On Raglan Road of an autumn day
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might one day rue
I saw the danger and I passed
Along the enchanted way
And I said Let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day.
Confession: I learned more than I thought and less than I expected. How’s that for noncommittal?
When I walked into the library and checked out some books on hair care, I expected to find a “right way to do it” that I had somehow been missing all this time, something revolutionary and novel. Nope. The hair care version I adopted is pretty basic, but I learned a lot along the way.
Special thanks to my friend Rach Eicher for her helpful coaching.
- I learned to wash my hair frequently but gently.
- “Clean” is what puts the magic in long hair. But too harsh a shampoo or too hot a water temperature will strip the good oils right out of it. I use a mild shampoo with conditioner two to four times a week, and don’t leave it on my scalp for long.
- I learned about leave-in conditioner.
- I love this! I use two kinds—Fructis Sleek & Shine conditioning cream, which is applied after a wash, and a spray bottle of Dove Hair Therapy– which smooths and removes tangles on a daily basis.
- I learned about finger-brushing.
- For some types of hair at least (very fine or very curly), brushing adds to hair stress and fragility. You can treat your locks much more gently with your own hands, running your fingers through to remove tangles.
- I learned to give up my hair dryer.
- It’s so handy, you know? But used on a daily basis, it will inevitably deplete my hair and its resources. As much as possible, I now let it air-dry.
- I learned a few home remedies.
- (These remind me of the long-ago time my brother Ben and I smeared egg yolk all over our faces to treat acne. It was fun [only because we did it together] and disgusting [as it dried] and photogenic [“sallow complexion” took on a whole new meaning]. But I digress.)
- One home remedy for an occasional deep cleanse is to massage baking soda into your scalp, then pour apple cider vinegar over it to rinse off. It feels like a delicious dose of the bubbly, and cleans away dandruff and shampoo build-up. I loved it the first time—my hair had never felt so clean—but the second time, several weeks later, it seemed a bit abrasive. I think it’s best to dilute the vinegar with a little water.
- Other remedies involve egg, banana, olive oil, and/or other household ingredients. Here are a few. (I wish for Ben.) Have fun trying them, especially with a daughter, sister, or friend.
- I learned to take more enjoyment in my hair—a gift of God.
- I can do a lot more with it than I thought, both pinned up and let down.
- [Pinned up:] I enjoyed learning to cooperate with the way my hair wanted to go for the day or the week rather than forcing it always into the same pattern. This may be controversial if your authorities prefer a steady pattern, so be respectful. But I’m talking about minor changes in parting and direction, not dreadlocks and dip-dyes.
- [Let down:] I never knew what to do with my hair down, but it was surprisingly rewarding to experiment with this at home in an evening. You can do some really cute things with long hair, braiding and pinning. If it’s very long, you can start twisting it into a coil, but stop halfway through and leave the remaining tail to hang down for a mock-shorter look—more spunky and less in the way. (Sorry, no pictures. I come from an extremely scrupulous old school.)
- You may call it what you want–worship, personal enjoyment, or romance, depending on your situation and scruples–but you must learn to experience the glory, or the whole affair becomes rather pointless.
Having a sister who went through chemo has given me a whole new perspective on long hair, and the absurdity of whining about its care. It’s a gift from God, given almost solely for beauty and enjoyment. And because I am Mennonite, I will add “…in the proper places.”
Most of all, I learned that modesty assumes value.
I am not saying you must cover something up in order to value it—I haven’t yet covered my face, and I’m pretty attached to it—but I am saying that in some way, we do guard what is valuable to us: our children, our reputation, our electronics, our passwords, our privacy.
You’ve all seen a person absurdly proud of a thing, flashing it around for public inspection. It may be valuable or not: pride is no indication. My kids are often proud of dollar store items. But a person modest—of her work, her birthplace, her spouse, her accomplishments, her beauty—now there is a thing that catches the heart. She’s being modest because it’s worth something.
I think we should all definitely be more modest.
And I’m talking about way more than hair.
Did you learn some things about hair these last months? How do you care for it? How do you indicate its value?