All fun and games until…

A few words on hair:  If there’s one thing about myself that I obsess over with regularity it’s my hair. Many butch/masc IDed people have short, typically male hair. And being as we live in a very very gendered world, it can sometimes be hard for us to find the right person to cut it.  I find that it can sometimes be hard for a stylist to understand that when I say “men’s haircut” I really mean it.  On top of that, haircuts can be expensive, and when you keep it short, it needs to be cut more, which means more money spent on haircuts.

Not only that, but there’s a HUGE range of prices when it comes to haircuts, from a $12 Supercuts cut to a $50 salon cut.  My hair needs attention about every 3-4 weeks.  Even someone as poor at math as I am can see that constant hair cutting can get pretty expensive. So, here are some tips for finding and maintaining great hair without going broke.

Ask guys that you know, work with, that you meet at the bar who you think are well groomed, where they get their hair cut. Barbers typically cost a LOT less than salons, and you’ll be sure that you can get the cut you want. Find out if your town/city has a queer or queer friendly barber. A queer barber is awesome as you will likely feel much more comfortable in his chair.

You can also try out a regular barber, even though I know that for me, it can be nerve-wracking getting over the fear that I’m going to experience some sort of homophobia.  I’m just putting that out there as I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s something I’d LOVE to get over, but I also understand that it’s a touchy subject for a lot of us and I just wanted to let others know that they aren’t alone in this fear.

This isn’t to say that you can’t get a good cut at a discount chain hair salon. You can. The problem I’ve found is that the employee turn over is HUGE and it’s often hard for that one person who cut your hair last time to be available this time, or for them to still even be there.  If your budget forces you to go to a chain store then I advise you to be really clear about the cut you want, even going so far as to say “I understand that this is typically a men’s cut, but it is what I’d like.”  The odds are, you’re going to go in with a pretty masculine haircut to start with, and so they should easily be able to accommodate you easily.

Higher end salons are awesome, if pricey.  They tend to (in some cities, anyway, I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations here) have more queer employees, and you can ask around to find out what the reputation is like. Also, salons that have a reputation for doing “funky” hair styles shouldn’t have a problem doing your hair either.

Usually, you get what you pay for. I know it may not seem that way all the time, but I’ve found that the best hair cuts have come from higher end places. I find that my hair isn’t just cut, it’s cut to grow in well, and my hair looks good EVEN if I wait too long to get it cut again.

Admittedly, I’m pretty lucky in this arena. My hair stylist is my friend and works at a high end salon, yet does my hair in her living room. Like I said, lucky. She’s also queer and awesome and convinces me to try out stuff that I wouldn’t normally do. Right now I’m sporting a pretty kick-ass quiff (in homage to my favorite pop-star) and being my town’s own rockabilly butch. Though, some days I feel like a  butch impersonating Edward Cullen or Jason (from the 90210 days) Priestly,  but I digress.

Hair care is equally important. I admit that I generally pick shampoos and conditioners based on smell and not performance.  And I like the way Garnier Fructis smells. A lot. It’s my general go-to, but I also rotate other stuff so that my hair doesn’t get used to the way this works all the time. I think there’s a scientific way to explain it but unfortunately that isn’t in my skill set. I do use dandruff shampoo at least once or twice a week. This is not because I have dandruff, but I don’t want to get it either.

As with most things, you get what you pay for with shampoo as well. The good news?  With your short hair you really only need to use a pea sized amount to get the job done. My last bottles of shampoo/conditioner lasted over 6 months and so the cost factor isn’t as important when I know it’s stretched out over time – I’d rather spend $5-7 bucks for something I really like than a $1.50 on something I don’t. One word of caution – beware of things targeted specifically for men. They tend to smell a LOT stronger than other shampoos, and that scent also tends to stay in the hair longer – which will conflict with what brings us to our next hair care topic: product.

