Sunday, 8 July 2012

Extreme Wind

No amount of trial and error or mega extreme hold hairspray could have withstood the front page news-worthy weather conditions at Isle of Wight festival this year. I've spent the last couple of weeks locked in a styling battle with my ever-lengthening mop. It's been emotional, quite literally. Having risked lymphodeoma holding my hair dryer aloft while dragging different types of brush through , I've been known to have a little boo and/or refuse to leave the house.

I know it can be done. Whenever I stay at Katie's and give her the wobbly lip, achy arm treatment she manages a smooth, chic style in about two minutes (she is university educated in hair-doing though). I watch, learn, take notes, practise, and effing fail every time.

Convinced the answer lies in chemical sleekening, I took myself to Headmasters for a long awaited Brazilian Blowdry. I love Headmasters, they're the most un-intimidating high street salon ever, and helped me out a lot with my Bambi steps into wig-wearing. So safe in the knowledge I would emerge a Twiggyish version of my formerly scarecrow self, I booked in the morning of my friends wedding.

Um, not so much. Apparently my hair is very stubborn, corkscrewwy in parts, and immune to the powers of a Brazilian. What I was expecting was smooth, sleek, shiny, manageable hair. What I got was shinier, more manageable hair, which still looks very much like the hair I a hoping to see the back of. I had a slight toys-out-pram moment on my way home since I had been pinning my hopes on the new-hair me being so easy breezy and yes, miraculously photogenic and 100% attractive at all times. A bit like how you build up an impending blind date to be your soul mate forever husband. Of course you're going to be set up for disappointment. In a fit of pique I stormed into Liberty and bought a (gorgeous and slightly ridiculous) baseball cap, weeping at Dadjokes that I was ONLY going to go out in a F*ck!NG CAP from now on, including to the wedding, which he accepted and offered blind compliments down the phone about how lovely he was sure my hair was.

As it happens he was right, OK so it wasn't the super sleek crop I was hoping for, but it has never looked shinier or felt silkier, and yes, when I got home and went to work with the mini ghd's, it was a lot easier to style. I was just hoping the ghd's would be redundant and I could get another 1/2 hour in bed every morning. But I did manage without the cap.


That was until the 'summer' kicked in. Once you've factored in a wash with L'Oreal EverPure (you need sulphate free once you've had a Keratin treatment to keep the effects for longer), an arm aching blow-dry, a very strict regimen of smoothing lotion, styling foam, strong hold wax for the sides, texturising wax spray for the top, your weight in Kirby grips, a final securing can and a half of hairspray, and a good five minutes of pedantic mirror tweaking, you approach the front door with trepidation...

Boom, an entire mornings work obliterated with one gale force gust of wind.

The worst thing is I can't seem to learn from this repeated heartache. Last week I got over excited about my girls night after work drinks, to the point of escaping to the disabled loos illegally ear to preen to presentability.
I have to walk through the InStyle office to get back to my desk, which is a catwalk of intimidation after a loo-preening session. You don't exit until you're confident. Reasonably proud of my hair achievement I made it back to Katie who tweaked a bit more, emptied another can of hairspray over my head, and joined me in the lift. Cue one last revolving door of happy-hair enjoyment and BOOF, straggly mop within two seconds of London wind exposure.

What I'm getting at is this; pretty much no ones hair is great at the moment, but I defy anyone to struggle with theirs as much as a transitional growing out croppee has to, and be happy to see how hot long wind-blown hair looks in comparison. *sigh*

These are my staples;

Sleep In Rollers:
Once I've just about sort of flattened the backs and sides, the top looks better with volume. Yes dear readers, the Du-rag is obsolete - much to the bedtime delight of Dadjokes. These days he is presented with the Nora Batty of bed partners, but I think he'd rather her than Snoop Dag of shorter, flatter hair days gone by. A spritz of L'Oreal Pli, then three of these in the top section are an arm-ache saviour, (no need for barrel brush/hairdryer combo) and the easiest route to gentle wavy volume that stays put.

Adapt Structure Hair Texture Paste.
I'm not a wax fan, but this gloopy cream holds the sides down in a nicely natural way.

Neal & Wolf Silk Smoothing Blowdry Balm.
I don't know if this really makes a difference but its a hair comfort blanket and I'm scared of what degree of curl I will suffer if I skip it.

Tigi Rockaholic Groupie Texturising Spray Pomade.
A little spritz after the rollers come out take any fluffiness away and just makes it look a bit, well, a bit more like it says on the tin. But in a good way.

ghd Final Fix Hairspray.
My desert Island hair product. The mini spray is small but mighty - i it isn't in my handbag I almost get hives from the stress.

