Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Later Review on Clairol Nice and Easy Nonpermanent Hair Color

Can I just be honest?  A whiny, complaining blog is the absolutely worst to read.

I never want to be that blogger.

But, I don't want to be a lier.  I don't want to recommend products that turn out to be a total disaster.

If you remember, I wrote a blog (click here to read it) about being chosen to try out Clairol's Nice and Easy nonpermanent hair color as part of a blogger program for facing coloring fears.

Initially, I loved the product.  The color was great.  The idea of not having to commit was fantastic.  The application was easy and felt good on my hair.  My blog about my first impressions with this product was completely genuine.

Sadly, it was too good to be true.

I used Clairol's Nice and Easy hair color more than once, and the subsequent applications were not reliable.   After my first blog, I went darker, and the color was still pretty, but I didn't feel like it was consistently gentle on my hair.  To my horror, the color would NOT wash out.  I developed a lovely roots stripe as the color simply would not fade.

I tried EVERYTHING... Ok, well maybe not everything.  I didn't shave my head.  While I typically am very anti-shampoo, because sodium lauryl sulfate is a curl killer (we'll save that for another blog), I used clarifying shampoo to no avail.  I tried grinding Vitamin C up into shampoo and letting it sit to loosen the color.  I only ended up with a nasty scalp rash.   I tried baking soda and vinegar rinses.  I tried hot oil treatments.  I tried almost every suggestion I could find on any hair forum anywhere and absolutely nothing worked.

In desperation, I contacted Clairol's customer service through their online chat line, and I realized I was in trouble.

This was my conversation.

(Name of the service rep changed for her privacy.  It's not her fault she works for a company that sells bad products.  She was nice and as helpful as she could be.)

Chrissy: Thank you for contacting Clairol!  My name is Chrissy.  How may I help you?
Anna Cirlot: Hi, I dyed my hair black with Clairol's Nice N Easy Nonpermanent hair color at the end of December, and it's not washing out evenly.  My roots are showing at the top, but the tips of my hair are still very dark black.  
Anna Cirlot: I really want to go back to my natural hair color, and I thought it was supposed to wash out evenly.
Chrissy: I am so sorry that you didn't like your results, Anna!  
Chrissy: Non-permanent colors are pretty shade specific.  They have just enough color deposit in them to wash out in about 24-28 shampoos or 4-6 weeks if you are not going any darker than the natural color.
Chrissy: If you do go darker than the natural color, it will put more pigment in the hair than it is able to lose in the normal time period.  This can cause the color to last longer than we would originally expect.
Chrissy: I am so sorry, but if the color hasn't washed out since December, I would have to suggest that you either continue to wash the hair and let the color come out naturally or you visit a salon to lighten the color.
Anna Cirlot: Ok.  Thanks for the advice.
Chrissy: It was a pleasure assisting you today.  Is there anything else I can help you with?
Anna Cirlot: Nope.  That's it.  Thanks.
Chrissy: If you have further questions about hair coloring or hair care, please feel free to chat with us again, or call our Clairol hotline at 1-800-CLAIROL (1-800-252-4765) Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM and 8:30 PM or Saturday between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Eastern Time.
Chrissy: Have a great day, Anna!
Chrissy has disconnected.

That's where Clairol left me.  According to them, I should have known better than to dye my hair the shade I did.

Seriously, Clairol?  What was the whole blogger campaign about not being afraid to try a new color?  To take a chance at a bolder look?

Don't be fooled.  Clairol's Nice and Easy nonpermanent hair color may wash out for some, but it doesn't wash out for everyone every time.  

It's not low risk as promised.  They know that but still market it the same.  

In the end, I had to visit a professional hair salon to have my color fixed.  The results were so shamefully dramatic that my stylist (who is also a friend) entered my before and after photos in a makeover contest with my consent.  She totally rocked the hair fix, so I was completely cool with it.

Before: I soooo definitely hid my roots line when take this before photo.  I'll admit it.  I was too embarrassed to even take a photo for the blog.  Thankfully, I at least liked the rest of it black.
After: My stylist creatively highlighted and toned my hair until it all meshed together nicely.  It will take me months to get back to my natural color.  While I usually am a die hard curly girl, you can see the color better when it's straight.  Forgive the low quality iphone photos.

But, hello?  Wasn't the whole point of using a nonpermanent hair color to avoid hair dye mistakes like this?  Well, apparently not.

You've been warned.  Clairol's Nice and Easy nonpermanent hair color is not your friend.

I'm done with at home coloring jobs.

My Final Review for "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Back in January, I received a free copy of the book, "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Mark Driscoll, and I wrote a teaser review (click here to read it) as part of Mars Hill's official street team to promote the book on my social networks.  Though life hasn't played out at all according to my plan to read and review this book quickly, I completely believe it has worked out the way God would have it.

This book was a God-sent.  

