Travel Hair Care I

Donna Kim-Brand

Travel Hair Care

Summer time is travel time, which can turn into a very hectic time.  To ease the burden in regards to travel hair care, at least, let’s do a little inventory. Of course, what you need to pack will depend on where you are headed in terms of weather, expected temperatures and customs, what activities you plan to get up to, and what fashion sense is called for day and night. And, you may simply have your hair care routines that dictate some basic supplies you always have with you.

Should you be staying in hotels lower than 3 star or alternative housing such as a Bed & Breakfast Inn, plan on taking everything you need for hair care with you. I would advise the same if staying as a house guest in a friend or family member’s home. Some people are very generous with guest amenities, and others don’t seem to give it much thought.

Also remember that airport security (TSA) regulates the size of your liquids for carry-on-items, so make sure your bottle size or the amount in your bottles is 3 ounces or less, or they will literally toss your bottles or tubes in the garbage right in front of you. In one instance I had bought a regulation size bottle in Italy, which meant that the words on the packaging were in Italian, except the word ‘shampoo’, in English. On my next trip out of the US, the TSA agent tossed my expensive Italian shampoo, because he couldn’t tell what it was, he said. Grrr! In checked bags, anything (legal) tends to go through without size restrictions.

Here are some other items for your consideration:

Hair drier-  Nowadays, most hotels 3-star and above tend to have hair driers available in the room or on demand. In North American hotels, they provide plugs in the bathroom. Driers are either fixed on the wall, in the closet, in a drawer or on a shelf in a little cloth bag. Did you know, by the way, that in England and Europe, laws prohibit electric plugs in bathrooms (except for special mini-sockets for shavers)? This is to prevent injury or death by electrocution caused by accidentally dropping an electronic item such as a hair drier in the sink or tub. So be prepared to dry and style your hair in the bedroom, not in front of the bathroom mirror.

You will need to bring any curling iron or hair straightening iron you want to use on your trip.

Remember as well that if traveling to England, Europe and numerous other countries, you must bring an adapter to fit both their socket shape and voltage. Do look it up online or ask your travel agent (if you have one) to find out what you need as it varies widely. Your safest bet is to buy a universal adapter, ahead of time online or at an electronics store or at the airport shop. They are compact and very handy for charging all electronic devices you might have toted with you.

Lotions and Potions-  Most hotels 3 star and above provide shampoo, but not all provide conditioner. Some hotels have luxurious brands, which pamper your hair. Others, however, seem to provide shampoos so harsh they could strip the paint off a car! So if you are not assured of a high quality shampoo and conditioner where you are staying, it’s wise to bring at least small bottles of your own just in case. I always carry conditioner.

Dry shampoo, is back on the market as a legitimate product these days. So this might be something to test out ahead of time, then bring along in case you need a quick fix. Gel or mousse are other ‘could be useful items’ when on the road.

If you intend to spend a good amount of time in the sun, in salty sea water or chlorinated pool water, you’d be advised to bring along extra moisturizer and conditioning product for your hair and waterproof high-SPF sunscreen or after-sun cream for your scalp and skin.

If you regularly use relaxers or hair coloring and the treatment timing hits while you are traveling, you are better off having what you need with you unless you are sure you can access what you need locally. Some resorts might have shops, but they charge two or three times the normal prices to their captive audience. Or if in a rural area, your country store might only have out of date hair coloring in leftover colors, if any, whether you are worth it or not!


Your Hair Style and Anti-Aging

Your Hair Style and Anti-Aging

We’ve considered various ways to treat your hair to promote anti-aging.

Now let’s look at styles (mostly for women here) you can either take on or leave behind in your attempt to look younger, or at least not look old! We all know that ultimately, the state of health and vibe we give off energetically can be youthful no matter what our age. The trick with hair styles is to aid and abet that effort, not work against it. Here are a few current ideas, bearing in mind that trends come and go.

