Go beyond basic braids with The New Braiding Handbook

I have recently discovered the total awesomeness of braids. I am not great with hair…no talent in that area at all. However, my hair is on the long side and I get tired of the single ponytail or basic bun look.

The New Braiding Handbook

The New Braiding Handbook

Based on my overall lack of hand coordination when attempting anything more complicated than putting my hair up with a jaw hair clip, I was still skeptical when we were sent The New Braiding Handbook by Abby Smith. Color me incorrect, because this is a terrific collection of doable looks that anyone from the novice to the expert will appreciate.

Braiding Handbook 3

Braiding Handbook 2

There are 50 different looks in The New Braiding Handbook, each one with step by step instructions and photographs. The looks are as easy as a Basic French Braid, and as complicated as a French Braided Pompadour. It has excellent instructions that even a novice like me can follow and the pictures to go along with the instructions are clear and very helpful.

Braiding Handbook 6

Braiding Handbook 7

I love how right at the beginning of the book there are photos and page numbers for every single style so it’s easy to find exactly what you want quickly. Looks range from super casual to extremely elegant, like knots, twists, and double braids. Most surprising to me was the section on styles using a Topsy Tail.

Topsy Tail Messy Bun

Topsy Tail Messy Bun

There is also some insightful information and tips on hair care in general, like using dry shampoo and determining different hair types. I love the section on using hair tools like straighteners and curling irons for both braided and non-braided looks. Plus, there are instructions for fantastic easy looks that don’t even require braiding, like the Perfect Ponytail.

The Perfect Ponytail - this really works!

The Perfect Ponytail – this really works!

Ok, so I am not even close to being great at braiding my hair yet…but with this book, I am making progress and am able to do much more than just a basic braid on myself and on my daughters. I keep this book right by my mirror and keep trying new styles every single day. The New Braiding Handbook can be found at bookstores like Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, and even Walmart.

If you are at all interested in any sort of updo, you will definitely love this book!  – Lisa

*sent for editorial consideration

The Christie Brinkley Collection Hair Wrap from Hair2Wear

Remember when hair pieces were a luxury that required lots of time and lots of money? All those combs meant you needed to have the piece put on by a professional or else risk looking completely ridiculous. Now, however, hair pieces are super easy to put on and are quite inexpensive. A perfect example is the Hair2Wear Christie Brinkley Collection Hair Wrap ($16) that was sent to us.

Hair2Wear Bun Wrap

Hair2Wear Natural Tone Hair Wrap

Christie models perfectly, as usual

Christie models perfectly, as usual

Christie Brinkley has a very cute collection of hair pieces including four different types of hair headbands. She also offers the Hair Wrap, which fills out a bun and makes it look beautiful. It could not be easier – put your hair in a bun, then slip this around and voila!  Instant elegance.

My shade is Medium Brown

My shade is Medium Brown

The shade I have is Medium Brown and it is very pretty. I love the golden highlights because they make the wrap look just like real hair.  I have long hair, but it’s quite fine so my bun can always use a little pizzaz. This wrap isn’t super smooth, it kind of fans out so it gives a slightly messy, but much more voluptuous bun. This would also be great for someone with shoulder length hair who wants to do a quick bun or chignon.

side view

side view

another side view

another side view

The Hair2Wear Hair Wrap

The Hair2Wear Hair Wrap

There is a quote from Christie on the box, it says, “I love this wrap — it’s both current and classic, and always so flattering. Wear it with bangs or without. My guilty secret? I don’t even have to blow dry my hair first for it to look great.” And by golly, she is right. The Hair Wrap is especially terrific for disguising less-than-clean hair.

Take a look at her collection HERE. The headbands are only $10 each and the Hair Wrap is just $16. It is definitely worth it!  – Lisa

*sent for editorial consideration

Need hair inspiration? Get Braids, Buns, and Twists!

Braids, Buns and Twists! ($19.95) is a hair styling book by fellow blogger Christina Butcher ($19.95) who hails from Sydney, Australia. Check out her fabulous blog, www.hairromance.com for some serious hair inspiration.


Braids, Buns, and Twists!

Christina knows how to twist, braid, and shape hair to create interesting classic styles as well as unique contemporary styles. This how-to is organized by style:  Ponytails; Braids, Buns, Knots & Twists; and Bouffants. Each style is shown on a real-life model and is accompanied by step-by-step tutorials and how-to’s with excellent illustrations. I counted over 80 different tutorials – that’s a lot of twisting!!

I was able to create styles I never thought I could possibly do thanks to the incredible step by step instructions and illustrations. My first attempt at the Dutch Braid wasn’t perfect, but for someone who barely knows how to make a ponytail it wasn’t half bad.


the Dutch Braid


my attempt at the Dutch Braid

I wanted to try one of more complicated styles so I asked my daughter Marina for some help. This style required a few extra tools, all of which were clearly listed for us, including one of those hair donuts that I just happened to have bought a few weeks ago. It’s called the Upside Down Braid Bun.


the how-to page


the Upside Down Braid Bun

After about a ten minute hysterical laughing fit while we tried to figure out the best way for me to be ‘upside down’ so Marina could do the braid part, it only took about 10 minutes to complete this hairstyle. Here are the results:


My Upside Down Bun Braid


My Upside Down Bun Braid from the front

While this was waaay more complicated than my typical hairstyle, it was so pretty – pictures don’t do it much justice. I would absolutely wear this out on a date or even just to work.

