Haircut Ideas for Any Age
Before: Brianne Aumack, 31
“My hair has been like this for quite some time,” says Brianne, a logistics coordinator at a fashion company and the mother of an 18-month-old boy. But with a job, a long commute, and a toddler, she doesn’t have a lot of time for styling. “When I don’t blow-dry it, it doesn’t get straight,” she says. “It’s thick and has a mind of its own.” Though she’d prefer to keep her hair long, “I’d like a look that’s a mix of youthful and professional—it can’t be too crazy.”
After: Brianne Aumack
“The rule of thumb is your hair shouldn’t be longer than the back band of your bra, or you start to get that Charlene Tilton–on-the-old-Dallas look,” says Rodney Cutler, owner of the Cutler/Redken Salons. Off went six inches of Brianne’s mane. Then Cutler gave her bangs: “They accentuate her strong features—her big eyes, her Roman nose—and give her hair a real ‘look.’ ” Colorist Carly Missico added natural-looking reddish highlights on the underside of Brianne’s hair to give it more life. “It’s subtle, and you won’t ever see roots,” Cutler explains. Says Brianne, “I have gotten so many compliments! It actually has a shape and looks much more fashionable. And I can wear it wavy or straight.”
Best for: Any type of hair except curly; any face shape except for oblong.
Styling tips: Apply a setting spray, like Redken Spray Starch 15 Heat Memory Styler ($16.50, drugstore.com for info) or AG Hair Cosmetics Spray Gel Thermal Setting Spray ($18, ulta.com), on hair while wet, says Emily Heser, a stylist at Cutler/Redken Salon. Then blow hair dry while coiling the ends around a round brush. For more defined curls like Brianne’s, “use a one-inch curling iron and wrap medium to large sections around the barrel” while leaving the ends of hair loose, says Heser. If your bangs won’t lay flat because of cowlicks, she suggests applying a strong gel, such as TIGI Bed Head Head Shrink Mega Firm Gel ($20, amazon.com), along the hairline before blow-drying. Finally, to hold Brianne’s style, Heser sprayed on Redken Fashion Work 12 Versatile Working Spray ($17, ulta.com).
Before: Penny Chan, 35
“I’ve had this style for a decade,” confesses Penny, a scientist and mother of two boys, ages 6 and 2. Her styling routine consists of “washing and blow-drying for about two minutes. But it’s straight and has no volume, so it just falls flat.” Most of the time, she ends up tucking her hair behind her ears. She doesn’t have time for a lot of upkeep, but still “I want to look professional and young,” she says. “I just wish someone would tell me what will look good!”
After: Penny Chan
“We wanted to transform her style from ‘heavy hair’ to movable, swingy hair,” says Cutler. He cut her hair into a bob with a strong outline, then razored the ends to give it movement. Colorist Christy Marino applied a gloss, which camouflages any gray hairs and adds shine and richness. “I love it!” says Penny. “It’s so different than before—it looks more polished and it’s much easier to manage. I just apply gel, blow-dry, and then add hair spray. With my black hair, the grays were really noticeable, so I was happy to cover them up. It makes me feel younger!”
Best for: Straight or wavy hair; any face shape except oblong.
Styling tips: Give flat hair oomph by first spritzing on a voluminizer at the roots while hair is wet (try Cutler Volumizing Hair Spray, $21, amazon.com; or Bumble and Bumble Thickening Hairspray, $28, bumbleandbumble.com). Then apply a dab of shape-holding gel like Redken Velvet Gelatine 07 ($17.50, amazon.com) to the rest of hair before blow-drying. Says Heser, “I used a flat boar bristle, which creates less curl on the ends than a round brush. It’s a more modern way to style a bob than just curling it under.” Finish with a spritz of hair spray for hold and to prevent frizziness.
Before: Liz Carroll, 32
Liz, a Ph.D. student in psychology, says her hair is just too much of a good thing: “It’s really thick, and so it takes half an hour to blow-dry or else it looks like a triangle—poufy at the bottom and flat on top.” Besides wanting her hair to be less time-consuming, Liz hopes for a style upgrade, too: “I’m going to be starting my career [as a therapist], so I want a professional look that’s also warm and friendly and appropriate for my job.”
