Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Haircuts During The Pandemic

When everything shut down and no one could get their hair done, people accepted that but after a while, some got desperate and decided to do it themselves.  Of course if someone wanted to cut their hair, dye it, or perm it, they immediately checked TikTok or YouTube for instructional videos or they just decided to go for it.

One day, I came across two different hair dressers who scour youtube or tiktok for fails so they can provide information on doing things correctly.  In the space of a couple of days, I learned so much about what not to do.  

I'll start with one of the more popular methods shared in regard to cutting your own hair.  It is referred to as the "ponytail method" and can be done in one of two ways.  The first way is to divide your hair into two pigtails that are each secured with an elastic set just above the length you want to cut at.  Then you take your scissors and cut the hair off, just below the elastic.  It sounds easy but it doesn't work at all.  What happens is that the hair is about the right length in the front but it goes longer as you go to the back.  It is almost like the head of an arrow.  

The other way is to bend over so you can gather your hair into a ponytail above your head.  Again, gather the hair with an elastic set just above where you want to cut it.  You cut just below the elastic and in theory you end up with a nicely layered cut but what you end up with is chunks.  The other problem with either of these is that the hair tends to be a bit shorter than expected when the extra weight is taken off.  This little fact is often forgotten when people trim their bangs.  People often cut their bangs exactly where they want them to be and once they've removed one or more inches, their bangs end up a lot shorter than expected.  

Fortunately, there are methods you can do to trim your hair at home.  One of the first things one must do is invest in a proper pair of styling sheers instead of using a pair of kitchen sheers.  Unfortunately, kitchen sheers are often dull and they can cause  additional split ends.  Styling sheers are sharp and designed to cut hair.

Next, take off less than you think you want to take off.  Remember, it is easier to take off additional hair than put it back if you take off too much.  This is especially important to consider when you cut your hair while wet because once it dries the length is going to be shorter. Now if you have straight hair, it is good to cut it while wet but if your hair is wavy or curly, you need to cut it while dry because it gives you a better idea of how the final cut will look.  In addition, if you bring your hair to the front so half is on one side and the other half on the other side, you need to decide if you will trim it straight across or at a bit of an angle depending on what you want for a finished look.

Now if it is possible, have a friend help you trim your hair because they can see the whole effect but if you have to do it yourself, try to set up several mirrors so you can see the whole effect and not just the view from the front. When you use multiple mirrors, you get a more 3 dimensional view. 

Before you begin cutting your hair, wash it and condition it well before making sure it is completely dry.  Then brush your hair, getting rid of all the tangles. Use clips to help section the hair as you trim it with a proper pair of scissors.  When you use the scissors, use only the tips rather than the body to have better control.  

If you have long hair, section your hair using clips.  Bring one section forward at a time and remove one quarter to one half inch of hair but start with a smaller amount than you want.  Once you trim the hair, snip the edges to add a bit of texture. This video does a nice job of explaining how to do it.  On the other hand if you have short hair, let someone else do the cutting so that you don't have too much taken off.  Many of the videos I've found that are decent, are actually on cutting men's hair, not women's.  If your hair is curly, you'll need to trim each curl at an angle while it is still dry to make sure it's all looks good together.

If you decide to look at Youtube for suggestions on cutting your hair yourself, make sure it doesn't have you divide your hair into a single or double ponytail, secured with elastic bands before telling you to cut it straight across below the band.  Look for one that addresses sectioning and cutting the sections for a more professional look.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Kettlebell Exercises Part Two


This past Friday, I wrote about kettlebells in general and today I'll talk about several of the moves one can make with Kettlebells.  I will admit, I kind of started with a more advanced workout simple because six DVD's came with a 5 pound ball.  I ordered a couple other DVD's that include tutorials and beginner workouts.  The beginner workout was easy after having done the more advanced workout but it made a nice one for a down day when I needed to give myself a break.

There are five exercises that are good for beginners.  The first one is a kettlebell deadlift.  Begin by standing with your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart with the feet turned slightly outwards, perhaps around 30 degrees.  The kettlebell should be located between your feet in line with the ankles.  Then you hinge at the waist, gently bending knees, so your back remains straight, shoulders back, eyes facing forward as you lean down, grab the kettlebell with both hands.  Straighten up using your glute muscles until you are totally upright. Then return the kettlebell back to the ground by hinging at the hips, with the back straight.  Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Next, is the kettlebell swing.  Start by standing so your feet are a bit more than shoulder width apart with your feet turned slightly out and the kettlebell located about a foot in front on the ground between the legs.    Hinge at the waist, wrap your hands around the top of the kettlebell, and swing it between your legs behind you.  Once it slows and reverses direction, swing it forward and stand upright as the kettlebell travels up to chest level at which point it will change direction and swings downward through the legs.  Repeat 10 to 20 times.  If you look at the picture above, it shows the kettlebell at the top of the swing.

