Butch Hair Products
I know I've been writing less about fashion these days and more about identity, butchness, transgender stuff, etc. And I *love* writing about identity. But you know what, butches? I still want to keep you looking good.
To that end, this post is all about hair products for short-haired butches, bois, MOCs, dykes, etc. Back in March, I wrote two posts about butch haircuts, complete with pictures of hot BW readers. One was about fauxhawks and the other talked about pomps, shags, buzzes, and other dykealicious cuts.
First, the five basic genres of butch-relevant hair product:
A few months ago, I asked readers for butch hair product recs. There were five clear favorites and many runners up. The right hair goop for you will depend on your hair's texture, cut, and look--but your butch brethren have suggested some places to start:
Plenty of butches swear by got2b ultra glued ($4.72/8-oz tube; 0.79/oz). One reader says, "I put a tiny bit of water in my hands and maybe a nickel size amount of the glue product, rub together, and spike!" Some, people mentioned got2b blasting freeze spray and plain ol' got2b spiking glue (minus the "ultra") as well. I've used the "ultra" version; I was expecting a glue, not a gel (since the words "ultra glued" are on the front--but admittedly, so is the word "gel"). It left my (very thick, naturally wavy) hair wavier than I prefer on fauxhawk days. Let your hair dry a little before slapping this on, or else it won't hold well. Smells great, though--clean and fresh.
Bed Head Manipulator was a huge favorite--recommended by more readers than any other hair product. I've never tried it, partly because I haven't liked other Bed Head products, but given the number of rave reviews, I'll give this one a shot soon. $13.49 for 2 oz ($6.75/oz).
Bumble and Bumble's Sumotech is pricey, but unless you have very thick hair, you won't need to use very much. Starting at $25 for a 1.5-oz jar, this rings up at a whopping $17/oz. I prefer Bumble and Bumble's regular gel ("the multi-talented sculpting medium"), which is still pricey at $25.99 for a 5-oz tube ($5.20/oz). I used it for years--it smells terrific and leaves your hair soft enough that your fingers (and hers) can run through it. The only Bumble and Bumble product I've tried and disliked is their texture hair UNdressing creme. It gave my hair the best texture ever (seriously, it was like magic), but if I touched it at all after it dried, it flaked off my head in a downy powder. I'll pass on the faux-dandruff, thanks.
American Crew (or "Crew") makes several varieties of butch-friendly hair products. Readers varied on which ones they favored--it depended on their haircut and hair type--but the three most popular were Crew Fiber ($11.99 for a 3-oz jar, which means $4/oz), Crew Pomade ($16.72 for 3 oz, or $5.57/oz), and Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel ($17.92 for 15.2 oz, or $1.18/oz). One reader (who evidently has more experience with Crew than I do) writes, "Crew Defining Paste and Crew Forming Cream work very well for a fauxhawk or messy look. Their Fiber works best for a spiked look, and Pomade is good for a flat forward with a small flip on the front if your hair is 1 inch long or shorter."
Crew also makes the d:fi line, which caters to a hipper client base than the "classic" American Crew products do. D:fi even has a separate website from the Crew site, complete with stylish twentysomethings striking trendy, unsmiling poses. If you're inclined to give d:fi a shot, start with d:struct Pliable Molding Creme ($12.15 for a 2.65-oz jar, or $4.59/oz), which is good for fine hair and reportedly smells like pineapple.
And some runners-up to check out:
Feel free to post more recommendations in the comments. Happy styling!
Want to make a short instructional video on how you style your butch hair? If I choose yours, I'll post it on Butch Wonders and enter you in a drawing to win a small (but awesome) prize. Videos should be under three minutes, and brand new (never posted online before). Send submissions to me here.
In addition to the fabulous fauxhawks I catalogued yesterday, readers sent in a bunch of other butch hair pics. Most non-'hawks fell into one of three categories: pomps, buzzes, and shaggy cuts. Let's take them one by one.
Pompadours (or "pomps") have been around for a long time. The main idea is that your hair is brushed up from your forehead in a way that makes your head look kind of tall. Think Elvis or Morrissey. Guys often wear them with big ol' sideburns. But in my opinion, you don't need sideburns to rock a great pomp. Pompadours also go well in combination with fauxhawks, and often the same haircut will allow you to style either one.
From Ashton Kutcher to Zac Efron, many Hollywood men have adopted the shaggy-haired look for varying lengths of time. Personally, the idea of having my bangs falling in my eyes ranks right up there with having long hair. But if you're less sensitive (read: wimpy) about this than I am, the shaggy look might be for you. These BW readers are rocking it.
Some minimalist butches like to shave off nearly all of their locks, going for a buzzed or nearly-buzzed look. I even heard from one buzzed butch who has a standing appointment with her barber every week. That's dedication. Justin Timberlake and Robert Pattinson can pull off the look with aplomb. Here are some BW readers who can do the same (or better!).
