Sunday, 27 February 2011


Along with skincare and fitness, hair is one of the most important aspects of personal grooming when it comes to getting model-ready.

Whether you’re already signed, or about to break into the industry, a head of hair that’s in poor condition can be a deal-breaker. But a great head of hair, regardless of whether it’s long, short, straight or curly, can be a phenomenal asset. Just ask cover girl and rising star, Hailey Clauson [pictured]. It doesn’t matter if your skin and body are in great shape – if your hair’s letting you down, that’s the first thing people see, and in an industry where first impressions count, giving yourself the best chance possible means covering all your bases.

Think of all the hair care brands available on the high street at the moment: not just shampoo and conditioner, but the masses of styling products. Then factor in the professional brands you see at the salon – that’s a huge number of potential clients, and hair is very big business. If you want a piece of the action, getting your own hair in check is a must.

The first step to achieving good hair is the shampoo. This may seem like the one part you’ve got handled, but like skincare, the first and most important step is cleansing without stripping the skin of its natural balance – your scalp needs just the same level of attention.

Run your hands through your hair – does it feel healthy and well conditioned, or a bit oily at the roots – do the ends of your hair feel brittle and unloved? The state of your hair will tell you a great deal about what is really needs. Just like skin, if you’re doing something wrong, your hair will tell you in no uncertain terms!

If your hair leans towards oily, buy a good-quality clarifying shampoo. One that’s gentle is essential, because any formulation that’s too harsh will dry out your scalp, causing the oil glands beneath to go into overdrive in replacing what’s been lost – definitely not what you want. Ignore the old wives’ tale about hair not really being clean until it ‘squeaks’. Unless your hair’s been taking a hammering from overuse of styling products, one shampoo should be enough.

If you regularly colour your hair, protect your investment with a colour-specific shampoo. They can cost a little extra, but looking after your shade means it will last longer – great if you’re watching the pennies.

For hair that just feels normal, in good condition and well balanced, a decent cleansing shampoo will be perfect. The key to shampoo is to get one that matches not only your hair type, but your lifestyle. It’s a good idea to have more than one type of shampoo on the bathroom shelf. If your hair is coloured, it will suffer from occasional dryness especially in bad weather, so a good hydrating shampoo will be an excellent addition to a colour-protecting one. If you’re a regular user of product – and as a model, your hair will take some battering - find the best quality deep-cleansing shampoo you can get your hands on. Use this once a week (more if you need to), and your hair will be ready to take on anything that’s thrown at it.

The second step of hair care, still obvious, but still important, is conditioner. Some people think this step is optional, but if you want your hair to be your crowning glory, conditioning is a must.
Again, match your conditioner to your hair’s needs. If you have very oily roots, you may have shied away from using conditioner in the past, assuming it would leave your hair greasy and flat. The key to getting round this is to use a leave-in conditioner. The ultra lightweight formulas now available will transform the way your hair looks and feels. Just spritz it on after showering, and your hair won’t be weighed down or greasy, just beautifully conditioned.

If your hair leans towards the other end of the spectrum, a good moisturising shampoo will be worth its weight in gold. If you’re experiencing extra dryness due to the weather / stress / illness, leave the conditioner in for an extra couple of minutes while you’re still in the bathroom – the steam will encourage the conditioner to really get to work on those pesky dry ends.

If you want to go the extra mile, giving your hair a weekly treatment is a great idea. A good hair mask will restore shine and condition in no time – two things a camera will definitely pick up on. Tailor the treatment to yourself: you don’t have to use the product all over, just where it’s needed. However, if you’re using a colour-protect mask, use it from root to tip. It will conserve your colour and stop it fading prematurely.

Slotting a weekly treatment into your routine is also an excellent idea of you’ve been hitting the straighteners. Great for getting that sleek look that’s finally returned to the runways, regular use of straighteners (even the good ones) are notorious for leaving the hair weak and out of condition. The high temperatures involved means that your hair’s being subjected to some seriously intense wear and tear. Prepping your hair with a heat-protector spray or styling lotion will shield it from some of the potential damage, but the bottom line is if you’re a fan of this look, take time out to give some TLC back to your hair – it’s worth it.

