More hair help needed
March 25, 2015 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Well I took your advice from last time and relaxed my principles - I started blow drying and flat ironing and applying various goos at various times. And that's okay but only as long as my hair has been recently cut. So what I need now is advice about how to communicate with my hair stylist that I really do want it flat, flat, flat, flat. Last time she seemed to think she was talking me out of making a huge mistake.

These are all the problems with my hair:
It's truly wavy and it's big waves that like to zig-zag away from my face at right angles.
It grows too much in the back and not enough up front.
It's prone to terrible frizz.
It's very stubborn and shrugs off the effects of hair products as the Hulk would shrug off a car. Every few weeks I give up using them for several months, forget, buy them again, and then give up, repeat ad nauseum.
My scalp is dry and flaky so I can't skip shampoo ever or not use dandruff shampoo. The dandruff shampoo works after trying a bunch of different things so I'm not branching out on this.

What I want is for my hair to be about chin length and lie flat against my head without forming giant puffy mounds of hair on the sides or zig-zagging away at weird angles. No Mary Tyler Moore, no Margaret Thatcher.

For a long time I was very resistent to having to spend the time blow drying and flat ironing but after my latest haircut, which was good, I gave in. And that was okay, definitely an improvement even though I hate having to do it. But now that it's growing out again it's not working anymore. And it's especially tedious having to stand there going through this idiotic routine knowing my hair is going to look like crap in 3 hours.

So last time I tried to communicate what I wanted to the hairdresser. Which, actually, was that I really loved her hair cut and I wanted her to cut my hair like that. Her hair is chin length and lies flat against her head. Especially because she has a big round skull like me and similar genes so I could tell it would look good. (I didn't say that part) But her response was that you can't just decide to make someone's hair look like someone else's hair, that everyone's hair is different, blah blah blah. She went over and grabbed a bunch of style books and made me point out more examples. She seemed extremely skeptical. It seemed like she didn't like what I was asking, didn't like that I was asking it, didn't think it could be done, or something. I'm not sure but she wasn't happy in the conversation. Even more perplexing because this was the second time I saw her and the first time went well, I thought. Well eventually the haircut came out good and I liked it. She went through and cut out a lot of bulk so my hair could lie flat against my head and be chin length. BTW this lady is a senior stylist & instructor at a big, busy downtown salon.

But this time I would like it to be cut in a way that won't grow out so quickly. That haircut was only in February. Like okay why can't they just cut the bottom layer super short? I don't want those hairs there, they aren't adding anything. I have suggested this to different hairstylists and they all advise against it. Is it really that bad of an idea? Like if it was like a man's haircut under there, with the top layer of hair coming down chin length? They say that it's awkward to grow it out, but I have only wanted my hair to look one way my entire life, so I feel like it's unlikely that I would want to grow it out? Plus it would be a lot simpler to maintain; I wouldn't have to go through this psycho drama every 6 months.

So my questions boil down to:
How do I communicate to my stylist that I would like her to go even more extreme cutting out the unwanted bulk? Without.. causing whatever offense I caused?

Is what I'm imagining as a solution really so unlikely to work?

If it really is a bad idea, do I need to just accept the fact that I need to get a $100+ haircut every month to look like a competent professional lady?
posted by bleep to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (44 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: * and when I said "psycho drama every 6 months" what I meant was "psycho drama every 6 weeks". Wishful thinking.
posted by bleep at 8:51 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your hair cannot be cut like your stylist's hair because you do not have the same hair type or texture. Your hair just will not behave the same way hers does with the same cut. If you want straight, flat hair all the time, you need to look into chemical straightening and keratin treatments to see if you're a candidate. But at a certain point you have to accept that certain hair types can only support certain hair cuts and hair styles.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:57 PM on March 25, 2015 [26 favorites]

