Fears, Tears & Transition Years – 10 Ways to Destress & Feel Youthful

Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving

Jenna Rink (13 Going on Thirty) gave me unrealistic expectations about what “Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving” might mean. I am all of those things, for the most part, but when I envisioned life in my early thirties I remembered the movie with rose-coloured goggles and neglected the negatives. Millennials on the whole are reflected in these lenses. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t grow up and inherit a closet full of designer dresses which we wear to parties choreographed by legends of the past. We’re struggling to meet many of the milestones and youthful hopes and dreams we expected to achieve by a particular time in our lives.

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For me, the biggest of these milestones is home ownership. I genuinely thought that since I was managing a department at a pretty well-known online media company before finishing my Bachelors degree, I could take success for granted. For others, climbing the corporate ladder hasn’t been as linear a path as anticipated. Some of my friends thought reproduction would be more straightforward. Others, like myself, find dating to be pretty pathetic. I’ve set it aside for the moment.

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These are what I like to call “transition years”. We’re no longer halfway there/ livin’ on a prayer partying and living large on $20/ night. We’re not curling up and falling asleep on the couch to 60 minutes, either. My world through these transition years has been stressing me out. On top of it all, I’m approaching another rotation around the sun. At a time when I should be celebrating, I’m just kind of over it. I’d rather be celebrating exciting moments of accomplishment rather than reminding myself that time marches on. Maybe I’ll celebrate my career anniversary with a housewarming party (yes friends, we’re rat-free!)

Brave the Brow Bar

I had been tweezing for some time and thought I was doing a decent enough job of cleaning up. Wowza – how could I have been so wrong? After a few hackjobs in the past, I went to WAXON in Riverside. Latifah not only kept my shape natural, she gave my brows a bit of a trim which made all the difference. Your brows surround the windows to your soul. Make sure they’re a pretty frame!

BONUS: I bought this Citrus Twist Loofah Scrub (Blood Orange & White Grapefruit) and it’s making my morning! “This loofah scrub duals as a loofah and luxurious soap in one! Exfoliate and cleanse daily with your favourite delicious scent while saving time in your daily body wash routine. Perfect for everyday use to help keep those pesky ingrown hairs away! Oh, and did we mention… it smells DELICIOUS!”

Available scents:

  • CITRUS TWIST – Blood Orange & White Grapefruit
  • LEMONRAZZ – Raspberry Lemonade
  • POMTINI – Pomegranate Mango

I love that it’s smooth on one side and exfoliating on the other. The scent is out of this world, too. Will let you know how long it takes for the full loofah to emerge!

Bet on a Blowout

I got to enjoy a blow-out in Leaside earlier this year at their Grand Opening, which was to dye die for. I’m kind of obsessed with the community Farah (owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar Leaside) has created. The small shop leaves lots of room for inclusive conversation and lots of laughs!

Farah’s words of wisdom? “It’s important to be coifed, kissable and connected – never leave home without a comb, gloss and phone! Oh, and keep your head, heels and standard high. When it comes to hair, Farah’s mantra is Big Hair For Life.”

BONUS: They do makeup applications (their GLO brand makes insanely beautiful lip glosses). They also stock some of my fave hair care brands like UNITE Hair  7 Seconds Condition Leave In Detangler and the Color Wow Dream Coat (to de-frizz and tame your tresses!)

 

Get a Manicure

Her Majesty’s Pleasure is one of the pricier places you can go for a manicure in Toronto. The ambiance, dĂ©cor, and cheerful chatter (due to some fantastic cocktails, no doubt) are a can’t-miss for those who want to feel whimsical and girly.

BONUS: Look at these *perfect for the ‘gram* “Call for Champagne” rotary phones? We did, in fact, call for some bubbly – a bottle is virtually the same price as 2 cocktails.

Invest in Skincare

This one I can’t stress enough. A new, easy to follow skincare routine is such a blessing and a great way to rejuvenate. I’ve been alternating Miracle 10 Skincare with other great quality brands for 7 years. Their starter collection is perfect for someone like me who has aging skin, but who isn’t quite a prune. The sticker price may shock you ($328), but when you think about the ease of use and how long the products last (months, truth be told) it’s worth it.

“This combination is designed to visibly improve damage caused by sun exposure, extreme weather, pollutants, smoking, dehydration and age-related conditions such as fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, dull skin surface and uneven pigmentation. Highly effective ingredients including exfoliants, antioxidants, decongesting botanicals, along with skin brightening agents provide correction and healing.”

