Recently, a man approached me for some guidance on what to do with his hair. The question sparked an internal debate. How does a man (outside of the learned barber) determine how best to shape up a “Cousin It” (aka full on food catcher beard and shambolic head of hair)?
With my usual curiosity I threw myself headlong into research. The following atrocities (ahem) case studies were recently sighted at my place of work.
Case Study 1: A middle aged man – early 50’s, dark complexion wavy type 3a hair. Which he insists on wearing long (to the nape of the neck) and slicked back (yuck).
He’s also experiments with varying lengths of decidedly unsexy facial scruff with heavy helpings of gray. This man IS good looking although really you have to peer… like stare… like search to see it... under all - that.
Case Study 2: A middle aged man (clearly stuck in the year 2002) early to mid-40’s, fair complexion type 1 hair (although I can’t tell due to the following).
This unfortunate soul insists on making his hair STAND ON END. I tell you his hair is perpendicular to his scalp in what I can only say is an unsightly unwanted and unnecessary homage to some long defunct boyband.
Compounding the situation, he toys (on occasion) with an immaculate 5 o’clock shadow. So confusing.
I have restrained myself from rushing up to say,
“Sir, since you harbor delusions of boyband fame, “TELL ME? (...Why I never want to hear you say, I want it that way”) Tee-Hee!:
1) Do you use an entire bottle of LA Looks hair gel (remember that???!!!) every week to achieve this ....style?; and
2) What does your partner, family members, small opinionated filter-less children who happen across you have to say about this...style?
Positive note - This man is indisputably CLEAN. I mean there is not one stray strand anywhere! I always appreciate a clean looking man. The same cannot be said for Case Study 1.
Case studies over.
I have seen many a decent looking man ruined by a disturbing the lack of grooming and maintenance (Case Study 1). I have also seen many a decent looking man ruined by an over attention the same (Case Study 2). While some men are better suited to a highly groomed look, (we’ll discuss another case study soon and LORD this man is the TRUTH with his pompadour and tight shave)...sigh.
Overdone looks, well… overly done. Underdone looks, well… a mess.
Fortunately, most men fall in the land of “Yes, I can tell you paid $8 - $13 for that mediocrity, and you really don’t care (too much) what happens on a daily basis.”
How do we tackle this problem arriving in a space of, yes I look presentable in 5 to 10 minutes” without a veritable arsenal of hair products/weaponry involved?
The key is the cut and the key to the cut is twofold:
1. Face Shape
2. Hair Type (1 – 4)
We will cover hair type in a separate article but for now, we are only going to cover face shape. That being said, the underlying advice is and should always be, choose a style that fits you like a glove, rather than one that’s trendy but MEH on you.
Measure up! :
But how can you actually determine what shape your face is? It’s simple. First, arm yourself (or a wiling participant) with a flexible tape measure. Then, take the following measurements, recording each as you go:
1. Forehead: Measure across your face from the peak of one eyebrow arch to the peak of the opposite arch.
2. Cheekbones: Measure across your cheekbones, starting and ending at the pointiest part below the outer corner of each eye.
3. Jawline: Measure from tip of your chin to below your ear at the point at which your jaw angles upwards. Multiply that number by two to get your jawline measurement.
4. Face Length: Measure from the center of your hairline to the tip of your chin.
Once you’ve got these measurements, note which is the largest of the four as this will be the giveaway.
Hope this helps you or your significant other or your mom... reign you in.
This is a fact. After the disgusting humidity filled summers on the Eastern Seaboard, I thought I understood what it was like to fight, like a superhero, humidity whose only purpose was to make me look like an unhappy lion dog. Well, that delusion was crushed the second I stepped off the plane in Saudi Arabia. In August... I thought I was coming to the desert. I thought that I was coming to a dry climate. I thought the earth was round. I was wrong! Jefferson Starship! I knew I was in major trouble when snapping open the curtains to prepare myself for my first day of work and thought...
oh rain... wait no.
