Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Accessory Planning

Accessories and jewelry pieces: those little things that make such a big difference to an outfit, yet they can be so expensive! I was browsing the internet and wasn't sure why any sane person would spend upwards of $35 on cheap metal earrings or plastic necklaces. I realized I was lacking a couple of colorful statement pieces, but was resolved to find them while still being able to afford textbooks. I have a four-part strategy to achieving accessory success:

1. Identify What You'll Actually Wear:
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to accessories. I dislike most bracelets, and chunky statement necklaces don't always go with my simple style. However, I love dangly earrings so I focused on those. I also kept in mind that my ears hurt if earrings are too heavy, so I looked for big earrings made of light materials.

2. Look For Specific Colors:
Now that you know what to look for, create your own accessory color palette so you'll always have an accessory to pair with every outfit. The colors turquoise and coral look good on every skin tone, so I specifically looked for a pair of earrings in each color to pair with different outfits. I already owned big gold and silver earrings, so it wasn't necessary to buy repeats of those reliable colors.

Buy One Fun Piece:
If you can afford it, buy one piece that isn't part of your color strategy to add a little surprise to your style. The rule: you must love it! Maybe you'll find a cobalt blue patent leather belt, or a sparkly evening clutch... who knows!

4. Keep the Cost Down:
This really isn't difficult if you know where to go. There are lots of places that sell inexpensive statement pieces, including Target, Forever 21, and Charming Charlie. I had great success at Target; the earrings I bought there looked nice and did not irritate my ears. If I have $5-$10 off coupons, or if I need to add a cheap item to get free shipping online, I'll always look for sale accessories first because they make such a big difference to how I feel about my clothes.
Earring Tip: Do you have cheap earrings that you love, but that your ears can't stand? Coat the earring hooks or posts in clear nail polish, let it dry, and you're good to go! I've done this a lot with cheap earrings from Forever 21.

Hope this helps!

~Rachel

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ways to Save Water

Image from guardianlv.com

As you are probably aware, we are in the middle of a drought in California. Farmers won't be given any water this year, which is crazy considering that we produce about a third of the country's produce. Things are getting a little scary, and I've been trying to find creative ways to cut the amount of water that I use, especially considering that the prices of food and water are going to rise. Even though my apartment complex doesn't require me to pay for water, it's still important that I don't waste any! Thanks to advice collected from friends and family I have some great, easy ideas to share, and I plan on using these ideas in the future to save money.

Have a Shower-Bath
What is a shower-bath, you might ask? It's probably one of the best ways to save water this year and still take all the time you need in the shower to get your hygiene/shaving needs taken care of. I was feeling discouraged about cutting my showers shorter and still fitting in a normal routine. Thomas told me that he normally takes a two minute shower, but this is almost impossible for girls who have greater hygiene expectations. My friend, Hayley, gave me the following brilliant idea.
When you're in the shower, stop the drain so all of the water collects in the tub. When you're done rinsing your body and shampooing your hair, turn off the water. Use the warm water collected in the tub to shave, file calluses, moisturize, anything you need to do. The best part is that you can take your time because water isn't being wasted. When you're ready, briefly turn the shower back on again to rinse out the shampoo in your hair, let out the drain, and you're done!
Shower-bath Tips:
1. Make sure the shower water is hot enough to stay warm when it collects in the tub, if it's too cold then your shower-bath won't be very relaxing and cozy. It's hard to shave with goosebumps.
2. To get even more use out of your water, while you're waiting for the shower water to warm up put a container under the cold water to collect it for your garden. My friend Maggie told me about this idea and I think it's great.

Watch the Faucet Like a Hawk
This tip is simple. Do you need to leave the faucet running while you're brushing your teeth? Nope. Turn off the water, even if it's just for a second. You'll save gallons of water over time.

Wait to do Laundry
Collect as many clothes as you can before you run a load of laundry, and wash certain things together. For example, I try to wash my jeans with my socks, towels, and sturdier clothing. Then I wash all of my delicates with as many sweaters, cotton tops, and light clothes that I can find. Then I do a whites wash. That's 3 different wash cycles, so I try to save up as many clothes as I can before I put them in.
Laundry Tips:
1. Ask yourself "can I wear this one or two more times before I wash it?"
2. Buy jeans or pants that don't quickly stretch out, so you can wear them more times before washing them.
3. Have enough underwear and socks to get you through 2-3 weeks.

Beware of Packaging
I learned in my Environmental Science class that it takes about 3 liters of water to create a 1 liter plastic water bottle. These numbers might not be exact, but it is clear that a lot of water gets wasted with packaging that we throw away daily. Boycott unnecessary packaging to save water. I use my own reusable water bottle, and I pack my own lunches in reusable containers.

I hope these tips are helpful and that they'll save you lots of money (and water!). Comment below and tell me what your favorite ways to save water are!

~Rachel




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Healthy Hair, Part 2

Yes, the promised second hair post has finally come! I've been very busy over these months, but I have been itching to write.

This post is going to deal with my personal hair fix-it-yourself journey and what has been working for me. My last post explained my damaged hair problem and covered three things to avoid when it comes to your hair routine. For example, frequent blow-drying fried my hair a few years ago, a concept that is helpfully demonstrated by the picture I drew above.

What extra things did I do to protect my hair as it slowly grew out?

