My tips for healthier hair!

Guys, I’m really excited about this post. I’ve had a long-standing love/hate relationship with my hair since I was really young, but I’ve come to understand my hair and have learned how to work with it over the years. I’ve had some really rough times [read: years] with the health and appearance of my hair BUT I’ve [finally!] come to realize WHY and HOW to fix those problems. Well, most of them anyways.

I’ve gotten more compliments about my hair in the past year than I have in my entire life. (Not counting my mom’s, of course…you’ll see what I mean in a bit.) I can personally see and feel the difference, my husband Tom has told me multiple times that my hair looks great (not that he didn’t before, but he can even tell that it’s gotten healthier), and friends, co-workers, and even students have been asking me about my hair. Woot!

For all you visual and auditory people, I made a video about all of this, so you can check it out!

If you’re more into reading, though, keep going!

Let’s start by (not so) briefly talking about my hair type.

I didn’t have enough hair to say so until I was about two years old [picture below shows me at the age of 2; I still enjoy donuts!]. Since then, I’ve always had fine hair and a lot of it. In case you weren’t aware, there is a difference between fine (diameter of strands of hair) and thin (amount of hairs). I don’t have thin hair, bald patches, or have to use those little clear, baby rubber bands for pony tails. I usually have to loop hair ties around my hair about 3 times (4 when they get stretched out).

Holliday 1991I also haven’t been able to get my hair super long since elementary school [picture below is from second grade]; like, it always seems like once my hair gets to a certain length, IT JUST STOPS. I understand that trimming is important to keep the ends healthy, but at that point when my hair stops, trimming it just makes it shorter, and it’s time for a trim when it reaches that gosh darn point again.

Holliday 1996

My hair has always been curly/wavy and, for a long time, I absolutely despised it. My mom always used to point out and coo over the baby-hair ringlets around my face when it was really hot and humid during the summer. And I hated it. Damn it, Mom. So when I was a teenager, I literally would try to plaster my hair to my head so that no hairs were sticking out like antennas, horns, or payas. I would use ALL the water and ALL the clips to tame my hair [picture below is my school picture from 7th grade – holy eyebrows, Batman!]. I still get some frizz when humidity is above 50% or I get sweaty, but it’s gotten a lot better.

Holliday 7th Grade

Finally, if you’ve read my blog before or are a real-life friend, then you know that I started going gray when I was 15 years old. It sucks, big time. Needless to say, I’ve been regularly coloring my hair since I was about 17 years old. Think of all the money I will have spent over my lifetime dyeing my hair…cue Debbie Downer music. I’m gonna say that if I didn’t dye my hair and was au natural, I’m probably 40% gray. At 25 years old. Vomit.

Debbie Downer face

Okay, moving on, I’ll begin with nutrition. In any post about how to get healthy hair/skin/nails/body, there should always be a focus on nutrition. To start off, I have Crohn’s and during my two flare-ups between 2010 and 2012, I was practically starving myself because I was in so much pain. Not only did I lose 10+ pounds (and literally lost my butt, which is most shocking), but I was also starving my body of essential nutrients. The quality of my hair and nails was awful – my nails had pock marks and ridges, and my hair was so blah.

Now that I’m 2+ years in remission without any flare-ups, I’ve obviously gained weight (which I’m always working to tone) but I’ve also gained healthier nails and hair. I also know that I was eating less than I should in the months leading up to my wedding – because wedding dress, duh – so I have since noticed that eating more than just yogurt and granola for practically every meal has positively affected my hair’s appearance and health. So make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet so you can work on improving your hair from the inside out!

Okay, so now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk about the fact that I only wash my hair every 3 or 4 days. Back in college, I used to wash, blow dry, and heat style my hair every single morning. Since I’ve stopped that, I’ve realized just how damaging it was to my hair. Now, I still shower every single day, but on days that I don’t wash my hair, I clip it up and put on a really flattering shower cap. Cute!

