Hair Woes

From the time we are little girls we are obsessed with our hair. It is our crowning glory and many hours are spent on straightening, or curling, blow drying, moussing, gelling, colouring etc. That does not end once the hair is covered upon marriage. We may not put as much effort into it as before, after all why spend hours straightening your hair when you are just going to stuff it under a hat, tuck it under a sheitel, or tie it back under a scarf but just the same we like it to look good. Covering it dries it out and dulls it down.

I fully admit to colouring my hair – after all, when ChatterBox wondered aloud how the hairdresser managed to put silver highlights in my hair just so, I knew I needed to do something about it. (Yes, folks, I don’t cover in front of my kids– it’s a personal choice).

My hair is in desperate need of a colour and a cut. The ends are split, my hair is just dying, slowly. And there are plenty more silver highlights – and I know just who put them there! Yesterday I put my sheitel (wig) on after pinning up my hair (and it’s long) and after an hour or so I noticed my sheitel was slipping back. Even with the pins and clips and what have you. Just the sheer weight of the hair tucked underneath was overwhelming the poor little wig.

It being the Sefirah / Omer (period of mourning in memory of a plague that killed the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva), we are not supposed to be cutting our hair. Allowing our hair to grow, and for the men not shaving, is a sign of mourning. But Lag BaOmer (33rd Day of the Omer when the mourning period is suspended) is not till Sunday and I felt that if I had to wait another week to chop off an inch or four I would go crazy. My KoD consulted our extremely competent LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi) who told us that I *should* wait till Friday (can cut in honour of Shabbat) but if I really cannot wait, it’s ok. It’s really interfering with my hair covering – so I felt that I could go today and just get it taken care of.

I was just about out the door to the hairdresser’s after putting the lasagna in the oven when I stopped for a second. Yes, there is nothing assur (forbidden) about me going for a haircut right now, but I strive to teach the boys the right way in everything. They have to wait to have haircuts (and shave – oy how I need Lenny to shave…) yet because I am complaining about my hair I can cut it?? What message does this send to them – to look for a kulah (leniency) when it’s not really strictly important? I can really put up with the annoyance for another few days if I have to – just will wear my hats and my scarves and not bother with wigs.

I hate my hair at the moment. I want to just cut it all off into a pixie cut and be done with it. But I will wait till Friday to do it, and maybe by then I will be ok with leaving it a little longer than that. (Or maybe the KoD will have sweet talked me into just snipping a little off the ends….He can try).

How do you take care of your hair under your hair covering? Have you let it just get nasty or do you baby it?

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  1. le7 says:

    I keep it short. My hair is extremely thick. When I try to explain this to people – they don’t believe me.

    I got my hair cut professionally a few months ago and initially I told the hairdresser “I have very thick hair.” She said “OK, no problem, I do too.” Then while cutting my hair for a good twenty minutes she talked about how thick my hair is and because I wear a sheitel I must actually pray for it to thin out. I can’t say I pray for it to thin out… but I get her point.

    When I bought my sheitel before I got married (an extra-large too) the sheitel macher tried obsessively to put my hair inside the wig… didn’t happen.

    So the end of the day is, I wash my hair with nice smelling conditioner but it’s pixie length. (This doesn’t really bother me because for awhile before I got married I had a pixie). Sometimes I wish I kept a ponytail – but even if I wore tichels all the time it just wouldn’t be worth it.

    • MrsMelissaSG says:

      I could have written this exactly (minus the sheitel part b/c my Sephardi husband isn’t into that) — I have crazy thick hair and keep it super short. While I like it longer for tichels, its just not worth it!

  2. Kew Gardener says:

    “They have to wait to have haircuts (and shave – oy how I need Lenny to shave…) yet because I am complaining about my hair I can cut it?? What message does this send to them – to look for a kulah (leniency) when it’s not really strictly important?”

    No, the message it sends is that the custom is inherently more lenient for women, for whom grooming needs are often a bigger deal. YOU need Lenny to shave, but I’d bet it’s not bothering him the same way.

    The message you’d be sending them is that women are their own creatures with their own needs, and halacha recognizes that without blaming anyone — something they should learn so they can be good husbands, G-d willing.

  3. Sophia says:

    I have waist length hair and cove exclusively with tichels/snoods/berets according to mood and outfit. This was part of the deal with my less observant but adorable husband who loves my long hair. I tend to plait it and pin it up at the base of my neck or use a large barrette and so far so good.

