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Damn Girl Ya Look Good

This month: hair-bleaching tips, dry lips, and ideas for androgynous boys.

The patron saint of hair dye.

In science class today, our teacher told us that in the ’50s, girls used hydrogen peroxide to dye their hair. If I used the hydrogen peroxide under my sink, would that do anything? Or is it not concentrated enough?

Back in one of my seventh grade classes, I sat next to a chola named Sonya who had parts of her dark mane lightened into a brassy gold. This was during my days of wanting nothing more than for my black hair to become lighter, so I inquired about her process, which happened to be hydrogen peroxide. For some reason that intimidated me, so I ended up sticking to my Sun-In regimen, which did work, giving me an auburn color. The hydrogen peroxide under your sink, which is most likely a 3% solution, MIGHT lighten your hair a little bit. It depends on the color of your hair, whether or not you have chemically treated it before, and just what your hair wants to do. If you are a natural blonde Betty, hydrogen peroxide may give you highlights, but if you are a brunette Veronica like yours truly, it will probably take a few applications over time and you might end up with brassy orange locks (but you might be into that!). I suggest first seeing a hairstylist to get a PRO opinion, but if you want to try lightening your hair yourself, you have many different options. Lemon juice with sunlight exposure works on blondes (they have it so easy!). If you do want to try the peroxide under your sink, you can mix a 50/50 solution of the hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle and apply it to your hair, washing it out after 15 minutes. And then there is an actual bleach kit, which is what I used during my teen years to get my locks to go from dark to pink to black to purple to blonde and back! Make sure you read Hannah’s tips on DIY hair dyeing here! And whatever you decide to do, always do two things first: (1) a strand test, and (2) light a candle next to a picture of Gwen Stefani, who is a patron saint of hair dye. Good luck! —Marie

Stylist Katie Shillingford. Photo: Street Peeper.

I’m Korean, and my hair is composed of that typical Asian texture, somewhat coarse and very, very, dark. When I asked my hair-stylist mom about dyeing all of my hair cotton-candy pink, like that one pic of Katie Shillingford [see above], she was extremely hesitant, saying that bleaching such dark hair is not very pleasant. She said the hair gets really frizzy and dry and also noted that dark roots quickly begin to show, making the hair look “tacky.” But I also looked at some pictures of Gwyneth Tang as well as Belle Sicardi of Fashion Pirate, and they both had bleached hair with roots showing! So, is dyeing Asian hair really that bad? I understand where my mom is coming from, but I’d like a second opinion. —Rachael

Hi, Rachael! Belle Sicardi here. When I decided I wanted to dye my hair, sooo many people told me not to do it and fed me horror stories about how it would fall out and/or never be the same and the UPKEEP and etc. etc. etc. Regardless of your hair type, people will say these things. It’s not just an Asian-hair thing. Honestly, even though Asian hair is typically very dark—and therefore the bleaching process is longer and harsher than if you had lighter hair—it also retains color fairly well.

I personally don’t mind roots when it comes to odd-colored hair like pink, purple, green, etc. Also, my hair grows out really fast, so if I bleached it every time my roots started showing my scalp would probably be a mess! My advice to you is to bleach your hair up in levels, slowly and gradually. Your hair is going from an incredibly dark color to as white as you can get it, and it is going to be brittle and dry, just like what your mom said. You will need to deep-condition it on a regular basis—this means you’re going to be buying lots of hair treatments, overnight-repair masks and the like, so you can have hair that does not look like hay. Because if you don’t, it will really look terrible and the ends will strongly resemble a broom, trust me. Once you’ve bleached it light enough and dyed it your shade of choice, wash it as infrequently as possible to retain the color. When you do wash it, you’ll need to use cold water if you want your color to last a long time. Dry shampoo is your friend.

I’ve gotta warn you that cotton-candy pink is like the hardest color to maintain. As hard as or harder than red! I don’t really recommend it, because you’ll have to bleach it a much lighter color than you would if you wanted purple, or magenta, or green. Pastels are a nightmare to achieve, and it will take multiple bleaching sessions to get your hair light enough to dye pink. But I salute you on your journey, should you choose to attempt it. —Arabelle

Even though I apply lip balm once or twice a day, my lips are always dry and peeling. Then I try to pick away the old dead peeling skin, and I can’t peel all of it off. So half of it is old and half of it is new. And then when I apply lipstick it looks gross. What do I do?

