edge looks for runway shows and fashion shoots. I wasn't inspired by any of the brave styles in the Toni & Guy book that Gary had me peruse for ideas, so he agreed to work to my comparatively rather boring request - "Keep most of the length, but please do thin it out so that I can hold my head up without neck strain".

After a glorious head massage (which I am tempted to say is always the best part of any hair appointment), Gary got to work. Ninety minutes after I'd arrived, this was the result:

AftercutAs you can see, he did a brilliant job. I find that the test of a really good cut, though, is what you can do with it once you get home and have to style it yourself. Gary spent a good 20+ minutes just blow-drying my hair, which has a lot to do with why it looks so fantastic. Not being an octopus, it's difficult to recreate this look myself - and I don't think my scalp or hair could take it anyway, as the blow out involved tons of product and a lot of tugging and holding the nozzle of the drier directly against my fine but thick hair. How celebrities go through this on a regular basis without going bald is beyond me.

I went to a party as soon as I left the salon, and directed my boyfriend not to tell anyone I'd just had my hair cut. "I don't want people to feel they have to offer a positive comment," I said...which was true. But I also wanted them to think I hadn't needed the help of a professional to have such nice hair. As soon as I walked in, my friend Amanda exclaimed, "Wow, you look great!" My boyfriend and I exchanged looks. "Oh, thanks," I replied. "Looks like my hair hasn't suffered too much in the rain..." (Yes, it started raining as soon as I left the salon. Of course I had no umbrella with me - that would have made far too much sense.)

Several days later, my hair is holding up nicely. Someday soon, I'll venture beyond the updated Rachel look, but for now, functional and easy suits me fine.

A cut and style with Gary France costs from £62. Toni & Guy Kensington is located at 28 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4EP (tel: 020 7937 0033).

May 16, 2005

Xtreme Hairspray

Dep_1No, it's not an action movie by John Waters.  This mini spray was 84 cents at Target, so I couldn't resist.  Think of it as a  sports bra for your head....  But seriously, I'm too cheap an individual to spend even 84 cents on  a joke.  I bought this because my fabulous Yuki Sharoni haircut has grown out so much that it needs xtreme help.  My hair is both thick and limp, which means that I end up all too easily with a droopy helmet.

I have a traditional sequence of hair-shaping products I use to extend the life of a cut:  When I am newly shorn I use Bumble & Bumble Sumotech, a dry wax that gives just enough body to define little whorls and spikes in my gamine cap.  In a few weeks, when it's about an inch longer, I switch to PriveSumotech Detailing Pomade, which is my favorite-smelling hair goo, and is a bit gooier than the Bumble & Bumble.  A month after that, when I really should be going for a trim, I usually resort to Graham Webb Wound UP Elastic Styler, which is anything but elastic.  It will make your hair as hard as a Ken doll's, but so long as nobody touches it, the visual effect is a superb just-out-of-the-shower tousled.  But I ran out of the stuff recently, hence my Dep Xtreme Hold stop-gap purchase.  And I have to say, so far I'm quite pleased, and unlike the Graham Webb, which is as sticky as pine pitch and comes in some of the worst drippy packaging imaginable, I can carry it in my purse.

More visitors from Planet Chic

CroppedtafvMy niece, Tafv Sampson (pronounced Tava), moved from LA to Portland, OR just in time to start high school last year.  Her interests include sewing and photography, and she's already made headway into the highly creative local arts and fashion community.  Here she is posing for photographer Peter V. in clothes by Kathryn Towers, co-owner of Seaplane, a Portland fashion collective that features the work of 40 local designers.  For more pics, including a close-up of Tafv's fantastic, Tribal Tammy Faye eye makeup, visit her mom Nancy's blog

When I was in Portland visiting my mother a couple of years ago we went to the Seaplane fashion show in the lobby of the Weiden & Kennedy Building (the ad agency for Nike), and were stunned to find ourselves among a crowd of over 1,000 Pacific Northwest fashion mavens. And they looked better than any crowd I've ever seen at a show in NY or LA--everyone was self-created and eccentric, and the designers in the show had their work cut out for them trying toTie top their audience.  I visited Seaplane the next time I was in town, and picked up an amazingly clever "collar" by designer Erin MacLeod, made out of a men's silk necktie. I wear it all the time with my pinstriped suit instead of jewelry.

