Beauty | Somewhere in Middle America

fashionably ombré

too lazy to get my roots done

My problem is really laziness coupled with indecision. I’m debating whether to go back to my natural brown hue. I’ve been blond for almost two years now, and while I have to agree that blonds have more fun, brunette suddenly seems more sophisticated. Plus, I think I’m ready for a change.

Then again, in the February issue of Lucky, hair and makeup artist Sunnie Brook Jones is featured with some hot ombré locks. 

Should I stay blond, go back to brown or rock the poor man’s ombré for a while longer?

(Rachel Bilson image via Studded Hearts, Sunnie Brook Jones image via Shannen Norman)

Five weeks ago I went to Alicia Clark for a Brazilian Blowout. How did I choose Alicia? First, I go to her sister-in-law for my color, and I trust my colorist implicitly. Second, my research indicated that Alicia and her colleagues are the only stylists in Omaha who were classroom certified to perform the Brazilian Blowout. Why would I trust somebody to put chemicals in my hair if they haven’t received all the necessary training?

So here’s what my hair looked like the morning I went in for the treatment:

Letting my hair air dry without any product produces mostly wavy hair, as you can see. If you look closely you’ll notice a fine halo of frizz encircling my head. My hair is also pretty thick, so it generally takes a good 20 minutes to blow dry straight–and I still need to run a Chi through it afterward to minimize frizz.

The Brazilian Blowout process took about 1 hour and 45 minutes. To my surprise, my hair was not stick straight when Alicia was finished; however, it was a million times easier to straighten. She literally dried it with just a hairdryer and her fingers, and the results looked better than what I would do with a round brush and a flat iron.  It was incredibly smooth and shiny and felt thinner, too.

This is what my hair looks like now if I let it air dry without using any product:

There’s a noticeable difference, isn’t there? To me, it just looks healthier. I don’t mind the wave, although I typically use a hairdryer to blow it straight. However, now I don’t need a flat iron to finish the job, which means it takes less time to get ready in the morning. My hair no longer “grows” as the humidity increases, although it does tend to get oilier more quickly than it used to. (The downside to thin, flat hair is that is lays closer to your scalp and collects more oil, which is strange to me, as I’ve always had very dry hair.)

Would I get the treatment again? Absolutely. But I have no idea when that will be. Alicia told me it usually wears out in 10-12 weeks. Other people have said that their keratin treatments have lasted as long as 3-5 months. But is the Brazilian Blowout the same as a Brazilian Keratin treatment? No clue. I’ve heard mixed answers. Alicia said the keratin is permanent and has formaldehyde in it, whereas the Brazilian Blowout does not, making it healthier for your hair. Then again, people have been using the words interchangeably, so maybe there is no real difference. Do you know?

The biggest change, though, has been my confidence. It’s a universal fact that a good hair day can significantly improve your mood, whereas a bad hair day can shatter it. When I have silky smooth straight hair with fresh blond highlights, I literally feel like Jennifer Aniston, who has, in my opinion, the best hair in Hollywood. It’s like I’m suddenly more sophisticated and put together, and I even notice I carry myself differently. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Have you gotten a Brazilian Blowout? What did you think of your results?

Today I’m over on Elizabeth Anne Designs Living sharing a simple anti-aging skin regimen I learned from my dermatologist.

Curious? Hop on over, and join the conversation.

(image via Allure)

If I had to pick my favorite beauty product, it would definitely not be lipstick. Or lipgloss. My lips are teeny tiny, and I constantly forget to reapply gloss or lipstick after my initial application. I can certainly live without lip coloring.

What I can’t live without, though, is mascara. I’m obsessed. It’s amazing how much brighter your face can look after darkening your eyelashes.

For a million years I used Great Lash mascara by Maybelline in the iconic pink and green tube. Then I moved on to Cover Girl’s Lash Blast and Lash Exact. While all three looked fantastic in the morning, by evening they would dry up and flake. I’d have bits of mascara scattered underneath my eyes. To make matters worse, I got in the terrible habit of picking the clumps and flakes out of my eyelashes while watching TV at night. Inevitable I would pull out several eyelashes while doing so.

Then I heard about tubing mascara. Simply put, tubing mascara forms tiny tubes around each lash that refuse to smudge or flake. Cosmetic consultant Yoram Fishman told O Magazine in 2009 that “most mascaras are oil- or wax-based; they’re essentially paints. [Tubing mascara] formulas are water-based and contain polymers that form a solid film around each lash once the product dries.”

Before splurging on a tube of tubing mascara by Blinc, Too Faced or Stila, I decided to test out L’Oreal Paris Double Extend Mascara, which I picked up on sale at Target. The verdict: LOVE. Love, love, love. No clumps, no flakes, and I’m convinced my already-long eyelashes look even longer. The formula literally lasts all day. It washes away strangely (the little tubes sort of melt off of your lashes) but easily. (They say that water will wash them away, but I found it more effective to use eye make-up remover.)

My question for you: Have you tried tubing mascara yet? What do you think?

Also, what’s your favorite beauty product?

(image source)

After I get my Brazilian Blowout today, I’m making a hair cut appointment and am going to ask for bangs. I love bangs! I’m particularly fond of Eva Mendes’s thick side-swept fringe.

