Growing out short hair, the hard way

I’ve been wanting to post a hair update for the few who read this blog who know how long I’ve been trying to grow my hair out from a super-short cut (talking to you, Lana). I was waiting to get my color touched up before taking update photos, which I did last Tuesday, but I didn’t have time to shoot during the week. I decided to snap a few quick pics while doing test shots for the photoshoot I’m planning, so I’ll go ahead and do the hair update now.

For most of my teenage and adult life, my hair has been very short. In junior high, my mom allowed me to go to a stylist and get whatever cut I wanted for the first time, and I immediately chopped it into a short feathered style a la my idol, Kristy McNichol (she was THE COOLEST chick on the planet if you were a young girl at that time – and not only that, she was actually a very good actress. Completely unknown now, I think, but there are those of us who remember what a badass she was back in the day).


Unfortunately, that whole “feathered” hair thing was not manageable with the sort of fine, wavy hair I possessed, and keeping it all swooshing back away from my face was next to impossible; it just wanted to flop forward now matter how much Final Net I sprayed into it each morning. The  best hair to have back then was thick and fairly straight, and I remember admiring girls who could part their hair from the middle, then whoosh it all back on both side so the ‘wings’ would touch. Then they’d spray the shit out of it and it would stay that way, immobile, all day long. Not this gal. I ended up with the dreaded sausage-roll that only flipped around my face while the rest was a frizzy mess.

Good feathered hair.

My feathered hair. Yeah, that’s me – age 13.

From this I determined that I had “bad hair,” especially when you added to the mix that I grew up in a very conservative area of Texas, where hair that was not blonde was a huge detriment to one’s attractiveness. In ninth grade, I decided since I couldn’t pull off length, and I wasn’t all that much to look at (I never thought I was ugly, just kind of plain, and certainly not the cheerleader-y, all-American ideal guys my age at the time idolized) I decided to cut it all off and go super-short, something only a handful of other girls my age were bold enough to do (I think I recall two other girls at my high school with boy-short hair). I felt this gave me an edge, and made me more interesting and noticeable. I was probably right, as my short hair has always been one of my distinctive qualities.

Me at 18.

Throughout my adult years I’ve had just about every variation of short hairstyle you can imagine, but it has always been boy-short. In fact, to me a chin-length bob was considered long just because the ears were covered. The four photos in this collage probably span the past 15 years, easy:

Remember how I mentioned that before a few years ago, I knew nothing about taking photos? This collage proves that.

However, as I moved into my forties, an interesting thing happened. My short hair became less distinctive, and more, well, expected. In my thirties, short hair on a woman was still considered pretty unique, at least the short hair I wore due to my willingness to experiment, razor and buzz, and color at whim. But many women, if not most, start to chop off their hair in their forties, and I began to feel boring and predictable instead of interesting. To distance myself from the soccer moms, I reverted back to the occasional buzz-cut I’ve been known to wear at various times – but I really didn’t care for it anymore (plus, my husband has always hated my hair that short). So a few months later I decided to grow it out for real, and it was at that time I got into wearing wigs so I could keep the mess covered while I did so. I felt it was the only way I’d have the patience to do it, and I could experiment with different lengths and styles while it grew.

The thing is, I’d become so convinced that I didn’t look good in long hair; a belief I developed way back in junior high school, that I’d not ever seriously considered wearing it any longer than the aforementioned chin-length bob. But when I started wearing wigs, I realized I could pull off a much longer style. I became more determined to grow my hair out long, for the first time in my adult life.

That was about three years ago, I’d say, and I definitely hit some snags along the way. I managed to make it seven months without a single cut thanks to wigs, but right before my birthday two summers ago I decided to go get a trim. The problem was, I was between hairstylists and looking for a new one, so I not only had to go get my hair cut into some sort of style without losing too much of it, but I also had to find someone who could do a decent job. Unfortunately, I didn’t hit the hairball right out of the park with my initial stylist choices, and eventually ended up growing out, and then cutting off, most of my length twice in the span of two years. One time the cut was so bad I just chopped it all off and started over, the other time I did my best to let the mess grow and resigned myself to looking like hell for 5  or 6 months while I grew out a horrible cut that made an already crappy mess look even crappier.

On the left was the “custom cut” I received from a pricey salon in the city; it looked cool for about a week, then transformed into a ridiculous mess. Maybe you can’t tell, but there were no two sections of hair that were the same length – it was described by a stylist who tried to fix it months later as “having been chewed on by wolves.” On the right is a faux-hawk I got during another exasperated moment of giving up on growing out.

So here I am, three years later, and I have finally got some semblance of the chin-length bob that I am determined to grow to my shoulders. I found a great stylist last year who’s been good about trimming it just enough to keep it in some sort of style but still allow it to grow. Not that we didn’t make a few mistakes along the way though – leave it to me to constantly throw a wrench into the hair growth plans. Last November I decided I wanted to do some radical color again, which I hadn’t done since starting down the hair growth path, and let’s just say I went really radical:


This looked cool as hell, for about 24 hours. Then the red dye melted into the bleach, turning it pink. I had to wear a hat to work for two days, then make an emergency trip back to my stylist, who managed to transform the pink bleach into a, shall we say, unique copper color. For the next four months, I looked like the Heat Miser.

Not even kidding.

Needless to say, frying my hair with bleach while trying to grow it out at the same time was not the wisest decision, and my stylist has since learned to talk me down off the wild woman ledge when I step too close to it (such as my recent desire to get a perm; he made me wait until the next appointment “so it can grow a little” before getting it, and I’d of course changed my mind by then. I later realized he’d never intended to perm it in the first place. Good boy). I eventually was able to dye over it, but we did have to wait awhile, and I actually had to be seen in public for about four months with copper and burgundy hair. And yet, like the chewed-on-by-wolves “custom cut” and the faux-hawk, I survived, and I am still determined to grow this mess to my shoulders. But for now, here’s where it is – a nice normal cut, and a nice normal color (I think we are finally at the point where the dye is going to stay this time and not fade out where all that bleach was like it’s been doing for the past year):

I have a lot of hair, but it’s very fine, which means it’s always going to look flat. Oh well. At least it’s not orange.

