Dear Scott: Why do hairstyle books have such crazy pictures in them? I try to find a picture to take to my hair stylist, and they all look so bizarre that I can’t ever find one to bring. I know hair stylists hate when customers bring in pictures, but it’s the only way I can think of to tell someone what I want. Why don’t salons have books with pictures of things that people can actually wear?

Answer: You must be referring to the over-the-counter magazines that come out every month or seasonally. Don’t disregard these publications completely.

There is a reason why there are so many photos of hair that seem to defy gravity and look ridiculous. It is an attempt to supply the public with a publication of a thousand new hairstyles every month. Even hardback books designed especially for salons are full of insanity.

There are wearable looks hidden among the photos of hair that should only be worn by a cartoon character.

The impression that hairdressers don’t like photos is a myth. A picture is worth a thousand words. Explaining details is a snap with a photo in hand.

Try using these simple guidelines to help you find the right photo for the perfect fit:

• Use a celebrity in a movie as your guide: Getting the look you want is easy to choose when you see it in action. Scarlett Johansson in the popular movie “The Avengers” is a good example of an up-to-date textured bob with a long bang. Be sure to bring in a photo so everyone is on the same page. Celebrities change their hairstyles depending on the roles they play.

• Look for hair with the same thickness as your own: People with fine hair are attracted to photos of thick hair because it’s what they wish they had. Those with thick curly hair tend to pick photos of thin straight hair. We always want what we don’t have. Try to be realistic.

• Use separate photos for cut and color: Trying to find both cut and color in one photo will turn a fun project into a difficult scavenger hunt. Your stylist can incorporate the two.

• Plan ahead: Don’t wait until you are in the salon to make your photo decisions. Even if you are technology compromised, photos are available in all magazines. You don’t have to pick a hairstyle from a hairdo magazine.

• Find photos of exactly what you want: Bringing in multiple photos of haircuts is counterproductive. Taking the bangs from one, the sides from another and the backside of yet another is confusing to say the least. All you end up with is a Frankenstyle.

Email Scott Terwilliger at for questions and comments.