I’ve had a number of hair appointments in which I’ve brought in a photo of, say, an Olsen twin thinking that the stylist is about to transform my hair into the perfectly tousled, layered waves of the designer duo in T-minus one hour without an issue. Guess how many times I left the salon with a cut that looked like what I had in mind? A grand total of zero.
While you might guess that hair color plays an awful big bit into this (you’d be right, of course), there’s a very valid reason why your hair may not necessarily turn out like the photo in hand. It’s all about the three factors that make your hair unique to you.
“Hair is three things,” says Jon Reyman, director of New York City salon Spoke and Weal. “It’s length, which is the outside of the hair; it’s density, which is the amount of hair per square inch; and then it’s texture, which is the pattern. A lot of people get confused about those three things when they’re getting a haircut or styling.”
Because your hair isn’t necessarily the same in all three ways as the person whose hair you want to emulate, it’s worth having a bigger conversation with your stylist than simply bringing a photo in and hoping for the best. “If you have straight hair and want it full and to have body, a great haircut isn’t gonna do that,” says Reyman, adding that you’re going to have to manipulate hair with product when you style it. “A perfect haircut doesn’t manage your texture. When someone cuts your hair, they’re managing length and density.”
Cutting your strands keeps the outside edge of your hair managed, while density helps account for the fullness. So, for instance, if the person in the photo you bring in has less hair than you, your stylist might need to de-bulk how many strands you have. Vice-versa, if you have strands that need plumping up, you might need to devise a plan with your stylist for thickening them up.
When you get home, the texture of your hair can be enhanced with styling products to help you achieve your desired goal. Armed with this newfound intel, next time you get a cut, talk to your stylist about about more than simply mimicking the shape, and get ready for good hair days on repeat.
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