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Beauty Q&A: Grays, OTKs, and Sleeping in Rollers

Mom? MOM!Am I the only 30-year-old to have gray hair, or do pretty much all women dye their hair? I tried boxed dyes and they made my hair stiff and crunchy, and made my pillows smell for a week, not to mention the mess that it made in my bathroom. So I got my first salon dye job six weeks ago. Within four weeks it was washed out, faded all to heck, and looked bad. So I go back and drop more money and invest (because it is an investment! this stuff is expensive!) in some salon shampoo and conditioner for fine, thin, and colored hair. I’m using this stuff every other day, and it makes my hair a little dry, but on day two I’m still fairly oily. I’m using dry shampoo on day two, and it’s so weird. On day three I’m tempted to go without washing, but I’m not 100% sure about this dry shampoo stuff.

So another question: is dry shampoo something everyone uses and just doesn’t talk about? Should I be washing my hair less than every other day? How long is a dye job supposed to last? Am I the only 30(cough)-year-old with gray hair?

I’m not even going to begin to guess what went wrong with your boxed dye. Maybe get your most OCD — or, conversely, your most cool, calm, and collected — friend to help you next time? Be sure to rinse thoroughly and shampoo, and avoid the conditioner that comes with the dye if you don’t like the smell.

The truth about gray hair: it’s a pain to cover up, it only multiplies, and it simply doesn’t behave like naturally colored hair. You have a few different questions here, but basically what you’re asking is “Am I normal?” The answer is yes, so normal it’s boring. No, not everyone has gray hair at 30, but those who do are more likely to dye it than, say, someone who’s 75 and can’t be bothered because she finally has her priorities straight, thankyouverymuch. (Excluding my Grandma Carol who has never had to dye her long, perfect, chocolate brown locks. No blood relation. *shakes fist at the sky*) Before dispensing any actual tips, allow me to give you a pep talk: your hair NEVER looks as bad to anyone else as it does to you. Maybe you have hair dysmorphia disorder (HDD = not a thing), but other people don’t have the time or inclination to make as many negative assessments about your hair as you just did. Keep that in mind. We all have bad hair days, and those are the days we put it in a bun AND wear a headband. Or a hat. Anyway, before you spend any more money, try cutting yourself some slack. Or try growing it out entirely? I happen to think “premature” gray can look pretty hot on some people, but you have to grow it all in to find out if you’re one of them. Who knows, you might even be hiding a Stacy London stripe under there?

My hair started graying well before 30. (I win.) The sparkly roots are getting pree-tty noticeableLike you just stepped out of a salon where they don't wash anyone's hair. these past few years, whereas in my 20s I could go two or three months between touchups. Here is my advice: find someone who will do root-only touchups with permanent color (remember: it’s damaging to pull the color through the ends every time!) for cheap and make a standing appointment every seven weeks or so. In a big city, “cheap” is 50-60 bucks; out in the real world it’s tens of dollars less. If you live in NYC I recommend a junior stylist at Platinum Salon (they give you wine!) or Salone May in the LES (say hi to the dudes at the skate shop next door). And yeah, not washing your hair as often will preserve the color for sure. Unless you smoke indoors or work in a BBQ restaurant, it’s probably not actually that dirty/smelly on day two, just oily and it’s better for your hair not to be stripped of that oil with detergents so often. You’re doing the exact right thing with the dry shampoo, and guess what? Suave just came out with one that smells good and is pretty cheap. No, not everyone uses dry shampoo, just the ladies with oily hair who don’t have to go to the salon to get their roots redone every four weeks. If they’re doing everything right, you could never spot them in a crowd.

Secret weapon: with the money you save buying drugstore dry shampoo, get one small can of Bumble & Bumble hair powder in your color. Not only does it act as a dry shampoo, it has a slight tint that will cover your grey roots for that last scary week or two before your next salon visit. Two hair birds, one product stone.

I’m starting to get fine lines and stuff — I’m 28 — and am thinking I should maybe moisturize better. I break out sometimes, so I tend to shy away from FULL ON face cream before bed, but are there maybe hydrating masks I could be using? (And I’m starting to get a little Earth Mother-y, so if there were any at-home ones you’d recommend, I’d be very grateful!) But: store-bought is totally fine, too! But then — ultimately doesn’t washing the mask off at the end strip the moisture back away? The only times my skin is reliably not-dry is when I moisturize or skip washing my face. Also, how long does the loving-my-new-crows’-feet feeling last? Six months? Three weeks? Fourteen more seconds?