That's not rain... it was humidity water running down my window. I was in trouble. I knew that between the humidity and extreme heat, (I'm talking north of 115 degrees Fahrenheit)…
DEATH STROKE! Yes, Deathstroke a not so fictional supervillain, a mercenary assassin who serves as the archenemy of my hair... or something like that was at my door to destroy my tresses. (Sorry DC Comics)
I was frantic, I had a nice suit on... I stepped onto the curb of the hadean death scape, promptly turned on my heel jetlagged, confused and wet returned to my cupboard masquerading as an apartment and tore off my soaked through, once beautiful skirt suit. I donned a subpar, unplanned dress all the while muttering and wondering why I had to wear clothes at all. I mean really? Why clothes? Why the shame? Dash modesty! Dash professionalism, I shake my now sweat soaked fist at you!
Whatever your hair turns into - frizzed out, poofed up, indigent stringy, whatever (oh god I hope its not indigent stringy), we need to talk about the three things that will keep you calm and collected with the extreme humidity situation at hand.
Styling is key!
1. Please don't I repeat DON'T fight your natural hair texture when its humid. DON'T I SAY! If you have board straight hair, now is not the time to try for a curly beachy wave. If you have curly or coily hair now is not the time to make with the flat iron to get fly. It's just not. Fighting your natural texture will make you look like a BIG FOOL!
2. A bun or other up do if your hair has the length is always professional and neat. Your hair can only grow and/or deflate so much when its already in a do. A bun never killed anyone nor did a french twist. Consider and craft accordingly.
First technique before we talk about product. Any product used no matter your hair texture should be applied evenly and completely to the outermost layer of the hair, the point being to get the hair to lay as flat as possible. Avoid silicon based products although I will admit, during a certain wedding on South Beach on the grounds of an extremely swank hotel (whisper: I killed it! Holler!) with a very silicon based serum. Yes GOD! The trick was that I coated the hair cuticle with product so it was flat. I could style according to my texture and slayed into the Miami night!
1. Curly girls use - Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel
2. Stick straight use - Nexxus Frizz Defy Finishing Mist Hairspray
3. Coily girls use - Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Grow Oil Serum
4. Wavy women use - Klorane S.O.S. serum with peony
While we haven't spoken about hair loss and baldness as much as I'd like, it is an important topic. Regardless of personal experience you have undoubtedly seen the impact. Look no further than Prince William tisk and again I say TISK.
I am a solutions person to a fault. So when I see a possible solution to something as emotionally traumatizing as hair loss and baldness I cannot help but sit up and take notice. To date, the only drugs approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as a hair growth promotors are minoxidil (Rogaine for men and women) and finasteride (Proscar and Proprecia mostly used for scalp hair loss in men but also used to treat excessive hair growth in women). Unfortunately neither of these treatments are universally effective. Considering the psychological burden and negative quality of life associated with hair loss, one would think the industry would be busy with desperately needed growth promoting agents.
You can only imagine my blind excitement as I read a new study (pub. May 2018) in which a drug used to treat osteoporosis has the unexpected side effect of hair growth. PUMP. YOUR. BREAKS. Whaaa????
Enter WAY- 316606 (WAY). According to the scientific study published in the journal PLOS Biology, human hair follicles were treated with WAY for six days after which hair shaft production was measured. WAY significantly increased hair shaft production (elongation) as early as two days following treatment.
Make no mistake about it, this is massive news. Especially as scientists from the University of Manchester where the drug is being developed are planning human clinical trial to ensure the treatment is safe.
We at Olivia's are cheering Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw and his team and tracking the impending clinical trials. Yes this means reading medical journals with sentences like;
"Based on the distinct expression patterns of SFRP1 mRNA (DP) and protein (DP and hair matrix), these data suggest that SFRP1 is transcribed and translated in the DP and is then secreted into the hair matrix and pre-cortex."
You are most welcome... sigh.
While in the airport on one of my innumerable layovers. I happened across an interesting Time Magazine article entitled Body Hair is Natural. Society Thinking Otherwise is Dangerous .
Oh hello! I was tapping on my screen and zooming in to quickly read the text before the airport Wi-Fi petered out. The article was written by Professor Heather Widdows BD(Hons), PhD. who authored Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal . I was immediately intrigued, mostly because I couldn't see the connection between beauty and my understanding of ethics. According to my understanding ethics are the moral standard(s) by which societies, professions individuals conduct themselves. What does that have to do with beauty? Is beauty now judged as a standard of morality? If so... ooooowwweee…. I'm in trouble.
