by Laura Pilati
My hair is one of my most prized possessions. Always has been, it seems! When I was just a wee little lady in elementary school, I remember that we once had to make a list of our top five favorite attributes–aesthetic- or personality-wise, I suppose. #1 on my list? My bleach blond hair, which was probably more of a green shade at the time because of my involvement in the neighborhood swim team…
Going platinum! circa 1991.
My hair has since gone mostly to the dark side, but my love and care for it has not. In fact, perhaps not surprisingly, it was the condition of my hair that first made me question my personal care techniques and products and even pushed me to first host (with Madeleine!) a women’s workshop on personal care products and cosmetics in college. First, some background info–I am not only a fair skinned, natural blonde, but thick scalped with thin, stick-straight hair. I have a textbook sensitive scalp and dry hair and skin. And after many, many years of religiously washing my hair every day, a year of blow drying, and lots of straightening heat treatments (why I did this is still beyond me…did I mention that I have stick straight hair?), my hair was dried out! My ends were breaking, my scalp was itching, and my hair just never looked the way I quite wanted it to, despite all that I was doing to try to make it look that way. Something had to give. And after talking to friends and stumbling upon this LiveJournal community, I realized something that should have been obvious–this wasn’t working for me!
Huh? You mean my hair shouldn’t be this frizzy?
So I took a leap of faith and I stopped washing my hair every day. For me, this was a big deal. When you wash your hair every day, your scalp is usually oily before you even wake up the next morning. And I had straight hair–the kind that is completely unforgiving of oily roots. So I had to deal with a good bit of oilyness–and self-consciousness–for a good 2-3 months. And I didn’t think anything would ever change! But then something amazing happened: my scalp stopped being oily. So I challenged myself further: I only washed my hair every three days. Then every four. And before I knew it, I was only washing and rinsing–but not repeating–once a week.*
I played the above audio clip from NPR’s Morning Edition at both of the women’s personal care/cosmetic workshops at UMW. Give it a listen!
Not washing my hair every day was my segue into realizing that I and everyone else on this planet has a unique body. We each have different needs and preferences that allow our bodies to be balanced–both inside and out–and to function at optimum. So what makes us think that a cosmetic company knows our body best? Why do we trust the label on the bottle or its ad (“for blonde hair”, “for dry scalp”) to tell us and give us what we need? We have to trust ourselves and one another to be able to make that decision for ourselves–through research, experimentation, and self-awareness.
- Make a list of your top five favorite attributes–again, aesthetic- or personality-wise!–and post them in the comments section!
- Over the next week, develop a critical eye towards your self-care techniques and rituals. What products do you use? How often? What are the results? Do you have any cosmetic complaints? How could they be attributed to these techniques and rituals? Post your findings in the comments section of next week’s blog post!
*I now wash my hair about 2 times a week as a result of the fact that I live in a city. Not surprisingly, dirty air makes for dirtier hair!