Pantene recently asked men all about women’s hair; what they thought, what they liked, what they never hoped to see again. I went to meet Steve Ward, a matchmaker from VH1’s Tough Love, and Hallie Bowman, Pantene’s celebrity stylist at the Beauty & Essex Lounge on Manhattan’s lower east side. The pair would spend an hour or so enlightening us with and interpreting the results of this survey. I almost didn’t make it, since the restaurant has masqueraded as a pawn shop. I stood outside, uncertainly peering at the rows of guitars and other shiny objects, and thought that I must have confused the address. A helpful hipster gracing the sidewalk with his presence noticed my adrift look. “You’re looking for Beauty & Essex, aren’t you?” I nodded, and he replied, “You’ve got it right. It’s disguised as a pawn shop. That’s how you know it’s a really cool place.”
True to his words, a burly bouncer opened a door in the rear of the shop to reveal the restaurant. It was, as promised, a really cool place. And it was not the last surprise of the evening. I heard the word ‘matchmaker’ and prepared my self for an evening of rules, such as Patti Stanger’s slightly controversial if entertainingly phrased assertions. The very approachable Steve Ward, who runs a matchmaking service with his mother, kicked the evening off by saying the survey results didn’t surprise him one little bit. Hallie Bowman, on the other hand, found herself caught off guard by some of the answers.
This one did it for me: Men are twice as likely to notice a bad hair day as they are a blemish. As Ward explained its obviousness, he likened hair to a beacon. It’s a large feature in and of itself, and a man will notice it from across the room, while a zit seems like a tiny detail in comparison. In fact, 74% of men said they notice women because of their hair. As for what constitutes ‘good’ hair, the takeaway there is health. Men want to see healthy, well-kept hair because they assume it will belong to a healthy, well-kept woman – 86% of men believe how a woman cares for her hair reflects how she cares for herself. Bowman encouraged women everywhere to make use of deep conditioning masks for their specific hair types, but they’re especially important now in the colder climates.
When it comes to getting ready for a date, Ward and Bowman’s cups runneth over with advice. When asked if their date had time to do either makeup or hair, 80% of men said that they would prefer their lady spent the time on her hair. 40% of men feel that having great hair ‘completes the package of an attractive-looking woman,’ and Ward points out that hair needs to ‘fit’ with a woman’s look as well ( i.e., high-maintenance hairstyles need to be worn with couture clothes, and girl-next-door hair should go with a laid-back wardrobe.) Bowman offered some tips for preserving health and sex-appeal in a hairstyle beset by inclement weather. First, style you hair as you want it at home, even if you’re just planning on covering it up with a hat. Using a good mousse or gel with your styling tools will make it easier to revive your hair when the hat comes off once you’re back indoors. As for the reviving itself, Bowman recommends carrying a small brush and a travel size can of hairspray for fine-haired women, and a straightening balm if your hair is coarser. Do the trusty flip-upside-down-and-brush move, and then hit hair with a fortifying does of product to make your style date-worthy again.
The takeaway of the evening came back again and a gain to health. If your hair looks shiny and is soft to the touch, everything else is negotiable. I’m sure the shot of confidence that comes from having healthy hair styled in your own favorite w ay goes much farther toward attracting a man than any other hard and fast rule. But you don’t have take my word for it: To read the survey results in their entirety and get more specific product recommendations from, click here. Happy styling!
– Katharine McKenzie
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