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BONUS: They have seasonal events with wine, hors d’oeuvres, a speaker series, and plenty of deals. I’m talking buy $150 worth of product and get $250 – $500 worth of products free. Last time I bought their Platinum cleanser and got a facial, a giftcard for cosmetic services, a make-up application (for a later date), and a full-size toner as gifts with purchase. Sign up for their e-mail list – it’s a total no-brainer!

Fancy a Facial

Getting your glam on all in one place is easy. After the winter beauty event at Miracle 10 Skincare, I booked a facial at The Plastic Surgery Clinic. Both are located on Scollard Street in Yorkville, so you can feel completely chic (and Gangnam Style) for your treatment. The easiest way to glow up quickly is through dermaplaning. This treatment is often added to a facial. It removes the fine hairs which are known for trapping dirt, oil and dead skin cells in your pores. This is the main cause of acne. Dermaplaning leaves your skin brighter giving you that “baby smooth” and glowing look and feel!

Investigate Botox

I did that thing everyone warns you against. Finding my nurse injector, Fresh Cosmetic Clinic, through Groupon was a massive gamble, and thank goodness it turned out well! In Korea, the only people who did my botox or lip injections were board certified plastic surgeons. Here, they tend to be done by nurse injectors, which for some reason made me really nervous.

Botox/ fillers were not at all taboo in Seoul. In Toronto, it’s becoming more popular to discuss openly, and I hope people feel more comfortable sharing their experiences soon. We go to the dentist to keep out teeth clean and cavity free. The gym’s the spot to keep heart healthy and in good shape. Why shouldn’t we invest in our faces which change with diminished collagen production and elasticity?

High Quality H20

Stop, drop, and drink! I try to ensure that I’m getting about 4 L of water throughout my day. It gives me something on which to focus and gets me out of my chair and away from my desk when I fill up my water bottle. I don’t need to lecture you on the benefits of drinking water, do I?

Go See Some Stand-Up

I love to sit back and listen. I also love a good belly laugh. Seeing a set at your local comedy bar and watering hole accomplishes both! If you go on an amateur night you’ve got the added bonus of seeing someone else worth through their issues. The last time I caught a show one of the comics was a later in life laugh who was going deaf. Hearing about some of his life experiences being more than hard of hearing had me in stitches. The man’s timing was impeccable!

Run Through a Sprinkler

…or do something equally as juvenile, refreshing, and deliciously youthful. We’ve literally coined a term to show how poorly we’re doing as grown-ups (“Adulting for Dummies”, amirite?), so why not flip back to the joys of earlier days?

What do you do to relax, look your best, and feel youthful?

Let us know in the comments!

Color Oops in Korea

lion mane animal roar teeth wild Photographer: Lemuel Butler

What’s in a Mane?

I’m willing to bet this will sound ridiculous to most of you, but my hair is like my mane.  I’ve never really been one to buy into the hysteria of the zodiac or horoscopes, but my August 6th birthday makes me a fiery Leo.  I’ve been accused of being a spy in the past because I change my appearance so often (thanks, Military Man).  Truth be told, I just like changing up my look.  If I’m feeling sad, I’ll pick up a bright and cheerful lipstick.  If I’m feeling a little worse for wear, I’ll add some highlights.  When I’m feeling like I need to take control, bold changes occur.  Sometimes I need Korea color oops, but we’ll get there.

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My Main Mane

My mum says that when I was born I had a healthy mane of beautiful wavy auburn locks.  On day 3, they all fell out.  They were replaced with a light brown which would be sun-kissed, chlorine-washed, and turned into a golden blond in the summer.  I found my first gray hair at the age of 14.  Well, it was found for me.  We were in the high school library and to my shock and dismay I found a friend pulling strand by strand until she found what she was looking for, slid down to the root, and yanked out the follicle.  If what they say is true, then that first silver strand was mighty popular and its family members continue to visit to this day.  My natural hair colour now is a medium to dark brown with lots of bright silver strands throughout.  I guess this is why I feel so comfortable as a chameleon.  Who would realistically want to let that grow out at 29?

