Friday, April 22, 2016

“Hair” today, gone tomorrow? ~ Leah St. James

For those of you who are still in the vibrant days of youth, you might not be aware of the rather dramatic changes the body undergoes as it ages...you know, before the mail carrier mysteriously delivers the unsolicited membership card from AARP. You might not be aware that once you hit that threshold, your body parts morph into something unrecognizable, as if some alien creature has infiltrated your body at its lowest cellular level. (Yes, there are real-life shape-shifters, and they live in each of us!) 

Luckily, with a healthy diet (rabbit food served in kiddie-meal portions) and daily exercise—not to mention Spanx—we can maintain a modicum of control over the body’s changes, or at least an illusion of control. Clothing also can cover, camouflage and trick others into thinking we’re still among the demographic age group that advertisers actually care about. (Sagging skin is a whole other issue that I will not be addressing in a separate post.) 

But then there’s the hair. Sigh. 

I’m not a vain woman and never have been, but my hair was one part of my physical self I’ve always been content with. As a teen when I stared into the mirror and bemoaned the never-ending “fat girl” bullying from the boys, I took comfort in my hair. It’s always been fine, but with good body and some wave. “Styling” was wash-and-let-air-dry easy. (It also helped that I grew up in the '60s and ‘70s before the big-hair era.) 



This is me, four days after giving birth to Son No. 2.
Even my pregnancy-ravaged body produced hair I was happy with. 

Then came age and the unstoppable change in body chemistry that somehow stripped my hair of its bouncy sheen and replaced it with dull...frizz. I had noticed the change, of course, but tried to ignore it. Then one day a coworker (she of shiny, bouncy, waist-length honey-gold curls) stopped me as I passed her desk and said, “Oh my gosh, Leah, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIR?! It looks HORRIBLE! Frizzy and dry and...what happened?! 

I kid you not. This actually happened. 

After a panic stop in the ladies’ room, I called for an emergency appointment at a highly recommended hair stylist. When I got there, she circled my chair, her face scrunched in concentration, and said, “It has to come off.” Onto the floor fell inches of frizz, leaving me with a pixie-ish boy cut. And joy of joys, no frizz!  

I got home, eager to show off my frizz-free hair to hubby. He circled me, his face scrunched and said, “You look like a man.” 

Now, I know my hair is my own business, and if I like it, who cares what anyone else thinks? But this was my HUSBAND who thought I looked like a MAN. My happiness fizzled. (In his defense, he's usually my top cheerleader, and defender.)

So I grew it out, and here I am several years later, back with dull, frizzy hair. I’ve tried multiple products to battle Mother Nature—including those “age-defying” concoctions that promise to resurrect “dull, lifeless hair.” 

Then my current hair stylist said, as she circled my chair, face scrunched in concentration, “You know, you have perfect ‘wild, sexy beach hair.’” 

“Huh?” I answered. 

And she proceeded to massage some sort of goop into my hair, scrunch the ends, then dry it with a diffuser until my head was a halo (hahahaha) of wild, sexy-ish waves. And joy of joys, I liked it! The frizz was there, but looked like it was supposed to be! 

That was three months ago and I’ve been trying ever since to replicate the process/look. I’ve tried a diffuser (an implement of torture, if you ask me), a slew of products (most donated by caring, pitying friends), and have finally come up with a process that is semi-successful. 
  • Wet hair –and by all that is holy, DON’T SHAMPOO
  • Condition the you-know-what out of it with special age-defying conditioner that costs twice as much as conditioner for you younger ladies. 
  • Hit it with the blow dryer (cool setting) for about a minute while rolling the ends with a round brush. 
  • Squirt two pumps of a stickier goop onto hands, run hands through hair while scrunching, and let it dry naturally from there. And by all that is holy, DON'T BRUSH!
Finally, frizz camouflaged...sort of. And bonus—I don’t look like a man. I’m calling it a success. (If you're wondering what my present-day hair looks like...you can just imagine Jennifer Lopez in her cop TV show, only darker hair, with gray streaks...and more frizz.) :-)

 Anyway, if you have any hair care tips for those of “my generation,” I’d love to hear them! 

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Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. Visit her on Facebook or learn more at her website.

27 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Ah, Leah, thanks for my chuckle of the morning. (Laughing with you, of course, not at you!) My own hair has NEVER looked right to me. It's fine, and flat and straight. For years and years, I got perms - religiously. Even wore an afro back when those were in style. If I could pull it off, I'd wear an easy care 'man-do'. But I can't so I don't. I've noticed too that the hair care products for the 'more mature manes' is somewhat pricier than those products for our younger counter parts. Captive audience anyone?

