By Amy Gross
When I woke up this morning, I realized I had been dreaming that I was a platinum blonde. I also realized that I really liked being a platinum blonde in my dream, and that got me started thinking about whether I could actually pull it off in real life. I guess I’m what you would call a Hair Experimentalist. My hair has been long, short, medium (it’s currently spiky-short), and every shade of brunette and blonde out there except platinum (at least not yet), and once, a weird Sharon Osbourne shade of red when I accidentally grabbed the wrong box of color off the shelf. My hair has also been straight, shagged, spiked, and spiraled. There have been many periods of my life where getting my hair ready for the day ate up at least 30 minutes of my morning and used an army of styling products and electrical tools. At the moment, it takes me exactly three minutes to wash and rinse my hair (no conditioner needed at this length) and 10 seconds to throw some product in it—probably my record for hair care brevity.
I always look forward to my next visit to the salon, and 99 percent of the time I’m carrying a photo of a hairstyle that I’d like my stylist to try. (Now that I think about it, the last photo I brought in was of a woman with spiky-short, platinum blonde hair. Hmm.) And yet, I have friends who have literally not changed their hairstyles since we were kids. Same length. Same color. Same part on the left side. Let’s call them Hair Traditionalists.
It has taken me many years to appreciate this, but I realize now that whereas I use my hair as a changeable accessory but don’t really update my wardrobe style that often, my friends with no-change hairstyles tend to be much more trendy and up-to-date when it comes to their fashion styles. Does this mean there’s a correlation between changing your hairstyle and changing your fashion style? Hard to say. When was the last time you radically changed your hairstyle or color or bought a new piece of clothing that was totally off-the-rails trendy? Would you ever consider doing both at the same time?
Well, since I’m clearly not a fashionista, I can’t speak to trendy clothing styles. But as a Hair Experimentalist, I can offer a few tips and inexpensive products for ramping up your hairstyle if you’ve been thinking about trying something new.
Update your cut. If your locks have traditionally been long, lop some off. You’ll be amazed at how much bouncier your hair will be with four or five inches removed. You probably won’t even notice the difference in length—but you’ll definitely notice the difference in fullness. If your hair is bobbed or medium-length, consider an angled cut where the length is shorter in the back than the front. Bet you’ll get more than a few compliments; the angling trick draws attention to your facial features and highlights eyes and nice cheekbones.
Straighten or smooth with a cool electrical gadget. Many people swear by flat irons. Me, I’m too much of a butterfingers. My favorite gadget for smoothing out waves and adding body is Conair’s 2-in-1 Hot Air Brush (available at Wal-Mart and most drugstores for about $25). Using the hard spiky brush attachment, allow the iron to heat up while you dry your hair with a blow dryer to about 90 percent dry. Experiment with the spiky brush at the roots of your hair (to add body up top), or at the ends to flip up or under. Dragging the brush through your hair will smooth out waves and add shine. The beauty of this gadget is that it’s great for every hair length except super-short.
Texturize with product. Mousses, foams, and even gels can add body and make your hair responsive to styling. Here’s a great one for us shorties: Short Sexy Hair Control Maniac. At $11-$15, it’s not inexpensive, but a 1.8 oz (that’s not a typo!) tub will last you a good four to five months. Unlike many styling products, it’s waxy rather than oily. You can style your hair in all kinds of funky ways without worrying that it will be greasy-looking and limp by the end of the day.
The ultimate plunge: changing color. You can easily do this at home for about $10, rather than spending $90-$120 at a salon. But go slow! Better to make color changes over time rather than finding you hate the look of a radical change. When choosing your drugstore haircolor product, keep in mind that the more expensive, the better the quality. I like L’Oreal’s Excellence Creme line; it goes on evenly and lasts a good four to five weeks. If you have medium or long hair, you will probably need two bottles. And if your hair is super-short, cut down on the amount of processing time stated in the directions.
If you’re a Hair Experimentalist (or would like to become one), good luck making some exciting new changes to your look! As for you Hair Traditionalists, well, go out and buy some cute shoes (on clearance), for heaven’s sake!