Matte Kirby Grips.
I still don't know where to get these from, but having been introduced by Louis, my hairstylist friend, there is no going back for extra easy gripping. If you see them, buy them (then post to me :-)

So, the battle continues, but in the meantime, these foolproof products seem to have my morning routine down to ten minutes - for the two or three weeks my hair is this bouffy length anyway. Only a few more months till wedding extensions. I will NOT cut the backs and sides NO I WILL NOT. Repeat after me...

Friday, 8 June 2012

S is for Summer (ish)

I had hoped this post would be within the context of raging hot weather, micro-clothing and very necessary new sunglasses, but alas - the extra long bank holiday has inspired extra horrible weather, so no. After the 4 day summer we've experienced so far, this is now a prospective post, about how frustrated I was about to become, and the levels of frustration I expect to achieve a bit later on this month. Or next month. Or failing that in another country at some point in the future.

Last summer I was still wig reliant, revelling in the novelty of recent chemo graduation, and the joy of venturing outside in actual clothes, rather than PJ's and a bobble hat. The whole season was also spent recuperating from mastectomy or undergoing radiotherapy, so I don't think I can count that summer as a very typical one.

This one however, has brought with it the crashing realisation that it is not so much a cancer-survivors friend. In the few short days I have known the sun in 2012, I was really starting to hate it. This is not a happy state of affairs. I could definitely do with the Vitamin D, and the pull of the little bit of grass outside my office is great for the work/life balance plan I'm trying to action at the moment ('lunch break' is not usually in my remit), but by 'eck the hotter season is a whole new learning experience.
This is what I have learnt so far:

HOT is something I've been avoiding since I started hormone suppressing therapy last year. At least three times a night I have to violently reject  the duvet, and my mini desk fan is the only thing keeping me appropriately clothed in the office. Add in actual tangible heat and we have a series of problems:

a) It feels like a hot flush all the time. This means my usual 'this too will pass' coping mechanism for each one is not so effective. And I feel that squirmy discomfort that is so much more than just 'hot' (menopausal women, pregnant ladies and fellow C-word sufferers will concur) a lot more.
b) I really notice the absence of antiperspirant for the first time since I gave up the habit. The thought of putting chemicals near my scar is all wrong, and I don't want to tempt fate with the remaining boob, so I swapped my aluminium, effective underarm care, for natural, deodorising alternatives. All well and good when sweating is not really an issue. But throw in a bit of scorching sunshine, a public transport system more suited to medieval times in terms of air conditioning, and clothes that have to conceal a load of brand new body issues, and by god do I miss the Mitchum.

CLOTHING was always a fun transition from winter to summer. Away go the high necks and long sleeves and out come the floaty fabrics and airy, strappy, wafty, heat-proof options. (although you should probably know, I don't store clothes - I buy new season instead. Any excuse...) I've been practising mastectomy dressing for nearly a year now, so I'm really quite good at it, but summer mastectomy dressing is a different matter entirely. As discovered five minutes before I had to leave for my friend Leyla's wedding last weekend. I had bought a dress especially. It ticked all the boxes: thick straps to hide ugly bra, not too low cut to hide ugly bra, cool and colour blocked, BCBG designed but Outnet discounted, and hanging in my wardrobe in eager anticipation of the sunny Saturday when I'd get to wear it. Hair done (we'll come onto that), makeup done, bag packed, beautiful dress donned, Dadjokes waiting at the door, me putting shoes on, Dadjokes informing me you can see right down my top when I bend over and it isn't such a pretty site. Me resolving to never bend down, Dadjokes warning me I'm quite likely to need to bend down, me scouring the house for tit tape, admitting defeat and tearfully putting on the first thing I pull from wardrobe for the wedding I've been looking forward to dressing for since I heard about the engagement. Yes, tearfully. I am sort of ashamed to say I cried over a dress, but it was an expensive and rushed realisation of what an inconvenient f*cker this whole business can be. Mark II happened a few days later at work when I wore a nice floaty racer back top with jeans, spent a good proportion of the morning applying and reapplying tit tape, finding it is no match for a weighty prosthetic, admitting defeat and rifling through the cupboard for a sleeved, high necked top that challenged my natural deodorant no end.

FRIZZ FACTOR...OK, there was a very important bit coming next, about the heat and the humid hair situation and how a sweaty hairline and a sleek side part do not a good pairing make. But then the sun went on annual leave and Gale came in to cover. Now I am faced with a whole new hair dilemma, regarding wind and driving rain, SO irritating I can't even be bothered to blog about it on the end of this post. So tired is my left arm from holding a hairdryer aloft every single day, and my right arm weary from spraying extra extra firm magnificent hold hairspray every 45 minutes or so. So tired in fact the residual effect on y typing figers is too much to get a decent post out there. You se?