Sorry if I missed it in your last question, but do you go every six weeks? When you go that often to the same stylist there's typically not as much discussion (psychodrama?!) because the stylist remembers you and your hair. If the stylist knows you're not coming until 3 to 6 months later, yeah, they are going to dissuade you from a style that looks best with frequent trims.
posted by stowaway at 8:58 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, when you have hair like yours, cutting parts of it extremely short will make it do the opposite of what you want it to -- thinning shears will likewise screw up your hair's ability to fall naturally and nicely. Frizzy curly hair has a completely different way of dealing with being cut than straight hair. Your stylist is a saint for saying no to you.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:59 PM on March 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

Huge second to Hermione Granger x 2. Why not grow it out? I have wavy/curly hair. It looks goofy when it's too short (the waves just go all over the place or pouf out, and there's definitely more frizz), so the shortest I'll keep it is an inch or so above my collarbone. The weight of the additional length keeps the waves in check. Going longer is a good idea, unless you want to be wave wrangling every morning (or getting the treatments HG mentioned).
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:18 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I know you said you want your hair chin length but are you anti-long? I ask because my husband has very curly hair, it's like a bad perm, it goes everywhere, but when we were younguns, he grew his hair long, like down to his waist, and it dragged a lot of the curl out until it was just a nice wave. And I'm thinking maybe you might like that, that it might be the most natural way of getting it flat against your head. And maybe you will like to try different upstyles and braiding etc?

Your hair really sounds very difficult for short styles and maybe it will never do what you want it to do AND be chin length. I think Hermoine G is right, your stylist was probably a bit impatient that you want something that is unsuitable for your hair.

And, this might not be very useful, but I have dead straight hair. It is flat against my head. I do stuff to it to make it look bigger. I buy curling products. I LOVE curly red hair. I wish I had curly red hair. My hair is black, there's no dying without serious bleaching. I will never have curly red hair. If I had your hair, I'd grow it big and wild and just put a cute pin in it or headband. Some of us want what we don't got. Sigh.
posted by stellathon at 9:29 PM on March 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

See a dermatologist about the scalp issues. I have curly hair, and I've been able to stop using shampoo more than about twice a month by switching to a medicated foam I apply in the shower and rinse out, and it actually makes my hair softer. Head&Shoulders is crap, and you deserve better.

As for the texture, yes, I think you need to look into keratin or other chemical straightening. If what you want is straight hair, that's the best way to do it. It's expensive and requires upkeep, but it'll make your mornings easier and keep you from having to go to the salon every two weeks just to stay looking smooth and flat. Your hair is wavy. You want it not to be. That's going to take either a ton of daily work, or some harsh chemicals up front to prevent you from having to do so much daily work.
posted by decathecting at 9:35 PM on March 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

do I need to just accept the fact that I need to get a $100+ haircut every month to look like a competent professional lady?

Well, you could do that, or you could reevaluate whether it's possible to look like a professional person without super flat hair. I say, yes, curly hair =/= unprofessional. It just takes frizz control (i.e. a great conditioner, maybe some coconut oil and a bit of gel, and a bit of time to learn how to style it. And, an acceptance of your natural hair.)

Your stylist is probably a big deal because she knows how to bring out the best in her customers. She was probably annoyed to have been asked to do something against her professional judgement. What were her ideas for you?
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:38 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Hm, ok, well, I want to clear up the misconception that any hair that isn't straight must be curly. My hair isn't curly or straight, it's wavy. If it was curly it could just be curly and that would be okay but it's not. Long hair doesn't look good on me, it doesn't behave, it's a bigger mess that's harder to tame. The flat iron works well enough to keep it straight enough, but only if enough bulk is removed. That's all I really want, is for the bulk to be removed. And I'm sorry but walking around with a giant shapeless frizzy wavy mess on your head is not a professional look or anything that I've ever seen anyone do.
posted by bleep at 9:54 PM on March 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: And when I say "straight", I just mean not jutting out at right angles. I have never seen anyone walking around with their hair jutting out at one right angle on either side. I'm not some kind of straightness fanatic.
posted by bleep at 9:58 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a few thoughts. First, cutting the lower level of your hair super short will not make your hair straighter. For general hair advice like that, it's a decent bet to listen to stylists as they've made their careers on studying and handling hair. Nevertheless, we've all had people cut our hair who clearly were not our personal hair whisperers. I have wavy/curly hair that I quite like, but if cut the wrong way it frizzes/poufs. I used to be a hair model in NYC for a ritzy teaching salon, and either it was their aesthetic or they did not understand my hair, but their cutting choices reinforced the poufing. And they were big deals who charged $300 per cut and were teaching classes on my haircuts to students who flew in from across the US.

