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Answer Angel: Unnecessary hair dryer complications

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Can you help translate hair dryer terminology? Ceramic, ionic, tourmaline — what is the best type to get? I don’t want a huge clunker that I have to hold 2 feet away from my head because of the long nozzle or a “supersonic” model for $400. Any advice or recommendations?

— Marie

Dear Marie: For most of us, the size and weight of the dryer are crucially important since we’ll be aiming the thing at our hair with one hand — depending on how long and wet our hair is — for what can seem like forever. For professional stylists, the terms you mention are more crucial than for the rest of us who are just trying to get out the door looking decent.

To answer your question: Ceramic refers to an internal composite material (usually clay) that purportedly heats up quickly and evenly and claims to protect against hair damage. Ionic allegedly breaks up water molecules and is said to reduce frizz. Tourmaline is a semi precious metal that is marketed as faster and smoother drying and diminished frizzy flyaways. Ummm, sure. I’m skeptical of all those promises. Whether I’m looking for a corkscrew, a phone holder for the car or a hair dryer, I ignore the confusing hype and go to (a New York Times company) that tests products and recommends the best, in plain and understandable terms, in various price categories. If that’s not enough information, the internet has a dizzying abundance of rankings of hair dryers.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My friends have been posting photos of their high school daughters dressed up for homecoming and the outfits are eye-popping. Short, tight, low-cut, backless. Yikes. Am I hopelessly old-fashioned thinking these girls look half-dressed?

— Kate C.

Dear Kate: You are not the first person who has written me on this topic and won’t be the last. After all, there are plenty more formal occasions on the high school social calendar. Adults have been shaking their heads and finger-wagging about kids’ hemlines, makeup, hair, piercings and tattoos for as long as I can remember. Young people continue to delight in challenging their parents, teachers, elders. I’m saving my outrage for things I can change. History tells us teenagers’ style choices aren’t one of them.


Angelic Readers

Kay H. adds one more — a sweet one — to my list of possible reasons women’s and men’s shirts have buttons on opposite sides: “When I was in college one of the things that we were taught as an aside in English literature was that the reason buttons were with the opening on the left or right side was so that when a man and a woman hooked arms they could still slide their hand inside their own coat for warmth. So who knows, but an interesting reason as well.”

Reader Rant 1

From Moisette M.: “My rant is about the white midsoles on almost every pair of shoes and sandals these days. Yes, they are sort of cute, although I think they may accentuate my height or more accurately, my lack thereof. They show every smudge and speck of dirt and I don’t usually have time to clean them each time I wear them.”

Reader Rant 2

From Patti D.: “Can you stand one more rant about the crazy inconsistent sizing that exists in women’s clothing? It’s bad enough that sizes are not standard across manufacturers or brands. But even within the same brand, they are not consistent! I recently ended up with three pairs of Levis jeans that were supposedly the same size, although they looked, fit and measured noticeably different. Two of the pairs were Classic Bootcut (mid-rise) and the third pair was High Rise Bootcut. All were a size 2 Medium (i.e. not short or tall). The labels for all indicated Waist 26 inches, Length 32 inches. The waistbands, however, measured 29 inches, 30 inches and 26 inches. The inseams measured 31, 30.5, and 31.75 inches. Seriously, how are we ever supposed to find clothes that fit without having a personal tailor? (And that doesn’t even factor in the issue of vanity sizing, which is just as prevalent and ridiculous as the inconsistent sizing.) Thanks for letting me vent!

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