Tag Archives: waist length hair

Trimming Natural Hair and Length Retention

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I straightened my hair about two weeks ago (see that post here). Although I “search and destroy” regularly, my ends were desperately in need of a trim as it had been 10 months since my last professional one. So, the Monday morning after straightening my hair, I reached out to my stylist Tameeka (aka Jaded Tresses) to see if she would be in her NJ location that night. I was hoping that she might be able to slip me in between her other appointments.

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Well, it turned out that it was her son’s birthday and she wasn’t working that night. I was totally bummed, but understood. However, later that day, Tameeka texted me that she was going to Sam’s Club in Edison and couldn’t come to NJ in good conscious without trying to hook me up.  So, she asked if I could meet her at the salon later! Y’all … I was on YouTube trying to figure out how to self-trim when I got the text (and, she suspected that is what I would do)!! LOL!! I was ecstatic that I wouldn’t have to take on that task myself!!

So, I met Tameeka at the salon in South Orange, NJ, where she usually works Monday nights. And, in like 5 minutes flat, she cleaned up my ends and made me a very happy lady.

Left: Prior to trim; Right: After trim

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My hair felt sooooo much better after that trim!!  The thing that I love about Tameeka is that she really listens, understands, and respects my length goals and that when I say that all I want is a small trim, that is what she does. I’m sure other stylist would have tried to chop several inches off of my hair due to the thinner perimeter and would claim that my ends are not healthy, but that has NEVER been an issue with Tameeka. She never says, “Oh, you should take more off” or “your ends are unhealthy” or “It would look better like … .” No, she respects that I know MY hair and really evaluates the condition, and not just the aesthetics, of hair to determine what it needs. And, she has never taken off more than an inch when I have requested a trim only. A non-scissor happy stylist? That’s priceless for me y’all.

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TRIMMING NATURAL HAIR

Anywho, since we’re talking about trimming, I figured I’d take this opportunity to discuss my thoughts on a couple of questions that I’ve seen related to trimming natural hair and trimming in general.

1.  Do naturals need a blunt perimeter/even cut/ends?

In my opinion, if you wear your hair in a curly state the majority of the time, no. I don’t trim, cut my hair to keep my ends even. I trim to eliminate damaged ends that are excessively weathered, knotted and/or split. I do this with regular search and destroy (S&D) missions (usually on wash day) and a professional trim every 6-12 months. I trim in this way because, if I don’t, the damaged ends will inevitably cause collateral damage (i.e. more splits, knots, and weathering), because the “bad” hair snags on healthy adjacent strands and causes friction to the cuticle.

Another reason I don’t worry about a totally blunt/even perimeter is because hair tends to grow at different rates. The front and lower back half of my hair grow a lot faster than my crown. So, I accept that my hair does not grow out evenly or into a blunt shape. What I do try to do is keep the longest layer not too much longer than my shorter crown. When I get trims, I ask Tameeka to trim more off of the longest layer and less off of the shorter layers, to gradually thicken my perimeter. Since I wear my hair in updos and twist or braid and curls the vast majority of the time, my irregular curl pattern and length differences are disguised.

2.  Does trimming the hair stunt or encourage growth?

It does neither. Hair grows from the scalp and is dead the minute it “sprouts” from the scalp. Trimming eliminates weathered, thinned, split and knotted ends. It makes the hair appear healthier, neater, and more aesthetically pleasing to some. It helps reduce and prevent the continuous cycle of splits and breakage. However, it doesn’t encourage growth. Some may call it semantics. However, I want to state for the record that what trimming actually does is help prevent continued breakage, which impacts length retention and can make it seem like the hair is not growing. By trimming damaged ends, the hair will be better able to retain the length that grows, which some see as “encouraging growth.”

That being said, if you constantly trim and hair grows at an average of 1/2 an inch a month, you may trim off all or most of the growth, which will make it seem as if your hair isn’t growing. For example, if your hairs grows an average of a 1/2″ a month, and you get a 1″ trim every 3 months, you are only retaining a 1/2″ of growth instead of 1-1/2″. If your ends are healthy and well-maintained, that is totally unnecessary. This is why some may think that trimming stunts growth. But again, it’s not the growth, it’s the retention that is being impacted by trimming.

So, in conclusion, trimming (or not trimming) impacts length retention, not growth, depending on how it is used. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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How do you trim? How often do you trim?

