The soundtrack of your life
A free-flowing guide to great hair, a healthy scalp
-- and slowing down.
Photograph Thomas Branconier
Remember the times when you visited a salon and spa, where the staff were attentive to details but not fussy? And they forged an atmosphere and mood that had you walking out looking and feeling great. Below, insights on how you can re-create part of that experience for yourself, a lover, or your better half, at least until you go back. I hope you walk away from this article with a refreshed outlook on wellness.
Our need for reassurance that we’re good enough are rarely met by looking at ourselves in the mirror, because we envision a future with more creases on our faces, the greying of our hair or it falling out.
To then see our shortfalls, adept at crying and carrying on, missing out on the feeling of joy from self-care. We turn to promised fixes to turn back time, to grow luxurious hair or to grow it back, leaving us searching for something more and more, disguised as better than before.
You ask, what is our hair aim then? I can answer that here.The possession of healthy, beautiful, and abundant hair is sought after by all, adds distinction to a man and beauty to a woman. Let’s explore how we exercise the intelligent care of the hair and scalp, with patience and perseverance, and the possibilities it brings.
City living brings convenience and neglect of our most treasured assets, our skin and hair. The two meeting in abundance on our head, sprouting a magnificent mane, brightening our eyes and smiles, and prompt sultry side-eyed glances from strangers that walk by.
But the beat and bustle of the city are contagious. And we vicariously express that energy in rushing to get things done. Then the fear of missing out translates to a hurried scrub in the tub for a speedy city break, to step back out never revealing defeat.
And then in trying to hurry up, our face and bodies receive most of the furious affection and our hair is forced clean, with a push and pull and side-to-side scour, as disastrous as when we clean our scuffed sinks to a shine finish. The fingers charged with the task to violently rub away our worries, the city grime and pollution, too frequently, leaving our delicate scalp tender and dry, hair fluffy and out of control. And the hair loses its pliancy and softness, cracks and breaks off easily, with the least effort from a caress or combing.
The full consequences of this action are not fully known, but the authorities say that there is nothing more conducive to baldness. So we try to be kind to the hair and scalp by washing less often, between once a month to every second week or more, believing it’s all that’s required to allow the oil thrown out by the sebaceous glands to soften the hair and protect the scalp. Leaving out more satisfying ways of care to keep the hair clean and scalp healthy.
How do we resolve this abuse we unknowingly cause, with our touch, hair tools and hair products, along with the warmth of the sun?
What lies beneath
Nothing is more satisfying then the rest and recline at the salon and spa. With the skillful touch of a stylist, summoning our imagination to sweep us away somewhere warm and exotic. But what’s the most we could do until we can get ourselves back in their chairs?
A sure way to care for the hair and scalp in concert, is when we’re relaxing in the tub or in the shower. We instinctively use our hands and place the pads of the fingers on our forehead, push and press forward, palms find their place on the scalp, like on a basketball, and the tips of our fingers begin to circle with just enough pressure to increase blood circulation, filling in what’s missing at the root, nutrition, to stimulate growth possibly resulting in strong, healthy hair. Or beckoning your partner to massage your scalp, works even better.
Composed hair, at hand
The reality of the world is that we are exposed to variety. The many salves, soaps and scents, unequally solicit our attention. Then in a confused state, we unknowingly grab irritating and perfumed soaps that could be a menace to any scalp and hair.
Skin, hair and body care of the highest order are formulated with good intent, combining both art and science, to be at their most effective and safe to use. It’s not that different from how food is formulated, to delight with every bite, to satisfy our mood and nutritional needs.
What we’re left with are trial and error purchases of potions and pomades, our pockets with less cash, yet we continue our search for a product that performs. Until we finally give up, tired of not looking and feeling our best and to realize we can’t do a great job ourselves, to turn to the one for their sage advice and precision care — the hairstylist.
Their demonstrations are a performance, cutting and styling like a magician performing a magic act, showing how and why to use this product over that, to fix your look and to raise your mood, to step out with your own style, helping you age like fine wine.
Beauty and beards, brushes and combs
Brushes and combs are the tools to use for preventing split ends and the hair from breaking, and the beard glorious and handsome. They clean the hair and beard from debris and soften each strand, with the oil on our face for the beard and scalp for the hair, even for the fortunate few with thick, wavy, curly hair, leaving it clean with a natural sheen.
Plus a gentle but vigorous brushing promotes a healthy scalp for great looking hair — together with feeling wonderful. Even better results and sensations are had when someone else brushes it for you, whether it be long or short or have no hair at all, and regardless of your gender for quality care.
Brushes and combs are essential for the care of the hair, scalp and beard. Seeing that we’re carbon-based life forms, hair tools of the natural variety are ideal. But the ones made from sustainably harvested wood preserved with vegetable oil are the ones to look for.
Boar bristle known for being the best, harvested in a humane and lovingly way, that I’m aware does not exist. If you’re environmentally sensitive, turn to plant fibres for brush bristle, Sisal from Agave and Golden Fibre from Jute, the inner bark of the plant’s stem.
Let it flow
We all envy your long, luscious tresses, so let it hang, let it breathe, release it from the suffocating hair-bun it’s tied up in, liberating it where ever you are. Any time of day will do, no one will mind, to let the hair feel the air so it can rest. Sounds strange, but ever so satisfying.
When the hair is free to flow, our hands instinctively reach for it, stroke it, we run our fingers through it, and grab it for a bit of a tug at the scalp. A sensorial experience too good to ever pass up, even for the ones watching who wish they had longer hair.
Hair loves the sunshine
Let’s not forget the soothing, healing energy of the sun. A great factor in beautifying the hair and stimulating its growth. It evaporates the perspiration from our scalps, cleanses the hair and the sun’s warmth softens the oil at the roots, deodorizing the hair, leaving it smelling natural for a sensual scent. So let the golden rays of rejuvenation touchdown on you bare more often, so your skin, hair and mood, suffer less.
A hundred thousand strong
Health practices for the hair are few and brief, and we have between zero to a hundred thousand or more hairs on our head to care for. Hormones also have a part to play especially as we reach closer to middle age. But we all have different beard and beauty aims. Side-stepping cosmetic and personal care ingredients that are commonly known to damage skin and hair, is a sure win for our overall health. As are the hair tools and products to punctuate our beauty. Plus our touch to relax, to refresh our focus.
Soften our senses
What we all have in common is the desire for self-care, for the love of how it feels so good to pause and renew. Like the sound and resonance of the songs you love the most, the soundtrack of your life, bringing in energy in the most desirable way.
But nothing beats the blues and care of the hair better than a hairstylist who aims to be kind, calm, aware of the world and of you, when seated in their chair, for a warmer welcome and to delight. To tacitly remind you to sense deep silence and calm, like the still of the night, satisfied; how sleeping naked makes you feel, wonderful, and more comfortable in your own skin.