The Importance of Finding Your "Life Cut"

Plus other random bits of hair wisdom from my mane man Bill Angst.
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Michelle Villett
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Plus other random bits of hair wisdom from my mane man Bill Angst.
Jessica-Alba-Paris-Fashion-Week-Spring-2011-Couture-Gucci-dinner

Yesterday, I spent $170 on a haircut. Happily.

I know that sounds kind of insane, but I firmly believe that your haircut (and also hair colour) is one of the most important things—if not THE most important thing—that you can splurge on, beauty-wise. (Others include: foundation that matches your skin tone perfectly, eyeshadow and eyeliner that won't smear and a scent that compels random people to stop you on the street.)

Now, I would never pay $170 for a haircut if I hadn't found someone who understands my "Life Cut."

Uh, what's a Life Cut, you ask?

hair shears

It's a term coined by my friend S. (who recently discovered hers), and it means your HAIRCUT FOR LIFE.

You know what I mean. (Or at least I hope you do—if not, it means you might not have found the bliss that is the Life Cut yet.) It's the cut that suits you best, flatters your features and face shape, looks decent even if you don't style it (i.e. you shouldn't have to battle it out with a blowdryer and/or flat iron every morning) and all-around just works with your lifestyle.

It's not set in stone; for example, you can change the length to a few inches shorter or longer, or change the way you part it, or the way you style your bangs (if you have 'em). And you can style it however you want to—curly, straight, ponytails, etc. The Life Cut definitely adapts as trends change. But in general, you never really deviate too much from the overall basic shape, because it makes your life SIMPLE and EASY.

Celebs are excellent demonstrators of our Life Cut theory. They have entire teams of the world's best hairstylists on call (or at least most of them do—Christina Aguilera might be one exception), and you generally need an experienced, savvy, intuitive stylist to help you find your Life Cut. Plus, because presenting a consistent image is all-important for celebs, they don't switch up their hair too much, nor do they have to, because the Life Cut just WORKS.

The Alba, above, is one example of someone who, after much experimentation, has found her life cut (and colour—let's just say that the honey blonde wasn't so flattering on Jess). And so is Diane Kruger, who knows that a simple, shoulder-length 'do—never longer—works best on her fine hair. (FYI for fellow fine-haired types: if your stylist insists on cutting tons and tons of layers, RUN, do not walk, over to this post. Sadly, from recent pics I've seen, I think Naomi Watts has started layering again, and I think it's all wrong.)

Diane_Kruger-16th_Annual_Elle_Women_in_Hollywood_Tribute

Demi Moore knows that her Life Cut = ultra-long, straight-ish, über-glossy brunette:

Demi-Moore-Nov-2010

And even though I actually prefer Halle Berry with longer hair, the short 'do that she always goes back to is her Life Cut:

Halle-Berry-Golden-Globes-2011

See what I mean now?

If you're not sure what your Life Cut is, the best thing to do is spy on the celebs. Find your celebrity doppelgänger—someone with a similar hair type and face shape—and see what they're doing. I'm telling you, Us Weekly is a treasure trove of hair inspiration. No lie.

Also important: finding the right hairdresser to give you said cut. If you're not sure that your current guy/girl gets it, become a snoop. Follow the chicks you see with great hair and ask who does theirs.

Of course, if you live in Toronto, I've gotta say that the most talented man in town—by a long shot—is my hairdresser, Bill Angst. (Yes, I'm biased, but let me tell you—he does hair for a shiz-tonne 'o VIPs.) I'm lucky: I got my Life Cut from Bill years and years ago, long before I became a beauty editor. Despite lots of cheating (because you've gotta be a guinea pig as a beauty ed), I always come back to him, and he always give me some slight variation on the original cut. In fact, whenever I consider that I maybe might want to move to a different city, or country, I decide that I can't, because then I would be without Bill and would have Bad Hair all of the time.

Instead, my Life Cut is pretty much a variation on Michelle Monaghan's. Except, you know, blonde and a little bit sharper on the ends.

straight hair with bangs

NOW. A few hair gems I gleaned from Bill yesterday that may help you in your search for the perfect 'do:

  • Get "BJ bangs." (This is a PG site; I'm not going to spell out that acronym for you.) What he means is: long, sexy, eye-grazing bangs usually flatter most people. ESPECIALLY if your face is on the oval/long side. Bill specifically angles mine on sides, as otherwise they can look too straight-across, especially when combined with the blunt cut below.
  • Blowing your hair dry upside down totally works, if you want to give your hair body without the annoyance factor of using a round brush.
  • Flat-iron your hair upside down, too, if you want to maintain the body. Bill always does this on my me straight after the blow-dry is finished, and it gives me super-straight hair but with BODY. Be careful not to burn yourself. (Oh, and I know wavy hair is more "in" now, but as per my Life Cut lecture, you still need a cut that you can wear with your natural texture.)
  • To smooth the top layer, flip your head back up and lift each section from the root with a comb, flat-ironing all the way from roots to ends. This way, you avoid getting any of those weird flat iron kinks, and you're helping the cuticle to sit straight up from your roots, giving your 'do a bit more body.

I'm going back to the salon in about a month for a colour job, and I'm SOOPER excited to tell you about another insidery highlighting technique that they're going to do... so stay tuned on that front.

In the meantime, tell me:

Have you found your Life Cut?
Or are you a hair chameleon of the Nicole Richie school?
Do you have a hairdresser that you adore? Help a girl out—leave his/her name in the comments!