Category Archives: diy

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.

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Make your own cooling skin mist

After an hour or two out in the hot sun, skin can become parched and starving for moisture. There are plenty of products on the market now to refresh your skin on the go: The Body Shop makes a facial mist with vitamin E, and Juice Beauty offers one with natural oils and extracts. Or if you want to just waste some money you can always buy an aerosol can of plain old water for $10.

Evian Mineral Water Spray, $10 at Sephora.com

But if you want a refreshing, cooling facial mist and cash in your pocket, make your own at home using this easy recipe from the July issue of InStyle:

Brew and steep plain green tea (you can find Bigelow tea bags in most grocery stores) and cool. Pour over ice in a spray bottle and voila! A cool, refreshing skin mist. And the antioxidants in the tea will help repair sun damage. You can make this in advance and keep it in the refrigerator, too. And if you make too much you can always drink what’s left over since green tea has plenty of health benefits. For extra cooling power, find a spray bottle with a fan like this one:

You can always experiment with adding extra components if you want, like aloe vera juice or vitamin e oil. Just keep in mind that once you get into mixing things you need to think about spoilage. So it’s probably safest to keep the tea on its own and mix in any additional ingredients on a per-use basis instead of storing it.

DIY Quickie: The 1-Hour Dress

Summer is the time for dresses! And if you like making your own clothes, check out this 1-hour dress at CraftStylish:

Image courtesy of CraftSylish.com

There’s some argument in the comments about whether this dress can actually be made in an hour. (I don’t sew, so I can’t say how accurate those comments are.) But they include a detailed list of what you’ll need and diagrams to help you along your way and the instructions were easy enough for a non-sewer like me to understand. I love that the silhouette is simple enough that you can make it in stretch jersey and have a comfortable day dress, or bring up the hemline and use a fabric with metallic threading for a cute cocktail look.

If anyone makes this dress at home, let me know! I’d love to post your pictures and hear how well this pattern actually works.

Quickie: Keep a Style File

A while back I was lucky enough to attend a fashion show hosted by Liz Claiborne’s Creative Director and my personal idol, Tim Gunn. Those attending the event were given a free gift – a black accordion folder made of heavy, coated board labeled a “style file.” The idea is that when you see a look you like in a magazine, or something you like in a catalog, you tear out the page and drop it in your style file. That way you don’t wind up buried under old magazines you’re keeping just for one article, and you can easily access all the ideas and inspirations you’ve kept when you want to update your look.

Any accordion folder will do for your own style file. Or even a binder with internal folders – anything that will allow you to keep things neatly organized. I have mine separated into these categories: fashion, beauty, social, accessories, hair, miscellaneous. I keep pictures of outfits I like, advertisements for products I want to try, makeup tutorials, trend reports, and anything else that catches my eye. That way when I want to refer back to something I have it easily at hand.

DIY: Make a Personalized Sewing Dummy Out of Duct Tape

One of the goals of A La Mode is to include ideas and tips from several points of view. That way this really will be a blog for real women, by real women of different tastes, sizes, and talents. Today’s post is a great DIY project by The Cheap Scot:

How To Make Your Duct Tape Double

When sewing or tailoring your own clothing, there is little in this world that is more helpful than a dress form in your size. But dress forms in the standard size 6 are expensive enough. Try buying one that’s adjustable, or even plus-sized. It sort of defeats one of the main purposes of the whole D.I.Y. thing. So what’s a girl, or guy for that matter, to do? Hey, you already make your own clothing. Why not make your own you? With a few cheap materials, and a little bit of time and effort, you can have a completely lumps-and-all accurate mannequin of yourself. Continue reading