Monday, August 9, 2010


Yes, two sad months between posts. I'm neglectful, what can I say.

So, in the two months and six days since I last posted a few BIG things have happened. First of all, I ended a five and a half year relationship. It did not end well. It was my longest relationship, I think it was his and for a few years I thought we were going to wind up married one day. Ending it was the smart thing to do, but it still sucked. However, I really leaned on my close circle of friends for the first time in a long time and they were so supportive and amazing. It reminded me how fortunate I am to have them.

Relatedly, I started dating again and had one AMAZING date with a great guy and I was so sure it was going to Go Somewhere and Be Something and then he blew me off completely!! I'm still baffled about that for reasons I won't get into here, but I'm taking it pretty well! It was a nice welcome back to the dating world that I hadn't seen since 2004. In all seriousness, it taught me to roll with the punches and not get too invested too quickly. I'm so used to being in a relationship (even one as screwed up as mine was) that casual dating is just not my thing. I need to take a couple lessons from Carrie Bradshaw and company.

In response to the big break up I took a page out of Felicity Porter's book and decided to drastically change my hair. Not cutting it off, no no. I've been working far too long to cut it off. I did however go from a pretty deep brown to a VERY light blonde. In colorist speak I went from a 5 to a 10. It's been a long process involving 3 full highlights, breaking my base color with Goldwell's high-lift blonde series (11P). I still need a few more highlights and then some subtle lowlights for dimension before I'll be satisfied (color perfectionism is a professional hazard!). The only downside is that my ends are FRIED now. I'm going to cut off between two and a half and three inches this week and it KILLS me to think of doing it, but my hair needs it. I love the blonde, I think I want to keep it for at least a year (which is saying something for musical hair color me!). Or I will once I get the color perfect, haha!

So there's a tiny update on what's going on in my life! I only have four months of beauty school left, I know it will FLY by, especially with two of my favorite occasions to break it up -- Halloween season in October and 3-Day season in November! Hope summer was good to all of you as well! I'll catch up with you again soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Review: S-Factor hair care


I had the opportunity to try out some S-Factor products recently, and I was THRILLED to do it. S-Factor is TIGI's high-end line, the other lines are generally more affordable (Bed Head, B for Men, Rockaholic, and Catwalk by TIGI make up the rest of the brand, hopefully I'll get a chance to do in-depth reviews of the other lines in the future!). S-Factor is all about luxe, decadent treatment for your hair. The products are enfused with diamond dust, champagne extract, cashmere and crushed pearls -- it's not your grandma's hair care, that's for sure!

All in all I was able to try 6 products - the Color Savvy shampoo and conditioner, Papaya leave in moisture spray, Flat Iron shine spray, One Curl at a Time curl serum and Shiny Happy People shine spray. The shampoo and conditioner are supposed to be color preserving, so far I haven't noticed a great loss in hair color, which is a huge plus for me since my hair is color-treated within an inch of it's life (but always carefully done, so it's not too damaged). They are sulfate free which helps with color preservation, but as a result of that the shampoo doesn't lather. I know that bubbles don't make your hair any cleaner, but I like my shampoo to REALLY lather. I like making myself a shampoo mohawk, what I can I say? I feel like the conditioner doesn't leave my hair feeling silky smooth, which is a negative for me. I wear my hair straight a lot of the time and I like it to look AND feel shiny and silky all day.

The Papaya leave in moisture spray helps with that problem, it's touted as "nourishing and moisturizing damaged hair." You spray it on towel dried hair and then style as usual. I like this, I actually like it quite a bit, but I'm disappointed that I don't get the silky smooth feeling from just the conditioner. I feel like this luxury line should do more with less product. If it's already going to cost $35.00 for a large bottle of conditioner I don't want to have to pay another $27.00 for a leave in conditioner when with most lines (salon or drugstore) I don't need one. But on it's own the Papaya spray is great. It smells heavenly and makes even the most damaged hair feel smooth and silky. I'd recommend this if your hair was dry to damaged, or if you just wanted an extra oomph of moisture.