Of course, many butches' hairstyles don't fall neatly into any of the categories I've talked about. Below, I've made a slide show of some of the other pics I received. (I had trouble with 4-5 of the photos, so apologies if you sent in a pic and aren't here!) Some may inspire you to try a new style. Others may inspire you not to try one. I love seeing the huge range of butches brave enough to show their 'dos to the world. You guys rock!
In a comment to my last post, someone said that I must have the hottest readers on the planet. Admittedly, I've got to agree.
So, of the haircuts I featured yesterday and today, which are your favorites? Are there any styles I haven't covered that look great on butches?
The 'Hawks Have Landed
A few days ago, I put out a call for butch haircuts, and received nearly 100 photos! The most common 'do (by far) was the fauxhawk (also called "fohawk"), and I decided it's worth dedicating an entire post to the style.
First, let's take a look at some examples of your basic fauxhawk:
As you can see, most of the time, the hair is a bit longer on top than on the sides, then brushed up to achieve a "mohawk"-type look. If it was shaved on the sides, with a stark line of hair running down the middle of the head, that'd be a mohawk.
See, here are some readers' mohawks. Nothin' faux about 'em:
Fauxhawks are one of the wonderful things we butchy queer women share with our gay male brethren (along with barista jobs, librarian jobs, and really cool eyeglasses).
Aside from looking cute and trendy and gay, fauxhawks are versatile. You can wear them long, like these:
Or short, like these:
Or somewhere in the middle, like these:
Another advantage of fauxhawks is that, because your hair isn't completely shaved on the sides, you can just part it on the side and brush it over for work rather than spiking it up in the middle, if you want to look more mainstream. Then it looks a lot like a run-of-the-mill guys' cut.
Fauxhawks have now been in style for almost a decade, and their fashionability shows no sign of waning. Will we look back on fauxhawks in 20 years the way people look back on mullets today? Who knows. Keep reading BW and I'll let you know when you need to nix it. For now, they look great. Want to see a few more fauxhawks that readers sent in? You know you do.
These two demonstrate how a loose, spiky, intentionally misaligned fauxhawk can look terrific:
And these two show how thick, wavy hair can work as a fauxhawk or partial fauxhawk:
And here are some more! (I don't have room to share all of them, but I'm squeezing in as many as I can...)
If you want to try out a fauxhawk, make sure you go to a stylist who knows what he or she is doing. For example, my hair is very thick and hard to cut. My awesome stylist spends about an hour on it, and thins it somehow (magic?). I used to go to a barber. He took 20 minutes and I left with a hard-to-style overgrown buzz cut. Asking for recs from dyke friends can be helpful, and it's good to take a picture to help show what you want.
My next few posts will talk about other butch hair styles and give you some leads on hair products. I know it can be hard to get a good dyke haircut, so don't hesitate to post your thoughts and questions in the comments section.
_Last week, I received an email that brings up some self-presentation issues many of you have asked about. This version of the email is slightly edited (for length, and--at her request--to protect this person's anonymity). Androgynous Advocate writes:
A few times per week, I'm mistaken for a child. Since becoming a lawyer, the situation has gotten worse, especially in court. Today, in preparation for my first upcoming trial, I decided to go to court to see what a trial is actually like. I asked the court officer (a fairly strapping butch) for permission to observe and she granted it. But I guess she never informed the judge, because the judge made attempts to figure out who I was, including: "I see we have a 'little person' over there waiting. Does HE belong to any of you?"
I pretended I didn't know she was talking about me. After all, I am not a small boy so why should I answer? But to add salt to the wound, the court officer got up and ambled across the courtroom to whisper to me: "Not only did the judge think you were a kid, but she called you a boy!" At this, I turned bright red and almost broke down into tears (but held it together).
Later, the judge inquired again and I told her I was an attorney observing (I was wearing a suit, pink button down, and even some makeup). She apologized for the mistake about my age but omitted the whole gender error. This leads me to my question: I recently got a pixie cut. I love my super short hair; it's easy to deal with and feels totally freeing. But I've had to take a bit of shit about it. My grandmother gave me a long talk about how long hair is more "becoming" and "feminine." An ex and I even had a huge fight over my short hair, in part, because she felt it was unfeminine (though she later clarified that the fight was about more than just the hair).
Even though I love short hair, it bothers me when people lament my not being feminine enough. It's not like I want to be perceived as super feminine (I feel very androgynous on a personality level) but I don't like when people see my lack of femininity as a liability. For whatever reason, being mistaken for a pre-adolescent male distresses me, and I wonder if it might be less likely to happen if i suck it up and grow my hair out a bit. Or should I embrace this characterization? If someone thought I was a man it might not be so bad but regressing to age 10-12 is tough when you're trying to prove yourself in court. Have you ever been tempted to change something about yourself so you fit more easily into "the institution" (for me, the courtroom)?
