An Unexpected New Challenge for Men Working from Home

An Unexpected New Challenge for Men Working from Home

Video unashamedly showcases your hair. Make it look astounding!

David Barker, The Grooming Corporation and Vic Napier, VicNapier.com

Work from Home, or WfH, is here to stay.

Businesses were forced into remote work at first, but once they saw how much money they save by giving up office real estate they were onboard. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that companies can save $11 million for every 1000 remote workers.

Workers love the idea of working from home too. In a survey of workers who recently were exposed to remotely working from home, 93% would continue at least part of the time.

But WfH brings its own challenges…

Interacting in a Zoom meeting is a lot different than interacting over a conference table, or even in a work cubicle with a single co-worker. You have to think about background, lighting camera elevation in addition to looking professional.

There is a learning curve.

Here’s how one novice Zoomer learned about lighting:

“I learned how important lighting is during my first video conference. My image was a thumbnail in the corner of the screen, but I thought some joker was streaming a zombie movie. That was at the beginning of the lock down and my friends at work still give me a hard time about it.”  

Remember “Zoom Hats”?

Right after the work from home craze, men were suddenly wearing hats during remote meetings.

How to avoid a dressing down when video conferencing from home

Sometimes it was to hide the results of spouses attempts at giving a haircut during the lockdown. Other times longish hair, especially with full beards, just didn’t come across very well on a computer screen. The guys on Duck Dynasty might be able to pull it off, but not everyone can.

We cut each other a ton of slack when we were all getting the hang of Zooming, but those days are quickly being left behind.

There aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules yet, so we’re all on our own. Some of us can go a day or two without shaving and no one will notice. Others of us start looking like Sasquatch after just one day without the triple blade and hot shave cream. 

But here is what really makes things complicated:

The way we wear our hair is a form of communication. Like a tattoo, it tells the world something about us.

Photo by Aakash Mally on Unsplash

The Rock would not be tough but lovable The Rock without his shaved dome and tribal tats. Slash wouldn’t be the rebellious Gun ‘n Roses guitar icon without the stove pipe hat and thick black curls cascading over his face.

But neither of those guys would ever get hired as investment bankers. Neither style communicates the image of staid predictability clients demand of investment bankers.

Your style has to fit with the culture of the organization you work in and the role you have within that organization. What might be acceptable in a creative office full of video animators might not fit in the HR department in the very same business.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

The advent of video conferencing extends those expectations to how you look on a computer screen. More specifically, how your face looks, because that’s usually all that can be seen.

That’s why it’s important to put some effort into managing your long hair, especially now.

COVID-19 and the move to WfH means we have to up our game. Now we have to spend a little more effort in looking good.

But that’s not all…

There is another advantage to looking good while projecting our own style.

When we know we look good we have more confidence in ourselves. We feel attractive and competent. Our view of ourselves goes up. And when we feel good about ourselves others feel good about us also. That’s a fundamental truth of success in business. It’s one of those subtle ways we generate credibility and build trust with colleagues and customers.  

Many men don’t put a lot of effort into their hair. It’s just part of the morning routine. Wash it, maybe condition it, shake it out, shoot it with the heat gun and drag a comb or brush through it. Finished! We’re good to go!

But times are changing…

Nobody knows the difference if we attend an online meeting in socks and sweatpants because that’s not where the camera is pointing.

Our hair is a different story. We need to pay more attention to how we come across on a computer screen. Our face and hair are all anyone else can see.

To do this well, we will need the equipment and right knowledge on how to take care of our hair. We also need to integrate hair care into our lifestyle.

For many men that can be a little intimidating. Simply browsing the hair care aisle can be overwhelming.

But you don’t have to do everything at once.  

Find one thing that looks like it might work for you and try it tomorrow morning. If you get the results you are looking for integrate it into your morning routine and visits to your barber or stylist. Then look for something else to try.

With this in mind, here is a grooming guide for men with longish hair finding their way on the path to the New Normal of Work from Home.

Caring for Your Hair

It takes deliberate actions to maintain neat long hair.

