The things we do for great hair

29 May

Jo hair in face

I know the lengths I go to for great hair. I give myself head spins by blow drying it upside down, I tease it, spray it, shampoo it to within an inch of its life, ruffle it, tussle it…and my friends and work colleagues share my desire for full, thick, fab hair. Check out the things they’ve tried:

Curling it, teasing on the roots, going shorter on length…

Pure coconut oil …

Not ‘dry shampoo’ but a dry texturiser…

Dry shampoo, back combing… 

Sea salt spray on wet hair and no brushing. Embrace the lady fro…

Volume mouse in wet hair, apply on the roots…

I braid my hair at night and sleep in it, and then undo the braids in the morning. It adds volume and texture…

When I braid my hair, I tease and pull at it while it is in the braid so it looks fuller…

Scrunching my hair (and using sea salt spray)…

I must be behind the times when it comes to hair because I only use some of these items for cooking – coconut oil and sea salt – and the rest…I have heard there have been amazing advances when it comes to mousse. Yes, I do the braiding and the scrunching too, followed by a full ten minute spray of extra strength hair spray.

I’ve been talking about L’Oreal Paris Elvive Fibralogy for a few weeks now and I’ve been pretty clear about my love and devotion to what is the most effective hair product for increased hair volume ever. My hair feels full at a time when it is thinning and misbehaving more than ever before. I sleep used to sleep in a ponytail to make it look fuller the next day, use a laboratory of hair products on it each week and still watch it slump and flop at the end of the day. That’s all behind me now, and no fake hair in sight. Hopefully my friends and work colleagues featured above give it a try. I know they’ll be packing up a lot of products once they try it. It takes just one use for results, and by the third use my hair was looking sooooo full.

The absolute best feedback I’ve had from my guys and gals so far has been from my beautiful friend Laura who just so happens to be a beauty expert, doing amazing hair and makeup for some very impressively high profile people (and a certain friend whom she will be making up on Saturday…see you then girlfriend). She posted this on Instagram and it pretty much says it all:

Laura beautiful hair

Having great hair is the biggest pick-me-up. It gives you confidence. I always feel best when I feel as though I have beautiful, shiny, thick, healthy-looking hair and L’Oreal Paris Elvive Fibralogy is the most effective product I have ever used that also allows my hair to move and look natural. As I rapidly approach official middle-age it is one less thing to worry about. Now I can move on to other things that have been niggling at me like, getting my teeth whitened properly, exercising more often, looking into eyelash extensions and trying out eyebrow threading.

It never ends.

L’Oreal Paris Elvive Fibralogy is available in all leading retailers, and you can also claim an exclusive discount by visiting http://www.ThickerHair.com.au.

I look forward to receiving more of your feedback on L’Oreal Paris Elvive Fibralogy. And let me know if you have any advice for me on my beauty ‘To Do’ list. I have a few questions like, is teeth whitening expensive? How do you manage to squeeze in some exercise every day? Do eyelash extensions really just start falling out after a while? Does eyebrow threading hurt?

Until then…

Middle-aged hair goes through a crisis too.

19 May

Not that I’m having a mid-life crisis or anything…

Jo Abi dark red hair

We spend our twenties experimenting with our hair. We try different colours, different styles and different cuts. Our hair is probably the craziest and most ‘done’ it will ever be. Then we enter our thirties and it becomes tamer. If we’ve gotten married and had kids we’ll normally cut it, or put it in a ponytail more often than we’d like.

Then, after thirty-five, if we aren’t struggling to hide greys, we’re struggling to hide thinning. Yep, it happens. It’s one of those middle-aged hair stages nobody tells us about.

So many of my friends and I are dealing with thinning hair. I didn’t notice that my hair was thinning until my brother pointed it out, in a really sensitive way.

“What’s that?!? You’re, like, bald there now.”

Thanks bro.

Thirty-seven minutes later and I’m still examining it in my bathroom mirror. He’s right. My hair has thinned around the temple on both sides.

I might have sworn a few times. What to do, what to do.

