Beauty Convos with Gad Cohen: How Do I Get My Mojo Back?

As I’ve begun to settle into my ‘new-normal” state during this Covid era, I’m able to stop and take stock a bit.  The first few months I was working at a frenetic pace trying to manage increasing work, kids and home needs.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that my family is healthy, I’m still gainfully employed and that the weather has been warm enough that I can get outside one a while.  But as I settle into my new routine, I’ve started bumming on the new beauty reality of social distancing.   How can I express my me-ness?  Can I share the part of me that’s associated with how I look and show up, my sense of fashion and beauty?  If my life consists of presenting on camera..how do I do that well?

Oh, yeah, what do I do when I have to give a speech at a “virtual” conference next month?  You see when I present, I see it as a performance of sorts.  Of course my content is the most important part of the experience.  But for my information to resonate, I do a lot to make it entertaining — including how I come across on stage.  I use videos, jokes and gestures to make my points.  And I try to present an image — one of intelligence, fun, AND glamour.  So what happens now that I’m relegated to giving a speech on a tiny screen?

Who do I turn to for some advice (and commiseration) on this topic?  My close friend and beauty stylist to the stars, Gad Cohen.   His response?  First, he totally sympathizes.  “We need responses from other ppl…that’s natural. We get dressed up for work and look for a reaction of some sort. And now we  don’t have that ‘audience’ anymore.”

Then we moved beyond the moping and when into solution-mode.  “We have to be creative in our confinement,” said Gad.  In addition to all the typical tricks we’ve been reading, e.g., make sure your background looks nice, ensure your sound works, or don’t just wear your PJ’s all day, Gad gave us some new tips.  Here are some:

1. It’s not enough to have a great background, but change it up!  It not only refreshes you but the folks that you tend to chat with virtually too.

2. Watch other ppl … you see what’s good and what’s not so good.

3. Think of your appearance on the computer camera like you would a portrait..only its a LIVE portrait.  Consider the framing, the composition and the lighting   Natural light is the most even.  Don’t get too close to the camera.  Make sure your heads and shoulders are in frame.  And sit at the right angle.  Maybe face on isn’t the best but at a slight tilt or angle changes everything

4. Be smart about hair and make up — you don’t want to look too done up.  “As long as we look fresh — fresh is the keyword — don’t look like you just got out of bed..a day time look.  Look polished.  Polish is key.  Add a little lipstick.  Give hair volume — freshly washed, blown out, velcro rollers.  Never ever cut it!”

And now I’m adding something:

 5.  Have fun with wigs and head scarves!  I never thought about this myself until I had a virtual birthday bash a few weeks ago and my friend came on the camera wearing a fun wig.  Instead of  panicking about your hair color, just dress up in a wig or scarf.  I ended up wearing a blonde pixie wig and then went online right after and bought myself a bright red wig for the next cocktail hour we have.

Yes, we may not be able to totally express our fashion sense or head to toe beauty during this era, but that doesn’t mean we can’t express it in different and even more creative ways.  And the even better news is that when things start to return, we will have the tips and tricks to make even the simple call as beautiful as possible!

For for the full video of our convo, check below:


“The inevitable dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance is the engine not only of philosophy but of civil society at large.” Andy Martin. SXSW, Satre & Scissors: Getting Prepped for SXSW Reflects the Basis of Philosophy

download_20160311_060955

I’m in SXSW now but before my trip, I knew I had to clean up my act before my panel. I don’t mean I had to behave like a responsible adult (the totally wrong move in Austin :)).  No, I had to get beautified.

When it comes to getting my hair cut, I push it off as long as possible. I just can’t commit the time. But when I do, I enter into a state of euphoria as soon as I plunk myself down in the stylist’s chair.  This is especially true when I’m at getting styled by my good friend, and beauty expert to stars and tech gurus alike, Gad Cohen.

Hair transformations have been even more top of mind for me thanks to this week’s episode of American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J Simpson.  Poor Marcia Clark (played superbly by Sarah Paulson) undergoes a hair redo in order to be better liked in the courtroom. The look on her face as she’s about to get shorn totally looked like mine: gleeful excited and full of happiness.  Thank goodness, my result did not resemble her’s on the show! Oy.

Why do so many of us love this type transformative experience? Is because we all need a change? Actually it goes FAR deeper than that.

