Hair mares

In Age, Grooming, Hair on January 16, 2013 at 11:22 am


There are all the things that you expect about ageing: The thickening of the waist. The loosening of the inner thighs. Bingo wings, wrinkles, reading glasses, senior moments.

Then there’s all the other stuff you don’t find out about until it happens to you. Strange whiskers on the chin being the first of those that I experienced. Pluck those bastards right out. The lastest of these is hair weirdness. Hair that’s permanently in a mood, won’t do as it’s told at all.

I’m finding this particularly hard to cope with as my hair has always been the one body part I took comfort from. As a stump-legged short arse with no waist and joke shop boobs, hair I could rely on was my saviour. I’m not being up myself – everyone has something like that. I’ve got one good friend with legs as long as the M6. Another with a tiny waist which never increases no matter what happens to her hips. One of my best pals has breasts of such spectacular gravity-defying perfection I’d walk around topless if I had them.

My saving grace has always been hair with body and sheen that never goes lank or frizzy. Until now, when I’m living with a fright wig. Even with the excellent cuts of my wonderful hairdresser, my rug won’t play fair.

It looks wonderful when Giles (of John Frieda, Alford Street, London W1 – tell him I sent you…) blow dries it – and it used to look just as good when I did it. Then suddenly, bam, no matter what I do – leave it to dry naturally, blow dry it upside down – it sticks out like triangular candy floss.

This led to the day in a ghastly motorway café when my mother said to me: ‘Your hair really is awful. You look like Jimmy Saville…’

I have never been so offended – and if you follow the news, you’ll have an idea that there really isn’t anyone on earth you would less like to resemble. I don’t even like typing his name. Making matters worse, my husband agreed with her, the crawler. My darling daughter then sprang to my defence saying: ‘Don’t be so mean to Mummy!’ Then reaching out to squeeze my hand, she put on her best spaniel expression, looked up at me with huge eyes and said, ‘Don’t worry…. Jimmy.’

My husband and mother fell about laughing. I stormed off in a huff that took 24 hours to subside. And the hair hasn’t got any better since.

I’ve been up to see Giles and my equally wonderful colourist Cetera, neither of whom could come up with a reason for my hair mare – Cetera confirmed she never uses bleach on it – until I dared to venture it might be my age. They are both way too polite (and good at their jobs) to leap in to agree, but it was clear: I’ve got old hair and it’s gone weird.

Since then I’ve invested in a lot of product. Always one to be taken in by television advertising I paid out for the Elvive Extraordinary Oil only to find it to be pretty ordinary oil. Then I bought most of the John Frieda Full Repair range. The Deep conditioner is excellent and the Deep Infusion oily stuff is the only thing which has made my tissue paper dry ends lie a little flatter, applied before and after drying.


The inspiration struck. I blogged ages ago about the miracle of Babyliss Big Hair hairdryer – only to leave mine in a hotel room last summer. It had felt wrong to shell out another £40, when I’d been so slack and stupid to lose it, but last week they were on offer in Boots and I bought one.

Finally, my hair is looking like me again and I no longer fear the Saville resemblance. The funny thing is though, if my mum had said I looked like that other shock-haired fellow Andy Warhol (above), I wouldn’t have minded at all.

andy really big

PS A note about the appearance of this blog. Sigh… Let’s just say I’m having ‘issues’ with the design of it and trying to make it look better, it has ended up going all weird. So please bear with me until I get some professional help. xxx

  1. Maggie, I’m 54 and my hair sadly also needs far more care than before and the Big Hair hairdryer is essential. Your blog is always a treat and the appearance is fine even if it doesn’t meet your standards. Sue

    • You are very kind, but as an ex magazine editor being used to having experts on hand to whom I could say ‘Could you make that a bit bigger, put it in red and move that picture to the left….’ etc etc it’s MADDENING! xxx

  2. Don’t worry Maggie we will love you no matter how your hair or the blog looks!
    I know how you feel about “old hair” – my hair now looks like spaniel ears.

  3. Dear Maggie
    I just want to say that I am so pleased you are back. Have missed your wry observations on beauty and on life.

  4. I’m steadily progressing toward mad scientist hair – Albert Einstein anyone??

  5. Hi Maggie
    I was absolutely delighted when your blog started popping up in my Inbox again – fabulous to have you back!

    Jude x

  6. I’m 56 and can relate! But I’ve made the most fabulous discovery in the last 6 months – coconut oil. I’m using it for lots of things (skin, nails) but in this case I use it as a hair mask after shampooing – massage in and leave in with a warm towel around your head. Then wash out. It’s brilliant and so cheap – a double winner.

