Out of Control Hair

Woman with difficult hair
Q: It's about time for a haircut for me, but I've been through so many bad cuts I don't know what to do now. It seems like hairdressers don't know how to deal with my out of control hair. Right now it's past my shoulder blades, very thick, and naturally wavy. I have problems with frizz too.
The wave pattern on my hair seems very curly, with the frizzies on my scalp almost in coils. A strand of my hair has a broken "s" pattern to it. If I don't use moisturizing or anti-frizz shampoo, my hair is so coarse and rough. It’s very thick and luscious (not in a good way), and right now I have a lot of split and dead ends.
I want to cut it where it falls a bit past my shoulders, but I'm afraid of the bushy look. Would layers even that out? Also my face is round and small, and I have big wide cheeks. I'm thin in build, and I'm not that tall. My long wavy hair could do the whole bo-ho look, but I'm afraid it overpowers me sometimes. I would like a cute simple cut that won't require much styling. Any help would be appreciated and thank you so much.

A: From what you describe, it sounds like you need to address a few separate issues:
First, let’s talk about the condition of your hair. I know of several women with the kind of coarse, curly/wavy hair you describe, and their hair is also very thirsty because of its porosity. I would like to recommend that you look into starting an intensive therapy program for your hair by shifting to nothing stronger than baby shampoo for your hair, and making sure to use a conditioner EVERY day.
I would prefer that you use a rinse-through conditioner (applied to your hair when it’s damp and allowed to remain on the hair for at least three minutes – and preferably five minutes) but if your schedule doesn’t allow you enough time to do this, use a spray-in leave-in conditioner such as Infusium-23. In fact, you may want to keep a small spray bottle of this leave-in conditioner with you in order to hydrate your hair throughout the day.
Of course with winter coming on strong for the northern hemisphere, our hair is going to go through the usual winter stresses. Transitions from indoor to outdoor and back mean that we expose our hair to cold, damp, warm, and dry atmospheres in random pairings. This causes the moisture in our hair to be repeatedly leached out since the changes from cold to warm to damp to dry all contribute to raising the cuticle layer of the hair. I point this out because it means you want to make sure to take some special care to make an extra effort to keep the hair moisturized in the winter months.
If you can manage to restore the moisture balance in your hair, you’ll find a lot of the frizz issues will subside. At that point we start discussing what kind of cut will best serve your hair’s wave pattern. You are correct in assuming that layers will help you control the level of bulk in your hair when it is cut. By using a layering technique, the stylist can help you avoid that bushy, pyramid-hair look. A layered style will also help your stylist create a look for you that will suit your build and face shape. By varying the layering, the stylist can keep the hair in proportion to your build and face, and can create a vertical focus which will elongate your rounder, smaller face.
However, this brings us to your initial problem. You need to find the right stylist. My first suggestion is to ask around among your friends who may also have similar hair types to yours, and find out who cuts their hair. You could even ask someone you may see on the street with similar hair whose look you admire where they get their hair done. Most women will take it as a tremendous compliment that their hair impressed you so, and they will likely give you more help than you might initially have expected.
Even if neither of these suggestions works for you, you still need to find a suitable stylist. You want a stylist who is experienced with your hair type, and will communicate with you carefully before touching her scissors. While you certainly don’t want to waste a stylist’s time with an excess of unnecessary questions, you are interviewing someone to work for you, and you need to make sure you feel comfortable with the person and with their level of skill.
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