So I'll sleep on it, and update you on the practicalities of glorious British summertime with a growing out pixie crop  just as soon as I've found something helpful to say. For now, I learn! Over n out...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

My Blog Hiatus (and sorry)

GULP.  I finally got up the guts to log on and glance through my fingers at the date of the last post. .An entire month and a half..Oh dear oh dear. So long in fact that Blogger has had a facelift, and I'm navigating the new version as a blogging rookie, that's how far off the wagon I've fallen. About as far as a discarded rotten apple off the apple wagon on the way to the cider factory. Wait, I think maybe rotten apples are a key component of cider making? But I digress...

Cider talk would appear to be the latest in a long line of procrastinating devices I have developed in order to avoid this whole cancer nonsense these days. I'll be honest - its about time. Typing the c-word just now was an act of impressive bravery as far as the new and maybe not so improved me goes. You see, I'm a wuss. Cut and dry, no beating round the bush, verging on professional wuss. Who rather than settling into the new, life-will-never-be-quite-the-same me, has spent the last three or four months trying to clamber back the old version.

I've always been a little too ambitious. My first Saturday job was as far away from the requisite local petrol garage as it was possible to get. Sales assistant at a high street fashion store or NOTHING. Never mind the build up of broke Saturday's spent sulking in my bedroom while my friends bought stuff and had fun, I would wait until someone was brave enough to employ an experience-less schoolgirl to represent their brand. This philosophy has applied throughout my life, with ideas slightly above my station being the general rule of thumb (how else are you crazy enough to try and break into fashion mags?). So I suppose my post-cancer, breaking the mould ideals shouldn't be too surprising. YES I can be back at work full time, a month after my recurrence and second op, with just as many bright ideas and ruthless hours. OF COURSE I can sleep perfectly well and maintain an active social life and fit in all the people I had to neglect in favour of chemo. Regular emotional wobbles? (OK, full on freak outs)? Moi? Nah. Normality is what I have been missing since December 2010, so normality is what I WILL reclaim, 100%, no messing about, ASAbloodyP.


The blog hiatus has fallen to the same excuse as the book procrastination - I am just far too busy enjoying my health and normalcy to sit and write, or even I'm ashamed to say, reply to all the lovely blog emails. Now that I have had a few strong words with myself I suppose I can see whats going on here. I've become so much of a chicken I could be Kentucky Fried without anyone calling the restaurant health inspector. In actuality, I'm avoiding the issue. I have so much more to say - every new day is as much of a beauty learning curve as D-Day, but I just haven't been able to. Someone mentioning the C word, be it in a news meeting at work, on the telly, or a friend talking about a friend of a friends friend, I feel like I want to fall off my chair. I blush and cold sweat and avert my eyes and think about anything else. Is this an extreme reaction? I have no idea because I don't want to talk to anyone who might know, because that would be discussing the one topic I wish I never had to think about ever ever again.

The cold hard truth is my life has changed. I will never be one of those women who revels in their tragedies. I don't want my illness to define who I am now, but I'm stupid if I think it doesn't shape it. From having to battle with my ridiculous hair, to having to battle with my, lets face it, fragile levels of sanity at times, I am one of a small percentage of 32 year olds who has had cancer, who has a very different stance than the 7 other lovely but luckier girls who sit at my desk bench. I now realise there is little point struggling to wipe out the worry that sits on my shoulders and not theirs, and even less point bemoaning the fact that I was the 1 in 8 on that row of desks who has to carry that worry.

So you see, with that frame of mind, blogging about the good stuff is still focusing on the bad. If I tell you how I tackle the May heatwave hair-frizzing issue, I'm telling you its because it all fell out and then regrew curlier. How much I'm struggling to stay on the healthy eating wagon (god its easier when you have time to clean out the juicer at leisure instead of 2 minutes before you leave for work), is a glossier way of saying I'm feeling guilty for ignoring my bodies new needs and slipping back into my 'before' ways. Answering the lovely emails I get sent is conversing with my new peer group, who I gently rebuff because, well, I just don't want to be in that club.

Thing is, I am in it. I'm not sure you can go through such a traumatic experience (I still maintain I did it as beauteously as humanly possible!), have your body quite literally shaped by cancer, and then brush it off with a bit of ignorant avoidance and a 'striaght back in at the deep end' attitude. Having given up therapy a bit too quickly (another avoidance tactic), I've managed to reach the grand old conclusion all by myself, that I am an idiot. My blog and all of its lovely readers and supporters have been something of a backbone to my cancer experience. The beauty trial and error approach was something tangible to focus on. Writing about my experience was wonderfully cathartic and helped me organise my thoughts, and every day that I don't write it, I miss it, but in a small compartment of my brain that has a combination lock I haven't quite worked out yet.

