I haven't had a haircut in 10 months
March 9, 2011 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I have basically no knowledge of how to deal with my hair. I'm tired of that. Help.

I somehow managed to live my life thus far without knowing anything about how to do my hair. I've never been a girly-girl, and it's pretty easy to get through college wearing a hoodie all the time, but now I'm tired of not knowing what I'm doing, and I'm not interested in looking unprofessional an unkempt.

I have such anxiety about going to get my hair cut that I haven't gone since last May. I never know what to say, I don't know any hair terms. I don't know what it is that I want.

So I'll say it to you, here's what I want:

-Decent looking hair -- I'm not trying to turn heads or be a trend setter, I just want a basic hairstyle that looks, well, nice. NOt fancy, not glamorous, nice is just fine.

-Hair that doesn't take a hugely long time to do. My current routine is: wash & condition hair in the evening. Usually go to bed with it damp. Brush it in the morning. Leave my house. I know that's not great. I'm willing to do more than that, but not, you know, way more. I'm not interested in something that will take me 20 minutes or more to deal with any time I have to leave the house.

-Not to have to use tooooo many products. Some is fine. A crazy amount is not fine. I also have things I'd rather spend money on than hair products.

Is this impossible? Can you help?

For reference, here are some photos. (Sorry for the lame cellphone pictures):

1, 2, 3

(I have searched the questions asked on this topic before, and have found them kind of useful, but I'm so clueless & everyone's hair is different, thus, new question)
posted by nuclear_soup to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I can't load any of your linked pictures for some reason. Could you try re-posting?
What kind of hair do you have, is it straight or frizzy or curly or what?
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:03 PM on March 9, 2011

Unfortunately, your links aren't working. Can you please describe your hair in detail?

-Is it straight, wavy, or curly, or somewhere in between?
-What is the texture of your hair - are the individual strands a little kinky or are they smooth?
-Does it tangle easily?
-Is it thick or fine, as in, are the individual strands of hair thick or thin, and do you have a lot of hair or is it more sparse, compared to most people around you?
-Does it break easily or do you often get split ends?
-Do you have dandruff or an itchy scalp at all?
-Do you want to be able to wear it in different styles, like do you want to be able to get creative with it?
-Do you need to look a certain way for your job or lifestyle, like will you need to keep it pulled back from your face because you work with power tools often?
-Do you find that if you go to sleep with wet hair, your hair sets into a shape and you can't brush it out, or does it generally fall flat and limp?
-What color is it, and do you like that color?
-How often would you be willing to get your hair cut in the future, once you have a set style that you know you want?
-Do you have any idea if your hair grows fast or slow?
-Are there any celebrities/people with linkable photos online who have hair that you like or envy?
posted by Mizu at 5:07 PM on March 9, 2011

I don't know what happened to the pictures, here they are:

1,2 3
posted by nuclear_soup at 5:11 PM on March 9, 2011

You have great hair! If anyone can't see the pics: wavy dark hair, just below chin length.
One thing to try would be looking for celebrity photos that have hairstyles that you like. My first thought for someone who has that type of hair was Maggie Gyllenhaal. You might try a Maggie Gyllenhaal hairGoogle image search for "Maggie Gyllenhaal hair" and see if that gives you some ideas that seem interesting.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:15 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

What might help you -- and us -- is if you took a little time to find some pictures of people who have hair the way you WANT it to look. Just saying you want it to look "nice" is a little vague; because I think "nice' means one thing, and it could be different from what you mean.

Even if you only find pictures that are SORT of like what you mean could help.

The bonus is, those pictures come in really handy when you go to a hair salon, because that way you don't have to know what to say to the stylist. You can just hand her the pictures and say "this length, but with this much curl" or whatever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 PM on March 9, 2011

Here is my generic-applies-to-all-hair-types advice:

Step 1: Look through a bunch of magazines/pics online, find haircuts you really like, and tear/print them out.

Step 2: Go to a hair person. Ideally this will be the same hair person that your friend/co-worker/barista with awesome hair has recommended. As a back-up plan, read yelp reviews.

Step 3: Show hair person your pics and say "I really like these hairstyles BUT I only want to spend [x] amount of time styling my hair and I don't know how they will work with my hair type. HELP ME."