Flat Iron shine spray is a product I'd wanted to try for a long time. We all know that daily heat styling (blow drying, curling, flat ironing) takes a toll on our locks. Most people know that you can combat that with a heat protector and this one is worth it's cost ($29.00). It protects your hair from any heat styling as well as harmful UV rays (your hair is made up of the same stuff your skin is -- keratin protein -- just in different form, so it's just as important to protect your hair from the sun to avoid environmental damage). It's sprayed in when your hair is wet (I spray it in damp after I towel dry most of the moisture out of my hair), then you can go dry and flat iron your hair as usual. I noticed a difference right away with this product. Not a single strand of my hair got snagged on the flat iron and my hair was super shiny without looking oily in the slightest. You can also use it on dry hair right before flat ironing, I just prefer to use it before turning any kind of heat on my hair.

I fought with my hair's natural texture for a long time. I still do a little bit, because it's the tiniest bit wavy. Not wavy enough to leave alone without any product, if I do it just looks messy and not in the fun way. I have to encourage my hair one way or the other. With curl products I can get a nice disheveled beachy look, which is great for hot northern California summers. But since I'm still kind of a curl novice, I'm constantly trying new curl products. One Curl at at Time measured up to my favorite curl product (Catwalk by TIGI's Curls Rock Curl Amplifier). I get a healthy amount of product in my hands and scrunch it through sopping wet hair. Since my hair is wavy, not curly it frizzes really easily if I touch it a lot during the styling process, so I generally put all of my curl products in soaking wet hair. It wastes more product than I'd like because a lot of it is gently blotted out when I start to dry it, but it's what works best. S-Factor recommends that you allow your hair to air dry for "natural support without flaking" but I don't have time for that. I let it air dry for about half an hour (loosely supported with a couple of claw clips so my curls don't get weighed down), then dry it with a diffuser attachment. I use medium heat and medium speed, I've found I get the best looking curls that way with hardly any frizz.

Shiny Happy People shine spray is a great finish to almost any look. Curls or poker-straight locks, most people are gonna want their hair to catch the light and look healthy. Don't be confused by the looks of this product, though. It is not a hairspray, nor is it designed to be. It's not going to provide hold, it's strictly in the business of shine. This is another product I'd like to do double-duty, shine and hold. It's another case of sticker shock, I guess. $27.00 for a shine spray that also provides hold would be fine, paying $27.00 for a shine spray and another $27.00 for a hairspray seems pretty steep, especially in these economic times.

Bottom line on the S-Factor line: Great products. Really quite exceptional. The only product I wasn't absolutely thrilled with was the Color Savvy conditioner, and that can be solved with the addition of the Papaya leave in moisture spray. If you can afford to splurge on a hair care regime, S-Factor is the way to go. My hair is shiny, beautiful and smells great, but I certainly wouldn't be able to pay full price for the entire line (if you purchased everything mentioned in this review you'd be spending between $130 and $160 depending on what size shampoo and conditioner you chose to purchase).

Monday, May 3, 2010

On balance and breakdowns

Wow almost an entire month without a post! That's really. . . awful. There's no other word to describe it.

So when I started school in January one of the instructors told us "there will come a day when you want to quit. When you get so frustrated that you'll want to throw up your hands, throw down your apron and walk away. Maybe it's just for that second, or that day. But I promise you're going to want to quit at some point. Work past it and you will be fine. Allow it to consume you and you won't." Naturally I dismissed this entire thing. I figured I'd get pissy with a few things that might be difficult for me to do at first, but I'd plug along and figure them out and move on. I didn't consider how balance between school and home would play until they were slapping me in the face.

My school schedule is a full time job. We're a 9-6, Tuesday-Saturday program with a mandatory hour lunch. I live about five minutes from my school so the first couple months of school I went home on lunch most days just to relax and decompress before going back to finish up my day. I'm very social, but also introverted. Meaning I like my "me" time. In March my mom had to have her foot operated on and that became a bigger deal than any of us realized with a long recovery. My lunches became a time to run errands, check on my mom, grab her something to eat or whatever she needed. None of which I begrudge her, she did the same for me when I was recovering from my spinal surgery in 1994 (I had tethered spinal cord syndrome, long story). And luckily my mom and I are really close.

