Short and Back Again: A Hair Addict’s Tale

And if you don’t get the Tolkien reference in the title, I can’t help you with life.

If you have known me personally, you have known that I have been on nothing short of a hair quest, a hair saga, a hair journey to the Misty Mountains and back again, since about 2010.  It has been bizarre, to say the least.  I have reached the heights of beach waved, ombre’d glory, only to somehow look in the mirror on some depressed afternoon a month later and not like what I see.  For no good reason.

That’s what’s been bizarre about it.  I’ve been chasing down something with my hair for years, and yet when I look back at pictures from just two months prior I think Good God, Lemon!  Why did you ever complain?!  And yet, there’s still that hair moment that I haven’t landed on.  And it’s strange because I truly feel that I’ve had so many great hair moments!  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.  Maybe the cause is ungratefulness.  Maybe it’s comparison.  Maybe the dissatisfaction comes from an itch for change that doesn’t actually need to be scratched.  I think if I could sum up my hair chronicles in a song it would probably be U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  It’s been DRAMA, guys.  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls …

But anyhow, Bono and I digress.

So let me just recount my hair journey from the past six months.  That’s it.  And that’s probably all you can handle; you would hate me otherwise.  I can go on and on about my own hair chronicles.  Trust me- my friends know it.  It’s one of my more narcissistic habits that I’m ashamed of until I get started (and then I can’t stop).  But then again, I could go on and on about your hair too, probably.  Man, I reeeeally wanna braid someone’s hair right now.

In January of 2015, I had long, brown hair.  I would put it in ponytails.  I would curl it.  I would put it up in topknots.  I will never again complain about long hair simply for the fact that you can do so much with it.  I miss sleek, long ponytails that feel very fashion forward.  I miss pretending to be a Victoria’s Secret model (a nice little game to play with yourself).  But as is common, I had an itch for change.  Pinterest, friends’ haircuts, and trends will do that to you.  And sure enough, in either late January, Justin Kamm cut my hair into a lob and lightened it up as well.  I keep trying to make a permanent mental note that I ultimately don’t feel like myself with completely dark hair, but about every 16 months or so, I forget and then return to my senses a few months later.  It’s not that I hate it or think it’s a bad look; I just think the lighter bits are more flattering.

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But then, on Friday, April 3rd, I decided to go for the most drastic haircut I’ve ever had.  By that point I’d known for about one month that we would be moving to Chicagoland, and something in me just needed to go for it.  I had always wished that I could see what my hair would look like short, but fear always kept me from making the chop.  I’d been comfortable and at ease with my long-ish hair that I’d had all my life, but I sort of came to the realization that it’s just hair (and not my identity), and it can grow back.  Moreover, I felt that if I can make the push out to the Midwest, I can also make the push to cut my hair.  It was time to face the unknown.

And so, once again, Justin worked his magic.

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The cut was a bit of a shock for me.  I was in foreign territory.  I know it’s not the shortest cut you’ve ever seen (obvi), but it’s a funny thing when you suddenly become conscious of just how much you’ve been hiding behind your hair your whole life.  When you feel that breeze on your bare neck and reach back only to find nothing to sweep over your shoulder, you feel vulnerable and exposed.  It’s just your face sticking out there!  No long princess curls or beachy waves to toss around and taut as your pride and joy; no feeling of safety that Oh, I don’t feel confident about my face today, but at least I’ve got my long hair.  Nope.  And even while the cut may be a lovely expression in itself, when people look at you, they’re really not seeing all your hair like before (or at least that’s how we tend to perceive these things on ourselves).  There’s some hair, but what the eye now sees from the clavicle and up is pretty much just your face.

And with that, I found that when you cut your hair short, you really have to own it.  Like, you have to own the crap out of short hair.  You have to own it like it’s your job and like it’s the best haircut people have ever seen, even on days when you’re feeling unsure and you actually have no idea what other people are thinking.  You have to be intentional about it and go with it when it’s messy and when it’s styled.  In the weeks following the cut, there were moments when I felt so cool and so French in a way I’d never felt with long hair.  And then there were days when I sensed people were trying to backhandedly tell me that my hair was the most unprofessional, unkempt mess they’d ever seen.  And you know what happens when you own it both days, either way?  You love it.  You really, really love it.

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Once the cut started growing out a bit, it really hit the sweet spot. It gained a little more bounce and I started finding my own way around it.  With short hair you discover that just the smallest changes make a big impact- tucking it behind the ear on one side, a change in part, flipping it all the way over the opposite side a’ la Riawna Capri and all the bajillions of LA-based platinum blonde mid-lengthers that she inspired with Julianne Hough (and yes, if you’re from LA and you’ve gone white-platinum mid-length and flipped your hair to one side, you can thank Riawna Capri for that – not kidding).

But sure as the sun rises, I came to find that the longer my hair grew, the more excited I would get about styling it.  I think I just love the process of growing it out and playing with it.  Even in writing this, I’m coming to find that when it comes to hair I sort of live for the journey.  In most things, I actually do try to live for the destination as I believe that a journey doesn’t amount to much without a meaningful endpoint, but with hair, I’m different.  With hair, it’s all about the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.