Review: Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist

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HE_tealightfullyclean_blowdryprepmistI have been wanting to really straighten my hair, rather than just doing a light blow out, for a while now. I did a “single pass” flat-iron on stretched hair (no blow-out) in June 2013 for a trim and had done a couple of blow-outs since. But, it had been over a year since I really, really straightened my hair. Part of the reason for this was that I wasn’t really feeling the products that I had been using for straightening (see them here). They worked okay, but my hair would feel kind of stiff and hard after using them. I tried the Nubian Heritage heat protectant leave-in and spray too, but everything was pretty “meh.”

Well, a few weeks ago, Wei and I had lunch with a friend and we started talking hair. Her daughter has tons of curly hair and wanted to have it straightened, but our friend didn’t have any idea where to start. So, I suggested the BaByliss Nano Titanium Pro that I purchased  a little over a year ago. Though pricey, I told her I loved it because it has temperature control settings and straightens very well, without frying the hair. So, we ended up heading over to Harmon and picking up one for her (with a 20% off coupon, of course since the thing is $119.00!). Well, while we were there, I told her that she should also use a heat protectant and we started scanning the aisles. I had seen a couple of people use TRESemmé, so we both picked up the TRESemmé Platinium Strength Heat Protectant. But then, I kept looking and decided to see if Herbal Essences (HE) had one as I love that line. Lo and behold, I found the Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist ($4.49) and decided to pick it up too!

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What They Claim:

Light and easy does it with Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist for silky, free-flowing hair. Invigorate your senses with exhilarating tea tree fragrance as you spritz this sheer mist up, down, and all around to help protect against blow drying damage.

Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist:

  • Blow dry prep for silky, free-flowing hair
  • Sheer and lightweight protection against damage
  • With tea tree essences
  • Spritz on for silky hair
  • Intriguing ingredients
  • Incredible fragrances
  • Irresistibly touchable hair; potent pleasure for all your senses

Ingredients: Water/EAU, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Water, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Amodimethicone, PPG-2 Methyl Ether, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-11, Fragrance/Parfum, Polysorbate 80, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Citric Acid, Cetrimonium Chloride, Trideceth-12, Methylisothiazolinone.

That same day, I washed my hair and put it into two braids. The next day, I decided to spritz the Blow Dry Prep Mist onto my hair and did a super quick tension blow out to stretch it a little more. Oh. Em. Gee. My hair was soft, silky, smooth, light, and flowy! And, I loved the light, sweet smell of the spray! I was WOWed! The claims were true! Seriously, I couldn’t stop touching my hair! That night, I put it into a braid and curl and, the next day, …

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Can you say, “Pleased as punch?” Well, this past weekend, after following my regular wash day regimen, I decided to bite the bullet and flat-iron my hair for real.

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FLAT-IRONING PROCESS

  • Wrapped clean hair in a cut-up tee-shirt to dry to damp (approx. 30 min).
  • Applied a little Kinky Curly Knot Today leave-in to damp hair, concentrating on ends.
  • Spritzed hair with HE Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow0Out Prep Mist and finger combed it through hair.
  • Applied a very small amount of Chi Straight Guard (picked up from TJ Maxx on a whim).
  • Applied a small amount of grapeseed oil to each section.
  • Separated hair into 4 sections and did a tension blow-out with the Conair InifitiPro Tourmaline Ionic Hair Dryer I picked up last fall. I used it to finish drying my hair and stretch it, grasping whole quarter sections of hair, halving the quarters at some points, but never doing sections smaller than that (approx. 30 min.).
  • Flat-ironed hair in small 1″ wide sections at 300°, taking two passes over each section. I didn’t let the flat-iron stop on the hair. I  moved down the length at a slow pace, but the flat-iron was always in motion.
  • Did a third pass over the top layers of hair at 340º, moving the flat-iron more quickly.

It took me about 2 hours in total to blow-out and flat-iron. Here are the results.

 

As you can see, my hair was not bone-straight. There was still a little kink in it and that is okay with me as it lets me know that I didn’t kill my hair with the heat. I also know that bunning my hair will smooth it further. And, as was the case the first time I used the HE Blow-Out Mist, again my hair felt great!! It was airy, silky, soft, and felt product-less! And, at $4.49 a bottle? We have a winner folks!!!

So that’s it, my new heat protectant find! I had to do a review on this product as I wasn’t able to find any when I bought it, because the “Tea-Lightfully Clean” line is new for 2014! Of course, now I’m intrigued to try the shampoo and conditioner … but I’ll try to curb my PJ ways … for now. LOL!!

bantuknotwaves(Heatless waves added with 2 big Bantu knots)

Next time on Hairscapades: A Trim, Straight Hair Maintenance, and Straight Hairstyles ;)

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What heat protectant(s) have you found work the best for your hair?

