From frizzy locks to hair that hangs flat and lifeless, a celebrity hairdresser has revealed how common hair concerns can be fixed with a simple trip to the salon.
Michael Van Clarke, who has an eponymous salon in London, explained the tricks he used to transform four clients who were all suffering with bad hair day woes.
The expert explained how a fringe that is growing out can be disguised by graduating the hair at the front and cutting in careful layers at the back of the head.
Meanwhile long hair that feels heavy around the face can benefit from a point cut to take weight out of the ends.
Here, Michael talks through four case studies step-by-step…
Hair that is wispy, long and frizzy
Before: Senior educational assistant Andreea Sandor, 36, had hair that was long and frizzy
After: Andreaa was given more shape and a lighter, warmer colour to lift the overall style
The client: Senior educational assistant Andreea Sandor, 36
The problem: Andreea’s haircut was typical of the corrective work I do for new clients. It had a blunt outline with no layers that left the front tips dangling long, wispy and frizzy.
The solution: The cut is the most important part of your hairstyle and should do most of the work. Badly cut hair will quietly drain your confidence, and dry or wavy hair will look much frizzier, as with Andreea’s hair before we went to work.
We wanted to inject life and movement into the hair and for this we needed proper shaping and layers followed by some cleverly placed colour to give a little intrigue and tonal depth to the whole effect.
I took a graduated outline and sculpted face-framing layers through to the back. This gave a great shape even without blowdrying. We then moved onto colour.
The colourist used a combination of foils and balayage to create a warm yet bright textured effect, giving dimension and contrast to the colour. This play on tonal juxtaposition, also helps enhance a sense of movement in the hair.
We blowdried the hair smoother keeping lots of body. Andreea’s finished hairstyle moves and blends seamlessly and is simple for her to style at home in many different looks.
What the client says: ‘I am in love with my hair. One lucky lady. I feel totally different and can’t believe how amazing it looks.’
Dry, difficult to style hair that won’t grow
Before: Fashion editor Polly Sayer’s hair looked fine because of the way it had been cut
After: Michael found a way to balance out the grown out fringe to bring the hairstyle together
The client: Fashion editor Polly Sayer (@pollyvsayer), 28
The problem: Polly’s hair looked quite fine at first sight. But as soon as I ran my hands through, could feel that it was so much thicker than it appeared.
Is this why YOUR hair hangs flat and straight?
Michael highlighted the four problems Polly faced – and they might be the same ones plaguing your locks:
1. Polly’s hair is naturally quite straight
That doesn’t mean it couldn’t bend with styling as the natural hair was quite flexible.
2. The outline of the haircut was A-Line down to a longer front
This encouraged the hair to hang straight and flat.
3. The hair was one-length with chunked step-layers
The lack of proper layering meant the ends would struggle to hold a bend.
4. The ends were extremely dry from overprocessed colour
This made them brittle and inflexible. Even if a bend was put in with hot tongs it was difficult for the hair to hold onto the wave.
An unbalanced previous haircut hadn’t improved through lockdown, leaving the ends thin and broken, and the lack of colour at the roots encouraged it to lay flatter.
The solution: I wanted to bring the key visuals of the shape higher up to meet the still too short fringe area, and highlight Polly’s strong cheek bones and wide blue eyes.
The Diamond Dry Cut is my signature technique and a natural method of sculpting. We cut hair dry to see the shape evolve in much the same way as Michelangelo would approach a marble bust.
I graduated the front of Polly’s hair slightly and layered the back a little to balance out the step layers and support the grown-out fringe.
Then I softened the tips with a steep point-cut up to two inches into the hair.
This changed the fall and texture of the hair helping it to bend more easily. Polly’s hair can now move fluidly and fall effortlessly back into place.
The original haircut was extremely dry at the ends from overprocessed colour and excessive heat styling. When hair becomes this dry and decayed its more difficult to manage and styles don’t last long.
We gave Polly a prewash treatment to inject moisture, elasticity and shine.
Using a combination of highlights and balayage, more blonde was added a few days later to give a stronger brighter look.
What the client says: ‘I had quite damaged, broken hair combined with a grown out fringe, which I’m sure wasn’t very easy to work with! But I left with it looking so much thicker and healthier.’
Hair that’s long, heavy and shapeless
Before: Blogger Mollie Moore, 30, had long, heavy hair that dominated her face
After: Michael cut 9in off Mollie’s hair, adding in long layers and a steep point-cut at the ends
The client: Blogger Mollie Moore (@molliemoore__), 30
The problem: When someone wants rid of long thick soft golden red hair, my first thought is, why when it’s so gorgeous? But more isn’t necessarily better, and change is a necessary part of getting us excited again. There was also something of the librarian slipping into Mollie’s look that she wanted to ditch.
The solution: Mollie’s hair has a very slight wave which makes the hair pliable and more versatile. A one-length haircut would have been too heavy and clunky.
So we kept the outline strong, but long layers were carefully sculpted into the back to give lift and movement, then the tips were softened with a steep point-cut up to two inches into the hair.
This changed the fall and texture of the hair helping it to bend more easily. Mollie’s hair can now move fluidly and fall effortlessly back into place.
What the client says: ‘I had 9in off and I don’t miss it at all. I have the bug now… I already want to go shorter next time. My hair is feeling so good and I’m so happy I had the chop.’
Hair that hangs lifeless and shapeless around the face
Before: Social media expert and consultant Alice Sampo, 30, had a chunky A-line cut
After: Michael added more balance to the weight and softened the edges of the cut
The client: Social media expert and consultant Alice Sampo (@Alice.Sampo), 30
The problem: I’d like to say Alice’s haircut was unusual when she arrived, but sadly it sported all the errors I see on 95% of new clients these days.
Essentially a badly executed A-Line haircut at the outline with another badly chunked step A-Line about four inches above.
Even if the line had been cut straight the choice of shape was all wrong. Heavy and long around the face shorter at the back it would compel the hair to hang lifeless and straggly, destroying all the sensual energy and fluidity of long healthy hair.
The solution: Cutting the hair dry, I kept the length in the middle of the back and graduated the outline up to chin length at the front.
Then I layered through to balance the weight of the different sections and create movement in the hair.
Finally, a further precise point-cutting softened the edges and encouraged flexibility into the ends of the hair.