I Narrowly Escaped Keratin Hair Destruction

What’s cooler than smoothing your hairs with an at-home keratin treatment? Finding out a day later that the product was swiftly discontinued and is now the target of a class action lawsuit. Oops.

suave-30-day-smoothing-kit

I guess that’s what I get for using a cheap drugstore replacement for a chemical protein-restoring treatment that generally runs from $150-$300 at salons. It sounded like an economical way to tame my long, haystack-esque hair. Plus, the ingredient list excused it from the formaldehyde controversy already surrounding the popular service.

I wouldn’t have tried it if I knew it was allegedly making people’s hair fall out. Luckily, I didn’t have this side effect. I’m pretty careful in the presence of anything that smells like chemical warfare and requires gloves for safe handling. I repeated the instructions in my head like Hail Mary’s and timed each step with my phone’s timer.

The mild results: hair that felt like cornsilk. A week later, it still looks a bit smoother and straighter than before.

keratin2

Sometimes wind blows at exactly the right time. Wearing: American Apparel lace tee

keratin3

Because the smoothing kit was discontinued – not recalled – I assume there was a high incidence of user error. The website says customers who already bought the kit can still use it, but reminds them to follow the directions closely and make sure the product is appropriate for their hair type. People with permed, dyed or otherwise damaged hair were warned to steer clear.  But aren’t women with “damaged, brittle, breaking or dry” hair precisely the market for a frizz-smoothing product? It’s kind of like selling cold medicine that’s dangerous to take if you have a cold.

I asked Suave why they discontinued the product and got this response:

Hello Kayla,

Thank you for contacting us regarding Suave Professionals Keratin Smoothing Kit.

We are committed to ensuring our consumers have an excellent experience with all of our products.  After receiving a greater-than-expected number of hair-related consumer complaints, we evaluated the Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit and decided to discontinue its retail sale. 

We recommend trying the rest of the Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Line, including the shampoo, conditioner and the serum.

We don’t have any plans to reintroduce the product at this time.

 

Sincerely,

Your friends at Suave

Okay, Suave, I guess you can still be my “friends,” seeing as my hair isn’t breaking off in chunks.

The moral of the story is to ALWAYS FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. It will get you far in life and might even result in good hair.

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Call My Agent

So, this past summer I bumbled around in front of a Super 8 camera for the following music video. Watch it, and you will glean two things: I fidget with my hair too much and this is exceedingly pleasant music. 

If you think you like Burywood (and you’re probably right), please stream/download/buy his album, Sum Kinda Golden Age.

Austinites can catch the band’s next show at Headhunters this Sunday, 9:00 p.m.

Wearing: Forever 21 shirt, American Apparel shorts, vintage boots

The Glitter in the Dark

The glitter in the dark
Tomorrow’s forecast predicts a high of 82 degrees, so I’ll have to stretch the definition of fall fashion. The bad news: my wool cape, scarves and leather gloves haven’t been pulled from the closet yet. The good news: I can keep dressing in floaty, sheer layers. Slap on some embellishments, and I do believe it’s what they call holiday dressing. Above are some confections I gravitated to immediately after watching Bat for Lashes’ video for “Laura.”  I judge musicians by how earnestly they can say “superstar” without me wincing. So, I think I’m in love.

Oh Yeah, Fall

 

Wow. I haven’t posted since I returned from France. (Can you blame me for finding home a  little less photogenic?) The past couple months call for a recap via photoessay. Find more fashion photos on my Instagram, which you can follow @aesthetic_etiquette.

McKinney Falls: Its natural beauty is not even diminished by people sitting on rocks with their pool noodles.

I captured and was captivated by snails. Did you know that when two snails mate, both snails get pregnant and become each other’s baby snail daddy?

I moved to a new apartment with my more conventional pets.

I attended the Austin Film Festival for the first time, and my only record of it is this photo of me juxtaposed with a stranger’s artfully decorated truck. The fest was a lot of fun. But, like SXSW, I’d only recommend shelling out for passes if you’re luxurious and have the whole week off work.

