Looking for a new hairdo? Think about what makes you and your hair unique. Then, find a salon where it’s all about you, and ask the right questions. Ironically, the broadest-sweeping “trend” today is individuality. Obligatory Personal Style. On the runways, it’s seen in mix-and-match panache; in the beauty world, it plays out in custom-blended foundation, lipstick, fragrance and even skin care that is supposedly matched to your DNA at www.lab21.com. Looking for the ideally individualized hairstyle can be harder than you think—ask ten different stylists and you’ll get ten different suggestions. Reasons vary: Some stylists tend to make you look like they do, others just learned a new cut they want to try out, less-experienced ones are either afraid to make a lot of suggestions or lack the training to do so with confidence. Ask around to find a salon that gives its stylists lots of advanced training, and you’ll naturally get more personalized style suggestions. At Troupe Salon in Chicago, IL, Darren Anderson’s art school degree gives him an advantage, he says, because he’s mastered shape, form and color.“I apply geometry first because certain facial shapes look better with specific cuts, just as certain body proportions can be enhanced or minimized with fashions,” says Anderson. Anderson believes opposites attract, meaning a round face doesn’t look great with a rounded hairstyle. In his camp of thought, you minimize and soften what’s not so great and enhance outstanding features. Noting that too many hairdressers want to “cut it all off,” Carmine Minardi of Minardi salon in New York says unless you’ve got a beautiful, proportional face, a little length lends a hand.
So, finding the perfect look for you starts with your facial shape and aspects you want to minimize, such as a pointed chin (height on top detracts from it) or apple cheeks (side wisps that move onto your face minimize those through concealment.) But what else should you consider when going for individuality? Here’s Hairboutique’s checklist:
1. Think Fiber
Fashion designers know how every fiber from silk to wool drapes on the body; think of hair fiber in the same way. Fine, silky strands tend to hug your head shape and look lanky at the ends; coarse hair will pop up and out, going its own way if snipped too short at the sides. Check out how your hair falls when you don’t have any styling products in it, and ask your stylist what works best with what nature gave you. For a salon consultation, show up with clean, styling-product-free hair.
2. Ask to See Cuts
Anderson says most photos of celebrities actually showcase styling skills. Ask your hairdresser to show you photos of cuts that aren’t over-styled, to see which will work best with your facial shape and hair type.
3. Play with Products
Some women avoid styling products because they think they weight down their hair or make it look dirty. Wrong approach. Products can enhance what you have, if used minimally and for support only. For short hair, try using stylants at the roots only; if you have long hair, extend the product through your hair, then dry quickly.
Also try “cocktailing,” in which you mix two products that best suit your hair’s needs together. If you have fine, frizzy hair, add a few drops of frizz reducer to a thickening product, then rub the mixture together before using it sparingly. To find the perfect mix for your hair type, ask your stylist for suggestions, then try the half-head test at home, using one product on one side and a different product “cocktail” on the opposite.
Somewhere, there’s a product or product cocktail that’s the perfect weight for your hair.
4. Hire Help
A root perm adds volume to fine locks, while straightening and relaxing treatments combat frizz and make unruly hair controllable. If you don’t like the fiber you have, you can change it—but not without sacrifice. Any chemical service weakens hair and if you love haircolor, you’re best off avoiding a second chemical strike.
5. Define Your Style
Don’t separate a hairstyle from your own personal sense of style. Chances are, if you’re into wearing classic separates you naturally avoid a pink Mohawk, but do you really have a personal style that’s all your own? Make a list of likes and dislikes—about fashions, make-up, hair and even music. Then check out books on image consulting and developing, and look for new ideas you like. See if you can define your style in a few words, then share those words with your stylist. Ask which cuts work with your hair and facial shape, which also suit your sense of style.
6. Get an Update
No matter how conservative or wild you are, your personal style should still look current. If you’re stuck in the past, chances are it’s because you’re wearing the same look you did when you were at your happiest. Learn to let go and forge ahead. Consider ways you can tweak the look you love. Long curls look more modern snipped to shoulder length, separated and defined. Straight hair gets an update with some layers; they also make styling your hair easier. If you’re still wearing the same ‘do you did five years ago, ask yourself if you’ve changed at all in the last half-decade. Then adjust your hair to suit your life and lifestyle changes. Overly bleached blonde doesn’t suit a more harried (or natural) lifestyle, nor does it work well with skin tones as you age. If you just started jogging, consider what’ll control that frizz that appears when you perspire.
One final way to get a made-to-order hairstyle is to ask your stylist to “dry cut” your hair. When hair is cut when it’s dry, your stylist can see its natural movement perfectly and accommodate it. If you covered our six suggestions, ask for a dry cut and work with an experienced hairstylist you trust, you’ll soon discover the ‘do that’s practically a personal monogram for you.