Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Midnight at the Oasis

We got back from Los Angeles late last night to a slew of packages. There were some clothes, which I’ll leave for a different post, but I was happy to see that my packages from Kiehl’s and Josie Maran had showed up

Because my hotel bathroom didn’t have any body lotion, so my skin is feeling particularly parched. 

Especially my cuticles. I brought a bottle of Solar Oil, but even painting it on half a dozen times a day didn’t do the trick. 

Those sample sizes are going into my travel kit ASAP! 

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Pasadena pictures

 We’re having so much fun visiting our son in California! 

Dressed for a day of exploring. Regrettably wearing an ancient pair of skinny jeans. I excuse myself because they're not super skinny, but also because I have to keep wearing what I already own while I figure out what to do next. And I can't decide which direction I want to go with my next pairs. All I know is wide-legged and cropped is out. 

Other than that, at least the skinny jeans provide a much-needed relief from the Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Vineyard Vines. So there's that.

To think I used to rebel against my New England heritage. Not anymore! In the words of Max Bialystok in The Producers, "flaunt it baby, flaunt it!"

The daily spackle: Erborian BB creme, bronzer and blush for a healthy California glow, concealer, brows, lashes, and SPF lip balm.

First stop, Vroman's book store, founded in 1894 and still going strong.

I picked up a copy of Get Shorty, because I love the movie so much. (That's how it works with English majors. Loved the movie? READ THE BOOK.)

I did not pop for Poppy snacks.

Or napkins. Even though, strangely enough, this is my favorite Marimekko pattern of all time.

Next stop, meeting up with the firstborn for lunch.

I know it's difficult to believe he's my offspring, what with the height, slender build, and masses of hair. But I assure you, he is my spawn.

The Prep and the Metalhead after lunch at Green Street Restaurant

Then it was off to the Huntington for a walk through their Botanical Garden. 


A bamboo forest

We really enjoyed the desert section.

And we wound up the day at Sage Plant Based Bistro and Brewery, because the Metalhead is vegetarian.

Fried artichoke hearts and Buffalo-style cauliflower "chicken"--both excellent.

Followed by a fried avocado "fish taco."

And so to bed!

Friday, March 31, 2023

Seven things I can’t wait to go out of style

I flew into Los Angeles yesterday evening and spent today visiting my son, eating delicious food, shopping, visiting the Huntington Library and Botanic garden, and dining in Old Pasadena. I took lots of photographs, but somehow my laptop can't find them. 

So for today's post, a bit of a rant. These are things that have been around for a long time, and up until today, I've maintained a tactful silence about them. But three years of pandemic life have exhausted my patience, so I feel the urge to condemn the following:

Over-lined lips

This isn't fooling anyone. We can all see exactly where your upper lip ends. And bonus snark for all of that highlighter.

Heavy-handed bronzer

Oompa loompa doompety doo.

Glue-on acrylic fingernails

I'm not going to mention the underside of nails like these, and I hope you're not imagining it.

Popover blouses

Tell me you want to save labor costs without telling me you want to save labor costs. Then charge $168 for a shirt.

Cardigans without buttons

Again, cost-cutting disguised as fashion. This cardigan is 40 percent acrylic, doesn't button, is hideous, and yet, they expect me to spend $108 for it. 

Bumbags worn across the balcony

Of course, it wasn't difficult to find this look being modeled by a Kardashian. And while we're on the subject, 


I'm tired of everyone dressing like they're on their way to the gym. Even if I do it myself. Even if I'm jonesing for that puffer vest. 

Athleisure is the Starbucks skinny vanilla latte of style, and I'm over it. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Nobody asked, but I'm answering anyway

The latest questions from Karen's latest Monday poll at Makeup and Beauty Blog:

Available at Cutely Covered for $55

1. Bucket hat or fedora?

Fedora for sure. But only in the fall/winter, and only if you really need to stay warm or keep the sun out of your eyes. The felt ones skew a little costume-y, a bit film noir, a bit Annie Hall.

The colored one above is a different matter, but it's not for the faint of heart. It's a look!

I kind of don't understand the point of bucket hats unless they have a very wide brim. Otherwise I get "tennis hat circa 1965." They're definitely a fashion thing at the moment, but mostly I get a feeling that he

Essential off-white cotton blend hat, available here for $45.00

is not happy, if only because he's going to end up with a major case of hat head. Also, $45.00? For a cotton hat?? COME ON.