1) Funny Bun-

When creating an up do for a more formal occasion, or even just to keep your hair off your face, give a miss to the tight, sleeked back, pompous…or mature look. Instead, break up the hair line on your scalp by creating several strands of French braids flowing backwards towards your crown and sweep them up into a top-knot braid. The texture gives more of a youthful, playful feel.

2) Bye Bye Forehead Flips-

Off the forehead sculpted hair flips and behind-the-ear-tucks make you look like your mother- well, mine do, make me look like my mother, that is. No disrespect intended, but it’s time to move on…  So ditch the fifties look by changing up your part to the middle and letting your hair go free-flow. For some texture and cooperation you might need to add some gel or mousse and scrunch until dry for a rumpled look. You’re attempting to look naturally styled with this look, however, not totally messy bed-head.

3) Loosen the Reins-

In a similar vein, 1940’s glamour-look hair styles, while elegant, are aging. Instead of tightly controlled sculpted curls framing the face, try lightly blown straight hair that still has a bit of volume and caresses the face softly, but has been let out of its hair corset! You’ll both look and feel more approachable, and radiate youthfulness.

4) Adios Perfect Pageant Hair-

We’re making the move here from perfectly coiffed, curled and stiffened shoulder-length hair, the type that moves all in one movement and is often seen in pageants, to a carefree look. Ironically, this ‘natural look’ takes a bit of working up with dollops of mouse or gel run all through the hair. Twist a few strands into long mild curls, or use a large brush curling iron to install a light wave to the bottom of your hair as it drapes your shoulders. Rumple with your fingers for the final effect, and feel decades younger already!

5) Gamine Gambit-

A short, wispy gamine cut suits many older women well, as it hides hair loss, is easy to care for and tends to lift the face. The trick is to maintain the shape with regular cuts. Otherwise, the pixie style can make you look bedraggled, rather like an outdated hippie. Keep it washed and fresh, color your eyebrows, and show off a lovely pair of earrings and you’ll even walk with a spring in your step!

6) Two-Step Two-Tone-

Here’s a returning trend – turning single tone color into two-tone color. Not exactly highlights. Rather, either showing roots and lightening the down strands, or conversely, lightening the roots and fading into a darker tone from your ears down. It’s called ombre.

7) Beach Bombshell-

A perfectly shaped coif speaks of control and primness. Nothing wrong with that per se. But by taking the same style and building in a messy side part and running fingers through your hair to break apart the sleek exterior, all the sudden you look fun and fabulous! And ready for a romp on the beach – it’s party time!

Combining astute hair care and styling will keep age at bay and your look vibrant.

Anti-Aging for Your Hair

Donna Kim-Brand

Anti-Aging for Your Hair

Despite the fact that Baby Boomers outnumber their younger counterparts, we live in a youth-crazed society. It’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation as to whether the health and fitness craze is fueling this anti-aging trend, or the trend is fueling the craze. You might not have considered aging in relation to your hair but it actually applies on two levels: how the condition of your hair itself reveals aging and how you can style and care for your hair to make yourself look younger. This post will address hair care itself and how to hedge your bets against aging hair.

While 30 is not even considered ‘middle age’, that’s about when estrogen starts to drop, causing hair to become dull and dry. You can experience lackluster looking hair, brittleness, fly-away frizz, thinning strands, and, gasp, the beginning of grey.

What’s an aging guy or gal to do? Here are a few hair care tips.

1) Super-moisturizing with intense treatments of oils and conditioners. Leave pre-shampoo oils on overnight, or leave conditioners on for extra time in the shower to allow infusing your follicles and lovely locks with the treatments. Then, also important, reduce breakage by combing out in the shower with a large tooth comb, even while the conditioner is still on (then rise after). Or detangle mindfully once out of the shower.

2) Hair driers, flat irons and curling rods are major causes of dry hair conditions. As you age, you may find it helpful to minimize their usage by changing your style- maybe by going shorter or staying with naturally dried longer hair. You can also use pre-dry protein sprays that coat your hair with a layer of silicone, which acts as a protective shield. You can select tools like ceramic irons or brushes that keep heat down while still getting the job done. Nowadays there are even ‘ionic hair driers’ that produce negative ions which saturate the airflow to reduce the size of water droplets, thus allowing more moisture to infuse into your hair. Who knew?

