The Hair Trap

Lately I have been hating my hair. I have been coloring it for a long time, but only now does it look fried and brassy and damaged. I wonder why, I baby it with expensive shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair. I try to hold back on the heating elements to style it, and I haven’t been in chlorine or sun lately. I walk the aisles at CVS, Target and Sephora looking for the next miracle product that will take my straw and make it silk.

Then I realize that the reason I do not like my hair right now is because I am way past due for a trim and color touch-up. I have held off on seeing my stylist because my wallet is still reeling from Christmas, a vacation for New Year’s and a short cruise to celebrate my birthday. I thought I was being frugal, adding a few (okay several) weeks between my salon appointments. What’s funny about this reasoning is that in these extra weeks I have stayed away from the salon, I have spent more at drug stores, big box retailers and specialty boutiques trying to find something to fix my look. Deep conditioners for my hair, a straightening iron that is gentler, even a blush, a highlighter and a new foundation that would hopefully give me a rosier glow to counteract the lifeless head of hair. The scariest purchase in these few weeks away from the salon? I bought a pack of hair elastics and a few barrettes to hold back my wild and annoying mane.

As I have said before on this site, a good haircut is your best investment. If you have a good cut and properly maintain it, you won’t need the shine products, the major repairing conditioners, the temporary colors that are bought at 11pm from the all-night drugstore at a point of utter frustration. And you won’t need the elastics in your change purse, around your car’s gear shift and always on your wrist. Elastics will be left for the gym, chores and when applying a face mask.

As I applied my third product this morning and reached for the new pack of elastics, I realized I had gone off the hair deep end. Today as soon as the salon opened, I would be calling to make an appointment.

We feel that we can’t afford those gorgeous yet expensive leather pumps, so we buy three cheap versions in an attempt to replicate. We feel we can’t afford a nice salon cut and color, but we spend essentially the same amount in shampoos, conditioners, color enhancers, shine increasers, frizz reducers, volumizers and texturizers. We shy away from higher-end clothing stores and spend as much on disposable pieces at discount retailers. We often settle, and then we spend more because we aren’t fully satisfied.

Look through your linen closet, your medicine cabinet and on top of your bureau – how many beauty products do you have? And how many do you actually use on a regular basis? What are you really trying to accomplish with that new item?

As with our wardrobes, so should our hair follow the “quality, not quantity” mantra. When you concentrate on quality, in the long run you spend less. A $100 visit to the salon every other month will be far cheaper in the long run than trying to buy products, cosmetics, new clothes to counteract the rat’s nest on the top of your head.

Think how much you will save in elastics and barrettes.


  1. anna
    July 3, 2008 / 9:29 pm

    nice post! A good haircut is so worth it! It can give your hair proper volume and body and save you loads of time! If I need three zillion styling products in the morning to look good, i need a good haircut!

  2. February 25, 2007 / 4:55 am

    I have often passed on a perfect item because it seem extravagant, and spent the same amount on 3 less than perfect items. I think that most of the time you get what you pay for. Shoes from Nordstrom cost more but usually last longer than Payless, and if they don’t Nordstrom will always take them back. Most drugstore makeup wears off within a few hours, while the department store brands stay true most of the day. Lancome mascara doesn’t smudge or flake and the cheaper brands are smeared under my eye by noon. A good hair cut is the ultimate accessory. I pay $125 for color and cut every six weeks and it’s only $2.40 to look great every day. It’s worth it to me.

  3. Miabella
    February 24, 2007 / 3:48 am

    dilly, you’ve not only inspired me to make a hair appointment for next week, you’ve also inspired me to try out a new stylist. I’ve had it with my erstwhile stylist; right before Christmas, she butchered me. So I am trying a new guy who comes highly recommended, and I will go to the appointment armed with photos of myself from when I liked my hair.

  4. February 23, 2007 / 5:55 pm

    One of my New Year’s resolutions was to have my hair cut every six weeks…like you, I let it go too long and then it costs more in the long run!