My daughters and I ended up spending an evening just trying out different braids and styles on each other.

My girls

My girls doing hair and reading comics…a perfect night!

Here is the style Annie wanted, the Half Up Heart Braid.

the style

the Half Up Heart Braid

the result

the result

Annie was so thrilled she couldn't stop checking out her new look!

Annie was so thrilled she couldn’t stop checking out her new look!

Braids, Buns, and Twists! is an awesome book that is great for novices as well as for seasoned braiders. There is a perfect mix of simple, easy to create looks and more challenging to create looks. It will keep you entertained for hours and you will add many incredibly stylish hair looks to your repertoire. You can find a copy at Chronicle Books. Way to go Christina, this book is a total winner!  – Lisa

* pr sample

Seven tips for super sexy straightened hair

Photo by Glenn Weiner/ZUMA Press

Photo by Glenn Weiner/ZUMA Press

(This post is brought to you by Beauty Info Zone in conjunction with Argos)

It seems inevitable…those with straight hair want curls and those with waves want straight hair. If you want to create straight hair with volume and movement, this post is for you!
Here are seven tips for beautifully straightened hair that looks natural and flattering.
1.  Be sure to clean your flat iron! Styling products can collect on the iron and compromise the straightening efficacy of the plates.
2.  It may seem like common sense but make sure you hair is completely dry before flat ironing. Otherwise the heat will damage hair by drying it out or even scorching it.
3.  Divide your hair into sections first and then flat iron UP – go from as close to the root as you can get to the end of the section. Ironing up and out from the scalp will give you the absolute best body and volume.
4.  Use a great hair straightening tool! Argos carries some of the top flat irons available, here are a few options:
Babyliss Salon Control 235

Babyliss Salon Control 235

Babyliss Boutique Salon Control 235 Hair Straightener This one has a super fast heat up, as well as 12 different heat settings from which to choose.

Babyliss Pro 235

Babyliss Pro 235

Babyliss Pro 235 Smooth Hair Straightener This option has longer, tourmaline ceramic plates that are perfect for a frizz-free finish.

Babyliss Ceramic 235

Babyliss Ceramic 235

Babyliss Smooth Ceramic 235 Hair Straightener  This flat iron has rounded housing, which means you can straighten your hair OR create curls – pretty ingenious.

5.  Use the right size flat iron for your hair. Shorter or very fine hair does better with smaller irons that have shorter plates. Longer or very thick hair works best with larger irons that have longer plates.

6.  Use the right amount of heat. For very fine hair, you want about 250 degrees, no hotter than 300. Medium hair needs a temperature in the 300 – 350 range and you can go up to 400 degrees for very thick hair.

Gawjus bottle

Arganesse Hair Treatment is wonderful for heat styling

7.  Use the right styling products to protect your hair from heat damage. Some of my favorites include  ArganesseMoroccanoil, and  Unite U Luxury Oil.

Follow these seven tips and you will have beautiful, swingy, volumized straight hair.

And when you want to switch up the straight look, just go for some serious beach waves with the Babyliss Wave Envy Barrel Hair Waver!  – Lisa

Babyliss Wave Envy

Babyliss Wave Envy

Quick hair upgrade: HairuWear Hairdo French Braid Band

It’s Saturday night, and you want something cute for your hair but have no time.  What do you do?

 hairuwear french braid

Grab a French Braid Band from HairuWear!

the braid is like a headband

the braid is like a headband

This is the cutest thing.  You wear it like as headband, it takes seconds to put it in.

tiny velcro holds it in place

tiny velcro holds it in place

To really make your hairstyle pop, tease the crown behind the braid to give your hair a little more ‘lift’. 

It's adjustable so it will fit any size head

It’s adjustable so it will fit any size head

It’s sooo cute!!   And even someone who struggles with hair styling like me can put this on and look super chic.  It comes in six different shades, mine is in Chestnut/Light brown. 




Get one that matches your hair color and have instant, no-commitment glam whenever you want it!  – Lisa

My braid is on and I am ready to go party!!

My braid is on and I am ready to go party!!

*pr sample

Aveeno shares some beautiful hairstyles along with a giveaway

AVEENO® has worked with the celebrity hairdresser Patrick Melville for years. This year he came up with some beautiful hairstyles with the latest trends and the tricks for getting them. When you read about these you’ll see one of my favorite AVEENO® hair products in this post and that’s what we’re giving away.

