I AM #HAIRSTRONG: ON HORSES, HAIR METAL, AND HERITAGE
My hair is like a good friend I can (almost) always count on. I’ve always liked my hair and treated it well, which has rewarded me by being cooperative and giving me confidence in most situations without too much effort. I credit a lot to strong genes and a healthy lifestyle for giving my hair the support it needs to thrive. Seeing my mother’s hair now and remembering my grandmother’s full head of nicely-hewed grey hair through her 101 years of life, I am pretty sure I’ll be able to embrace my hair for decades to come.
Growing up I didn’t give my hair too much thought, unless it was time to wash or comb through it— and then I braced myself. With three girls close in age, my mom was hard-pressed to get us all out the door. She would comb our hair one at a time, holding us tight against her body to gain leverage against the knots. I dreaded wash-day when my hair was tangled and even tougher to comb out. I quickly learned to care for my hair myself and would prolong the time between washes as long as possible since it was such a chore. My hair simply took too long to wash, detangle and dry.
On special occasions when we were young, mom would put extra effort into dressing us, usually in matching dresses, and ensuring our hair was clean and presentable. This was part of the ritual of getting ready for an event and made the day and us feel special. People would complement us on how cute we all looked dressed alike. Our Swedish grandmother, used to seeing us dressed for ranch chores wearing jeans and jackets with haphazard hair, would light up with excitement seeing her granddaughters looking so pretty. I think we made her reminisce of her days growing up in Sweden and she felt proud of her grandkids. She gave us this blonde hair, after all!
I grew up on a 55 acre horse ranch just 26 miles north of San Francisco, purchased by my Swedish immigrant grandparents in the 1940’s. My grandparents, mom, and two aunts all had separate houses on the same ranch, life was wonderful! We lived a carefree existence amongst animals and in nature. We were outside until well past dark every day, savoring the outdoors and the freedom it afforded us. We learned to be fearless, resourceful, and capable. My three closest girlfriends and I were inseparable, they boarded their horses at the ranch and were always around. We’d ride into the hills for days on end before I was even 12 years old, sleeping outdoors and making a fort we would add to with each visit. We’d wash our faces in the creek, not minding our hair being dirty at all—it could wait until we got home. Our haircare in the summer was mostly swimming in the pool and rinsing under the outdoor shower. Shampooing and combing through was not high on the priority list and our carefree mom gave us lots of freedom.
One of these friends, Cathy, was a few years older than me and seemed to know so much about so many things. I really admired her for that. She lived just across the street yet rarely went home, staying at our house almost every day of each summer break and going with us on our family vacations. She taught me how to braid hair. We lived in braids and often braided our horses manes and tails too, in many different variations, either for a horse show or just for fun. I paid more attention to the horses hair than my own and I preferred it that way!
For most of my life I’ve worn my hair long, usually pulled back into a ponytail or braid so I could do whatever it was I was doing, unencumbered. I was always a wash-and-go girl and don’t remember owning a blow-dryer until after college, and then it was used sparingly with a round-brush to get some “extra style” for special events. Most often, I would go to bed with damp hair so it had extra body in the morning. I counted on the length and weight of my hair to keep the various bends from going crazy and give my hair movement. This was the extent of my “styling”.
Life would not be complete without at least one hair-do or time period I could have avoided altogether. Mine was in the 1980s. I really don’t remember how I got such big hair, there was definitely some back-combing involved. The only big hair picture I could find was from the time I was an extra in the movie Presidio playing the part of a punk rocker in the graveyard scene. It had a very Desperately Seeking Susan (or “seeking something”) look to it. This was also around the time my girlfriends and I played a lot of air guitar. A couple of our favorites were Heart's "Crazy On You" and AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" for optimum hair flipping—both air guitar musts!
At some time in my mid 20s, I was spending less time in the sun and my hair began to grow in darker. This new look was unfamiliar! I didn’t mind it but I missed my blonde hair, it was a part of my Scandinavian heritage, something that I was proud of and shared with all the strong women role models in my life. I began adding highlights to bring my hair back to blonde.
I feel so grateful to have good hair that I don’t have to spend much time on, yet I do care how it looks and feels. I take the same approach towards life that I do with my hair: fuss free and balanced. For special events or meetings I’ll put more time into styling my hair or have it professionally done and then stretch it out for five days or more before washing again.
I have the opportunity to speak with a lot of other people from all over the world about their hair and appreciate how much their hair means to them, the effort they take to manage it, and the effects that it has on their confidence. It doesn’t matter where people are from, their age, gender or culture, everyone is engaged emotionally with their hair. It makes me very happy to have created the Aquis Hair Towel and to share my learnings about how to care for wet hair, knowing that it makes such a difference to so many people.
The Aquis journey has always been to pursue natural, simple, authentic beauty. To me, that is what being HairStrong is all about, feeling beautiful and having the confidence to go out and engage in the world with gusto.
Happy Hair Journey!