This is an exclusive extract from Rescu Me: The makeover guide for a life more fabulous by Bahar Etminan.
I’m a fan of good hair. It’s my thing and I believe in the truly transformative effect it can have on how you look and feel. Until I was nineteen, I lived on the dark side. Not knowing how to cut, colour and style my thick, coarse and unruly hair resulted in a number of disastrous mishaps which are chronicled in photos I would rather burn. I’ve had boy-short hair, unflattering Gothic black hair, a flaming run in with henna and experiments with chemical straightening which nearly resulted in all my hair falling out. I’m living proof that asking the right questions and getting expert advice can be the ultimate transformative tool. When I first moved to Sydney in 1995, I met the exalted Joh Bailey. I was so excited about my first appointment, I actually got dressed up and had my hair done before I went to his salon in Double Bay. He transformed my hair from a thick bob resembling a pumpkin, to hair-commercial-worthy locks. In my late twenties I lived in Paris briefly and was seduced by the legendary Dessange Salons. When they opened their first salon in Australia, I was a moth to their chic flame. They invented many of the techniques and red carpet styles that have become part of hair dressing lexicon and they seemed the perfect place to demystify the art of hair.
Great hair is never really just about the hair. Why can good gloss and bounce make over our whole day?
Julie Lopez, Dessange Paris Hairstylist Expert Trainer: Having ‘good hair’ is great and helps you feel gorgeous, but there is something more to it. For most women, hair is a reflection, and even sometimes the epitome, of their femininity and personality. Therefore, when she takes care of her hair, a woman emotionally feels that she takes care of herself. I like this holistic approach. Nothing is more pleasing for me than to see a client leaving the salon feeling well, beautiful, relaxed and empowered.
Is it all in our genes?
Most women don’t realise it, but the condition of the hair is really about the scalp. If you want to have healthy hair, you should first make sure you have a healthy scalp. Clay masks have a natural cleansing and detoxifying effect–they can absorb excess oil and residue and also actively treat your hair while oxygenating and revitalising your scalp. If you suffer regularly from dandruff, oily, dry or itchy scalp, shampoos containing clays will help restore the balance by acting at the root of your hair. They work well together with essential oils to encourage surface blood circulation, helping to combat dandruff and prevent the appearance of thinning hair.
Then every woman’s just one amazing, customised cut away from the best hair of her life, right?
The whole purpose of a haircut is to highlight the woman’s natural beauty and to reflect her personality. That is what is powerful and empowering. The basis of a good haircut and styling is one that suits facial features, of course, but that is not all there is to it. A talented hairdresser needs to understand her client, how she sees herself, how she moves, what kind of clothes she likes wearing. Getting the haircut that works for you and your life as a whole is the key. However, it’s important to realise that a really great cut works in tandem with your hair colour: the shades and highlights that a colourist creates contribute to the feel and sense of movement of a style.
Why is Paris the beating heart of modern styling? What is the real secret behind that Parisian easy-chic aesthetic we all want?
Modern styling really began in the 1950s, when women aspired to freedom and independence. Parisian stylists like Jacques Dessange introduced innovative haircuts that had more natural movement and less strict ‘setting’ and styling. Chic haircuts that are easy to maintain, yet are always elegant and glamorous, became Paris’s signature.
The coiffé-décoiffé philosophy, as a we call it in Paris, literally meaning ‘styled-de-styled’, which is often translated as a ‘messy look’ or ‘bed hair. It keeps evolving with time but the DNA stays the same .
Jacques Dessange salons in Paris were the first to have dedicated colourists and we even invented the ‘Californian’ balayage technique, in which hair is painted free-hand to position highlights in the most natural and chic way.
Speaking of low maintenance, how often should we really be washing?
Whatever your hair type, it is important to do two or three shampoos per week. But, most importantly, your hair care should be adapted, not only to your hair type but to your lifestyle. If you swim often, you need a specific shampoo to remove chlorine and salt residue. I strongly recommend silicone-free shampoos for every hair type. Silicone might make your hair look shiny because it coats it, but it’s preferable to actually treat the hair and the scalp and make hair more naturally healthy and beautiful.
What is the difference between a conditioner and a treatment or mask?
A conditioner is an after-shampoo product that hydrates the hair. A mask not only provides hydration but also nourishes and repairs the hair. It has different ingredients that are customised for different goals–to give fine hair volume or to enforce control on unruly hair. You should always have both: condition with every wash and nourish once a week with a mask.
How often should we book in for a trim?
A trim is required every two months to maintain healthy hair. Women with long hair sometimes think they don’t need to trim their hair often if they want to keep it long. But if you want to have strong, healthy hair, trimming the length every two months will avoid split ends and breakage. Skipping trims causes the hair to weaken.
Is a woman ever too old for long hair?
Not at all. There is no age limit for long hair. Length should be dictated by a woman’s style, personality, lifestyle and morphology more than by age.
We love rules that should be broken!
There are always some exceptions to any rule. Hairdressing is not a precise science, it is an art–the art of understanding personality first. That is why the relationship between a woman and her hairdresser is so vital–it must be based on trust and good communication.
Does bending the rules apply to colour too?
A colourist’s role is to illuminate your face, your natural beauty, by positioning shade and highlights that accentuate your haircut and play on the hair’s movement. Colour can’t be considered in isolation, it has to work with all of the key elements of your look–your make-up and your sense of style.
