I'm more realistic today. I know I'll never top 5' 2", return to the makeup-free zone of my youth or have perfect blonde hair that cascades past my shoulders like my gorgeous friend Debbie Fuqua. But, after losing EVERY last strand on my head to chemo in 2009, I am more convinced than ever that our crowning glory rules. Nothing can drag down your look or your mood as much as a bad hair (or in my case ... no hair) day.
Award-winning hair stylist Joey Noufal
It has taken me 16 months to achieve my new pixie cut. Trendy now, but I don't intend to stop there (grow, baby, grow). Thank goodness award-winning hair stylist Joey Noufal, owner of
Noufal Hair Color Studio, encourages length-loving boomers like me to go for it.
"Today, it's considered ok to have longer hair as you get older," Joey says. "It used to be perceived you had to cut your hair off - not so anymore. It is all about beauty and sex appeal as you age. So if you can wear a longer style, keep it."
For boomer-rific hair, Joey recommends:
· Lighten up. Spring and summer are the perfect time to think about lightening your hair color. Adding highlights can help hide any gray and take years off your look.
· Shine On. Look for a product to increase shine; there are lots of great ones (read on for some Boomer Brief picks). This is especially important for boomer babes since we tend to lose sheen in our hair as we age.
· Have fun playing with styles. Try a half-up, half-down style to emphasize your eyes.
· Go for a bang. Cutting bangs can be a real style pick-me-up ... just ask my friend Becky Elder how many compliments she's received since adding some fringe. They can also help cover wrinkles on your forehead, camouflage thinning eyebrows and hide sun damage or other imperfections in this area.
As a bang aficionado (yes, I've had them FOREVER so I am glad they're back in style), I think it only fair to warn you that they seem to grow faster than the rest of your hair so they'll likely need cutting before it's time to return to the salon. No problem if your stylist offers to trim them free in-between cuts (many do) or you fall into the DIY category like me.
I often snip my own bangs since I'm in a growing-out phase. That helps me stretch the time between overall trims. My pick for the job: Sally Hansen's new Do Your 'Do Classic Cutting Styling Shears ($14.49 at drug stores). They're professional grade and extra-sharp so it's easy to do your own clipping.
I've also become obsessed with taking better care of my hair. I eat a protein-packed diet to promote growth, avoid harsh chemicals and over-styling, and look for products that help me make the most of my fine, short crop.
Aveeno Living Color Shampoo, Conditioner and Shine Glaze
Although I think of myself as blond, my hair was actually dark brown when it grew back following chemo. (Who knew after all those years of coloring?) It's taken three attempts at highlighting to even get close to what feels like my "natural" color.
What work! After all that, you know I need a shampoo that's ultra-safe for color-treated hair. That's why I was happy to try Aveeno's Living Color collection, which includes:
· A shampoo and conditioner with natural, protein-rich lupine botanicals to protect color and add shine. Available in formulas for fine and medium/thick hair, this eco-friendly duo strengthens hair and amps up body by replenishing moisture and protecting hair from everyday damage.
· A shine glaze for a smooth finish and nice, soft feel. You just rub in this light treatment following conditioning, let it sit a few minutes and wash it out for fresh-from-the-salon shine. It doesn't weigh hair down so you can use it more often than other glazes.
My friend and neighbor Shelley Tyler was quick to notice a difference after I test drove this new body-and-sheen-enhancing trio. (Don't you just love girlfriends?) So you can bet I'll be going back for more.
On the Shelf: Aveeno Living Color Shampoo and Conditioner $6.49 - $7.49 (10.5 ounces each); Shine Glaze $6.49 - $7.49 (4 ounces) at national food, drug and mass merchandisers
Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo and Conditioner
Intelligent Nutrients' health-boosting daily cleanser and conditioner are designed to nourish, strengthen and improve the look and feel of hair - not simply cover or fill in damaged areas. Made from safe, plant-based ingredients, both products contain a potent anti-aging antioxidant called Intellimune Seed Oil Complex that is blended from black cumin, pumpkin, red grape, red raspberry and cranberry seed oils.
