Hair Daze

Source: via Ladies on Pinterest 

I have the inclination that I am not alone when I say I have bad hair days. For me it is pretty much every day. Perhaps the conflict started when for the first twelve years of my life my mother refused to let me get my hair cut. This didn’t have anything to do with a religious observance. I suppose she just thought little girls should have nice, long hair. What I happen to know about little girls, is for the most part, they don’t yet have the manual dexterity to thoroughly brush their hair so I if I was able to evade my mother’s hand with the brush, because that was utter torture, I often went to school with a sturdily built nest, fit for a family of robins, in my hair.

Finally, at the age of twelve I visited my cousin’s salon and begged and pleaded that she cut my hair. Enter photo of me with a halo of golden light glowing around my head. I felt at once liberated and was pretty sure I could hear the staccato refrain of Hallelujah. Without years’ worth of weight and split ends my hair felt like an angel’s. It was bliss.
With my hair then just below my shoulders I was eager to get in on all the fun my peers had with their locks: crimping, rolling my hair around flexible rollers that then folded up pretzel-like, I even tried a temporary home perm. Though because of the formula or perhaps my fine textured hair the perm didn’t really amount to much, the whole thing was a limp mess, but it was fun, it was the play of a tween before the concept existed.

Then just as quickly, hormones began to change and the real struggle, which has been waged ever since, began. Sure there have been a few truces along the way, but the fun and play was short lived and ever since I have found myself in a sort of hair daze or funk or outright war.

From then on I’ve just never known what to do with my thin textured, undecided wave: that is some days my hair is wavy and other days it rebels and part of it is straight and other parts have some body, though, of course, in inconvenient places around my face and on my head.

It started with me wanting what I didn’t or couldn’t really have, not for real anyway. I had what is called hair envy. I wanted my best friend’s hair: dark, straight and silky. A mother who wouldn’t allow her daughter’s hair to be cut for twelve years would not allow color to enter the picture. No question.  So straight would have to suffice. Enter the iron. I started ironing my hair. No, not with a flat iron, with a clothing iron, in one word: straw. My hair turned into straw and I probably looked like a scarecrow.

Shortly after I went away to boarding school, and the very fact that I was accepted tells you I had the sense not to use the iron on the day of my admissions interview.  And then I rebelled. I learned about feminism and self-determination and decided for reasons that are no longer clear that I vowed to go one month without washing or wetting my hair. I succeeded. It was gross and smelled bad. Since then the no-poo movement, that is no shampoo, has entered my periphery. I’m all for nature and minimizing exposure to potentially health-damaging or hair-damaging chemicals, but after my freshman year experience, this just isn’t an option for me.

A year later I cut six to eight inches off. While sitting on the stairs in my best friend’s house, the one with enviable hair, I told her to cut it. Just cut it off I pleaded. She wasn’t sure. “I’ll just do it myself,” I threatened. That was enough to coerce her. A girl with beautiful hair has the sense to not to let someone go chopping willy-nilly. Plus her mom was a hair dresser so she had the vague idea of what to do. Why I didn’t ask her mother, I’ll never know. I ended up with a Jon and Kate plus eight, short in the back and longer in the front ‘do before that was a thing. I loved it.

I took it a step further and dyed a thin strip of hair in the front, a sort of bang, a manic-panic bluish green. I tried to keep it hidden around my parents, but felt so bold otherwise. Though funny thing, no one ever noticed it. Junior year brought depression and confusion and I cut off nearly all my hair, not quite Britney style, but close. Too close. I also dyed it dark, almost black. I pulled it off, but just barely.
Senior year my senses returned and I started to let it grow out, it was awkward going, but there are a few rare photos where it looks cute, this was followed by a long-standing bob in the Feria shade of chocolate cherry  with short “betty style” bangs. I loved this time with my hair. It took a lot of work, but I thought I found a style that fit me well and was also rock-n-roll edgy.

I moved to California during my college years and I don’t know if it was the sunshine or something in the water, but I decided to go from black to platinum. It took two days at the salon and hundreds of dollars, but now I really finally felt like my hair had found its home. But it was a lot of maintenance which meant a lot of money and over time, perhaps because of the lack of the latter it became dry, enter once again the scarecrow.

