Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Hair Files: Fringe Benefits

CurrentUnlike most typical Filipino women, I have never grown my hair long. Until now (see left). When I was younger, my hair was this thick, unruly, frizzy bird’s nest, ala Hermione Granger before her Hollywood makeover, so I always kept my hair short to mid length because it was completely unmanageable for me. Also, I tend to get very sweaty easily, so shorter hair was an advantage in hot and humid tropical weather. And in high school (sorry, no photos), I had pixie cuts and boycuts, and apple bobs. Really short hair. I only grew my hair out on two special occasions: prom and graduation. And right after those events I would have it all chopped off again, repeating the cycle of short hair. But in college, I wanted a change. It’s a little ironic because most of the girls I know had long hair from childhood, and upon entering high school or college, got really edgy pixie cuts and other short haircuts, but for me it was the other way around. It wasn’tSummer 2010 until college that I decided to commit to growing my hair long. It’s been such an arduous process, for someone like me who wasn’t (and still isn’t) used to maintaining long hair, all the shampoo, conditioner, and brushing! Whereas before I could just towel dry my hair, comb it quickly and be good to go to head out the door, longer hair required more time and care. But I persisted even if my hair wasn’t always the most cooperative or willing to grow either. I started growing my hair the Summer of freshman year, it was about chin length then (see right), and now it’s halfway down my back. I’m hoping it will reach my waist this Summer.

Semestral Break 2009: Egad!What changed my mind? What was the pivotal event, the turning point in my hair story? The semestral break of my freshman year, 2009, I went for a routine haircut, and asked for a pixie cut that looked nice on a model in a magazine because I thought it would suit me. I asked for the hairdresser’s opinion, and she concurred, and was all “Yes, Ma’am, bagay.” Some people will say anything to just get it over with. And I trusted her judgment. Biggest hair mistake ever. It turned into a boycut. And not the androgynous, edgy look, but a really ugly haircut. My hair was so thick that it would rise up like a pouf! I regret it to this day. My driver’s license picture (see left) is a constant reminder of that haircut. There’s a running joke in my family that if I ever get pulled over and asked for my license that the traffic enforcer might not believe I’m the same person in the picture because of my hair and arrest me. Thank goodness I can renew my license in August. In any case, I was so embarrassed back then to go out that I wanted to wear a paper bag over my head and hide myself. For shame. I hardly went out that semestral break, and stayed at home for the most part because I didn’t want to show my face (my hair) in public. And just to annoy me, my younger sisters would tease me calling me “Kuya” or older brother in Filipino. By the time school was back for the second semester of that year, luckily, my hair had grown enough to settle down and not puff up. But still it was pretty short.

Anyway, growing my hair, apart from the Summer 2011initial challenges and difficulties of being unused to long hair, I noticed that my hair needed more fastidious maintenance as it got longer. Trims for split ends, hot oil treatments once in a while. I never used to be a salon girl, but having longer hair necessitated that too. And as I’ve mentioned, my hair used to be really thick, but recently I’ve noticed alarming hair fall. My hair is still relatively thick for normal standards because I don’t have fine hair, but compared to how thick it was before, I feel like I’m going bald. Really. I’ve switched to a hair fall control shampoo and a strengthening conditioner, and I’m using a gentler hairbrush. I hope I’ll see improvement or at least a decrease in hair fall, or I might have to consult with a dermatologist as to what might be the cause.