Dear Androgynous Advocate:
First of all, I feel your pain! Yes, I think most of us butchy/andro types have felt pressured to change something about ourselves to blend in with some kind of institution: school, work, family, etc. I've written about the wisdom of doing this at various times, and it's never an easy balance. As I see it, you've got multiple questions, so I'll try to break my answer into parts.
Professional life first. Re: the little person comment: OMG wow. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. If I was in your shoes, I'd have been just as flustered as you were! Good for you for keeping it together. The judge was probably mortified (I sure hope so), and I suspect that the butch court officer was trying to commiserate, not to make you feel bad, since she probably knows all too well how irritating those kinds of mistakes can be.
In your professional life, you need to be respected as a professional. Once you get established, people won't make these mistakes anymore (and they'll correct each other). But in the meantime, you need t to be taken seriously. So on first impression, it would be nice if they didn't think you were a boy-child. If I were you, I'd take measures to minimize this. You could always dye your hair grey and go to court as a little old woman--that would be kind of awesome. But here are some better ideas:
I hope one or two of these approaches won't be too odious for you. Yes, I've been tempted to change for an institution. I finally started wearing ties, but it took a long time before I felt like I wasn't being stared at. And just walking around my workplace, I still get stared at sometimes. At one of my old jobs, I wore a girl-suit and hated it. Basically I'm now convinced that as long as it doesn't compromise my reputation or clients or anything, the institution has to tolerate ME, not the other way around. But it's incredibly situation-dependent.
As for your more personal dilemma regarding short hair... so many butches deal with this at some point! Don't all our grandmothers think we look more feminine (and thus, better) with short hair? I think that most people are so steeped in gender norms that they don't know what they believe. They just think girls are supposed to have long hair. And you are a girl. And when you have long hair you more closely match their idea of what a girl is "supposed" to be. So they say things about how long hair "frames your face" or whatever. But you know what, Androgynous Advocate? Screw their opinions. It's your head, not theirs, and they don't get to choose. They'll get used to it and eventually stop bothering you (or you'll stop caring). But it's a big deal that you find short hair "freeing." Even if you decide to make some compromises about your professional appearance, in your personal life, you get to be you.
Don't be a victim.
When I had long hair, I pulled it back into a ponytail and didn't give two craps about it. But since cutting it short about four years ago, I've become downright vain.
I used to go to a barber. There was something rite-of-passagey about it. I often got sir'd throughout the entire haircut, even if I was talking (in my clearly female voice) the whole time, which always amazed me. But if I didn't get sir'd, I'd often be told, "We don't do women's hair," whereupon I would spend the better part of fifteen minutes explaining to the guy that I was in the right place. Inevitably I'd get a cut that was plain, inoffensive, and largely devoid of style, but since this was the still closest I'd ever come to having my hair cut the way I wanted it, I was happy.
My barbershop experience, despite its drawbacks, was vastly superior to my experience at places like Supercuts--discount chains that snip men's and women's locks. Inevitably, the haircutters there (I don't know what to call them--they're not "barbers," and God knows they're not stylists) would try to charge me twice as much for a "women's" cut though I made it clear that I wanted a regular guys' cut. Usually I'd come away with cuts that were guy-ish, but too long--as if the haircutter was stubbornly determined not to reveal my whole ears to the world. Worst-case scenario, I'd come away with some atrocity--including, but not limited to, feathered sideburns.
Eventually, I asked a butch I'd just met (C, who later became a very good friend of mine) where she got her hair cut, and she gave me the name of her stylist. That's right--an actual stylist. I was highly suspicious.
I made an appointment anyway, and when I arrived, I announced that I wanted my hair "exactly like C's." The woman spent a few minutes examining my hair, then pronounced it "too thick" for the C's haircut. This, I thought, did not bode well. So, fully planning to stop at a barber shop on the way home, I said, "Can you do something kind of dykey, basically a guys' cut, super short on the sides and back?"
To my astonishment, the haircut rocked. Just like you're probably better off going to a Yelp-favored mechanic over some dude behind the local gas station, it actually makes a difference when the person knows what he or she is doing. A good stylist will thin your hair if it needs thinning, color it if you want it colored, and give you a cut that will actually look good as it grows out, too. The sole downside is that I now pay $60/haircut, and I am far from wealthy. But to a vain butch like yours truly, it's worth every penny.
Bottom line? Find the most stylish short-haired dyke you know and ask where she gets her hair cut. If you don't know one, stop the first one you see on the street and ask where she goes. Not only will she be flattered, but probably sympathetic as well, since she, herself, has probably navigated the hair-raising gauntlet from which you have just emerged.