Tag Archive | beauty

Review: Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo

I love to travel whenever I get the opportunity, especially if I can take my cockatiels with me (read that: shame on you United Airlines for still not allowing birds to travel in cargo as required for international flights). With my bags all settled this spring, it was time to test some of the products that are frequently on the lists from travel “experts.”

I decided to start with dry shampoo, specifically Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo after receiving a free product coupon from Protector and Gamble.  I purchased my canister at Dollar General which offered the volumizing grapefruit and mint version in the 4.9 oz size and the revitalizing cucumber and green tea version in the TSA approved 1.7 oz size (and yes, this DOES go in your liquids bag).

Dry shampoos work by absorbing oils near your scalp and adding scent to your hair so it smells washed.  You spray it on, then work through the roots of your hair immediately to spread it onto the oily parts.  I’ve also seen advice by hair stylists suggest that if you have fine hair like mine you should let it dry on the surface of your hair instead of working it into your hair because that creates more volume.

Herbal-Essences-White-Grapefruit-Mosa-Mint-Dry-Shampoo-Award-Winner

I have tried this “volumizing” version both ways.  My verdict:  if you work it into your hair with your fingers as instructed, it WILL absorb the extra oil — but it won’t add body to your hair as promised.  Likewise if you leave it on until it dries completely (about 5 minutes), you will get some extra volume — for about an hour — but your hair will still be oily where the “shampoo” doesn’t touch it.  If anything, my very fine hair feels a little sticky after using it.

Both versions dry out your hair — too much really if you are not careful.  When I applied this closer to the ends of my hair, I found those sections rather brittle and vulnerable to breaking off if I am not very careful when brushing it out.

Therefore, this is NOT a product I suggest for use with fine hair. It really seems to harm my hair more than it helps.

HE revitalizeOf the two versions, the cucumber and green tea version smells better and genuinely seems less damaging to my hair.  But it’s still damaging to fine hair and that matters to me.  Given I have recently experienced other issues with other Herbal Essences products, especially after coloring my hair this spring, I must sincerely suggest that if you have fine hair, especially color treated fine hair, this is not the product line for you.  Across the spectrum of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products I’m finding Herbal Essences performs poorly compared to other brands.

 

Since I have only tried Herbal Essences dry shampoo I do not know yet if other brands are better suited for fine hair.  But I am open minded to trying other brands and seeing what works and doesn’t work for me.

Excerpt: Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of Henry V’s queen consort, Catherine de Valois.  Caricaturized by Shakespeare in “Henry V,” the real Catherine you meet in this biography was a woman of great intelligence, courage, and conviction.

Available  for kindle and in paperback.  Look for Catherine de Valois in Chinese language edition and in audio edition narrated by Richard Mann later this year.

In this scene from the end of chapter one, Catherine meets King Henry of England for the first time in October 1419.

————————————

“Must we do this, Mother?” asked Catherine, pacing furiously.

“What choice do we have, Catherine?  The blood of the women and children of Rouen cry out for action.  We must meet with King Henry this day or risk further slaughter,” conceded Queen Isabeau, her heart equally furious and grieved at the same time at Henry’s atrocities in Rouen.

“I do not want to meet him!  I hate him!  I have never heard of any living  man being so vile and disgusting to me.”

“It  is  said that he is otherwise to his own English people, that he governs them kindly and with great skill.”

“But what about the  Welsh, Mother?  Was he kind to them when he slaughtered them while his father reigned?” countered Catherine.  “I know it is my duty as your daughter – but you know how I hate violence, especially against  the innocent.  How are the Welsh any different than  us?   All they wanted was to not be slaves to this conqueror.  We of all people understand this!”

Before Isabeau could respond, the door opened.  Jacques de Heilly entered with a bow, “Your Majesty, Your Highness may I introduce you to Henry, by God’s grace King of England.”

As Montjoie stepped aside to take his traditional place one pace behind the queen, King Henry emerged into the room, his eyes immediately fixing themselves on the beautiful Catherine in her embroidered cotehardie and fur-edged side-less surcoat, the royal fleur-de-lys glistening in gold thread on her gown.  For a moment, Henry found himself so moved by  Catherine’s beauty that he could not speak.  Finally after two minutes, the king took a chivalrous bow, “Good ladies, we meet at last!”

Coolly, Catherine curtsied politely,  “Your Majesty.”

Henry, normally so confident and proud stammered, “Y-y-you are more beautiful than I ever dreamed!  Truly a vision of all that flowers in France.”

“If you value the beauty of the flowers of France, perhaps you should not have killed so many along the way,” countered Catherine, her rage flaming from her eyes.

Chided, Henry turned to Queen Isabeau, “Your Majesty, you permit your daughter to speak to me like this?”

“Catherine speaks her mind. In that, she is quite her mother’s daughter – and a Bavarian,” smirked Isabeau proudly.  “That you slaughtered our people, we concede.  That we wish to end this war, we fully declare.  But do not think you can force the mind and heart of my daughter in any matter.  Though you may, through the brutality that brings us here together, compel a measure of outward obedience, if it is affection of the mind or heart you desire, it would serve you best to put aside all savage warrior ways and behave yourself like a gentleman.

