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( Originally Published 1963 )
Good brushing will keep your scalp and hair alive but can not completely take the place of massage, which is why I suggest you buy yourself a rubber scalp massager. They're small and circular and have rubber needles and a handle for your fingers to go through on the back. With a little pressure put behind one of these gadgets you can do quite a thorough job all over your head without exhausting yourself and they can't harm the sensitive scalp tissues in any way. They do not however replace good finger massage which is easy to learn and a blessing for anyone who suffers from tension of any kind. Massaging your own scalp is not quite as delicious as having someone else do it, but there is the compensating fact that you can massage the spots where you know the tension is concentrated as nobody else can.
If you're an orderly soul organize your massaging so that every inch of your scalp gets moved by your fingers. It's the scalp that should do the moving, your fingers must stay more or less in one place but by the smallest rotation or back and forth motion you should be able to move much larger areas of your scalp. If your head begins to itch, that's wonderful inspiration not to scratch but to massage with the base of your fingertips. Massaging the section at the nape of your neck is what will do most to relieve your feelings of tension-especially any tightness you may feel in your back and shoulders. The massaging you do near your temples and the sides of your skull will not only stimulate the roots of your hair but they'll help your facial muscles at the same time. A fifteen-minute scalp massage once or twice a week, or even staggered into five minute periods every day (it's something you can do while you read, sunbathe and talk on the phone), plus your daily brushing, should be the solid pillars of your hair-care program. I know. You've heard your mothers and grandmothers say it and you've read it before but despite all the so-called "new" treatments and products for hair there's still nothing I know of and probably never will be (unless we substitute plastic or bronze wires for hair) to take the place of brushing and massage. At least it makes for a beautifully simple equation that even a mathematical moron can comprehend: Brushing Massage = Lovely Hair.
WASHING AND OVERWASHING
Unlike massaging and brushing, hair washing can be overdone. Clean hair is a fine thing but the big problem with most people's hair these days is that they wash it so often they wash all the natural oils out of their hair. Naturally it gets dry, brittle, and hard to manage. The average hair, hair that is not too dry or oily should be washed no more than every ten days. Very oily hair can be washed oftener than that, but very dry should never be washed more frequently than once in a ten day period unless you supplement your hair with manufactured oils.
Many women wash their hair every four days or so and this depletes hair oils. Blondes are particularly guilty of this habit which is understandable since blonde hair looks so much better when just washed because it shows the slightest accumulation of dust and dirt so quickly. But frequent brushing with clean brushes, done if possible in the outdoors or near a window, is a much healthier solution than constant shampooing.
There is also a dry-cleaning process in which you first brush your hair clean by covering your brush with strips of muslin (which you must push down over the bristles and change from time to time) until no more dirt appears on the cloths. Then you section your hair, apply witch hazel to each part, and dry the entire head. This system originated as an answer to the need of people who were too sick to have their hair wet-washed. Wise hair specialists soon saw the dry-cleaning methods also as a hope for women who had had their hair almost destroyed by too many permanents and harsh dye jobs. Thin, dull, or falling hair can be enormously helped by the dry-cleaning method as well. So can hair that just needs a rest from overwashing.
There is nothing better for dry hair than a pre-shampoo olive oil treatment. Warm a cupful of pure olive oil, pour it into a shallow bowl, and bathe every section of your hair beginning at the roots with clean cotton wads which have soaked in the oil. Then wrap a towel, one you don't use for anything else, around your oily head and let the oil sit on your scalp for about twenty minutes. You're ready to shampoo.
Very, very clean-conscious people advise three soapings for your hair. I think two good lathery energetic soapings are plenty. Few beauty parlors give more than two but they do a very thorough job while the lather is on the head, making sure that no area of the hair escapes sudsing. They also, of course, know how to massage your entire scalp as they wash and this is the primary reason I love to have my hair washed by a beauty operator who knows how. Strong fingers kneading my scalp is sheer joy to me and I've never been able to be as firm with my own head as they are.
If you do wash your hair at home try to incorporate massage into your shampoo and the beautiful white creations you can make on the top of your head should serve as inspiration. It's the only reason I can be sure that my daughter has a clean head of hair when she gets out of the shower. She runs to the mirror to watch herself as she sculpts the white fluff into all sorts of bouffant styles. What a shame no one's hair is as manageable when dry as it is when covered with a pliable helmet of suds!