Image found on Google
I Applied Natural Oil to the Ends: I experimented with olive oil and coconut oil. Before bed I would take a very tiny amount of the oil, rub it all over the palms of my hands, and coat the dry ends of my hair with it. Coconut oil was my favorite; it didn't leave my hair feeling crunchy, and the smell was better than olive oil (there are more desirable things in life than smelling like a healthy french fry). After the dead parts of my hair were all trimmed away I didn't need to do this anymore, but it's a nice way to protect the ends of the hair if they are in a fragile state and if you don't want to trim your damaged hair just yet. There are many natural oils out there, so do a little research to find your favorite ones.
Caution: Don't coat your hair in natural oil too often. My hair is very fine so I used the oil about once a week, depending on the dryness of my hair. If you use too much or let it build up, it can make your hair lank or dull.

Image from drugstore.com
I Found an Amazing Conditioner: Another reason why I didn't really need the natural oil anymore is because I found an incredible conditioner with Argan oil that did a great job of protecting my hair and keeping it soft. I was poking around Grocery Outlet one day and found a large bottle of Renpure Originals Argan Oil Conditioner for about $7 (apparently it was normally about $14). Being a true child of my generation I was dazzled by the label, which boasted "luxurious conditioner." "Well, heck!" I thought before obediently purchasing the bottle, "I deserve a luxurious conditioner!". If $7 still sounds like a lot to you, know that it is a huge bottle and that the quality of the conditioner makes it so a little bit goes a long way. I've been using it for months and I love it. Grocery Outlet has other great, natural conditioners so poke around the store and have some fun! I also found a smaller bottle of the Renpure conditioner at drugstore.com for about $5, which might be a more affordable option.

I Trimmed My Hair A Certain Way: A lot of people are surprised that I trim my own hair, although sometimes I have a suspicion that they are just being polite and that I actually do a pretty lousy job. While my trimming jobs can be choppy at times, they don't look too terrible and they save me money while I wait to grow hair out before having a professional haircut. UC Davis is a very chill, non-stylish campus, so I don't feel out of place while I wait for my hair to transform into luscious locks. I'd like to think I have somewhat mastered the hair trimming technique, so I will share my "expertise" with you:
1. Use sharp, small scissors that were designed for trimming hair.
2. To identify the damaged parts, look for the ends that dry very quickly after stepping out of the shower. Or, take small segments of your hair and twist them with your fingers, the dead parts and split ends will pop out of the twist.
3. Once you identify the split ends, take the scissors and cut down diagonally on the small section of hair, starting a small ways from the beginning of the split end to cut it off at healthy hair segments. Split ends travel up the hair, so it's better to cut them off completely. The diagonal angle of the trim with small segments of hair also keeps it from looking like the hair was chopped off at random intervals.

I hope these tips were helpful and that you all have a great rest of your week. I have some exciting blog posts coming up (especially in the summer!), so keep your eyes open!

~Rachel


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Inexpensive, Healthy Hair


Ah, Summer. When thoughts turn to suntanning (or if you're me, spf 55 sunscreen), swimsuits, highlights, and... damaged hair and how to fix it.

I was going through the ends of my hair to trim them, getting frustrated as I yet again stumbled across damaged, brittle ends that never seem to go away. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I'm determined to have healthy hair after damaging it so badly over the years with improper treatment (which I will go into soon). My goal: to have long, soft, healthy hair that does not need to ever be straightened or curled to make me feel good about it. After going through my hair with a small pair of scissors now and then for several months (I am trying to postpone a professional haircut for as long as I can to save money), I decided to do some hair research. I learned tons of great ways to improve the health of my hair and I will be sharing this information over a few blog posts. First I will cover what I did wrong. 

1. Blow-drying, Straightening, and Curling
Oh, the things I did to my hair in high school. The fastest way to damage your hair is to constantly blow-dry, curl, or straighten your hair with heat. The heat dries out the hair as it rids the hair of the natural oil it needs to keep the hair strands together so they don't unravel at the ends. For about three years I have avoided straighteners and have let my hair air dry instead of using a blow dryer. This has been making a huge difference, and I'm finding that my hair's looking way better without heat damage. If you have to blow-dry your hair for some reason, use the cold setting on your blow-dryer to lessen the damage.

2. Not Trimming it Regularly 
I've been pretty cheap with my hair, postponing haircuts as long as I can to save money, which makes my hair look worse over time. Split ends are irreparable so it's best to cut them off as quickly as you can; they travel up the hair shaft as the hair unravels so you actually end up ruining the rest of your hair in an attempt to keep the length. Your hair will appear to grow faster if you trim the ends every one to two months or so, depending on how quickly your hair becomes dry and brittle. Mine was so damaged this year, I was trimming it almost every three weeks in an attempt to catch the ends before they became worse (keep in mind I was trimming it myself, you would probably be better off going to Great Clips).

3. Using a Sulfate Shampoo 
You know how shampoo has that wonderful bubbly quality when you lather it into the hair? You can thank sulfate. I did some research on sulfate shampoo and was horrified to learn of the damage it can do over time. If my research was reliable, sulfate dries the hair out (the sulfate strips the hair of it's natural oil) and prevents healthy new hairs from growing (the sulfate can invade the inactive hair follicles and make the new hairs weaker). It also can irritate the scalp and make your hair color fade over time (sulfate-free shampoo is perfect if you dye your hair). I decided to switch to an organic sulfate-free shampoo and am researching different brands to try. Is it more expensive? Yes, but my hair is on my head every day, so it's worth it to me. The only downside with sulfate-free shampoo (there are many benefits) is that there is a buildup in the hair over time, so I am thinking about using a sulfate shampoo once every one to two weeks to keep the hair clean. As scary as it is to use sulfate again. Yikes.

My next series of posts will cover more tips on what-not-to-do with your hair, research I've done including natural remedies, and how to trim your own split ends, along with my personal hair experiences. If you’re willing to join me on my crazy do-it-yourself hair-care journey, come along, but grab a pair of good quality scissors and leave the expensive salons behind.


~Rachel