November 20, 2009

Following up on two hairstyling product questions

A few days ago I posted about the fact that my brand new, never before used set of hot rollers was acting oddly. Upon plugging it in for the first time, it began to smell quite noticeably and even emitted a tiny whiff of smoke! Apprehensive to continue heating up the set, I turned it off immediately and consulted my deeply knowledgeable readership about hot to proceed instead. Many of you offer up terrific ideas and help (including finding a contact number for the company for me), which I greatly appreciate.

I took all of your suggestions to heart and, armed with our fire extinguisher – lest the worst should happen, I tried heating up my hot roller set again (in a less draft prone part of my apartment, in case the smoke had actually been a puff of steam the first time around), and while I didn’t see in any smoke, after just a couple minutes a harsh chemical scent became instantly noticeable. I turned the set off and decided right then and there that’s its going back.

The odour that was produced just doesn’t seem normal to me, it almost smells like the rollers themselves are burning, though when I touched one, it hadn’t even gotten very warm yet (the instructions said to heat up the set for ten minutes, it was plugged in for all of about two). Yes indeed, the hot rollers are getting tucked back in their box and returned to Shoppers the very next time I need to head over there. Hopefully the next set of hot rollers I try out with work like sans any such issues!

Delving a bit further back, in September I wrote about my perpetually ongoing quest to find plastic and/or entirely nickel free bobby pins (as I’m immensely allergic to nickel). Then as with this past week, I was touched deeply to receive a slew of very helpful suggestions and ideas as to where to look for such a product (which oddly, does not seem to be mass marketed these days).

At least two of my wonderful readers provided me with eBay links to packages of plastic bobby pins (one vintage, one modern) that were listed at the time, and I’m thrilled to report that I was able to bring one of them home. (The other auction had ended before I got to it and my messages to the seller, to see if they possibly had other packages, went unanswered.)

The package of plastic bobby pins I got from eBay hails from the 1950s and contains a handful of pink plastic bobby pins that are a bit shorter and wider than the usual metal varieties. These points don’t detract from their effectiveness in the least though, and I’m happy to say they work like a charm.

{The eBay auction photo for the first set of vintage plastic bobby pins that I won there after turning to you guys for help. I love both them – and the delightfully cute backing they came on – so very much. Huge thanks for helping me find these!}

Through my own ongoing search I’ve also found another pack on eBay, which I just won a few days ago (they haven't arrived yet). These plastic hair grips are vintage as well, though they appear to be black and a little longer than the pink ones. They weren’t the cheapest things ever, but as with the other plastic vintage bobby pins I already have, I figure if I treat them with kid gloves, they should last me quite a while.

However, bobby pins by their very nature are rarely the longest lasting of items, so I’m going to keep searching eBay, etsy and elsewhere frequently for other packages (modern or vintage) of plastic grips. Having found some now though, I can’t begin to tell you how much happier my sensitive skin is! Finally I can put up my hair and not have the knowledge looming in the back of my mind that I’m going to develop a rash (contact dermatitis, to be exact). I have a number of “challenges” when it comes to styling my hair (insanely sensitive skin that makes using almost any hairstyling product impossible, my nickel allergy, super fine/thin hair, etc), but being able to banish one of them from my mind is a huge relief.

Thank you again so very much to all those who helped me in my search to find plastic bobby pins and to those who provided your very useful impute about the hot roller set. You’re all the best, and I love knowing that if and when future hair related quandaries pop up, I can turn to you!

Wishing you each a marvelous weekend – and many happy hair days of your own!


  1. Those pink pins look adorable

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment...I also have shoe problems, one foots a 5 the others 5and a half...x

  3. That stinks. I'll keep an eye out as well for non-nickel bobby pins for you. The pink ones do look so cute, I imagine that they look great in your hair.

  4. And ofcourse now I want to know how stunning your hair looks!

    I really want to learn to do my hair a bit more 'vintage' too. But it's very, very thin and soft and there is not much I can do with it. But, I remember to have a set of Carmen rollers somewhere in the attic. Maybe I should try that... Hmm.. interesting idea!

  5. So glad you found some plastic ones!!! I'm not much help with the rollers, I remember mine smelling the first couple of times I used them but I just kept using them. lol Mine have the velour-ish type material on the roll so I just assumed that's where the smell came from, lol.

  6. I'd love it if you described what vintage styles you are attempting, and possibly photos of the set and results too...I have super fine/thin hair too and my past attempts at pin curls ended up a disaster. I had determined then that I just didn't have enough hair to work with and gave up on vintage styles.

