A good haircut can be as uplifting as cosmetic surgery. The key factors to consider when choosing a hair style are its suitability to your hair texture, face shape and features, and its ease of maintenance. Shorter, layered or feathered styles that frame the face have a gamine appeal and suit most people. The layers can be coaxed away from the scalp to conceal roots and give a fuller impression to fine or even thinning hair. Feathering around the hairline is more forgiving to the face than hair that is scraped back severely. And a halo of hair softens leaner features.
If you have thick, straight and well-behaved hair, a jaw-length bob is more bouncy and flattering than longer styles, which can accentuate a longish face. But unless you’re prepared to live up to them with graphic make-up, avoid “hard edge” geometric styles, which can look too angular or just plain contrived. Heavy fringes dwarf delicate features and are best broken into sections, or wisps which will soften a lined or receding brow.
For fine or limp hair a demi-wave might be the answer. This lifts the hair at the roots to build body subtly into hair without touching the drier and potentially vulnerable tips. It works especially well where the hair is layered.
SIX Easy styles
According to Brendan O’Sullivan, creative director of Regis salons in the UK, all styles stem from six basic cuts which can be adapted to suit all face shapes. They are: classic bob; round graduation; long interior-layered; short interior-layered; long graduation; and graduated bob. Meg Ryan’s successful feather cut is a version of a long layered look. The Princess Diana style is based on short layers. Layers form the style’s architecture, flattering the shape of your head by compensating for a flat crown, or emphasizing a well-formed occipital bone at the base.
If you have a round face avoid “pudding basin” styles and choose a graduated bob. If yours is a thin, narrow face opt for a softening fringe and layers that add width to the sides. A style that falls just below the jaw suits a square face, while a heart-shaped face can wear any style well.
HEAT STYLING HOW-TO
Used wisely, your hairdryer is your greatest style ally,
After shampooing and conditioning, blot excess moisture with a towel. Apply a styling formula such as mousse or gel. Hair should be 50 per cent dry before you start precision blow drying. Let it grow semi-dry naturally or rough-dry it with a hairdryer. For smooth styles, blow-dry your hair in sections. Pin the top sections out of the way and begin drying underneath, coaxing the hair around a large, round brush. Rotate the brush as you slowly and firmly pull it through the section from roots to tips.
For more textured styles, make a spider-shape with the fingers of your free hand and gently massage the roots as you blow-dry. “Scissoring” sections of hair between your fingers from roots to tips styles more smoothly. Keep the drier on medium heat and hold about 10 cm (4 in) to 15 cm (6 in) away from your hair. Aim the nozzle down the hair shafts from the roots to the tips. Use the right attachment for the job. The nozzle of your hairdryer concentrates hot air for quick, sleek, precision styling. The diffuser distributes warm air over a wider area and is ideal for initial “rough” drying or for styling naturally curly or wavy hair.
YOUR HARDEST-WORKING Style allies
MOUSSES: Classic bodifyers, mousses are, perhaps, the easiest bulking agents to use, but don’t use too much or you risk dulling the hair. A golf ball-sized dollop is enough for most short to jaw-length styles. Comb mousse through damp hair before styling.
GELS: These are the firmest styling formulas, but they can leave hair stiff. To perk up fine hair without weighing down the tips, concentrate the gel at the roots, massaging it in place with your fingertips, then combing it through so the ends are the least liberally coated. Apply to damp hair before blow-drying or styling. Gels are useful for combing and setting waves in place, then brushing out when the hair is dry.
THICKENING SOLUTIONS: The most recent formulas on the market, most thickening solutions contain keratin, the same protein that hair is made from. Spray them in, then blow-dry to bond the liquid keratin to the fine hair shaft. Your hair will remain thicker until it’s washed.
SERUMS: Serums can perform reconstructive surgery. Only serums can bring back gloss to severely dry hair, or suppleness and control to frizzy hair. Be sparing in use: a single drop of the glycerine-like texture may be enough for a whole head of hair. Spread serum in the palms of your hands, then massage through dried hair after styling and before the finishing spray. Alternatively massage into the ends only to “mend” splits.
POMADES, WAXES, PUTTIES AND STYLING CREAMS: Specialist finishing formulas that mould the hair into place, giving texture and sheen. Pomades provide a high shine finish; waxes a more subtle polish. Stiffer putties and styling creams coax hair sections into soft peaks or ruffle them into highly textured looks. If your hair usually slides out of place when you put it up, try using them. Massage through dried hair.
FINISHING SPRAYS: These freeze lifted hair once you’ve coaxed it into place. Misted on to damp hair, they also help mould blow-dry or roller styles. Aim the spray toward the roots, where it will work the hardest. Try to avoid “rock solid” fixing.