Category Archives: Beauty

Chopping it all off

After I burned my scalp in May, I immediately wanted my old hair back. It was the last straw. I hated how light my hair was, hated how dry and completely damaged it was, and I hated my tan skin and platinum look. But you can’t go back in time, so I knew I would need to wait several months before I tried to deal with my roots.

Kay enjoyed the summer because he loved the blonde, even if I wouldn’t let him run his fingers through my hair anymore for fear of snapping more hair off. But after the Adriatic Sea destroyed my hair in Montenegro, I wanted to end this hot mess, so with great trepidation, I dragged myself into a salon to explain my mess and schedule a long Saturday appointment.

I wanted to be very clear even in German that I wanted to go back to my natural color, which is why I freaked out a bit when the hairdresser brought out bleach and started bleaching my roots as we started. NOOOOO. “But I want BROWN hair!!!” I told her. She assured me we would do that, but she wanted to bleach the roots so that everything would be uniform.Still, I was not happy that I waited the whole summer and several weeks of icky roots to fix my hair professionally, only to have my scalp suffering through bleach again. It wasn’t terrible, but as they were washing it out, it really started burning on my lower scalp and the next day I noticed scabbing again like when I burned my scalp.

It might be that I burned my scalp enough that it will always react this way to bleach in the future, but after this whole ordeal is over, I think I will go natural for a good, long time.I was also not a happy camper because I’d slept on my neck wrong, and it actually was really painful to turn my head left or right or look upward, which made getting my head in and out of the washing basin a bitch.

After the bleach, she put on the layer of orange/red that I was expecting. Here, she tried to explain it not to freak me out, but I knew she would have to put this undertone color on to give the brown a base to hold on to. Without the orange color underneath, it’s likely that brown on top of blonde hair turns grey or greenish. No thanks!

After the orange was done, the stylist assistant washed it out and I begged him to be gentle with my hair as he started combing it. I told him how my hair broke off very short on holiday and he tried to brush it off that they were baby hairs by my face, but baby hairs don’t extend that far back and I knew it was likely all my hair would rip off if he would continue abusing it.I sent the picture to Kay and he made some Joker references. I had tried to warn him that if my hair didn’t turn out well, I would have to cut most or all of it away. It was that damaged. But he was crossing his fingers that this would not be the case.

Next up it was time for brown.

The hairdresser was funny. She apologized that she kept switching to High German instead of speaking Swiss German to me. She asked if I was really sure I wanted to go dark. Yes. Natural. That’s the point. Maybe a medium blonde instead? NOPE. Brown. Please. So brown it was…After all the dying, we surveyed the damage. Some of the hair was so damaged that even the orange layer didn’t help it take the dye. It was too porous and wash washing out.

We had discussed styles beforehand and I had said that I wanted a shorter bob, but we agreed that at this point, a longer pixie would be better to cut more of the damaged hair off. The hairdresser was really excited to cut so much because it’s more fun for her than always trimming people’s hair. We had agreed that she would cut my hair to part it on the other side, but she got a little snip happy. While I’d said I want the long part to come down to my nose, she cut an extra 6cm off, and now when I part on the other side, it will only come down to my eyebrows, which is quite short for me!The hairdresser also loved how “cool” I was. She kept saying how surprised she was with how calm and relaxed I was while she hacked my hair off. Other people would gasp or cry she said, but nothing fazed me. Go dark, go short. It’s just hair… and if she’s a little scissor happy, there’s nothing I can do once she cuts a section off.

It’s not exactly the cut I imagined, but I am enjoying how short it is because I haven’t had hair this short since I was six for fear of being asked if I am a boy again. And it’s just hair, it will grow back.

I’m so happy to be brunette again!

Burning for Blonde: Don’t try this at home.

Well folks, I really overdid it this time. A couple weeks after our sunny weekend in Athens, I decided that almost seven weeks of regrowth meant that it was time to do another root job.

May 3rd in Athens:

IMG_6314After sectioning off my hair, I mixed up my bleach and developer and got to work as I always have with my roots, but this time it was different. About 6-7 minutes into my application, my scalp started to burn fairly intensely.

I became nervous because this has never happened to me while bleaching my hair before, but it’s obviously a very, very bad sign. I was nervous of two things: giving myself a chemical burn or stopping immediately with half of my roots half-developed. Neither are really lovely hair situations to deal with later on.

