Did you know that a lot of women over a certain age never wash their own hair? And they have it “done” only once a week?
“That’s so GROSS!” say my girls. (Hmmm, if I were them, at least some of the time, I wouldn’t be talking…)
I think about “the generation gap of hair” once in awhile, especially lately as my 85-year-old mother has been staying with us for her annual visit. That visit always includes finding her a local “beauty operator” to “do” her hair once a week. Just like she’s been doing ever since she was in her 20’s. I can remember accompanying her to the beauty shop when I was a child, to a house whose ground floor was filled with rows of bonnet hair dryers, which were filled with women getting “beehives”…it’s a wonder I could see them through the haze of hairspray!! And it’s amazing how weekly “hairdoos” live on in 2009. But I realized a few years ago as I sat at a women’s luncheon, staring at the backs of several “coiffures” in front of me, that the days of “doos” are numbered. The look of older white women is completely going to change someday.
I say “white women” because from the looks of the new Chris Rock documentary, “Good Hair”, frequenting the beauty shop is alive and well among other cultures/ethnicities. But I think it’s an endangered activity elsewhere. I mean, look at Baby Boomer Caucasian women who are in or close to their retirement years. They wash and style their hair on their own, sometimes every day, just like they’ve done since their 20’s. They became adults in the era of hand-held blow dryers and Wella Balsam shampoo. And look at white women younger than that. We’ve never known it any other way. Sure, we still visit a “styling salon”, but for a haircut or highlighting once in awhile– not every week. I tried to explain this difference to my mother, but she just didn’t “get” it. “Of course women will still be going to beauty shops every week,” she said. “Even if they haven’t, they’ll start.” I asked my hairstylist, Brian, who’s been in the business over 20 years, what he thought. He said lots of older women, like the women in his family, switched to do-it-yourself doos in the late 60’s/early 70’s when short hair for women became popular. “The traditional beauty shop started dying then,” he said, and he doesn’t see it coming back. My sister-in-law agrees. At 61, she washes her hair on her own and has no plans to stop. (Her sister, who is a few years older, has gone to the beauty shop every week since she was a teen and still does. My former neighbor Sonja, also in her late 60’s, also still treks to the salon each week. So it looks like beauty shops will still have some weekly customers at least for another 20 years or so.)
Having two girls, I guess I should count myself lucky that they wash their own hair. I’m sure our weekly beauty shop bill would be staggering if weekly outsourced “doos” were still the norm. But when I hear the shower running for “forever” in our house on many occasions, try to scrub do-it-yourself hair color out of the bathroom rug, and find myself shelling out bucks for stuff like Bedhead Thickening Paste, John Frieda Clear Glosser/Shine Booster, Clairol Intensive Conditioning Creme, “Root Awakening” Shampoo, Chi Hair Straighteners and special wooden hairbrushes, sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t all even out in the long run…