The way I found my current stylist, who seems to know the secret to completely taming my hair such that I'm not even believed now by new friends that it can be the frizz pouf it has been in the past, is by asking locals who the best hairstylist working with minority hair in town is and scheduling a visit with her. I was super clear in the intro appointment conversation what my hair does and my goals in managing it and then let her at it. I have a pixie cut now and it is sometimes even straight (!!) which is still super weird for me.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:00 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I know that it won't make it straighter (that is why I gave in and started flat ironing), but it will reduce the effect of it piling up like snow drifts. Okay I'll stop.
posted by bleep at 10:03 PM on March 25, 2015

I think you should consider a longer-term hair straightening treatment like a relaxer or keratin treatment. This will straighten your hair for several months and allow it to be cut in straighter styles. You may still need to do a bit of heat styling, but probably not nearly what you do now.
posted by quince at 10:06 PM on March 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

True - keratin treatments, though, are minimum $300 a pop, often closer to $500 or even $800, which I'm not sure makes sense for shorter styles. Not sure about the cost of other straightening options.

If you cut the back bit very short, it's just going to poke out in a week, with no control imposed on it whatsoever (whereas with it a bit longer, the stylist can make her attempt to shape it). And you'll have to figure out what to do with that.

The fact is, any time you want your hair to do something not already baked into it via DNA, it's going to cost time or money.

I have hair that's in between wavy (yes I know what it means) and curly - I get S-waves or C-waves depending on how it's cut. I thought I was doomed to bird's nest hair, until I got a hairdresser who understood it. The right cut and products really can make wavy hair look good. As well as professional.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:15 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

It sounds like my hair texture may resemble yours (far from straight, but also far from curly) and what I've learned with my hair is that it the texture varies a lot depending on cut, shampoo, conditioner, product, past product buildup, how much I move around while it dries, etc. etc. It definitely piles up and has a bit of a triangle thing with the wrong cut, no question.

Collarbone length hair works really well for me because it's long enough to have some weight and to be really style-able (today, my hair was dirty and I didn't have time to shower but the waves were really sad and limp looking so I just dry shampooed the roots + curled the pieces near my face quickly and they held just well enough to look put together all day), but it's not so long that the ten different textures of my hair are on full display or the waves start to look frizzy/stringy (ew sorry). Have you considered a cut like this? I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
posted by R a c h e l at 10:19 PM on March 25, 2015

See a dermatologist about the scalp issue and get that sorted with the goal of only having to shampoo about once a week (maybe 2 or 3 times if you get sweaty regularly). It will make the hugest difference. Every time you shampoo you are messing up the oils in your hair and the texture of your hair shafts. This is what causes that "right angle" thing and the frizz. If you allow your hair to get a little dirty (ie: not be completely stripped of everything your scalp produces that nourishes your hair correctly every day or triggering overproduction of oil because it's being constantly stripped) it will even itself out. I have very mixed-textured hair and the best thing I can do for it is not wash it, dandruff be damned. You might also find that if you just put up with the dandruff for a while it will become more manageable because your scalp will not be under constant chemical assault. You might still have dandruff but it might itch a lot less, it might build up on your scalp but not actually flake as much.

I think what you're imagining, by the way, is actually called an undercut with a bob. It is a young (and often queer) style choice that is enjoyed by lots of people and I think looks good on plenty of face shapes, but I don't think it reads particularly professional and it will take just as much to maintain as anything else (short hair becomes annoying medium hair really quickly!)

