Long hair 101

Have long hair? Thinking about growing it out? Good news: long hair will be hot for spring this year! With that in mind, there are a few things you need to know about caring for long hair.

1. Watch out for split ends. The upside to a long ‘do? Unlike a short, styled ‘do, long hair doesn’t require a monthly salon visit to keep everything trimmed and tidy. That said, no matter how you style your long hair—straight, curly, layered, blunt—you should still trim your long hair every few months to avoid split ends.Gisele is famous for her long hair

2. Layers add bounce to heavy hair. If long hair is especially thick, it can look flat, so you might want to see a pro on a semi-regular basis to cut and maintain long layers, a la Megan or Gisele. Layers add motion and bounce to a long style and don’t require a ton of upkeep on such a long style.

3. Long hair is fragile, so be gentle! Grab some of those “ouchless” elastics and a nice brush that won’t pull on your hair—you can find natural and synthetic bristle brushes at the drugstore for about $10 that will keep your hair looking soft and shiny. A wide-toothed comb is a must for detangling.Megan Fox women's long hair cut

4. Know how to shampoo. Very long hair can become dry and brittle, so it’s important to use a moisturizing shampoo and a good conditioner. (If hair is very dry, you may wish to shampoo only every other day.) Work conditioner through from ears to ends, applying only sparingly from the shoulders up; conditioner can weigh down hair if it’s glopped onto the roots. Leave in for 1-3 minutes before rinsing out with cool (not hot) water.

5. Pick your styling products carefully. A leave-in conditioner/detangler is a must, and the use of an intensive conditioning mask every week or so will help to keep hair silky, shiny, and soft. Avoid piling on too much hairspray, gel, etc., as overuse of products will weigh down your hair and make it look dull.

6. The same goes for heat tools! Hot rollers, irons, blow dryers—they all damage the hair, and since long hair is already delicate, it’s especially important to use these tools judiciously to avoid damaging the hair. When you do heat-style, use a good thermal spray beforehand.

7. Be cautious with color. Dying your hair can be a great way to kickstart a new look, but it is also a damaging process that can leave hair dry and unruly. Drastic changes—dark to light, red to blonde—involve stripping out your natural color, which will damage your hair no matter the length. If you plan to make a drastic change, have delicate hair, or change your color often—see a pro!

Photo of Gisele Bundchen (C) Tiago Chediak via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photo of Megan Fox (C) Megan Fox Rules! on Flickr via the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Beauty resolutions: wear sunscreen every day, even in winter

You need to wear sunscreen in the winter, too!
Photo © Copyright RichTea and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Since January is here, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the health & beauty resolutions I’m making in 2010! Today’s resolution: “I will wear sunscreen every day!”

Ready for a fact check? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with over one million new cases diagnosed every year. (Find more facts about skin cancer from The Skin Cancer Foundation.) So, as you’re going through your list of beauty resolutions for 2010, you might want to highlight “wear sunscreen”.

Why? Sunscreen helps to prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching your skin. The two types of rays—UVA and UVB—affect the skin in different ways, and a good sunscreen will protect you from both. While UVB rays typically cause you to burn, UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, accelerating the aging process and increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

That’s where the real kicker lies. While many people are fairly regular, even religious about applying sunscreen in the summer when frolicking outdoors or at the beach, they don’t wear sunscreen on partly cloudy days, or in the wintertime, when the effects of the sun aren’t as noticeable. However, even when the weather turns cool and cloudy, the sun’s UVA rays still reach your skin, even if you don’t show any sign of developing a tan or a sunburn. (Read more about sunscreen here.)

So, gals, now you know why you need to wear sunscreen year-round. But what about the how? The easiest way to ensure daily sunscreen use is to buy a body lotion with SPF 15-30 (or higher!) for daily use. (Check out this one from Alba Botanica.) Remember that sunscreen is generally effective for only two hours, so if you’ll be in the sun for a prolonged period of time, it’s a good idea to pack something a little more heavy-duty, and reapply often (especially if you’re prone to burning, like I am).

Remember also that while cosmetics with built-in SPF are a great help, they’re not enough on their own. Generally, to get the full amount of SPF labeled on the package, you’d have to glop on about a teaspoon of your chosen foundation or powder—yuck! Instead, opt for a facial moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher. A good one will feel weightless under your makeup and won’t leave you greasy.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of sun and sunscreen, why not make a Beauty Resolution to quash the tanning habit for good? Whether outdoors or at an indoor salon, tanning is dangerous and accelerates the aging process, causing wrinkles, sagging, and spots. In fact, studies no suggest that indoor tanning is even more damaging to your skin that regular sun exposure, thanks to increased levels of UVA rays in new tanning lamps. (Skincancer.org has a host of articles and info on tanning and tanning beds here.)

Now that you’re ready to commit to sunscreen, it’s time to go shopping! Because I don’t believe in animal testing, I choose not to recommend products unless they are cruelty-free. I do recommend checking out Caring Consumer, which has a great product guide to help you locate sunscreen, sunless tanning lotion, and other sun-care products, all of which are cruelty-free.

So remember: wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy winter days! Your future self will thank you!

Keep feet cute and dry in wet autumn weather!

October can bring unpredictable weather—one minute it’s dry, the next minute it’s soaking wet outside. What’s a girl to do, shoe-wise, when the weather turns wet and chilly? Those adorable flats or heels just simply won’t do to keep your feet warm and dry. The solution? Why not pick up a pair of brightly colored rain boots? They’re cute and dry, and won’t make you look like you just walked in from feeding the livestock. Check out these fashion-forward picks from Target:

Cute and dry rain boots from Target, 2009

Left to right from top: Women’s Dots Spots Rain Boots in Light Berry; Citrus City Rain Boots in White; McGibbon Floral Rain Boots in Black; Pinky Plaid Rain Boots in Pink; Zetta Sold Rain Boots in Yellow; Houndstooth Rain Boots in Green; all $24.99 at Target. Shop more cute and dry rain boots at target.com.

Cute fall shoes (for under $35)!

One great thing about the change in seasons? All the new cute fall shoes! I found these cute fall shoes at one of my favorite stores, Payless. (The best part? All of these cute styles cost $35 or less.) I’m just mad about the cheetah-print flats; which pair is your favorite?
Cute fall shoes-- cheetah flatsCute fall shoes--peep toesCute fall shoes--plaid flatsCute fall shoes--ankle boots

Top to bottom: Fiona ballet flat (Predictions), $17; Koture ruffle peep-toe (Fioni), $25; American Eagle Brice flat (American Eagle), $20; Sasha ruffle bootie (Fioni), $35. Shop more cute fall shoes at Payless stores or Payless.com!