More Hair Than Wit

Posted on July 18, 2012 by Vivi in VIVI'S VIEW

By Vivi Rathbone.

Is it just me, or do Porteñas have really nice hair?  Forgive the stereotype.

Every day I see shiny heads of impossibly long, healthy, radiant hair.  It makes me think of the mythological locks of the princesses in old fairytale books from my childhood bedtime stories.  Some tales spoke of hair so magical, that princes would take a lock of their love’s tresses for protection during daring adventures.

The city is full of Princess Hair.  It can be seen on every street corner, cafe, and subway car of Capital Federal.  Sometimes it is thick and black with tight curls.  Sometimes it is waxy and blonde; with three shades of color variation from root to tip.  Sometimes hair is arranged into messy buns worn at the crown of the skull, or cascading over shoulders, with wide waves leftover from yesterday’s coiffure.  Both styles could easily accomodate a tiara.

The color of my own hair changes with the light.  The tips are blonde, leftover from summer shinshine’s natural bleach, and the roots are darker brown, grown in winter.   I don’t bother styling it because I like the way it falls.  As it grows longer, I fear its influence over me.

The last time I had my hair cut, I cried.  The barber, if he even deserves such a title, took his silver scissors to my hair and added a few long layers.  My eyes welled up with angry tears and I rose my voice.  “Que estas haciendo?! Para! Dame los tijeras!” (What are you doing? Stop! Give me the scissors!)

His hand went to his chest and he gasped.  He put the scissors away in a drawer, far from me.  “Linda! Podria ser una modela!  Sos hermosa!”  (Pretty!  You could be a model!  You’re beautiful!)

No me chamuyes!” (Dont bullshit me!)  I left in a hurry, and cried as I walked home.

I wish this were fiction.

I called Jamie and made him take me to the movies.  That cheered me up, but only for a minute.  I felt a bald ache in pit of my solar plexus for having placed my precious locks  in the hands of a scissor-bearing stranger.   I had a dream shortly thereafter of my hair falling out in my hands.  I awoke feeling weak, empathizing with Samson’s loss of strength from the biblical haircut of betrayal.  Alas, let me die with the Philistines, I lamented, and wore a ponytail for a week.

It has since grown back.


Vivi Hair Model

Long hair isn’t easy to maintain.  But here are five long-hair care tips that I would tell you, were I your haircare provider.

1. Dont wash your hair.

Every princess knows that to truly harness the full potential of hair power, one must not wash the magic out.  Washing hair two or three times a week is plenty.  By day three, yes, it will be ready to be washed, and when it is washed, it will feel softer than silk and shine like the sun.   Arrange dates around your hair-washing schedule.

2. Don’t use shampoo.  

What I am about to write is going to contradict a widely accepted, socially agreed upon myth of hair care and personal hygiene, so take a deep breath:

Shampoo is a lie, and conditioner is a joke.

One needn’t employ either, least of all conditioner.  Quit using them.  At first one might experience an unpleasant oily scalp and be tempted to return to shampoo.  Resist this urge and rinse in hot water, massaging the scalp.  It feels great, and eventually hair will cease to produce so much oil.  It was producing this oil to compensate for the shampoo.*

There are many alternatives to the chemical and fragrance laden sludge bottle sitting on the bathtub ledge.  Baking soda.  Vinegar.  Olive Oil.  Coconut milk.

3. Brush it.

Peasants might assume that unwashed hair is dirty hair.  This simply isn’t the case.  Washing hair is not the only way to clean it.  Brushing the hair cleans out the dust, spreads the oil and naturally styles hair.  Best of all, brushing hair feels amazing.  It massages the scalp and stimulates creativity.  Spend one-on-one time with a high-quality natural bristle brush.

4. Trim it.

Samson and I learned the hard way what can happen during a haircut, so we sought alternative solutions.  He had his eyes stabbed out and brought down some pillars, and I decided to take responsibility for my own trims.  Long hair is easy to auto-coiffe.  When the ends appear dull or begin to split, trim them with a pair of sharp scissors.  Pay attention to how hair falls to ensure the haircut is even.  Bi-annual haircuts with a trusted professional can be maintained with monthly split end trims.  Regular trims help hair to stay healthier and grow longer.

