My Fun and Interesting Hair Experiment

hair experiment

Way back in January of 2020, before the virus started changing everything about the way we live, I had this recurring dream.

I don’t always recall my dreams, so when I remember one, I pay attention to it.

The dream was both simple and complex.  (I should probably tell you that my dreams often have a kind of surreal feel to them.)

This one begins with me being aware that I am present and that I am having a dream.  Almost immediately, the point of view shifts and I’m seeing myself as someone else would see me, through that person ’s eyes.  I suppose this makes me both protagonist and a bit player.  Throughout the dream, my point of view keeps shifting back and forth like this, but I’m always me—and always thinking my thoughts—even when I’m looking at myself from a distance.

The dream is not set anywhere, nor is there any action.  I do notice—and this is key—that I’m both aware that I have long hair and that I feel good about my hair.   The dream always abruptly ends at that point.

Then the virus came on, and I started working from home.  The barbershops all closed.  Once they reopened, I began to read stories about how people were getting sick while getting their hair cut.  A few “super-spreader events” even happened during such scenarios.

Somewhere along the way, I had the thought that I’d just do a little life experiment that would involve me letting my hair go.  The soundness of this idea was reinforced by the dream.  Perhaps it was my subconscious trying to tell me that I should try a new look or that I was having a midlife crisis?  Instead of going out and buying a sportscar, I’d revisit my youth by growing long hair again.  (I should tell you that I had pretty long hair in high school and college.)

Some refer to the kind of experiment I’m doing as a “self-experiment.”  As I was preparing to write this, I found that such experimentations are actually a thing.  Alice Boyes, in her Psychology Today piece, writes about some she’s done and even provides a list of experiments readers might try.

So far, my experiment is teaching me a lot.  For example, I’m experimenting with different ways to comb my hair, and am trying a variety of methods to deal with that awkward stage I’m in now.  (I can pull a ponytail, but I’ve got neither short hair nor impressively long hair, so I’m working my way through a kind of ugly phase.)  (I promise I’ll post a photo here once I feel like I’ve reached a kind of satisfactory result.)

I’ve discovered that my very full and wavy hair needs extra moisture so I’m doing some problem solving there too.  One of the really great benefits of such experimentation is that the outcome is unknown and there are certain to be problems that have to faced, analyzed, and solved as the thing unfolds.

Actually, there are a whole bunch of benefits that result from these kinds of experiments.  Blaz Kos discusses some of them here.

I’d like to finish by asking you to share your experiences with this kind of experimentation.  What have you tried and how did it turn out?

25 thoughts on “My Fun and Interesting Hair Experiment

  1. Troy, whatever works for you! After several months of frustration, I got out the scissors and cut my hair myself! It doesn’t look great, but it will have to do until it is safe to go to the salon! I am home most of the time, and when I do go out, I am wearing a mask, so it’s not an earth-shattering issue for me.


    1. What do you think about the new version of yourself? Was your scissors experiment a success or not? Just curious…

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I hear you. I didn’t realize how much I miss getting a haircut. I thought about going for a fresh look but having longer hair made it too hot to sleep for me. I had already shaved my beard to help with wearing a mask, so the longer hair felt like a replacement. It’s cool you saw through the appearance of limited resources and embraced your creative nature of abundance. It’s good for me to hear that given the doom and gloom atmosphere the media has presented.

    1. Like I said in my piece, I’m going through an awkward phase with my hair. I think it’ll be pretty cool once it gets a few inches longer. Right now, though, I get a good laugh when I look in the mirror. (And a good laugh–these days–is worth a lot!) Take care, man, and keep up the good fight.

  3. Sometimes we are forced to change some aspects of our life abruptly, however We can discover at the same time a new side of ourselves! I’ve been trying to change my career, and even though I have less money than 3 years ago, I can see now how I have improved my life and my social and behavior skills! The best example is that now I’m writing for you in English, something that sounded impossible for me 3 years ago, as I’m a Portuguese native speaker!

