In Which Jenn Runs With Short Hair(!)

I have had long hair for the better part of two decades. For the last 10 years especially, I mean long – like almost-to-my-butt long. And I like it like that! It feels very me. I call it my Fairy Princess Hair.

Well, I don’t have it any more. I hacked it all off last week.

WHY??? you scream, flecks of spittle hitting your monitor as you shake it with fearful rage.

… Okay, maybe you don’t care about my hair as much as I do, for some reason. But since you asked, I donated it! It is now in possession of Lolly’s Locks, an organization that assembles quality wigs for adult cancer patients who can’t afford to buy such a thing on their own. And that’s why all this happened:


None of this has anything directly to do with running – but it’s more impactful than you might think. Namely, there’s the question of how to handle my hair during runs.

The standard go-to running gal hairstyle, the faithful ponytail, has been a firm no for me for most of my running career. My hair was so dang lengthy that a ponytail served only to lash at my back and get stuck to my sweaty face and neck. No thank you. I played around with pigtail braids for awhile there, especially for races, before giving up and jamming it into a bun atop my head. (For runDisney races I like to slap a Minnie ear headband in front to distract from the madness.)

Well, no more. Now my hair is too short to make it into a real bun. At best I can manage a sort of sad half-twist. So I’m back to ponytails, against all odds.

In some ways, this ponytail has served to be a bit of an annoyance. It doesn’t smack me around anymore – it can’t reach – but it does have a habit of thumping against the back of my head. And it can be pretty tough to gather it all together in a single ‘tail, leaving little escaped bits falling out at the bottom. But the extra coolness around my neck area is an admitted plus for summer, and I suffer less tangling so far. Call it a wash, I guess?

I’m sure hair management will be an ongoing project as it slowly lengthens again. In the meantime, any suggestions?

How do you deal with your hair for runs?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews Cruelty-Free Products

I alluded to this in my last round of random product reviews, but to make it official: a couple years ago I went strictly cruelty-free when it comes to makeup. Medical testing, in my opinion, is a separate ethical debate, but I see absolutely no reason why we should make animals suffer purely for the purposes making select portions of my face a different color. I just don’t need it.

Mind you, I do sometimes want it, and luckily there are plenty of cruelty-free companies out there who can help me out. My personal code is that if a company is cruelty-free but its parent company isn’t, I will still consider it cruelty-free since I’m still voting with my dollar. I’m also not as concerned with veganism in my products, just that no one is mean to them during any part of the process. Your own standards may be more strict or more lax than mine. It’s up to you!

If you are interested in making some part of your cosmetics consumption cruelty-free, here’s an important thing to know: companies can be pretty tricky about it. Even if the company itself never tests its products on animals, that can be rendered moot in two ways: they can get components of their products from companies that aren’t cruelty-free, or they can sell in China.

That’s right, ANY cosmetics brand that sells in China is NOT cruelty-free. China has a post-market animal testing policy, wherein any product on a shelf in a store in China can be pulled and tested on animals. Yes, even though it’s already been approved for sale. No, I don’t get it either.

There are a couple loopholes as I understand it – I think maybe airports don’t have the same requirements? – but generally speaking, if a brand sells in China it’s not cruelty-free and that’s all.

Why am I telling you all this? Because cruelty-free beauty is the theme of this round of random product reviews! Every one of the below items is kind to animals and it makes me happy. So let’s start off with

HAIRCARE
Maple Holistics Argan Oil Shampoo. DISCLAIMER! I received a bottle of this shampoo for free, but with no obligation to give a good review. I can assure you I strive to be fair and balanced when I review anything, regardless of how I got it.

Now, on to the argan oil shampoo! Despite being sulfate-free, this shampoo lathers easily, with a pleasantly robust texture and no scent worth noticing. It made my hair soft soft sooooft – I’d consider a great dupe of the classic Morrocanoil shampoo, only Moroccanoil isn’t cruelty-free so eff ’em.

Here’s the thing, though: my hair is fine, and by consequence already pretty soft. Softening it further kinda sucks the life out of it, and certainly deflates my naturally wavy texture. If you have something similar going on, I’d recommend the tea tree oil shampoo instead (I like how it gets rid of scalp buildup that can weigh down hair). If you have a coarser texture that could use some softening up, or if you like to add your volume products post-shower, go for it.

Not sure? No worries! Maple Holistics offers an impressive sampling program that’ll let you try just about anything as far as I can tell. Have at it.

**All other products listed below were NOT sponsored or gifted in any capacity and I have no relationship with any of their parent companies. I bought this stuff of my own accord, kids.**

Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo. Hooray! A cheap, easily accessible cruelty-free dry shampoo! NYM’s version comes both unscented and in a “warm sugar” smell that makes me think of vanilla with a hint of chalk. You need a pretty thorough spray down to get the full effect and your hair is gonna have a white cast to start. Don’t panic! By the time you brush it all through it’ll be invisible. Trust me; I dye my hair as close to black as brown can reasonably get and I’ve had no troubles after a good brush-out.