I have also been showering at night instead of in the morning because this allows me to sleep in a bit, only worrying about styling my hair in the mornings versus washing, drying, and styling. This also spreads out the use of heat on my hair, allowing it to rest a bit between blow drying at night and heat styling in the mornings. More on that later…

Next, let’s talk about products I’ve been loving and how I use them.

  1. Tresemme Smooth and Silky shampoo and conditioner: This was in my Empties/Favorites post a couple months ago and I can’t stop raving about it. I shampoo like normal, lathering it up and letting it sit in my hair as I wash my body. Then, before conditioning, I squeeze out excess water from my hair. In my mind, I think that this allows the conditioner to really do its thing without getting washed away by the excess water…but that’s not scientifically proven.
  2. Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque: Once I put on a thin coat of my Tresemme conditioner, I also apply some of this on top of it, from the scalp to the ends (but really focusing it on the ends). I let this combo sit on my hair as I shave and wash my face.
  3. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product: I’ve gone through like five bottles of this stuff (both original and the keratin one) and I love it. I spray this in my hair a few times after I let it towel dry for about 30 minutes.
  4. Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray: I use this right after the It’s a 10 and then brush the two through my hair with a wide-toothed comb.
  5. Batiste Hint of Color [Dark & Deep Brown] Dry Shampoo: I use this on days that I don’t wash my hair. I spray it on my roots, let it sit for a minute or so, rub my scalp/roots with my fingers, and then brush my hair through with a brush.

After washing my hair and spraying my It’s a 10 and Heat Tamer spray, I use a round brush and my Revlon hair dryer on warm heat to smooth out my bangs/fringe – otherwise, I get some weird kinks in the front of my hair. I then flip my head over and roughly dry the rest of my hair until it’s about 50% dry. I won’t lie, my hair is unruly looking and frizzy, but luckily it’s nighttime and I don’t see anyone other than Tom.

Mornings after washing my hair, I spritz some more Heat Tamer spray before curling my hair with my Ultra Chi Flat Iron (in Sapphire Chrome – I love it!). I have perfected this process, so it literally only takes me 10 minutes to curl my hair. It’s fantastic. On second and third day hair, I can usually get away with just using dry shampoo and brushing it through – my hair still has some wave to it from the day(s) before. [Side note: Tom says he prefers my hair on the second day, probably because it’s more of a relaxed wave versus a curl and the natural oils make it shiny.] If I’ve worked out or have sweated more than usual, I’ll usually wear my hair in a ponytail on the third and/or fourth day.

Now, let’s talk about the dyeing part. During my last couple years of high school and first year or so of college, I didn’t dye my hair really frequently. Whenever I found a gray hair, I would pull it out. I know, I know, the old saying of pulling one and growing three more…but I was so embarrassed and frustrated with the fact that I was a late-teen and already had grays.

I then began to dye my entire head with box dyes from drug stores every 6-8 weeks. I’ve had light brown, dark brown, blonde highlights, red highlights, and lots of colors in between. But all of that dyeing was killing my hair. I always had split ends, it was always dry and super prone to frizz, and it felt thin and looked unhealthy. I had a couple times where I cut my hair short because that was the only way to get rid of the split ends – they were that intense and high up in my hair.

Early last year, however, I decided to try going to a salon regularly instead of using a box dye. I’ve always heard that box dyes were so unhealthy for your hair because they were pre-measured and super intense so that they could work for anyone’s hair type. Plus, I wanted to stop coloring my entire head, so when I found a salon here in Brooklyn, I asked her to simply cover my roots. I noticed my hair started feeling healthier, and the scalp massage was always amazing. She gave me highlights a couple times too, giving my hair some dimension. But that gets pricey! Plus I would get a trim every couple visits, so with the trim and coloring, it was about $200 a pop.Hair coloring Clairol Professional Ion Brilliance

After about 8 months of visiting this salon every 7ish weeks, I decided to try my hand at getting a color and developer from Sally Beauty Supply. I paid less than $10 (about the price of a box dye) for the necessary materials (including color, developer, mixing bowl, and application brush), and I couldn’t be more happy. I have now dyed my roots twice using this method and I’m so happy I took the plunge and did this because, aside from not dyeing at all, it’s much better for my hair.

