Let’s Talk About Balance

A popular topic around beauty blogs and magazines is that of face shapes and determining which cuts/makeup/etc.etc.etc. is right for you.  Now, I am a little bit untraditional.  I didn’t grow up feeling like I had to look more Caucasian or like Barbie.  I felt no pressure to wear makeup or even really to style my hair, although trying to keep my skin healthy and have a good cut was important to me.  I never remember people telling me that I needed to look a particular way.

Modern style isn’t about looking a uniform way.  It isn’t about everyone having one haircut, or one of five haircuts.  People are even willing to embrace their natural texture.  And yet, sometimes the verbiage I hear when discussing face shapes in the salon is very outdated.

First off, I don’t believe in using hair to conceal.  I believe in using hair to balance.  It sounds like a meaningless linguistic difference, but really I think it denotes an important shift in mindset.  If we believe our faces behold some defect, and our mission is to disguise ourselves, that puts a limit on the joy you can get from your haircut because you feel like, “Well, I really want ______, but because of _____ I have to have _____ instead.”  Even if someone using this formulation does like their haircut, they probably would like it more if they didn’t feel like it was one of their only choices.  Besides, sometimes when the only goal is to conceal, it backfires and just points more attention towards whatever is being hidden.  The most exaggerated version of this is the extreme combover.

When we talk about balance it is all about creating harmony with the client.  And it isn’t just about face shape.  It is about individual facial features, overall body shape, size, overall style and personality.  It’s about drawing attention to the positives and working with overall (objective) shapes in order to create something visually appealing.  It isn’t about oval being good and square being bad it is about creating a cut that is holistic, that embraces the client’s individuality.  Some women look darn good with a strong jawline and whether the woman wants a strong shape or a soft shape depends more on where she is in her career and with her life than on something being “right.”  Sometimes obsessing about face shape will cause you to miss a golden opportunity in highlighting gorgeous eyes.  And you can give the perfect cut to create an illusion of slightly more height on a petite woman, but if it doesn’t fit her personality, what is the point?

It’s not about one style looking bad, it is about another looking better.

I believe that cuts and color services should be flattering, but I don’t believe in black and white rules.  I don’t believe in approaching a service with a list of things I can’t do.  I believe that as a hairstylist, my vision for my client should be both attentive to their overall aesthetic and sensitive to who they are as person and where they are in their life.  I believe that part of my job is to instill pride and comfort in one’s own body, in one’s own identity.

Chit-chat in the Hair Salon

One of the beauties of working in hair is that almost everyone in our modern American society goes to someone to get their hair done. There are countless options in terms of type of salon and varying price points, even different charities and organizations that provide free haircuts to those in dire need. I became a hair dresser because I am interested in all kinds of people and the different relationships people have with their hair at different times in their life and throughout different cross sections of society. Recently I stumbled on a few different blogs where people cite reasons they don’t like to get their hair cut. One of the big ones, which I will address today, is that some people seem to hate talking to hair stylists. As a hairdresser with a lot to say, this makes me very sad. Making lists always cheers me up.

Reasons People Don’t Want to Talk to their Hair Stylist

They are introverted or just don’t care for talking. I can certainly relate to this one. I was never much of a talker with my stylist, mostly because I found the craft so interesting that I enjoyed watching the cut. But I was never made to feel uncomfortable with my quiet nature and I still enjoyed my hairdresser. Salons are very welcoming and open environments and I would encourage all you shy people out there to allow yourself to open up. No one is forcing you, but it can be kind of fun. And if you can’t connect with your hairdresser–you should at least be able to talk openly about hair if nothing else–maybe it is time to find a new one.

They assume they won’t have anything in common with someone who cuts hair. This is probably the point that makes me the saddest. I often wish people could come from a place of assuming similarities instead of differences. Hairdressers are not all the same and it isn’t fair to go into a salon and assume that you will have a bad experience. Really, this goes for numerous other situations… Condescension not only offends others but also makes you miss out on what could be a good experience. Look at your hairdresser as an artist and an entrepreneur, not as someone who didn’t need a four year degree. I admit there are some real duds out there (and a higher percent of duds if you are going somewhere absurdly inexpensive), but some of the brightest and most ambitious people I know are hair stylists.

They are self-conscious or insecure about their appearance. I actually think this is one of the biggest issues, and often goes hand in hand with the issue above. Some people think they are not the sort of person who should be in a salon, which leads to condescension because people conclude that the salon is a shallow and insubstantial place. They see themselves in the mirror, dripping wet and parted in strange places or with their hair smeared in color and up like a troll doll, and they hideous. Even just the act of looking in the mirror for long periods of time is distressing to some. Honestly, I am not the type to look in the mirror much and I get how it can be freaky, but that’s all the more reason to talk to your hairdresser! We are there to make you feel beautiful, or at the very least, comfortable in your own hair! For more on this sentiment read my post about how the beauty industry is for everyone.

They are in a hurry or otherwise stressed out. When people are on their way somewhere or their mind is elsewhere they feel like having a light, pleasant conversation will somehow make all of their problems worse. Most hairdressers can still cut quite efficiently when talking, as long as it isn’t something they are overly enthusiastic about, and honestly, usually just chilling out for fifteen minutes will only help a stressful situation.

They feel like if they don’t pay close attention the hairdresser will make a mistake. Staring at us with the death glare doesn’t really help. Once again, we are trained to talk and cut.