The winner: Sarah Cattini, 23, project co-ordinator and student from Sydney
The situation: After visiting a hairdresser who didn’t quite know how to deal with her super curly locks, Sarah was dealing with disaster. Short and dramatic layers only brought out the worst in her unruly hair, making her “boofy-at-the-back” issues even harder to manage. “It wasn’t so bad when I had more length to pull my curls down, but now it’s just so awful!” she explained. “I’ve been wearing hats, bandannas and buns and haven’t been back to the hairdresser in about 12 weeks because all I want to do is to grow it out.
“I couldn’t need this makeover more!”
The hope: “I just want my hair to look great while I’m growing these layers out,” said Sarah. “I’d like to have quite a girly look. I wear a lot of dresses, so something floaty and pretty would suit my style.
“I’d also love a fresh, new colour for summer. Something a little lighter would be great, but, because I’m so busy with work and study, I don’t want to have to deal with regrowth all the time.”
The new ‘do crew:Brad Ngata, and his team at Brad Ngata Hair Direction in Surry Hills, Sydney.
After analysing Sarah’s hair type, daily routine and style aspirations, Brad decided that to correct her cut, he’d have to work with her hair rather than against it. So when Sarah said she’d like to try a blunt fringe, Brad suggested she stick with something softer and more sideswept. “The texture of your hair is really important,” he explained. “Bluntness up front would be too much of a contrast with the curly texture at the back. It would just highlight the layers even more.”
“To balance your whole look out, I’m going to soften up the layers, take some bulk from the back and keep as much length as I can.
“That will give you shape while you continue to grow it out.”
The care factor
As he snipped with surgical precision, Brad emphasised that care is crucial in a situation like Sarah’s. “Dryness is a defining feature of curly hair,” he explained, highlighting that hydrated curls are better behaved. “Weekly treatments are absolutely key when you’re trying to grow your hair out and you’re leaving so long between trims.
“You need to give your hair as much moisture and protein as you can so it’s really healthy, beautiful and soft when it finally reaches the length you want.”
Brad suggested Sarah add a treatment whenever pulling her tresses back into a bun: “It’s such an easy way to nourish your hair when at the gym or going to work.”
Colourist Hayley Benson used strategic shots of colour to give Sarah a low maintenance change while camouflaging her most dramatic layers. “Sometimes less colour is more,” she explained, “It’s all about the density of the colour and placement.”
“I’m using natural honey and cool caramel foils to break up Sarah’s hair and I’m applying them diagonally, following the natural direction in which her hair falls. This creates a streamlined effect and the illusion of having less hair. At the back, I’m using colour to disguise any disjunction created by her previous cut and to ‘fill in’ any gaps.”
As Brad’s assistant, Tom Hanley, blow-dried Sarah’s new ‘do with a wide barrel round brush, he explained the technique for getting a salon-straight finish at home. “Products are really important,” he explained. “Add some root lift to give you the volume where you want it and use a wide tooth comb to coat every strand with curling balm. Then blast your hair dry before separating it into small sections and following a comb with your straightener.”
To make the most of her curls, Brad told Sarah how to work with her natural fall. “After washing and conditioning, squeeze your hair with a towel – never rub! – and either let it dry naturally or dry it gently with a diffuser. The trick is to always let your curls fall into the towel or diffuser and remember that the less you touch them, the less frizz you’ll cause.”
Sarah’s new look
With an even structure that now has bounce rather than ‘boof’, Sarah’s new ‘do is easy-to-wear glamour incarnate. And she’s thrilled. “I love it!” she beamed. “The whole experience has just been so nice. Everyone here is so attentive and friendly.
“Brad really took time to understand my hair and talk through the issues that I have with it now and how I can care for and style it better at home. It’s also great to get tips on how to use products properly. I got some really useful advice.”
“The cut is amazing! I couldn’t be happier with it. And the colour is fantastic – it’s not too dramatic, but it makes a huge difference.”
The post-wash update
It’s easy to flounce out of the salon feeling fabulous, but how’s Sarah coping with her curls at home?
Even after washing out the professional blow-dry, Sarah still loves her look. “The cut is perfect for my curls,” she raves. “With a little bit of effort and a quick spray of product, the curls look cute, frame my face well and the colour really shines through the new layers. Everyone has commented on the amazing colour.”
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