I interviewed my 14 year old stepdaughter, Lisa, about teen hair. She was good enough to gather lots of information from some of her friends as well, so I want to acknowledge her excellent help on this article.
So teens--what's up with your hair these days?
We checked with some teens and got their views on hair products, hair coloring, perms, blow-drying vs. air drying your hair, preferences on curly hair vs. straight hair and short vs. long hair, going to a salon vs. doing your own hair, and the preferred hairstyles for males and females. The results follow:
What Kinds of Hair Products Do You Prefer?
The females asked ranged in their opinions from positive to negative. Some use gels and sprays each day and love them, and some prefer not using any hair products because they "kill" your hair.
Others only use them occasionally, but warn that you need to research what you use as many products are not only ineffective, but too expensive.
As a rule they say that some salon products are more expensive, but worth the results.
The males, surprisingly, were pretty unanimous in their use and approval of gels and sprays. They felt that the products helped to keep their hair looking good longer.
A few don't use them, and don't plan to, but the majority felt that using products helped their hair look better. (Who knew?)
Hair Coloring--Would You Do It?
Some of the females felt that coloring on the whole was not a good idea; that it was not good for the hair, plus all the upkeep and expense involved to keep the look.
Others, more adventurous, felt that coloring was a great idea, especially streaks of temporary colors like dark red and purple, blue, pink, or copper, or overall color in aqua, blue, green, and purple.
Because of the expense, they felt that doing it at home with a kit was preferable to going to a salon. They liked the idea of highlights, but not bleaching.
The males felt that bleaching looks cool, but that it hurts (!). They, too, liked the idea of temporary color--blue or green especially.
They liked the blonde coloring on the top of their heads, but not all over.
Are Perms Worth It?
On the whole, the females preferred not to get perms. They felt that they are too hard and expensive to keep up, and that they like their hair the way it is.
The small percentage who like perms prefer to get the home kits and do their own "perm parties." Most felt that perming hurts the hair.
Blow-drying vs. Airdrying Hair
Most of the females liked airdrying better than blow-drying, mainly because they feel blow-drying causes more split ends. However, when they have the time, many like blow-drying, especially because of the look achieved with it.
The males unanimously preferred airdrying--they don't like that "poofy" look. Airdrying is easier, they said, plus it doesn't destroy the hair in the long run. (All male hair in this article was created by Brian Gallagher at Rainbow Room International, Photography, K&M Glasglow)
Curly? Straight? Long? Short?
Well, this brought out a flurry of opinions! Females as a rule preferred straight hair because they could always make it curly if they wanted to.
Most found that curly hair was a "nightmare" to care for, although they admitted that you always want the opposite of what you have.
They also liked shoulder length hair; the Jennifer Anniston look with layers that surround the face. They felt that short hair was great low maintenance, and that they still had lots of styling options.
Time seems to be a big factor in styles--the more elaborate ones are fun, but for day-to-day, the "low tech" 'dos seem to win out. They liked the new clips that are popular now, especially the little butterfly clips.
It came as no surprise that females enjoy experimenting with their hair more than males. Males agreed that once you find a look that works, keep it!
The males didn't really care if their hair was curly or straight, just as long as they could manage it.
As far as short or long styles go, males preferred short, both for easy maintenance and looks.
The Preferred Hairstyles
Now for the big question--what styles do females love to see males wear? What styles do males like on females?
The females like males who have short, spiked hair with the top bleached, the "grunge" look, and the more tailored haircuts.
Surprisingly, males with long hair just didn't "do" it for them!
Males of course like long and silky hair, but also like a layered cut so that it flatters the face. Many said it didn't matter, just as long as it looked good.
Salons or Do-It-Yourself? And Should Parents Pay?
The females felt that salon 'dos are usually preferable, although they were amenable to trying things at home, like home perms and coloring.
Doing this, they say, gets parents more- or- less used to the idea. If you want them to pay for your salon 'do, they feel you should present the facts and pros to them so that they can see the benefits.
They also go to say that if you can get your folks to pay for it once, you have a better chance of them doing it again!
The males didn't seem to care one way or the other.
Back when I was growing up, hair styles were more rigidly adhered to, and there were definite "looks" we all strove for.
Nobody minded sleeping in huge wire and bristle hair curlers (it took hours for all those ridges in your scalp to go away), or baking our heads under the plastic hoods and hoses of the then popular hair dryers.
The "C" curls I used to wear in front of my ears were fashioned with green or pink Dippity-Do and secured with pink "hair tape." Once the curlers were out, we teased and lacquered our hair and went out to face the day. The discomfort was all worth it, mainly because we didn't have the products and technology of today.
But today, teens are just as busy as anyone else, and they value hair styles and hair products that save them time.
They are far more practical than we were about the time, effort, and expense involved in managing a high-maintenance hairdo.
A big thanks to Lisa and her friends for their contributions to this article!