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However, with the impending move, I knew that I’d need to stop by Salon 9 one final time for updated color.  I wanted to add more blonde, and in preparation for growing it out long I also wanted to even out the a-line so the back wasn’t too much shorter than the front.  And with that …

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Blonder, a little more even, and ready to grow through autumn.  I loved the texture of this cut and I can only hope that it isn’t lost in the growth or by some poor hair stylist who gives me a trim out here and hacks it into oblivion.  That being said, I do have a couple helpers that have been upping my texture and styling game lately.

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I’ve been using Bumble and bumble’s Thickening DrySpun Finish for a long time now.  It does basically the same thing as Oribe’s Dry Texture but costs half the price.  The scent is amazing (and I know, Oribe’s is amazing too) and it works as a hybrid of dry shampoo, hair spray, and volumizer.  I love it.  Their Don’t Blow It creme is pretty good for me these days, too.  It apparently doesn’t work well on hair that’s already curly or frizzy, but it’s pretty good for my natural texture.  A little scrunching helps, and my natural wave is enhanced without the frizz (or ANY effort).  And the R&Co Jackpot styling creme is what I use for smooth looks right now.  I bought this half-used bottle from a hairstylist at Salon 9 for five bucks.  I use it on blowouts or when I’m sleeking back my hair, but it’s also good for men’s styles.  Just be careful- the scent is nice but powerful, and too much can be a bit overwhelming.  I also continue to use Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, but you’ve heard me blab about that on here before.

I’m excited to continue my growth process and see where the road leads me, but for now, I’m trying to enjoy my just-above-shoulder length.  Cheers to enjoying what you have!  xo, MR

Vacation all I ever wanted.

I’ve just returned from a near-perfect vacation.  What I love is the fact that I barely had to travel to really feel a sense of escape for this getaway- I live in Orange County, and we traveled no more than three hours at a time for a four-day trip to Santa Barbara.

The first 48 hours consisted of beach camping at the El Capitan State Beach with my husband’s college students, and then it was a stay in town on State Street for our anniversary (with just the two of us … don’t worry).  One of the week’s most glorious moments consisted of our day on the shore with the college group.  It had been foggy and gloomy for the previous twelve hours on the campgrounds, and we feared that our time on the beach later that day might bring more of the same.  Don’t get me wrong- I think dreary beaches are actually gorgeous.  However, I’d packed my swimsuit (and not my coffee mug and blankie) and it had just been so, so long since I’d had one of those quintessential California beach lay-outs.  Well, maybe that’s a lie.  I had gone to the beach near home by myself one week earlier, but unbeknownst to me I had only enough quarters for an hour!  *sobs* Help me I’m poooooor!!!!  So needless to say, I was ready for the kind of sunshine that doesn’t fool around, and I was ready to plant my patooty in the sand and not budge for a good while.

And, come one-o-clock in the afternoon, that’s exactly what we got.  The skies didn’t have anything to offer but pure, unmitigated supply of Sweet D for a good five hours, and I was in heaven.  But let me ask you something … What is heaven without hair color to go with it?  Tell me!  TELL ME!

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I only wish I’d gotten a picture of the out-of-control awesome braid my friend Jourdan whipped my hair into for our beach day, but alas, I was too distracted pretending to be a mermaid.  Thanks Jourdan!  I was only too excited to play around with my hair this week because the color had just been refreshed in the most delightful of ways thanks to my trusted stylist Justin at Salon 9.  And I’m at the point where I can conclusively say that I do indeed prefer my hair with some lightness to it.  It’s just happier.

But regarding this image specifically, here are my locks as they were after I had them blown out at the 1329 Salon and Spa on State Street.  I have this vacation tradition that I started during my honeymoon that involves hunting down a random salon and having either a pedicure or my hair blown out.  I just love meeting different stylists and checking out how different salons do their thing.  I remember the salon I stopped by on my honeymoon was super swanky and only used Kerastase products, and the staff had recently styled hair for New York Fashion Week as a team.  But then, on a different occasion, I stopped by somewhere a little out of my way for a blow-out around Christmas and the salon I happened upon was really old.  The product selection was a little piecemeal, the floors were checkered black-and-white, they had oldies playing on a radio, and I honestly couldn’t understand what my sweet stylist was saying half the time.  But I walked out with the most incredible blow-out!  You just never know what you’ll find.  And that’s the fun of it.

1329 Salon is only two months old, and my stylist, Jenna, had only been there for about five weeks (and they’re looking to hire four more stylists, so if you’re licensed in the SB area, here’s your chair!).  I’d been walking up and down State Street doing some shopping and I literally just walked through the door and asked if anyone could take a walk-in client for a blow-out.  Jenna used a flat-iron to create loose waves in my hair, and she tried to tutor me as best as she could so that I could mimic the technique myself (and we used my favoritest picture EVER of Jessica Biel for inspiration).  Jenna got me blushing though when she kept going on about my new precious highlights.  That’s always a major win for both you and your colorist:  when another stylist takes a moment to look through your whole head of hair while saying “Oh yeah.  Oh yeah.  These are great.”  *happy squeals*  So needless to say (because the shameless selfie says it all), I was more than happy with my experience.  Cheers, Jenna!  I hope you read this!

So, I’m home now.  And my vacation is now nothing more than memories and Instagram files.  But part of me feels like I get to keep vacation with me in the form of my hair as it is now (I know, that sounds creepy like I constantly have something hidden in my hair … Don’t worry, the most you’ll find is probably some bobby pins or a bird).  And tell me, who doesn’t want vacation hair?!  xo, MR