because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

My New & Improved Eyebrows: My Experience with Microblading

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I know y’all will say I looked fine, but before microblading my brows were very fine. Practically invisible, and it bothered me.

Over the last few years, my eyebrows have become a little sparse – okay, a lot sparse – and in the summer they get so blonde they practically disappear. The missing ends made me look angry, and I just didn’t like it.

Recently, my morning routine started to involve wax and powder, pencils, two different brushes and lots of time.

“You should try microblading,” suggested my friend, turning her head to show me her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.

At the time, I’d never heard of it, but after doing a little research, I learned that microblading is a treatment where a technician tattoos tiny lines that look like eyebrows onto your face using a small tool with nine tiny blades. It takes two visits under the knife (and roughly $400-$500), but the promise is that you’ll wake up with perfect eyebrows every morning for one to three years.

THE PROCESS

Before I ever went under the knife, I had a loooooong telephone conversation with Noelia Contreras, a microblading technician at Madonna OBGYN in Rochester, New York.

I know what you’re thinking: You went to a gynecologist to get your eyebrows done? And the answer is…kind of. Over the last few years, Madonna OBGYN has expanded her practice to include all kinds of specialized services for women including therapeutic massage, cosmetic procedures like Botox, Rejuviderm, and more.

Anyway, I asked Noelia seventeen bazillion questions and told her that my goal was fuller eyebrows that wouldn’t need any upkeep in the morning.

After she answered all my questions, I felt confident about booking my first appointment during which time Noelia mapped out my eyebrows with ink, which allowed her to see where they needed the most work.

Many people opt for lidocaine at this point, but I pressed on without any numbing agent at all. (Keep in mind: I have a very high tolerance for physical pain. In seventh grade, I pierced my own ear with a needle. I’ve had laser hair removal and sat thru extensive, complicated dental work without Novocain. My son was born via vacuum extraction without any pain medication; and, not for nothing, but I endured thirty months of benzodiazepine withdrawal. 

So anyway, I’m lying on my back with my eyes closed, and Noelia is sitting to my right. We’re listening to an Oldies Station on Pandora, and she’s tearing up my face with a tiny blade. And all this is consensual.

And while I didn’t experience any physical pain, I will say it was kinda weird hearing Noelia scraping the lines into my eyebrows. It felt like she was making ridiculously long, random marks on my face when, in fact, she was in complete control of the procedure the whole time and was basically coloring in the lines.

Once the incisions were made, Noelia applied a dye she’d created to match my brow color. After a few minutes of allowing it to settle into my skin, she wiped the excess away and I was free to go about my day with new and improved eyebrows.

(NOTE: You have to go back one month later to repeat all this again — and the second appointment is just like the first.)

AFTERWARDS

Taking care of the microbladed area is similar to tattoo care, if a bit more intensive. I was supposed to:

  • Avoid getting the area wet for up to 10 days, which includes keeping your face dry during a shower. (I absolutely failed at this. I have no idea if this negatively impacted the results.)
  • Avoid makeup for at least two weeks because the pigments are still settling into the shallow cuts. (Easy peasy. I don’t wear a lot of makeup in the first place.)
  • Avoid picking at scabs, tugging, or itching the eyebrow area. (No problem.)
  • Avoid sunshine, saunas, swimming, and excessive sweating until the area is completely healed and you have a follow-up appointment. (Check.)
  • Keep your hair away from your brow line and be careful how you sleep on your pillow. (That’s what barrettes are for.)
  • Apply the special serum provided by your technician twice a day. (I actually loved the stuff my technician provided, and I would have slathered it all over my face. I have to find out what it was.)

THE VERDICT

Two weeks after the second session, I have to say, I’m very happy with the results.

I have eyebrows!

I would definitely recommend microblading to someone who has sparse hair and spends a lot of time filling in her eyebrows. That being said, microblading is expensive, so if you only spend a few minutes each day touching up your brows and you have a low tolerance for pain, you might do better to stick with makeup.

If you’d like to talk to Noelia, you can reach her at Madonna OBGYN at 585-698-7077.

{DISCLAIMER: I did not receive any free products or services in exchange for this post. I was intrigued about microblading and decided to write something about the experience on my own volition.}

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for beauty’s sake?

 

 

A Hair Care #Giveaway From @VO5

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Slide1

A while back, I wrote about how the hair care product I’ve been using for the last 30 years is being discontinued.

Since then, I’ve been doing some pretty extensive testing.

