Good things happen to women on their good hair days.
That may sound silly, but think about it: Chances are you were feeling your most confident glowing self when you aced that job interview, flirted with a handsome guy (or two) at the supermarket, had a terrific time at a party or gave a smashing presentation at work.
In their book, The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful, Beverly Hills dermatologist Debra Luftman, MD, and Miami psychiatrist Eva Ritvo, MD, call this "the beauty-brain loop: " When we feel physically attractive, we project a sense of self-assurance to the outside world. That confidence makes us even more beautiful, people respond to us more positively, and we take actions that help us achieve what we want.
And the first thing people notice about us: our hair, according to the authors. It not only shapes our inner sense of beauty but also the way people respond to us. We asked three women with common hair types how their hair makes them feel and what they do to reverse bad hair days.
Hair Type: Fine
"When my hair is flat and my ends are frayed, I feel invisible and I retreat," says Laurie D., a 39-year-old dog groomer in Newport Beach, Calif. But "when my hair is blow-dried and polished, people look me in the eye. That makes me feel better about myself, and I'm definitely friendlier and more outgoing."
Hair Rx: To keep fine hair looking its fullest and healthiest, do what Laurie does: Apply a deep conditioner every couple of weeks, put on a shower cap and run a dryer over your head for a few minutes. Laurie also uses a texturizing cream on her ends so they look defined rather than wilted.
Hair Type: Long and Thick
Tara K., a 30-year-old New Jersey lawyer, has the opposite problem: long hair so thick it easily looks too voluminous and unkempt. "I feel prettier when my hair is newly flatironed," she says. "The angles are sharper, and it looks fresher."
Hair Rx: To maintain a polished look, Tara chooses products formulated to smooth thick hair. She also minimizes damage from hot tools by always using a heat protectant when she styles her hair. "I spray it on each section right before I flatiron it," says Tara. "That not only protects my hair, it also makes it easier to straighten, so I don't have to do as many passes with the flatiron."
Hair Type: Curly
For Linda U., a 44-year-old New Jersey schoolteacher, every day was a battle between her and her curly hair. "In the morning, I'd weigh my hair down with a ton of products," she says, "but after a couple of hours it had frizzed and puffed up so much I felt too self-conscious to even go out and do my errands." Even worse, her unruly hair undermined her feelings of authority as a teacher.
Hair Rx: Linda finally got the upper hand when she found a hairdryer with a rotating brush. It helped her achieve salon-like styling, and she began using a deep moisturizing treatment created for thick, curly hair like hers. "My hair used to look like a horse's mane," she says. "Now it feels soft and has lots of luster." That, in turn, has helped Linda feel "more put together and professional," when she's standing in front of her class and meeting with parents.
Taking extra steps to make our hair, as well as our skin, look its best isn't a superficial pursuit, the authors of The Beauty Prescription conclude. When you feel good about the way you look, you turn on an inner light that changes how you move through the world and how people react to you. So, take some advice from Laurie, Tara and Linda, and the beauty buddies in your own life, and shine on.
Shelley Levitt, managing editor of The Style Glossy, is a former West Coast editor of Self and senior writer at People.
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