The language of hair

 We’ve all experienced it: the dreaded look in the mirror after a haircut gone wrong, the choking back of tears as you pay the receptionist, really wanting to demand that they pay you for wrecking your hair, and then the months of wearing hats, pinning your hair back and willing it to grow again so you can just look normal.

Well, rather than pointing fingers, the best way to look at this situation and, most importantly, prevent it from happening again is to realise that probably the fault does not belong to any one person. Rather, the disastrous do was probably a result of miscommunication.

The image of a chic, chin-length bob a la Rihanna, for example, may be completely a world away from the lampshade-effect triangle that sits atop your head post-cut. But sometimes the image of Rihanna is so firm in the client’s mind that the hairdresser can’t talk them out of it, no matter what. The result? A distinctly un-Rihanna-esque nightmare that is mainly hidden under hats for the next few months.

The reality is that everyone’s hair is different, from its texture to its length, its colour to its reaction to heat, cold, humidity and dryness. So asking for long, pin-straight locks like Jennifer Aniston may not be a realistic request when you’ve been blessed with a hair of hard-to-tame curls.

Sissy Thorpe, master stylist at Eclipze Hair Design & Day Spa, has a simple solution to communication breakdowns. Come armed – with photographs. Plural.

“Bring more than one photograph because if one model’s hair is not the same type as the clients, another’s might be,” Ms Thorpe explained. “We can find a style that will work from a collection of photos.”

Of course, for this to prove effective, clients also have to be flexible when it comes to their look, realising that what looks best on someone else may not suit them.

“We always advise that it depends on the hair type, the texture, the facial shape,” says Bridget Vasquez, owner of Virginia’s Beauty Salon. “We do encourage people to bring in pictures but we advise them if something won’t work because of their specific hair type.”

Words sometimes won’t cut it either: a bob, for example, is not just a bob.

“There’s asymmetric bobs, a squared bob, a layered bob, an inverted bob,” says Ms Vasquez. “There are many length bobs.”

However, this shouldn’t dishearten clients. Instead, they should realise that there are many options available, meaning you can still get a look that works for you, even if it isn’t quite what you envisaged when you went in.

“They might say they want a perm but on their hair they really just want a body wave,” says Ms Vasquez, adding that a body wave gives a looser curl than a perm, so is ideal for providing volume and softness to the hair. “Or perhaps they want something more temporary, like a spiral set. Or they even just need to use volumising mousse to get a certain look.”

Nowadays, the options are endless, so despite the fact that your original photo may end up serving its best purpose in the garbage can, it can be used as a springboard from which other styles can be suggested, that would be more in keeping with the individual characteristics of a client’s look.

Next time you head to your hairdresser, let your photos do the talking, but remember: keep an open mind, and you’ll definitely end up looking better than when you went in.