Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 14

My sister and nephew left Dubai early on Sunday morning and the house was so quiet when I woke up. That afternoon I went to Onyx Spa and Fitness for a Brazilian keratin treatment – I’d bought the voucher on Groupon and was keen to use it before I forgot! I’ve had the Brazilian keratin treatment done in Dubai three times since I moved but the results have never been as good as used to be in London. It could be the weather, the fact that I exercise more, who knows?

Later that day I met up with someone who works in publishing. I’d never met her before but a friend of mine introduced us on Facebook as he’d met her on a night out and thought we should meet. We met at the Media One Hotel (where her office is) and had a juice at Cafe M. She was friendly and helpful – she asked me to send her my CV and she would forward it to a few people. I’m not sure how I feel about working full time again but if any freelance work came my way I wouldn’t say no to it.

I met up with a friend for lunch on Monday. We went to Ping Pong at the Dubai Mall. It was entertaining as always! After lunch, I went to the Al Qasr Hotel as some friends from London were staying there. They stayed there last year when we went to their fabulous Friday brunch! We sat by the pool for a while, watching the kids splashing around. We then took the kids to the kids’ area where they played ‘chef’ and served us various dishes! We took an abra back to their villa (beautiful rooms). The kids were in the bath and I sat on their balcony with a glass of champagne reading my book – does life get any better than this?? We decided to try the Spanish restaurant Al Hambra for an early dinner. We ordered a selection of tapas and a jug of sangria! We were done by 9pm and I went home.

I did a juice cleanse on Tuesday. Luckily I had a few things to distract myself from the fact I wasn’t eating all day. I had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon followed by a piano lesson. There were a couple of times when all I could think about was a big burger and some French fries, but I resisted! Just as I was finishing my piano lesson we heard a strange creaking coming from the next room. My teacher and I went in to see what it was but couldn’t figure it out. I told him that if I didn’t know any better I’d say the building was swaying. As I left the building a friend sent me a text asking if I was OK? I wasn’t sure what she was referring to but said I was fine and why wouldn’t I be? She told me (all the way from South Africa) that there had been an earthquake. It’s quite possible that the building I’d been in had been swaying after all – but being on the first floor we didn’t notice!

On Wednesday I went back to Onyx Spa and Fitness as I had another voucher for a Dermalogica facial and massage. The last time I’d had a facial and massage there was back in November. My therapist was Lulu, an Indonesian lady. I told her I wanted the facial first followed by the massage, but she said the treatments had to be done the other way around. I couldn’t be bothered to argue with her so just left her to get on with it. She was very good – much better than the previous therapist I had (the one with the cough).

A friend invited me to a girls’ night out on Thursday night. It was at someone’s house in Jumeirah and everyone had to take a bottle of whatever they were going to drink. Everyone was very friendly – and a many of them were ex or current Emirates staff. I heard some interesting stories! We were there till about 1.30am and then went home.

I met up with a friend for dinner and drinks on Friday night. We met at Caramel and had dinner there (carpaccio, spicy tuna rolls, TNT shrimp, yellowtail) and a bottle of white wine. After that we walked over to Zuma for some more drinks. After that we thought we’d go to The Act but when we got to the Shangri-La the staff told us that they’re only open on Thursdays. Oops. Oh well, we settled for a drink at the Balcony Bar and then went home.

I got home at around 3am and put my key on the door only to find that one of my parents had left their key in the door on the other side and I couldn’t get the door open! My dad is usually up until I get home but that night he’d decided to go to bed ‘early’. I called his mobile it was off. I called my mum’s mobile – it just rang and rang and went to voicemail. I called the landline – no answer. I rang the bell continuously – no answer. Shit. At 3.40 I texted a friend to see if she was awake and told her I was locked out. No answer. I was outside my front door until 5am, ringing the bell and calling the landline constantly. By then I needed the loo too! I thought about going back to the Shangri-La and getting a room. And then my friend texted me at 5.15 to ask if I managed to get in? Nope! So I went to her place and spent the night there. What a nightmare. What if it had been a real emergency??

I got home at about 1pm the next day, to very apologetic parents!