Whew, I know that was a lot of information, but I’m hoping it was helpful to someone out there in the vast universe. If you have tried any of these products, let me know how they worked for you! If you know any others that you like, leave it below to help the next person!

“Permanent” False Lashes: Story + Pros & Cons

I’ve noticed the false lash craze has really picked up over the past couple of years; lash companies have been creating more and different types of false lashes, so “normal” girls have started to wear them on a more regular basis. YouTube beauty gurus have integrated them into all of their tutorials and everyday makeup routines.

The only times I’ve ever worn falsies were 2 consecutive days – the night of my rehearsal dinner and on my wedding day. And even then they weren’t full sets of lashes; I figured I would start small and bought a pair of Ardell Lash Accents #315 which are only half-strips to create a fuller look of the outer lashes. These paired with the Duo Clear Lash Adhesive (it dries clear instead of brown, black, or white which works great for thinner lash strips or makeup looks that don’t include thick lines of eyeliner) worked really well for the look I was going for. Even my hair & makeup stylist preferred to use the accent lashes instead of a full set on my wedding day. He said that the full sets looked much too perfect and wouldn’t look as natural as I wanted.

lashes

Even with these half-lashes, I felt like I had huge flaps on my eyes. I honestly pictured myself as the huge elephant thing from Sesame Street (Google it if you don’t know what I mean). I couldn’t wait to take them off so I couldn’t understand how women could wear full sets every single day without being driven nuts?

I knew that salons had started offering a more permanent (three to six weeks) set of false lashes because of the higher demand, but I also knew it was a pricey procedure. One of my co-workers has gotten them a couple times and they look AMAZING! She said she didn’t wear mascara when she got them, so it made mornings easy. At Christmas, one of my cousins-in-law had a set and, again, they looked FANTASTIC!

That was it; I was determined to try it out. Fast-forward a couple months and my mother-in-law found out that a local salon near her house in Long Island offered the service. So of course we made two appointments and were both super excited. She went first, so I got my nails done while she was in there. We were told that it takes about an hour because individual lashes are being glued onto the lash line. My MIL came out about 45 minutes later and they looked great! Her eyes were watering and looked a little red and irritated, but she was smiling and looked okay so I proceeded to the room to start the process.

My technician, Christine, first asked what size I wanted. I didn’t know what that meant, so I just told her I wanted a bit more fullness while still looking natural. I laid on the table and she started by applying gel patches under my eyes, putting them over my lower lashes. This ensured that my lower lashes wouldn’t get glued to the top lashes, plus the coolness also soothed my undereye area. She then brushed my lashes and told me that my natural lashes were really nice and were about a size 12, so she was going to use 11s on the inner lash line and 12s everywhere else.

I felt her stick something to my forehead and I quickly realized that they were small tracks of the individual lashes – I’m sure that was super attractive. I forgot my phone at home so I couldn’t even try to get a picture of it. I kept my eyes closed the entire time and I’m pretty sure I started to doze off a few times. They had a great music playlist and the process wasn’t painful, so I just zoned out and tried not to move my eyes too much. The gel patches were keeping my eyes from 100% closing, so they were feeling a bit irritated, especially if I were to move my eyeballs around or try to open my eyes.

I tried counting how many lashes she used on each eye, but because I kept dozing off, I lost track a few times. I asked her afterwards and she said she didn’t even know – she just puts them on for aesthetic purposes, so she doesn’t count them. I want to say she used around 80 individual lashes on each eye.

Finally, the process was done, so she brushed my lashes again and told me to open my eyes. This was uncomfortable but then she peeled off the gel patch and I was fine! I looked in the mirror and was so happy with the result – it looked like I had long lashes without looking so incredibly fake. My eyes were a bit irritated and watery, so I now understood why my MIL’s looked that way before.

Here’s a before-and-after collage; no makeup in any of the pictures!

IMG_3919

The ladies told us that they should last anywhere from 3 weeks to over a month, but they recommend a “refill” appointment after three weeks if we plan on keeping up with them regularly. Now that we’ve had a couple days with them, I wanted to give some pros and cons:

Pro: Unlike the strips of lashes, you forget you have them on until you touch them.

