You Know That Hairstyle You’d NEVER Wear? We Tested 5
07.04.19

The below story originally ran in July 2017, but it’s high time we revisit it because Harling’s transformation must never be forgotten, nor should the bravery of those of us who underwent slick-backs. Scroll for five makeovers, plenty of hair gel, and even more feelings.


As much as I complain about my hair and harbor a low-burning resentment toward men for whom short hair is the norm, I rely on it quite a lot. My unruly, tangled mop is the emotional equivalent of a down comforter on a hot night. It might be a little uncomfortable, but somehow it’s the preferred alternative to sleeping with no covers at all (which, as I’ve mentioned, leaves my ankles vulnerable to ghost grabs). My hair makes me and my face feel safe. As such, I’m fairly particular about how I will and won’t wear it. I will wear natural waves; I won’t wear it stick-straight. I will wear a messy topknot; I won’t wear a tight bun. I have loads of unwritten rules vis-a-vis what I think I can pull off both in terms of how I look and what purpose my hair serves.

Most women I know with enough hair to be styled have these little terms of engagement. Whether it’s how we part it, style it, or get it cut, there exists, in a dark and dusty corner of our minds, a bulleted list of that which is simply off-limits. And because we’re not five years old or red carpet movie stars with “people,” said list is seldom defied. Why would it be?

Last week, I asked Leandra, Amelia, Harling and Jasmin about their unwritten hair rules, and then brought in celebrity hair stylist Danielle Priano to break them (and mine, too). Because what if we’re all wrong? What if the very styles we avoid would make us feel like a million bucks? Priano has worked with Ashley Graham, Selena Gomez, Karlie Kloss, Chrissy Teigen, Victoria’s Secret Angels and other similar nobodies. If anyone could prove our rules wrong, it’d be her. Take a scroll, see how it went and then let us know what you think.


Haley (me)

I never wear my hair in a super-tight low bun — without a single hair out of place  — a la Ashley Olsen.

Why don’t I ever wear my hair like this?
There is nothing wrong with my ears. I know this intellectually. But the feeling I have when my hair is pulled off of my face and tightly behind them is akin to being without a shirt. It makes me feel very exposed. I have it in my head that I don’t have the bone structure to be so “face first.” I prefer to hide a little, as if I’m halfway-backed into a bush of my own hair’s making.

How did it feel to get it done? Did I like it?
I’ve always imagined that, upon becoming A-list famous, I’d trust celebrity beauty squads with my life. Because what do I know? So I felt okay giving my hair over to Danielle. That said, I have so much hair (and uneven bangs), I wasn’t sure she’d be able to make it look slick. She wasn’t either! But then she totally killed it. I felt…OKAY. I like the hairstyle generally, but I’m still not sure I like it on me.

Would I wear it this way again?
To be honest, probably not. No fault of Danielle’s — she’s a pro — but everything about me suddenly felt out of balance. I never realized there was an element of balancing my baggy clothes with big hair until I didn’t have it. This experiment made me more confident in the unkempt hairstyle I’ve chosen as my go-to after 27 years of life. Unexpected upside: When I put on my black framed glasses everyone started calling me Jenna Lyons.


Leandra

Leandra told me she’d never wear her hair in a tight, part-less ponytail, a la Kim Kardashian.

Why don’t you ever wear your hair like this?
I always fear it will make my nose look huge or make me look like my dad in the early ’90s (he used to slick back his hair and we look a lot alike). It sounds weird, but when my hair is slicked back, I’m just too much FACE. I like having an insane head of hair, I suppose, to hide behind.

How did it feel to get it done? Did you like it?
At first, it felt like I was back in high school (the scent of hair burning on an iron is my brand of teenage nostalgia), then it felt like a massage (when Danielle was brushing my hair back), then it was pretty painful (the tightening of the ponytail) and then it was wet (she gelled me all UP). Mixed emotions through and through. But that’s physical. When all was said and done, I felt pretty confident and secure in my knowing what does and does not work for me, with a sleek, slicked-back pony standing firmly on the side of Does Not Work.

Would you wear it this way again?
I am going to stick to frizzy waves for now, but I’ll never say never because I also thought I’d probably never wear my hair curly again and now I do that all time.


Amelia

Amelia told me she’d never wear her hair slicked back and down her back, a la Gigi Hadid at the 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue party.

Why don’t you ever wear your hair like this?
Celebrities do so many weird things that I don’t question, mostly because I’m not their mom and maybe they know something I don’t. But the one thing I question more than I do my own existence is the slicked-back-wet-hair thing. Who started this? And how? I get the point of literally every hair style in the world (especially mullets, including beehives) except for this one. It should also be said that wet hair in public is in my top tier of pet peeves. If I were attending a red carpet, this would be the one style I’d never agree to.

How did it feel to get it done? Did you like it?
Danielle straightened my hair before slicking it back, which was so weird because I haven’t straightened my hair since 2009. That was a thrill. After, I was completely surprised at how I looked. It felt sort of Ralph Lauren?!?

Would you wear it this way again?
I would not wear my hair this way again because it took a lot of steps to make it look on-purpose-wet-and-slicked-back rather than “I just combed my hair after hot yoga.” But this is why there are professionals and amateurs, and it’s nice to know where you sit on the totem pole. However, this was really fun. I forgot how much a different hairstyle can transform or transport you. It was like a wig that I grew myself!


Harling

Harling told me she’d never wear her curls huge and brushed out, like those of the models in the Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 runway show.

Why don’t you ever wear your hair like this?
Within the curly-hair community at large (stylists, curly-haired people, etc.), brushing out your hair when it’s dry is considered THE GREATEST OF SINS. There’s a good reason for this: Curly hair is often drier and more brittle than other hair types because the hair cuticle is facing in different directions. Combing or brushing it when it’s dry is a recipe for breakage and split ends. Plus, brushing destroys the natural curl pattern and causes excess frizz.

How did it feel to get it done? Did you like it?
I was soooo nervous. I actually emailed Haley upwards of three times trying to back out. I’m so glad I didn’t succeed, though. Danielle is a true expert, so she didn’t just take a brush to my hair and hack away, which is what I was “afraid” of (and something I have done in the past and immediately regretted). Instead, she created more body by curling it and spraying it with texturizing product, and then gently teasing it with a brush. I ended up loving it. I felt like model in Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013!

Would you wear it this way again?
I don’t think my fear was unwarranted, because it could have gone badly if the stylist wasn’t so talented. I would absolutely wear it again if Danielle was involved, though, or anyone else who knows how to make me look like I stuck a fork in a toaster in a chic way!


Jasmin

Jasmin told me she’d never wear her hair in a tight, high bun, as Jennifer Lopez wore hers at the 2013 Grammys.

Why don’t you ever wear your hair like this?
A few reasons. My hair is quite long and I usually always wear it down. Without it I feel very exposed. I also have a lot of hair and lots of baby hairs, so I don’t even know where to begin to get it all neatly slicked back. A loose ponytail when my hair needs a wash is as much of an “updo” as I do.

How did it feel to get it done? Did you like it?
It hurt! Apparently my scalp has a low pain threshold and Danielle really pulled it tight! She thought I was such a wimp. At first I was really shocked when it finished; I thought it looked cool and sleek but also very dramatic. Perhaps if I was dressed up or had on big earrings it would have felt more intentional.

Would you wear it that way again?
I would! But I’d probably prefer it to look less neat. Now I want to try a high, more relaxed bun.

What do you think? What are your unwritten hair rules?

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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