Glisten Up

We add sparkle to our clothes, our nails, even our shoes—but what about our hair? Tanya Pai investigates the latest way to let yourself shine.

Illustration by Kirsten Ulve

Illustration by Kirsten Ulve

“Don’t be scared,” says Nick Penna Jr. We’re at Salon Capri, and his hands are full of glittery holographic tinsel — which he’s about to affix to my hair.

Hair tinsel is the hot thing in coif couture; it’s been spotted on the likes of Beyoncé, Whitney Port, and one of the Real Housewives, and it sounds so bizarre that I can’t pass up the chance to try it. Which is why I’m here, selecting from a rainbow of hues. Most people, Penna explains, choose just one or two strands in a shade that matches their hair — black, in my case. But getting tinsel that blends in seems to contradict the whole point. If I’m going to end up looking like a cross between My Little Pony and a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I’m going to make sure everyone knows it’s on purpose. “I want purple,” I decide. “Lots of it.”

The whole process takes about 15 minutes and is surprisingly low-tech: Penna simply slipknots a few of the shiny pieces around tiny sections of my hair and trims them to the proper length. As he works, women crane their necks from under their blow dryers, trying to figure out what’s with the constellation of stylists around my head. (By the time I leave, Penna’s booked three more tinselings.) The result, I’m somewhat shocked to see, is actually very pretty — a little punky, a little princessy — and somehow not eye-gougingly obvious.

At the office, most of my female coworkers gush over it. One, however, isn’t so enthusiastic. She’s been staring at my hair all morning, and when I ask her what she thinks, she hesitates. “It’s…eye-catching,” she manages. None of the male staffers comment on my Jem and the Holograms makeover, though, so when my boyfriend picks me up I immediately demand his opinion. He studies me for a minute. “You look like a sexy Christmas tree,” he says finally.

By day five, though, I’m feeling anything but sexy. Without the help of a professional stylist, the sparkle no longer blends so artfully into my layers. It has begun to look slightly bedraggled, in fact, like my mane is taking some sort of epic walk of shame. By day seven I’ve had enough, and pull out the remaining strands. Hair tinsel, I’ve discovered, is fun for an evening on the town, but as with the best nights out, the aftermath can be a little ugly.

$20 for four strands; Salon Capri, 31 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, 617-969-1970; 406 Legacy Place, Dedham, 781-320-0900;