2. What’s the longest you’ve been at sea?

I've been on three cruises, so if we're talking days at sea, as opposed to just being on a cruise ship, I suppose the passage from New York to Bermuda. I love it. I don't get seasick, and it's like going to a resort--I spend the whole time working out, getting treatments, walking around the deck, and reading. The process of getting on board the ship is both exhausting and nerve-wracking, but once you're on board, they take care of you. (Of course, this all happened pre-Covid.)

3. Bright magenta eyeshadow with black winged liner — yes or no?

Sure! On someone else. I can't even manage winged eyeliner, let alone combined with wild eyeshadow colors.

4. Something you’re looking forward to in April?

An end to the most current Chicago winter and two trips: the first to L.A., and the second to New York.

5. A scent that means something to you?

Don't they all? I mean, the ones we love. Scent memories are so evocative.

I guess for perfumes it would be Scherrer by Jean Louis Scherrer, a chypre that I started wearing in the 1980s and is strongly associated with the time I've spent with my husband.

In nature, it would be climbing out of the car after the long drive to New Hampshire and smelling the pine trees.

6. Whatcha wearing on your nails?

Shockingly enough, they are naked as jaybirds. I KNOW--where's my self-respect?

7. What’s one thing you can do today to set yourself up for a good Tuesday?

Well, this was a Monday post, after all, so I'm getting to it late. But since I'm flying to L.A. on Wednesday, I'd say do laundry, pack, and get enough sleep.

8. Do you enjoy spring?

Yes, yes, yes! When it finally arrives, it is beautiful. I love going to walks and admiring my neighbors' landscaping (mine is nothing to write home about, and in fact, is probably lowering property values on the entire block.)

9. Motorcycle jacket or trench coat?

Trench coat! I'm more Bogie than Brando.

And that's what I call a nice fedora. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Apparently, we're all going bald: extrinsic factors

In my last post, I discussed the fact that our the changes we experience in our hair as we age appear to be part of the natural aging process. Because they are the result of diminishing hormone levels, there isn't really anything you can do about them unless you're willing to take medical steps. 

So, short of getting a hair transplant or starting to use Minoxidil (still the gold standard for encouraging hair regrowth) what can you do? 

Well, there are the nostrums and serums and speciality shampoos that I see advertised all over Facebook Instagram, and YouTube (yes, I know; I need to get a life.) 

But let's say that like me, you are either cheap or skeptical or both. 

What can you do to preserve your hair now, without going crazy buying new and unproven stuff?

Environmental factors you can control

First of all, I've already done the best thing I could do, which is stop dyeing my hair

Me in September, 2022, posing with a glamorous friend who has also grown out her gray. If you look closely, you can see about six inches of extremely faded color at the ends

Me in December, 2022, trying to pass as a blonde with my singing group. With a few more months of growth, I'm much more gray. I've also changed my part--more on that later.

I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble, but dyeing your hair damages it. Even if you're dyeing it a nice, not-very-showy brown. I mean, we all know that going platinum blonde fries your hair. But lifting the outer cuticle of your hair in order to deposit pigment damages your hair, even if you're not making a dramatic change in color.

Also, dyeing your hair is an ongoing, accelerating process. Once you've started using permanent color--let's say, to cover gray--your hair continues to get grayer. And this means you dye it more frequently and maybe keep the dye on longer so that the color will deposit better. I went from getting a root touch up every six weeks to being at the salon every two and a half weeks. That is a lot of time spent with  chemicals on my hair. 

Far be it from me to tell you what to do about your hair color. Just don't believe it if your hairdresser assures you that color doesn't damage your hair. Maybe it doesn't when you're 35 and you're using a semi-permanent shade, but by the time you're in your sixties, half of the hairs on your head are gray, and it takes a lot of processing to change that.

Also, anything that changes the texture of your hair, like permanents and straighteners, damages it. Even Keratin treatments, that use natural protein and make it sound so healthy and conditioning and blah blah blah, leave out the part where the stylist seals the protein onto your hair by flat-ironing it into a coma

Other hair stressors

Other environmental stressors include heat styling, UV exposure, using harsh products, and rough handling.

Heat styling

Air-drying is obviously safest, but when I air-dry my hair it ends up a frizzy, partly straight and partly wavy mess, so I blow it out it twice a week. 

