Monthly Archives: February 2017

Going Straight

I’ve always longed for straight hair. As a pre-teen in the Swinging Sixties I envied iconic model Jean Shrimpton, whose flowing mane seemed impervious to the rain, humidity and heat which turned my own careful flip into a flop faster than you could say “Carnaby Street”.

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’ll remember ironing your hair — yes, bending over an actual ironing board and flattening it with an iron! — or setting it by wrapping your hair sideways around your head or rolling it over empty beer or soup cans.

In fact, the first time my husband saw me, in the summer of ’68, I was walking around the theatre where we both worked with my hair in those giant improvised rollers.

And yet he married me (admittedly, 40+ years later)!

Over the decades, I’ve sort of made peace with my wavy hair, but as I’ve gotten older it’s become harder to manage, with an uneven curl pattern exacerbated by wiry greys that insist on poking through.

I’d been tempted by keratin, Japanese and Brazilian treatments but the potential damage from harsh chemicals (including formaldehyde) scared me off. Then my colorist at Aveda told me about their Smooth Infusion Retexturizing salon treatment.

Aveda’s mission is to use as many organic and natural ingredients as possible, so their gentler formula protects hair during processing with organic jojoba oil and coconut-derived conditioners. Unlike a chemical relaxer, this is a thermal straightener designed to minimize potential breakage, while organic ylang ylang oil contributes a pleasant scent instead of a strong chemical odor.

The Smooth Infusion Retexturizing Treatment is not for the impatient or the faint of wallet. It takes about 3 hours and is not cheap. But after doing this a few weeks ago I’m convinced it’s worth it—and I should only need touch-ups every 6-12 months depending on how fast my curly roots grow.

One great thing about the Aveda system is that it can be customized from stick straight to loose curls. I opted to leave a slight wave so my fine hair wouldn’t be completely flat and would have some texture if I just let it air dry.

This is a multi-step process. After a consult about the desired results, and a caution that it may lighten hair a shade or two (which, for me, was a benefit), here’s what happens:

  • Shampoo and treat; rinse
  • Apply re-texturizing creme
  • Process (about 20 minutes)
  • Rinse
  • Blow dry and flat iron
  • Apply neutralizer
  • Process (about 7 minutes)
  • Rinse
  • Blow dry and finish
  • Don’t wash your hair for 72 hours.

Check out this You Tube video to see all the steps.

 

(Wet hair before treatment)                                        (Wet hair after treatment)

The result: My hair was smooth and shiny and the process did indeed lighten the color slightly. It’s now much easier to style, barely needs a flat iron to lie smooth, and hasn’t puffed up on the days we’ve had high humidity or rain. If I save 20 minutes whenever I wash my hair, the 3 hours spent at the salon will more than pay off.

Next time, I might even go straighter. All in all, highly recommended!

 

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I Miss “Miss Manners”

Lately, my husband and I have been wondering, “Was he/she raised in a barn?” This week, I was particularly reminded that manners in general are going to hell in a hand basket. (And what the hell IS a hand basket?)

Too bad more people haven’t read Miss Manners’ (aka Judith Martin’s) Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, a beacon of civility in an increasingly uncivil world.

As she might tell you, manners aren’t arbitrary rules dictated by some humorless expert; they exist to make people more comfortable. By knowing how to behave you put others at ease and everyone gets along with at least the appearance of grace and mutual respect.

When I was a kid, my parents bought my sister and me copies of a book called Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers. Written by Walter Hoving, former chairman of Tiffany’s of New York, it’s a delightful step-by-step introduction to all the basics, from the moment the meal begins. Sample: “Remember that a dinner party is not a funeral, nor has your hostess invited you because she thinks you are in dire need of food. You’re there to be entertaining.”

Miss M would also insist upon a proper dress code to honor the host’s wishes and the occasion.

Recently, I attended a lovely afternoon interfaith tea, where each of the 10-seat tables had been dressed to the nines (an Old English or Scots expression dating back to the 1700’s, possibly a corruption of “thine eyes”, though no one seems certain). The women were also dressed nicely, in appreciation of the event itself and the time people spent planning it.

Later that evening, my husband and I attended a memorial service at that same synagogue. I’d have thought this would be a more formal occasion than a tea. Nope. Some attendees wore jeans and sneakers and most of the men — including the rabbi– didn’t even bother to put on a yarmulke. Call me a fuddy-duddy but I think death is one of those instances where people should make an effort, especially in a house of worship.

While I’m on my manners hobbyhorse, here are a few personal experiences that get my goat:

– Guests who bring uninvited extra people to a sit-down dinner and don’t even apologize; guests who show up hours late to a dinner party (not an open house); guests who don’t send a “bread and butter” thank-you note or e-mail. Is it just me?

