liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] liv
I have a diverse and wise circle here, so let's see if you can help me fix small things in my life:

Hair dye
I want to purple my hair again, it hasn't been purple since I was an undergrad. I am a bit reluctant to bleach my hair, and it's a sort of mid-brown that is too dark to take dyes very well. So either I want to bleach just part of it, maybe streaks, or maybe just do the tips, or else I want to use several coats of a nice bright dye and accept that the purpleness is going to be fairly subtle.

Does anyone have any recommendations for good purple dyes? Years ago I used the Stargazer semi-permanent brand. It was easy to use and gave me a good colour, but it really really wasn't fast; it was sold with the claim it would last 8 washes and it barely lasted one. And even before I actually stood under the shower it kind of leaked all over my clothes whenever my hair got even slightly damp. I have quite long (about thigh-length) hair, which is somewhat curly and somewhat thick. I've generally found hair products marketed at white people to be adequate for me.

Also, does anyone have a link to a good tutorial on how to go about bleaching and dyeing? I'm not very competent at it and I think I could do with some hints. How to make up the bleach correctly, as well as how to dye neatly and get even coverage, how to avoid getting the bleach and the colour everywhere.

Menstrual cups
I feel a bit bad that I haven't managed to make the switch to reusable menstrual products yet. Does anyone have any personal experience of using a menstrual cup, any recommendations for or against? Opinions about brands would also be useful; the ones I've heard of are Divacup and Mooncup.

My periods are usually what marketing departments call medium to heavy, but not actually heavy compared to people whose lives are really disrupted by periods. Fairly regular, tend to last about 5 days to a week. I am not particularly bothered by getting blood on my hands or poking about in my bits generally. I do need to have the ability to manage the business while I'm travelling, so if it's very faffy I might have to carry on using disposable products when I'm away from home. I have a coil fitted, which I assume won't make any difference, but I'm particularly interested to know of any reason why that assumption might not hold.

Laptop
Part of The Plan would benefit from having a laptop I can keep at [personal profile] jack's; yes, I can carry my main computer back and forth between Stoke and Cambridge, but it's a bit of a barrier and I'm trying to reduce the friction of travelling between work and home as much as I can. So, I'm in the market for a laptop, and I'd like recs of either brands or retail sites where I can source one. In particular, any hints for where I can still pick up a computer running Win7? Budget: preferably under £500, depending what's out there.

Basically this laptop is going to be almost purely for work. So it needs to be powerful enough not to be frustratingly slow, and to run things like Photoshop and deal with large, hi-res images. It doesn't need to be a high-end gaming machine, though. I need a reasonable screen size and resolution, but I don't want a computer that's physically huge. Ultra-light is not necessary. The reason I'm asking about Win7 is that I somewhat need Windows to be compatible with work-related software; Photoshop itself is non-negotiable for a start. I have heard very very mixed things about Win8, but maybe at this stage it's too late and I won't be able to get the older OS for any reasonable amount of money. But I'm not absolutely fixated on that OS, I could hear arguments for other possibilities as long as you acknowledge the purpose I want this computer for, rather than some theoretical ideal of what OS is overall "best".

And finally, Tube-themed music for my sister's thirtieth. Details over at [community profile] mix_tape. This seems like a really good one to crowd source, especially clever puns on Tube station names.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-18 11:02 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
Hair dye: my girlfriend & my metamour both speak very, very highly of Directions, and I can probably get them to summarise bleaching+dying for me to pass on to you if you like. (Or I could just point them at this post!)

Menstrual cups: YES YES YES I started using one in... 2006? 2007? and have NEVER LOOKED BACK. I have a Mooncup - the same one I've had all along, which I consider an excellent use of twenty quid - and I adore it; it reduces my dysphoria, makes my periods much less messy and unpleasant, I genuinely don't notice it when it's in, it's so much more convenient for travelling with[1], and I no longer get my thighs sawed to pieces by pads. (I never even tried to get the hang of tampons.) It did take me a couple of cycles to get used to getting it into place, but basically I adore it forever and will go on about it at great length and am very happy to answer more detailed/personal questions, and with That Professional Hat On, you're absolutely fine to use a menstrual cup with a coil provided (1) it's not within the first three months of fitting [if you're being super-careful - I resumed using my cup within a month of fitting and had no problems], (2) you make sure to release the vacuum when removing (which you'll want to do anyway because the alternative is painful; it's very simply a matter of sticking a finger up the side of the cup and squishing gently).

[1] To expand on this, I find it vastly more convenient to just have a small lump of silicone that can fold up in my general toiletries bag than to worry about how many pads of which types I need to carry with me, and I also find it enormously less hassle to clean/empty/replace than changing pads. Basically, I have travelled across 3 continents with this thing and am never. giving. it up. (Short of developing vaginismus or vulvodynia, which do not seem hugely likely for me.)