This question reminds me of a post a wrote a few year back in response to a pretty heady article in the NY Times, The Phenomenology of Ugly called Philosophy: A Bi-Product of Ugliness.  In the Times piece, writer, Andy Martin, realizes (while getting a haircut) that our recognition of our ugliness (in other word the need for physical improvement) is the basis of philosophy. We believe that the world, like ourselves, can be improved.

Here’s an excerpt from my post:

Is vanity vapid or virtuous?  Andy Martin certainly makes a case for the latter.  As you can imagine from the title of his article, the piece was a bit esoteric (lots of references to Sartre and Camus, with a bit of Britney Spears mixed in). But what I got out of it was quite interesting.

In essence, he writes that analyzing your beauty (or lack of it in his case due to a very bad haircut) can have great consequences. That is, by virtue of recognizing that an aspect of your appearance can be improved, let’s say a bad hairdo or big zit cropping up on your chin, you realize that improvement is within reach in other aspects of life.  Says Martin, “that original, self-conscious, slightly despairing glance in the mirror (together with, “Is this is?” or “Is that all there is?”) is a great enabler because it compels us to seek improvement …The inevitable dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance is the engine not only of philosophy but of civil society at large.”

If the knowledge that we have some power over our looks empowers us to change other aspects of our lives for the better, maybe a dose of vanity is what we all need!

I certainly walked away empowered from my amazing transformation experience thanks to Gad.  I feel like I can conquer the crazy networking in Austin and, especially, my stage event on Monday.  But knowing that any kind of change — even just a few inches chopped off and colored — can be the spark to even greater societal movement, gets me all goose-bumpy.

If you’re in Austin, come to our panel!  But if you’re not, then go get a haircut :).

Weekend Observations: Hair, the French, & the Ever-Covetable Beauty


IMG_20140928_185352IMG_20140928_185458
Yikes!
That was my reaction when I saw how much my stylist cut off of my hair last week.  Of course I didn’t say it out loud, but, man, did I say it my head. VERY LOUDLY!
Mind you, I had ridiculously long hair which I put off cutting given how expensive and time-consuming a hair cut is.  But the biggest reason I avoided it for so long was that I wanted a freshly cut ‘do in time for my son’s bar mitzvah.
Of course I expected a few inches off especially since I showed a few pics of Gwen Stefani’s look — a nice, bit-longer-than-shoulder-length mane.
What I got? A barely-touching- my-collar-bone style!  I panicked.  Isn’t long hair key to feminine beauty?
But as it always happens,  I started liking the new look.  I mean really liking it!
See the pics above? That’s me right after my hair cut and me just now in my pjs 🙂
My new hair style has brought out my inner Frenchness.  (Too bad I didn’t have it for my meeting with a particular high-end French fashion company the week before.) You rarely see a French woman with a long mane.  Instead you’d see her with shoulder-length mussed up hair — never too perfect, of course.
And maybe its a coincidence or its serendipity but I started noticing all the recent references to french beauty, including a celebration of Bridget Bardot’s 80th birthday with her top 8 looks of all time and A French-Girl Beauty Rules, both found in Vogue’s most recent online edition.
Nothing new in the stories, but a good reminder of what signal’s french beauty, e.g., never being too polished, eating well, no blow outs, smoky eyes etc.
But what always strikes me is how we, American gals, never tire of french beauty.  No matter what, we see french women as the most glamorous, sophisticated, and attractive.  We may point to many other types of women for raw beauty.  But the French still win as having the most covetable look.
Why?  We have written about french beauty before in Beautyskew.  I think it all goes back to this: there’s just something enduring about looking free-spirited and not-so-perfect.  We don’t necessarily want to look unkempt.  We just want to be mysterious.  When someone looks perfect, you can probably detect the fashionable hair style, the fashion designer and the make-up look of the week.  But when we’re a bit messy and “just-put-together,” it means we’ve added our own, inexplicable touch.  We add some je ne sais quoi that NO ONE ELSE has.
Isn’t mystery what it’s all about anyway?  I’d much rather be alluring than an open book.
So, thank you Thomas, my stylist for 14 years, for giving me what I didn’t even realize I needed.  Thank you for reminding me what being beautiful is all about — allure, mystery, our own sense of style, and yes, even shorter hair! 🙂
 

Weekend Observations: Hair, the French, & the Ever-Covetable Beauty


IMG_20140928_185352IMG_20140928_185458

Yikes!

