American women are cutting back on a lot these days, but for women over 35, professional hair care is a hard habit to break, according to a recent survey for the National Retail Federation.
No surprise to Debbie Brinson, a veteran of the hair trade. With her late husband, she owned Krimpers, a St. Petersburg salon, for 34 years. Now, she's wielding her scissors at Platinum Salons.
"You can go without a new blouse, but your hair you look at every day. And if it looks good, you feel good about yourself. That's so important when you're going to work, and especially if you're looking for work,'' she says.
Still, her clients are asking for her help to save a few bucks without sacrificing style. The big question: "What's going to make me look good for the longest period of time?'' Here's what she tells them:
Get a conditioner that's right for your hair, and use it faithfully. Hair that's in good shape, depending on the style, can go longer between trims.
Hide those roots
Rather than a single hair color, Brinson suggests multiple, "dimensional'' shades so new growth isn't so obvious. Layering the hair helps give it lift so new roots are obscured. And ask your stylist to recommend color sticks you can use to camouflage the gray before your next touchup.
• If you're a brunette and insist on platinum blond, realize that the maintenance is going to cost you. And vice versa: White hair dyed dark is going to show those telltale sparkles quickly.
• If you can carry it off, long hair that's all one length will mean fewer haircuts. "But,'' Brinson cautions, "you've got to have that perfect oval face to carry that off.'' Next best: shoulder-length hair. Short hair needs the most frequent cuts, but it'll save you time every day on styling, which may be worth it to you.
Confide in your stylist
You tell her everything else — why not say you need to watch your budget? "I tell people, 'Let's get you into a little bob or layers, something simple to do, and you don't have to come so often,' " Brinson says. And she never minds if a client leaves with wet hair rather than paying for a blow dry.
• Whatever you do, don't cut your own bangs, says Brinson, who will trim her clients' bangs for free between regular cuts. "It's better for me if they come back rather than doing it themselves and messing it up. That's my signature on their head!''
Charlotte Sutton, Personal Best editor