Beauty Q&A: Remember Crystal Gayle?

1. Over the past six years, I sort of accidentally grew my hair 3 1/2 feet long. It all started because, after years of short cuts, I decided I wanted to look like a mermaid when I got out of the shower — and when it didn’t stop growing, I figured I’d let it do it’s thing. But it still hasn’t stopped, and now I’m kind of sick of it? Plus I’m getting married next September, and I don’t want to get upstaged by my own mane. I decided a while ago that whenever I cut my hair, I’d sell it. “The Gift of the Magi” and Google both tell me this is a Thing, and I hear healthy/untreated hair like mine is worth a lot of dough.

The problem is, I can’t figure out how best to make it happen. I live in NYC, so ideally, I’ll sell it in person. I mean, there have got to be places in this city that buy hair! Right? But how does one go about finding them? In this regard, Google is entirely unhelpful. Do you have any idea how to go about doing this?

Accidents happen. You should donate it.

I don’t know where you can sell it in person, but ask a few large, local salons. The internet seems competitive though, and that might mean more money. Let’s turn into an “Oh my god!” squad and marvel at online human hair auctions, some still attached to people’s heads! THIS IS A THING. Thousands of dollars are being exchanged. Who are the buyers? Look at all this hair. Hair, hair, everywhere. This lady has as much as you! Is anyone else creeped out? You might be in a second…

“10 Russian Human Hair Ponytails on ebay Auction!!!”

We need to get to the bottom of this, but the bottom is a long way down.

Now, everyone watch this movie so I have someone to talk to about it:

2. I am 23 years old, living in New York City, and pursuing my master’s degree. I am also rather petite, and generally look much younger than my age. Random strangers in the elevator have felt compelled to offer guesses at my age, and I have gotten a range of 15 to 18. In a project I was working on recently, the running group joke was that no matter what I wore, I looked like a schoolgirl, and they weren’t entirely wrong. I’m starting to worry that my looks mean that I’m not going to be taken seriously when job hunting post-graduation. I know perfectly well I’m smart enough to assume the authority my field demands, but I also know I don’t tend to look like someone who can hold her own in a room of clashing opinions. I guess I do sometimes dress somewhat frivolously — I prefer skirts and dresses to trousers, and am a huge fan of the cute patterned tights section on ModCloth. But even pieces that would look perfectly normal on other twenty-somethings — a colorful dress, a tweed skirt — make me look like I’ve just wandered out of home room at Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows. How can I find the sweet spot between not looking 16, but not being forced to resort to a wardrobe consisting entirely of charcoal-colored pencil skirts and sensible shoes?

First off, those people from your group project sound like REAL GEMS.

But… I think we should maybe try to hear what they were attempting to get across. People aren’t the best at saying what they actually mean, and they’re usually very uncomfortable offering unsolicited advice, especially if it might hurt another person’s feelings. So we make fun of someone instead, like a bunch of adults. Yeesh. I bet they just felt a little uncomfortable for you. Let’s take this as an opportunity to grow and change and become the person you are in your head. ModCloth, for the most part, is for teenagers. No more ModCloth for you! Be honest: you, specifically, cannot be trusted around dandy prints and frilly flounces, so steer clear. That also means no Anthropologie, but hopefully that’ll be easier to avoid since it’s prohibitively expensive.

Also, do you have virgin hair like Letter Writer #1? Chop it off and throw some grown-up color in there.

I don’t want to waste everyone’s time giving you a shopping list or a bunch of specific Do’s and Don’ts for those cursed by youthfulness, but I would like to implore you not to look at this as being forced to conform. Only you are in charge of projecting the mature adult living inside your schoolgirl shell to the rest of the world, and it sounds like maybe you’ve been pandering to the shell. There’s absolutely a happy medium between Pippi Longstocking and Miss Marple. I mean, c’mon. If you’re going to wear printed tights, go nuts and mix them with a bunch of other prints — preferably some geometric ones and not all flowers and polka dots. Then people will think you’re eccentric, not 15. Actually, I know I said I wasn’t going to give you assignments, but you should just copy everything Alexa Chung does, especially her business attire. That means tone down the folksy, cutesy stuff, but don’t cut them out entirely. Add more black, and then add even more black. This can be accomplished at H&M, just stay away from any item that makes you wonder, “Am I too old to wear this?”

(And PS: You’re 23. It’s okay if you look a million years younger than the rest of us, for now. Haters gonna hate.)

3. I got a $100 gift certificate to Sephora for Christmas and I need help with what to spend it on. I’m somewhat comfortable with the basics, so maybe something a little out there? Something I would be hesitant to try if it was real money? I’ve been reading about highlighters and people seem to swear by filling in their eye brows with something. What do you think? It’s burning a hole in my pocket, but I don’t know what I want/need.

Just mail it to me to stop the burning. I’d splurge on one super-indulgent skincare item, since those things are often out of my price range. Like a Clarisonic Mia, the little travel one that costs $120. Sure, every few weeks I’m convinced the brush is actually making my skin worse and giving me zits, but that’s probably because I forget to use it every time I wash my face like you’re supposed to and also because I always get zits, no fault of any machine’s. But maybe it’ll be your new favorite thing? Or how about a serum and a powdered sunblock? Or what the fuck is this Brazillian Peel stuff? Let’s find out!

As for fun and experimental makeups, you’ve already got the right idea with the highlighters and eyebrow junk. Those are actually both in my daily routine — absolute essentials. The best highlighter I’ve found at Sephora is from Josie Maran. Yes, I used to like High Beam, but Josie’s is better. Then again, I haven’t tried this new one from Benefit, so you should get that and let us know. For a powder version, if you’ve never had one of Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks before, see if you’re on board. They’re fun. And the standard pencil from Anastasia is perfect for filling in and brushing your brows. Plus, they make the rest of your brow care so easy with videos and their other tools.

Here are a few more dream products I’d scoop up if someone dropped a Sephora-shaped hundo in my lap: this eyeshadow palette everyone goes bananas over for some reason, this makeup brush set, you can never have enough of this hair powder, this self-marriage proposal kit, and this Fresh lip balm set because I go through/lose a million of them a year.

4. How am I supposed to use Retin-A and night cream? Can I apply both at the same time on the same areas? Any other Retin-A best practices? I got very little instruction from my derm, just “apply on and around your nose, and work up to doing it every day,” so any guidance would be appreciated!

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE BECAUSE I STUDIED HISTORY AS AN UNDERGRAD, BUT I DID GET STRAIGHT As, SO… My main feeling about the efficacy of Retin-A is that as long as you’re putting it on skin, it’s it’ll figure out how to do it’s job. Sure, maybe it’d do it better if you wash your face, pat it dry, apply the Retin-A and then wait an hour to put creams on top or whatever? I’ll grant someone that. But get real! We got books to read in bed. I mix mine right in with my night cream or serum. In particular, this Philosophy serum really helped me get through those first few months of Retin-A without irritation. And yes, building up is key. At most, start with half a pea-sized dollop once ever three days for a few weeks. Then go to every-other-day, then every night.

So, that’s my answer: fuck it, just put it on your face! Also ask your derm more questions next time. Also-also I apply it everywhere except for my eyes and lips, though I do tap it onto my crows feet, but you can do whatever you like.

Previously: Cheap Creams, Jeans, and Long Hair Dreams.

Do you have a question for Jane?