Men that have a bad hair day

Hairdresser Cherie Hill helps a journalist on his bad hair day.

The hair industry is increasing its client base as men discover hair colour and follicle liberation.

I was facing a scary job interview and some un-cool grey hair was looking back from my mirror. It is a fearful prospect to approach one’s use-by date in a world where most folk seem young, hip or just plain cool.

The nervous middle-aged male may choose a backyard or professional makeover, and I did. Full of trust I consulted my better half, an amateur exterior decorator.

“So you’ve done this sort of thing many times and there seems to be no need to bother the local hairdresser,” said I.
Yep, sure thing.

Men, women, all hair is the same.

At our place we pride ourselves as do-it-yourself junkies who are inspired to watch the weekly television lifestyle programs to see if there is something new to be done. She planned to save money and use a small percentage of her dark brown dye and because I had light brown hair, it would probably come out all right.

Most people don’t know, however, that imported Chinese dye, for each extra minute on your scalp, adds three months of staying power. And it seems that most women’s hair colour is strong and bold, nothing soft and pastel for the nervous man of the 21st century. The orientals must know this.

Vaseline had been carefully spread around my hairline but good old China-brown penetrated this and I began to get fairly browned off. I resembled a writer from the Middle-east which was good because I have an Egyptian nose.

Liquid Ajax which had looked good on the television advert didn’t really help here – on the other hand ajax in powder form was the only substance which delivered what it promised but during and after my face-scrub, I began to experience pain and skin-burnishing.

First I emitted a couple of ow-ow-ow’s and then muffled screams as my daughters came to rescue me.
“Mum, if you stand back we’ll get some lanolin onto Dad’s ears.”

Once my hair was rinsed thoroughly, someone rightly deduced that I was a 50-odd-year-old – someone halfway to his use-by-date – with hair belonging to a fifteen year old.

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With a little encouragement, “her indoors” could have become a chemist. “Now it’s my experience that brand X strips the colour from your hair so we’ll just add good old X to a bit of peroxide mouthwash and there you have it.” However no home remedy was going to shift this industrial strength brown stuff.

As the wife massaged this gunk into my scalp I began to see the merits of grey-headed interviews and reputable salons.

It was amazing the number of good friends who saw me before I reached the wife’s usual hairdresser.

At the salon, Cherie had to strip the colour twice with colourwash before it begrudgingly became light brown but it was her description of my hair that was scary. “Now John, with the moisture stripped out of your hair, it is so dry that it resembles a pile of straw. In this state it could easily break and fall out.”

I had unknowingly been playing around in a minefield.

For an extra eight bucks she massaged some protein, moisture or whatever into the straw and it became the best looking head of hair I had seen in my mirror in years. Cherie confided that non-professional treatments could be devastating to hair which, if it didn’t break off at the roots, usually took 48 hours to get back to its natural state.

I went home.

“If you didn’t know me, what age would you reckon I was,” seemed a fair question to put to my wife who by this stage was keen to make amends.

“Definitely around 25 years of age,” was her confident reply.
I was cool.

(669 words including introduction but without captions)

(below is an additional sub-story on men’s hair trends)

When Mary-Ann Brown of Rockhampton began hairdressing eleven years ago there seemed to be a stigma attached to men changing their hair colour.

The senior hairdresser at Stefan’s City Centre Plaza, she describes today’s hair landscape as a changing one. In recent years she has noticed that builders, truck drivers, labourers, sports stars, white collar workers and professionals of all ages have been joining the queues of the follicly enhanced.

Mary-Ann knows of blokes in the building industry who get compliments from their mates for their blond streaks.

Next thing you see them in your salon asking for the same style and colour as their friend.

“With the onset of summer blond streaks are very popular with younger men aged 25 to 35.”

Whether men have their hair in an extrovert or subtle style usually depends on the individual personality.

“Men coming out of the closet with regard to hair colour has been noticeable for years.”

“When I am recognised at a party, guys often ask me what they can do with their hair. It used to be only women who did that.”

Ms Brown said that young men often got their hair ideas from sitcoms, school mates, movie stars, sports stars and the music industry.

Once they give us a good description, we usually know what they want, she said.

About John
John started out as a cadet in 1970 at Bundaberg News Mail, continuing as a feature writer at Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, then began producing regular freelance articles for the Sunday Mail and New Idea. Later he took up science writing for Qld climate, water and soil scientists. Whimsical stories and humorous bush poetry is his current passion.