– In December, one guest showed up at his colleague’s black tie holiday party – knowing full well that formality was important to the host – in faded jeans. The implication: “My comfort is more important than your wishes”. My grandmother would have said, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

– And have you ever sent a gift to someone and not received a thank you card or acknowledgment, making you forever wonder whether it arrived, or if they hated it?

-Also on the subject of gifts: There’s a wealthy woman we know who attended the wedding of a young woman who’d worked for her — and whose parents were close friends  — who gifted the happy couple with a $20 picture frame she’d probably picked up at the drugstore on the way to the wedding.

Strictly speaking, this might not fall under the heading of “manners” but… isn’t a gift supposed to match the occasion?

I’m not advocating a return to white gloves, bustles, or waiting to the point of silliness for someone to open a door for you. But wouldn’t the world be a little bit nicer if everyone made a bit more effort?

 

The Eyes Have It: Adventures in Monovision

When I first got contact lenses in 7th grade and announced ecstatically that I could finally see properly, my mother burst into tears. I remember this primarily because it’s the only sentimental thing she ever did.

Since then, glasses, contacts and post-age-40 reading glasses have been a fact of life and an ever-expanding part of my wardrobe.  If I wear my contacts I can’t see anything smaller than type THIS BIG so I stash reading glasses all over the house, in the car and in at least one pocket.  This also requires the expensive addition of reader sunglasses — also stashed in multiple locations. And yet, I often can’t find a pair.

Although I see best with my regular (progressive bifocal) glasses, they’re a real pain. They get dirty. They stretch and eventually slip off my nose. And they’re heavy enough to break tiny blood vessels in my cheeks if I wear them all the time. Memo: stock up on cover up.

Eventually I’ll probably need cataract surgery and maybe by then science will have a perfect solution. Meanwhile, at my latest annual eye exam, my doctor suggested I try monovision to eliminate the need for readers, which she thought would work better for me than bifocal contacts.

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How It Works

With monovision, you wear a contact lens on one eye to correct your distance vision (aka nearsightedness) and a lens on the other eye to correct your near vision (farsightedness). The distance vision lens is worn on your dominant eye, i.e., the one that sees far away objects better.

The term “monovision” is a bit misleading. After about a week or two, brain learns to merge the two images to (theoretically) let you see clearly at all distances. But each eye will still see best at its own designated correction.

eye-chart-24489_640

Plan on Multiple Visits

My eye doctor warned me that it might take multiple visits before landing on the right combination. Meanwhile, as my friend S (who won’t try this) says, I could be walking into walls. I leave with a 10-day supply of trial lenses. Note: you may be charged a higher fitting fee than usual because most people need “tweaking” before the lenses are perfect.

Rx 1: Right eye (distance) same as my normal prescription. Left eye (close up): under-corrected for distance and too blurry for close-up reading. Result: dizziness and lousy vision. Lose-lose.

Rx 2: A different doctor (young and impossibly chic) gives me a thorough exam trying a lot of subtle modifications to get me closer to the best prescription. Results: No change to right eye. Left eye made weaker so close-ups are better, but not great. Still dizzy and not seeing well enough. Feh.

Rx 3 (3 weeks after my initial checkup): Dr. Chic has me try a toric (weighted) lens for the mild astigmatism in my right eye. Upside: distance vision is a little sharper. Downsides: toric lenses are more expensive, thicker, and have to be perfectly positioned. She explains that there is a vertical line on the lens that should be at the bottom when you place it in your eye. After struggling to figure out why the line keeps moving, I realize the next day that there are actually TWO vertical lines – one will be at the top of the lens when the other is at the bottom. This seems unnecessarily complicated.

For the left eye, she gives me an even weaker lens. Now my close-up vision is excellent. Off I go with more test lenses, opting to wait a few days to see if this whole experiment is worth it or if I should just renew my old contacts prescription and stick with reading glasses. After all, I have made a substantial investment in readers at this point!

laptop-1047086_640The Research

What I’ve learned so far: Not everyone is a monovision candidate. Some people find that it compromises the clarity of their distance vision, making far away objects appear slightly blurry. I suspect this is going to be my problem, especially when I’m driving.

For others, monovision doesn’t provide good enough near vision to eliminate the need for readers. That would be pointless, no?

Finally, although the two eyes work together as a team, there can be a slight loss in depth perception. And I’d always need to carry glasses with me in case of an emergency (e.g., getting something in my distance eye and truly not being able to see anything.) If I have to carry glasses, wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to just wear them?? Plus, they’re never going to fit in a small purse.

All in all, I’m giving this another week. Fingers (and eyes) crossed!