Then we have the goblet squat.  Place your feet about shoulder width apart while grasping the kettlebell on the sides with each hand, just above the ball.  Hold the ball about chest level as you slowly squat down as far as you can go.  Hold the position for about 3 to 5 seconds before standing up again. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

For the fourth exercise, stand with your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart with feet facing slightly outward with the kettlebell between feet.  Lean over hinging at the hips, grasp the handle with both hands and slowly stand upright.  Bring the kettlebell up in an upright row to just below your chin with your elbows outward.  Then guide the kettlebell down so it is almost down to the ground and be sure to hinge from the waist.  Pause a moment and repeat 9 to 19 more times.

Finally is the triceps press.  Cradle the ball of the kettlebell with both hands and raise it above your head.  Gently lower the kettlebell behind your head, bending your arms at the elbows and slowly raise it again.  Repeat for a total of 10 to 20.

There are more exercises one can do but these five will give you a good workout.  If you want more ideas, checkout Youtube.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Working Out With Kettlebells Part One

I recently started using kettlebells as part of my workout routine.  When I was in Iceland, I climbed a very tall hill.  I thought I was in shape but this sucker was so steep, I realized I could be in better shape. So when I got home, I dug out my kettlebell set and started doing it 3 days a week and after just 2 weeks I am noticing a difference.

A kettlebell is a type of dumbbell that is round with a flat bottom and an arched handle that originated in Russia over 300 years ago..  It looks like a tea kettle and thus its name.  A real kettlebell is made out of cast iron or steel.  The design of a kettlebell allows it to be swung, thrown, juggled, pressed, held, and moved in multiple ways.

A kettlebell is an effective tool to lose weight, tone the body, improve cardio vascular health, strength, maintain joint health, mobility, and flexibility. Kettlebells come in different weights from 5 to 100 pounds. I use the 5 pound one because I'm just starting out.

A good kettlebell workout is classified as high intensity exercise because it gets your heart working and burns 20 calories each minute or the equivalent of running a 6 minute mile. After a 20 minute workout, you'll burn 400 calories.  A kettlebell targets your core because you do squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that focus on the abs and other muscles.  It also targets your arms, legs, glutes, and back.  It is not a low impact workout and it 

A good kettlebell can be purchased for between $10 and $100 depending on the weight of the bell.  With COVID going on, it is fortunate, you can buy a DVD designed for beginners or those who are more advanced.  I picked up a kettlebell and six DVD's in a set when one of the sports stores went out of business locally.  I just sent off for a few more including one for beginners so I make sure I'm doing the moves correctly.

Be aware that all exercises must be done correctly or you could injure yourself, especially if you start with a kettlebell that is too heavy.  The areas most likely to be injured are the neck, back, or shoulders so be careful and if you can, work with an experienced trainer. Although doing a kettlebell workout is a good way to workout, it is not recommended for anyone with arthritis, bad knees, or other such issues.  If you are just starting out, one should check with your doctor before using one.

When you use a kettlebell, always be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure you are working out on a non-slip area with the area around you totally clear.  When working out, do it either in barefoot or in footwear with flat, thin soles with space for the toes to spread out. Always use proper form with the kettlebell so you don't hurt yourself.  Finally, if the kettlebell starts falling, let it rather than trying to stop it.

If you wondered which is better - a kettlebell or dumbbells, it depends on what you want but kettlebells can have an advantage.  They provide a much better cardio workout due to all the swinging and extra movement involved in using them. In addition, they activate all the muscles in the back, and since the weight is not balanced, your core has to work harder. Kettlebells are great for improving endurance and getting a good cardio workout.  Although you can mimic many of the kettlebell moves with a dumbbells, dumbbells are much better for building muscle.

On Monday, I'll talk about some exercises you can do with the kettlebell in your house.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Gaining Weight When Adding Strength Training.

You have been working hard on getting fit.  You'd added the cardio, the resistance, and now you are adding strength training because you don't want to be breaking bones when you get to be 80.  Unfortunately, you step on the scale and you notice you've gained some weight so the first thing you do is panic because you are trying to lose a few pounds. 

First of all, your weight does not reflect your fitness level, your body composition, or the type of workout you do.  When you begin strength training, you will gain weight for several reasons.  