I deal with this from time to time, especially in the Canadian winter, but there is a way to deal with it. First of all, please stop picking your lips! You may end up going too far and getting to the lower layers of skin, which may cause bleeding and scabbing and will be painful and not too pretty either. Here are a few suggestions to (gently) take care of the flaking. First, one night before bed mix together a tiny bit of brown or white sugar with a few drops of olive oil, and massage it into your lips. The sugar will buff away any dry skin, and the olive oil will be moisturizing. You can also use a washcloth or an old toothbrush to assist with the scrubbing. Afterwards, apply a super-emollient balm, like the tried-and-true Rosebud Salve ($6, Sephora), all over your mouth in a big thick layer and go to bed. It will sink in overnight and you won’t be awake to pick or bite at your lips.

In the morning, reapply the balm, and if you want some color, try a tinted moisturizing balm, like this one from Burt’s Bees ($7-$8, drugstores). It comes in a variety of shades and will give you a lipstick look without drying you out. After a few days you should notice your lips perking up! —Hannah

I would like to know if there are any fashion tips you could give to a androgynous guy please and thank you. Sincerely, Kurt

God, this question is SO hard! I’ve been thinking about it for what, 13 days now? And I still have no idea what to tell you. Because the thing is, when it comes to androgyny and looking neither male nor female, the default look is sorta male. My immediate reaction to your question was to think fitted trousers, gauzy fabrics and perhaps a few cool-looking tailored jackets to top the look off. But if by androgynous you mean that you maybe want to combine boy-dressing and girl-dressing, then things can get a little bit more complicated, but also more interesting. Depending on where you live, maybe you can venture into wearing a kilt (aka a skirt for boys)—if you pair it with sort of “regular items” like a T-shirt or a sweater or a denim jacket, then it’ll be grounded and won’t look like an experiment in cross-dressing (which is great, but I don’t get the impression that’s what you’re trying to get at). For starters, try shopping on both sides of the store! I buy cool pieces at guys’ stores all the time—it could be the easiest way of easing into your new style persona. On your feet I think a pair of sturdy boots like Dr. Martens are perfect because (1) they’re eternally cool, and (2) well, what reason do you need other than “eternally cool”? —Laia

Hi, Kurt! I’m a makeup artist with a particular interest in using cosmetics to play with gender presentation, and I have some ideas for you, too, if you’re into the idea of wearing a little bit of makeup. The key is to have fun and experiment—makeup can make a traditionally masculine outfit look androgynous and cool. For starters, you can use a tinted moisturizer (a lot lighter than foundation) to make your skin look dewy and angelic. I LOVE Clinique’s Moisture Surge ($34, Sephora). If you want to try color, apply the tiniest amount of red or pink cream blush to the apples of your cheeks for an innocent, childlike look. Wanna go farther? Add lip gloss. Line your lower waterline (the sliver above your lower lashes, right under your eye) with a white kohl pencil to make your eyes look bigger. If you want a slightly graphic look, use a black or colored pencil instead—dark purple is my favorite for boys. I live for the Wet n Wild Color Icon eyeliners, and they’re only a buck! Last tip: mascara! No rules here, but I personally love Clinique’s Bottom Lash Mascara ($10, Sephora). The brush is super tiny, which makes it easy to use, so it’s a good one if you’re new to mascara. So there are a bunch of ideas for you. —Jonathan Young

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  • brynntheredonethat December 20th, 2011 11:57 PM

    For the lip thing, I’d also suggest drinking more water. A lot of times, it can mean that you’re dehydrated. But it might be something else or a combination of dehydration and whatever else. :)

  • Jamie December 21st, 2011 1:48 AM

    androgyny bro- WHITE EYELINER EVERY DAY.

    also, bleach ya eyebrows. looks so rad. Salander in new movie of the girl with the dragon tattoo did it and it looks so androgynous and awesome and outerspacey.

    • Anaheed December 21st, 2011 2:02 AM

      HULLLO, aren’t you the one who REFUSED to bleach your brows when I ORDERED you to do so?

  • Allegra December 21st, 2011 2:37 AM

    For the lip issue- you might be allergic to what is in your lip balm. I was using Burt’s Bees for a while and my lips started to peel really badly. I tried drinking water and everything they recommend. Turns out I’m just allergic to sunflower oil. Try out a different lip balm that contains different main ingredients. Also, apply it whenever your lips feel dry, not just once or twice. And NEVER lick your lips, dries em right out.

  • Sarah December 21st, 2011 2:41 AM

    For the lips try aquaphor healing ointment. Back when I was on accutane my lips were always painfully dry and this worked sooo well. You can find it at any drugstore too. It’s also technically for your skin, so you can use it anywhere you need a little extra hydration.

