Vacation all I ever wanted.

I’ve just returned from a near-perfect vacation.  What I love is the fact that I barely had to travel to really feel a sense of escape for this getaway- I live in Orange County, and we traveled no more than three hours at a time for a four-day trip to Santa Barbara.

The first 48 hours consisted of beach camping at the El Capitan State Beach with my husband’s college students, and then it was a stay in town on State Street for our anniversary (with just the two of us … don’t worry).  One of the week’s most glorious moments consisted of our day on the shore with the college group.  It had been foggy and gloomy for the previous twelve hours on the campgrounds, and we feared that our time on the beach later that day might bring more of the same.  Don’t get me wrong- I think dreary beaches are actually gorgeous.  However, I’d packed my swimsuit (and not my coffee mug and blankie) and it had just been so, so long since I’d had one of those quintessential California beach lay-outs.  Well, maybe that’s a lie.  I had gone to the beach near home by myself one week earlier, but unbeknownst to me I had only enough quarters for an hour!  *sobs* Help me I’m poooooor!!!!  So needless to say, I was ready for the kind of sunshine that doesn’t fool around, and I was ready to plant my patooty in the sand and not budge for a good while.

And, come one-o-clock in the afternoon, that’s exactly what we got.  The skies didn’t have anything to offer but pure, unmitigated supply of Sweet D for a good five hours, and I was in heaven.  But let me ask you something … What is heaven without hair color to go with it?  Tell me!  TELL ME!

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I only wish I’d gotten a picture of the out-of-control awesome braid my friend Jourdan whipped my hair into for our beach day, but alas, I was too distracted pretending to be a mermaid.  Thanks Jourdan!  I was only too excited to play around with my hair this week because the color had just been refreshed in the most delightful of ways thanks to my trusted stylist Justin at Salon 9.  And I’m at the point where I can conclusively say that I do indeed prefer my hair with some lightness to it.  It’s just happier.

But regarding this image specifically, here are my locks as they were after I had them blown out at the 1329 Salon and Spa on State Street.  I have this vacation tradition that I started during my honeymoon that involves hunting down a random salon and having either a pedicure or my hair blown out.  I just love meeting different stylists and checking out how different salons do their thing.  I remember the salon I stopped by on my honeymoon was super swanky and only used Kerastase products, and the staff had recently styled hair for New York Fashion Week as a team.  But then, on a different occasion, I stopped by somewhere a little out of my way for a blow-out around Christmas and the salon I happened upon was really old.  The product selection was a little piecemeal, the floors were checkered black-and-white, they had oldies playing on a radio, and I honestly couldn’t understand what my sweet stylist was saying half the time.  But I walked out with the most incredible blow-out!  You just never know what you’ll find.  And that’s the fun of it.

1329 Salon is only two months old, and my stylist, Jenna, had only been there for about five weeks (and they’re looking to hire four more stylists, so if you’re licensed in the SB area, here’s your chair!).  I’d been walking up and down State Street doing some shopping and I literally just walked through the door and asked if anyone could take a walk-in client for a blow-out.  Jenna used a flat-iron to create loose waves in my hair, and she tried to tutor me as best as she could so that I could mimic the technique myself (and we used my favoritest picture EVER of Jessica Biel for inspiration).  Jenna got me blushing though when she kept going on about my new precious highlights.  That’s always a major win for both you and your colorist:  when another stylist takes a moment to look through your whole head of hair while saying “Oh yeah.  Oh yeah.  These are great.”  *happy squeals*  So needless to say (because the shameless selfie says it all), I was more than happy with my experience.  Cheers, Jenna!  I hope you read this!

So, I’m home now.  And my vacation is now nothing more than memories and Instagram files.  But part of me feels like I get to keep vacation with me in the form of my hair as it is now (I know, that sounds creepy like I constantly have something hidden in my hair … Don’t worry, the most you’ll find is probably some bobby pins or a bird).  And tell me, who doesn’t want vacation hair?!  xo, MR

Some things and some stuff.

This post is going to be about exactly what the title says:  some things and some stuff.

I couldn’t think of some fancy, well-scripted intro where I blather on about the latest this and that without it simply sounding too contrived.  And so, to quote some nonexistent animated persons that I respect and admire deeply, I’m going to write about some things … and some stuff.