Choosing a shampoo and conditioner right for your hair, drying it and covering it – these are the fundamental actions needed to keep hair healthy and appealing. Here are some tips to maintain your long hair:

Give Yourself a Hot Oil Massage

A hot oil massage is a popular option for treating hair.

You can buy a ready-made product or go to the salon. Your choice of hot oil product should complement your hair type.

Coconut oil works well for most people. Hair follicles are made up mostly of protein, so protein rich oils promote general hair health and reduce hair loss. Olive, jojoba and avocado are all very moisturizing, but olive oil is best for extremely dry hair.

On the other hand, oily hair takes a different approach.

Sebum is the naturally produced oil secreted by the sebaceous glands in our skin. It’s made up of fatty acids like triglycerides and protects against dehydration. Oily skin is a sign of excess fats and might be a warning sign of high cholesterol.

Chemically, jojoba is most similar to the naturally occurring sebum our scalp produces, and is a good choice for those of us with oily hair.

Essential oils, like lavender and rosemary might support fast hair growth, but at this point there is no scientific proof for this. Just the same, these essential oils have a wonderful scent and add a degree of luxury to hot oil treatment. 

In case you have a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, you should consult your dermatologist for advice on which hot oil hair treatment to use.

DIY Hot Oil Treatment

You need to select the hot oil product for your hair before you begin the treatment. Products such as almond, olive, coconut, avocado, argan, and jojoba oils are some of the most common oils used for this treatment. Once you have your oil, follow the steps listed below to complete your hot oil treatment procedure.

  1. Wash your hair. Clean hair makes it easy for the oils to penetrate deeply into the hair cuticles.
  2. After cleaning your hair, microwave between three and six spoons of your oil for ten seconds.
  3. Damp your scalp and hair before you apply the oil. In addition, you need to apply a small amount of oil on your wrist to ensure that it is not very hot.
  4. Put a towel on your shoulder to protect your shirt from getting soiled. Alternatively, you can apply the hot oil as you go to the shower.
  5. Gently comb your hair to rid your hair of all the knots.
  6. Apply the hot oil carefully and evenly all over your hair. Massage it gently to increase its penetration into the scalp.
  7. Put on a shower cap and hold up for 20 minutes as your hair cures.
  8. Rinse your hair completely after 20 minutes to get rid of all the oils on your hair. Continue with your usual hair conditioning routine.

Daily Products and the Morning Routine

Be it wax, gel, putties, or pomade, the right product for getting your hair to best potential is out there somewhere.

But it’s easy to overdo it.

Only use products to achieve a specific outcome. That might require some experimentation with a variety of products to find the one that works best for you.

Here are some of the products and how to use them:

  • Putties – Putties hold longer and are not as shiny and stiff as gels
  • Gel – It gives your hair a shiny allure and holds for longer. It also makes your hair appear wet.
  • Wax –Wax holds your hair together, and it is hard to get rid of it due to its oil base.
  • Paste – Paste suits anyone with a medium or long hair. Unlike gel, paste has moderate shine and hold.
  • Pomade – High-quality pomade is suitable for anyone who wishes to pull a retro look. It has a fairly low hold but a high shine.
  • Muds and clay – These products have low shine. They vary from low to high hold.

Avoid Hot Tools and Chemicals

Avoiding heat when treating your hair is the general rule. Allow your hair to air-dry whenever you can. If you must use a blow dryer, use the lower heat setting. Hot air speeds up the drying process but also makes hair brittle and dull, so it’s easy to overdo heat when time is at a premium.

The same thing is true of hot water. A hot shower might feel good, especially on a cold winter morning, but give some thought to your hair health, too. Maybe start out cool while shampooing and rinsing, then turn up the hot water for he remainder of your shower. 

As you adjust to a WfH routine it’s best to create enough time in your morning routine for your air to dry naturally. You’ll know when to expect a video conference, so you should be able to accommodate time for your hair to dry naturally or with the aid of a no heat blow dry. 

Also, avoid exposing warm hair to cold air. Allow a few minutes for it to adjust to room temperature before going outside on a cold day.

Use the Right Shampoo

This is another time when it might take a little experimentation to find the right approach for your particular scalp and hair situation.

