Saturday, February 2, 2008

I See Change in Your Future: Cuts

Change is an inevitable part of life, especially when it comes to fashion or hairstyles. Even those who change styles as often as lipstick colors may find big changes scary. We all have stories of the time we cut our hair from here to here only to wish we'd stocked up on ski caps beforehand. The following recommendations should make your transition to a new style much easier.

Talk About More than Celebrity Gossip.
Okay, so Britney Spears went and did it again. Before you and your stylist sync your eye rolling over her latest anti-motherhood capers, keep talk on something more relevant: your hair. Most stylists offer a free consultation to both new and current clients, but to make sure you get the time and attention you deserve, alert your stylist--or whomever is scheduling the books--that you'd like a few extra minutes to discuss a change in your haircut. Do NOT wait until you settle your sit bones into the chair to bring this up. Good stylists prefer to book extra time for major changes because there is a great deal of analysis required before and during the cut.

Be the Paparazzi
No, don't go hiding in the dumpster to shoot a pic of Kate Hudson coming out of her favorite restaurant, but do the research before your appointment. Many clients like to ask what changes to make to their styles, but the prepared ones bring pictures. If you have fine hair, we can't give you a mane like Beyonce, but a few well-chosen pics will inform your stylist about shapes and styles you like, as well as ones you do not.
I like to tell my clients to bring at least four pictures, two of styles they desire, and two of those they despise. Usually, there are features I can pick out from both so that I know what shapes to emulate and which to avoid.
For further fun, check out a free hairstyle generator where you can upload a picture of yourself and try on styles. I enjoy Instyle's use of Makover Solution: http://www.instyle.com/instyle/makeover. You'll quickly see which work well with your facial shape and which will make even a supermodel look like the elephant man's next-of-kin. Well okay, that's what I felt like when trying a crop cut.

History Repeats
Be sure to indicate to your stylist why you have chosen certain styles. Were there styles in your past you adored and to which would like to return? Or is there a certain cowlick that will spring up like a geyser if your hair isn't left longer in the bang area? The most telling admission is when a client describes a past style they absolutely hated. Just because I love the flip doesn't mean you will.
Be prepared to answer such questions as, what is the worst thing I could do with your cut today? It sounds like a very negative approach, but it helps cosmetologists gain a deeper understanding of how to apply their skills to your sense of style.

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate!
Obviously what looks good on Eva Longoria might not work for you. This doesn't mean you can't have a similar style, though. Ask your stylist to consider your facial features and face shape and adjust the cut to best fit you. If you are sensitive about a round face or wide-set eyes, make sure to let her know. Chances are she can recommend a slight alteration that would make the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man look svelte.
Also remember that your stylist is likely gifted in tailor-made 'dos. As he works, he will be adjusting to best accommodate your head shape, directional growth patterns and hair texture.

Tools and Fools
No, I don't think you're a fool, but the rhyme was too tempting! When the "Rachael" came out, a cut worn by Jennifer Aniston from "Friends," women flocked to their local salons to chop off their hair. The problem? Few could actually achieve the look at home.
When getting a radically-different cut, make sure you ask your stylist how to achieve the look yourself. I often like my clients to get their hands in their own hair to get the feel for using the tools they'll need. A quick explanation of styling products and hairstyling tools, as well as a little tutorial may go a long way in helping you look salon-gorgeous every day. Feeling too timid to ask? Remember, a lot of our clients come word-of-mouth. We want you to look good, for the both of us!

Know Your Comfort Zone
One of the worst feelings I get is when a client feels I've cut her hair too short. Just last night I had this recurring nightmare of accidentally shaving a woman's head! Yikes!!! To avoid this problem, I sometimes ask my clients the following question: If I were to err in my estimation of this cut, would you rather I erred by cutting it a little shorter or by leaving it just a little too long? This helps me understand the mindset of my client. It might seem a no-brainer, but some people really would rather sport a too-short style for a week than to have to come back sooner for a maintenance trim.
Even more important, consider your lifestyle. Is getting your hair layered like Laurie from "That 70's Show" going to work with a sporty get-up-and-go orientation? Will you be comfortable with full bangs and angling when you've always worn your hair one-length? While I encourage everyone to try something new, remember work is involved in certain styles. You might be happier with mild angling than full-on layers. Even small changes can create a whole new look.

Variety, the Salt of Life
So you have a new style. Now what? If you're the type to wear it in the same way daily, you are set! But if you're like me, demanding a new look every few days, be sure to mention this. Your stylist usually has a repertoire that will allow you to wear one cut three or four different ways. I even offer a portfolio, in which I will demonstrate three styles and explain how to achieve them.

When You Can't Make the Cut
Does your desired style require growing out? I commiserate. Keep in mind that every few weeks, this growing out is akin to getting a whole different haircut and may require a little ingenuity in styling. Take a few minutes to play with it. You cannot expect hair to react to your same style when it's an inch longer and now a different shape. Also, be sure to keep up on those maintenance trims. The 1/8" you trim today will save you the inches in cutting off split ends or damaged hair. Some may even require a little retexturizing (shaping without removing length) to help best deal with the changes of growing out.

Making a big change should be exciting. Use these suggestions as your safety net for getting the look you want!

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