Hair, your crowning glory, or your arch nemesis.
Many busy women find hair to be a bother, a waste of time in the morning, an insane cost at the salon every few weeks. Women often complain about their hair due to the weather, the time of the month, their genes. I too am one of those women who has threatened to shave all my hair off on a “bad hair day.”
It is tempting to cut it short or throw it in a clip or pony tail and not worry about your hair. However, your hair is not going anywhere any time soon, and you wear it every day, every event. You wear it to bed, you wear it when you wake. You can't hide your hair under a bulky sweater, or even under a hat in most circumstances. You need to face your hair, and make it your ally.
How does one do this?
Yes, there are some talented stylists at the bargain cutteries in the strip mall down the street. Heck, you have a pair of scissors at home – you can trim off your own split ends. Are you satisfied with the results? Most likely if you are reading this, the answer is NO.
One day wash your hair and let it dry naturally. Examine the texture, the thickness. Where does it wave, where does it hang limp? Where does it naturally part? Look at your face. Is it round? Long? Your forehead, do you find it too short, too wide? What are your favorite features?
There are many sites out there that will assist you in figuring out your face shape and what cut is best for that face shape. Many other sites will help you get the most of your cut and your stylist. You will never have good hair or easy hair if you are constantly fighting nature.
You need a stylist that will listen to you. It may seem pompous or ridiculous, but if you are going to a new stylist, you should always have a consultation first. A meeting with the professional, while your hair is still dry. Talk about your problems (cowlick, no time to style, limpness after a few hours, dryness from over-processing). Don't assume the stylist knows by looking at your head – divulge everything. Your dreams, your reality.
If a stylist wants to force you into color, a cut you are not sure of, or a styling regime that will not fit your lifestyle, WALK AWAY. Life is too short to wear bad hair, if you can prevent it – DO IT.
As the stylist cuts your hair, feel free to ask questions. This will help you when you wish to have the style recreated, or modified next time. Ask why a razor is being used instead of scissors. Ask why the cut is being done on dry hair instead of wet. Knowledge is power!
When the stylist dries and styles your hair, again ask questions. You can even ask the stylist to dry one part of your head and you attempt the other part to ensure you have the method down pat. Ask about the products. You don't need to buy the specific products your stylist uses. Find out why she used a spray gel, or what kind of serum he used to make it piecey. You may already have something similar in your bathroom at home, or you may find a cheaper version at a discount place like Trade Secret.
If you are unhappy with the cut, let the stylist know. A smart stylist would rather make you happy, than never see you again and have you run all over town speaking poorly of his talents.
To maintain a cut, get it trimmed every 6-10 weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows.
Ladies, the look right now is for relatively natural looking hair for day to day wear. If you like the funky look, I commend your creativity. If you are not looking for a rocker/goth/artsy/club-scene look, then product should not be noticeable in your hair. Too often I see women with “crunchy” curls: hair coated in gel and dried to a high-shine lacquer. Long hair slicked back into a greasy-shiny ponytail. Short, dull hair suffocating in mousse, attempting to keep it “manageable.”
Your hair, with the correct cut adhering to Nature, will not need so much product. Curls can be beautiful ringlets without needing starch. Long, limp hair does not need to be restrained to a life of ponytails. Short hair can maintain proper shape without an entire container of spray or foam.
Curls work best with a lotion product, not gel or mousse. Gel is usually high in alcohol, which dries out hair. Mousse also dries out curly hair, causing a dull finish. Curly hair is more coarse and dry than straight hair, and requires moisture to maintain shine. Products like John Frida's Frizz-Ease, Aveda's Be Curly, and Marc Anthony's Strictly Curls line offer moisture and control for curly hair, without drying it out and causing “crunchy curls.” With curly hair, make sure to moisturize well, and often. If you have oily scalp, conditioner only need to be applied to the ends, but bi-weekly insense conditioning will keep your curls bouncy and shiny. The less you brush or comb your hair, the better your curls will form and the less frizz you will encounter. If combing is required, it is best to be done before washing, so that the curls are not tugged on prior to styling.