Generally speaking, think of what shampoo does to your scalp and roots and how conditioner leaves your hair and ends. There is no reason you can’t use a shampoo formulated for an oily scale and conditioner for split or dry ends. You should ensure that you use shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair type and scalp condition. The products should not only encourage hair growth but also strengthen the hair.

If your hair tends towards oily consider using conditioner first, then shampoo. Also be sure to rinse all conditioner out of your hair. It takes only a bit of conditioner to make hair appear oily.

Shampoos promoted as hydrating, moisturizing, smoothing, or good for curly hair add moisture and might give the effect you’re a looking for if you don’t have oily hair issues.   

On the other hand, volumizing, strengthening, or balancing identifies shampoo formulas that are non-moisturizing and intended for scalps producing higher levels of sebum. These also work well for very fine hair and to add body and lift.  

You can also experiment using two or more shampoos for different needs. One might address an oily scalp while another treats roots or ends

Be wary of clarifying shampoos.

Clarifying shampoos cleanse your hair by eliminating all the stubborn hair product build-up and. impurities caused by environmental conditions. Clarifying shampoos make it easy to style long hair and help protect color. 

However, use clarifying shampoos in moderation. They are very powerful and were originally intended to treat unusually oily conditions. They can actually stimulate more oil production if overused. Consider using them only as needed or once or twice a week.

Finally, think about conditioning more and shampooing less, especially if you tend to have dry hair. Some men have found that frequent shampooing dries out their hair and cutting back leaves hair healthier and looking better.  Again, you might have to experiment to find the right regimen for your unique head of hair.

A Word About Hats

Although it’s a myth that wearing a hat causes baldness, there are two potential causes of hair damage related to small or tight hats.

A tight hat can pull hair out when the hat is put on or off, and reduced blood flow can exacerbate conditions you are trying to correct.

So, wear a hat, especially in very hot or very cold environments, just be sure to use one that that is the correct size.       

While we are on the subject of hats, don’t wear a hat to conceal your hair while video conferencing. That defeats the entire purpose of making your hair part of your business attire. In addition, hats, especially with bills, (like baseball caps), create shadows around your eyes on video. The eyes are powerful sources of communication and compromising them undermines the trust you try to build with colleagues and customers.

Learn How to Style Your Long Hair

We talked a little about hair styles at the beginning of this article and don’t have much to add here. However, consider these three things:

Styles change all the time, so keep up with the times. You don’t have to be the leading hair style maven among your co-workers, but it’s a good idea to stay aware of emerging styles. Never changing or trying something new will make you look older and out of the loop. However, as you get older you may want to sport a more mature style.

The way you wear your longish hair makes an impression on the people you work with. This is especially true now, as video conferencing becomes the norm. Be sure to think about how your style and look comes across on a computer screen.  If you know you are going to spend time in online meetings be sure to check yourself out on screen. Mirrors are great, but don’t forget the cameras.

Lastly, your hairstyle has to compliment your facial features. There are websites and Pinterest pages that will coach you through long hair styles matching your face shape. Before spending much time looking at them take a good look in the mirror and on the screen. Is your face round, long, angular? Are your eyes prominent, narrow, round? Are your brows thick, dark or barely visible? It might make you uncomfortable, but it’s essential to be honest to find a hairstyle that looks good on you.

DIY Haircut Tool to Cut, Trim, or Shave your Head and Neckline at Home

A good hairstyle will complement the shape of your face, highlight your best facial features and make you look fabulous onscreen and in person.

In addition to these, you can use homemade remedies like apple cider vinegar rinse, egg white, and aloe mask, and onion rinse to clean your hair.

Brushing Your Hair

There is no one-brush-fits-all option in the market today. Different hair types demand a different brush to achieve styling needs. Whether you have thin hair or burly locks, you need a brush that will serve your specific styling needs well.

Amazon hair brushes for men

Nutrition for Your Hair

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Healthy hair is a sign of well-balanced diet high in vitamins and minerals. Healthy eating is essential for your mind and body, but also for your hair. Here is the rundown on hair healthy foods high in the vitamins and minerals hair loves:

Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene

Hair is the fastest growing tissue in your body, and Vitamin A is essential to robust cell growth throughout your body. Sebum, the naturally occurring body oil produced by skin glands, depends on Vitamin A to moisturize your hair and scalp.

