Anthropologists, psychologists, and sexists all combine to affirm that somehow, a woman with long hair has a different effect on people for various motivations and reasons. Few people would probably know that while I invest so little in buying new clothes, I care more about my skin and hair. (But then, books and intellectual stimulation always go first if I am to rank between substance and style.) Aside from the fact that I had read a very interesting intellectual analysis of hair cut necessity, I am also a woman who spent a considerable amount of time grooming my new hairstyle this year.
It’s been more than a year since I stopped making my hair a reflection of my emotional state. I practically decided to grow my hair long this time around. It’s more of a decision for myself, really. I used to scoff at the maintenance it took. But there was more to the crowning glory than meets the eye.
Prior to this recent decision, the longest that my hair has gotten was around chest-length in 2nd year high school. I was tempted to cut it again last November. Since then, I had experienced cutting my hair in various styles and lengths. I also highlighted it with different hues depending on my mood. In college, I had a constant need to reinvent my hairstyle, as if it was meant to reflect who I am. And perhaps, it does.
At the same moment that I defied men who think I look better with long hair, I had boy’s cut and colored it with yellow highlights. I was 17 at the time. At 19, I decided to dye my hair red. Bloody, screaming copper red. An orgmate blatantly called me a “parrot” but I basically did not care about what other people would think. I liked to reinvent myself continuously and it is in this constant reinvention that I became more content as I settled into my look of choice, not because it was prescribed but more because it was something I genuinely like for myself. I went for a layered cut when I was trying to uncover layers of myself during college.
The only thing I have not tried (but was tempted to try for years!) was to shave my head clear of hair altogether. I guess I was still somehow attached to my hair despite the ridiculous and colorful transformations it has undergone. I am still the type who holds on to the gutter and prefers the safety of having something to hold on to, apparently. And even when I had a volatile set of hairstyles in my formative years, I kind of tapered off to become this low-key, content, and utterly stubborn 28-year-old woman that I am now. The life is far from perfect, but it is considerably charmed in a silky and straight kind of way:
A month after this photo was taken, my hair has grown around 1.5 inches with no split ends whatsoever. It’s a pretty fast growth rate for a four-week period. Prior to this, my hair was a long mess that had the consistency and texture of barbed wire. I literally had to be rescued by my stylist, who I affectionately call Mamu J. Mamu J did a wonderful job and I went back to her recently for rooting and some routine hair maintenance procedure.
So now, it’s pretty, it’s long, it’s shiny, and it’s something I stroke regularly under states of happiness or extreme stress.
It looks good now but like many things in life, I had to work for it to look this decent. It feels good to just step out of the house feeling like your hair reflects the sun, sways with the wind, and easily slides the drops of rain from root to tip to ground.
I made 7 changes to my daily hair grooming habits that made it the semi-fine thing it is now:
1. Drying. I don’t use blowers. I just use a silver standard industrial fan. I found the cool gust of air quite therapeutic. My soon to be sister in law told me that too much wind causes frizzy hair. Ergo, windy Christmas season is the season of frizzy hair. But so far, when I am using the cool wind to dry my hair with matching finger combing motion, it just works like a charm. It has just enough volume to last me all day. I don’t even have to comb so many times to tame my tresses. Given the busy schedule, drying my hair is one of those sane downtime moments where I have an excuse to be idle and to enjoy the smell of my freshly washed hair.
2. Conditioning. This is probably the bestfriend of an aging woman. When I was young, I naturally had shiny hair no matter what I do with my crowning glory. These days, my hair gobbles up the conditioner like some sort of hungry animal. I have been using Tresemme’s large Keratin Treatment Conditioner. I am quite impressed with this product. I like how it smells. And I like how silky it makes my hair. I always thought that there was too much leaking oil on Cream Silk when I put it on my palm (like it has that Ludy’s peanut butter vibe to it), and using expensive foreign conditioners not suited for Asian hair is overkill. Everyday conditioning is probably half the maintenance work required to grow long straight hair and keep it that way forever.
3. Shampooing. This is the bane of my existence until I learned to manage it. I just learned that I tend to lose hair more if I shampoo strictly everyday. I kind of have to alternate my shampooing habits and make sure I do a good rinse afterwards.
4. Scalp Massage. This works so well with my conditioner and shampoo habits. I also do more scalp massaging when I dry my hair. I try not to use my fingernails although sometimes it’s sorely tempting when I have stress-induced dandruff.
5. A Good Stylist. I have my Mamu J now, so basically my hair’s well-groomed and often rescued from split ends. I don’t mind paying her a good tip; she really knows what she is doing to my hair and I have my long mane to show for it.
6. A Good Hairbrush. I am a huge fan of Goody. I had copper anti-dandruff bristles before. I am using the wide-toothed comb for wet hair, and the paddle type of hair brush for dry hair.
7. Monthly Bedtime Arrangement. I don’t do this every night. I do it around once a month, after a salon trip or a particularly good hair day. I let my hair “rest” and let it fan out or hang at the end of the bed after brushing it evenly.
Taking care of my hair relaxes me a lot while I am coding and reading and working and doing many things.
I am kind of hoping to pull off a look like this someday, dark-haired version:
Or at least be like this:
I shudder to think how many bottles of Tresemme that will require. But I’ll see what I can do.