Celebrity stylist Andrew Barton of "How To Look 10 Years Younger" fame presents his 15 top tips on how to have fabulous hair
1. Always have a hair consultation before you get it cut. A lot of salons don't offer consultations as a matter of course ... you are in and right away having your hair shampooed. But it's worth getting a proper hair consultation, especially if you are thinking in terms of finding a new hairdresser.
It's also worth shopping around. These consultations are free, there is no obligation for you to get your hair cut, and it is a great opportunity to find out what a stylist would do to your hair. Visit three or four salons and find someone you feel comfortable with. The consultation should take five or 10 minutes and it is an opportunity to take along pictures to show what you like.
2. Don't have the same style for years. The biggest mistake people make is hanging on to a hairstyle that might not be flattering anymore and is not up-to-date. Often they get stuck in a rut and have the same style for decades even though fashion -- and indeed their hair -- has changed. That comes back to the importance of a consultation.
In a way, the last thing the stylist will look at is the hair ... we look at the body shape, face shape, profile, all in pursuit of that unique style for that person. Sometimes, as women age, they think they have got to have their hair cut short. But in fact, most women should have it longer as they age because it gets softer over time. Too many women are "hair conformists" -- people go for certain hair styles like rites of passage.
3. Get rid of gray. Ninetey-nine percent of the time, I would say get rid of gray hair. Firstly, because it has got a very traditional stereotyped image of aging. And also because the texture is coarser and more wiry compared to normal hair. There is really no such thing as a gray hair -- they are white, colorless. But it is the mixture of white and darker hairs that makes it come across as gray. Adding color to a woman's hair adds life and vitality to the person. Gray is dull. Very, very occasionally I will meet a person where gray works for them. But it depends on their skin color and the color of their eyes, but generally it is a no-no.
People get scared of committing to regular coloring. But regular means every six or eight weeks, which is 10 times a year. I often say that 10 times a year is "me time." Our lives are so busy that to come to a salon and be pampered is wonderful escapism. And the feeling when you leave is of transformation.
A good colorist should always be evolving your color so that it changes. So you may always be a blonde, for example, but the tones should change. Otherwise you will get a build up of that color.
4. Watch what you eat. Diet is absolutely a factor when it comes to healthy-looking hair. In the future, I think we will look more at diet and the hair. The first place that your body will start taking essential nutrients from -- if it needs it -- is your hair, nails and skin. In pregnancy, your hair can change to a different texture as your body is going through hormonal changes, and menopause can also dramatically change your hair. I get lots of letters about people worried about how their hair is changing, and they are looking for answers. And what we put into our bodies makes a difference. It is helpful to eat a good balanced diet and to have plenty of fish oils, as it adds proteins and gives hair more strength.
5. Massage your scalp. A scalp massage every day encourages blood flow and growth of the hair follicle. Do it before you go to bed, as it's relaxing and will help you sleep, or in the shower when washing. It's good for the scalp.
6. Ask your stylist what shampoo you should be using. Healthy, shiny hair was everywhere on the autumn/winter 2007 catwalks. There is a lot of leather next season on the catwalks and that denotes a lot of shine. Last winter, on the other hand, it was more matted fabrics -- suede, corduroy and velvet -- and therefore the hair was more matte in texture.
Getting shiny hair is simple. You need to have a good three-step hair care routine. It's similar to a skin care routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing, but instead the three steps are shampooing, conditioning and a regular treatment every week. It's the treatment that will help make hair shiner and a lot more manageable.
We believe that hair care should be prescribed for your needs, rather than you being a shelf-shopper and not knowing what it is for. It should be a prescriptive approach.
If you have greasy or dry hair, it can be genetic, hormonal or seasonally-affected. We could deal with that with prescriptive products, as well as thinking about whether your hair is thick and fine, wavy or straight, and work out which products work best for which type.
People often ask how often you should shampoo. That is a personal thing. Some people wouldn't feel clean if they didn't shampoo every day but it is totally your preference. Some people have styles that just stay in place and don't need washing every day.
7. Get advice before coloring your hair. The big hair fashion statement this coming autumn/winter is color. We have seen some really bright colors on the catwalk, whereas the last few seasons it has been more subtle. Now it is more vibrant -- in everything from brighter blondes and brunettes to bright reds. The new trend is for color all over the head, rather than pieces of color.