But (you knew it was coming, right?) having a 45 hour week at school and then running a four person household is not something I've ever had to do before. I lived by myself for a year but that was taking care of me and a couple of cats. If I wanted to eat Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner at 10:00PM that was fine. If I didn't want to clean up after myself until Sunday morning that was fine (the litter box always got changed though!) because it was a one person mess and a one person apartment. All I had to do was make sure I got to work and/or school on time and looking like a human being. I mostly managed. Having to grocery shop, pick up prescriptions, cook dinner, clean up from dinner, do laundry, make note of the household supplies we were low on, do all the internet bill paying, make sure my dad had everything he needed to go to work and try to breathe on top of school and taking care of my mom was SO overwhelming. I lost my balance.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I wanted to get into running to get back into shape. I had no time to run after my mom's surgery. I was also on a mandatory hiatus from running while my feet recovered a bit from not having shoes that actually supported my abnormally high arch. The timing was unfortunate because I was at the point where I was just starting to not hate running. I didn't realize that in the five or six weeks I'd been running I'd started to rely on it to clear my head and keep me centered. It was different from the hundreds of miles I'd spent walking to train for the 3-Day. Walking allowed my mind to wander, and usually to the growing to-do list at home. Running forced me to focus on my breathing and my gait and nothing else. Having a singular focus cleared out all the garbage that flooded my thoughts and when I finished a run I was out of breath, tired, completely red in the face but SO relaxed. My last run was about two weeks before my mom's operation. I was unaware that I was giving up the balance and the endorphins all at once.

I kept it together for about a month. I discovered that I liked some parts of being the faux mom. I love cooking, and I like grocery shopping. But passing out dead tired every night at midnight or 1:00 wasn't working out. I was trying to stay on top of my school work, the house and school without taking ANY time to do something I just enjoyed. I was probably not a dream come true to be around. I had a hard time with it because I didn't want to complain to my mom about it and didn't want to sound like a brat complaining to anyone else. One of my closest friends and the gent in my life basically got the brunt of it and I'm guessing they were over it pretty soon. After about five weeks of trying to keep all the balls in the air it started becoming apparent that something was gonna give.

The curriculum our class started with was brand new with our class. According to the new curriculum, students are not "on the floor" (working with clients) full time until they hit 30 weeks. The students that had started before us were on the floor after 10. There was a miscommunication among the instructors, so we were lead to believe that we'd be on the floor after 10 weeks as well. When I found out that was NOT the case, I was remarkably upset. I was also projecting all the stress I was under at home onto this one thing that in the long run is not a big deal, but seemed SO HUGE. When I found that out we were going to be 90% classroom bound for another 20 weeks it hit me like a ton of bricks. I wound up going home at lunch and not coming back that day. I went home and sulked and cried and was basically a brat. Lo and behold, I'd had my day where I wanted to quit. And for the rest of that day I DID quit.

Lesson learned: start running again ASAP otherwise I'm going to be forced to develop a prescription drug habit. Okay, maybe not. But what I've taken from the last seven weeks is that no matter what you're doing, if you're not taking care of yourself (and yes, sometimes that means being a little selfish and putting your needs before everyone else's -- even if that's just a 30 minute run every day) you really can't take care of anyone else. The last two weeks I've focused on relaxing more, made sure to get more sleep and drink more water and it's helping. I haven't gotten to start running again just yet, but I know once I get back into it I'll be set. Actually I'll hate it for two weeks and then start to feel better again. But I'll get there.

Losing balance is part of life. It's necessary to remind us that we do things that keep us balanced for a reason. Yeah, I might be running to get in better shape, or lose weight, or train for an event. Sure. But I'm mostly looking forward to getting back to it to keep my balance.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why the 3-Day is now the highlight of my year

This is a slightly edited version of what I posted on a blog my best friends and I keep so we can stay in each other's lives easily. It's totally wordy and long, but even four months later I'm too emotional to edit it down any more, it was all that important to me.