Widdows proposes that the natural hairy body is now seen as abnormal while the hairless body, has transcended mere desirability and leapt over ever changing fashion trends, to normal and natural status. Further, Widdows argues that we engage in health practices for beauty rather than health.
I get it. I raise my hand willingly because I consider my routine of shaving, threading, plucking etc and so on part of my daily up keep. I can't go out in a skirt or dress without shaving my legs. I've done it, don't get me wrong, but its not like I'm not slightly uncomfortable for like the first five minutes when I realize I forgot to run that blade over my legs as I lotion and potion them after my shower.
I think it's necessary to give yourself a "rest" every few months. When I say rest I mean, cease and desist with the shaving, plucking, threading, waxing etc. etc. and just let your body be. Why? Because its NATURAL.
People have asked me why I don' t just laser leg and underarm hair and "be done". My answer to that has been admittedly ridiculous. I begin in a high pitched "weeeeeellll.." and craft a tale mostly premised on some fancifully imagined Survivor-esq/desert island/Armageddon type scenario. This is how my mind works (shrug shoulders) I mean what if I need that hair to like protect against the raw elements of like I don't know - something?
All jokes aside, our body hair has a function. Yet we have declared war on our hair. all of our hair, underarm, pubic, leg, upper-lip, eyebrows, every square inch of our body except that which is on top our heads.
What are the functions of all that hair?
Body hair plays a very important role in regulating our body temperature.
Armpit hair serves as an important protective barrier against some of the most precious blood vessels in our body.
Pubic hair provides a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens.
Eyebrows (aside from making us look glam, of course) are there to keep moisture out of our eyes when it’s raining or when we sweat. That arched shape helps divert liquid to the side of our faces, keeping
our eyes clear.
Beauty practices are, according to Widdows, indulgent and optional however, in Western society, we now see this hyper-grooming as necessary and required. Moral?
All that hair removal isn't actually necessary... its not even a hygiene function. Hygiene is something that is required to meet minimum standards, like washing one's tail feather and brushing teeth thoroughly and regularly to ward of rot, tooth decay and loss, rashes, infections, and disease ! Hair removal doesn't do any of that.
Where does the morality angle come in? Widdows argues that rightly or wrongly we value beauty not hygiene and do what we do for beauty maybe even disregarding hygiene if we truly look at the purpose of some of our body hair. "Doing beauty becomes a moral duty".
Hmmm... I don't know if I agree completely with Widdows theory but she has an interesting argument.
What do you think?
As you know, I've been lamenting a damaging hair incident which left me having to grow out unintentionally straightened hair. Unintentionally you ask? YELP! Let's not dwell. Anyway, I'm on the rebound and making strides forward. Since last year I've been heavily invested in protective hairstyling to keep my hair safe while it rebuilds itself to some sort of glory.
People have been quite interested in my endeavors as I've managed to change hair colors, dabble in cuts and styles that aren't necessarily "me" but TONS of fun. Don't get me wrong, it does NOT thrill my soul that my colleagues in office look at me weirdly that first day of "new hair".
After a colleague literally jumped when he saw me, I decided that the braids I used to get when I was in my early 20's (when I still looked like 18 even though I was 25... tee-hee) do not suit me now. They do not suit me AT ALL and further, while on the subject of things that don't suit, all hair color is not for me... and can be aging. I drink lots of water, and bathe in moisturizer while screaming the lyrics to "Forever Young" so basically I don't have time for hair color that ages.
giThe take away from my hair exploits? A new mantra - BE. DO. LOOK. your absolute best by any means possible, resorting to trickery, skullduggery and outright fakery if you have to!
Why? Because life is too short! Pictorial evidence of the shame of a hair disaster will come back and haunt you years from now AND you're not 12... you know, when your mom ( my mom included) gave you a TRULY heinous home perm, color, cut etc. and while you, stunned to tears or utter silence, looked in the mirror like a FREAKING FOOL, she patiently told you. "Oh well, you'll just have to let it grow out." UMMM NO!
