The Budget/Baller Series: Thugnificent Coif Edition

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My first post in the Dope Shit for (T)hugs series was all about Hood + Good Lips. I liked the concept (and according to hundreds of Flourish in Progress Reader Surveys, so did you) but I didn’t like the name. Why? Because I recently met a big time d-boy (dope dealer) and now, every time I think about the word “dope, ” I just picture that homie. And his bodyguards.

Hence, Budget/Baller. In each edition, I’ll focus on one category and share products that I love and personally use on a regular basis. Some editions will focus on my budget favorites, while others (like this one) will be decidedly baller status.

P.S. I was not given any of these products for free or at a discount. All of these were purchased with my husband’s hard-earned money.


I kept my hair pretty short until my 20’s. I liked the idea of long hair, but I knew that if I ever grew it out, my go-to hairstyle would be a wet bun right out of the shower. Unlike 99.9% of Asian women, I do not have sleek, straight hair. It’s wavy and poufy. I can’t just throw a little bit of product in while my hair is wet and have it dry into fun, beachy waves. Instead, it looks real electrocuted-like. See:


I use the tools listed below to achieve this:



Parlux 3800 Hair Dryer ($235): I love this bitch so much, but I almost didn’t include it because buying one here in the U.S. was a pain and it colored my opinion of the hair dryer when I initially got it. Parlux is an Italian brand, and while it is sold through several different online retailers including Amazon, I wasn’t going to purchase a $200+ hair dryer without handling it in person first. If you purchase a Parlux online, please make sure the retailer is reputable. And use some sense, folks. If it seems too good to be true, there’s probably a reason why.

I’m wary of buying beauty tools on Amazon after discovering that two (possibly three) Clarisonics I purchased from the site were counterfeit. I don’t buy items sold through third parties on Amazon. I will only buy products that are sold directly by the site or “sold by ____, fulfilled by Amazon,” which means that it comes from one of Amazon’s warehouses even if an outside business technically owns the merchandise. Amazon was totally cool about offering refunds for the two counterfeit Clarisonics I still had (I threw another one away after it stopped working), even though one of them was more than a year old. Because of their customer service, I’m still shopping on their site, but I now only buy expensive beauty tools from a brand’s authorized retailers. These can usually be found on the brand’s website. Most companies no longer honor a warranty if the product was purchased on Amazon or eBay. The more you know, motherfuckers. 

I purchased the hair dryer from a brick and mortar store, but I’m not going to name it because they quoted a price for the dryer that was $70 HIGHER than the listed price on their own website. I confronted the owner about this discrepancy because I don’t fuck around when someone is trying to take a grip of my dolla bills that don’t even belong to them. She matched the online price and acted like she was doing me a favor. Bitch, please. I shoulda just walked out with my head held high, but that dryer was way more important than my pride. Before I even opened the box, I decided to hate the Parlux 3800 and call it ugly names.

I am, however, finding it extremely difficult to hate on this hair dryer. It started off at such a disadvantage that it could have spun my hair into gold which I would cut off and sell for katrillions of dollars and it STILL would only end up at point zero on the scale. But the Parlux 3800 has cut my drying time in half and I no longer have those random ornery hairs that stick out. It’s so much lighter than other models comparable in size. And it’s pretty quiet. I can’t hate it…cuz I love it.

Jilbere Instant Heat 12 Roller Ceramic Hair Setter ($39.99, but I got mine for less cuz…coupon): I used to buy a lot of hair care products when I was poor at Sally Beauty because it was real cheap but still decent. I never got the hang of curling irons (it takes too long, and also, this one time, my friend Ginna burned herself near the eye and she looked stupid). I’ve purchased and returned countless other hot roller sets, both budget and baller, but I always come back to Jilbere. The above picture is for the 6 roller travel set because I could not find a clear picture of the 12 roller set. Super ghetto but works super good. I’ve never replaced a set because they stopped working. The lid is pretty flimsy so it cracks easily. I occasionally buy myself a new set because I don’t like cracks and I’m worth it.