Con: It’s hard to wash your face, rub your eyes, and remove makeup without being a bit rough with them.

Pro: They could potentially last for up to 6 weeks.

Con: They are a bit expensive (mine were $90), especially depending on where you go, how many and what size lashes you get, etc.

Pro: They save time in the morning – no curling or mascara necessary!

Con: Sleeping on your side or stomach is uncomfortable when they poke and/or pull on your eyelid.

I’ve already had a few casualties at the edges of my eyes, but they still look great! I’ll update as the weeks go on and show the progress. What do you think? Have you tried these before? If so, what was your experience and do you have any tips? If not, would you consider it?

1 week update: It’s been a week now and I will be honest and say it’s been quite frustrating when washing my face this week. I am not one to take time and be super careful when washing my face. I usually just slather the face wash in my hands and massage it all over, including my eye area. Can’t do that, can’t rub water out of my eyes, and can’t dry off my eyes as easily.

There’s been a lot of fall-out and I feel like they’ve started clumping together. It’s just a pain but it kind of makes them look less “perfect” and more real. I’ve continued to get compliments from co-workers and students, so that’s a plus, but as of right now I don’t think I want to splurge on them again. At least not anytime soon. Here are a couple pictures after eight days of wear:

False lashes one week

2 week update: The majority of the false lashes have either fallen or been tugged out by yours truly. Honestly, they were so annoying by the end of the first week that I started purposefully (and gently!) pulling on them to promote their removal. The only bad thing with this is that when they come out, they usually bring one or two of your natural lashes with them. Not so good when they’re all out and your natural lashes are looking a bit wonky and sparse. They grew back within the first week, so I didn’t look lashless, but for those first 7 days without the fake lashes, the natural ones weren’t as long and thick as they were before the false lashes were applied. Here’s a picture after almost 2 weeks; you can see how sparse the middle of my eye is with the false lashes mostly on the inner and outer corners.

2 week lashes

Sally Beauty haul

I have mixed feelings about hauls. I’ve watched plenty of them on YouTube and sometimes I barely pay attention to them. Usually it seems like the girl on the other side of the camera just wants to show off how much money she can blow on yet another high-end eye shadow pallette, skincare regimen, or bagful of clothing.

And with that being said, I’m going to be showing you what I bought from Sally Beauty! Haha I only spent like $50, so I’m not bragging. I promise.

To give you some background, I have stepped foot in Sally Beauty Supply maybe once before. I’ve heard great things but usually stick to drugstores to buy my makeup, haircare, and skincare. When I go somewhere like Sephora or Sally, I get super overwhelmed because, being the YouTube fanatic that I am, I’ve heard about how great so many things are so it’s difficult to narrow down my decisions to save myself from spending tons of money.

There are no Sally stores near me in NYC, although there are plenty of Sephoras. However, my main goal was to find hair coloring supplies that are not the box-dyes sold at Walgreens. I have been dying my hair for years, and I realized just how much the box dyes from Walmart were ruining the state of my hair. For the past year I’ve consistently been going to a hair salon to get my hair colored, but man, oh man, that gets expensive!

I looked up the necessary tools to do it at-home, decided on a color, and found a developer that would work well with what I want to accomplish. So while I was throwing those in my online cart, I explored a little more and picked up a few more things. So without further ado, here’s what I purchased from our gal pal Sal(ly)!

1. Clairol Professional Soy4Plex 20 Volume Pure White Creme Developer – $3.49. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and read a few blog posts about which volume would be best for my situation – I have never dyed my hair at-home without an all-in-one box dye, so I wanted to make sure I did my research first. I would be coloring my roots brown so there was no need to get a heavy duty developer (higher volumes = higher lifting = lighter hair), but I do have quite stubborn gray hairs so I did need a little bit more oomph (10 would probably not do the job). 20 seemed the way to go.

