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Hardcore Hair

26 Jun

My secret dream is to be a rock star.

But, alas, I can’t be a rock star.  I can’t play any instruments and I sing like a Disney Princess.  Maybe I could at least look like a rockstar?  But no, I’m a socially awkward, bookish theatre dork with doe eyes, Orphan Annie hair and fat cheeks.  Yesterday, I wore a re-purposed square dancing dress.  A SQUARE DANCING DRESS.  I am many things.  But Courtney Love I am not.  And I suppose that’s a good thing.

But if I can’t be a rock star or look like  a rock star, I can at least feel like a rock star.

Because this bitch can rock a fauxhawk.

I went on the hunt for fauxhawk youtube tutorials last winter.  They all featured beautiful, eyelinered, tattooed rocker-style babes teasing and spraying their hair into gorgeous fauxhawks.  But damn it all, it just seemed so hard.  My hair is loooong, and heavy, and hairspray is the devil and teasing my curls makes angels cry.  I had almost given up, when I found this video.

She says it’s quick and easy, and she’s right.  The three-pony-wrap-add-pins-smooth-sides scheme worked like a DREAM on my hair.  And if your hair naturally has some texture to it, as mine does, you can skip the curling and teasing she does in the video.  Just wrap and let your hair be its natural crazy self.

It’s Badass Lite, for those of us who are just too chicken too be badass all the time.

pony hawk


Braids! Braids! Braids! (plus a mini-review of CATCHING FIRE)

11 Dec

I love The Hunger Games.  I first read the books in 2010–and I read all three in less than a week.  And then couldn’t read anything else for another week, because the books (especially Mockingjay) are so brutal that I couldn’t get them out of my head.  And now there are MOVIES!  Unlike much of the Internet, I really enjoyed the first film, last year’s The Hunger Games.  But Catching Fire?  Holy dark days Batman, I LOVED it.  It’s my favorite novel out of the three, and I think the book is better than the movie–primarily because of the phenomenal Jennifer Lawrence, who makes Katniss a beautifully complex, deep, and flawed character.  And I’m not ashamed to admit that I have already seen the film twice, re-watched the first one, and then re-read all three books…within the last three weeks.

My only real beef with the first film were the scenes in the Capitol.  In my imagination, the clothes, hair and makeup were outlandish and exuberant beyond belief–but in a very couture, avant-garde kind of way.  The Capitol clothes in the first film were tacky and uninspired, for the most part.  A few of Effie’s dresses were delightful but just about everything fell flat.  NOT TRUE in Catching Fire.  The clothes, makeup and hair were everything I dreamed of and more.  In fact, one of the reasons I saw the film a second time was so I had more time to oogle the delicious clothes.

That's what I'm talking about.  Costumes designed by Trish Summerville.

That’s what I’m talking about. Costumes designed by Trish Summerville.

*mini spoiler alert ahead*

But once Katniss enters the arena, it’s buh-bye glam gowns and Cleopatra eye makeup and hello jumpsuits and the Katniss braid.  But how adorable is the Katniss braid?  I love it.  And one of the perks of having long hair (and I’m so close to mermaid hair!) is the fun stuff you can do with it.  The Katniss braid is simple and easy and a great way to deal with bad hair days.  From what I can tell, she does a simple diagonal Dutch braid.  I do a modified version–two Dutch braids, one on either side of my head, that I then braid together over my shoulder.  Easy peasy.

Here would be a great time for a photo, but I forgot to take one before undoing my hair last night.  Sorry.  So here’s the lady herself.

Katniss Braid 1

But the Katniss braid is only a gateway drug, because I’ve gone braid crazy.  Braids are an easy way to give yourself a little something new.  Last week I did a simple half-up, half-down braided headband (again, no photo–sorry!) and today I did another easy Dutch braid half-up, half-down ‘do that makes me feel like an elf princess.  Here I am, looking like a character out of Lord of the Rings:

It's a sELFie.  Get it?

It’s a sELFie. Get it?