During this time, I went to BlissDom, a blogging conference in Grapevine, Texas where I kept getting sucked into one particular suite. Women were getting beauty makeovers and stylists were doing hair. I learned Alberto VO5® has a new Salon Series. Someone helped me figure out which shampoo and conditioner would be right for me, and I was given a deep conditioning hair mask and a styling cream to try when I got home.

I had low expectations.

You know, because I’ve tried all kinds of expensive hair treatments – mousses and gels and creams — and none of them has worked as well as my cheapie mousse.

Until now.

Y’all, I’ve been using VO5’s Anti-Frizz & Shine Cream for three months now, and it works better than any other product I’ve tried.

IMG_1378
This stuff is incredible!

After I shampoo and condition, I comb my wet hair and apply a quarter-sized amount to my fingertips and work it in.

Somehow, it tames my curls without making my hair crunchy or greasy.

The only bummer is that VO5’s Salon Series isn’t available in my area yet. (If you live near the stores listed here, you know what to give me for my birthday, you’re lucky! And no, Wegmans doesn’t currently carry VO5’s Salon Series.)

For now, I have to order the Anti-Frizz & Shine Styling Cream from soap.com.

Whatever.

I was already ordering my old stuff online, and I like the results I’m getting from VO5® even better than my old product.

After 30 years of being completely brand loyal, I can hardly believe I typed those words.

But it’s true.

And guess what? VO5® has been kind enough to offer a little pack of goodies! One lucky winner will receive one free VO5® Salon Series™ Shampoo, Conditioner and Anti-Frizz & Shine Styling Cream.

How can you win?

1. For a chance to win the pack of goodies from VO5®, SHARE a hair nightmare story. 

2. FOR A SECOND OPTIONAL ENTRY, TWEET THIS POST.

Of course you know I love to read your words, so feel free to leave any other comment, hair-related or otherwise! This contest is open to residents of the United States only. Enter until June 27th. One winner will be announced on my blog on June 28th at 7 AM, so be sure to check back. If I don’t hear from the winner within 24 hours, Random Number Generator will select another winner.

NOTE: I received products from VO5®, and they are providing the winner with swag, but the opinions presented here are all my own. In other words, if I didn’t actually love this stuff, I wouldn’t be writing about it.

tweet me @rasjacobson

**EDITED: Congratulations to Faith Ertischek! Faith, please send me your snail mail address and phone number so that the good folks at VO5  can send you your products! Congratulations!

Are You Brand Loyal?

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I’m probably the most brand loyal person out there.

I’ve been using the same deodorant for the last twenty years. {Thank you, Secret, for being strong enough for a man. Because sometimes I smell like one.}

Everyone knows I only drink Canada Dry Ginger Ale. {Don’t try to slip me any of that store brand stuff. I can totally tell.}

What can I say? When I find something that works, I stick with it.

Forever.

As my longtime readers know, I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.

Despite the fact that I have stretched and pulled it, given myself deep conditioning treatments, and slept in bandanas in an attempt to give myself straight, swingy hair, I have the kind of follicles that morph into a frizzy pyramid if combed or touched.

Seriously, sometimes it looks like this!
Exhibit A

In 1985, I fell in love with a hair care product.

You guys, they are discontinuing it.

Want to know what I’ve been doing since I heard the news?

Click over to Jess Witkins’ blog to find out the rest of the story. Be prepared to tell me about products you have loved and lost.

tweet us @rasjacobson & @jesswitkins

Adolescence: Learning Shame

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One of the many life-like sculptures created by John De Andrea

I hadn’t wanted to go.

Parents pulled me

from ants and pebbles, the solidity

of bark, leaf and wall

to hear breathing statues,

the silence of paintings, and

Perhaps.

To three sculpted boys, nude

and playing soccer. They looked

so real, their knees

eternally bent, mid-kick.

My green eyes wandered

around the dark curves of body,

thin fingers reached

towards the smooth skin

the color of wet clay, and

I remembered sarsparilla

gingersnaps, fresh licorice

chocolate cakes.

Short fingers seeking

shapes and shadow-colors

caught in mid-air

in father’s hand trap,

No no, he said,

Don’t touch.

NOTE: I wish I had the actual image of the “Three Boys Playing Soccer” by John De Andrea. Seeing his sculpture is my earliest and most vivid memory of going to a museum. And while I searched everywhere to find a photo of it, I cold find none. It is spectacular and I urge people to see this lifelike work at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York.