1.  I had Justin put some highlights back into my hair.  They’re subtle, ombre’d bits of caramel that provide just enough color to make me feel like summer is just around the corner.  I plan on going progressively lighter, but this was enough for now.  With my single-process hair color, I felt very one-dimensional (duh.) and I just didn’t have as much fun with my hair as I did when it had some lightness to it.  And so, it is with a heavy heart that I admit the possibility that a leeeeeeeeeeetle bit of blonde may help you have a leeeeeeeeetle bit more fun.  But hold your hosses thar!  I didn’t straight-up say that blondes unilaterally have more fun than brunettes.  Why, that would be plumb silly!  But I do believe that I am more satisfied with my hair when it’s provided with some colorful dimension, if only to use my hair as a metaphor for my life and provide the illustration that sometimes we need a little warmth and sunshine to shake us up out of the drab monotony of everyday existence.  This all sounds much better when you say it in the voice of Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock.

Here is my hair as it was this spring, as colored and cut by Justin Kamm and as styled and photographed by Laura Licata:

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I have to say, it was raining that afternoon.  How Laura managed to keep my hair from turning into this, I’ll never know.

And this is the best picture I have of my new highlights, as well as, ahem, my awesome nephew:

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2.  I graduated with my Master’s degree last Saturday, and received some gifts for doing so (and some may have been for my birthday as well, which was celebrated here).  Some of those gifts included Sephora giftcards, which burn bigger holes in my pockets than lit matches.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is but I will save gifts of cash and any other such cards for weeks or even months, but you designate a mere twenty bucks for me to spend at that magical house of facepaint and I just go cuhhhh-raaayyy-ZAY!  There may not be a thing I need, but I will haul my butt down to the nearest Sephora and just stand in front of the NARS counter for a solid fifteen minutes, looking like a freak, without a single expression on my face, doing absolutely nothing.  I just stare.  And touch EVERYTHING.  I’ll bring my own brushes and by the time I leave that place, it looks like Jackson Pollock came back from the dead and decided he just wanted to do a quick masterpiece on someone’s wrist.  I’m convinced that dead artists would have a thing for me.

3.  If I could look like this as a redhead, that would be an okay thing.

4.  This is what I came back with from my most recent Sephora trip.

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Well, the one on the left I’ve actually had for a couple months, but the one on the right is brand spankin’ new.  I haven’t so much as smudged it with a finger.  It’s called Stylish Move, and I look forward to using the bottom right and top left shades for bridal makeup.  But really, this one was kind of more for me.  Dior 5-Couleur palettes are the holy grail of eyeshadows, and while they are quite expensive (I’ll never purchase one without some kind of gift card), they blend so well, coordinate so perfectly, are almost always universally flattering, and I make long-lasting use of them.  I’m breaking this sucker in tonight, so I’ll have to let you know how it goes (though hopefully not via an obnoxious Instagram selfie, but I have a bad feeling …). Honestly, if you’re not too sure about what eyeshadows are right for you but hate wasting time on a bunch of individual shades (that add up in cost anyhow and can be difficult to store and keep track of), I’d recommend looking into just one of these palettes and letting it be your one-step solution to your whole problem problem.  Might I suggest Rosy Tan or Earth Reflection?

5.  I smell bad and get sweaty.  Sometimes.  Maybe.  If so, it’s because I don’t wear antiperspirant.  And I haven’t done so in years.  Why?  Because what makes antiperspirant do its thing is something called aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, a substance linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s as well as breast cancer.  Weird.  And we shave our armpits and layer on the stuff every day.  Weirder.  And our armpits are suspiciously situated quite near our breasts.  Weirdest.   So here’s the thing:  I use deodorant, but I don’t use antiperspirant (and no, there are no “natural” or “safe” kinds of antipersp; the aluminum ingredient is always the active one in antipersp).