  7. Metal or wooden comb. Aussie 3 minute miracle…and my hair is older than yours…

    • Love Aussie 3 Minute doo dah too – have used it for years as my day to day conditioner, but I think I’d got to the point where my hair was ‘tired’ of the product… xxxxx

  8. Love that you are writing regularly again! As for the hair, I swear by Moo Goo Cream conditioner, it turned my wiry locks back to smooth!

  9. I was born the same year as Barbie, but unfortunately I am starting to resemble Ken … And not Texedo Ken … More like Shave’n Ken!!! Love having the blog back.

    • Ha ha I was born the same year as Barbie too… I think she’s had a lot of ‘work’ don’t you? Thanks for encouraging words. I’m going to keep at it now as I so enjoy the chatting on here x

  10. That was hilarious. I’m in Sydney and just read it over my breakfast muesli – with all the cackling I had to be careful I didn’t spray it everywhere. But I think your family were just stirring you – you are not capable of looking like JS.

    At 42, my hair has recently started greying, but weirdly. I can kind of handle the colour, because it’s more of a silver and I’m blonde, so it’s not super-obvious. It’s just the texture!! Sort of springy and wiry. God knows what it will do over the next 10 years, and beyond… Ack.

  11. I also know how you feel Add to this Sydney humidity and it is a complete frizzy nighmare at the moment. Love your writing.

  12. As someone who has been similarly blessed with beautiful hair, and of similar age, I find this terrifying! Hasn’t happened yet but at least I’ve been forewarned, thanks.

  13. Hi Maggie,

    Great to have your posts appearing in my inbox again. Though not quite the same age bracket, I too love my hair and it will usually do what ever I want it to… I hope I don’t have this dilema to look forward too. Oh well, your warning allows me time to prepare!!

    Mel xo

    PS LOVE LOVE your latest book … made a rather terrible time of ill health pass more quickly!

    • Hi Mel – thanks so much for your kind comments. I can’t tell you what it means to me, because although I love writing books they do take so long locked away alone in a room, so to hear someone has enjoyed it and it’s brought a bit of cheer to a hard time makes it all worth while. Now I need to get on quicker with the next one… but i am going to keep blogging. It’s so free after years of working for editors xxx

  14. Speaking of old hair, do you have a fix for weird eyebrows? Mine used to be so sweet, now they are channelling Patrick Moore. Some long ones, some normal ones and some grey ones. I have been trimming the long ones and plucking the grey ones.
    Is there a better answer?

    • Get some professional advice – I don’t think trimming is a great plan. I would Google it and then go to a really good salon. Over here there is a big trend for ‘Brow Bars’ where all they do is thread eyebrows – you might want to see if that’s available near you. I do think it’s worth getting the right advice now. Let me know what you’re told, I’ll be interested to hear xx

  15. Not a lot to look forward to I’m afraid Maggie. My hair went like that in my fifties, but now I’m in my late sixties and I am losing it! My hair I mean. Oh to have the Albert Einstein look again – as long as I have hair! Good to have you back on line too, Maggie.

    • Oh my LORD. My mother (nearly 91…) does often say ‘Getting old is not for sissies…’. Are you getting advice on that? I think I would see a naturopath for dietary advice, herbs etc as well as copious Googling, which I’m sure you’ve done xxx

  16. Welcome back Maggie, so glad I found your blog, it’s a treat. Me, late 60’s short hair which needs a lot of product (like I need air) but always looked good, but suddenly seems to be breaking off/falling out. Not sure which. Have tried every known conditioner but still looks flat sad and dry. Will try the coconut oil, thanks Kimberley.

    • Why did none of us know about this??? I’m glad I now know this is just the START of it! Well, not glad, but at least warned. Let me know how the coconut oil works for you x ps and thanks for encouragaing words about blog xxx

  17. Dearest Maggie – can I firstly say how thrilled I am to see (hear!) from you again (and so prolifically at that)
    I am super excited each time I see a new post from you (and I think your blog looks fab btw!)
    I just love how you slam that nail on the head with all your observations on life as a stylish, savvy, witty & wise (and dead-set funny) woman! I feel myself nodding (and laughing) in agreement with every line!
    My hair now seems to consume an inordinate amount of time (I am addicted to the Big Hair thingo, too and really notice the difference if I don’t use it….I now even find I have to use it if I’m wearing my hair in a pony tail to give it that polished look!) In the past I only used to get my hair blow-dried after a cut – but now, the first thing that pops into my head when a birthday invite (usually a 50th these days….) comes in the post is “must book in for a blow dry”!
    Looking forward to future posts, Cx

