Oh my god, I hate my hair
March 9, 2019 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I hate my hair. This has been a lifelong problem, but my hatred only seems to grow stronger the older I get. My hair is lank, wavy in a frustrating rather than cute way, and an uninspiring dishwater blond. I'm so frustrated with feeling self-conscious about my hair, despite spending decent money on good cuts with skilled stylists. I'm hoping for suggestions for possible styles and moral support on how to cope with it.

I'll list of my biggest frustrations with my hair, as they stand now:

1. It is absolutely flat and lank, due to a very fine hair texture. It tends to get greasy easily (when I had bangs they would get clumpy with a gross greasiness by the end of the day). Not washing it daily is not an option--I've tried--so please don't suggest that.

2. At the same time that it has no body, it also has weird hills and valleys thanks to a wavy texture that resembles the worst seventies haircut you can think of. Whenever I've tried to have a bob it usually ends up in a triangle-hair formation; totally flat at the crown, then frustratingly boofy and untameable around the bottom.

3. Even though a pixie suits me, I can't have one because of the aforementioned waves. You would think there would be a way to make the waves look cute in a pixie cut; with my particular formation of waves, however, it just looks terrible.

4. I can't have long hair because it definitely does not suit my face, and my hair always looks gross and uncombed despite frequent combings. I have thought about growing it long simply to pull it back every single day, but I have a severe-looking, horsey face and buns and ponytails give me an unfortunate Depression-era hardscrabble farmhouse wife look.

5. I absolutely cannot stand having hair hanging in my face. So many of the short bob/long pixie looks involve an artful drape of hair across the forehead, and when I have this style the hair is always in my eyes and drives me crazy.

I know I'm making it sound like I wouldn't be satisfied with anything, and that is probably true. Honestly, I wish I could make my hair disappear as much as possible. It looks best when it's short and tightly framing my face (but not pulled back in a bun). My hair is very similar to Renee Zellweger's and I wish I could pull off some of her shorter looks, but the waves and hair-in-the-face hatred prevent that. Blowdrying, flat-ironing and products seem to only increase the flatness and flyaway issues my hair has.

I've had a stylist tell me that I have the worst hair she's ever worked with. At a job, one of my coworkers told me my boss said to her of my hair, "Is it supposed to look like that?" Folks, I have terrible hair. I'm willing to listen to any suggestions, even loopy, out-there ones.
posted by whistle pig to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (59 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm willing to listen to any suggestions, even loopy, out-there ones.

I wonder whether bleaching or colouring your hair might help improve the texture (being flat and greasy).

Alternatively, could you get a pixie cut and get your hair chemically straightened to avoid the waves?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 7:02 AM on March 9, 2019 [18 favorites]

Buzz cut? Perhaps not a bald shave but a buzz cut leaving a half inch all over. Rock it and own the beauty of your eyes and facial structure!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 7:04 AM on March 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

One style you haven't mentioned trying is a Gibson girl look -- piling your hair on your head and securing it with a claw. My hair has a few weird cowlicks, so I hate wearing it down. It is also really fine. I wear it like this every day. No hair in my face, just a messy pile on my head. Maybe worth a try.

One of my closest friends shaves her head and looks great. That's an option, and would definitely make your hair disappear, but it's not for everyone.
posted by sockermom at 7:06 AM on March 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Wear a wig.
posted by ilovewinter at 7:09 AM on March 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Have you tried setting your hair with hot rollers? That can help with body and making waves more consistent. I am far from a hair expert, but it seems like one option you haven't tried. I bet you know someone with a set sitting around in their closet un-used if you ask around. You can also get velcro rollers fairly inexpensively at the drug store and try those with a blow dryer if you don't want to go to hot roller route.

I'll second bleaching your hair too. First, you might feel better about it if you liked the color better, and second, it will rough up the texture and probably give your hair a little more body and a drier look.
posted by snaw at 7:11 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I mean, wigs? Many many more women than you might think wear wigs all the time, but it can be a cultural thing that's a little difficult to feel confident about if you're not used to it.

