Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back to the Basics

My latest haircare discovery costs $1.29. Pictured to the right is the upscale version of it. Yep, you got it -- corn starch. If you want to trace back the blame for this idea (and you should always assign blame), I'd say it goes back circa 1995 when some Allure editor started to slip in advice from haircare gurus that washing your hair daily strips it of its natural oils and to keep it healthy, you should wait a few days between shampoos. Over the seven years following that I made at least ten failed attempts to convert from daily hair-washing, all thwarted by the fact that I could smell my hair. I really didn't want to smell like hair.

It wasn't til I had kids that I successfully made the transition -- driven mostly by fatigue and a general loss of will (this was also around the time I started driving a mini-van and favoring elastic waistbands). Still, I was really turned off by the hair smell -- I just feel like we're beyond the evolutionary stage where it's necessary to smell distinctly human. So I experimented with multitudes of dry shampoos, all of which were either too medicinal (some actually had copy that read "For hospital patients who can't get out of bed"), too disgusting or had faulty packaging (the Oscar Blandi spray shampoo was the best of the bunch, but the nozzle never failed to get stuck and let all the aerosol out). I eventually moved over to baby powder, which worked just as well, but left me smelling a little too babyish and, at worst, like a baby that smelled like hair (plus, isn't talc a carcinogen when inhaled?). I'm thinking fragrances + hair smell just don't cancel each other out.

So a few weeks ago I tried the corn starch. And yes, the stuff right off the grocery store shelf, and the same stuff I use to thicken up gravy in the kitchen. It was good. It didn't result in a sickening medieval-era effect of covering a bad smell with a perfume; it just neutralized the smell. It can be a bit tricky to get onto the scalp without also getting all over my clothes, but I'm sure I'll master that at some point. Perhaps Eddie, who just moved to Oregon, might have time now to experiment in that regard and advise me on the best dispensing method?

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Alexander the Great wanted to conquer the world. Barack Obama wants to save the world. I have always wanted to have hair with volume.

If you've seen my hair, you know that I have stick-straight Asian hair with a predisposition to kick out at the bottom in the exact opposite direction from what is desired (it's like it knows...and then does whatever I don't want it to do just to tick me off). It is also really heavy, and I'm pretty sure that at least 20% of my brain power is dedicated to instructing my head to remain upright despite the gravitational pull from the hanks of hair. If I wanted really serious volume, I'd have to get a cut where my hair was no more than 1.5 inches all around -- but it'd be the wrong kind of volume (think porcupine after electric shock). I also sleep on my hair, which doesn't help, and I'm growing out my bangs, which, though not relevant to the volume issue, really doesn't help in general.

Part of having good volume (and the right kind of volume) is of course having the right cut. But my hair can't have decent volume without additional intervention. For this I have two products in the arsenal. I really like these MOP products because I'm a fan of the fresh lemongrass scent, and the products hold.

  • MOP Form Foaming Gel with Light Hold. I usually put this on near the scalp where I want volume and then blowdry my hair upside down. Pro: this has given me more volume than any other product I've ever tried, and I've tried a lot of products. Con: I should probably put in for a Prozac prescription right now, because I just found out that it's been discontinued! Why do they forsake me?!?
  • MOP Glisten Organic Volumizing Spray. If I want major volume, I'll put this on over the Forming Gel before blowdrying. In between washes, I spritz it at the roots and then blowdry upside down -- it neutralizes grease and gives a (heat-activated) lift. And I love the lemongrass-y freshness.

Try these recommendations if you have hair like mine. Send me yours. The quest continues.