Charm School: Your Shining Glory



When I was young, my straight hair bothered my mother no end.  She pin curled it, she put rollers in it.  She used Dippity Do, sugar water, beer and hair spray on it prior to pin curling or rollers.  Tender headed with fine straight hair it was torturous to me to have so much done to my hair.  My mother finally resorted to perms which left me with a head full of frizzy unruly hair that bushed about my head like an afro long before the look was popular in the early 1970's.

I finally rebelled hard my 14th year when Mama asked Granny and Aunt Myrtle to trim and curl my hair.  They worked on opposite sides of my head, Granny to the left, Aunt Myrtle to the right and the end result was that one side was two inches longer than the other and both sides stood out from my head like Bozo's red wig.  I took one long look in the mirror and one long look at my mother's face.  It was obvious she saw what a huge mistake it was.  I said quietly, "No more.  I have straight hair.  I will have straight hair."  Eventually the perm grew out and I allowed my hair to grow long like the rest of my classmates.  By the time I graduated I had hair that reached mid-back, was parted down the middle and fell in glossy folds.  And so my hair stayed until well after Samuel's birth when I chose to have the typical 1980's permed bob.  I must say the look suited me and this hairstyle was professionally done but after ten years I'd had enough of that as well.  From there I went through a new hairstyle about every six months.  It's only been in the past couple of years that I've found my current pixie cut which suits me.  I've not grown tired of it, I can easily style it and I am continually complimented upon it.  I know that for this time in my life, it's the right cut for me.

I still have a bit of brown left from my last coloring here in this photo. 



For all my struggles, I have to share that I learned quite a lot about hair this week from my studies.

First, as discussed in the previous post, it's time to determine what your face shape is.  My face is square.  The hairstyle I have chosen suits me because it is a good style for a square face.  I confess that until two days ago I knew the hairstyle suited me but not because it was a good style for my face shape! 

Hair care is important.  It is the difference between dull lanky hair and a glossy head of hair.

All of the books recommend a daily brisk brushing of the hair.  Remember how we were taught as girls that 100 strokes a day would lead to glossy, healthy hair?  It is recommended that we brush our hair for at least five minutes.  You need a good brush to do this with firm bristles.  Bend from the waist and brush vigorously starting at the base of the skull and being sure to brush well about the ears, etc. 

Why so much brushing?  The books all suggest that hair is dulled by dust which accumulates on the hair and that it stimulates the natural oil glands within the scalp.  True confession:  I seldom brush my hair nor have I brushed it for years, but I gave my hair a good brush yesterday and my scalp fairly tingled all afternoon long.  I must invest in a new brush.  The one I have has wire bristles which I don't think is ideal for anything but blow drying. 

The second most recommended thing in these older books is to massage the scalp well.  If you've ever had a proper shampoo at the salon, you know the stylist generally will massage your scalp.  This is a good thing!  That massage keeps the scalp pliable which is necessary for good hair growth.  You can do the very same thing for yourself at home.  Use your thumbs and fingertips not your nails.  You don't want to scratch and injure your scalp.  This massaging will help to distribute oils that naturally occur in the scalp glands.

Shampoos were recommended for every 4 to 10 days back in those days.  Does that sound long range to you all, as it does to me?  Even in my youth, shampooing just once a week seemed a long time.  I must say that I shampoo my hair daily.  I got in the habit of doing so in my youth because I had extremely oil hair.  It really only looked good if I washed daily. 


Because shampooing was done less often and because of the type of soap used it was recommended that one shampoo, rinse and shampoo and rinse, rinse, rinse.  In a day and age when shampoo might have well been a luxury in a household, bar soap was often used.  The books recommended that the soap be grated and allowed to melt in warm water.  This concoction was then used on hair. I think with today's modern shampoos it is not as necessary as it was to wash, rinse and repeat unless you do go several days between shampoos. 

The books I'm reading all recommend the same routine.  Brush hair well.  Massage scalp.  Then shampoo your hair. 

But what is recommended for today's woman?  I was interested to find out those recommendations and read several hair care sites to determine why today's standard is. 

First:  what is your hair type?  There is likely a shampoo for it!  Do you color your hair?  Is your hair fine, coarse, oily, dry?  All of those things must be taken into consideration.  Do you wish to increase hair volume or to minimize frizziness?  Are you already confused?

Well if so, then just stop and study your hair.  What do you consider the main problems?  My hair is fine and thin and can be oily.  My big interest is to make it look like I have thicker hair.  I go for a volumizing shampoo which has less moisturizing properties that tend to weigh down thin hair like mine.  Because I shampoo daily I should be using a sulfate free shampoo.  I need to remedy this and will be researching a good inexpensive shampoo.

