Aging Graycefully

I made a huge decision this summer: I, Holliday, at the age of 27, am going to stop dying my hair to cover up the grays.

I’m excited and nervous and have a lot of other emotions about it, but I’m doing it.

A hair over 3 years ago, I wrote a post about how much I hated dying my hair for root coverage purposes as I’ve been genetically gifted with early onset graying. Dying is expensive, time-consuming, unhealthy in many ways, and just overall a pain in the ass.

At the age of 15, a stylist at SuperCuts found my first full-blown gray/silver/white hair while giving me a cut. It was traumatizing and I had her pull it out because GET IT AWAY!!! I started dying my hair soon after and the frustrating cycle of frequent coloring began. I was hyper-aware of any shimmery non-brown hairs; I distinctly remember being alone in the bathroom at my community college a few times, close to the mirror, pulling out any visible gray hairs. I was, quite frankly, embarrassed and ashamed of them.

For the past few years, it’s gotten to the point of dying my roots every 4 weeks. I’ll usually visit a hair salon 2-3 times per year and use box dye during the weeks in between. As much as I love going to the salon (scalp massages are my ASMR, for real), a piece of me dies every time I give my credit card and hear the price of my color, wash, dry, and style. During the in-between, I get a box dye that is on sale, usually in medium brown, and spend an hour applying the dye, waiting for it to process, and washing it out.

Tom knows how annoyed I am at this process and has been telling me for awhile now that I should just let the gray grow. As a guy, he doesn’t care about gray hair as much as losing hair or finding that his hairline is receding.

I pushed the idea away until recently when I actually started researching going gray – I found a bunch of good blog posts, articles, videos, and super supportive social media accounts celebrating women going gray. Now, the majority of women within these groups and posts are at least 40, but there have been a few younger women like myself.

Two of the main things women have mentioned in their reasoning for waiting so long to let their natural color show are:

  1. I didn’t want to look old.
  2. I didn’t want to look haggard.

Why are both of these the first characteristics we think of when we are thinking of women with gray hair? When men have gray hair (George Clooney is the #1 example), we think of them as wise and powerful. We often call them “Silver Foxes” (go and Google “silver fox person”…notice what the top results are? men. no women). I don’t want to make this whole post about gender equality…I just had a whole discussion with Tom and our friend Tony about that, so that’s enough for me for one day, thanks.

So I’ve decided that I want to crush these stereotypes that we humans  (men and women alike) have given for graying females. I’m not going to fear looking old or haggard; I’m going to own looking different. I commented on a video I watched of a woman’s progression photos while growing her gray out (see list of resources below). She replied with a really sweet comment; I especially liked, “Today pretty young brunettes are two a penny…but beautiful girls with natural silver streaks in their hair are much more outstanding and rare!”

Youtube Comment

Besides that, young girls have started paying a fortune and ruining their hair to obtain a grayish silver color. That could be me for free AND with healthier hair! I’ve also found that most women who finally stop dying look younger than they did while they were dying! Maybe it’s the unnatural color, maybe they are generally happier and freer!

I’m only 4 weeks in which is when I would usually be putting on the gloves and applying dye to my hair. I catch myself thinking about how people will judge me and how weird my roots will look after a couple months and how easy it would be to go back to my “comfortable” zone of dying every month…but, instead, I’m going to take this one day at a time and continue to look to the positive people on the social media forums and groups for emotional support. I’ve bought a couple plain baseball caps as emergency cover-ups and I plan on getting some headbands to help when the roots are really bad.

These first few months will be the hardest (I’ve gathered from my research) but I’m excited when I think about the end result; I think I have some nice natural coloring underneath all the dye. Even just dying my hair one flat brown color has resulted in highlights, and I’m sure those are where the lightest whites are.

I hope to inspire other women to join in the “ditch the dye” movement like so many women have inspired me; if I’ve at least peaked your interest, check out these great resources that have eased my anxiety about diving in:

To conclude: I’m going to be a young, silver fox, dammit. Join me!