3) Use less shampoo – or reduce frequency of shampooing. Some shampoos can strip the lipids (fats which prevent breakage and bolster shine) or color from hair, again causing a dull, diluted look which makes you look older and tired out. So a first step is, when choosing your hair care products, look for those with Vitamin B, fatty acids or nourishing oils to add moisture. While lathering up is fun and makes us feel like we’re really getting our hair clean, in reality, most washing is to clear out oils at the root level. So at least for some washings, just apply shampoo- either gentle or color-protecting types to your scalp, and let the run-off suds remove dust from your hair itself. Rinse well with cool water so no residue build-up is left to dull your locks.

4) Avoid discoloration or damage to coloring in your hair. There are several issues to deal with here. First off, minimize fading or discoloration from chlorine or hard minerals in your water source by attaching a filter on your shower head. This applies to both, natural or color-aided hair. Of course, chlorine in pools that is left on too long or encountered too frequently can also cause hair to take on a straw-like texture with an eerie green tint, so watch out for this. Rinse thoroughly after any exposure to chlorine. When selecting product, whether hair dye, shampoos and conditioners, hair sprays or specialized treatments, avoid those laden with alcohol which tends to both strip color and dry out hair. It’s new to me, but apparently you can now spray on SPF hair treatments for sun protection and extra sheen. This provides an extra layer of protection to keep your hair color even and rich and the texture luxurious.

5) Finally for now, minimize hair thinning or loss in any way you can.  Avoid tight pony tails, buns and even towel wraps that pull on your tender follicles causing breakage or severe stress. Eat nutritiously and get appropriate exercise and sleep to keep hair and scalp healthy. Treat any scalp infections as needed and avoid toxic hair products.

Hair Color and Your Health

Donna Kim-Brand

Hair Color and Your Health

When my young children and I moved to a new town years ago, a rather boorish ‘player’ type of guy decided he’d try to attract my attention. My kids didn’t like his pushy style, so when he said he loved redheads because he had a 10 year old son who was a redhead like me, my 8 year old daughter retorted, “Yes, but I bet his red is natural!”  Whoah nelly! Where did that come from, especially from one so young!?

You see, I grew up with mousy brown hair with red highlights that shone brilliantly only in the sunlight. Who wants to be mousy brown? Not me! So in later years I just helped bring out more of the deep auburn with hair coloring. These days we are all privy to tinting or highlighting in any shade we want to express what we perceive to be more of our character or style.

There are health reasons to pay attention to our natural hair color, however, for certain coloring genetically predisposes us to health challenges that need dealing with differently. This according to health experts.


Did you know that darker haired brunettes are more likely to become addicted to smoking than other hair colors? Supposedly, the melanin in the skin pigment binds the nicotine so it sticks around in your liver and bloodstream longer and builds in a craving that makes it harder to quit. Take in extra Vitamin C in foods or supplements to aid in flushing the liver. Better yet, resist the urge to get hooked on smoking in the first place.

On top of that, brunettes of all shades tend towards thicker, courser hair, so when it falls out the space left is more visible. To prevent hair loss from being exacerbated, brunettes are advised to up their intake of iron. Supplements, oatmeal and other iron-rich foods should be taken to slow down hair loss, 50% of which happens to brunettes.


We’ve all heard the old stereotypes, ‘blonds have more fun’, and ‘blonds are more ditzy’. Is this why they tend to stay out in the sun and suffer sun damage? Not necessarily! The lighter pigmentation of a blond is usually accompanied by lighter skin tones and eye coloring, putting blonds at greater risk from UV rays. Not only is sunburn a problem, but so is more inclination towards macular degeneration, an eye condition that causes blindness. Yikes!

What’s a blond to do? Protect your skin and scalp from burning and skin cancers by staying out of prolonged direct sunlight and use high SPF sun screen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, wear a hat and sunglasses with UV ray protection when outside to protect your face and eyes.  As for your diet, lean towards one rich in antioxidants along with plenty of leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and snow peas.


