Lots of post-holiday hair questions …

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I’m 52 and I have been going gray for years. The gray used to be only at the temples and now it’s everywhere. My hair looks like a tiger’s tail. What should I do? If I color it darker, I’ll have to keep it up and there’s that pesky grow-out line. I had thought about having the frosting thing with the cap where they pull your hair through with a crochet hook. Do ladies still do that? I don’t want to look old.

— Rebecca S.

Dear Rebecca: It’s called highlights now and often it involves “foils” (lightener applied to selected strands and wrapped in aluminum foil). This is an excellent solution to maximize your time between trips to the salon. Another trick is colored spray or powder at your hairline and your hair part to cover gray regrowth between salon visits. I’ve seen more and more of this root touch-up stuff in drugstores in the hair color aisle. My favorite is Style Edit Root Touch-Up Binding Powder, which is not cheap (amazon.com, $33.99). Other brands’ touch-up powder on Amazon do the same thing for a lot less money, but I haven’t tested them to make sure they don’t color my pillowcase and clothing, which would be a deal breaker.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I’ve got the post-holiday guilt trip going on. I haven’t seen my hair stylist for a while, but after the holidays I’ll be going in and — like every year — I don’t know what to do about tipping. Because I am a generous tipper throughout the year (30%), I usually don’t give a holiday tip. What are your thoughts? Am I a cheapskate?

— Joanie G.

Dear Joanie: I’m on your side. I try to tip generously throughout the year (you’re ahead of me; I usually go for 25%), which I believe eliminates the need for a holiday bonus. So, no, you’re not a cheapskate! In our case, Christmas doesn’t just come once a year but every time we go to the salon. You shouldn’t feel guilty. Feel generous. Let’s hear from readers how they handle this issue.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: A friend of mine has been wanting to get married for what seems like forever. Headline: He’s finally got a serious girlfriend! She’s got a nice personality and a nice figure, but she has long, stringy hair that makes her look like a horse and probably is not age appropriate. How do I politely tell her she’d be a lot more attractive if she got a good haircut?

— Anonymous

Dear Anon: If you want to keep your friendship with this fellow and his potential wife intact, stay out it. Way far away out of it. This is smack dab in the category of, “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.” Don’t say a word. It’s none of your business.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have a pair of light camel-colored leather gloves I bought for $25 at H&M several seasons ago. How can I clean them? There are black streaks on the palms and underside of fingers from use — gripping handrails, etc.

— Polly A.

Dear Polly: The tag on your gloves (thanks for sending) shows that H&M suggests professional cleaning only. But that will cost nearly as much as your purchase price. First, try the cheapest and simplest method: water and a soft white cloth, paper towel or sponge. To avoid a water ring, feather the edges as you go (and whatever the method, test on an inconspicuous spot first). If water doesn’t do the job, try a weak cleansing solution — 20 parts water to one part Mr. Clean. There are several good leather cleaners and conditioners to try or leather cleaner wipes (target.com, $3.89). Real Simple has a product to clean leather furniture, but it works for gloves too (amazon.com, $10.99). Saddle soap (walmart.com, $4.96) is another answer. Sparingly apply a small bit of soap with a dampened paper towel to the soiled parts. Use a fresh damp paper towel to clean away the soap/grime. Air dry. Oh, and next time think twice before buying any light-colored leather items — including furniture.

Reader Rant 1

I have no horror stories to report other than the continuous experience of planned bra obsolescence. As soon as I find a bra that really works for me, the maker discontinues it. Grrrr.

— Catherine A.

From Ellen: We’ve all been there. When you find something you love, stock up immediately on the assumption that it will soon be discontinued.

Reader Rant 2

I hid a spare house key in one of those magnetic boxes I bought at Walmart. When my friend went to fetch the hidden key, the little box was rusted shut and she couldn’t get the key out. What the heck! She had to take the darn thing to the hardware store to get someone to open the “convenient” spare key box.

— Marilyn P.

Reader Rant 3

Why does lotion come in pump containers? It is impossible to get the last 25% out without cutting the container, which is not safe and a pain. It needs to be in tubes similar to toothpaste.

— Sharon R.

From Ellen: Stand it upside down (not easy; you’ll have to prop it up). Tubes are no better. I cut my expensive sunscreen tube to get at the last bit and discovered at least 40% of the sunscreen was still in there. There are devices to prop the pump container upside down, but I’ve never found one that really works. Let’s hear from readers on how they outfox the manufacturers whose packaging is so wasteful.



Send your questions and rants — on style, shopping, fashion, makeup and beauty — to answerangelellen@gmail.com.


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