What You’re Actually Paying For

I was dismayed to find out that my very expensive shampoo and conditioner contain the very ingredients I try most to avoid – mineral oil, silicones and sulfates. They were products that were recommended on blogs as panaceas for the hair and I blindly complied, thinking this many people can’t be wrong. (Note: no one cares as much about your hair as you. Or at least no one cares as much about my hair as me.)

So these bottles are family-size and only half used. I think I’ll just leave them out in the free section of my apartment building for others who are interested. Ten years ago, I would have continued to use them to the last drop in some misguided attempt to “get my money’s worth.”

My sister taught me something useful a long time ago. I had bought some snack that I did not enjoy eating and, like a good Asian child, I was continuing to eat it until it was empty. But she said, that was not the only -or optimal- way to think about the price. What I was paying for with the snack, was not the food, but the choice to eat the food. I had already obtained the full value of my purchase by having the snack in my hands. What I chose to do with it was up to me.

What an interesting thought! And it really makes sense. Yes, you’re getting the full caloric value of the snack but you’re putting this 75 cent snack’s value ahead of the value of your own body. If you found out you were allergic to a snack, you wouldn’t keep eating it out of some misguided attempt to get more value. It shouldn’t be different if it just doesn’t impart any value for you or you just don’t like it. There similarly isn’t much more value from coating my hair with chemicals I don’t want and using a product that doesn’t impart the expected benefits to my hair nicer, just so I can say I got my money’s worth.

I think it goes to our Puritan ideals. We should punish ourselves for making the mistake of buying something incorrectly. But maybe we don’t have to beat ourselves up. Maybe we can note the problems we made, and vow not to make them again as we go to the store immediately to buy a replacement.

The Three Cheap Products and 1 Free Action that Saved My Hair

I’m a little obsessed with hair. I have naturally thick black hair, which I have dyed, at times, red, brown, purple, green, and blonde. Needless to say, my hair has been through the ringer.

My hair has been really dry and broken ever since bleaching it. I have read tons of blogs and magazine articles that advocated keratin treatments but no matter how many treatments I tried, my hair was brittle and dry. But after much trial and error, four things (3 products and 1 action) helped me fix my hair and they were, surprisingly, not the most expensive ones I tried.

1. Castor Oil
I learned from Reddit that hair needs a balance of moisture and protein. Only using keratin treatments made my hair drier and more brittle. There were a number of oils recommended for optimal moisture content but castor oil was the cheapest and most readily available. Once a week my hair soaked up a ton of castor oil and my hair steadily improved. After a few weeks, my hair didn’t look or feel as parched. It still wasn’t that soft yet though, which led to:

2. Nuance Buriti Oil Hair Mask
I’d been trying to find a product that would impart softness and shine back to my hair without silicones. Silicones coat your hair shaft with their plastic-y shine-y sheen but they don’t actually repair the hair. Further, removing the silicone takes different and harsher products. I wanted something fairly natural but silicones are everywhere, even in the so-called miracle hair products that cost an arm and a leg. After searching far and wide, I found this Nuance Hair Mask. I only used this specific one though because the other masks had silicones. This hair mask made my hair unbelievably soft. It was also incredibly cheap, didn’t require that much product and the texture of the product was pretty fun.

This is currently on clearance at CVS so I would grab it as quickly as possible. I cleaned out my local CVS as they were less than $3/pop.

3. Mielle Organics White Peony Leave-in Conditioner

This product was invaluable for protecting my hair from the change in weather, from the sun and wind when I ride my bike or walk outside and just kept my hair safe and manageable while it was still healing with the castor oil.

4. Wearing my hair down

Even after my hair got much softer. I noticed that it was bent at the ends. I did some research online and discovered it might have to do with my hair elastics. Whenever I take a hair elastic out, it always takes a fair amount of hair with it. So I decided to wear my hair down for a few days and sure enough, the kinks in my hair disappeared.

Now this isn’t necessarily a forever situation – I will probably need to get hair elastics in the future. But for now I’m using more gentle barettes, hair claws or just leaving it down. I even wear it down when I go running – but it stays out of my face with a headband. It also gives my scalp a rest.

What tips and tricks do you have for healthy hair?

The Phrase that Stops my Emotional Spending in its Tracks

Maybe you can relate. I can typically see through the marketing hoopla of most beauty products. But when I have a pimple, or when I feel badly about my appearance, money is no object. I would be tempted to buy anything.
I was recently contemplating buying a $500 beauty gadget that zaps electric pulses into your skin and allegedly kills bacteria, sculpts your face and encourages the buildup of beneficial collagen. Or so it says.
All because I had a pimple.

Typically I have very good skin. I may get little clogged pores regularly but I only get pimples a few times a year. So when I do get a pimple, it’s all I can think about. And I always scour the internet for quick fix solutions, peering into photo after photo of flawless-looking models trying to discern their secrets.

┬áBut typically before I fall into a vat of self-loathing, I try to tell myself this one phrase that brings me back to earth. It’s a phrase that keeps me from emptying my checking account every time I get a blemish.
Who told you you were naked?
 Let me explain.