Hair with Flair: The Science Behind Hair
I’ve always been a bit fascinated by hair. By age 14, I was dyeing my hair. By age 15, I was cutting my own hair. And I haven’t stopped since.
My hair and I have a sort of love/hate relationship. It’s naturally straight and curly, with a bit of wavy thrown in for the hell of it. In it’s natural state it’s a hideous beast to behold, but by using a straightener or curling iron I am able to tame the beast, allowing me to create beautiful and fun hair styles.
The good news is that my hair holds a curl well or will stay straight all day, which is in my favor. I think because I have both wavy and straight hair, it is able to adapt to either style easily. Throughout the years I’ve come to understand what my hair is capable of, and I have an appreciation for it, but it is the type of hair that you absolutely have to do something with before leaving the house and a simple ponytail won’t suffice because it’s too frazzled looking.
My daughters all have such lovely, enviable hair; none of them inherited my hair genes. Zoë has long, flowing straight hair. All she has to do is brush it and she’s ready to go; not one product or hair tool has to touch her hair. Jude’s hair is similar to Zoë’s, though she prefers to keep it shorter. Briar and Scout both have such gorgeous strawberry-blonde hair; their hair has a little more wave to it than the older girls’.
All this self-taught hair education has lead me to be the de facto hair stylist for our family. I cut my hair, Rob’s hair, and the girls’ hair. I also dye my own hair. Once Zoë turned 10, we allowed her to dye her hair red; it’s something she had been wanting to do and, since it’s a natural hair color, we told her she could go for it.
This week just happened to be a busy one for hair. I decided to go ALL PINK, keeping a touch of my trademark blue. I trimmed Rob’s hair. Scout and Briar wanted a new “punk-rock” hair style that would give them the ability to do a mohawk for a more daring sort of day or they could opt for the pixie-look on the days they want to be more laid back. Jude then jumped on the hair cutting band wagon and decided she wanted to go for a lopsided, one-side-longer-than-the-other-side look.
Hair is such a curious thing. Right before writing this post I began pondering why men have beards and hairy chests and why women don’t. I was thinking, evolutionarily speaking, maybe the male beard-growing abilities are a bit like a mane is for a male lion. What I mean by this is that a male caveman’s bushy hair and beard may have acted as a device to intimidate their opponents by making them appear larger than they actually are. The hair and beard also provided shade from the sun; helpful in the days of no sunscreen.
The male vs. female hairiness level seems to come down to sexual selection; women tended to prefer men who were hairier because they were deemed better protectors with their ability to look bigger and stronger, while men preferred the opposite of that and chose women who weren’t hairy. Thus the hairy man genes and less hairy women genes were passed along through the generations. Of course there are exceptions to this theory, seeing as there are some men who aren’t as hairy as others, but overall it seems like a valid explanation.
A new study that was recently released found that women prefer men with stubble over clean-shaven and full-on beard. Rob has been sporting the stubble-look for a while now, and I definitely prefer it over his clean-shaven or bearded look. Really though, it all depends on the person. There are plenty of men that are more attractive when they’re clean-shaven and men who totally rock when they’re bearded. According to the study, “a threshold of density and distribution may be necessary for beards to function as an attractive signal…Stubble conveys maturity and manliness with less of the macho aggressiveness implied by a full beard.” Evolution just hasn’t caught up to current tastes; we no longer need the “aggressiveness” early man needed to survive and thus convey through his facial hair. And, yes, these statements are generalizations and personal preferences vary.
Here are a few more interesting little factoids about hair, as seen in a cool graphic via Visual.ly (check it out for even more fun facts):
- Only 2% of the world’s population has natural blond hair (I am not one of them) and what’s even more amazing is that only 1% of the population has red hair (I am one of them)
- Human hair is sometimes used to clean up oil spills since it naturally absorbs oil
- On average, you shed 40-150 hairs every day
- In 1950, 7% of women dyed their hair (think Lucy and Marilyn). Today, 75% of women dye their locks
- You cannot determine if someone is male or female by the DNA contained in a hair sample
- If a man never shaved in his life, his beard would roughly be around 30 feet long by the time he kicked the bucket
- In their entire life, women will have spent 7 months washing, drying, and styling their hair (this doesn’t include cutting or dyeing) while men will have spent 5 months of their life shaving their face
- Each hair contains up to 14 elements, one of which is gold
- Horse urine and pigeon dung are just a couple of things that women of yore used to dye their hair blond. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose
Along with make-up, I find hair a great way to express oneself. It’s as if you are a living work of art, styled anew each waking day. At least that’s how I feel about it.