Hair clip-ins aren’t going to do much for the hair around my temples and when I speak to my friends about their middle-aged hair loss they are experiencing it and noticing it up top as well. Many have started dying it in different colours in an attempt to disguise it. My hairdresser says the best colours for making hair look fuller are highlights to contrast with your natural block colour. It’s not enough to hide the greys. She also says cutting a fringe and making the overall length shorter helps.

Fibrology ad

I’m more gentle with my hair as well. I don’t tease it as much and I don’t ever ever brush it when it is wet. In fact, I hardly ever brush it. Just a finger comb. I’ve also stocked up on L’Oreal Fibralogy shampoo, conditioner and serum and I’ve given some to my sister and my best friend, who are also suffering from minor yet noticeable-to-them hair loss. And I’m taking a hair, skin and nail vitamin, just in case. When it comes to my hair, I feel a multi-pronged attack is best.

I can pin point the times that I lost hair and they are after each pregnancy (three) and then after I turned 36. I’m 39 now so I am trying to keep the hair I have and make what’s left look as full as possible. It’s so great that there are so many tricks I can use to do this. That leaves me free to concentrate on the remainder of my early-onset midlife crisis.

I remember my mum at this age, and how she dreaded turning 40. I’d always planned to do it more happily, and I’m trying, I really am. I thought I would age gracefully and accept the corresponding changes to my appearance, but I’m finding that I’m not. I don’t want to look younger, it’s not about that. I want to look like the healthiest, best version of 40 as I can.

I’m not 40 yet, by the way. Another 256 days to go.

So I’ve reduced the amount of beautifying I do because it was expensive and time-consuming and mostly completely ineffective. Now I save my money for the services I know will work. I do less to my hair but what I do is more effective. I do a lot of grooming at home while watching Real Housewives (of whichever franchise is on at the time). I don’t wax anymore because life is too short for such incredible pain but I am considering having my underarms lasered. And maybe my eyebrows and upper lip. Although I love plucking my own eyebrows. I really enjoy it. Is that strange?

I exercise but not for as long as I used to and with more toning work and less cardio. I have to nurture my joints, after all.

Sleep is a priority for me now and if I don’t have anything on I’ll go to be just minutes after the kids do. I’ve just remembered another hair trick I use. I sleep with my hair in a high ponytail so when I take it out the next day it is nice and full.

I’m trying to age well and if I’m eighty per cent successful, with good hair, I’ll be really really happy.

How are you tweaking your beauty routines as you get older? Is there something you used to do when you were younger that you would never do now?

8 things I learned while under quarantine with my kids.

9 May

Whooping cough put my family and I under house arrest for five, incredible days.

Me and the kids

For the past five days my children and I have been under self-imposed quarantine at home, due to whooping cough. My eldest son Philip tested positive to the disease. He contracted it from a friend at school who probably contracted it from another friend, and they from someone else. The alarmingly low rate of vaccination in what is an affluent Sydney suburb means illnesses like whooping cough are more common than ever.

Our doctor assured us that we would be okay. We are fully vaccinated, it was a mild case, however because there had been “confirmed exposure” the proper course of action was for all of use to take antibiotic for five days and avoid mixing with others. I took the responsibility serious, and I’ve had the time of my life.

Here’s 18 things I loved about being under quarantine with my kids.

1. We were freed from the unforgiving school schedule.

Being a school parent is incredibly hard. Unlike the relative freedom of preschool, we have to arrive at a set time and it ends at a set time, making it incredibly hard for both parents to focus on their careers. Not to mention all the stuff that is involved. School uniforms, lunch boxes, drink bottles, sports shoes, homework, reading lists, stalls, open days which parents are expected to attend. It is relentless. I haven’t missed any of it.

2. Our mornings are like a dream sequence.

Most mornings I wake up to a series of alarms designed to get me out of bed at 6am at the latest so we make it to school in time or to our Saturday morning soccer games. The kids wake up to my calls to “get up or we’ll be late”. Not having to do that has been bliss. I’ve learned that my natural wake up time is between 8 and 8.30. The kids naturally wake up around an hour earlier. We’ve been getting up, eating a leisurely breakfast in our pyjamas and eventually getting dressed. It’s been heaven.