 

Moonrise Kingdom, 60s movie extra, Beetlejuice. I had additional silly costumes. This is how much I did Halloween.

 

New cosmetic dependencies: Organix Moroccan Argan Oil haircare and Clinique lipstick in Red-y to Wear.

Trends move in cycles. Every four years, it becomes really popular to participate in government.

As an avid thrifter, I was almost angry that I didn’t know about Austin Antique Mall until this month. The place is enormous and crammed full of amazing furniture and home decor. I refrained from buying anything but a pair of elbow-length brown leather gloves, but I’m destined to return for one of the reasonably priced fur stoles. Raise your pinkie to that!

I’m trying out a subscription with Greenling, a local produce delivery service. They drop off a mystery box of veggies at your door weekly or biweekly. I like the element of surprise, and I like knowing where I stand on specialty radishes.

Rennes, France

It’s good to be home, but I could really get used to a city like Rennes, where I spent the last week of my trip. It’s half the size of Austin, but so compact that you have tons of restaurants, boutiques and events within walking distance. I could live in a beautiful apartment at the city’s center for less than the cost of living somewhere mediocre and poorly located in Austin. Texas city planning leans toward boring sprawl instead of this:

Atlas (dress) Found. The shopping situation has a nice mix. There are chain stores like H&M and Zara, lots of local shops, and a few vintage/second-hand stores.

 

Rennes’ cathedral, which has been there in some form since the 1500s.

 

One of two gorgeous public gardens

 

Tabhor Parc was my favorite reading spot. It’s huge and has a good selection of birds.

 

Lou and Greg Forever

 

The park is so well kept that people actually come to it in droves. Students lay in the fields, kids enjoy the playground, and everyone else can find a comfortable spot to read, draw, make out, etc. It struck me that I would like Zilker Park more if it had as many chairs around. And if it was located in France.

 

Here I am on the northern coast, wearing the worst hiking outfit ever.

 

Mont Saint-Michel is the second most visited destination in the country. It’s a tiny city barricaded against tides that recede a mile out, leaving a quicksand-y expanse of land that is beautiful and will ruin your shoes.

 

Dessert for breakfast (all the time)

 

Good ol’ rum again. It was the base of every cocktail I had.

I’m smiling, but also wondering where all the whiskey is…

 

Last of Paris

Paris

A 6:00 a.m. alarm and an hour-long flight got us back to Paris from Bristol. I felt exhausted, sick, and dirty, so naturally I got into a kayak. Clément, Sylvia, Hugo and I floated down a small, picturesque river framed by stone bridges and weeping willows.

The drive/walk to Le Paradis du Fruit for post-paddle refreshments felt infinite. I was so dehydrated, my body considered fainting on the sidewalk. Somehow I made it to the ice cream parlor and inhaled fresh juice and a bowl of passion fruit sorbet decorated with maybe seven types of fruit. My emotions changed so visibly after eating. I’m like a Tamagotchi or something.

The record heat wave coming over Paris could be felt everywhere. Temperatures were probably higher back in Texas, but it’s different story when there are no air conditioners or fans.

We tried to cool off with cocktails. I didn’t know that rum was particularly popular among the French, but it’s been everywhere. So has Jean-Paul Gaultier Coke:

In the evening we sat out in the garden for hours, eating a three-course hamburger dinner with the usual group, plus Hugo’s brother Tim and his girlfriend. (I couldn’t believe these fromage afficianodos  were enjoying the plasticine sheets of American cheese on their burgers.) We Skyped with Jon and Amy for a bit.

Next thing I knew, I’d slept 10 hours on hardwood floor and woke up to a melody coming from a bell tower.

My last activity in Paris was a little photo expedition.

Flea market dress, vintage Coach purse and Bass loafers

 

England

Bristol

Hugo’s friends from the year he worked here feel like fast friends to me. After all the French modesty, I’m happy to meet a girl with pink hair and a guy wearing Minnie Mouse ears in earnest. People who know Wondershowzen and listen to Hot Chip and have no money. A small gathering develops at the apartment. We order a pizza and drink cheap wine from the corner store.

