Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.
Let’s start this week by acknowledging a universal truth. Washing and drying your hair is a pain in the arse if it’s of any length at all. You have to get in the shower, stand in the shower, wash, condition, get out of the shower, towel dry, apply heat protector, blow dry, get halfway through the blow dry and decide you’re too bored to care about the end result, curse the end result because it’s rubbish, wish you were independently wealthy so that you never had to dry your own hair, and then take whatever measures required to deem your hair decent enough the leave the house.
It’s a palaver. (Unless of course you’re one of those people with naturally bouncy, glossy, shiny hair that you never have to do anything to, in which case be gone from this piece this is not for you. I can barely look at you.) Truly, there are days when I can almost look back fondly on my chemotherapy induced baldness. Things were very simple then. At least when it came to my hair.
These days, I’m well and truly back in world of hair hassle, and my thick bleached hair requires a lot of wrangling. When a colleague of mine mentioned this week that her New Year’s Resolution was to wash her hair more so that she didn’t always have it up in a hun bun, I realised that something had to be done. We deserve better than this. We deserve the choice to be lazy without forgoing a bit of a style. We deserve an occasional lie-in before work without sacrificing a decent hair day. We deserve that, and we can have it, with a little bit of practice.
First, let’s talk about how often we wash our hair. Some people fall in to the habit of washing their hair every day, but unless you have unusually oily scalp or are doing a lot of sweaty exercise, this isn’t necessary. Every second or third day is enough for most people, although if you have been washing it every day you may feel it becomes greasy very quickly. Stick with it though, your hair simply needs an adjustment period during which the natural oils will balance out. If you wash your hair too much you strip it of its natural oils, so your body will produce more to make up for it. After a short period of washing it less, those oils will reduce too. It’s science or something. Personally, I rarely wash my hair more than twice a week. It’s thick and bleached and doesn’t need any more than that. I have friends who only wash theirs once a week. You’ll know by your hair. Obviously if it’s very greasy or your scalp feels dirty and flaky then you’ve got to sort it out – but give a reduced washing schedule a chance.
Now, how to make your hair look good on the days you don’t wash it! First, and this one is annoying, try to give it a decent blow-dry on the days you do wash it. If you put the effort in, it’ll last you a couple of days (a silk pillowcase will help too). When you’re going to bed, spray some dry shampoo into your roots. Bedtime is actually the best time to use dry shampoo, because it has loads of time to absorb any excess oil and will likely have done its work before you get up. It is also less likely to be visible if you use it at nighttime, which is a problem some people have. Obviously if you want to double up and use some in the morning for extra texture, you should, but in order to use dry shampoo for it’s intended purpose, before bed is the time to do it.
If you simply can’t be arsed with blow drying your hair properly to begin with (and genuinely, I usually can not) invest in a tool which can mask your crappy blow-dry or give your hair a boost on day two or three, whether it’s a curling wand or a hair straightener. My current favourite is the GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand. Rather than being perfectly round it’s slightly flattened which leaves you with texture and waves rather than classic curls. Despite the fact that I want my hair to look great, I also want it to look a little grungy and undone, and this achieves that well. I do this properly on day one, and then on days two and three a few twists of the wand makes my bed-head look like it was intentional.
If grungy and undone is not your style, I recommend you invest some time in learning one or two simple styles which will dazzle people with tier impressive appearance, despite taking minimal time in the morning. They may be tricky at first, but with practice you’ll get them down to five minutes or so. These are great for days when you have to look professional or like you made a proper effort, but are short on time.
My favourite is a crown braid, dutch style. What makes a crown braid Dutch? Basically, it’s a french braid, but inside out. Instead of braiding, picking bits up on either side along the way and placing them over the other strands, you place them under. Start under one ear and make your way around the edge of your scalp until you’re back where you started and pin the end under the start. Make it tight enough as you go, and then at the end gently pull the strands apart to loosen the braid and make it look thicker. If you can do a french braid, you can do this, it just requires a little bit of practice. One suggestion though – avoid the mirror while you do it – it’ll only confuse you. Also, if your hair is long enough that you can just do one or two plaits and pin them around your head in a crown, that’s good too. A simpler version of this can be done with a rope braid (basically two strands instead of two), and of course you can use the technique to do various sections of your hair too. Do you boo!
This may seem obvious to those of you with a fringe, but just in case it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to give your fringe a quick wash on off days if it’s looking desperate. Hang your little head over the sink, tie the rest of your hair back and give the front section a good rinse. You’ll have it style in a few minutes, and it will make you feel like a new woman.
If you can’t be bothered to style your hair at all (for which you will find no judgment here), perhaps investing in a few accessories might help. Nautical caps are very chic these days, turbans are eternally cool, and twisted headbands cover a multitude of sins. If, however, you fear your friends or work colleagues will slag the bejaysus out of you for wearing any of the above, just lash your hair up in a bun (well, in truth I would encourage you to wear them anyway because your friends/work colleagues can feck off, but I understand that not everyone is as belligerent as I am). Use a bit of product to make it look slick and neat, and people will probably be none the wiser. We generally look much better than we think we do anyway, so banish those negative thoughts, and just assume everyone thinks you’re a total babe!
Charlotte Tilbury has added a new skin treatment to her arsenal, and it’s called Brightening Youth Glow. I can’t help but wonder if she just spun a wheel of words which women find appealing in relation to their skin and put three of them together, because you’re goddamn right we want bright, youthful, glowing skin. According to the press release, one application will ‘instantly blur, even imperfections and correct redness’. Do I want it? You bet I do, but it’s pricey at €49.
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