When I became pregnant hormones shifted once again ushering with them a combination of oily scalp and frizzy ends. Short on time with a new baby and then two, my hair became an afterthought, but now that the dust has settled and I can now claim about fifteen minutes to myself to get ready in the morning, I’ve taken up the fight again.

No longer a slave to wanting what I can’t have, long, shiny dark hair, I mean I could, but the time and investment isn’t something I am willing to pony up, I pore over magazines, tearing out hair styles that might work on my particular hair type. However, these too seem to be unattainable. My mousy brown, oily and frizzy hair just doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. I’ve tried reconciling with it, “Okay hair, you’ve got some wave and I’m willing to work with that, I’ll forgo the brush and employ scrunching and plopping. I’ll use sulfate and silicone free products. I’ll live with the color, but can we agree on some highlights?”

I convinced myself to accept what I was born with, though it changed slightly over the years, and endured some damage; it was still something I told myself I could work with, live with even. Yes, I knew the key to hair happiness was acceptance. I could admire other women with their lovely hair, but my hair had its own qualities that were unique to me and I simply had to learn to love it. That approach worked, for a while.

But I have a confession, although I don’t particularly like the hair I have, I guess I also just don’t know what to do with it. From start to finish I’ve received conflicting information from well-meaning friends, stylists, magazines, the internet and product advertisements. I also wash my hair at night and the oils secreted during sleep, plus sleep itself doesn’t do me any favors. What am I to do? I decided to go to the salon in a last ditch attempt to figure out the mystery of my particular hair.

As I entered I had the urge to hide behind my hair from embarrassment. Although I’d had a follow-up appointment in January to the highlights I was given in November it was now May. Roots are an understatement. The good news was there weren’t (yet) any signs of grey.

Before I go on, I have to offer words of gratitude for the fact that I have hair and according to the stylist a relatively healthy head of it at that. My “hair daze” is, I suppose, compared to most, a good problem to have. Better than the opposite anyway, male balding for instance. Thank goodness for that extra X chromosome. I just like to whine. In the confines of my own mind of course, never out loud, unless I am hungry or tired or both.

There is also a certain confidence that is worth acknowledging from having a good hair day or leaving the salon with a fresh blow-out and running into the mean girl from (junior) high school. I may not act fierce, but darn if I can’t look it.

I plopped myself in the adjustable swivel chair and asked my stylist, who incidentally has the grown up version of the hair my childhood best friend had, dark, straight and oh so shiny, “If you were me, seriously, if we somehow switched bodies and you had my exact face shape, hair texture, quantity and skin tone, how would you style your hair, color, cut and finish?” I thought about adding, “I am also a mom and don’t have a ton of time daily or for upkeep.” But I’d tried that before with other stylists and it didn’t seem to get me far. So instead, “I am willing to do anything.”

Perhaps I trusted her because had good hair, I say, “Never trust a hair dresser with hair you don’t love.” But she gave me a fabulous style and here I am, three months later, no roots, I’m keeping it up and you know what, I love it. The days of my hair-daze are over.


What I thought
What I learned
I could wash my hair before bed, go to sleep with it damp and it would look stage ready in the morning.
Washing my hair in the morning provides a much better palette for attaining the styles I want than bed head.
I would get the same results from my products if I used more than the recommended amount, but kept them in for a shorter amount of time.
Follow the directions exactly as they’re written on the bottle/products. If it says five minutes do five minutes if I want the promised outcome.
What looks good on a model, actress, and the girl at the market…would look just as good on me.
Some people are afraid to leave their comfort zone; others go too far in the other direction. Don’t over think things, just try the middle way- we can't all be Lady Ga-Ga or Rihanna- they also have stylists available 24/7. I do not.
I only have to spend one minute on my hair and it will look fresh out of the salon.
I can’t have magazine-spread quality hair on a wash and go time frame.
Because I see certain hairstyles and therefore know they are within the realm of possibility that means I can have them and no doubt, they’ll look great.
What I think looks good, might be different than what actually looks good, taking into consideration my hair texture, type, facial shape and lifestyle.


All of the photos above represent hair and women that I think are just lovely, they wear what they've got...that top photo is the inspiration for my new MC...she and her hair are gorgeous!

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