Big Hair… Big Heart?


My big hair, prior to Keratin treatment, but–after–it had been slightly tamed.

When left to do as it pleases, my hair is: big. I’ve got some wave, and if the length remains above my chin, also some curl. But for the most part, my hair is just big. And big, (as far as I can tell anyway), went out in the 1980s. So, after struggling for almost a year to grow my locks from the short pixie cut that had been my signature style since the late 1990s, I decided to venture into the world of chemical straightening.

In August of 2012, I had a Keratin treatment applied to my hair. This was not something I did without reservation. I had several of those. My father died at a young age of a non-smoking related form of lung cancer, so for me, the fear of breathing in formaldehyde fumes was very real. I took care of that concern by asking my hairdresser to blast two fans on my face. And I also had a washcloth at the ready to cover my nose. My other main worry was that my hair would go from being big–to being flat. I have a long face to begin with, and the drowned water rat look doesn’t make it appear any shorter. This potential problem was addressed by leaving about an inch to an inch and a half of my hair (at the root) chemical-free.

My initial reaction to the straightening was one of excitement. Prior to having the process done, I spent a lot of time with my blow dryer  and flat iron. My hair is big–remember? Big hair does not go down without a fight. After the Keratin treatment, my hair was so straight that I could have let it air-dry. But I didn’t want to do that, because the one or two times I did, I kind of looked like a drowned water rat. Oops.

It’s now the first week of January, and the Keratin treatment is almost grown out. And I don’t think I will have it applied again. Here is why:

  • My hair, despite overuse of the flat iron and blow dryer, had been very healthy prior to the treatment–and now it isn’t. I have a lot of breakage, most noticeably in the areas that surround my face.
  • The smell of the chemicals, (even with two fans blowing on me, the front door of the salon open, and a wash cloth pressed to my nose) was at times overwhelming. My eyes teared up often during the process, which tells me that my body was not reacting well to the odor.
  • The treatment definitely reduced the time I had to spend styling my coif. But in the end, even when using a blow dryer (and not the air), my hair was too flat.

So in 2013, my mantra will be: bigger is better! And once again, I’ll be cranking up the flat iron. If you need me, I’ll be in the bathroom.

My hair immediately following the Keratin treatment. Note: the drowned water rat look is not yet in full effect. 


Favorite Things-Brow Control

Brooke Shields was very popular when I was a tween/teen. She was featured in Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns, was the star of multiple hit movies, and she regularly graced the cover of Seventeen Magazine. Her image was everywhere and her “look” was coveted. Back then, it thrilled me to no end that Brooke Shields and I had a few things in common. We were both born under the sign Gemini (when you are 12 stuff like this matters), we both had long brown hair, and we both had bushy eyebrows. The fact that we shared this last trait was huge for me. I hated my eyebrows and complained about them to my mother often. My mom, who has naturally beautiful, Audrey Hepburn-esque brows, would always respond: “You have Brooke Shields’ eyebrows.” This reminder, along with the fact that the plucking and shaping of eyebrows was not in fashion in the 1980s, was enough to keep me from touching them.

Young Brooke Shields (source)

Me, circa 1988. Brooke and I look just alike–don’t you think?

Sometime in late 1990s my philosophy changed. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I stopped drinking the you’ve-got-Brooke Shields’-eyebrows Kool-Aid. It dawned on me that rather than Brooke Shields’ eyebrows, my eyebrows were closer to those of another TV star. Someone whom I did not want to emulate.

Oscar and I are eyebrow twins! (source)

At this point, I had gone at least 30 years without using tweezers and was not comfortable with the idea of training the untamed beast myself. So I did what other women (and some men) had been doing for years–I had my brows professionally waxed. I loved the result. I found someone who did a great job shaping my brows. She somehow managed to leave them full, while also keeping them from looking overgrown and out of control.

The woman on the left is my mother–see how beautiful her brows are?! That’s me on the right, after having been waxed and tweezed.

Sadly, I had to find a new brow artiste when I moved from Atlanta to San Diego. I tried three or four people before finally settling on a salon in La Jolla. And then disaster struck! Twice I suffered an allergic reaction to the wax that was being used to rip the hair from face. On both occasions, my eyes swelled to the point that I almost couldn’t open them. So I made the switch to tweezers-only brow removal. Initially, this was fine. I found tweezing to be less painful than waxing. There were a couple of downsides to this fix, though. First, tweezing did not last as long as waxing did. And second, I was being charged $45 for the service! What was a wax-allergic, price-conscious woman with well-endowed brows to do?!

Threading! I switched to eyebrow threading. I had read about this ancient process back in 2002 and wanted to try it, but didn’t know where to go until a friend of mine posted a rave review of a local establishment on her blog. The next time I saw this friend, I asked her if the threading was really as great as it sounded? She confirmed that it was, and told me which technician (brow artist?) she liked the best. So off I went to Beauty By Dolly .

I found the threading process to be nothing short of fascinating. Watch this video and see if you don’t feel the same way.

I took my 17-year-old daughter to have her brows threaded as well. She found it to be uncomfortable the first time, but was fine on a return trip. I have to day that I don’t find the process to be painful at all. And with the exception of the time it takes me to drive to the salon, it takes no time. I am usually in and out of the chair in about 10 minutes. Threading is also very affordable. I pay $12 plus tip, which is a far cry from the $45 plus tip I was being asked to shell out for tweezing. The results seem to last about as long as waxing did for me, which means that I usually need to get my brows done every three-four weeks.

As an aside, I am happy to report that it appears that Brooke Shields is still rocking her Brooke Shields’ eyebrows. And just now it occurred to me that Brooke Shields’ Eyebrows would make a terrific name for a band. Punk rock, of course.


What type of brow control/enhancement do you prefer? And do you think men should tweeze/shape/wax their brows?

*I was not asked to write this post, nor was I compensated by the salon I reference in it. Just sharing one of my favorite things.