What is your first memory of visiting a museum? How old were you? Who were you with? Were you inspired? Bored? Something else? What is the best museum you have ever visited?

Tweet Me @rasjacobson

No More Bad Hair Days

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Seriously, sometimes it looks like this!

In the days before mousse and gel and other hair care products, I prayed to G-d to make my horrible curls go away.

Each night, I slathered my hair with V-05 — a greasy, grayish paste — and went to bed with a red bandana tied around my head.

All the popular girls had straight, shiny hair — parted at the center and held back by painted barrettes with whales or hearts on them.

My frizzy hair looked stupid when I tried to do that.

Rainy days were the enemy; humidity was my undoing. I learned to stay away from boys at water fountains.

Once, an old woman stuck her fat finger inside one of my corkscrew curls. She muttered words in Yiddish that I didn’t understand. Her translator told me the woman had said she’d had hair like mine when she was young. I didn’t know if that was a compliment or not. Her head was covered with a plastic rain bonnet.

People often told me my hair matched my personality.

*I assumed this meant they thought I was surly and uncooperative.

For decades, I fought my curls. I tried clips and headbands; I even tried straightening treatments to make my hair more manageable.

And then my friend was diagnosed with cancer.

And I watched her lose the soft, dark locks that framed her face. Soon, another friend was diagnosed with something else. And I watched her hair come out in clumps as she brushed it. One day, she brought out the clippers that — until that moment — she’d only used on her son, and she used them on herself. Leaving pieces of herself on the kitchen floor, she hopped in her truck and went off to buy wigs. When another friend lost her hair, she bought hats. Another bought do-rags. Another friend preferred bald. She said wigs went lopsided and scarves itched.

I stopped complaining about my hair.

Because I have hair.

And having hair means that my cells are not behaving badly. That I am not facing chemotherapy or radiation. That I am not making videos for my children to see when they are older because I might not be here. That I am not battling cancer — that goddamn monster — that takes people too young.

I’ve stopped wasting my prayers on hair. G-d has other things to do.

The instructions were to write about hair. Use it as a vehicle to tell us something about your character, a situation, you and/or your life. I tried.

Curly Girly Goes Simply Smooth

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“Bad, Bad Hair Day” by downing.amanda @ flickr.com

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. I’m a sproingy girl, so my wild curls kind of mesh with my personality. In middle school, my straight-haired friends would marvel at my effortlessly formed curly-Q’s; some would even stick their fingers inside the corkscrews and squeal with delight. (Seriously, they did.) And all the while, I coveted their straight, blunt cuts. I watched them brush and comb their hair, stared as they absently dragged their fingers through their locks. Après shower, I slathered my hands with V05, a thick petroleum-like product, rubbed it all over my hair, and never touched my hair again for the entire day. If I dared to twirl or twist a dry tendril, it was over: frizz city.

Shauna, The Miracle Worker

About a year ago, I went to a fancy-schmancy event where I was the only woman in attendance with seriously curly hair. Everyone else had perfectly smooth, pin-straight, flat hair. It was confirmed. Clearly, G-d hated me. As we posed for a photograph, I sighed and commented how unfair it was that everyone else had such perfect hair while mine was so unruly.

“Honey,” said one of the women, “You need to meet Shawna.”

It took a while, but eventually, I found myself in Salon LuSandra, not my regular salon, thinking about my husband’s words that morning before I left.

“I love your curls,” Hubby said again with emphasis adding, “Your curls are one of the things that most attracted me to you…”

“You’ll learn to love other things…” I told Hubby, smooching him on the cheek. “And it’s only semi-permanent. In four months, the wild woman shall return.”

I sat on the wooden chair in the salon for about 35 seconds before an extremely adorable blonde materialized and introduced herself as Shawna: the woman who was going to make my curls go away.

There was no time for nerves. Shawna wrapped my neck in a black towel and had my head tipped back in the sink before I could ask but-what-if-my-husband-doesn’t-love-me-after-we-do-this? She washed my hair three times. She scrubbed and scoured my hair as if I were a nasty little street urchin who hadn’t washed in weeks, maybe months.

Once in her chair, Shawna applied a chemical mixture to every strand of my hair from root to tip. She explained that once she was finished, I would have to wait for 15-20 minutes to let the product saturate each follicle. She told me that if I did everything properly, the process would reduce 50% of the curl and 100% of the frizz.

And by “frizzy,” this is what I mean.

