Can You Read the Directions on Your Hair and Beauty Products?

When I was in college, I had a sorority sister who woke up one morning in a fog, and mistakenly put vaginal cream instead of Crest on her toothbrush. We laughed about it all the time during our junior and senior years of college. Personally, I think a nasty grain alcohol punch at a frat party the night before was partly to blame.

These days, most of us don’t make those kind of mistakes, at least not because of alcohol. Truth be told, I make them because, damn it, I can’t read the fine print. When I can’t read the directions on the back, something bad is bound to happen. Damn these manufacturers, they still don’t get me–don’t they know I can’t keep my progressive glasses in the shower? Sometimes the glasses are kept beside the toilet, of course, where they are extremely essential. Manufacturers don’t seem to get that I can’t read a size 4 font. See? Of course you don’t.

Don’t you find manufacturers always telling you to follow the directions? I am a 45-plus woman and believe I am in the age range for a critical market. Don’t you agree?  As a mature consumer, I am supposed to be checking out if the ingredients are going to kill me, right?

I want to be honest with you. My deep hydration UV+ Bamboo hair masque that I recently received as a holiday gift has been sitting in my shower for two months–I don’t know if it is a leave-in conditioner or rinse-out. The print is so small I can’t even read it with my progressive glasses. Same with a product in a fancy glass dispenser called Caviar Anti-Aging, Photo-Age Defense Repair, Patch & Protect. That one has been sitting in my linen closet collecting dust while I try to figure out if it is a hair product or a skin product. Who knows? Maybe it is both (or maybe it is a dessert topping— seriously, it looks and smells delicious!)

I complained to my boyfriend once about my beauty merchandise. He loves it when I complain about first world problems like my bathroom products. He was less than empathetic. “You would think that after 45years, you would know how to shampoo and condition without directions,” he said, and walked away. Men! They so don’t get it. And what was I thinking discussing this topic with a man who uses one-step?

So I called a friend. One with big hair and eyes like mine. “Oh My God,” she said, “I hear you, sister.” Just recently, she told me, she had been walking around for several days with sticky, greasy, flat hair. She was miserable, and mystified. She finally figured out that the hair product she had been using was not a styling cream at all, but was actually a rinse-out conditioner. Another friend told me about a girl who put a pomade styling product on her hair as a leave-in conditioning treatment and went out for a walk in the hot sun. The wax in the product melted down her forehead, bugs got stuck in her hair, and she couldn’t get the product out for days. No alcohol involved in these situations, just a lack of legible directions.

I’ve come to realize that my beauty products are complicated- Nourishing rinses, thickening agents, relaxants, curl protectants, sculpting foams, balms, mousses, repair creams, straightening treatments. The bottles and tubes are beautiful, and they smell good enough to eat, but since I am 45-plus, I need to know three basics — in a bold 14-point font: 1. What body part does it go on? 2. Is it leave in or wash out? And, 3. Are the ingredients going to kill me?

Because without instructions, I am dangerous.


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I don’t know about you, but FREE is my favorite four letter word – after LOVE! Boy, oh boy, do I have a deal for you! If you’ve lost your hair while undergoing chemotherapy, you will probably start a new collection of hats, scarves and other head coverings to keep the drafts away!

I had quite a collection of scarves and hats that I color coordinated with all of my outfits. The only downfall to this was the HUGE expense! Although I have passed my collection on to women undergoing treatment, I recently found a few head covering FREEBIES that I wanted to pass along to you. I’m hoping this information will help you find a Shining Moment for you or your loved one.

Here are some ways to get them for FREE:

  • Knitted or crocheted scarves:  My Pink Scarf offers a Free handmade scarf to any woman going through any type of cancer treatment.  Scarves are made by members of various organizations, high school students, even prison inmates all across the country.  To request a scarf, email your name, your relationship to the person you want to receive it, and their address, to:  Or you can call 701-426-8303.  They also welcome donations of materials and volunteers who want to make scarves.
  • Hats:  Heavenly Hats was started by 10-year-old Anthony D. Leanna to provide FREE brand-new hats for cancer patients who lose their hair “to help the patients feel better about themselves and to give them the extra courage and hope to win their fight.”  The hats are just a small symbol of hope and love, but, he says, “My wish is that it will have the power to brighten the patient’s day so that they can look to the future with a smile. “  You can request one from a variety of choices including lightweight spring hats, wool ones, beanies and baseball caps. Call 920-434-4151 ext. 1400.
  • Scarves or head wraps:  If you are experiencing a loss or thinning of your hair as a result of chemo, the Good Wishes program at France Luxe and L. Erickson USA will send you a FREE “hug for your head” – a head wrap or scarf in the pattern and color of you choice.  All Good Wishes gifts are made with Crystallized Swarovski Elements as a special symbol to honor your courage and spirit. Call 888-884-3653.
  • More Hats: The Hat Box Foundation was established to make and distribute FREE handmade hats to people with cancer.  Each hat distributed through the foundation is 100% hand-knitted or crocheted by volunteers from across the country and comes with “that special ingredient of kindness.” Check it out!


