Tools For Keeping Your Hair In Control When You Aren’t

Coming to both understand and know how to properly work with one’s own hair is a lifelong journey.  We pour through blogs (no irony there), scour through magazines, ask all our friends, experiment with myriads of product, and stare into the mirror for probably what amounts to weeks of time on Earth just trying to get a grip on what it takes to make our hair look consistently great.  There are the rare awesome hair days that we manage to pull off without help of a stylist, but for the most part, our hair is just kind of … there.

Maybe you’re one of those folks that insists on every day being a great hair day, and so you wake up earlier, or go to bed later, bust out the heat tools on a daily basis, take time to actually blow out your hair once it’s washed … but that’s not everyone.  If the aforementioned describes you, I sincerely admire you.  I mean it.  Not in that fake, condescending Well I just don’t have the time for that way (because I probably do have the time, if we’re honest)… I genuinely admire you.  And my side-eye is probably just me being jealous of you.

But for those of us whose biceps start whining at the very thought of blowing out our hair, for those of us who wake up and feel like your hair needs a complete do-over if you’re going to actually style it with intention, for those of us that lack the daily discipline, for those of us who can’t wait for the curling iron to heat up- I give you my list of the most helpful hair tools for when laziness strikes.  And all are meant for unwashed hair.

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A boar bristle brush

When my hair has become greasy and I have to go out before I get the chance to wash, I find it helpful to embrace the oils and brush my hair thoroughly with this sturdy brush.  It distributes the oils evenly through my hair and smooths things out.  This usually works best when my hair has gone flat at the roots and lost any wave or curl.  It also adds fluff to the body of my hair so that I can pull it back in a full ponytail or a voluminous bun.  You don’t want to brush with something wimpy on second or third-day hair; a plastic bristled brush or something less dense won’t control the oil as well.

A combo of sea salt spray and dry shampoo

In my case, I prefer Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion spray that contains hydrating oils in it along with the salt mixture, because salt sprays can really dry out my hair.  The Surf Infusion brings texture, volume, and some curl or wave back into the lengths of my hair without making it feel like a sticky pile of hay with tacky glue all over it (as is the case with some texture products).  If I add a little Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo to my crown along with that, I’m usually in fighting shape for another day.

A black elastic headband and some bobby pins

These usually end up being the tools for my hair during the final day before a wash.  I also default to this style when I just want my bangs out of my face.  I pull my hair up in a high bun, try to “neaten” it by pinning down the pieces poking out with bobby pins, and pin any bits falling out as well as my bangs.  Adding the black headband can give it a sporty vibe or something a little more ballerina inspired if the band is maybe a satin ribbon, and if the bun is elegant enough.  Be sure to push the band forward enough and see that it’s not too thing; otherwise, you end up looking more like a high school soccer player.  I’ve been trying to see what I can add to make this look more intentional rather than haphazard; its very easy for a quick bun to look haphazard in my case.  If my bangs are in good shape, they can really take a bun to the next level, as bangs can give a bun that extra “fashion blogger” feel.

On some days, if the lengths of my hair are doing okay, I’ll just pin back my bangs with two bobby pins in an “X”.  A little dry shampoo in the roots and that pretty much settles things.

A shot of cold air with a blowdryer or a spritz of water

Sometimes, the best answers are the simple ones.  Running over your hair with a blowdryer can do different things on different days.  For me, sometimes it volumizes it, brings back texture, adds shine, etc.  Other days, it doesn’t really do anything.  I’m not one for claiming my advice is foolproof; things just don’t always work on everyone’s hair, everyday.  The same goes for water.  On occasion, just spraying my lengths with water has done amazing things.  It’s brought back wave or tamed frizz in certain areas when it’s dry out; other days, my hair dries and looks just as it did before.  My point is, sometimes you just give different solutions a shot and see what happens before resorting to pinning it up.

Any other ideas you have to offer?  I always hear about the braiding solution, but as I’ve mentioned before, that’s something I can rarely do without needing a third or fourth arm.  Anyhow, I’m an open book, so give me your tips!  xo, MR

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The Care And Keeping Of Bangs

I got a bang trim today.  It was my first trim since getting them on January 2nd, so it looks like I can go about five weeks before they’re on top of my eyelids.  I could probably let them grow longer and just part them in the center a la’ Alexa Chung, but that’s not really the look I’m going for.