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Blonde Ambition

When I moved from Busan to Seoul, I decided to try out one of the local hair salons.  What a mistake!  They took me from medium brown to medium blonde…with brown roots.  Time for Korea color oops then?  Not quite!  I actually found a salon supply store in my new neighbourhood and went to work fixing the damage.  Check out my Blonde in Korea post for more info.  I touched up and blended the roots, but only made it to the platinum you see up there over a course of about 5 months.  Then around new year’s eve after a tricky 2 weeks of post-break-up blues, I decided to do something rash.  The hope was to go back to medium brown erring on the chocolate side, but I ended up with practically black hair.

Korea Color Oops

When hair dye works a little bit overtime (as in the case above) or you don’t like the colour, there’s a solution called “color oops”.  You can get it pretty easily at the drugstore in North America.  It turns your hair a hideous shade of orange, then you can apply colour on top.  I’ve only ever used it once back in Canada, but it had the desired effect.  In Korea, however, getting “color oops” isn’t as easy.  I ended up doing what’s referred to as a “bleach cocktail” or “bleach bath” instead.

Bleach Bath Recipe

This weekend I put my hair through absolute hell.  I did 2 Bleach Baths (or Bleach Cocktails – my personal makeshift Korea color oops), did a set of highlights, and then dyed my hair twice.  I started with a bleach bath which is:

  • 1 ounce powder bleach (the blue powder, usually)
  • 1 ounce developer (usually comes with the package and is about 20%)
  • 2 ounces clear shampoo (I used the Innisfree brand)

Mix the ingredients together and apply to WET, towel-dried hair.  Don’t shampoo or condition, just wet your hair, comb is out, and then apply the mixture.  I left the solution in for 30 minutes.  My results came out like this:

Bleach Cocktail Results

As you can see above, my hair was carrot orange.  The Korea color oops I created at home had done its job by stripping away the brown, but I was stuck with some pretty rancid strands.  I applied my re-bonding solution and went to sleep.  Korea color oops step 1 was complete.

After applying “dark blonde” throughout my hair, my locks were pretty much rose gold.  I actually kind of liked the “My Little Pony” look, but it wouldn’t have been work appropriate.  I added some highlights using a cap, but they didn’t pull the colour as I had intended.  Korea color oops round 2 did not turn out as well:

I ended up with yellow roots, pink mid-shaft, and orange tips.  This was not the desired look either.  I applied my Makarizo re-bonding serum again and went to bed.  In the morning, I applied L’Oreal Dark Golden Blonde (6.30).  I know this doesn’t actually make hair blonde again as I had used it in Busan to achieve a light brown look.  That said, I wanted full coverage and knew this would do the trick.

My hair is now coppery red.  I’ll keep this until my roots grow in, then I’ll do all over highlights once more.  I don’t want to go back to platinum blonde, but I think I would like to head back in the direction of a medium ash blonde.  I love being a hair colour chameleon and will probably never stick with one colour for over a year, but we’ll see what happens in the future!

Do you have any experience fixing dramatic hair colour at home?  Have you ever done a DIY hair experiement in another country?  Let me know in the comments!

Makarizo: Korea’s Olaplex Alternative

I put my hair through various levels of hell on a daily basis.  My resilient tendrils no longer shine and gleam like they used to (I was blonde, sue me!)  Now I’m well on my way back to long, luscious locks thanks to Makarizo, an alternative to Olaplex.

Olaplex in Korea That Girl Cartier

Olaplex

Ever since Olaplex hit the market in Korea (check out 7 Seasons Style’s review here), people have been flocking to get their hands on the products.  Olaplex has a variety of products which make big claims.  It’s a “simple three-step process (including) a patented active ingredient that works on a molecular level to seek out broken bonds in the hair that are caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage.  Use Olaplex to restore compromised hair or add it to another service to provide the ultimate breakage insurance.”  Us civilians may buy Olaplex step 3 (at-home treatment) online for US $28 here, but must hit the salon for the remaining products.

Rebonding System

MAKARIZO

Makarizo is a Taiwanese product which was originally developed for straightening.  The name is taken from the Greek word for “blessed”.  The product is now made and distributed from Indonesia.  I found it in my second, “secret” salon supply store in Jamsil.  I’m happy to tell you all about it, but the directions require some TLC I wasn’t prepared to share in my article on bottle blondes in Korea.

