Thursday, March 27, 2008


Based on a recent comment by English Major and this post at Well Heeled with a Mission, I wanted to give a rundown of my hair care routine and the costs associated with it. And also an announcement that this summer, the Public Theater in New York will be presenting Hair the Musical, about which I am super excited.

Any woman knows that it costs money to have great hair. Sometimes, a lot of money. I’m lucky in that my hair has a lot going for it—it’s a nice, interesting color, it’s curly, and it’s thick and grows fast (I average an inch per month). I’m also lucky in that I finally found someone I trust to cut it who charges very little (she’s a friend of mine), and that I’ve had some of the worst haircuts on the planet* so I’m no longer afraid of being somewhat experimental. It’s just hair, and it will grow back.

Then I discovered and its associated book, Curly Girl, and learned how to deal with my hair.

I don’t really have a daily routine for my hair, since I only wash it a few times a week (despite the CurlyGirl mantra that you should never use shampoo; my head just felt icky when I tried that). I buy a bottle of shampoo every six to eight weeks, and I get the cheap kind. V05 or Suave for about $1.19.

Conditioner and mousse is where I really spend most of my money—I’m pretty much brand loyal to Tresemme, and I go through about two bottles of conditioner to every one bottle of shampoo. Rough average: $5.49 per bottle. Mousse I go through a little faster than conditioner, say two bottles per month. Another $5.49 per bottle. (I often have coupons for these, but for now I’m going with base prices).

I get my haircut by my friend once or twice per year. I keep it long (between mid-back and waist length), and I don’t brush it, blow dry it, or use a straightener or curling iron with any kind of regularity, so it stays in good condition and I don’t need it trimmed more frequently than that. Haircuts cost me $25 a pop and I usually spring for takeout.

I also dye my hair. Yes, I said it was an interesting color, but I like to liven it up a bit, especially in the winter. If I didn’t tell you I dyed it, you wouldn’t know. I keep it a very natural medium auburn, when without the dye it’s usually more of a medium dark auburn. I found a fantastic resource for hair dye (and all my makeup): Cosmetics Warehouse on 39th Street in Manhattan. I can get my Revlon Colorsilk dye there for $2.50 per box (as opposed to the $7 or so I’d have to pay at a Duane Reade). I dye my hair every two or three months, and when it’s really long, I need two boxes at once.

So, to sum up:
Shampoo: $1.19 x 8 bottles per year=$9.52
Conditioner: $5.94 x 16 bottles per year=$87.84
Mousse: $5.94 x 30 bottles per year=$178.2
Haircuts: $25 x $2 + say $20 (takeout) x 2=$90
Dye: $2.50 x 6 boxes=$15
Grand total: $380.56

Yikes! Really, though, that’s not too bad. It’s actually cheaper to keep my hair long and use more conditioner/mousse per sitting than it is to keep it short and have to wash/condition/fix it more frequently, thus using more product total PLUS needing more regular haircuts and doodads to fix it with.

And for English Major—my basic routine is as follows: Two or three times a week wash with shampoo, put conditioner on for five minutes. Finger comb conditioner through, and that’s the most combing/brushing I do. I lose GOBS of hair in the shower. :) Rinse with cold water, and not super-thoroughly. Squeeze excess water with a towel—I never rub it or put it up turban style.

Sometimes a small dollop of conditioner, usually just several big handfuls of mousse. I try not to disturb the natural curl, so I do more scrunching than running my fingers through it. I used to plop but it’s a little long for that and my ex still has the favorite t-shirt I used to use, so I haven’t done that in a while. Now I clip the roots for volume (I call this my alien style) and let it air dry, which takes several hours. I’ve perfected knowing when to take the clips out to get maximum volume without strange, stiff shapes at the top of my head. Occasionally I’ll go to bed with it wet, but that can really cause strange things to happen.

Between washings, I spritz with water to control frizz or liven it back up. I try not to pull it back tightly with clips or rubberbands or anything during regular wearing, but I do often wear it pulled loosely back from my face, just to keep it out of the way.

I do straighten it maybe once a year, mostly to see how long it really is. It looks bad straight, though, partly because it's cut when curly, so the layers don't look right straight. Straightening it takes me two or three hours and usually ruins the ends requiring me to get it cut right away, so I just don't bother with it. I blow dry when I have absolutely no alternative, which happens maybe three or four times a year. In the summer, I sometimes will get it soaking wet in cold water and go to bed, using it as a built-in air conditioner (I don't have a window AC and don't want one).

And my favorite part about curly hair: Fancy updos! My straight-haired friends will spend hours in the salon getting their hair curled and sprayed to perfection. I can take six bobby pins, stick them in wherever I feel like it, and have a fantastic look for free!

*A few that come to mind: an undercut, a wedge, and a pixie (It looks much better on her than it did on me).

1 comment:

  1. wow... i have medium length hair that's really, really black. a lot of people compliment me on my hair, they say i have bombshell hair although i really don't do anything to it, i just shampoo 3-4 times a week, condition and clarify once a week. i rinse with cold water and blowdry. i get a haircut maybe once a year so my hair-related expenses are pretty low.


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