Truth be told, I could not imagine what that even meant. I’ve always had frizz. I have always been the girl with crazy hair. In the decades before there were long aisles devoted to hair care products, if I attempted to use a blow dryer, I emerged a wild lioness – and I don’t mean in a sultry, beautiful way. I mean I had a mane that was enormous, fluffy and uncontrollable.

As she stood behind me in her black and white polka-dotted smock with skinny red trim, Shawna applied the chemicals. Wearing short black gloves that stopped just above her wrists, she painted and combed, making sure to coat every single strand, fussing over my tresses the way no one has ever fussed before. She was serious about this procedure.

That’s when Shawna reviewed The Rules associated with Smooth Keratin Treatment. She told me that for the next four days I could not get my hair wet. No shampoo. No conditioner. I promised:

On my honor, I do swear, not to wear my hair in a ponytail. Or use barrettes. Or clips or hats or headbands or any other fashion accessory that might leave a crease in my hair. I promise not to tuck my hair behind my ears. I promise to sleep carefully and, upon waking, I promise to touch up any bumps or lumps with a blow dryer and/or flatiron. I promise to wear a shower-cap while washing. I promise not to venture outside if there is any sign of precipitation.

But I was worried. I knew I had to teach over the next four days. What if I had to get to school while my hair was “curing” – and it just happened to be raining? How would I get inside the building without getting my hair wet? I made elaborate plans, involving umbrellas and shower caps and running shoes. I considered which colleague would not think less of me if I needed to leave a flat-iron in her office. In case of a hair emergency. In the end, I decided it would just be easier to cancel classes in the unfortunate case of poor weather.

Three hours into the procedure, I was amazingly relaxed. Maybe it was the cyclopentasiloxane (one of the ingredients in the Simply Smooth product). Maybe it was the prospect of no frizzies or the idea of not having to devote so many hours to hair care. Maybe it was just that Shawna knew what she was doing. Because she knew what she was doing.

Meanwhile, people wandered in and out and bubbled over with testimonials. They used words like “life-altering”: clearly, everyone loves this keratin treatment.

Eventually, Shawna removed my plastic hat, which was good because my eyes had started to tear up a little bit under there. She grabbed a dryer and started blowing-out my newly chemically treated hair. I was confused. My hair was still huge.

“Now we flat-iron every teeny-tiny section about five times,” Shawna explained.

For over an hour, Shawna tugged at my head.

And then it happened.

Someone walked by and said, “Oooh. Gorgeous hair.”

Could I have “gorgeous hair”?

And I realized (or I thought that maybe, possibly) they could have been talking about my mop, except it wasn’t a mop anymore. It was flat, shiny hair that looked healthy and vibrant and felt soft.

“Try not to touch it,” Shawna said.

The following four days were all about the hair. About not touching it and avoiding water.

Here are the results:

Day 1 – no curls. And no shampoo.

On this morning, I showered (with a shower cap) and used a flatiron to dry any wet areas. See that one little “dip”? I got rid of that!

Day 2. Still no shampoo.
Day 3. Stinky.

This is where things got tough. I had to conference with  students, and I felt like my scalp may have smelled more than a little funky. I asked a good friend to give a sniff (good friends do things like this), and she said, “Not so bad.” I pressed on, impressed that my hair on day 3 looked even better than day 1!

Day 4. Definitely wanting a shower!

I can’t lie. Day 4 was rough. Our family went to a football game, and I was terrified that I would see people I knew because – even though I had been showering my body, my head was stinky. Or, at least, I felt like it was. It was. I’m just putting it out there. I mean, I was coming up on 96 hours without shampoo.

Day 10

So, this curly-haired girl now has straight hair. What used to take hours to try to accomplish can now be easily achieved in under 25 minutes. Do I miss my curls? Kinda, but this is a fun little hair vacation because I know they’ll be back. They always come back. And besides, if I don’t want to blow dry, I can wear my hair like this:

Wavy hair with no product!

So I can wear my hair straight or wavy. And the biggest surprise of all? Hubby likes it! Only downside, I never realized how many products I would need to buy to have this hair. I had to buy a blow dryer (never had one before), a flat-iron (never had that either), and I had to buy a boat load of products (shampoos, conditioner, serums, oils) that are specifically formulated to extend the life of the procedure; otherwise, the curls will return more quickly!

The procedure has confirmed it for me: curls or no curls, I’m still a wild woman. And while I am enjoying the change, I kinda like knowing my inner wild woman and my outer wild woman will be reunited in full force around March. 😉

Has anyone else had a “hair experience”? Do tell!

tweet me @rasjacobson