And a close up:

Fairy braid close up

Then I went on a youtube tutorial binge, and found some amazing ideas for braids and braided updos.  I haven’t tried them all yet, but I was so excited I couldn’t wait to share.  Unfortunately for the short-haired among you, most of these are for long hair.  But I threw a little something for you in at the end.  Anyway, here are my favorites.

Here’s a super glam take on milkmaid braids.

Here’s an amazing braided-and-knotted boho style that I CAN’T WAIT to try.

And here’s am amazing stacked braid that looks super complicated but is actually quite easy.

Since I spent a huge part of this post blathering on about Katniss braids, here’s a tutorial of one of those!

Finally, for y’all with short hair, here’s a braided updo for you to try.

Just a reminder–be gentle when you braid.  You don’t want your braid to be so tight it pulls on your scalp (loose braids are hotter, anyway!).  You also don’t wan to yank your hair as you braid it.  Be kind to your hair so it will live to be braided another day.

For your next holiday party, work event or visit to District 12, try out a braid!

Caring for Hair (to get it down to There).

9 Oct

Following up on my last post, I’d like to share my haircare routine with y’all.  I wish I could say that this is the PERFECTEST HAIRCARE ROUTINE OF ALL TIME, that will solve all your hair woes forever.  But, alas, there is no magic bullet, no perfect product, no single solution that works for all hair.  There are as many haircare routines as there are heads of hair and more.  Each scalp and each head of hair is different, and it takes experimentation to figure out what’s right for you. Sorry.

But on the bright side, we’re all very special snowflakes!


I only wash my hair about every three weeks.  When I do, I use Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo.  It contains no sulfates or silicones, and it’s safe for color treated hair.  I vigorously massage my scalp but not the length of my hair.  Shea Moisture products are available at Sally’s, Target, and many (but not all, strangely), Walgreens locations.

In between washings, I use a cheap conditioner (V05 or some lines of Suave that have no sulfates or silicones) to massage my scalp vigorously.  This is called “co-washing”–using conditioner to wash the scalp.  This is great for people with hair that’s on the dry side.  If you tend more towards having greasy hair, you might need to wash more frequently.


Every time I wet my hair, I use Sally’s Generic Conditioning Balm (generic for Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm) from Sally’s Beauty.  I work it into wet hair and leave it in.  And I am NOT STINGY.  This product is quite thick and heavy.  If you have dry hair like me, your hair will eat it up and love it.  If your hair is fine, you might like this product as a once-a-week deep treatment, but not as a leave-in.  If you have superfine hair or hair that tends to run flat or greasy, try a lighter conditioner.

Every week or two, I do some kind of treatment on my hair.  I sometimes use the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque , sometimes I use coconut oil or some other homemade concoction.


When I get out of the shower, I “plop” (plopping is a particular way of wrapping hair to promote curl and enhance curl pattern) using cheap cotton cloths I bought in bulk at Target. There are a gazillion awesome plopping tutorials on youtube.

After that, I use my miracle product on my wet-but-not-dripping hair: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie.  I get a decent amount in my  hands and work it through tip-to-root.  If it’s a lazy day, this is the only product I use.

For more control, I use Shea Moisture Curling Gel Souffle gel.  I use the TINIEST BIT IMAGINABLE (the gel is really liquidy, so I pretty much dip my fingertips in the jar and call it good).   I cannot stress enough that a little goes a long way with this stuff.  A single jar lasted me almost two years.  This product is also quite heavy and is definitely not for everyone–some of the online reviews are pretty scathing.  But it works for me.

After that, I GENTLY blow dry the roots of my hair using a diffuser and a medium setting.  My hair is long and heavy, so I like to blow dry the top to prevent flat-head.  Only in time emergencies do I blow-dry my hair until it is dry.

My arsenal.

My arsenal.


