It’s one of the most basic beauty rules around: If you’ve got split ends, you go and get a haircut. Even if you’re trying to grow your strands to Rapunzel lengths, once that telltale sign of dead-ness kicks in, it’s time for a trim. But as I recently learned at the hands of famed stylist Jon Reyman, owner of Spoke & Weal Salon, split ends actually aren’t the only sign that you should be hitting up your hairstylist.
When you think about your hair, there are three things to consider: length, which is (obviously) how long your hair is; density, which is the amount of hair that you have and its weight; and texture, which is your hair pattern and how it moves. “So when somebody gets their hair cut because their ends are are damaged, they’re really just trying to cut length,” explains Reyman, adding that you should be taking the other factors into consideration come cut time, too.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to how often you should get your haircut. Ahead, here are four signs you may want to call the salon and book an appointment.
1. Your hair is too thick
“A lot of people confuse density with length, but it’s not that your hair is too long, it’s that it’s too thick or too dense,” explains Reyman. This could be because it wasn’t thinned out properly when it was cut, or that it was thinned properly but the weight has started to grow back in. “It’ll start filling in and feeling a little heavy, and then it’ll be time for you to get a haircut.” It’s worth noting, this can happen long before split ends set in. Reyman cuts his clients’ hair dry, which he says helps avoid it from growing back too dense, and if this is affected you, it’s something worth asking your stylist about, as well.
2. The shape is starting to look…off
I didn’t know this was a thing until I sat down in Reyman’s chair and realized that the hair on one side of my head was a completely different length than the hair on the other side. It wasn’t a high point, let me tell you. “All hair grows out unevenly,” Reyman explains. This can make the style look flat, or cause the shape of the cut to fall. With long hair, you can usually get away with a slightly longer period between cuts, but on short hair you’ll be able to see the change a lot more quickly. “With lobs or bobs and then shorter, usually a haircut really needs more fine tuning more often,” he adds.
3. You’re struggling to manage the texture
If the styling tricks that had been working for you suddenly just…stop being effective, it’s probably time for a cut. For example, if your hair isn’t responding to heat styling, or it’s frizzing more than usual or starts to look stringy—it’s time for a change. “Sometimes going into the hairdresser and getting a haircut—a cleanup, or refresher—and then talking to them about what you’re struggling with can help create solutions for you,” says Reyman, who refers to this as a “fact-finding haircut.” “Usually the solution is either that you need to get a lesson on how to manage your texture, or they need to thin it out a little bit or clean it up a little bit.”
4. Your hair is knotting all. the. time.
If you’ve ever held off on a haircut for a long, long time (#itme), you likely know this feeling. It’s as if all of the sudden, your hair doesn’t want to do anything except look like a rough, tangly mess. “A lot of that happens because it’s damaged,” says Reyman, adding that a cut can help keep ends from tangling, especially if you’ve got fine hair. “Sometimes it’s better to cut a little length off, clean those ends up. When hair gets more damaged, the cuticle on the outside gets rougher and it sort of catches like Velcro on itself.” A cut will help clean up this damage, and leave you with smooth—and, bonus, easy-to-style—hair.
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