Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good Hair

Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair is premiering at Sundance this year. It looks so good, I can't wait to see it. It was prompted by his daughter asking him why she doesn't have "good" hair. So he went out to find out why she thinks her hair is not good. I have been trying to tame my locks for years, and I remember wishing for stick straight hair as a kid. I guess I thought it was better.

As part of “Go 2009,” my Madonna-like reinvention plan (more on that here), I got a new haircut with a new stylist. If you remember, I have been known to cut my own hair, but I try to be loyal to stylists when I can afford them. I even give them a lot of leeway to do something creative rather than micromanaging a style that will clearly not work well on my face. I used to trek out to Riverside to visit Dori, who knew my hair and what it could do.

I have what could politely be called “wavy” hair. Not straight, not curly, but something in between. If I grow it past my shoulders, it needs to be convinced that it should be at either end of that spectrum every single day via a variety of hot irons and potions. If not, I have what I not so politely call “hippie hair.”

Thick, dark hair falling in waves that start at right about the neck. Lots of kinky little wisps that frame the face and curl in their own damn direction. One side of my head is actually wavier than the other, if you can believe that. I have amazing pictures of my crown of wavy glory from junior high. Here's my absolutely amazing Quinceanera photo that illustrates my attempt to straighten the waves by just blowing them out.

My mother had straight, thin hair. She didn’t really consider that difference when teaching me to do my own hair. I ended up doing what she did, which was blowing it out, thus puffing up whatever waves and curls were there. I think it took until my mid 20s until I understood my hair. That’s when I met Dori and she showed me the way (which is, FYI the mini flat iron). But going from Long Beach to Riverside for a haircut is a bit much. And once I went all the way there and she had called out sick so someone else chopped my bangs and gave me hair that my mom said looked like a “hut.”

So I tried a salon near my house in Long Beach a few months after moving here, which was actually pretty cool, but the stylist was kind of afraid of doing anything more than a boring bob, despite my indications that I trusted her to experiment. I knew it wasn’t meant to be when I referred my friend there and she came out with my exact same cut. After that, I met Mona.

Mona creates magic. She made my hair pretty and even styled it pretty. Many stylists like to lift my hair up with pastes and hair spray and send me out the door almost a foot taller. What’s up with that, by the way? Mona, on the other hand, could create beautiful cuts that would even grow out nice, and she sent you out the door without any bang shifting or padding down in the rearview mirror out in the parking lot. She gave me the cut I had at my wedding, which will go down in history as my best hair of all time. And then she moved. To Silverlake. Now, I will travel for a fine stylist, and I highly recommend her, but I cannot do a two-hour (with traffic) trip for a hair cut. Won’t do it. And to suffer the hipsters as well? No ma’am.

I briefly went to a Regis salon and liked my gal there, Mercedes, but I wasn’t getting the quality like with Mona. Then, my friend Brande got a spur of the moment cut at an Aveda salon in South Coast Plaza with Scott. They hit it off and she kept going back. After a few times, he told her that her hair was “his” now and she shouldn’t go to anyone else. I LOVED that. I wanted that so bad. A stylist who takes ownership of your hair? So I made an appointment, even though it’s the hell mall. It has an H&M and a Paper Source. These, I reminded myself, are redeemable qualities.

Let me tell you, besides the woman sweeping up the hair, I was the only person of color in there-no lie. But he gave me a great cut and taught me how to style the bangs myself (a tutorial!). He didn't use the flat iron, but instead went with my hair and just brushed it out appropriately, and then, the best part? After the cut he said “ Go out and sit in the chair up front.” He cleaned up and then, I shit you not, he did my makeup. The whole face. Foundation, powder, rouge, eye shadow, liner, lipstick, all of it. I asked him what the hell was going on and he said that it comes with the haircut. IT COMES WITH THE HAIR CUT.

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