With strength training, you may gain weight because your muscle mass is increasing and your level of body fat is decreasing. Muscle is always more dense than fat and takes up more space in your body. The change in the ratio of muscle and fat does not happen at once.  It will appear you are gaining weight for the first couple of months before the ratio begins to change and it becomes noticeable.

When you begin strength training, you are putting stress on your muscle fibers. This stress causes micro tears and some inflammation and your body responds to this.  When your muscles suffer micro tears, it causes the body to retain water which causes a weight gain. Your body is actually retaining fluid to help heal it.  The changes are short lived.  In addition, you may experience soreness in the next 24 to 36 hours. 

The other reason for gaining weight has to do with the increased fueling of muscles.  Your body converts glycogen or sugar to glucose which provides energy to your muscles. Glycogen has to bind with water as part of the process to fuel your muscles and when the body stores water, you appear to gain weight. 

As your  body becomes accustomed to exercise, your body requires less glycogen to produce the same amount of energy.  At this point, your body will retain less water and you'll begin to lose weight and over a period of several weeks or months, you'll lose the initial weight you gained. 

Although you will gain weight at the beginning, you will be able to lose weight over time. When you increase the amount of muscles in your body, you will burn more calories, thus losing body fat and eventually your weight will begin to decrease. It is strongly suggested that people ignore the numbers on the scale at the beginning since it is totally misleading. In fact, it is recommended people do not use scales at all.

The important thing to remember through this whole situation is that the volume of muscle takes up more space than the same volume of fat and muscle burns more calories than fat so you want to increase your muscle mass.  Without a scale, you will notice the weight loss when you put on your clothing.  Your jeans will fit better.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 20, 2021

What Is The Optimum Number Of Steps Needed Each Day?

It's funny that the idea of walking 10,000 steps per day originated as a marketing ploy by a company in Japan who needed a way of marketing their pedometer.  Over the past few years, it become to go to marketing for many walking programs.  I have at least three DVD's labeled with a certain number of steps covered if one completes it.  I tried using a pedometer but I kept loosing it and gave up on monitoring the steps I took everyday.

Recently, there have been some studies done on the effectiveness of 10,000 steps per day.  According to the CDC, most adults need to aim for this number per day since walking is considered a low impact exercise of moderate intensity and it has few risks.  The accepted conversion rate is 2000 steps per mile so 10,000 steps equals around 5 miles. Unfortunately, most Americans only walk 3,000 to 4,000 steps which is considered sedentary and doesn't provide enough movement.

Although walking may not seem like it provides many benefits, it actually does.  It improves muscle strength, range of motion, blood flow, flexibility, balance, joint stiffness, sleep, mood, and breathing.  To experience the most benefits from walking, one needs to take at least 5,000 or more steps per day.  In fact, one study from last year, found that if a person takes 8,000 compared to 4000 steps per day, they decreased their chance of dying from any cause by 51%.  If a person increases the number of steps per day to 12,000 per day, the chance of dying drops by 65%.

Another recent study indicated that any number of steps over 4000 helps a person's level of fitness. For instance, older women who consistently walk 4,400 steps per day have lower death rates than those who only walk 2,700 steps per day.  In addition, the range of 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day provided the maximum benefits for most people. 

It is important to remember that not all steps are created equal. If a person wants the best situation for exercise, think about making some of it going up hill.  When a person walks up hill, it activates three times more muscle fibers than walking on a flat surface thus improving the workout. Now if you happen to live in a flat area where its hard to go up hill, there are other ways to accomplish it.  Think about climbing stairs as most towns have buildings with multistory buildings or you might be lucky to live in a two or three story home with steps you can run up and down.

You could also use a stool or an exercise step to step up and down for a set period of time or maybe you want to walk quickly around the block multiple times or add ankle or wrist weights so you have to work harder. If you focus on an object in the distance as you walk, it can increase your walking speed by up to 23%. Or you could try Nordic walking with requires you to use poles as you walk which helps work out the upper and lower body.  This explains the number of people I saw using poles as they walked in Sweden and Iceland.

The nice thing is that the steps do not have to be done all in one go.  It is possible to spread them throughout the day. If you work in a multistory building, take the steps up to the floor you work on.  If you are say on the 35th floor and are a bit out of shape, take the elevator up to say the 32nd floor and walk up the rest of the way. As it becomes easier, add a few floors to climb the stairs and continue.  At lunch, get away from your desk and walk around with some friends.  