2. Clairol Professional Soy4Plex Permanent Liquicolor in the color Lightest Gold Neutral Brown (5GN/35G) – $5.99. It took awhile to decide on a color to cover my roots as there are 65 colors to choose from. Seriously, I counted. I originally was going to go for Lightest Red Neutral Brown (5RN/75R), but figured that since my hair already picks up reds when I color it, why not go more brown?Hair coloring Clairol Professional Ion Brilliance

>>I used this with the developer three weeks ago to color my gray roots (you can read more about my hair here) and I’m in love. It does look very warm and reddish in certain lights (especially the one above our medicine cabinet in our very yellow bathroom) but in most lights it looks light brown and blends really well with the rest of my hair. I plan on writing a whole post about this experience, so be on the lookout!<<

3. Ion Color Brilliance Haircolor Mixing Bowl & Tint Brush – $2.59 & $1.59 respectively. These were essential for my first time at-home dying with my own developer and color. I’ve always just used the bottle that the box-dyes come in to apply my color, but I wanted to try using a bowl and brush. After using these on Sunday to cover my roots, I’m so happy with the brush and bowl method. Plus, they’re reusable, so they don’t create waste each time I color my hair, and it’s also a much cleaner application; I did not get dye on the floor and I felt like I had an even application because I wasn’t simply squirting a bunch of dye on my scalp.

4. Colortrak Tools Croc Clips – $8.99. I really just needed some good, strong clips for when I dye and style my hair. They’re great quality and came in a set of 4 and did what I bought them for!

Croc Clips

5. Tanwise Dark Bronzing Sunless Mousse – $12.99. I have never heard of this sunless tanning mousse but I figured I’d give it a go for the upcoming warmer weather. It’s not super expensive in comparison to other brands and it had pretty decent ratings. Because I’m so fair, I’m curious to see how “dark” and “bronze” it actually will be; hopefully it won’t be orange. I’ve gotten spray tans before and loved the results, but I hated how streaky and gross it started to look as the week went on. We shall see!

6. The Velvotan Original Pink Tanning Mitt – $5.99. I’ve heard nothing but good things about using tanning mitts when using sunless tanning mousse, so I wanted to try this with my mousse to get (potentially) the best possible outcome.

Tanwise and Velvotan

I spent a total of about $50 with shipping and such on these products, and so far I’m super happy with more than half of them! Good sign! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products (especially the tanning mousse!) because I’m really curious to hear your thoughts, experiences, and opinions!

Empties/Favorites for late 2014

For the past couple months, I’ve saved the empty containers of a few products that I’ve wanted to share. Now that I have a spare second, let’s do it so I can finally throw them away! I love watching “empties” videos on YouTube because it’s really informative of whether people enjoyed these products enough to repurchase them. So I’m hoping this post is also helpful in your quest for some of these kinds of products!

First and foremost, let’s talk about a shampoo and conditioner duo that I have repurchased several times now. Tresemme’s Expert Selection Keratin Smooth line helped my hair get through the spring and summer, and my hair grew a lot while using this combination. Now, I know experts say that hair doesn’t grow according to the products we use but how healthy our hair is and that we have a preset growth speed yada yada. So I think this duo helped my hair stay healthy and strong so that it could continue growing, while staying soft.Tresemme Keratin Smooth

It didn’t cut down frizziness totally, but then again my hair gets frizzy at the slightest sign of humidity no matter what products I use, so whatever. The packaging says that it is meant as a ‘once-a-week’ system to keep hair silky smooth, but it also notes that it is gentle enough for everyday use. I typically wash my hair every other day, so when I was using this duo, I would use both shampoo and conditioner every wash.

After my last two bottles of the Keratin Smooth ran out, I wanted to try something different. When a friend introduced me to a subscription service called Melaleuca (mel-a-loo-ca), I signed up and decided to give some of their hair and skincare items a try. You probably haven’t heard of this brand (unless you have and found my post by searching the name) because they don’t advertise like typical brands do. They get their name and reputation spread by word of mouth, through representatives (kind of like Avon or Mary Kay, minus the awkward parties) and through happy customers.