Note to Self

Hi future self. It is currently July, 2016. I’ve enjoyed the first half of summer vacation and am currently wearing a face mask because, girl, it’s been supa dupa hot here in NYC! Like, mid-90s, no wind, high humidity! It’s been sweat central up in here so my face hasn’t been looking or feeling the greatest. Hence the face mask.

I’ve been thinking of a few things that I’d like you to remember a month, a year, or even a decade from now (unless internet and/or this blog doesn’t exist…one is more likely than the other). Some might be more inspirational than others…or there’s a chance that there is nothing inspirational at all, but nonetheless, let’s do this.

1. I want you to remember how good you’ve been feeling about yourself (physically, mentally, and emotionally!) for the past couple months. Of course, you had some days where one, two, or all three of those were not up to par, but, overall, I think this is the best you’ve felt about yourself in a long, long time. I believe this has to do with the fact that you’ve been making conscious decisions with what you are eating (you stopped eating meat [except fish, on occasion] about 3 months ago and have attempted to keep your animal byproduct [dairy, eggs, etc] consumption low), have more positive intentions when you go to the gym, and are being more open and honest with yourself rather than suppressing things you should be addressing.

You’ve also been more open to fighting for yourself; you’ve finally gotten to that point where you love yourself enough that you want better for yourself and think you deserve more than you’ve settled for in the past. You’ve realized that your perspective and opinion matters and that there are ways to vocalize these and be heard without coming across as arrogant (a pet peeve of yours; is it still? I bet it is) or rude. I’m seriously excited for you to continue to grow in this area and I’m happy you chose to put me as a priority!

2. Everyone and their dogs are having kids. Seriously, your Facebook is nothing but pregnancy announcements, updates, new babies, older babies…just all about the children (of course this is an exaggeration; there are also a lot of posts about politics with the Trump/Clinton election coming up, social justice posts/rants, engagement announcements/wedding pictures, vacation boasts, and funny memes/videos).

Your desire to have a baby is like a sine curve (amplitude varies from 0 to 1, 0 being “no kids right now please”, 1 being “let’s have one ASAP!”; the frequency is, like, 1 minute haha):

Ahh, no kids yet, feelin good. But then you want one. Then again, you don’t want one. But they’re so cute! But you want to enjoy just being married without kids a bit longer. But seriously, how amazing will it be to create a human being?! You’ll never sleep again. Look at that adorable child in the park! That kid on the train drove you crazy! etc and so forth

Moral of the story: you’re not ready yet and that’s totally okay!!!!!

You and Tom are happy right now, enjoying the time alone-alone, alone-together, and together-together. You’re loving your job (and the time off!) and Tom’s invested in his. You’re being financially conscious and responsible. You’ve got freedom to do what you want, when you want. When it’s your time, it’ll happen and you’ll love it and everything it entails. But, until then, enjoy your life now!

3. While on the baby front: when that time does come, DO NOT CUT YOUR HAIR SHORT/CUT YOUR BANGS!!!!! This happens to so many, I know it does; I see it on Facebook. I get that babies like to pull on long hair and stuff can get stuck in it, yada yada…BUT. I’m telling you, do not do it. Just throw your hair up in a ponytail/messy bun/use the sticky stuff to keep it up but whatever you do, do not cut it. Please, trust me on this one. You’ll thank me later. Here’s a funny video on the matter from SNL:

3b. Also on the baby front (I have a lot of feelings about this already!): don’t post everything about your children on social media. Like, posting stuff about them peeing and pooping in the “potty” is unnecessary. Also, stay strong and only post a handful of pictures (hand-selected too, not just mass uploaded), like, once a week. Remember how I, your current non-mommified self, feel about these things. Update me on your feelings when you do finally become a mom; I hear it’s like a vortex that you get sucked into, never to return.

4. You’ve been doing better at going out of your comfort zone and doing things you’ve never done before. Instead of sitting inside avoiding potentially awkward situations with people around, you’ve gotten out and done things to make yourself feel happier! You have chosen to take walks and most times this leads you to parks where you sit and read or write. You started using free weights a at the gym instead of sticking to cardio and weight machines! It’s taken you a few years to get the courage to do this, so well done on that! Keep it up!