Now, for the redheads. Having a mother with Parkinson’s, I am not happy to learn that redheads are 90% more susceptible to this disease than brunettes. (Maybe my mousy brown hair was a good thing after all?)  Research hasn’t yet confirmed if the cause is related to the melanin or the red-head gene is related to the neuro-environment that causes Parkinson’s. I’m happy to hear we redheads can take a multi-vitamin which has sufficient folic acid (400mgs/day) to reduce our chances of triggering the condition.

It was also news to me that redheads are statistically more resistant to anesthesia, requiring up to 20% more in a procedure than women with other natural hair coloring. Remember that on your next trip to the dentist!  One thing the feisty carrot-tops are supposedly not immune to is romance, so make sure to take appropriate health precautions!

My goodness, so many factors to consider tied to hair color. Pay attention to health conditions connected to your natural coloring to take active precautions or preventive action. Other than that, enjoy the pleasures that come with each, or make up your own. Who’s to know, but you!

Shaving tips for women

Donna Kim-Brand

Summer Shaving Tips for Women

Summer time, and the livin’ is easy; or so the old song goes. It fails to take into account how much maintenance is required for women to keep up a sleek ‘natural look’ in the summer.

Three main body areas tend to be the shaving focus for women in summer mode: legs, underarms and bikini line. Looking good, meaning hairless in this case, is the name of the game. The reality is, in order to show off your smooth, sleek skin (whatever your body size or shape, by the way), much more is required than a mere shave. In fact, the ritual of shaving is a great time to add an element of mindfulness to your weekly routine. Rather than approaching the task as just one more thing to cross off your list of things to do, why not look forward to this as a moment to pamper yourself; a time to tune in, appreciate your body and life. By choosing to stay mindful, rather than shifting into autopilot, not only will you be more careful with that very sharp object in your hand, but you will finish felling refreshed as well as refined!


Since direct summer sun parches the skin at a minimum, and burns it in the worst case scenarios, care of your skin – our largest human organ – is priority number one. Since shaving also exfoliates your skin, you can scruff off old dead skin cells in the process of getting rid of hair and stubble. You would be advised, however, to use a loofah pad or exfoliation gloves on your legs (and arms and face) before shaving, while your skin is ‘untouched’ by a razor. Then, slather shaving cream or soap all over the areas you want to depilate. Follow up with a close shave using a double or 5 blade razor to minimize knicks, in the direction against your hair flow for optimal results. Rather than long strokes, shave in shorter bursts and rinse your razor often to avoid the blades getting clogged with hair and cream.  Be especially careful around bony areas such as knees and ankles, where uneven contours can lead to knicks if you aren’t careful.

End your routine with cool water to close your pores.  Once out of the shower massage your legs with SPF moisturizing lotion or self tanning cream.  Your legs should end up glowing with the stimulation and deforestation.

A quick note – you could use depilatory creams to remove hair rather than shaving. The trick here is to minimize mess and find a brand with chemicals not so harsh as to cause a rash. Read labels, ask friends and experiment to find your best solution.


While Europeans may beg to differ, shaving off underarm hair is considered a sexy, sultry act for women exposing themselves in summer outfits (unlike for men, where trimming alone is best practice unless he’s a model). Obviously the skin in this area of your body is highly sensitive and the geography is varied. So approach shaving your armpits with care and mindfulness. Make sure you have sufficient lubricant to smooth the path for your razor, and ironically you will have a safer shave with a sharper razor. So you may want to do the deed under your arms with a virgin razor before heading for the nether regions of your body.

Be aware that unless you’ve chosen a brand on purpose for this, most deodorants and antiperspirants contain harsh chemicals that really sting on the surface of a fresh shave. So either wait a bit after shaving to apply your brand, or find one that doesn’t cause you this pain.

Bikini Line-

Talk about sensitive skin areas! You have both tender skin and folds between your legs and the pubic area, also making it hard to reach. The biggest recommendation here is to do your bikini or bathing suit leg-line shaving about 24 hours before you intend to go out in the sun. This is to allow time for the skin in the area to calm down after the assault by razor. (Some women get small red bumps where hair follicles were riled up or grazed with razor burn. These tend to disappear within a day.)

