Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Potions - for boneheads (pun unintended)!

Most of us have time tested, hair care regimens we completely totally rely on. These comprise of trusted brands, expert stylists, favourite products and practised routines. But for the newbie it can be quite the daunting task, what with the infinite list of options and the scary terms experts like to casually throw around. Fret not, honey. This is where you can start!

The golden rule ladies – your hair is only as good as you treat it. This one time a guy friend asked me how much money I spent on my hair. “It looks like you spend a lot on it and I mean it in a good way”, he clarified when I gave him a look that conveyed exactly how I felt about his question! I mean, what a way to phrase a compliment! Men!! Anyway, my hair is something I take utmost pride in and yes, I do invest a lot in it – money, time, and effort! It is just like any other investment – you take care of it and the results will show.

So if you want hair that you can flaunt, you need to give it the kind of treatment that will make it worthy of flaunting. So again – and I cannot stress enough on it – PRODUCTS! The right products will win half the battle for you; the other half is made up of cuts, styling and treatments. Do not take the power of salon products lightly. When they say ultimate liss, magic mousse, shine mist or extra strong hold spray, they do not say so lightly! But then, we are not talking about styling products alone. Anything and everything that goes on your hair has to have the kind of quality that you want it to reflect.

Just to be clear, when I talk about products I mean only salon products. (Over the counter products in my world, do not even matter and this is how far I go in acknowledging their existence!) Here is a list of essential hair products and what they do for you. The absolute must-haves, ladies - which is what I will be covering in this part.  

Shampoos: Shampoos are an absolute, non-negotiable part of your personal care regimen. They cleanse you hair and scalp off the natural oil that collects in it over time, dust, grime, dandruff and anything else that may have deposited in between your strands. How often you shampoo depends entirely on the nature of your hair and scalp. Oily hair/scalp needs more frequent, often daily, washing. Normal to dry hair can be washed with an interval of 2-3 days. Generally speaking, it is rather unhealthy for your hair to wash it daily as the process of washing itself is stressful for the strands. Your hair also needs a day or two revive the natural moisture it lost in the previous wash. There are literally a million types of shampoos available in the market – in spite of years of researching the ideal product for my hair and an extremely specific list of favorites compiled over time, I find myself tempted on a regular basis to try newer brands and sub-brands. Anyway, depending on your hair type and what you want from the results, you can choose a type of shampoo that would work for you.

Conditioners: No, these are not once-in-a-while indulgence products. Conditioners are sequels to shampoos but are just as mandatory to your hair care routine. There are two kinds of conditioners – wash out conditioners and leave in conditioners. And these are not mutually exclusive! Wash out conditioners are imperative after the shampoo, leave in conditioner is the additional option. So remember how shampoo cleanses your hair off foreign particles that have settled in it? It also strips off the moisture from your strands while it is at it. Conditioners provide that essential moisture to your hair and by doing so, they provide basic protection. If your hair is dry/frizzy, they help tame it to a good extent. Both types of conditioners help control the hair, keep in tangle free and prevent split ends – yup, told you the sun shines out of a conditioner jar! Get this though – these babies are meant for your hair ONLY, they are not for your scalp. So what conditioner you pick should obviously depend on your hair type and what you will want from the results.

Serums: Think of these as the equivalent of the moisturiser you apply on your skin. See how this is another mandatory aspect of your personal care routine that you cannot do without? Serums are rockstars that do exactly that for your hair! The qualities of a serum make it substitutable with leave in conditioners. So again, this one comes down to preference. In a generic sense, serums give your hair protection against sunlight and external damage while also taming it and adding shine to it. There are a multitude of hair serums available under different brands with extra features such as frizz control, shine, thermal protection, volume, texture definition, etc.

Heat Protection products: These products do exactly what the name says – they protect against the kind of heat that a simple serum would be out of depth for. These products are to be used before the use of hot tools, be it a hair dryer, diffuser, straightener or tongs! The kind of damage regular styling does to our hair is incredible and over time, irreparable. Hair is even more prone to such damage if it is treated, and I mean even hair colors here! If you are someone who likes to blow dry your hair after every wash, or are a stickler for that perfect straight fringe for which you need to grab a straightener all the time – you ought to pledge eternal allegiance to this knight in shining armor! Thermal protection products come in serum or spray forms for you to choose from.

Dry shampoo: Yup, we have all had those days when we were just way too busy or way too tired or even sick or retuned from a particularly exhausting trip and had to get straight to work. You get the gist – oily, matted, unwashed hair and you just cannot hide beneath the covers all day. You need to get out and face the world – behold the Dry shampoo! This hero is a savior in a literal sense, it is a powder based product that you need to spray on your tresses, shake it out and comb for fresh voluminous locks. It might be a bit of a struggle to find the perfect dry shampoo that does not leave powdery residue in your hair, but you cannot go wrong with a good brand. Trust me – I was dead against the idea of dry shampoo and all for washing my hair every third day! But you know how life gets!

