On Not Getting Bored With My Long Hair: Braids and Blowouts

For as long as I’ve lived, I’ve never, ever been able to produce an adequate French braid on myself or anyone else.  Standard braids are easy enough, and I’ve been able to turn out a single standard one on myself with fair results.  However, anything beyond this has been literally impossible.  I’ve practiced on my own hair and on others dozens of times, and I always end up feeling like I need three hands.  And of course, braids are so the thing these days that I’m all the more envious of those that can turn out those delicate little plaits just across the top of the head, or those gorgeous, messy fishtail looks a’la Blake Lively .

blake-lively-cabelo-lateral-hair-side-fishtail-braid

So anyhow, last night I found myself in a, um, creative mood, and I happened to have a friend over at that moment with lots and lots of beautiful red hair.  I broke out my curling rod and got to waving her hair into medium-sized ringlets with beachy texture, but apparently I wasn’t quite satisfied with that, because I suddenly found myself grabbing pieces of her hair on both sides of her hair and almost haphazardly weaving them in and out of each other.  I know with French braids you’re supposed to grab a new strand to weave into the braid as you continue it, but I honestly had very little grid for what I was doing.  There was nearly no method.  I kept pulling out and weaving in new pieces, but sometimes I’d use the same strands over again.  I’d created two fishtail-like braids on each side of Stephanie’s head, and then I got to work trying to weave together everything into one.  The end result was something I never thought I’d be able to do without instruction:

braid1

Not terribly shabby, eh??  I love how it seemed to take on a magical Elsa quality with almost no effort!  I couldn’t believe it.  It actually looked like a braid.

braid2

I’ll work on neatening it later, but for now I’d love to keep practicing this on nearly anyone I can get my hands on.  I like the messier, more pulled apart look so I’m not too worried about attaining perfection.  I used Oribe’s Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray for extra texture, but Stephanie’s hair really didn’t need it that much.  I need almost no excuse to use it, though.  That stuff is the best, and it smells amazing.  I sometimes skip perfume when wearing it.

Finding some ways to mix up my own look lately has been a real necessity for me, because I’ve been dealing with a slight itch to chop it all off after finally growing it out to the length that I’ve wanted for years.  If I can start reaping the benefits of long hair with things like fishtail braids, I figure that’ll keep me from making the idiot move of getting rid of all my hard work in one moment of insanity and dissatisfaction.  In addition to adding things like braids and long, unkempt ponytails to my repertoire, I’ve been going for all kinds of texture when I wear it down: straight and smooth, round-brushed with volume, or waved and matted.

styles

I’ve made so little use of hairbrushes in the past few years, but the look on the left was a result of using a boar-bristled flat brush to smooth out and lengthen the bottom layers, and a ceramic round brush for volume and bend on the top layers.  My own blowout lasted a good four days, and a bit of dry shampoo on the crown added some extra mileage.  I covered my hair in Frederic Fekkai’s Coiff Controle Ironless Straightening Balm, and that stuff gives hair such good stretch and elasticity; I’ve long touted it as the best straightening product I’ve ever used.

The look on the right is my most frequent style.  I wrap random sections around a one-and-a-quarter inch iron (without using the clamp, ever) and I leave the ends free, sometimes finishing things off by straightening them just a bit.  I tend to spray a look like this all over with the Apres Beach, or these days I’ll use Bumble and Bumble’s CitySwept Finish for extra “chunk”, as Kristen Stewart calls it.  And of course, mussing it up as much as you can with your own hands before stepping out the door is a must.

Once I manage to get my own hair into some sort of dignified French braid, I’ll have to do a post on it.  But for now, a braid on a friend and a really good blowout on myself is about all we can ask for.  xo, MR

 

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Now Trending: Luxury Hair Goods

One thing I tend to tell people when I get into discussions over careers and such is that if I could “do it” all over again (meaning go back to school and choose another path of study), I’d major in journalism or communications and push for a career in fashion and beauty journalism.  I’d specifically pursue a career in writing for print magazines, but of course, digital magazines and blogs aren’t exactly inadequate these days either.  It’s funny, because most folks know that I love to do makeup and play with hair, but what I actually love most is just talking about it and researching it.  I have an incredibly talented hair stylist friend that recently returned from doing her first rounds at New York Fashion Week, and it sounded like it was as crazy as I’d imagined it would be.  But the thing is, she’s made for this kind of craft and can completely hack it in that kind of hectic environment that demands talent and skill.  Now, while it would be a dream of mine to attend any Fashion Week in any part of the globe, I can’t actually say that I’d want to do makeup or hair for it.  I love doing makeup, but I think what I’d rather do is get all the details on what the makeup artists did, take a couple photos, and then write about it.  I’ve been reading IntoTheGloss for years (way back when it was a well-kept secret of die-hards!), and Emily’s blog has perfectly captured my dream job- playing with beauty, with the ultimate goal of writing about it.

Now, a huge part of my love for beauty discussion revolves around product knowledge.  I tend to be known among friends as a sort of research guru that’s familiar with almost any product out there.  Like, any product.  Whether it’s hair, makeup, skin, perfume, or nails, I know about it.  I’d say it’s about a 98% guarantee.  Whether it’s from reading countless magazines, perusing countless reviews on MakeupAlley, or from one of my countless trips through a department store or drugstore beauty section, I have developed a vastly extensive comprehension of the stuff that’s out there.  I sometimes even know about products before salon stylists are familiar with them and then have to deal with the reality that I can’t buy them for at least another month or so.  The worst.