This is where a professional consultation will come in. Most salons will have a stylist skilled in spotting your eye and skin tones and can suggest colors you had never thought about before that could be really flattering for you.
When we age, we tend to think we need to go lighter, but that is not always the case. It is personal and what works for one person won't work for another, so ask for advice. That's what you don't get in a box from the drug store. Even if you get the professional advice and then go and buy it, at least you have had that option of advice.
8. Don't always believe the hype. There are lots of myths about natural ingredients, oils and foods being good for your hair. However, none will penetrate the inner structure of the hair -- they will only coat the surface. It may look shiny and it may look smooth but it won't get to the cortex of the hair.
Shampoo is key. People think it is down to the cosmetic after-products they use on their hair, but it is all down to the cleansing, that's the most important thing.
9. If you get a bad cut, complain! After years in the business, I have found that one of the things about complaints is that often, if people have had a change in style, they can feel uncomfortable for a few days afterwards. If somebody doesn't instantly like it, they usually do once they have washed and dried it themselves, and got used to it, or got feedback from other people.
However, if you really are seriously unhappy with a cut, you should speak to the salon. Ask to speak to the manager -- you probably don't want to see the same stylist. But any good salon will welcome that chance to make it right. To minimize the risk of a style going wrong, the consultation is so important. Take along pictures of styles and colors you like.
10. Remember that it's not vain to look after your hair. Makeovers are a really fantastic opportunity to transform and feel different about yourself. On "How To Look 10 Years Younger," you can see that it is not only a physical transformation, but a confidence and emotional one too. A transformation can change people's lives ... they see themselves in a different way. We all have down-times when life is not at its best and we start taking less care of our appearance. And I don't think it is vain to take care of our appearance. It helps us in so many ways emotionally. People come to me because they have seen the show and they want to change something in their lives or about themselves.
11. Don't rule out being inspired by celebrities.There's nothing wrong with following celebrity hair styles. It was interesting for us as a salon to see the trend being created after Victoria Beckham had her hair cut into the Pob or Posh bob. But use pictures as a reference point, rather than wanting to have your hair cut exactly the same. Don't become a mini-me. A good stylist won't copy a hairstyle, but will tweak it to suit you. We encourage people to bring in pictures of hair styles they like.
12. Use the right brushes. The hair brush you use should depend on what style you have got.
If you want volume for example, you would use a round bristle brush to give that lift. If you want a flat look, a paddle brush. When you're at the salon, look at what your stylist uses on you -- that is a good indication of what you should be using at home. And remember that when you change your hairstyle, you should change the style of brushes you use too.
13. Always get split ends cut off.When it comes to split ends, the only cure is the scissors. There are products that will cosmetically seal them, but much like putting lipstick on your lips, it is only temporary.
You've got to get it cut. Split ends are nature's way of cutting hair for us, but whereas we cut across hair, it cuts up the hair. And it will keep splitting, so that one hair almost becomes two and it becomes much finer and less easy to control.
14. If you're not sure how to style your hair, ask!The best way to blow dry is to start at the back. You would never go out of the house with the front of your hair a mess, but people often do when it comes to the back of their hair. Just because they can't see it. Start at the back and style that first. You have less hair at the front than the back, so when you get there it will take less time.
Drying your hair upside down is also good, as it gives it volume. It's also taking the moisture out of it first, so that you are not blow drying completely wet hair. Squeeze your hair dry with a towel. Don't rub, as this creates friction which will break hair.
Most people's main objective when getting their hair cut is that they want a manageable style. If you're not sure how to do your hair yourself, ask. Saks, for example, offers blowdrying lessons where you come in with your own hairdryer and tools. They don't so much teach you, as ask you to show us how you would dry it and then correct it. And if you're not using the correct equipment, they can advise you on that as well.
15. Don't always feel your hair has to be perfect. There is something pleasurable about sitting in front of the mirror before a night out and doing your hair, but there is nothing pleasurable about sitting in front of the mirror before work.
That is where hair fashions have changed over the decades. My mother's generation was full of high-maintenance women in the 1950s and '60s. They would never have left home without a full face of make-up and their hair being done. But it's great now. You can be more chameleon-like in your approach.
Andrew Barton is International Creative Director for Saks. For more information on their Cardiff salon in the U.K., call 029 2038 2525.
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