Henna Gloss: A Quicker, Easier Way to Henna

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twistout314_8 As most of you know, I am a henna head. I have been doing henna treatments since 2010, though I’ve modified how and how often I do them over the years. I started with full strength, full length treatments every 2-4 weeks. But for the last several years, I have been doing full strength on my roots only and a “faux” gloss (i.e. dye released henna mixed into lots of conditioner) on my length. But, the time between my sessions has gotten longer and longer … every 4 weeks, every 6, every 8, now I’m lucky if I do it once every three months!! Well, about a month and a half ago, I was really in need of a henna treatment as my grey roots were out of control. I also love how smooth my hair is after a henna treatment; my hair styles post henna are always so shiny and sleek. But, I had absolutely nooooooooo desire to do a full strength treatment as it usually takes the good part of a day to complete (see My Two Step Henna-Indigo Process for details). Between prepping, washing, detangling, application, marinating, rinsing with water, applying indigo, marinating again, rinsing with loads of conditioner, deep conditioning, marinating one more time rinsing, and styling … yeah, that’s an 8 hour plus process. It just was not happening. But then I thought, “You know what? I’ll do a true henna gloss!!” I figured I could get some of the conditioning benefits of henna and maybe a little color, without all the muss and fuss … and time! hennagloss314

My Henna Gloss Recipe

  • My goat milk conditioning mask *
  • 2 tablespoons of Dulhan BAQ henna powder
  • Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  • Apply mixture to hair and massage into scalp.
  • Twist hair into 4 sections, clip hair up with a jaw clip and don a plastic cap.
  • Apply heat for 30 min-1 hour (I use a hair therapy wrap).
  • Rinse thoroughly.

(*My goat milk conditioner has protein, but it is also very moisturizing because of the honey and oils. I would generally suggest using a thick, moisturizing, protein-free conditioner.)

Applied (no plastic gloves required)

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Minimal mess (no towels or newspaper needed to protect surfaces; just wiped down with a disinfecting wipe).

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As I suspected, the gloss also gave my grey roots got a little color so that they weren’t as stark white.

hennaglossroots After rinsing, I set my hair in 4 twists, which I wore in a twist-out the next day. And, the set held up very well the rest of the week!!

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The one issue I have had with the gloss is related to my base goat milk conditioner. It can be a little chunky and thick, so I have had some residue in my hair after rinsing. Therefore, I have to make sure that my conditioner is as smooth as possible prior to adding the henna and that I rinse very well. In the future, I may try mixing the henna with water first before adding it to the conditioner. This should help thin the consistency and aid blending. However, despite the small rinsing issue, the easy, peasy henna gloss is now in my repertoire when I want some of the conditioning benefits of henna with minimal time and effort!! It may be right up your alley if you have been wanting to try henna, but have been afraid to take the leap or have been looking for some of the benefits without the time commitment!!

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Have you tried henna glosses? How did/do you like them? What conditioner(s) do you use for the best results?

Growing Long Hair: Diet, Exercise and Vitamins

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I have been asked about the whether diet, exercise, and/or vitamins help hair grow a few times and have seen it posted in some form or the other a lot lately. So, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the subject. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but these are my observations based on the things I’ve learned about hair through reading lots of hair blogs, watching lots of videos, and/or observing through my own experiences.

A good diet, adequate nutrients, hydration, and exercise are foundations for healthy hair and growth. But, many mistake lack of length retention for lack of growth. Unless there is some underlying condition, hair is always growing. If hair is growing elsewhere on your body, it’s growing. And it’s pretty easy to know your growth rate if you relaxed/relax or color/colored your hair. However much new growth you had 4-8 weeks post relaxer/color will tell you your growth rate. The problem often is that the growth is lost to breakage (i.e. the hair is not retaining length).

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So, the assumption is that the hair isn’t growing when, in fact, it is. So, the focus needs to change from growth to retention. All that being said, hair is dead once the strand “erupts” from the scalp. So retention is about preserving dead cells. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and exercising helps build stronger hair IN the scalp. Stronger and healthier live cells inside mean stronger and healthier dead cells outside. And the latter will be better able to retain length with the right protective/retention practices for you.

And those are my thoughts in a nutshell!! Yes, a good diet, exercise, and adequate nutrients play a part in growing healthy hair, but if that hair isn’t retained, you won’t see longer tresses. So, you have to make certain to take care of both ends, literally ;), to see results if long hair is your goal. To learn more about what I do to “grow” my hair long, check out my post, How I Retain Length.