Additionally, since the hair in this area of the body is more course, I recommend you take a warm bath or shower to soften and plump up the hairs. Then make sure to add soap or shaving gel to smooth the path for the razor. When bringing in the razor, hold the skin tight and smooth, and take small strokes from the leg line towards your belly. For a clean – meaning hair-free – zone, you don’t need to go on a full invasion. Just clear out enough of the hair patch in the area to prevent ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ when you are in swim suits or otherwise skimpy or revealing summer clothing.

Ultimately, looking good includes feeling good. So as you partake in your regular summer shaving routines, why not add in relaxation with deep breathing and  paying close attention through mindfulness. You’ll set out to the beach, poolside or wherever you are headed feeling relaxed yet vibrant. You can carry these practices over to enjoying your time at your destination, whether quietly reading or sunbathing, or in conversation or activity with your companions. You’ll have the confidence of knowing you are looking sleek and radiant as you create new moments for your memory bank.

July 21 / 2015

Shaving Tips for Men

Donna Kim-Brand

Summer Shaving Tips for Men

The reality is, shaving body hair is mostly a cultural phenomenon, male or female. Different countries, ethnic groups or age groups have a range of beliefs and customs surrounding protocols of shaving.  Bearing this in mind, we’ll look at current North American trends in shaving various body parts for both looking good and for an active summer. What used to be considered acceptable body grooming only for women has now become commonplace for men, be they metro-sexual urban chic , athletes or Household-Joe.


Let’s start extreme. You are a guy preparing for cycle racing, swimming competitions or a triathalon. You know that less hair means more sleekness and less resistance in the field, both in the pool and on the cycle. You might not have thought that shaving your legs also reduces the possibility of infection if, heaven forbid, you fall and get road rash abrasions. Less hair means and less oil and dirt grinding into a wound and more ease of cleansing. And, let’s face it, if you’re in great shape and want to flaunt your well-defined physique, why ruin it with hair?

You will likely shave at least from the knees down, and for aesthetic reasons during swimming, possibly up to the swim suit line.

You would be advised to use an electric trimmer (clippers) for the first cutting, with a larger blade surface to clear the masses of hair from the knees down. Sensitive areas on thighs and around bony ares such as knees and ankles are better served when you next work with a disposable twin bladed razor. Shave against the direction of the hair growth. There’s less chance you’ll knick yourself as long as you use plenty of soap or shaving cream to smooth the contact between your tough hair, virgin skin and a razor. Just be careful in the shower not to slip as you balance on one foot then the other- so you might consider sitting in the tub to do the deed. Rinse off with cool water to close your pores and use after-shave or lubricating lotion to moisturize after the trauma you’ve just put your skin through.

Shaving arms, it is recommended you only remove the top of arm hair, leaving hair in under arm areas. One theory says that by leaving that hair you can better maintain a feel for the water in swimming, and another practical view says the stubble will annoyingly prickle your torso.  While you are advised to keep armpit hair trimmed, full shaving is looked upon by some as demasculating (unless you’re a model.)

And shave your chest gingerly too, as despite your manly toughness this area of gentle skin is not likely to have encountered a blade very often. You’ll need help to shave your shoulder and back fur, which is considered the most unsightly of body hairs on men by women, for some reason.

You could try waxing (painful and adds up cost-wise but keeps hairiness down longer) or depilitory creams (messy and full of harsh chemicals) to remove your hair, but even in these cases you’ll have better results by clipping first.

For  more routine summer shaving, continue your hair styling & facial hair care routines as usual; or why not try out a new hair style (go uber short, shaved or let it grow longer) or take a long weekend and begin that moustache you’ve always dreamed of.

As for shaving ‘down there’, it’s a personal grooming choice that can keep you fresher but also cause problems if you knick your delicates.