Unlike many books that barely scrape the surface of who a believer is in Jesus, this book is a comprehensive course on a very powerful topic.  I've been blowing up my newsfeed on facebook for the past few months with quote after quote from "Who Do You Think You Are?" because I completely believe in this message.  I think one of the great errors in the modern church is that we have forgotten who we really are.

When I originally heard that Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington was working on this book, I was stoked.  

I love how clearly he communicates the Gospel using examples from the culture we live in.  He is dead-on accurate in Biblical theology.  So, of course, when I heard they were looking for a blogger street team, I happily applied, and I couldn't be more pleased to share with you what I have learned as I have dove into this book these past few months.

True to his typical teaching style, Pastor Mark breaks this book down into 16 easily digestible chapters that are memorable and helpful.  

1.  I Am ______?
2.  I Am in Christ
3.  I Am a Saint
4.  I Am Blessed
5.  I Am Appreciated
6.  I Am Saved
7.  I Am Reconciled
8.  I Am Afflicted
9.  I Am Heard
10.  I Am Gifted
11.  I Am New
12.  I Am Forgiven
13.  I Am Adopted
14.  I Am Loved
15.  I Am Rewarded
16.  I Am Victorious

Though I had originally intended to read through this book in a weekend, I am so very thankful that life spun out of control, and I had to work through each chapter slowly.  I encourage you to take the time to read through this book intentionally and really let the implications of each chapter sink in and saturate your heart and mind deeply.  

The Biblical truths found in these pages are life altering.  

Even if you have been in church your whole life, you can still learn and receive from this book.  Our identity is constantly challenged and warped by the world we live in.

In ministry, not only do we as a pastoral family suffer, we meet many people who are suffering.  I believe the difference between suffering well and suffering poorly is in knowing who we are in Christ.  

If our roots grow down deep into the all-sufficiency and peace of Jesus, nothing on this earth can shake us.  My dear friends, that's something for hell to fear.

In conclusion, I'd like to share some favorite quotes with you.  

"We're continually forgetting who we are in Christ and filling that void by placing our identity in pretty much anything else?"

Does that sound like you?

"How we see ourselves is our identity."

Who do you think you are?  This will determine your life's course.

"In the eyes of God, our choices, values, expenditures, words, actions, and thoughts are all acts of worship.  They make up our identity.  The only question is, what is your object of worship?"

Who do you really worship?  Your life will tell.

"True life is only found in the holy joy, love, and peace that flow through us by the work of His Spirit."

Do you have true life in Jesus?  Are you His?

"The truth is that we deserve love less than we could ever imagine, yet Jesus loves us more than we could ever dream."

"... For those of us in Christ, this life is the closest to hell we will ever get, and victory is ultimately ours."

"So who do you think you are?  If you love Jesus, serve Him, follow Him, and call Him your Lord and Savior.  There's good news: in Christ you have a new identity.  And the great news about this good news is that once you really know and believe that, your life will be changed forever."

I highly recommend "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Pastor Mark Driscoll.  It's a journey through Scripture that every Christian should take to be reminded of who they are in Christ.

*Blog Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review, but the opinions I have expressed are completely my own.  I liked the book so much that I bought a kindle version on my own to use for highlighting and studying purposes later.*

Buy your own copy below.  A great study guide is now available too!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Well, today Bryan preached on providence, and I lived it out.  Since my story today is too ridiculously covered in God's grace not to share, here you go.

I ate a banana last night while Bryan and I were watching a movie.  Suddenly, the roof of my mouth started burning and itching, and I felt my forearms break out in hives.  Realizing that the banana was setting off an allergic reaction, I took two Benadryl, and everything calmed down as expected.  I'd never had an allergic reaction to anything I had eaten before, but I had some pretty strange reactions to latex in nursing school that always seemed to pop up when I was under a lot of stress.  Maybe, the banana is related to that allergy?  A quick search on Google seems to indicate so.

I went to bed as normal.  When I woke up this morning, I made a strawberry protein mix smoothie while I was getting everyone ready for church and drank it as I cleaned up the kitchen.  Within thirty minutes or so, I was in the bathroom really sick.  I put Pax down for a nap.  Bryan and Abby left early for church, and I jumped in the shower to shake feeling awful.  By the time I got out of the shower, my face and arms were covered in hives, and I took two more Benadryl.   I called Bryan to let him know what was going on, and I kept getting ready for church thinking that the Benadryl would stop whatever had started.  I pulled out an old epipen just in case, but I seriously doubted I needed it.  I had never used one before.  While I was drying my hair, I started to feel like my throat was tightening, and I began to feel a little anxious.  I tried to rationalize it away thinking that maybe I was psyching myself out.

When it kept getting worse, I walked into the kitchen and opened the freezer to let the cool air blow into my face.  It helped.  I realized I was indeed having an anaphylactic reaction to something I had eaten, and I grabbed my epipen.  Pax woke up at the same time from his nap and was in his crib crying for me.  I stuck myself and felt almost instant relief.  At this point, the symptoms were so strong that I didn't even notice the prick of the needle.  I just knew I could breathe again, and I thanked God for the relief.  I called Bryan and told him I needed a ride to the ER but that I was fine now.  Of course, all of this happened minutes before the church service was starting.  Since I felt good enough to let the church schedule run as usual, I told Bryan to stay and preach.  The epinephrine was working.  I grabbed Pax, loaded his diaper bag with adrenaline shaking hands, and waited outside for our church friends to take us to the ER.

