“You have really nice hair!” So said, unprompted, the dramatically made-up, tattooed metal-model chick sitting across from me, who was sipping on a carton of white zinfandel (can’t make this stuff up). This came as an absolute shock. Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve always disliked my hair. Hated actually. Blame it on an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that was frequently weaponized against me as a child, which resulted in a long-lasting, mild to moderate case of OCD, manifesting itself in wetting, combing, re-wetting, and attempting to style my hair over and over and over again. It was never “right.” Because it couldn’t be right. I’m ashamed to say this went on for almost two decades.
I was trying to control something. Anything. It was like a low-grade eating disorder, without the physical health complications. And while I could never get my hated hair “just right,” at least I would be the instigator of the disappointment. Those feelings of being thoroughly unimpressed with myself would at least be my own, instead of erupting externally, from any number of third parties. I wore hats for most of my teens and 20s. Every once in a while I’d go full Britney and shave it all off in a desperate attempt to stop caring. I knew it was beyond wrong to care about something so utterly myopic and self-centered. I was ashamed that I cared. But it was like fighting a sneeze. A physical reaction I desperately tried to resist, and always failed to fight off when my body would seize up and turn itself over to the biological response. So I know about hair. Why? Because I’ve made all the mistakes. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Do NOT Shampoo every day
Unless you have outrageously oily hair, don’t shampoo every day. I sweat a lot. And even I don’t shampoo my hair every day. Shampoo will dry the hell out of your hair, making it dry and brittle and scattered and will make it look even more dead than it already is. You don’t want your head to stink. You don’t want your hair to look dirty and gross. But over sanitizing your head, every day, is like over-dry cleaning your suits. It’s harsher than you think and can do damage.
DO Rinse and Condition every day
This again depends on the level of natural oils in your hair, but, I’ve found that rinsing the product (and sweat) out of my hair and applying conditioner every day helps keep my hair looking and smelling better than it should. Seems to also help my scalp stay moisturized too. I use Costco’s Kirkland conditioner. Why? Because Mrs. Dappered uses it and her hair looks great.
LESS… is More
Less scrubbing. Less product. Less time trying to style it just-perfect. Less time in front of the mirror checking it before a date. Less time thinking about what your hair looks like while out and about. Less is more in almost all ways when it comes to that dead protein growing out of your scalp. You know it, and I know it. Accept this and your hair will look better because of not messing with it so much when it comes to cleaning, styling, and/or thinking about it.
Do NOT over dry (or blow dry)
Towel dry. Gently. You want your hair somewhere between damp and dry before you put product in (if you use any product). COOKING IT WITH HOT AIR IS NOT GREAT. It’s just as bad if not worse as shampooing every day.
More Trims More Often > Big Haircuts every Blue Moon
I have a standing appointment with the gal who cuts my hair every three weeks. Now, my hair grows fast, so maybe you’d want every four weeks, but a haircut every 6 weeks will leave you with it looking too short for two weeks, then just right for two weeks, then too long for the last two weeks. Get a trim every few weeks and your hair’s length will always look just right.
Get Consistent with your barber or stylist
I used to be genuinely bewildered as to why I couldn’t get a consistent haircut… while going to a different person at the local walk in shop every six weeks. Your barber is like your tailor. Find one you communicate well with, develop a relationship, and appreciate their work.
Do NOT get extreme before a big event
Getting married? Got a huge presentation coming up? One way to reduce the stress is to get a trim a week or two prior. One way to increase the stress is to get a major chop or do some big style change a few days before. The big hair change can wait.
Do NOT fight nature
If your hair’s natural part is on the left, then you part it on the left. If you think you look better with your part on the right? Guess what. It doesn’t look better that way. It looks like you’re trying to fight nature. Don’t fight nature! This is ESPECIALLY true if you’re losing it. Embrace the close crop or knock it all off. If you’re trying to cover it up, you’re doing yourself no favors whatsoever.
Styles Change, but Avoid Super Trendy Looks
Hair styles are like clothing trends. They’re cyclical. There’s a way to look contemporary without getting nuts. Dance around the edges a bit. Otherwise, you’ll look back at that Flock of Seagulls or bowl cut and wonder what the hell you were thinking.
Remember: It’s just hair. And nobody cares.
Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give you. It’s just hair. Good or bad. And for the love of all things good and holy, don’t be The Guy in the Movie Theater Bathroom, and don’t be the opposite of that either. Life’s too short to give a damn about this kind of thing.