Zen and the Art of Greasy Hair Maintenance

I am the proud owner of a set of bangs.  Like bang ambassador Zooey Deschanel, I have sported face-eating fringe for my entire life– try as I might, I have never been able to grow them out without feeling like my forehead looks a touch too “Teresa Guidice from Real Housewives of New Jersey”:

Anxiety about my low hairline aside, my fringe has taken me from innocent child with neon bike shorts, a French braid and feathered bangs; to thin, wispy middle-schooler-in-the-late-90s bangs; to moody, existentialist, sideswept collegiate bangs; to “I’m broke, and I look like a kindergartener on picture day because I tried to cut my own hair with kitchen scissors” adult bangs.  My bangs are a part of my identity, and, since puberty, they’ve also possessed one additional constant quality: they’re greasy as fuck.

It’s not that I’m an excessively oily person (except, maybe I am).  It’s just that curtains of hair covering the top region of one’s face tend to make one’s forehead sweat, which leads to some oily curtains, especially during the summer.  I also spent a brief stint as a hair salon receptionist, which means that I’ve been conditioned (ha) to think that shampooing my hair everyday will land me a secure spot in Hell, and a bald spot on my head when all of my dried-out hair breaks off.  I also, also went to so-called “hippie” college UC Berkeley, which means that of course I think that granola-y practices like the “No ‘Poo Movement” are awesome, and completely eat them up (as long as they’re vegan).  Regardless of the origins of my problem, Greasy Bangs Sydrome (or, GBS) is real, millions suffer from it, and I am here today to stand up and shamelessly declare: I am one of them.

So what’s a girl to do, when her hairstyle and her sebaceous glands are constantly in a Street Fighter 2 battle atop her dome? Basically, there are two strategies for dealing with any flaw in this world, and they are either “Fix It” or “Own It.”  If you’re looking to “fix” your GBS, then just pin back your fringe when you sleep, blot your Tyra Banks on the reg, and turn to the poor man’s dry shampoo: baby powder.  Sprinkling some Johnson & Johnson’s on your roots might give them a bit of a gray tinge if you’re dark-haired, but just look at it as a glimpse into your future (I don’t know why people get their panties in a bunch over ageing anyway– I, for one, can’t wait to be a Crazy Cat Lady).  My friend Ashley and I also use this general rule of greaseballness:  if your hair looks like shit, just wear a really cute outfit to distract from how horrendous it looks!  Try some intense eye makeup.  Bust out those statement wedges.  Drape yourself in gaudy costume jewelry.  Give headwear a chance.  You have one goal, people– make ‘em notice everything besides the mess takin’ place on your noggin.

But because I’m all about self-esteem, and rocking one’s perceived “flaws” like the Barabara Streisand-esque divas that we all secretly harbor within ourselves, I’m not going to give any additional tips for fixing your greasy bangs problem.  Actually, I’m going to tell you that it’s not a problem at all, and that you should shine a spotlight on those oily things, because they make you, “You,” and what could be better than that?  Here are some muses to help you own your GBS, play it up, and– daresay– celebrate it for the “You”-maker that it is:

The Slumster:  I lived in San Francisco in an age before all of the “cool kids” started moving to Oakland, so maybe this look isn’t as ubiquitous now as it was a few years ago: the tattoos abundant, the black Levi’s tattered, and the hair long and greasy.  Stay up all night, get your clothes from the free box, and work part-time while simultaneously pursuing your “art,” but not really.  Come from a “good family” who still finances your partying, but look like you’re homeless.  Your greasy hair will be the crown in your “King of the Slumsters” uniform.  You might not smell the best, and you’ll definitely risk being called a “dirty hipster,’ but you’ll also be filthy sexy.

Okay, let’s be real:  that first inspiration was a little cliche.  There are already enough “edgy” people in this world– we can do better.  Here are some other grease-topped muses who personally speak to my soul; hopefully you can find some hairspiration in them, too:

The Weird Girl:  We all knew her: that odd girl in class who wore oversized sweaters, collected rocks, and “played horses” at recess.  She had a frizzy butt-length ponytail, and teal sweatpants.  She liked the muppets, and drank juice from a purple thermos everyday.  Her too-thick bangs started halfway back her head, and were always more than a little unkempt and sweaty.  Maybe we made fun of her, or maybe we were her, but one thing’s for sure– now’s the time to celebrate her with some major greasy bangitude (and a giant sweater, duh).

The Budding Chola:  Maybe it’s because I was  the late-blooming “Weird Girl” (and still am), but I always had insane amounts of envy for the girls at my middle school who could pull off the lip liner/ Adidas shell-tops/ greasy perm look.  They were the kind of badass girls who got to walk to 7 Eleven by themselves, held hands with 8th grade boys, and got acrylic tips done at the mall.  They posed seductively against Corinthian columns for Star Shots, while I was still playing horses and hiding my changing body behind monstrous hoodies and mid-thigh length shorts.  No one ever asked me to go get Star Shots with them!  As much as I wanted to hang with the gorgeous chola population in junior high, the closest I got was clinging to that one thing that we both had in common– our greasy bangs (and that one time that I experimented with my mom’s eyeliner on my lips, which didn’t work out too well).

The Pre-Teen Dream:  Which brings me to my last point– looking back, the one period your life where you are allowed to look unabashedly ugly, when you’re allowed to smell weird and be pimply and make heinous fashion choices and have greasy hair and feet that are too big for your gangly body, is during puberty.  Bullies at school might make fun of you, but it doesn’t matter because literally 97.4% of the population looks a wreck as a pre-teen, and those bullies are probably painfully awkward-looking, too.  So whether you were a Weird Girl, a Badass Budding Chola, a denim-clad Junior Burnout, a baby-clip wearing Mall Girl, one of those No Fear kids, that kid who was like, a foot-and-a-half taller than everyone else, or anyone in between– to embrace your greasy bangs is as simple as embracing your inner preteen.  Get braces, watch the Disney Channel, and wear a Hello Kitty t-shirt!  Or just become a Slumster.  Or, you know, just wash your hair more often, sicko.  My name is Carrie Laven, and I suffer from greasy Bangs Syndrome.  Greasy bangs and teens forever!

Photo credits: Radar, Glamour, Carrie Bradshaw was Full of it

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About the author

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food, but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends to have a flair for the dramatic.

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