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What have you found helps you grow healthy, strong hair that retains length?

Chicoro Lead Hair Theory (Kind of) Update

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Curly Nikki recently re-posted my How I Retain Length article from 2012 and I thought it was perfect timing to share a sort of, kind of update on the Chicoro “Lead Hair” Theory experiment I wrote about in 2011!!

So, I was going through some of my hair pics from 2010 and came across the pics on the left. They are from late December 2010, a few short months before I joined the Curly Nikki/Kim Coles Grow Out Challenge with a goal to grow my hair to waist length. The shots are before and after a self-trim. The picture on the right is from September 2013.

As you can see from all of the pics, my perimeter is thin and the bulk of my hair is a few inches higher. As I’ve previously mentioned, I believe that this is a result of my crown being more breakage-prone and slower growing than my nape. Also, my nape is barely wavy and my crown is curly (probably a 3c), so my perimeter really looks thin when my hair is worn in natural styles. Now, I would love to have a full perimeter, but just don’t think my hair grows or falls that way. Therefore, it was fortunate for me that I learned about Chicoro’s Lead Hair Theory a couple of years ago and accepted my Fairytale Ends.

Now, the reason this is “kind of” an update to that old post is because I haven’t totally followed the Chicoro method of “goal point” trimming. She actually espouses allowing the “lead hair” to grow an inch or two past the bulk of the hair, but then cutting the hair blunt once it reaches the “goal point.”  However, I decided to just get minimal trims every 6 months or so. As long as my ends are healthy, I don’t concern myself with having a perfectly blunt and full perimeter. I almost never wear my hair entirely straight anyway and my goal is to retain as much healthy length as possible, even if my hair is, well … uneven. *lol*

The reason I am sharing this is to shed some light on uneven growth patterns versus breakage and methods of cutting/trimming the hair. In February 2011, I got a “trim” that turned into a blunt perimeter haircut (didn’t go to that salon again :/). But, after that haircut, I started getting trims only and my hair grew out unevenly again.

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Some might see my earlier pics and think it meant breakage and that my hair would just get shorter if I didn’t get a serious hair cut, taking off a few inches to make it blunt. But, as you can see from these pics, my crown did continue to retain length, although not at the speed of my longest area.

This proved to me that, in order to retain as much length as possible, I could continue to trim based upon the health and condition of my ends and not based upon the fullness/evenness of my perimeter, with one caveat. I try not to let the longest hair get more than a couple of inches longer than the bulk as it causes more tangling

I share this to say, if retaining max length is your goal and you don’t wear your hair straight the majority of the time, you may want to try trimming to eliminate damaged ends only and not for “bluntness.” Hair can be healthy and retain length/grow long without having a perfectly blunt/even “hemline.” That being said, if your ends are knotty, tangling, splitting into forests, or excessively dry and rugged, a trim is likely in order to prevent further damage ;). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to trim all of your hair even to get rid of the damage. You can trim judiciously, eliminating the badly damaged ends and leaving the healthy hair behind. That’s the beauty of natural kinky, curly, coily hair! It doesn’t have to be perfectly blunt to look great!!

Quick length check.Oct 2013

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Do you trim for healthy or even ends? Have you tried the Chicoro Goal Point Method of trimming? How did it work out for you?

January 2013 Length Check: Post December Haircut

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The Wednesday before last, after my Katie Show outing, I had my sister take a few quick length check pics. I hadn’t taken any after my haircut in December, Wei was out of town and they are difficult to do alone. So, I took the opportunity of having another set of hands present to get a few quick shots.

If you recall, I wore my hair in a braid and curl (BnC) for the show’s taping, so my curls were stretched. As of 1/9/13, the shortest layers around my face are about armpit length, the side and crown layers are around bra-strap/mid-back length and my longest layer is waist length. So, my hair is back to where it was after my haircut in June 2012 (see here).

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That was a really good BnC! Gotta go refresh my memory about what I used and do it again ;)! *lol* Anywho, I’ll be sticking with stretched, low-manipulation, protective styling and search and destroys for the next 6 months or so to see if I can gain/retain an additional 2-3 inches all around. Working my way towards that tailbone/hipbone length hair ;). Need to get my diet and exercise game right first though :(.