    • Hi Caroline, thanks so much for very kind and encouraging words. I am really enjoying blogging because I can say whatever I like, whatever I’m thinking about – no need to editor approval, it’s so freeing. I just want to conquer the tech side a bit more, but I mustn’t get so hung up on it, because that’s what stopped me blogging for months. Mxxx

  18. Oh Maggie – I’m with you, the hair was once an easy exercise, BUT NOW!
    Its the ……. grey hairs. They totally ruin the deal – texture, colour and behaviour-wise. And I make matters as difficult as possible – I surf, I colour it and I don’t get to the hairdresser nearly as often as I should. So for me keeping my hair long enough for tie up dos is essential. Washing every day helps of course as it keeps the look softer and aids with regular moisture injection/conditioner (who has time to do that!). I have resisted the urge to buy a Babyliss Big Hair contraption yet BUT I SO WANT ONE. I’ve seen the glossy results achieved at home and I am impressed. (Lets face facts, its that loss of gloss in older hair that is the most distressing (as well as the unspeakable new grey hairs that emerge overnight (it seems) resembling the public hair of an ancient man always focused ever skyward from what was once my sleek dark blond locks).

    Until then life outside my bedroom does not exist without large soft elastic hair ties and an assortment of pins and side combs; very grateful I can get away with this kind of look lifestyle-wise.

    Spend the 40 pounds – you deserve it. BX

    PS There is a great line in the Visconti movie “Death in Venice”. The main character (not in great shape) goes to the hairdresser and asks to be helped to look more attractive. The hairdresser suggests that his grey hair be attended to immediately and offers the line “everyone has a right to the hair of their youth” … unfortunately the result in this circumstance was not the best.


  19. Great to have you back-Happy 2013 & all that. Turned 56 a couple of months ago & had hair cut fairly short- amazing how many compliments I got. I didn’t realise that it looked bad before. Worst thing with short hair is first thing in the morning- quite frightening.

    • Thanks Diane – I’m loving the freedom of blogging and I’m not going to let myself get so hung up about the way it looks. It’s really interesting to hear that so many other people have this problem with ‘ageing’ hair. Who knew? And why aren’t there loads of products aimed specifically at us, like with the face creams? They are missing a trick! x

  20. I have no answers to the problem of ageing hair, but Maggie, you can console yourself with the knowledge that regular consumption of chocolate slows cognitive decline as we age. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win!

  21. Oh rats, you described me in your first paragraph. Although it is comforting to know that I am not alone. And aren’t mothers wonderful – get straight to the point – no shilly-shallying around on their watch. LOL.

  22. That scene is soooo sad, the terrible dye job, the colour leaking everywhere & the man totally humiliated, I nearly cry every time I watch it!

  23. “Joke shop boobs” I’m laughing out loud! But forget hair, what about cracked heels??? No one told me THAT would happen. Aaaargh, by midsummer (ie now in Oz) I am too embarrassed to get a pedicure. It’s going to be 40 degrees here tomorrow and I’ll be in ballet flats.

    • Ah yes, another joy, but I do find that ‘urea’ (which I think may be something to do with wee, but whateer) cream from the pharmacy works really quickly if I remember to put it on EVERY night. And trying to avoid Birkenstoks, which suck your skin dry, but I’m just addicted to that comfort… x

  24. So wonderful to have you back! i love reading your blog! I had a very scary day today -I went to a new hairdresser!!! thankfully turned out well. Another hair tip- try Argan/Morrocan oil in your hair overnight, works miracles especially when colour has just been done.

    • aha! I think that’s what that new L’Oreal stuff propbably is. I’ll try it overnight next time, good tip x and thanks for encouraging words. I am going to stick at this now and not get put off by the annoying technical side x

  25. Hi Maggie, so good to have you back. When I have been peering in the mirror to grab those pesky tough hairs on my chin…shock horror.. I think I have a very small bald patch on my head, what the hell is this all about.
    Cheers Jenni

  26. Maggie, I’m so glad you’re back blogging and I’m just about to start my summer holiday read – “Everything changes but you!” – delicious.

    I’m loving the simple format of the blog – lovely clean white space, no frenetic distractions. I’m thinking Chanel.

    • Thank you! What a lovely way of looking at it, I feel quite differently about it now. I think I am so used to being a magazine editor and having a whole department of artistic geniuses who can make every page look absolutely perfect, it’s hard for me to accept I haven’t got that kind of control on here, but I so enjoy being able to write whatever i want, when I want, I’ve decided to get over it! Mxxx

    • I agree! Love the elegant, non-distracting simplicity. Love the Chanel analogy.