5. Sleep in a braid.

Arranging hair into a loose plait prevents hair from being torn during sleep.  Simply braid hair into a lose braid and fasten at the end.  A braid is preferrable to a bun or pony tail because the band used to secure it will only break the tips, which should be regularly trimmed.  Upon waking, hair will be easier to maintain.  This is the fastest way to grow long hair.

Then, when a prince comes to your tower, you can throw your long braid out the window for him to climb up, in case you can’t be bothered to go downstairs to let him in.

* This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Well why don’t you turn him in?’ and the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’


  1. The abundance of amazingly long, gorgeous porteña hair inspired me to let mine grow longer than it’s been my whole life. But after a year in Bs As, my hair’s become super dried out and damaged, even though I only wash it twice a week and never use heat (hairdryer, straightener, etc). I’m curious about this “no shampoo” thing. I use vinegar every so often for clarifying, and olive or almond oil overnight for conditioning, but do you use this stuff every time you take a shower? I’ll try anything!

  2. All true (especially the part about the porteñas’ hair) but one caveat – only straight-haired people should brush their hair. The curly ones should just use their fingers to stimulate the scalp.

  3. And everyone thought I was nuts when I went “poo-free”. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar can clean just about anything, including hair. You have to get your mix of baking soda/water to clean and vinegar/water to condition just right though. Too much baking soda and your hair will dry out. Too much ACV and your hair will feel heavy and greasy. And there is a bit of a ”I hate my hair” period that you have to stick through and feel a bit greasy until your scalp adjusts.

  4. Like the hair post! In the states they’ve started to change the rules as well. Cleansing conditioners are all the rage, rather than shampoo. It’s not the lather that cleans but the action of rubbing your scalp. I think the one thing I’d disagree with on your post is the hot water thing. So I hear (and feel) hot water is bad news for skin and scalp! But you’ve got the nice hair… So what do I know haha.

  5. I gotta disagree… there’s a lot of long hair down there but I don’t think the majority is very princessy. I did the Argy scraggle for a while but it’s nice to have hair with a shape again

    • awww Ameeee the prettiest princess of them all ! We miss you !

      • hehehhe how do you always make me blush?? YOU definitely DO have princess hair and now I know all of your secrets! When I got my hair cut the stylist made fun of me and made me promise that the next time I go long I visit him every 3 months for a trim! also i have been brushing

  6. I’m a curly porteña girl who follows the CG method (with products from here, which is not that great) but my hair is not in bad shape. I don’t use shampoo and I wash with conditioner once a week. A few days ago I bumped into these 3 posts by Crunchy Betty about going no-poo, worth having a look. Here are the links:

  7. Thanks for the post! I tried the no-poo lifestyle and ended up with butter bangs for days! I decided just to skip a day between washes, and my longish, scraggly, blondish ends are doing a-ok. Funny, I thought of cutting my hair off before making my way down to BA, though it would be a refreshing, low maintenance change. I have since decided against it. Wouldn’t want to stand out as some punky Americana!

  8. Yes, the Porteñas have long, long locks … but I don’t think all of them have perfectly healthy hair. Sometimes on the colectivo I want to take out some scissors and give them a ninja trim when their out of control mane gets all up in my personal space! On my recent trip home, I cut off 5 inches – sounds like a lot but my hair is still insanely long. I was worried I had become one of those crazy ladies who becomes emotionally attached to her hair, but I noticed that it looks and feels healthier already, and I can wear it down without it getting all tangled up on everything. I can’t wait for the day that short(ish) hair starts to become trendy here! The girls’ worlds will be turned upside down 🙂

    • hahaha Paige! “worried I had become one of those crazy ladies who becomes emotionally attached to her hair” way to describe me very accurately !!! PS – I went to Smeterling finally. Thought of you!

      • It was not directed at you – though I have to say I had a good laugh imagining your crying and running out of the peluquería (I had a similar experience when I was given 1-inch long bangs right on my cowlick here at Llongueras). Isn’t Smeterling so cute? Love those whoopie pies!

  9. You need a competent stylista…

  10. On Borges. And Guemes you will find my wife’s favourite hairdresser…Julio Decima. She brings all her products from BA to the states that are far superior to what is found here. For example…Keristas, Wella, Tri Sem…

  11. Very good information. Lucky me I found your website by chance (stumbleupon).

    I have saved it for later!


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