Finding the perfect second day (or third day) hair routine is like the grail for curlies.  Drying our hair can take forever and be a giant pain in the ass–but sleep can really muss up curls.  Having rockin’ second day hair actually begins the night before.  Lots of sites recommend sleeping on satin pillowcases.  I have yet to buy a satin pillowcase, because I’d rather buy dresses.  Maybe someday.  ANYWAY, I prep my hair by doing a “pineapple.”  Bend upside down and gently tie your hair into a loose ponytail or bun on the tip-top of your head with a scrunchie (yay 90s!).  It must be a scrunchie and not a rubber band–you want it to be as smooth and loose as possible.  The next morning, I wet my hair gently with homemade lavender spray and scrunch in a little tiny bit of Curl Enhancing Smoothie and it bounces right back.

It sounds complicated to explain, and it was complicated during the 8 or so months I was experimenting and trying it all out.  Now it’s the easiest thing in the world.  So go forth and EXPERIMENT!

All pineappled and ready for bed.

All pineappled and ready for bed.

Getting your Hair down to There.

7 Oct

My hair is getting super long and I’m super excited about it.  I’m thisclose from straight-up mermaid hair (hair that covers the boobs).  And I love it.  I love it love it love it.

Long hair is not for everyone, and with good reason.  It can be a giant pain in the ass.  I have to sleep with it wrapped up in a bun on the top of my head or my bedfellow will roll on it.  I have to be really careful when shutting car doors or rolling up car windows–if it’s windy at all, my hair gets caught.  I have to arrange my hair before throwing a purse over my shoulder or else the strap yanks my hair and it hurts.

But it’s worth all the trouble, because it’s super pretty and I love it.  I have a thousand options for updos and half-up-half-down looks and braids and buns and it’s awesome.  I like how it feels down my back.  And because it’s curly (by nature) and red (by careful design), I can pretend to be Merida from Brave.  And when I have a bad hair day, I can throw it up in an easy-but-looks-hard chignon rather than do styling battle with a short, styled cut.  What can I say, it’s the choice for me.

Dream hair.

Dream hair.

If long hair is what you desire, here are some tips for how to achieve it.

1.  First off, are you sure? Is long hair really for you?  Is long hair going to make you look the best you can possibly look?  In my opinion, long hair works best when it’s really thick and with some degree of body, wave or curl.  Those with naturally super-straight or fine hair might find that a shorter, styled do is best for them.  I adore super-blunt A-line bobs, for instance.  But my crazy hair can’t work one of those styles unless I’m willing to straighten it every day (which I’m not), and even then a rainy day is enough to ruin all my efforts.  But if you have naturally straight hair, you can rock a bob like I never could.  Consider whether long hair is really what’s best for your hair.

But if it is…

2.  Prepare yourself.  You might need to chop it all off.  If you have damaged hair from unkind coloring and heat straightening, there may be no way to undo the damage except get rid of it.  When I stopped straightening my hair in Spring 2011, it was loooong.  It was also damaged from 8 years of constant straightening.  I tried to nurse it back to health, but in December it became clear that the dead ends were going to stay dead.  As much as I was loathe to, I chopped it off to just above my shoulders.  BUT HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: because it was so healthy and because I took radically good care of it from then on, it grew back like gangbusters.  It’s prettier, healthier, and it grows like crazy.  And because it’s in such good shape now, I only have to trim it once or twice A YEAR.

3.  You’re gonna want to rock your natural texture as much as possible.  Heat styling is murder on your hair.  If you really wanna grow it as long as it can grow, you need to haul way back on the heat styling–or get rid of it completely.  I haven’t straightened my hair in over two years.  So start experimenting how to make your hair look amazing using it’s natural texture, or with styling tricks that require no heat tools (pin curls, for example).

4.  Take radically good care of it.  Increase your awareness of how you treat your hair on the day-to-day.  Do you wrench a brush through it when it’s tangled?  Does your purse strap constantly pull on the hair on your shoulder?  Do you force your fingers through it when it’s damp and still brittle? Do you tug out elastics and find little hairs wrapped around them?  Do you constantly pull it back into tight ponytails or braids?  Become aware of the ways you harm your hair and start brainstorming ways to fix it.

