On the Nature and Causes of the Success of Hair

There’s a lot I want to say. I just need to hold back a little. Experience tells me that if I come on too strong, it’ll end in disaster. Fellow hopeless romantics will understand. So, allow me to pontificate about men’s haircuts.

My buddy Ross took my advice about haircuts to heart today (even though I never reciprocally accept his literary recommendations), and now he’s a new man. Well, he’s still the same philosophical, unassuming, worldly guy I’ve always known, but he now comes in soccer-cut edition. After my own trim last Sunday, I went on at length about my idea that men in their twenties should thoroughly alter their hair once a year (balding men excepted). The theory is that we should explore different sides of who we are and who we can be. More practically, this approach gives us an opportunity to try everything and by our thirties we can walk in to the salon once a month with confidence in a specific style. What makes you feel the most self-assured? What does your partner like best? Or which style helped you get the job, etc?

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Your hair style is important, and there’s science to back it up. Recent studies mount an impressive body of evidence to suggest that it matters which way you part your hair, if at all. Apparently, hair parts influence subconscious associations, which ultimately affects other’s behavior towards us and subsequently our personality. I have to wonder if my uncompromising right-sided hair part predicted my politics, sexuality, etc. No joke! Men with right parts are thought by others to be atypical, open, and radical. And while it often leads to social shunning, right parts can work if the man is very confident, attractive, or striving to be respected in a non-traditional male role. Well, there you have it.

No wonder men experience such anxiety in finding the right style, stylist, etc. It’s a difficult process. So, here are a few recommendations from somebody who has tried countless products, read enough About.com articles to fill a bookshelf, and mastered the art of the open relationship (at least with my hairdressers).

  • Learn how to talk to your stylist. You can’t just go in and tell them to take a little off the top. You gotta do a little research. Find a picture of a preferred style to show your barber and learn what works for your face shape.
  • Don’t try to copy most celebrities. They can get away with anything. And frankly so many celebrities look other-human anyways. Look for your next style on Tumblr instead.
  • Treat your haircut as a Giffen good. Yeah, that’s right —squarely defy the Law of Demand. I refuse to purchase a cut if it costs less than $20, and frankly I pay $40.
  • Do whatever they’re doing in Europe. You’ll be ahead of the curve.
  • Schedule your appointment at mid-day. Your stylist will be tired and unfocused in the early morning and late evening. Most of my friends will understand it better if I say to apply economic thinking to your haircut.
  • Learn which product works for your hair type, and don’t use too much product. It can weigh down your hair too much, especially if you have fine hair like me.

I wish I could say more about shampoo and conditioner. I once knew a guy who claimed that conditioner works best when worked into towel dried hair, then rinsed after a few minutes. And Head and Shoulders is apparently a great shampoo, even for those without dandruff. That’s all I know to say about that.

Alright, that’s it folks. I’m starting to feel self-conscious about telling you what to  do with your hair.

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