Henry blinked in shock.  No woman had dared to speak to him so boldly – or venomously.  Rather, he was accustomed to fearful pandering – not the confidence of a woman seeing herself as his equal, “I – I do not know what to say.   I was not born a prince, though certainly I wear the crown more easily than my father.  I,” Henry paused, his pride hurt even as his desire to possess Catherine grew.  Marrying Catherine was his birth right; since the death of Princess Isabella, Catherine’s sister and widow to Richard II, all talk had been across his life of his marrying Catherine. Was it not his destiny to marry Catherine?  Did she not see it the same way?  As his thoughts grew more confused by Catherine’s obvious spite, the rhythm and confidence of his speech waivered, “I have wanted this alliance for many years.  I cannot imagine myself with anyone else.  Yet do  I dream of love, of your love, Catherine.  Will you not be my wife?”

“Not out of love, England, for you are my enemy.  What am I to you but a trophy to your murders?” burned Catherine.

“If I swear on my soul to end this campaign this very day and never again kill, will you not agree to  marry me?”

“If you never kill again – yes – but there are many things you must agree to in order to make this treaty one and whole,” bargained Catherine confidently.

“I SWEAR IT!”

“God will hold you to your vow, Henry of England,” warned Queen Isabeau. “If you acknowledge this and still so swear, then shall we both draw up the formal terms to be signed once they are ready.”

“God hold me to my vow and strike me down in death if ever my hand spills French blood again!” vowed Henry fiercely.

 

Content with Henry’s answer, Queen Isabeau supervised the drafting of the now agreed-to peace treaty. On May the twenty-first 1420 King Henry the Fifth and King Charles the Sixth met in the city of Troyes where they both formally agreed to and signed the treaty. As demanded by King Henry, King Charles gave Catherine to him in marriage in a grand wedding held a few days later on the second of June.

Across the summer and autumn of 1420, Henry and Catherine became better acquainted as they toured together across France over the next six months.  Towards Catherine, Henry expressed the utmost admiration and, if not genuine love, certainly an intense romantic attraction to her.

For her part, Catherine found herself more than flattered at Henry’s attention. King Henry seemed so sincere in how he treated her.  Certainly he was gentle when she yielded to him in wifely duty, despite his fiery temperament.  Still in her heart, Catherine could never forget that this man who caressed her so softly in private was the same man who killed women and children for the crime of being born Welsh or French, his eyes both tender like a baby bird’s – or fierce like a raging storm – depending on his mood.

 

 

Christmas came. Henry wisely decided  their first Christmas as husband and wife should be spent in Paris with her parents and siblings.  As familiar songs filled her ears at the traditional midnight mass on Christmas  Eve, Catherine knelt in silence, the music gone from her heart and reflected in her eyes.  Though she tried for the sake of her people to make truly merry, Catherine found herself sad instead, as if something precious to her was lost, gone forever.

Finally, at the end of January, 1421 they at last arrived at Calais for the crossing to England.

 

A Reality Check on Weight, Clothing Size and Self Esteem

May 16th, 2012

Heavily anorexic from prescription migraine therapy, this photo of me at Coney Island shows how unhealthy the American concept of beauty is.

Heavily anorexic from prescription migraine therapy, this photo of me from September 11th, 2010 at Coney Island shows how unhealthy the American concept of beauty is.

Summer is coming and with it, our thoughts turn to warmer days, picnics, and especially time by the pool or at the beach. Probably more than any other time of the year, women start measuring themselves, getting on the scales, and worrying about their weight, dress size, and measurements. It can be no wonder that one of the largest growing industries today involves health and weight loss. In fact, you are hard pressed to turn on the television for any length of time without seeing advertisements for one weight loss product or service or another, television programs advising us how to lose weight and inches, or other messages that resonate “you are not good enough as you are; you need to change your body.” Some of these messages even veil themselves with the language of health. Everyone buys into these images-female and male-believing that if we are not a size 2 we must be fat. The reality is quite to the contrary as I learned when discontinuing years of prescription Topomax for my migraine. On Topomax, my weight plummeted to just 85 to 88 lbs on a 5’3″ frame. The combination of Topomax with my existing brain injury meant I had never developed physically; the accident hit at the start of puberty. I was so thin I could not climb stairs to the subway, exercise, or even sit without pain. Yet I was the “right” size according to countless people, an ideal! My body was frozen to age 14, at least on the surface. Upon switching treatments in 2011, my body quickly righted itself to 128 lbs and a size 12. Yet I feel fat for my increase in dress size. But the problem is not with my numbers. It is with society’s concept of what a proper and healthy body looks like. Adult women are not supposed to have pre-pubescent bodies! We are supposed to weigh more, have larger dimensions. That is what it means to be fully grown! Celebrities look the way they do because they do horribly unhealthy things to their body. They starve themselves. They exercise many more hours than a normal person can. They surgically alter themselves. They endanger their health for short-term gains. Does that mean that some people do not eat to excess or eat poorly? Of course not. But our focus needs to return to the balanced diet we all learned as children. As long as we pursue balance and eat whole, healthy, fresh foods in moderation, we are healthy! The number on the scale or our dress size is far less important! It is time to abandon Hollywood’s idea of who we should be and start enjoying who we are.