5. SLATHER ON THE SPF!!! I know you’ve been pretty careless in the past with sunscreen because you’ve always longed for a tan. At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I don’t think you’ll ever attain that without self tanner. You’ve done well to apply an SPF daily face moisturizer, but be careful with the rest of your body.

You got a pretty awful sunburn on the back of your body 2 weeks ago [I honestly think it’s the worst one of your life so far] and you’ve been paying for it ever since. A careless application of a spray-on SPF 50 and then galavanting in the ocean without reapplying afterwards was a big mistake. You got the chills and your skin went through the painful, the itchy, the bubbly, and the peeling phases and it’s all been unglamorous and downright gross. And guess what…you’re still super pale, but now you just have weird blotches of skin that are pinker than the rest! Sad truth.

Alrighty, I think that’s enough stuff right now. This face mask needs to be washed off like 10 minutes ago. Maybe in the future you can respond to these, make additions, updates, etc. Make sure to include the date!

Summer 2015 Favorites: People, Surgery, and Stuff

Although summer isn’t “officially” over, it is for us teachers, so I gotta get this in now! Another season, another set of things to appreciate…

First, let’s start with Tom and my in-laws for their love and support before, during, and after my surgeries this summer. Tom helped me get comfortable by gently arranging pillows to my liking, brought me food sometimes, hugged me when I was frustrated, and has literally been my crutch a lot since my foot surgery. My in-laws have been nothing but generous in letting me stay at their house to recover, letting me take over their couch, and making me feel welcome and comfortable throughout the whole summer. And, finally, Finster for his wonderful cuddles and endless entertainment…except when he’s napping, which is 75% of the time.

Cuddle time!!

Also, for all the people, friends and strangers alike, who have reached out and offered help and/or encouragement in any form since having my surgeries. I seriously appreciate you all.

Touching story time: on our way back to Stony Brook from Brooklyn about a week ago, Tom and I had to actually cross over the track at Huntington because our connecting train was on the other track. Usually the connection follows behind the current train, but whatever; usually, it’s not a problem. However, I was moving at a snail’s pace because I was only 2 weeks out of surgery.

We made it to the elevator to go up just as the doors were closing, so a man inside held them for us. We walked over the train via the platform and found the elevator to go down on the other side; by now, about 5 minutes have gone by, so the train is about ready to take off. When we finally got down to the ground, I was telling Tom to run to the train and hold the doors, but he refused to leave me.

Wouldn’t you know, as I’m walking up the flight of 5 steps to the platform, I saw the man from the elevator standing halfway out of the train, waving to the conductor to wait for us. I was so grateful and totally exhausted from that trek, so when Tom and I sat down, I bawled like a baby. Silently, so as not to draw attention, but nonetheless, tears were a-flowing.

I was frustrated with my lack of mobility and felt hopeless and scared about a potential future like this. Mainly, I was having flashbacks of my mom when she used a cane, and then a walker, and then a motorized scooter. I was always the one by her side and appreciated the people who helped her and me during those tough times.

And now, I was so thankful for this man that took the time to hold the train for me. He could have just gotten on, taken a seat, and not had a second thought about me. But he didn’t. I thanked him as we got on, but I wish I could thank him 100 times more. He doesn’t realize just how much that meant to me.

Gah, all the feels.

Which brings me to said surgeries. Although they’ve been burdensome, and as much as I may have cursed myself for doing them while in the recovery phase and feeling like my summer was nothing but recovery, I’m happy I went through with them and am glad I got them out of the way!

redressed feet

Now let’s go to some of my favorite products from this summer: First, my trusty Batiste dry shampoo. I’ve mentioned this in multiple blog posts and will continue to recommend it to anyone interested in minimizing the number of times they wash their hair in a week. It’s been great all summer as I let my hair go unwashed for 3-4 days while also sweating and/or being pretty much couch-ridden after surgery.

Similarly, I used Oribe dry texturizing spray while I stayed at my in-laws after my foot surgery. It smells delicious and doesn’t leave any trace of white film or powder in my darker hair. I received a sample size in my Birchbox subscription, so it’s handy for traveling. What’s not handy is the price; the teensy weensy 2.2 fl. oz. purse sized one retails for $22. Yeah, disgusting! A regular 8.5 fl. oz. costs $42.