Whatever the cut or how you clean it, good product is essential, and this is where things get more difficult. I have really wavy, thick hair. What keeps my hair in place generally won’t keep a really thin, straight hair in place. This brings me to a cautionary tale. Our partners like to touch our hair. They don’t like being greeted with a plastered-in-place hairdo, nor do they like their eyes (or anything else) being poked out by a really stiff hair spike. I have been guilty of this in the past. Using products like “glue” or “ultra hold” gel and then frosting it all over with hair spray WILL produce this effect.

In my years of different short hair looks I’ve come to the conclusion that pomade, when used correctly (that is really emulsified in your hands before application) can keep many different short hair styles in place. Right now for my hair I’m using pomade made by Axe. Now, I have some issue with Axe (ok, not the company per-se, but people who think they need to spray themselves with so much of it that the smell permeates a 10 square foot area and conflicts with every other scent in the room) but I’ll get to that at another time when we talk more about personal grooming. I have found that REALLY good pomades/waxes are generally REALLY expensive. I like American Crew a LOT, but I find that it’s really pricey for what you get and I’m also not 100% thrilled with how it smells.  The Axe Refined Clean Cut Pomade

axedoes EXACTLY what I want it to do and it costs around $6, AND it smells great and not too overpowering. Again, (and we’ll get to cologne at another time) you don’t want too many scents conflicting with each other and with soaps, shampoos, deodorant, hair product, and cologne going on, you can turn yourself into an offense hot smelly mess pretty easily.

Sometimes I do need a bit more hold, especially when my hair has grown out a bit and I can’t quite fit a cut into my schedule. It is at this time I break out the glue BUT I use a very very small amount, mix it with the pomade, and work it well into my hair. If I need more hold? One spritz of hairspray. Really. Just one. This will keep your hair the way you’d like it and also not be offensively hard, or even look like it is.

Our hair says a lot about us, and is often the first thing people notice about us.  It, I think, says more about our identity and expression than anything else that we “wear” on the outside, even our clothes. It signifies to those who hate us that we are “different.” It signifies to those that love us that we are one of them.  It shows that we are brave enough to be ourselves.

And I think this is awesome.

So – what keeps your ‘do in place? Any products you particularly like to use or find cost effective?

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6 Responses to “All fun and games until…”

  1. I think this is a really awesome blog, and I’m a fashion student whose dress runs the gamut from 60’s housewife to hipster gayboy. Hugely cool and validating to not only my men’s shoe and underwear collection but my pompadour as well. Thanks for spreading the wisdom around.

  2. I use crew pomade as well. its perfect. also i like murrays pomade as well, old school as my undershirt.

  3. American Crew fiber remains my all time favorite hair product, and I do love the smell.

    For me, finding a barber who will do the right thing to my super thick hair is so hard. I wish i had the economic power to get a haircut every 3 weeks, but I don’t. My all time favorite barber is Scott Ponder, owner of the Northside Chop Shop in Cincinnati, OH. Now that I live in Minneapolis, I go to Oscar at the Lyn-Lake Barbershop. He even trims up my eyebrows when they need it. Finding a barber who will square off your temples, sideburns, and neckline just right can make a huge difference for the perfect masculine coif.

  4. lady femme Says:

    i love the smell of Crew products and shampoos… they are scented, but lightly, and are subtle enough not to conflict with cologne scents…

    as for shampoo/conditioner aimed towards men, one that i’ve found that smells really good and masculine and not too scenty, but is affordable, is Loreal Vive Pro for men. I love the scent, and it’s affordable, and often you can find it in your local grocery store or drug store!

  5. I’ve tried many a pomade and I always go back to the Tigi Bed Head Stick. Love the smell and it works great with my hair.

  6. My favorite “potion” is a dab of American Crew Fiber and a littler dab of American Crew Forming Cream mixed together on the palms before application to towel-dried hair. Stays flexible all day (in case a midday tune-up is required), no flaking, and even though it’s two products I have to buy, I generally get 5-6 months worth of daily application out of it.

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