Advise Lisa: A Hair Cut Dilemma

Advise Lisa: A Hair Cut Dilemma

Advise Lisa: A Hair Cut Dilemma

I need some advice, stat. Let’s think of today’s column as “Ask Lisa,” only in reverse. Perhaps “Advise Lisa” will stick and become a regular topic here at  J

I have a love-hate relationship with my thick, coarse hair. The stylists all tell me I have great hair for them to work with, but I find it nearly unmanageable and difficult to style. I’ve worn it short, and I’ve endured it long. No matter the style, my mane requires a good thinning out about every six weeks.

Several years ago, I found a stylist who “got” me. She listened well, charged a fair rate, and shaped my hair into a style I loved and could manage. Then she went and got promoted as a master instructor at a hip cosmetology school and stopped cutting hair. How dare she, right?! For the past decade, I’ve struggled to find a stylist who gets my hair and me. Yet I’m spending more money than ever in my attempts to find one.

I’m conflicted. I fear my fixation with getting a decent haircut is becoming a bit disordered, especially considering what I’m paying. Christian stewardship calls us to safeguard material and human resources and use them responsibly. Responding generously to that call can be difficult in a culture that encourages focus on our pleasures and ourselves. I struggle to envision Mary, the Mother of God, sitting in a salon getting expensive haircuts, highlights, and eyebrow waxes every six weeks. But I know for sure that living with a bad haircut wears on me, thereby challenging my ability to respond generously in my daily vocational walk as an at-home mom.

I’m attempting to find a balance between stewardship and dignifying myself in appearance. After all, St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I don’t pretend this is a moral issue or that a bad haircut offends God. However, St. Paul’s point is still relevant, and I would like to anoint my head with a good haircut. Is that too much to ask? Help me here. How do you approach budgeting for personal beautification? And if you know a rock star stylist in the Des Moines metro area who fits the bill, I’m all ears … and hair.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Schmidt


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  1. Hello Lisa, I struggle with this well, and I’ve never read about it from a Catholic perspective like you have so beautifully done. I do obsess about my hair – and hands and eyebrows and exercising – and I want to look good and feel fit because I can serve my family and others more confidently when I am feeling well. I do believe the Lord wants us to look and to feel our best. I honestly don’t believe he would want us to “let ourselves go.” I also don’t believe he would want us to spend a ton of money on our beauty or obsess about it so much that it would take time and money unnecessarily away from our families and other responsibilities. So, how do we take care of ourselves on a budget? I’ve thought about this too. I tried less expensive, chain salons, but I’m not happy there and I end up spending more money by fixing what I didn’t like done. So I’m back to a stylist that treats me very well and does charge a little more than others. It is a plus for me to know that she and her family attend our church. It’s like I’m helping her in her career/family finances and she’s helping me feel good so I can better serve others. We also can talk about our faith during the appointment. Another idea I had for the new year is to start saving a little cash here and there for my “beauty services.” Some of this money could come from things I didn’t buy because I really don’t need it or things I sell on places like craigslist because I don’t need it. In addition, I try to stretch my appointments out — for hair color I will touch up my own roots in between color jobs. I can touch up my own nails in between basic manicures. I have thick hair too, and I can go about six weeks, pushing for eight weeks, for a good hair cut. Overall, my word for this year is “intentional” — I am doing things intentional, with a purpose, and saving for it, intentionally, with a purpose — all with the foundation of better serving God and His church and my family. I’m sorry this grew long. It’s a good topic. Thank you. I live in La Crosse, Wis., otherwise I would make you a recommendation.

    • Lisa Schmidt on

      Wow! Thanks for such a thoughtful reply, Kim! I like your suggestion to support a stylist who is also a fellow parishioner or fellow Catholic here in the area. I’ll keep my eyes open in parish bulletins.

      Also, thanks for sharing your word of the year. Ours here at Das Schmidt Haus is “order.” And you’ve now prompted me to get writing about that. (Thanks for planting that seed, too!)

      Blessings to you in beautiful La Crosse. My husband is a Sconie native (Milwaukee). We must get back to La Crosse soon.

  2. I’m trying to grow out a short haircut right now, so I’m in the middle of Hair Purgatory. It was Hair Hell all summer! I might look better with short hair, but my hair is wavy and when I get hot flashes (6 to 10 times a day) my hair winds up sticking out in all directions. Figured that my only hope is to grow it out–all of it–even the bangs–and be able to put it behind my ears or something.
    My haircut budget ($20 every 6 weeks) has been replaced with a hairspray-and-headband budget. I don’t color my hair, though the grays are beginning to take over–I intend to gray as gracefully as heredity will allow.
    At the moment I am just hoping for “presentable” until it gets long enough to be “becoming.” Then again, my standards have always been low, and this might be a good time to raise the bar a bit.

    • Lisa Schmidt on

      Hair Purgatory — that’s good, Barb. Thanks for the laugh. And here’s to “becoming” hair sooner than later!

  3. How funny Lisa – yet another thing we have in common! Almost every year, I have a “hair resolution”! Shallow, yes, perhaps… but along with caring for my physical body, I feel like it’s important to take good care of all parts of my body, including my hair. Here’s a tip – ask your girlfriends who cuts their hair. I wandered into the world’s best stylist this way. Several of my friends go to her, and one friend and I even jointly schedule our hair appointments so that we’ll be at Shelly’s on the same day and we can be together for that time we spend. Many months, that’s the only time we see each other!! I don’t spend tons of money on clothes or makeup, but having a professional take good care of my hair is a choice I’ve made that doesn’t cause me too much guilt. And for the record – your hair is gorgeous, just like the rest of you, so whatever you are doing is working!