At work, think about taking breaks from sitting and walk to a bathroom or conference room that is located on the other side of the building or park at the back end of the parking lot so you have to walk further. If you work downtown, park at a lot that is further from your building or get off one or two stops before the one you need. 

The bottom line, is to aim for at least 7,000 steps per day but if you manage 10,000 to 12,000 steps each day, you are more likely to lose weight.  In other words, keep moving.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Curling Your Hair

Although I have wavy, frizzy, curly hair, I sometimes choose to curl it because I'm looking for a specific look rather than relying on what God gave me.  On the other hand, I have friends who curl their hair because they have straight hair and it's the only way for them to get any wave.  The nice thing about curling your hair is that there is more than one way to do it.

One of the more lasting ways to get a curl is to have it permed.  My mother is one of those ladies who would go into the beauty parlor to get her hair permed twice a year.  The rest of the year, she'd maintain the curl by using those small foam curlers.  

A perm is a chemical process that changes the texture of the hair so it curls or waves.  Basically, the hair is rolled on rods, a solution is applied to the hair to set the curl, a neutralizer is also applied to stop the process, the hair is rinsed and dried.  Depending on the look and the hairdresser, they might use fabric, finger waves, or rollers instead of using the rods so now you can get anything from spiral curls to beach waves.

Although it is possible to get a package to do a perm at home it is highly recommended you go to a stylist because you need the proper type of perm product for your hair.  Getting a perm on previously colored or relaxed hair can be tricky which is another reason a professional should do it. A perm can last several months but there are things you can do to keep the curl in your hair.  Always let your hair air dry most of the way before you use a diffuser to finish the job. If you use a flat iron, keep it down at 300 degrees otherwise you could easily fry your perm.

If you don't want to mess with a perm, there are other ways to curl your hair.  In addition to being able to straighten your hair with a flat iron, you can also curl it but a curling iron is specifically designed to curl the hair. . If you've never curled your hair with a curling iron before, it is advised that you practice with a cold iron to learn the technique before turning on the heat.  Furthermore, always apply a heat protectant spray to help protect the health of your hair and set the temperature of the curling iron down to between 300 and 350 degrees. 

There are four techniques associated with a curling iron.  You can do a flat hair wrap, a lazy curl, spiral curls, or red carpet curl with your curling iron.  On the other hand, you can use a flat iron to curl your hair.  There are two recognized techniques one can use with a flat iron, ribbon curls or push waves, also known as S waves.  

Now if you'd rather not use a curling or flat iron, there are several ways to acquire curls without the heat.  No matter which of the following methods you use, use the proper product such as curling cream, gel, or spray to help the curl last longer.  One of the easiest ways is to braid your hair while damp and let it dry overnight.  If you want looser waves, use a loose braid but if you want more curls, use a tighter braid, or a series of smaller braids.

Another way is to take your hair and twist it into small buns. Divide your hair up into two to three inch sections, then twist each section into a bun, and secure the ends with two bobby pins. When the buns are dry, take them down and voila, you have really nice curls.  If you prefer, take the small sections and put them into pin curls and secure with either bobby pins or clips.  I've used pin curls, they are quite comfortable to sleep in and the results were really nice.

On the other hand, you could take the same two to three inch sections and roll them up using pieces of fabric.  You can take an old t-shirt, cut it up into 15 to 20 strips that are one to two inches wide and between eight and ten inches long. The way to use these is to take a damp section and begin rolling it with the rag from the ends to the top before tying the ends together.  Leave until its dry and take out.

Finally, use those curlers that are foam covered wires. The ones you roll from the ends up and twist to secure.  When the hair is dry, take them out and you are set.  I've used them before but I prefer pin curls because I don't have those come out as often as I do those rollers.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Straightening Hair

I remember as a teenager, those with curly hair wanted it straight but those with straight hair wanted it with some curl. I fell into the group with curly hair who wanted it a bit straighter since I couldn't do much with it.  The weekend I graduated from high school, I went out and purchased those super large orange juice sized rollers for my hair.  I washed it bright and early on Friday morning, put my hair up in those rollers and that night brushed it out.  I was thrilled because my hair was calm and looked great until it rained and then it turned into a frizzy mess.  I tried again on Saturday and the same thing happened so I gave up.

I wasn't willing to follow the advice of the older generation who told me just to iron my hair.  That would do it.  At the moment there are two ways to straighten hair using either via heat or chemicals.  If you are not careful, either method can cause damage to the hair.  