    I hope you get your hot roller problem sorted out easily!

  7. Shame about your hot rollers, I would have been a tad scared myself...I don't think that should happen and you are wise to return them.

    Love your new bobby pins, glad you were able to get them. I too will keep an eye out for non-nickle pins for your hair in my many internet perusing sessions.

    Thanks for always leaving such heartfelt comments, I just adore you!

  8. It's better to be safe than sorry with the rollers and I would return them as well. I know I couldn't handle that chemical odor!

    that reminds me! I was at antique store a few weeks ago and saw some vintage bobby pins and I thought of you :-) I almost snapped them up until I realized, duh, they weren't plastic! I'm glad you found some plastic ones :-)

  9. I'm not sure anybody has suggested this yet, but you should check out the asian markets in your area. Asian themed gift shops, too. We have oodles of them here. I've seen plastic bobby pins quite frequently in those places.

    Nickel-free bobby pins seem to be fairly easy to find, but only if you are looking for rhinestone encrusted sparklies, or brightly colored floral adornment for your coiffure.

  10. They are really cute too. I love anything pink!! Happy Sunday :-)

  11. You can't beat the charm of vintage or pink. : )

  12. What cute bobby pins! I'm glad you found a solution to your problem. My problem with bobby pins is that I need about a million of them to hold my hair in place. haha.
    -Andi x

  13. Karin- I would recommend you try pin-curls. Fine hair seems to do well with this technique, from my experience anyhow. Tons of tutorials all over the web, dear. ;)

  14. Good morning, darlings, thank you each very much for your continually helpful tips, I appreciate your suggestions and helpful tips a lot!

    Some of you asked about tips for pin curls done on really fine hair, and while I don't consider myself to be a pin curl expert per se, I am happy to share the tips that I've used on my own (bone straight, super fine, very thin) hair before. They're things I've found work well after much trial and error ;D

    -Start with dry hair, which you then spray with a mixture of water and a sturdy styling product of your choice (a little spray gel or some flex-hold hairspray for example). About One part styling product to 10 parts water is what I've used. Just mist your hair lightly, you want it to be damp, but not dripping wet. Brush or comb your damp hair so that it's free of any tangles.

    -Section off your hair into at least four quadrants of the head and use a clip/barrette/etc to hold the hair that you're not working on in each section up and out of the way.

    -I don't use bobby pins (which are apt to leave creases, especially in fine hair) to hold my pin curls in place, I use double pronged hair clips (sometimes called alligator clips), which I usually buy from my local drug store (any beauty supply store should have them, too. Here's a photo I found online of the type I mean:

    -Begin rolling small locks of hair up into pin curls. If you have trouble with the ends sticking out, pick up some perm papers from a hair dresser/beauty supply, or well stocked drug, store and use them on the ends of the sections you pin/clip up.

    -Once you've rolled all the hair in one section of your head and are happy with how it looks, let down the clip for the next section and proceed to roll the hair there. Continue on like this until all of your hair has been curled.

    -Despite being fine (and not having a much bulk at all!), my hair takes a while to dry, so I usually leave the curls in for several hours or overnight. If I sleep on them, I wrap a large scarf or bandanna over my head to protect the curls from getting too crushed while I sleep (and I sleep on my side, not on my back).

    -When I take them out, I work from the bottom curls (the ones closest to my neck) upwards, unrolling them slowly and carefully, so as to not kink the shape of the curl.

    -Once all the curls have been taken down, I spray them with a light mist of hair spray. If I don't do this and try to brush them out, my hair just about straightens back out entirely! The hair spray helps to keep a sense of wave to my hair.

    -I brush slowly and gently with a flexible plastic tipped brush, making sure that I leave a bit of curl to the wave (I know some gals prefer just to have a wave, but I like some curl to my hair).

    -Once I'm happy with the brush out, I spritz a little more hair spray over my whole head and then proceed to style my hair as desired. I often just part it to one side and clip some of it up with a pretty floral clip. Other times I might incorporate a front "bang/fringe" style roll or a pair of Victory rolls. Whatever strike my fancy that day really :)

    I really hope that these tips help those gals, who like myself have fine hair, out. Best of luck to you all with your pin curl sets!

    Huge thanks again everyone for your ongoing ideas and for your lovely comments.

    Big hugs to one and all!
    ♥ Jessica