Category Archives: Recommend a Product

How I Get Beautiful Hair Solo Without Water (or a Colorist)

When you’re me, you can run into two different barriers when trying to get your hair done up right. The first is the universal barrier all women face – roots coming in. We all know how annoying that is. The second barrier is one only faced if you’re paralyzed or equally disabled – washing your hair.

I can’t wash my hair when the mood suits me. Unfortunately, I need someone’s help with most of it. Because of this, I’ve developed this insane weekly schedule that I’ve followed religiously for years that dictates my entire hair-washing schedule.

It went like this: Wash my hair Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I couldn’t wash my hair every day; it just took way too long, but the terrible side effect was that I suffered through greasy hair on my off-days. Oh the joys of being a dirty blonde.

And I thought there was no way out of my hair-fate unless someone developed an easier way to wash hair. Then the clouds parted, and I discovered a product that changed the entire way I thought hair could ever be washed – baby powder; the oil-absorbing, hair-cleaning agent that can be applied directly to dirty hair and cleans it.

That’s right; sprinkle a bit on your head, rub it in a little bit and your hair will become clean. Holy cow did my life instantly change for better with this discovery. I now had an independent way to clean my hair when no PCA was around. I think my happiness level at least went up by two points.

And since that day, I’ve discovered even more products for cleaning my hair without water, as well as other hair products that enhance my hair color temporarily in between colorings. The market is experiencing a hair-cleaning renaissance right now, and I’m totally taking advantage of it.

Here are a few other products I’ve discovered, as well as a bit more on baby powder, that help keep my hair clean and colored on even my greasiest, most root-exposing days.

Baby Powder

Now labeled a “powder dry shampoo” among hair people, your average bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder will do the trick. Try their cornstarch option instead however; it’s better for your lungs if you accidentally breathe it in. Also, check out their scents like Magnolia Blossom or Cooling Cucumber so you smell awesome, and not like a baby.

To apply solo, I put some in my brush then brush my hair.

Aerosol Dry Shampoo

Another way to wash your hair that’s huge right now is the aerosol dry shampoo. Dove’s Dry Shampoo is without question the most popular one on the market (Batiste and got2b are good too); it smells great and is like $3.50. You can’t go wrong. To apply, you lift your roots and spray. I can’t do this motion that well, so I prefer baby powder, but each works great; it’s all about your preference.

Root Concealer Aerosol Spray

If your roots are coming in and you can’t get them colored for a few weeks – money, waiting on an appointment, your disability, whatever – Rita Hazan’s Root Concealer (in various colors) will blow your mind. It did mine, and it’s worth every dollar (all 25 of them). This stuff was originally developed to cover-up grey, but it works on roots just as well, and it will stay in until your next shampoo.

Colored Hair Powder

My latest discovery is colored hair powder, closely giving both Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Rita Hazan’s cover-up a run for its money, as it’s both of these things in one. It’s called Finley hair powder, and holy cow is it awesome. It comes in four different colors – blonde, brown, white and black – and it too will sufficiently cover your roots until your next shampoo. Clean hair and colored hair; this may be the perfect hair product.

What I love most about these easy breezy hair-cleaners is that I no longer have to wash my hair in the sink in a pinch, desperately trying to score clean hair, and getting water all over my face and neck in the process. You gotta love living in the future. They’re constantly coming up with so many cool new hair products, making our lives infinitely better. Thank you so much ingenious hair product inventors of the world.

Which dry shampoos do you love?

Products mentioned

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder
Dove Dry Shampoo
Rita Hazan’s Root Concealer
Finley Hair Powder

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Quad Fingers and Doin’ Hair

They say your hair is your crowning glory, the first thing a possible mate notices even, which is why I’ve always been a bit meticulous about my hair.

However, as a C5-6 quadriplegic with no finger movement, taking care of my hair the way I’d like to hasn’t always been the easiest thing.

In fact, I had to make a lot of hair-related sacrifices since becoming paralyzed. Leaving the house with dirty hair (and throwing on a cap) when washing my hair just wasn’t feasible, leaving the house with unstyled hair because I forgot to have my PCA help me, and those are just two stories. It’s almost too easy to have a bad hair day when you’re paralyzed.

