HAIR

WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT HAIR?

A LOVE AFFAIR!

Men and women love their hair and both genders spend money and time making sure it is a proper a reflection of their identity. This deep personal relationship between hair and self-esteem is evident throughout history, philosophy and even religion. Hair is often a direct representation of our public persona.

History shows that hair is a symbol of femininity. There is little wonder why women feel like their hair is a “crowning glory,” since this phrase dates to Biblical times. According to 1 Corinthians 11: 15, “but for a woman, if her hair is abundant, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” As shown in 1 Corinthians 11: 5, “and every woman, who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, dishonors her head; for she is on a level with her whose head is shaven.”

Lady Godiva’s naked ride through the streets has made her a heroine to the common people of Coventry. Her image of riding a horse with her body covered with only her long hair has become a symbol of civic freedom and beauty. The negative implication of a woman with bad hair is apparent in throughout history.

Men also believe they are judged by how much hair they have on their heads. The fear of baldness is palpable given all the various treatments available to grow and sustain thick hair. Most men consider their hair a reflection of their personal style, and as something that helps them look both masculine and professional. The chatter surrounding male grooming has become a hot topic recently, with an increased awareness and availability of specialty beauty products for men. 

THE COST OF HAIR

Hair and beauty are a multibillion-dollar industry, and the average woman spends approximately $50,000 on her hair over her lifetime and almost two hours a week washing and styling it. This is not just because many believe that appearances are important, but also because hair represents personality, thoughts and beliefs. For centuries, women have been able to play different roles by creating different hairstyles, and from their stories, we can see that hair contributes greatly to women’s self-esteem, actions, and motives.

The women of Brandon Oaks (my retirement community) have beautiful hair that is often styled to perfection.  Some have regular appointments with a hairdresser/stylist outside our community, but others use our in-house stylists and are thrilled with the results. Apparently, we have wonderful stylists who are quite good with hair and I know from first-hand experience they are very, very funny— hilarious actually.

I enjoy watching our women have their hair rolled into curls and sit under a hair

dryer.  Most read a magazine while sitting very still and allowing the contraption to do its job.   They look so serene and peaceful and they know the positive comments will flow as their peers recognize the new hairdo.

The average male spends about $25 a month on hair care and other “beauty” products. However, the under 30 crowd spends a lot more.  Moisturizers and hair gels are used a lot as are body washes and specialty shampoos.  You have to look as good in a selfie as you do in real life.  Watch out for specialized make-up for men.

BALD

Something women don’t have to worry about is baldness. The primary cause of male pattern baldness is having a family history of baldness. In other words, genetics. Male pattern baldness is associated with male sex hormones called androgens. The androgens have many functions, including regulating hair growth. Each hair on your head has a growth cycle. With male pattern baldness, this growth cycle begins to weaken and the hair follicle shrinks, producing shorter and finer strands of hair. Eventually, the growth cycle for each hair ends and no new hair grows in its place.

Male pattern baldness can begin in the teenage years, but it more commonly occurs in adult men, with the likelihood increasing with age. Genetics plays a big role particularly when the bald relatives are on the maternal side of the family.

Medical treatment isn’t necessary if other health conditions aren’t a cause.

However, treatments and techniques are available for men who are unhappy with the way they look and would like the appearance of a fuller head of hair. I am not bald and so I have no skin in this game.  BUT, I hate the comb-over solution and have never seen an attractive toupee, wig or weave on a man. For me, I would use Rogaine to see if it helps. If not, I would shave my head for the completely bald look. This has become a very attractive alternative for men.

When push comes to shove, there’s no known way to prevent male pattern baldness. A theory is that stress may cause hair loss by increasing the production levels of sex hormones in the body.  We blame everything else on stress, so why not baldness.  Anyway, a shaved head is much more “manly” than a bun on top.

REINFORCEMENT

Hair is so much more than a look. It can be a reflection and reinforcement of who you are.  Many women choose an abbreviated hairstyle when they reach middle age. This change in length is cultural, seeming to signify a graceful slip into life’s third act. After a certain age, women often want to hide, rather than glide, through the world, and the shorter style is part of that.

There are three types of aging women according to hair professionals. The ones who cut their hair off out of fatigue—the ‘get this stuff off my head’ types. Then there are the ones who do it because of a facial sag so they want to go short to enhance their best features. And then there are those women who fight it all the way, who stay long forever. And there is a wisdom among these women that stay with it and it can be incredibly glamorous.

A friend of mine gets her hair done every Wednesday by the same hairdresser no matter what unless there is a meeting of the Athenian ladies.  Her hair is always beautiful. When I go to the barber shop, I always take the first available person.  I am more interested in the time allotment and my thinking is that they must be oaky if they have a job. That would be heresy for most and stupid by conventional standards. Most women seem to prefer the same hairdresser even among those in our own salon. Men are becoming more selective and are slowly abandoning “barber” shops that provide only the “high and tight” look. One of my friends has his hair cut every two weeks on the dot by the same person

Hairdressing is a customer service-oriented business. The way you feel about the person performing the service is almost as important as the quality of their work. You sit in a stylist’s chair and tell her what you want, and she makes you feel like she genuinely wants to help you look your very best. Many folks quickly develop pseudo-friendships with their hairdresser. While they may never see the stylist outside the salon, they feel like the person is a genuine friend and therefore give them far more leeway in situations where they are dissatisfied than they would another service professional.

Choosing a stylist requires of a lot of searching, or the stylist may be a referral from a close friend or family member, all of which adds a great deal of pressure to the situation: pressure for the relationship to work. And when the stylist is an actual friend who has gotten his or her cosmetology training, then the impetus to keep the relationship stable gets even more strident.
 