One way to straighten your hair is via the use of a flat iron. Be sure to invest in a high quality flat iron that allows one to choose the temperature since it depends on the type of hair you have.  If your hair is damaged, or fine, set the temperature to 300 degrees or less.  If you have average hair, use a temperature of between 300 and 380 degrees where as if you have thick course hair set it to 400 degrees but no matter which temperature you choose, use a heat protector or you could damage your hair quite a lot. 

Furthermore, you have to use just the right speed with the flat iron.  If you run the flat iron too fast down your hair, it won't straighten it but if you go too slow, you could burn your hair.  In addition, you need to section your hair rather than using chunks of hair.  Run the flat iron down each section from roots to ends until it is smooth and sleek but pull each section taut when straightening it.  When the proper amount of tension is used, it makes it easier to straighten hair. At the end, apply a hydrating serum from mid length to the end to add shine and a bit of light weight hairspray to keep the flyaways and frizz down.  Make sure the hair has been allowed to cool before straightening. 

Before you straighten your hair, make sure it is clean and totally dry otherwise it might sizzle or steam.  It is recommended that you do not use any other product than a heat protector otherwise there might be a problem.  When you apply other products, they can cause your hair to sizzle or produce steam because when the iron clamps down on the hair, the product has absolutely no where to go. Consequently, the product is being boiled into the hair follicle, especially if it contains alcohol.

The other way to go when straightening your hair is to use a chemical treatment of some sort.  It might be rebonding, hair relaxing, a combination of chemicals and heat or the use of keratin.  Although rebonding and relaxing might sound the same they aren't.  Hair rebonding is where a cream or relaxer to soften the hair bonds of the natural structure and then a neutralizer is applied to rebuild the bond. Unfortunately, rebonding cannot be used very often because it makes the hair quite fragile and weak.

In relaxing, also known as chemical straightening, the protein bonds in the hair are broken down to straighten the hair but only a certain number need be broken. If too many are broken, the hair becomes limp and if enough are not broken, the hair won't be straight. Chemical straightening should always be done in a salon by a professional.

Another way is by using Japanese straightening also known as thermal reconditioning. This method uses both chemicals and heat to permanently alter the structure of the hair that smooths and conditions the hair. This six to eight hour process breaks the protein bonds in the hair and they are reshaped.  In addition, after it is done, you must return to the salon a few days later for the final step. The results last six to seven months at a time. Although it does last quite a long time, it can severely damage the hair. 

Finally is the Keritan method also known as the brazilian straightening. Keratin is a natural protein found in the hair and this method is considered a better way to straighten hair.  A keratin solution is applied to the hair, then it is heated with a 450 degree flat iron to seal the keratin to the hair.  It can help the hair so it doesn't get damaged and can be repeated more often than the other methods.  

So now you know the two main ways to straighten hair.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.  I'd love to hear.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Styling Hair

Most women end up falling into one of three categories when it comes to styling hair.  There are those who will spend hours getting their hair done, those who don't bother doing much more than throwing it in a ponytail, and those who end up somewhere between the two. I fall into the somewhere in between the two because I tend to rely on fairly simply styling to make it look decent.  I have the type of hair that responds like a barometer to the amount of humidity in the air.

When it comes to styling your hair, one of the first things you need to know is your hair type.  Is your hair fine or course.  If your hair is fine, you'll have difficulty seeing a single strand, it's hard to keep volume in your hair, and your hair doesn't feel heavy.  On the other hand, if you have thick hair, it will feel courser, it is hard to keep in place using just bobby pins, and you have a lot of trouble taming the frizz.  Furthermore, you can see a single strand, seem to have a lot of hair, and it's heavy.

It doesn't matter if you have fine or course, you need to get regular hair cuts or trims.  Getting your hair trimmed on a regular basis does more than just keep the ends under control.  It can help your hair look thicker and more alive.  In addition, a good haircut is the foundation for any style you want.  If you have fine hair, shorter styles that frame the face are better where as with thicker hair, one should go for hair that is longer than shoulder length. 

Furthermore, one should select shampoos, conditioners, and other products based on your hair type.  With fine straight hair, one should use lighter weight sprays or mists while those with thick curlier hair should look at richer oils or thicker creams to lubricate and hydrate the strands.  As far as styling products go, a hair gel feels a bit more liquidy but tends to dry into a harder shiny shell.  

Gels are good for making hair spikes in short hair, defining curls, or slicking hair down so it lies flat.  On the other hand, hair mousse tends to be lighter weight and often is found in foam form.  It can add volume to otherwise flat hair. Finally, you have serums and creams that are used for a finished look because they are the lightest of all the styling products.  