    1. It’s very nice to meet you, Juliano. Are you from Portugal or Brazil or some other place? Your English is very impressive! It’s not all about money, as you well know. You seem like a person who’s had a few adventures and seen a few places. If you are the sort of person I think you are, then we are very similar. I’ve lived in quite a few countries and had lots of interesting experiences. One time, quite a few years ago now, I lived in Poland and made very little money but felt very rich because I was living a wonderful life. I’ve made lots of money at various times in my life and felt poor too! I’m happy that you read my piece and commented. Do you blog? If so, please post a link to your site so we can check out your writing.

      1. I’m from Brazil. I lived abroad in Ireland and UK for about 9 mths and I lived in some cities here, all in the south of Brazil (about 6 I think…) I could study English abroad, and now I have the same situation… I don’t have the same wages as I had some years ago, but I’m happier cause I’m in my hometown again, and I have my family closer than in the past!

  4. wow–I went the opposite direction. You’re growing yours out. I experimented by shaving it all off. definitely a cooler head to play with when I’m going out to work in the garden. I sure love that aspect. And since I can’t do hair color at my job (or most jobs around here), a colorful, fun scarf on my noggin is a good way to change up my look each day.

    Kinda kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Salons have been open periodically around here. I think they’re all closed again, or just closing really early if no appointments. I didn’t want to go back to a salon, and I always need a coloring because of my gray hair. Didn’t wanna pay for that. Got a good electric shaver and clipper attachment for less than the cost of one hair salon appointment with all the stuff I usually need. it’ll be the gift that keeps on giving.

    1. The best part of my experiment is that, like you, I wore my hair really short before this virus took control of the planet. I used to go to the barber and whenever he’d asked me what I wanted, I’d simply say, “Go ahead and use your clippers, please. I’ll have a zero cut.” He’d zip, zip, zip and be done. Now, I get a good a good laugh when I look in the mirror. I’m enjoying this new Troy looking back at me. Thanks so much for sharing your story. By the way, do you live in the US or some other place?

  5. Not my own experience but I know that the writer behind ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ had a colleague he used to conduct experiments like these with on a regular basis. In order to understand the way we make decisions better, they loved to have these daily conversations whereby a question would be presented and their answers observed.

    ‘We were not seriously looking for the correct answer to the statistical questions we posed. Our aim was to identify and analyze the intuitive answer, the first one that came to mind, the one we were tempted to make even when we knew it to be wrong.’

    1. So, it sounds like you’re describing thought experiments or language experiments or something fairly similar. You know, we get into these habitual ruts if we’re not careful. Then we sort of go to sleep if we never push ourselves off the well-worn path. With my hair being as long as it is now, I’m a bit out of my hair comfort zone. But it feels good not knowing what I’m going to look like in a few weeks once it really has begun to sprout and hang. Thanks so much for commenting.

  6. I call dreams where I am aware or can control what is going on a ‘lucid dream.’ As for experiments, I’ve been using clippers with different size combs. Not great but no trips out required. Fun post BTW.

    1. You haven’t tried anything like the Mohawk yet, have you? I’ve had a few of your lucid dreams. My hair dream is kind of like that, I suppose. It’s odd to play two different roles in a dream and yet to have a kind of integrated perspective at the same time. It’s really hard to describe. I wonder if the dream experts have a term for the kind of dream I’m describing? I think I’ll check after I post this comment. Thanks so much for sharing your hair adventure!

  7. Safety first, especially when others are at risk and not just ourselves. I have not grown my hair out (receding hair line makes it less than desirable) but have always wondered what it might look like.

    I instead experiment with different facial hair styles!

    1. Cool! What sort of facial hair experiments have you attempted? I’ve got a receding hair line too, but it’s get’s long enough now that I’m even able to hide that. Thanks for reading, Hamish, and for commenting.

    1. My hair is quite curly so it is probably twelve feet long in actuality, but doesn’t quite appear that long. Give it two weeks, I’ll really have something. Right now, it’s a miniature. I had long hair in high school and I’m about at the length I was then. Give it awhile and I’ll be in uncharted territory.

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