There is nothing that says that one has to WAIT patiently until hair is satisfactory. What does one do? Give up on life? Refuse to be seen socially ? Mine (with pick and shovel) for even more inner beauty and press others to see it too? Nope. My confidence can't take that kind of waiting game anymore.
Throw on a good wig, get extensions, color the heck outta those things and keep changing it up until you get the compliments you want and deserve. The main thing is to keep your natural hair healthy underneath. Keep up with your trims, conditioners, moisturizing routines, masks, taking your vitamins and giving yourself 4-minute inverted scalp massages. There is no shame in the wig/extension game!
Soooo evidently a scarecrow haircut is a thing. Like its a legit thing. It's been featured in Allure Magazine - legit. Well, let me clean that up, there was an unfortunate incident in a barber shop where a man got MESSED ALL THE WAY UP (to put it mildly) and ended up looking like a scarecrow. Shudder.
Recently, I was standing in line at the DHL and my friend, a impending bride, calmly (while I thought she should have been losing her mind) said her stylist ignored her instructions for a dusting and cut her hair. Fortunately, she wasn't scarecowed but in the name of being a bride, let me be hysterical on her behalf.
THAT WENCH OF A STYLIST CHOPPED HER HAIR! A CHOP???!!! With t-minus ____until the major day? That's when your alter ego has full permission, (from me at least) to tip over the stylist's chair, flex the colorful part of the vernacular and act "Real Housewives of" ignorant. My friend is a lovely English lady (very Devonshire cream tea) so there was only a polite look of slight exasperation and "no comment".
After I verbally drug the stylist on behalf of my lady-like friend, I immediately went into "how do we grow this out mode".
There is only so much one can do to rapidly grow your hair out in a short period of time but there are things that you can do to retain the hair you do have and not erode the strides that your hair will make naturally.
1. Treat your hair lovingly!
2. Slather up! - Moisturize your hair to the n-th! Use a moisturizing mask once a week for 5 - 20 minutes. If you want to go the extra mile, add heat, via a steamer or hot towel on top of a shower cap.
3. No alcohol - Sulfate free and alcohol based products are a big "no" especially if you have curly hair. Both your shampoo and conditioner should be safe and nourishing. Don't neglect your ends during the conditioning process.
4. Stimulate - Scalp massage and brushing help stimulate the blood flow to the scalp. Increased blood flow means better hair and faster hair growth. For tips and hints on how to do a beneficial scalp massage check out this previous blog post.
5. Get your minerals - A good hair, skin and nails vitamin should become part of your twice daily regime. For the bride to be, I suggest folic acid or pre-natal vitamins taken as directed on the packaging. *for men I suggest Nutrafol Men an all natural supplement specially formulated for men which blocks DHT the main culprit in male pattern baldness.*
6. Heat break - Rest your blow dryer and flat iron or at least one of the two. Daily heat, no matter the hair type should not be part of your life during this sensitive time.
7. Buns & Braids - Protective styles may make you feel a little matronly...but they can be cute and are necessary in order to preserve your precious growth. Protective styling prevents hair from tangling which cuts down on detangling time and inadvertent breakage.
So you had a bad cut... You are/were distressed? Looking cray? Fret no more! You've got a plan!
It's amazing how an endorsement from the most popular and fabulous "IT" person of the moment makes you rush to purchase whatever magic elixir that we assume will wrap us in the same luck, looks, and luxury they enjoy.
Maybe 2017, was good to no one else except Cardi B and even though I only learned of her hit song and queen of the popular girls status, just moments ago, I am intrigued by the phenomenon that this young rapper. Rough around the edges is an understatement. Cardi B is all self-made, hustling, scrappy, will cut you because, knows "what's up", striving reality TV regular, stripper in a former life, 25 year old woman of today (I can't believe she's 25). It takes a while to unpack the Bronx Dominican accent, but once I watched a few interviews, I was educated.
As image conscious as the best of her peers, Cardi B reviewed and casually endorsed Vida Hair Growth products on one of her YouTube videos discussing her own hair growth journey.
