Monday, December 01, 2014

Hair: It's Kind of a Big Deal

dante gabriel rossetti lady lilith hair
Lady Lilith by Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Hair, oh glorious hair! Glorified since time immemorial as a symbol of power, so much so that Delilah had to whack it off Sampson’s head, but on the flip side, patriarchs didn’t consider it fitting for women to display their loose locks in places of worship. Surely, my Spanish ancestresses wore veils to church lest G-d forbid their tresses would entice men with wanton lust. Orthodox Jewish women wear wigs for the sake of modesty. Muslim women cover-up with a hijab.

But dudes take their own hair seriously, too. Sikh men protect their hair under turbans. Rastafarians follow the tradition of holy men by sporting dreadlocks. Shall I go on? Hair is power. It means something in every culture.

How many stories haven’t we heard about hair? Lengthy strands and strong follicles helped Rapunzel out of a tight spot. Lady Godiva used hair to solve a wardrobe malfunction. Goldilocks wouldn’t have been the same in a pixie cut.

botticelli venus hair mons venus
Botticelli's Venus.

Hair isn't just clogging up your shower drain, it's also all over the place in art and culture. Botticelli’s Venus looks like an ad for spa: two angels blow the hair of the goddess of love as she uses it to cover her naughty bits. Pre-Raphaelite painters depicted medieval maidens with luscious, voluminous hair -- a precursor to the Pantene commercial.

Marie Antoinette hair
Excusez-moi, is there brioche in your hair? The neck of Marie Antoinette ended up on the guillotine, the ultimate SuperCuts.

French royalty wore powdered wigs so large they could hold a year’s worth of peasant bread rations -- the kind of ostentation that would lead to some very unbecoming beheadings. Industrialization and world wars ushered in a new age of fashion: flappers chopped it all off for sartorial freedom – no more Victorian stuffiness! Gone were the corsets, bustles and elaborate up-dos. Then hippies made long hair cool again. Braids were synonymous with flower power.

Some characters are unimaginable without hair. In Star Wars, Princess Leia's doughnut side buns are practical for space travel and fighting the dark forces of evil. And it’s a good thing Mitzi Gaynor didn’t have long hair in South Pacific, otherwise she would've taken that much longer to wash that man out of her hair.


Yeah, hair is kind of a big deal and you don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone. One fine day, well on my way to age 50, I looked in the mirror and saw a forehead the size of a billboard. Yikes! I couldn't pull my hair back in a bun anymore.

Sigh. There it was: female baldness staring back at me. I always had fine, wispy hair and now that it was falling out I felt naked.

Turns out I’m not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 80 million people in the United States have hereditary thinning or baldness.

Oh, how I’ve always envied the heads of many friends who were blessed with good hair genes. Friends who’d visit and shed like a small furry mammal all over my home. It’s only out of politeness I didn’t hand them a broom. Oh, to have so much hair!

Well, it turns out that some of my friends are fakes. No, no … they’re genuine folks at heart, but they’ve cheated genetic destiny a bit. I had always contemplated the idea of hair extensions until one day a friend told me she couldn't go out all weekend because she was getting her hair done.

“Wait,” I asked. “You mean you don't just jump out of bed everyday looking like you've been photoshopped onto a magazine cover?”

She laughed proudly. It was a labor of love. She also laughed a bit nervously,  as if she were hesitant to admit that getting hair extensions involved taking yourself hostage with a ransom of half a paycheck.

So I put it off.

But more recently, my beautiful friend Linda Ponder – who always looks red-carpet ready in a natural way – confessed her beauty secret to the world.

Yes, dear readers. I went there.


hair extensions miami
Pre-surgery, er procedure, selfie. "What? I need a triage team of two to fix this mess?"

socap hair extensions
Say hello to my not-so-little friend: SoCap Original USA human hair extensions.

The whole process took less than two hours and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, much less a precious hair follicle.

But Linda only led the way. Juan Carmona of Cosi Chic Salon in Coral Gables was responsible for my transformation. I felt whole again: so this is what I was missing and what the hell was I waiting for? A miracle? How about a little no-nonsense, low-maintenance hair technology? SoCap’s adhesive extensions were so ridiculously easy to put on my head that I wish it had taken longer so I could enjoy more time chatting with the affable Carmona.


joe carmona cosi chic salon miami
Yes, happiness comes from within, but it sure doesn't hurt for some folks to help you express it on the outside.

You see, he has an interesting story with hair, too. As a former supervisor for Miami-Dade Police Department's evidence unit -- think Miami CSI -- he clearly developed attention to detail doing forensic work. Surely, he had to have gone through crime scene evidence with a fine tooth comb.

But more specifically, Carmona's passion for hair started 34 years ago when he married his wife -- a woman who should be legendary -- because as far as I know, she's the only woman on the planet who has ever let a husband groom her hair. Carmona’s skills were so good, word spread among their circle of friends and he built a following while moonlighting from home.

Most men buy a fancy car and date bimbos at age 50. Not Carmona, he reinvented himself to follow his passion. He earned his certifications officially and opened Cosi Chic, which he runs with his wife and daughter.

She’s a faithful customer, too. “I don’t trust anyone else with my hair.”

And so is the wife. Imagine the bonding time the couple must have had over the years because of hair. Nothing says “I love you” like a good hair brushing at the end of a long day. I think other wives should take a hint, if they should be so lucky to marry a man with such skills. After all, grooming is such an intimate practice. Who doesn’t love to have their hair brushed?

I certainly do and especially now that I actually have hair to brush. Carmona chose extensions in two different shades to match my highlighted natural hair. The SoCap extensions come from some  woman’s head in India who was born with that hair I so often coveted. The beauty industry calls it Remys hair -- that's just a fancy word for hair that’s cut in one direction from one head, so it doesn’t tangle.

“I guess it really is about genes,” I quipped. “I eat a lot of curry, sing mantras in Sanskrit and my natural hair is still flimsy.”

hair extensions miami cosi chic salon
Sorry, but I'm not covering this up, even if it drives men wild with fiery passion.

hair extensions miami cosi chic salon
Just in case I stumble upon a red carpet, I'll be ready.

I still can’t believe it when I look in the mirror. “Hair. OMG! I have hair!” Long locks that hang almost all the way down to my toosh, although unlike Botticelli's goddess, I won't be able to cover my mons with these new tresses.

My extensions, which once belonged to another woman from another continent, have become an extension of me. Yes, genetics, I’m cheating you. So what? Beauty inside and out, come full circle.

Whereas I once feared extensions would turn me into an annoying, high-maintenance princess, instead I now enjoy the mindful practice of washing this new head of hair. I savor the moments I brush it and wrap it around my head before going to sleep. Yes, it covers almost the full circumference of my noggin. It’s meditative. It’s sensual. And while I may not have a husband yet to do this for me, there are other things I'd rather he do for me, anyway.

I don’t like to rush through life. And so as in life, so as in hair. Hair, oh glorious hair! It's kind of a big deal.

Some legs of this hair journey were supported by Cosi Chic Salon and SoCap. Opinions my own.

Note: In addition to cosmetic enhancement, I’ve also consulted a dermatologist regarding hair loss, which is common in women my age but all potential contributing factors should always be ruled out. Carmona carefully placed my extensions so as to not pull further on the thinning part of my scalp. He suggests coming in for upkeep every six weeks or so. It's easier and healthier than using dyes.

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