ETA several things!

(1) I am super-aware that cups do not work for many people for a wide variety of reasons, and I absolutely do not intend to give the impression that that's not the case (and realise I kind of did: sorry). To give this response some more context, I have severe endometriosis including extensive nodules in my rectovaginal septum and significant abdominal pain; I'm also trans. I am not this enthusiastic about cups unless it is solicited, because See Above re knowing they're not for everybody, but apologies about not making that clearer in the first instance.

(2) [livejournal.com profile] menstrual_cups and [livejournal.com profile] sizecharts are both excellent resources - the former for general discussion and the latter as comparison charts of (I'm pretty sure) all readily-available cups on the market. M_C is not always brilliant at gender/inclusivity/intersectionality, but I know and trust the mod there, and they are trying super-hard and *will* address things for you (or you could just get me to wade in bolshily on your behalf, if it comes to that, this offer goes for people in general not just [personal profile] liv).

(3) ... I think that's it for this edit.
Edited Date: 2014-02-18 11:09 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-18 11:14 pm (UTC)
ceb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ceb
Dye: Directions, way way better than Stargazer, at least on my hair (Stargazer purple lasted 2 weeks tops, Directions blue is still looking respectable at 6 weeks). I've not had any problems with the Stargazer bleach though, it works fine for me. Bleach kits and dye come with instructions which are usually pretty good. It does help to have a second person to help you get everything on evenly and help you pick up stuff you've forgotten you need and now you're covered in dye, that sort of thing.

Everything kabarett says about Mooncups, they are completely fantastic. After a few years of practice I am confident changing mine anywhere, though cubicle with sink does make things a bit easier. It might poke at first; if it does, cut the stem shorter. Srsly, this can be quite uncomfortable; if you're worried about cutting it too short then cut it less short but carry a pair of scissors round with you for when you change your mind... (I have cut the stem completely off mine; once you're used to getting it in and out then you'll find the stem's not necessary.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-18 11:43 pm (UTC)
malnpudl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] malnpudl
I used the Diva Cup for about three years leading up to menopause, and thank heavens for it, given some of the heavy flow during those times.

During heaviest flow I couldn't go more than six to eight hours without having to empty and re-insert it, but that was a vast improvement over waking up every two hours to change tampons. Most of the time it easily held 12 hours of flow, and twice daily was fine, though I generally did three.

I will mention that even though I was close to 50 at the time and about 100 lbs overweight, the recommended larger size Diva Cup was too big, which made it uncomfortable. The smaller one was perfect. One size chart may fit most, but certainly not all.

Also: Expect that it will take practice. I wrestled with it for my whole first cycle, and at times was more physically aware of it than I would have liked or expected (possibly because of not having it seated quite right). By midway through the second cycle of use, I'd just pop it in and out as easily as I would a tampon, and with as little awareness when it was in place. I wound up loving it, depending on it, and wondering how I ever lived without it.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 12:02 am (UTC)
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
From: [personal profile] karen2205
Menstrual cups

I have both a mooncup and some Softcups. Softcups feel more plasticy and are squishable in a way that the silicone ones aren't. I needed to cut all of the stem off my mooncup to get it to fit comfortably. I still have months or parts of months when fitting it (and more particularly removing it) are painful. Practice methods of folding silcone cups till you find one you can sustain whilst inserting it (I had enormous problems with a 'C' shaped fold for one sort of cup, till I discovered a method that involved collapsing the cup in on itself that worked better for me). Softcups fit differently to the silicone ones but feel comfortable to me in a different way and are overall less painful than my mooncup. I don't see any reason not to rinse out and reuse the disposable softcups. I do use sanitary pads as backup, because I lose enough fluid that I overflow the cups and changing them somewhere other than my own bathroom is hard. [for me, this is because I will dribble blood, in addition to the other problem of needing water to clean a menstrual cup before reinserting it that you'd get in most toilets] Oh, yes, the other thing that may need some practice is the position you adopt when inserting/removing the cup. I prefer to stand with one foot on the toilet, other people have different preferences.

Laptop

I recommend Lenovo laptops mainly because Lenovo have acquired Thinkpad and Thinkpads have always been good laptops - you should be able to identify a suitable machine and then buy from the cheapest supplier - my most recent two laptops have been Lenovos acquired from Argos and have cost about £400. The only real problem is there's a weird interaction between Windows 8 gestures and Lenovo touchpads, meaning that some movements you make using the trackpad are interpreted as Windows 8 gestures and do particular things other than moving the cursor (eg. swiping in from the right opens a menu on the right hand side of the screen). This is all annoying, but is liveable with/is probably fixable.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 12:41 am (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
I am pretty fond of my Divacup, though it sounds like I have lighter periods than you. It takes a while to figure out how to insert them properly, and when you screw up the insertion (which you will from time to time) it can be uncomfortable and challenging to remove.

