About Your Hair: Make-Ready Grooming

By Dr. Linda Amerson 

The terms used to describe hairstyling for the deceased is Desairology, Eternal Grooming, or Make Ready. The funeral home business is a billion-dollar industry. Someone dies every day. The last grooming service for a loved one is most often done by a licensed cosmetologist, barber, braider, or wig stylist. If the family would like the fingernails of their loved one polished, this service may also be done by the professional. If there is damage, cuts, or discoloration to the hands, the morticians may cover the hands with a bible, scarf, or handkerchief.

In the United States alone, there are thousands of Funeral Homes and growing. In Texas, there are numerous funeral homes. The Texas Prepaid Fund has grown to approximately $17 million. Pre-Need Counseling Services are available to consumers to lighten the burden during a difficult time of transition of a loved one. Everything is in writing, and the price is locked in for expenses, however other expenses may be required. Such as flowers, limousine service, or gravesite digging, just to name a few. The family of the deceased has choices including an organ donor, donate their body to science, cremation, casket, mausoleum, or a pine box.

Furthermore, Dr. Terry S. Masters, Funeral Director of Bethesda Funeral Homes in Mexia and DeSoto, TX shared info about “Personalized Funerals”…also called “Lavish Funerals.” These types of funerals are popular globally per the family’s request. One example, Masters shared, a man wanted to be laid to rest in his car…so the family granted his wish.

The motor was removed prior to lowering the car into the oversized grave. Another example includes a reality TV show. Dallas’s Golden Gate Funeral Home began a reality television show on the TLC Network, showcasing “Personalized Funerals” under the heading The Best Funeral Ever.

I have watched this program, observing a casket made in the shape of a barbecue pit, yet the body was never shown. The owner, John Beckwith, confirmed the fact that the body is never shown during the televised segments. In addition, in other countries such as Ghana, India, etc, custom caskets may be ordered according to a person’s profession. Dr. Doris Whitaker, who works at Grimes Funeral Home, Houston, TX mentioned that family members need to be aware of choosing the right garment for their loved one. If it is a female, make sure the garment is not low cut in the neckline area. If it is too low cut, they will add a scarf or cloth insert in that area to conceal cuts, scars, incisions, etc. Do not bring hanging earrings…studs are preferred. Retired National Beauty Culturist’s League Instructor of Desairology Dr. Dorothy Ward shared some valuable information for beauty professionals, who offer this service.

1) Protect yourself by using gloves, gowns, a mask, and covered shoes.

2) You will need the following Implements: combs, brushes, clips, hairpins, sheen and holding hair spray, oil, gels, colors, color rinses, rollers, thermal combs and irons, thermal stove, blow dryer, shears, clippers, and headrest. If you use a flat iron, use a disposable kind, not one that you use daily on your clients. The reason is, the embalming fluid affects the heating mechanism, therefore it will not get as hot you will notice on other clients…even after cleaning it.

3) Some funeral homes will have the hair already shampooed, however, if you are required to shampoo the hair, remember these hazards. Test the water to make sure it is not hot. Hot water will cause hair removal. Be sure to rinse thoroughly all-foreign matters from the hair and scalp before proceeding with a service. Be sure to test curlers-hair is easy to burn as well as the hairline skin can burn easily. Hair is in a very dry state and very easy to lift from the scalp due to various causes of death and conditions. Be cautious around the hairline also with hair colors.

4) Procedures: Examine the scalp in order to make sure there is not any seepage from an autopsy or abrasions of the scalp. If scalp looks OK, proceed with cleaning the scalp and hair with tepid water and shampoo, or a dry shampoo substance. Towel dry or blow-dry all excess moisture from the hair. Use careful strokes with the comb or brush so that the hair will not tangle, because the hair is easy to comb out at this point. Select a style and proceed to press the hair if it is virgin hair. Curl the hair so that it can be styled to accentuate the person’s face since the concentration is only on the front and sides. Remember that the right side is the viewing side. Be sure you have the proper implements to achieve whatever style you wish to accomplish, such as, combs, brushes, clips, hairpins, hair sprays oils, gels, hair colors and rinses, and shears and clippers.

5) The time spent on grooming depends on the stylist’s ability and expertise. Price is determined between the mortician and the stylist. The average rate is currently $50 per person and up.

6) Remember that the appearance of the body leaves an everlasting impression on family and friends. It is always a rewarding experience when a job has been well done. One that warrants the pleasure of you receiving compliments from the family, morticians, and friends.

7) Always be an open-minded, compassionate, non-judge mental, responsive communicator and listen to the family’s request and desire. You will meet people of all religious denominations and all socioeconomic circumstances, who will rely upon your support, good organizational skills and knowledge of the products and services available to them when making funeral arrangements. Life’s journey is not always easy. We have challenges…then learn how to overcome them. Obstacles…then step or jump over it. At the end of the journey, the casket is closed forever.

All questions should be directed to Dr. Linda Amerson 817-265-8854. We also invite you to join us on Wednesdays from 11 am-12 pm CST with Ask the Hair and Scalp Doctor on www.DfwiRadio.com. Check out our social media links: hairandscalpesentials.com, on Twitter @ScalpDoctor, and on Facebook.