That night I went out with a friend to an over-35s Meetup group at the Marriott in Marina. The venue was The Observatory on the 52nd floor of the hotel. The views from up there are quite spectacular. We were there during happy hour so we had some mojitos and mingled with some interesting characters. We also ordered some food – baked Camembert, calamari and a mezze platter. It was all average – I’m not sure I’d go there again.

I got home after midnight and was absolutely shattered. I’d hardly slept the night before and couldn’t wait to get into bed!

I love my life.

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Results: Brazilian keratin treatment

Hurrah! I could finally wash my hair this evening after my Brazilian keratin treatment on Saturday afternoon.

To recap, this is what my hair looked like when it dried naturally before I had the treatment:
2011
I washed it this evening with an Elucence shampoo and conditioner. As far as I know, you can’t get this in the UK – a friend of mine brought this for me from the US a while ago. You need so little of each product that the shampoo and conditioner lasted an entire year – and that was with me washing my hair three times a week.
2011
My hair felt thinner while washing it but I think that’s because it’s much shorter than usual at the moment and I’m not used to it yet.
After washing it, I let it dry naturally – I combed it with a wide-tooth comb after towel drying it and didn’t touch it again. It was almost dry when I took this picture:
2011
What a difference!
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Perfectil: hard as nails?

Last summer, before my brother's wedding, I decided to have bio sculpture gel nails done. I figured I'd have enough to do in Bali without worrying about chipped nail polish and broken nails – so a friend suggested I try the gel nails. She gave me the number of a lady who came home so I decided to give it a try. It took about an hour and I had a natural French manicure at the end of it. I could even use nail polish on top of it, remove it and I would still have a French manicure. 

It looked good. It felt… weird and like I had something permanently stuck under my nails. Because I had an extra layer on top of my regular nails, my nails were much thicker than they used to be and I felt clumsy.

The wedding came and went (and not a broken/chipped nail in sight) and I was back in London before I knew it. Three weeks after having the nails applied, I decided to have the infills done. I went to Nailspa in Clifton Road and one of the girls there sorted out my nails. Another three weeks after that and I was ready to remove them. I think I just got bored.

I went back to Nailspa (Paddington Street this time). In order to get the nails off, I had to soak my hands in a bowl of hot acetone. It was hotter than I would have liked and the smell was terrible – but 20 minutes later I was done. And my nails were as thin as paper. I could literally peel them off if I wanted to. This continued for months. 

Earlier this year a friend of mine told me she had started taking Perfectil – a supplement for hair, nails and skin. I'd never really considered doing something like that and my interest only peaked when she said she was sure the Perfectil tablets were making her hair straighter! Naturally I went to buy some of this miracle hair straightener from Boots and started taking one tablet every weekday. I say weekday because I leave them on my desk where I can see them and remember to take them – on weekends I just forget.

Well. My hair didn't get any straighter (dammit!) but it did grow much faster (which meant I had to colour the roots more often – dammit!) and less coarsely. I did notice that my nails were much stronger than they were before. They no longer tore at the slightest touch and I could open cans without breaking them. And what about my skin? I haven't noticed anything different. I get better skin by going to a Bikram yoga class (dammit!).

I don't know if everyone has the same results, but I'd recommend it – it did make me realise what a state my nails were in and what normal nails should feel like!
 

2011

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The long and the short of it…

I decided to go for the chop today:

2011

Yes, it's probably the shortest it's been in a long time… but I like it!! 

I've been going to HW Hair in St John's Wood High Street for the last six months or so – and they're good. 

There are a few things that annoy me though (as always!) – before I started going here, I used to go to a hairdresser in Gloucester Road. Toni would colour my hair, wash it, cut and blowdry it in about 2 hours – and I used to think that was a long time. Toni left and I decided to find somewhere closer to home. 

Every time I've been to HW Hair, I spend 3 hours there. Initially, the person with whom I booked the appointment did my highlights, a second person did the rest of the colour, and a third person  washed my hair (and gave me a head massage long enough for my hairdresser to fit in another blowdry) and then the first hairdresser cut and blowdried it. Is that really necessary? 