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“Why? Why? Why? …is a common and natural response to nonsensical tragedy that is an inherent part of life. After my breast cancer diagnosis, an innumerable number of people posed the “Why?” question to me: “How is it,” they wondered, “that someone who is as healthy and fit and happy as you are get diagnosed with cancer?”

I never questioned my diagnosis (or even my abhorrent reaction to the treatments). I felt as though, for reasons unbeknownst to me, that breast cancer was the experience that I was supposed to have. Further, I channeled any (unanswerable) questioning into action, which turned out to be a great source of Shining Moments.

It’s not to say that I haven’t ever asked the big “Why?” question because I certainly have. Many times. For example when a dear friend died two years ago (after having been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer), I certainly asked WHY? (Actually, I asked WTF?).

A book that seems to be omnipresent in the cancer world is When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner. As a small-town rabbi he counseled other people through pain and grief. But it was not until he learned that his three-year-old son, Aaron, would die in his early teens of a rare disease that he confronted one of life’s most difficult questions: Where do we find the resources to cope when tragedy strikes?

In order to come up with an explanation of tragedy and suffering which satisfies both honest observation of reality and faith in a good God, Rabbi Kushner begins by assessing the explanations for suffering which he grew up with and encountered when trying to deal with Aaron’s illness and death, all of which failed to satisfy.

Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being.

Rabbi Kushner has been quoted as saying, “I [wrote this book] out of my own need to put into words some of the most important things I have come to believe and know. And I would write it to help other people who might one day find themselves in a similar predicament. I am fundamentally a religious man who has been hurt by life, and I wanted to write a book that could be given to the person who has been hurt by life, and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better.”

Since its original publication in 1981, this often imitated but never superseded book is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers.

From my perspective as a breast cancer patient in 2008-2009, I would encourage people to keep asking the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

However, (here comes the slightly deep-seated part), after asking the question, I would encourage you to cease looking for answers. Instead, I advocate that you start formulating a response. The Shining Moment is that inexplicable calamity creates an opportunity to take virtuous rage and desolation and turn it into a force for doing good.

No it’s not easy. I would never suggest otherwise. What I do know for sure is that flabbergasting circumstances and even indignation can be redirected and channeled into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate anguish wherever you can. At least that’s how I’m rolling…”


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Give optimism, encouragement and empowerment to those who are battling breast cancer with some thoughtful FREE gifts. All of this good cheer are wonderful Shining Moments!

Sign up for these for yourself, tell your loved ones so they can do the asking for you, or send a token to a friend who’s on the road to recovery:

  • Chemo Angels:  This volunteer organization is dedicated to bringing a ray of sunshine and a heavy dose of encouragement into the lives of those undergoing IV treatment.  They match patients with an angel who will send FREE notes, cards and small gifts to keep spirits up during the course of treatment. Check it out!
  • Card Care Connection:  with the message “Join Together Lift Spirits,” Card Care Connection’s aim is to provide personalized handmade greeting cards to people with cancer across the US. The FREE cards provide an uplifting message of hope to brighten a cancer patients’ day.  Request a card to be sent to a friend or loved one, ask for one for yourself, or even volunteer to make some to help the cause.  They also encourage people to organize a card making event to help them in their efforts and they accept donations of money, stamps and supplies.  Check it out!

Good to Know

  • The Lydia Project, based in Augusta, GA, sends women facing any type of cancer FREE hand-crafted tote bags lovingly made by volunteers.  Each bag is filled with comfort items including an inspirational journal, lotion and more.  Recipients can also request ongoing support in the form of notes, phone calls or prayers for at least 12 months.  While this used to be a free service, now the tote is free, but there is a $10 shipping and handling fee to cover costs. Check it out!


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Having breast cancer really hit my wallet hard. Little did I know there are organizations that can help lighten the load by covering co-pays, housing (if you need to go to another city for treatment), and even such daily expenses as groceries, rent and utilities. WOWZA! What a Shining Moment!

Here are a few that I would like to share with you:

