Cramming in my good hair days

Weird shadow, but I still think I look nice here. :)
Look, we tried. Hard.
I don’t know why my hands look giant. I have normal hands.

I’m in Hair Crisis Mode! OK, not crisis, but possibly Professionalism Transition Urgency Status.

I’ve been growing my hair out basically ever since Halloween of 2008. Weirdly specific timing, but here’s why I know: Grant and I were planning on being Margot and Richie Tenenbaum for Halloween, and we really went overboard on selecting the perfect costume elements, but when I went to my hairdresser and told her to cut my hair just like a picture of Gwyneth as Margot so it was the right length when straightened, well, she kinda badgered me into getting a short stacked bob instead which kinda ruined the costume (as did the fact that we are each approximately double the body weight of the characters we were dressed as, but shut up, we know that).

I believe I was singing along with "Living on a Prayer" at the Rickshaw, the night before Grant's proposal. How's THAT for a freakish memory?Anyway, even though the stacked bob was NOT what I asked for or expected, I think I rocked it for a while. But then very shortly thereafter, Grant proposed to me (awww!), so THAT’s why I knew the time frame, and of course for the next year and a half I was diligently growing it out so that I could have Wedding Hair. You know, slightly curled, long, romantic, blah blah blah that is what wedding hair is, at least lately. (It sort of seems like these things are cyclical, which is a little ridiculous. I mean, of COURSE it would have looked awesome if I’d been married with shorter hair. But you just get up in your head about this stuff when the Bridezilla Bug bites you.)

Weird shadow, but I still think I look nice here. :)Well, that wedding was in 2010, and I think I pulled Wedding Hair off quite well, thanks to Carina the Traveling Stylist. But I’ve been growing it out ever since then, mostly for lack of a better idea. It’s getting kind of crazy and scraggly-feeling and unmanageable. It never looks like that wedding pic; it mostly looks wild and unruly and kind of like I should be in some sort of late 60s-early 70s cover band. But I really love the look and feel of it on “good” days, and I’ve always wanted to try having it as long as I can get it until I simply must hack it off. I figure now’s my window, before we yet have hair-yanking children. So I keep leaving it long, and therefore sometimes scraggly.

Yet I’m doing more and more video work for my business, and while I can handle a podcast recording Skype session looking slightly less than perfect, I really hate doing a proper interview like this one or a polished advice video without looking like I’m bringing my A game. A combination of sanity, time, tendinitis, and just way too much hair means that I almost never bother taking the time to blow-dry and or straighten it these days, because I just can’t pull that off on a regular basis. It’s too much!

So I’ve decided that I’m going to shell out for a Swink blow-dry, and then pack as many different videos (including outfit, eyewear, jewelry, and bangs-management changes) into the same day, so it looks like it was spread out, haha. I’m also borrowing some professional floodlights from an artist friend, so I’ll be well lit in addition to being well coiffed, dressed, and generally groomed. (And lashed. I’m getting falsies put on too, since they help make your eyes pop on video. Although let’s hope they don’t come off halfway through! One time that happened to poor Rachel Maddow during her show and we could NOT LOOK AWAY.)

What do you think? Will it be super obvious that all of my videos were actually shot on the same day? With wildly vavoomier hair and lashes than usual? I mean, I don’t really care that much, to be honest… most of my clientele would totally “get” that I had to pack all my glam into Media Day, and be kinda charmed by it, I like to think. After all, I’m all about helping REAL people, the kind who don’t necessarily look like they’ve always just stepped out of a shampoo commercial when there isn’t a special occasion. I think it’s fair game to channel a bit more polish than usual when it’s for one of my red carpet moments! (Oh speaking of polish, I should probably slap some of that on too. You never know what might get me gesturing at the camera.)

Side note: I remembered hearing Melissa Rivers talk about her book Red Carpet Moments AGES ago on a podcast. Well, I looked up this little video-interview about it, and I was horrified. Both by Melissa’s looks (just because she seems like she’s had a lot of work done, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given her mother, but I sort of thought the apple had fallen farther from the Restylene tree) and because the audio quality is AWFUL, especially when the interviewer is asking questions. 5by5 has really spoiled me on audio! And my Retina MacBook Pro has spoiled me on image quality. That book cover image (generated from Amazon) is atrocious. I blame them/the publisher, though. I hope you can get past it. <3

Anyway, I’ll post a video here too so you can see how I did!