Now from here, I can tell you honestly that there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to properly shampoo.  The information that follows is that which was most consistently given across several hair posts and salon sites.

First, wet hair.  Use warm to almost hot water.  This will open the cuticle of the hair and allow you to really clean it.  If you have long hair, it is recommended that after this first hot water rinse you immediately put conditioner on the ends of your hair.  This will fill any holes in the hair cuticle and promote more gloss and shine.

Pour a quarter sized amount of shampoo into the palm of your hand and then emulsify it.  This means you add a very little amount of water and you mix it with the shampoo, much as you might do lotion before rubbing it into your skin. 

Now you rub shampoo into your scalp.  You want to use firm vertical strokes of the fingertips to work the shampoo into the scalp.  Concentrate above and behind the ears, at the nape of the neck and at the front of the scalp.  The nape and ears both have a concentration of oil glands.  The front of the scalp is generally where the majority of hair product used in styling ends up being concentrated.

Once you've shampooed, rinse well using warm water.  How long should you rinse?  At least through two rounds of the ABC's was recommended on  one site. 

How many times you shampoo depends upon so many factors.  How often you shampoo, how dirty your hair is, how much product you use...A good rule of thumb is that if you normally wash your hair daily then you can usually manage with one shampoo and one good rinse.  If you shampoo less often then shampoo a second time and rinse well again.

If you have long hair and condition it, add conditioner to the ends, starting at least 3 inches away from scalp.  Pull hair up and pin it.  Then continue with your bath.  Rinse just before you step out of the shower. 

Use cool water as your final rinse.  This will close the cuticle of the hair, sealing in the moisture and increases gloss and shine.

It is recommended that you use hot oil treatments or hair masques at least once a month, more often if you have dry hair or are experiencing dry heat in winter  or if you are spending a lot of time outdoors in summer, especially in chlorinated water.   I am not that familiar with masques so I did a web search on that.  I confess I'm not a fan of high priced products for hair and I'm always looking for a good bargain.  I found this Allure post.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of these products are under $5 and easily found at any drug, grocery or standard everything store such as Target or Walmart.

Interested in homemade products for hair?  Check here and this site.

A hot oil treatment is a good masque for hair as well.  Use coconut or olive oil.  Warm slightly.  Part hair in one inch sections.  Dip a cotton wad into the oil, dab warm oil at the roots and then part hair one inch above that section and apply oil.  Wrap in a warm towel.  My books recommend a 'steaming' towel that had been dipped in hot water and wrung out.  Repeat the warm towel once more.  At this point, wrapping hair with a clean cotton scarf or cloth is best.  Leave on for several hours or even overnight.  If doing it overnight then pin a clean dry towel to your bed pillow.  Shampoo and rinse multiple times until the hair is free of excess oil.  Remember to start with a warm rinse first, then shampoo, and finish off with a cold water rinse.

Do you color your hair?  Have you remembered to lighten up a little as you age?  Hair naturally grows lighter.  One reason I'd forgotten how dark my natural color is was that I found black hair dye looked too harsh on me.  My hair is naturally black but for years now I've worn increasingly lighter shades of brown.  I'd ended with a medium brown in the past year.  Surprise to me when I stopped dyeing to find that my hair is 'lightening' but it's still dark, though very much a salt and pepper color now. 

If you do color your hair remember to deep condition about a week before coloring. The day before coloring, use a special cleanser to strip styling product build up so that the cuticle of the hair will more readily accept the color.   Use a shampoo and conditioner especially formulated for colored hair.  Try not to wash as often, which will help the color last a little longer. Use filtered water to wash hair as minerals in water can also alter the color.

If you know your face shape and enter that as key word in a search you can find hairstyles best suited to your face.  I like to look through magazines or catalogs and when I see a model or celebrity with a style I like I access whether it is a style suited to my own facial shape.  The best style for you is always one that works with your hair type and which  you can easily style yourself at home.   I can't name the number of times I've had a terrific hair cut and style at the salon and no matter how carefully I tried at home I couldn't replicate it.  My biggest reason was that I didn't have the styling tools or products, nor knowledge of how to use them when I bought them, to maintain the style.  Fortunately the best tool for a pixie cut is a blow dryer.  I have that!

Summary:  Hair care is not difficult.  Little is required except a small investment of time.  Daily brushing and shampooing as needed to suit your hair type. 

Use the proper sequence of warm and cold rinses when shampooing to open and close hair cuticles.

Use a deep conditioning masque or hot oil treatment at least once a month.

Find a style that suits your facial type and which you can easily replicate at home.

7 comments:

Little Penpen said...

Your pixie looks great! It's one of my favorite haircuts on people!! I'm a stick straight hair girl, too. I want to stop coloring, but am dreading the process of growing it out.

Anne said...

