Saturday, May 21, 2011

How To: Change Your Hairstyle

For my next cut, I do choose, Rose Byrne: Wicker Park style

Oooh man do I love getting haircuts. Having quite short styled hair complete with a blunt fringe, I count myself amongst the lucky people who simply have to get their haircut at least every eight weeks. From the wash (only good if it’s completed with a great massage and suitably warm water, I do admit) to the brushing, snipping, razoring and blow drying, I’m a big fan of the whole process.

I have found, though, that a lot of people don’t share my passion for hair fashion. ‘Why not?’ I ask, bewildered by their apathy toward the subject. The most common responses? Previous awful hair experiences, fear and complete confusion as to want they want in a haircut. Of course, taking it upon myself to rectify this serious societal problem is a big undertaking, but start I will today in an endeavour to help lasses and lads everywhere acquire the locks of their dreams.

Step One in Changing Your Hairstyle: Find a good hairdresser. I’ll admit, this step can take time, patience and may involve a lot of trial and error. When I moved to Brisbane last year, and left behind Jason/God Of Hair (women of Toowoomba look him up), I tried no less than four different hair stylists before I finally found one that I liked. My criteria for a good hairdresser stands as follows:

Good conversation maker/salon atmosphere – because you’re going to be sitting in a chair whilst they touch your hair sometimes quite intimately, I find a hairdresser needs to be at the very least personable. The first hairdresser I visited in Brisbane cut my hair with an attitude of what can only be described as intense and seething anger, which made me just a tad uncomfortable. The second liked to talk about himself and all the ‘ladeez’ he managed to pick up over the summer…not a turn on. The third…well…she didn’t talk so much as stare blankly at the back of my head, taking her sweet time to cut my hair until I feared quietly slipping into a boredom induced death. I doubt she would have noticed.

Skilled with hair – this seems obvious, but you would have no idea how many people return to the same crappy hairdresser for every cut to only be disappointed, yet continue to blame their perpetual bad hair days on the fact that they chose the wrong cut, just ‘can’t do’ hair, have naturally bad hair or that the cut has ‘grown out funny’. People, a good hairdresser will cut to suit your face shape and hair type, will show you how to style a new cut at home and ensure that the cut will still look alright in four weeks time once it’s grown a bit. Don’t settle, demand hair respect!

Charges fairly – I’m a believer in sometimes getting what you pay for with these kinds of things, but you should never, never be paying somebody upwards of $100 to fiddle with your hair for less than an hour. Do you charge $100/half hour to do your job? Probably not (well, ok, you might, but do you really think that this kind of pricing isn’t a rip off for a haircut? Really?). The last time I got a hair cut I paid $85 and the appointment lasted ninety minutes. This might still seem a little steep, but it’s what I’m prepared to pay for a good cut (keep in mind that haircuts tie with icecream for one of my favourite everyday experiences). You need to set your price limit and stick to it, decide how much value you can afford to place on hair and then find someone who will do a good job for that price. Trust me, it’s doable. Most salons have price lists on their websites these days, look them up and when you book in confirm the cost. Do this again before they start cutting.

Have Good Hair Themselves – Ok, so you’re paying this person to make your hair look splendid, right? Does their hair look amazing? Not really? Well, they think it does. They think that hairstyle is the definition of awesome, and you know this is true because they’re a hairdresser and they could easily change it if they wanted to. Yes, they’re human, and so it’s possible that they didn’t spend much time on it in the morning while they were rushing to feed the dog and find their missing shoe, but if you truly think that the way their hair is cut is dreadful then you might want to part ways amicably before you’ve become a matching set.

People are always saying that if you are looking for a new hairdresser then you should scope out people whose hair you like and ask them where they get it cut. Is this not the most ridiculous piece of advice ever? I’ve not met anybody who has actually done this to a stranger. It is, after all, a good idea in theory, just potentially waaay too stalkery and likely to get you smacked down if you pick the wrong person. Luckily, this wonderful little invention called the internet can take the hassle right out of this situation. There are plenty of sites set up for reviewing hairdressers and all sorts of forums where you can ask for advice about a good stylist in your area. Put the hard yards in at the research stage and your chances of getting a good cut are going to be a lot higher.

Step Two – Choose the Cut. Going to the hairdresser with absolutely no idea what you want done isn’t usually a great choice, neither is the question ‘if you could do anything you wanted with my hair, what would you do?’ In my experience, this question and ‘I’ll do whatever you want’ attitude makes hairdressers nervous if you’re looking for a significant style change. This haircut is about you; it’s your hair and will effect how you will look for the next few months at least, so you need to do some work and figure out what you want.

There are three main things to think about in how you want your hair. Lifestyle is always important; whether you need to be able to put it up to exercise or want to be able to wear it out with fancy dressers, how much you have time to do and maintain it and how often you want to get it trimmed and touched up. Secondly you must consider how the new style will complement or remark upon your current style; a short, pixie cut teamed with your usual jeans and jacket combo will be a completely different look to long, cascading tresses and you need to be prepared for what the new look might make you feel like. Will you really be able to pull off a mohawk everyday, or should you go for something still edgy, but a little less conspicuous. Lastly, of course, is how you’ll look with the new hairstyle. Think realistically about how your hair will sit in the style you want, and be mindful that a new cut doesn’t change your hair’s natural body and shape.

I always find that taking a picture in to the hairdresser is the easiest way to communicate what it is that you’re after, and from there your stylist will know how that particular cut has been worked and can tell you how they can make a similar idea work with your hair. Clipping a couple of different cuts or photos will also give your stylist options, and give them an idea of the feel you’re after without locking them into copying an ‘exact’ style.

After years of more or less chin length hair, I’ve decided that this is the year I will grow my locks out again. I’ve talked to my hairdresser, and we’ve discussed how to go about growing out the layers I already have and how we’ll try to avoid any odd looking in between lengths. Changing your hair is one of the easiest (though if you’re growing it, it does take some patience) ways to change your appearance, and can quickly refresh your sense of self style and confidence.

In case you're still a little scared (or just because it's pretty awesome), try practising by getting a 'virtual haircut' instead. (have your headphones at the ready and close your eyes!)

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