Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hair Tales

One of my favorite personal physical attributes is my hair. It's on the dark side of the brown spectrum, with a few lighter streaks created by sun exposure. It's mostly straight but there is a bit of wave to it. I usually keep it at shoulder length or longer -- I prefer it a length that's long enough to do fun things with.

I have a lot of hair: Not only do I have a lot of individual hairs, but each one is thick. But this means that my hair is virtually indestructible, which is a good thing. I do take pretty good care of it, but I don't go to the lengths that some people do. I wash and condition it with the same shampoo and conditioner that I've been using for more than a decade -- Head & Shoulders for Dry Scalp shampoo, and Pantene Pro V conditioner. I remember a hair stylist being horrified at my choice of hair products and trying to sell me something else (much more expensive), but I didn't budge. Any time I change shampoos, I am faced with massive dandruff problems; and other conditioners aren't strong enough to keep my hair from entangling itself.

When I was a child, I was not so keen on my hair. I liked having long hair because I liked pony tails and braids, but the upkeep was a pain (literally!). I don't know if conditioners didn't exist then, or if my mom just didn't know about them, but if I had used a conditioner as a child, my mornings would have been much less painful.

As an undergrad, I discovered the wonders of conditioner and from then on I could work with and manage my hair. I began experimenting with braiding my own hair. I got really good at French braiding my own hair -- I can still do it, without the need for a mirror. The French braid became my regular hairstyle.

In graduate school, I continued to keep my hair long and French braid it every day. At one point I did get it cut because it was getting too long to braid myself. I also cut ten inches or more twice while I was in graduate school, and donated it to Locks of Love.

Before I began interviewing for jobs, I got an expensive haircut so that I would look more polished and professional. It was a nice haircut and I liked the way it looked, but I did miss braiding my hair. During the first part of my postdoc, I just let it grow back out. And during my pregnancy, those prenatal vitamins helped it to grow even faster. Nearly two years ago, I again cut it off and donated to Locks of Love.

Since then I've let my hair grow out again. Right now, it is maybe 4 inches longer than shoulder length, and just perfect for making French braids (although most of the time I'm in such a hurry that I just pull it back into a ponytail and run). I don't know what I'll do with it next.


ScienceGirl said...

I too wish I had known about hair conditioner when I was a child!

EcoGeoFemme said...

I'm envious. My hair is exactly opposite of yours -- fine, thin, boring light brown, and poker straight. I used to keep it short in cute, trendy haircuts that I loved, but that got too expensive to maintain. Also, I moved away from the fabulous stylist I had at that time and I started to get lazy about fixing it in the mornings. I still get decent haircuts, but not as often. My hair really shows flaws in the cut; when I've tried the cheap walk in places it looks like I cut it myself with a garden shears.

I haven't used conditioner in >10 years yet it still looks stringy and greasy by the end of the day. It's a major priority to wash it every day.

Sorry for the rant! You hit a nerve. In other words, I'm glad you appreciate and enjoy your nice hair, since so many of us lament what we've got. But at least I'm not bald.