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.

Basic Rules For Good Living #1: Move More Than A Dead Person

understandstupidI haven’t confirmed this by actually asking anybody, but I get the sense that a lot of people think I’m fierce and emotionless. These people might use labels like “scary” and “thugnificent” if you mention my name in conversation, but I want to dispel those myths right now. I would agree that, yes, my general appearance is menacing, but take a minute to look past my gruff exterior.

I feel many feelings. When a baby smiles at me, I am thrilled for a moment but then I am sad because my own baby is growing up. When I rescue a 20% off one single item Bed Bath & Beyond coupon from my neighbor’s recycle bin and it doesn’t even have any food stains, I am happy. And whole. When I check my Fitbit every few minutes for an updated daily step count, I feel devastated. Sometimes I am able to push down my bitter anger because I just breathe and remind myself that I didn’t move for the last 5 minutes so of course the number is going to stay the same.

The Fitbit came into my life by accident. I didn’t really care about any of its functionalities. It reminded me of the black pager I had in 1994. Ninth grade was a pretty good year for me.

Shortly after I got it, I read somewhere that the average person takes 6,000 steps per day. The base level for good health is supposedly 10,000 steps. I smirked when I saw those numbers. When I am extremely thirsty and no one hears my repeated requests, I go downstairs to get my own beverages. It takes me at least 3 trips to move all of the groceries from my car to the kitchen. Obviously, I’m a very active individual. I pitied the fool who could only manage 10,000 steps a day. What a stupid dummy.

I allowed two weeks to pass before I averaged out my step count data because I planned to humblebrag about my number a lot so I needed a decent sample size. Daily average: 1700. Since one of the new things I’m trying is not lying to myself, I devoted an afternoon to sitting with the truth that I move about as much as a dead person. I stared out my window a lot that day. And then I decided to live a good life. My list of Basic Rules For Good Living sprouted from that belief and I knew what the first Rule had to be: Move more than a dead person.

I wasn’t sure I could do it but January proved otherwise. My daily average has bumped up to 9,000 steps per day. It helps that I’m Groupon-ing my way to fitness. I bought two exercise class packages and I alternate between them each day.

The only problem is that exercise is stupid. I hate it. What I’ve gathered over the last month is that, basically, you move your body for no real reason. Suspicious elements of exercise: 1. Forced to look at myself in mirrors for extended periods, 2. Salty sweat stinging my delicate eyes, 3. Burning hot physical pain and/or nausea, 4. Ok for strangers to yell at me through microphone headset, 5. Lululemon prices.

2014 isn’t about lofty goals or wow value for me. I’m just trying to get used to the fundamentals of what it means to be a decent, functioning adult. I have never been that before, but if I can follow my Basic Rules, maybe I’ll know a little about Good Living. Join me if you want. Real friends suffer together.
P.S. I’ll be sharing my other Basic Rules for Good Living throughout the year. Watch me get real good at adult-ing. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress).

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Give No Fucks and Waste No Time

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This is really, really important and if you never read anything else here again, please let these two thoughts linger in your head for a minute before you move on to something urgent (!!) that needs your attention right now (!!): If something is important to you, don’t give a fuck what others think as you pursue it. Also, try not to waste time on stupid shit that doesn’t matter.

For the past four days, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging my office. I walked in one day last week and slipped on a spray of greetings cards I haphazardly threw on the floor the night before (like, I literally tossed a dozen cards into my office from the doorway because I was tired and cranky and pissed about something I can’t even remember now). I didn’t immediately bend down to pick them up so I wouldn’t slip on them again because I don’t like being reasonable, and also, I was busy assessing my office with fresh eyes. Sometimes, when we look at the same thing over and over again, no matter how beloved it is to us, we just become immune to its wonder and worth.

Unlike the rest of our home, my office is bursting with knick-knacks and sparkle and pink. Every surface is covered with found treasures, and for years, these objects made me feel rich and full and whole.

There have been periods in my life when I had nothing. When I was 18 and couch-surfing, I had to remember to wash my underwear every night because they were the only pair I had. During that time, I had to eat what was available to me because I didn’t have money or a job and it was hard to come across either because I was constantly on the move from couch to couch and city to city.

I like to come into my office just to touch all of my cool shit from time to time because it’s there and I bought it and it’s miiiiiiiiiiine. I have been known to buy two of the same sticker packs at my favorite craft store. That way, I can say, “Go ahead, Cal. Use that shimmery sun sticker. I got another one just like it.” If you’ve ever purchased a duplicate item just for the sake of owning it, you’ll understand how incredible my life is today.

The more I acquired, the better I felt about myself. When I started going down self-pitying roads like “I wish my father had wanted a daughter as much as I had wanted a father,” I would buy an assortment of multicolored grommets, and all the stars aligned. My world was perfect and good again.

Then I slipped on some greeting cards. I suddenly felt suffocated and my treasures seemed more like worthless junk. When I finally convinced myself that I didn’t need to keep all of my possessions in plain view to signify that I BELONG HERE, I purchased a dozen small moving boxes and started packing. Once those first twelve boxes filled up, I bought twelve more.

I walked to the bank between my first and second dozen boxes, and as I filled out a deposit slip (I ain’t about that ATM life), I overheard a man asking a teller if he could take one of the helium balloons on display. The teller then asked another teller who asked the supervisor (The ratio of employees to patrons at my bank is, like, 7 to 1. Also, they give you a bottle of water if you come in, and that’s why I don’t use the ATM, cuz….free water.)

Not that I would ever ask for a bank balloon in the first place, but if my request had to go up the chain of command, I most certainly would run the fuck out of there because that shit is kind of embarrassing and who the fuck asks for a bank balloon? Come on, bro.

But he stayed. And he waited. And the manager went into the kitchen to get him a balloon because the ones on display were part of a larger arrangement they were not allowed to touch. I know because I eavesdropped in rapt fascination. I finally looked up as the Bank Balloon Man thanked the manager, “My son loves balloons and this is going to make his day.” It was simultaneously the coolest and most weirdest, cheapskatiest shit I have ever seen in my life. It blew me away.

This Bank Balloon Man gave no fucks about what anyone thought. When life gives you a potential free balloon, you just gotta hold on and never let go I guess.

I thought about Bank Balloon Man as I packed the second set of boxes. I imagined what his son’s face might look upon receiving his gift. That was the beautiful image I had in my head as I peeled a handmade red envelope from between two books and coaxed the index card out. The ensemble was a gift from Cal many, many years ago, and this very perfect present had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of so much shit that really meant nothing to me.

In Cal’s newly-learned cursive: What you need is closer than you think.

This process of packing and purging has forced me to reevaluate the clutter I keep in my life. Now that I’ve let go of so much, I do not feel empty and untethered. I feel free.

Welp, you’ve made it this far. Congrats on your amazing attention span and sorry about the excessive length today. This is probably not the right time to ask you to subscribe via Feedly or Bloglovin for more of this shit, but I give no fucks.

I’m not as longwinded on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Probably.