May 13, 2005

Y me

Panasonic_test_052I just opened a FedEx box and to my delight found the long-awaited product line by Yuki Sharoni, who has done wonderful things with my hair on two occasions.  Here they are on my dining table.  I dabbed a little of the Final Paste finishing creaYuki_hair_005m on right away, and it meets my first criterion for hair products, which is that it smells great.  Nettle is the signature ingredient in these  products, but the most unique thing about them is the bottle.  This will look great on the shelf in the mid-century modern bathroom I will have someday....  I will be trying the shampoos and conditioners in the coming days, and will report back soon.  Yuki gave me my last haircut, which was three months ago, and it's held up amazingly well throughout the grow-out process--as you can see at right.  If you are planning on growing your hair out, go get Yuki to give you your last short cut.  Or if, like me, you have no intention of growing your hair out, but are simply too lazy and/or busy to get it cut regularly, go see Yuki.

May 07, 2005

Haphazard Heidi: Boho braids for spring

I spent this lazy Saturday morning in bed, leafing through the latest Glamour magazine (British edition), aka L'Oreal Advertorial Monthly. After reading about Jude and Sadie's wife swapping adventures, Gavin Rossdale's love child, and how Kate Winslet loves her crepey, post-baby tummy, I was ready to skip entirely the fashion and beauty sections. But, in the interests of science (and this blog), I at least glanced at every page - including two separate multi-page spreads about white clothes.

Turns out I did get a useful reminder from the magazine, about the hot new hair trend on the spring catwalks: braids (those are plaits to you Brits). But leave your comb in its drawer. These braids are disheveled, with sexy flyaway pieces, most of the hair on the head not incorporated into the plaits, and neatness is strictly verboten. If your braids look too perfect, don't start all over - just blast them with the blowdryer for the just-out-of-bed look.

Although the hippy chick, Sienna Miller clone craze is wearing incredibly thin, I still like this breezy braid style. While striving for the appearance of effortless beauty takes a lot of time and, well, effort, this is actually a look that's quite easy to pull off. And it's much less severe than a ponytail - more forgiving to those of us who like our looks softer and less my-face-in-your-face.

Plaits1I'm trying, on the advice of countless hairdressers and friends, to break myself of the habit of daily shampooing. Having washed my hair yesterday morning, I had no idea what I was going to do to it today to disguise the somewhat greasy roots. But the braid thing did the trick - and I went from shapeless mop to soft, stylish plaits in about two minutes.

My hair parts naturally off-centre, so I just made two plaits on either side of the part, leaving wisps around the hairline at the temples, and incorporating hair from the front to the crown, which kept them from being too floppy. I hate messing with elastics, and anyway didn't have any tiny enough for this job, so I just misted my hair with Kérastase Oléo Relax hairspray to keep the plaits from coming undone.

Although I'm interested in trying out new looks, I'm pretty wimpy about doing it myself. So when I left the house with my hair like this, I was a bit self-conscious. Walking down the street, I looked at my reflection in a few shop windows and was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually liked the braided look. And I got compliments from my boyfriend and his mother ("I wish I had my camera!" she exclaimed) at lunch, which was more than welcome.

I have a feeling I'm going to be doing the braid thing a lot this summer, as I've been talked out of a cooler, shorter summer bob by just about everyone who knows me and has an opinion on such things. The fact that looking as if your hair's been done lazily and without much care is hot now is a boon for people like me, who have been doing our hair lazily and without much care for years. We don't have to fake it. It's nice to know I've spent my life ahead of the curve on this one; I just hope it lasts past summer.

May 06, 2005

Minnie Me

Cathy Seipp's National Review Column about the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland opens like this:

David Hockney, who I suppose still classifies himself as English, even though he's lived in Los Angeles for years,  once told me that he considers Walt Dinsey the greatest American artist of the 20th Century.  He may be right.

I agree.  Cathy grew up in Orange County ("before it was the O.C."), and she writes gorgeously about her Disneyland childhood, my favorite passage being:

...my first trip to Disneyland, at age eight, was what first made me ponder the puzzling relationship between memory and reality. Is it better (I thought, as I lay awake in bed for hours that night after we got home) to be on the bobsleds, which only lasts a couple of minutes — or to remember having been on the bobsleds, which lasts forever?

Personally, I prefer memory to experience... and imagination to memory.  As a child, I loved to play dress-up, not because I enjoyed pretending to be someone else, but because I felt more at home in the possible than in the real. 

Crop_tattooAll of which indirectly set me to thinking about how much animation itself has influenced my idea of beauty.  A formative obsession with Popeye is the reason I had an anchor tattooed on my right shoulder for my 23rd birthday.....Here's a somewhat dated picture of me and my anchor (and the best haircut I ever had, from Laurent D. at Prive). 