Then you add the fact that esthetic appeal is subjective. What one person likes, another may not. In some cases (especially those where there is a connection apart from hairdresser/client) the taste of the stylist and client may mesh more readily. In other cases, the hairdresser may feel that a strong sharp-edged style flatters the face and makes a statement, but the client may favor softer looks and a subtler appearance.  Older women tend to have strong feelings about their hair and don’t like change. At least, that has been my observation!  I certainly expect to hear about this observation.

COLOR OR NOT

Then there is the problem of color.  My own hair has turned to gray as I have aged. There are lots of women with gray hair—gray is cool. But a number of men and women want the gray gone. The main ingredient in our hair is a protein called keratin, the same substance of our fingernails. Keratin is colorless and is arranged in overlapping scales in a hair strand, which makes it flexible. The cortex is the middle part of the hair strand, which contains moisture and melanin (pigment that gives your hair its color!) The cuticle is the protective outer layer of the hair strand, which determines how healthy your hair looks! If the cuticle is smooth, your hair looks silky and shiny. If the cuticle is raised, your hair looks dry and damaged.

Eumelanin is the dark pigment which gives black and brown hair color, and phaeomelanin is a lighter pigment that gives hair red, orange, and golden blonde colors. The mix of these two varieties of melanin gives your hair its unique shade.  Lack of pigment results in white or grey hair.

When permanent hair dye is applied to the hair, ammonia causes the cuticle to ‘open up’ and let the dye in. Then, peroxide is used to penetrate the hair cortex and remove your existing hair color (melanin). Once that happens, the new color is left in your hair cortex. Conditioner is used to close the cuticle to seal in the new color.

This is also the process used when bleaching or lightening your hair, except the melanin is extracted until you get the lightened shade that you decide (and your natural hair color cannot be replaced until it grows back in!).

Hair coloring is quite the process! If you do decide to color your hair, of course, you should discuss permanent coloring versus semi-permanent coloring. Permanent hair dyes are the most harmful, and if used too often, can result in damaged and dry hair. Although conditioners do help seal the cuticle after the coloring process is finished, the hair strand will not revert to the original condition without your help. Make sure to keep it moisturized, avoid using hot tools as much as possible, and use hair products designed specifically for colored hair.

Unless you’re an expert behind the science of hair coloring, I would have my hair colored by a professional! There are many factors that affect how hair coloring works, such as your current hair shade, hair type, and condition. Since these factors can greatly affect the outcome of your hair color, it’s best to trust a professional to achieve your look.

STILL LEARNING

I learned something new today at the community lunch table.  There are shampoos that will whiten your hair if you choose to have gray or white hair.  In fact, as I cruised the internet, I found over 30 brand names and most are available at Sally Beauty Supply, Walmart, or Amazon. I decided to investigate a modestly priced product called Klorane Shampoo with Centuary.  It uses a cornflower extract which is a natural blue pigment. Apparently, this pigment enhances your silver highlights and neutralizes yellow tones.  Also, there are whitening shampoos for dogs. Does Helen Mirren color her hair?

MY OWN HAIR!

I decided to try an outside hairdresser.  One our stylists has been cutting my hair over the past few years and has done an excellent job.  But a friend convinced me that she had the best and most entertaining hairdresser in all of Roanoke. So, I made an appointment with Yvonne and went for a cut.

First, let me be clear, I received a great haircut.  She asked if I liked it long and I answered in the affirmative.  She explained exactly how she would proceed by shortening it a bit in the back then layering it up my head. She trimmed a bit on the side—maybe an inch and took a smidge off the top. Terrific.

After the three minutes of hair talk our conversation began.  She told me about her former husband, her very interesting children and the places she had lived. I told her some things about my family.

She played golf earlier in her life.  She used pink golf balls.  On one hole she hit a good shot but started talking to a member of her foursome and did not follow the ball.  She knew she hit straight, but the ball was nowhere to be found.  Her friend told her to look in the cup.  Guess what? There was the ball.  She had a hole-in-one with a beautiful pink ball.

Yvonne is a painter.  It seems a resident of Brandon Oaks, a wonderful artist in her own right, was having her hair done. Yvonne said she would like to paint and was told to take lessons and she did. She doesn’t display her work in her shop because people give their views as to how she should have done the painting. She doesn’t like that at all.

She was a horsewoman when her daughter became interested in riding.  She loves horses, but no longer rides.

Of course, in between all this activity, she became a hairstylist, colorist and mother. She has been in business for 31 years.

I mentioned that I knew an Yvonne in high school.

“Oh, yes. You must have gone to Jefferson High School.  I have heard a lot about her.  She was a cheerleader and very pretty according to some.  When I had my shop at Promenade on 419, a man called and asked if an Yvonne worked there and was told yes. He said he would drop by in a few days to make an appointment. He didn’t want to do it over the phone.  A few days later, a man arrived at the shop with a huge bouquet of flowers.  He asked for Yvonne.  I was in the storeroom and someone came for me.  As I walked out of the room, the man got a funny look on his face and asked me if I was Yvonne. I said yes.  My eyes went to the bouquet and then to his eyes which were wide like he was scared.  He asked if I had gone to Jefferson High and when I said I had not, he sighed with great relief. He then turned and walked out with the bouquet.”  She smiled and giggled a little.

I found Yvonne to be an excellent hairdresser and someone who had a personality that was delightful.  She is first rate!

Many women feel that a bad hair day equals a bad day: when a woman’s hair is too fine, too frizzy, too dry, turning grey or falling out, her self-esteem is seriously affected. I am finding this applies to men as well.

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