“Project Runway” contestant Gretchen also has great bangs. They start at the top of her head and hang straight to her eyebrows. The look may be a bit too hippie for me… or not. (PS – I have a love/hate relationship with Gretchen. I think she’s a fantastic designer with great style, but her ego is totally off-putting.)

Are you all about bangs, too?

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Readers, I received a lovely email from Rebecca at Living Social letting me know about today’s amazing deal – 50% off a Shellac manicure at Kathryn’s Nails. Rebecca discovered Shellac after reading about it right here on Somewhere in Middle America! I’m honored that my blog influenced her to suggest the long-lasting manicure as a Living Social “destination.”

If you haven’t tried a Shellac manicure yet, I encourage you to head over to Living Social and take part in today’s deal… then come back here and let me know what you think!

The fine print: I am not getting compensated in any way by Living Social for writing about them or the Shellac manicure deal at Kathryn’s nails.

(image source)

A couple of weeks ago I caught Louis Licari telling Kathie Lee and Hoda about some Brazilian keratin treatment that takes the frizz out of hair but doesn’t damage it like the Japanese Straightening method. I was intrigued, to say the least.

Then I started hearing about something called a Brazilian Blowout, which I’m assuming is the same thing as the keratin treatment. One Facebook friend raved about having it done; another is booking an appointment. Somebody forwarded me this article from Stylist, in which the author had a Brazilian Blowout, calling the result “a miracle.”

I have nothing against curly hair (I love Carrie Bradshaw’s curls in this photo). On a good hair day, I actually think my waves look pretty. (On a bad day they look like Carrie’s in the above photo, sort of stringy yet frizzy.) What I don’t like about my hair is that the front is curly and the back is wavy. It’s inconsistent all the way around. Plus, when I wear it curly/wavy I have to wash it daily, and I’m lazy and hate doing my hair. But day-old waves just don’t work on me.

However, I also like how straight hair looks on me. I’m particularly keen on bangs, which are very flattering but a pain in the ass to maintain, especially with hair prone to frizzing. But if I had my hair chemically smoothed, I could more easily rock bangs. It wouldn’t take me as long to blow dry my hair, and it would frizz less in this crazy summer humidity.

According to the website, only four salons in Omaha offer the Brazilian Blowout: NewBeauty4you, Omaha Life Spa, Reve Salon & Spa and Studio 123 @ Isalon. I’ve never been to any of these salons. Have you?

If you’ve had a Brazilian Blowout, please leave a comment below. Do you love the results? Was it worth it?

(image source)

Two week ago I got a CND Shellac manicure, and I have to say, I’m a believer. It’s still just as shiny as it was on day one, but it didn’t stay chip-free for a full 14 days. By day 11 I noticed wear and tear along the tips and near my cuticle; you could tell where it was starting to grow out. Yesterday the polish on my right hand started peeling in a couple of places, and once it did, I couldn’t help myself… I had to pick at it. The polish on my left hand, though, stayed pretty much intact, except for a chip on my middle finger. I’m right-handed, so perhaps that’s why my left hand looks better.

This afternoon I’m heading back to the salon to have the gel-polish hybrid removed and a new color applied. But which color to choose…

One week into my 14-day manicure, nine nails look practically perfect. But yesterday, only six days in, the polish on the middle finger of my right hand started lifting up at the corner. Naturally, I had to pick it. I couldn’t help myself.

Truthfully, I’m disappointed. I was banking on CND’s promise of flawless edge wear for two weeks. It’s possible that my peeling polish was a result of poor application on the part of the manicurist (I thought I noticed a little bubble in the corner), but maybe hoping for a nearly ever-lasting manicure was like believing in unicorns and the tooth fairy.

I’m debating going back to the salon and asking them to re-do my chipped nail. Otherwise I have to live with it for another week until my scheduled appointment. That would be an impossible feat if I were wearing traditional nail polish. At the first sign of a chip, it’s all picked off. But maybe I can rail against my natural tendencies by reminding myself how much I paid for this fancy-pants, high-tech manicure.

UPDATE: I called the salon, and the receptionist told me that because the manicure is “guaranteed for 14 days” (her words), they would fix my nail at no charge. I barely had time to hang up the phone before jumping in the car!

(photos by me)

Inspired by Mackenzie’s “experimanicure,” I had an appointment last Saturday — the day that J left — for a CND Shellac manicure. Unfortunately, I was emotionally exhausted from the morning and fell asleep on the couch after lunch, missing my afternoon appointment. Oops.

My rescheduled manicure was yesterday afternoon. Although it’s a bit more expensive than a traditional manicure ($35 v. $18), a Shellac manicure is supposed to stay flawless for up to 14 days. I have a terrible habit of picking off my polish the second one nail chips, which usually leads to nail biting. If my polish can stay shiny and chip-free for two weeks, my nails may actually have a chance to grow. Plus, my manicurist claims there is something in the polish that makes nails thicker and stronger. Bonus!

The one downside of Shellac is that there are limited colors from which to choose. Since I’ll (hopefully) be living with the color for 14 days, I chose a classic red. I always feel fancy with red nails, don’t you?

I’ll keep you posted on how the manicure wears over the next two weeks. I’ve decided I’m going to measure time in manicures for the duration of J’s deployment. If I get my nails done every other week, he’ll be home after 8 manicures!

(photo by me)