Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Vanity of Man

The Good Book tells us that a woman's hair is her glory (whatever that means), and I can't help but think that it's a good thing the Good Lord didn't waste that glory on men because most of it would end up in the bathroom sink or down the shower drain. Like the 80's hair band, Cinderella, prophesied: "You don't know whatcha got 'til it's gone!" Amen.

My hairline has slowly been receding over the past several years, and truth be known, it really hasn't bothered me all that much, which is surprising. My dad is bald, his dad was bald, and his dad's dad was bald. Hell, even my younger brother is bald. Compared to them, I have a beautiful, lush, full head of hair. Over the past year, though, it seems that the desert has been sprinting into the grasslands. It sucks, but I've always resolved that when my hair became too thin, I'd shave it all down. I'm not there yet, but the day may come in the not-too-distant future if the thinning continues at its current rate.

I mentioned this to my sister-in-law who was in town this past weekend. She's a color technician for a hoity-toity salon in the Seattle area, and she immediately replied, "I need to hook you up with some Nioxin! We've had several customers tell us that it works to stop the hair from falling out. Rogaine didn't work for people because it was too high-maintenance, having to use it two to three times a day. Nioxin is a once a day application." She was really excited about it, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I had nothing to lose except more hair, right?

Two days ago she walked in the door after visiting the local beauty supply store with a large smirky-smile on her face. "I got you a present!" she sang as she handed me my Nioxin starter kit ("For Fine Hair"). In it were three bottles: a shampoo, a conditioner, and a small "Scalp Treatment" bottle with an ominous applicator. I flipped the box over to read the back as Debbie gave me instructions on how to apply the Scalp Treatment. I nearly choked on my own spit as I read the following glowing endorsement on the back of the box: "Consumers told us...9 out of 10 people perceive a THICKENING EFFECT." Perceive? Thickening EFFECT? What the hell is that?!! And just how desperate are these people who are using this product. I can see them now, nose to the mirror, staring at their hair follicles and looking for the slightest signs of movement. Hey everyone, I think this stuff is really working!! I'm suddenly aware of a thicker head of hair!

I decided to set my cynicism aside and give the Nioxin a try; it was a gift after all. Besides, I also decided that I could fit in nicely with that random sampling of desperate, follically-challenged Americans willing to shred every ounce of dignity to "perceive" a thickening "effect" within their head of hair. I guess if you want something bad enough, and if the fix makes you feel good enough about yourself, the mind can trick you into thinking anything is OK. I mean, look at all the guys wandering around wearing horrendous toupees. Everyone in the world knows how ridiculous they look, but they still wear their rugs with pride because they (were tricked by their minds) feel better about themselves sporting a full head of Chia-pet hair than they would going bald. I figure if these guys can exist in the world, it's not going to kill me to spend a few weeks boosting my self-esteem with Nioxin. That'll at least give my brain some lead time to do whatever it needs to do in order to give me the perception that this stuff works and to further instill in me the need to fork over serious loads of cash for the rest of my life in a vain attempt to preserve my luxurious locks.

Yesterday morning, I set out on the maiden voyage of Nioxin. I applied the shampoo and conditioner, which cleared my sinuses with their minty-menthol-mediciny aroma. I could just see my co-workers walking by me with their noses wrinkled upward and asking, "What is that smell?" Just another deposit on your way to glorious hair, mediciny though it may smell. The directions on the conditioner said to leave it on for one to three minutes. I lasted a minute because I couldn't help but think that the tingling, slightly burning sensation was the result of mind-altering chemicals seeping into my brain. I counted to sixty and rinsed for my life.

After my shower, it was on to the Scalp Treatment, which needed to be applied to my wet head. I turned the bottle over and read the directions for the thousandth time: "Use daily. Apply directly onto ENTIRE scalp. Gently and evenly distribute. Comb through. Do not rinse. May cause temporary redness after application." I combined this information with Debbie's instructions, took a deep breath and like a psycho playing Russian Roulette, I pressed the applicator to my hairline and pulled the trigger. Now I was expecting a kind of a foam to emerge from the applicator. Don't ask me why. Nobody told me it was a foam. The bottle didn't even say it was a foam. I suppose I just assumed that that fancy looking applicator was a foam dispenser. So you can imagine my surprise when I pushed down on the applicator to discover it was nothing more than a spray pump and that the Scalp Treatment was a liquid and not a foam. And since gravity still works, the liquid that I sprayed at my hairline cascaded down my forehead toward my eyes. "HOLY CRAP!!" I think I screamed as I stemmed the flow then furiously rubbed (rather than "Gently and evenly distribute") the remainder into my scalp.

I repeated this process at least three more times and no matter what I did to try to avoid it, the result was still the same: a steady stream of Nioxin flowing down my vast expanse of forehead. I finally gave up (or wised up) and squirted the crap into my hand. That was when the "temporary redness" showed up. It wouldn't have been bad if my whole forehead was red. Instead I had a network of thin and widening red streaks from my hairline to my eyebrows, and I looked like an idiot with a really bad sunburn. "I can't go out like this!" I told myself. I was planning on running errands while the girls were in school, but those were put on hold while I waited for the temporary redness to subside. After a half-hour of temporary redness, I decided I couldn't wait any longer and threw on a hat, with little fingers of redness still poking out from under it, and headed out the door.

A traumatic experience? Enough to scare me off of Nioxin for eternity? No way, Jose. Because this morning after I woke up and stumbled into the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Shocked, I peered at my hairline, and, crazy as it sounds, I swear by all that is holy and good that I perceived a thickening effect in my hair. And that's all I need.


Twelve said...

Have you ever considered that the chemicals seeping into your brain is what CAUSES the "perception of thickness". You know, kinda like the hormone or whatever that causes middle-aged fat men to think "yeah, this speedo looks GOOD on me."

I would also like to make fun of you by making a snide comment about my full, thick head of hair...but last time I got my hair cut, I had to listen to my hair guy give me a 5 minute spiel on how I should handle the gray hair he had just discovered on my head. Ammunition...slowly... slipping...away...

Also, glad to hear that there's no reason for immediate concern w/ Kyra. Hope all goes well w/ her.


the battered ham said...


Yeah, I've got the double-whammy going...grey hair AND hair loss. Go ahead and load back up again.

And thanks for your comment about Kyra. She's complained a couple of times since her appointment, and we just write it all down. We'll see.