All in all, there is no set approach to male body hair grooming – keeping it, shaping it or shaving it. Choose according to practical concerns and aesthetics of beauty, in your eyes or those you want to cast their eyes upon you. Than just go out there and have some summer fun! Just remember to keep lubricated with SPF and remain wary of exposure to too much damaging direct sun rays.

July 14 / 2015

Preventing ‘Wicked Witch of the Summer’ Head and Hair

Preventing ‘Wicked Witch of the Summer’ Head and Hair
Anyone living through hot summers with high sun is at risk. You know what I mean; parched, limp, flyaway, straw-like hair from too much exposure to sun, sand, salt water, sweat and swimming pool chlorine. Or nasty sunburn on scalps with little or no hair. Either case is wicked scary and even painful in more ways than one!  And don’t let mild temperatures fool you. Direct summer sun, no matter where you live, will work its evil damage anyway.
Unless, that is, you take preventative measures. Here are a few, both obvious and a few that are simple but surprising.

Common Sense Measures-

·        Cover your head and hair when outside with a hat or scarf to limit direct exposure to the sun. We are usually pretty conscious of this during outdoor events or on long outings for reasons of pure comfort. But we forget how often our short exposures when running errands, exercising or walking the dog expose us to the very same sun.

·        Rinse hair thoroughly after swimming in salt or chlorinated water to remove as much of those wicked hair damagers as possible before they can do their dastardly deeds. Not only will your hair love you, so will your scalp and the rest of your skin. Remember to use conditioner after washing for reconditioning, and lovely lotion for restoring suppleness to the rest of your body.

·        Reduce use of hair dryers, curling irons and straightening irons by air drying your hair (out of direct sunlight, of course). For those of you who have hair that needs some help to show off its character, you could go to bed with one or several loose braids in your ever-so-mildly damp or dry hair. A whisk of texturizing spray all over before your head hits the pillow should assure mild waves when you wake up and unravel your braids.

·        Pamper yourself with hair conditioning treatments or masks every month or so during the summer to maintain good moisture content in your strands and follicles.
·        If possible, time your need for hair coloring or highlights for pre-and post-summer as this will cut down on contact with coloring agents or chemicals that add to your risk of damaging dryness.

Did you Know?

·        How about applying a conditioner you leave in BEFORE going out in the sun? That way, the heat actually acts as a stimulant to the conditioner to work its magic and moisten your hair instead of drying it out!

·        Similarly, before dipping into a pool or the sea, wet your hair. That way, your locks are already saturated and have less space per strand to absorb the damaging salt or chlorine.

·        Did you know that by switching your pillowcase from cotton to satin or sateen, you’ll wake up with less flyaway hair?  Why? Because cotton is more highly absorbent and sucks out what moisture there is in your hair.

All in all, taking these measures will make you look fresh and feel full of flair. And we all know looking better will make you feel better. When you feel better you are less stressed, and thus more able to relax and exude healthy radiance. That, too, is part of the recipe for reducing the chances you’ll end up looking like the ‘wicked witch of summer hair damage’.
Now please excuse me while I head for the shaded hammock and sip my Pina Colada!

Parting is such sweet… Hair Psychology?

Donna Kim-Brand

Parting Is Such Sweet…Hair Psychology?

Have you lain on a couch in your hair salon dealing with deep rooted issues of your Hair Psychology? What?? I didn’t think so!!

I almost always part my hair on one side – the left- which some psychologists would say indicates a dominance of my left brain; the logical, analytical, intellectual side. I just always parted my hair there because that’s where the part naturally opened up and also because parting on the other side made the hair follicles ache to be bent an unfamiliar direction.

Psychologists would say that parting hair on the right side expresses my artsy, rhythmic, creative side. The only rhythm I get on the right is the beat of a pounding headache from those angry follicles!

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve experimented…zig zags using the tail of a comb or cuticle stick for a clear part line, extreme diagonals across my scalp for a dramatic hair sweep across my forehead, a short part then all hair swept back over the crown, and even brushing back with no part. The last option leaves me looking too much like my elderly mother, so it’s not a look I go for unless my hair is wet. And while I don’t ever plan on having a messy part, which is currently all the rage to go along with the ‘bedhead’ look, sometimes it just ends up that way.