By the time I got to the ER, I felt pretty normal.  I was just jittery from the epi pen and a little shaken up that I had second guessed myself over something so serious.  If I had passed out, I could have died.  The ER doctor confirmed that I had had an anaphylactic reaction to something I had eaten, and I was given oral steroids to try to prevent another delayed reaction.  I now have two more epi pens to tote with me everywhere I go from now on.  Believe you me, we will be like peas in a pod.

I didn't know that Bryan was preaching on providence today until we talked about everything that had happened tonight.

What you don't know is that a medication leaked in our medicine cabinet a couple of weeks ago, and I almost threw away my epipen, because it had expired six years ago.  I didn't, because I decided an expired epipen might be a good thing to have around just in case.  I figured it would probably still work.  It did.

Though the half hour before a service starts is crunch time, Bryan had just happened to check his phone again, so he got the message that I needed help asap.  If he hadn't, my story may have played out differently.

I'm a registered nurse by training, and my experiences with latex reactions during nursing school prepped me to know how to recognize and respond to an anaphylactic reaction.  It saved my life today.

God's fingerprints are covering this whole scenario, and it's by His grace that I am alive and writing this blog tonight.  I am very thankful that God is in control of everything from the frustrating reactions I had years ago to the simple decisions I have made this month without much thought.  God is good.  It looks like He is going to let me hang around a little while longer and tell you how very good He is.

Talk about a grace kissed life.  I have it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Learning to Move On

Well, this blog post is long overdue.  I have wanted to check in again for a while, but I just didn't know what to write.  Free time has been scarce.  About every virus in the county has visited our house in the past few months, and either the kids or I or both have been down.  It's not been a fun season.

Since January, I've been on the low fodmap diet per my GI dr's orders.  While it helped to resolve some of the GI issues I was having, it did not eliminate them, and it completely zapped my energy.  I went to a dietician to try to make sure that I was getting enough nutrition on it and learned that I knew more about the diet than she did.  Fast forward to March, I decided I couldn't manage my blood sugar well enough on the low fodmap, and I decided to just go strictly gluten free again.  Two weeks later, my GI symptoms have been almost erased, and I am starting to have more energy again with less down days.

Two years of medical treatment later and random diagnoses have landed me in the same spot I began this journey on.  I must be gluten intolerant.  I don't need a test to tell me what I already know from experience.  Any time I eat something with gluten in it.  I get sick.  Really sick.  So sick that it knocks me on my back for a few days like the flu.  My tummy bloats like I am pregnant.  I get brain fog that dumbs me down.  It's nasty stuff.

Honestly, I feel kind of jaded and frustrated with the medical community at this point.  While gluten intolerance is a legitimate medical diagnosis, very few seems to know about it in my area.  Because I was afraid of following a strict diet for relief that was "all in my head," I gave up on it, and I have spent the past year off it much sicker than I needed to be.  I can't blame them entirely.  I'm at fault too.

I was gluten free for almost my entire pregnancy with Pax, because it was the only thing that helped me survive the GI symptoms that I had.  Eating gluten meant throwing up thirty or more times a day.  Not eating gluten meant retaining my calories.  It only took a couple of doctors doubting that I had gluten intolerance to give me the excuse to eat freely again, because it is so much cheaper to eat "normal."  Instead of being strong enough to be my own advocate, I caved to their opinions, and it's made life tougher than it needed to be.  Heck, I have huge blocks of time that I simply don't remember, because I was just existing- not living.

I'm moving on.  I know gluten and I will never be friends again.  I hate that I had to take such a long journey to get here, but I'm here.  I really dislike that I will have to check the label of anything that goes in my mouth from this point on, and I really, really hate that I am going to be the kind of dinner guest that is impossible to cook for.  However, this is my life.  Denial won't make my health return.

Hello, my name is Anna.  I have gluten intolerance.  My life is not over.  It's really just beginning.  Apparently, this is part of the story God wants me to tell.

What are you in denial over?  What secret struggle do you have that you've let rest for far too long without dealing with it?  What do you avoid because you know the cost is high and the road is uncomfortable or awkward?  It may not be an illness.  It may be an addiction.  If it is ruining your life and moving you off the mission of loving and serving Jesus well, it's time to deal with it by God's grace.

Let's move forward together and just accept the story God has written for us.  In the end, we're not just telling our story.  All of our stories are simply weaving together to tell His... a story about a God who generously loves, redeems, and equips a broken, helpless people and makes them into something new for His name's sake... a perfect bride for His Son Jesus.

Will you take the risk with me?  Let's move forward for the sake of Christ.  Our time here is short.  Let's make the most of this life.

"28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Romans 8:28-30

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

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