There's also chemical straightening, which will help with your texture issues. It won't last long if you have a pixie cut so it would be pretty fast to experiment with that.

A very short buzz or shaving your head is definitely a Look these days. Especially with what you describe as a "horsey" face, it kind of gets rid of the obscuring effect hair can have and can bring out the nuances and beauty of your features without anything to clash or look unkempt. I know a few women who pull this off. For making it femme you can do big lashes with mascara and really shapely eyebrows, or statement earrings, if that's important to you.
posted by Mizu at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

1. Ditch all silicones! I have the same hair type/texture and doing so improved mine a LOT.

2. The triangle shape is related to your fine hair texture/oily hair type (Ask me how I know!), but again, not using silicones or heavy oils/conditioners should improve the volume at the roots and lessen that effect.

Also, kinddieserzeit's suggestion about bleaching or colouring is good! Processed hair is less 'slippy' because the cuticle has been opened and this can create the illusion of more volume.
posted by MysteriousSympathy at 7:17 AM on March 9, 2019 [17 favorites]

How old are you? I find that I can now skip a daily shampoo once or twice a week if I also use dry shampoo. Then the next day is excellent. You could also keep a bit of dry shampoo at work to apply so your bangs don’t get flat.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:20 AM on March 9, 2019

multiple tiny buns?
posted by amtho at 7:22 AM on March 9, 2019

maybe try a pixie without bangs, or an undercut + some combo of bleaching/coloring and straightening + dry shampoo?

here's a cute pixie without bangs, and here's a cute bleached undercut pulled back from the model's face. you can do all kinds of things with the top layers of an undercut, like pile it on top of your head and clip it, as sockermom suggested, or tuck/wrap/braid it.
posted by the thought-fox at 7:30 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hear you on point #1 because I was also burned by the whole "if you stop washing your hair eventually it will reset and it won't be greasy anymore" nonsense -- my hair basically starts to look socially unacceptably dirty 22 hours after I wash it, no matter what. However, while I do have very similar hair that is super greasy and weirdly wavy, doing the Curly Girl Method -- using a co-wash that works for me every single day -- has really improved it's texture and appearance. I got started with the beginners' routine on the Curly Hair Reddit. The whole idea seemed very crazy to me at first because no one would ever call my hair "curly" (I think most people would have said I have straight hair that is constantly 'messy'), but it turns out that nurturing my hair in the appropriate way has really sorted it out so I even have nice ringlets from time to time as well as much more volume at the top of my head.

As I Am Coconut Cowash is my holy grail product; when I wash my hair with it (being sure to really massage/scrub my roots with my fingertips), my hair stays clean looking for 24 hours and the waves sort themselves out into a much more pleasing shape/texture.

Real Life Curly Girl on YouTube also has really helpful videos -- her hair is of a similar texture and she is much more realistic about certain things that are more true of wavy hair than of curly (e.g. wavy hair DOES need to be washed more frequently).
posted by telegraph at 7:36 AM on March 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

If you're a person who gets a period, don't chop all your hair off while having your period. Ask me how I know.

Also, buy a bunch of cheap sample size hair products at the drugstore like mousse, hairspray, gel, etc. If you don't have a blow dryer, get one. Putting a ton of product in your wet hair and then blow drying it upside down is a great way to get volume at the crown.

If you hate your hair you probably don't enjoy spending time playing with it but honestly, it is the only way to learn how to work with what you've got. Nowadays there are a ton of youtube videos about how to style hair and if you put in a few hours watching them I guarantee you will learn something. Also there are a lot of new products on the market so it is definitely worth buying a few things and experimenting. I second the suggestion to bleach or color to give t more texture.

If it were me, I would probably go with a spiky pixie cut and use gel or mousse to give it volume at the top, but I am a child of the 80's so spiky hair moussed all to hell is my answer to everything.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:41 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

wavy in a frustrating rather than cute way

Make 100% sure you are not in fact dealing with badly-misunderstood curly hair.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:44 AM on March 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

I think there are several good suggestions above. As another angle, you might try just allowing yourself not to think about it so much. I’m not saying you should do nothing; it’s perfectly reasonable to spend some time and energy on your appearance. But just remember it isn’t everything.

