For the last three years I've been growing out my hair. My regular trips to the salon include color, highlights and getting my split ends taken care of. Slowly and steadily my hair has grown, from just below my chin, to my shoulders and now three inches down my back. As much as I enjoy my long flowing locks, I have just begun to realize that hair is like a pet, and requires care and feeding to be happy and healthy. It can also get underfoot and trip you if you're not careful.
The travails of long hair
I bet many of you reading this are rolling your eyes at me right now - maybe you're not able to grow your hair long or have challenges with a receding hairline. You're probably wondering what I could possibly have to complain about, right? I'll admit that I am blessed to have a full head of my own hair. But it's not all sunshine and roses here! There are very real and pressing issues that need to be discussed!
Food and hair don't mix: My favorite food is Vietnamese noodles. I absolutely love pho, and eat a vegetable pho with fresh tofu just about every week at my favorite pho place just down the road. As my hair has grown I've noticed that the tenuous balance between eating pho without spilling it everywhere, and keeping the broth out of my hair has been disrupted. It is genuinely difficult to keep my hair pho free, while at the same time leaning far enough over the bowl to avoid splashing down my shirt as the noodles dance towards my mouth.
Lather, rinse - phew too tired to repeat: Washing my hair has become an event unto itself, that I try to do as infrequently as my personal hygiene standards will allow. It's not just that I go through shampoo and conditioner like hot dog buns at an all you can eat convention. Washing takes time and energy. Even once it is clean and conditioned, the fun begins. I now need to dry my hair and detangle it. All told it adds an extra 30 minutes to my morning routine.
Color grows out: I think there is a plot amongst colorists. They know that it will be impossible for you to look in the mirror at your faded roots without thinking about giving them a call. It's like an ad built right in to your body - it's genius! If I get my hair colored I'm then a slave to the salon every 6 weeks for touch ups.
Hair gets everywhere: On the floor, in the shower, in the sink, on the chair. Strands of my hair make it everywhere. It's not that I shed at any prolific rate, just that a few strands together seem like a lot more. And vacuum cleaners have a much harder time picking up the hair - I can't tell you how many times I've had to unclog my machine because of immense hair build up.
It's not good to dwell too long on the challenges, so getting right to some advice for how to tame your tangle of long hair.
Hair Advice for Crossdressers
Buy a good hairbrush, and use it often: A good hairbrush will glide smoothly through your hair, and feel nourishing and invigorating when you brush your hair. I use a boar hair brush, because it doesn't get tangled in my hair as easily. I try to give my hair a good brush every night, this helps release the natural oils and distribute them in your hair to make it strong and healthy.
Use conditioner - lots of it: Conditioner is your best friend - it helps to seal in moisture in your hair, and revitalize it after too many weeks of a harsh hairdryer's heat. I personally prefer to use organic conditioner, such as Avalon organics, because I try to treat my hair with the same respect I treat the rest of my body. I don't like pesticides and chemicals to be part of my life journey.
Brush from bottom to top: Brushing from bottom to top protects your hair, because you get all the snacks on the ends out before brushing from the top. This means there is less pressure and yanking on your scalp. This women demonstrates how she brushes her gorgeously long hair.
Don't be afraid to experiment: Hair is one of the most versatile fashion accessories. We can wear it up or down, curled or straight. We can change the color and texture, add highlights or lowlights. We can pin it or tie it in ribbons, and it always looks sexy when we toss back our head and laugh with joy.
What are your favorite tips for dealing with long hair?
If you're not fortunate enough to have your own hair, I recommend a human hair wig. Human hair tends to fall more naturally, and be easier to keep clean and styled.