  • Financial Wellness Tool Kit:  Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization supporting young women and their families, of all Jewish backgrounds, facing breast cancer, offers a FREE Tool Kit addressing the often complicated issues of health insurance, disability rights, financial planning, and estate planning.  Sharsheret’s Financial Wellness Tool Kit includes guidelines from experts in the field, tools to record and organize your personal information, vital resources and helpful tips from other Jewish women who have faced illness.  Call 866-474-2774.
  • Hope Lodge:  Traveling out of town for treatment when required can be prohibitively expensive, so the American Cancer Society has a FREE place where cancer patients and their caregivers can stay when home is far away.  Currently, there are 31 Hope Lodge locations throughout the U.S., offering private rooms and a nurturing home-like environment so patients can focus on getting well.  Accommodations and eligibility requirements vary by location and availability is first come, first served. To find out more call 800-227-2345.
  • Breast Cancer Assistance Program:  As part of the Sisters Network, a leading voice for African American breast cancer survivors, this program provides FREE services to women facing financial challenges during treatment, radiation and chemotherapy, including medical related lodging, co-pays, office visits and prosthesis.  They also provide FREE mammograms. Go to
  • Kristy Lasch Miracle Foundation offers limited FREE financial assistance to women under 30 living with breast cancer for medical-related expenses only.  Check it out at
  • Cancer Care Co-Payment Assistance Foundation:  This national non-profit helps metastatic breast cancer patients cover the insurance co-payment cost of chemo and targeted treatment drugs. Patients must meet certain criteria related to their diagnosis, treatment and financial situation and must have private insurance or Medicare.  If you do not qualify, the organization will refer you to other patient assistance programs that may be able to help. Call 866-55-COPAY (6729).
  • The Cancer Card XChange collects and distributes FREE gift cards to cancer patients around the country in the denomination of $10 to $100.  They accept donations of restaurant, store, movie theatre and gas gift cards that people have lying around and aren’t using.  Donors can also make tax-deductible donations of money or gift cards in honor or memory of loved ones.  To make a referral or request a card, go to

Good to Know

  • Fertile Hope’s Sharing Hope program from LIVESTRONG is not free, but it does offer financial assistance for newly diagnosed young women facing infertility due to cancer treatment so they can freeze their eggs or embryos.  There are income caps for eligibility.  Call 855-220-7777.


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I’ve always been a sucker for April Fool’s Day. I love this quote and I hope you do, too!

Fool me once,

Shame on you,

Fool me twice,

Shame on me!

~ Chinese Proverb

Can you believe this is a Chinese Proverb? Happy April Fool’s Day!

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“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and to let it come in.” ~ Morrie Schwartz

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S is for sex, J is for journey and Q is for quitting in Madhulika Sikka’s new book about her experience with breast cancer.

When Madhulika Sikka found out she had breast cancer, she decided to deal with it as any journalist would — by jotting down some thoughts about her experience.

Her good friend encouraged her and thought that what she was going through was actually very common and that other people might benefit from hearing about these challenges.

The result was her new book A Breast Cancer Alphabet. This book provides some humor and some attitude, too! How’s that for a shining moment?!

She does this by organizing the book so that each letter of the alphabet has a word associated with it that Sikka relates to her experience with cancer. For example, S is for sex — no, really. J is for journey but not because Sikka relates her experience in that way. In fact, she spurns the idea of a journey, calling it cliché.

She dislikes the metaphor because something mystical always seems to be attached to it and really it’s a disease, just like so many others. It also implies a beginning, middle and end, and that doesn’t work for her. The implication is that at the end you have discovered some greater truth, some epiphany, which she also discovered wasn’t necessarily the case.

Sikka doesn’t want to replace the metaphor of the journey — simply get rid of it all together.

Other letters include Q for quitting because some days you’ll want to. And H is for hair, which Sikka is all for making a federal case out of.

Because Sikka comes from broadcast journalism (she is an executive editor at NPR), her discussions in the book are often frank and necessary, not “pink washed” with pretty words though she is a fantastic writer.

Breast cancer is far from something that people don’t know about or discuss, and Sikka admits this. Her book doesn’t aim to enlighten but rather provide a base for women to turn to as they struggle with common challenges that come with the disease.

Thanks to the Pink Ribbon campaign, breast cancer awareness has been beneficially raised during these past few years, but Sikka is hesitant to call the movement a success because of its commercialized nature.

Her chief complaint is that now it has become such a vast, crass, commercialized enterprise that seems so distant from the disease itself. Personally, I think it is really difficult to find a straight line from the NFL clad in pink or various retail brands that have slapped pink ribbons on their products to experiencing the disease itself. Sikka is bold as to suggest that as far as awareness goes, that mission is accomplished.

Despite her struggles with cancer, Sikka counts herself as fortunate though she says she still has her own set of struggles. Like me, she is on a daily dose of Tamoxifen that hopefully will reduce the odds of recurrence of breast cancer. It has its own side effects, but Sikka has learned to cope with them… She feels that there is always anxiety, and boy, oh boy, do I agree with her. The onset of middle age leads to a lot of aches and pains and changes in your body, but in the back of your mind (as a breast cancer survivor) you think it might be something more serious.

Sikka doesn’t have any regrets about the alphabet she has created though she explained that it will be different for everyone. She encourages people to add to the conversation on A Breast Cancer Alphabet‘s Tumblr.

According to Sikka, there’s a chance that we might come up with a whole dictionary that will benefit not only the people going through this wretched disease but their families and for medical professionals, too.

This book is cute, a quick read, and the comicality is spot on!


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I think it’s the best food finding since chocolate was declared healthy:  Three cups of popcorn have more good-for-you polyphenols than a serving of fruit.  In fruit, because it’s about 90% water, these nutrients are diluted.  But in popcorn, with only 4% water, they’re concentrated.  Just be sure to skip the butter and salt to keep your kernels in a healthy zone.  And fill your produce bin, too-you need the variety to get a range of polyphenols.


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