I used to have a little trick for lifting my spirits. No matter how I was feeling – whether I was going through a break-up, or a bad patch at work, or depressed over my losing battle with my weight – I knew that I could check in with a hairdresser, experience a little pampering, and walk out feeling somewhat beautiful.
And because I was blessed my mother’s olive complexion, I appeared younger than my years for a very long time.
There’s Nothing Graceful About It
Today, I look in the mirror and I see my mother’s face – and she passed away four years ago. I know I always vowed to grow old gracefully, but now that I’m in my 60s, I realize there’s nothing graceful about it.
I don’t just look older – I look OLD. A little while ago, I noticed a new sharpness to my cheekbones and thought it indicated that my latest weight loss regimen was working. But when I looked more carefully, I saw something more skeletal there and realized it had nothing to do with diet. I’m losing the fat in my cheeks due to age.
I’ve always fought dark circles under my eyes, but now they’re compounded with bags that will not go away. There’s just no amount of makeup that will conceal those black half-moons on either side of my face. And don’t get me started on the little lines that have become crevices on the sides of my mouth.
The thing is, I expected all of that stuff. The part that has really hurt has been hair loss that began in my 30s and is now progressed to the point of near-baldness at the hairline. It’s the reason I have worn bangs for the last 25 years (even though I HATE bangs). They’re my version of a combover. And the current bane of my existence.
I just got back from the hairdresser, where I dropped a pretty nice sum of money for color and a cut. I was in the mood for something a little different, so I went kind of red today, and I’m happy with the color.
I’m actually pretty easy about these things, but the one thing I don’t want to see is bald skin peeking out at the top of my head. I explain that. I explain it a lot. I let my hairdressers know that I don’t care if the resulting look isn’t fashionable. The only thing I really care about is creating the illusion of a full head of hair. And yet — I don’t think most hairdressers actually believe me.
The Inevitable Upsell
First, they try to sell me shampoos that promise to thicken the hair. Sometimes the sales pitch works. Always, the product proves disappointing.
Since these formulas really only add texture and don’t re-grow hair, they’re a waste of my money. So then I am asked if I’ve tried minoxidil. That was the first thing I tried to do when the hair loss began decades ago. It didn’t work.
I even once had a hairdresser suggest I get Topik — you know, the spray-on fibers they sell on cheesy TV ads at 3 AM,. I think the resulting eyeroll has prevented him from ever making that suggestion again.
Few hairdressers give me the bangs I ask for. Instead, of the thick little fringe of my dreams, I get left thin, spiky little strands that barely cover my forehead, and it doesn’t work. And maybe I’ve just gotten to the point of no return, where I need to invest in a nice wig or at least, a lot of cute scarves and hats (which sounds like it would be just ducky to wear during a hot San Fernando Valley summer).
That’s what today’s hairdresser gave me this afternoon and I made him re-cut the bangs. I wasn’t super happy with the result, but they looked better and I was tired. But by the time I got home and the effect of the blow dry had worn off, the fringe still looked… thin.
So I took the scissors into my own hands, combed more hair in front of my eyes and cut some additional bangs myself.
They’re not all that even. But at least, they cover my bald spot. And I (weirdly) realized that I now have something in common with Donald Trump, who surely wears his hair that way in defiance of his hairdresser.