3. No guilt.

Normally when I don’t leave the house for a day or two I feel incredibly guilty. I should be doing things, helping others, offering to baby sit nieces, nephews and friends. I should be doing more, doing better. However being under quarantine means the onus isn’t on me. It’s not my laziness or desire for a simpler life that is to blame for our staying at home. It’s because of whooping cough. Guilt-free relaxation. I’ve loved every second of it.

4. Career sacrifices.

I love my work as much as the next person but I’m always astounded by how conflicted I feel when torn between work and my children. There’s always a sacrifice and I always feel really hard done by. Where is the choice? If we choose to work in a traditional job, great. If we don’t want to work long hours, why can’t we not? I think it’s a combination of financial stress, obligation and also our own ambition. I have what many feel is an ideal working arrangement as I am able to work mostly from home. I miss the office though. See? Torn. But not this week. This week I haven’t had a choice between work and uni and my children. They are sick. They win.

Dressups

5. Time with my children.

Having three school-aged children is intense. They are always talking at the same time, needing things at the same time. In the morning time is limited so we all try and talk and cuddle and bond in a mad rush before school drop off. After school we are eager to catch up, all at once. It doesn’t work. There are hurt feeling from them and feelings of inadequacy from me. For the past five days my children and I have talked and talked and talked. We’ve snuggled and watched TV. We’ve wandered around our backyard. We’ve pondered life’s bigger questions. We’ve discussed life and love and food preferences. I’ve learned more about them over the past five days than I have in the past year.

6. Everything is set up for mums to fail.

Society is set up in a way that makes it extremely difficult for mums to have the lives they want. We are constantly having to choose between work and kids and relaxing and housework. And it’s 2015 for crying out loud. I work full time hours due to my work and uni, however the responsibility of the laundry and the housework still falls on me. It’s not my husband’s fault. Yes he could help more, but he works incredibly long hours driving a petrol tanker. He alternates between day and night shift. It is incredibly unforgiving. He’d love to be home more to help me. He just doesn’t have anything left over for us. So I’m left to deal with it. I do the juggle. I get through it, but there is a cost. Always a cost.

7. I am a homebody.

More than ever I realise I am a homebody and I hope my children enjoy our relaxing time together at home. When I was little we were always home and hardly went out. I didn’t always enjoy it because our childhood was a little fraught, so I am taking the parts of my childhood I enjoyed and improving on the rest. We have plenty to keep us happy here. We haven’t touched the kid’s homework or sight words or trombone. We have done whatever we’ve wanted.

8. I want things to change.

Our five days are almost up and I’m frantically trying to figure out my new-found knowledge into our real lives. Is it possible to be this happy and relaxed and rested and still live the lives were were living before whooping cough struck? Can I reorganise our days so we can have this time together, free from stress, and still do the things we enjoy? I’m not so sure, but I won’t stop trying.

Do you sometimes wish your life and you children’s lives were different?

What strange sort of voodoo is this?

7 May

It’s like I have someone else’s hair.

Fibrology my own blowdry

I haven’t left the house with my natural hair since my early twenties. Most days I at least blow dry it straight, even before putting it into a ponytail which sort of defeats the purpose. That’s because my natural hair is normally flat and thin and a little frizzy, especially when it rains.

Torrential rain recently in Sydney has meant that there’s really no point to me blow drying it at all because it was always going to frizz and curl due to the moisture in the air. So I left it to dry naturally after washing and shampooing with L’Oreal Fibralogy and then applying liberal amounts of the serum. I started doing housework, cleaning and vacuuming and eventually getting stuck into the bathroom almost an hour later when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

My hair, which is as I mentioned flat and think and frizzy, with a strangely inconsistent curl, had dried into a fuller-looking charmingly consistent waves.

What strange sort of voodoo is this?

Not only did I leave my hair like that for the entire day, not even resorting to my default ponytail when it did come time to eventually leave the house, I also skipped my usual blast of super-strength hairspray.

The next day I gave my hair a blow dry. It was noticeably thicker-looking.

Fibrology channel nine

Again, I didn’t need to apply hairspray to my hair as I normally do. It’s quite unbelieveable.