By now I'd say I've cracked 3 out of the 4 digits, and am a fraction away from the last one. I'm not sure I'll get there completely, and I don't know if I quite want to, but every time I sit on the bus and suddenly think 'What the f*ck happened to me?!' I think I'm sort of getting my head around it.

Last week saw my one year anniversary from chemo graduation and I am still wrestling my cancer beauty nemeses like nobodies business. This means I have plenty more blog posts in me and a unavoidable conclusion that by 'eck, I am a cancer survivor and I have the nightmare hair to prove it. Just in case my brain keeps regressing into NORMAL AT ALL COSTS mode and I need reminding of who I really am today. Now pass me the bloody ghd's...

Monday, 9 April 2012

You du-rag rag rag, you du rag rag

I have a post in production that explains my recent blog slack, so please bare with me, but in the meantime I've been bestowed some extreme problem solving wisdom from a makeup guru friend of mine Caroline Barns.

Yep, it's still the hair. The goddamn, f*#king, b^*$, st*pid short hair that chooses to behave in anyway other than OK. And which remains a mystery to even me, beauty expert that I am...
I know how straightening irons work; they iron hair straight. I know this because I have been writing about them for several years, I have seen with my own eyes the straightening evidence upon my own hair, but show a pair to my new arch nemesis short hair and they're defunct. Even the mini ones - Powerless in the face of resolute wave. Every morning I am baffled as to how the heat, plates, even steam cannot tame the tufts that curl at the back and above the ears like a wiry old poodle. A scientific anomaly...

Whilst having an eye lift lesson from Caroline (more on that later), she casually throws in a magical hair taming tit bit that has changed my life, and now yours too.

Invest a measly £1.99 in a Du Rag. Most commonly utilised by Snoop Dog and Ashley Banjo (*swoons*), to keep their Afros from forcibly ejecting their baseball caps, this funny piece of stretchy cloth is all that stands between me and perfectly smooth hair.

Forget heat damage, arm ache from wielding a hairdryer at unnatural angles, battling with a bristle brush, this is my new process:
1. Wash Hair (currently with Lee Stafford Great Lengths system. I am adamant it works to make my hair grow nicely)
2. Shove some Aveda Phomolient light hold styling foam through
3. Brush into desired shape - in my case, flat and Emma Watson ish, low side part etc,
4. Tie on Du Rag.
5. Sleep.

Come morning my hair is so flat it could even do with a little root lift in the form of dry shampoo or Fekkai Oceanic Tousled Wave spray. Done! I even use it to 'refresh' my flatness between washes, since no matter how straight and dry my hair is, by morning it's always wiry old poodle again. I'm still awaiting my Brazilian Blowdry appointment, but till then, Du Rag, I owe you a big one (and you Caroline). Even if you have earned me yet another tease to add to my Dadjokes collection. 'Snoop Dawgy Daw-aw- awg' sang at every opportune moment. Delightful. (he's right though, you do look ridiculously awful. If husband/boyfriend/other half not securely pinned down, heed my caution)...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Needles In My Life

As a qualified needle-phobic I have come to a post-treatment point where I no longer balk (OK I no longer cry and sulk and go white and snappy) at the thought of a blood test, but still I have a tinge of dread. I just can't be a willing participant in things that hurt me. It's a little disconcerting then that I now have a regular relationship with two particular needles, one by choice (its not heroin mum), one by necessity, both very much for my own good.

I went to Miami on a work trip once and everywhere I went, amidst the calf implants and rollerbladers, there was always a gay man with a Great Dane and a Chihuahua. I thought it weird to have two such incongruous dogs. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but essentially one of the needles is HUGE and the other the smallest of small. Yes, this is Acupuncture v's Zoladex.

Since my untimely recurrence in Jan it has been decided that I try a new method of endocrine therapy in the form of a nightly tablet, Letrozol, and a 4 weekly mamma of an injection, Zoladex. I was still giddy from the relief of the 'no more chemo' news, that I happily skipped from consulting to treatment room, safe in the knowledge my blood-test-dread might imminently resurface, but I'm a big brave needlephobe who can now handle injections with poise, grace and minimal to no fuss. Erm, not so much. So cocky was I in my new found bravery that I made the error of all medical errors, I glanced down. For the first time in my 32 year history of injection partaking (aside of course from when I injected myself, but that required a whole other plane of consciousness - dramatic? me?). Why I chose to do it on this particular occasion is beyond me, but it has tainted my Zoladex experience for the next five years. I quickly glanced up hoping I'd confused myself and the nurse hadn't taken the cap off yet, but Dadjokes, on the other side of the room also looked, and offered up, 'Blimey, that's a bit meaty isn't it?'

