This is a big deal for me.
I’m what you might call low maintenance when it comes to my hair, if only because “no maintenance” gives the wrong impression. I do keep it clean, get it cut every five weeks to forestall its tendency to mullet, and fire up the curling iron every once in a while to sear the stubborn cowlick on my right temple into laying flat. But that, to my stylist’s despair, is pretty much it.
This might be my way of rebelling against the ‘eighties, when teenage hair was 65% Aqua Net, 25% volumizer products, and 10% split ends . . . unless you opted for Jheri curl or, heaven help us, Dippity Do. It was a time of very strange priorities.
Or maybe I’m just too busy to bother. Or I think I’m not worth it.
Whichever, it’s a testament to the skills of Jillian, my beauty engineer, that neglect has worked pretty well, in a Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby kind of way.
But Jillian is talented and determined. It took her the better part of two years, but she finally talked me into trying something different. She refused to let me dye my hair dark blue and nixed forest green highlights,* but swore up and down that I’d like the color she’d recommended. She also convinced me to go without a haircut for two extra weeks, risking the dreaded mullet, so she’d have something to work with.
My serviceable brown hair is now streaked with glinting caramel and the style is far less reminiscent of a 1935 football helmet. I now own a straightening wand. There’s product on my bathroom counter.** I even hauled out the blow dryer I haven’t used in three years and used it.
Jillian’s that good.
And she’s right–I do like it. It takes me about five minutes to fix in the morning, even with the drying and the spritzing and the fixing. And I’ve received nothing but compliments.
But therein lies a small problem.
When I look in the mirror, I can’t help but think that my face looks bare in comparison—probably because it is. And a hairstyle like this deserves . . . a little makeup.
A very little—good hair only goes so far. But even the minimal makeup in my kit is at least two years old.*** So sometime this week, I’ll go throw myself on the mercy of the poor makeup clerk at the Clinique counter who will sell me a new collection of tubes, powders, and brushes and fail to convince me to give mascara^ a chance.
But this is where the slope gets slippery. Because the next day, after I do my hair and apply a touch of inexpert makeup, the temptation is to take a good look at my outfit, which will suddenly seem . . . frumpy and dull. As will all my clothes.
Because hair and makeup like this deserve . . . a new wardrobe. Something less Mommy, less casual Friday, less flannel-jammie-writing-outfit. Less . . . me.
See, a new hairstyle can be like cleaning the kitchen windowsill. After the windowsill is clean, the windows look dirtier. Once you clean the windows, the curtains look dingier. Once the curtains are washed and rehung, the counters look spotty. Once the counters have been polished, the walls look saggy and in need of replastering.
But I don’t have time to replaster my metaphorical kitchen. Or, in my right mind, the inclination.
I suppose the key is to focus on my priorities and gain a little perspective.
And maybe just one tube of tinted lip gloss. I’m just sayin’.
*”Blue fades. You’d have to come in every week or two to maintain it and it’ll still fade. And you don’t even want to know what green does.”
**And way high up in the linen closet, as instead of asking me what the straightening spray was for, Janie opted for experimentation. I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but instead of the Nobel, she received a lecture, an instant bedtime without story, and a bill for nine dollars.
***Cosmetics in my possession almost always dry up before they run out, unless I drop the compacts first.
^I realize that there’s a whole range of mascara applications between the Little Sisters of the Unadorned Anunciation and the Kardishan sisters. But I just don’t like the stuff.