I’ve only been using L’Oreal Paris Elvive Fibralogy for a week. I can’t imagine the effect it will have over the next few weeks. All I know is that I already know I will never use any other shampoo, conditioner in my hair. All those volumising products and hair smoothing serums that are crowding out my bathroom cabinet are dead to me.

Dead to me!

I had my doubts that this product would work. I mentioned that I’d be trying it out to two friends who are hairdressers. I scoffed at the thought it would actually work. They both assured me that hair technology had come a long way and it was highly likely that the products would do exactly as promised.

You have to try it out for yourself.  Join the Fibralogy Circle by heading to thickerhair.com.au, enter your details and you’ll receive an exclusive discount. Fibralogy is available at all leading retail outlets for RRP $5.95 for shampoo and conditioner and $9.95 for double serum. I can’t believe how affordable it is.

Take a sec to let me know, in the comments section below, the most annoying thing about your hair and you could win a L’Oreal Paris Gift Pack valued at $150. It’s all just too easy.

I’m going to spend the next few days experimenting with my new hair. I might even try out a few new styles to show off to you next week. Don’t worry, nothing crazy (nothing blue or purple).

What is your favourite hair product at the moment?

Whooping cough, the ‘gift’ that keeps on giving.

7 May

This is what happened when my entire family was hit with whooping cough.

Whooping cough school photo

It was a usual frantic morning in our home. Getting three children ready for school is always a rushed and frantic affair, even on the mornings I wake up at 5am to get a head start.

We arrived at school on time and then I drove off to spend a pleasant day working out of the local library that has a cafe filled with delicious food and beverages – toasted gourmet sandwiches and ice coffee’s being my ‘fuel’ of choice. A friend had just arrived share cake and coffee during my self-assigned afternoon tea break when I got the phone call.

“Your son has tested positive to Bordetella pertussis. You need to come in immediately.”

I sat back down and resumed drinking my coffee as my brain tried to muddle through the information I had been given. My son had whooping cough. It is highly likely that my younger son had it too. My daughter, my husband and I had ‘confirmed exposure’. We would all need to take strong antibiotics for the next five days in order to control the spread of the disease. We were to stay home until the antibiotics were complete. We were under voluntary quarantine.

Mixed in with my concerns for my children was a strong sense of responsibility about the position I was in. I could do everything the doctor recommended, or I could go about my life, allowing this deadly disease to spread.

Whooping cough fun fair

I got on the phone.

My first call was to my children’s school. I asked the office ladies to pull all three of my children out of class due to a positive whooping cough diagnosis. They always send out ‘alerts’ to parents when contagious diseases have been confirmed at the school and they did that quickly. I took the kids to the doctor and walked out with five separate scripts for power antibiotics.

Once home I emailed all the places we had been since Philip started showing symptoms. We’d been to school, a fun fair and Taekwondo. I’d been feeling a little off for a few days and I had been to a work engagement, the local shops and I’d visited my mum, dad and sister-in-law. I contacted them all and urged them to ask their doctor for advice. My dad is elderly and not in good health. My sister-in-law has my beautiful baby niece.

That done, I got busy cancelling my week. We’d be housebound from Tuesday until Sunday. Then, pending the outcome of a second visit to the doctor, we’d be released from home detention on Monday.

There was so much we would miss out on. I had some work engagements I was physically ill at the thought of missing. My children would miss out on shopping at the Mother’s Day Stall at school and we’d all miss out on the Mother’s Day celebrations on Friday. We wouldn’t be able to attend soccer training, soccer games, art class, or any of our other activities, not to mention school. I’d miss out on work and uni commitments.

The kids were all a little too excited at the news they wouldn’t be able to attend school for the rest of the week. Thanks to the fact we are a fully immunised family, Philip and Giovanni had a mild version of the disease. Caterina and I escaped the cough but both developed a temperature and lethargy.

Mum felt a little sick and so did my sister-in-law.

With everything sorted, everyone contacted, everything cancelled and a grocery delivery ordered, there was nothing left to do except ride it out. We’ve effectively stepped out of our deranged, busy, stress-filled schedules and been given a forced break from the mad rush of life. It’s been quite lovely.

Staying home for days and days on end with my children, guilt-free, is so much fun. We are really enjoying our time together. We sleep in until our bodies tell us it’s time to wake up. There are no alarms or calls to wake up because we’ll be late.