SKINCARE
Sheet masks. Who doesn’t love a good sheet mask? They’re extra great for when you’re traveling solo and want to schedule a brief relaxation period. I believe these originated in Korea, and many would argue that the Koreans have perfected the genre. Thing is, a LOT of Korean brands sell in China. One that doesn’t? Creme Shop! I recently found this brand in CVS, tried their egg white sheet mask, and loved it. I need to try more!

More readily accessible: the Miss Spa face masks I see at Target seem to be cruelty-free. I wasn’t impressed with the bee venom one but the hydrate version is always good. A little research suggests the whimsical Animalz face masks are cruelty-free too, but I haven’t tried any yet. Maybe for next time?

MAKEUP
Foundation with SPF. I’ve been playing around with some drugstore SPF foundation options, because I find them extremely useful when touring Walt Disney World (or any outdoor activity, for that matter). No one wants their vacation ruined by a painfully sunburnt face!

This has been a somewhat more challenging adventure, as a lot of the BB creams with SPF I’ve used in the pass are owned by companies that test on animals. (Looking at you, Maybelline Dream BB Cream. D:)

I found the e.l.f. BB cream with SPF 15 to be entirely too dark for my complexion, and Sonia Kashuk’s version felt too thick. I briefly landed upon a Physician’s Formula cushion compact with SPF 50 (!!!!), and while I like it for its high protection powers it’s so sheer it’s barely worth wearing. Also, it seems to be on clearance everywhere so we may never be able to buy it again.

Right now what’s working for me is e.l.f.’s Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum with SPF 25. The fair shade works on my skin, and although it’s sheer it’s also buildable up to a low-medium coverage as needed. I love how it sinks into my skin weightlessly and makes my skin soft with vitamin E and goji berry among other things. It’s a little price-y for e.l.f. but at $8 it’s still not an investment.

All that being said – I’m open to more SPF foundation suggestions? Cheap, cruelty-free suggestions, naturally. I see Wet ‘n Wild has a cushion compact with SPF too…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if Ruffian becomes aware of
anything ever she will assume it’s for her.

As always, if you’d like me to expand any of these reviews or product topics into a full post, let me know! I’m thinking I might do cheap running gear next…

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has Lots Of Opinions

I have two modes: I don’t know you that well so I’m not gonna talk much and HERE ARE MY OPINIONS ABOUT EVERYTHING. Since you’re reading this, my blog, presumably of your own free will and with at least a passing interest in my inner workings, allow me to present: a bunch of opinions.

A couple notes. First, the below items are included because I feel that a mini-review might be of some assistance to like-minded folk. I am not going into any great depth, but if you’d like a more exhaustive report, leave a comment and I’ll either expand the topic into a full blog post or respond with additional information.

Second, no one is paying me to mention any of these products. All opinions are 100% my own. I only got one thing free, so for simplicity’s sake let’s start with

HAIR CAREMaple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo. LEGALESE!!! I was sent a bottle free to try, but with no pressure to give a good review.

Maple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo is a natural, sulfate-free, cruelty-free formulation. These are all good things! Natural for avoiding weird chemicals, sulfate-free for not stripping your hair of good oils, and cruelty-free for being nice to animals.

Here I am pretending Oswald threw it to me.
Thanks, Oz!

I detected little to no smell, and it didn’t really cause any tingling or similar when used.

This shampoo promises to improve scalp clarity and banish blemishes. I don’t suffer from a ton of scalp issues myself, but I was coincidentally suffering from a few small – zits? Ingrown hairs? Something like that – on the side of my neck next to my hairline. After a few uses those bumps disappeared! Nice! I seem to have less dead skin on my scalp, too.

As for what it did to my hair – it successfully kept it clean. My hair is very difficult – fine but long and wavy – and I didn’t notice anything extraordinary about its condition while using the tea tree shampoo. But it didn’t get worse either, so, score.

I would recommend this shampoo to anyone suffering from scalp problems or hairline acne. The great news is you can try it yourself risk-free, because Maple Organics offers a sample program. As far as I can tell you can try just about anything that tickles your fancy. Check it out!

Now, with that out of the way, I am in no way affiliated with any of the below:

SKIN CARE
Differin. The only physical change I have noticed so far in my 30s is a fresh new fight with acne. Rock on. After going through the usual frenzy of trying and rejecting anti-acne products, I tried the flavor of the month: Differin. And, as the ads promise, it pretty much worked. But the claim that you may see improvement in 2 weeks? HA. It took three months to get through the purge period, with my skin throwing up flare after flare. If you suffer from moderate adult acne and no regular solution has worked, you should still try it – but be prepared.

Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil. My savior in this trying Differin times, this soothing cleansing oil improved texture and dryness enormously. I’ve tried some other brands but this is my favorite.

Vaseline. Top notch eye cream. Look, just try it, okay?