Close to my natural color, but warmer and a touch lighter. Also minus the gray that’s sprinkled throughout mine.


18 thoughts on “Growing out short hair, the hard way

  1. Very cute. You look nice in short hair but I am sure you will find more versatility when it grows out.

    I have worn my hair at shoulder length, just like in my little gravatar picture (taken about eight years ago by a professional photographer, and scanned) – except then I had it cut in long layers and have since let it get to one length so I can put it up or back. Shoulder length for fine hair (that is what I have too, very dark brown and I cover the gray although I am toying with letting the salt and pepper look come in or putting some red highlights in some day soon) is manageable. Longer than that I am afraid at 45 and moving forward I would look like I was trying to ‘pass’ for a twenty year old.

    Anyway, I like your current hair style and whoever colored it did a fab job.

    • Yeah, I’ve never agreed with the “women over a certain age” can’t have long hair thing. The key to me is if the hair looks good that length – is it healthy? I see women under 40 all the time with terrible hair that is long, and it’s not like it looks OK because they’re younger! I may go longer IF I feel it looks good that way, but I do think with how flat mine tends to be, much longer than my shoulders and it’s going to look limp. When I had hair to my shoulders briefly in my early 30’s, though, the show Friends was still popular, and everyone said I looked like Courteney Cox – and her hair still looks nice longer. So maybe I’ll be able to get away with it 😉

      • You know, you do look something like her and also something somehow like Jennifer Aniston (sp?)! Come to think of it, as you say, the issue is the health of the hair, more than anything. I just don’t want to be one of those women with long, stringy fadiing hair and wrinkles (I hope I don’t jinx myself, she said, knocking on wood, but so far no wrinkles, thank god because I don’t think I could handle them :-(! ).

      • Welllll I seriously doubt you will even consider it for a moment, but if it’s wrinkles you’re worried about, Botox will slow that process down considerably, and effectively. I am just about convinced however that you will not want to inject Botulism into your face, somehow you don’t seem the type to me. In other words, my type. I swear by that stuff.

      • I just might if I start seeing some serious ones develop in the wrong places, LOL. It has always made me wonder and I assume it is not overly painful if you have done it. I have not heard any horror stories at all and it has been around for awhile, so I will take your advice on this score…

      • The biggest misperception about Botox, though, is that it gets RID of wrinkles. It doesn’t. It helps to prevent their formation by paralyzing the muscles. Wait until you see wrinkles, and – it’s too late. I know loads of women in their fifties who have gotten it done and said it “didn’t work” on them. The truth is they waited too long. The idea time to start is the late thirties.

        Also, it WILL change your appearance slightly and you have to be comfortable with that. Your smile will change, because your forehead won’t move. For me, my smile has also changed because I get my upper lip Botoxed also. It is definitely a compromise, but it is one I am OK with because overall I like the results.

      • I do not think it hurts at all; the needles are tiny. However, the two injections I get on my upper lip DO sting – but that is very unusual place to get Botox. I get it there because the plastic surgeon says that with older women, those wrinkles around the lips are a major complaint, and this slows those down. Also, my lips are thin and it gives the upper lip a little “boost.” But, those two injections DO hurt a bit. The others, no. I have a friend who is a HUGE wimp about needles, doctors, etc. She was so scared she made me go with her and sit in the room while she had it done – and she was fine.

        I have had some fillers done on occasion as well, in the laugh lines – much more expensive, and they did use topical anesthesia for that because it can be more painful. I haven’t done that in awhile because when looking at pics of older women who’ve had lots of fillers (Madonna comes to mind, or Meg Ryan) I’m not convinced it’s a good long-term option. I think Madonna’s face looks over-plumped and kinda lumpy now and that is not something I want. Plus, Botox is pricey enough. Fillers are twice as much. (And for you being in LA, OMG I bet even Botox is expensive! You must go to a plastic surgeon of course and not just anyone if you’re gonna do it right.)

  2. Loved this post for many reasons. The first my name being mentioned of course haha. The second, really neat to see all the different short hairstyles. Though I do have to say the bob style really suits you. As for flat hair there are so many different hair products out there to give lift. It’s just finding the right one that works for your hair.

    Also when I was able to grow my hair out it seemed it took forever. Which was a pain in the butt and every time I had to go get a trim it was like no don’t cut it LOL. You look great.

    • Well I know you’ve been with me from the beginning of this whole hair growth thing ;). And I know how you love bobs! But it is a seriously slow process it’s true. I’ve been doing it for three freaking years and i swear it JUST got into a decent hairstyle about a month ago. THANK GOD FOR WIGS LOL

  3. A fantastic culmination of hairstyles and colors over a 20 year(?) span. This last picture is perfection. The cut is darling and the color could not be more natural.
    Bravo, Marey.

  4. Thank you for the info – I am going to check pricing. Insurance doesn’t cover it and as you say, LA is astronomical in all respects. I wouldn’t trust it to someone in Valencia, I would have to go to BH – LOL, I should get in touch with the Kardashians and see who they use! (Not that I could afford their doctor)…tempting…

    • Red and blonde are two very difficult colors to mix, unless the hair is naturally blonde to start with and not bleached! I don’t know what I was thinking trying to pull something like that off, but it DID look cool for about 24 hours!

      And I am just now getting to the stage where I don’t have to go the hairdresser every 4-6 weeks, you are right, it is nice 🙂

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