Shouldn't I know this by now?
January 2, 2006 10:12 PM   Subscribe

I have no idea what to do with my hair. It's presently past my shoulders and totally lifeless. Help!

I have made a number of really bad hair decisions (and yes, I realize, bad clothes, makeup and photography choices but that's not why we're here). I have let it go years without a proper cut because I just don't know what to do with it.
Here are some pictures to show you what I look like and what I look like with some different hair styles. They span about 8 years and go most recent to oldest.

Things that may be important...It's straight as a board and doesn't hold a curl for anything. Growing up it was blond, it is now a murky brown that I like to dye a dark brown. I work at a portrait studio so I need something that stays out of my way (but I don't plan to be there forever). It's thin enough that I have a hard time with barrettes and such.

So any advice? Any at all?
posted by nadawi to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total)
Donate it to Locks of Love? I just did and my hair is SO easy to take care of now.
posted by OneOliveShort at 10:16 PM on January 2, 2006

I think #2 works very well for you. No problem there that I can see.
posted by unSane at 10:21 PM on January 2, 2006

posted by thirteenkiller at 10:22 PM on January 2, 2006

Chili bowl!!!
posted by ernie at 10:22 PM on January 2, 2006

I think #2 is good also and #3 is OK. I think the short hair doesn't particularily suit your face but I think very few women pull off short hair.
posted by 6550 at 10:24 PM on January 2, 2006

IANAHD (hair dresser), but I fuss with my hair a lot.
You said your hair is lifeless, but you didn't say if it was brittle or not. If it's pretty healthy, but just limp, coloring/lightening/highlighting it might help give it a little volume... however, it does dry it out MASSIVELY. And to keep it looking good, you should probably do it professionally and often (to avoid bad roots). If you don't think your hair is tough enough to take it, try a semi-permanent color first (but go to a real hair dresser for this too -- I've seen people pick way too many colors that are simply wrong for their skin tone). A dark brown may be too much for your skin tone (hard to tell from the pics), you may need just a bit of enhancing the color or maybe even lowlights (opposite of highlights -- just making a few thin chunks of hair a slightly darker shade to give contrast and the illusion of volume).
As for cut/style, there are products that add a bit of volume to hair, but they usually only work when you have layers in your hair. Good hair salons will let you take home a sample to try. However, if you have a lot of layers, it makes it difficult to keep your hair out of your face with a clip or ponytail holder (usually only a headband works, which does not always work for certain people's faces).
Also, the longer your hair, the more the weight of it will pull it down -- that's why you'll see many people with limp, fine hair with a simple chin-length bob that has long layers.
That said, I thought the #2 and #3 were pretty cute. (Hard to tell with angle on #1 -- and I agree with 6550 that short hair is really hard to pull off.)
posted by j at 10:55 PM on January 2, 2006

I'm going to agree with 6550 - #2 is coolio...
posted by mattr at 1:30 AM on January 3, 2006

#3 is your best bet- it totally suits your face (and love the dress as well!). #2 is cute, but that's more of a once-in-a-while style than an everyday look to count on.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:03 AM on January 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


No question.

posted by waldo at 5:28 AM on January 3, 2006

I think avoiding going to a professional is the wrong thing to do. You're not terribly far from a major metropolis, so it may be worth asking around, going to a place or individual with a fantastic reputation, and telling them "do what's best." There's a place in NYC called Hoshi Coupe that's known for having very good expertise in matching hair to the person wearing it, for example. I'd take a bunch of photos of you to the salon, too - more information never hurt anyone.

If you can't do that, I'll second the hair dye making hair more plyable, and suggest trying a dark red-brown for variety (but careful not to go too red). I'd be careful going with layers, as they can end up making braids or other up-dos look sloppy when the layers start poking out in odd places.

Oh and personally, I think you look great with long hair tied up, so for variety I'd look into lots of braiding options. Here's a book I found on amizon. And a site that looks useful. A co-worker of mine had braids like these but with about half the diameter, and I always found it very pretty.

I'm not a hairdresser, just a chick who, after years and years with long hair, realized I actually am one of the few girls who looks way better with short hair or (interestingly) long hair pulled up into two bunches on either side of my head. Think like pig-tails - which could be another really cute option for ya, either high up on each side, or low down the way your braids are in photo two.
posted by lorrer at 5:35 AM on January 3, 2006

Amazon, not amizon...ugh! That'll learn me to use the spell check.
posted by lorrer at 5:36 AM on January 3, 2006

You just need to find a hairdresser who's actually good and whom you like. Look for people with similar hair types and find out who they see. Accept that with hair like yours, you need to pay someone decent bucks to cut it well.

I know this because I have the same type of hair -- fine, arrow-straight, and tending to the lifeless when long. I found a great stylist. Now I have a short, layered cut which I really like. It looks different from your short cut -- I'd suggest that it was the bangs that weren't working for you (the rest looks lively). Try out some long, long bangs blending in to shorter layers on the sides.