Used regularly, Harmonic Shampoo eliminates build up from hair products, dirt and environmental pollutants while the lightweight conditioner leaves hair feeling soft and manageable. Safe for color-treated hair, this nutrient-packed pair works for fine, thin strands like mine as well as other hair types.
They have a refreshing cardamom-and-mint aroma that's quite invigorating. And talk about healthy. Intelligent Nutrient products are made with non-toxic, certified organic materials ... no gluten, sulfates, parabens, silicones, ethoxylates, PEG, phthalates or synthetic fragrances.
On the Shelf: Harmonic Shampoo $22; Harmonic Conditioner $24 (15 ounces each) at
Neutrogena Shampoo and Hair Mask
Blow dryers. Curling irons. Thickening mouse, styling gel, hair spray - I need an arsenal of tools and products to add volume and staying power to my fine, thin mane. But too much of these good things can cause hair to lose its luster fast. That's when Neutrogena's Anti-Residue Shampoo and Deep Recovery Hair Mask come in really handy.
The once-a-week, deep-cleaning shampoo instantly removes dulling residues to help keep all hair types looking their healthy best. The rich, fresh-scented lather leaves your locks clean, shiny and soft without the use of artificial dyes or colors.
Designed for extremely dry, damaged hair, Neutrogena's Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Mask uses naturally derived ingredients to moisturize all three layers of the hair strand. So long fly-aways and frizz! Weekly use of this concentrated after-shampoo treatment can revitalize even the most dehydrated hair strands, adding softness and shine.
On the Shelf: Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo $5.99 (6 ounces); Triple Moisture Hair Mask $6.99 at Neutrogena.com and retailers nationwide
Unite Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner
If your hair is dry from sun exposure, coloring or too many chemicals, you need a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner like these favorites from Unite. Besides nourishing moisture-starved tresses, they lock in color, aid healing and up the shine factor.
This sulfate and paraben-free pair includes:
· Moringa Seed Extract: A color-preserving antioxidant that helps keep hair young and healthy
· Botanisil: A thermal protector that hydrates, locks in color, and reduces blow drying time by about 20 percent (bonus!).
Thanks to hydrolyzed wheat protein, the shampoo also strengthens hair, improves manageability and reduces breakage.
On the Shelf: Unite Moisturizing Shampoo $21.95; Moisturizing Conditioner $23.95 (10 ounces each) available at Unitehair.com and fine salons nationwide
John Frieda Frizz and Flyaway Fixers
Although I had no curl before, my hair grew back with a mind of its own after my fight with the Big C. Now, I'm forced to blow dry or flat iron my bangs, in particular, to keep them from flipping out at the oddest angles.
I recently tried three products from John Frieda that make my tiresome job much easier:
· Frizz-Ease Three-Day Straight: This heat-activated, fast frizz fix transforms fuzzy curls into smooth strands that stay nice and straight up to three days or until your next shampoo. The proprietary blend of polymers with keratin protein wraps each strand, sealing in straight style as it smoothes. Misting the semi-permanent styling spray on damp hair provides heat protection, blocks frizz and enhances your blow dryer and flatiron's straightening power.
· Frizz-Ease Thermal Protection Hair Serum: This lightweight frizz fighter can be used on wet or towel-dried hair (for styling) as well as on dry hair (for touchups and extra protection throughout the day). It combines silk protein, phytantriol and Vitamin E to safeguard hair from heat and UV damage, add shine and seal out frizz. Since my hair is thin with scattered curls, I focused on the ends when applying this treatment and was rewarded with silky, smoothness.
· Full-Repair Touch-Up Flyaway Tamer: This portable wand polishes broken strands, smoothing flyaways and frayed ends with Inca Inchi oil to keep hair sleek and smooth. Glide the handbag-friendly, mascara-type brush over dry, styled hair for on-the go touchups and a nice dose of shine.
On the Shelf: John Freida Frizz-Ease Three-Day Straight $9.99 (3.5 ounces), Frizz-Ease Thermal Protection Hair Serum $9.99 (1.69 ounces) and Full-Repair Flyaway Tamer $9.99 (.5 ounces) at food, drug and mass retailers nationwide