I have a family member who is kind of obsessed with her hair, which she has disliked for as long as I can remember. I hear about every hair cut, bad hair day, cowlick problem, thing she is considering changing, etc. That’s all fine (we are close) but I also try to remind her that most people don’t think about other people’s hair all that much. She doesn’t need to apologize to me for the state of her hair on any particular day. The most I ever really think about someone’s hair is usually a passing thought. At worst, it’s something like, “looking a little shaggy/messy/odd today!” And then I don’t think about it again. I try to give myself that kind of grace with my own hair (and general appearance, for that matter).

Maybe try to give yourself a little bit of a break?
posted by pril at 7:49 AM on March 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think you should try the Curly Girl condition-washing method, too. Every part of this tells me you have wavy/curly hair and a sensitive scalp.

Shampoo might be causing your oil overproduction; it could calm down a lot if you switch out. I personally use the RenPure Cleansing Conditioner and LOVE it, because it’s cheap and easy to find, as well as very effective at de-greasing my roots. You do have to scrub a little more thoroughly with a condition-wash, both when it’s in your hair and when you’re rinsing it out.

A haircut from a good curl-specific salon absolutely doesn’t do the triangle thing, too.
posted by Andrhia at 7:50 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you aren't sure about coloring your hair, a gloss (basically demi color - has to be darker or at the same shade of your hair) is another option. If you hair is easily damaged it's pretty easy on it at the same time.

Could you ask around for stylist suggestions for your particular predicament? Neighborhood facebook groups can be good for this. Usually it takes two times for the new stylist to get my hair and I tend to overtip (25% etc) while they are learning my hair and making new suggestions (and while they learn that I actually just want them to tell me what to do versus go along with my bad suggestions).
posted by typecloud at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maybe perm the roots to get volume?

Now when you say you hate hair in the face, is that because the hair growing high on your forehead grows in a downward direction so instead of bouncy high face-framing bangs you get lanky stringy bangs that lie flat on your face? Because I had that, and what I did is I had that stuff lasered off. It hurt like hell but it has been a huge improvement (and it only took two sessions, not the five they said.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:04 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also seconding the undercut suggestion -- I've seen it on people with the kind of half-wavy hair you seem to have and it looks punk rather than bedhead.
posted by typecloud at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2019

Another suggestion: Products containing protein (keratin for example) can improve fine hair texture because they add a coating to the hair without weighing it down or making it softer the way silicones do. Unfortunately many of these also contain silicones so check the ingredients. Or you could make your own protein treatment.

Also, what pril said.
posted by MysteriousSympathy at 8:11 AM on March 9, 2019

I am also here to say buzz cut.
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I wear wigs every day. People are shocked when I tell them.
posted by heathrowga at 8:16 AM on March 9, 2019

I am creeping ever closer to buzz + wigs, myself. But, a couple of things you might consider first:

- deliberately fuck up your hair texture with color (that's generally the gentlest fucking-up unless you do a high-lift bleaching) or a perm, which is literally what a perm is for, it makes your hair more styleable. If nothing else, it'll cooperate with a flat iron and stay flat afterwards. Bonus: you get try try a new color.
- have it straightened - in American terms, the most basic version of this is the same as a perm but they don't use rollers. But you can also get "Brazilian" and "Japanese" style straightening treatments that were pretty much invented to deal with lumpy hair. Still, you get straighter hair out of the box without styling, plus it'll hold a style better if you did flatiron or blow out or hot roll or whatever.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:36 AM on March 9, 2019

I’d look into a digital perm or Brazilian blowdry.

Agree that cutting out silicones can be transformative (I use Redken and Kerestes).

This stuff is awesome and makes my hair more manageable.

Hair extensions have come a long way and can give more volume, as well as make your hair more manageable overall.