Not mine, This is the original.
I bought the cheap copy from a Facebook ad, and yes, I should know better

But a lot of hair tools get extremely hot. My not-Revlon blowdryer does. I mean, I've seen steam rising off my hair when I use it at the highest temperature, which is the point where damage definitely occurs. So I'm going to make sure I never use it at the maximum heat setting, and I'm going to let it air-dry a bit longer before I start drying. 

The secret to making air-drying work is figuring out what products work for you. I recently tried R+Co's Park Avenue Blowout Balm, and it is fabulous--it tames, smooths, adds body, and doesn't weigh down my hair or make it get dirty faster. 

I don't use a curling iron or flat iron often--usually just when I'm traveling. Mostly I use my giant Conair heated rollers, and I wrap each strand in a tissue before I roll it up, like old-fashioned curling papers, so I think I'm OK there. 

But I hereby pledge to only use heat on my hair twice a week. And I'll keep it to a civilized temperature.

UV Exposure

To think that all this time I've been shielding my girlish complexion against the sun while letting my hair flap around in the breeze like one of those blow-up guys they use in used car lots. 

Not to mention hanging out in chlorine pools, spending hours on the beach, taking hour and a half long walks--all with no hat on ... I'm surprised my hair and I are still on speaking terms.

Well, no more. Baseball caps it is!

Shampoo, conditioner, and other products

You've probably already heard that you should steer away from shampoos containing sulfates. Sulfates increase a shampoos ability to lather, but they don't really help to clean your hair. They're not necessary, and they strip color and can be very drying. Even if you don't color your hair, because they're very drying, they can contribute to hair breakage. 

I rejoiced like crazy when I no longer had to protect my hair color by using expensive Oribe products. With a gladsome heart, I started buying Suave shampoos. 

But then I realized that maybe I should start using something less harsh and sulfate-y. I've already popped for some magically expensive Miriam Quevedo products, so that takes care of that.

Shampooing, brushing and combing

Gently does it. I solemnly swear to treat my hair like the Hermes scarf it is, instead of the dust rag it isn't. This means no scrubbing, no rough toweling, no brisk detangling, no enthusiastic plying of the hairbrush.

Traction Alopecia

I notice that a lot of us have a degree of thinning at the temples. Maybe it's inevitable? But since that's the first place that turns gray, maybe that's where our hair is most fragile. All I know is that that's the shot that appears in every video about expensive hair serums. They always pull their hair away from their faces and zero in on the hairline at the temples. 

I noticed my hairline is looking less lush, especially on the side my part is on. So I decided to first of all switch my part from one side of my head to the other. I want to give that side a chance to grow back. 

Also, no more wearing my hair in a ponytail all damned day long. I used to put it in a ponytail to do yoga or workout and then kept it that way for hours. From henceforth, that has to stop.

Also, I'm using looser scrunchies and bobby pins instead of relying on covered elastic bands.

In conclusion

Here's TL:DR version of this drivelathon: Even if when you were young, you had hair so long, strong, and lustrous that you could use it to swing from tree to tree a la Tarzan, that is probably no longer the case. If the new normal is finer and thinner than it used to be, you need to stop taking your hair for granted and start pampering it. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Apparently, we're all going bald

You know how it is with our internet overlords. You click on a sponsored post on Instagram or watch a video on Facebook, and all of a sudden, your feed is teeming with videos about the topic in question. For a while there, all I saw was ads for underwire-free stretchy bras. And then I compounded the matter by purchasing a couple of them.

Internet, let me save you some money. Unless you are a card-carrying member of the itty-bitty titty committee (and by that I mean that if you slip your IBTC membership card into your bra for safekeeping, it would create a bulge that would be visible even with clothes on top) there is an excellent chance that those stretchy contraptions that are NOT CHEAP will give you saggy uniboobs. 

So watch out for those videos from Harper Wilde and Adore Me and the like. Their products will do nothing for your silhouette. The stretchy contraptions I bought mostly serve as pajama tops.

But back to the topic in question. I don't know whether my iPhone overheard me talking to a friend about her hair-loss situation, or I've clicked on a couple of hair-loss videos, but the shilling for specialty shampoos and serums has been going on nonstop.