Styling products are fast becoming an industry in themselves. Gel, mousse and hairspray used to be the basics, but now you can found dozens of hybrid products out there for every conceivable styling emergency. Whatever you go for, there’s one cardinal rule when it comes to styling. Use less, achieve more. These products are designed to act quickly and decisively. You know instantly when you’ve applied too much product – your scalp feels overloaded, your hair loses volume – it’s not a good look.

Whenever applying product, especially if you’re using a brand you’re not used to, go easy on the amount you use. It’s the same principle as applying blusher – you can always add more if you need to, but trying to correct a face covered in fuschia is easier said than done. A further note about castings – resist the temptation to try a bold new look to wow clients and casting directors. There is always the chance that something could go horribly wrong and you’re left with a head of lank, overstyled hair, and no time to fix it. Nothing ruins confidence faster than a bad hair day. If you regularly style your hair, on casting days go with what works. You won’t be worrying about what your hair’s doing, and you can concentrate on getting that booking.

The forgotten aspect of hair care is shaving. Whether you’re a guy having to keep that clean-cut look fresh day after day, or a girl opting for the blade rather than waxing, life’s too short to spend it at the shaving mirror. Knowing a few tricks can make the whole business quicker and more efficient.

The first step is to work on a clean surface. If you do have a few extra minutes, gently exfoliate the skin before shaving. It will not only remove dead skin cells and promote fresh cells to the surface, but it will lift the bristles up from the surface of the skin, making them an easier catch for the blade. Failing this, a brilliant time-saver is to get a wash-cloth, soak it in warm water, and then press it onto the skin and leave it there for a couple of seconds. The warmth will open your pores, and the bristles again will lift up from the skin, making shaving easier and more comfortable. The hair will be less resistant, meaning you don’t have to drag the blade over your skin, resulting in red, bumpy, irritation.

Another trick to avoid the dreaded razor rash is to ignore everything you’ve seen in the adverts. Those long, sweeping strokes up the neck and across the chin? Forget about it. When you’re shaving, use short strokes. You don’t want your blade to become overwhelmed. If the razor’s clogged up with shaving foam and hair, it’s not going to be able to give you the results you want. This technique results in a closer shave and re-growth won’t show up as quickly.

Finally, a note about product. The classic move is to slap on some aftershave after shaving, but you will know already that this hurts like hell. Your skin post-shave will be feeling sensitive and it needs a little extra help to see it through the day. Invest in a good aftershave balm – it will soothe your skin and treat any irritation. After that has had time to get to work, apply your usual moisturiser – it may seem unnecessary after using the balm, but your skin will thank you for it. When using aftershave, dab a little onto pulse points. The scent will intensify with the heat of your skin and is a subtle, sophisticated way to wear fragrance. Especially when going out to castings and meeting new people go easy on the scent – good grooming speaks for itself.

Part of the business of being a model is that people will have an opinion on every aspect of your appearance. Every inch of your image will be dissected: what works, what could be improved, and what needs to go. Try not to take any criticism personally – think long-term: will this look help my career get to the next stage? Some agencies will absorb the cost of a ‘makeover’ as part of their investment in you, but if you want to make an image change off your own back, talk it through with your agency first.

It sounds ridiculous, but even a simple haircut could have serious consequences. If you have long hair, go in for a cut that takes 6 inches off the length, and your agency (not knowing this) has submitted you for a go-see on the basis of you having long hair – disaster. The wrong cut could end up with you losing out on work. So in short, anything more drastic than a trim needs to be okayed with your agency first!

Of course, a great cut can make all the difference – model Freja Beha saw her career sky-rocket after her long hair got transformed into a wavy, mid-length bob. The key to any transformation is whether it will make you a better model – will a colour change make you more versatile, will going short give you the edge over your competitors? If you’re currently unsigned, think very carefully before making any big changes. Don’t just consider whether a haircut will physically suit you, but whether it will be a good fit for your future career. If your modelling strength is your classic bone structure and feminine features, getting a severe crop may not be the best way forward.

When you’re at the early stage of your modelling career, hair is probably the most important aspect of your appearance. A good head of hair can sway an agency to sign you, even if your skin’s having a bad day. A career-making haircut can be shorthand for the model you want to be, and get you there that much quicker. You may think success in modelling is all about giving good face, but if your hair’s not part of the team, it can throw off your whole look. Get your hair fabulous, and give your career a fighting chance.


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