Batiste Hint of Color Brown Dry Shampoo     VS.   Oribe dry texturizing spray

>>MATH TIME!!!! Batiste is usually around $6 or $7 for the 6.7 oz. can – at $7, that’s $1.04 per fluid ounce; Oribe costs $4.94 per fluid ounce for the full size can! You’re paying almost $4 more per fluid ounce with the full size of Oribe! But wait, it gets even grosser: the Batiste travel size is usually $3 for 1.6 oz, coming to about $1.90 per fluid ounce while the Oribe comes in at $10 per fluid ounce for the travel size! Horrendous. Awesome product, I just don’t see it being worth that much money.<<<

Speaking of, my next favorite is wearing my hair 95% au naturel during most of August. After washing my hair, I’ve been letting it air dry with just a couple spritzes of my It’s a 10 Leave In spray and it actually doesn’t look all that terrible. I love not having to use heat on it as it’s already 80° so I’m sweating a lot, I save time, and my hair feels sooooooooo much healthier! I think I’ve only used heat (in the form of a straightener to curl my hair for my birthday dinner with Tom) once in the past month. Woot! I totally recommend anyone who wants to try a no heat challenge to do it – embrace your natural hair and notice the difference that it makes when you let your hair be who it wants to be without heat. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

au naturel hair

I am loving the Lash Sensational mascara by Maybelline. I’m on my third tube and really enjoy how it makes my lashes look fluttery and separated while also lengthening and defining them. I have been using the Very Black non-waterproof one and I have had no fallout or flakes and it stays all day; it actually takes quite a bit of [gentle] elbow grease to remove it entirely at night!

Which brings me to Simple Micellar Water. I saw a couple YouTubers talk about this and I was suckered into trying it out. I think it’s great! It’s a facial “cleanser” (doesn’t foam up or anything…it’s, like, water) and makeup remover that is super gentle, doesn’t sting my eyes, and takes off makeup with a few swipes of a cotton pad! Plus, I don’t have to rinse it off like the oil-based makeup removers because it’s pretty much like using water already.

Going with the skin theme: sunscreen. I’m white. Like, ghostly white. I went to Virginia Beach in July with a group of my best girlfriends from high school and we spent a few hours lounging on the beach on our first full day there. I sprayed myself multiple times with SPF 50 as the sun was really intense, but between that and the fact that we were in and out of the water to keep cool, I got pretty darn burnt.

Which brings me to my next favorite: Aloe. Any aloe. I used an entire tube (with a little help from my friends, but mostly me) of Walgreens’ brand Aloe Vera because, well, it’s cheap. I got the one for sensitive skin so it doesn’t have any added scent or lotion or anything. Just aloe.

I’m glad I brought the tube because all of us benefitted from it at one point or another. I actually bought another tube after coming home because I ran out of the first tube. I got burned so bad, I ended up with some sun blisters…yeah, it wasn’t pretty. Even with the excessive aloe and lotion applications, peeling happened, but it wasn’t as gross or as extreme as I expected. It was bad, don’t get me wrong, but I think the aloe helped it a bit.

And even though I got sunburned, I still favorite time at beautiful beaches. Here we have Montauk at sunset – Tom and I stayed on the beach until all the stars were out because we don’t get to see them in Brooklyn.

Montauk beach

How about my smashbook? I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and hope to finish it by the end of this year! I got a lot of it done out in Montauk as we sat on the front porch of our bed and breakfast.smashbook collage

Side note: I got a different journal to house the smashbook – I went with this gorgeous one that has ring binding to allow more room for expansion as I fill it.

smashbook cover

I also loved celebrating my one year anniversary of marriage to the wonderfully handsome Thomas!!! And going to Montauk for a weekend away together!!!

At the beach

Last, but certainly not least, I’ll favorite that I’m a teacher and had the privilege to have a summer vacation. Cheesy, but whatever. I spent lots of time reading for school and spent some time prepping a bit for my classes, but I spent more time not doing work stuff. I hung out with coworkers [friends], and although work stuff always tended to creep its way into conversations, we always ended up talking about life outside of school, too. I’m excited to be going back, teaching all math, coaching volleyball, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones. And I can proudly say I love going to work every day even though it gets stressful and overwhelming a lot (second year teacher here, I’m sure all the veterans are rolling their eyes).

