Sharing my skin care recommendations was a risk that paid off (thanks to the readers kind enough to offer some feedback), so here I go, sharing my hair care routine! I admittedly have less hair now than I did ten years ago (and less then compared to twenty), so while I can understand how this might read like a pauper recommending the best way to store one’s gold bullion, please be advised that my hair is currently longer than it’s been in years, and anyway there will be no bald-shaming in or around this newsletter. There are many wonderful balding men in my life, and their scalps deserve love too.
As a person socialized to be a young man in America, no thoughtful consideration was ever really given to my personal grooming habits growing up; no insight was ever shared by my parents or friends. It simply wasn’t something that ever seemed to be thought about. We scrubbed, shaved, and washed ourselves with whatever products CVS displayed on one of their middle shelves, and that was that - any and all mysterious rashes or pimples were written off as unrelated coincidences. This led to my daily shampoo regimen for the first twenty-some years of my life, and it might be the personal habit I most regret ever having (I say that as an ex-nail biter). My hair looked pretty lousy even on a good day, and in the rare event that I found myself shampoo-less for greater than twenty-four hours I became the sullen bearer of a greasy, miserable scalp. Even typing this out now is distressing. But, good news! I stopped shampooing daily many years ago now, thanks to the encouragement of my barber at the time, and after that first two-to-three week period of scalpular mayhem, it calmed down considerably, as though my scalp finally tasted the fresh clarity of sobriety after years of detergent-based inebriation. And in the past few months, perpetually eager to treat myself to the very best, I took the plunge with the awkwardly-named Hairstory New Wash.
I will preface my recommendation by saying I find basically everything about this product, besides the product itself, to be irksome. I guess the company is called Hairstory, but they really only seem to sell this hair cleanser (don’t call it a shampoo!), annoyingly named “New Wash”. It’s like a gentrifier coffee shop that sells a trademark twelve-dollar pistacho-pomegranate scone that they call “Snack Bite”, wrapped up in the graphic design of that cloying Gap (RED) clothing campaign (noble though the cause may be). New Wash arrives in a pouch as opposed to a bottle (though you’re free to buy one of their branded aluminum bottles if you want), but I’ve gotten used to this aspect, and much like my David’s toothpaste, I appreciate that I possess the power to squeeze every last drop from the packaging, no longer at the mercy of the unreachable inner edges of a plastic bottle. I’m not going to annoy myself further by reading Hairstory’s mission statement on their website in full (a quick scan is annoying enough as is), though at this point I can’t tell if I’m being an unreasonable grouch about their whole deal or if it really is that annoying. The last negative thing I’ll say is that, immediately following purchase, prepare yourself for the overwhelming waves of follow-up emails, checking on you to make sure you like it, want to buy more of it, are having a good day, and on and on. “Hey Matt! We haven’t heard from you since your purchase, are you okay? Anything wrong? Want to talk about it? Use code SAVE5 for 5% off your next purchase within 48 hours, bae!” Too much.
But as for the actual product itself? It rips! Nothing special about the way you use it - massage it in as you would a Pert Plus 2-In-1 shampoo-conditioner, go about the rest of your shower routine and then rinse. I actually went crazy and picked up a Hairstory scalp brush along with it, which are surely cheaper in unbranded form elsewhere, but at the time I had just gotten over Covid (the 19 variety) and needed an additional pick-me-up. The shower brush is supposed to stimulate blood flow, decrease dandruff and hair loss; call me crazy but I haven’t had any flakes since it entered my life. Credit is primarily due to the New Wash itself though, which I use every three-to-five days (in these particularly sweaty summer weeks, I simply rinse my hair with water on my many non-Wash days). It’s not a detergent-based product, and thus it doesn’t suck the natural chemicals out of your hair and scalp in the manner of a traditional shampoo. My hair feels thicker and softer, and also does that thing where it falls the way I always wanted it to, replicating the effortlessly cool hair of an actor who actually has a team of stylists whose sole job is to make their hair look that way. Endless Good Hair Days, basically. Now I’m sporting a casual fullness that I didn’t know my hair was capable of achieving, and I swear it’s because of New Wash (which more than one hairstylist in my life has vouched for, if my sole opinion isn’t grounds enough to sell you on it). Can’t see myself going back to a standard shampoo ever, but if you want to tell me more about your favorite hippie-dippie apple cider vinegar rinse, I’m willing to listen.
I went to my first “post-Covid” social event last week, and I couldn’t help but notice how many other dudes were sporting long hair for the first time since I’ve known them. Perfect time to give it a try, I suppose, though my heart goes out to the many wonderful hairstylists in my life who aren’t making the money off our heads that they used to.
Okay, one OTHER final gripe: there’s a “hair quiz” on their site, but it’s really just an extra long way of telling you what you probably already knew about your hair (surprise, your hair is greasy or curly!). The final answer isn’t a precise formulation for your exact scalp so much as a broad funnelling into one of their three New Wash varieties.
My scalp’s blood flow is presumably off the charts now as well.
As a fellow 30-something with thinning hair, this post feels like a cheat code. I can't wait to try! I've admittedly done a lot of "research" for ways of slow thinning hair and attempting to medicate my constantly flaking scalp. I can relate to this because I really didn't take care of my hair until it started to thin right at the age of 30 and I instantly became super insecure about it. Though if I can offer any advice I've found that Rosemary oil applied directly to the scalp hours before a wash has proven quite effective. Nizoral shampoo is surprisingly great for hair loss and scalp issues but I'd recommend a rosemary conditioner because it dries the hair pretty bad if used alone. On the pricier side, I went to a Head spa on the upper west side (i know that sounds insane) and the nice lady there used and recommended products by Oway which have also been great for my scalp since using. Sorry to carry on about this but clearly you've struck a nerve with me. Thanks for sharing!
Last month, I was writing some music again while drying my voluptuous, beach-wavy locks in the mirror, and I was singing, "I'm not a beauty school drop out;
I don't need your beauty tips,"
like I was a singer in a rock band in a life I had always dreamed about, but had not led. I appreciate you sharing your stories, Matt. It seems our lives have Kris Krossed a few times, "makes you wanna jump," huh? I look forward to reading some more, and feel free to submit to @lvlitmag in the future.