Half Up:
2010 Breakthrough Of The Year Awards
1) Tease the hair on the root to create a little volume (not too much just enough to add a little boost)
2) Use the AVEENO® Pure Renewal™ Dry Shampoo to add hold
3) Flip hair upside down spray a little more dry shampoo to add texture to the hair
4) Flip the hair back, breaking up the strands with your fingers
5) Grab the hair from the ears and secure at the crown with a bobby pin
6) Once secured you will have height on top and break up with your fingers

High Bun: New Balance Experience Store Opening

1) Pull hair away from the face and put into a very high ponytail

2) Take a tail comb and tease the sections of the ponytail

3) Smooth over the top of the hair with a brush and twist into a top bun

4) Pin in with bobby pins to secure

5) Break up the hair with your fingers so it isn’t a “perfect look” (this look is great with a high collar top…a nice combo of loose and sleek)

Date night, bar night, out with the girls – you want to look your best and with AVEENO® hair care you will. AVEENO® has offered to send one US subscriber AVEENO® Pure Renewal™ Dry Shampoo. aveeno dry shampoo drugstore

This giveaway is open until 3/1/13 at 11:59 p.m. EST to US subscribers only. Enter through the Rafflecopter. — Marcia

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A foray into Ombre hair

A new hair color effect that has gained tremendous momentum and is most likely not going away is Ombre hair.  ‘Ombre‘ is French for ‘gradation’. It comes from the fashion industry, they use the term ‘Ombre‘ to describe that gradation of color in fabric.  In the world of hair, Ombre is the gradation of dark to light hair color. So roots are darker and gradually blend into a lighter shade at the ends. Ombre hair isn’t really ‘visible roots’, it’s less harsh and more natural looking. Well, it can look natural like Camilla Alves or a little more unnatural a la Lady Gaga’s version:

Getty Images

Getty Images

Celebrities can pull it off, but is Ombre right for a regular joe like me? Ombre is fascinating, and I was intrigued at the possibilities. So you can imagine that I was beyond excited when my good friend Kim Porth, hair stylist extraordinaire, asked if I wanted to be her test puppy for a little Ombre. Hmmm, let’s see…an opportunity to get a first class hair cut, plus multi-dimensional hair color with no lines of demarcation between the shades?  Well…ok.  YES!

I drove about an hour to Kim’s salon in Brighton, Michigan. Her business is called Angel Hair, and there couldn’t be a more apt name for it. Kim is gorgeous. She is this amazingly sexy blonde who creates supernatural alchemy with hair. She has a breathtaking intuition about color, one look and she can create exactly the right shades to unleash your highest beauty potential. She really is magical.

The stunning Kim Porth

The stunning Kim Porth

Kim sat me in her chair and took a look at my 3 1/2 week old roots and limp, shaggy bangs. She said, “Well, I told you this would take two hours, but it looks like it might be a little longer!” She then colored my roots and gave me probably the best hair cut of my life, trimming those bangs and then putting in long layers, and trimming the sides to frame my face better.  Two hours later, it was time to get on to the Ombre! 

She put three or four colors in my hair, teasing the strands before applying the color to make the shades hold better. I ended up with more aluminum on my head than it would take to build a robot, and we sat and chatted for about 45 minutes. I spent about 5 minutes under the hair dryer to really seal in the color, then the foils came off and Kim was thrilled with what she saw. She gave me another wash and condition, then blew my hair dry with large round brushes that she left in to sort of set the curl as she dried other sections.

from the back

Ombre from the back

And here is how it turned out. It’s a beautiful deep brown that gradually goes into these various caramel shades…it is really striking.

side shot - indoor lighting

Ombre side shot – indoor lighting

I think that longer hair is probably a better medium for the Ombre style and I definitely appreciate how long layers work with this style.

side shot - outdoor lighting

Ombre side shot – outdoor lighting

I remember back in the ’80’s, my mom had her hair ‘frosted’. I was sort of afraid that was how Ombre would turn out – big chunks of blonde hair half way through my dark brown shade. I was wrong, that’s for sure.

front with flash

Ombre – front with flash

If you decide to venture into Ombre land, be sure you go to a very experienced stylist. In fact, ask for the senior stylist in the salon, because this is a rather complicated technique that can easily go awry. Ask for photos of previous clients to make sure your stylist can create the look you want.  I have seen some real horror stories of Ombre-gone-wrong, or OGW.

front no flash

Ombre front, no flash

Ombre isn’t cheap either – this style will probably cost you anywhere from $100 to $200, depending on where you live. Kim says, “It likes to boast low maintenance care, but that doesn’t include those who still need a root touch-up every 4-6 weeks!”

front outside

Ombre from the front, outside lighting

And I have to say, with all the ‘fads’ that just don’t really work on real people (super short bangs? reverse mullet?) the Ombre style is really pretty and extremely wearable.

I follow Kim on Pinterest, she has the most amazing, inspiring hair shots. Check out her Pinterest HERE. So what about you, will you be taking the Ombre plunge?  – Lisa

Kim Porth info