I helped decorate eggs as an awkward birthday present for someone I would never meet.

It’s so nice to be in England. Everyone calls you darling or love, the weather is crisp and cool in August, the buildings are gilded with history, and curls of spray paint whisper against the alleyways and into the night, “Fuck cops, fuck cops…”

Devon

The English countryside is incredibly gorgeous. There are goats on the hills. There are goats in the pie. The streets are only wide enough for one car, and the damp greenery is in the process of eating them. We sneak into something referred to simply as “the show.” Crouching in the back of a truck saves us 15 pounds we didn’t have. This show turns out to be little more than some horses walking in circles and locals in Hunter boots milling around booths of jam and whatever. Every variety of fancy dog is represented. I talk to a stone cutter and resist asking if anyone takes him for granite.

Despite weather that only gets darker and windier through the afternoon, we make the trek up to Tintagel Castle, which has disintegrated so much that the castle isn’t really the point. The point is to get into some Mordor-type shit by climbing countless steep, slippery stairs to the top of the cliff. The reward is an amazing view of the sea, unobscured and blurring into the horizon. The view is called “the end of the world.”

  

Tintagel Castle: It blew me away.

Example of the wind factor: This hairstyle started out as a sleek topknot.

The evening passes slowly with tea and beer and cider, hellos and goodbyes. People’s homes and pubs that are like homes. My evaluation of British people is that they’re all hilarious and kind. Can I move here?

 Bath

The Roman baths aren’t as grand as I had perhaps hoped. The stone is crumbled to stumps and the water is an off-putting green. All the tourists bump into each other in the dim and dampness, clutching at audio guides. Still, some of the Roman sculptures are neat, and I’m particularly amused by the curses (requests for the gods to punish enemies, passionately engraved in metal and thrown into the public pool…)

Then I’m in a French restaurant in England, trying to figure out why I want to stay in my country. I love it, I miss it already, but here’s the truth: America eats its children.

The news and the conversations I’ve been having suggest that times are hard everywhere. Aquaintences who’d recently been to Spain and Greece attest that there are far worse places to be. But are there better ones?

Seems that no matter where you go, there will be posters for Batman and radios playing Usher, McDonalds and Starbucks, blah blah blah. You can live in America, or you can live in syndicated America.

When I later explain the types of and paths to higher education in the U.S.  to Clément and Sylvia (both engineers), talking though it gets me seething. In France, college is free. Choosing to go to a special private school sets you back less than a Texas community college.

My generation is like a bunch of pilgrims who spent our life savings (and our parents’) on boat tickets to a new country. We sailed through universities. When we arrive with our sea legs and sunken hearts, there’s nothing left. No easy answers, no El Dorado, just enough intelligence to be indignant about it.

Everyone’s overeducated for his underemployment. Everyone is in debt. But this is the state of the whole developed world, more or less. As years pass, the world gets smaller and smaller. I’m hungry and I’m looking around. What can I pillage? Where is there to run to?

Bristol, Again

Back at the apartment, three types of homemade curry are laid on the table (carpenters of the group muse over what sort of wood it’s made of) to gather around, lining our stomachs for the night ahead. We carefully tape on used staff wristbands for the See No Evil party.

Bristol knows how to have a weekend. Lines are cut, pills are tossed like party favors. On the sidewalk, people are selling balloons full of laughing gas for £1. A pub called the Pipe and Slippers is full to the brim. The girls wear big hoop earrings, voluminous hair, leggings, and sneakers. Somehow they make it look better than it sounds. I kind of wish I spent my teenage years here, Skins style.

Drunk portraiture

Walking through the streets, I finally get my humble wish of spotting a Banksy. A certain nook of the city is filled with great street art and a lot of spray painters at work. It all feels permissive enough to kill the spirit of graffiti, but it makes sense later.

A long line looks stagnant outside the rave (yes, “rave”). We bypass it with the staff wristbands and go merrily on our way to the bar.

