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Fun with Coffee

Let me tell you about my great grandmother’s hair.

Wait, no, first let me tell you about my great grandmother.

  • She was Scottish. I mean really Scottish. Descended from the historical Lady Macbeth, her two children were Andrew, after Scotland’s patron saint and Bruce, as in Robert The.
  • In the middle of the Great Depression in New York City, she demanded and summarily received a large baby grand piano, which she moved around by getting on her hands and knees under it and crawling it to her desired location.
  • She was a devout Scottish Presbyterian until one fateful day when the choirmaster took away her solo. She flounced off to the Anglican Church across the street and that, friends and lovers, is How The Plumcakes Became Episcopalians.
  • Her hair, the same shade as mine, kept its natural espresso hue well into her seventies, though a colorist’s brush never touched her precious mamie bangs.

***record scratching to a stop***

…back the truck up.

Lady Macbeth Thing: Fine. I’ve met the women in my family and I assure you, all the perfumes of Arabia would not sweeten our collective hands.

The Piano Thing: again, fine. Not everyone suffered in the Depression, and it would go a long way towards explaining my atavistic urge to buy a baby grand piano in the middle of the last recession.

Flouncing off to the Episcopalians: Anyone who doubts the veracity of this has clearly never been in or near a church choir.

Deep brown tresses into her seventies: ay, there’s the rub.

It seem great grandmother Plumcake had a teensy trick. Instead of setting her hair in curlers, she’d set them around damp black teabags. Tinting her hair ever-so-slightly with each wash and set.

Her caffeinated little secret sprung to mind the other day.

Harsh water and daily dips in the Pacific have not been kind to my hair. While I understand natural summer highlights and beach textured hair are both sought after (for the latter, skip the spendy products and use what the runway hairstylists use: non-iodized salt dissolved in warm water. Apply with a spray bottle) my dark brown Eton crop does not benefit from either.

I’m not especially interested in coloring my hair, but I don’t want to lose its natural hue either, so, like my great-grandmother before me, I went to the kitchen to improvise.

Coffee Hair Tint

3 tablespoons instant coffee
2+/- tablespoons sour cream/plain yogurt
2 teaspoons hot water

Dissolve the coffee in the hot water and add enough sour cream to make a thick paste. Apply to towel-dried hair. Wrap hair in a shower cap, let sit at least an hour and wash out with a gentle shampoo in the coolest water you can stand.

Okay, those are the basic directions. Here’s what I did:

Short Hair for Big Girls (now with more math!)

I’m not that great at hair.

I mean I’m not terrible, but while I’m usually about to break down any other aspect of a person’s style success and explain mathematically why it works (or doesn’t) when it comes to hair I’m sort of like “well, do this because it’ll probably look nice and if not, it’s only hair: It’ll grow.”

It’s been five years since I defied all received Fat Girl Wisdom and went for an Eton crop/pixie cut and I still count it as the best thing to have come out of my brief engagement to the French Chef. Considering he gave me a Birkin and a townhouse in Lyon (which I couldn’t keep for some tangled Franco-American reason) that’s saying something.

I cropped my hair in preparation to meet his beloved and completely intimidating widowed mother. La Veuve Witchypoo was not enthused at the prospect of her only child, the light of his generation and only scion of a old and storied family, marrying an American, and not just an American, but a Protestant, and not just an American Protestant, but a FAT American Protestant. AND I had big teeth. I never quite figured out why the big teeth bothered her, but the rest I knew counted against me. So in the interest of hedging my bets, I went to my stylist and had her chop away, leaving nothing but a chic cap of hair with little kiss curls framing my face.

It worked, thank goodness, and I vaguely knew it had something to do with my enormous frog eyes and big lips, but I couldn’t explain why it worked exactly.

Half a decade later I have  my answer, thanks to Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style.

According to John Frieda, hairdresser to the stars, a measurement of 5.5cm or less from the base of the ear to the bottom of the chin is important, this is because it makes you look less jaw heavy (a more ‘masculine’ trait).  So in general, shorter face shapes (square and round) find it easier to carry off shorter hair.”

Math! Now we’re talkin’. That makes so much sense! It explains why it works on me, and looks so cute on Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin (even with Those Ears) both of whom have round/heart shape faces but on Pink it’s a little Early Eddie Izzard.

Lamport continues by pointing out stuff I kind of already knew: big eyes, big lips, great cheekbones all help. Let me go one further: it has to suit your personality. I already look like Betty Boop with a glandular issue, so her haircut was a no brainer for me, but imagine the divine Helena Bonham Carter with a chic little crop. Her face would be perfect for it, but her personality is a complete mismatch.

What do you think about cropped hair on big girls? Do you have any follicular wisdom that has helped you along the way to The Perfect Cut? Put it in the comment!




Miss Plumcake’s Reluctant Guide to Sexual Health #2: The Hair Down There

I think stressing over taming the topiary is sort of a young woman’s game.

