Teens and Hair
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Teens and Hair
My 5th grader has hair issues. The real issue that is driving me crazy is that she
brush her own hair. My husband is in charge of mornings & getting her to school as
to work early. He brushes her hair for her as part of their morning routine. That's
weekdays. She doesn't brush it at all on weekends or evenings. She has gorgeous,
hair, and perhaps the thickness makes it hard for her to deal with. At the same
hates getting her hair cut (claims that the hairdresser always cuts off too much no
how little is actually cut - perception vs. reality) and wants to never get her
hair cut again.
So where we are now is this power struggle over hair, which I find a silly waste of
things considered. So if she doesn't want to brush her hair, she will then ask
dad or me to brush it for her. This is where I now want to say no because her
about getting her hair cut (or not) is that it's her hair. Well, I agree with that,
but I need for
her to take care of it the same way she has to bathe and brush her teeth. I don't
to handle the situation at this point. I feel like if she wants to take total
control over her
hair, fine, but then I won't be brushing it anymore, and I would want my husband to
to that as well, though frankly I don't see that happening. Suggestions?
don't want hair battles!
I had a similar problem (but maybe not so bad). I gently but firmly
told my daughter that if it was my job to take care of her hair, then
I would cut it short. If she wanted it longer, then she had to take
care of it. I believe she had a certain number of ''warnings'' or
''strikes'' before I was just going to cut it. She now takes care of
her very long hair. Endlessly! Be careful of what you ask for!
I had long hair at that age and I LOVED having my mom or dad brush
my hair. It felt good and it was a nice intimate contact with them.
So, maybe that's your daughter's thing. There will be a time REALLY
SOON when she won't want you or your husband to be anywhere near her.
I'd enjoy the brushing while you have the opportunity. There are
many more really serious issues coming to drive you crazy.
mom of 2 teens
Some thoughts and questions about your daughter, middle-schoolers,
1) Kids in this age range are frequently just on the verge of becoming
obsessed with personal appearance, and the switch can happen literally
overnight; it did with both my stepdaughter and my biodaughter and the
question of bathing and hair washing.
2) Perhaps your daughter is starting to miss her childhood. I know my
biodaughter would sometimes say that she didn't want to grow up, that
she had enjoyed being a little girl. Being groomed by her father may
help your daughter feel more secure or something.
3) Does your husband really mind brushing his daughter's hair? It
might be a small ritual that both of them enjoy. (Actually I think
it's great that your husband helps with her hair, especially if it's
thick and hard to take care of. I also think it's important for girls
to feel that their fathers approve of their growing up and becoming
4) Assuming that your daughter keeps her hair reasonably clean, I'd
let this issue alone for a while, especially if it bothers you more
than it does your husband and daughter. You can always bring it up
again next year.
5) You might also consider telling her something like, ''Your dad and I
have talked about this, and decided that it really is your business
and as long as you keep your hair clean, you may take care of it as
you please, with or without our help.'' Just openly handing her that
power could relax the whole struggle. I found that with both our
girls, acknowledging their rights in smaller matters told them that we
were giving them permission to grow up and expressing our approval of
their doing so. (It was also practice for negotiating the bigger
matters that came up during high school: time management, dating,
college, money, etc.)
My daughter went through a phase like that, resulting in gigantic
hairball and general unkempt appearance. Perhaps there was a deep
psychological reason for it, I don't know. She complained that
combing out the knots hurt. So we bought her a hair brush that has
softer, more giving bristles, and remind her to put on lots of
conditioner. After a few weeks of 'reminding', she got over it.
You are missing the point, you are winning this battle. If your
husband doesn't mind brushing her hair and she enjoys it, then great,
it is a nice bonding experience for them. Could you be a little jealous?
In just a few short years (possibly months) the teen years will hit,
where there will likely be no hugging, cuddling or brushing-enjoy this
while you can! As to the weekends who cares? Don't you enjoy being a
slouch on the weekend? Don't worry about it unless there is an event
that she needs to look nice for. I love having my hair brushed it is
very relaxing. If someone was brushing my hair for me every morning, I
would be thrilled and I wouldn't like anyone taking it away from me.
Mom of a teen
My 13 yr old daughter really wants lighter hair. Right now it's
about medium brown. We both know that dying her hair is out of
the question, but is there another way to slightly lighten it? I
don't even know if I should agree to it at all! What should I do?
