Hair Whore

My mother and my grandfather were both in advertising, so I grew up somewhat suspicious of ads. Companies are not advertising so you can find products that will help you and make you feel better. They’re advertising so you’ll buy their products and give them money. They don’t actually give a damn about your well-being. A cynical statement, perhaps, but it’s a fact that companies are in business to make money.

Having said that, I am a complete sucker for hair care products and any time I see an ad for one in a magazine or on TV that looks like it may be the solution to all my hair care problems (which are manifold), there’s every chance I’ll  go out and buy it. My husband is constantly saying to me, “What did you spend sixty five dollars on at Rite Aid?!?” and when I say, “Hairspray,” he says, “Are you buying it in fifty gallon drums?” Duh, of course not. You can’t get the fifty gallon drum with the non-aerosol sprayer on it. That’s only for refilling. Men are so dumb.

I’m what you could call a hair product whore. I have no loyalty to any brand, tossing one aside as soon as the next shiny pretty comes along promising me smooth, perfect, shampoo commercial hair. I take every recommendation given by my stylist, except the one when she said, “You don’t need to buy any more hair products for like a year!” after I brought everything I currently owned with me to an appointment for her to look through to see what I should keep and what wouldn’t even work for me. Since that appointment I’ve bought a bottle of smoothing spray and a bottle of sea salt spray (which actually have contradictory effects on hair, but it was never my intention to use them at the same time). But every other recommendation I follow to the letter. Shampoo brand? Bought it. Styling product? Got it. New tool (straightening iron, hot rollers, etc.)? I am all over that shit.

And let’s not even talk about editorial content in magazines that describes new ways to deal with hair care problems. Oh screw it, let’s. I get half a dozen beauty magazines—InStyle, People StyleWatch, Lucky, and god knows what else. Every month they have articles on how to get a blowout look without actually getting a blowout, how to make your fine hair look fuller, how to love your straight hair…I could go on and on. And every month I read these articles and scoff. And then, a few days later, I find myself in the bathroom with wet hair thinking, “Well, I’ll try this, but I won’t admit to myself I’m trying it.” Like that negates my trying it, and then if it doesn’t work (or, I should say, when it doesn’t work) I can say, “Well, I didn’t really believe it would work.”

My fundamental problem is that I have no talent for styling hair, compounded by the fact that my hair is challenging to style. I have a lot of hair, but it’s baby fine. It wouldn’t hold a curl on a bet, and it slips out of pins and barrettes in mere seconds. I can flub my way through makeup application (something else for which I have no affinity) because how hard is it to put on some concealer to even out my skin tone (and dear Fate, please, if I’m going to saddled with remnants of my adolescent skin, couldn’t I please have just a little of the metabolism I had at the same time? Not much, just a little. Thanks), swipe a little blush on my cheeks and liner under my eyes, and slap on some mascara. But hair just seems to require more knowledge of what you’re doing. I get good cuts, so that’s not the issue. I just suck at hair.

The Holy Grail of products for me is one that will make my stick straight hair (effortlessly) curly. I’d even settle for a little wavy. I’ve bought thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff with the word “curl” in either the title or the description of its powers. In addition to being styling challenged, I am also kind of stupid, because in all these years I’ve never really accepted that things that use the word “curl” are generally intended to enhance curl one already has, not magically create curl where none exists.

I turn to styling products in the hope that if I have better ingredients, I’ll end up with a better cake (as it were). But as with making a cake, you can have the best ingredients in the world, but if you combine the eggs and the flour, then pour in sugar and milk, and then add vodka and crushed red pepper flakes, you’re going to end up with inedible slop. And that’s sort of what I have in hair form—all sorts of fancy “ingredients,” some of which aren’t even the right ones for me to use, combined in weird and possibly ineffective ways to make “slop” on my head. Sometimes I wish severe buns covered with sunbonnets would come back into style.

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