Eta: this stuff is supposed to be incredible for greasy hair- it’s meant to stop your hair/fringe getting greasy and lank by the end of the day.
posted by Dwardles at 8:43 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Go for a shaved head, grade 2 or 3. Super cool look, insanely easy to manage (you can do it yourself with clippers at home). I found this with a google search, but it's all about Danai Gurira.
posted by 0bvious at 8:44 AM on March 9, 2019

Nthing bleaching/processing. That has completely improved everything about my hair, from changing the wave pattern to something genuinely great (I didnt even know that simple bleaching could do that!) to majorly increasing the volume of my hair (in terms of taking up space and having body.) Its just given me so much more to work with, whereas before it just kind of hung there. Lastly, I bet it would improve the greasiness too, since bleached hair is drier and I'm sure it would hold up better to the grease. So glad I decided to risk 'damaging' my hair, because it was a game-changing improvement and I'll never go back.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:45 AM on March 9, 2019 [8 favorites]

I have a similar greasy/flat problem, and what has helped me is 1. No silicone in any products (it’s in everything!) because that was really weighing it down and make it get sticky and tangled. 2. I wash with a gentle shampoo every day, just the roots. 3. I only condition once a week. 4. I use a wide-tooth comb.

My hair is shoulder length and now that it has a bit more body, it generally looks pretty good down.
posted by mai at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2019

I feel like my hair is similar to what you describe, and my most successful haircut so far has been approximately shoulder length with layers to add pseudo-body, so that shorter pieces frame the sides of my face without getting in my eyes. Prior to this haircut I tried bobs that looked triangular in the way you described, or longer-than-shoulder-length styles that left me looking chronically unkempt and somewhat like a cocker spaniel. The idea is to kind of take the triangle bob and have a hairdresser taper away the base of the triangle into more of an oval or diamond shape.
posted by space snail at 9:11 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have just god-awful hair (fine, thin, flat, weird cowlicks that look like bald spots when it’s greasy, stick straight except where it’s bendy, baby wispy flyaways, hates all products, looks the same no matter who cuts it and how, I could go on.)

I can’t give specific advice for your hair, but I can say that for survival, a blunt cut above my shoulders and a chocolate brown dye that looks good with my eyes and skin helps me not think about it so much, and registers to most people as “lady with brown hair.” So maybe think of making color the star, not style or texture?

Since you’re blonde, why not go full blonde? The great thing about blonde is the color is so appealing, nobody is looking at texture too much. There’s a whole spectrum of blondes to match your personal style, from icy cool Scandinavian white-blonde, to sun kissed surfer girl. And I agree with others that it retexturizes your hair, which may be worth a try.

On days I can’t wear it down, I like a side pony— frames the face, the poofiness at the bottom looks like I have a lot of nice healthy hair, no need for lot of volume at the scalp.

That boss and the coworker who passed along her comments are assholes and kicked out of the sisterhood. Wtf. Most people aren’t thinking that way.
posted by kapers at 9:11 AM on March 9, 2019 [13 favorites]

My hair is also fine and lank, though very straight. All the product and curlers and pin curls and whatever in the world still resulted in a sad smear of unmanageable hair by the end of the day.

I just hacked it all off -- I already had an undercut and I chopped the long stuff down using the longest guard on my clippers. From now on, if I want longer hair I will buy a wig. (That said, I know I love having very short hair and a butch haircut, so ymmv. But this is what worked best for me.)
posted by kalimac at 9:33 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am super, super familiar with the weird waves + triangle effect of a short bob. I've dealt with that for my whole life. Then 5 months ago I shaved my head (for reasons unconnected to my hair -- I did it as a response to grief) and I have made some important discoveries. First, that it felt super freeing. More importantly, it turns out that when my hair is very short, it isn't wavy or limp. I've been growing it and now am at the stage of short pixie without bangs...and it is super cute and also straight, and thus totally easy to manage. I highly recommend it, even if you don't want to start with a total head shave.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:03 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you tried a layered cut? My hair is not thin, but is wavy, and a layered cut releases the curl/ wave so it looks good instead of frizzy and messy. Random haircut in a place I was visiting - the stylist had similar hair. I kept it chin-length and layered for quite a while, and it looked good.