If you use a hairbrush, look for one that is more suited for your hair since not all brushes work on all types of hair.  All natural boar brushes are best used on fine hair while hairbrushes that have a mix of boar and nylon are better suited for normal to thick hair. If you have really thick hair, look at a hair brush that is made only of nylon bristles.  My grandmother and mother raised me to use only natural boar bristles and they never worked for my hair so I quit using hairbrushes and resorted to fingers.  It wasn't until years later, I learned why they didn't work for me.  You guessed it, I have the normal to thick hair so I need something a bit more.

As far as actual hairstyles, people with fine hair can wear those messy hairdos, chignons, or buns.  They can also choose to wear their hair straight or curly.  Anyone with thick hair can go after braids, side ponytails, or high buns.  It is estimated that about 95% of women battle frizz at some point.  As stated earlier, a good haircut goes a ways towards helping to tame the frizz but it also helps to use cooler water when washing your hair, wrapping your hair in silk or satin at bedtime, using moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, and avoiding any product with alcohol in them.

On Wednesday, I'll talk about curling and straightening hair properly.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

One Year, It Came Too Early


One year, it snowed in early September. The leaves never got a chance to fall off until the spring thaw.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Friday, September 10, 2021

Too Many Time Zones

Too tired due to traveling from Iceland to West coast. Be back Monday with column on hair styling. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Trying To Travel Lightly During Covid.


I've had a great two weeks in Europe.  I managed a week in Sweden before they shut down to Americans and I'm at the end of a week in Iceland.  I left home with one check through, one backpack and space for souvenirs.  I admit, I actually packed more than I needed for the simple reason that I was afraid the United States might close down again and I'd be stuck.

So I packed additional underwear, shirts, and socks with my two pair of jeans, one light jacket, one sweater,  one windbreaker, and a pair of sneakers.  I invested in several packing cubes.  These are great in that you can stuff them full of clothing, zipper closed and voila, they take up way less space.  I even found one I could hang in the closet when I was in my hotel.  These packing cubes allowed me to squeeze so much into much smaller spaces.  I also throw in laundry soap in sheets so I can wash clothing either in the room or at a laundromat. 

Since I tend to follow the Korean beauty routine, that means I have two types of cleanser, toner, serums, essences, creams, moisturizers, eye cream, and sunscreen.  When I was getting organized for the trip, I invested in travel sized items so everything would fit in a small travel bag. Since the trip would only be two weeks long, I didn't need full sized containers of my normal products.  This worked so well. In addition, I threw in a small trial sized tube of toothpaste I get from the dentist when I see him.  It fits in my toiletries bag with my facial items.

As far as hair products. I had to make choices since normally I use a shampoo, conditioner, detangler, spray, leave-in conditioner and/or curl enhancer. These can take quite a bit of space or if you pack them incorrectly they might leak or spill and you end up with crud all over your clothing or captured inside a plastic bag.  As reviewed earlier, I discovered shampoo and conditioner in bars which are really nice.  they take up very little room and have absolutely no chance of spilling or leaking.  In addition, they do a decent job of cleaning and conditioning my hair.  The only two things I packed were a spray to help get my hair under control and a small container of curl enhancer.  I throw in my detangler comb, a few clips, elastic bands, and bobbie pins so I can style my hair.  It all fits in a small zippered cloth bag and I can style my hair as I want.

The last thing I pack is my make-up which I severely cut back on to bare minimum.  Rather than use the full routing with foundation, concealers, highlighters, etc, I rely on a tinted moisturizer, a small palette of eye shadow, a small container of eye liner, and a small mascara for the whole trip. It is what I call a light look but it doesn't take much space and I can throw it all in a small zipped cloth bag.  

This all fit in my 24 inch suitcase and it left me space so I had rooms for cups and tee shirts I wanted to get as gifts.  I usually put all my travel converters in my backpack along with all the cords I need for my electrical devices, my electrical devices, my water bottle, a sarong, and a few munchies to take on the plane.  

I think my suitcase is around 35 pounds and my backpack weighs in at about 15 pounds so it is all manageable. I do read that one shouldn't check any bags through but honestly as long as Covid is doing it's thing, I'll continue packing a bit more than normal just in case I get stuck because things are changing so fast.  Every day, countries change their regulations, requirements, and open or close their borders so I prefer to be prepared.  Let me know what you think I'd love to hear.  Have a great da.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Manicured Eyebrows


If you look back through history, you'll notice trends concerning them. Some years they'd been shaved off and reapplied in a higher location while in other times, they were dark and thick.  Currently, eyebrows fall into two different camps.  In one, a person goes with what ever they've been given and in the other camp, the person opts for a well groomed and properly shaped but the proper eyebrow falls somewhere in-between.