That was my reaction when I saw how much my stylist cut off of my hair last week.  Of course I didn’t say it out loud, but, man, did I say it my head. VERY LOUDLY!

Mind you, I had ridiculously long hair which I put off cutting given how expensive and time-consuming a hair cut is.  But the biggest reason I avoided it for so long was that I wanted a freshly cut ‘do in time for my son’s bar mitzvah.

Of course I expected a few inches off especially since I showed a few pics of Gwen Stefani’s look — a nice, bit-longer-than-shoulder-length mane.

What I got? A barely-touching- my-collar-bone style!  I panicked.  Isn’t long hair key to feminine beauty?

But as it always happens,  I started liking the new look.  I mean really liking it!

See the pics above? That’s me right after my hair cut and me just now in my pjs 🙂

My new hair style has brought out my inner Frenchness.  (Too bad I didn’t have it for my meeting with a particular high-end French fashion company the week before.) You rarely see a French woman with a long mane.  Instead you’d see her with shoulder-length mussed up hair — never too perfect, of course.

And maybe its a coincidence or its serendipity but I started noticing all the recent references to french beauty, including a celebration of Bridget Bardot’s 80th birthday with her top 8 looks of all time and A French-Girl Beauty Rules, both found in Vogue’s most recent online edition.

Nothing new in the stories, but a good reminder of what signal’s french beauty, e.g., never being too polished, eating well, no blow outs, smoky eyes etc.

But what always strikes me is how we, American gals, never tire of french beauty.  No matter what, we see french women as the most glamorous, sophisticated, and attractive.  We may point to many other types of women for raw beauty.  But the French still win as having the most covetable look.

Why?  We have written about french beauty before in Beautyskew.  I think it all goes back to this: there’s just something enduring about looking free-spirited and not-so-perfect.  We don’t necessarily want to look unkempt.  We just want to be mysterious.  When someone looks perfect, you can probably detect the fashionable hair style, the fashion designer and the make-up look of the week.  But when we’re a bit messy and “just-put-together,” it means we’ve added our own, inexplicable touch.  We add some je ne sais quoi that NO ONE ELSE has.

Isn’t mystery what it’s all about anyway?  I’d much rather be alluring than an open book.

So, thank you Thomas, my stylist for 14 years, for giving me what I didn’t even realize I needed.  Thank you for reminding me what being beautiful is all about — allure, mystery, our own sense of style, and yes, even shorter hair! 🙂

 

Weekend Observations: What’s With All The Boring Hair?

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 9.04.58 AM

It’s haircut time for Ms Posner.  Because I rarely get myself professionally coiffed, it’s a big deal for me to get my bi-annual cut.  I usually proceed the event with hours upon hours of perusing (Ok, who are we kidding…poring with a magnifying glass) the latest mags for some looks.  See above if ya don’t believe me.

So that’s what I did.  I grabbed a whole slew of fashion tombs (give the size of the Sept issues …they are annal-size) and started digging.  But all I found were pic after pic of long, straight-ish blown out hair do’s.  I get it.  Models can’t afford to screw up their hair with a trendy cut given they have to pose as different personas from shoot to shoot.  But there’s tons of celebrities pics out there and they ALL had straight, long hair (except the cuties like Michelle Williams)!

What’s going on here?  No only am I uninspired for my cut, but I have to wonder: “Where are all the fun, crazy, innovative styles?”

Are people just investing their creativity into their outfits?  Nah.

It’s like we’re all hedging…all trying to play it safe.  Could it be a subconscious reaction to the economy?  Yes, things are getting better but still…..

Any thoughts?  Would it be crazy to buck the trend or should I just throw up my hands (and strands) and follow suit?

Weekend Observations: What's With All The Boring Hair?

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 9.04.58 AM

It’s haircut time for Ms Posner.  Because I rarely get myself professionally coiffed, it’s a big deal for me to get my bi-annual cut.  I usually proceed the event with hours upon hours of perusing (Ok, who are we kidding…poring with a magnifying glass) the latest mags for some looks.  See above if ya don’t believe me.
So that’s what I did.  I grabbed a whole slew of fashion tombs (give the size of the Sept issues …they are annal-size) and started digging.  But all I found were pic after pic of long, straight-ish blown out hair do’s.  I get it.  Models can’t afford to screw up their hair with a trendy cut given they have to pose as different personas from shoot to shoot.  But there’s tons of celebrities pics out there and they ALL had straight, long hair (except the cuties like Michelle Williams)!
What’s going on here?  No only am I uninspired for my cut, but I have to wonder: “Where are all the fun, crazy, innovative styles?”
Are people just investing their creativity into their outfits?  Nah.
It’s like we’re all hedging…all trying to play it safe.  Could it be a subconscious reaction to the economy?  Yes, things are getting better but still…..
Any thoughts?  Would it be crazy to buck the trend or should I just throw up my hands (and strands) and follow suit?