Sei Bella Luxury

I purchased a haircare set from a brand called Sei Bella that is sold through Melaleuca. I tried their “luxury” line and got the volumizing shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, and the hot iron prep spray. Overall, I wasn’t impressed. I used about 3/4 of each of the shampoo and conditioner (so technically these containers aren’t empty) but didn’t see an improvement or difference in my hair. And as for the heat protectant, I’ve only used it a few times because I prefer using Tresemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer for a heat protectant instead.

So about a month ago, I was in the market for a new shampoo and conditioner. I picked up Tresemme’s Smooth & Silky line and let me tell you – I AM IN LOVE. Again, the bottles aren’t empty, but once they are, I will no doubt repurchase them.I was nervous to buy it at first because Tresemme sells huge bottles of shampoo and conditioner – what if I didn’t like it? Then I’m stuck with two industrial size bottles that won’t get used up? But now that I know I love it, I’m so glad I have so much because it’ll keep my hair looking good for that much longer!Tresemme Smooth and Silky

I have gotten so many compliments on my hair since I started using it; yesterday, one of my students asked to touch my hair because it “looks so smooth and soft.” I let her touch it and she was excited that it was even softer than she expected. You’re welcome? So yeah, I’ve been weirdly happy with my hair the past few months – I’ve always had a huge beef with my hair for good reasons. Since I started getting gray hairs at 15, dying my hair every few weeks for over 7 years has made it dry and unhealthy. I’ve never gotten as many compliments in the last 24 years than I have in the past couple months, and that makes me really happy. Thanks Tresemme!

Not only that, but I’ve been getting 3 days out of my hair (except when I workout, then I only get two) which helps it stay healthier. So it makes it smooth and silky without making it oily! I have finer hair, so as soon as it starts to get a bit oily, it looks flat and scraggly. But this combination doesn’t make it that way!

Enough about hair, let’s move on to a face moisturizers. I have never had luck with skincare. My skin is super sensitive and I’ve noticed that any moisturizer with some sort of sunscreen makes me break out (whether it’s meant for sensitive skin or not). My skin is also on the normal to dry spectrum (usually more dry) so I can’t go without moisturizing or it’ll become tight and flaky. Also, I’m super pale, so I need some SPF protection. Oy vey.

In the past, I’ve tried Olay’s daily moisturizer both for normal/dry and sensitive skin types; both caused me to break out. I have also tried Cetaphil’s facial moisturizer but it also broke me out. What the heck?!

So I ordered a facial moisturizer by Sei Bella (again, carried by Melaleuca) and could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The moisturizer was the Daytime Delivery Creme with broad spectrum SPF 15 – it never broke me out, it kept my skin moisturized without making it greasy, and apparently kept my face safer from the sun. Boom. Boom. Boom. All good things.Creams

Because I had such good luck with Sei Bella’s day cream, I decided to give the night cream (technically called the night firming treatment) a shot, and yet again I was so happy with it. Since running out of the both creams, I purchased a day cream that has SPF from No7 and a night cream from Botanics and again haven’t had problems with either. Woot, finally finding good products!

How about a mascara? I tried Rimmel’s new Lash Accelerator mascara and have mixed feelings. My first tube was pretty nice, and I thought I saw an improvement in my lashes after a few days. I have pretty long lashes to begin with, but I’m always in the market for a good volumizing mascara. I liked the brush because I usually prefer plastic bristles instead of the “hair” bristles.
mascara

My beef with this mascara is that it dried out really fast – I noticed an increase in clumpiness within the first two weeks, so it became unusable within three. I’m not one of those excessive mascara wand pumpers who thinks that pumping the wand in the tube a hundred times before popping it out actually makes a difference (other than drying out the mascara faster) so it was simply the formula that was on the dry side.

How about two non-beauty products? Kind of random, but these Glade solid air fresheners in Apple Cinnamon are fantastic. I am hypersensitive to smells – as soon as I smell something that I deem as stinky, I instantly get put into a bad mood. I’m sure this is normal but I don’t think the extent to which my mood swings when I come in contact with smelly odors is.