MAKEUP IN THE PARKS
My parks makeup philosophy. I’ve kinda already covered it here, but I personally find I’m much more likely to enjoy looking at my park photos if I’m wearing makeup. Vanity, thy name is me, but there it is. I’m constantly curating a park makeup strategy that’s cheap and long-wearing, with the added stipulation that everything should be cruelty-free. We can debate the merits of medical testing on animals some other time, but I don’t see any argument for why a bunny should suffer so that I might enjoy the privilege of changing the colors on my face.

Anyway, here are some recommended products:

Milani Prime Shield. Matte primer with a nice texture. Nyx Shine Killer is good too but I like the slip on this one just a touch more.

ELF Gel Eyeliner Pot. Surprisingly long-wearing! Don’t forget primer.

Wet ‘n Wild Balm Stain. These lip crayons have staying power, but when they do fade, they do so very naturally. No pressure to reapply until you’re ready.

FOOD & BEVERAGE
Quest Bars. These are not the holy grail many claim from a taste perspective. But from a ratio of calories to protein perspective, they’re pretty great. I detect a hint of fake sugar in every flavor, but not as bad as some protein bars I’ve tried. The S’mores flavor is probably my favorite.

Halo Top Ice Cream. As Ted Danson so wisely says on The Good Place


And that, I think, is a perfect descriptor for Halo Top. It’s no Ben & Jerry’s but if you’re looking to eat a pint of ice cream at once without feeling terrible afterward it’s surprisingly tasty and satisfying. I recommend Mint Chip, Oatmeal Cookie, S’mores, and Pumpkin Pie (while you can get it).

PB2. You’re never gonna mistake it for real peanut butter, but it’ll successfully scratch your PB itch without risking eating half a jar at once. Also a good mix-in for smoothies.

Sparkling water. I have always been obsessed with seltzer water, so believe me when I tell you that Target’s Simply Balanced cans are the BEST. They have awesome flavors like cucumber mint and tropical cherry and the price is good. Dasani is also enjoyable, but Aquafina gets a pass; it’s not bubbly enough.

RUNNING GEAR
Running fuel. They may laugh, but I swear by Watermelon Sour Patch Kids. Get ’em in one of those single-serve theater boxes. I like to eat them both before and during a race. Simple sugars and carbs and easy on the digestive system. And much cheaper than the fancy stuff that never did much for me anyway!

Kinesio Tape. People rave about Rock Tape but I didn’t find it to be anything special. Plain ol’ KT Tape has been fine for me for years. BUT. When on a KT Tape run at CVS the other day I discovered CVS makes their own knockoff kinesio tape for like half the price. I’ve been trying it out and so far it seems to work fine!

Running clothes. C9 by Champion has always been fine for me, but I’ve been really into Under Armour lately. Down for recommendations!

Hit me with your opinions in the comments!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Sweaty Hair Epiphany

Several years ago I read a supposed statistic that something like 50% of women don’t work out because they don’t want to mess up their hair. Now, I don’t know if that’s a ridiculous fabrication or an equally ridiculous truth, but I CAN tell you that I recently had a Workout + Hair Epiphany.

It happened when my roommate joined the legion of people, both Real Life- and Media-Based, that insist that you shouldn’t wash your hair more than, max, three times a week. It strips your hair of necessary oils and what have you and you’ll have a much healthier mane – nay, a shampoo-commercial worthy mane – if you leave it alone most of the time.

I think this sounds lovely and natural and holistic and it DOES NOT WORK FOR ME.

I want to go to there. (Source)

Seriously. I don’t know if it’s because my hair is long or because’s it’s fine or because I have an unusually oily scalp or what, but if I don’t wash my hair on a given day there’s an odds-on chance that in little more than 24 hours it will look a MESS. Stringy and greasy and just gross. Gross, okay? And that makes ME feel gross. I will trade shampoo-damaged hair in return for not feeling gross if that’s all right with everyone.

This remains my stance on hair care, but for some reason it has always bothered me, that my hair doesn’t react with joy and luster to the natural act of not shampooing. And then I figured it out.

IT’S ALL THE SWEAT.

Sweat. Sweat in my hair from one to three hours of ballet classes on Monday & Wednesday & sometimes Saturday morning and right now also Sunday rehearsals because we have a show coming up. Sweat from my runs, of generally 10 – 11 miles, on Sunday and Tuesday and Thursday and sometimes Friday if I had to skip or cut one of the other runs short and need more mileage. That’s six out of seven days of sweat soaking right into my past-the-shoulder-blades-long hair. No wonder it needs cleaning more often.

And so, as an athlete – YEAH I SAID IT I’M AN ATHLETE NOW – I must hold my hair to a different standard. I recognize that I put it through rigors the average scalp does not experience. If I feel I need to shampoo just about every day, then I will go ahead and do that, with a weekly deep conditioning treatment as a compromise. The end.

All that having been said… how do you cope with post-exercise-gross hair? Have you found a dry shampoo that actually works? Do you shampoo daily too? I may have a pro-shampoo manifesto, but I’m definitely open to other ideas!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us atfairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!