5.  Watch your products.  So.  Sulfates, which are found in most shampoos, are awful and really drying to your hair.  I really recommend dropping them.  Silicones are found in TONS of conditioners and in almost all “smoothing” products.   They are really awful for some people (me included), although I know some people who have no problem with them.  My trouble with silicones for is that they coat my hair to temporarily make it sleeker and smoother, but after a time they build-up and make my hair either greasy or frizzy.  The only way to get out the build-up is to use a sulfate shampoo, which just wrecks my  hair.  My solution is to go sulfate and silicone free.  I also try to avoid parabens and alcohol whenever I can.  I have my routine pretty  much down by now, but it took some serious experimentation (and time and money) to find the products that were best for me.  But I had FUN experimenting with different things.  Find your online resources (more on that in a mo) and experiment with making your own hair treatments.

6.  Masques and coconut oil treatments are your friends.  Hair treatments are my saving grace.  Every week or two, I take a half hour to do some sweet goodness for my hair.  Coconut oil treatments are essential for me in the winter.  Again, if your hair tends to be oily, use coconut oil VERY sparingly (only on the ends).

7.  Take care of yourself.  Healthy hair comes from a healthy you.  Eat right, drink lots of water, take your vitamins and blah blah blah–I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

8.  The terminal length thing.  I found an awesome post about terminal length.  Give it a read.

It just grows and grows.

It just grows and grows.


For more information:

Hunt down Lorraine Massey’s book The Curly Girl Handbook.  Even for non-curlies, it contains a lot of info about caring for hair.

Same thing with  The articles are only so-so, but the user forum CurlTalk is super helpful–and there are forums specifically for people growing their hair out.

YouTube is awesome.  Do searches for “plopping” “caring for long hair” and whatever else you can come up with for great tutorials.

Having a Moment With: Messy Summer Hair

17 Jul

One thing I love about the summer is the casualness of it all.  I, for one, feel the need to look all put together when it’s cold out.  Something about wearing tights and coats makes me want smooth hair (well, smooth-ish in my case) and perfect makeup and everything just so.  But once the sun comes out and I bust out the maxi dresses and giant sunglasses, I just want to let me hair be as crazy and freaked out as it wants to be.  Fellow curly girls, this is our time to shine! Because no one does sexy/messy better than girls with curls.  Below are my three favorite hair options for summer.

1.  Loose and free.

This is my favorite.  Wash (or don’t–it’s summer, so who the f*ck cares?) and condition.  Depending on the humidity where you are, put in some small amount of gel.  Let air dry or gently blow dry.  Pair with minimal makeup in the daytime for a summer lass beauty look and with heavy raccoon eye makeup at night to get the most from the glamour-with-a-touch-of-psycho-ness your crazy hair inspires.  Basically, just let your crazy hair do whatever crazy thing it wants.

Loose and free

Let it be.

2.  Messy topknot

Directions:  Flip your head over.  Gather all your hair in a pony on the very tip-top of your head.  Pin the ends into as large or as small a knot as you desire.  You can do a variation on this look by making the pony nice and loose and wearing a flowy maxi dress for a look I like to call the Hippie Gibson Girl.

Hippie Gibson Girl

Hippie Gibson Girl

3.  Decorated Free-For-All

Sometimes it’s fun to just fuck around.  For this ever-changing look, just pick a part of your head and grab a handful of bobby pins.  Pin each section of hair to the selected part of your head and see what happens.  Decorate with a fancy hair clip or pin a necklace or a brooch into the nest of hair.  The key here is to let it be messy and effort-free.  If it takes you longer than 10 minutes, you’re over thinking it.

Just grab and pin, yo.

Just grab and pin, yo.

Summer’s the time to be bold, crazy and MESSY with your ‘do.  So enjoy it, go nuts, and whatever you do–don’t try too hard!

Mmmm….hair treatments.

1 May

So I don’t cook.  Like, at all.

Still, I don’t let my lack of skill or talent keep me from being a Wizard in the kitchen.  If you should happen past my kitchen window on a lonely Saturday night, maybe when Dusty’s out of town, you’ll see me there, bent over a simmering pot, as I craft concoctions, prepare potions and mix magic elixirs…

…for my hair.

