Image Source: Everett Collection
In 2009 something very unfortunate happened to my hair: I sort of had a mullet. I wanted to keep my hair long, so my stylist took that into account, angling the front around my chin while leaving me a nice tail in the back. It looked ridiculous and wildly unflattering. But this happens often, and you need to be prepared before your next chop to know what to ask for and how to better communicate with your hairstylist.
Jon Reyman has built a business around fixing people's bad haircuts. At his salon, Spoke & Weal, which has locations in NYC, LA, and SF, he and his team execute the dry haircutting technique. This involves flatironing strands and chopping them dry, so the stylist (and client) can see every detail of the look.
So Jon seemed to be the right expert to break down the anatomy of a bad haircut. He's certainly seen many come through his salon. Keep reading to learn six looks (including my unfortunate situation from 2009) to avoid and what to ask for instead.
The Cut: The V
What it looks like: From the front you may look fabulous, but when you turn around, the ends of your hair take on a deep V shape going down your back.
Why it doesn't work: "This feels like an attempt to hang onto as much length as possible, where other places in the hair may be shorter due to breakage or layers," said Reyman. "It speaks to a time when everyone was trying to preserve their long hair at any cost." According to the hair pro, this is passé. "It looks dated because it's an old mentality," he added. "[The idea that] 'the longer your hair, the more sexy you are' is not relevant today — and thank God!"
What to get instead: Reyman suggests to opt for either slightly rounded or level and squared off when it comes to the back of your haircut.
The Cut: Trilayer
What it looks like: This looks like three ledges or "three layers of cake!" said Reyman.
Why it doesn't work: "Please don't ask for three layers," Reyman pleads. "The idea of visible layers that you can count is dated and boxy. The ledges look older. The silhouette is less flattering on most people."
What to get instead: "You want soft layers; you want hair that has movement; you want your hair that's blended," he advised. "Softly layered hair is always natural and pretty."
The Cut: The Carol Brady
What it looks like: This is basically a bob with a mullet tail.
Why it doesn't work: "One of the coolest things about short hair is revealing the neck — which is a gorgeous part of the human body," explained Reyman. "Covering it with a tail is unnecessary!"
What to get instead: "If you are going short, go all the way," he suggested. "Make sure the back perimeter is cleaned up. Show off your neck and avoid tail." So if you're going for the bob, go for the bob!
Image Source: ABC
The Cut: Heavy Hair (at Any Length)
What it looks like: Reyman describes this as the Cousin Itt cut. "Your hair is wearing you; you are not wearing your hair," he noted.
Why it doesn't work: "Avoid heaviness, ledges, bulbous ends," he warned. "You can have light and blunt or light or layered hair, but let hair move! Some people think texturizing or removing weight means layers, others say it will make your hair look thin. Neither are true if texturizing is done internally and strategically. He points out that these heavy haircuts are difficult to style and blow-dry, as well.
What to get instead: "Find an excellent hairdresser and have him or her take out the right amount of weight in the right places," Reyman offered. "The right place is defined as where your hair feels heavy, doesn't move, is difficult to style, or too thick. Lots of times this can make hair look more voluminous, and it certainly adds softness and movement." One tip is to run your fingers through your hair before, during, and after the cut to make sure it feels good. You'll know if there is too much (or too little hair there). Clearly communicate with your stylist to end up with a volume and length you love.
The Cut: Mushroom or Mom Bob
What it looks like: Reyman describe this as a mushroom, a Lego hat, or box atop your head.
Why it doesn't work: "It doesn't take advantage of modern techniques in order to customize hair to your best features," he explained. "If you are going to get a bob, avoid looking like a mushroom or a soccer mom — even if your kids slay the field!"
What to get instead: "It's all about removing weight and softening the hair up so it does not look like a helmut, box, or Darth Vader," Reyman mused. "Texturizing from the inside is important if you wish to keep a very strong permitter and clean exterior." He said if you want a texture bob to ask your stylist to remove weight and texturize throughout your strands. "Your bob should look youthful and soft — a moving extension of your beautiful head — kids or no kids," he added. "Love Dorothy Hamill, but this cut is very hard to make work for most of us."
The Cut: Accentuated A-Line
What it looks like: "Picture a 45-degree angle perimeter sloped from the back of your head forward," Reyman explains. "Long in the front, short in the back." It's sort of like the reverse mullet.
Why it doesn't work: "This cut doesn't move much in the back," he notes. "It looks heavy in the back, and the shape is dated."
What to get instead: "While a very subtle back-to-front angle is cool right now, don't accentuate an A-line in a bob or longer look," Reyman said. "The strong A-line was hot for a moment many years ago, but more subtle angles are more flattering and more versatile. If you are looking for a statement haircut, keep a really sporty, chin-length textured bob with no bangs."