Rinsing is very important. You must make sure that you get all the soap out of your hair. This is not always as easy as it seems since soap tends to cling to the hair longer than is apparent. If it's your misfortune to have hard water in your pipes the best way to get the scum (which results from soapiness in combination with the chemicals in the water) out of your hair is by using an acid rinse. Add lemon or vinegar to your rinse water-i ounce of the acid to 1 pint of warm water. Work this rinse water through your hair. Eventually rinse with clear water.
A beauty parlor can offer an acid rinse or a cream rinse which is used to recondition dry hair. A brightening rinse can bring out blonde highlights and colored rinses actually change the shade of your hair, but on a temporary wash-out basis.
I have my hair set with beer. It gives the hair additional body and the technique is simple. When your hair is almost dry after its washing, dip a wad of cotton in cold beer that has gone flat. Beer is effective, but it can dull some of your hair's natural lustre. There are new lotions today that are as good or better than beer. They work on the same principle. Be sure you get one that is not too drying.
A more permanent method of giving your hair body and curltendency is a permanent. A good permanent will give your hair the right kind of body-that is waviness, not frizz. The old heat machine method of permanenting is, thank goodness, almost extinct. Instead we have the cold permanent where the wave is achieved by chemical action on the hair. The possibilities for controlling the degree of curl are better than ever before with this method, and some hairdressers even claim that these new permanents are actually good for the hair because of the softening agents (lanolin, etc. ) that are included in the process. Whether or not this is actually true I still advise you request a test curl before you make any decision about whether or not to have one. Some hair reacts badly to even the mildest chemicals and of course if you've had bleaching, dyeing, or any other process used on your hair be sure to tell that to whomever's working on you.
As far as I am concerned permanents are something that ought not be done at home. When home permanents first hit the market they were all the rage till time and the test of practicality proved that in most cases the permanentee needed not only the home permanent kit but a good friend or relative who knew how to give the permanent. And even then, the results were not always the greatest. Thus the permanent-a much-improved permanent from the days when one sat and sweated for hours under those terrifying machines-has gone back to the beauty parlor-where I think it belongs.
I feel more or less the same way about changing the color of your hair by lightening, bleaching, or dyeing. These are difficult, tricky processes not without risk and not, in my opinion, to be undertaken at home unless you are enormously capable and careful. The only one of the three that can be done fairly easily outside of a beauty parlor is lightening.
A certain amount of safe "lightening" is possible with rinses. You can buy these anywhere. But rinses primarily bring out the highlights in your hair or restore faded or overbleached hair to its natural shade. And they wash out with the next shampooing.
Real lightening substracts color from the hair, but in the process it may strip the hair fiber of some of its natural lubrication and texture. This is why I don't think hair that is brittle, dry, or thin should have any sort of lightening, bleaching, or dyeing done to it. If your hair is normal, and if you take all the precautions the manufacturer lists on his product, there's nothing wrong with trying to lighten your hair at home-but do be sure and use a creamy, conditioning brand of lightener.
Don't whip up a home-brewed peroxide type bleach. Don't use "white henna" (which is actually a highly alkaline magnesium compound that can damage your hair and scalp severely). And do all the testing suggested on even the mildest lighteners. The most common test is a pre-lightening test for hypersensitivity of the scalp. Then do a test for the color you want on a tiny, snipped-off strand. And if it's a lightener that increases by stages gradually, don't try to shorten the spaces between treatments or you'll put your hair in a state of shock.
Very definitely for the professional's touch are the new tints and toners which can, however, create all sorts of individual and subtle effects. You can become a sun-tipped blonde, a "champagne" blonde, a two-toned blonde, a silver-blonde. Some of these manage to look wonderfully natural. Others are terrifyingly artificial.
I have no deep convictions on the subject of the dyeing and bleaching of hair, except that no matter how drastically you change the color of your hair from what it was the result should be natural looking. Very blonde hair on a sallow-skinned woman usually does not look good. A woman with an olive skin should almost never go blonde or redhead. Certain skin tones clash with certain hair colors and clearly announce to the world in a most unbeautiful manner that you've had a dye job.
For several years my hair has been completely natural. I'm almost pepper and salt now, and I like it. In fact I'd like to be all gray. But for seven years while I was in Hollywood I had my hair dyed (to please the studio) red-blonde. I have a white skin and freckles and it didn't look at all bad. You have to learn to gauge your own coloring, but do it honestly. To me the blue, purple, and pink hair colors some women have today are simply awful.
Tint your hair, camouflage the gray, dye it one of the shades you can wear. Do anything at all if you get a real lift out of it. But think first. Will the change make you more attractive, or are you just following a trend? Is blonde hair for you? Some shades of blonde are very flattering and youthful on some women. Other women feel so flattered by becoming blonde it's worth it many times over just for the boost they get in morale.
