What should I ask for at my new salon?
March 20, 2010 10:48 PM   Subscribe

I am a lady who knows next to nothing about hair. What should I ask for when I get my next hair cut?

I used to have a pixie cut, but I've been growing it out - my hair is now several inches past my shoulders. Because I wasn't cutting it while it grew out, it is a messy, shapeless mass. My "bangs" are longer than my chin, and the fluffy bottom-level hairs at the nape of my neck are quite a bit shorter than the rest of my hair (since my hair stylist used to just shave those when my hair was pixie short.) I can get them into a ponytail now, but that's a recent development. I also have a layer of hair around my face that is a couple of inches shorter than most of my hair, but longer than my bangs.

So I have a scheduled a cut at a new stylist. I want to be able to give fairly specific instructions, but I don't know what to ask for. My hair is wavy (type 2a in this system) and fine in texture but thick in amount. My long, thin face is widest at the temples/forehead, and it narrows into a sharp, pointy chin. My face shape is fairly similar to Jennifer Love Hewitt in this photo of her, though my actual features are quite different. I am pretty lazy about my hair - I will flat iron my bangs or distribute product through it, but I don't know how to do anything that requires even minimal skill (blowing it out straight, styling it in any way whatsoever, etc.) I will either put my hair up in a ponytail or leave it down. I am really bad about getting regular maintenance trims, so anything I get has to grow out gracefully. I don't want to lose a lot of length, either, since ponytails are my only bad hair day fall-back.

Anyway, I have been looking at photos on the internet, but all long, wavy hairstyles look fundamentally the same to me, except with regard to bangs. I love bangs (especially Rashida Jones' and Zooey Deschanel's), but I think they are a bad choice for someone who is really negligent about getting regular trims. So what should I be doing with my hair? Given these constraints, I feel like there's nothing left for my stylist to do except trim the dry, damaged ends and try to even out the lengths a bit. I want something that flatters my face, brings out my waves, keeps my hair long enough to be tied back (though it doesn't need to be any longer than that), and doesn't require extensive or skilled styling. Should I get layers? If so, where, and how long? (It should be noted that anything shorter than chin length will flip out weirdly - my hair only gets properly wavy when it's sufficiently long.) Something razored, maybe? I am sick of my shapeless mass of hair, but I feel like there isn't much a stylist can do here. I hope I'm wrong.

Pictures are preferable to verbal descriptions, though all responses are welcome and appreciated. Thanks!
posted by mellifluous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you get a great hairstyle with a simple fringe like this, you could trip the fringe/bangs yourself or get them done quickly at a no-frills local barber. Then you'd only need to go back to your usual hairstylist when the rest of your hair needs a trim.
posted by embrangled at 12:32 AM on March 21, 2010

trip trim!
posted by embrangled at 12:33 AM on March 21, 2010

Just came in to say, forget about upkeep-concern if you get a fringe. I've had one my whole life and I almost always cut it myself in front of the bathroom mirror with a decent pair of scissors.

It takes a bit of practice and one must be restrained at first. Only the hairdresser ever knows it's me that trims it, and it saves me so much heartache and time!
posted by citands at 2:16 AM on March 21, 2010

I, too, am very lazy about hair upkeep and find going to get my hair cut or dyed a dead bore, anxiety-provoking, and a waste of money. So, I put it off until my hair is a total mess and it's the day before some important event.

In my opinion, one of the best things you can do is get an easy, neat haircut and play with your bangs. Many higher-end stylists trim their clients' bangs for free, walk-in. So you can get those bangs trimmed on a much more frequent schedule, without committing to the whole shebang. You can also do a bit of self-trimming at home, but if a professional will do it for free without advance planning, why bother? When you have the right bangs for you, you can pop that hair in a ponytail or a half-pony and play with those bangs. You can look sophisticated with a smooth side sway bang, or fun and a little funky like some of the pics you linked.

Layers will lighten hair, allowing waves to play out more fully. Razoring can look very wispy, so while some people desperately need it because they have too much hair otherwise (me!), it's not right for everyone. I don't want to make specific recommendations for what you should do since I have no idea what you look like, other than the general shape of your face. But, know that you don't have to always give super-precise instructions. You can tell your stylist that you want, for example "to emphasize the waves and really let them come out, but without creating a cut or shape that is very high maintenance" and some bangs. Bring pics of the bangs you like.
posted by bunnycup at 7:36 AM on March 21, 2010

Why don't you talk this out with your stylist? If she/he is any good, they'll take your concerns into account, then talk with you about possible cuts. Together, the two of you can decide on a plan, before a single snip is made.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:56 AM on March 21, 2010

Over the next year, go to 4 - 5 different stylists, and ask them to suggest styles based on your hair type and your wishes. At every salon, ask if somebody there has hair like yours; if so, that's who you want to see. I was across the country and grabbed a spare hour to get a hair cut. The stylist had hair like mine, and I got the best haircut of my life. I've gone to expensive salons, and El Cheapo Cuts, and it's always a crapshoot, so I stick with El Cheapo, and have generally good results.
posted by theora55 at 10:31 AM on March 21, 2010

You're really overanalysing this - explain your requirements and concerns to the stylist and if you feel they don't really get what you're after walk away. Repeat as necessary.

My stylist really gets my requirements, right down to not asking about my holiday plans when she's cutting my hair...been growing my wavy chin length layered hair down to my shoulders for a few months now and my routine is is as basic as it gets - washing, brushing, curling product and let it dry on way to work...

The one thing I have found with shorter and now again longer hair is that I really do need to have it cut every six weeks or so, not because it gets too long but because it gets too thick and starts to look a mess. As long as I get major thinning out regularly I can do minimum styling and maintenance.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:30 AM on March 21, 2010

Tell your stylist exactly what you told us! I have similar hair, features, and low-maintenance habits -- and my hair improved vastly for the better when I started trusting my stylist. If s/he doesn't listen, especially about the "i'm seriously not going to blow it out everyday" part, walk away....
posted by kestrel251 at 11:59 AM on March 21, 2010

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