Love My Locks: The Changes You Expected in Middle School, Not College

This article is part of the Her Campus Kenyon series Love My Locks, in which our writers discuss their relationships to their manes. A huge thank you to Ulta Beauty and Bed Head for gifting us with so many hair goodies in the College Fashion Week Essentials Kit!

 

After thinking about this for quite a while, I’ve developed a theory: college is basically Middle School: Round 2. Before you roll your eyes and click over to something more interesting, humor me. Here are the three parts of my theory:

1. Middle School Me had no idea who she was. College Me is starting to feel the same way again.

2. Middle School Me was pretty socially awkward. College Me is not as socially awkward, but there is definitely a rise in awkwardness and a pressure to be interesting.

3. Middle School Me went through a whole lot of weird changes in her body. College Me—to my complete and utter surprise—has experienced some weird body changes, too.

I was prepared for the first two challenges of this transition into college, but the last one is still hitting me pretty hard. No one told me about the changes my body would undergo—and I’m not talking about the Freshman Fifteen.Here are two physical changes that you can face in college and what my meager experience (and a little research) has taught me about them:

Acne

In middle school, I definitely struggled with acne for a little while. I’d tried Epiduo and Cetaphil, and nothing had worked. However, my mom got me onto Proactiv my seventh grade year, and my skin looked great—maybe a little dry—through high school. Once I reached college, though, I figured I’d be fine. I had had clear enough skin for five years, and I was sick of bleaching my clothes (and was starting to wonder what that bleach might have been doing to my face), so I stopped using Proactiv right after Thanksgiving Break.

(Yes, these pictures are from the classic work, The Care and Keeping of You)

My face exploded. It was the kind of acne that ached, that made your face red and swollen, that totally killed your confidence. It was the kind of acne that I knew people noticed. The physical discomfort was enough, but the embarrassment and self-consciousness made it twice as bad. I tried returning to Proactiv—nothing. New face washes, no face washes, apple cider vinegar—nope.

During the first week of summer break, I went to a dermatologist and found out that I had too much testosterone, and that this could easily be fixed with birth control. I started taking it that summer, and after three months of adjusting to the pill, my face cleared right up again.

Hormonal changes, then, are definitely one of the causes of acne. I did a little more research, and while they aren’t proven causes of acne, processed foods, stress, and a lack of sleep do all contribute to the problem. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. “Your skin reflects your overall health,” says Jody Levine, MD, so those three causes (which often become more prevalent in college) may make a bit of sense.

Thinning Hair

One the second year of college, my true love gave to me... Every year brings a new problem, I guess. Last year, my hair started to thin. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had abnormally thick hair. I’m talking buns the size of a Cinnabon. Shoulder-length mushroom heads. Breaking a ponytail holder a week. So when my hair started falling out more quickly than usual during—you guessed it—the period between Thanksgiving Break and the end of the semester, I started getting worried.

After some googling, I found that vitamin deficiencies are one cause of the problem. Iron and Biotin are the familiar names, but there is a host of other important nutrients that you need to maintain healthy hair. Birth control can also thin your hair—great, I thought to myself, now I need to choose between acne and hair? Stress, over styling, and lack of sleep are also common causes, which no longer surprises me—an unhappy mind and body lead to crummy things like acne and thin hair.

This is still a change that I am navigating. My hair has stopped thinning, but I went to get a trim a few months ago and the stylist told me I had thin hair. My heart broke a little. That long, thick hair had always been my favorite physical quality, the thing that I felt made me unique. And I don’t have it anymore.

But I’m learning to love this hair. It still shines in the sun. My neck and back don’t get hot when I wear it down anymore. Buns and ponytails don’t give me headaches. It lies flatter and takes much less time to dry. I have even tried Bumble and Bumble’s thickening spray from Ulta Beauty, and it definitely adds some of that former volume back to my hair. Feeling that bounciness again without the heavy weight of all that hair was quite lovely. And—to be honest? I’ve learned that I’m more than my hair. People don’t notice how thick or beautiful my hair used to be. They just see me. And I’m starting to grow comfortable with that.

Maybe College Me is finally figuring out who she is, thinner hair and all.

...Now let’s just hope that Thanksgiving Break my junior year doesn’t cue another catastrophe. *knocks on wood*

 

Image Credits: Feature, 1, 2, 3