For a couple years I used Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Unscented Deodorant Stick and my body adjusted well.  However, a couple months ago, my armpits started experiencing a burning and itching sensation that left my armpits peeling in a big ring and looking as if they’d been out in the sun with no protection.  At first I thought it was razor burn or something, but then I realized that the sensation was returning just minutes after applying the Tom’s.  And to my surprise, I found that many users had experienced the exact same symptoms after years of using Tom’s (Bless you, Internet only sometimes because mostly I hate you!).  Why all this burning and itching only started occurring after years of use, I’ll never know.

Anyhow, I discovered that Tom’s, while being free of aluminum and not an antiperspirant, still contains a chemical called propylene glycol.  PG, as we’ll call it, is meant to keep many body products from either melting or freezing, but it unfortunately also “alters the structure of the skin by allowing chemicals to penetrate deep beneath it while increasing their ability to reach the blood stream”.  Additionally, PG has also been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, allergy developments, and other bodily issues (as is the case with many substances in our body products).

So what do I use?

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Desert Essence strikes again!  This brand is seriously so awesome.  My face and now my pits owe so much to it.  You can find Desert Essence’s deodorant at Sprout’s, Whole Foods, or any of your local hippie-dippie hotbeds, and it has no aluminum (and just realize if the product does not say it is an antiperspirant, it doesn’t have aluminum anyhow) nor any propylene glycol.  Excellent.

And now the inevitable question:  But don’t you have B.O.?

Yes.  Not all the time, and not every day, but sometimes, yes.  And do I care?  No.  Let me throw this out there:  Your body, as it naturally functions, is supposed to sweat.  It’s one of the processes that your body uses to eliminate toxins from your body.  Your skin operates like a third kidney, sweating out urea, metals, and minerals.  You get rid of about 30% of bodily wastes through sweating, with the other methods being pooping, peeing, and other glamorous things we talk about on beauty blogs where Kate Beckinsale and perfume are also talked about regularly.  I just said “poop” and “Kate Beckinsale” in the same sentence.

So anyhow, I’m honestly okay with sweating a bit through the day.  It’s literally meant to be.  And I’ll be straight with you- If I’m planning on wearing a delicate fabric or know that I’m going to have an anxious morning (interviews, standing up to rebelling freshmen in their math class, etc.), I do wear the clinical strength antiperspirant.  And I mean, like, the 25% aluminum kind (because if I’m going to wear the stuff, I’m going whole-sweaty-hog).  But I try to severely limit these occurrences.  And I’m trying to bulk up around the freshmen.

Anyhow, that’s my blabbering about some things and some stuff for now.  Until next time, stay sweaty, shop Dior, get your highlights on, and stay poopy Kate Beckinsale!

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xo, MR

And thanks to thegoodhuman.com for the smarts on PG.

Oh, hair.

Have you ever gone through pictures and looked at how your hair has changed through the years? I recently perused through my photos that I’ve had uploaded to my drive, and holy smokes– I only went as far back as 2008, and I am a completely different person. Completely. I know I’ve done posts on my hair journey before, but there’s something to seeing it and chronicling it in pictures. I’ve become so much more educated on how to take care of my hair and I’ve become so much more aware of how I like it within the past couple years that I’m not quite sure what I was doing with it everyday beforehand. Was I in tears every day? Was I cutting my own bangs out of a deep need for control in my life? Was I expressing a constant struggle with anxiety by curling every half-inch strand around a small curling rod until I looked like I just had a pile of springs on top of my head? What was any of this accomplishing?! I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!

October 2008 hair

This was when I thought I was cool. Well actually, that’s a problem I consistently have so that could likely be said for each picture here. But this was when I thought I was really cool. This was one of the first times when Justin colored my hair (a couple shades darker), and my cut was super-razored, super-layered, and super-textured. I wanted stick-straight hair back then, but I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it so much when I achieved it every once in a while. I finally realized that flat-against-the-head straight just isn’t flattering on my face shape, which is somewhat narrow. I look best with a little volume.

November 2008 hair

BUT NOT THIS KIND. This was maybe one or two months after the last photo, and I would trim my own bangs in little fits of impatience. Oh God. WHY?! I would rough up my hair at the top because I thought it looked edgy. Just … no.

May 2009 hair

Maybe six months later, and we’ve landed on this in May of 2009. The curl in my hair really came out with all the layers, clearly. My bangs are growing out slowly here, and so I would try to brush them to the side, but I’m pretty sure I was employing the dreaded “curly hair with straight bangs” look. Bad. But I had fun with this hair; I’d finally started using tools besides a straightener and so that was exciting.