If you are really committed to having this kind of hair that you naturally do not have, your choices are all going to cost lots of time and money. Have you considered investing in a very good wig? You might be surprised at how many people wear wigs all the time.
posted by Mizu at 10:21 PM on March 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think my hair texture might be similar to yours. A few years ago though, I got a chemical treatment called a Brazilian Blowout and for ~4 months I had the world's lowest maintenance straight hair. It just always looked professional and straight and I didn't have to do ANYTHING to it on a daily basis (blow dry, air dry, brush, don't brush, product, no product, seriously-it made no difference)

I know you are asking about a haircut, but getting a chemical treatment to change your hair texture will probably eliminate your haircut issues. The two times I did the chemical process, it was expensive and took a long time in the salon, but you would probably be really happy with the consistent day-to-day result with pretty much no effort.
posted by mjcon at 10:22 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't believe I didn't comment on your last hair post. I have your hair, and I have the haircut you want. This is perfectly do-able. You want an inverted bob that is layered well, and *thinned* especially on the sides. You want the hair to be a circle shape, not a triangle. You need it pruned like a hedge. I get the best haircuts at Japanese or Korean places, as they are trained to cut hair by removing the weight off the ends and created a nice shape around the face. Where are you? I also got a good haircut from a Samoan girl once... I said THIN IT and she laughed and said "you got it!" and thinned the f*ck out of it. It was great.

Here is a picture of my hair long. Here is a picture of the Best Haircut. It lay flat. I really could just wash, air dry, and basically do nothing and the waves would form cute little finger waves and curl around my ear. The haircut I have now is close... next time! (Here is the recent mediocre haircut I had FIXED a few weeks ago. I've had worse though!)

(If I am diligent about squish to condish AND have a great haircut, I can get my long hair to airdry into ringlets. But that's a LOT of variables!) If you have trouble with the pics, let me know and I can email you.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:30 AM on March 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: […] do I need to just accept the fact that I need to get a $100+ haircut every month to look like a competent professional lady?

More like every six weeks, but yes. A haircut needs to be trimmed every six weeks or so to keep it looking good. Although you don't need to spend $100, but $100/month is $3.33/day. To me it's worth $3.33/day to not have to be miserable about my hair every day. (My stylist is excellent and only charges $25. But she is undercharging and I tip her excessively. Also, I drive for a full hour out to BFE to see her. She can charge less because her salon is literally down a dirt road surrounded by shacks and ranches.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:35 AM on March 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

I will add that I am a professional, I look fine, and it definitely lasted longer than a month (and my hair grows fast!). To maintain it, I'd probably get it cut every 4-6 months. One of the primary differences between the two short haircuts above is that in the good haircut the back really was cropped much shorter than it looks in the photo - nearly like a man's. There was absolutely no chance of any sort of ponytail action. That's the problem with my current haircut - it's not short/layered enough in back, and not thinned enough - but it's close.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:36 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Many salons have a maintenance or trim price at a 1/4 of the cost. See if your salon offers that.
posted by KogeLiz at 3:02 AM on March 26, 2015

Best answer: Getting a trim every 6 weeks is completely normal if you want to maintain a clean crisp bob. Even people with perfectly straight and easy to tame hair have to go that often for trims! You need to find a stylist who offers free touch-up trims within a month of each paid haircut if you are concerned about the cost of maintenance.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:10 AM on March 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

My keratin treatment is only $100.
posted by k8t at 3:22 AM on March 26, 2015

Since the stylist has strong opinions, I'd ask her what sort of cut she would recommend for someone who styles their hair every morning, wants to look professional, and doesn't want constant touch ups at the salon, with your hair type, face shape, etc. She may have some ideas, and that's really what the extra money is paying for.

If you want someone who does exactly what you ask for without pushing back on something they think is a bad idea, I'd look for someone cheaper; I stopped going to my local fancy place over this type of thing and am happier with my cut now, plus the stylist is friendlier.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:57 AM on March 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yep, seeing the same stylist every time and asking for suggestions for styling a certain haircut will help! My Bob always looked crazy (one right angle wave, the rest vaugly frizzy) until I asked how to blow dry it like she did. I was even able to give up straightening (most days!)
posted by missriss89 at 4:57 AM on March 26, 2015

(1) Your stylist sounds a bit difficult to deal with, if she's giving you this much shade for a certain cut. There's no getting around it, you've chosen to have a high-maintenance hairstyle, so you'll be spending a lot of time in your stylist's seat. Find someone you like.