      • that’s great to hear and I must say since Cathy said the Chanel thing, I feel much much happier about it. Just need to tweak it a bit, so the subscribe button is higher up and there’s some BLURB about me somewhere. The very nice web desiger in the office next door to mine is going to come to my rescue next week. x

  27. Maggie – I decided along time ago that I would concentrate on my great eyes and hair – I had dubious legs and ankles, minimal tits and no waist. Now at age mid sixties my hair is still great due to a terrific colourist and good genes but bloody hell my eyes will not stop watering – now cannot leave home without tissues to mop! We all have little crosses. Miss you so much in Saturday morning’s Melbourne Age.

    • I have eye problems too… my rosacea is effecting them and they’ve gone small and piggy. Oh age is mean! I am in the Age on Sundays now. In the M section x

    • Hi Paline – just read your comment about watery eyes. I had similar, as did half my family. Discovered Sustane balance eye drops recently and it is literally life changing ( big statement but there you have it 😉 x

  28. Hi Maggie, thrilled that for whatever reason your blog thingy has started to come into my inbox. Love that. I have dodgy menopausal hair too – argan oil seems to be the go for me , I mix it in with the conditioner. Xx

  29. Oh Maggie how can it be that I thought I was sort of up with all the horrible things about ageing but now I find I am fighting a losing battle against my “loosening inner thighs”? I thought I could fight this with diet and exercise but now you point out it is part of ageing. Too much disappointment to digest on a hot summer morning in Melbourne. I saw a photo of myself in bathers the other day running out of the beach and the little inner pocket of wobble my husband captured has put me in a hot sweat. I have been thinking about losing a bit of weight and running a bit more but now I find it’s all part of the ageing process???? Devastation!

    • I don’t know… I would like to think it could be tightned up again with Pilates and overpriced French body lotion, so let’s hold on to that idea, shall we?

    • We must ban all cameras on the beach immediately!
      (or we can all do as Nigella did at Bondi – Burkini
      (honestly sometimes I am really tempted!) B

  30. Strange whiskers on the chin? Ahem! Please! I’ve had them since I turned 21. And no, I’m not a man. I had to learn to bleach them or use a (gentle!) wax because they bascially turn into inflamed pores (read: acne) if I pluck ’em. I put it down to Scots/Mediterranean heritage.

  31. If you are still reading comments for this topic – you really cracked me up with your mum’s and especially daughter’s J Saville comments. I was still giggling to myself when my son (10yo) quipped ‘What’s funny big girl?’

  32. ….and technical problems wouldn’t be age related, would they…. : )

  33. Maggie, I wonder if colouring your hair could be causing the loss of condition? Your hairdresser would never tell you that because colouring is such big business. The last taboo, I know, but…..I stopped colouring my hair a few years ago (with the help of a clever hairdresser) and my hair’s so much healthier and the natural silver/grey colour ain’t bad either. Always thought I could go back to colouring but wouldn’t dream of it now (my hair even gets positive comments from strangers…. 🙂

    • I get huge lectures from my hair colourist about conditioning treatments & regular haircuts. My hair is fine, so fine that I have to tie it back most days (but of course this damages it further), soooo I do the at home deep conditioning treatment thing and try to get regular cuts…It’s all so time consuming, I don’t know how women with small children manage it!

      • Mine is nearly back to normal now I’ve started doing all that… I had just got slack, without realising and not understanding that older hair needs more care.

    • I’m SURE you are right, but I will be blonde to the end… !

      • Its got to be easier once the lovely Helen Mirren solid silver is reached then soft semi permanents for colour hints only necessary, but until then I am with you Maggie – its got to be blonde! BX

  34. Oh Maggie I feel your pain!
    The last 2 years have been hellish with my hair. Bits that used to style so easily have a mind of their own, even after heavy styling it in the morning by midday it’s starting to stray with one side of my head choosing to be different to the other side!
    6 months ago my hairdresser talked me into the Brasil Cacau keratin treatment. Expensive but worth every cent. I now barely blow dry my hair without even using a brush and it feels divine.

  35. Thrilled too bits you’re back Maggie. You always have had a superior ‘do as FF would say and I bought the Big Hair on your rec. Alas my hair has always been fluffy in the dreadful humidity of Queensalnd and I wore it short for years. Then 18 months ago I got gorgeous Great Lengths hair extensions and I have the hair I have always dreamed of. Sure its expensive but I dont care and feel and look better I think (and have been told) than I did in my 40’s . Hurrah!

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