Yes, yes it is. A BIRO sized, OK, Biro nib sized...OK, toothpick sized hollow tube to allow a pellet to get out the end and under your skin is no blood test let me tell you. Alright, so no worse than getting your ears pierced, only lasts a couple of seconds and goes in my tummy, so I'm sure it could be worse, but not in my experience of injections, so I spend the next 27 days quietly dreading the 28th when I have to volunteer myself up to my GP for further stomach stabbing. I'm pretty sure I'm not being too much of a wuss, since I come away with a bruise that lasts a good week or so. And which we all know makes the experience sort of enjoyable and definitely worthwhile. Any sort of tangible evidence that pain and bravery have happened here is a pretty satisfying reward. Come on, who hasn't secretly let their oven-burn develop a tiny bit before running under cold water? Just me? oh...

So it must be due to some other strange universal forces that I find myself lying on a bed being pierced with several needles on a weekly basis, and not only am I choosing this plan, but I am paying for it.

I have a theory about breast cancer and that is I haven't a clue why it happened to me. I know no one has, but since it is rare in my age group, and since I don't have the faulty gene that predisposes me to it, I am left with my own theories. They vary thus: I misused my deodorant, G*d doesn't like me very much, my flat is cursed, I internalise my stress. I am in the process of moving and I have a very mistrusting relationship with my underarms now, the other thing I can't do much about, but the final thing I am working on as my anti-cancer 2012 strategy. How do I know I didn't bring this on myself by worrying? Always worrying. Somehow I have reached a point where formulating this theory has me worrying about the fact I'm worrying. So I willingly turned to point one in my anti-stress treatment plan; Acupuncture

Today was a good example. After a nightmare morning involving estate agents, deadlines and pissing rain I jumped in a cab to make my appointment on time. G*d was clearly challenging me to create a comparative frame of reference since he delivered ridiculous traffic and the only cabbie in London who doesn't know the knowledge. By the time he dropped me at the wrong address without an umbrella, late and out of pocket I was weepy-stressed enough to present a perfect test case. After three minutes of needles I felt peaceful and floaty and miraculously oh-what-the-hell about everything. I wouldn't say perfectly relaxed, but definitely different.

I won't lie, it helps that my acupuncturist is mildly to moderately attractive (DadJokes, I promise this is not why I insist on spending a large proportion of my wages on him - Katie and I see the same guy and we are of the opinion he has manipulated both our girlish giggle responses). I just feel like I'm doing something to help. Apparently your breast sits on your liver channel. This makes some sense to me since breast cancer tends to spread to the liver, so if he's clearing my liver channel, I'm all for it. Even if it is in my head, at least I'm having a positive reaction. Add in my definite reduction in hot flushes, better sleep, and less hip pain and its already worth the money. Once I've got my head around the fact I will be pierced repeatedly for half an hour, and I don't approach every appointment with needle nervousness, maybe I can get that proper relaxing benefit out of it too. Um, maybe I'd better think more seriously about yoga. Or Valium?..

this is a picture of a dog getting acupuncture for goodness sake

Disclaimer: Any Zolodex users, current or impending, who are perturbed by my account, please bear in mind my patheticism and flagrant use of drama.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Friends in High Places

I've recently had to go through the incomparable trauma of getting a new head shot done for the mag. I've been bumped off the Tried and Tested panel since everyone knows my long hair shot is an out and out lie, so they won't believe I try out the products. Part of my back to normality strategy involves reinstating myself on the job front, which means being reinstated on the panel, which means a posed shot with short short hair. Argh.

The main problem is of course the hair. After a blissful couple of weeks of 'oh your hair looks really good now!' and having a rough idea of how it will behave on a day to day basis, I'm now back to having no clue whatsoever. This does not bode well for headshot day. My relaxing treatment has, well, relaxed in terms of its effect on controlling the waves these days.
You can see my anarchic hair discomfort in the shot if you do happen to turn to the later pages of next weeks issue. It's all behind the eyes.

My shoot this morning; first things first, make a beeline for Peter Lux, wondrous hairstylist and friend.
Me: "Please you have to help me." (whilst demonstrating excessive length and unnatural projection of sidies).
Peter: "I'm not cutting it".
Me: *sobs*

Instead he sat me down and lectured, sorry, chatted to me about my options. Starting with a Keratin treatment, or Brazilian Blowdry to the uninitiated. Essentially it does the same thing as a relaxing treatment, but it's a very different thing. If you're not interested in why skip this paragraph (but risk missing a mega fact about Immac - you remember Immac?)

