Sunday, January 10, 2010

A smooth 'n sleek January to you.

So here's something I just discovered.

I have hair that has inspired, in equal parts, envy and pity.  Those with hard-to-curl fine hair (like my friend Doris) have expressed envy over the abundance and get-up-and-go of my tresses (I define this, of course, as bushiness and unwieldiness).  Others, who shall remain nameless, have clucked their tongues sympathetically when observing my hair hitting humidity in real time.  You can actually watch it sieze up into an uneven, wholly unflattering semi-afro.  

As a vocalist and the wife of the owner of many sensitive, handmade wooden musical instruments, I abhor atmospheric dryness and work doggedly to counteract the life-sucking forces of low humidity in our home.  However, there is one very big reason I dig the dryness of a cold winter day, and that has to do with my hair.  For when it is bone-dry outside and in, I can blow-dry my hair to a swooping, silky sheen that lasts for days, sort of.

Why sort of?  Because once I work out or sleep on my hair, some pesky bend and fuzz resumes and each morning I must wield my blow dryer anew to yank the personality out of those bits and get them back with the program. but last night I had a revelation.

I'd just been reading (in Allure?  in Lucky? in Bazaar?) a few tips for the erstwhile blow dryer, and among these was the suggestion that one use a heat protective spray on damp hair before drying.  Preparing for a rare evening out last night (to the High Line Ballroom, to hear the luminous Carrie Rodriguez), I recalled this tip and realized I had some of this very stuff on hand.  I applied it, dried my hair, and went out.  

Arriving home some hours later, I lamented (internally) that I was merely hitting the hay when my hair looked so nice--such a waste! I should go out and hit a few clubs or Vogue photo shoots or something--but reasoned that it shouldn't take too much effort to get it back into fine fetter in the morning, since I was working with decent raw material for once.

My enchanting husband allowed me a very, very long lie-in this morning.  When I woke, eleven hours later (!!!), I glanced in the bathroom mirror to assess the damage and my jaw hit the ground.  My hair looked Exactly. Like. It. Did. When. I. Went. To. Sleep.  This in spite of the usual flopping around, smashing my head into the pillow, perspiring in my sleep, etc.  The texture of my hair was totally different, which I can only attribute to the application of this product.  

So I shall share it with you:  It is made by Schwarzkopf, from their göt 2b line, and is called Crazy Sleek hot smooth flat iron & blow dry lotion.  It apparently won a superstar beauty award in 2007 (whatever that is).  It comes--or may still come, since I bought it awhile ago and you know how beauty products change packaging constantly--in an orange plastic bottle with an exaggerated hot pink sprayer.  I haven't the faintest idea what the secret ingredient is, otherwise I'd advise you to go out and buy any heat protective lotion for hair containing that ingredient, so all I can do is recommend this one product.  But it's sensational.

A few more very useful tips:

-  Invest in an ionic blow dryer.  They actually now cost no more than a regular one.  Also, buy the highest wattage you can find.  Few drugstore blow dryers go above 1850 watts, but sometimes you can find 2000.  Higher heat + more power = less time drying (i.e. less annoyance) and less damage to hair (i.e. fewer expensive haircuts)

- Invest in a ceramic core natural bristle brush.  Ceramic reacts well with ionic dryers and reduces drying time.  Natural bristles pull the hair more gently and help distribute product and natural oils.  Also, if you're going for a super-sleek look, nothing beats natural bristles.  Get the largest diameter you can comfortably handle with your length of hair.

-  Let hair air dry awhile before applying your heat protective spray.  If you apply it to dripping hair, it's just going to slow the whole process down.

-  When you have blown and coiffed yourself to perfection, turn the dryer on cold and blast your hair all over for a couple of minutes to remove all traces of warmth from your hair.  This precipitous drop in temperature helps close the cuticle of the hair and lessens the likelihood that your hair will suck up humidity at the slightest provocation.  Once hair is cold, brush again and style.  You can also do the cooling-off step in front of a fan or an air conditioner, or by sticking your head out the window on a day like today (brrr.)

-  If you have intractable, frizz-prone bangs and temples, like me, once you achieve your nicely styled, cold hair, you should give it a blast with humidity-busting hairspray.  I actually brush my bangs back with spray and secure them with the lightest spray possible.  Then I let them hang out there and dry/further cool off.  When I brush it all out in a few minutes, my hair is further humidity-proofed, soft and non-hairsprayed-feeling.  

For those of you interested in the usual type of posting I do, I ask, well, why can't a blog on the gentle arts of the home not include tips on personal grooming?  I think the care of one's appearance is part of the whole thing.  In fact, I totally eschew the image of the Crafty Mom or the Home Baker or the Doting Wife as being dowdy, poorly groomed, uncoiffed.  I say, let us forge a new image of the modern woman, one who is not only a Dedicated Follower of Fashion (with apologies to Ray Davies) and up-to-date on the latest in skin and hair care, but one who also knows the difference between a blackberry and a marionberry, how much a perfectly baked muffin should spring back when touched, how to best clean her drapes.

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