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. — Dalai Lama

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!

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!

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.

Wedding Update: 2 months left!

Okay, can time just speed up now?? It’s so cliche but where has the time gone?! We’ve been engaged for almost 10 months already?!

But at the same time, it feels like it was forever ago. Does that make sense? Probs nobs.

Does anyone else say that? I said that to Tom last night and he was like, “Who says that? And what does that even mean?”

I say it, and it means probably not. Only it’s more e-fish. Get it? Like, efficient? Anyone? No? Alright, let’s move on.

So the past week and a half was crazy insane.

Like seriously. This post includes not only wedding updates, but also life updates because, well, it’s my blog and I do what I want. Are you ready?

Last weekend, I wrote about my progress with invitations. I’m glad to say that I’m 99% done (there are a few stragglers that Tom needs to find addresses for) and have sent out any and all invitations that I could! I put the majority of them in the mail on Sunday the 8th (the day after I wrote my 10 week update post on our wedding website) and have already gotten a bunch of response cards back!

Instagram - invitations

I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of responses as they come. I made a column of all the people we invited, and then made columns for the downstate and upstate festivities, under which I will write the names of people in relation to how they responded. So I’m keeping track of who has responded, how they responded to each event, and also how many are coming. Exciting stuff! Yeah!

The next day, Monday, I accepted a teaching job for next school year! I’ll be the newest addition to the math and science crew at Mary McDowell Friends Upper School here in Brooklyn and I couldn’t be more excited! I worked there this past year as a paraprofessional, employed by a family whose student attends the school. I’m ecstatic that I get to work with (almost) everyone again this year, only as a teacher this time! I’m sad to see people go, but wish them all the best in their amazing future endeavors (one guy is going to Malaysia to teach math!) and know they’ll kick butt wherever they are.

Tuesday was a ‘no school’ day so I spent the day cleaning and relaxing. Wednesday was the last official day of school for my student, and it was a half day, so I got to chill a bit that day too. I went and got a spray tan so that I wouldn’t blend in with my ivory colored bridal shower dress. Although they were two different dresses, both of my shower dresses were similarly pale and would not mesh well with my pastiness.

Shower Dresses

Thursday I got my hair colored and blown out. I’m telling you, I would love it if those girls would wash my hair and massage my scalp like that every other day. It feels amazing! And the stylist was able to get my hair straight and swishy! Please come home with me!

Friday was flight day, so I spent the morning packing and getting ready to fly upstate for the weekend. I hadn’t heard anything bad in weather reports, so I left for the airport around 2 so that I would arrive about 75 minutes before my scheduled flight time. Everything was going smoothly – the subway was on time and connection times weren’t long, and I got to the AirTrain in great time.

And that’s when Delta emailed me saying that my flight was delayed an hour. I texted my friend in Boston, Michelle, since we were originally flying in to Buffalo around the same time, and I also texted my friend in Buffalo, Courtney, to let her know since she was picking us up. Michelle said her flight was cancelled and wouldn’t be getting out until the next morning. We discussed what it could be due to – both of us were looking at fairly clear skies!

I got to JFK and my flight was still only delayed an hour which was good. I got my bag checked and, wouldn’t you know it, when I walk out of security and check the departures board, my flight was cancelled. Delta kindly sent me an email letting me know that everything was good and they rebooked me for a 4pm flight the following afternoon.

Oh hell no Felicia Day

Little did they know, that would not work seeing as my bridal shower was at 1pm the following afternoon. So I stood in line for over an hour and the agent was able to rebook me for the 8am flight the following morning. She was really kind and wished me congratulations and good luck on my bridal shower.

Back home I went, this time only with my small carry-on, which was convenient but also meant that all of my beauty products were somewhere in the airport instead of at my fingertips. This meant that I would look like a bag lady until I got said products and the use of someone’s bathroom mirror and outlets upstate. And I was worried that something would happen that would cause my luggage to be lost, and then I’d look like a bag lady all weekend. Nonetheless, back on the AirTrain and subway I went, annoyed but sure everything would work out fine.