    On the halachic front I am impressed that you decided to wait and set a good example. While the custom is inherently more lenient for women I personally feel that we should all strive to improve our observance. Yes they should strive to be good husbands but perhaps we as a community should strive to be a little less obsessed with how women look.

  4. le7 says:

    On the other hand if you do cut it, you’re showing your boys that you value tznius.

  5. Lili says:

    I have my hair really, really short (because I like it, not because it’s easier). However, I can’t wear a sheitel more than a couple hours so I mostly wear hats and scarves.

  6. Kew Gardener says:

    “While the custom is inherently more lenient for women I personally feel that we should all strive to improve our observance. Yes they should strive to be good husbands but perhaps we as a community should strive to be a little less obsessed with how women look.”

    There was once a Hassidic young lady who married a non-Hassidic guy; she wanted to shave her head, like her family did; he said no way. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled in his favor. “But shouldn’t we try to improve our observance of tzniut?” “Not when it’s likely to be at the expense of shalom bayit.”

  7. lady lock and load says:

    I would think it would be more important for the father to show the example to the boys to not cut hair and shave. The dad or step dad is more of a role model in these matters than a mom.
    Still, it’s very nice that you are waiting a bit and not cutting till Lag B’omer!! I would do the same.

  8. batya from NJ says:

    I agree with your decision to wait till Friday b/c that is the preferred time to cut hair both for men and women & I think you are setting a good example for your boys!

  9. lady lock and load says:

    “Covering it dries it out and dulls it down”.
    I have been covering my hair for almost twenty six years and have not noticed that at all. I have never used any chemicals or hair dye (nor do I ever intend to) which could cause hair to get dry and dull, in my humble opinion.

    • batya from NJ says:

      I happen to feel the same way as LLL b/c I’ve covered my hair for 20+ years & have never dyed it or used any chemicals & BH it looks great (IMHO). Like you Hadassah, I don’t cover in the house around my hubby & kids but I do cover when there are other men around. I think it’s probably a genetic thing whether one’s hair looks good or not as ppl. age regardless of whether or not they cover it although covering it probably doesn’t help hair look its best for most ppl.

  10. Miriam says:

    My hair is also healthier covered. And I’ve heard other people say the same, so I don’t think there’s really a hard and fast rule for this. I no longer have split ends, even. (Literally – I went searching and found 3.) And I keep it pretty long – I cut off about 6″ just before Purim so that it would fit under my sheitel, and it’s still well past my shoulders.

    • Miriam, I’ve definitely heard this. My friend has said the same of her hair. The lack of exposure to the elements, especially sun damage, has made her hair super healthy. Her formerly curly hair has even straightened out completely and it’s super shiny.

      Another two friends claim the same luck but they have light hair which has progressively darkened the longer they’ve covered it so they have to highlight and color it to get it to look like what it did before marriage.

  11. T says:

    Good for you H! what IS a few more days at this point!!!

    YES! I also am craving badly to cut my locks, especially when it gets too long and the ponies give me migraines. I am one of those ladies that, although I cover my hair, I will spend a fortune, treat myself at the beauty salon and be proud to immediatly put a hat back on the perfect new coif, just so that I CAN FEEL GREAT!!!!!!My husband not only supports this, but encourages me to go and do so. I love it!

  12. Covering my hair made it so dry and brittle that it started to fall out and my hairline receded even though I was only wearing tichels (head scarves) and berets).

    Of course, have a kinky afro, my hair is always dry but covered–no matter what the material–I looked like I’d been ravaged by wild dogs, my hair took on the shape PERMANENTLY until the next wash of whatever head covering I chose and I had split ends for the first time. I rarely have split ends naturally since I air dry and use 3 conditioners (regular plus 2 types of leave-in).

    (I can’t color it with anything. I’ve tried just for fun and it splits and dries my jet black hair to a crisp instantly.) When I was able to cover before the health issues arose, I had to use a hell of a lot of conditioner plus deep conditioner weekly–a time consuming process that I hated it.

    If you have curly hair or even if you don’t, you might be interested in these too products from Ouidad. My friend who has straight, dry air loves the first one.

    “Moisture Lock Leave-in Conditioner”

    “Deep Treatment Intensive Conditioner”

  13. Hadassah, I also got a heter to get a haircut early. I didn’t/haven’t used it either despite really, really wanting to do so.