On preview: You do have nice hair!
posted by grapesaresour at 5:18 PM on March 9, 2011

To answer your questions (If there's one I didn't answer, assume it's because I don't know how to answer)

-Is it straight, wavy, or curly, or somewhere in between?

Somwehre in between, but the shorter it is, the curlier it is, typically.

-Does it tangle easily?

-Is it thick or fine, as in, are the individual strands of hair thick or thin, and do you have a lot of hair or is it more sparse, compared to most people around you?

-Do you have dandruff or an itchy scalp at all?

-Do you want to be able to wear it in different styles, like do you want to be able to get creative with it?

I'd be fine with one decent hairstyle, I don't care if I am creative with it. I would probably never take the time to do so, to be perfectly honest.

-Do you need to look a certain way for your job or lifestyle, like will you need to keep it pulled back from your face because you work with power tools often?
This is not an issue

-Do you find that if you go to sleep with wet hair, your hair sets into a shape and you can't brush it out, or does it generally fall flat and limp?

More limp, I guess. It's usually curly when I wake up. I have no problem brushing it and it hardly ever tangles.

-What color is it, and do you like that color?
Brown, and I don't care to go through hair coloring treatments

-How often would you be willing to get your hair cut in the future, once you have a set style that you know you want?

As much as I need to, really. But tell me how often that is, because I have no clue.

-Do you have any idea if your hair grows fast or slow?

Pretty fast compared to average, I'd say

re: taking a picture to a stylist -- every time i've done that, the stylist has told me it won't work with my hair or that it would take me about 40 minutes of styling to achieve any sort of look.

I say "nice" because it's the best word I could think of for "something that looks halfway decent with my face." I really don't know what I want, that's my whole problem.
posted by nuclear_soup at 5:22 PM on March 9, 2011

Hi, Male here. not the best to give advice on women's hair, but here it goes...
my sister has very similar hair to yours. This is kinda how she's worn it when
it gets very long:

BTW, as others have mentioned, you do have nice hair. Your hair looks like it's suppossed
to look, natural. Don't try to conform to the media images and actresses, etc. It is
refreshing to see hair like yours in a world where more and more women are just trying
to copy an image...
posted by theKik at 5:29 PM on March 9, 2011

I have thick wavy hair similar to yours. Anytime I wash it at night, even if I completely dry it and style it, it will not look good the next day. Only washing, drying and styling in the morning works for me. I can usually go with washing every other day, even a third day sometimes. Watch for other people who have similar hair with a style you like, and ask them who cuts their hair. Also, I highly recommend this hair product, Sebastian Super Shaper hair spray.
posted by tamitang at 5:30 PM on March 9, 2011

I think the basic shape of your current hair is good, especially with the nice waves you have going on. I am not a curlyhead but I have friends with hair like yours (even the same length as yours) and what they do is get some layers on the top and back, and have it sort of angled or stacked so it's a bit shorter in the back. By layers I don't mean tons and tons a la Jennifer Aniston in 90s era Friends. You just want enough shorter pieces to break things up around the crown, which will probably help create some additional curls/waves and make your hair less bulky. Here is an example based on another poster's excellent suggestion of Maggie Gyllenhaal:

You might want to find a stylist who specializes in curly hair. Stylists who don't have experience in it will be more likely to give you a cut that is a pain in the ass for you to style or maintain.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:31 PM on March 9, 2011

You have really lovely natural hair! I wouldn't do too much to it, honestly. It has lots of volume and a nice shape.

If I were you, I'd pay a little more to go to a well-regarded stylist, and ask them for a medium length cut with soft layers, to clean up your frizzy ends, and some shorter pieces around your face, but long enough that you can pin them back if they annoy you. Kind of like Tina Fey. Tell them specifically that you want it to be low-maintenance and that you want to be able to let it grow out and still look nice. A good stylist will be able to do this for you. If they say they can't, leave.

Don't wash your hair every day. Every other day or once every three, if you can manage it. Too much washing makes it frizzy and dries it out. If your hair gets dry or brittle, use a leave-in conditioner maybe once every two weeks.

If you want to encourage uniform waves, twist your hair into a soft bun at night when it's damp. In the morning, put a little conditioner, or some soft hold styling gel, on your fingers, and run it through your hair, instead of brushing it. Smooth and separate the waves until you have something that looks nice to you. The shorter pieces in the front will curl around your face more than the longer pieces in the back.