Relaxing opens the cuticles of a hair shaft to allow the treatment to get to work on the shaft underneath. But, the more closed the cuticle, the healthier, happier and more manageable the hair. Relaxing and perming works the same way to open the cuticles so much it sort of makes hair spongy. Immac fact: hair removal cream is basically nothing other than really strong relaxer or permer. The only difference is it raises and opens the cuticle so much that the hair shaft underneath melts.

Um, so I've very recently changed my opinion on hair relaxing. I'm sorry readers, I was ignorant to the full facts. I fearlessly try in the face of error, so don't worry if you've already relaxed yours. all it means is your hair probably looked fabulous for 2 weeks but now it's suspiciously curly again? Time to try Brazilian. This does the opposite job of smoothing the cuticle so much it actually makes hair healthier and straighter for a good 6-8 weeks. I'm going to try this out ASAP and report back. You can do it on top of chemical treatment too. Win win!

Boring or excessively interesting, we can all take serious note of Peters Pearls of Wisdom. He happens to know a thing a or two about pixie crops, since he does the hair of our Pixie Crop Heroine, Emma Watson herself. I unknowingly bumped into him at an event last week where she was, (I know). When she came in the first thing I was envious of was her sleek, perfectly groomed, wonderfully flattering hair. Very close second was the Valentino lace gown she was wearing. Third, in retrospect, her fashion standing, millions of pounds and presence of both boobies to fill out the beautiful Valentino to perfection. And her Louboutins. This is how my mind works when it comes to envy these days.

Today on my shoot he told me he did her hair that night. I thought he was just there for the free pigs in blanket. Kidding, it was the crabmeat blinis. So I now have insider knowledge of exactly how he did it, and a live hotline to maybe the biggest expert in beautifully managed short short hair I could ever happen to be friends with. WOOHOO

Emma Watson sleek crop How To:
1. Get hold of some run of the mill hair gel. chances are your boyfriend has some from 1998.
2. Section off very top section, then slick everything underneath down with the gel. For an extra specially sleek look Peter did very small sections to ensure it was all saturated with gel.
3. The most flattering bit is super flat sides, and this can only be done with serious amounts of precise gelling.
4. Her hair is longer than mine, so Peter twisted the very back and pinned into a minuscule chignon to keep the neck tidy.
5. The top section he sprayed with a little mist of spray gel and shine spray, it takes any crispness out of the hair and gel, and also it retains a little volume so it's not quite as flat as back and sides.

That's his formula for most flattering flatness ever. I'm going to try it immediately. I'm almost positive DadJokes has had a dalliance with wet look in his time, I'll recce his bathroom cabinet imminently.

So back to my erroneous sidies. It is that small 1 inch of hair from sidie to sidie and right around the hair line is the bit that defines the length within any hair style. Unfortunately this is the bit that, in Peters own words, looks stupid while it's growing. The bit on top is just the filling it out, the layers. So however strong my temptation is to deal with my 'stupid' sidies and emergence of a worrying mullet at the back, I MUST REFRAIN.

In my case, because I want to grow my hair for wedding purposes, I have to let the inch grow till it gets really really really annoying, then I have to cut it upwards in tiny measures. Basically, my hair is two inches long all over, so the side bit is two inches, but the bit above it is too, so when it's brushed down, the sidie looks particularly stupid because of all the ends not meeting, so in a months time (apparently I'll have 12 mm more) then I start cutting the very very bottom to meet the layer above, so it can all grow down in a much more civilised manner and thicken up the ends.

Make sense? If not you only need to know that a Brazilian is best. A common philosophy among women folk in a certain sense anyway, regardless of their health or hair length, yes women?..

Follow @MisterPeterLux here

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The High Heel Holy Grail

This may seem something of a flippant post, but honestly, never underestimate the power of shoes. This all started with my original character flaw: massive worry. I'm trying to live by a new philosophy regarding this evilest of enemies; When faced with a worry, try to absolve it. So, my current one regards footwear. Aside from high-diving back in the deep end of hectic word mode, attempting to sell and buy a home simultaneously, plan a wedding extravaganza and religiously stick to my 'only drink at weekends' rule (failing), I am concerned with a gentle worry about falling off the high heel waggon.

Oh yes this is a worry of the highest order of ridiculousness, but if you've ever watched that episode of Sex In The City where Carrie realises she's spent her potential house deposit on Manolo Blahniks you'll be near understanding. Imagine that horror, then imagine such a significant collection gathering dust in favour of necessarily comfortable Ugg boots or Converse, and you'll realise the gravity of 30 odd years of heel expertise gone to ruin. What a waste. All that sole hardening and ankle straining to pretty near Victoria Beckham standard. Those piles of vertiginous desirables that carried me from desk to, well just to meeting room, tea run and canteen if I'm perfectly honest - lost to comfort-in-the-face-of-joint pain. Heel expertise is not a 'get back on the horse' kind of skill. The tolerance for awkward foot arching wears off very quickly with my level of convalescence, so now I am practically a stiletto virgin once again.