  5. Anonymous
    February 23, 2007 / 1:43 pm

    I get what you are saying and I have done the same – buy cheap and then toss and then buy more and at the end I would have probably SAVED if I bought the right thing the first time around. I am going to go get a haircut too!

  6. February 23, 2007 / 9:37 am

    I’m with you girl. I’ve recently purged my makeup chest and am slowly accumulating higher quality products. I used to have 25 random cheap eyeshadows and now I have 5 really good ones that stay on my eyelids and flatter my eyes. And as for the previous comment, just because the boots cost $100 doesn’t mean they were quality. You can find boots for $100, or more or less, that are incredible and better than payless that will last you forever (I got mine for $60). I think that’s Dilly’s whole point. Do some research, don’t do any binge shopping and you’ll get more for your money.

  7. February 22, 2007 / 11:48 pm

    $100 for cut, colour and highlights is awesome!

    As for shoes, this year I broke my rule and bought expensive boots, since my Payless ones (I love Payless, it means I can have more shoes) fell apart by December…well, one pair-the short ones-did anyways. I wanted Slouchy high boots. So, in January, I bought Franco Sarto low boots and high ones from Zigi…both over $100 on sale. The low ones lost all the leather off the toe in a matter of days, the high ones have one heel taped on with electrical tape-and yes, I used spray. I am no longer convinced expensive shoes are better…I have some Payless shoes I have had for years. Now, I don’t expect this with boots given the elements and such…but my expensive ones last no longer than my Payless ones…in fact, the high Payless ones I got this year are still in good condition, I just wanted slouchy ones.

  8. February 22, 2007 / 5:04 pm

    I must clarify, $100 is for my cut, my color, my highlights and lowlights. I have gotten amazing haircuts for $25 as well. No need to go to the trendy high-priced salon; just to a person who listens and performs.

    I hardly own a single designer item, no super fancy garments and some of my highest quality pieces are from discount places. I just know many women who find $60 pumps too expensive so they buy 3 pairs of $15 from Payless that are not quite right and end up disposing of them in less than a year. Friends who buy a dozen tee shirts from Wal mart that are less than $10 but eventually donating them for fading, being misshapen or never right in the first place.

    Quality is not found by pricetag or brand name. It is found by taking time, being aware, and being a savvy shopper.

    Sincerely, the woman who sports a $9.99 (fabu sale) high-quality calf-length suede coat that is almost a decade old, but brings daily joy! 🙂

  9. February 22, 2007 / 4:18 pm

    I agree with you up to a point there. A good cut is important, but it doesn’t have to cost tons. My hairdresser charges $25, and my hair looks great. I think there is a point, a dividing line, where you are paying for quality – and above that, you are paying for advertising and brand. A $2 t-shirt from the supermarket is not the same cotton or cut as a $30 t-shirt from a good store, but the $150 t-shirt from the hip boutique is not any better cut or fabric than the $30 t-shirt. If you can afford the $150 t-shirt – go for it, but don’t pretend it is inherently better quality than the $30 one, cause it never is.

    I am satisfied with cheaper clothes as long as they fit well. The stuff I have from discount retailers makes me happier than the high-end stuff. I like knowing I have a lot of stuff and can just change if my clothes get dirty, and I love not having to always be worried that I’ll ruin my pants when I cross my legs if the table is not perfectly smooth. If I do ruin them, I have a similar pair and get another similar pair. Of course, if a person is unhappy not having the $3k handbag or the $800 shoes, then they should just go out and get them, but I don’t care for status symbols.

    My $500 designer winter coat (a gift from extravagant mom) only causes me grief. I wore it to a wedding and the videographer walked by and got the velcro on his camera bag caught on it. Not only was the party ruined for me after that, but I had to spend hours with cuticle scissor cutting out the piling that caused. The similar coat I have that I paid $80 for only brings me happiness, and I know if someone ruins it, I can just buy a new one.

  10. February 22, 2007 / 4:17 pm

    Good Luck with your hair-cut…I am sure you’ll look awesoke and be able to put those elastics back in your gym-bag!

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