If you have hair, you’ll eventually get it cut—unless
you’re singer Crystal Gayle. The problem, as every woman knows,
is that poor communication between client and stylist can make you
look like a Chia Pet. That’s why Hallmark actually came out
with a “condolences on your haircut” card series some
Understanding your face’s structural composition and scheduling
a consultation with your stylist are the best ways to ensure a
perfect cut. Your stylist will take into account your face shape,
lifestyle, hair texture and hair condition, among other important
factors, before making a recommendation.
Each of us has a specific face shape that dictates which styles
will look best on us. You can identify your face shape—round,
oval, square or long—by looking directly into the bathroom
mirror and tracing your reflection with a grease pencil. Which
of the four shapes best matches your drawing?
If your face is round, you want to minimize fullness, and the
most flattering styles will keep hair off your face. This will
emphasize your cheekbones, jaw line and eyes. You can wear long
or short hair, but it’s often advisable to add layers to
create volume at the top of your head, which elongates and slims
the face. Make sure hair isn't too full on the sides, as this
will only serve to accentuate the roundness you’re trying
With an oval face shape, you can go short or long, but keep your
hair an even length. Too many layers create excessive volume.
Oval faces tend to be on the small side, and high-volume hair
can be overpowering. Long, wispy bangs are generally flattering.
If you have a long face, avoid the popular bob hairstyle, which
draws attention to facial length—particularly in the chin
area. Also stay away from short bangs and excess volume on top.
You can create volume on the sides with a layered cut, which will
produce the illusion of fullness.
If you have a square face, don't cut your hair too short. Layers,
accompanied by volume on the top and sides, soften your look.
Length in the back generally works, as do bangs—as long
as they’re soft and subtle.
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Your stylist can show you different cuts in the photo books she
keeps. Pay close attention to how much care and maintenance each
style requires. Explain your daily routine and how much time you
are willing to spend on your hair. A good stylist will ask about
lifestyle: whether you are active in sports, your workplace dress
code and how hectic your morning schedule tends to be. If, for
example, you have only a limited amount of time to get ready for
work and march the family out the door, a style that requires
60–90 minutes of prep work will add stress to your life.
If a stylist tries to talk you into a cut that you know, in your
gut, is wrong for you, don’t be shy or feel intimidated.
Be clear about your concerns. If you feel you aren’t being
heard, ask to speak with the salon manager or change salons.
Make sure your stylist—particularly if this is your first
appointment—examines your hair before rushing you to the
shampoo station. She needs to assess your hair’s condition
when it’s dry and styled “your way.” Agree in
advance how much she will cut off before scissors approach your
head. The actual number of inches isn’t the issue; it’s
the visual acknowledgment that counts. Ask her to demonstrate
with her fingers how much she plans to cut so you can intercede
before any final decision is made.
Terminology can present another problem. Stylists have their
own vocabulary and lingo, and their definition of “choppy,”
“chunky” or “one layer” may mean an entirely
different concept to you. To avoid language barriers and translation
troubles, tell the stylist in your own words—not the fancy
terms you’ve picked up from a magazine—what you want.
Even better, bring her a photo of the look you want—or even
what you don’t want. You may like one model’s bangs
and another model’s layers, so multiple pictures also help
communicate your desires. The more information—visual or
otherwise—that you provide, the easier it will be for your
stylist to envision the cut you seek.
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