Since I was almost done getting to the top of my roots and finishing application, I decided to at least finish applying the bleach and then see if I should rinse it off if the pain persisted or got worse. At 8.5 minutes I was done applying, but my lower scalp really burned. I was going to rinse it off right then, but then it sort of stopped hurting around 10 minutes developing time and seemed normal again.

I let my hair process normally and then I showered and conditioned as usual as well, but it was clear that my hair and my scalp really did not care for this last root job. When I got out of the shower, it was clear that much of my hair was breaking off all around, leaving me with tons of little frizzies and the rest was fried to straw.

May 15 after a LOT of hair oil and wax:

Not only that, but my color is still uneven. It’s darker yellow in some spots, but I cannot take the orange out without adding in too much purple or gray to the lighter, whiter parts. It’s a mess. My hair is a hot mess and it depresses me. I don’t even like the fact that my skin is so tan right now from all the time outdoors. I don’t like my platinum blonde, tan look. I hate it!

Now is the part where regret is sinking in: My scalp did not really hurt the rest of the evening, but I could tell that I did chemically burn it slightly. The skin on my head felt tight when I flexed my face muscles.

The next morning I woke up with very slight scabs in many spots where it had burned. It doesn’t seem to be bleeding (My advice, don’t ever google “bleach scalp burn”!) or continuing to seep, so I am treating it as a regular burn by applying neosporin and aloe vera. It’s kind of like having a bad case of dandruff that’s been scratched too much, so I’m trying very hard not to touch it at all and realizing that I will need to be extremely patient to get out of this blonde mess.

Part of me wishes that I could go back in time and decide to never bleach my hair. The other part of me vows that this is the last time I bleach my hair at home DIY style. If I want platinum in the future, I will have to face the facts and pay up at the salon. While I continue to be terrified of Swiss salon prices, I think I will have to go visit one to figure out how to grow my hair out from here. I really want to just go back to natural brown and let my whole head of hair grow out, because this straw left here is just pitiful and makes me sad.

My plan now is to grow my hair out for at least a month before I think about dyeing it at all. It’s sad, but I am not even happy how the color turned out, but I know that it would be healthier if I wait at least two months or more to try and address my root problem by then. Sigh. This was a big, fat fail.

Have you ever had a chemical burn from hair products? Did you ever immediately regret coloring your hair? Please tell me I am not alone!

Back to Blonde

So this happened over the weekend…

I’ve been thinking about going bleach blonde again for a few years and since my scalp finally seems healthier since quitting gluten (amazing!) I decided to go for it.

For a few reasons, I decided to DIY it:

  • Hairdressers in Switzerland are $$$. My last trim, only a trim on short hair was $100!
  • Instant gratification: I wanted to do it ASAP one Saturday
  • I enjoy dyeing my hair myself

That said, this did not go so well. Switzerland is kind of strict about professional hair products and they don’t sell them in stores here. Leave it to the professionals and go pay $300 for your dye job!

The best I found in Migros and Coop were box bleach kits, but it looked like I would be able to order my own bleaching ingredients easily off Amazon, so I bit the bullet and did it.

This was a bad idea for a few reasons:

  • Splotchiest bleach job I have ever given myself. I didn’t catch all my roots because I ran out of bleach mix.
  • I didn’t leave the bleach in quite long enough to process
  • I realized in my Amazon checkout that even though the items said they would ship to Switzerland, they would not in fact ship to Switzerland
  • I had no idea what bleach powder or developer were called in German, let alone where to buy them ASAP in Swiss land

I started the timer when I began the application and from start to finish I only left it in for 45 minutes. I took a little longer applying than I usually do, so the top layers especially did not have enough time to process.

It was so patchy that I immediately blow dried my hair (bad, I know!) to survey the damage thinking, “OMG, what have I done to my pretty natural hair?! What have I done? Crap, crap, crap!”

After I blow dried, I immediately opened up the second bleach kit I bought (even worse, I know!) and went for the patchy stuff. I worked quickly and left it on for 30 minutes because I was afraid of frying my hair. The results were still much too buttery, but I deep conditioned and resigned myself that I would have to go to work on Monday like this.

After a lot of searching and some German learning, I found a place where I could order 30v developer, 13v developer, bleach powder and Wella toner. I couldn’t buy the same American brands as I wanted to on Amazon, but they were at least professional salon grade products.

My hair needed toned like WHOA and I had to go to work on Monday and Tuesday looking like a butter head, which didn’t invoke the sort of reactions I was hoping for. I mostly hoped people would ignore my drastic change until I could fix it.