Why not let her get highlights? I've been getting them since
I was 14. It's a very subtle way to lighten the hair.
It looks nice growing out, too.
It does not involve dye -- most salons nowadays use
a form of hydrogen peroxide (not bleach and not dye) to
put highlights in your hair. Hydrogen peroxide is the same thing
in toothpaste and teeth whiteners - it is safe.
My medium-brown haired son also kept asking me if he could have
lighter hair. After trying to talk him out of it, I finally game him
and used about 5 big sprays of ''Sun-In'' from the drugstore (didn't
spray on his scalp, just the hair). It turned out really nice. I was
so surprised. The color was natural and even as the hair grew out it
looked okay. He never asked again--I think he was just curious about
what he would look like.
Lemon juice is a low tech way to add highlights, and there
are some drug store sprays that will do the same...can't
remember the name Sun In or Sun Lite or something like that.
You could also get a few highlights from a local place that
I'm wondering why you are set against her dying her hair? Is
it because of the toxic dyes? Or because you think she's too
young? Or do you think it will lead to more outrageous
desires? My daughter is now 17 with natural brown hair, but
at around 13 she also wanted to dye her hair. We played with
those semi-permanent dyes that wash out in 6 weeks, then she
said she wanted it green. I decided that I would allow it,
in fact I would help her. So we had to bleach it first. She
was a blonde for a day!! I have to say it was so much fun! I
was almost envious. Then came the green dye, but instead we
made her hair look like a peacock with different greens and
blues. It really looked stunning. She even went to visit
relatives in Kansas that summer, she's a brave girl! Then
She decided that she wanted it brown again, so we dyed it
dark brown, darker than her natural color, then it went
almost black with some blonde underneath, and now finally,
at 17, back to basic brown. I felt like it was a bonding
activity and we really had fun doing it. I had a chance to
play with her hair again which I was missing and to laugh
and just be together without arguing. You know the old
saying to choose your battles? Well, this seemed like one I
didn't want to fight. Hair grows back and it gave her a
chance to explore her image at an age where all that was
starting to come into focus.
So, I say let her do it and have a great time with it! The
people at the Beauty Supply shops will be able to tell you
how to do everything.
Here's what I did when I was a teen and my mom wouldn't let me dye my hair
(this was 20+ years ago). I mixed equal parts of fresh lemon juice and hair
conditioner, I combed the mixture through my hair and then went and sat in
sun for 30 minutes or so. It made the top layer blonde (I'm a light brown
naturally.) I was happy and my mom was okay with it. Good luck!
Miss Those Days
Take her to a hair salon and get highlights. They can
make the streaks subtle or bold, do a lot or just a few.
It will give her hair a new look, but not drastic. My
daughter, who has medium/light brown hair, got highlights
at 14, and has done it maybe a couple more times since
(she's 17 now). It looked really cute, and still looked
fine as they grew out. And I did it a year ago at 48,
with my dark brown (graying) hair, and got TONS of
compliments from people.
Let her try highlights two or three shades lighter than her hair. The
highlights grow out more naturally since they look like sun-bleached
yes, you should let her. Just like when they were younger,
it's important to 'pick your battles' and sometimes just
say yes to the more harmless requests! Hair color grows
out, unlike tatoos and piercings, so why not give her this
There are many natural, non-toxic brands available if this
is your primary concern. Take your daughter to Whole
Foods,Elephant Pharm, or a similar natural store, read the
labels and find an educated employee (they exist there!)
to discuss the options, pros and cons. Start just a
couple of shades lighter, so there's a noticeable
difference but not too drastic. The natural dyes tend to
fade within a few months anyway, usually only ''permanent''
haircolor contains harsh or toxic bleach. You can look up
any unfamiliar ingrediants on safecosmetics.org to ease
your concerns. Have fun with this!
former buyer for W.Foods
You could try lemon juice but it might make it too blonde
for her liking.
It seems to me that this is a highly decorated generation.
Be glad your daughter is into something harmless like hair
instead of piercings or tattoos.
My daughter and I have both used a (Clairol?) product you
can get at Safeway or Longs that is really easy to use and
gives blonde highlights. There's a green applicator on the
box that looks a little like a razor, that you comb on
your wet hair. No little cap. Just follow the
instructions. You can do just stripes around the face or
all over. Looks very natural.
