From frizzy locks to hair that hangs flat and lifeless, a famous hairdresser has revealed how common hair problems can be remedied with a simple visit to the salon.
Michael Van Clarke, who owns a salon of the same name in London, explained the tricks he used to transform four clients who were all suffering from bad hair day woes.
The expert explained how to disguise growing bangs by clipping the hair in the front and cutting it in careful layers at the back of the head.
Meanwhile, long hair that feels heavy around the face can benefit from a pointed cut to take the weight off the ends.
Here, Michael discusses four case studies step-by-step…
Hair that is wispy, long and frizzy
Formerly: Senior Teaching Assistant Andreea Sandor, 36, had long, frizzy hair
After: Andreaa got more shape and a lighter, warmer color to lift the overall style
The client: Senior Teaching Assistant Andreea Sandor, 36
The problem: Andreea’s haircut was typical of the remedial work I do for new clients. It had a blunt outline with no layers, with the front points 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 take away your confidence, and dry or wavy hair will look a lot frizzier, just like Andreea’s hair before we got to work.
We wanted to inject life and movement into the hair and for this we needed the right shape and layers followed by some cleverly placed color to give a bit of intrigue and tonal depth to the whole effect.
I took a graduated outline and sculpted face framing layers down to the back. This gave a great shape even without blow drying. Then we switched to color.
The colorist used a combination of foils and balayage to create a warm yet bright textured effect, giving the color dimension and contrast. This play of tonal juxtapositions also helps to enhance the sense of movement in the hair.
We blow-dried the hair smoother with a lot of body. Andreea’s finished hairstyle moves and blends seamlessly and is easy for her to style at home in many different looks.
What the customer says: ‘I’m in love with my hair. A happy lady. I feel totally different and can’t believe how amazing it looks.’
Dry, hard-to-style hair that won’t grow
Back in the day: Fashion editor Polly Sayer’s hair looked good because of the way it was cut
After: Michael found a way to balance the grown-up bangs to bring the hairstyle together
The client: Fashion Editor Polly Sayer (@pollyvsayer), 28
The problem: Polly’s hair looked fine at first glance. But as soon as I ran my hands through it, I felt it was so much thicker than it looked.
Is that why YOUR hair hangs flat and straight?
Michael highlighted the four issues Polly had to deal with — and they could be the same ones plaguing your locks:
1. Polly’s hair is naturally quite straight
That doesn’t mean it couldn’t bend during styling, as the natural hair was quite flexible.
2. The outline of the hairstyle was A-line to a longer front
This encouraged the hair to hang straight and flat.
3. The hair was one length with cut step layers
The lack of proper layering meant the ends would struggle to hold a bend.
4. The ends were extremely dry from over-processed color
This made them brittle and inflexible. Even when a bend was made with hot tongs, it was difficult for the hair to hold the wave.
An unbalanced previous haircut was not improved by lockdown, leaving the ends thin and broken, and the lack of color at the roots encouraged it to flatten out.
The solution: I wanted to elevate the main visuals of the shape to meet the still-too-short fringe zone, highlighting Polly’s strong cheekbones and big blue eyes.
The Diamond Dry Cut is my signature technique and a natural way of sculpting. We cut the hair dry to watch the shape evolve in much the same way Michelangelo would approach a marble bust.
I graduated the front of Polly’s hair a bit and layered the back a bit to balance the step layers and support the grown out bangs.
Then I softened the ends with a straight point cut to three inches into the hair.
This changed the fall and texture of the hair, making it easier to bend. Polly’s hair can now move smoothly and falls back into place effortlessly.
The original haircut was extremely dry at the ends due to over-processed color and excessive heat styling. When the hair gets so dry and rotten, it’s harder to handle and the styles don’t last long.
We’ve given Polly a pre-wash 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 customer says: ‘I had quite damaged, broken hair combined with grown bangs, which was certainly not easy to work with! But I left with it and looked so much fatter and healthier.”
Long, heavy and shapeless hair
Back in the day: Blogger Mollie Moore, 30, had long, heavy hair that dominated her face
After: Michael cut 9 inches off Mollie’s hair, adding long layers and a straight pointy cut at the ends
The client: Blogger Mollie Moore (@molliemoore__), 30
The problem: When someone wants to get rid of long thick soft golden hair, my first thought is, why if it is so beautiful? But more isn’t necessarily better, and change is a necessary part of getting us excited again. There was also something about the librarian slipping into Mollie’s can that she wanted to throw away.
The solution: Mollie’s hair has a very light wave that makes the hair pliable and more versatile. A one-length haircut would have been too heavy and awkward.
So we kept the outline strong, but long layers were carefully sculpted into the back to give lift and movement, then the ends were softened with a steep point cut down to two inches into the hair.
This changed the fall and texture of the hair, making it easier to bend. Mollie’s hair can now move smoothly and falls back into place effortlessly.
What the customer says: “I had 9in off and I don’t miss it at all. I now have the bug… I want to go shorter next time. My hair is so good and I’m so glad I got the cut.’
Hair hanging lifeless and shapeless around the face het
Previously: Social media expert and consultant Alice Sampo, 30, had a fat 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 would like to say that Alice’s haircut was unusual when she arrived, but unfortunately it showed all the flaws that I see in 95% of new clients these days.
Essentially a poorly done A-line haircut on the perimeter with another poorly cut A-line about four inches above it.
Even if the line was cut straight, the choice of shape was all wrong. Heavy and long around the face, shorter at the back, would force the hair to hang lifeless and tangled, destroying all the sensual energy and fluidity of long, healthy hair.
The solution: I cut the hair dry, kept the length in the middle of the back and graduated the circumference to chin length in the front.
Then I layered to balance the weight of the different sections and create movement in the hair.
Finally, a further precise point cut softened the edges and stimulated flexibility in the ends.