Yea. So we are way past the stone-age of hair care where shampoo and conditioner alone could enrich your mane game! Now that you understand the ‘role’ of these products, you can better appreciate the absolute necessity for them in your life - I hope! 
*twirling a gorgeous strand and smirking*

Friday, 24 April 2015

Ze Tresses - your basic guide!

We all have that one thing we love beyond anything else, something we invest all our energy in, something we are infinitely proud of. In my case, it's my hair! Yes ladies, I am all about ze tresses! And considering I have become a bit of a pro over time in what I call "hair psychology", I decided it was time to put all that information somewhere useful! I mean, a girl can deal with a cheating boy friend, a BFF break up, a broken heel - all with her head held high. But how is she to even hold that head high on a bad hair day? YUP! Those are our apocalypses!

So here is the deal - remember the "Dragon lady"  from Devil wears Prada? The one who never has one hair out of place. EVER! Yea, she is kind of my icon. Basically, whatever look you are going for, it just has to be perfect! Be it a salon-style chic blow dry, straight pixie-cut, girl-next-door tumbling curls or im-too-sexy-for-my-shoes beach waves. The style just has to be flawless - all day, every day! Ambitious, even unreal. I know. But we have enough problems to deal with a on a daily basis and we have no place for frizz! So how do we achieve that?

First you need to understand your hair. I mean YOUR hair. Your hair is as unique as you are. No two people have the same texture, same hair quality, same suitability to products, same style and same preferences. When we broadly classify hair under straight, wavy and curly, it just is not enough! Whether you have dry hair, oily scalp, fine hair, brittle hair, is it treated or virgin, all contribute to defining your hair. This understanding takes a while, most of your adolescent years to be specific. Once you get that understanding, we go from there.

Get this though - there is no one dream solution to achieving that glorious mane the world will envy! If you want to achieve immaculate shampoo-advert kind of hair, merely a new haircut or a pump of expensive serum will not miraculously do it for you! Even Hermoine Granger with a wand at her disposal and a way with magical spells could not achieve diva hair without "Sleekeazy's hair potion"! The magic factor in our world is slightly short of Hogwarts! So the modern day damsel needs way more than one magical potion to transform her world! It has to be a ideal concoction of cut, products, styling and manipulation.When I say your hair is an investment I do not say so lightly - products are only one fraction of your pay check that gets spent on your mane! There are tools, therapies, professional treatments and cuts, none of which come dirt cheap!

Let me lay the foundation with some uber-basic simple facts - 

  • Shampoo washes the dust, grime and oil from your hair
  • Conditioner gives it the essential protection, a semblance of control and the moisture that the shampoo stripped off your hair
  • and YAAY! 10% of the battle is now won!! 
  • Unless you are blessed with the actual hair texture off a glossy magazine cover (I doubt you're a mortal! and why are u even reading this?) you can just not tame your mane without decent products and styling tools
It all comes down to your personal preference in the end. It is a combination of what works for you, what you want from the results and how you choose to go about achieving it. I have waist length, fine, wavy hair. Without bragging I would like to, for once, admit that I do have great hair!! Yea, I'm rather blessed that way. Hence, the acknowledgement of my hair being my best feature and all that I invest in it. My stylists have complained non-stop about all the effort I put in my hair and how I neglect my skin in comparison! But you know how they say "some things are worth melting for"! Or maybe they don't, but our tresses are worth it all! 

By now you must have understood how this whole hair-care affair is a niche, complicated and bloody exhausting process. But despair not, for the right products do half the work for you! SO there are hair products (the ones that come in classy packaging, available in salons, pinch our pockets- seen those?) and then there are over-the-counter products. The latter definitely does not give you results that any self respecting fashionista would be happy with! Of course, if you are someone who would get the simplest, easy maintenance hairstyle in the history of the universe, claim you have no time for any of this mane-drama and intend to keep your hair tied up in a knot or a braid at ALL times, sure those work! (By no measure would these people be divas of our world but hey, they do exist!) But the hair products that work wonders in our lives are those that come from big brands which have put in years of expensive research!

The only other thing more important than quality products is a good hair care regimen. Ladies, a hair care regimen that is tried and tested is what we all need first and foremost in our lives - before boy friends and before backpacking around Europe!! Of course you will need to shake it up once in a while, update your regimen, talk to an expert, try something new. But it will and should work its magic on your hair everyday as long as you follow it.

I am going to go into more detail about choosing the right hair product, maintaining different styles and a basic hair care routine. Follow this space for more on all that!