I’ve always associated being an adult with having good hair. A flattering haircut makes you look put together. A bad one makes it look like your whole life is in shambles.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but there’s a kernel of truth to it. A 2012 report found that women are judged more harshly at work for their grooming habits, like hairstyles. Hair frames your face and can highlight your best features if you play it right. It can show that you know what looks good on you and that you have a sense of style.
By 28, I thought for sure I’d have a better sense of my style when it comes to my hair. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people whose hair always looks unflattering at worst and boring at best. My fine, straightish-but-frizzy hair has always been hard to style. And no matter how cheap or expensive, I’ve hated pretty much every cut I’ve gotten.
It’s always too short, or crooked or plain — or it looks great at the salon but then I can never recreate the look. I’m not trying crazy styles, either; I usually just ask for blunt cuts or long layers.
My first time getting a truly awful haircut was in elementary school. I begged my mom to let me get a short pixie. I was sure it was going to look so cute. My dad took me to a local salon, and I came home with an unshapely mess; it was long enough that it laid flat but too fine to actually resemble a hairstyle. In middle school, I had serious triangle hair.
I learned to wear hairclips to hide the worst of it. Today, I still find ways to mitigate the damage of haircuts I don’t like: my hair goes up in a bun, a ponytail or a braid, or it’s tucked away behind my ears.
For years, I decided I’d just leave it long, way past my shoulders, so any imperfections would be undetectable. Then two years ago, I had the urge to cut it above my shoulders. When I got home, I realized one side was longer than the other. Since then, I’ve trimmed it a little myself and let my sister try straightening it out. Both attempts failed.
I’ve thought about the possibility that I’m too picky and my expectations are too high. It is, after all, just hair, right? But at least once, I want to feel that I’m not actively trying to mask the imperfections left behind after bad cuts.
Have you had bad haircuts? Amazing ones? What are your best tips for getting the cut you want?