But I’ve been adamant about preventing this from happening, wanting to love my hair no matter what, and I went online looking for products that would help me be as independent as possible with my hair. Surprisingly, I found a few.

Make no mistake, there are going to be days where you’re not going to be able to have your hair the way you like, but there’s a lot you can still do to style your hair; a few products that will blow you away, and ones I personally can’t live without. Check them out below.

Headbands Forever

When you can’t move your fingers, using a hair binder to pull back your hair on your own is impossible, which is why many women who are quadriplegics opt for shorter hair-dos.  It’s kind of removes the need to do your hair. I however love having long hair and have committed myself to finding workarounds, and the headband is one of the best.

It takes minimal arm movement to slide one on and they’re so popular right now you’ll find amazing headbands wherever you go; skinny headbands of the big flower on the side, leather headbands reminiscent of native Americans, giant oversized headbands to give you a Boho look, I can’t get enough.

Blow Dryer Stand

If you have weaker arms and can’t hold a hair dryer, the amazingly handy blow dryer stand will change your world. A 2 1/2 ft. tall stand that sits on your bathroom counter top, just place your blow dryer in the stand, angle it towards you, then turn it on; instant hands-free blow drying. Awesome invention overload.

Check it out: Blow Dryer Stand

Jelly Handle Brush

If you are sick of using an adapted brush with a T-strap to hold it, you may want to try a Conair Gel Grip brush. They sell these everywhere – Target, Wal-Mart and drug stores – and it also doesn’t hurt that it’s a fine quality brush. Above all however, this brush is very easy to hold. The jelly handle is about 2 inches round in diameter, making it perfect to wedge into a quad hand.

Check it out: Conair Paddle Gel Grip Brush

Baby Powder

When you’re in a pinch and have dirty hair and not the ability to spray an aerosol can of dry shampoo, your best option is using baby power. You can sprinkle a little bit in your brush and comb your hair as you usually would. This helps clean your hair because the powder absorbs oil, plus if you get the scented kind of baby powder (magnolia blossom, lavender or cool cucumber), your hair will smell good all day.

Check it out: Scented baby powder

Whenever you do, don’t shave all your hair off in a moment of frustration.  I know it can be hard, no incredibly difficult, to not let your temper get the best of you when doing your hair with limited finger movement, but if you can manage to stay calm and not let it get the best of you, I promise you’ll find a way to create a hair-do on your own that you love.

What hair products could you never live without?

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Worry Free Home Decor

My husband and I bought our first house in 2009. It was really exciting. The place was definitely a fixer upper; I had all these wonderful ideas about how I would decorate and how beautiful it was going to be. I was going to have a house fit for a magazine. I think everyone feels this way the first time they move into their own space. However, most of us come to the realization that what we have in our head and what we can afford are two different things. We also find out that those DIY projects are not as easy as the home depot commercials make them look.

My husband and I have now lived in this house for about four and a half years, and we are still working on various projects. This is because we don’t want to go into debt fixing up the house, so my husband takes on one or two projects a year. I obviously cannot help with these projects, but I do my best to make sure my house has that homey feel by adding small touches here and there.

One company that I have discovered along my decorating way is Scentsy. Scentsy is a company that sells electric, wickless, candles for your home. I am going to be honest, with a dog, four cats, one husband and my tendency for setting of the smoke alarm, my house can get a little smelly and stuffy, especially during the winter when we are all cooped up inside. Candles are a great way to help keep your house smelling nice, they also give your house a cozy feel. But lets face it, open flames and Cerebral Palsy are not the best combination. Open flames and cats are even worse.

Scentsy products are great because they use these beautiful ceramic warmers to melt a non-toxic scented wax that will fill your room with one of many wonderful scents. The wax gets warm, but not hot, so you won’t get burned if you spill it. I have even had wax spilled on my kitchen floor, it was quick and easy to clean. The burners come in several sizes and can either be plugged directly into the wall like a nightlight, or set on a table.

The main reason I love Scentsy is that I can select a fragrance, turn it on and not worry about it. I can leave the room, or even the house, and not worry that something is going to catch on fire. I also don’t have to spend 45 minute rummaging for a lighter.

One word of warning: Scentsy is awesome and you might feel like you don’t need those candles anymore, but make sure to keep a few on hand, and know where they are. Scentsy might be safer than a candle, but they won’t work during a power outage; you really don’t want to forage for candles to light your living room in the dark, trust me on that.

