Are You Having a Bad Hair Day?

November 4, 2010

Some mornings I look in the mirror and feel like I look about a 100 years old.  I have learned that frowning at myself or analyzing every inch of my face in a magnified mirror does not make things better (only worse!), and a big smile always perks me up (at least temporarily).

I also know that how my hair looks can bolster my self-esteem or deflate my ego in about 5 seconds.  That could account for my lifelong love of changing hairstyles.  Maybe it has to do with living in New England where the running joke is that if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes, and it will change.  So goes my hair!

For the past year I have been letting it grow.  It is now nearly shoulder length (depending on who blows it dry!).  I even (for the 40 millionth time in my life) tried growing out my bangs only to realize once again that it makes my face look longer and thinner (and now we can add older), so last week I went to Josie and said cut the bangs…please!

Here’s what I’m wondering…Is there ever a time in our lives when our hair becomes a non-issue?  I have to admit that if someone asks me what my favorite feature is my hair is the first thing that comes to mind. I was blessed with thick red hair (although the redness gets some help from my trusty colorist these days!), and I enjoy changing my hair style frequently.  That said, I still have plenty of moments of frustration and dreaded bad hair days.

I also know that at least three quarters of the women who come to me for help with their personal style are somewhat disgruntled or discouraged by their hair.  It doesn’t matter if they are 15 or 65, they still have questions, and I can relate!

Add to that the issue of age appropriateness and you’ll find many women in a conundrum.  In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking to a group of young women on a Sunday afternoon and several of them told me about an article that appeared in the New York Times entitled, “Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair?”  They wanted to know my opinion.

After a quick roll of my eyes, I said, I can’t believe this is still something we worry about!  Of course, here I am a 54-year-old woman (talking to women in their 20’s) who is in the process of letting her hair grow which gives you an idea of my thoughts on this.

Fifteen years ago I wrote a chapter in my book called “Hair Length Has Nothing To Do With Age.”  I thought this issue was a done deal back then, but it’s 2010 and the NY Times still considers it newsworthy!

So, can women of any age have long hair?  Yes, absolutely.  Should every woman wear long hair.  No, absolutely not.  Therein lies the challenge – finding the most fabulous style for YOU!

Let’s take a look at hair and see if we can sort through a few of the mysteries…

•    What Is The #1 Thing You Can Do To Refresh Your Style in General?

Get a fabulous haircut and be sure your color goes with your skin tone.  Just take a peek at Sally Field in one of her commercials these days, and you’ll see what I mean.  Her hair is way too dark for her skin and, as a result, looks harsh.  Add to that the fact that her hair looks messy most of the time.  I know they are shooting for casual and carefree but for someone with as much spirit as she has, it’s just not working.  She ends up looking a tad haggard!

Some of you might wonder…hmmm…if Sally Field, a celebrity, can’t get a haircut and color that flatters her how can I?  No worries…there are fabulous hairstylists everywhere.  If yours isn’t giving you something that works for you, keep looking.  Ask someone whose hairstyle or color you admire where she gets it done, and go there.

•    Can Everyone Have A ‘Wash And Dry’ Look?

Don’t I wish!  Your hairstylist can only do so much to make your hair wash ‘n go, and not everyone is cut out to be a wash and wear kind of gal.  Remember, it is not the hairstylist’s fault if you want long wavy hair and yours is pin straight or kinky curly by nature.  It’s just not going to work (without a little (or more) intervention) no matter how she cuts it.

I have come to accept (some days better than others) that it takes me a long time to blowdry my hair, but letting my hair air dry just doesn’t make me happy.  I’m not an easy, breezy, laid-back kind of gal, and my hair doesn’t cooperate without a little TLC.  So, short of cutting my hair so short that a blow drier isn’t necessary, I’m stuck styling it (or paying to have someone else do it).

•    Does Your Hair Have Personality?

Understanding your personal style (your essence) affects every part of your image, and your hair is no exception.  Are you sweet, bubbly, dramatic or direct?  Maybe you’re sophisticated, quiet or free-spirited…?  Whatever is true for you, the bottom line is that your hair must reflect your personality.

One woman told her stylist that she wanted a hairstyle that was “playful.”  This was the part of her personality she wanted to express (staid or boring just wouldn’t cut it), and she got it!

Remember, too, that while others might compliment your hairstyle, the question to ask yourself is if it makes you happy.

For me, I like a little drama, glamour or sophistication (it remains to be seen if long hair will make the grade but I’ve come this far so stay tuned!).  I greatly admire (and am often envious of) pretty, uncomplicated looks on others, but I have come to realize that they often do not translate well to my head!

•    Does Hair Upkeep Have To Be So Expensive?

Your hair is your biggest (and constant) accessory.  Other than wearing a hat or shaving your head it is there all the time…front and center for everyone to see.  It’s hard to hide – although I have heard rumors that head wraps are an up and coming trend!

This is not a place to cut corners, or you’ll be miserable every time you look in the mirror.  Yes, coloring your hair can get costly and can make the idea of gray hair appealing (check out my past blog on the new trend to going gray), but even that requires you have an absolutely terrific hair cut and wear clothes in your perfect colors or you risk looking frumpy and, yup, old.

The majority of women will admit that they want to look reasonably youthful as long as possible, so old is not a look most of us are shooting for.   Remember, attitude is everything and your hair must have attitude (fitting with your inner essence, of course ?).

Beware of do-it-yourself hair color or having a friend help you unless you are absolutely sure it works.  I can attest to the fact that once you get enough white or gray hairs it becomes more challenging to use over the counter hair dyes successfully (my hair likes to turn pink if we aren’t careful!).  And, ending up with a color that doesn’t go with your skin tone is a million times worse than being gray!

So, here’s your checklist:

Do you love your hair cut?

Are you reasonably good at styling it?

Does your hairstylist listen to you when you ask for something different?

Do you love your hair color?

Does your hair cut and color reflect your personality?

Do you feel good about how your hair looks most days?

If you answered no to any of those then it’s time for a change.  One of the quickest ways to give yourself a style lift is to get a fabulous hair cut and color that makes you smile every time you look in the mirror (except, perhaps, in store dressing rooms but that’s an article for another day)!

If you answered yes to all the questions then you’re having a good hair day…enjoy!

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