My friend who has very thin/ fine hair keeps it shoulder length and usually in a slightly messy bun on top of her head and she looks great. The loose strands look charming.

I have had a buzz cut, loved it, got tired of telling people it wasn't a statement, just hair.
posted by theora55 at 10:25 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

My hair is also really weird. There is a ton of it so it seems super thick overall but each individual strand is thin...somehow. So it poofs out and does random weird things that require a lot of time and styling products and I have to get it cut often. The one way I've dealt with it is a short pixie cut with longish bangs and a lot of texturing. I almost have to be practically bald for it to be tameable. I also have a boring dishwater blonde color so I dye it a dark brown. It looks natural and the fade is not as noticeable between dye jobs as, say, something like a bleach or a wilder color and the texture of my hair changes in a very positive way.

I am also constantly considering buzzing it and wearing wigs.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:29 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had that horrible triangle hair for so many years — nthing trying a curly hair specialist, even if you think it’s only wavy. There are two main schools, Diva and Oiudad; not sure quite what the difference is but the Ouidad technique (and products) work better for me. After half a life of absolutely hating my hair, it has been life changing to like the way it looks and feels!
posted by tinymojo at 10:37 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Can we see it?
posted by stoneandstar at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

If your hair isn't currently long it may not be worth growing out to try this, but i do have a suggestion if it's already medium to long. my coworker has long, wavy hair that sounds fairly similar. she LOVES doing "headband curls" using a wide, soft, not-too-tight headband. the way she describes it, her hair wants to curl; the headband gives it a type of trellis to help organize the curls so they aren't going every which way.

she actually lets her hair get pretty close to dry and only wears the headband for an hour or two while it dries completely. on my fine, straight hair i wouldn't get lasting curls that way, but for her it's perfect.
posted by misskaz at 10:45 AM on March 9, 2019

I see someone has suggested trying mousse. I can tell you that I have very fine, wavy hair that is naturally flat, and mousse makes it look full and styled, so it might be worth a shot in your case.
posted by orange swan at 11:06 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So many good ideas--thank you, everyone!

Also, while I wouldn't wish my hair on anyone, I'm glad I'm not alone.
posted by whistle pig at 11:25 AM on March 9, 2019

Maybe a boy style cut instead of pixie. Like don't buzz it but also very short but also with a little style.
posted by bleep at 11:26 AM on March 9, 2019

oh oh ohh I have super fine hair too! and I hate it on my face. bleurgh. things you might consider:

- a deva cut
- dry shampoo just before bed (gives hella nice texture the next day, if you can skip a day or two of washing) - i love klorane!!
- salt spray, again, for texture
- you might even go no-poo or switch to a no-silicone shampoo. the adjustment period is a little sucky though
- try scarves (think rosie the riveter), turbans, french braids, boxer braids..
posted by speakeasy at 11:28 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

ooh!! and as hairstyles go, maybe a fauxhawk?
posted by speakeasy at 11:31 AM on March 9, 2019

First: stop calling it dishwater or dirty blonde. I have hair that color and I would be depressed about the color too if I described it to myself like that. (Who cares what others insist on calling it.) I go with dark blonde. It's far less negative if you ask me.

Second, I have what is considered a severe face and people always rave when I pull my hair down, how much nicer it looks, etc. I think it is seen as friendlier, more feminine, blar blar blar. Thing is I hate hair in my face and it never lasts five minutes. (How does anyone get work done with hair in their eyes/face?) And, there is nothing like fine hair for blowing up and sticking to one's chapstick or whatever. I hate that. I keep my hair shoulder length, no shorter, and put my hair up in a clip and frankly I prefer being seen as too severe, as opposed to too friendly.

