Rona Barrett

Rona Barrett

In my past life, my philosophy had always been: Even if my life isn’t always perfect, my hair darn well better be!

I took this cue from Joan Crawford who used to say, “I think the most important thing a woman can have, next to talent of course, is her hairdresser.”

That was when my career was just taking off and my reporting went from print to television. I didn’t have a hairdresser at the time, but I knew television wasn’t very forgiving, so I had a friend take photos of me with different colors of hair. But my hairstyle was still awful and my face too round for the camera. Finally, with professional help, I remodeled myself into someone the camera found more pleasing.

We all -- women and men -- want to present ourselves as pleasing as possible. Throughout our lives, we tried all the latest hairstyles, even if by our standards today some were pretty cringeworthy. By now, most of us no longer feel the need to be trendy.

I’ve even let go of my need for perfect hair. My simple style suits my face and my age. It works for me day and night no matter what challenges unfold. How fortunate I am for my gifted hairdresser, Reta. My standing appointments with her are such a soothing respite; I not only look good, but I feel good.

But for those not relying on someone else to groom them, it can become too difficult to manage. It could be because of depression, cognitive or memory problems. Or maybe it’s arthritis, fibromyalgia or other ailments that make it difficult to turn on the water, regulate the hot and cold or raise their hands high enough to put shampoo on their hair and scrub as they used to.

Unfortunately, that’s when they decide not to bother. And that decision, my friends, can lead to not looking good or feeling good.

After three days of not shampooing, the accumulated dirt, oil and hair products will render hair visibly grimy. After one week, the scalp can start to stink and itch. After one month, bacteria can be trapped, hairs can become ingrown and a severe type of dandruff shows up as patchy redness and frequent itching. This causes sores, which causes scabs, which itch. And if you think only children get head lice, think again. They can live on as little as a ¼-inch of hair!

If you find yourself not wanting to bother with hair washing consider:

Using baby shampoo. If you trusted it on your babies’ heads, you can trust it on your head.

Using a dry shampoo in between washes. It’s become more of a norm than a trend.

Indulging yourself by making an appointment at a local salon.

Allowing a friend or loved one to wash it for you.

And if you’re caring for a loved one’s hair, go to, or for tips to help make the process easier emotionally and physically for both of you.

As the good book says, “The hoary [gray] head is a crown of glory ...”

I say, let’s keep it that way!

Until next time ... keep thinking the good thoughts.

Senior activist and local resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), the area’s first affordable senior living facility. Still to come is “Harry’s House” at GIV, for those who need assisted living or memory care. Reach her at Visit for more information.


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