Beta-carotene, found in carrots, pumpkin, spinach and kale is converted into Vitamin A. Beta-carotene is also found in dairy products like eggs, milk and yogurt, as well as fish.  

B Vitamins

B vitamins are essential to the creation and health of red blood cells that bring oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. Biotin is probably the best know B vitamin, but are a whole range of B vitamins.

The good news is that B vitamins, especially biotin, are found in many foods like whole grain, meats, fish, fortified cereals and dark leafy greens. Some variants, such as B12 are found mostly in shellfish, fish, liver and fortified cereals.

Vitamin C

You might know that Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant – that is, it helps process the waste materials of cell decay from the blood.

Less well known is the role of vitamin C in the production of collagen – one of the molecules hairs is made of. It also helps metabolize iron, and essential mineral needed for hair growth and health.

Citrus fruits are the obvious source of Vitamin C, but so are peppers and strawberries.

Vitamin D

Although we get Vitamin D from sunlight, we spend so little time outdoors that Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common. The bad news for your hair is that low levels of Vitamin D prevent the creation of hair follicles in the scalp, a direct cause of hair loss and baldness.

You can get Vitamin D from fish, cod liver oil and fortified cereals.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that has been directly linked to hair growth. Like vitamin C it helps in the formation of hair follicles and collagen. Vitamin E is often used in skin care products because of the effect of collagen on skin health. 

It can be found in nuts like peanuts and almonds, vegetable oils, spinach and avocados.

Iron

Like B vitamins, iron helps in the production and health of red blood cells, essential to bringing nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles. Unfortunately, iron deficiency, known as anemia, is a common condition for many men. Anemia is so wide spread that it is known as a common cause of hair loss.

When planning your diet, include shellfish, red mean, spinach and legumes, (like lentils, peas and beans).

Zinc

Zinc is another mineral essential to hair health. It keeps the sebum glans that surround hair follicles working properly, secreting the oils needed for shiny hair and a healthy scalp. Like iron deficiency, low levels of zinc are known to result in hair loss.

Turn to shellfish, legumes, wheat germ and pumpkins seeds for zinc.

Protein

Hair is made almost entirely from protein, so a protein rich diet is very important to hair health.  Luckily Western diets are rich in protein, and unlike zinc or iron, protein deficiency is very rare.

Just the same be sure to give some thought to including red meats, fish and legumes into your diet.

And don’t forget…

Drink a lot of water and eat biotin (Vitamin-B) rich foods and supplements. You should also use biotin rich hair products such as shampoos and conditioners. Foods rich in Vitamin C and E protect your hair and scalp against oxidative stress. Vitamin C produces collagen, which improves the structure of your hair.

Men’s Hair Supplements at Amazon

Use the Right Tools for the Job

Grooming tools are very important when maintaining long hair. These tools not only ensure that your hair grows according to plan but also makes it easy for you to style your hair accordingly. Here are some of the important tools for the job:

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos clean hair without causing a loss in natural oils from your hair. These shampoos come in spray or powder form. Apply them after showering and style your hair before leaving for work or participating in online meetings.

Hair Spray

Hair sprays contain industrial polymers that allow the spray to hold your hair together and make it more voluminous. They can also be used throughout the day to keep your hairstyle looking great.

Salt spray

Salt sprays have a different effect on your hair from all the other styling products in the market. Sea salt enhances your hair’s natural tendencies by increasing the texture of your hair. However, sea salt products differ. Some have been diluted too much and will cause your hair to stick. Find the right products for your hair type.

Blow Dryer

Blow dryers help men to achieve different styling demands. Choose a dryer that will help you achieve your specified styling goals because not all dryers offer the same solution.

In Summary

Learning how to hair for men is an on-going process that should be improved on a daily basis. This article outlines some of the best methods you can use to maintain your hair. Be consistent and deliberate about it, and you will realize great results.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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