Limp hair needs less conditioning, and as little product as possible. Product will only weigh the hair down more. Use light products like sprays (PHYTO Phytovolume Actif Volumizer Spray is a great product to use to set styles and hold body created from irons and hot rollers. Look for shampoos and conditioners for limp hair – they will provide enough moisture to hydrate the hair without weighing it down.
All of you with “combination” hair – straight in some parts, wavy in others, or limp yet thick – you need to decide which direction you want to go, which texture nature seems the most fond of. Straightening is best done with a balm-type product that adheres to the hair, disperses, but doesn't evaporate with the dryer. I have had success with Power Straight Straightening Balm by SexyHair. Dry hair with a round brush with boar bristles to maintain shine and reduce split ends. The longer the hair, the large the barrel of the brush. Ceramic straightening irons provide the most intense heat and longest lasting results.
When trying to coax curls out of waves and frizz, it often takes routine to have the hair “learn” what you are desiring. Use a shampoo for curly hair, and products for curly hair. Drying hair on a low setting with a diffuser will prevent frizz and coax out curl. For large curls, a few hot rollers in select places will encourage the shape you desire. For smaller curls or shorter hair, a curling iron will help. A light misting of hairspray after styling will help retain the curls throughout the day. After a few weeks of your hair being maniplulated into curl, you will see that your hair will need less coaxing. As with curly hair, try to refrain from brushing or combing too much. Finger combing as well as using a regular tool with stretch out newbie curls and cause limpness and frizz.
I have had almost every hair color under the rainbow. Manic Panic in high school, thick chunky blonde streaks in college. I even went completely blonde after college, and did the black hair/goth look in the late 80's. With each transformation, I did it at home. Color came from a box at the local grocery, streaks were made with a paint brush, aluminum foil and Jolen Creme Bleach for facial hair (I once read that Kristie Alley used Jolen for her streaks when on Veronica's Closet).
Though sometimes I had success, often I encountered failure. Blonde hair that turned out a cantaloupe sort of shade. Streaks that ate away some of the hair during the process. Black hair that tinted my neck a pale gray for several days. Light “temporary washes” that came out in Crayola shades and lasted for months and months.
Now that I am an adult, I realize that home haircolor is best left to teens and college kids who can hide pink roots under baseball caps. Those of us who deal with clients and colleagues and respectable peers on a daily basis best leave color in the hands of a professional. This may seem like an expense you cannot fathom, but consider your hair as your most used accessory. It is something you wear more than a gold bracelet, more than a wool coat for winter, more than an evening gown for your company's holiday party, and MUCH MORE than those snappy red heels you have been eyeing at Nordstrom!
When considering how often you wear your hair, doesn't it seem more logical to spend your money on your hair and scrimp on other parts of your look? For ever three times your home highlights come out perfect, there is that one time when the roots are not the same color, when the ends get too light, when too much hair is processed. For each time a temporary wash comes out beautifully and adds that bit of pizazz to your look, a time happens when it is far too bright, too bland, or splatters on the toilet seat causing a permanent auburn stain.
Talk to your stylist, a stylist you trust. Admit your hesitations due to price – sometimes they know a cheaper alternative or can work something out. My stylist recommended partial highlights since I never wear my hair half-up. It cut the price in half. I have another friend who offers to be a hair model in trade for free cuts and color. She can't always ask for what she wants, but she gets an edgy cut and designer color for free.
Just remember the mantra I bring up in post after post on here – style is about quality, not quantity. Good hair will camouflage a small wardrobe. Good hair will detract from dark circles or that zit on your chin. Good hair will make you look thinner, look younger, look more polished. A good haircut can be less than $50 every other month. Good color can be less than $125 every six months (if it's even needed – natural hair is GORGEOUS). Break it down. Without color, you're looking at a max of $25 a month. That's one dinner with a friend, one night at a bar, one “it's a STEAL!” sweater at Old Navy, a week of lattes as Starbucks, three pieces of makeup fromt he drugstore that you will only wear once and hide in a back drawer. When you feel that you can't afford quality, consider that quantity you are already purchasing. If you seriously think ou your purchases, you will see that you can save a lot of money. Buying quality means you need to buy less often. Having great hair means spending less on styling products, hair clips, pony tail elastics and baseball caps. Having great hair makes any outfit better, every day bit easier, your outlook on life peppier. It's a part of you, something you wear every day, every night. You deserve quality.