It’s true.  I can barely prepare myself a square meal and have zero interest to learn.  But I have undying enthusiasm for mixing ingredients in a bowl and mashing the contents into my hair in the quest for softer, fluffier, shinier, bouncier locks.  Olive oil?  Check.  Honey?  Check.  Avocado-and-banana mush?  Double check.

So.  For your brewing, mixing and mashing pleasure, I offer you five of my favorite hair recipes and treatments.  The ingredients for all (well, most) of these can be found in your kitchen.  Also, keep an eye on me the next time I’m at  your house, lest I sneak into your kitchen, surreptitiously raid your pantry and dump the contents on my head.

1. Oil Treatments.

Ok, so you probably saw this one coming. After all, my love of coconut oil has been well documented.  And when it comes to how-tos for using coconut oil to have the best hair of your life, I’m still a fan of this one by my pal Amelia.  But did you know that you can also use Extra Virgin Olive Oil  for pre-walk-out-the-door touch-ups?  Rub a little (A VERY LITTLE) in your  hands and lightly brush your hands over the top layer of your hair to moisturize and tame frizzies.  I will also rub a little EVOO into the ends of my hair to smooth and prevent split ends.  Read here for Olive Oil masks and more ways EVOO can help your hair.

Here I am with coconut oil in my hair and a face mask on my face. Because dignity is for suckers.

Here I am with coconut oil in my hair and a face mask on my face. Because dignity is for suckers.

2. Lavender refreshing spray.

I’m cheating with this one, because this receipe uses lavender essential oil rather than fresh lavender, and essential oils aren’t really a kitchen thing.  But whatever.  My blog, my rules!  Lavender refreshing spray is awesome for those of us with curly or wavy  hair.  On days when I don’t want to wash or rinse my hair, I spray it all over with lavender refreshing spray, rub in a teeeeeeensy bit of Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, and I’m out.  It takes less than three minutes.  Lavender will deodorize and refresh your hair and scalp.  AND THAT’S NOT ALL.  You can spray this stuff on bed linen, on clothes, and gently on your hair and face whenever you need a pick-me-up.  I found this recipe for “Lavender-It-With-Love-Spray” in Lorraine Massey’s book, Curly Girl:  The Handbook (she actually gives TONS of natural hair recipes, so check it out).

You will need:  2 quarts water, 5 drops pure (not synthetic!) lavender essential oil.


1.  Fill a large pot with the water.

2.  Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil on high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for one hour to get rid of impurities (Check occasionally to make sure the water isn’t boiling away).  (When I’m preparing my spray, I only boil the water for 10 minutes.  Seems to work just fine–Phina)

3.  Remove the water from the heat, add the lavender oil, stir to blend, and replace the lid.

4.  Let the lavender water steep until cool, then poor it into spray bottles.

5.  Store extra lavender spray in a cool place.

3.  Beer hair!

I hate beer.  I think it tastes gross and it makes me feel bloated and heavy.  But  beer is super good for shiny, bouncy hair!  There is a lot of enthusiasm for beer shampoo, but I personally prefer ye olde beer rinse.  Here’s what I do:  Take some beer (I just use whatever is handy) and leave it out for a day or two.  You want your beer to be flat and room temperature (like the Brits drink it!  ZING!).  Wash and condition as normal.  In the shower, slowly and carefully pour the beer over your entire head, making sure it hits all your hair.  You may have to flip your hair upside down to get the underside.  Leave it be for about two minutes.  Then, and this is the hard part, turn the shower to cold and rinse it out.  I’m a giant baby when it comes to taking cold showers, so I will actually get out of the shower, wrap my body in a warm towel and just duck my head into the cold water to rinse it out.  Shiny, bouncy  hair without the threat of hypothermia!

My beer hair brings all the boys to the yard.

My beer hair brings all the boys to the yard.

4. A touch of honey.

Honey is good for damaged, dry hair because it is a natural humectant (meaning it holds onto water).  Read this article for more information on why honey rocks.  First off a rule–DO NOT APPLY HONEY TO YOUR HAIR ON ITS OWN.  It will create a sticky, awful mess.  But every month or so, a touch of honey added to your conditioner will give you smooth, soft hair.  Work it in from roots to tips on wet hair after shampooing, and let it sit for about five minutes.  Rinse off using (gulp) cold water.  You can even try adding honey to your oil treatment, as this blogger did.   (I’ve never tried a honey/oil combo, but it’s on the agenda for my next at-home spa day)!