Acca Kappa Professional Pneumatic Nylon and Boar Bristle, Oval ($42.00): I do enjoy me a nice Mason Pearson nylon and boar bristle brush, and it’s the one I keep in my purse, but the Italian brand, Acca Kappa, is legit as fuck. The only brick and mortar Acca Kappa store in the U.S. is in The Venetian Grande Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas. They used to have a store in L.A. I tried to keep it open by buying a lot of shit, but the task was too great for one lone thug. The oval pneumatic brush is good for brushing after styling. I also use the Acca Kappa beechwood comb ($30) to detangle my hair after bathing. The first gift I ever gave Harv was an Acca Kappa hairbrush. He’s hard to shop for, so the rest of his gifts have been kind of shitty, but that brush was on point.

Olivia Garden NanoThermic Ceramic+Ion 2.125 inch ($19.99): I blow dry my hair level by level and section by section (I can’t explain this good in writing but I will show you in person if we meet). I own four of these brushes so that I can leave them in after I’ve dried a section. If they won’t stay on their own accord, I use the hot roller clips to keep them in place. Each level of hair is usually four sections for me. When I am done drying all four sections, I take out the brushes, and not to brag or anything, but that shit looks sensational.
Now you now all of my hair secrets. For more Budget/Baller editions in the future, subscribe to Flourish in Progress through Feedly or Bloglovin.

Also, I can help you waste time at work. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Or….Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu). But I don’t really give a fuck about Twitter so don’t worry about that one.

ADVISE THE IGNORANT: I’m not very computer savvy, so I used an app on my phone to make the tools collage picture above. Do you have any recommendations for phone apps or computer programs (is that what they’re called?) that are simple and easy-to-use for adding text to images, creating collages, creating graphics, and other stuff I don’t even know about but should? Nobody suggest Photoshop. I said EASY. Thank you for your help and thank you for being smarter than me.

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  • Ashley Porter

    picmonkey is great for collages, texts, edits… and it’s free.

    also, you make me want to use hot curlers again. now i have to go shopping.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Awesome. Thanks for the recommendation. I like free.

      I’m sorry I have encouraged you to spend money but good hair is, like, forrealz priceless.

  • Misty

    I haven’t hot rolled my hair since college. Things have come a long way since then. Then again, until very recently, I haven’t had hair long enough to bother. And I’ve seen your hair in person, and it did look absolutely fabulous, so I will testify as to the workitude (totally a word!) of these products.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      About every three days, I think about going back to a bob. Because long hair is high maintenance and I’m real low maintenance. *snort*

  • Jennifer Clark

    I used to spend 45 minutes every morning on my hair, as I required a billow of blonde curls down my back. (This was the 80’s & 90’s) Hot rollers were my very best friend. I had a travel set for when I wanna foof, but mostly it’s just a brush and a hair dryer. But I have a shit load of kids and a minivan, I’m allowed.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oooo….I loved seeing your back in the day hairstyle in the pictures you have….Beautiful beautiful hair.

      Your hair is still awesome actually. And props for busting out that hair dryer with all them kids. That’s hardcore.

      • Jennifer Clark

        Aw, thx, Hunny!

        My brother-in-law is getting married soon. Since I get a chance to dress up about once a decade, I’ve decided to make a real effort. Dress by Bettie Page, pearls, kid *gloves*, baby! So I have been practicing “special occasion” hair. What a pain in the ass! Sometimes I spend over 10 minutes on my hair! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

        • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          You were totally planning on posting pics on FB/emailing them to me, yes?

          • Jennifer Clark

            But of course! Unless I look like total, hammered shit. In which case we will pretend it never happened.

          • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

            You do that too?! If I look like hammered shit, the first thing I do when I get sober is send out a round of texts “Don’t post pictures! WE MUST PRETEND LAST NIGHT NEVER HAPPENED.”

  • Natasha

    Your hair is beyond sensational! I may have to invest in the hot rollers.
    My Vietnamese MIL has super thick, poofy hair that she battles with constantly, I may have to forward this to her also. The upside? Is that between hubby’s hair genes and mine, our kids have awesome hair, the little bastards.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *blush* Thank you.