That said, I LOVE not having to change a tampon every 4-6 hours, and being able to sleep without bleed-throughs. I do sometimes use a re-usable pad along with the cup, especially on heavy days. I like Luna Pads or Glad Rags for re-usable pads. They are super-soft and comfy, much nicer than horrible plasticky things.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 12:41 am (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
Laptops: because 'downgrading' (ha!) to Windows 7 is very, very widely available, your main issue is going to be the screen, I think. You want something with lots of pixels, or Photoshop is going to be a pain. Lots of pixels on a laptop costs £££s in a way that they don't on a monitor or tablet.

If you are not going to do work in transit, the consider getting another screen / keyboard / mouse, and have something that is very portable. Think something down to Mac Mini but as a PC: there are more on the market now. See this as one example.

Or just have a desktop in each location and sync them online. I was surprised at how little capable desktops can cost now.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 06:24 am (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
Hair dye: I've been bleaching and dying my hair bright colours on and off since 1987. Since 2010 I've had bright oranges and reds.

The most recent time round, I used an ammonia free bleach, which did not get my hair to platinum blonde, but did get it light enough to show up colour really well. And it was much less smelly and is probably better for the hair.

Streaks are a bit more work than all over bleach, but they can look really effective. They also mean regrowth is less of an issue.

My main neon bright colours are orange and red, so for awhile I was using fairly common dark red hair dyes which I could find anywhere, and which could be applied to unbleached hair, and had bold streaks which were bleached then coloured with Special Effects dyes at the front. If you want to go purple, you might find that a plum or burgundy or even a blue black could work as a colour for the rest of your hair. Of course, with this route, regrowth becomes an issue again.

If you have a local friend who dyes and streaks their own hair, even if they don't use bold colours, ask them if they would mind helping.

I have a tag called adventures in short hair if you want to check out some of my experiments.

beeunique is a site where people can submit their own photos of bright coloured hair dye. That link goes to the purple gallery, so you can get some ideas about what shades of purple you like, and different ways of using colour with natural or unbleached hair.

Menstrual Cups: I have a moon cup, which I got in 2010, and I like it a lot. When I first got it, I could only insert if I was standing with one leg propped up on something, or lying on my back, and I sometimes needed a little lube on the rim for it to feel comfortable. Over time, I have got a lot better at insertion, although I usually do it in the shower (I like a quick shower after work). Typically, I can go for 8-12 hours without needing to empty it, which makes it really handy for work, because I simply don't need to think about it. This may vary.

I do know some people don't find it comfortable, but I think it is totally worth trying out.

I also have a cervix which gynos have informed me tilts in a non-standard way, this has not affected my ability to use the cup.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 07:31 am (UTC)
lavendersparkle: (Lady Garden)
From: [personal profile] lavendersparkle
I have a Mooncup, which I love. The only time it leaked was when I put it in sideways whilst drunk (that was not comfortable). I used it with an IUD, but as [personal profile] kaberett said, let the IUD settle for a few months before using a cup with it. I find the cup useful when travelling as I can just take it with me and rinse it when I get a chance. I don't think it's a problem to sometimes dump the blood and reinsert it without rinsing it. It only needs sterilising between periods. Another advantage I found of a cup over tampons is that it doesn't dry out my vagina as much. It's also comfortable even when I'm not menstruating, so it's better for the end of my period when the bleeding is very light or for inserting in anticipation of my period.
Edited Date: 2014-02-19 07:35 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 08:57 am (UTC)
ewx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ewx
I would suggest trying Windows 8 before rejecting it on the basis of "things you've heard"; if you don't use the Metro applications then it's similar to Windows 7 in most ways. The only thing that's unavoidably and overtly different is that the start menu becomes full screen; if you spend much time using that then you might (or might not) find it a problem, but I assume most people spend most of their time using applications rather than starting them...
This may well not be what you want but I'm going to mention it anyway as it's still cluttering up the house!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 09:33 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I have very dark hair that needs to be blue and also needs to not be entirely fried. My hair is also somewhat fine and waves like an angry sea. This results in tangles every time I turn around.

I used a plastic bag to bleach the very tips of my braid, leaving it on only a reasonable amount of time. I braided my day-old hair and used a sacrificial hairtie on the inside, stuffed the end into a baggie, and then splooped the mixed bleaching gunk inside. I tied off the outside of the baggie above the inside hairtie to keep it on, using another hairtie, and then I squished it around until the ends were saturated. Then I washed it off after the usual fashion.

Later, I re-did the braid and bag thing (with a new bag). Instead of bleach, I then put my blue dye, and splopped it around. I made sure that the hair down inside the bag included all of the bleached bits, and some of the unbleached for good measure. I then left that bag on for quite some time, this dye having nothing in it that would erode the hair further.