Even if you go for the more natural brow, there are things you can do to tame the wild look.  For instance, think about applying gels or waxes to wrangle the eyebrow hairs into the shape you want and get rid of those ones that choose to go a different direction from the rest.  Otherwise, you want to trim your brows and have a professional help create the right look.

If you want to opt for a manicured eyebrow, there are several steps you can take to create the look you want by yourself.  The first step is to brush your eyebrows with a proper eyebrow brush. A brow brush can either look similar to a mascara brush or a comb.  Either way, you'll want to brush the hairs all in one direction.  In preparation for the next step, you'll want to brush the hairs upward.

The next thing you want to do is trim your eyebrow hairs with a pair of brow scissors.  You'll want to get rid of any long or out of place hairs that fall outside of the shape you want. Do not over trim or trim the hairs too short, otherwise they'll look horrible.  Once you have your hairs trimmed to your satisfaction, carefully draw in the shape you want your eyebrows to be when you are finished.  Use a white eyeliner pencil so there is contrast for the next step.  

If you don't like the first shape, remove the while eyeliner and start again.  You have time to try out a couple of shapes. When you've decided on your perfect eyebrow shape, you'll need to pluck those stray hairs that fall outside the outline.  You'll follow the outline so you get the perfect shaped eyebrows when done. Do not get enthusiastic, otherwise you may pluck too many hairs.  Only pluck the hairs outside the outlined area.

Remember to stay with what you have.  Follow the natural arch of your eyebrow so it looks natural.  The brow should begin at a point just parallel to the inside corner of your eye. It should go up a bit around the iris and then down,  ending up parallel to the edge of your nose.  It arches gently around the eye. This causes the eyebrow to suit the dimensions of your face so they don't look odd or out of ratio with the rest of the face. 

Next, fill in the eyebrow with either eyebrow pencils or powders so the eyebrow looks fuller and natural.  Using powder or pencils is a great way to fill in the eyebrow if you got a bit too enthusiastic with plucking or if you have naturally thin brows or they are way too light.  If you have light brows and want them a bit darker, don't go super dark, instead choose a shade that matches your darkest hair color.  If you are a brunette, you might want to choose a shade lighter.

For the final step, use a clear eyebrow gel or Vasoline to ensure your brows are smooth.  If you want a bit more color, you can use a tinted gel.  Always use the final step for a finished look.  If you follow these steps, you can have great eyebrows with a bit of practice.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Stretching - When, Where, Why, And How

Often, the only time we stretch is when we are exercising. We don't bother with it any other time because we learned to do it when preparing to run or exercise or at the end.  Never at any other time.  Well, it  is appropriate at so many other times during the day that you might want to incorporate several stretching breaks throughout the day.  

First off, we need to stretch to keep our muscles flexible, healthy, and strong.  Flexible muscles help us maintain the range of motion in your joints which is extremely important. Otherwise, the muscles shorten thus tightening up so you can't touch your toes.

In addition, if your muscles shorten, it means that they are weakened and will not extend all the way so you are now at risk for muscle damage, joint pain, and strains.  If you have a job where you sit all day, your hamstrings at the back of the thigh are not being used so they shorten and tighten. This can make it harder for you to straighten your legs completely. 

Unfortunately, stretching only once is not going to give you the flexibility you need but you don't have to work every muscle in your body.  You should focus on your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps in the front of the thighs to keep yourself in better shape. In fact, it will take weeks or even months of regular stretching to become flexible again.  It is a gradual process.

Before you start stretching, you need to warm up the muscles for 5 to 10 minutes by walking otherwise you could end up hurting yourself.  It is important to get the blood flowing through an area so the muscle fibers become more pliable.  When you stretch, you should hold the stretch for 30 seconds.  Do not bounce and hold the stretch so you feel tension but not pain.

There are different stretching routines one can use depending on the circumstances.  For instance, if you have an office job there are several exercises you can do at your desk beginning with the shoulder stretch.  In a shoulder stretch, you place one hand under the other elbow, lift the elbow and pull it across your body without turning the body.  Hold it 30 seconds and you should feel tension in the back of your shoulder, and then relax. Repeat on the other shoulder. 