I will always prefer the elongating effect of heel height, the confidence boosting, bum lifting, attitude changing, not to mention the absence of Dadjokes favourite 'midget' or 'magoo' moniker. But with my chemo legacy hip pain still limp-inducingly present, I need a compromise. This is my worry-busting mission.

Ok yes this may sound like a very wordy excuse to spend a fair whack on some more fancy shoes, but when shoes are as important to your feeling good as a clean bill of health or a life time supply of Malteser Celebrations, there is no such excuse needed.

So, I've found them. Even before the cancer I considered it my mission in life to find shoes that were wearable for an entire day, including journey to work or even an impromptu shopping spree. Throw in a fancy label and I'm SOLD (Oh it's not just me, why else would sample sales need practical riot control?).

Acne Pistol Boots. This isn't a fresh new concept in shoes, the cowboyish ankle boot has been around for a while, I just always felt stupid/masculine/stunted/fancy-dress in them. This version is boot perfection. Slim at the ankle, mid chunky heel that's tapered for a more feminine finish, not too rounded toe and nice and plain and simple. Plus they still make your legs/bum etc look magnificent, even teamed with skinny jeans. Even better, the Topshop version is just as amazing. Fraction of the cost, more readily available, but the payoff is the lack of delicious designer label satisfaction. Personally I'm happier with my Toppers versions, since I wear them every single day without feel of battering. My designer shoe collection stay in boxes and only get pavement action when absolutely necessary. How wasteful is that? Now I need never feel under dressed for the corner shop run again!

Add to the list the impossible to get hold of Isabel Marant Wedge Hi Tops and I have officially got my comfy, exciting shoe/life balance sorted. I managed to get my hands on a pair. This can only be because of rare shopping opportunities not available to the full-time workers. I happened to be in Selfridges when a new delivery came in so I was one of those annoying people who made it sell out again within 5 minutes. Thank you painful operation for affording me that perk. This level of hype obviously adds to the desirability of said shoe, which makes it all the more perfect a find for the purposes of this post. I ummed and ahhed for 4 whole seasons, till I finally cracked and forked out a small fortune. These are colourful hi tops of Back To The Future magnitude. Unforgivingly hip hop and probably not quite style appropriate for a 32 year old sophisticated heel fan, but I've never had so many compliments or attention paid to any other thing I own. Including my fiancĂ©.
so exciting they get shared around the fashion desk at work

My mission accomplished; Cancer 0: Succeeding Style 1. Eternally comfortable, very exciting footwear that laughs in the face of hip pain.  I'd best get selling on eBay for all my less comfortable redundant pairs. (As IF...)
Acne Pistol Boot Perfection. Buy it here

Friday, 20 January 2012

Aaaaand Relax...

I have finally finally had an entire spate of good news, that includes getting test results from my cats own lumpectomy, which happened the same week as my one. So now that we're a whole cancer-free household (so long as they got it all this time...), I'm feeling a strange sensation creeping in. One I can just about recall from mid 2010, and so alien to me I can barely remember how to spell it. 'Re-laaxaychun'.

Starting with my hair. I'm being advised on a regular basis to control my worry by problem solving. My microphone head, growing at all angles and inclines, sticking up resolutely when I specifically need it to stick down, definitely qualifies as a worry. The gentle kind I am more than happy to be experiencing  granted, but still, a worry nonetheless. I'm trying to get back to a healthy level of self confidence, and rotund hair just isn't conducive.

Worry Solving Solution: Relax. The chemical version, rather than the emotional one this time. My hair angel Claire suggested a gentle treatment to help my hair grow out with some dignity. Which shamefully, in my position as beauty editor I hadn't even considered. It makes perfect sense that flat hair will behave 'better' than curly, it'll sit closer to the head and look like its following the downward rule of gravity, rather than the outward rule of post chemo regrowth.

Five minutes in a child-friendly home relaxing kit for Afro hair and suddenly my crop has gone from sh!t to chic. Now when I wash it I generally know what its going to look like till I wash it again. When I wake up in the morning, or simply get up from a horizontal position I don't look like Zoe Wanamaker plugged into a wall socket, and I don't need industrial strength product to stop my (curlier than anywhere else) sidies pinging up at alternate angles.

before                 after

Yes a trip to a salon might be a slightly safer bet if you're home-kit shy, or don't have a hair angel to hand. But I happen to know of a BOY (who shall remain anonymous) who regularly relaxes his hair at home, and if a useless boy can do it, I'm pretty sure anyone who has hair can.

