THIS WEEK: on good hair days

Seeing the light

I’ve never understood women that wake up early to ‘do’ their hair. Sure, there were the GHD years, but I was a teenager then, with nothing better to do than iron my hair into wafer-thin sheets and apply layer after layer of Juicy Tubes. But from uni age onwards, I’ve subscribed to a wash-and-go policy. In my mind, this looked effortless: tousled bed-head waves that fell somewhere between Kate Moss and, well, any chic French woman on the shaggability scale. In reality, though, I looked like a sucked mango stone.

It's not that I've never tried. There have been rollers, tongs… about a year ago, I bought Babyliss’ Big Hair blow dry brush thingy after a few recommendations from women with very good hair indeed (sleek, swooshy long bobs), and was very proud of myself when I’d spend five minutes making my own hair swooshy - though normally only the front, as I’d get bored before I got to the back and nip off to make a cup of tea. But the phase was shortlived. It meant less time in bed: how could anyone be bothered?

In January, during one of those unplanned trips around Boots that end with a very full basket, I bought a Babyliss curling wand for just shy of 30 quid, used it once, then retired it to my hair tool graveyard. But a few weeks ago, trying to cover the teenage breakout that’s been lingering along my jawline for months (yes, I do know that it would clear up faster if my hair wasn't all over it, but I am too vain and too old for visible spots, so the hair stays down) I began to wand in earnest.

I watched an idiotic-but-admittedly-useful tutorial on Instagram TV, which taught me to curl backwards, away from the face, and point the end of the wand down, not out. I’ve caught myself on the forehead once, when my phone buzzed and I looked away while raising what is in simple terms a hot poker to within an inch of my eye. I had a shiny burnt patch of skin just above my eye for a week, until it flaked off.

Sometimes it looks a bit wedding-y, and sometimes those extra fifteen minutes in the morning make me late, but still I persevere, and here is why: pre-wanding, with some dodgily applied make-up that will slip off on the tube and wearing a not-particularly-flattering-but-very-comfortable outfit, I am a four, maybe a four and a half. Post-wanding, I am a seven.

Why did no one tell me? Why did it not occur to me? Why did I persevere with the top knot?

I can't answer these questions any more than I can account for the blue-black colour that I self-dyed my hair for years, or the stuffed-crust fringe that I self-cut for just as long. What I can do is take a new profile picture for dating apps (Hinge and Bumble - I've plateaued recently, mostly because I never actually get round to the date part, but perhaps good hair will get me out of my rut?) and start preaching the wand gospel.

Putting a hat on it

Whilst Charlie’s found her hair mojo, I’ve hit a wall with mine. I couldn’t tell you exactly when it happened, or indeed why, but all of a sudden my hair is feeling distinctly ‘urgh’. Worn down it looks floppy, worn up it’s plain boring and it’s too short and lifeless to do much else.

Me and my hair have a tense relationship. Once diplomatically described as ‘very English’ by a hairdresser, it is incredibly fine (my ponytail has the girth of a 5 pence piece) and is severely lacking in the volume department. I have a double cowlick at the front which presents me with no end of trouble - especially when, aged 17, I misguidedly got full ‘fringe’ (curtains would be a more accurate description).

For a brief few moments every couple of months (usually when i’m not leaving the house) it plays ball: soft waves, a hint of shine - I wake up in the morning ready to rock and roll. But then, out of nowhere - bam! Someone’s put a mop on my head.

Currently, my hair is going through an inexplicable greasy phase, which feels unfair considering that I am supposed to be a 31 year-old woman, not a teenage boy. According to the internet it could be hormonal and triggered by stress (I’d go to a yoga class if I wasn’t so busy washing my greasy hair). Apparently it could also be down to not cleaning my hair brush (do people actually clean their hairbrush?!) or fiddling with it too much, which, considering that I am an avid hair toucher (only my own, don’t worry) sounds about right. Either way, the only good hair day I’m having is under my armpits.

Things that help on a bad hair day:

Dry shampoo. For body, texture and soaking up aforementioned grease. Whilst many swear by Batiste, the best in the biz is Klorane which is less gritty and doesn’t smell like Leeds festival. Also, for flat-as-a-pancake hair, Sam McKnight Cool Girl spray is pretty fantastic. Spritz on dry hair and zhoosh.

Bright lipstick. Distraction tactics 101: if everyone is looking at your gob, no one’s looking at your dodgy lid. Nars Satin Lip Pencils give excellent colour (I’m obsessed with the wineyGolshan red) and last quite literally all day.

A large glass of wine. Obviously.

Sunglasses. If I can’t see it, can anyone else?

A hat. But not a hat because if there’s anything that makes me look worse than a crap hair day it’s a hat. Instead I am experimenting with hair accessories (I know, how very spring/summer '19 of me) and whilst the pearly hair clips slid out before I’d left the bathroom, I’ve achieved a degree of success with a polka dot hair band. Stylishly sloaney in a Princess Di sort of way (I hope), the only downside is that it gives me a raging headache come 5pm. Still, it’s a small price to pay for disguising a bad hair day – and the vino does tend to take the edge off.