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Find ALM on Facebook!

ALM is now on Facebook!

So far I’ve had no luck adding the Facebook “like” box to my page here. Once I figure it out I’ll add it.

Gray: the new hot neutral – for hair.

Good news! If you’re starting to see some gray hairs sprouting up and making panicked calls to your stylist, put down the phone. Gray hair is a growing trend.

Kate Moss sported gray streaks at an event in January.

The New York Times reported a wash of silver among the young and fashionable in April:

Also caught up in the silver rush were pop icons like Pink, who showed off gray-tipped strands at the Grammys, and Siobhan Magnus, the “American Idol” contestant, who accessorized recently with a skunk streak and spectacles.

In embracing a tint their mothers would have shunned, such role models are lending gray new cachet, giving shades from ash to ermine an unlikely fashion moment. Now, some say, the trend, which trickled down from the runways of Chanel, Giles Deacon and their rarefied ilk to fashion hot spots around the country, seems poised to go mainstream.

The UK picked up on the trend late last year.

Ironically, gray hair seems to mostly be in vogue among the young. It’s seen as sort of punky and subversive and the next logical step for young trendsetters who already have blonde and pink in their rear-view – while women whose hair has gone naturally gray are still spending money to color their locks. The grass is always greener on the other side. But even that may be beginning to change. Model Kristen McMenamy, a household name in the 1990s, has grown out her hair into flowing silver strands.

Kristen McMenamy in August's Vogue.

McMenamy says she stopped dyeing her hair six years ago:

“You can get older and still be rock ‘n’ roll. I thought all that gray hair would make a beautiful picture.” She added, “You’ve got to keep moving forward.”

Of course some people, like stylist Louis Licari, are bucking the trend. Licari says that gray hair “gray hair makes women look older and their complexions dull and drab…” Easy for him to say. On men gray hair is considered distinguished and handsome (see anyone nagging George Clooney to get a dye job lately?). He goes on to sat that the artificial grays being displayed by young women like Kelly Osbourne are attractive precisely because they are fake, and that natural gray is unflattering and “creates a huge burden for most people trying to look their best.” The point of which seems to be that your hair is only OK if it’s fake. But don’t worry; Licari ends his article by saying that you have to be comfortable with your appearance, even if it means he’ll tell you that you look old.

But in fact going too dark with hair color can create too high a contrast with skin that loses some of its luster with age, and that can make you look older unless you’re willing to cake yourself with makeup (which can in turn settle into fine lines and cake up). So maybe nature knows what it’s doing. To that end, StyleList has put together tips for making the most of your gray, from hair maintenance to makeup tips.

I think Licari has one thing right: you have to be comfortable. If you love the way you look, then who cares what anyone else thinks? Going gray can be tough on women when we’re constantly pressured by advertising and magazines to stay somehow perpetually young and supple, and those first strands of silver can deal a devastating blow to our self-image. (I say this out of personal experience; I’m currently in a constant state of worry over the increasing number of white hairs I’m finding mixed in with my natural red.) So if for whatever reason fashion has turned in such a way as to make one facet of aging acceptable, I say go with it if you want to. (And if it makes you happy, go with it no matter what fashion says. The best kind of beauty comes from being happy.)

Of course the weirdest part of the gray hair trend might be the fact that it has somehow made Lady Gaga’s current Vanity Fair cover seem almost mainstream:

Lady Gaga on the cover of August's Vanity Fair.

Who saw that coming?

Treats for summer hair

I have wavy hair that tends to be dry. Pair this with my sensitive, allergy-prone skin, and I’m constantly on the hunt for a new conditioner that will soften my hair without leaving my scalp itchy. I have a bathroom cabinet filled with past failures. But this time I think I’ve found a good one!

Image courtesy of TheBodyShop.com

The Body Shop’s Banana conditioner was discontinued for a long time, but they’ve brought it back. I heard nothing but good things about this mythic conditioner so I jumped on the chance to try it out (especially since it’s on sale right now – 2 full-size bottles for $10 instead of the usual full price of $8.99/bottle). I’m so glad I did! This is good stuff! It conditions really well without being heavy which is fantastic for the summertime. Also, while I usually go through conditioner by the gallon, I don’t need much of this to make my hair feel great. It detangles really well, too. There is a strong banana smell, but if you use any kind of styling products in your hair it’s easily covered.

If you want to go the real all-natural route, you can make your own banana and honey conditioner. You can add things like olive oil, an egg yolk, or avocado as well for a deeper conditioning treatment. (The recipe says you can keep this in a bottle, but I would recommend making it fresh every time you use it since it contains no preservatives.)

Once your hair is well-conditioned and feeling gorgeous, you might want to create the “beachy waves” that are always on-trend in the summer. Kate Hudson is known for this look.