This has given me good blue for about a month at a time. I have had to trim my ends at a slightly greater rate, but eh, they were down at the end, and their time was near anyway. At length I will probably repeat it, when I run out of ends.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 10:43 am (UTC)
wychwood: chess queen against a runestone (Default)
From: [personal profile] wychwood
I tried a Divacup and got absolutely nowhere with it - I made numerous attempts to insert it, and did all the exercises and cup-bendy things and everything anyone recommended that I could actually do, but my most successful attempt involved it being jammed in vaguely the correct area and then suctioning itself slowly along my vulva until it reached the clitoris. That's when I gave up. I have real problems with cervical smear tests, etc, so it may just be a factor of my terrifyingly strong / tight pelvic muscles, but basically all I heard before I tried it was how AMAZING they are, so I thought it was worth being a counter-example!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 10:45 am (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
Hair Dye> I consistently find that hair dye just... does not stick to my hair. I can't really recommend anything on that front at all. Obviously some dyes do work very well for some people; I think they only way to find out is try-it-and-see.

Menstrual cups> I tried one briefly; I found it generally OK to use in that it was comfortable and didn't overflow (and didn't need emptying very often, so usually possible to do that in a convenient toilet). Obviously it's easier to travel with in that you don't have to carry a box of tampons/pads, but rather "just" this one small thing. I didn't find using it to be too messy (after some practice). But then I got contraception that lead to no-periods.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 10:57 am (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
I think the replies to this are a lovely example of the 'if your friends were normal people, they they would not know you' effect.

The article in Nature on this, complete with reference to the paper is now outside a paywall again

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 11:05 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Hairdye: I have used Special Effects Blue Velvet & also Electric Blue, always on pre-bleached hair done at a hairdresser. Both of these went from vivid blue, to paler blue, to purple, to pink over about six weeks, with me washing hair every 1-2 days.

(I am watching this for advice on bleaching as I've been letting my hair grow for the last five months as N is no longer yanking on it, and when it gets a bit longer, I'm considering bleaching+dyeing the tips at home rather than block out the necessary time for a hairdresser trip.)


Menstrual cups: I liked my Mooncup when I had periods, more details in this post from 2012: http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/469149.html and the original review from 2003: http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/8967.html
I still have it somewhere, and if I have periods again, I will almost certainly try it first.

Hair Dye

Date: 2014-02-19 03:55 pm (UTC)
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
From: [personal profile] wildeabandon
I use L'Oreal and it gets my hair pretty bright without bleaching - I think our hair colours are reasonably similar. It is permanent though, so you'd have to dye over it to go back to your natural colour, but as such it stays vibrant a lot longer than the semi-perm ones, and is about the only brand that does permanent purple as far as I can tell. I'm also not entirely certain whether they entirely avoid animal testing, which I imagine is something you care about more than I do.

If I'm dying my own hair I just slap it on any old how, but with hair as long as yours, it's probably a lot easier to get someone else to do it for you. I'd be happy to if we're going to be in the same town at a suitable time. (I used to work as an assistant in a hairdressers as a teenager, and although I never actually dyed hair professionally, I picked up a fair bit).

If someone else is doing it, they'll have a much easier time of it with a proper hair dye brush than using the applicator nozzle. The method I use is to part the hair into four quarters, and apply the dye to the first inch or so of hair along both partings, then work diagonally through each quarter, again applying dye to the first inch or so of hair. Once you've got full coverage on the roots, start again at the centre, this time applying dye along the full lenght of hair; once it's all applied, massage through the length briefly, wind it up to keep it out of the way, and cover with the plastic cap supplied (or clingfilm) whilst you wait. If your hair is fairly robust, then it's fine to leave it on for a bit longer than the guildelines say (wash it off immediately if it starts to sting or burn, but don't worry about gentle tingling or itching).

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-19 10:40 pm (UTC)
ephemera: (Hair)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
Strong recommendation for Special Effects as being both relatively easy on the hair (bleaching not withstanding) and lasting *way* better than stargazer and directions (as in, if you don't want the colour to be mostly permanent, it's not a great choice, end of the semi-perm scale.) My entire extended household was batch ordering it from the USA for several years in a wide range of colours - even the blue (me) lasted pretty damn well, and blue tones are usually the flakiest.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-20 08:14 pm (UTC)
blue_mai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blue_mai
I have a Mooncup - used it quite a bit maybe 5 years ago, but it never stuck somehow. My muscles move/spasm quite a lot when my period's heavy, and it sometimes leaked so I had to wear pads anyway. Also while inserting/removing wasn't painful, it was sometimes messy. I'm not at all confident doing it in a toilet cubicle without a sink in it (bottle of water not really cutting it). Haven't used it at all in a few years.

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