First off, straight up: I don’t much buy into the beauty hype. “Beauty” magazines I read only when suffering from the restlessness of serious illness; I’ve never purchased an alpha-hydroxy acid product; I can’t seem to prioritize my spending to include the “newest shades” of cosmetics in ranges even Pantone couldn’t keep coming up with each fashion season; and my idea of a regular good skin care regime is to wash your face with water only, exercise and cut down on sugar.
My definition of genuine beauty is the spontaneous laughter of a sassy woman or man at something just a bit crazy. Fifth Avenue chic — striking though it may often be — is not the pinnacle of beauty.
That said, please accept these humble offerings towards the construction of a universal aesthetic that gets to the roots of what the multi-billion dollar beauty conglomerates only wish they could sell you: real human beauty, chaos and imperfections included.
For those who don’t have it, the long, straight, dark locks or prickly disheveled spikes of Asian hair may be objects of envy. Or so I’m given to believe by friends of mine who have unruly natural curls or humidity-frizzed waves. And yes, I confess a certain vulgar pride at seeing photos of myself in high school, with hair so black, it shone blue.
But what the rest of you don’t know are the associated tribulations: hair dressers have noted, only half-jokingly, how the snippets of my hair that fly onto their clothes will pierce them like razors the rest of the day (as though I myself am somehow spared a similar discomfort); curling irons cower before the thick Asian hair shaft; and don’t even get me started on the cowlicks.
My hair care and styling regime for the past decade has paid near unwavering tribute to Aveda. Horst M. Rechelbacher was one of the first to introduce the term “aromatherapy” to the global mass market. Cloned inferior products have since been introduced in abundance, but loyal to Aveda I remain. Friends ask if I own shares. I do not, though I’d certainly consider…
I’ve become an infidel.
A few weeks ago, just after receiving a compliment-eliciting cut from Antonio Prieto salon on Manhattan’s 19th Street, I made a freak request of my stylist to recommend a new styling product. I have no idea what prompted me to ask. I have ounces and ounces of Aveda stuff at home that I’ve been pleased with. Maybe it was that my stylist was incredibly good-looking. Maybe it was the cuteness of the diminutive 25-gram trial size tub. In any case, I walked out with a new addition to my hair product ensemble, and it’s since become an aesthetic requirement.
The product is Fudge Hair Putty from an Australian company, Sabre. It’s a pomade of toothpaste-like consistency and texture that lacks the extreme coconutty smell so commonly found in other products and which I loathe. I prefer not to smell like things that monkeys eat.
I can’t praise this product enough. Rubbed thoroughly through towel-dried hair, it makes styling a breeze, with or without a hair dryer. It gives a hold that not even a cowlicky Asian can complain about. Yet it leaves hair neither greasy nor sticky. I know of no other product that can provide hold like this yet leave hair touchable, despite the claims so often made in commercials and product labels alike. This bears repeating: all other products I’ve tried have provided hold OR natural softness to the hair, but never both.
Fudge is perfect for those zigzag parts necessary for that lingeringly appropriate Friends style. On dry hair, it can be applied in small doses to smooths down ends or provide some sheen, giving hair a very naturally tousled look. Since using this product, I’ve been receiving compliments on my hair from complete strangers. Really.
(Speaking of Sheen, does anyone remember that vintage Saturday Night Live skit with Jane Curtain, when she does a fake commercial skit, saying that as an actress, exposed constantly to harsh lights, she requires only the best of hair care products. “So I use Martin Sheen,” she says smilingly, before the great man himself steps into the lights and proceeds to furiously spit on her head. Ah, those were the days…)
Fudge styling products come in a range of “hold factors”. The Putty I use is of hold factor 3, but Sabre also sells Fudge Gum for solid hold; a hold-factor-2 Shaper; a hold-factor-4 Varnish (that supposedly smells like mangoes; again with the monkey food…); and Licorice, a light styling crÃ€me. Sabre labels its products such that lower numbers signify greater hold. I’ve only used the Putty, but am thoroughly confident that their other products will deliver as well as Putty has.
Kudos for Sabre’s cartoon-kitsch Flash website. Worth an amusing minute if you have high-speed internet access. (Check for the tanline under the shampoo section. You’ll see.) Yet more applause for their product names, like Fudge Erekt, an extreme hair straightener for curly hair; and shade-names in their extreme colour hairspray line like Hot Chilli, Lyme Spyder, and Red Corvette. Only Tigi’s Bed Head comes close for cleverness.
The only negative note about Fudge Hair Putty is its tendency, if applied too thickly, to collect into particles indistinguishable from dandruff flecks. But you’ll quickly learn how much to apply. Just rub the product thoroughly between both hands before applying to help achieve an even spread.
But otherwise, unreserved praise. My toiletry travel bag in past contained only a handful of absolute-required’s: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, moisturizer, deodorant. Forget these, now. I’ll pay the exorbitant prices for toothpaste at the airport magazine stands, but I’ll never again leave without my Fudge.