The Price of Perfect Hair (Part 2)

Amanda Bar

Two months ago (on April 13th, to be exact) I began a little home experiment involving a bottle of highly priced shampoo and conditioner that I was persuaded into trying by my hairdresser.  Normally I'm a Publix aisle shampoo shopper - Pantene Pro V or Herbal Essence is about as costly as I get - but together both bottles for my trial experiment (It's A 10 brand) cost over $40, and I was wondering if the difference in my hair would prove worth the excessive price.

Just today my bottle of conditioner sputtered to an end, leaving just a small bit of shampoo remaining.  For $40 I got over two months worth of product, which isn't bad considering 1) I shampoo and condition my hair every day, 2) my hair length (well past my shoulders), and 3) I've had house guests that have been using them as well.  And I would actually say that I did notice a difference in the quality of my hair; I seemed to have less of an issue with frizz or dry-looking strands.

All in all I'd say the cost proved worth the results, though I've bought a slightly cheaper variety (Paul Mitchell) of salon-quality hair products to test out next.  Considering that I don't waste money on extraneous hair care products like hair spray, gel, or mousse I think I can justify to my wallet the extra shampoo/conditioner expense.

Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (0)

The Price of Perfect Hair

Amanda Bar

I accidently stumbled into what might be considered a financial blunder today, but for the sake of science I'm willing to conduct my own mini-experiment now that I've spent the money.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I got my hair cut & styled over at MasterCuts.  Well, the hairdresser convinced me during my session that I should consider buying some of the salon-brand products at the store, and went on to tell me how many common brands (such as Pantene, which I was previously using) contain the same ingredients that you can find in household cleaners - thus, not very good for your hair!  Being low on shampoo, I decided to swing by and pick up a bottle or two.

$42.29 later I find myself with "It's a 10" shampoo and conditioner, a brand that I have never heard of in my life but, based upon the price, is made from the tears of Chuck Norris.  According to the hairstylist the price will even out in the end because I need to use significantly less shampoo/conditioner to get the same results (i.e. a good lather).  I suppose we shall see, because as of today I am marking off my calendar how long these pricey babies last me.  If my hair looks better than that's proof all on it's own, but if I end up buzzing through $40+ worth of shampoo and conditioner in a few weeks I really can't justify the extra expense.

Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (5)

Getting what you pay for

Name barEspecially lately, it's been tempting to by the cheapest version of what I need -- even though I've learned the hard way that whatever packaging tricks generic or low-cost iterations may play, it's definitely what's on the inside that counts.

That's the message of a Consumer Reports list out this week that ranked some of the best and worst products in a variety of categories. Some of the cheapest ones were often some of the worst.

Here's an example: They found that the best paper towels out there are Walgreens Ultra Quilted, which cost $2.50 per 100 square feet. The towels were absorbent and held up well in scrub tests. On the other hand, Earth Friendly Products "tore easily when scrubbing, held little water, and cost almost twice as much as the Walgreens brand."

If you're going to use more of the Earth Friendly towels to get the job done, presumably, that defeats the purpose of going green in the first place.

They liked Tide 2X Ultra with Color Clean Bleach Alternative, at about 32 cents per average load, which earned the top score for removing stains. Meanwhile, Xtra 2X Concentrated Lasting ScentSations Spring Sun Shine, at just 6 cents per average load, landed at the bottom of Consumer Reports Ratings.

You can see more of their results at

I used to be the person who bought the cheapest thing, always. In some arenas, I've never given buying name-brand or high-end products a thought. Toilet paper, garbage bags and milk would fit into this category. I occasionally treat myself to organic milk or soy milk, but only if I'm armed with a coupon. And I don't generate enough garbage to warrant buying bags with super special technology to mask odors or keep from breaking. (The commercials show people dragging tied bags of trash through the house, withstanding stairs, tiles and dogs. Does anyone really experience this?)Funny-pictures-you-have-very-cheap-legwarmers

Then a few years ago, finally comfortable with my salary and far enough out of college that claiming to be constantly broke became officially embarrassing, I started buying nicer clothes and shoes and household items. The result: I've hung onto clothes I really like for years and I'm less often donating something I bought on the cheap but wore sparingly because of a poor fit or an already unbound hem, missing buttons and such.

But I like the kind of laundry detergent, bath soap and yoga lessons I've been paying for, and I definitely notice when I pay less.

I broke my rule this week: I signed up for evening yoga classes at a high school near my house. They offer eight classes for $54 -- truly a bargain. And I sort of got what I paid for.

My first cut-rate yoga class was OK. I was on the floor of the school auditorium with about eight other human pretzels. The teacher was nice enough. But the class was a bit disjointed. We went from triangle to warrior two to downward dog with the teacher not always telling us what was coming next. I felt sorry for the woman next to me, who had never practiced yoga before.

But at eight classes for about the same price I'd pay for just three at the yoga studio I'm accustomed to, I am willing to overlook it, especially since I've already paid for the class. And not using whatever you buy is a waste of money no matter what.

Posted by Nirvi Shah on | | Comments (2)

Smelly cat, smelly cat, what have they been feeding you?

You didn't think that was the end of our cat issues, did you?

Amanda kindly moved the litter box and newly-purchased litter box screen out of the living room and into the spare bedroom, which we have now as a media room.

The door to this room directly faces my bedroom door. And what I didn't expect was that every time I walked to my room, I'd get a big 'ol whiff of cat poo.

It wasn't bad every day. Just like... every three days my eyes would water. I mentioned it to Amanda, thinking maybe it was something to do with how often the box is cleaned? I don't know these cat things. I only know dog things. And then my brother visited Friday night and said, "It smells like poop" when he went in the hallway.

You bet your sweet buns that I ran out to Publix that next morning for some deodorizers!