Leah St. James said...

I'm so glad you understand my pain, Margo! I've had perms, too, when I wanted curls more than waves. (It's probably the end of a perm giving me the big waves in that younger photo.)I also once had an afro, although unintentionally. The hairdresser didn't believe me when I told him my hair took to perms really quickly! I did NOT do the style justice. (And that one took some time to grow out!) Thanks for stopping by and sharing my woes. :-)

Liz Flaherty said...

I love the post. I wore my hair short for 30 years and then let it grow out, just for once for a while, so my husband could see WHY I wore it short.

He loved it, drat it.

So something like eight years later, it's still long and the flat iron is my best friend. I too have wild and beachy, but can't get the look on my own.

RE Mullins said...

Move to the desert. I lived in Colorado Springs for two years which is classified as 'high desert' and never a bit of frizz. Moving back to Missouri, my hair sproinged in every direction the moment I crossed the state line.

Diane Burton said...

Are we ever satisfied with our bodies? Leah, you gave me a good chuckle. My hair used to be very thick. It still is, but not on top. The one place I'd really like it to be. My gosh, you can see my scalp! How an I lose hair in one place and have it grow prolifically in another, like my face???

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thank goodness I'd swallowed my mouthful of coffee when I read your post. I'd still be wiping it off my laptop. What an awesome post. And rather timely for me. I've been fighting the gray hair in my red hair for the past fifteen years. My beautician knows my color number and from time to time I have her add highlights, which Calvin likes. So now that I'm a new great-grandma and will turn 68 next month, I'm been spending a lot of time in front of the mirror talking to myself. "Are we going to let the gray take over because I'm seeing A LOT of gray roots in this mess...or are we going to call for an appointment???" Meanwhile nature has played a cruel trick on me and sprouted a forest of hair on my chin and neck. No one said life was fair for old women. *cough* If I was old, that is. Heavens, I'm barely 39.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Ah, the hair issue. The scene is...fresh out of the shower, hair slicked to our scalp. Back in the day, this was an interesting look in the mirror...today? The horror, the horror! Without our hair dry and fluffed around our faces, the look is grim. So I value my hair, frizzed or not...it takes attention away from the wrinkles and saggy jowls. The effort to keep our hair looking good? Worth every minute and penny, I say! Go Leah!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Oh, Leah, sorry but I was laughing too. I cringe at most old pictures and usually, it's because of my dull brown Roseanne Rosannadanna hair. Thick as hell and out of control wavy, it boinged into a New England humidity frizz the moment I set down the hairdryer. I've done the boy cut too, a few times, with the same type of reaction from hubs. While I can't recommend the process required, I love my hair now and have the desert southwest and chemo to thank for that. Seriously, from a bald as an egg head sprouted dark, not so thick curls that can be easily straightened with a flat iron. Now if I could just figure out how to stop all the wild hairs from sprouting on my chin and upper lip, I'd be golden. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

GREAT post, Leah. I am NOT a mess with my hair type of woman. It's thick and has a tiny wave and was waist-length for most of my life. It used to be brown... The gray has taken over, so I color it, and it's still the same brown I've seen in the mirror for years. But coloring waist-length hair was a major pain in the you know what, so I cut it to shoulder-length years ago when the gray made itself known. Sometimes it gets to mid-back before I force myself to make an appointment to get it cut. One time I asked my husband to "trim" three inches since I didn't want to bother. He took off six--and he's a carpenter. You'd think he'd know the difference... But you probably get the picture. Wash, air-dry, done. It's super dry (which promotes wrinkles not frizz) in Tahoe, so I expect I can maintain this routine for years.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Great post, Leah!
My hair has always been baby fine...not a lot of body or bounce. I now wear it shorter than in my photo with bangs....

Love it tho!

Good luck and God's blessings.
PamT

andreadowning.com said...

Ah, yes, the aging frizz problem--I know it well. So, faced with this, I headed off for that spanking new Keratin treatment (treat being the operative syllable here since it's so dang expensive) which does, indeed, get rid of the frizz. It also flattens your hair to the extent you look like you have bald patches. I used to have hair so thick that when I foolishly went for a perm years ago, the hairdresser told me there wasn't enough room on my head for all the necessary rollers. Now... I'm afraid you may be in a lose/lose situation, Leah. if you want to look like you have thick hair, stick with the frizz, a roller brush and good products that keep your hair in shape. Otherwise, my advice is to go live in the Rockies.