You could also go with thick, blunt bangs, kind of like this, which you would have to trim and maintain more often, but I think looks very nice.
posted by Mizu at 5:43 PM on March 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

Hi! I could have written this EXACT question eight years ago.

I did eventually start liking my hair. But I had to go short and shell out the shekels.

Ask around for a stylist. Go in and tell them you want a wash and go hairstyle that you don't have to blow dry. Be prepared to spend up to $150 depending on your area. Also be prepared to hate your hair for a few days while you get used to the change. Give it a chance! Once I tried short hair I was amazed at how much better I looked and how much time I saved
posted by bq at 5:54 PM on March 9, 2011

We have very similar hair. Luckily, that means you can get away with not doing much. I really like the Aveda Be Curly product. It will help your hair curl a bit more and be more smooth all over. I think you could go a little shorter with a cut, with longer layers.
posted by sulaine at 5:56 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was all set to read you the riot act for sleeping on wet hair and expecting that to look nice - but you have gorgeous hair! Lucky you! Women spend hours with curling irons and expensive products to achieve just the look that you have without any effort at all. You have great advice already on the cut, and I think with a little product (like a leave-in conditioner or anti-frizz type thing) to smooth you out in the morning you'd be even happier with it.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:57 PM on March 9, 2011

Oh hi! You have my hair! I am also of the no muss, no fuss, no products and PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ME BUY A BLOW DRYER school of beauty. So my suggestions, while totally not glamorous, are practical.

1) It is what it is. It is curly. The best thng you can do is nurture the curl. This is a brilliant product and the only thing you need to do that job. Ir goes in wet after you wash it. (Use a wide-tooth comb on wet curly hair; never brush it.)

2) Do not cut bangs into it. You will have to blow dry them to get them to be at all straight, and if they are cut by someone who doesn't understand curly hair and they are too short, it's horrendous. I would only make this move with a stylist I had developed a real long term relationship with.

3) Find a stylist who has curly hair and is all about the curly hair. Find curly haired women on the street with cuts you like and ask them where they get their hair cut! I love the angled cut suggestion from here. But more than that, a good stylist can help you learn how to style the cut, so you can add barettes, or put the front or back up, or use a band with it or whatever when you want a more put-together, done look. (THIS IS SO HELPFUL. I totally needed someone to do this for me, and years later I now need a refresher couse as the texture and density of my hair has changed as I age.)
posted by DarlingBri at 6:00 PM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree, no bangs, and you've got great hair. maybe ask your stylist for ideas for ways to fix your hair as it is - headbands, clips, etc, that you might not be familiar with. It's a great and easy way to be a bit more dressy without having to cut your hair.
posted by lemniskate at 6:45 PM on March 9, 2011

I think it looks awesome the way it is..."less is more".

Be grateful you're not like me: I have fine, bone-straight hair and would need a blazing hot iron and a metric ton of product to get that kind of wave in it. And even then it wouldn't stay!
posted by aquafortis at 6:54 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

find curly haired women on the street with cuts you like and ask them where they get their hair cut

This. And don't be shy; this is the one kind of thing you can totally approach strangers about -- anyone would be flattered!

Plus, you can honestly say to a stylist what you said to us: no blowdryers, no fuss, work with my actual hair as it actually is, etc.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:04 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

On the hair-care front, I personally recommend the no shampoo route. I haven't put anything other than plain water and the occasional apple cider on my hair in over a year, and it's never been healthier. The natural curls I had as a kid have come back. Mostly I just rinse, vigorous scalp massage, gently pat dry, maybe a dollop of jojoba oil (I also shave with the stuff) worked through with y fingers, and let it air dry after leaving it finger-brushed into place.

Ain't never buying petro-chemical shampoo again. All that stuff does is strip the natural oils from your hair and leave it dried out and fried looking.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:14 PM on March 9, 2011

I am late to the game here, but I have really similar hair, and this is the cut I have:


Although mine is longer.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:45 PM on March 9, 2011

Dude, your hair looks great. Honestly.

I guess you could put a wave-holding product in, flip your head upside down and blow it dry with a diffuser... but I don't really think it will be so dramatic of a difference that will warrant all that fuss, every freaking day.

posted by functionequalsform at 9:24 PM on March 9, 2011

I have similar hair to you (Although not quite as wavy, and lighter in color). I find that the less I do to it, the better it looks. I am in love with the Burt's Bees shampoo because it is sulfate-free. I can wash every day with it when I need to and it will still be soft and shiny. I usually blow-dry in the winter so I won't freeze my head off, but can let it air-dry in the summer and it will be curlier. I find a curl-gel works for this to kind of keep everything from going wild. (I think I have the Aussie brand right now, but I buy whatever is cheap and looks good.)