      I can’t decide if it’s the proclivity to poof or be wavy that makes my hair so unruly but PRAISE JESUS that someone invented tools to tame that shit.

      Hapas not only have beautiful hair…but they are often really really hot.

  • Makaila

    Check out Rhonna Designs. Kick ass phone app w lots of graphics and text. Takes a quick second to figure it out, but it’s EASY and the app designer has a beautiful blog w tutorials on how to use it.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      OOooo…awesome rec. Thank you!

      I’m grateful for anything that provides an easy-to-follow tutorial along with the product.

  • Britt Reints

    Can you legit explain to me what makes one hairbrush better than others? I can’t use brushes because of my insane curly hair, but my daughter has straight hair and I’d love to know what makes a brush worth $42.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Until recently, I only bought inexpensive drugstore hairbrushes for Cal because she can be absentminded and lose things. She has this habit of twirling her hair into knots which I either have to pull apart by hand or run a wide tooth comb then brush through. A lot of the brushes and combs we purchased at the drugstore for around $5-7 were a lot less effective than the mixed nylon and bristle brushes I own.

      I consider the Acca Kappas a mid-range brush because many of the Mason Pearson brushes are $100+. I have had a few for close to a decade and the bristles and handle are still in good shape. I can’t say the same for some of the Goody brushes I’ve purchased over the years.

      I definitely think these brushes are a luxury even in the mid-range, but for me, it’s a worthwhile purchase.

      • Britt Reints

        Thanks! I’m so clueless in this area I just recently learned that a vented brush was not the same as a paddle brush and that the vented was torture for my daughter’s head.

  • Marci Phee

    For your phone, A Beautiful Mess app lets you collage and add text. Also, Over app is another great one for adding text to images. I also agree with the other commenter about PicMonkey for a computer based program. Remember those phones they made for elderly folks with the big light up buttons? It’s like that, but for people who don’t/can’t use Photoshop. ;) I love it.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Coincidentally, I really want one of those phones with the big light up buttons. I think they used to have infomercials for them when I was a kid and I would watch every single one, hoping and praying for one.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

  • theblahblahblahger

    I have MAJ hair envy. I’m totally bald. I wish curl would last for more than five minutes on my three hairs, because I’d SO be all over those hot rollers!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I am finding out so many things about your hair. I would not think your hair was anything other than voluminous + rich color if you hadn’t told me otherwise!

  • xoxoDarya

    First, I am going to say that because of The Better Me Project, I am on a no-shopping ban until Easter Sunday; however, I am allowed to purchase consumables or items that have crapped out on me.

    So, this post was perfect timing–funny how life works that way, huh–I purchased the curlers because mine are from 1972–literally, I have been using the same hot rollers since I was 10-years-old! Shopping ban or no shopping ban hot curlers that have been used for 40+ years deserve to be replaced. Amirite. And I still gotta look half-way decent because that is also part of The Better Me Project.

    I can rationalize the shit outta anything.

    xoxo Darya

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress


      Glad you finally replaced those antiques!

  • Robyn Chilcoat

    I too have crazy frizzy electracuted natural hair, it sucks. Do you use any product on your hair that you love to tame the frizziness?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Yes! Enjoy makes a product called Hair Mask and it’s a super rich conditioner that’s only supposed to be used once a week or so. I use it as my daily conditioner. It’s weird because if I use other heavy conditioners, but hair gets flat and greasy by the end of the day, but my hair seems to vibe well with the Enjoy mask.

      • Robyn Chilcoat

        Thanks homette! I just ordered a bottle of it! Thanks for the tip!

        • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          Please tell me if you hate/love it. I get so nervous when I recommend products!

          • Robyn Chilcoat

            You are the bomb diggity home girl! Enjoy hair mask has tamed my crazy hair! Thanks so much for the tip!

          • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

            Wheeewwwww. Thank God.