Friday, January 30, 2009

More Choices

I'm bugged. I read all these beauty magazines, geared to help you become a better, more beautiful you. I can't help but notice that a lot of them say there is no difference between grocery store hair products and professional hair products. Or they give suggestions on "cheaper" products which are supposed to make your hair shiny, healthy, and stronger.

To me, this is another case of Good Hair is a Choice. They're not the same. And if you suspect they are, you have probably never used professional products.

If you don't care about the explanation, just read this next sentence and then skip the next three paragraphs... Here is the difference: Hair does not shine, feel, move, last or look as good when you use cheaply made products.

(Now, I must include an explanation that what used to be fine or so-so professional brands "back in the day," may not be what I consider a professional brand in the modern age. Some brands, although considered "professional" brands, are really just not professional any more. They're old. Developed with old technologies. Obsolete. Sadly, some salons still thrive on these brands and people still buy them because they are often the most recognized names in the business. I won't list those here, but if you come in and ask me, I will tell you which ones they are.)

Professional products are acid balanced. Why does that matter? Your skin and scalp have a protective barrier on the surface which has a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 on the scale. Anything else that's higher on the pH scale will dry out your scalp and hair. That includes brands that claim to be "pH Balanced." Those register around a 7 on the scale.

Because most people don't want dry scalp and hair, manufacturers of the cheaper brands mask this problem by adding other ingredients to disguise the fact that the non-acid-balanced cleansers have stripped this protective coating off. These ingredients include waxes, chemicals, conditioning agents, and even medications.

So, why do manufacturers use these harsh cleansers in the first place? Because they are cheaper. So the finished product is cheaper for consumers. And because some people care about cheap more than they care about beauty.

Now, to be honest. That's okay with me. If someone chooses to invest their money somewhere besides their hair, I can live with that. I can respect that. But don't pretend you're gonna get the same result as the person who chooses to invest in their hair. And don't complain that you're not getting the same result. It's the same with electronics, or clothing, or anything else you can purchase.

Still not sure there's a difference? Well, let me tell you a little story. A true story. I ACTUALLY SAW THIS DONE at a hair show before. I saw a stylist perform a PERM without any perm solution. Instead, they used a grocery store shampoo. One of the top selling ones. That tells you a little about the chemical makeup of that shampoo. (End of story. I told you it was a little story.)

Professional products are not only made differently, they are tested by salons. Stylists who do hair all day long have to put their stamp of approval on a product before it is released for sale. Another reason to buy products from your stylists is because you want to get the same look that they get with your hair. Doesn't it make sense to do what they are are doing? Enough said.

Let me just finish by telling you about my mom. A great lady. I love her. But she is someone who DOES NOT spend frivolously, or even generously, especially on herself. She had seven children. That's how you manage. Professional hair products were not introduced into our household until I went to hair school. I started buying her professional products. She used them. And she probably didn't notice any difference at the time. But then she went on a little trip and she forgot to take them with her. So, out of convenience (but mostly out of old beliefs), she ran to the grocery store and bought herself some shampoo and conditioner. Well, I got a phone call from her the next day telling me that she "gets it" now. It was her worst hair day in years. Her hair felt dry. And yucky. She's A BELIEVER to this day. Amen to that, mom. Amen to that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good Hair Is A Choice

Happy New Year everyone! (Lateness not my fault. Enough said.) I hope you all set lofty goals to improve yourself. I know I have!

During the holidays, I got to spend some rare time with a few of my family members. It is always great to be around them. I get to relax and catch up with everyone, including my nieces and nephews (all 25 of them). Speaking of nieces...

A few months ago, one of my nieces won a makeover from a local cosmetology school in Idaho. They took her dark brunette hair to a sassy blonde and cut her long hair into a cute, short, piecey A-Line. I think they even did it/showed it off at the high school. And, kudos to them. I hear it was cute. And such a big change. So fun!

Well... fun for like two weeks. Then, reality set in. Her roots started to show. Dark. And then it got interesting. A few weeks later those dark roots didn't look so great next to the blonde ends. So my niece (shame on her!) agreed to let a friend "fix it" for her. They bought some brown haircolor that matches her natural hair to cover up the blonde. Seems good. Should fix it, right? In their minds, brown beats blonde. (Because color theory is really just a rock-paper-scissors game where the stronger/darker color wins?)

Long story short, she turned out purple-ish with some fuschia highlights. Really, the purple isn't as bad as what I usually see when people attempt this same feat themselves. It's usually green or grey. But still, not at all what she thought she was going to get when she put on the brown color. By the time I saw her at Christmas, it was a red/orange color. Also not attractive.
As I got after her and my sister for not going to a professional to get it fixed (I mean, I know it's a drive down here to see me. But really, not even a phone call?), something dawned on me. I realized...

Good hair is a choice.

If you choose to do something drastic, you need to be willing to keep it up. Or, if it was just for fun, then you need to spend the money to get it professionally fixed. A layperson is not going to be able to fix it as well as a professional can. And, to be completely honest, not all professionals will be able to fix it either. But, at least a professional stylist will usually be connected to a salon that will do all they can to get it right. Even if it means calling over a manager or a more experienced colorist to help out. I know it looks so simple. It seems so simple. But it really isn't.

If you choose not to spend the money, then don't make the drastic changes. Especially when it comes to color. Stick with the subtle. I would take plain old boring, healthy, natural hair ANY DAY over poorly colored hair. I can always tell if someone has done their own color. ALWAYS. You are never fooling a real colorist. And, in the end, it is sooooo much more expensive to correct bad color than it is to pay for good color in the first place.

Good hair is a choice. Choose wisely. Enough said.