Except it was lashing rain when I got out of the subway. Thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. Luckily, in said carry-on, I had my umbrella. Okay, I guess it was a good thing we didn’t try to fly.

The next morning, when I went to leave at 4:30am to go through the whole process again, my sneakers were still wet; not pleasant. Everything went fine and before I knew it, I was landing in Buffalo…where it was about 20 degrees colder than I had packed for. My checked bag made it there fine and, wouldn’t you know, Michelle’s flight was only about half an hour ahead of mine! So it all worked out perfectly!

We got to Batavia in record time, enjoying some TimBits and caffeine on the way, and I was (finally!) able to beautify myself. The entire day was party day – bridal shower, lingerie shopping (oh la la!), and bachelorette party. It was so great seeing all of my friends and family! I want to thank all the ladies who planned and attended my bridal shower this past weekend – it was a fabulous time and I can’t begin to tell you how special I felt. I’ll be writing a post about it soon so stay tuned!

Bridal party

Sunday was relax by the pool day with my friend Jenna whose family generously opened their home to me all weekend. I’m so glad we got a nice sunny day to enjoy! Monday was spent visiting my mom and Godmother before I had to take off once again. My friend Becky drove me to the airport and we got to talk like we used to in college, just shooting the breeze…figuratively and literally since the AC doesn’t work in her car and it was like 84 that day, so the windows were all down! My car was the same exact way a few years ago so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

My flight home was very smooth and it was so nice to get home and finally not live out of a suitcase! And, of course, see and hug and talk to Tom! I am so grateful that I was able to see and spend time with so many wonderful people this weekend. I miss that so much and I know that it will probably only get harder as everyone gets married and starts having kids and whatnot, but I want to make a point to get together at least once or twice a year because those relationships are so important!

Wedding Update: 10 Weeks?!

Holy cow, time is flying!

So I made a decision this week – hold your applause – to make the updates weekly now because the last 2ish months will contain the most activity. All the big things have been taken care of over the past 9 months, and they were more spaced apart. I’m realizing that everything from here on out will take more time and effort; all the little things are and will be the most time-consuming!

Well, since my last post, a lot has happened; by the end of this post, you’ll see why we need weekly updates! Most of this stuff happened last weekend, actually.

Last Saturday was crazy. My future mother- and sister-in-law spent practically the entire day together running around doing wedding stuff with me. Our first mission was to go to the bridal salon where my dress is from to get a sample of my veil to take to the hair stylist. When we arrived at the dress shop, they said I was able to take my real veil for my hair trial; so exciting!

They had called earlier that week and said that my dress was also in and that I should schedule my first dress fitting in July – eeek!!! – so we scheduled it for July 8 (my sister-in-law’s 22nd birthday…so we will be celebrating all day). I’ve been thinking about what shoes I should get to wear with my dress, but was unsure of how tall I could go without being too tall for my dress. The lady at the salon told me I could just try on my dress if I wanted, and then try on a few of the shoes they had for this purpose.

So there I was, putting on my wedding dress! It was just as pretty as I remembered. And it fit (whew)! But something just didn’t look right; I realized it was a little too poofy and stiff in comparison to when I tried on the sample. Long story short, I don’t remember there being crinoline under the dress.

poofy huge wedding dress

When I go for my fitting, I will see how it looks with the crinoline steamed flat but may just have them remove one or both layers. I also found that any shoes less than 2.5″ will work for my dress, so I’ve started hunting for possibilities so I can get them and start breaking them in.

Before going to the hair stylist’s house, we went to a kiosk in the mall to look for a pretty barrette or hairpiece to use. I ended up choosing a sparkly barrette and some little gems that you twist in the hair when it’s finished.

When we got to the stylist’s house, I told him what I wanted for my hair first. He did a loose version of it and we tested out the barrette and the veil, and they worked beautifully together. My hair looked and felt really nice and soft even though he sprayed a bunch of hairspray on my hair. I don’t think I’ll end up using those little gems on the day of the wedding, so that stinks because the kiosk charges a buttload for all of their items.