While some heads and hair styles allow for changing it up and making style statements by parting your hair in different locations, angles or shapes, others tend towards one approach based on face shape and hair texture.

For instance, if your hair is fine or limp, try a deep side part to lift the roots and add volume. When you brush your hair diagonally back across your crown with such a part, it balances out and gives a sense of overall oomph. For curly or rougher textured hair, brush the hair back without a part for a full-flow effect, or part in the middle of your head.

Mostly, though, people choose parts that will either hide or enhance their facial shape. Square shaped heads or jaws do well with a side part and bangs sweeping across the forehead to add softness. Round face shapes can take a deep side part which cuts off some of the spherical nature by how the face is framed. Or try a middle part which adds length and symmetry, making the face look more oval. Just stay away from layers that flip out, whatever the part. A deep side part hugs the cheekbones and breaks up the chin line, which can help if your heart-shaped face includes a pointy chin. For those of you with a diamond shaped face structure, stick to side parts and avoid short bangs. Shorter styles work best with this face shape since the focus stays up towards your eyes and cheeks, rather than intensifying the length of your face.

You need to experiment to see what part-place you like best and what is most functional. I know when I part my hair too deeply on the side, I might feel sexy, but the tendency to flop in my face and cover my eyes is a real nuisance when I’m teaching. Following up by sticking my hair behind my ears really does spoil the effect! I can either let that drive me to a Hair Psychologist, or on such days I am better off choosing a higher part, which allows my hair to be more cooperative.

If your hair tends to part naturally in one spot, you can best retrain your follicles while your hair is wet. Brush freshly washed hair, choose a new part place and apply gel to hold it in place. As you dry your hair, direct the blower and brush in the new direction. It might take a few tries for both you and your hair to feel comfortable. Or you might just revert to your default parting ways. But at least it will be a conscious choice, knowing it’s the look that makes you feel your best. And that, my friends, is way less expensive therapy than a psychologist!

Prom Hair Highlights

Donna Kim-Brand

Prom Hair Highlights

Unless you are a dancer, debutante, or played dress-up, your first formal dress-up event where hair plays a big role just might be your school prom. As I recall from years past, the trick is to look like you made effort while also feeling comfortable. After all, part of the thrill of prom night is slow dancing with the guy of your dreams, which might include him running his nervous fingers through your hair. Not easy to do when your hair is amassed tightly into a bun; not to mention the headache you might end up with since your tresses and scalp aren’t used to being held hostage like this for hours on end.

Having said that, up-do’s as well as half-up do’s and hair-down styles are all popular for prom night with medium to long hair. I’ll suggest a couple of half-up styles here.

By the way, for short hair, unless you intend to make a statement with a highly spiked hair-do, minimize the styling gel so your hair doesn’t poke your fella’s eye out when dancing cheek to cheek.

A current celebrity inspired style is to part your hair on one side and use curlers or a curling iron to add gentle curls all around. Then create a braid from the part-line heading back towards your ear on the side with less hair. This creates a bit of mystery from the front, wonderment on the braided side, and voluminous fullness on the other side. The effect is a kind of controlled allure.

A style I haven’t seen before is the Dutch Infinity Braid, another half-up do that gives your fingers a workout in the process of creating it. When your hair is brushed smooth, take a fistful of hair from the upper rear of your crown and divide into sections A and B, which will never meet. Grab a small bunch of hair off your temple from one side of your head, which we’ll call C. Weave C under A and over B. Then grab a small gob of hair from the opposite temple, add it to C and weave back under B and over A. Keep repeating 5-6 times back and forth for a partial up-do or right to the nape of the neck if you want to gather all your hair.

A simple, yet elegant type of braid forms down the middle of the back of your head, while also leaving a trail of loose hair down your back. Wherever you finish the braid, secure strands A, B & C together where you end with an elastic band and maybe a ribbon or other decoration. You can add volume to the roll of braid on each side by gently inserting your finger at the top of each braid roll and pulling out to the desired size. The look is sophisticated from the rear and off your face from the front, which is perfect for any number of prom night activities.

