Friday, February 19, 2010

Snip, snip here. Snip, snip there

Jon Stewart is the cat’s meow! There, I’ve said it. I’ve been a diehard Daily Show fan for years and I finally went to a taping on Thursday night. What great fun! Before the show started, Stewart came out and fielded questions from the audience. The questions ranged from mildly serious political inquires to whether or not he has tattoos (he doesn’t). He said, “Aging is tattoo enough for me.” Amen, Brother Jon. One young woman asked: “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” Without skipping a beat, Stewart asked the woman, “Do you have special powers? Because if you do and plan to turn me into that animal right now, before the show starts, well, I’d like to know.” Fortunately, the woman didn’t have special powers to use on Stewart (he’s adorable just as he is). Stewart’s answer: A polar bear with otter flippers. I guess a polar bear without special flippers would be too ho-hum. And certainly, there’s nothing ho-hum about my favorite fake news anchor. What does Jon Stewart and the Daily Show have to do with flattering the over 50 woman? Well, the show's taping was where this 50+ woman debuted her new haircut.

Yes, I can check ‘get a new hairstyle’ off my list of things to do in preparation for job hunting. On Tuesday, I went to a local salon, armed with Internet photos. “Don’t look at how beautiful the models are,” I instructed my hairdresser. “Just tell me if you think any of these ‘dos’ will do.” I wanted her to help me pick the best cut for my face’s shape and my hair’s texture. None of the hairstyles, by the way, were very radical. At appointment time, my hair was long, just below my shoulders (see ‘before’ illustration). It was thick and straight, sort of Janis Joplin style—not a flattering look for a 50+ woman. But I wasn’t about to ask for anything drastic, like a Twiggy cut (which I did in 1970!). My daring “take it off, take it all off” days are definitely behind me—at least for now.

After a brief hairdresser-client consultation, my hairdresser started snipping. She cut the longest ends to my shoulders and added lots of layers, some quite short. “The cut will make your hair lighter and more stylish,” she told me. I was concerned about adding “lots of layers.” I had read that layers accentuate the older woman’s frazzled, post-menopausal, over-processed locks. My hairdresser insisted that the short layers were going to be good for my hair. “I’m going to cut off all those dry ends,” she said.

So I put my hair in her hands. She used a photo of gorgeous Deborah Norville as her styling guide. The photo was from I’d seen a similar haircut described as a good choice for the woman with a square jaw or jowls—neither of which Deborah suffers from. I, on the other hand, have both annoying facial features. I’d also read that adding short layers to a long hairstyle was like giving your face a facelift. I like that idea, even if it is complete fantasy. My hairdresser said she would leave my hair a little longer than the photo of Deborah this time. If I wanted, I could always have more taken off next time. That was fine with me.

I’m happy to report my new haircut is just what I wanted (see the ‘after’drawing). The short layers, particularly the ones that swish around my jaw, offer a little camouflage for my 50+ jowls.

If you’re thinking about redoing your do, you might want to consider the following “Hair-Dos and Don’ts.” It’s all common sense stuff. But then, a haircut isn’t brain surgery.

HAIR-DOs & DON’Ts...
DO go to a hairstylist who has a good reputation. If you really want a new do, you may have to go to someone new. Look at the cuts on your friends and acquaintances. Find out where they go. Don’t be afraid to ask a complete stranger in the supermarket where she got her great cut. She’ll be flattered.

DO go to a hairstylist who understands the concerns of the 50+ woman. My current hairstylist is a forty-something woman who understands the older woman’s changing hair texture, complexion, attitude and even body shape. Plus, I always like what she does with her other older clients.

DO take a photo (or a few) with you to the salon. Generally speaking, I find people, hairstylists included, aren’t very good at visualizing. They do much better if they have a picture to look at while you’re telling them what you like/don’t like.

DON’T make too many requests. For years, I told hairdressers, “Do what you think is best. But I have one request: I need my hair long enough to allow me to pull it back in a barrette sometimes.” Guess what? That one caveat has been the reason my hair has looked more or less the same for 10 years. This time I kept my mouth shut and finally got something a little different.

DO ask for something that is within your styling abilities. My styling abilities are limited, but I told my hairdresser I was willing to learn. She said I could learn with my new do. I’ve washed my hair twice since I got it cut and I’m still fussing, trying to get it to look good. I know I’ll never recreate the effect of a professional blowout, but I hope I can learn how to give some of the layers a swish here and there.

Don’t be afraid. Trust your hairdresser. It’s the only way you’ll walk out with something really new. If you’ve chosen an experienced hairdresser, s/he should be able to give you the cut in the photo you’ve chosen. If the hairdresser senses your apprehension, however, s/he may not give you the best haircut or the cut in the photo, but rather the one s/he thinks you can live with.

Do ask for a little light hair spray. Well, do consider it, especially if you get a medium or long cut. Light hair spray isn’t like the stuff our mothers’ used. It just gives enough hold to keep your professional blowout looking nice for a few days.

Associated Content
Check out tip #4 about choosing your appointment time.

I agree with tip #1. I’ve often thought, “Maybe I’ll find a new style while I’m waiting for my hair dye to set. It’s never happened. As for tip #8, note-taking sounds like a good idea. But I wish I could take a video camera to my appointments. :)

Ladies’ Home Journal
Tip #1 has validity, I think. Hairdressers have always told me to sit up straight. I guess I tend to cower when I’m placed in front of a huge mirror. :)
Tip #8 (p. 2) about coloring your hair after its cut is interesting. I’ve never heard that before. It seems a little excessive, but I really don’t know.