We eat breakfast in our pyjamas and then eventually get dressed. I have time to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. We eat together. We talk.

Each afternoon we run around our backyard with our puppy and sometimes we just sit in the sun on the grass relaxing.

The medicine is a different story.

Whooping Cough requires a really strong and disgusting-tasting antibiotic called KLACID. It tastes like cherries and dish washing liquid and to make it even worse, it is grainy. Two out of three of my children gagged and spat it out on the first day but we have gotten the hang of it now. I give it to them on a spoon – one spoonful for my daughter and two each for the boys – and I have water bottles for each of them and a snack to take the taste out of their mouths because it has the worst after taste in the world. Caterina gets Potato Sticks, Giovanni eats pretzels and Philip drinks a glass of lemonade.

I really must teach them to take tablets.

Experiencing the mild version of Whooping Cough makes me realise how easily it spreads. The cough comes later. At first it feels like a virus. Philip was the first to get sick and we took him to the doctor where we were told it was just a virus and there was nothing to do. After explaining that we’d received a notice from his school telling us a student in his class had been diagnosed with Whooping Cough the month before, we insisted on a throat swab that later turned out to be positive.

If we hadn’t been aware that it was going around, we would have been none the wiser, participating in our normal daily activities and infecting a lot of people. If they are vaccinated they would probably be okay. For those families with new babies, sick children or elderly people in them, it could be deadly.

I asked my doctor why it was spreading so quickly in our area and he explained that the lower the rate of immunisation, the more it spreads. For the millionth time I was told that vaccinations only work if majority of people get them. Once enough people decide against vaccinations, we are pretty much stuffed.

I’ve never felt more strongly about vaccinations in my life. Disease prevention methods are a miracle, a gift we give each other. The anti-vaccination movement with all of it’s deadly mis-information has a lot to answer for. I’d go as far as to say they have blood on their hands, so to speak.

If your children become ill, always ask your doctor which diseases are going around at the moment and insist of relevant testing. That way you know what you’re dealing with and you can take steps to protect those you care for and the general public.

See you on the other side. x

Why this beauty routine is best done upside down.

26 Apr

Some beauty routines are best kept behind closed doors.

Jo hair selfie

Here’s a rundown of how I dry my hair. Try not to laugh too hard.

Step 1: After getting out of the shower, towel dry hair and immediately apply a volumising product to the roots.

Step 2: Apply the latest in a serious of products I have found that promises to make my hair full, think and healthy, avoiding the roots where the first product resides in a slightly sticky mess.

Step 3: Flip my hair upside down and use a hairdryer to dry it like this until it is almost fully dry or just before all the blood that has rushed to my hair causes dizziness.

Step 4: Flip my hair right side up and then proceed to blow dry it section by section with an enormous round brush.

Step 5: Tease the hell out of it, at the roots.

Step 6: Lightly comb it all down to give the illusion of natural thickness.

Step 7: Finish with half a can of salon-quality hairspray. Hope a bird doesn’t fly into your head or it will bounce right off, or never escape.

A bit ridiculous, right? But this is what takes to make my hair look thick and healthy.

I was born with lovely, long, chestnut hair that bore a slight wave. It looked great, when I was five, however the older I got, the more it began to adhere to the sides of my face. Thus the early onset of constant teasing at the roots, and hairspray, and all that other stuff. There was my unfortunate reliance on heated rollers in my early twenties, my attempt to give it more fullness by cutting it quite short in my mid  twenties and then my giving up on styling it and wearing it in a ponytail in my late twenties. My thirties haven’t been much better.

There was also that day that my stepson walked in on me blow drying my hair, while naked, because my towel had fallen off. EVERYTHING was hanging down and gravity is not kind. Not on any of my body parts and particularly not on my hair. We have never spoken of this.

And we will never speak of this.

So I jumped, leaped, catapulted at the chance to try the new L’Oreal Elvive Fibralogy Thickening shampoo, conditioner and serum. Could this be the magical elixir I have been searching for my entire life, closely followed by the one that allows me to eat as many biscuits as I want without gaining weight? Could this be the key to fuller, thicker, healthier hair that I can just dry upright like a normal person and not lather in mountains of products that are mostly incredibly disappointing?