For overall blonder on mousy brown hair, put one part
lemon juice to three parts water on wet hair, then go out
in the hot sun until it's dry.
My 11 year old has asked about getting color highlights in her hair. How safe is
Do you go to a salon or do it yourself? How long does the color last? I'm willing to
consider unless there seems to be some grave health risk. So please share your
checking out highlights mom
It's as safe as doing it as an adult. If you're up for it, just
know that the maintenance on highlights is what gets ya... they
have to be kept up every 6 weeks and the price is usually the
same as the initial highlight. Do you really want to pay for all
Personally, I'd send her the way of a henna product that she can
do in the home by herself (for $6-$15). Much cheaper, still a fun
new change, and fades over time.
My concern is this: She's eleven. Where do you go from here? Kids
usually like to do more than they've done before as they get
older. Maybe set an age or achievement-based goal before
highlights, so that she isn't begging for a nose piercing and
tats by age 13.
I've been highlighting my hair for YEARS, as have many women I know. I've never
experienced any adverse effects and have never heard of any. I would not worry at
Highlighting at home is difficult to do well. Use a professional if you can afford
Also, remember that although all over color is cheaper, highlighting grows in more
naturally than all over color.
I have a 12 year old niece. Now-a-days, she dyes her hair often. I am
concerned about her hair. How safe are the hair coloring products
like Revlon, Loreal etc. I think the products are chemical and they
are not good for her health. Anybody have any suggestions or
information about products' health safety matters?
As with any chemical product, you should always use hair dyes in a well ventilated area.
Sitting closed up in a bathroom with no windows is not the way to do it. Not being too
chemical-savvy or concerned, I can't say much more about that aspect of your question. But I
can say that store bought dyes are significantly more harsh than salon dyes, no matter what
they say. They put those gobs and gobs of conditioner in those boxes for a reason. Your niece
may or may not be harming her health, but she is surely harming her hair. And if I
remember from my own high school hair dyeing days, she isn't following the directions either.
Probably she changes the color nearly every time, which means she has to apply it all over her
head, instead of just at the roots. Not only is this bad for her hair, but after she has done it for
a while she may notice that she develops a horizontal line, running from temple to temple
around the back of her head, where the hair is much darker. That is dye build-up, the place
where her roots meet the grown-out point that marks when she first started dyeing her hair.
It's sort of like the rings on trees; a good hairstylist can probably take one look and make a
reasonable guess as to how long she's been dyeing her own hair, and how often she's done it.
My suggestion to you is that you encourage your niece to pick a color and stick with it; better
still treat her (or encourage her parents to do so) to a trip to a salon, where she can get the job
done at least once professionally. I bet she'll be impressed by the difference in quality and
how much longer it lasts. I wouldn't encourage her to quit (she *is* a teenager!) but I might
mention that she is ruining her hair, and that it will take a long time to heal it.
Teen's Compulsive bang cutting
My middle-school-aged daughter has cut her bangs very short and has
resorted to parting her hair low on the side and sweeping it across her
forehead to cover where her bangs once were. This is actually the third
time she has done this despite my husband's and my advice and offers to
take her to a salon to have whatever she wants done to her hair. We don't
really care how her hair is, but we are weary of her misery resulting from
her attempts to fix previously botched jobs. We've even put away all the
scissors in the house for months at a time.
Any recommendations for a salon or haircutter who can fix my girl's
disasterous bang butchering would be most appreciated.
Here are my thoughts to Anonymous about compulsive hair cutting.
I would highly recommend Nancy at Peter Thomas who is very understanding as
well as a great haircutter. It's pretty expensive so it wouldn't be a
regular thing for a teenager but maybe one great very short cut would make
her feel happier with her hair.
The main reason I'm responding is that I used to do this to my hair in
junior high school. I don't think it had anything to do with hair but with
an overall misery about junior high school in combination with a really low
self esteem -- and really, who had good self esteem in junior high? Those
years were so hard. Anne Lamott says that everyone she knows who is
creative/interesting/fun to be around had a hell of a time in eighth grade
and I think that's right. Hang in there. I survived the eighth grade and am
currently quite happy with my hair.
this page was last updated: May 23, 2009
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