Totally worth it–the hair edition

I am not super vain but I am a little bit vain and my main vanity is without a doubt my hair. I am fortunate to come from people with good hair and lots of it. A few years ago I had some weird shit going down in my life and the end result was I started to lose alarming amounts of hair. Now I normally shed a lot but this was different and one day in the shower I pulled out a huge clump. I almost had a heart attack which would have been super awkward for both me and the poor EMT’s who would have had to haul my naked balding ass out of there so once I regained my composure I started Web MDing and Googling to find out what was going on. After a lot on internet searching I did correctly self diagnose myself although it took three different doctors to finally find one to agree with me.

What I had was something called telogen efflufium. It is fairly common and tends to show up after a metabolic or hormonal stress event and can even be triggered by taking certain medications. For lots of women this can happen after giving birth and for me I think it was a brought on by a combination of excessive stress and a strong antibiotic. All I know is it made me realize just how much of my self-worth was wrapped up in something that I had up until then taken for granted.

I have never been cheap about my hair though. Even when I was in high school I went to a good salon, Horst, in fact, no Great Expectations for me. Does anyone else remember those in the 80’s? They were like the Great Clips and Fantastic Sam’s of today. Once I started messing with the hair color for real in college I paid big bucks and worked as a cocktail waitress to help pay for that as well as books and tuition and you know, college stuff. And while I am lucky to have good hair I am not GOOD at hair. I can use a flat-iron to straighten it but since it is pretty straight already that doesn’t really count for much. Precisely because I am so style challenged, products are a big deal to me and here are five that I think are worth either the cost or the effort to search out.

Kerastase Masqueintense Conditioner: kind of pricey but worth every penny. Conditioners in generally are important to me because not only do I have a lot of hair (when it doesn’t all fall out from stress) I have snarly hair. I buy mine from because it’s cheaper than in salons and they usually have deals on shipping.  A few years back I watched the movie The Kids are Alright and I was liking it better than I thought until that bathroom scene (spoiler alert!!) after Julianne Moore’s character sleeps with Mark Ruffalo’s character  (totally understandable, he is adorable, except for you know, her character being a lesbian and all) and he had this in his shower. THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL ANY STRAIGHT GUY WOULD BUY THAT HAIR CONDITIONER. From that point on the movie lost all credibility for me and was forever ruined. About $50-$60 dollars depending on where you purchase it but you only need a small amount so it lasts a long time.

I don't even believe Mark Ruffalo uses this in real life unless his wife buys it

I don’t believe Mark Ruffalo uses this even in real life

Mason Pearson Hairbrush: my love of all things British even extends to something as basic and mundane as a hairbrush*. These perfectly designed brushes were first made in 1885 and the style has barely changed since. The combination of boar and nylon bristles massages your scalp like the fingertips of ten thousand tiny hummingbirds if hummingbirds had fingertips, and as someone with a sensitive scalp that is very much appreciated. I went to one of the local blow dry bars and thought they did a fine job but the stylist used hard plastic bristle brushes which really hurt my head. I seriously  had to take Advil afterwards. Mason Pearson brushes are a bit of an investment, but if you take care of them they will take care of you. I bought mine from Amazon for about $150 and since I plan to use this brush until I die I’d like to think I will have a few more years of good use out of it. A lot of brushes don’t even go through my hair and in the winter when the static monster comes to visit me and I want to cut it all off to a length I know I would later regret, this brush and a dose of Kerastase pretty much takes care of the problem. I am like the Chazz Michael Michaels character in Blades of Glory when it comes to this brush, it comes everywhere with me, although it does not have its own carrying case.


The Tesla of hairbrushes

Compared to Chazz Michael Michaels $12,000 hairbrush this one is a total bargain

Color Wow: I have been messing with the color of my hair since I first tried Sun In and lemon juice as an early teen. I have altered the color in some way or another since then and have been everything from blonde to red to my current pretty close to natural light brown. The only difference is I have now transitioned from someone who LIKES to color their hair to someone who HAS to color their hair. And while I don’t have a ton of grey hair I have enough to know that I do not like it. It is expensive to color your hair so I try to spread the appointments out as much as I can and root touch up kits help enormously with that. I have tried the little mascara wand-like types but I tend to forget to screw the cover back on properly and then when I go to use it find it all dried out and the brush is so tiny it is tedious to use. It also makes my hair feel crispy and I only like that effect in my bakery or other food products. No issues with any of those problems when you use a powder root touch up and I like this one from John Frieda a lot. Quick and easy to use, it also lasts a long time. You can find it online and at Ulta, for about $35.

Color Wow makes the greys go away

Color Wow makes the greys go away

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray: as someone so horrifically bad at styling this is one product I can use to kind of make a difference in the every-day-looks-the-same appearance of my hair. A couple of spritz of surf spray and I get a little something something going on with it. My hair no longer slips out of all restraining devices and it truly makes it feel like you have spent the day at the beach, without the sand or the sunburn or the near drowning experience like I had earlier this year (the Pacific Ocean is not my friend). You can buy this at a million places, I usually get mine at Sephora. B&B Surf Spray comes in a couple of sizes and costs from $15-$26 depending on said size. A little bit goes a long way and there are recipes out there on the web to make your own version but unless I can eat it or drink it I don’t really want to make it.


Beachy textured hair, without the beach or the jellyfish, I am super afraid of those

Bumble & Bumble Pret-a-Powder or Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo: I am a big fan of dry shampoo in general and these two in particular. I like the Oscar Blandi’s smell and a tiny bottle is cheap, around $11 at Ulta. I think the negative for a lot of people with this one is that it is a white powder and if you have darker hair it can be difficult to blend it in. The B&B is larger and at $26 costs more, but it is colored more like the Flesh crayon in your Crayola big box of 64 so no weird blending in with your scalp issues here. The other nice thing about the B&B is the enormous amount of body this product gives. If you like big hair or are from Texas, then this is the one for you. There are lots of aerosol versions of dry shampoos (including both of these) and I have tried a couple with the same gloppy disastrous results. Aerosols and me just don’t mix whether it’s hair spray or dry shampoo so I will stick with the powders thank you very much.

Psst, dry shampoo is every girl's friend

Psssssst, dry shampoo is every girl’s friend

*honorable or should I say honourable mention goes to another British hairbrush that is worth mentioning, the Tangle Teezer. As anyone with long hair knows you NEVER use a brush on wet hair, except that is precisely when to use the Tangle Teezer. Super cheap and especially great for kids or people like me with sensitive scalps. No pulling even with the snarliest of hair. Like mine. 


  1. Dear Amy,

    Your “Hair Edition” has been a revelation! I’d been experiencing some gender-identity confusion of late, and when you said that a straight guy like Mark Ruffalo would never buy Kerastase conditioner, it suddenly dawned on me: Of course I’m gay! I buy that stuff by the case!

    So, thank you, Amy. I can now relax, and accept myself for who I am. I just wish Mr. Ruffalo would actually use some Kerastase. As hunky as he is, his hair looks like a used S.O.S. pad.

    1. No, well maybe the color wow. But I am a fragrance phob who hates perfume-y smells but none of them bother me. The Oscar Blandi has a trace of lemon verbena which I like.

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