Cutting Your Hair Makes You More Attractive Than You May Think

Ivy Farguheson

Whether you like your hair short or long isn’t the point.  But for many it is, especially for African-American women, whose hair is a source of tension, cultural pride and self-expression.  And for Ivy Farguheson who cut her hair and wrote about it in “Beauty and ‘el gran corte’: It Really is Possible”, cutting her hair short was a BIG decision.  And what she learned was powerful.  Whether you cut your hair a bit or a lot, you will appear beautiful.  Why?  It it was YOUR decision and that personal power makes you appear downright amazing!  As she states: “Truth is, women — people — can be attractive when they make their own decisions about how they want to look. Being true to yourself is attractive. Period.”

Love it.

Weekend Observations: It's Time for a Make-Over!

No, I’m not going on “What Not to Wear” or anything like that (th
ough I am getting my semi-annual haircut this week, yippee).
Beautyskew is getting a major make-over!If you’ve been following the blog, you probably have noticed some delay with the posts.  Well, we’ve moved hosts and soon we’re going to be changing our look.
Why a makeover?  For one thing, it’s the American way.  We Americans love progress.  We believe in the power of transformation.  Make-overs are examples of that.  We can go from ho-hum to beautiful with a few snips, a couple of new outfits and a change of lipstick.  (See our post, Britney: An American Icon for further dicussion on that topic.)
Another, more functional reason?  Upgrading the theme, i.e., the look of the blog, will both enhance the feel of it and permit us to do cool stuff on the back end which will help us understand how to improve the user-experience for you.
Please be patient with any weirdness you may encounter with the blog as we prepare for the big reveal in a day or so.  Hopefully you won’t notice many differences until then.
In the meantime, I’ll post my new “do” after my haircut on Tuesday.
Hope you’re looking forward to our new look!
🙂

Weekend Observations: It’s Time for a Make-Over!

No, I’m not going on “What Not to Wear” or anything like that (th

ough I am getting my semi-annual haircut this week, yippee).

Beautyskew is getting a major make-over!If you’ve been following the blog, you probably have noticed some delay with the posts.  Well, we’ve moved hosts and soon we’re going to be changing our look.

Why a makeover?  For one thing, it’s the American way.  We Americans love progress.  We believe in the power of transformation.  Make-overs are examples of that.  We can go from ho-hum to beautiful with a few snips, a couple of new outfits and a change of lipstick.  (See our post, Britney: An American Icon for further dicussion on that topic.)

Another, more functional reason?  Upgrading the theme, i.e., the look of the blog, will both enhance the feel of it and permit us to do cool stuff on the back end which will help us understand how to improve the user-experience for you.

Please be patient with any weirdness you may encounter with the blog as we prepare for the big reveal in a day or so.  Hopefully you won’t notice many differences until then.

In the meantime, I’ll post my new “do” after my haircut on Tuesday.

Hope you’re looking forward to our new look!

🙂

No, Really, If You Feel It, You WILL Look Younger!

Want more proof that beauty has the power to change our psyche — even our physiology?  Check out a blurb from the May issue of Allure, “Younger Hair.”  The piece points to a study by Harvard psychology professor, Ellen Langer, with women of ages 27-83 after they got their hair done (cut, color or both).
If you recall from one of our previous posts, Mindfulness May Make Us More Beautiful, we shared Ellen Langer‘s proven scientific theory about how believing that our bodies can do something or be something (e.g., more fit) will actually make them so.
Well, in this case, she proves how changes to our body alter not only our perceptions of self but how we project ourselves to others. After their hair salon visits, women felt they looked younger.  And when their “before” and “after” pictures were shown to others — with their new hairdos cropped out — the subjects were thought to be younger in their “after” shots than “before” shots.  In other words, their feeling younger projected younger images of themselves.
And get this: after the women’s hair cuts/colorings, their blood pressure dropped!
Time to cancel my doctor’s visit and instead schedule my long over-due salon trip, eh?