The psychology of a good hair day and its connection to our happiness
Ain’t nothin’ vain about lovin’ your mane
By Ruby Cotton
Beauty Editor / May 08 2023
Does your mood immediately improve after a fresh blow-dry? Heck yes it does. And why wouldn’t it?
For better or for worse, our physical appearance and our mental health are intimately intertwined. And while such a close connection can be the catalyst for several devastating disorders, it can also bring from it a simple and welcomed serotonin boost that is often far less costly than a session with a therapist.
As Rumbie, hairstylist and founder of Rumbie & Co says, “when you have good hair, you feel good about yourself, you have a strong sense of self-assurance and ultimately feel unstoppable.”
Being at war with our hair — because we’ve got too much of it, not enough, it’s too frizzy, too flat, too oily, too dry or you just outright don’t like the colour — can be detrimental to your mood.
And sure, there are bigger things in life to worry about. No question. But here’s the thing: prioritising your haircare regimen does not make you vain, and feeling self-conscious about your hair does not make you precious.
What does our hair say about us?
“We can subconsciously tell a lot about someone from the condition of their hair,” psychologist and bioenergetic health practitioner Tayla Hamilton tells BEAUTYcrew. “When our hair is behaving itself or we’re fresh out of the salon, this gives an added pump of self-esteem and confidence, sending the message to ourselves or others that ‘we have our shit together and we’re ready for any challenge!’”
Just as our confidence can take a dip during an acne flare-up, the same range of emotions will present themselves when we’re unhappy with our hair. The same can also be said in reverse. Plus, personal grooming is often one of the first things to go when we're experiencing anxiety or depression.
“I always say ‘these roots run deeper’ than what we think,” says Rumbie. “Being taught how to look after your hair, especially its natural texture, definitely impacts you beyond what you think.”
It’s a phenomenon that Rumbie has experienced first hand in her salon, where she specialises in the treatment of wavy, curly and afro hair. “When [people with curly hair] look in the mirror they don’t feel confident and are not loving themselves because they haven’t been taught what to do with their hair.”
“They can’t even be in spaces where they can go to the corner store or even out at all with their natural hair,” she adds.
In fact, Rumbie's sister was the one who truly triggered this lightbulb moment. “My sister was losing hair due to stress, [so] I started doing her hair so she didn’t have to worry about how she looked. From that point, I realised there was an issue that I wanted to solve. Because if no one could do her hair, there was a real need for understanding how we can look after, and make people feel confident, in their natural hair texture,” she says.
In my job as a beauty writer, I often catch myself making light of what it is that I actually do day in and day out.
Whenever I complain about feeling tired, I quickly follow it up with “oh but I’m writing about hair and makeup, I’m hardly saving lives” – feeling mildly bratty around my friends who are nurses, teachers and lawyers.
However, outside of the self-depreciation and cynicism, I know personally the positive and immediate endorphin hit something as simple as brushing my hair can give me.
After a recent experience with tape-in hair extensions, I truly grasped the weight of what an impact feeling good about your hair can have on your confidence. Though I’ve never gone to therapy myself, I compare my appointments with Jonathan Vizza at Emilly Hadrill to be a worthy alternative.
Since having more hair (thank you lush extensions), I’ve become more social, always feeling polished and ready to go out, and visibly more confident. Has my mane become a security blanket for me? In some respects, yes, I believe it has. Nowadays, I’m less concerned over what people are thinking of me and more sure of myself because I know that my hair looks healthy. And that is a boost of self-esteem that I never knew I was missing.
I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t apologise for my vanity as I shared this train of thought. Because truthfully, I’m a happier person with my hair extensions. Sue me. And while for me, more hair equals more confidence, for my colleague, she’s tried dark waves, fiery red, bleached blonde, and warm auburn before shaving it all off in order to feel the “most herself”. If that doesn’t show the power of hair, I don’t know what does.
Where are we headed?
The beauty industry has made an obvious shift towards health and wellness. Why? Because we no longer just want to look good, we want to feel good while we’re at it.
Even within the rise of popularity within the skin care market, people are less interested in covering up a pimple with a full coverage concealer, and would rather investigate what’s triggering the breakout and how they can nourish and heal their skin via topical products and ingestibles. “Beauty meeting wellness. That’s the future of the industry,” said founder of SkinFix Amy Regan to Forbes.
We’re in an era of prioritising self-care, and keeping your hair healthy, clean and looking cute is a big part of that and nothing to scoff at. It’s about more than just looking good, we’re in the business of feeling good. All hail the power of a good hair day!
Ruby is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor. She is the CEO of nine global corporations. Just kidding. She does however, report on the latest beauty trends, celeb skin care lines (the wonderful, the so-so and the downright unnecessary). If you're ever at a lull in conversation with her, be sure to mention anything hormonal acne or Real Housewives and you'll be set for hours.