Gorgeous Brunette Seeks Hair Care Products, Styling Tips, for Long, Luscious Locks

As previously mentioned, I am getting married. Notice how I didn’t say “soon.” One of my big goals between now and the Big Day is to grow my hair out so that I can achieve this “do.”

If you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for medieval fashion

However, as life would have it, I don’t actually have a lot of experience dealing with long hair; I chopped off my locks when I was 15 and rocked an angled bob until I was 21. Now I am nearly three years into my hair-growing experiment, and I find myself thinking that I should probably take better care of my hair. It’s breaking off, frizzing up, and sad that I don’t do more with it on a day-to-day basis.

So, friends, I put it to you.  Help a girl out?  What should I do to make my tresses love me again? Here’s my regular routine:

Cleaning

Its main appeal is that it’s usually $0.79 at CVS

Pantene is rich and creamy, hence its appeal

Styling

This was my attempt to get my frizz under control. I can’t vouch for its effectiveness.

I have a much higher-quality flat iron. However, it’s only 1″. This is 2″

I do currently dye my hair, mostly to cover up gray at this point. I am not so bad as to dye my own hair (anymore). I shell out the dolla-dollas to get it cut and dyed professionally, though I could probably stand to do it more often.

I am open to any and all suggestions, particularly new styling tips (ones that take no more than 30 minutes, please). I’m willing to spend a little more money on this, seeing as how I’m a grown up with a job and can afford such things.

Alright, Tea To Friends: Whatcha got for me?

Help me, Tea To Friends! You’re my only hope!

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Short Hair, Care A Little Less

I feel like someone sheared me.

In case any of you lovely folks has been on the edge of your cyberspace seat since my post about the agony and the ecstasy of planning a big haircut (doubtful, but please indulge my self-centeredness; isn’t that what blogging is for?), here’s the update: I did it. I cut it all off. About 14 inches – twice the length of one of those little hairdresser combs. (Did you know that was how they gauge inches?! I thought my hairdressers were all just awesome estimators of length.)

I feel … shorn. And light. And sort of devoid of identity.

At first I loved it – loved the whole experience. I purposefully went to the hairdresser having neither washed or styled my hair in a day or so, at the peak of hating it and wanting the whole nasty mess of it to just go away. As my beloved hairdresser, Zhanna, bundled my hair into several ponytails (the better to donate with, my dears) and snipped each off just above the rubber band, I gasped a little with excitement. And then, all of a sudden, there it was –  a pile of red, curly, surprisingly soft ponytails a foot long each, lying on the counter next to the jars of scissors and pomades. The jagged line of my hair looked a little violent, like someone had hacked it off in spite, but even that was exciting and edgy and all very real. At first.

The next part, the actual styling of my hair into something resembling a cute, short, curly bob (a phrase I have been obsessively googling for months), was super boring. As it turns out, cutting off that much hair takes for.ev.er. I kept turning my head to catch a glimpse of my new ‘do in the mirror, only to have my head forced back to its original position by the formidable Zhanna, who, to be fair, was just trying not to cut open my scalp with her sharp haircutting scissors as I fidgeted.

And then it was done, and blown out straight, and so very, very short and grownup and weird. I sort of loved it and sort of hated it.I shook my head again and again, feeling the bizarre sensation of the ends of my hair touching the top of my neck. I ran my hands through it until the roots got oily and I had to make myself stop. And I stared and stared in the mirror, trying to reconcile this sleek new adult with hair like a lady newscaster with my Disney mermaid idea of myself. I’m still trying.

Last night, I had a hair meltdown. I hadn’t had a good cry about the whole experience yet, but let me tell you, when that cry came, it was worth it.

“It was so beautiful and now I just look (snuffle snuffle) NORMAL!” I wailed. “What have I done? What have I done to myself?”

Obviously over-the-top melodrama aside, the hardest thing for me to cope with is this idea that my standout, my signature, is gone, that without waist-length hair, I blend into the crowd. I think, in hindsight, that I was holding onto more than just hair – I was attached to the idea of being different, and, simultaneously, the deliciousness of being able to hide the rest of me behind this great big mane.

But you know the best part? This is so cheesy, but it feels amazing to know that some little girl going through the horror of chemotherapy and unable to afford a wig for her small bald head will get my hair. I hope all my stupid hemming and hawing will eventually mean a beautiful, if small, token during a long, arduous and (fingers crossed) ultimately winning battle with cancer. I hope my angsty hair has some good recovery vibes in it, somewhere.

This whole experience has made me think so much about what it means to feel attractive, to feel unique, to feel like something about you is worth noticing. Maybe now that I have normal/lady newscaster locks instead of locked-in-a-castle-my-whole-life tangles, I can focus on being the person I’m supposed to be on the inside, rather than just “that girl with the long red hair.”

P.S. In case you’re interested, some pics from the process:

Before …

After!

Long Hair, Definitely Care

Lately, I’ve found myself consumed with the most First World of problems. I cannot stop thinking about cutting my hair. I spend the time I should be working googling things like “short curly hair” (dominated by cute-as-a-button, mid-90s Meg Ryan) and folding my hair under in the mirror to try to imagine what I’d look like with a sassy, flapper-esque bob.

Let me make a fairly embarrassing fact about myself perfectly clear. I am obsessed with my hair. Stupidly, vainly, exhaustingly so. I have Facebook profile pictures of just my hair. It is long, strawberry blonde and curly, but not in that Pepper Anne way (though I am much too cool for seventh grade). It is, if I may say so myself, fairly awesome hair. It’s the feature that people in the grocery store and the women’s restroom comment on, the thing I feel most proud of, at least physically, and most defined by. It’s my signature. And that, I’m worried, is part of the problem.

I’m partially interested in chopping off my long locks because I recently realized that I do not look remotely like an adult with hair that almost reaches my butt. Think, for example, of Hair Goddess (love her or hate her, she’s got luscious tresses) Sarah Jessica Parker. I’m worried I’m more this SJP:

What was I thinking with these bangs?

… when what I’m really going for is this one:

I have so got my shit together.

But it’s more than that. I’m also worried it might be really unhealthy and bad for my psyche, and my chi and my inner peace and whatever else is going on in there, to be so singularly attached to an aspect of my appearance. There is nothing remotely zen about thinking your hair is the most important and self-actualizing thing about you. In fact, it seems like that’s an extremely delicate and dangerous thread on which to hang self-worth.

I think we all do this (ladies and maybe even men — y’all tell me). And in a way, it’s just the other side of the self-consciousness coin. In the same way that we worry our {insert part of body} isn’t {insert “positive” descriptor} enough, we worry that we’d be less worthwhile or less important or liked and admired less if that one tenuous physical attribute we actually like about ourselves ever went away. It’s why, as a culture, we’re so obsessed with youth. We’re completely freaked out that having relatively perky breasts and butts and young, smooth skin is all that’s keeping us even remotely relevant. As Everything Goddess Tina Fey wrote in her marvelous memoir “Bossypants,” “I have a suspicion … that the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.” Worrying so obsessively about cutting my hair probably has a lot to do with the worrying we all do, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, about walking that fine fuckable/crazy line. Will people in the “real world” take me seriously with mermaid hair? Will I be less attractive without it? Why, oh why, does this even matter to me?

So I’m curious: Do the rest of you have this struggle, with anything about your appearance? Do you feel defined by your looks, or trapped by them, and is that the same thing? Are we all spending as much time as I am secretly freaking out that no one will like us anymore if we chop off all our hair? Probably not, but it’d be nice to know I’m not totally alone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go ask my mom for the hundredth time if I should get a damn haircut.