The Haircut Questions That Google Can’t Answer
Google knows almost everything—definitions of weird words, how old Channing Tatum is, the most terrifying explanations for why your toe itches. But when you’re confused about your hair, it isn’t always so helpful. Search “Why does my hair look weird?” and the top result is … a Yahoo! Answers message board.
So I called Heather Herring, a stylist at New York’s Asanda Aveda Spa Lounge. She’s an Aveda Purefessional, which basically means she’s a hair professor. She travels to salons around the country as an educator and also styles models for fashion shoots. This year, she went to New York Fashion Week, where she collaborated with designers Parke & Ronen and Project Runway alums.
Here’s what Heather had to say to my un-Googleable haircut questions.
OK, this is something you actually can Google, but most of the results I found involved confusing infographics, lots of measuring, or lengthy quizzes. Heather had a much quicker way of figuring this out. Pull your hair back into a ponytail, and look for three points on the side of your face: past the outer edge of the eye, the widest part of your forehead, and the widest part of your jawline. Connect those dots, and there’s your face shape.
“Face shape and body shape [are] a big factor in how I would choose to cut someone’s hair,” Heather said. “Typically, you try to balance out features.”
She cites Reese Witherspoon as a perfect example. Her signature haircut balances her heart-shaped face with “straight-across fringe to kind of cover up her forehead” and layers that elongate her face and add volume near her tapered jawline. (Here’s some more tips on choosing a haircut for your face shape.)
There’s a reason layers are hyped to all kinds of people—they’re very versatile. Layering basically removes weight from your hair to add movement. It can also increase or decrease volume, depending on cut shape, head shape, hair texture, and probably magic. So it’s hard to ever totally rule them out.
However, Heather said, “If somebody doesn’t want to remove a lot of their hair, they shouldn’t be layering [it].”
Funny we should ask because yes, there is. “Creating asymmetries, making [the cut] look more interesting,” Heather said, makes people look more at your hair than at facial imperfections.
Razors are controversial, Heather explained, because when they’re used improperly, “the cuticle of your hair will be more shattered and more open. It’ll look like the ends are splitting from the razor.” The key to preventing this, she said, is to use ultrasharp razors—she uses up to three brand-new blades in a single cut—and not razoring dry hair.
When done right, though, razoring adds body and movement. A good example, Heather said, is Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss’s razored bob.
Ask your stylist about dusting, which is something that’s not typically seen on salon menus. “It’s an air trim,” Heather said. “A millimeter cut off the hair, just to keep [it] healthy.
“Usually a dusting would happen when a color, maybe, is done, and we want to ‘dust off’ the ends … to just make that cut last a little bit longer. But it’s not an actual shaping or an actual haircut. It would just take off the split ends.” Depending on the salon, this might even be a complimentary service.
This one varies by hair texture.
- For straight hair: “A simple bob with a straight-across fringe would be the easiest for straight hair,” Heather said. Wash-and-go is pretty much always an option with straight hair, though.
- For wavy hair: “Something with longer layers, about collarbone length.”
- For curly hair (like mine): “It’s easier [to] wash-and-go highly textured hair when it’s much longer or when it’s very short. Maybe even a fade, or if you can imagine Rihanna’s hair if it was really coily.”
While there are plenty of low-maintenance cuts, Heather noted that there aren’t any no-maintenance cuts. There are some unavoidable chores, like washing and conditioning (though she doesn’t recommend a strict schedule for that) and actually getting a haircut, of course. Heather recommends at least every three months.
For me, both beauty and fashion need to be accessible and not intimidating. I love a great deal and a good DIY beauty treatment. I pride myself on trying new trends, being open minded and getting a great treatment without breaking the bank. In the name of beauty I will try anything once.