Don’t Be A Tease

That’s pretty much the laziest pun-title I’ve ever used, but I’m not going to apologize.

So, we’re about to head into week 3 of FEMMEbruary! That means I’ve survived two weeks of red lips, lots of skirts, heels, nail polish, and generally a lot of thought about what “feminine” means to me.

Some updates: I was following the tips my female friends provided for keeping lipstick on (liner, one coat lipstick, power, second coat, blot, even a clear gloss over that) and I realized that I was still occasionally feeling like I was channeling Tim Curry in “IT.” I noticed that my second application of the day, after lunch in the bathroom at work, wasn’t bothering me as much. Here’s my thought on that: I think with lining beforehand, I was a) having a hard time getting an absolutely straight line and b) lining too much of the lip.

I have relatively full lips, and lining the bottom all the way to the very bottom of any “red” or “lip-skin” (there’s got to be a term for that) part was giving me that borderline sloppy, borderline clown look. If I instead just apply the lipstick directly and don’t stress about filling all the way down, I actually get a cleaner look (and I feel like my lips don’t get as dry and flaky because there’s less on them). So hey, that’s progress, right–learning how I like to do something!

Because I’ve been feeling more comfortable with the lipstick and heels (they hardly hurt anymore AND the ice is due to melt this weekend!), I decided to move on and try to do a little more with my hair.

I particularly wanted some fun hairstyle options for Valentine’s Day, since that seemed like an appropriate time to go all-out girly. So of course I went where any sane woman goes when looking for how to do her hair: Pinterest.

Looking at hairstyles on Pinterest is a double-edged sword. You’re probably going to find something that will work at least to some extent, but you’re definitely going to see some hairstyles you just are never going to be able to accomplish because you don’t have a lady’s maid. I did briefly consider asking my friend Lizzy to quit her job and move in as my lady’s maid in time for V Day, but I’m woefully aware that I can’t offer her healthcare at the moment and I didn’t want to ask her to make such a sacrifice. I had to find something I could do on my own.

During my last haircut, I got these nice long layers put in, so when my hair is down, it has some built-in volume, but the downside is that now when I braid it little choppy ends stick out all over the place. I knew I’d have to go in for something that was more of an updo or that involved getting curls. I looked for some time at all of the curl options, but it was right after I’d taken a shower and most of them recommended starting with dry or damp hair and then sleeping on it. I decided to try the “super easy!” trick of twisting my hair and then applying a flat-iron to get a subtle wave, and I bookmarked a sock bun as well just in case the first trick didn’t work.

Lo and behold, when I woke up on Friday and opened Pinterest I saw what I had missed before–a dozen comments saying “this does not work.” I tried it anyway. It…didn’t really work. I moved on to the sock bun, which has never worked for me before, but which, because of sheer tenacity and the fact that I watched several YouTube tutorials instead of trying to self-teach, worked out okay.

photo (3)

Sure, it’s a little tilted to one side, and the cool wrappy-trick I was going for by only putting the top half of my hair into the bun and then wrapping two sections of the remaining hair around it didn’t really read, but for something that took me 5 minutes, I was happy with this.

Looking at all of the Pinterest styles and thinking about my own relationship with hair, I started thinking (shocker). See, there’s a part of the whole “getting awesome voluminous hair” thing that hits me close to home–many, many of the suggested styles involved teasing.

You might not remember this post from October 2012, but if you need a tl;dr, I have a (maybe bad) habit of searching my hair for split ends and then cutting them. Just the individual hairs. It’s a meditative act for me. I like to do it when I’m thinking or just want to zone out. I also like to do it whenever I think about it because I am fascinated with and kind of icked out by split ends.

Now, what is teasing, you ask? Teasing, or backcombing, is when you rapidly comb hair toward the crown of your head in order to split off bits of the cuticle which will then stick out in every direction and jostle against all the other hairs until your hair stands up from your scalp.

In other words, it is the process of intentionally creating split ends…at the roots of your hair. Split ends that will sit on your hair forever, or at least until those roots grow out and get cut.

I’m not exaggerating when I say it makes me feel physically nauseous to think about it.

I’m aware that this isn’t a logical reaction. I’m not “hurting” the hair in any way or depriving it of its ability to shield my head from stuff like UV rays and bird poop. The structural integrity of my hair doesn’t matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of thing. For whatever reason, though, it just makes me so uncomfortable to even think about teasing my hair.

In the spirit of FEMMEbruary, which is, after all, supposed to be a “challenge,” I wondered if I shouldn’t “conquer my fear.” After all, all these ladies on Pinterest were doing it, so it had to be “feminine,” right? I should at least give it a try, right? By yesterday afternoon, I had decided to take a big step outside of my comfort zone and to try a hairstyle at some point this month that required teasing.

Then I woke up at 6:30 in the morning realizing that I own dry shampoo and hairspray, which can essentially garner the same effect, and that damaging my hair even once wasn’t good for it.

I just Googled “Teasing hair,” “Volume without teasing,” and “Is teasing bad for hair,” and let me just say that I feel secure now in my continued femininity without backcombing for dramatic effect. Plenty of salon sites have listed teasing as one of their big “don’ts” and have provided alternatives for the effects it is supposed to achieve. I think I can remain a card-carrying feminine woman without making more split ends (split beginnings?) for myself. Thank god.

On that note, here’s a nice YouTube tutorial on how to get volume without teasing your hair, and as an added plus it shows me how better to use the giant-barrel hair curler I bought as preparation for this month.

This week it will get into the 40s, so let’s see if I feel like I can do fun hair stuff without having to squash it under a hat!



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