Okay, so... I'm my mother's daughter in many ways. Including my least favorite, procrastination. I was behind Wednesday but took a nap after my opening shift instead of packing, knowing I still needed a few things from Target before my flight Thursday, but you know. I wound up packing last minute Thursday and. . . wait for it. . . missed my flight. By 30 seconds. Yep. I have a bone to pick with the TSA for needlessly holding me up over a frigging ounce of water in my CamelBak, but whatev. My Southwest connections can't really do anything in that particular situation so I ponied up another $112 to book a later flight because she assured me that it would fill up so it would be quite a risk to take standby (for the record the seat next to me that flight was empty. . . thanks, Southwest!), chilled in the airport for four hours and got into San Diego around 10:00, showered and was in bed by 11:30.

I got up at 4:30 Friday morning, took a cab to the opening ceremonies at Del Mar. I cried like a baby, and then we set off walking! I somehow wound up pretty far back in the group Friday, despite my best efforts to be towards the head of the pack. I'll know better where to position myself next year. The first couple of miles the sidewalk was literally FILLED with people cheering us on. I was itching to go faster but you can't exactly jump ahead of a thousand people, unfortunately. I walked for a mile with a girl named Tiffany who had decided to do the 3-Day THREE WEEKS before the event. She managed to raise all the money necessary, but I don't want to think of what her feet must have felt look or looked like with only three weeks of training. I trained for six months and mine were still killing me by the end. I honestly can't describe the support you feel this whole weekend -- crew and volunteers and cheerleaders (literal and figurative, two high school squads were out on the route too!) cheering for you and high-fiving, motorists leaning on their horns and waving, hot bike cops riding along with you, tough bikers wearing pink directing traffic, young, old, men, women, kids, dogs, other walkers, everyone cheering everyone else on. It was intense, especially for a grumplestiltskin like me!

There were pit-stops along the route every 2-3 miles where you could refill your water bottles, get medical attention if you needed it (mostly blisters and some knee and ankle issues for most people), eat (lots of eating! keeping strength up and keeping the salt balance in check -- the pit stop motto was "eat, drink and pee; no IV!" we ate bagels, bananas, salty chips, string cheese, uncrustables, oranges, animal crackers and other stuff -- just on pit stops.) and stretch. And stretch and stretch and stretch.

After the second pit stop I ran into my old friend and volleyball teammate from high school, Kristin. She walked in a 3-Day a few years ago and now she and her friend come out every year to cheer, dressed all in pink with long blonde wigs, signs that say "my ken wears pink." they go by "barbies love boobies." I think I saw her five times all weekend, she kept my spirits up a lot. It was hard (but don't get me wrong, totally rewarding) to walk alone. I made friends, but most people were part of a team or a group or at least a pair, so I'd walk with them for a bit and I or they would speed up a little and we'd part ways. I didn't meet my new 3-Day family until the last few miles on day 3.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Please don't get me wrong. I LOVE going to cosmetology school and after nine short weeks I'm certain it was the right decision (actually after like 9 days. Once we got to start cutting hair I was gone!). I think it's fun, I love being around new people and I REALLY love making people feel better about themselves. Cosmetologists are their client's best friend, confidant, therapist, sounding board AND we make them look pretty. You might be the most important person in your client's life! I enjoy everything about beauty school. Great teachers, a wealth of knowledge to take advantage of and it's incredibly interesting (can't say that about algebra!),

But I don't understand how anyone finds the book material (also known as theory. And the physical work is called practical or an operation) hard. I've always been a good student, as long as the material interested me. That's a big part of why I waffled so long about going to beauty school. I wanted (and still do want) to finish a Bachelor's degree. As of right now I'm a little less than 3/4 done with a BA in literature. But between budget cuts at my college and a little ennui, I didn't want to finish right now because I honestly don't see doing anything I love with it (other than writing, but I don't want to be poor forever).

My logical side told me for years to just plug along and finish and get some job doing something other than schilling a product, but my heart wasn't in it at all. My plan now is to take one class at "big girl college" next semester, which will also be my last few months of cosmetology and 3-Day season. It's going to be incredibly busy, but I do want to get back into an academic class. Although now my focus is kind of shifting away from literature to something in business. I see the earning potential in a career in cosmetology and I'd like to own a salon in the next 5 to 7 years. Or at least have something to fall back on. The beauty industry isn't often negatively affected by economic downturn, but you never know.