5.  Apple Cider Vinegar me, please!

I’ve written before on why it’s awesome to drink ACV, but it’s also great to pour it on your head.  Apple Cider Vinegar is awesome at removing product buildup and adding smoothness and shine!  For a simple hair rinse, just mix one part ACV and one part water.  Carefully pour over your head as you would with a beer rinse.  Let it set a few minutes before rinsing in cold water.  I like to ACV rinse after shampooing but before conditioning–although others swear that an ACV rinse makes conditioner not necessary.  ACV also makes a bangarang scalp treatment to get rid of product buildup.  Mix a tablespoon (ish) of ACV in with your conditioner and massage it into your scalp.  Wrap in a plastic bag or a warm towel and chill for about 10-30 minutes.  Wash and condition as normal, for gorgeous, flake-free hair.

Alright, kitchen witches.  Go forth and beautify.

UNRELATED:  Today is my Mom and Stepdad’s twentieth wedding anniversary.  Congratulations, Jennifer and Michael!

Sarahphina’s Finds (4-19-13): Redheaded Babes Edition

19 Apr

Becoming a redhead was one of the best choices I ever made.

When it comes to our looks, we don’t have a lot of say in the matter.  Our genes are our genes, our environment is our environment, and thus our looks are our looks. We can tweak here and there (the eyebrows, the nails, the weight to some degree), but we’re basically stuck with what we got.  Unless we opt for the surgical route.

Hair is different.  Hair is a major defining characteristic that is within our power to alter.  I can’t drastically alter my smile or the color of my skin, but give me three hours in a salon chair and I can come out looking like another person.

I’ve been everywhere on the hair spectrum.  I’ve been Marilyn blonde and nearly-black dark.  I’ve been tawny and auburn and strawberry and espresso.  Two years ago, I settled on a single-process natural-looking-as-possible dark red and I love it. I love the way it looks…but I also love the way it feels.  Is it weird that a hair color–and not even my natural hair color!–can bring out the parts of my personality I like the most?  In a weird way, I feel like I have permission to be the most myself with red hair.   God/the Universe/genetics may have seen fit to give me dull, dishwater, rat fur-esque dark blonde hair, but I don’t have to live with it!  And thank goodness for that, because loving my body takes enough freaking work.  I don’t think I’d have the energy to love my natural hair color, too.

It is in this spirit of hair celebration that I bring you today’s list–twelve of my favorite Bangarang Redheaded Babes.  Some are naturally roux, others not so much.  Because even though as little as 1-2% of the world’s population has naturally red hair, we can all join the party if we have an awesome stylist and three hours to spend in a salon chair!

1.  Rita Hayworth.

Put the blame on Mame, indeed.

Put the blame on Mame, indeed.

2.  Christina Hendricks.Christina Hendricks

3.  Bryce Dallas Howard.
Bryce Dallas Howard

4.  Whistler’s Redhead.

Symphony in White #1

Symphony in White #1

5.  Nicole Kidman as Satine.

The "Sparking Diamond" herself

The “Sparking Diamond” herself

6.  Megan Follows as Anne Shirley



7.  Jessica Chastain.Jessica Chastain

8.  Lucille Ball.

I Love Lucy.  And her hair.

I Love Lucy. And her hair.

9.  Lily Cole.Lily Cole

10.  Emma Stone.

Red hair with red lips.  I burn! I pine! I perish!

Red hair with red lips. I burn! I pine! I perish!

11.  Julia Roberts.Julia Roberts

12.  Kate Winslet as Rose.

I may or may not have spent all of Titannic 3D gazing adoringly at her hair.  I mean, seriously!  In 3D!

I may or may not have spent all of Titannic 3D gazing adoringly at her hair. I mean, seriously! In 3D!

Happy Friday!