    • Lisa Schmidt on

      Am I your mini-me! 🙂 Oh yeah! Oh yeah! {Doing a little dance.} Oh yeah! And thank you for the compliments, by the way.

      I love your suggestion! Ironically, between Christmas and New Year’s, we traveled to my sister’s city for her wedding. In the days prior to the big day, I got my hair done at her salon because she kept telling me how happy she was with both the quality and price. Now having lived with my new cut and color for about 2 weeks, I’m really loving both. My sister lives about 2-hours from us, but maybe I can make quarterly appointments there. And how cool would it be if the two of us could go together, get our sisterly fix in, and take care of some personal needs to boot.

      I’m liking this girlfriend. Thanks for planting the seed!

  4. Sarah Montee on

    Hi Lisa,

    Unfortunately for me, I have the opposite problem that you have – I’m practically bald. So here’s an idea – my dad lives in Tomah, so we could meet up in La Crosse and you could have your hair thinned out while they bring your hair over to me and weave it into mine! YES! Now we can both love our hair! LOL!

    Seriously, though, once in a blue moon I just go to get a perm when our finances (once in a very blue moon) allow for it at Cost Cutters – which gives me the illusion/delusion of more hair. In between times – and this is going to sound like a shameless plug but I really don’t mean it to – I use my large stash of flexi clips. About a year and a half ago I was on the Heavenly Homemakers blog and saw a giveaway for Lilla Rose flexi clips – which I didn’t win….and I wanted to try one but was too broke to buy one (did I say money was tight?). About six months later I was so fed up with my hair that I decided the budget had to take a hike and I did a major plurge and bought two; one for me and one for our then-2-year-old daughter. I told my husband that if these things actually worked (ie stayed) in my hair, I’d become a consultant. I got it, put it in my hair right away and fell in love with it! Like I said, I now have a large stash for myself…but they have REALLY caught on in our homeschooling group…why? Because most of the moms and daughters have long hair and like to feel feminine – and MANY of them have very thick hair. I’ve had lots of them approach me skeptically and tell me that nothing holds their hair – it’s too long/too thick, etc….and they are STUNNED when the flexi clips work for them (and they get to use the bigger sizes, which I am SO jealous of).

    I’ve done reviews and giveaways on various blogs (I love working with Catholic bloggers cuz I’m a devout Catholic mom myself) 🙂 I’m not asking you to do a review/giveaway if you don’t want to, but if you just want to try one out to see if it solves some of your problem, I can send you one from my inventory! I would seriously love it if it helped you out – makes me feel good, ya know? 🙂 If you have any interest at all, you’ll have to watch the sizing and styling videos on my site to see how they work and what size you’d want (which depends on what you’d want to do with it). I could have it shipped out very quickly – today or tomorrow – and FREE…so no worries. And if you hate it, you can be honest with me about that too 😉 Just remember that these things hold a lot more hair than a person tends to initially think they will, so err on the small side when you let me know what you’d want (if you want to do this). It’d be a fun surprise in the mail to see what you get 🙂

    Enough rambling…the sizing and styling videos are here:

    And thanks for putting up with this entry!

  5. Since your former stylist is now an instructor maybe she will train new stylists how to handle hair like yours (and mine. I feel your frustration.) If you have some way to stay in contact with her maybe she can let you know if a new student is especially talented in managing the difficulties of thick, coarse hair. Then as the new student strikes out on her own you’d be helping her establish her own clientele. In the meantime, don’t feel guilty about paying for a decent haircut.

  6. Rhonda Ortiz on

    Loved this post, Lisa. I have a similar issue (ultra-thick hair that’s alternately coarse and fine, curly and straight). My grandmother has a word for the goal you (and I) are looking for: “neat.” We want to look neat. Presentable. I’m perhaps biased, but I think being “neat” is a good goal, and, yes, it takes some effort and expense.

    I read something a friend wrote about St. Francis Xavier the other day: when he was in India, he dressed very poorly and ate the same food as the people he was with. But when he went to Japan, he knew that would never do, and he presented himself in the finest clothes and had the best foods at his table. Taking his example, I wonder what is right for our own culture? And our own subcultures, for that matter. I’m a native of Oregon, lived and worked in Annapolis and then the DC area for ten years, now live in Western Michigan, and also have plenty of family in Texas. Expectations for appearance in all these places, even in similar circles, are so very, very different!

    • Lisa Schmidt on

      “NEAT” – yes, that’s exactly the right word, Rhonda! Bingo. I’ll try using that word/description with my stylist going forward.

      Love your cultural insights, too. Thanks for sharing those thoughts.

  7. Wow…all these people complaining about thick hair ! I WISH we could swap! Back to the real question at hand. I studied this sort of topic at a conference called the “Queen’s Course”. Basically, you have to find out what makes you your BEST self. Your Best self, is when you are really feeling yourself, and can your best For Others. Taking care of yourself,…is really a gift to others.
    It might sound like we are rationalizing a nice haircut….but let me start with this example.
    Here is something I need to be my Best Self. * 8 hours of sleep per night. If I get this, I am more cheerful, more patient, more loving, etc. So, if you are your best self…more confident, happy, etc…then it is good to identify those needs/haircuts and have them met, because everyone around you will Benefit !
    Let’s take a pedicure, for some it’s a real treat, for others a real necessity for one reason or another. I can tell if I go too long without one,…that I really start to obsess, and focus on imperfections, that a nice grooming would take care of.
    So the take home message: Be Kind to yourself, Others Benefit from you being your Best Self

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