Glade Apple Cinnamon

Needless to say, I use these in my classroom to freshen the place up (especially with some of the freshmen who still haven’t quite grasped the concept of deodorant or general hygiene. I always get compliments on how great my room smells; students and teachers alike love the smell. And, they’re really inexpensive!

Finally, I have been loving the Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Fig granola. Oooooh goodness is it tasty. And healthy! It’s gluten free, vegan, and free of refined sugar. AND I CAN PRONOUNCE EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT! Plus, the majority of the ingredients (a whopping 9 out of 11) are organic. I picked up 3 bags at the grocery store to stock up because I’ve been eating greek yogurt for lunch every day and wanted to make sure I had enough granola to last for awhile.

Purely Elizabeth granola

So that’s it for the past couple months for new products that I’ve enjoyed and some that I didn’t enjoy so much. I hope this was helpful in giving you new ideas of products to try or products to stay away from. If you have any recommendations or similar experiences, be sure to let me know – I’m always looking for beauty and non-beauty products to try!

My First Podiatrist Consultation

Today I went to a podiatrist to look into getting my feet cut off. Well, just pieces of them. They’re called bunions. And they suck.

I’ve had bunions since my early teens and they have become increasingly painful and ugly now that I’m 25. I’ve always had trouble finding comfortable shoes that my wide feet will fit into. And forget about finding cute shoes that won’t accentuate or make my bunions look and feel worse.

Now that I have an adult job with good insurance (yay adulthood!) I decided to finally take steps to get surgery for my bunions. A hairdresser at a local salon in Long Island had her bunions “done” by this guy last year and had nothing but good things to say about her experience. She said he did the procedure right in the office and it is minimally invasive, so she was able to walk out of the office the same day. There were no long incisions (and, therefore, no crazy scars), and no surgical boots for the following six months as her cuts and bones healed like traditional bunion surgery.

So of course I got the name of her podiatrist and called to make a consultation appointment! Although she recommended one name, it is actually a team of two doctors – one is more of the surgeon while the other takes care of pre- and post-op stuff. Dr. Kirell and Dr. Weisenthal work at Footech Podiatry in Plainview, New York (Long Island) and I am really happy that I went with them!

The fact that they were willing to see me the day after Thanksgiving was amazing. They only planned on seeing people for follow-ups but they made the exception for me since I teach in Brooklyn and they are usually closed on days that I have off for holidays.

The office space is small with only the waiting room and two other rooms – one is the room where consultations and follow-ups happen and the other is where the magic happens (surgery). My mother-in-law drove me and came in the office with me, and right off the bat we were greeted by Dr. Kirell and Dr. Weisenthal. They were playing receptionist today because they were the only two in the office – they let all the other employees stay home!

I filled out the paperwork and was led right into the consultation room with Dr. Weisenthal who told me to take my shoes and socks off. My nightmare. I’ve worn sandals in the past but never without embarrassment over my ugly, deformed feet. In the summer, I’m rarely without socks and have gotten into the habit of just wearing sneakers not only to conceal my hideous feet but also because they are more comfortable for me. But then again, messed up feet are their job and these guys have seen much worse, so whatever.

He immediately said that bunions are usually hereditary, but are also caused by friction and rubbing of the shoes on the toes. He started pushing and pulling gently on my feet, working my toes, and just seeing the movement and feeling the bones.

Bunion image

Verdict: I have major bunions on both of my big toes, I also have small bunions on the outsides of both feet because of the larger bunions, and my baby toes have become hammertoes. All of this because of the shifting and rubbing from years and years of the bunions becoming worse. It’s like the domino effect – once one thing falls or shifts, it causes other things to shift, etc. and so on.

He explained the entire procedure for both feet, informing me that there would be a total of 5 tiny (5 mm each) holes where they would stick their tools in to fix my feet. Two would be near my big toe – one is to fracture my big toe to shift it over, then the other would be on the bunion itself so that they could essentially liquify the excess bone. He explained that the tool is meant to make the bone into a toothpaste consistency and then they squeeze the liquid out of the foot through the hole. Yummy. Now go brush your teeth with that visual.