Plenty of brands sell texturizing sprays designed to help create this look. Herbal Essences recently released the Tousle Me Softly line designed to create these loose waves (I occasionally use the mousse, but it doesn’t have the best hold. I haven’t tried the gel or the spray.) A lot of products, like Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray, use some form of salt to create waves. Want the waves without the $23 price tag? Try this DIY styling spray from NotMartha.org. With some hair gel, epsom salt, and water, you can make your own version of the B&B spray and enjoy your waves while you spend your cash on something else.

With any kind of wavy or curly hair it’s important to maintain moisture – frizz is caused by the hair’s cuticle expanding to grab moisture out of the air, which is why hair frizzes more in humid weather. If you keep your hair well-conditioned you can avoid a lot of frizz. Rinsing with cold water helps to seal the cuticle as well. And resist the urge to touch your hair while it’s drying! Ruffling the hair while it’s wet will make the cuticle stand up which creates more frizz. I haven’t used a salt spray myself, but I would recommend a little extra conditioning afterward since salt can dry out the hair. Though with all the chlorinated pool water and salty ocean water that come with summer, a little extra conditioning is never a bad idea anyway.

$30 jeans and other sale items at Gap

Over at The Budget Fashionista, you can find five pairs of Gap jeans for under $30!

I love Gap jeans. My favorite go-to jeans are Gap Long and Leans. I usually buy one pair and wear them to death over the course of a couple of years since they run on the pricey side for non-designer denim, but Gap also has great sales like this where you can get their terrific jeans for less. They have plenty of other great deals right now too, like this great menswear-style shirt for $17.99:

They also have some pieces you can use to transition your summer clothes into fall like this cardigan that comes in four colors and starts at $14.99:

I find that Gap’s tops and tees tend to run a little roomy and I usually don’t need to worry about going a size up like I do some places. The fit of their jeans tends to depend on the cut and style, so you may want to try them on in-store. But if you can’t get to the mall, don’t be afraid to order online: Gap has a very generous return policy and takes online returns in-store.

If falling into the Gap isn’t your cup of tea, check out some other denim options under $40.

All images courtesy of Gap.com.

This season in undies…

Somehow I have accumulated a lot of links to different stories about underwear. They don’t necessarily connect in any way besides the core undie topic, so I’ve been sitting on them. Also I’m a procrastinator – nobody’s perfect, right?

Which actually brings me to the first link! StyleList has a pretty comprehensive guide to wearing shapewear in the summer and Instyle.com has handy list of bras for summer clothes (including a backless option). I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in New England it’s been hot and sticky, and the thought of wrapping any part of myself in spandex is pretty unattractive. I tend to avoid any clothing form-fitting enough to require stretchy armor in the summer. I’m only willing to suffer so much to be fabulous. But when I do wear shapewear I use a high-waisted thigh slimmer to smooth out my pear shape. Hanes makes a line of shapewear (on sale on their website!) that includes the thigh shapers as well as shaping panties. They work as well as Spanx without the hefty price tag.

Remember how we learned that big butts are trendy? Well apparently that’s not the only asset that’s “big” right now. Big breasts are in too! Given the amount of implants running around Hollywood I don’t know when big breasts were ever actually out, but apparently this “new” trend means lots more gel and push-up bras. I used to wear a gel bra (I’m pear-shaped, remember?). They’re heavy and not always terribly comfortable – which is what I’m told by my better-endowed friends is a little like actually having large breasts, so I guess the gel bra wins for authenticity.

But if you want to be trendy and the life of the party? Go with this:

The Wine Rack is a sports bra that holds 750ml of any beverage (the equivalent of a bottle of wine), using said liquid to create the illusion of larger breasts. Once you drink your boob cocktail you can use the attached straw to inflate the bra so you don’t look… deflated.

And if you happen to fill that bra with say… beer, which might make you a little gassy? Check out Subtle Butt, a disposable stick-on patch that goes inside your underwear to absorb unpleasant odors. The Subtle Butt’s inventor has a series of stick-on clothing innovations, including the Knicker Sticker, a patch designed to prevent the dreaded camel toe if you decide to forgo undies altogether. If you do want to wear underwear but still want to avoid a “frontal wedgie?” Well there’s a product for that too.

So there you have it. Everything you need to smooth, suck, enhance, hide, and drink out of your lady bits this season. Enjoy!

Quickie: Free Stuff from Allure!

August is Free Stuff month at Allure Magazine. Every day of the month they give away beauty products, clothes, and accessories. You can check their website every day to find out what’s up for grabs and sign up. Or if you have a smart phone you can sign up for reminders and auto-entries in a snap. You download the Microsoft tag-reading app, then scan the little tags in the pages of the magazine, and they’ll send you reminders for quick entry as items become available.