It hasn’t been half bad taking care of bangs this time around, honestly.  If you’re considering them, just remember that you will need to style them every day.  And if you typically let your hair air-dry, well, you’ll still want to give your bangs just five minutes of time with heat and a brush because they may not look as naturally flattering as the rest of your air-dried mermaid hair.  You may just look like you’ve got mermaid hair with a Medusa forehead.

Here are a couple extra tips for keeping your bangs in Charlotte Gainsbourg condition, should you be interested:

  1. No round brushes! EVER! Unless you’re going for the perfect pipeline-shaped bangs you had when you were five, I urge you to stay away from round brushes hen drying your bangs.  I’ve found round brushes just make my bangs too, well, round.  The best instructions I’ve found on blowing out your bangs can be found here on my Pinterest.  Using a blow dryer, I’ll give them a little air from the left, then from the right, a little from straight above, and then I’ll very carefully use a flat brush (my Bass paddle brush is all I have right now, though I’d like something smaller) to pull them taut in sections.
  1. Use a drop of styling cream to keep your bangs in place. While they’re still wet, I’ll distribute just a pea-sized amount of R&Co Jackpot in my bangs before I hit them with heat. Blow-drying bangs without any product can leave them almost too soft and pliable; a bit of styling cream gives them just the right amount of hold and grit that’ll last you a day or two.
  1. Bangs look their best when the rest of your hair has volume. Unless you’re going for an intentionally sleek look, get out all the mousse and texturizing sprays you have and go to town on the rest of your hair.  Bangs paired with flat hair can look a bit childish, while bangs with some nice teasing at the crown look more balanced with a Bardot feel.  I’m not trying to tell anyone how to look; these are just my personal observations.
  1. Dry shampoo, as you can imagine, is your best friend by day two. It’s very difficult not to keep touching your bangs because it is literally hair in your face, but a spray of dry shampoo can easily remedy a case of the 4:00pm greasies.  But don’t overdo it- I seriously get by with one spray of Living Proof’s dry shampoo in my bangs.  It’s harder to brush dry shampoo out of bangs and make it disappear because there isn’t as much hair to absorb it.
  1. When you’ve had your bangs cut in a way you like, ask your stylist for the exact steps on what he or she does (and take a picture of yourself with your ideal length!). Chances are you may end up in a different salon for a quick bang trim on the fly (or at least, that’s what I’ve done).  You should be able to repeat the steps to another stylist.  Otherwise, if you give no instructions, your blunt bangs could end up wispy, your long, fashion-length bangs could end up too short, and so forth.  Pictured here, my ideal length.  And an accompanying shot of what happens when they do what most hair does- grow.

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  1. Careful with the flat iron. I think it’s tempting for many to air dry their bangs and then give them the treatment of death by flat ironing them into submission.  I strongly advise against this.  While you don’t want tunnel bangs, you don’t want them slap against your forehead either or with weird stick-straight ends jutting out.  I only use a flat iron for touch-ups, like after I’ve woken up and they’re bent all weird.  I try to keep the tools squared around the brush, the comb, and the aforementioned potions.

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I think that’s all I’ve got from this past month of experience.  I’m excited that I have a little excuse to drop into a salon every month or so now; bang trims are typically complimentary.  And I wasn’t too ashamed to dash out quickly after this trim, considering I was left with a cowlick as high as the heavens.  No seriously, it was a half-inch higher than the rest of my hair.  I literally put my hood on as I walked out of the salon.  No one needed to see that on a Friday.  xo, MR

What I Brought Home From My Vacation

My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there.  What a beautiful time it was.  I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.

But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog.  Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?

A new appreciation for flying

This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years.  While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant.  I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.

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Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience.  Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.

A serious Sephora haul

Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.

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I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one.  I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts.  Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you.  It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance.  The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin.  It is delicious.

According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people).  I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming.  I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately.  Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles.  Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life.  And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo.  The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).

My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer.  I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them.  After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out.  The Alterna is great for that.  Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do.  However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc.  The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks.  And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now.  I’ll stick with it.

My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big.  Poop.  Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.

A super-dark manicure

Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them.  I do darks, nudes, or a true red.  For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip.  It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it.  Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through.  It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).

So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna.  Two for one.

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BANGS

Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity.  I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes.  We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length.  The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs.  Whew.  I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time.  I mean, really.  I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs.  I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul.  And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here.  I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it.  A pirate’s life for me.

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What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow.  I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled.  I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French.  Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity.  Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over.  It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect.  Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago.  You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.

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For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying.  I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them.  Cheers to caring more in 2016!  xo, MR