Anyway, getting back to the point. We're 9 weeks into the curriculum, and have 7 or 8 theory tests under out belts. The tests are multiple choice, straight from the book and the whole system is designed to help you succeed. And yet I still see a lot of people struggle. I can say without a doubt that it comes down to lack of focus. Lack of focus during theory, lack of focus during review, lack of focus at home. I don't study a lot. I take my books home once a week (maybe). But I take full advantage of reviewing in class. I read extremely quickly, which may give me a slight advantage. I generally read the material once and highlight the key points, then read it again as I complete the study guide, then go over it a third time as the instructor goes over it with the class. So by the time we're done with the material I've read it three times before I'd even need to study for a test.

My point (and I do have one) is this: Cosmetology school takes less than a year to complete on a full time schedule (at least in California, I know it varies state-to-state, but I figure a year is about average). It is a get in, get out and start making money process. All that is asked of you is one year of moderately hard work. Once you start cosmetology school, find out who the best students are in whatever areas interest you most -- sculpture, hair design, color, texture, skin, nails, whatever -- and be like them. Ask them questions about how they study, find out from an instructor if you can shadow them, do whatever you can without being bothersome. The students that excel while in cosmetology school are going to excel when interviewing at salons, get their pick of where to work, will have more clients and will make more money faster.

Cosmetology school might be a great place to make friends, but first and foremost it's an educational institution. I assume that I might come out of this year with one or two lasting friendships. But my money and future happiness isn't riding on making new friends, it's on passing my state boards and getting to start a career that I'll love for a long time and that will make it financially and emotionally viable to raise a couple hypothetical kids and keep me in the lifestyle I've become accustomed to -- a fabulous one.

This is one of the best careers to write your own check. One year of hard work will open up limitless possibilities. If the world was your oyster, what would you do with it?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A good beginning makes a good end. Hopefully.

Have you ever had an inkling that something might be the thing you've always wanted to do, but it was easier to not upset the status quo? Go find out. Chances are it IS, and you'll kick yourself for waiting around that long wasting time doing something that doesn't make you happy.

I want to be a lot of things when I grow up. I want to be a published writer (the dream is before I'm 30, so less than three years. Tick, tock). I want to be a vet. Animal, not war. That's not going to happen because I don't want to go through 4 years of med school and hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt and did you know sometimes animals DIE? Yeah. I'd get too emotionally invested. And for the better part of the last decade, I've wanted to work in the beauty industry. I've been freelancing with makeup for years, but due to needing a "real" job it always took a backseat. Until 8 weeks ago, when I began cosmetology school.

Anyway. I decided to marry my new found passion for hair with my long time passion for writing and blog this year. I'm a planner, a watcher, a thinker and before I toured my new school I tried to find out as much as I could about the experiences people had in cosmetology school. I didn't come up with a lot of organic content. Sure, schools and curriculums have websites that have student sound bites on them, but the schools are still responsible for editing that content. I wanted something in depth, to the point and to not pull any punches. I hope that maybe what I write can be that for somebody else, especially since I'm not exactly known for pulling punches.

I'm a little older than most of the girls at my school (and one boy). I'm 27, which I really view as a total advantage in this whole thing. I can focus, apply the lessons I've already learned and hopefully get through beauty school quickly and pass my state board the first try in January.

A few other things about me, because I guarantee this won't stay cosmo school focused the whole time (especially after I graduate in December); I am passionate about breast cancer research and education and prevention. In 2009 I did the Breast Cancer 3-Day (now known as the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure). I will for SURE be doing it again this year. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and kind of the catalyst for going after what I want now. The 3-Day taught me about what kind of world I want to live in, starting with myself. I'm sarcastic and silly and love my friends. I love my family, even though they drive me crazy. I'm working my butt off to get in great shape (this is all kind of part of being the best version of myself before I'm 30). I'm planning on running a half marathon in January 2011 and a full in January 2012, so I'm sure they'll be posts about running and eating and working out and all that fun stuff.

And most of all, I'm excited for what this year is going to bring. I think my last couple years before 30 are going to be pretty incredible. Here's hoping!