3.) Finally, if your face looks anything like this, which is what your comments bring to mine, this is absolutely not an unattractive facial structure and as others have pointed out with the right cut or hairdo it is actually quite arresting.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 11:33 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also here to suggest buzz cut. One option, if you don't like the look of a buzz cut, is to keep most of it buzzed but to leave a little strip of something in the front to do softer things with. I do this sometimes and while my hair annoys me a lot in general, having only that small section to need to force to behave is more manageable. (My hair is a different texture from yours, though, so YMMV.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:49 AM on March 9, 2019

Dye it for sure.

I have wavy hair, too. Mine is also fine, but there’s a LOT of it. So if that’s you:

1) You need enough length so that the wave pattern is completed. If it’s not long enough, what is actually an S wave is going to look like an out of control C. My hair gets crazy-wave until it’s at least jaw length.

2) Triangle hair needs to be “debulked”. A stylist can cut layers in various ways. Now: I usually cut my own hair. I found a video describing how pros can approach debulking a triangle. I decided that it’s probably possible to achieve the same effect as one of the techniques in that video by taking thinning scissors and just cutting across, along where the stylist suggests (10 or 2 o’clock on your skull). I literally took handfuls of hair at that level and sliced through them with those scissors. (I did it in sections, just worked my way down from that line. Eliminated two handfuls of hair.) So hair above that line is fuller, and everything below it is debulked.

Gave myself the best haircut I’ve had in years (from pros and myself). My waves are no longer an incomprehensible tangle, they fall in orderly S shapes, the triangle is gone and I have a nice-looking wavy bob.

(I should mention I also am growing out a slight undercut I shaved in a few months ago, which took care of bulk at the bottom. That’s growing in, it’s a couple of inches long, and it meets the length of the bob.)

Edit: ha those scissors are for pets. Fair enough, I looked a bit like a Lhasa Apso. My scissors are from a human hair cutting kit I got ages ago, and they look the same.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:01 PM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

So I approximated the second technique in the video I posted above. (Cut at the parietal ridge, he said.) Point cutting takes more precision.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:11 PM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

My hair responds best using only dove dandruff (I cant use a non dandruff shampoo). No conditioner. I also regularly bleach and color it green. The bleaching makes my hair a bit drier and lighter thus creating more fluff. My roots are grown out right now and they want nothing to do with volume and get greasy quickly.

I also have annoying waves. However if I treat it right they’re cute fluffy beachy waves and the occasional curl. (Follow advice for curls to see what texture you have. Don’t brush it. Scrunch it with some product. Dry with a diffuser, etc.)
posted by Crystalinne at 12:51 PM on March 9, 2019

I have your hair-greasy, fine, dark grayish blonde (classic “dishwater”)! Well I don’t anymore.
I henna it! If you’re willing to go permanently red or just darker, it’s an excellent solution since it’s a protein treatment, which gives heft to your hair shaft, controls oil and makes your hair have more body without having to curl it or other daily styling, and it’s also capable of being a deep conditioner if you add oils. You can blend the lawsonia with other roots and plants to make it browner, or just embrace the red thing.

If you don’t want to change the color, there’s also the “clear henna”, cassia obovata, which is also a protein treatment but is much milder in changes. After a few months of cassia treatments your hair will be a little more golden, as well.

Both of these treatments are about 3-4 hours of gloop on your head every 6-8 weeks or so, which is a hassle and smells weird. But it’s transformed my hair into something more like normal hair stuff, and I’ve even been able to grow it out longish without looking like a weird flat head oil slick. I recommend henna for hair as a resource for recipes, info, help, etc. if you’re interested in going this route.
posted by zinful at 2:59 PM on March 9, 2019

Nthing highlights/bleaching. I did Japanese Thermal Hair Straightening years ago for a story. (Haven't tried Brazilian Keratin.) It did dry out/damage a bit (technique and products are probably better now) but I woke up with perfect Swedish pop star straight hair for what seemed like years, and was totally worth it.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 3:23 PM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

