Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The First Hair Cut after Hair Loss: the DURING

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a thick head of dark hair. I’ve always appreciated having a lot of hair to work with, but I’m not very good at recognizing which haircuts are designed for thick hair. In fact, every time I’ve taken in a photo to my stylist of a hairstyle I’d like to try, she always says, “That’s nice, but your hair is so thick, it won’t look like that or lay that way.” And then she comes up with an alternative that DOES work for thick hair. 

But not this time. This hair appointment was going to be different.

With my thinning locks, it turns out that I could actually pick a ‘do that would turn out just like the picture. My ends would lay flat, my texture would be right, and my hair would be manageable. (Talk about finding the silver lining!)

So when I went in for this cut, my First Hair Cut after Hair Loss, I was excited. I was ready for a change. I was ready to put this bout of hair loss behind me. And I was ready to have a picture-perfect ‘do. But I still needed to be aware of a couple of things when I went in:

One: I needed to be honest about how or if I was going to style my hair.

As my stylist was determining exactly what kind of cut to do, she asked if or how often I was going to style it, And I had to think long and hard about my answer. For the last 3-5 months, I've done nothing but pull it up into a clip, or pin it up on the sides. It took no time at all, and I actually started to like the swiftness of it all. But then I thought back to before the loss, when I actually could blow dry it, straighten it, tug it here, and flip it there. Remembering how fun, sophisticated, and feminine I felt doing my hair, I realized I was ready for the chance to do that again. In fact, touching my hair had been off limits for so long, taking an extra ten minutes to style it was going to be a welcomed change. 

So when she asked, I told her that I would definitely blow dry it most days (and enjoy every minute of it!). But I added that once in awhile, I’d like to be able to just push it behind my ears and go, or put it up in a pony tail. So she cut accordingly, and I'm happy to say that it truly works all ways. 

I mention this because I had a friend who made this mistake years ago. She went to her stylist, wanting a new ‘do. When asked how she styled her hair, she said she blow dried and styled her hair most days. Well, the term “most days” was a bit misleading, because she told me she never blow dries, and “styling” to her involves finger combing. (Good thing she has good hair to begin with!) But the fallout of her fib was that the stylist gave her a cut with layers and tapering, which really needs a little TLC. So she ended up with layers that weren’t cooperating, and a "finger comb" that wasn’t doing the trick.  

So if you ARE getting a new ‘do, be honest about what you’ll do with it. I promise – a good stylist will be able to work with whatever you give them!

Two: I needed to let the tears come if necessary.

When I experience hair loss, it’s upsetting. Seeing clumps of your hair everywhere is unsettling. Spying bald spots all over your head is distressing. And actually feeling the thin wisps of hair that are left on your head can be depressing. And when my thinning hair is wet, it looks even more appalling! I can see balding where I didn’t even know it existed, and the scraggly leftovers from my hair loss make me look like a haggard old witch. Yuck!

Knowing that my hair would be shampooed (“Gently, please…there’s not much up there”, I told the shampoo girl), and left damp during the cut, I tried to prepare myself. But those mirrors are just so big, it was hard to find a safe spot to look. The beginning wasn’t too traumatic, because we were busy strategizing about which way to part my hair, which side was thicker, etc. And of course, my stylist kept me busy talking about other things as she cut. And she took so much time on the cut, even in the sections that were quite lean, that it made me feel as though I had all the hair in the world. She was so conscientious, and I appreciated her making me feel as though my hair needed all of that attention.

At one point, however, the thinness got to be too much. There were so few strands in one or two sections, that as she was blowing it out, they just flailed in the hot breeze.  She was unfazed, but it was too much for me to handle. I started to tear up, she reassured me, and we began again. But then it kept happening, so I asked her to turn me away from the mirror so I couldn’t see the wisps. I pulled myself together, she told a few empathetic, amusing stories to make me feel better, and we went on.

And when I saw my dried and partially styled hair a few minutes later, it looked like an entirely new head of hair! The thinning sections were imperceptible – and my picture perfect look was starting to come together. I’m glad my emotions were running high, though. I needed to get out a few tears before being able to decisively move forward with my new ‘do.

And the 'do? It's a slightly angled bob, just above the shoulders. A little longer in front so that I can pull it back if necessary. It's off my shoulders, so it doesn't drag, and I get as much bounce as possible. (Her words, not mine!) And with the shorter length, the hair isn't laying against my shoulders or back. It's just hanging in mid air, to mask the thinness. She also layered/stacked the hair in back, so that it pushes the sides forward, giving me maximum fullness. She side swiped the bangs (like I've always done), but we swapped the part to capitalize on the lesser of the two thinning sides. And we joked that this time, she wouldn't need the thinning shears. The texture was just fine!

Three: I needed to trust my hair dresser.

I’ve been going to my stylist a long time. And I trust her. Completely. So when she said my short spiky hair growth wasn't enough for an all-over short ‘do, I believed her. When she recommended we go with this certain cut, I went along with it. When she suggested we do a little comb-over here, and borrow a little hair from there, I thought it was brilliant. She showed me how to creatively style it, and how to disguise the thinning parts. She showed me where the "part that's not a part” should be, and how to hide the sprigs of new growth. I listened to her advice, and followed it exactly. It was reassuring to put my trust in someone who understands how hair can be managed, tamed, and tricked. 

As she spun me around to see the new 'do, fully styled, I was moved to tears. She had done a great job on this First Hair Cut after Hair Loss. I emerged from her chair a new woman, with a rekindled confidence I haven't felt in months. As I thanked her for everything she’d done for me, she said, “Oh, Sara, this is my job. This is what I do.”

Her straight-forward response almost brought me to tears again - realizing that in "just doing her job", she'd given me the gift of a brand new start, with a renewed sense of self I was aching for. Without a doubt, she definitely got the job done that day! 

2 comments:

GG said...

No picture of the new look!

Jen Sharp Gorman said...

i want a pic too!!!! xoxo