We used Soft-Sheen Carson Dark and Lovely for Kids. It is a gentle (as gentle as chemically altering your hair can be), nourishing formula and it costs a tenner. Mine went on for five minutes, just like a home hair dye, then washed out thoroughly, then its ready to blow-dry. I'm now using extra moisturising shampoo and conditioner, because my hair isn't 'virginal' any more, but that's all it takes to keep it looking lovely still. With sideburns that grow in the same manageable direction at long last.

Now that my hair can relax, I'm taking its lead and making waves to apply the same rule to the rest of my life. This includes Glow Yoga (I'll report back soon), wedding planning (other peoples mega-stress is my fun downtime) and finding ways to sate my extreme chocolate craving without actually eating chocolate. I love a new challenge...

Claire Hair Relaxing Tips

1. When the product is on, keep combing or brushing through or you'll end up with it stuck in one parting or style.

2. Keep the product on for slightly less time than the instructions recommend. You can always re-do it if you haven't relaxed enough, but if it goes too straight, there's no going back. And too straight just doesn't look like natural hair anymore.

3. Don't use on bleached hair or put it directly on the scalp. I'd wait till you have a couple of inches hair growth.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Side Effects Text Book

In my formative years I was a collector of bouncy balls (by my own choosing), postage stamps and spoons (those were my grandfathers preference) and stickers (me again).
In my early thirties I'm acquiring quite an impressive collection of something a bit less tangible and much more varied. If ever there was a side effect printed on a Tamoxifen leaflet, I am very likely to be experiencing it. In fact, even things that aren't printed on there, but on further research are always likely caused by Tamoxifen, can be added to my collection.

Another problem is I'm a Google-phobe when it comes to anything medical. I would rather wallow in my imagination than look up some nutjob Internet theory on how my aching toe means definite metastatic disease, caused by buying apples that come in plastic bags or putting my bed 90 degrees from the window. So I'll go a good few weeks worrying about said toe before Katie invariably looks it up and tells me it is Tamoxifen induced. (Metaphorical example; An aching toe is just about the only thing I don't have.)

So far my impressive collection consists of:
Aching joints. Or joint, since its just the one hip, but by gawd is it annoying. Before my scans it was terrifying, but now I know my cancer is contained to my nit (non-tit, remember?), its been demoted to annoying again. Serious enough to warrant an occasional 'rude boy bowl' that embarrasses DadJokes no end, and, deep breaths, makes me avoid high heels. That is serious.

Concentration issues. A testament to this is the four half written blog posts I have in production at the moment. Also the need to re-read the same paragraph of my book 3 times before I can move on. But that could equally be because its a sh!t book.

Bad eyesight. After squinting at one too many no. 38 buses I went to the optician, and sure enough, dry eyes and potential retina issues are to be expected for the next five drug taking years.

The Wobbles. A collective term that covers everything from getting disproportionately irate at the lack of order in the spice rack, to crying at Hollyoaks.

Hot flushes that would make Madonna admit her age and go into retirement. The worst part is the late night duvet battle. He wants it on I WANT IT OFF OFFFFFFFFF GET IT OFF.

Desmond has no such issues

Er, WC happenings, or not happenings as it were. Gillian McKeith would not be impressed...
I'm still waiting for the promised levelling out as my body gets used to the drugs, but since I am not a seasoned tablet-taker, I'm not sure how long I'll have to squint and sweat before my body cooperates.

In an attempt to tackle 'The Wobbles' I admitted defeat and went for some extra help. Now, I'm all for anything that will magically make me feel better, but I have a funny feeling about anti-depressant drugs since at my all girls school, a Prozac prescription was seen as a sign of extreme coolness, depth of character, and a ploy to make Mr Willis from Physics fall in love with you. I'm not sure where the reasoning comes in, but mental illness was thought to be veeery attractive in my fifth year. I couldn't get my head around it then, and still now am more prone to go the psychological route of learning coping mechanisms, than taking a pill.

When you cry at Hollyoaks, psychological care is maybe not enough, and faced with my recurrence fears being realised I signed up for some magic pills. Um, if being too tired to blink and too despondent to put effort into saying words is helpful, then I can do without thanks. The 'these tablets may make you feel worse before they make you feel better' warning on my particular leaflet did of course refer to me, (text book), but when I was still waiting for the feeling better part three weeks later I gave up and went back to good old fashioned family cuddles and Michael McIntyre on the telly. MUCH better. The good news scan results must have helped too, but I realise if I can avoid tablet taking, I will. I'm no Jennifer Saunders, although I'd love to know what she's on such that she raves about it in the papers.

My alternative therapies include retail, feline and social, so while I recover from my latest op I'm looking forward to a lot of the aforementioned, just to get me through you understand. 'Scuse me while I open a new tab; The net-a-porter sale is calling...