Colour change can be incredibly transformative. How much risk should we take?
The colour of our hair is all about our personality and matching up the life we’d love to live with the one we actually live. Take the sun-kissed effect of hair that looks like it’s been naturally styled by the beach, the salt and the wind. A woman with an intense personal and professional life can be far too busy for all that beach time, yet still look fresh and relaxed as if she just came back from an island holiday. She can express that relaxed part of her personality through her hair. At the same time, however, colour needs to take into account how long, in reality, she has to maintain it and how she tends to style her hair every day.
A great colour does not always have to be bold to have incredible effect. A colourist can find the minutest difference that will give her the opportunity to change while remaining herself.
Tune into your natural texture and hair type
Your hair: straight and fine
For the most volume, I recommend a mid-long to short haircut with light layers and full lines. It is important to layer just around the face. The finishing touch is always important with fine hair: texturising the ends with straight scissors makes a huge difference.
Your hair: straight and thick
Very ‘graphic’ lines that draw right-angle outlines are easy to manage. Keep them slightly layered for short and full haircuts, like bobs. If your hair is long, you have the choice to layer, more or less, depending on the base line of the haircut. Thinning straight and thick hair will help to reduce the volume of your hair and make it more manageable.
Your hair: curly and short
I would definitely go for the famous coupe boule or ‘ball cut’ with beautiful layers on the whole hair. You could also go for extra short cuts with square lines and trapezoidal effects–this is a very feminine ‘retro-chic’ look.
Your hair: curly and long
Sharp, razor-cut lines at the back of your head will work for you. Subtle layers give hair lightness and movement; strong layers will give it more texture.
Your hair: wavy, thick and coarse
Short styles will be most low maintenance. I would definitely do a coiffé-décoiffé (‘messy look’) styling. You can ask for a short layered square cut that follows your natural hairline and the natural movements of your hair. This is an ultra-feminine and timeless haircut.
Your hair: wavy, long normal texture
A haircut should always be adapted to your hair type as well as your personality. With this type of hair, you can go for a beautiful ‘wild’ look with a razored finish. Length that falls to below your chest with rounded layers give your hair control and natural movement.
Your hair: fine, dry and damaged
A short cut with several subtle layers will generate movement. A piquetage or ‘chopping technique’ can be used if you want to improve the structure of your hair without changing the overall length. If you want to keep some length, focus on treatments that will restore and repair your hair, but if it’s too damaged to be saved, it’s best to cut it off now.
Your hair: fine, oily and long
A mid-length cut will make lank hair look lighter. Avoid layers at the front of your head–it will tempt you to touch your hair more often. This increases oil production. Gentle layers to skilfully accentuate the outline of mid-long hair will give more texture and density. Thinning the very tips can make the midsection look thicker.
Tweaks to flatter your face shape
Oval [ART: Charlize Theron]: Everything is possible–any length, layer and style suits you, so focus on a look you love and that fits your personality and lifestyle. It can be beautiful to highlight an oval face with short lines and long fringes.
Square [ART: Olivia Wilde]: You want softened angles. I would choose mid-length cuts and keep most of the volume at ear level. If you want to take advantage of your square face rather than hiding it, going very short can cleverly highlight the outline of your face and play up a cool, androgynous aesthetic.
Long [ART: Jessica Alba]: A fringe balances length and can also soften features. A few layers and razor-thinned ends can also bring out the best in your facial dimensions. If you like to fall below your shoulders, ask for extra layers or style your hair into beach waves or curls.
Heart or triangle [ART: Jennifer Aniston]: There are two things to take into consideration. First, the front–a fairly long side-swept strand of hair that minimises the width of the upper face will also accentuate your eyes beautifully. Secondly, to balance the narrower chin and jaw, go for a square-based style rounded at the sides.
Round [ART: Jennifer Lawrence]: Keep your style mid-long to give your face the impression of length. If you want a bold look, play with more graphic haircuts, with angular lines that frame the face. It is important to keep layers to a minimum to balance the volume between your face and the cut.
To play down features you don’t love
Large forehead: A quite short fringe can be very flattering. The great thing about a fringe is that, whatever the shape of your face, it helps give the impression of a more oval face. The fringe can be full with chiselled tips for a graphic look, or you can have a fringe layered at the eyebrows and styled to one side.
Chubby face: Try a mid-length cut with light layers around your face. The rounded outline will draw attention away from the roundness of your features. Avoid fringes–they may weigh you down.
Short neck: Keeping your cut mid-length and open at the face will give the impression of a longer neck. It is essential to dress the neck with locks of hair that have been both layered and thinned. It is all a matter of finding the perfect balance and proportion.
Prominent nose: Try to pull focus to your lips. Long bangs draw the eye in the right direction–sweep it to the side to soften your facial features. Length should vary between the shoulder line and the middle of your back.
Short forehead: A long strand of hair that falls along the front of your face will draw the eye your nose and create an illusion of length and proportion. A side-styled fringe will also help.Sagging neck: Keep length to the bottom of the neck and the weight of the cut focused in the front. A square-shaped haircut, layered slightly and styled into textured waves can then fall forward to disguise parts of the neck you want to hide.