Women spend more on their tresses than on their cars, says Vicki Notaro who talks to four high-profile women about their hair maintenance.
THIS year, something happened to me that changed my life. You might think it silly when you hear what it is, and most definitely vain, but I can’t underestimate the effect it’s had on my self-esteem.
In April, I got some hair extensions and it would now pain me to be without them. My Gold Fever extensions have taken my hair from thin, fine and a daily disappointment to a lustrous mane that added confidence along with inches and volume. It’s the crowning glory I’ve always felt I deserved.
I remember being conscious as a small child that my thin slip of gruaige was less than impressive, and my ponytails were forever limp and pathetic. Now it’s one less thing to worry about — sure my jeans might be tight and my skin a combination nightmare, but my hair is great for the first time ever.
It’s not about male attention or anyone else’s opinion — it’s all about my own confidence. However, my boyfriend is a fan of my new mane.
Yes, it might sound vaguely ridiculous to wax lyrical about one’s own hair. But would we make fun of someone who had a nose job to correct a bump that made them self-conscious, or a person who had laser eye surgery because they disliked wearing lenses or glasses? I think not.
Hair is an emotive subject for women, and losing it due to illness or stress is unimaginably difficult. But when we have a good hair experience, it will make our day — and when we have a bad one, it can leave us miserable. Anyone who’s ever left the hairdressers tearful can attest to that.
When I discovered clip-in extensions a few years ago, I was thrilled to find a relatively inexpensive way to make myself feel that little bit more glamorous for big events. However taking them out and returning to ‘normal’ was always a downer, so succumbing to the lure of protein-bonded lengths that last three to five months was inevitable.
But it’s an expensive habit. Gold Fever are prescriptive, as the cost depends on the length and amount of bonds you need, but the costs runs to several hundred euro. Fortunately, mine were a generous gift.
Besides the price of the extensions themselves (and you get what you pay for in this particular industry), you have the special shampoos and brushes on top of the cost of regular cuts and colour treatments. Even those of us without extentions can spend more on their hair than their car in any given month, especially if trying to stave off greys or maintain re-growth. The amount we spend on products, potions, treatments and lotions is an indication of how much our manes trouble and please us, so is it any wonder our hair means so much?
Daniella Moyles, 27, lost her hair to alopecia after contracting the tropical disease dengue fever while travelling in Chaing Mai, Thailand. It didn’t bother her too much at the time, but now that he has a full head of healthy hair, she’s incredibly protective of it.
Hair, or the lack of it, has been a concern since childhood.
“I was completely bald until I was four. I was over a month premature and I think my body just had other things to be working on until it sorted out the hair growth thing. When it finally arrived, I had simple mousey brown, thick and straight hair. I never had a day’s bother with it until I decided I wanted to be platinum blonde around the age of 16 and I bleached the head off myself.
“It was during this phase that my hair fell out. It happened as the result of an illness, and, while it did affect my confidence, I don’t have any really traumatic memories. I shaved what was left of it and got a wig until it grew in a little. It was actually great for my modelling career at the time, because I went from a photocall girl with terrible hair to a high fashion model with a pixie cut.
“Now though, I protect it like a sacred jewel. My hair is pampered with every lotion and potion imaginable. For the first time I have long, thick, healthy hair so I feel like I have to protect it because it could all be gone again tomorrow!
“Inside me there’s a girl who’d like to dye her hair pink, blue or turquoise, but I’m just too scared I’ll regret it and have another hair disaster story to add to the list.”
Must have: Daniella swears by The Tangle Teezer brush, €15, and Morroccan Oil, €39.99
Tara Flynn, 45, describes her own crowning glory as “insane”.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a good hair day when I’ve done it myself and I have the photos to prove it. It only looks good when done by a pro, but even then it rebels. I’ve had my hair styled before a TV interview only for the hair person at the studio to say “oh god, we’ll have to do something with your messy hair”. I’d thought it was sleek.”
Tara agrees that hair and confidence are inherently linked. “A good hair day makes everything else better and as soon as I achieve one without my lovely hairdresser, I’ll be sure to let everyone know. My hair is never good enough, but I love the fringe because it gives a bit of structure to the madness and also covers a multitude. Basically, it’s this or Botox and I’m terrified of needles.”
Must have: Tara uses a ceramic straightener to control her fringe, like the Remington S3500, €28.99
Ireland rugby player Jenny Murphy, 26, has been blessed with a wild mane of gorgeous curls that she dubs “the ‘fro”, but her job as a professional athlete doesn’t take much heed of her hair. “I like my hair, but an emotional connection to it? Definitely not. A low point was when I dyed it blue in secondary school and it ended up grey. Over time I’ve grown to appreciate my hair. It’s easy to manage and a little bit different, so I’m happy with what I have.”
Must have: Redken Curvaceous Full Swirl Serum, €21.80
THE TV PRESENTER
One woman whose hair makes headlines is Xposé presenter Aisling O’Loughlin. When she cut it really short last year, the internet was aghast, but she’s thrilled with her tight ‘do.
“As a newsreader in TV3 in my 20s had to play it safe — you don’t want your hair distracting viewers from serious events. In my 30s, the creative freedom of joining a show like Xposé means I can play with my hair and the experience has been truly liberating.
“Just don’t bring up the topic with my father, who still mourns my long hair, telling me ‘you’ve destroyed the best thing about you!’”
Aisling is the queen of follicular reinvention, and for her it’s political. “These past few years it’s been red, brown, balayaged, cropped, long, bobbed, bleached and dyed pink. It really is only hair and I love having the freedom to play and living in democracy where I can change my look if I want to without fear of repercussions.”
She’s also not interested in conforming. “One thing I’ve learnt as a TV presenter is to let go of feeling self-conscious about my looks. I’m only 37 but that’s ancient in TV terms for women and while you want to put your best foot forward, so often women are judged too harshly on their appearance and we’ve more to offer than that.
“The look I’m going for at the minute is Bad Hair Day — distressed and messed up. This kind of hair makes me feel better than having shiny, good girl hair, even though I’m perfectly capable of admiring those qualities in somebody else’s locks.”
Must have: Aisling loves Label M’s Texturising Spray, €16 (and the fact that short hair means she doesn’t need to use heated appliances).
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