22 December 2006

For the love of shine, don't do it everyday

Wash your hair, that is.

A few days ago, I met a woman in her mid-40s, and though her face and body looked about right, her hair had the texture of that homeless woman's who sits Indian-style outside of the Whole Foods on 14th and P. You know, the one who's always spouting crazy talk about Dick Cheney's plan to secretly eliminate day laborers? I'm standing there looking at her, pretending to listen to the words coming out of her mouth, but I'm losing the battle. I mean, her hair looked *that* bad -- homeless bad. I thought to myself at the time how unfortunate her life must have been, having to wake up day after day without any hope of lustre or bounce. But then something happened. One day I decided to stop looking at middle-aged men and start noticing the women. I was shocked at what I saw. Nearly every female in that age group (or who looked like they were in that age group) suffered from the same tragic affliction. What could be causing such premature sheen depletion? None of them looked the type who valued their looks enough to CHI their hair every morning. Or even the kind who would own a CHI. No, this lot looked as if the extent of their morning routine was telling their husbands "no," showering for 5.5 minutes, combing, dressing, and maaaybe a quick blowout on high.

For those of us who still have enviable locks (phew), we can't let this be our future. The key is this: avoid the overwash.

At most, I'm told, we should wash our hair once every two - preferably two and a half - days. Don't get your Oprah-approved Le Mystere thongs in a bundle, there are plenty of ways to counter the inevitable oily look.

(1) Try out the new hair powders from Bumble & Bumble (pictured above, available for $36 at Blue Mercury & Urban Style Lab). This type of product, one that absorbs excess oil to extend the time between blowouts, has been popular in the movie industry for decades, but the B&B product line multitasks where the others can't. Not only are they masterful at hiding the fact you've put in a 6 mile run and 2 days of work without washing your hair, but since they're tailored to match your color, they also hide unsightly roots and those willful grays.

(2) Something I do at least twice a week to distract co-workers from my dirty hair is to pin and poof my bangs back a-la Gwen Stefani. You may get weird looks from the older folks in khaki-colored leather sneakers, but take that as validation you're doing something right, not something wrong.

(3) The most fail-safe option is to pull your hair back and wear a wide headband. Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters both offer a variety of hip ones for around $15-$30. If you're looking to invest, however, I recommend going to The Proper Topper (1350 Conn. Ave.) and picking up one of Rachel Weissman's satin creations. At $50, they're beyond my means (so of course I have two), but if you're like I am and run into a 1 o'clock headband headache, believe me, it's worth the splurge. In these, you don't feel a twinge of pain all day long.

If you absolutely can't get in the shower without shampooing (after all, I'm not advocating a shower boycott), then at least use Redken's Smooth Down Heat Glide ($14 at Demien, 2427 18th St. NW) before blowdrying. That might buy you another three or four years of not looking like a Chevy Chase carpool mom. But really, why would you risk it?

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