Guilty Pleasures to Keep My Happy Up

When you have a disability, it’s easy to have more bad days than good. Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but that seems to be the case for a number of us at least. More things can go bad when you’re dependent on more things, from wheelchairs and van ramps breaking to PCAs not showing up.

I’ve found when I have those bad days, those really really bad days when I wish my disability to go away forever (hey we’ve all had those days), I’ve found nothing helps more than doing something off my “guilty pleasures” list. Yes that’s right, I have a list dedicated to my guilty pleasures and it’s helped me through a lot of bad moments.

When you’re alone and have no one to talk to, or just think you don’t, doing a simple thing that makes you immensely happy – a guilty pleasure – can be more effective than taking a pill; believe me. There’s something so soothing about a guilty pleasure…even more than you might realize.

Maybe you already know this and employ it often, but if you don’t and aren’t sure what your guilty pleasures are, perhaps my list will help. Check out a few of my favorite items from my guilty pleasures list that helps keep my happy up.

Chocolate Glazed Donuts

They may be a trend right now, but I’ve always loved donuts, ever since my church would put out simple glazed doughnuts after service as a kid. And after my injury, donuts strangely began had an especially healing effect on me. Maybe it was because they reminded me of happier days, and my favorite donut by far – chocolate glazed.

These two things – chocolate AND glaze – are the best worlds of yumminess in a single donut, and surprisingly Market Pantry (Target’s off-brand) is one of the best out there. You can get 6 of these delicious bad-day melters for only a $1.50, which makes them one of the cheapest most tasty guilty pleasures ever. These unfortunately however are only available in-store, but they’re worth it.

Check them out: Find the Target nearest you

Silk Scarves

When you have limited sensation in your lower extremities, pampering your upper extremities is hugely important to keep your sanity, and nothing feels better than a little bit of silk on the skin. When you have quadriplegia, this means wrapping your neck and shoulders in silk; aka just put on a silk scarf goshdarnit.

I have had several silk scarves in my day, for the best one I’ve had by far is one I recently bought from MommaGoddess on Etsy, dyed in beautiful rainbow colors. It is so soft and feels so wonderful it helps me forget the crazy world outside everytime I wear it. Plus, the bright colors make me feel like I’m Rainbow Brite. Winning.

Check it out: Hand-Dyed Over the Rainbow Silk Scarf

Caramel Rolls

Another pastry that calls my name on a bad day are the quintessential caramel rolls. Warm and soft sweet rolls drizzled with caramel and stuffed inside and out with pecans; how can anything be more delicious? Having one in front of me ready to be devoured is a visual pleasure trumps any flat tire or memory of a rude stare.

And the greatest thing about caramel rolls, it’s really easy to eat just one because many places only sell them singularly, and one of my favorite places to get one is Cinnabon; the high school haunt of my youth that I’m darn glad is still around today.  They’re giant, warm pastries of amazingness and they’re worth every dollar, which will set you back about four of them these days. #worthit

Check them out: Caramel Pecanbons

Dove Dry Shampoo

If you’re a girl, chances are feeling pretty is a guilty pleasure too. Getting your nails done, your hair foiled or maybe just buying something pretty can help you feel worlds better. In my world, nothing makes me feel prettier than sexy hair, and Dove’s Dry Shampoo – a product that was released a few years ago  – makes my hair look amazing with just a quick squirt.

It’s infused with powder that cleans your hair in an instant and it smells just like Dove soap, one of my favorite smells in the world. No longer do I need a PCA to look fabulous, and that feels better than anything.

Check it out: Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo

Strawberry Milk Straws

I’m not sure why, but I really like artificial strawberry flavoring; another vestige of my youth no doubt. Making my own strawberry milk on the fly however is not easy when you have paralyzed fingers. I could buy it already mixed of course, but the strawberry milk straws from Magic Milk, that flavor your milk as you drink it, is so much more fun.

These inadvertently are the perfect thing for people with upper-body disabilities. Tiny sliver crystals jam-packed into the straw that once moistened by the milk, they release their awesome flavor. No spoons, mixing or anything else required. And they come in other tasty flavors too – chocolate, cookies ‘n cream, vanilla and strawberry banana.