(2) When you go for your next cut at a new stylist, bring pictures. Lots and lots and lots and lots of pictures. Be prepared to trust their judgement. What sounds like a good idea - the pretty drastic undercut that you have in mind, for instance - often ends up looking kinda weird in practice. So, is your idea a good one or a bad one? I am not your hairstylist so I can't tell you. Find a stylist you get along with and ask them.

(3) You're after a chin-length bob when you have thick, wavy, frizz-prone hair. That is a high-maintenance hairstyle. It needs to be styled every time you wash, and trimmed frequently. If this is the style you're committed to, then you do need to get a haircut every month to have it looking the way you want it to. There's no way around this, I'm sorry.

Honestly? If I were you I'd rethink my choice of haircut. You sound kind of bummed by all the maintenance, and you've chosen a cut that works against your hair, not with it. Even growing your hair out to a well-cut, strategically thinned and layered collarbone-skimming long bob could make a difference: it's easier to blow dry and flat iron when you've got a bit of length, the length could help weigh down some of the weird waves that bother you, and you've always got the nuclear option of pulling it back into a ponytail when you just can't be bothered.
posted by nerdfish at 5:20 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think I have the haircut you want. I actually experimented with the same style but at different lengths with my current stylist, and that's how I discovered I had a hair length "sweet spot" for which the style worked. Longer than that, and hair just looks messy, shorter than that, hair sticks out at random angles and blow drying doesn't help much. My hair is thick, with a mix of different textures, and is noticeably wavy when shoulder-length or longer, but straightish and resistant to styling when chin-length or shorter. As long as my hair stays in that length sweet spot, though, it air dries into a passable shape for everyday. If I want a more polished look I'll blow dry it, spraying some heat shield before blow drying and then applying a dab of pomade when done to smooth down the flyaway hairs.

I go to my stylist every 6 weeks, where time-consuming shaping and thinning only takes place every other visit, with just trimming happening in the other visits. At the longer visits, what my stylist does is what jrobin276 describes above, essentially creating a circle shape, using scissors, razor, thinning shears, and cutting my hair both when wet and dry.

(When I initially started working with this stylist, I asked her whether she thought the style at the length I had in mind would work with my hair. It's been a collaborative relationship as we've experimented with different lengths, sharper angling, etc. After all, I am paying her for her expertise and I am not going to insist on something she is doubtful about.)
posted by needled at 6:00 AM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Wavy hair is curly hair. It's much more like curly than straight and the methods for dealing with curly hair are what you need for happy hair--and a happy scalp. And I say this as a wavy/curly person who used to have itchy scalp issues. Type 2B wavy/curvy if you follow the curly girl method. I'd recommend taking their quiz and finding out your hair type and seeing what they suggest. They've got tips for dealing with non-straight hair. You can either buy into or skip their product endorsements; I tend to go more natural and use aloe and coconut oil to make my hair happy. I also don't shampoo (cider vinegar rinse), but there are ways to make your scalp happy that aren't no 'poo.

They've also have a recommended cutting method and if you've got any near you, you might want to try to go to one of their salons or find a stylist certified in cutting wavy/curly hair. They will also be able to recommend home styling methods and products.

Of course none of this will get you straight hair, but if your actual goal is manageable, professional looking hair that won't drive you bonkers, my advice stands.
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:02 AM on March 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you have hair sticking out, you have to train it. I have wild, thick, curly/wavy hair with a few weird cowlicks. I have trained it to change direction and hang down by wearing it back. You can use a headband or a wide, stretchy fabric hair wrap to accomplish this. Every day, even at night, brush/comb/style the way you want it and then keep it back with the headband, hairclips, whatever you want to train it that way.