Don't forget that some bleaches can dry or crack the hair. And this is no longer necessary because there are bleaches today which are not harmful to the hair at all. Bleaches have come a long way from the little bottle of peroxide you bought at the drugstore, even though all the liquids, creams, pastes and shampoos that bleach hair today are still close relatives of the original. The change is in the care taken in the process, the amount of control possible, and the added lubricants in the bleach. Nevertheless, bleaching still has its risks. Embark upon the venture with caution, have justifiable faith in the beauty operator and be sure you get all the pre-testing necessary.
Dyes today are enormously improved from what they once were. I remember ladies with pink hair, blue hair, orange hairladies who didn't want their hair to be those colors. Today if a skin test is made-a spot of dye placed behind your elbow or behind your ear-without any irritating reactions, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law says it's safe for you to go ahead and have your hair dyed.
Some hair is known in the beauty business as "problem hair" but rest assured that many minds are at work trying to help solve any hair problem you may have. Probably the commonest "problem" is thin hair. The best solution for thin hair (besides brushing, massage, and diet) is good hairstyling. Ernie Adler almost always advises a woman with thin hair to have it cut quite short which adds curl and body to it and makes it look much thicker. Thin hair worn long usually hangs limp and looks stringy the moment it gets even slightly dirty. And, Mr. A. thinks, lightening the hair makes it seem less thin. Thick hair is a problem only if it is also very curly, very coarse, or frizzy. Many good hairdressers today will not thin thick hair. They prefer to use its thickness to sculpt with. And, in general, thick hair is better material for them to work with to make many of the new full-headed, high-crowned hairstyles.
Frizzy or overcurly hair, with which I suffered as a child, can be straightened, but this has to be done carefully and in the case of bleached or dyed hair ought not be done more often than every six months or once a year. The average cost for a hair straightening is something like $7.50 and on normal hair you go for a treatment about as often as you would go for a permanent and for the same reason. Your hair grows out and so does the straightening.
Electrolysis is usually used for hair that grows too far down on the forehead or the temples. But a long hairline or a widow's peak can be removed by waxing. There are new moist heating and massage treatments for dry or brittle hair, and they're especially good to salvage hair that looks like its been in the Sahara because of too much bleaching.
Split ends can be caused by many things-bad diet, bad bleaching, bad haircutting, or, according to hairstylist John Fonda, nightly setting of the hair when damp, wearing a pony tail or French twist, going too long without trimming. Mr. Fonda's solution to the problem is a bit drastic. He singes the ends of the hair with a lighted candle which, he says, "seals the split filament of the hair which has allowed all the natural oils to escape." If this idea seems too dramatic (or dangerous) just have a good trimming, more frequent oil treatments, and remember to brush!
A very special and rather grim hair problem has made its appearance on the scene and seems to be on the increase. It's called alopecia. I have no idea how you pronounce it, but it's no joke. It means "loss of hair," and I think it marks the end of women joshing their men about their retreating hair lines. A woman who discovers her own forehead getting higher or bare areas on her scalp is in no mood for levity. Dermatologists and doctors aren't quite sure why the big increase in that unpronounceable word, but where there is no obvious cause for it-like sudden shock, serious illness, pregnancy or after-pregnancy effects -they tend to point the finger at emotional disturbance or diet. My own theory is that if you are following a real health regime, you shouldn't be bothered with alopecia. I'll place my bets on it.
A PRETTY WAY TO COVER-UP
But while the search is on for causes of this depressing reaper of woman's crowning glory, hairstylists have come up with a very practical, though expensive, solution to soothe the lady who is losing her tresses (while she continues I hope to try and stop the loss). Wigs have regained a glamour and popularity they haven't known since the days of Louis Quatorze, and the sale of false hair is booming. Chignons and fill-in hairpieces (that fall short of wigs) solve the thin hair problem, give the girl with a short cropped head of hair a chance to have her hair and not have to bother with it.
A good hairpiece, one that matches your own hair perfectly in texture and in color, should cost somewhere between $30 and $50. A wig costs a lot more-a minimum, I'd say of $2oo. But a charmingly curled and shaped head of red or golden hair will turn more heads your way, if it's the right wig for you, than any new piece of jewelry. Frankly, wigs are great fun. I have several and what a delight, if your hair has collapsed in the rain or something and you're expected at the Hassenpheffer's for pheasant and caviar, to casually reach for your hair-the way you would for your hat.