The third hole will be at the base of my middle toe so they can create small cuts in the tendon to release the tension that causes the toes to be pulled back all the time. The last two holes will be for my small toe – the one for the small bunion and the other to shave down the bone for the hammertoe.

Whew. My feet are even more screwed up than I thought! But I’m so excited that I’m taking care of it now because the pain and ugliness are just very frustrating, and it will only get worse as time goes on.

I have to call the office next week to try to make an appointment for the surgery over the summer. Dr. Weisenthal said that they recommend summer for teachers because then we’re not on our feet for hours every day. Although we’re able to walk and be on our feet starting the day of surgery, it just isn’t comfortable because of the amount of swelling. “The healing process for this procedure is all about the swelling – your feet will be swollen for the first two months, but it will get much better after those 2 months.” So I’ll have to have really loose and open shoes for the first 2 months (all summer), but he said I can go swimming with my bandages. How convenient?!

Oh, he also complimented my small toes and called them cute. He said that most times, he has patients with bunions who waited until they were older, so their smaller toes end up as hammertoes and become deformed as well. He said that I will end up with really cute feet after the surgery. Less/no pain AND cute feet?! Sweet!

I just can’t wait until the surgery because I have dealt with these things for over 13 years, so it’ll be amazing to finally be rid of them! Dr. Weisenthal told me they’re booked solid until October, but they usually save room for teachers over the summer; how thoughtful?! I’ll definitely update when I get the appointment, start preparing, and actually go through with the surgery. And of course I’ll include pictures!

Wedding pictures!

All photo and editing credit goes to the amazing Jonathan Baek! As you can see, he did a fantastic job, so go check out his other work at jonathanbaek.com! At the moment he’s based in Queens, so if you’re in need of great photos, give him a call.

Tom, Jon, and I became friends back in college at SUNY Geneseo where we all met in InterVarsity. Since then, I have always admired his wonderful photography skills, from our IV powderpuff games to the amazing sunrise on Conesus Lake. Jon was my absolute first choice when Tom and I got engaged, especially since he has photographed a number of weddings of couples also from Geneseo.

So here’s a HUGE thank you to you, Jon – I’m so glad you were with us on our big day, not only as our photographer, but also as our friend.

What I thought I learned from movies and TV shows about haircare

So I’m currently watching Clueless and realized something. When I was younger, I thought for sure that Cher’s haircare routine could make my hair look as full and move as freely as hers. I tried brushing my hair this way, that way, and upside down, then clipping it up just like she did in the scene where she was sitting on the couch with her cousin Josh. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out why my hair still didn’t swish like hers.

Cher Clueless hair brushing mirror

I had the same problem with Topanga’s hair in Boy Meets World. After she let her bangs grow out and she cut it (high school years and beyond), her hair had the same type of abilities as Cher’s. I always wondered why she could run her hands through her hair, flipping it whichever way she wanted, and it would fall around her face effortlessly without tangling or frizzing up.

Back then, I never knew about different hair textures and thicknesses. And forget hair products. Mousse? That was just a big deer-like creature that lived in Canada. I had no interest in blow-drying my hair, either, so it was always air-dried and usually thrown up in a ponytail.

Danielle Fishel Topanga hair smile

Years later, I now know that my naturally wavy, finer hair will not move the way Alicia Silverstone’s or Danielle Fishel’s straighter and thicker hair did without a little help. I know the power that certain products have on my hair to reduce frizz and emphasize my natural waves. With the help of a blow dryer and round brush, I can achieve a hairstyle similar to these two women, but I have come to enjoy how my hair is.

Many girls would envy the way my hair holds a curl, the ease with which I can work with my finer hair, and the fact that it doesn’t take an hour to blow dry it. Sure, I complain when it frizzes up on humid days, I would love thicker locks for effortless volume, and boy do I wish I didn’t start graying so early in life. But there are worse things in life.

As I watch movies and TV shows from my earlier years, I’ll take note of these kinds of things because I think it’s kind of funny but also interesting the impact the tiniest things can have on a young and impressionable girl. Plus, I always catch the jokes, references, and innuendos that I didn’t understand back then.