My hair is straight with a couple of annoying waves really close to my face. It is also very fine, lank, and greasy. I went to a great colorist and had my hair colored a couple of years ago, and wow, now I am a convert! It has more body, isn't as greasy, and best of all, I love the color! I love my hair and what it does for my face now. Try it!
posted by Joh at 9:46 PM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have solved two of my friends’ greasy hair by the end of the day problem by telling them what my very fine haired mother told me when she taught me to wash my own hair: shampoo only above the ears (on the scalp), as you rinse it will clean the rest but not too harshly as it’s diluted by the water (a lot of shampoo throughout the hair can cause the poof) and conditioner only below the ears on the length of the hair but not up to the scalp (otherwise you’re adding oils and silicones to your scalp and it will look greasy/flat faster.)
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 6:13 AM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have similarly terrible hair. A few years ago I started wearing hats - at first just for shopping, then going out, then all the time I'm not at home. I was reluctant to do it: self-conscious about "sticking out" and feeling a little like it's something that only older women (which I am, no question) do, but once I got past that, it's been great. I get compliments from strangers a lot, men and women, all ages. I know I look better in hats - I don't hate photos of myself nearly as much as I used to. The hats I wear are newsboy caps, just because they're the ones that look best on me - besides terrible hair I have a wierd-shaped head, and while they're not as easy to find as some other kinds, they're not that hard either. I buy pins and estate sales and vintage shops, fabric stores and occasionally online, stick one on a hat, and don't give a thought to my hair. It may not be the solution for everyone, but it's very easy and cheap to try.

And I love not starting every day fighting with my hair.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 8:50 AM on March 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Agreed with the advice to dye your hair. I have similarly lank and frustrating hair and this helps a lot. The other thing I advise is hair powder on your roots. I just discovered that this year and it's magical. It makes your hair feel a bit sticky but it gives great volume and is much easier to use than hairspray or mousse. Note that I do not get the same lift from dry shampoo which is what some people recommend (dry shampoo is nice but not for that in my experience). If you'd like to do short hair swept back from your face but with some volume so it looks cool, hair powder is pretty key.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:52 AM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree about coloring your hair - it really does change the texture and will dry it out, which is a good thing when you have oily hair.

Also, do you air dry or blow dry? Flat iron? I am growing my hair out right now from a pixie and it is nearing the awful Captain Kangaroo stage, and the only way to manage it is to blow dry it just right and flat iron any pieces that lay weirdly. I also reshape/flatten my cowlicks with the flat iron.

Finally, if you are experiencing triangle head (I know exactly what you mean by the way) with shorter hair then I guarantee it is because the person cutting your hair isn't doing a good job and doesn't understand your hair type. You need layers cut into it - I don't mean Jennifer Aniston Friends era layers - but ones that are invisible and will make the length lay flat. Usually instead of scissors this is done with a razor knife tool and you should only see someone who is REALLY skilled at using it to thin out the part of the length that gets poufy. You could have a killer blunt bob with the right razoring/thinning technique.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:45 AM on March 10, 2019

Shave your head. I’ve been shaving my head regularly for about 3 years.
posted by a strong female character at 10:27 AM on March 10, 2019

this might not work for you and it may be something everyone knew but me, but I thought I was stuck with my flat and greasy hair until a hairdresser pulled down a bottle of conditioner and showed me exactly how much conditioner I should be using. it was a very small amount, like less than the size of a pea, and much, much less than i had been using.
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 12:03 PM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I generally shy away from giving hair or skin care advice, since it can be so individual, and for each person can change over time, even. The skin care routine I need now to keep my face from breaking out is pretty much the opposite of what I needed in my 20s - 20s skin care routine would make my face break out now; now skin care routine would have made my face break out in my 20s. Similarly, an awful lot of hair advice I read online either doesn't apply to me or would actively make my hair worse. And it sounds like my hair is curlier than yours. But I do have a rather small amount of very thin hair, as you describe, and it had had a propensity toward greasiness at some points in my life. So maybe some of what works for my hair might help?