Tuesday afternoon my weapons arrived and that night I did another very small round of bleaching to try and address my patchy spots again, only leaving the bleach in for 28 minutes because I was super afraid of literally melting my hair off.

After that I toned with Wella’s Color Touch Relights 18 and left it on for about 7 minutes after application. It has the tendency to turn grey, which I was reading about while I was applying, so I rushed to the bathroom to wash it out before I started looking like an elderly woman.

It’s SO much better in person with the toning. I am never bleaching my hair without toner at home ever again! Never bleaching with a bleach kit again! I really missed mixing my own developer and powder and lord knows what happens if you run out of your mix while you are working. With developer and powder, you just mix some more!!

I still think I could fix the patchy spots a little bit more, but I will wait and do that later. I might look into bleach shampooing to try and even out the level a little more before re-toning after I do my roots, but overall I am pretty happy.

Not sure how long I will stay blonde, but I now have a big tub of lightening powder and bottles of developer.

Lesson learned: Never bleach your hair with box kits. It turns out poorly whether you are 16 or 27.

Have you ever gone bleach blonde?

Inside my Gym Bag

My gym bag is not very pretty. I use an old fold-up Totes bag that I “borrowed” from my mother. I’ve used it on many trips in my lifetime, from summer camp to packing as an extra bag to fold out and bring back as checked luggage full of chocolate and gummies from my first trip to Switzerland.

With the small handles and no cross-body strap, it’s not always the most comfortable to carry, but it was free to use what I had and works. Nobody said you need to spend extra money to work out.

So here’s what I’ve got stashed inside:

1. Wash glove: OK, I did go out and buy this. After a few weeks at the gym, I realized that it was hard to lather up and wash myself quickly and effectively without a loofah or something. I picked up this glove from a CVS in Puerto Rico and have been using it ever since. It’s maybe not my favorite, but the glove does give me a good exfoliation every morning!

2. Towel: Every other week I use my lighter, quick-dry camping towel that I had already or one of our smaller bath towels. Not pictured here is also my workout towel which is always a smaller quick-dry towel to save on weight and space.

3. Soap: I bought a bottle of camping soap for the container. It closes really tightly, but now I just refill it with whatever soap I want. I also have a travel size container with face soap that I refill. I store them both in a plastic bag I had on hand in case they would leak.

4. Plastic pouch: I think this was for a pillow or something originally. I stuff my towels in here to transport to the office without getting everything else in the bag wet. I pull out my towel at the office and let it dry on a rolling cupboard under my desk. Sneaky, sneaky.

5. Straightening Iron inside inside-out silicon oven mitt: This  was not in my bag when I had long hair, but the oven mitt was my DIY solution to finding a heat resistant carrier for my straightener. I also bought a new GHD straightener for short hair, but to be honest I’m not sure if I got a fake copy and I’m not totally sold if it’s real. It works alright though, so I’m keeping it till it breaks.

6. Shampoo: This also was not in my bag pre-hair cut. Now I wash my hair three times a week instead of twice a week and generally I do it twice during the week at the gym.

7. Deodorant: Used a lot in the summer, but TBH, I have stopped using it since it got cold out. I just lotion my armpits now and don’t really sweat during the day since it’s cold. I also don’t put deodorant on just to work out and then shower. It seems way more healthy to let the sweat glands work they way they are supposed to!

8. Lotion: I keep small tubes in my bag and lotion after every shower. I’m better about it at the gym than I am at home.

9. Dry Shampoo: For the days when I need a freshen up, usually on the third or fourth day with long hair, but already by the second or third day with short hair.

10/11: Gym card and hair ties: I keep these in one of the pockets on the front. I store all the hair ties and clips and claws to avoid losing them in the bag and so I can grab them easily at home for the next day.13. Armband for phone: Honestly, I’ve kind of stopped using this since I got a new phone with a leather case. I don’t like taking it out of the case and I haven’t figured out how to make playlists with iTunes on xperia. They just … don’t transfer! It’s one of the only things I don’t like about the phone. Listening to music is fine, but making a beat bumping energy pumping workout playlist is not happening.

14/15. Earbuds, Lock and Undies: I use the outer pocket to store these items. The lock and earbuds for easy access and the undies to keep them clean. I don’t know why… but undies are the only thing I have consistently forgotten. It’s happened a handful of times since I started and I don’t like to  be caught without fresh undies, so I keep an emergency pair. Used em twice so far!