    I DO have a pixie cut but I get “ice pick headaches” right at the back on two sides of my head below my ears. I have to keep the hair there very short so I can access it with anti-inflammatory patches, creams and a TENS unit to control the pain. Right now the hair’s too thick to get a patch to stick or cream into the area.

    My hair grows back quickly and very thick there so despite getting a really short cut a while back, I definitely needed to get a trim before Pesach but I was too sick and forgot to get it cut so I’ve been using a massager and painkillers to cope in the meantime until I can get the area buzzed.

  14. Miriam says:

    I cut my hair before Shavuot and then grow it out the rest of the time. I don’t do anything to it other than that. I don’t even use shampoo. I follow the “no ‘poo” method of some baking soda when my scalp feels dirty and a rinse of diluted apple cider vinegar. (No, I don’t smell like a salad.) My hair has never been so healthy as it is now.

    I was having hair loss at my temples before I ditched the shampoo but now its back. My hair is shiny and silky and full. I wear wigs very infrequently and hats only slightly more often. Cotton scarves are my preferred covering.

  15. Ariela says:

    I hate to say it, but there may be another reason your hair is changing: age. Many women have changes in quality, texture, etc… as they age in addition to changes in color. So it may not have anything to do with covering your hair.
    I don’t cover my hair, but have short hair. I can’t stand going more than a month btw cuts. That being said, I will wait til lag baomer to get my hair cut (I got it cut a few weeks b4 pessach). I agree with a good doogmah eishit for your boys.

  16. B”H, my hair has been fine since I started covering it (okay, I’ve been married less than four years, but, hey, that must count for *something*), and it’s definitely benefited from the lack of straight-iron contact! It’s also darker than it used to be. Since I cover it all the time (in the house as well as out, though usually not while sleeping), I don’t do much for it, but I use natural shampoos ( and yummy conditioners so it still feels nice, even though it’s always in a pony. Also, I got it cut by an actual hairdresser last time (I used to just snip the ends off myself), and she layered it, which makes a huge difference. It even looks nice after a whole day in a pony, which makes me feel good. :)

  17. Bracha says:

    Our rav sent an email that since Lag B’omer is on motzei shabbat, it’s ok for men to shave and get haircuts on Friday. So that definitely goes for women’s haircuts as well.

  18. Hindy B says:

    My sheitel macher sells this sort-of velour headband (with velcro at either end, so you can adjust it to fit your head). You put that on so that the edge is just over your hairline (a little further back than if you were putting a headband on on top of a fall) and then the sheitel goes on top of that.

    The velour doesn’t allow the sheitel to slide and you don’t ever have to use your clips to keep your sheitel on your head.

    (I don’t currently use on, but as the hair along my hairline keeps thinning, I’m sure that at some point I will).

    I couldn’t find the velour one on-line, but this site has a gel one:

  19. Kew Gardener says:

    Another important point:

    If your rabbi said “if it’s bothering you, you can get a haircut sooner”, then it’s important for your boys to see that that is actually the halacha, and meant to be followed.

    People would complain to Rav Moshe Feinstein that he was too lenient; he would reply, “I pasken the way I see it; what do you want me to do, pasken wrong?”

  20. BB says:

    Like you I don’t cover all the time. I color it back to natural. Most important, I have my thick wavy hair professionally cut in a wash and wear style: it air-dries into the style I like, with a bit of mousse or gel (no blow-drying needed). I leave it long enough to pin up or clip in a barrette.

  21. miriam p says:

    (Adding the p to avoid confusion as there are 2 Miriams posting on this thread. I was the earlier one.)

    My hair has actually kept its highlights, surprisingly. And it started straight but is now wavy, which I attribute to pregnancy hormones, as I noticed during my third pregnancy (it was long enough that it could have changed during my first pregnancy but took a while to grow in enough to notice).

    I’m not much of a sheitel person either – I prefer nice snoods even to tichels. And I wear my hair under them in two braids. I know it’s time to cut my hair when it gets long enough to pull my snoods off. Unless there is a sheitel occasion coming up (wedding or l’havdil a funeral) and then it needs to fit under the sheitel, of course.

    Hadassah, I have to agree that it’s as much chinuch (actually, more!) to make use of a heter as to put chumrahs on yourself. You asked a shailah, and as long as you explain to your boys that either 1) the Rav said *you* could because..
    or 2) the Rav said it was preferred to wait until erev Shabbos because… well, that’s chinuch. If you don’t explain, though, then they haven’t learned anything from your experience.

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