Here’s another braided half-up style called Twisted Crown. Prepare a clean, brushed and possibly curled head of hair to start. Gather the hair from your forehead to your temple on each side (one at a time) and create loose braids of about one inch wide. This will assure your hair is off your face so you don’t have to worry about it falling in your soup at dinner or blocking your view during your wild moves on the dance floor later. Lightly pull the braids back and twist them over each other at the back of your head just below the crown. You can either secure with an elastic band at the loop point or combine the two braids into one by braiding them together when they meet at the back of your head. Then fasten.

Choose a style that flatters both your face shape and hair type as well matching appropriately with your outfit or overall ‘look’. And possibly you’ll need to take weather conditions into account in case you have to patch things up between dinner and dancing, or whatever you get up to.

As mentioned, you want to look pretty (whatever that means to you) and you also want to be comfortable for a long night filled with a range of activities. And, of course you want to rock the inevitable photos that you and your pals will surely be snapping and posting.
For many, the most fun part is planning, scheming and dreaming with your mom, beau or gal pals ahead of the event. So go ahead! Enjoy it all from start to finish, for prom is one of those events you’ll remember your whole life. I know. I was Prom Queen! (And no one was more surprised than I was, which makes the memory all the sweeter!)

June 30 / 2015

The mystique of bridal veils

Donna Kim-Brand

The Mystique of Bridal Veils

Wedding season is upon us and today we wanted to explore at Hairchatter a crown of glory other than hair – the bridal veil that is.

Nowadays, bridal veils are considered part of the traditional wedding outfit, along with gown, shoes and bouquet. Styles abound based on tradition, match to the dress or hairstyle, photogenic appeal, ceremony venue and likely weather conditions, or view to the rear, which is how guests (and photographers) will view the veil.

Modern brides don’t usually consider why veils are part of the equation. There are several origin stories, most going back to ancient Rome or Greece, where bridal veils were flame colored to ward off evil spirits from the vulnerable bride on her wedding day. Some speculate it also hid her nervousness and emotion as she headed towards an unknown future.

The veil also obscured others from attracting the bride’s attention as she marched towards her intended, which inadvertently had the result of making it hard for her to see where she was going. This is said to be the original reason why her father or other male family member walked her down the aisle to ‘give her away’; it was to keep her steady and from bumping into things along her route to the front and her new destiny.

Arranged marriages were also common across cultures over the years, and some speculate the veil had the role of preventing her future husband from bolting if he didn’t like the look of his intended before the knot was tied. After all, the dowry had already been paid and there was no turning back from the family perspective.

From a religious perspective, the veil acted as a head covering of reverence and respect to the divine, as well as denoting modesty and humility as part of a sacred ceremony. Some also say the veil denotes the bride’s submission, obedience and chastity before her husband as part of the marriage vows.

Over the years in certain cultures, veil length, fabric weight and lace quality became status symbols. Royals were expected to have the longest and finest veils, as we recall from Princess Diana’s long train when she married Prince Charles in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Veil styles and names vary, from blusher veils that perch on her head and barely cover the bride’s face, to flyaway veils which end at the shoulder. Then there are fingertip veils which span the bride’s arm length and reach to her waist, and sweep veils that reach the floor.  Long, flowing cathedral veils are worn, no surprise, in cathedrals since they can be shown off to great effect.

Veils are held in place with head pieces, which vary in style and means of affixing to the bride’s head according to the bride’s preference and hair style as well as how much work it has to do to hold the veil in place.

While cultural, ethnic and religious traditions may still dictate how a bride (or her matchmaker or parent) chooses a veil for her wedding, in many western cultures at least, the veil choice is simply one of stylistic preference. The best advice is to try on a variety of styles, on their own as well as with your gown and desired hairstyle, and remember that a wedding day tends to be active and busy. So choose accordingly and bask in bridal beauty and mystique. After all, it’s your day!