Dear Scott: Every time I leave the salon my hair looks great but when I do it myself it never looks as good. Can you give me some pointers on how to get my hair to look like I didn't do it myself? My hairdresser has shown me what to do but it still never looks right. Is it possible that she isn't teaching me the right way?
Answer: I wouldn't think she would be showing you how to fix your hair the wrong way on purpose. What works for the hairdresser may not be what will work for you when you style your hair yourself.
Most people are their own worst critic, and that's normal. When their hair doesn't respond as they expect, they have a tendency to overreact to the situation. About the only way to totally avoid it would be if you became a total narcissist.
It would help with self-styling if you had arms coming out of your back and removable floating eyeballs for a view of the entire hairdo. The projection of yourself that you see in the mirror isn't what you really look like to others. The image is reversed for you, making successful styling, and taking instructions, sometimes difficult and complicated.
The reflection you see is a mirror is also a 2-dimensional projection. The hairdresser is working on a 3-dimensional object instead of a 2-dimensional image when trying to explain techniques. Their view of what your hair actually looks like is completely different from a 3-dimensional perspective.
Spending time styling your hair can be frustrating if you don't know how. A few simple tricks can alleviate the stress of worrying about something sitting on top of your head you can't see, but everyone else can. When the hair isn't styled properly from the start, it sets you up for an entire day of fiddling with it.
Knowing how to do something the right way can make the difference between starting the day with a feeling of success, or resulting in turmoil all day long. When it comes to hair, it might be something as simple as using the wrong styling product, how it's dried, or a variety of many things.
It can be an aggravating feeling of despair when a task becomes a recurring problem. You were given instructions, you followed them to the letter, and you know you did, “So why is what I'm doing turning out wrong?”
Proper instruction can simplify the little things in life that could otherwise cause unnecessary complications. Please allow me to illustrate the importance with something other than hair. It's a task we perform without thought and take for granted. It also happens to be one of the first things we learn how to do incorrectly.
Some of you may be fortunate enough to have already been instructed properly on how to execute this task. I just found out the right way. Life is better now.
One of the first things we learn as children is how to tie our shoes. It's not an easy task to teach a child or for a kid to learn in the first place. The technique has been passed down from generation to generation, like many lessons we learn from our parents, resulting in mayhem.
How many times have you had to stop in the middle of a crowd of people, bend over with our hinny in the air, and re-tie the laces of our shoes? In New York it's possible to be trampled to death in the process.
How many of you double tie the laces of your shoes to prevent them from untying themselves? I did. If I didn't, I would be tying my shoes all day at work. An expensive pair of lace up shoes with a double knot, and the bows going every which way, tends to ruin the look of the shoes.
Anyone that wears shoes with leather laces, and doesn't know how to tie them properly, probably thinks the only way to keep them tied is to leave them in the closet, until now:
Start as you normally would, take the laces and tie up to the point where you make your loop with your right hand. Instead of going over the top to form your second loop, go under. It's that simple.
It will seem very clumsy at first, like you feel when doing your own hair, but keep trying at your tying. You'll get the hang of it. It will be worth the trouble when you see that your shoes will stay tied all day, no matter what the laces are made of.
Here is the best part about the shoe laces. The bows stay horizontal all day too, instead of traveling up to a vertical position, getting in the way of your pants. They will stay looking like bows are supposed to look, instead of totally ruining the look of a great pair of shoes.
So, to be able to style your hair exactly the way your hairdresser does will require you to grow arms out of your back, and have removable eyeballs that float around your head for a 3D view of the entire hairdo.
But don't give up. Sometimes the best way to learn something is as simple as trial and error. And sometimes it takes someone who knows how to tie the laces.
Everything is easy when you know how to do it.
Scott Terwilliger is an Aiken salon owner and Master Colorist. He can be reached at 803-979-2126 or firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or comments.