I generally prefer music events where there are guitars and guitarists, where I can participate by tapping my heel on beat looking cool and bored. But sometimes one must hit a dance floor.

I dance around to mediocre electro, uninhibited. I’m in another country. Tomorrow morning, I’m getting on a plane. And these people are apparently on ketamine.

More Paris

Paris, infinite walk

The line to get into the Lourve is insane. The Pompidou museum of modern art suits my taste better, anyway. By “suits my taste” I mean, “blows my mind.” Picasso, Man Ray, Matisse, Dalí, and a whole floor of Gehrard Richter.

Asos dress, vintage belt and clutch

This is followed by some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted (vanilla and blood orange, a double scoop) and a cheesy spectacle I forgot I wanted to see. There is a bridge where lovers can write their names on a padlock, attach it to the bridge, and then throw the key into the Seine. It’s terribly romantic, but as I walk past them all, I decide it would be a more realistic symbol if a couple were to keep track of the key, taking turns being responsible for it. Anyway, it reminds me of that part in Blue Valentine when the guy says it’s disgusting when couples choose a popular song to be “their song” and have to share it with other couples.

Next it’s another stuffy subway ride, a trip to an Olympics-serious indoor pool (I had to buy a swim cap), and exhaustion.

The next morning is spent domestically. I clean up the hosts’ kitchen while Hugo installs a new faucet I bought for the bathroom. In a moment of slapstick comedy, I had broken the handle off the faucet, leaving it running full blast while I stared in amused panic at the detached part in my hand.

Then there are more cathedrals, more massive views of the massive city. There’s a 7-story Musee de l’Erotisme with a ton of creepy paintings by Saturno Buttò.

In a club called Zero Zero, I sip what Jon’s friend Rémi called the cheapest cocktail in Paris. It’s a little plastic cup of rum and pure ginger that burns in your mouth and warms you up to ideas.

Paris

Paris, dinner party

Ambulance sirens and graffiti thicken upon approaching Paris.

I’m staying in the attic of Hugo and Jon’s uncle’s house. Their cousin Clément and his girlfriend Sylvia are living here currently. The place is a dream. You can tell the family has been here for a long time. The walls are insulated by paintings and piles of books. There are two floors, the attic, and a basement filled with aquariums, all connected by creaky spiral staircases. A friendly cat lives in the garden and apples fall from the tree when the wind blows.

We barely have time to throw back some Indian tonic before walking to the top-floor flat of another cousin. A table on the balcony is set for dinner. More food and alcohol keep arriving to the table. Everyone speaks a little English, so I don’t feel too excluded from the conversation. They laugh so hard and often that I want to understand every word. Far below us, a car crashes into another. I get quizzed by a French nationalist who (playfully?) wants to pin me as a dumb American. Thankfully, I know Sarcozy from Hollande and the corresponding scandals. They know more about American TV than me.

Several blocks away, another complex is on fire, plumes of black smoke snarling against the twilight. They are reasons to cringe, but we have so many distractions. Cocktails, olives, roasted black-eyed peas, salad, curry, baguette, chocolate, espresso, wine, rum, strawberries, cheese…

Paris, tourisme

Sunday mornings are for flea markets. The first one is typical, with vendors hawking the costume jewelry of deceased grandmothers. I leave with a yellow pleated sundress for €5.

The next market has an amazing assortment of antique and mid-century furniture. I feel like I’ve died, been mistaken for Jane Aldridge’s mom, and gone to heaven. There’s even a shop tucked into a corner that’s full of vintage Chanel and other designer clothing. I spot a white leather Versace motorcycle jacket that makes my knees shake. I nearly try on an ancient Dior dress, but the price tag has too many digits for me to risk breaking a zipper. I settle for a few vintage postcards.

I hope I never make enough money to afford all the taxidermic animals I want.

After a “quick lunch” (I learn there is no such thing in France), we’re ready to take the metropolitan downtown.

From the city’s intestines I climb out, into the blitz of it, hoping for vin, vie, and verisimilitude.