And it's not just me.  Certainly the exaggerated female physiqueTail currently in vogue is a case of life immitating cartoons.... Unfortunately, no actual superpowers accrue when you have your boobs 'tooned.  Which seems like a shame.  If I were going to have anything implanted, it wouldn't be breasts, but a prehensile tail.  I confess that I've always wanted one, and would max out my visa in a heartbeat to the first sawbones to offer such a stylish and useful appendage.

The only part of my body that is animated at the moment is my brow. My current eyebrow guru is Kim Morris at Face Mind & Body in Ventura.  She has a faultless sense of line and expression.  Why?  Because she used to be a Disney animator....

May 05, 2005

Good Antibody

Friend of Jack & Hill and journalist Nancy Rommelmann writes:

You know those ads for conditioner that promise body? I'm waiting for one that offers anti-body. Why? Because when I take the barette out of my hair, it still holds its ponytail shape. This can have its moments, say, when you're trying to pass yourself off as psychotic or homeless, or to amuse young children. But mostly, I'm trying to get my hair to look like this and not this. The proletariat solution is Pantene Pro-V; it makes hair soft and is said to help curls to curl rather than frizz, something I wouldn't know about, having married my blow dryer at age 13.

But the splurge-that's-become-a-necessity is Terax, a miraculous crema from Italy that renders coarse hair lustrous, and more so the more you use it. Forget Frizz-Ease and Phyto's Phytodefrisant (which smells like school paste and has the consistency of spermicidal jelly) and anything that contains the word "natural." Terax is the bomb, and while you can spend up to $20 for the 5 oz. tube, smart girls get theirs for $13.

I never thought I'd have to spellcheck the word 'spermicidal' for this blog.

May 03, 2005

Sebastian Shaper Volume Boost Conditioner

Ever since my boyfriend's frightfully chic French mother gave me some big Velcro rollers to experiment with, I am all about the big hair. She also gave me loads of Kerastase products that are supposed to boost volume - two hair masks and a Bain Satin shampoo. The shampoo quickly became my favourite, though I have not had time to try out the hair masks. (Actually, I'm saving them for some dreamed-of day when I have hours on my hands to prepare for a very important social function - such as an evening in my local pub, where Kate Moss is always smoking pack after pack of Marlboro Lights and showing none of the ill effects of having done so since age 12.)

In LA last month, I picked up some Sebastian Shaper Volume Boost Conditioner. I was looking for something good, priced less than an actual haircut, and which would give me big hair.

This does the trick - when used with a round brush, blow-drier, and Velcro rollers. It does always feel, though, as if it hasn't quite rinsed out, and makes your hair a bit difficult to comb (and thus, to hold the round brush under and blow-dry). But I like it. For everyday use, I stick with Aveda Rosemary & Mint Conditioner or the Body Shop Nettle Conditioner (until I use it all up, at least), because my hair couldn't take the stress of the big hair routine more than a few times a week*. But as volumising conditioners go, this $8.99 wonder works for me.

*I asked my hairdresser in LA for tips on how to make the Velcro roller experience less stressful on my scalp and hair - I now have lots of tiny, broken hairs along my part - and he had no suggestions. Unless "Don't use them very often" counts as helpful. I don't think it does.

May 01, 2005

That's Miss Elton to you

After two years of working in an office job, where I actually got to wear clothes and makeup every day, I recently returned to working out of my house, which means that I've immediately manifested my inner troll, spending my days hunched over my laptop in my gloomy living room in my mismatched pajamas, my hair looking like Robert Blake's Cockatoo (Are we tired of "bedhead" het?  I'm going to coin a phrase right now for this look: let's call it the  "cockadoo.")  Well, within two week's I'd landed myself a cripling headache that lasted for SIX days.  I tried every remedy, even visiting the dentist for xrays to see if I might have an undiscovered abcess.  But I don't.

Turns out I have an ocular migraine, caused by my newfound freedom to sit in front of a computer screen ten to twelve hours a day (several hours of which, ironically, have recently involved googling "headache" and "migraine").  Must be why trolls scowl so fiercely--all that eye strain from sitting in the dark.  So on Wednesday I'm going to Lenscrafters, where I'm going to get a special eye exam that generates a perscription solely for use at the computer.  The question now is, what type of nerd chic do I want to project with my new single-purpose glasses--given that no one will ever see them but me?  I'm thinking Elton John.  Rhinestones, definitely rhinestones.  I wonder if I can find a rhinestone pocket protector to go with?  Which makes me wonder, by the by, why pajamas even have pockets...?