16. Clothes: Each night I pick out my clothes for the next day and pack them up in my bag before I go to sleep. I even have to pick out my shoes and scarves and put them by the door because in the morning I’m so tired that I have no idea what I picked out anymore. I always pick out clothes the night before because I’m too groggy to make good fashion decisions in the morning and with the gym schedule, I only have 15 minutes from when I get up to when I need to leave. There’s not enough time!

Sometimes I’m even more proactive and I pick out the clothes for the next two days if I know that I’ll have an evening event the next day that would prevent me from doing my clothes planning when I get home. I don’t like to wake Kay up, so it’s easier to have the pile there ready when I get home late some days. Yes, you have to look at the weather and rely on it in order to do this.

17. Toiletries Bag: I store all my skincare, makeup, hair brushes and any jewelry I’ll be wearing for the day in here so that I can dump it all out on the counter and quickly go through all the products until they are back in the bag. If something isn’t used in my routine, I take it out.

18. Bag with Gym Shoes: I store my shoes in a bag to separate things in the main bag a little. I can use the bag to block my used gym towel from touching my fresh clothes or to block my stinky used gym clothes from touching something I might stuff in on the way home, like a coat, sweater or scarf.

Not pictured above would be my gym clothes that I wear on the way to the gym and store rolled up in my gym towel on the way home. That would be some yoga pants, running bra and top, socks, undies and my heart rate monitor.

Inside the toiletry bag:

  1. Makeup brushes. Tried to only bring the essentials, but I bring a little more eyeshadow brushes so I can do a normal eye or a smokey eye. I also have an eyebrow pen in here.
  2. 24h Maybelline Lipstick
  3. Mac False Lashes Mascara
  4. Jewelry, including earrings because I don’t have time to put them in at home.
  5. NYX Eyebrow Palette
  6. Clinique Blush
  7. Brush and Teasing Comb
  8. Armani Maestro Foundation
  9. Urban Decay Eye Potion Primer (a must, even at the gym!)
  10. Roller Eye Cream, speedy, speedy, speedy!
  11. Naked Basics Eyeshadow Palette
  12. Toner in Travel Size Bottle
  13. Day Cream with SPF 15
  14. Bag for makeup brushes

Sometimes I switch up my eyeshadow palette and I have a few more lipsticks in my purse at times, but for the most part I keep my makeup the same and just do different looks with the Naked palette.

What’s in your gym bag? I’d love to see you write a post and link back here with your must-haves!


Finally, a real post wedding chop almost three years after the wedding!

I thought about it for a long time and told Kay that I would chop my hair off at some point. I had told myself I’d wait for my bangs to grow out, but then I decided against that and went home after work one night and did this:

I relented and finally went to the hair dressers for the first time in 15 years to trim up the back, which is quite short. I told them I didn’t want a shampoo, just a trim, and they ended up doing the shampoo against my wishes.

I also just wanted a trim, not a whole haircut, but the hair dresser went a little nuts and cut off more than I wanted. I wanted to keep the front much longer and more dramatically angled and at the end of the haircut he snipped off one side… then I thought he had to even it out, but when he went for the other side he did even more, so now the hair is about 3/4″ longer on one side than the other.

Shampoo plus “real” haircut I didn’t want, plus blow drying to double check the cut when it was dry cost me 95CHF / $100.

…and that folks, is why I hate going to the hair dresser. They don’t do what you want, they cut more than you want and they charge you a shit ton. I was happier with the back, but upset about the front. I mean, it will grow again, but why did I have to pay 95 bucks for that? I can cut uneven hair myself.

Kay pretty much hated the haircut at first. He is sort of warming up to it, but he really likes it long. I’m getting used to having hair above my shoulders again. It’s been years!

Lots of people have been asking me if I’m happy how much faster it is to style now, but unless you do a super pixie haircut, this style actually takes much longer to do than long hair!

With long hair I would wash it twice a week and wear it twice down and once or twice up with dry shampoo. Pulling it up and keeping it out of my way at the gym was easy.

Now with short hair, the hair gets a lot sweatier at the gym and I need to wash it more often. Styling at the gym means a lot of blow drying, even if I didn’t shampoo it that day. After blow drying it I have to straighten it. So nope… it’s really a way more time-intensive haircut, but I knew that when I did it.

Hurrah for short hair!