  • Chloe Elizabeth December 21st, 2011 2:49 AM

    I absolutely ADORE eos lip balm. They’re all natural, and cute, and yummy, and the moisture lasts much longer then a normal chap stick or lip balm. I use it all the time, especially in the winter cause my lips used to get super dry and flakey. Bleh.

  • La La Land December 21st, 2011 5:28 AM

    @Rachael: also dont forget the most amazing thing about asian hair: being super straight it grows back quickly. Annoying because of the roots? NO! Super useful because if you hate it you can cut it all off and it will grow back in no time! I’m super jealous cuz my hair in extremely curly and i could never chop it off cuz it would take multiple years to grow back… (well, obviously i *could* do it, but i like my hair to be long ;) couldnt stand it short for that long…)

  • Valentina December 21st, 2011 5:49 AM

    Lip tip: Vaseline, baby! Helps me out in the wintertime, and you can use for all sorts of things besides lipbalm.

  • Jillian December 21st, 2011 10:01 AM

    For dry lips – I was also on Accutane and struggled with really dry lips. I think I tried every single Chapstick and lip balm at the drug store. In the end, I just started using straight Vaseline. Cheap and effective. And like Allegra said – not once or twice a day. Whenever they feel dry.

  • pinecone December 21st, 2011 12:07 PM

    My advice for androgyny is don’t be afraid to have fun, wear color, go all out! I second shopping in all sections of thrift stores.
    Floral print button ups, bright blazers, kneesocks and shorts may not be the first androgynous fashion ideas that leap to mind but check out: for an epiphany! Don’t be afraid to experiment to find the style that best expresses you.

  • anhiebananhie December 21st, 2011 5:21 PM

    Rachel, as a fellow Asian American with thick, coarse & straight hair, I’ve found that most American brands of bleach will not bleach my hair.

    Palty, a Japanese hair dye, works wonder when lightening your hair.

  • MissKnowItAll December 21st, 2011 5:39 PM

    For the lips, use petroleum jelly. regular chapstick sits on top of your lips and it sort of “soffucates” them.

  • Mememeo December 21st, 2011 7:31 PM

    For the lips: Blistex medicated lip balm is my saviour.

  • go.outside December 21st, 2011 8:23 PM

    I have to agree with Arabelle on the difficulty of achieving cotton candy pink hair…a few months back, I tried to dye my hair violet and cotton candy pink, and since I didn’t bleach it quite light enough, the pink turned out a weird orangeish color. It also washed out super quick. Not to dissuade you from experimenting with your hair, just want you to be aware that’s all!

  • SpencerBowie December 22nd, 2011 2:43 AM

    Okay mister androgynous guy I have one thing to say……..DAVID BOWIE! Take it from this androgynous guy that’s all the inspiration you’ll need!

    See, he’s my style icon, (and my everything, next to JESUS, Merry Christmas btw), so I’m always worn platform shoes/boots, women’s blazers, silky blouses, etc. And to do androgyny is cheap! Thrift stores are your friend! Cause they always seen to have a great pair of size 10 platform boots or $1 costume jewelry laying around!

    But David Bowie did all this to achieve a masculine look with a not-so-conforming-to-a-certain-gender awesome edge. And he also MY style icon, go with him or find your own. Prince has wonderful style, (THOSE HEELS!), young gender-benders I find are lovin’ Adam Lambert, (I’m 21 and don’t get it), Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, even Alice Cooper played androgyny up! Go glam rock from the ’70s or get inspiration form WOMEN! In my freshman year of school, I emulated looks from bleached hair saint Gwen Stafani’s “What You Waiting For” video for weeks at school. It’s all about interpretation!

    So have fun and hoped this helped Kurt!

    DON’T BE A DRAG, JUST BE A QUEEN!-Lady Gaga (Get some ideas from her too! Goodness knows leather vests look great on guys and girls!) ;)

    • Zsofi December 23rd, 2011 5:34 PM

      Sorry, but I really have to say it: I’M IN LOVE WITH DAVID BOWIE!!!!!!!

  • PlatformShoesBlog December 22nd, 2011 12:50 PM

    If you live in the UK, then LUSH is the place for lip things! They make lip scrubs (like the DIY one suggested here) in delicious flavours like popping candy and bubble gum! And totally edible too! They do wonders for your lips as well!

    Platform Shoes x

  • Zayin December 22nd, 2011 8:36 PM

    I was an androgynous girl for a while back in my teenage years, inspired by the awesome Nick Cave and PJ Harvey (one of whom is AUSTRALIAN). Actually, I think I just wanted to BE Nick Cave.