Last week, we welcomed fall's arrival by remembering with either fondness or perturbation the spiciness that heralds this seasonal transition--that is, pumpkin spice. It's been sunny this week though, which also sort of plays with the mind. Is it really fall? Despite my need to grab my sunglasses to avoid car accidents, there’s football on TV, the leaves are crisping on the edges, baked to a red orange, and I unashamedly have cravings for apples, butternut squash, and pumpkin pie (As I admitted last post, I've even had a PSL...two of them). It really is October. I can feel the shift and despite my inner protests, it is time to transition.
It's enjoyable to transport ourselves into autumn through the senses, but what else needs to shift? Usually the place to start is the wardrobe--layering is just fun, right? While I don't actually like being cold as an impetus to layering, you're sure to find me happily rummaging the closet in search of cute coziness. Hello, sweater friends!
There is, however, a personal style element whose change-affected-by-weather I don't have as much fun figuring out. This is because I have far less control over it than choosing between this knit or that cashmere. For me, it constitutes the trickiest of seasonal style attributes: The Hair.
Ah, yes! Hair. One's hair is such a defining aspect of style, beauty, even individuality. There are myriad campaigns with hair messages all around us these days, but despite this existential whirl, I believe we can all acknowledge the basic truth that everyone seems to want a 'do they don't naturally possess. Should we envy others and hate our own hair? No--I'm a firm believer that one's natural hair is often the best look for one's face. But what if, when left absolutely natural, your hair tends to look possessed? And it has nothing to do with a Halloween costume?
Periodically, I toy with the idea of a new hairdo, especially at the turn of seasons, but as my husband reminded me when I brought up the idea, bright-eyed & optimistic, the last time I had a “What the heck, let’s chop this!” moment, it resulted in a “What the HECK…*tears*” moment. I wore my hair up for a couple weeks before I could brave the, “Oh my gosh! You chopped your hair off!” comments. “Yes, I did,” seems a boring answer to that question, by the way. But then, “Wait…what???? Who has done this??!!!” is often lost on those not prepared for furious sarcasm as a coping mechanism. Anyway, there’s really no way to soften the blow of a hairdo that blows. It’s very stressful.
My issue is that my hair is unpredictable at best–-this is merely exacerbated by a new style I’m unaccustomed to. The shock of “Oh DEAR. What to do with this now????” doesn’t go over well at 6am. Thus, I usually revert to, “Let’s leave it long, with some layering” (that layering again) when it’s time to trim off the ends I’ve killed from styling (aka testing each strand’s resistance to ridiculous amounts of heat). Even then, every day is an adventure.
This manic mane of mine behaves differently each styling session (about every 3 days). How will it lay this time? Will the back do that weird split? As for texture, "bumpy" is the best word I’ve come up with to realistically describe my hair. The underside shrinks up, the outer locks poof out on the ends, while my crown stays rather flat-–like I’ve been wearing a hat…which I haven't been, but probably should.
Now, being the civilized person that I am, time and experience deemed it natural that I would turn to modern conveniences to assist me in telling my mane to calm down. My arsenal has included the following at one point or another:
- Straightening cream; I’d had hopes that it would work magically on its own…
- Large, unwieldy flat brush that my 14 year old hand could barely maneuver
- Mouse, lots of mouse…might need some more mouse
- Curl spray, because it “maintains bounce & spring all day!” But doesn’t construct perfect curls, apparently
- Anti-humidity hairspray; the question remains, how much to really make it work?
- Anti-humidity hair cream…maybe if I use the hairspray and this together…?
- Large round brush; for some reason it’s easy to style the left side of my head, but the right, gah. (Left handed issue? Yup)
- Straightening spray that lasts for three days–now we’re getting there…
- Protective spray so I don’t burn off my hair, worth considering
- Hair straightener–turn that heat UP!
- Various sizes of curling irons; let’s help guide the waves in the paths they should go
- Bobby pins, so many bobby pins
This is the general list, like a manifest of what’s had a home on my bathroom counter through the years. The truth is, there’s no way to actually count all of the bottles I’ve purchased (that certainly had hints of AA, did it not?) On any given day, at least five or so containers specific to hair cohabit the silver tin I’ve bought to prevent the bathroom from looking like an abused Walmart shelf, with products completely mixed up and knocked over. Right now the tin is so crammed with toiletries and hair products, nothing can even move, so it’s very organized.
Every morning I am faced with a decision: To straighten, to curl, or to just leave that decision for another day? My favorite days are the latter. Current advocacy for not washing one’s hair every day to preserve its natural, healthy oils has given my laziness the thumb’s up. My dry locks decidedly dislike being shampooed everyday anyway-–it only encourages them to raise wisps of protest straight to the ceiling. The invention of dry shampoo has also transformed my a.m.’s, allowing said laziness to still feel and smell fresh. So convenient.
I always liked Biology-–having a crush on my lab T.A. in college may have helped–-and even though I eventually chose the humanities route, I thoroughly enjoy feeling like a scientist observing her petri dish every morning in the form of my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Over the course of the 3-4 days between washings, the hair starts out in an unruly state, but then slowly softens to a more manageable flatness. Day 2 is the best, followed closely by Day 3. It’s pliant and resistant to pesky rain drops, likely due to it’s being more and more weighed down by layers of misting (hairspray it now…and 5 minutes from now!).
In all honesty, by Day 4, I'm pushing the boundaries. But again, my hair behaves so differently each time, it allows me to at least wonder if I can pull off another day. (Does that sound gross? Not sorry.) After that, I have no other choice; it's time to get up an hour earlier and get this STUFF done. The hour is necessary because my lethargic morning brain is, oh I don't know...lethargic. Inevitably these are the days I will arrive late to my first appointment, leaving me to take covert deep breaths and draughts of coffee, without appearing out of control. The only other recourse I have is to look actually insane by arriving fully frizzed. No thanks.
It all just depends on the day.
I’m sure this all sounds very first-world, however I have to say that my year spent abroad in the Dominican Republic taught me the opposite. While I thought I could slack off while in another country (yes, I fell into the vagrant tourist stereotype and my hair was long, with dead ends), the stylish women there did not agree and helped me find the nearest salon. Thus became our Friday tradition–-spiffing up for the next week. It was really quite fun and for the first time ever, I began to enjoy this aspect of being a woman, particularly because of the sense of place and companionship it provided–-and having a stylist routinely do my hair for me was AMAZING.
So, do I think we should all regularly wrangle ourselves to look like something we’re not au natural? Certainly not. More power to the poof is fine by me…though I’m not sure that’s where I’m at quite yet. Until then, the hairscapades will probably continue, and I will continue to be more likely to don a plastic bag on my head than bathe in the rain. Under the bag will be my tamed locks, laden with products, safely dry.
But, if we are friends and you happen to need a lion or a bonsai or a pompom in human form, just let me know. I can accommodate, particularly because fall is coming, followed by the perils of winter. I can feel the suspense (& my mane) rising!
© 2016, Anika Zebron Design