Now, I'm moderately interested in the subject, because I notice that with the advancing years, I have less hair than I used to have. So I looked into things by searching medical websites--but the smartypants ones associated with major universities and the U. S. government, not the ones that are trying to sell me stuff.

And internet, it is just as I feared. First of all, our individual hairs reach their peak of robustness in early adulthood, and the individual strands get increasing thinner after that point. This explains why my hair, which used to resemble a horse's tail, is now much more manageable and actually could use some beefing up.

Our individual hairs are also more prone to breakage. I probably had all kinds of breakage going on before, but now that my hair is lighter, I'm noticing more hair on my clothes. Sometimes I think I look like I adopted a Samoyed

and it won't stop shedding all over me.

So. What's a girl to do--if she doesn't want to fall for Yet Another Internet Shill? The problem divides neatly into two categories: changes that result from the aging process, and environmental stressors. Intrinsic and extrinsic changes, if you will.

Preventing intrinsic changes: Keeping your hair young even as you age

The bad news is we can't keep the hair of our youth, any more than we can keep our twenty-something skin. After all, it's our female hormones that help create our "crowning glory," and once we reach menopause, our estrogen levels plummet. (If you've ever been pregnant, you probably have experienced fabulous pregnancy hair--along with the subsequent post-partum fallout.)

But as far as I'm concerned, all that means is that I have to face facts and stop chalking things up to a bad hair day. Hello, if I'm seeing changes in my skin, I should not be surprised to see them occurring in my hair and nails. 

Let's face it; we're not getting any younger, and our bodies are going to husband their resources to do
important, invisible stuff like protecting our vital organs. We need to be extra generous with our beneficial lifestyle choices so that our bodies have energy and time to spare for our hair, which is pretty much at the bottom of the priority list, along with our fingernails and our girlish complexions.

Changes to expect

First of all, there is graying, but you probably know all about that.

Then there are hormonal changes. Progesterone and estrogen keep your hair in its resting phase for longer and increase the rate of growth. After menopause, the growth rate slows down, and the resting phase becomes shorter. This means you probably won't be able to grow your hair as long as you once did.

Next, there is thinning. This has two causes: first, the diameter of each individual hair decreases. So if you have coarse hair, you'll find that it has become much finer. 

The second cause of hair thinning is the shutting down of individual hair follicles. Each follicle is actually producing fewer strands of hair. 

The combination of the two leads to a thinner ponytail. 

What we can do about it

You already know this stuff, because everything that is good for your overall health is good for your hair. 

To begin with, eat right--get enough protein--at least half a gram per pound of body weight per day. 

Since vitamin and mineral deficiencies are indicated in some people's hair loss, it would be a good idea to take a daily multivitamin supplement. And people also report great results from taking a biotin supplement. I take those silly strawberry flavored gummies, and I think they help.

And they're delicious!

I also take a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, although I started taking it to see whether it would help keep my knees from creaking. But apparently, it's helpful for hair growth, as are saw palmetto and flaxseed oil

Anything that boosts circulation is good, too. Your hair gets its nutrients from your blood, so exercise, massage, and even things like a rosemary mint shampoo are all to the good. 

If you're on any form of medication, check to see whether hair loss is a possible side effect. And of course, speak to your doctor! I'm just an English major with too much time on my hands and an unhealthy obsession with outward appearances.

Not to mention my black watch plaid puffer vest. 

Tune in next post, where I'll discuss what to do about extrinsic aspects of aging hair. 


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Four packages in today’s mail!

I’m working on a longer post, so for today, it’s Show and Tell, where I take pictures of the stuff I received in today’s mail, and then crop like crazy so you are spared the sight of my air fryer and microwave.

Clockwise from left: silly foot beautifying things, whey protein for my post workout smoothies, kit full of goodies from Macy’s, five Clinique lipsticks, and shaving soap for Mr. Buxom’s Easter basket. 

Clinique lipsticks in Bamboo Pink, Tender-Heart, Angel Red,  Raspberry Glacé, and A Different Grape

Benefit Cookie highlighter, Nudestix Nudies all-over blush in Sweet Peach Peony  and all-over bronzer in Sunkissed, Sunday Riley Good Genes, Elemis Pro-Collagen cleansing balm,
Lancôme Juicy Tubes in Tickled Pink

A Different Grape
Raspberry Glacé
Angel Red
Tender Heart
Bamboo Pink