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This is my hair in October of 2009. I remember this being the first time that I felt extremely proud of how I’d done my makeup and my hair. I’d been skilled with the makeup brushes for quite some time by then, but this was one of those days when I set aside the time, I knew I was going to be in front of an audience, and I wanted it to look perfect. I also had Justin put in my first set of highlights that summer, and I’d wanted them to look grown out a bit by this point (a preview of my love for ombre’, all the way back in 2009!). This was probably when things started to take a permanent turn for the better …

February 2010 hair

… but apparently I still had an obsession with curling my hair with a one-inch iron. I’d gone back to a single-process color by this point, which was February of 2010. I liked the look at the time, but such curling madness without at least a little brushing out would be a no-no these days.

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Ah, summer 2010 hair. This I loved. We cut it shorter and put in some new, sunny highlights. This was also the first year that I started actually enjoying summer. I’d always considered myself a fall/winter girl, but some trips to the beach alone along with tracking my severe dip in mood and energy during the winter lead me to realize that the sunshine may actually be quite good for me. The hair matched.

Fall 2010 hair

And then I went dark again, just for autumn of 2010. This was a rough season for me and for some reason, and the hair just brought me down. I should’ve kept up with the highlights, but I wanted “fall hair” and I felt that that meant it needed to be darker (and Meesh, you were blonde!!). I still wasn’t the greatest at styling it on my own, though (and I don’t know what was up with my eyebrows or face either– I look funny and I’m not sure why). However, hope was on the horizon- Jessica Biel had debuted an incredible hair style that became known as “ombre” during her press tour for “The A-Team” during that past summer. I’d been trying to go for something similar about a year beforehand and had adored the natural “roots” look, and here was a celebrity showing off the very look I’d wanted for so long (and all before it literally EXPLODED and devolved into the strange dip-dyed Pinterest-pandered look I see everywhere now). And so, in late December of 2010, Justin and I put our heads together and he gave me my first ombre’d hair.

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I loved this. I LOVED this. It came out perfectly, and he placed the highlights closer to my roots so they could grow out and blend even more with time. This is one of mine and my husband’s kick-butt engagement shots by my amazing bridesmaid Kara Lackey, and there are few un-Instagrammed pictures of me in which I truly love my hair. This is one of them.

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And this was the goal! Grow it out, keep up with the ombre’d color, and do a half-and-half look for the wedding in June of 2011. Achievement unlocked! My friend Kat Thompson styled my hair for the day and I probably sent her such a weird combination of pictures for inspiration that made absolutely no sense. How she managed to know what I wanted through all of that mess, I’ll never know. And speaking of my wedding, I still need to do a post on my hair and makeup just for that day.

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During the autumn after the wedding, Justin cut some blunt bangs for me. I liked it, but they were difficult to style everyday. I don’t think I’ll do bangs again until I’m much older (because they make you look younger), but they were good to try just for a season. And I got to do this fun shoot thanks to the fabulous Laura Licata and her talents!

August 2012 hair

The ombre’ adventures culminated in long, wavy, grown-out beach hair by August of 2012. This was good. Very good. A lot of oil masks and a lot of tender, cautious care with natural products and little washing, but it was worth it.

Fall 2012 hair

And then we chopped it! And went back to fully brunette! I think I finally felt confident enough to style it and Instagram it myself by this point. I employed the use of larger irons and, ironically, just started caring less over all. Less became more in 2012. It was a good year for hair.

More Fall 2012Winter13 hair

And here we are today, basically. A little grown out (and I’m going for long again!), and my natural color. I’ve been wearing it straight; I’ve been wearing it wavy. I like to sleek it up, and I like leave it down. Who knows what I’ll say in a couple years, but for the moment I just feel like this works. Justin recently put an ashier single-process color that took out any red and put me back at a basic, natural brown that’s probably the closest thing I’ve had to my natural color in years. It’s good to be back, but the sun’s been out a lot lately and I just don’t think I’ll be able to resist some ombre’d highlights for long. We’ll see. xo, MR