I Like to Wash My Hair
My favorite ritual in lockdown life includes conditioner that smells like passion fruit.
I am sure that I am not alone in having done absolutely nothing with my hair this year. My hair is thick and grows quickly; recently, I decided to chop it all off just above my shoulder, no layers, no bangs. I got tired of washing it when it was long. And I probably won’t get another haircut for another several months. Most days I put it up or let it dry however it pleases. I’m going to save the fabulous hair cut for a moment of post-pandemic, vaccinated glory. This was, after all, the year to go gray, to stop wearing makeup—to stop worrying so much about how you look. (I know, there’s Zoom, but honestly, when my interactions are mediated by a screen and my head is disconnected from my body, I can’t really be bothered.) To me, beauty right now has become less about the presentation. It’s more about what feels like a ritual and what can be discarded as superficial nonsense.
Thomas Cole’s Evening in Arcady
This leads me to shampoo. The lovely writer Zoe Ruffner introduced me to Philip B. I am someone who gets very annoyed at expensive shampoos, but I suppose, contrary to my diminished vanity in other areas, I feel more and more these days like indulging in the act of washing my hair. Perhaps it’s because bathing is one of the few activities that break up my day. It feels like a reward or a way to put space between me and the screen. If I’m frustrated with something at work or I am stuck untangling an idea or sentence, that’s when I’ll decide to take a shower. I actually get disappointed now if I shower in the morning, because I don’t have anything to look forward to later. Taking a bath with some Epsom salts and a book is really a highlight lately.
There are a lot of different options with Philip B. (he has a quiz that helps you discover your routine), and Zoe—whose hair is long, straight but also sometimes wavy—told me to try Philip B.’s Gentle Conditioning Shampoo and Everyday Beautiful Conditioner. I love both. They make, as Zoe promises, everything silky soft. I also tried out his Peppermint Avocado Scalp Scrub (there is a big movement happening in the world of shampoo with treating your sculp like you would the rest of your skin, more on that at some point), which I absolutely loved. It made mine tingle, and had sea salt crystals for exfoliating purposes. I also (because my hair is pretty thick) got Philip B.’s Lovin’ Leave In Conditioner, which smells heavenly. It’s passion fruit! I’ve never had passion fruit conditioner! I look forward to washing my hair every time just to smell this conditioner. Zoe reminded me of the Pantene Pro-V commercials we both watched growing up—and that’s sort of how using Philip B. makes you feel. I know, it sounds cheesy, but oh well, so some fancy shampoo makes me cheesy!
Thomas Cole’s Sunset View on Catskill Creek Painting
Otherwise, I am reading Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac. An old book. But a good one. I like the sense of remove, how it feels like staying at a grand old hotel alone. I would love to feel that curiosity and loneliness one has when one is traveling alone. The people watching and tentative moments of eye contact. The unfamiliar rhythms of hotel life that quickly become routine. My favorite part is the description of the hotel itself:
In this way the hotel was known as a place which was unlikely to provide a restorative sojourn for those whom life had mistreated or merely fatigued. Its name and situation figured in the card indexes of those whose business it is to know such things. Certain doctors knew it, many solicitors knew it, brokers and accountants knew it. Travel agents did not know it, or had forgotten it. Those families who benefit from the periodic absence of one of their more troublesome members treasured it. And the word got round.
And of course it was an excellent hotel. And its situation on the lake was agreeable. The climate was not brilliant, but in comparison with other, similar, resorts, it was equable. The resources of the little town were not extensive, but cars could be hired, excursions could be taken, and the walking was pleasant if unexciting. The scenery, the view, the mountain, were curiously unemphatic, as if delineated in the water-colors of an earlier period. While the young of all nations hurtled off to the sun and the beaches, jamming the roads and the airports, the Hotel du Lac took a quiet pride, and sometimes it was very quiet indeed, in its isolation from the herd, knowing that it had a place in the memory of its old friends, knowing too that it would never refuse a reasonable request from a new client, provided that the new client had the sort of unwritten references required from an hotel of this distinction, and that the request had come from someone whose name was already on the Huber family’s files, most of which went back to the beginning of the century.
What an excellent description! I know this hotel, I know exactly this hotel. It’s discreet and not very flashy, but once once you understand all of the little choices that it’s made, it is very refined, completely perfect in its conception of itself and your needs.
It’s been slow going finishing it. I guess that’s because I picked up three other books this past month, and I can’t seem to make up my mind which one I’m actually reading. I’m going to blame the arrival of spring. It’s distracting!