For the next four weeks I’ll be using nothing but L’Oreal Elvive Fibralogy on my hair and I’ll going to let you know exactly how it goes. I really really really hope it works. I do love my L’Oreal products. They haven’t let me down before.

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

In the meantime why don’t you join the Fibralogy Circle and try the products out for yourself? All you need to do is head to thickerhair.com.au, enter your details and you’ll receive an exclusive discount.

Fibrology

I’ll have her hair please!

Fibralogy is available at all leading retail outlets for RRP $5.95 for shampoo and conditioner and $9.95 for double serum. What incredible prices!

I’m also delighted to offer MY FIRST GIVEAWAY here at joabi.com.au. How would you like the chance to win a L’Oreal Paris Gift Pack valued at $150? All you need to do is tell me about the unique challenges your hair presents you with in the comments section below. We all have our hair struggles but we don’t have to go through it alone!

In the comments section below, tell me all about your unique hair challenges and you could win the prize pack!

Uni blues…sing it sister!

21 Apr Mummy and Caterina grad

I’m pretty sure my uni is trying to kill me…

Mummy and Caterina grad

Let me try not to overstate this. My uni is trying to kill me. It lured me into ANOTHER Masters course, tricked me into a first year exemption (that contained all the basics I would need for this year) and then charmed me with information sessions containing delicious finger foods and cohorts and academic staff that immediately loved and aspired to be like.

By the time I realised I might be a tad in over my head, it was too late to back out. Call it ego, call it pride, call it the scholarship I’d been awarded, call it stubbornness, call it self-destruction, call it an inability to not be busy (my husband insisted I add that one in), call it an endless obsession with eventually becoming a Doctor of something and then teaching writing courses while writing bestsellers myself…

Call it what you will.

The bottom line is that I am drowning and failing and this is not something I am used to. I normally do really well at things. I tend not to put my hand up for anything I’m not good at. What is happening? Who am I?

Now I am faced with an incredibly difficult decision. I could either:

1. Withdraw from the course and start over mid-year in the first year of the course;

2. Switch to part-time, lose the scholarship but be able to take my time and do my work properly and to the standard I want it to be done;

3. Quit, and never look back;

4. Buck up and just get stuck into it. I have already done so much work. Why stop now, and have it all be for nothing?

Jo grad

My grand master plan this year (pun intended!) was to drop my children off at school each day after feeding them a wholesome breakfast I had lovingly prepared in a relaxed way because I had soooo much time up my sleeve due to my new habit of waking up early, go home, do all my uni work and regular work, be done by the time they get home, spend a blissful afternoon taking them to all their activities, feeding them a wholesome dinner I had lovingly prepared in a relaxed way because I had sooo much time up my sleeve thanks to the magical fairies that do my housework, send them to bed and then watch reality TV while drinking tea.

SO NOT HAPPENING.

Everything has become a big scrambled mess and the main reason is because I don’t really know where do begin with all my uni work, how to do it, how to track it and I am so scared of mucking up I’m just avoiding it and not spending enough time on it.

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to buck up. Anything else and I just couldn’t live with myself. I want to redeem myself to my supervisor and superiors and after the year is complete they will marvel at how quickly I caught up and how much I improved. Or…I’ll will scrape through and try and make the best out of it. Maybe they’ll let me enter the PhD program out of pity. Maybe they’ll let me clean the room in which the PhD students study.

It remains to be seen.

I never expected a Master of Research to be easy, but I did expect that I would know what to do and be happy to do it. I didn’t expect it to be such a mental feat. That’s despite hearing endless accounts of how research and PhD programs are really really hard and yet, so so rewarding.

To everyone who congratulated me on getting into the program at my dream uni, to everyone I encouraged to do the same, I stand by my decision to continue my education and I still encourage anyone who is thinking about it to do the same.

It’s sink or swim time. I plan to swim, even if it is a awkward doggy paddle as opposed to my cohorts who seem to be executing an effortless breaststroke.

Wish me luck. x

Have you ever bitten of way more than you can chewed, and made it out alive?

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