Red, Blonde and Curly: One Girl’s Hair Diary

This week’s Friend Friday is all about hair. I’ve always struggled with my relationship with my hair. Many feminists may argue hair is culturally tied to the perception of a woman’s beauty. Me? I just like having long hair.

How often do you get your hair cut?
About once every six months. In fact, I just got my hair cut last Friday.

Do you go to the same stylist each time, try someone new, go to the cheap hair cutting chains or live it up in a salon?
I’ve had the same hair dresser for 9 years. Every time I try someone knew, I’m always reminded why I keep going back. She’s like part of my family.

Do you color your hair? How often? What’s your natural color?
I dyed my hair about three times when I was about 13 or 14, mostly to be rebellious. I didn’t dye it again until I was 21 and decided I wanted to go blonde. At this point in my life, I had just finished my hardest semester in college and needed a change. It was fun while it lasted, though I can’t say “blondes have more fun.” If what people mean when they say that is really, “Blondes get hit on by creepy guys in bars more often,” then maybe yes, I had more “fun.”

The past three years have been working on growing out this color and not freaking out about red undertones in my brunette hair. I’ve also been very careful about not further damaging it with hair dye and heat.

The one thing you always do to keep your hair looking great is . . .
Not doing anything to it. Seriously. The heat and the humidity of the South keeps my hair wavy. Why use a curling iron when I have Mother Nature?

What hair trend do you love and wish you could rock?
I think with a lot of hair trends, I feel like, “Been there, done that.” I’ve dyed it, curled it, straightened it, cut it all off, grew it long, wore it wavy, had roots, had red hair. I think I’m content with my hair the way it is. Either that or I don’t keep up with hair trends.

Rocking a Romper

My little sisters are my way of keeping in touch with what’s in fashion for real stylish young women. Maria, above, sported a cute romper from Forever 21, which has so many rompers that you may go cross-eyed.

Maria shared her tips with me about how to wear, accessorize and feel comfortable in a romper.

A Casual Look

Maria wore this outfit for an afternoon of shopping. She accessorized it with simple fake pearl earrings that were minimal yet classy as not to take away from the romper. Maria’s biggest tip was to make sure you feel comfortable in an outfit like this.

For Evening Wear

Maria suggests this second look for evening wear, perhaps out on a date or when hanging out with friends.

By adding tights to the romper, you may feel more comfortable since your bare legs are covered up. Tights also make a nice addition for early summer weather that may still be cold.

Maria accessorized this look with a statement earring that are more showy and fun, which, she says, is better for a date.

Most importantly? Romp in the romper!

Maria, with our family’s dog, Martin
Will you be rocking a romper this summer?

5 Ways to Improve Your Blog

About a month ago, I realized I’ve spent more years of my life on the internet than I have off it. A few years after discovering the internet, I started creating personal websites and eventually had my own domain for four years. I mention this not to flaunt numbers. I’m not going to tell you I’m any better than any other blogger for the time I’ve spent splicing HTML and installing plugins. I’m tell you this because I think it’s important to know where people are coming from with a blog.

My goal is to be a member of the blogging community, to learn from other bloggers and improve my craft. This week’s Friend Friday is about improving blogs. I wanted to come at these questions from a point of positivity because my goal is to build others up.

Give Your Entries a Timeline
Whenever I visit a blog, one of the first things I do is look at the date on an entry after reading the title. I like to know if what I’m reading is up-to-date or a few months old. Dates also give readers an insight to how often you post, which can help build your community. It also helps retain readers. For example, about once every other month, I go through my blogroll and take off blogs that haven’t updated in over a month.

Archive Entries and Make That Archive Easily Accessible
Readers should know where to go to find old entries. I think this is so important that a link to your blog archive should be above the fold, or within the first 800pixels of your blog. Especially when I find a new blog, I want to be able to easily access other entries. An archive can also give readers context for how long you’ve been blogging.

Choose a Universally Readable Font
Follow resume rules when choosing a blogging font. Fonts shouldn’t be smaller than 10px and shouldn’t be larger than 12px. Choose an easily readable font like arial, verdana and times new roman. I have had several instances where I’ve visited a new blog and have had to leave due to unreadable font. Choosing a more friendly font is also welcoming to those who have poor vision. If you use WordPress as your blogging platform, you may even want to consider installing the Font Resizer plugin.

Use Clear Images or Not Images At All
Lots of people think blogging hinges on having good images and photos. However, if you use low quality images, this can actually hurt your blog. I’ve unsubscribed from several blogs for pixelated and fuzzy images. You may want to consider external hosting for images such as Flickr, which I recommend because the company allows you to retain the copyright to your photos. Once uploaded, you can then copy the HTML code directly into your blog.