I also have resigned myself to getting keratin treatments at my salon. It runs about $100 and lasts 12 weeks IF you use the special shampoo/conditioner they suggest. It does make a big difference. If I let my hair air dry, normally it would curl up, but with the keratin, it is almost completely straight. It's a remarkable difference.

Finally... I say this as the mother of a blond-headed super-curly/kinky daughter who always asks the stylist to cut her hair exactly like her Korean friends, who have sleek, ultra-straight bobs and fringe: You can't always have what you want. You have to work with your hair's natural strengths, and plan around that. Growing out your hair will mean fewer maintenance trips; a super-precise cut, or a shorter style, will require more frequent trips to maintain the shape, style, and look.
posted by FergieBelle at 6:19 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel really bad that you are so frustrated with your hair! I hope you find a way to make it work for you.

I don't have curly or wavy hair - my hair is fine, limp, and straight. (Of course I'm always trying to find ways to give it body, but that's for another Ask.) The reason I am chiming in is that I used to have the kind of cut you want, a chin-length angled bob, shorter in the back than in the front. And even with my naturally fine, limp, straight hair, I still had to do more styling each morning for that cut than any other kind of cut I've ever had. If I didn't, my hair - hair that normally I can use every styling product out there and curl with rollers or a curling iron and it'll be flat and straight within hours - would get weird waves and flip out or around my ears or just do strange things.

So I just wanted to give you a heads-up that you are asking for a particularly difficult cut to pull off for a lot of hair types. I'm not saying you shouldn't ask for and find a way to get what you want, and I don't have the curly hair experience to weigh in on that. I'm just providing some anecdotal evidence that you may need to adjust your expectations in terms of daily work and frequency of cuts.

I mean, I loved that cut so much (this is the only picture I have from 2008, I've also had the same/similar style a bit shorter and with/without bangs) but I generally don't get it anymore because it was so much work in the mornings to look good, and a humid or rainy day or 30 minutes of wearing a hat in the winter and all the work would be for naught.

(Also, btw, now I tend towards really short hair, ranging from true pixie cuts to a weird assymetrical thing I'm doing right now, and super short back/sides do grow out really fast. Also you can see in that pic I have cowlicks in the back which make the short hairs stick out in a goofy way that doesn't happen when my hair is long enough to weigh it down. Over time I can train those hairs to behave, kinda, but the slightest miscue with a blow dryer and they are sticking out all day. My stylist does free "clean ups" in between full salon cuts so I can stretch it out to 8-10 weeks between paying for a full cut, but that's just the nature of shorter hair. It may get you what you want but you will need to go back more often to keep it that way.)
posted by misskaz at 6:27 AM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

i think your new stylist is dissuading you from a hairstyle that isn't going to work realistically. That's why she's acting weird to you, if she's got any experience at all, she knows that her hairstyle is not going to look good on you for whatever reason. I remember my old hairstylist who was a friend, telling me once that honestly, the style I was pointing out to her was NOT going to work for me, and she spelled out why.

She suggested styles that would work according to my hair, the time & products I would use back then (none in those days, which limited my styles). And the haircuts she gave me worked for me, but I had to accept that I was never going to have certain hairstyles.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 6:38 AM on March 26, 2015

Best answer: What happens to it if you wash it at night and style in the morning? Does it settle down and become less fluffy and easier to straighten?

I have thick, wavy, fluffy hair and washing + blow drying + straightening was a recipe for fluffy, staticky, dry hair. See what happens if you wash at night and let it air dry.

full truth: I now have a pixie cut with buzzed sides and back, partly due to how annoying my hair is. It's amazing how much easier it is to deal with.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:59 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you decide you need to switch hairstylists, I have a FABULOUS stylist in SF who is worth the trek over from the East Bay (assuming your profile location is still correct).
posted by radioamy at 7:38 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ok, I reread your last question more carefully. If you really only feel comfortable with this particular, very difficult haircut, then do whatever you have to do, and try to find a way to make whatever daily maintenance is required less awful. Maybe take your time with it instead of rushing through. Put some music on, have a nice cup of coffee next to you, and think of it as a meditation on self-love.