It was then time for makeup. On a daily basis, I really only apply makeup on and around my eyes. That is, of course, unless it’s that time of the month and I have more need for concealer on my face. Even though he prefaced (pun intended) my makeup trial with, “I really push brides to stay as natural as possible,” I was half expecting him to put a bunch of foundation, concealer, powder, blush, eye makeup, etc on my face. But I’m so glad he didn’t. He only put concealer on my eyes, around my nose, and on the one pimple near my mouth, and then set it with a little powder.

Heavy makeup

I was kind of nervous about how much blush he put on; I know they say to put a little more on than usual because otherwise you look washed out in pictures, but this seemed kind of excessive. He also put some blush on my eyelids and I wasn’t a huge fan. The blush was a peach color so my eyelids (and cheeks) looked very pink-y orange. I told him I think I’d like to try a little eyeshadow, so he showed me the options and they were gorgeous; I definitely want to use them when the day comes. As long as I don’t look like a clown, I’ll be happy.

I also didn’t really like the lip gloss he used at first; it was too glittery and frosty for my liking. I showed him my favorite lip gloss for everyday use and he said, “Oh, you must not wear any makeup!” because it is just a natural pink color. So he got a lip gloss that had a little more color and was more on the mauve-y side. He then said he would use a different blush that would complement the lip color better.

When we left, my mother-in-law commented that my makeup looked less harsh in the natural light versus the lights in his salon. I’m glad I spoke up about my thoughts and opinions though because I still wasn’t a fan of the super peach-y color on my fair skin.

Which brings me to the next shenanigan…

We were home for maybe half an hour before my sister-in-law and I took a trip to the tanning salon. I have been talking about going and trying out a spray tan for awhile now to get an idea of how it might look for the wedding. I didn’t want to just try it for the first time days before the wedding because what if it turned out looking ridiculous?

I could’ve ended up looking like an oompa-loompa. Or Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars. Or any cast member on Jersey Shore.

Orange

We went to the Beach Bum Tanning Salon since my sister-in-law is familiar with the place. The guy at the desk was really friendly and informative and helped me make a decision about the color. I went with the light color (duh) and opted for a bronze boost to give me a deeper undertone without making me look orange. He took me to the spray booth, explained what to do, and left me to it.

The actual spray process took maybe 3 minutes but it felt a lot faster; it was the post-spray that took a little longer. I felt kind of sticky, even though I stayed in the booth for the entire final drying cycle, patted myself off with the towel they provide, and danced around for a bit to dry off. Yes, I looked like a freak. But you get your own room, so whatever.

I left looking a little tanner because of the bronze boost, and it only got darker throughout the night. So since I had been running around all day, that night I decided to relax a bit and began addressing invitations!

I practiced my curly capital letters in order to get my prettiest writing and, since starting, I’ve become more confident and it’s become a lot easier. So far, I’m about 90% finished with addressing, stuffing, and postage-ing invitations and have about 30 extra ones in case we find more people we want to invite. I’m so glad I opted to pay a bit more for self-adhesive envelopes – best decision I’ve made so far. I have only messed up on a few of the envelopes so that’s pretty darn good!

Practice cursive writing

As the night went on, I could tell my skin was getting darker, and when I woke up the following morning, I was quite surprised by how dark my face looked. I mean, I could’ve been Puerto Rican or something. Luckily it toned down a bit once I showered, and my mother-in-law said I looked healthy and not orange. All good things!

Not only did my glow-y skin made me look healthy, it also complemented my bridal shower dress way more than my pasty skin did. My dress was a cream color, so instead of my skin matching my dress, you could actually tell where my skin ended and my dress began.

Which brings us to my bridal shower! Since this post is so long already, I’ve made a separate post for my bridal shower here!

My next missions for the following 2 weeks include:

  1. Finish addressing and mailing invitations
  2. Write and mail thank-you cards for bridal shower #1
  3. Figure out escort cards – I have the idea in my head, I just have to find somewhere to purchase them or figure out how to create them myself.
  4. Find a dress for and attend bridal shower #2 – I am so pumped to see everyone!!!!!
  5. Stay active – my last day of work is next Wednesday, so I will have a lot of free time to eat chocolate.