 

Fairytale vs. Blunt Ends

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Last month, I straightened my hair and, though I was pleased with the length I attained, I was disappointed that my perimeter wasn’t fuller. You see, ever since I entered the Curly Nikki presents Kim Coles’ Grow Out Challenge in early 2011, my goal has been to have waist length hair with a full perimeter. I dreamed of having a “hemline” that looked like that of one of my hair crushes, Courtney Natural Hair.

*le sigh*

*le sigh*

Although I’ve surpassed waist length a couple of times since then (I’ve had one trim and two haircuts since January 2012) … my slower growing and more breakage prone crown, low density nape, propensity for search and destroy (S&D) missions, and a layered cut have prevented me from achieving a full thickness perimeter.

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December 2012: Prior to 12/16/12 cut.

As I mused over the elusive, full hemline that kept evading my grasp, I happened to end up watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers one evening. It was shortly after I had my hair cut and specifically requested that more length be taken off of my longest layer and less off the shorter layers so that I could thicken up my perimeter. But, as I looked at the women in LOTR and their long, flowing, wavy hair, it struck me that their wavy locks were also not blunt or full at the ends. And, you know what? I kind of liked it!!

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I then remembered that this type of perimeter is called “fairytale” ends. I think that I came across the term a couple of years ago on The Long Hair Community forum in thread like this one here. As I started perusing the pages of the post, I began to think about how many of us equate a thick, full perimeter with healthy hair and a wispy, thinned one with damaged, unhealthy hair. But, as I looked at the pictures on the thread, many of the women appeared to have very healthy, shiny, long hair despite having wispier ends. As I read the comments, I noted that the fairytale ends were attributed to varying hair growth rates and employing S&D trimming versus overall trims/cuts to make the ends even. The thinner ends weren’t frowned upon as unhealthy, damaged, broken or “dead” (I love that one — all hair is dead! *lol*). It really was interesting to see how this type of hemline was celebrated, and even coveted, in this forum as it is viewed as more natural looking and enables easier updos due to the tapered ends. Also, similar to Chicoro’s “Lead Hair”  Theory, it is espoused as a way to achieve longer lengths as one is not constantly cutting hair that grows unevenly (due to varying growth rates) even, which results in the loss of healthy hair length.

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Sources: left pic; right pic

In contrast, when I attempted to find a similar thread in the Long Hair Care Forums (the black counterpart to The Long Hair Community) I didn’t have much luck. The only thing that I found was this thread: Girl, ur ENDS are JACKED UP. LMBO (I’m sorry, that subject is HEE-larious to me!) In this thread, one young lady references fairytale ends and how she thinks they look nice on longer hair. A couple of others essentially said the same. And a few commenters did state that thin ends did not necessarily mean damaged hair. However, the overall consensus was that thinner ends look wrecked, they need an “aggressive” cutting and “hanging onto thin ends” for the sake of length is pathetic. I think in the black hair community in particular (though this does seem to be a universal view), thin ends are typically seen as a sign of broken, damaged, unhealthy hair and we’ve been conditioned to think that there is no way that wispy ends can be healthy. If someone insists that their thinner ends are healthy and their hair isn’t damaged or excessively breaking, we give them the *side eye*. And, don’t get me wrong, in many instances, thin ends are a sign of damaged hair. But, I’m discovering more and more, that may not always be the case.

As I continued to think on this, I realized that, generally speaking, I had never been too concerned about even hair. Over my 12 1/2 years of being natural, I generally only wear it straight twice a year. As long as it hangs well when curly (which can be a challenge given my multiple curl patterns) and feels healthy, I’m good. And, when I do wear my hair straight, I have never gone for the pin-straight look. I always curl it in some fashion to give it volume, body and bounce as my hair is so fine and would be very flat if I wore it bone straight. Finally, I thought about how even long, wavy or curly weaves or wigs often don’t have a blunt perimeter and usually have fairytale ends to make them look more natural.

wavyweaveSource: Philly.com

So, all this being said, I’ve started re-thinking my two year goal of achieving a full thickness perimeter! I mean, I still love a full hemline and I still want mine to be thicker than it is above (think I’m on the right path with my last cut). And, of course I want my ends to be healthy, which is why I cut off any split ends and SSKs that I feel or see regularly. But, now, I don’t know if I’m worried about my hemline being blunt anymore. I’d like to get to tailbone/hipbone length as my ultimate goal. But now, I think I’ll be happy with, and may even prefer, a healthy fairytale hemline on me versus the elusive blunt one that I’ve been seeking for the last two years. Go figure!

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Please feel free to expound upon any of your answers and/or add your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!