In 1996, I was a 22-year-old full time college sophomore working two jobs back-to-back. I went to an esteemed university in a very sleepy, conservative town while living under the same roof as my ultra-strict Iranian parents—which did not make for a particularly happy twenty-something life. Fashion and beauty were two of the only creative outlets that brought me joy. How I expressed myself often provided some form of escape from the monotony of a lot of work and a lot of school, in a town that didn’t have a whole lot going on. For entertainment, I often blew my paychecks within the first day or two on clothes or beauty products. Hair care splurges were reserved for the drugstore (oh, how I loved end-of-the-aisle samples in metal crates) or the salon, which I frequented weekly.
The late 1990s marked a watershed moment in haircare. All of a sudden, I had access to products that were never before available; there was a slew of professional-grade products for sale. I always felt the ‘80s had unforgettable mixes of structured and unstructured, glam and artistic punk styles, but the tools and products were limited and mostly relegated to a weak blow dryer, Aqua Net, and whatever the trendy hair gel was at that moment. If you wanted to glam it up, remember: there were no YouTube tutorials and people at home did not have the aptitude to be a Vidal Sassoon whiz. In the ‘90s, our eyes were opened: an explosion of strong, high-heat blow dryers, exotic round brushes, endless deep conditioning masks, flatirons and more hair crimpers than I could ever remember were stocked on store shelves. Salons were also starting to offer gloss treatments and sought-after straightening hair treatments (never mind that they managed to singe your hair a month later—they sure kept it beautiful and sleek during those humid summer months at the beach). There was more of everything, and it was exceptionally fun trying it all out.
It was during this time that I first encountered Tigi Bed Head products during my Friday blowouts. I remember one afternoon distinctly. My very French hairdresser had finished smoothing out my hair, and just as I was about to get out of the chair (so eager to go home and check my answering machine for that evening’s plans), he motioned that I sit back down. He took a product out from his drawer and rubbed his palms with it, then started tousling and texturizing my hair, almost squeezing it to bits. I wasn’t privy to what the hell he did, but once I looked in the mirror, I saw my hair looked messy in the sexiest way. Whatever new product he was using, I wanted it. In my early 20s mind, the styling gel would solve all of my problems by making me look hot. I asked him for it—more like begged—but he only had one, and made me wait two weeks until he could get me my own.
Once I got a hold of Tigi's Bed Head Stick, that seminal styling product, I took it with me everywhere. It kept my hair tamed on the beach, at work, and when I went to Eurotrash nightclubs with industrial-size fans, it kept the damn frizz away. I held onto Bed Head Stick for years—often, I would forget about it when I started getting lured in by new products, but I always went back to it (and I still do). If this product has taught me anything, it’s that once you find something that works and brings you joy, you don’t mess with it. Tigi’s Stick never let me or my hair down.