So anyway, last week I was due for a trim, since my last one was back in December andBefore (January 2012) my hair is prone to split ends, but I decided I wanted to switch things up. Of course I wanted to keep the length, but the layered and parted hair was getting boring. It’s another one of those strange happenings in my hair experience that now that my hair has gotten longer, I still have no idea what to do with it. I don’t know how to style it, or how to wear it. I have longer hair but I have the mindset of someone who’s had short hair forever, so all I know to do is wash, dry, comb, and leave it. I have zero hairdo know-how. So as always, my friend Google was the answer. I searched for haircuts and hairstyles, and I found that bangs offered the most possibilities for my hair, because I could keep the length, yet add some spice to my look. I’ve had bangs before, but it was the emo-kind back in high school. Le gasp. My hair past is one riddled with disasters. So I steered away from those looks. But you’d be surprised how many different kinds of bangs there are out there. On Wikipedia there are over 10 kinds of bangs, when I thought there were only the full kind and the side kind. Apparently there’s a lot more to it. So to narrow down my search, I looked for visual pegs instead. And then I found Nicole Richie and Jessica Alba! Eureka moment! As much as Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry’s bangs were all cute and coy and hipster like, I don’t have the forehead or the bone structure for that, and I didn’t want my entire forehead blocked by a solid chunk of hair. I wanted them to be long enough to tuck behind my ears and to be able to part them in the middle. 

So when I went to the David’s Salon branch at SM North EDSA The Block, I had a talk with my stylist Mr. Gerald and I explained thoroughly what I wanted and I showed him some pictures that I came prepared with. I’ve had previous experiences where I was too vague in describing what I wanted and sometimes the results would be so far off the mark from what I wanted. Not a shortcoming on their part, but on mine, because even the same hairstyle will look different from person to person, so it’s best to really research and have pictures with different angles for reference. Going back, I am a regular customer of David’s Salon, since it’s a reputable place, with a reasonable price tag, competent employees, and excellent service, in fact my whole family goes there, but our usual branch is at Katipunan (for haircuts) or at the Don Antonio branch (for hair and makeup services since it’s closer to home) and we have preferred hairdressers at those branches. In any case, it was more convenient to go to that branch last week since we had other errands to run at the mall. I went with my sister who was also in need of a trim, and we asked for Mr. Gerald. There were three senior stylists on their service menu (is that what it’s called?), with different rates for haircuts based on seniority and experience, I guess. At the time, the least expensive one was occupied with other clients, so we went with the mean, Mr. Gerald, at PhP 200.00 a pop. Not bad at all. On an unrelated note, this is only my second time, I think, to have a man (I think so) cut my hair (excluding effeminate gay men). And no discrimination meant, but I observed that when women and gay men cut my hair they have almost always overdone it, for instance if I ask for a one inch trim, they cut two, so I’ve become wary, and I specify half an inch off or less, that way even if they double it out of I don’t know, enthusiasm, maybe, it’s still not going to be much. But wiAfterth Mr. Gerald, when I asked for a quarter of an inch on the ends since I only wanted to get rid of the split ends and not lose the existing length or layers, he gave me exactly that, which was a pleasant surprise. And also, when I was consulting with him before proceeding with my haircut, he even made suggestions that helped me decide and didn’t just nod passively like other stylists I’ve encountered in the past. And voila (see right)! And haba ng hair ko! It’s a local expression that goes something like, I got swag, or I feel good! It’s really amazing how a new haircut can make me feel brand new! My sister was also happy with her new ‘do. So we tipped more generously than normal and left the salon, me in particular, with a bounce.

But I digress, like this meme, it’s always a trial, taking your hair home for a road test, especially the overnight, sleeping, muss test.. I mean at home, I only have the basic products and a personal home-use grade hair dryer, not to mention I have no professional technique or skill when it comes to taming my hair, so when trying a different hairdo, I always dread the morning, or the shampoo after. Surprisingly though, in the days that have passed, my bangs haven’t risen in revolt, if anything, they’ve behaved quite nicely sans the expert styling hands. My only mild pet peeve is that when it’s windy outside, by bangs get blown all over, and end up out of place, and I don’t always notice right away, so I end up going about my activities with messy bangs. Not cool. Another thing I didn’t quite anticipate is getting sweaty bangs from the Summer heat.

But anyway, I’m in love with my new look, I think it’s really perfect for me this Summer. I can feel it already. It’s going to be epic. And I’m going to be whipping my hair back and forth all the way.

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