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I need to say upfront—I have horrible hair. My hair is thin, and fine and as I get older, it gets thinner. Now if only the rest of me would too. And I hate to spend time taking care of my hair, because it doesn’t seem to help, and then the next day, I have to do it all over again. But most of all, I can’t stand to have it down around my face, it bugs me to death. So every day, for the past many years, I put it in a ponytail to get it off my face and quit bugging me. Except when I get disgusted and cut it all off short. Which I like, but then I have to do something to it in the morning, like wash and dry it so it doesn’t just lay there smushed around my head like a damp dishrag. Of course, very short hair looks best when you have a very thin body underneath it, so you don’t look like a pinhead. So I wear it a little below my shoulders and pull it back. And I am very, very, very picky about which ponytail holders I use. Because there is only one kind that doesn’t give me a headache.

Also, in my mind, I think I am a blonde. When I was a child, I was a toe head—very blonde. Like every woman I know who was blonde as a child, I think I am a blonde now. Except that I am not. In junior high, as my hair darkened, I started lightening it. First with “Sun-In”. Some of you of a certain age may remember Sun-In. You sprayed it on and went outside and miracle of miracles, your hair lightened. Lemon juice you say? No, lemon juice did nothing for me. Anyway my hair got blonder and blonder. Then I started with some sort of bleach that my wonderful mother would apply to my roots every two weeks. No, it was not her idea. She did it because that is what her little angel asked her to do. She would section my hair all over in about 20 pigtails crimped with aluminum foil and apply the bleach to the roots. I looked like a low rent alien girl, not at all like Barbarella. My hair got lighter and lighter because we were bleaching over previously bleached hair. By the end of high school, I was a platinum blonde, with long hair down to my waist. And I loved it. I was smokin’ hot. Of course, I was 5’ 9” and 115 pounds back then. The downside of that is that I was also a 32 AAA, and that is being generous.

That was the late sixties, early seventies. Every single girl I knew (we were girls back then, not “young women”) had long hair, parted in the center. Everyone else was sleeping on juice cans, or those horrible, horrible, brush rollers. And drying their hair with a portable hair dryer with a plastic cap or hard hemispherical hood. There were no blow dryers, curling irons, or flat irons. Hot rollers came later. But not me. I refused. Sleeping on a bunch of juice cans, or those rollers with brush bristles and those ghastly little plastic picks holding them in place? No. Although I am certain my hair would have looked much better if I had sucked it up and rolled it.

Over the years I have had it very long and white blonde, long and natural brown, shoulder length brown with Cleopatra style bangs, permed and highlighted (it was the 80’s so cut me some slack) and very short and bleached almost white. But at no time, would I do much in the way of curling or styling it. I just don’t have the patience. I read about women, and have had friends who would spend 40 minutes in the morning with hot rollers, or a curling iron fixing their hair. And I am sure they look lovely. But again, no. I would rather sleep in.

What I really want, and will never have, is that beautiful silver white hair that people who start with blue black hair gray to over time. The only people who get that are people who start out with black hair. Dishwater blonde-brown hair just grays to an unattractive yellowish brown. Oh well.

Also, unfortunately, male pattern baldness runs very heavily in my family. My paternal grandfather, maternal uncle, and my brother (sorry Neal, I love you but it’s true) were all completely bald by 30. Male pattern baldness is often genetically determined, and females in families with male pattern baldness are often at risk. I have always thought it very strange, and wonder why, when on the rest of the body, male hormone causes hair growth, but in men with male pattern baldness, exactly the opposite occurs, male hormone causes a pattern of hair loss specifically patterned on the scalp. But wonder though I may, this means that genetically, I am at risk for female pattern baldness. Luckily for us, female pattern baldness is almost never as severe as male pattern baldness, because there is less hormonal effect. In women it usually starts later, and the precipitating factor is often a male hormone predominant birth control method, loss of estrogen around menopause, or women taking testosterone supplements for libido. Say what you will about estrogen, it does help protect against female pattern hair loss. So I have always been careful with choice of birth control, and have mixed feelings about the estrogen-testosterone supplements that women my age often take to increase libido. It is harder for a women to feel sexy if she is bald, and growing a beard.

So I have bad hair, and I am too lazy to do much about it. But next I will tell you what hair care products this cosmetic dermatologist does use. And I have a scavenger hunt for you—with a special prize if you win.


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