Tales To Make Your Hair Stand On End

TO WIT

December 09, 1990|By Dave Barry

This week's Feminine Beauty Topic for Women is: hair care.

In terms of appearance, hair is one of the most important features of a woman's entire body. In a recent survey, the Gallup organization asked 1,500 men what part of a woman they look at first, and they denied that they look at women at all, because their wives were standing right next to them. But they were lying. They definitely look at women, and one of the things they notice is hair.

"Yes, that woman probably had hair," they'll say, if questioned.

So proper hair care is very important. When I say "proper hair care," I of course mean "using powerful chemicals in an ongoing effort to make your hair stop looking like your hair, which you hate."

In the early 1960s, when I was in high school, the primary form of feminine hair care was spraying it with what appeared to be fast-drying marine shellac. Women needed industrial hair sprays back then to maintain the popular and attractive "beehive" hairstyle, which was a tall, dense mound of hair that had been teased, then sprayed until it achieved the same luxurious natural softness as a traffic stanchion and could not be penetrated by a hatchet, let alone a comb.

In fact there was one high-school girl who had a major beehive, and after several months she decided to wash it, so she broke it open, perhaps using power tools, and inside she found a nest of spiders. Yes! At least that's the story I heard at Pleasantville High School.

The Beehive Era was followed by the late-'60s hippie-style era of lofty ideals such as peace and love and freedom and, above all, straight hair. This was a time when some women actually ironed their hair, with actual irons.

Straight hair was also big with guys in the '60s. In college, I played in a rock band whose major musical credential was printed business cards. We felt that it was artistically important to have long, straight hair, so that when we got to the climactic part of "Twist and Shout," where the lyrics are, "ah, ahh, ahhh, ahhhh, ahhhhhhhh shake it up, baby, now," we could whip our hair around our faces in a dramatic fashion to indicate deep emotion.

Tragically, two band members, Bob and Ken, had very curly hair, so they went to the drugstore and bought hair products that were clearly the result of chemical-warfare research, and they smeared these on their hair, and in several hours they were transformed from guys with curly hair to guys whose heads looked like giant sea urchins.

I'm talking about mutant hair shafts the size and hardness of knitting needles radiating straight out from their skulls in all directions. The rest of us band members lived in fear that while we were performing "Twist and Shout," or, even worse, "Land of 1,000 Dances," one of their hair shafts would break loose at high velocity and fly through the air with the capability of penetrating concrete.

So it's definitely important to think about hair safety, even in the modern era, as is shown by an alarming Washington Times article sent to me by alert reader Cathe Ballay concerning a woman who turned her hair into a protein-based bowling ball.

According to the article, this woman shampooed her hair, then put in conditioner, and whoom, some kind of chemical reaction occurred that caused her hair to mass solidly together into what the article describes as "a huge ball glommed onto the left side of her head." After many unsuccessful attempts to un-ball the hair, the woman tried to have it cut off, but the article states that scissors would not cut it. This is why most reputable beauty experts recommend that women who use hair-care products should take the simple precaution of having an abandoned coal mine on hand where they can hide out for a couple of months if things don't work out.

Because you never know what you're putting on your hair. I looked around my wife's beauty-supplies area ("Land of 1,000 Bottles") and found the following phrases, which I am not making up, on her hair-care-product labels:

* "A compound sequestering reagent."

* "A polymerized electrolytic moisture potion."

* "Kelp."

* "A botanically fortified grapefruit conditioner."

Yes. A grapefruit conditioner. It is little wonder we have people developing bowling balls. It's only a matter of time before some unfortunate consumer hits a certain combination of chemicals and creates an entirely new life form on her head. This is why reputable manufacturers stress that before you use any hair-care product, no matter what the ingredients, you should pay a lot of money for it.

Also, in case you're interested, your hair definitely looked better the other way. *

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