After: Liz Carroll
“Liz’s hair wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t memorable, either,” says Cutler. “We wanted to make it more special and modern.” Stylist David Kastin brought the length up to just below the collarbone. “We then added layers to incorporate movement,” adds Cutler. He also wanted to brighten Liz’s color, but not with classic highlights. Instead, colorist Gaby Bowen applied them on the underside of Liz’s hair. “It pops from underneath—and you’re not a slave to maintenance,” says Cutler. The result? “I got such positive feedback,” says Liz. “I think I look warm and approachable; it opens up my face.”
Best for: Fine to medium hair; oval, round or diamond-shaped faces.
Styling tips: To create hold without stickiness, spritz on Redken Nature’s Rescue Radiant Sea Spray ($17, ulta.com) or Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray ($25, bumbleandbumble.com), then blow-dry with a round brush, says Heser. “You don’t want to blow it too straight. You just want to smooth out the hair cuticle to prevent frizziness.”
Before: Lisa Wells, 51
“I’ve had the same hair all my life,” says Lisa, a publicist and the mother of a 14-year-old son. “It’s always either Chia Pet or frizzy bob, though there were phases when I blew it out. But that was such a big commitment.” In desperation, most days she ends up just clipping her hair into a bun. And the overly dark shade she uses to hide her gray isn’t helping matters either. “I’m excited to have a professional evaluation,” she says. “I hope it will change my life. . .or at least deliver hair that has style and sophistication.”
After: Lisa Wells
“We wanted to make her style effortless—not too reliant on hairdressing,” says Cutler, so stylist Dean Holcombe gave Lisa’s hair a defined shape that was long on top and short on the sides. “It’s much lighter around her face, so it brings out her eyes and features,” Cutler says. Colorist Rachel Bodt added highlights to a rich base color to emphasize individual curls. “This has such a great shape and the highlights help show off the curls—and cover the gray,” says Lisa. “I love it!”
Best for: Wavy or curly hair; all face shapes, except for heart shapes or anyone with a strong jaw.
Styling tips: To minimize any frizz, Heser applied Cutler Specialist Protectant Treatment Spray ($21, dermstore.com) and Redken Fresh Curls Curl Refiner ($30, soap.com) to Lisa’s hair when it was wet. (Other products to try: Bumble and Bumble Prep spray, $20, bumbleandbumble.com; and Aveda Be Curly Style-Prep, $24, aveda.com). Heser then blew Lisa’s hair dry while twisting sections of it around her fingers. “You’ll get defined curls without frizz,” says Heser. Finish with Redken All Soft Argan-6 Multi-Care Oil ($21.50, amazon.com) or Pureology Precious Oil ($40, ulta.com) to enhance shine.
Before: Millie Ayala, 52
“I need to blow-dry it for 30 to 40 minutes or else it’s really coarse and frizzy,” says Millie, an insurance consultant and the mother of two grown children, of the cut she has had “forever.” “I’d really like something easier.” She also has a lot of gray (“It’s hereditary,” she says with a sigh), which she colors herself, and she would like to brighten up her hair. “I want to look like me—but better!”
After: Millie Ayala
“Her hair was safe and not dynamic,” says Cutler. “We moved her into the twenty-first century.” Holcombe cut off several inches, adding lots of layers and “texturizing” the hair (cutting it so there are no blunt edges) to add movement. Colorist Tim Suter livened Millie’s too-dark locks with a rich chocolate hue. “The color reflects more light and adds warmth, so it looks softer against her skin,” Cutler explains. “When I walked out of the salon, I was floating,” Millie says. “It’s lighter, more professional, more fun. And if I don’t feel like blow-drying, I can just [style it with] product.”
Best for: Any type of hair, except tight, frizzy curls; all face shapes, except for long faces.
Styling tips: Apply a styling product with hold (such as Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam, $19, aveda.com), then blow-dry away from face using a small to medium-sized round brush, says Heser. Dab a paste like Cutler Definition Cream ($25, dermstore.com) or Aveda Light Elements Texturizing Creme ($24, aveda.com) on ends and flip them out.
For the off-the-face style seen on page 1: Start by applying a styling product with hold, then blow-dry hair toward the face using a small to medium-sized round brush, says Heser. Using your fingers, brush the hair back and off the face. Smooth on a little Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment ($37.50, amazon.com) to control fly-aways and frizz, then finish with a light- to medium-hold hair spray.