Long story short: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:31 PM on March 9, 2011

FYI - My hairstylist (she's in my phone under "Sara, Hair Shaman" because that's what she is!) warned me about going to bed with wet or damp hair. I think it damages the ends or something. I'll tell you why I pass on this advice...

Since seeing her, I no longer use product except for a little jojoba on my ends sometimes because I live in a dry climate. Prior, I got to the point where I was wearing my hair up every day because I just couldn't deal with it.

If you have a good cut + use shampoo and conditioner w/out sulfites (there are inexpensive brands out there) you will be GREAT. I never knew how no-fuss my hair could be.

PS - you know it is a good cut when it looks good just air drying + grows out a bit and still looks good. If you don't get this quality of cut, keep changing stylists until you are happy. A hassle free hair cut is worth searching out.
posted by jbenben at 9:38 PM on March 9, 2011

Also, my stylist recommends only washing when needed (once or twice a week.) I concur.
posted by jbenben at 9:40 PM on March 9, 2011

Whatever you do, don't compare yourself with commercials-hair, y'know, that heavy, sleek, super-shiny gleaming mass. It's like porn versus sex. Fun to look at, but not how the good stuff works in real life.
posted by desuetude at 10:58 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your hair is great, and you've gotten lots of good advice here. Here's a little more:

Yes, go to a good stylist. Be willing to pay more than you think is reasonable: it's worth it. If you get a really great cut, you'll have to do way less daily work to keep it looking good. Once you get a great base cut, if you want you can switch to someone cheaper who will maintain it for you. You should get a trim every two months.

It's easy to find a good stylist. Think location: whatever neighbourhood is near you that's expensive and fashionable, any salon there will be fine. Any decent stylist will make you look how you want and will take your lifestyle into consideration: they will work with you to ensure you're happy.

I have hair kind of like yours; here are the products I use:

* When your hair is wet, use either Fekkai Glossing Cream or It's A 10 Miracle Product. After you wash your hair, put a pea-sized amount or a little more on your palms, rub them together, and work it through your hair starting at the back. Then let your hair dry naturally. Both those products have conditioning ingredients (like panthenol, quaternium-80, dimethicone and propylene glycol) that will minimize frizziness and make your hair look healthy and shiny.

* Once your hair is dry, use Redken Water Wax or some other wax/pomade. Rub a small amount of the wax between your palms, and pull it through the very ends of your hair, or anywhere it's dry-looking. This will define your curls a little.

Your hair is great already: all you should do is get a good cut and use a little product. Nothing fancy, no real skill required :-)
posted by Susan PG at 1:37 AM on March 10, 2011

Thanks, everyone. I am going to try to make an appointment at a salon my friend reccomended today. I'll post a picture :)
posted by nuclear_soup at 4:48 AM on March 10, 2011

I'm a fellow hair dope that asked a question recently. My hair is different than yours (alas, it does not look as good!) but one suggestion I got that I think would benefit you is to use coconut oil in your hair. I use a teeny tiney amount, like a quarter of a pea size, rub it between my palms (it's sort of solid at room temp but melts to liquid in your hands) and just kind of drizzle your fingers through the back to tame any wierd fly-aways. It works kinda sorta like a pomade but massively lighter. Other than that i'd just get a little layer and a trim every 2-3 months.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:33 PM on March 10, 2011

hope you haven't gotten the cut yet, because i wanted to counter the people saying no bangs -- BANGS! GET 'EM!

i have super thick, curly hair and i think i'd look stupid without bangs. i have a fairly simple layered cut with long, side-swoopy bangs that i think looks nice. my hair is longer than yours, but when it was your length the bangs also looked good. (we have kind of similar face shapes and glasses, too, so i think it would look just as good on you.)

i suggest side-swept bangs that are NOT blunt cut. ask them to razor the bangs so they're light. a round brush should take care of them, especially if they're not too long, so you won't need to straighten. i do straighten mine, but it takes all of 20 seconds. (i use one of these guys).

have fun!
posted by timory at 7:45 AM on March 11, 2011

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