Redhead with messy hair covering her face with hands

A Very Bad Hair Day

Apparently, my hair is my life. Believe me, I am as surprised by this fact of vanity as anyone. Had you checked with me about my philosophy of life a mere ten days prior, I can assure you that my hair would not have made the cut for my Top Ten Important Things.

Redhead with messy hair covering her face with hands

Sure, I’ve had the typical number of issues with my hair over the years, but since I’ve always had plenty of it, I had options. That is until that day when I got a very bad haircut.

I could go into long and agonizing detail, but suffice it to say I went in with a full head of hair and came out five pounds lighter. Let’s just say that Mr. Salon Owner (not exactly your Edward Scissorhands) thinned me out—a technique only fitness trainers should attempt.

Terminal misery

To say I was beside myself is to make a gross understatement. I cried. No, I wailed. I shampooed, conditioned, blow-dried, and styled. But to no avail. What hair remained was thin and stringy—a situation without possibility of repair.

I didn’t need extensions, I needed a miracle. Only time could heal my broken heart. Not even my husband’s choice words of compassion (“It doesn’t look any different to me …”) could console me.

A year. That’s how long it would take for all the short layers to grow out to a respectable length. In fact, I told my dearest friends to mark the date on their calendars. I would not be fully happy again until a year from that Friday.

New attitude

Over the following few days, something remarkable took place. Being jerked from my haircare rut forced me to learn some new techniques. I tried a new hair product (can you say “volumizing?”), I perfected a new styling technique. I chose to see this situation through new eyes. I got a new attitude. I decided I could choose to be miserable, or I could grow up. Believe me, the words shallow and self-absorbed crossed my mind and not in a welcoming way.

Everything is going to be okay, became my new mantra. In fact, ten days does make quite a difference not only in hair but in all kinds of life surprises. Time does heal, and attitude changes can make all the difference.

What I was sure would take a year to placate required less than a month. Perhaps even a couple of weeks. I have to admit that the new feeling of “lightness” was not all bad. I didn’t have a single headache for days on end; my hair dried in half the time and I saved a fortune in shampoo.

Lesson learned

I’m determined to not forget the lesson of my bad haircut. Any initial jolt in life whether financial, physical, relational or spiritual—can hit us in such a way as to completely skew our vision. It’s difficult to see the big picture because we are too close to the event. But choosing to step back to see the situation in a better light and from a different perspective can do wonders. What appears to be hopeless one day, isn’t quite so bad the next and can even help us to grow and be better after a little time has passed.

Of course a great can of hairspray can’t hurt.

Products loved


Currently, I’m using Suave Professionals Shine Shampoo Moroccan Infusion. Loving it a lot. It is suitable for all hair types whether colored or not. The second ingredient is Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which if you’re following along you know is mild, which makes this shampoo a great choice.

This particular Suave shampoo contains Argon oil, which is not a bad thing! This shampoo is most affordable when it’s on sale for $1.25 (my local supermarket, and you can be sure I grabbed a few).



I have adopted Nexxus Conditioner into my routine, as recommended by my hairdresser. My hair is dry, I live in a dry climate, my hair is (surprise!) color-treated and this product is very gentle. This conditioner comes in a huge size and since I get at least 4 days out of a hairstyle, they last a very long time.


Styling cream

Just a tiny amount of Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment that I work well into my wet hair softens my hair and creates shine without weighing it down. This really makes blowing dry so much easier, too. I’m convinced this helps my hairdo to be revivable for 4 days (seriously, I don’t shampoo daily) without losing its shape and manageability. Love this stuff.

Volumizing mousse

Next, I squirt just a small amount of Got2b Volumaniac Bodifying Hair Mousse (about the size of a ping-pong ball—not too much, go easy) into my hands and distribute this through my hair at the roots using my fingers—but only at the crown, back and sides; not the bang area because I don’t want large volume ‘80s bangs. Creates fabulous volume without adding weight or making my hair feel greasy.


Hair and drugstoreBest Drugstore Makeup Products I Truly Love

It took a while, but with considerable research and many trials (and errors), I replaced each of my M.A.C. items with a drugstore product. My criterion was that the replacement had to be cheaper but of an equal or better quality.


Once my hair is dry and it’s the way I want it, I grab a dab of Living Proof Amp2 Instant Texture Volumizer. Using my fingers, I work this stuff all through my dry and styled hair. It sets the style and makes it so easy to do the final styling, which I do with my fingers. What I love is that it stays touchable (never crunchy or stiff) and lets me give it that  “piece-y” look. It really does create visual texture and that’s what I’m going for.


In my lifetime I’m sure I have tried out every kind of hairspray known to womankind. I even hold the distinction of having the hair and makeup woman on the Leeza Gibbons Show tell me I had bullet-proof hair—that’s how stiff it was when I sat down in her chair. She came this close to needing a jackhammer to get me ready for showtime.

She, mercifully, introduced me to Sebastian Professional Shaper Hairspray, (not Shaper Plus, which I find too heavy and stiff) which I have used for years, and still do. I get it at my supermarket, King Soopers. But also available online.


It’s not the cheapest (I’ve blown through so many cheap hairdryers in my life), but the T3i Featherweight Professional is right up there at the top for ease-of-use, functionality, and results.

This is a high-end, salon-quality dryer. T3i produces the two things I need most in a dryer: high heat and high power. It dries my hair fast without drying it out. It really is the perfect blend of beauty and function for so many reasons you can read about.