When I have the urge to grow it, a chin-length, all-on-length bob or bob with bangs seems to work out all right.It's more of a sleek, maybe-she-used-to-be-a-Goth look.

Good luck. Just find a good stylist - it's worth it.
posted by Miko at 6:40 AM on January 3, 2006

I think a professionally-done version of #3 would be your best bet. #2 just looks like long hair tied up into a braid, which is cute from time to time but not a daily "style" per se. Unbraid it and it's just long hangy hair, which is what you don't like, right? I don't think you necessarily need to avoid short hair altogether, but I definitely wouldn't go as short as #4 or #5. A #3 with some shorter layers cut into it might work well.

Find a good stylist and tell them what you've told us. Bring the pictures if you want. They'll know how to cut your hair so that it has body and movement, but still stays out of your way. Color does help give hair body as well, and I would recommend having cut and color done at once for the best possible results.

There are lots of good stylists, but finding the right one for you might take a few tries. I went through two or three before finding one who "gets" my hair type, but now that I've found her, I would follow her to the ends of the earth. Ask friends with similar hair types who they go to, or call salons and ask if they can recommend a stylist for someone with fine, straight hair.

The first time you visit a new stylist, make sure to sit down in the chair and talk with them before anyone touches your hair. That way he/she can see where you are now, get a feel for your hair type and texture, and talk about what you ideally want and (more importantly) don't want. The stylist will make recommendations, and you can figure out a direction together. Try to go in with an open mind, but if a recommendation sounds really odd, don't be afraid to ask why that's a good way to go for your hair type. A good stylist will be eager to educate you about your hair type.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

(On preview: What Miko said about finding a good stylist. It's worth every penny.)
posted by boomchicka at 6:54 AM on January 3, 2006

Another vote for a good stylist. My hair is also long, fine, and straight as a board, but getting a good hair cut makes 100% of the difference in me keeping it and shaving my head. FWIW, I have maybe three layers, and my hair is tapered around my face down past my shoulders with "optional bangs" across the front -- they're longish and wispy, but can be pushed to the side so that they blend in with my other hair without getting into my face. (If you want I can supply photos.) It's taken my stylist about two years to talk me into cutting my hair very much at all, and I really like it. As for keeping your hair back, as another member of the Long and Fine and Barettes are Joke For My Hair Club, I have found much happiness and success with clips. That brand in particular makes "no damage" and "no slip grip" products that hang on to my hair.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:37 AM on January 3, 2006

Go through some magazines and look for cuts that you think would look good on you or that you think reflect your personal style. Personally I think that this cut would look good on you, it frames the face nicely, and doesn't require too much styling. I have no idea if that fits your personal style, though, it's hard to tell from the pictures you've uploaded. Personally, I think a layered, face-framing cut looks good on almost everyone.

Take the picture to a professional stylist, hopefully one recommended by a friend. A new, professional hairstyle can make you feel like a million bucks.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:48 AM on January 3, 2006

I think you look a lot like the actress Olivia Williams. and you should wear your hair the way she does. Long enough to braid or put in a bun; a few short pieces near the front to come loose and look all sexy.
posted by theora55 at 11:22 AM on January 3, 2006

I like the brown hair in #2. I would recommend splurging just once at a "nice" salon (ask around) and getting some layers done. Ask to keep the shortest layer to midway down your cheek or to the chin so you can still put it in a ponytail. I've done this before and I found cheekbones! I have no cheekbones but lo, there they were.
Once you do that you can find a cheaper (but still reputable) salon to just do some maintenance work until about a year later when you may want to visit that nice place again.
posted by like_neon at 1:45 PM on January 3, 2006

All I've ever wanted is perfectly straight hair like yours ... sigh

Anyway, while you do look very cute with the braids in picture #2, it's not really a style you'd want to wear every day. You could do a very clean, geometric style because your hair is so straight. You could also do a bob, with lots of piecy layers and sideswept bangs -- something like this would be cool.

As far as color goes, I'd do some warm, darker blonde highlights around your face. It's hard to tell your skin tone from the photos, but from what I can see, the very dark washes you out a little bit, and golden tones might brighten you up. Highlights would also show off your layers and give your hair some depth.
posted by discokitty at 3:42 PM on January 3, 2006

You could also do a bob, with lots of piecy layers and sideswept bangs

The problem with fine, ramrod-straight hair is that it doesn't do 'piecy'. You can put the cut in, and add lots of product, but after an hour the hair will settle back to a very flat sheen and look lank. Fine straight hair doesn't have the heft and body required to get hair to separate out into those interesting chunky sections.

Bobs do work, but the overall effect is a smooth, straight curtain of hair rather than texture. And, unfortunately, hair products have to be very, very light not to show on this type of hair.
posted by Miko at 7:11 AM on January 4, 2006

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