Where are people getting $100 keratin treatments??
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:21 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding misskaz -- the "inverted bob" type haircut is a great length for me and my hair is flat and and thin thin thin...but that haircut was a goddamn nightmare for maintenance. At some point you're going to have to choose between low maintenance and the look you want, because frankly if it was possible for you to have wash-and-wear, 6 months between cuts, professional bobbed straight smooth hair, you would have it by now.

I feel you--my hair is the bane of my life; nothing it wants to do is anything that I like. It really sucks, but it has slowly been getting better as I stop fighting against it and start working with it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

oh, also:

Like if it was like a man's haircut under there, with the top layer of hair coming down chin length? They say that it's awkward to grow it out, but I have only wanted my hair to look one way my entire life, so I feel like it's unlikely that I would want to grow it out? Plus it would be a lot simpler to maintain

They're trying to work with you. They are trying to head off your problems at the pass. They know you are already starting from SUPER FRUSTRATED and they also know that the thing you're asking for is likely to be ADDITIONALLY FRUSTRATING for you. It will likely require just as much maintenance as your current style, plus, be super-difficult for you to fix or change once it's done (that's what "awkward to grow out" means).

Maybe next time you could try just saying you don't care, you won't get mad at them, you won't hold it against them, you just need to try this never-before-an-existing haircut to see if it would work, and would they please do it? (But from experience I can tell you this is a great way to end up sobbing at a bar later that night and wearing a hat for 5 months straight.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:43 AM on March 26, 2015

I think Hermione has a good point about maybe your stylist trying to talk you out of something that won't work, but also your stylist just sounds like she isn't going to work for you. Try different stylists until you find one who is actually going to do what you want and then be fiercely loyal and tip insanely well.

I'm also going to agree with those who say see a derm and then play around with shampoos and conditioners. I have 2B/2C curly hair and the difference in my hair between drugstore shampoo/conditioner and nice/expensive shampoo/conditioner is astounding. I don't use any hair products anymore.
posted by woodvine at 10:39 AM on March 26, 2015

Best answer: As an alternative to keratin or relaxers, I'd like to suggest the Pravana Perfection Smoothout. It's applied much like a keratin treatment, but at a lower temperature and minus the horrific odor (it does still have a scent). The hair can be washed right after. It doesn't completely remove the curl pattern. It does almost completely remove frizz. It lasts 8-12 weeks and doesn't leave lasting damage or a weird grow-out line. If your salon is a Pravana salon, talk to your stylist about it -- or else find a Pravana salon for a consultation. If you were local, I'd do it for you, but alas.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:57 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I once had my super-thick hair cut at a salon in Japan and OMG it was like magic - took all the weight and bulk out and left a gorgeous shape. Do it.
posted by lizbunny at 2:54 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My hair is probably like your hair, and much like jrobin's hair, too. her post is great.

Now, I've always known that having my shit hair look great is possible because I grew up in a small town where my hairdresser made my shit hair look FABULOUS.

(not to say your hair is shit, but it sounds a lot like mine, and mine is honestly shit. it's wavy in an ugly way on the bottom and straight but in an ugly way on top, and all cowlicks and terrible. it looks like someone swept up the hair cuttings off a floor and plopped them triangularly onto my head. yours is probably better.)

I moved to the city and I immediately had 100 terrible haircuts from experienced stylists that were recommended to me and I ended up driving the 8 hour round trip to my hometown to get my hair cut like twice a year for 4 years. And then a few years ago I decided that was enough of that and I was determined to find someone who can cut my hair.

seconding everyone who says get an ethnic stylist. My almost-good cuts were all done at places specializing in african american hair, and my current stylist (who does a great job) is chinese and works at an asian focussed place near chinatown. Most asian ladies I know want the stereotypical asian hair, jet black, stick straight, no volume. Not many of them actually HAVE this is turns out, but their stylists are fantastic at making it happen.