The post-marital fuglies

Well, the big day has finally come and gone! The day was lovely, but now it’s time to get ugly. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t view marriage as an excuse to completely let myself go or anything. But this wedding has involved an INSANE amount of primping and stress and spending on our parts, and my new husband and I will both be pleased to relax a bit now that the show is over. (Though we DID both get spa treatments on our honeymoon!)

Non-beauty inevitabilities that I officially welcome back into my life:

Yellow teeth
— those Crest 3D WhiteStrips HURT! And my teeth look just fine all normal-colored, thank you very much.
Dry cuticles and unkempt nails — Sometimes you gotta be lazy!
Acne AND bacne — thanks for holding out for so long, epidermis! You can even throw some KP my way if you must.
Tan lines — gone are the days of swaddling myself in a goddamn cashmere wool wrap in 96 degree weather just to keep my back and shoulders line-free! OK, I still wear it sometimes as it’s great sunscreen and looks lovely — but I no longer feel OBLIGATED to wear it rain or shine.
Mosquito bites — I’m amazed you guys didn’t cover me in pink welts before the big day. Thanks, buddies! Have at it. I will tackle you with prescription-strength steroid cream and continue to catch you easily mid-flight.

Things I now bid adieu to for the foreseeable future:

Bustiers/corsets with boning — GOD PLEASE THE HORROR. I still have a scar from where it poked at me all night, from BEFORE the wedding! Boning is bullshit.
Spanx — I can finally both digest and breathe, to say nothing of going to the bathroom in a reasonable time frame.
Heels — OW.  At 5’11” I’m done with that discomfort for a WHILE. (Though I’ll probably dye and keep my 2.5″ Jimmy Choo and/or Angela Nuran wedding heels, and re-wear them eventually!) But as of right now, I can’t feel the outer edge of my damn big toes because of my wedding-day footwear worn for a mere 2 hours. *&^@$@#! heels!
Manis/pedis — I gotta start saving my money again, and plus, I kind of miss my OWN neglected polish shades! And no more dremel for a while. Nails on a chalkboard. And no more soaking my fingers in acetone for ages to get the tough gel polish off.
Makeup artists — I love being pampered and all, and Carina and Swink both did an amazing job — I just kind of miss looking like ME. I normally never do foundation or blush, my eye makeup never looks as perfect as theirs, and I’m just *used to* my own shades and formulations. Plus it took like a year to get my false lashes off, and a few real ones came with each cluster. QQ Owie!

OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel Nail Lacquer

God, even the title is a mouthful! I just got a manicure with this special new-ish nail system, because I wanted to test-drive a wedding manicure that would be longer-lasting than typical polish, since I’m quite adept at ruining manicures in record time. When browsing the website at Frenchy’s, I saw this ‘soak-off gel nail’ thing that was touted as a great option for special occasions, busy professionals who didn’t want to schedule regular manicures, or people going on extended vacations. And I thought that sounded like just the right kind of manicure!

The system worked like most gel nails, I guess, except that after the base coat, two gel polish coats were applied and UV-hardened. Problem is, the color (I went with “Aphrodite’s Pink Night”) is quite sheer and went on paler than I’d pictured, so it’s much subtler than I’d hoped and doesn’t conceal if I have gunk in my nails. (Gross, I know, but part of the beauty of a manicure is making your hands look great even when they’re not, right?) OPI’s description seems to indicate this is by design.

I’m also told I can’t put polish on top of the gel lacquer like I could with acrylics or regular gel nails (as I understand them). But then this Elle link seems to indicate you CAN put polish on! And when I asked about fills/maintenance, they said it was pretty much the full $60 no matter what, but maybe they could do a same-color fill for $45. Hrm.

All in all, I think this service convinced me to give regular gel nails a try for the wedding. I’ve only had acrylics once before and hated them, but so far I’m loving my gel hybrid thingies. My nails are still short enough to be able to type and do everything else I do (I hate the look and feel of long nails). We’ll see how they hold up after a week or so, but if I still like them come July then I’m getting gels for the big day!