Alison Henderson said...

I'm right there with you, Leah, although more on the body side than the hair. My waistline cruelly deserted my when I turned sixty, and I know it's never coming back. My hair is basically the same as it's always been--stick straight and baby fine. For that reason, I've worn it chin-length or shorter for the past thirty years. Because I've always been blonde, it's just now starting to silver in a few places (my stylist calls it 'platinum'). Fortunately the highlights she adds cover a multitude of sins.

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, sooo funny, but not really. :) I know what you mean about the effects of growing older, sigh... I don't that my hair has changed much, other than the graying part that I try to keep coloring. My hair has always been a little hard to tame. I prefer mine short, but it seems to grow out pretty fast. And, I don't have a husband to complain about my hair, but if I did, I wouldn't want them to think I look like a man! :) I'd like to see your new 'do!

Leah St. James said...

Liz - for some reason men seem to like longer hair on women. My hubby does, my sons do. I'm not surprised your hubby liked your longer locks! I have a flat iron but can't figure it out! Thanks for sharing your hair woes!

Leah St. James said...

R.E. -- My sister lives in Florida and when I went to visit her, I swore my hair had been replaced by a Brillo pad! Crazy, isn't it, how humidity affects it?!

Leah St. James said...

Diane -- I feel your pain. My hair has never been thick, and when I hit my mid-40s, I started losing it. I'd find huge clumps on the floor and wonder how it got there! It was mostly at the front though, so I've been able to camouflage the thinning part. And the frizz has helped. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Oh, Vonnie and Mackenzie -- My Aunt Thelma used to complain about chin hairs, but she was 90-something. I never thought I'd have to deal with it so early! I suppose I'm grateful at least they mostly come in white rather than black.

Mackenzie--I'm so glad you've come out on the other side of your chemo with better hair. I'll stop complaining about my frizz now. -)

Leah St. James said...

Too funny, Rolynn! I've tried taking a couple selfies, but somehow I end up focus on those jowls you mentioned. Now that's a horrible sight!

Leah St. James said...

Jannine -- That's my kind of hair-care regimen! I've never owned so many tools and different kinds of product in my life! Your comment about your husband cutting 6 inches instead of 3 reminds me of the time my sister asked me to trim her hair. We were in high school, and long and straight was the style. She put on a shirt with horizontal stripes and told me to cut along a strip. I did, and it would have been fine if her head hadn't been tilted. :-) It took her a long time to forgive me for that one!

Leah St. James said...

I like to wear bangs, too, Pam. They cover up all my forehead wrinkles. But then they wing out (and frizz) when they grow. Then I chop away at them and make a mess. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Andrea, I got excited for a minute and was going to schedule a keratin treatment, until I read the next part: "It also flattens your hair to the extent you look like you have bald patches." YIKES!! I'll stick with the frizz. Thanks for the advice!

Leah St. James said...

I love your cut, Alison! It's adorable...and "platinum" sounds much nicer than "gray." I'd go with it. :-) I'm waiting for the waistline to go next, by the way.

Leah St. James said...

Alicia, I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow (by the sexy-wild-hair stylist). Maybe I'll ask hubby to take a shot of me when I get home because Lord knows it'll never look the same once I get my hands on it. :-)

MJ Schiller said...

I am the queen of product. Really. I have 6 different shampoos and six different conditioners in the shower, and at least a dozen body washes of various fragrances. But the product I love the most is an oil I put in right after blow-drying, when it's driest and frizziest. It just takes a couple of drops and it looks lush, shiny, healthy. If they ever discontinue this product...I shudder to think about it. It's called Herbal Essences Wildly Natural Oil Elixir. (You know if it has elixir in the name it has to be good!) It's a little bottle (like travel-size products). But products react differently for each individual. Good luck! The things we women have to do! And guys just wake up and go.

Susan Coryell said...

Interesting post. I decided about a decade ago to go au natural--let my grey/white hair be what it is. I get many compliments, but periodically wonder--to color or not to color? Then, when I think--do I have to pay for low-lights? Do I have to keep getting them done? In the end--I keep my silvery locks, glad that I at least have plenty of hair to no longer worry about.

Leah St. James said...

I'm looking for your Herbal Essences elixir, MJ. Thanks for the tip!

Leah St. James said...

Silvery locks sound beautiful, Susan! Mine just dulls. Sigh...