I actually really don't mind who does what, but at the end of my appointment when I have to hand out the tips, how much am I tipping? And to whom?? It gets too complicated. Luckily today, I only had to deal with two people: one doing my colour (who also washed my hair) and another cutting and blowdrying it. And even though I didn't have any highlights done this time, I was still there for 3 hours.

I had several compliments this evening, but let's see what happens after I wash it and the curls return (and make it even shorter)! I suppose it's just for a few days – I'm having my Brazilian keratin treatment done next weekend. But more about that later…
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Curls! Curls! Curls!

I’d been fighting the frizz for about 20 years and was fed up of my long frizzy/curly hair – years of blowdrying and colouring had damaged my hair and I wanted to chop it all off. I needed something something shorter and easier to manage. I spent hours on Google looking at pictures of hairstyles and eventually came across a website that literally changed my life: Naturally Curly! I read about different kinds of curls, different kinds of treatments, shampoos, you name it, it’s there. The site also has a message board where people can ask questions or leave tips for other readers. I spent hours browsing the website and figuring out what was best for me.
The first thing the site recommended for unruly curls was to ditch the shampoo. ‘What?? That’s gross!’ I hear you say. And that was my initial thought too. How can you NOT use shampoo when you wash your hair?? There was a detailed explanation of how the chemicals in shampoo strip curly hair of any moisture it might have and this contributes to the frizz factor. Instead, they recommend co-washing, or washing your hair with conditioner. As I read, I begin to wish I’d never given up chemistry at school – it goes into detail about silicones and sulfates and many other terrible things that go into shampoos and conditioners. Once I thought I’d figured it all out and had bought my new products, I gave it a shot.
Before going shampoo-free I had to get rid of any build-up on my scalp by using a clarifying shampoo. Pantene do a good one – I used to use it every 3 to 4 weeks.
I was now ready to go shampoo-free. I washed (with conditioner) just as I would if I were using shampoo, scrubbing, etc. The conditioners I used to wash with were Original Source Mint and Tea Tree Conditioner and sometimes I used the Superdrug Coconut and Almond Conditioner. You need to find conditioners without silicone/mineral oil – these cause build-up and the only way to get rid of that is to shampoo. It’s a vicious circle. Surprisingly, you still get a good lather even if you’re just using conditioner.
Once I washed with conditioner I used a heavier conditioner to condition – the ones I used were Aussie Frizz Miracle, Miracle Moist or L’Oreal Elvive Nutri-Gloss Masque (in the tub, NOT in the bottle – the bottle version containes silicones) – I usually alternated between the three, I didn’t use them all at once! I only combed my hair during this stage – with a wide-tooth comb with conditioner in my hair.
Once I’d rinsed out the conditioner I would hold my head upside down, dripping wet, and scrunch in either Boots Curl Creme (pink gel stuff) or Giovanni Direct Leave-in Conditioner (it used to be only available in the US but I believe you can order it online for UK delivery). While still holding my head upside down, I would wrap it in a microfibre towel and then get on with the rest of my getting ready… The microfibre towel is ultra-absorbent and is much better for your hair than a regular towel. I got mine on amazon.com and they weren’t expensive at all.
And then I would take the towel off and either just leave it to dry naturally (if I had time to spare) or use a diffuser but only for a short while – not until it was completely dry… And then I’d be ready to go. The results were astounding:
2011
Before I had frizz, now I had properly defined curls, even ringlets.
And because my hair was so much softer, when I did have the occasional blowdry, the result was much smoother hair:
2011
The other thing I used to do before I went to sleep which helped retain the curl definition was I would turn my head upside down and put all my hair in a loose scrunchie and sleep like that. When I woke up in the morning, I’d just let it down and run my fingers through it – it was brilliant. I avoided many bad hair days by doing that! If the curls looked a little flat and I didn’t want to wash my hair all over again, I used to have a spritzer filled with water and a tiny bit of conditioner in it. That worked wonders!
This is a really useful link to get you started if you want more info but the products are mainly US-based. It took some getting used to but it’s definitely worth the effort!
Since then I discovered the Brazilian keratin treatment (you can read about that here)!
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