Another exercise is the upper arm stretch where you lift one arm and bend it behind your head so you are touching the back of your shoulder. Place the other hand on the elbow and gently press to stretch your upper arm and shoulder.  Hold this position for 30 seconds before slowly relaxing and repeat on the other side. Then there is the chest stretch in which you place both hands on the back of the head at the neck.  Squeeze your shoulder blades together to bring your elbows as far back as possible.  Hold for 30 seconds, relax, before repeating one more time.

Next, try the chin tuck where you face forward, then lower your chin to your chest slowly.  Hold it there 30 seconds and you should feel tension in the back of your neck. Relax and repeat. Then do the head turn, where you begin facing forward.  Slowly turn your head to one side while keeping your shoulders facing forward.  Turn your head until you feel tension in the side of your neck and shoulders.  Hold for 30 seconds before returning to the original position.  Repeat on the other side. 

There is one more exercise for this area.  Face forward, tilt your head so your ear is going towards your shoulder but you must keep your shoulder down.  Continue until you feel tension at the side of your neck and hold for 30 seconds.  Return to the original position and repeat on the other side.  Next, it's time to stretch the lower back.  Sit on the edge of your chair. Raise one knee towards your chest and grab it under the knee with both hands and pull it just a bit closer while keeping a straight back.  Do not lean forward.  You should feel a bit of tension in your lower back and upper buttocks. Hold for 30 sections, slowly relax, returning to the original position before repeating it with the other leg.

Finally, it's time for a standing thigh stretch.  Stand up, grab the ankle or pant leg on one side and pull it towards your rear.  Make sure you keep your back straight and knees parallel for the best results.  You should feel tension in the front of the thigh.  Hold it for 30 seconds, release, and repeat on the other side.  

A simple stretching routine you can perform several times throughout the day at your desk.  One can get quite stiff just sitting around all day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  More on stretching later.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

What Is The Difference Between Highlights And Streaks?

Summer is over and the look you sported is slowly disappearing.  You don't want to loose it so you've made an appointment with your hairdresser but you aren't sure which to ask for.  Both highlighting and streaking adds depth to your hair using color but again which is a better choice? 

First off, highlighting is defined as a partial coloring of the hair using small segments of fine hair that is shaded so that the highlighted sections blend in with the original hair colors.  For a brunette, highlighting adds warm tones and for blondes, the highlights and brighten the color. Unfortunately, highlighting is not recommended for redheads because it is difficult to get the correct shades for the right look.  

Highlighting is created using a free hand method so it doesn't use any foil. The nice thing about highlighting is that it can be used on any length hair, any texture, and both curly or straight.  Highlighting requires less care because it looks quite natural, fades naturally, and only needs touch ups every three months or so.

As far as highlighting goes, one can do a partial or full application.  In partial highlighting, color is placed around the face to either brighten or frame the face. Its also known as a "half head of highlights" These highlights are often placed around the top half or top half and front sides around the face. This method causes less damage to the hair, is more affordable, and can be placed around to make the head of hair look sun kissed. 

The downside to partial highlighting is that you will not see the colored areas as easily when your hair is worn up in a pony tail.  Furthermore, you won't be able to change your hair color easily to a complete blond since you still have so much of your original color. It tends to look more natural.

Full highlights is defined as highlights that are found throughout all of the hair and is referred to as a "full head of highlights". It might include a balayage, or a range of colors all over the head.  The colored sections go from the front, around to the back, from the top to the bottom of the neck.  It allows your strands to go from blonde to brown, range from natural to dynamic depending on the colors used. It is more expensive that partial highlights and can damage your hair depending on how often you get your hair highlighted. 

On the other hand, streaking creates highlights using larger strands of colored haired the chosen colors are brighter with more of a difference in shades. It is much easier to see and the strands are more prominent than with normal highlighting. Streaking tends to offer more character to the color but do not aim for something like blond streaks with brown hair or brown streaks with blond hair. Since streaking is often applied using foil, it requires touch ups more frequently because of the differences in shades.

Streaks can use highlights or lowlights.  Streaks using highlight require strands be bleached to make them sufficiently light as to provide contrast.  The advantage to doing it this way is that one does not have to bleach all the strands opening the hair up to damage.  The other choice is lowlights which were developed to work on gray hair originally. In this technique, they use a darker color on the selected strands which adds the illusion of more volume. 

Now, even after all of this, it feels as if highlighting and streaking are almost the same process and in many ways they are.  To me, highlighting uses colors that are only one or two shades different while streaking has hair sections that have more difference in color.  I tend to cheat in that I keep pieces of colored hair to attach to my hair so that one day I can use green streaks and the next day pink.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.