THIS is what my hair looks like now. It's a little longer than what you want, but I wouldn't recommend chin length because you haven't got enough hair to straighten effectively in the back and you'll make your hair too light and it will pull out of your straightening faster.

The cut I have is called a "long shag" and it grows out great too. I get my hair cut about every 4 months. My hair is naturally about the thickness where if you pulled it into a pony it would be approximately the size of an "ok" sign with thumb and forefinger. It's texturized (using the texturizing scissors like these down to maybe the diameter of a nickle. seriously, to make my hair look good you have to literally cut like half of it out. this prevents it from being able to create any kind of triangular shape, but at the same time if you have a crappy stylist cut this, you will end up looking like joan jett.

I usually get a stylist to cut my hair into the shape that I want, and then blow and straighten it, and then texturize it to the point they're comfortable with, and then I sort of grab and show them sections that I think are still too thick looking, and I call a lot of attention to removing the triangle shape. it usually takes about another half hour after they straighten it for them to finishing cutting and texturizing all the sections I still see as problems. the first time you do this with a stylist they're going to freak out a little because they will not want to cut all your hair off. but just be really.. nice about it I guess, and go slow with them "maybe just a LITTLE more" "just... about that much again" until you start to see what you want.

the added benefit of this is I have so much of my hair cut out that blow drying and straightening is much faster than it used to be.

Also, just a side note because you just want neat hair mostly, my hair, being wavy/curly is resistant to being straightened and the straightening comes out after some hours especially if it's humid at all, but it sort of loves being curled. it seems counter-intuitive, but if you learn how to use a curling wand it's faster than straightening for me, and stays in all day no problem. I like the ones with no clip that you hold sort of over your head and just wrap the hair around.

okay giant long post finished. If you move to calgary alberta let me know and I'll give you my stylist's number.
posted by euphoria066 at 6:19 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have wavy thick hair. After a few years of layered, long hair (bottom of shoulder blades) I recently went back to chin length bob. Still a bit layered, thinned out a lot, slightly shaped round my face. Easily the best decision I made in the last six months. I wash, towel dry, apply a curling spray and rub some hair cream between my fingers and scrunch and twist strands to encourage curls and let it air dry. I have to have it cut every 5-6 weeks and they need to thin it out quite a bit every time otherwise it gets too bulky and requires a lot more effort to manage…which is not going to happen. I get lots of compliments for the new style at my professional job. So looking pulled together doesn't have to entail straight. You could try to work with your hair as opposed to against it. A stylist could help with that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:49 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've had short hair for years. It generally requires recutting every 6 weeks. That is the price of great short hair. I think your expectations are probably just off if you think you can get a great haircut for short hair anywhere and let it go for longer than 6 weeks. It's not gonna happen.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:10 PM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have similar hair to you and the exact haircut you want. It IS possible, it won't necessarily look bad, and I don't find it to be a super high maintenance cut - I'm really surprised everyone else thinks it is. My hair is very thick (every stylist ever has commented on it) and it's wavy and if not blow dried, fairly frizzy. You want an inverted bob, undercut and then have them "take the bulk out" while it's dry. So what you end up with is very subtle layer on the top, more aggressive layering underneath (the undercut) and then they thin the thing out until you're happy. It totally works, it grows out fine, my hair has looked great for almost 2 months on one haircut now. When I lived in the Bay Area, I went to swanky DiPietro Todd salon near Union Square and they could pull this off. I did try other more indie places, and they were utter failures, as you describe. I would try a different kind of salon - either more upscale or an "ethnic" salon as other have suggested.
posted by annie o at 11:48 AM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I really appreciate all of y'all's advice. I think I might have worked things out with my stylist and I think we understand each other now. I think I thought wanting flat unbulky hair was a thing she would just understand, so I wasn't being as clear as I needed to be and that was giving her angst because we're both "ask culture" types. So I think that's resolved now, anyway she gave me a great haircut for the 3rd time in a row and she was very aggressive with the thinning. I also rekajiggered my morning routine to let my hair air dry instead of blow drying and that helps too.
posted by bleep at 12:58 PM on April 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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