COSTCO $99.00


There they are, the 7 hair products I use, love, and depend on to keep bad hair days at bay!

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  1. Nancy says:

    I think we all have those bad hair memories. I was new to Denver and my new hairdresser was a friend from church. I’d grown my auburn hair out to just below shoulder length and was loving it. My parents were arriving on Friday evening and we were going on vacation to a beach, so I decided that a soft perm would make my hair easier to manage on the trip. I talked my friend into meeting me at her salon before work — like 6:30 a.m. She’d only cut my hair, I hadn’t had a perm since I was a little girl. She unrolled the perm with just time to dry my hair before I had to drive across town to work. Well — who remembers Linc on the Mod Squad? Yup, I had a very large Afro hairstyle. I mean my shoulder length hair stuck out shoulder width in its curly glory. The guys at work teased me all day and I was in tears. I called my friend right after lunch and told her to meet me back at the salon after work. We had to cut my hair to about 2″ and condition it like crazy to even begin to tame the curls so I could get a comb through it. And the humid air on our beach vacation — well, I swore off perms and have had straight, short hair every since!

  2. Carolyn says:

    Bad haircuts, seemed I was a magnet for hairdressers to just do what they want leaving me with a result that I would cry over for days. I received one where the stylist yanked my head around, tore up my hair with the razor after I repeatedly asked him not to use one on my hair. He then screeched at me that I don’t tell him how to cut hair, then he burned my scalp with the blowdryer. When i checked out, the cost of the haircut was $25 more than I was quoted when I made the appointment, and foolish me left a tip as well. It was cut too short and all uneven ends. I swore I would never set foot in a salon again. I went over ten months not getting a haircut after that. I met a new guy, now my husband and on our second date I told him of my dislike of going to the salon and he offered to cut my hair for me. So on our third date, my new guy gave me a haircut. Crazy I know, but he did a great job and he has been the only one allowed near my hair with shears ever since. And he has never given me a bad haircut, so he has helped me keep my promise to never go to the salon again. My mom thought it was crazy at first that I would have him cut my hair, but she did admit he does nice work and now she asks him to give her a haircut when she wants hers trimmed. And she likes the part that it is free.

  3. Sandra says:

    That’s a beautiful Angora goat! As to haircuts…recently, due to an unfortunate mis-communication on my part, my hair was cut much shorter, with layers (which are also awful on me) than I wanted or liked. Fortunately, hair grows and in 3 months, it won’t matter. In the meantime, I finger comb and avoid mirrors. lol

  4. Amanda says:

    Unfortunately, many of us have experienced a bad hairdresser, but thankfully, it does grow back! In my case, it was my aunt who decided she didn’t like my down-to-my-backside hair & chopped it shoulder length. Mind you, I was no teenager, but an adult pregnant with my 3rd child. I thought my husband was going to have a heart attack when I came home! I forgave her, but never allowed her near my head again.

  5. Shelley Holmes says:

    Thank you Mary. I’m going through a terrible, terrible emotional time which has nothing to do with money or work. I’m fighting hard to keep a positive attitude so I can look at the situation differently. Unexpectedly, your column touch me in a very emotional but helpful way. Thank you.

  6. MSGOOCH says:

    You think YOU had a bad hair day? I was a receptionist in a beauty parlor in N.Y. One of the stylist told me he knows a way to frost and perm a hair in one shot. I said “REALLY!!!!” He said “REALLY.” So guess what? You got it. Most of my hair fell out. Thank goodness it was summer. I had a crew cut all summer long. Just sign me STUPID.

  7. Cath says:

    Well said. A good lesson for us all. I’m going through a rough patch now and need all the emotional support I can get. Regarding short hair, I gradually worked my way to a fairly short haircut and, while it may not be dazzlingly beautiful, I sure love how it feels. I particularly love not having hair in my face when I look down, or when I’m outside on a windy day. I always chuckle at men who wear their hair long. I want to tell them they’re lucky to be able to wear it really short. What’s the point of wearing it long? It certainly isn’t attractive. Just extra work. How about some photos of your new do? I like the one just to the right of the comment box.

  8. Bookworm says:

    I wish you had told us what you use for volumizing. I recently discovered hair powder. My hair is thinning with age, and hair powder is my salvation. But your point is well taken. Some things just aren’t the major setback they appear to be at first. Thank you.

  9. Sherry Flowers says:

    How 6.6 million women would love to have your, so called, frightening dilemma. (I’m not being snarky) This topic touched me personally and I felt compelled to comment. We have to admit at first glance a woman’s hair speaks volumes about her beauty. It’s part of our identity. In part it’s how society judges us. We cut, style, color, grow, braid, put up in a messy bun, shampoo and condition with the most luxurious products because we love our hair. What I’d give to have a bad hair DAY, WEEK, MONTH again! Not a life long sentence of having to wear a cap, of sorts, every single day of my life. My hair is thinning to the point that I can no long conceal my scalp? I no longer feel attractive. I start my day, every day, like any other person, showering, dressing, and putting on my make-up to feel marginally attractive but the one difference is I also have to put on my cap. No matter where I go I have to wear a cap. Consider what it’s like to have to shop for or wear a wig? If I’m wearing my wig can I go outside if the wind is blowing? What about finding a beautician that is skilled in cutting and styling a wig? How many times have you diverted your eyes when you saw a women with thin hair? Being grateful for thick luxurious hair and a bad hair day is a blessing.

  10. Luisa says:

    Good story with a good point, Mary. Some of the changes that have most disturbed me have been among the best things that ever happened to me.

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