Olaplex Alternative Makarizo Rebonding System

When I purchased the Hair Recover Drops (KRW 30,000 or just under $30) I was really just looking to replace my argan oil.  With all the buzz about the rebonding systems, I thought I’d give this one a try.  In only 2 uses, I’ve already seen a change in my newly-brunette locks.  It was much easier to hide my shattered hair when I was beachy, bleachy blonde.

The Claim:

“Nourishes dry or damaged hair and split-ends. Adds gloss and sheen. Hair looks healthier and feels silky softer.

HOW TO USE

Before styling, apply a small amount of the drops and massage it into hair. No rinsing out.” – Makarizo website

The Results

I’m pretty thrilled with the results.  I’ve used this product twice as instructed, and have blow-dried my hair both times.  I’ve also put in some subtle highlights using a high-lift colour (not bleach) in the interim.  I straighten my hair pretty much daily.  My hair takes quite a beating, but the Makarizo Rebonding Hair Recovery Drops seem to have made a big difference!  I’m considering delving further into the line to see just how glossy and gorgeous my hair can be in it’s natural (colour) state!

Makarizo Rebonding Hair Recovery Drops and other Makarizo products are available in Jamsil, Seoul, Korea.  Leave me a message in the comments if you’d like to know how to visit my secret salon supply store!

 

Blonde Ambition: How to Get Golden Tresses in Korea

Every week on the message boards of Expat Women in Korea I’ll see a post about the plight of being Blonde in Korea.  Maintaining luscious, golden locks isn’t so tough if you have the right tools. To all the blonde and/ or DIY (Do-It-Yourself) women in Korea, there are two salon supply stores in the Sincheon area (near Jamsil, not Hongdae).

The reason I’m actually blonde in the first place is due to a Korean hair salon f*ck up.  The first time I went in I wanted some warm highlights.  They did a great job of lightening up my practically black hair.  I was so thrilled, I even wrote a blog post about the experience.  Fast forward a few months to about this time last year.  I was heading up to Seoul from Busan to see my boyfriend at the time (he was a military man, but was one of the good guys – they exist!).  I asked that they give me all over highlights.  What I got was not at all what I had asked for!

Being Blonde in Korea - That Girl Cartier

I ended up with auburn (read: orange) hair, and was pretty peeved.  When I moved to Seoul I was told that hair dressers were more familiar with western hair, so when I went in for a cut and the stylists suggested highlights I was more inclined to go for it.  I have no photos, but the colour turned out the opposite of what you see above.  I had blonde hair and chunky dark brown roots.  After hair fail upon fail I took matters into my own hands.

Here are the directions for the salon supply store in Sincheon (by Jamsil in Seoul): take exit 4 of 신ìȜ station. Walk directly out and turn left between the Lotteria and the McDonald’s. Walk about 3 blocks and you’ll see this shop on the left hand side.  The actual address is in the photos above (25 Olympic-ro 12-gil).

The lady speaks a bit of English and is pretty knowledgeable about colours.  She even helped me tone out pineapple yellow with dye since she doesn’t sell toner. The brand is one of the l’Oreal lines (Majirel) so it’s a lot less damaging (and has a lot less copper than typical box dye).

If you’re pulling colour from very dark hair, you’ll likely need to use a bleach.  My personal recommendation (I’m not a hair stylist) would be to get a highlighting cap.  This way you can subtly go from dark to light in a few steps.  Since you’re not paying a hair stylist, you can afford the time and effort it’ll take to go from dark to light safely.  Don’t be hasty, don’t be cheap, take care of yourself.  If you have to do it in a weekend, here’s a how-to guide.  My naturally dark brown hair always goes a brassy orange (because red is tough to pull).  To offset the orange you’ll need to apply colour with a hint of green (check out the color wheel).  I know that’s terrifying, but it works.  I usually combine a 10 and a 7 or an 8 when dying my hair.  My roots are almost always a different colour than the rest of my hair, but I try to ombrĂ© so that it doesn’t look chunky. It’s not perfect, but being blonde in Korea is tough!

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Vanilla gold?  Give it a hard pass.  This blonde in Korea box colour, especially in foam form, isn’t going to give you the change you’re looking for.  It’s just not strong enough to do a dang thing.

I have found a second salon supply store that’s actually closer to my gym and my apartment.  Sincheon is on an angle, however, so instructions would be difficult to follow.  If you’re looking for a greater selection please feel free to message me on my Facebook fan page (and give it a like while you’re at it!).

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