I'm excited about Vida Hair Growth products! Yvette Perez, founder and creator of the line is clearly passionate about hair care for those who are really suffering with health maladies. Specifically, Vida Hair Growth products claims to restore chemically processed-damaged hair, and assist in the hair restoration of those suffering with Alopecia, Telogen Effluvium, balding, as well as hair loss due to undergoing Chemotherapy. These are serious claims about serious issues.
Perez says she is "overwhelmed and humbled with the joy of helping others find hope and happiness again." The testimonial pictures are absolutely astounding! I'm so excited for those who have experienced success with these products.
From the YouTube videos (this girl is chatty and relatable), I have concluded that at the very least your hair will be super shiny and looking brand new after using Vida Hair Growth products (I'm down for that). While the hair products claim to be for people of all hair types, I'll reserve judgement on that score until I've had the opportunity to test the products on the four major hair types.
While many pop stars have been developing and lending their names to makeup lines (YEAAASSSS Rihanna with Fenty Beauty) I wonder when we'll see an artist throw their influence, name and connections behind the development of a haircare line with a mission and vision similar to Vida Hair Growth products? Belcalis, (Cardi B) I think you can step up to the plate on that one girl.
I can't wait to try Vida Hair Growth products and report back!
I've been trying to write this post for days. Literally day's have gone by with, at best, a few mediocre drafts jotted on questionable scraps of paper. All that effort, (smirk) with the plan of cobbling the patchwork together in a rhapsodic and sweeping soliloquy... but no. I can't locate the questionable scraps and none of the ones I've located make any sort of sense. Typical.
So I start anew with fresh woman rage to spur me on. Woman rage is everywhere these days isn't it? Suddenly in my most potent 30's I'm seeing and experiencing the "enough" phenomenon. In my conservative work place far away from the super celebrities in California, I am having the most stimulating lunches and tea breaks with women who are Fed. Up. The sharing of experiences of harassment, discomfort, condescension and straight up CREEPY behavior are familiar and frustrating.
Many of you watched (or heard the aftermath of) the Golden Globes. It was the latest in a heavy schedule of very public, unified, assertions of some of the most powerful women in Hollywood against the "Woman Tax" we women are all tired of paying.
*Woman tax - The discounting of human dignity through the experience of: humiliation, degradation, condescension, sexual intimidation, physical and/or emotional abuse, harassment and/or other soul crushing, life altering episode(s) incurred and experienced at some time and in some form by a woman by virtue of being BORN a woman. Note - both genders assume role of tax collector in the most disgustingly base ways.
I was taken aback by the choice of the unified dress code of black (I thought white would have been a more appropriate choice... but then again that too has interpretive connotations). Let's talk hair of the evening. There were very few if any sexy, tossed up, tumble down, come hither styles usually seen paired with the colorful, slits up to here and necklines down to there couture gowns. The hair was simple and serious. Faces were exposed. It wasn't about enhancement or adornment, it wasn't ugly or severe - it was business. We saw faces. Really saw faces. The minimalism was telling.
Sometimes hair can and should be part of the fantasy creation of untouchable goddess like womanhood, we all seek to create those moments of slay and watch the persons, objects or goals of our desire, quest or conquering pray for strength to resist our majestic might. I freely admit to and embrace the use of a full arsenal of whatever you've got to assert your position.
The unified Globes hair statement made me think of how and what we communicate with our hair. There are heaps of information about "take me seriously hair". Oddly enough, its all about showing your face and letting the world see who you really are. In other words, "façade" hair is not going to communicate you mean business unless the situation itself calls for that aesthetic.
As Oprah said during her news making speech at the Globes,
"...[s]peaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have."
The time for us, who need not get red carpet ready (any day of the week); who work, go to school, participate in our communities in every and any capacity - everyday; who grind passionless but striving for purpose; who are thanked-less, overlooked, dismissed objectified, made to feel less than and INSECURE as hell as a result, while all the while paying that godforsaken Woman Tax over and over and over again by just waking in the morning (and perhaps multiple times through the day), to clear our hair from our lovely faces. Dare to be seen, and more importantly LIVE .OUR. TRUTH.
Within our hands (MEN and WOMEN), in the expanse of your mind and in the depth of your heart lies your own justice.
*This definition is mine and crafted by me in this way, in JUST this way, because I have witnessed, heard or personally experienced (shudder) some of the above.*