For me, the key is keeping me hair hydrated. But not, like, with any old moisturizing conditioner. Products with Moroccan Oil will totally weigh my hair down and make it more limo, for example. I have to seek out the shampoo and conditioner that say something like "weightless mosturizing for curly hair". When my hair is particularly dry (eg. winter, if I've been lazy and haven't conditioned it in a while, or after bleaching), a "moisturizing mask" or treatment if the sort that you leave in for 15 (or more) minutes once a week for month really helps give my hair volume, (paradoxically?) limit greasiness, and generally make it more manageable and easier to make look stylish.

Bleaching my hair does indeed change the texture - but for the worse. It gets significantly limper. If I had lots of straight hair, that would probably be fine. But I only look like I have a normal quantity of hair on my head because of the curliness of it, so bleaching does not help my hair.

I shampoo my hair once or twice a week. I don't have a regular schedule, just whenever it's starting to feel annoyingly greasy. I worked my way down to that lesser frequency over a few years, and that may also have interacted with an age-related change. I definitely can't go without shampoo ever though, like some of the curly hair sites recommend.

I comb my hair with a wide tooth comb when it is still wet. Sometimes upside down if it's been feeling flatter on top. I have been recommended the scrunching technique so many times, but I don't like how my hair ends up looking when I do that. Instead I do really lazy finger-twists and then I usually end up with some decent ringlets, separated enough from each other to maintain some reasonable volume on top of my head.

The times I've gotten a stylist to give me a more "layered" haircut have been awesome - that makes a difference for my hair too. Avoiding wedge or box shapes really seems to be a feature of the haircut itself, but is annoyingly hard to actually obtain in my experience. I've had mixed results with dry cuts - my best haircut ever was from a stylist who basically sculpted my hair like a topiary, then wet it and trimmed just the tiniest bit. But other times stylists have pulled my hair out to a more teased state before dry-cutting it, which is not it's standard state, so of course the cut doesn't come out right. I've had a couple regular wet cuts that were layered that turned out decent. But also many that didn't. It's a crapshoot.
posted by eviemath at 12:54 PM on March 10, 2019

What is this magical "clip" that everyone keeps suggesting? Asking for my own stupid hair.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:05 PM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your hair sounds a lot like mine. Very very fine, quickly greasy, wavy only when I don't want it to be, dishwater blonde. We even have the same problem with ponytails.

The best thing I ever did was color. I use henna, which does double duty of giving it an interesting color I don't hate looking at and slightly improves the texture.

Cut-wise, I honestly still don't love anything but the things I hate least are just to go with a pixie and keep it as tousled as possible, or, what I'm doing now, grow it out to about chin length, front long back short, parted off to one side. I still don't adore it but it at least looks reasonably deliberate and doesn't need a lot of maintenance.

I've found I MUCH prefer when stylists dry cut my hair.

I also hate hair on my face but I've found a part that only does that a little that I've taught myself to stand when I'm out of the house, and when I'm relaxing at home I headband it out of the way.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 5:35 AM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

My hair is a very different texture than yours (thick and dry rather than thin and oily) but it's curly in some places and just wavy in others, which combined with some cowlicks makes my hair just go...bumpy? in most styles. I read "weird hills and valleys thanks to a wavy texture that resembles the worst seventies haircut" and groaned in sympathy.

My advice is YES, YES, DYE YOUR HAIR. I have short enough hair that I can do it at home (I use Feria) and it's honestly one of the most important self-care things I do for myself. When I look at myself in the mirror, the color of my hair makes me happy and makes me feel more like myself. Bonus, it slightly changes the texture to be more manageable.

When I went VERY short (like, an inch long) it looked messy and spiky in a cute way with just a little pomade. The waves and curls were interrupted, so to speak. You may be able to do your pixie cut pleasingly if you go shorter. Don't be afraid to be drastic...it grows back. And you already don't like your hair, so what do you have to lose?
posted by desuetude at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

The magical clip I use is an octopus clip. No other clip will do for me. I've also heard tell of a Very Expensive clip made by Ficcare that I haven't had the pleasure of trying.
posted by sockermom at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

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