To be fair to Amanda, she did say a few days ago that she would buy some plug-in air freshener refills. But I couldn't wait a day longer. I was already out doing Publix shopping, and there was a buy-one-get-one free sale on Glade refills (we already had some plugs) and I also picked up some Febreze air spray.

I'm relieved to say that it worked. I plugged them in yesterday, and no more cat poo smell near my room! Sure it stinks (pun intended) to have to spend money every so often now for air fresheners, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do to avoid cat poo.

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (1)

The cat fight/catfight has been broken up

Hurray! This morning Amanda and I have talked through our concerns about her cat and I'm happy to say we came to a compromise. When it came to the cat's litter box, she had it in the living room because she said there wasn't room in her bathroom. It was an eyesore, so she said she'd get a screen to cover it.

Problem is, she bought a screen that I thought was terrible to put in our living room by our fireplace, and she didn't ask me before she bought it. It's cute, just more for a bathroom than by the fireplace. But the compromise was that we'll put the kitty litter in the den/library room so it is out of the living room. I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner.

And as for my need to clean, we'll just split the costs of cleaning supplies (specifically, the Swiffer wet pads). No need for maids and I don't have to feel that I'm bearing the burden of buying all the cleaning supplies.

Amanda's mom is visiting today. I won't be able to see her because I'm working, but I'm sure Amanda will have some shopping adventures with her.

[And if you couldn't tell, Amanda and I are now IN TECHNICOLOR! to help you tell our posts apart.]

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (3)

Bridget makes kittens cry.

So Bridget makes a post about the woes of living with a pet (something few Americans have to deal with, since NOBODY owns animals nowadays), and I have to console a weeping Tootles whose only crime is continuing to do what she's always been doing.  Perhaps Bridget should consider what I have to spend to keep up with her idiocentricities. 

Toots_in_sinkI just made an online purchase of $35 on a cat-screen so that the litter box does not offend dear Bridget's sight.  I even purchased (as stated previously) a hidden litter scoop at a slightly extra-cost ($7).  And now Bridget is suggesting that I find another way to give Tootles water, such as a kitty water fountain, even though for the past three years she's only ever insisted on drinking from the sink (and for the record, I tried the kitty fountain already).  I even offered to pay for my parent's cleaning lady to swing by once every two weeks (~$60).  I'm trying to be considerate of her feelings, while at the same time thinking she's a complete nut.

Hopefully my mother (who is visiting tomorrow, finally) can either offer a solution or otherwise assuage Bridget's OCD-impulses.  And yes, Bridget, I know: "I don't have OCD!"  I don't know how many times I have to lick the countertops in order for her to believe that it's clean by all health-department standards.  What germs there are are unavoidable!!  The cat is going NOWHERE, I tell you!

Speaking of Mommy - this brings up another topic: begging!  I love it when my mother visits/I visit my mother, because not only does she have a better style-sense than I do, but she also can be wheedled into buying me several pricey items.  Never underestimate the high-pitched power of the whine!  Hopefully her visit will provide Bridget & I with an area rug for the living room - one on which I'm sure Tootles can't wait to rub her butt on.

Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (8)

The cost of cleanliness

I've never lived with a cat before this week. I'm more of a dog person. And then I really only like tiny dogs. But Amanda's got her cat Tootles that she's brought into the new place. I thought it would be fine, but I didn't realize how much it would stress me out more than a dog.

I didn't realize how much time cats spend on counter tops. And oh Heavens do they shed!! Ugh. Tootles hopped up on my lap the other day, and I pet her, and it was a cute moment. When she got down five minutes later, I had enough fur on my pants to make a kitty wig!

I may not have to pay for her food and kitty litter, but I'm paying in terms of cleaning supplies. I'm going to have to buy lint rollers for myself, but it's the counter tops that are gross. There is cat hair all over the kitchen whenever she jumps on the counter. So every time I want to cook, I have to wipe down the counter. She used to go on my bathroom counter, but now I just close the door all the time. I still can't seem to get all the cat hair out of there.

The worst part is that Amanda encourages Tootles to drink from the kitchen faucet because -- or so Amanda says -- Tootles is used to drinking from the sink and won't drink out of her water bowl.

So the cat's tongue touches the faucet where the water comes out.

Tootles licks her butt. Tootles licks the moisture off the end of the faucet. So if you drink the tap water, it's like licking the cat's butt.

Needless to say, every time I want to make a pot of coffee or anything with the tap water, I take a Lysol wipe and scrub the faucet. Because that is just too gross to me.

When I approached Amanda about it, she says I'm being a germaphobe and I should just ignore it. But frankly, I rather avoid cat spit and cat hair in my food. If that makes me like Monk, then so be it.

I would like Amanda to stop encouraging Tootles to drink from the sink and have the cat get used to drinking from her bowl again, but since that might not happen, I need to keep buying more Lysol than I normally would. Even then, she will still jump on the counter tops, and I'm cleaning down the counter tops more than I would normally, and I'll Swiffer the floors more than I would normally.

But while I was cleaning on Sunday, I express out loud that I was having trouble with the vacuum cleaner. Amanda said she hasn't used a vacuum in years, so she jokes that she's not one to help me. And then she throws this line out...

I'll just get a maid to come here once a month.

...WHAT? We are two girls living alone. How can she dare suggest that we should waste money on a maid?? I guess cause that's what she is used to? I think her dad has a cleaning person. I got upset that she would consider that as an option. Just get out the broom and Windex once a week -- it's not that hard!

But it got me thinking... if she suggested getting a maid in our first week here, it looks like for the time being I'll be doing most of the cleaning up around here. I'll have to talk to her about splitting the cost of cleaning supplies.

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (17)

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