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Reflections on Having Longer Hair

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I grew my hair out over the past several months. It has been an enlightening experience. My daughter, Jane, claims I have mullet now.

“No, I don’t,” I say.

“Yes, you do,” she says. “Business in the front, party in the back.”

Regardless what you call it, my hair is certainly longer than it has ever been. I understand now why women spend so much time grooming. It’s necessary. I also understand why they do that little head toss that I used to find so enchanting. They just want to get their hair out of their face.

One thing that surprised me was how heavy wet hair is. It gave me new respect for the women I know who have waist length hair.

Recently, I ran out of my manly, leave-in conditioner, so I’ve been using whatever happens to be in the shower. This morning it was “Coconut Milk Conditioner.” The bottle makes it sound luxurious:

Indulge your senses with this exclusive blend with coconut milk, coconut oil, and ultra whipped egg white proteins. This exotic formula helps add strength, elasticity, hydration, and balance for healthy hair.

It’s good to know that my conditioner can substitute as food in a pinch if I am overcome by hunger while taking a shower. I suppose I’m supposed to be impressed with how natural and organic it is, but cow dung is also natural and organic. Only a credible threat of force or rich emoluments could induce me to put cow dung in my hair. (Why mess with shampoo when you can use real poo!) I suppose that’s why athletes and celebrities endorse various products. Still, I know enough about egg whites, ultra whipped or not, to be certain they will provide “hold”—that elusive quality every hair care product promises to supply in varying degrees. Moreover, the scent of coconut was subtle rather than overpowering as are the fragrances of so many hair products. So I was happy with the result despite my misgivings.

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The Truth about Hair Care

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Shampoo is hair-washing detergent. Its main mission is to clean your hair, removing dirt and the natural oils that accumulate in unwashed hair. Since the main job is to clean your hair, not add body or volume or shine or bounce or manageability, your shampoo should not leave anything behind in your hair. When you rinse it out, your hair should be clean. If you don’t know what clean feels like, try washing your hair with dish-washing liquid. It may be a little harsh, but it will give you the experience of what clean hair feels like. Once you know that feeling, buy the cheapest shampoo you can find that gives you that feeling. Don’t use shampoos that include conditioner. The job of leaving something behind in your hair is at odds with the job of cleaning your hair. It will do neither job well. Don’t do it.

After washing your hair, if you like it when it is dry, you are done. Style it however you like and go about your day.

If your hair becomes frizzy or limp or flat or dull or anything you don’t like, you can add product to it to make it more likable. Don’t use rinse-out conditioner. Why would you add something to your hair to obtain a particular effect and then rinse out 90% of it? Use leave-in conditioner. Use whatever conditioner you like. It doesn’t have to be the same brand as your shampoo. If you just want to be able to get a comb through it, try a little olive oil. If you don’t want to smell like a Mediterranean deli, try something with a smell you like. Keep in mind that whatever you put in your hair has to come out the next time you wash it. If you use product that binds to your hair, such as products that “repair” split ends, you will have a harder time washing them out.

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