Here comes the double entendre: I could get lost here…

My obligatory Eiffel Tower portraits turned out completely bleached. We’ll call it artistic.

How long can anything in the world be beautiful before the pickpockets and cotton candy arrive? Still, the Eiffel Tower is magnifique. The neighboring museum hosts an exhibit of great architecture spanning the ages.

Some statues were like…

Then I was like…

And then we high-fived.

On the Champs-Elysees, a small glass of soda costs about $7. There aren’t many shops I desire to visit or can afford. Judging by the line, everyone has the same idea: Save your money for a box of pastel macarons from La Durée.

Along the Seine, a few couples sit with picnics (some with wine and sushi, others with beer and Pringles). Small apartments overlooking the admittedly beautiful river of mostly sewage go for about €2,000 a month. I stare into the murk and wonder what it would be like to call Paris home. What would you pay to have your real life and all its monotonous moments framed by famous stuff and caught in tourists’ frames?

Rennes and St. Malo

Rennes, arrival 

There should be a word for that feeling when one sees a familiar face after a day of being shuffled around with massive amounts of complete strangers. Relief comes close. Hugo picked me up at the Rennes airport after my 18 hours of travel. It had been an awkward ballet of failed sleeping positions with no intermission.

He took me to the apartment where I’d be staying, which used to be a suite in a very old hotel right next to the city center. I spent the afternoon fighting off jet lag, reading and touring Rennes on foot.

For a day, I felt sick to my stomach and could barely eat anything. I slowly replaced my bloodstream with Coca-Cola Light (suspicious of the tap water by this point) and some God-given medicine called “Spasmocalm.”

Sounds dumb, but really: It hits like a drug, the realization of how far away I was from anything I knew.

 

St. Malo, beach

There is so much mica that the beach looks like two parts sand to one part glitter. Rows of algae coated tree trunks stand ready to break breaking waves that could wash over the street. The ocean is freezing, but it’s a welcome jolt after the long walk from the only quasi-legal parking spot left thanks to hoards of French folks ready to bask in the high temperatures.

Vintage sunglasses and earrings, A wear sweater, American Apparel shorts, Bisou Bisou bikini

 

Seagulls swoop, I read a few chapters of Into the Wild, get covered in sand and freckles, etc.

I wish I could claim responsibility for this sand fortress.

In the time it takes to walk into the city, peruse shops, eat two crepes (one crispy, with finely chopped vegetables wrapped in a black flour pancake, one sweet with a caramel unique to the Brittany region), and saunter along stone walkways, the shoreline has receded 50 meters, accommodating more sun bathers.

If the sea can come so close to lapping at the city streets, only to take it all back, I’ll be a little fickle, too.

Fort St. Pere, music festival

La Route Du Rock has a pretty great set-up. The music runs from about 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Who shows up to these things at noon, anyway? It helps that noise ordinances mustn’t have been too strict at the makeshift venue, which was accessible by long dirt roads through wheat fields. The camping area had rental huts with locks available to patrons with interests such as sex and not being stolen from. The first few hours were shadeless and therefor kind of miserable. I heard it would be cold here. The first band is some bad electro group that America back-washed. In fact, all the music (except for an excessive set by Dominique A) is in English. Alt-J puts on the best show.

Here’s some good footage from Rennes TV, though I can always do without musicians denying they have a genre and analyzing the “internet age.”

 

Between sets, I affectionately watch the interactions of a group of drunk teenagers. The most outgoing girl kisses everyone, but saves the public make-out session for the boy she (presumably) likes most. They grope in a sunny, open area right by the stage. I’m smiling to myself, but the next time I look over, a visibly wasted girl has taken their place and is trying to vomit with the disturbingly involved encouragement of two friends. Maybe 18 is a bit young for the legal drinking age, after all.

As soon as the sun sets, it gets very cold and I can’t ignore how exhausted I feel. A photographer comes by. I smile broadly because I like the idea of looking ecstatic in a French magazine I’ll never see.