The general consensus is men “expect” girls whose downton abbey looks like Atlanta after a visit from General Sherman because of porn. Now, I don’t actually believe any guy over the age of 23 can possibly be THAT clueless, but you know what?

If a guy’s understanding of sexual congress comes from repeated viewings of “White Men Can’t Hump” you probably shouldn’t be sleeping with him in the first place. That one was a freebie. You’re welcome.

Still, it’s your hair and you can do what you want with it.

I’m prone to ingrown hairs and my new beach bunny lifestyle (I think I mentioned it on twitter or Facebook, but I’m moving to a little Mexican beach town) is a lot more swimsuit intensive.

It’s also a lot more gettin’ some intensive and the pleasantness of either encounter is not enhanced by painful red bumps.

A few years ago a guy I asked a guy I worked with how he got his head so smooth. He told me he used Magic Shaving Powder, which was specially formulated for African-American men to prevent razor bumps/ingrown hairs.

I thought “hey, why not?” and now I look back upon my prior adventures in hair removal with the bitterest of laughs.

Of course the law firm of C.Y.A. & Associates requires me to tell you this product is not for use on your lady parts and should be used only as directed, so to be very clear: I am not recommending you do this, I’m just saying what I did.

Magic Shave comes in either a powder or a cream.

I use the powder because I can control the thickness of the paste and you get more bang for your buck. Scoop some powder into a bowl or plate –I use the lid from an old pint of a gelato because I’m elegant like that– and mix it with cool water until it has the texture of slightly thin toothpaste.

Spread it all over the desired area –I use the back of a plastic knife– and let that stuff percolate for a few minutes. You’re supposed to keep the area moist, so I keep a mist bottle around, but you could just put a damp paper towel atop the whole works. The directions say to leave it on 5 to 7 minutes, but I go for an even ten. Then rinse it off using the ol’ washcloth and cool water treatment.

The smell is not pleasant, but I find it a lot less offensive than Nair and at least it vanishes instead of lingering like a creepy guy at a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit the way other depilatories do.

Now here’s the clincher.

Bump Stopper 2.

Seriously gang. I don’t know what I did without it.

I just rub a teensy bit of the thick unscented cream on when I wake up and once again when I go to sleep & I’ve been ingrown-free since using it except for once and it vanished in two days. Plus I swear it stops regrowth from being itchy.

Of course you’ll want to do a test patch for both of these products first and follow all directions and wash behind your ears before you go to bed, and sit up straight get a real job and start giving me some grandchildren. I’m not going to be around forever you know.

What Miss Plumcake is…

Hello my chubby compadres, how’s every little thing? Me, I’m great. Just getting used to being back in Texas –by which I mean the face of the sun– after a glorious month of actual springlike weather in DC. Well, it’s Tuesday, so it’s time to find out
What Miss Plumcake is…

(now with sales code AND a recipe!)

‘Tis the Season for the Southern Belle

Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe & Charlotte Hays
Akoya Pearl 18″ Necklace (great price for these)
Professional Ceramic Hot Roller Set (so Jesus can see you coming!)
Johnson Brothers Deviled Egg Plate

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

From Francesca’s Inbox: Beauty Tips for the Rainy Days

Francesca hates it when this happens!

As you can imagine, Francesca, Plumcake and Twistie receive many, many emails from the PR agencies, peddling various beauty products and personalities. Usually Francesca safeguards you from such matters, but this week she received one which actually might be useful, under the rainy circumstances. It is from the PR firm of the hair and makeup stylists mentioned here:

The stars at last night’s Golden Globe awards managed to look impeccable despite the rain.

However, most women don’t have a team of professional hairdressers, makeup artists and stylists to maintain their look during rainy conditions like celebrities (Francesca says: or assistants to hold the umbrellas on one’s behalf). Celebrity makeup artist Christopher Drummond and hairstylist Philip Pelusi offer tips on weathering the storm during a special event:

Makeup tips from Christopher Drummond

  • If it is raining the day of a special event, stay away from liquid foundation, which has a tendency to “melt” and not last as long
  • Add a little more makeup than you normally would for all products to prepare for the fact that some makeup will come off due to bad weather. Be sure to add layers to your foundation.
  • Use water resistant products, such as Christopher Drummond Beauty products (Veludo Velvet Foundation and Finale Finishing Powder) (Francesca says: natch)

Hair Tips from Philip Pelusi:

  • Check the weather report a few days in advance so you can plan to wear your hair up or down. If rain is in the forecast, plan ahead to wear your hair either all up or half up and half down.
  • Pulling hair into an updo or half upsweep is the best strategy to stay looking good in rainy conditions because hair is already curled, pinned and sprayed in place. If it gets rained on a bit, hair can simply air dry in place, and it is also easier to keep an updo dry under an umbrella.
  • If you wear your hair down and are caught by surprise, make sure to bring a small emergency kit in your purse to a special event with a few hair pins, a ponytail holder and a small purse size hair spray. If hair gets wet, go for a quick style change. Pull hair back into the ponytail and wrap hair around the ponytail holder and secure into place with the hair pins. Mist with spray.