Oh I have so many questions for you, if only I knew you IN REAL LIFE! My questions and answer are these:

1. What kind of face wash are you using? Whatever it is, you might want to switch to something less drying/irritating. I’m going to guess it’s some sort of acne fighting formula since you mention breakouts, which is fine for lots of people (me!) but not you if it’s drying you out and you’re not willing to replace that moisture with a moisturizer. Speaking of…

2. What kind of moisturizer do you use? You know what one thing is about getting older skin? Moisturizer WORKS. I mean, it always has, but as we age and our skin becomes drier, the immediate effects of moisturizer can feel like magic. Why don’t you just use moisturizer if, as you say, it makes you feel better? And if you’re feeling like your moisturizer makes you break out, experiment until you find something that doesn’t. Speaking of…

EWWWW3. YES! I know some recipes for DIY masks. I spent my adolescence on a farm a million (20) miles from civilization — of course I know about at-home masks. First though, I rarely use a mask for hydrating. Personally, I find that they work better for pore cleansing — you know, loosening up blackheads and stuff. But! They sure are fun and you will feel softer and smoother at least temporarily? Here are the four ingredients from your kitchen you want in a moisturizing mask:

– honey
– an egg yolk
– avocado (more moisture) or oatmeal (calming/anti-itch) or yogurt (gently, gently exfoliate-y) — these are optional
– an oil like almond or olive.

EEP! It’s true. Mix roughly equal parts of the first three things and about a half teaspoon of whichever oil you choose and smear it all over your face. Better yet, brush it on with a pastry or makeup brush and then put a straw in your wine, two cucumbers on your eyelids, and kick back with some freaky tunes for 30 minutes. Do you have a recliner? That helps too. Then, if you can stand it, avoid using soap and rinse only with water long enough to get the stickiness off.

Ultimately, you’re just going to keep drying out, though, until you shrivel up and die. So: drink WAY too much water — like a gallon a day, wear plenty of your secret weapon moisturizer you spent months trial-and-erroring your way to that doesn’t make you break out, and stay out of the sun. You may also want to try a serum, that mysterious gel-like substance that straddles the line between moisturizer and wrinkle medicine. I love the one from Philosophy as it absorbs quickly and feels super light, but everyone makes one now. A thin layer in the morning or before bed might deliver just enough satisfying hydration without feeling heavy or pore-cloggy. And about those crows feet…

4. GET A GODDAMN EYE CREAM, WOMAN! These things are not hocus pocus or cheating like Botox. (For the record: I am fully in support of beauty cheaters who don’t get caught.) The beauty aisle at Whole Foods surely carries some hippie-dippy brands, or you could try making your own from one of these fun recipes.

I recently bought a few pairs of thigh highs (in solids and stripes) that I love. They’re thick, cottony, warm, cozy, and they stay up on their own. My only problem with them is that I have no idea what to wear with them. I have long legs, so they hit pretty low on my thighs, right around where most of my skirts hit, which is awkward-looking (not enough skin showing to be sexy, but some skin does show). If I wear them over leggings, the cuffs of the leggings make my ankles look bulky. Also, a lot of my skirts are made of thinner materials that kind of contrast with the thickness thigh highs (does that make sense?). Any recommendations for what kinds of skirts/dresses to wear with them? I tried looking up outfits ideas on the internet, but most pictures of girls in cotton thigh highs feature them lounging indoors in their panties. I’m more interested in being able to go outside.OTK 4 LYFE

Rule #1 for adults wearing bulky, sock-like thigh highs (or “over the knee socks” as they are being marketed these days): your ankles should NEVER show. In other words, wear them with boots. Silk thigh highs can be worn with heels for sure, but no thigh highs shall ever be worn with flats or sneakers unless you are a full time paid member of the Harajuku Girls OR you are still legally a child OR you are getting paid to do so on a runway. Exception: in the privacy of your own home or bedroom. Do whatever you want in those places. Other exception: the one or two of you who are reading this and thinking “But I know I look AMAZING in my OTK socks and Chuck Taylors!?” Keep it to your adorable little selves while the rest of us learn to cope with being mortals.

Once you get the boots part down, try wearing them over tights instead of leggings. Even a thin pair of colored tights lends some modesty and warmth without adding too much bulk. Here are some cute photos to get you inspired.

One last important thing: thigh high socks are also SUPER hot scrunched down to look more like leg warmers. Versatility!

You told me to quit with the heat styling, and this weekend my hairdresser told me to turn down my flat iron because it’s burning my ends. Okay okay, fine, you guys win. The problem is that when I obeyed him and turned down my iron, my hair is now flat and straight (not in a pretty way, just in a “oh, that girl didn’t have enough time to do her hair this morning” way). SO, do you have any recommendations for curlers that I can sleep in that will make my hair look pretty (and not have random curler lines/corners in my hair) but also not make it impossible to sleep because I have big bumps everywhere? I don’t know if this is possible, but I hope that you do. I recognize that this is dowdy blah blah, but we can add this to the list of weird things that the New York Times says that people who live alone do. My split ends thank you!

pellowsDo you remember when you were little making curlers out of some old dude’s destroyed t-shirts that were meant to becomes car waxing rags? NO!? Just me? Okay, ummm, well, what we did was rip up about 2 inch wide and 4 inch long strips of the t-shirt, get your hair wet, and then roll your hair around the fabric and tie it in a loose knot and sleep on it. That system has gotten grown up and more comfortable with the addition of foam! They’re called “pillow soft” curlers or rollers and they look like mini maxi pads. Goody makes some. And… they work. Don’t just take it from me:

Previously: Bullet Bras, Rancid Perfume, and Mascary.

Do you have a question for Jane?

Photo by Poznyakov, via Shutterstock.


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