How I Finally Got My Sh*t Together & Started Taking Care of My Hair

It’s amazing what a simple bob cut will do.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Lucy Nystrom

If I’ve learned anything about my beauty and self-care habits through my adult years, it’s that historically—and instinctively—I’m lazy. If there’s a choice between wearing mascara or not, blow-drying my hair or not, or applying moisturizer or not, mostly I’ll choose not. And it’s not because I’m not vain or because the alternative frees up my time to do incredibly important things, like watch Ally McBeal on Netflix or stalk my most recent woman crush on Instagram—you know, the stuff of life. It’s because, for a long time, I simply couldn’t be bothered; read: laziness. I also have a nagging suspicion that because tweezers and Kiehl’s cream cleanser was about the extent of my mother’s beauty cabinet growing up—and that I don’t have any sisters—spending time on myself wasn’t exactly part of my upbringing.

 

That said, I’ve learned better. Having struggled with acne and skin problems since the age of thirteen, I’ve only recently gotten it under control—as in, in the last few months (and I’m well past the age where a routinized life should be the norm)—by shelving my lazy instincts and adhering to a strict skincare regimen (that really only involves cleansing and moisturizing twice a day).

The story with my hair is relatively similar. I have no precious feelings for it and every few years since my early twenties, I’ve chopped it off relatively thoughtlessly (except for in a previous job, when my editor asked that I first style my very long hair in multiple looks and titled the ensuing story “The Long Goodbye”...). My hair grows quickly (it’s straight and I’ve never dyed it, so it’s quite healthy) and after cutting it, my typical follow-up was simply to let it grow—sometimes for years—without cutting it. Which essentially means that every three years I’ve cut off 10-12 inches to a bob and then just let it grow out. See? Lazy. Very, very lazy.

 

And, honestly, when I cut off my hair a few months ago with the Hairstory team and essentially gave stylist Wes Sharpton and colorist Roxie Darling carte blanche to give me what they thought would be my perfect cut, I expected to do much of the same: slowly grow it long again over the next few years. Maybe because I’ve come around to the idea of *self-care*—probably because the razored bob and subtle highlights Sharpton and Darling gave me made for a really great haircut—but something was different this time. There was the vanity thing—multiple people told me that even if I did grow my hair back, this was my cut and the one I should always go back to. The main point, though, was that instead of just letting my hair be (i.e., flat and long and just, well, there), it was something I was in control of—it was a look, something thoughtful and purposeful.

But enough beauty philosophizing. Remember that my hair grows fast? Yeah, well, within a few weeks I noticed my hair growing, and defying my own expectations and the general annoyance I get from booking appointments (a reason I never get manicures and avoid booking a wax for as long as possible), a week ago—and almost three months after the first chop—I booked another appointment with Sharpton for a touch-up (a full nine months earlier than I honestly expected to be sitting in his chair again). Like learning how to deal with my skin all over again: I was going to have to learn how to be with short hair—hair that I actually wanted to keep short.

 

“Because I cut your hair with a razor, the grow-out is very different than if we were going to cut it blunt with a scissor. It’s a diffused, soft line and grows out better,” Sharpton told me when I arrived in his chair at Hairstory’s brand-new Fifth Avenue studio and salon. Three months was his ideal period of growth—and he promised that I would like my hair at every stage during that growth (which is true, I did). “Think of the cut as preventative medicine,” he counseled.

But Sharpton knew what I meant when I told him that his cut felt more like a look, and therefore made me feel more self-assured. “The shorter your hair, it becomes more stationary. Stationary hair means that it has a place to live on the person and requires less to style it,” he said. “When it’s longer, it becomes more languid and requires you to put a shape into it—with a curling iron, more product… I think of shorter hair as your favorite jacket or dress: it’s tailored.” Tailored haircut (with a standing appointment every three months); tailored skincare… Guys, I think I’m figuring out this whole lazy-girl self-care thing.

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