However, the downside of having this love for product is the inability to be satisfied with something that works.  I may manage to land on a blush that looks very pretty, but I can’t stick with just one.  Why would I ever do that?!  And hair conditioner has to be the worst- I don’t know when I’ve ever purchased the same conditioner twice, no matter how great the first bottle may have been.  I always seem to think that I might, just might be able to find one that works even better.  So, I’m terrible at being a brand loyalist, but I’m great at trying something new (for the most part).

So, here’s my latest batch of hair products that I’ve been giving a go.  Rest assured that I only paid full-price for one of these babies with my own money.  Each were purchased with giftcards or were given as swag!

products

I’ll address the Bumble and bumble Cityswept Finish first.  This full-size bottle was given to me for free at a party that I recently attended as a reward for receiving 500 points at Sephora.  The party was held at Vogue Salon in Newport Beach, and each guest was given a dry hair consultation with one of the stylists.  I was in and out of the chair in probably less than seven minutes, but somehow she managed to get four products on to my locks and curl all of my hair with a flat iron.  You can imagine my split-end hypochondria kicking into overdrive; I was clinching the chair with white knuckles.  However, the results were quite fun albeit VOLUMINOUS.

cityswept

Now, the Cityswept is difficult to define.  It’s “a supple hold finishing spray to create lived-in “street-styled” looks with separation and sheen”.  Because Manrepeller is so in right now.  It’s true, though.  The shiny, voluminous, perfectly coiffed blowout isn’t really the trend these days.  Kate Middleton’s hair is timeless, but it isn’t “of the moment” (not that Princess Honeybadger Kate really needs to give a damn).  Things are looking a little more Kurt Cobain than Kate Beckinsale when it comes to current hair trends, and Cityswept is meant to accommodate that.  I haven’t played around with it much myself, but the stylist advised to spray it in your hands and sort of scrunch it into your hair for separation and “chunkiness”.  Just think second- or third-day hair and you get the idea.

On to the Fekkai, which I purchased with an Ulta giftcard.  Thanks to my hair hypochondria, I think that my hair is always damaged.  Not just dry, but damaged.  I’m constantly looking for quick sources of protein and moisture for my scalp (which is just sad because I hardly ever drink water).  The Frederic Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Mask is meant as a hard-core recovery mask with keratin and silk proteins, and it smells like vanilla and feel like the thickest, butteriest sludge you’d ever find at Bath and Body Works.  It leaves your hair feeling very slippery and moist, and I can run a comb right through it post-treatment, but I actually have detected a bit more breakage than usual in my hair lately.  It may be because I use the mask twice a week and, combined with another keratin spray and protein-rich treatment I’ve been using, I’ve actually got too much protein action going on with my hair.  Did you know such a thing could happen?!  My friend (and some extra research!) has informed me that you need the right balance of protein and moisture to keep locks healthy and growing, and too much protein can actually cause more breakage in the long run.  So, I may need to lay off the protein-rich mask and stick with just once a week, while focusing more on moisture replenishment for the next month.

The Serge Normant Meta Silk Shampoo was a fun find.  I found it at Costco!  I’ve mostly known Serge as Julia Roberts’ hairstylist, and his hair line is something I’ve only seen sold at NKSpace at Bloomingdale’s.  His products are typically over twenty bucks each, but I found his shampoo at Costco for something like fourteen!  It’s sulfate free, great for color, smells luxurious, and is loaded with all kinds of interesting, natural ingredients.  Unless I get antsy as usual with hair products, I hope to purchase this again.

As far as beauty splurges go, a fancy beach wave spray has to be the silliest for me.  Especially considering the fact that I have natural waves.  Dumb.  However, what has sold me on any Oribe product, including his Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray, is the scent.  Oribe’s stuff (and this being the man who regularly styles red carpet folk including Jennifer Lopez) smells like luxury.  It’s the scent of your night out to a fancy dinner in your best garb, wearing your priciest perfume (or cologne in you’re a dude, and guys- I think you should spray your hair with this stuff).  I seriously picture myself in leather pants with a cozy sweater, sipping a glass of Cabernet in a giant, buttery-soft leather chair with a cashmere blanket on an outdoor patio when my hair has been misted with Après Beach.  It’s just that kind of experience.  Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray also comes with a similarly magnificent scent.  I do a lot of hair flipping when I use these products because I just can’t stop smelling myself!  Oh, and the wave creation ain’t so bad either.  The product is truly amazing for those I’ve-got-bedhead-and-I-need-to-be-intentional-about-it days.  Le freak so chic.

Lastly, we come to what may be a culprit of my recent split-end resurgence.  I purchased Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Photo Age Defense at the suggestion of Maria Menounos and once I’d acquired a Sephora giftcard.  I’d been looking for a true treatment product that didn’t just temporarily smooth hair and “conceal” split ends.   I wanted something that actually defended and repaired.  While I have stretched out my time between hair trims enormously (one quick trim over the past six months) and was seeing a difference during the first couple months, I think the combination of a few protein-heavy products has backfired as I mentioned earlier.  One of the main ingredients in Caviar is hydrolyzed soy protein, and so I’m thinking I’ll use this after every other wash as opposed to every one.  On every other wash, I’m trying my best to just get out of the shower after conditioning and not put anything else in my hair.  I want it to rebuild on its own, naturally.

Now, seriously- I want to know what you use.  Really.  What have you splurged on?  What’s the one treatment (hair or skin, anything!) that you won’t compromise on?  You’ve had enough of me yammering on and on- I want to hear from you.  So I can write about it.  Oh, and for more fun bits on hair and the like, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest; the handle is mcrish.  xo, MR