Check them out: Magic Milk Straws

The moral of my story: Utilize your guilty pleasures for a higher purpose when you have a disability. Get smart, recognize what makes you happy and use those things as your bad-day arsenal when needed. Trust me, it really works.

What guilty pleasures help you after a bad day?

Products mentioned

Hand-Dyed Over the Rainbow Silk Scarf

Caramel Pecanbons

Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo

Magic Milk Straws

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Photography Gear to Help you Follow Your Passion

This photo is part of the 100 Snapshots Challenge. It was taken in Chicago with my point and shoot camera.

I have always been a creative person. This creativity first manifested itself through writing. It was the easiest, most accessible way for me to express myself. As I got older, I fell in love with photography. My friends would constantly groan and make fun of me because I had to take photos of everything. When I participated in the “100 snapshots challenge” on Live Journal, my photographs began taking a more artistic turn; I discovered that there was more than one way in which I could express myself artistically.

For years I shot my photos with a small “point and shoot” digital camera. It was easy to carry around and I was able to take pretty decent photos with it. However, I found myself wanting to have more control over my images and wanting to try techniques that a point and shoot just couldn’t accomplish. When my husband bought me a Canon Rebel XSi for Christmas in 2009 I was off and running.

From the start, photography presented far more physical challenges than writing. Obviously I can’t get to some of the places that other photographers might, which is frustrating, but I have found ways around a few of the challenges that photography presents.

My biggest problem, besides the accessibility of some locations, is keeping the camera steady so I can get a nice, sharp image. Single Lens Reflex cameras, like my Canon, are much heavier than point and shoots, mostly because of the lenses. This means you need two hands to take a photo, which is pretty difficult to do if you use crutches or a walker to hold yourself up. Canon has lenses that come with an image stabilizer option, which is awesome and does help, but the feature makes them more expensive. Plus it is primarily for smaller movements, as opposed to the kind of camera shake I was experiencing.

To solve this problem, my husband came through once again, and bought me a tri-pod. I use the Vista Attaras FZ10. This tri-pod is stable enough for me to lean on if needed, which is quite important for me. Another feature I like is that it can be adjusted to almost any angle and height, making it easy to get steady shots whether I am standing, using my chair or want to get closer to the ground. An additional perk is the carrying bag that can be worn across the body or on the back of the wheelchair with very little assistance needed.

The last thing that has been essential to my success as a photographer is my Lowepro Backpack. I bought for my trip to Colorado. It holds my camera, all my lenses, as well as my laptop and anything else I might need or want while taking pictures on the go. I use this backpack whenever I might need to change a lens, even in my own backyard. It keeps all my accessories safe and at hand.

Colorado Moutain Landscape
This photo was taken with my Canon SLR camera on my trip to Colorado.

Photography is a great way to express your creativity and share your experiences with the world. Whether you choose a point and shoot or a SLR, I encourage you to give it a try. If you don’t know where to start, try the 100 Snapshots Challenge. The page has not be updated in ages but the list is still there and it is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.


We Need Your Help!

The “Shout” section of UNlimiters is for all of you to share with us your experiences and the products or techniques you use to make life easier.  Even the simplest ideas may not have been considered as a possible solution by others; it took me a while to discover sugar cubes instead of trying to measure sugar in a teaspoon while making a huge mess.

There are three facts I have learned:

1. You and our community as a whole are incredibly inventive and resourceful at overcoming daily obstacles.

2. Your thoughts and ideas will spark other ideas which in turn will spark other ideas continuing the cycle of development.

3. Feedback is vital in life, and in this community, and encourages participation and innovation.

In this vein, you have the ability to help many others in similar situations just by sharing your own successes regardless of how small a triumph it may seem.  Although what you write in the “Shout” section is not seen by others directly, we look through the responses every day and try to get them posted and on our website.

With your help, we will create a central location where people can come to learn about and find the products or services they can actually use, recommended by the people who actually use them. In doing so, solutions will be found to both known and unknown obstacles.

You can also shout at us by commenting on our blogs. The blogs do not always mention products directly, but we would love for you to help with that. All of our writers would love to hear your feedback on their topics.

Either way we need your support.  We want UNlimiters to be shaped and designed by you.  Jump on in and shout at us!

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