Oh my gosh, we might be twins as we have the exact same hair, stick straight and fine. I suffered through a childhood in the '50s with a few of those hideous perms. Luckily, about the time I hit high school, the straight look was in and I wore it long and straight for many years.

Then a few more hideous perms in the '80s. And now that I'm in my sixties I have settled on the pixie cut which I think is very flattering.

The one issue I have with advice columns is that they always want to tell you to shampoo less and your scalp will make less oil. Simply not true if you have a basically oily scalp. I shampoo at a minimum every other day. But on the second day my hair does not look as good, so it is sometimes every day.

I have envied women with curly hair all of my life. :D Oh well, I was blessed with long legs. :D

Terri Cheney said...

Anne so many of the older books suggest waiting as much as two weeks between shampoos! I can't imagine. I do realize that soaps might have been stronger than those shampoos we use today but I can say honestly that my hair needed shampooing every day too. Between perspiration and natural oiliness my hair looked terribly lank and dirty after just one day without a shampoo. So I gradually just worked it out to doing my hair every single day.

Isn't it funny, now that I've found a hairstyle I love, and I'm going naturally gray that many of the gray hairs coming in are wavy? If only I'd been born gray, what a lot of awful perms I could have lived without!

PenPen, I dreaded going without coloring too but it didn't look as bad as I thought it might be. You can go have color chemically removed but I chose to simply grow it out. With regular haircuts it wasn't bad as I feared at all. I did try this a few years ago but I literally had spots of gray and I looked like a cheetah or something. As I've gotten older and it's come more fully gray at the temples (and it is a lovely silver gray, Praises be for that!), I found it easier to let it go natural.

Debbie said...

I too had stick straight and fine hair in my youth with absolutely no body. I lived in a humid climate then so it would go flat and I had to wash it every day due to sweating so much and it being oily. I suffered through perms that made me look like a French poodle and longed for having some natural body like most of the girls around me.

Now that I am in menopause, my hair has changed. I have body and some actual curls except that the top part of my hair is still straight for the most part...strange. I have had the same hairstyle now for years as it suits my face shape and my lifestyle. I can blow dry and style my hair in about 7 minutes which totally works for me since I hate having to fuss with my hair and get very frustrated with it when it decides to do it's own thing. ;) Luckily for me, my husband and I cut my hair together. Me doing the front part and him doing the sides and back. My neighbor used to be a hairdresser and taught me a few tricks for making my hair curl under in the back and sides which gives it more body.

Tammy said...

I enjoyed reading this. Your charm school is fun!
My hair is naturally curly/wavy, but does pretty much whatever it wants no matter the cut or styling, unless I lacquer it down. As a child from the 70's, I dislike lots of product and prefer to wash and go. That's fine if I'm staying home, but need some lift and a little taming with the curling iron when I leave the house. When it's long I can put it up and it bothers no one. LOL.
As for gray, pretty much all of mine is right in front at the temples and where I part my hair. It ages me terribly, so for now it is professionally colored three or four times a year. My younger sister (by 15 months) has stopped coloring hers and has the salt and pepper look. I have what we call the "Kitty Bartholomew" stripe action going on, so, no.

Debby in KS said...

I think your hair is darling. It's a great look for you.

My hair.....wellllll, remember Rosanna Rosanna Danna from old Saturday Night Live? That's my hair. It's not curly, it's not straight. It's hay. There's TONS of it. And it doesn't grow down. It grows out. I suspect that if I let it go, it would grow out and eventually meet at the top for a super duper tumbleweed. But not a shaped one. One that looked like several limp stalks of wheat glued to my scalp.

Perming it kept it tame for many years. Since swimming is my exercise of choice, I let the perm go because of the pool. However, I've already decided that I'm going back to a perm in the late fall to get me thru' winter. I just bun it up in summer and it's a nice chic look for humid summers here. My hair was in its heyday in the early 80's when big foofy hair was the rage. I was lucky to not need any hairspray. My friends went thru' a can or two of Aquaglue per week!!!

beckyathome said...

It's so funny to hear all of your comments, because I have the same stick-straight hair, which my mother could never get to curl, either. So, when I was 5, she cut it into a pixie cut. So, of course, I had to grow it out because that's what kids do---but only when I was old enough to take care of it. She told me outright she had no time or desire to do my hair daily, and it was my job--otherwise, I could have it however I wanted. I got perms throughout the 80's, but sometime in the 90's I went back to the pixie cut for around 25 years. Then, mine started to curl, too! I looked like a clown at the circus. Straight on top, and curled out around my ears! REALLY! I let it grow until a couple of months ago, and let the new hairdresser give me some highlights, and cut it. Guess what she decided I looked best in. Yup, you guessed it--a pixie cut. And she had never seen me with one:) Hillarious!

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