De-clutter Your Blog
This opinion is purely personal: I like blogs with a clean and de-cluttered design. I don’t prefer blog designs with two sidebars, one of which is jam packed with ads and the other with links and other photos. It’s like information overload. You want your readers to know where to go when they arrive to your blog. And for the love of Jebus–get rid of those tag clouds! I don’t need to know every different topic you’ve ever written on. Link only to tags that have a significant amount of entries under then (I say 10 or more).

What do you like and dislike about blog design?

Women, Fear and Makeup

“I don’t know much about makeup!” a co-worker said before giving me a run down of her favorite designer cosmetics. She had a favorite foundation and a preferred application style. The fact was, she knew a lot about makeup. At first, my reaction is superficial: Maybe she’s never read a book by Kevyn Aucoin or seen Lisa Eldridge on YouTube.

However, in a $10 billion dollar a year industry, I doubt deprivation from books and YouTube videos is to blame. My question is: Why are women afraid? And, better yet, how can we combat our fears?

Cosmetic Companies Don’t Cash In On Confidence

The principal of makeup is that you can create a better “you” using a product. Fuller lips. Longer lashes. Flawless skin. All can come from makeup. Except it can’t. Cosmetic companies sell this idea so consumers will continue to shell out hundreds of dollars in hopes that they may be prettier, younger, slimmer, whatever. In an industry built on capitalizing on your doubts, fear is bound to be just around the corner.

How can you combat this feeling? Marketing is a strong pull, no doubt. But that shouldn’t stop you from feeling confident about the products you use and the knowledge you gain from using them. Develop your own opinion about how a product works and what it actually does. Realize that a product shouldn’t change you.

What You See Isn’t What You Get

When browsing a magazine, you may stumble across an impossibly beautiful woman in a makeup ad. The model’s skin is pore-less and her lipstick is the perfect shade of red. Just as you’re about to think, “I could never do that!” stop yourself! The makeup artist couldn’t do it either. Well, at least not without Photoshop. Here’s a before and after photo of what Photoshop can do for a makeup advertisement:

To build confidence, start recognizing when and where advertisements use Photoshop to brush away human imperfections. Ladies, no one looks like this, not even models.

They Get You When You’re Young

The average American woman starts using makeup at age 13, when they are young and, most certainly, impressionable. If everyone else started using makeup at the same age you did, then why doubt your knowledge? Is the way you apply mascara really all that different from the next woman’s? Doubtful! Be confident about your experience, but also be critical of it. Having started using makeup at a young age, you may have established ideas about it. What are they and why do you have them?

Don’t Doubt Yourself!

Maybe it’s uncommon for you to have makeup come up in every day conversation, but, if it does, don’t doubt your own knowledge. If you find yourself downplaying what you know, ask why?

Up until recently, I called makeup a frivolous interest. That’s not true–it isn’t. Makeup, to me, is an art form that can change the way you feel about yourself. And I think knowledge about how to do that is powerful. So don’t downplay what you know–use it to help other women who may be seeking out information but don’t know how or who to ask.

Searching for Fashion Inspiration

Everyday many factors influence what you choose to wear from underwear to eyeshadow. This week’s Friend Friday we’re talking all about where we find our fashion inspiration.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
I subscribe to Elle, Martha Stewart Living and Good Housekeeping. Using a bunch of airline miles that weren’t enough to cash in for a flight, I am now subscribed to Lucky, W and Glamour.

While Martha Stewart Living isn’t known as a beauty magazine, I found a chart in an issue of lip glosses and lipstick by complexion. It surpasses most color charts I’ve seen in books dedicated to makeup.

Bobbi Brown's color chart on top. Martha Stewart's color chart on bottom.

Over the years, I have collected looks from a variety of magazines to make my own lookbook, which helps track my fashion interests and provide inspiration for what to wear. To learn more about how to create your own lookbook, read this post.

Do you watch any fashion TV shows?
I thought I was a fan of the Rachel Zoe Project until I bought season one on DVD and was reminded of how annoying Taylor is.

Beyond blogs, what websites do you frequent for fashion inspiration?
I don’t read these site daily, but I do follow several fashion powerhouses for up-to-date information on fashion: @CutBlog, @TheMoment, @NYTimesStyle and @WomensWearDaily.

Advertisements play a huge role in forming public opinion about a product or brand. What ads do you like and why?
To be honest, word of mouth advertising has a bigger role in what I purchase than traditional advertising. Before I started reading blogs and watching YouTube videos, I didn’t much care for brands like Urban Decay or MAC. Now? I have MAC foundations, Urban Decay eyeshadows and who knows what else!

Do you own any fashion books?

My fashion book collection does not extend very far as I prefer not to follow their advice especially if it’s trend driven. However, I do own three makeup manuals and books that range from building basic knowledge to step-by-step tutorials. My favorite by far is Kevyn Aucoin’s Making Faces.

What about you? Where do you find your fashion inspiration?