Bridal beauty

So last weekend, I volunteered myself as a wedding cake baker as well as a wedding makeup artist. This was for a very close friend’s lower-key wedding, but boy, it was still a surprisingly laborious labor of love! It really made me realize how being a makeup artist is totally different than being a savant regarding one’s own cosmetics applications. In the end, she was a beautiful blushing bride, but I think it had more to do with her naturally gorgeous features than with my touches!

I couldn’t get over how many of my pal’s features just behaved, well, differently than mine. When I was applying her eye shadow, the actual shape of her eyeballs kept throwing me off. Sounds weird, but it really did! And she required a much lighter touch than my usual makeup, which I knew she would, but it was still hard for me to gauge. (I was mostly using a Smashbox eye shadow trio in brown hues that I had gotten as a birthday freebie.)

I also couldn’t figure out how to make NARS Albatross work on her. I struggle with making it highlight my own skin properly, as I find it can cling weirdly and make me look overly gold. But magically, even though this stuff was super-pale gold, it somehow made her look darker and, like, inappropriately tanned and dark-circled! I can’t wrap my head around it, but we both decided it didn’t look right and just took it off. (Thank goodness I had thought to bring some Sephora makeup remover pads for easy on-the-fly decisions like this!)

Lastly, when I used my favorite shade of nude tokidoki lip stain on her, it just looked completely different, and the shape of her lips was so distinct from mine. The defined line that I tend to draw around my cupid’s bow looked awful on her, and I couldn’t figure out how to tell her to purse/pucker/flatten/pout her lips for an ideal application on top or bottom. We eventually got it working, but not for lack of effort!

All in all, I have vastly more respect for the challenges that makeup artists face now — it definitely is a trickier art than just working with the face you see in the mirror every day. Minute differences in people’s bone structure, fleshy bits, etc. really change the canvas, so to speak! It makes me eager to schedule my wedding trial run so I can put my mind at ease about how my makeup artist will handle my own face’s inevitable quirks… time to schedule that bachelorette shindig, I guess!

No More Waxing

I’ve been holding off on getting my brows done for the past few months, ever since losing my job back in October. It just seemed like one of those expenses that I couldn’t justify, since theoretically I can maintain my brows pretty well on my own. It’s only when I get lazy and don’t pluck regularly that they get all messed up shape-wise — and I’ve learned that, while I *think* I’m good at re-shaping them myself, I actually tend to make them a bit uneven and over-pluck certain areas.

So I’ve been dying to get back to my brow gal, May — I don’t think I’ve seen her since last summer! But back when The Big Job Loss happened, I went to a dermatologist because I was maxing out our health care benefits before they expired. And my dear new derm (Paula Zook, whom I HIGHLY recommend for Seattle-area folks) chatted with me a bit about Retin-A, and convinced me to go back on it.

So I did, and I’ve been loving it — it’s definitely helped with some of the frustrating cystic acne I’ve experienced, and the new micro-gel formulation is indeed less irritating than the stuff I used in high school. But with Retin-A comes a big caveat: NO facial waxing is allowed. The skin gets too flaky and delicate, and you can actually rip off patches of skin if you wax while you’re on Retin-A treatment.

So what’s a gal to do? I’ve read about threading, but I haven’t been able to find any good threading referrals in Seattle, and besides — I’d miss my May! Luckily, it turns out May is game for plucking. I’ve always thought this was a smarter alternative, anyway — some salons in Barcelona refused to wax my pal’s eyebrows, because they said that it pulled too much at the skin and caused a loss of elasticity around the eyes. So I’ve always been a bit leery when I get my brows waxed, but it’s just so much FASTER. However, now that I’ve got a real reason to have to avoid it, I’m very excited to try plucking.

I’ll be making an appointment to get plucked by May sometime in March. I can’t wait — I’m not sure if the rate is different than for waxing, but I figure the process must be more precise, and I also think it’ll be less irritating to my skin. (Because I’m very fair and sensitive, I tend to have GIANT red blotches all around my eyebrows for a good two days. I even invested in some of those oversized sunglasses when that trend hit, even though I thought they were hideous, because they were the only thing that covered up my lobster brows!)

I’ll definitely update. But I just thought I’d stress this here — even though I myself have waxed my brows in the past, I really think plucking is a better solution. I’m happy to finally get the nudge I need to make the switch — I think the skin around my eye area will be that much happier when I’m in my sixties!