Two things that have been consistently problematic for most people I meet (or hear from via email) is that they are confused about layers and equally confused about how to ask for what they want from their hairstylist. I wanted to start a new series to help us get through that together! My hope is that with a little extra information, nobody will have to suffer through a haircut they didn’t want ever again!

For this first post, we’re going to deal with straight and slightly wavy hair. And for the next post we’ll do stronger waves to curly. There’s so much information and I don’t want to confuse anyone further, so if you’re rocking strong waves or curls be patient and wait til my next post. I promise it will be worth it!

Below I’ve created some visuals for some of my favorite types of haircuts. I didn’t do the haircuts below, only the one up at the top, but these are great examples for what you need to know. Take these with you when you go to the hairstylist if you need to! I promise, we appreciate a good visual becuase it helps us to identify what you see.


  • a blunt cut that clears the shoulders.
  • no layers
  • ask your hairstylist to help you decide on the most flattering length for your face, somewhere between your chin and your shoulders.
  • if your hair is superfine but you have a ton of hair, you may want to ask your hairstylist to do a subtle undercut in the back so it doesn’t appear too bulky and unflattering behind your head.


  • making fine hair appear thicker.
  • anyone who likes to wear their hair straight.


  • the haircut you want, and then some subtle layers added to it. Short layers don’t mean that your top layer is short in length. Short (when describing layers) simply defines the distance between one layer and the next. Think of it like this– it’s just a “short distance” to the next layer.
  • ask your hairstylist to help you decide where the layers should go. Around your face? All the way around? Should there be some in the back? Each person will need weight taken out in a different spot or maybe all over.
  • I like to point cut when I do subtle/short layers but each stylist will do it differently. If you like a more subtle looking layer, just ask for exactly that! Make it clear that you don’t want choppy and you don’t want tons of piece-y-ness. (Is that actually a word??)


  • removing that “bell” shape or “triangle” shape that can be left behind by a blunt cut.
  • those who like to part their hair in different places on different days. Flipping or parting your hair on one side and then switching to the other can cause one side to look very heavy. Subtle soft layers will remove some of that.
  • anyone who gets bored with a blunt cut.
  • someone wanting a short cut but also wanting to add volume.


  • a blunt cut on the bottom with some piece-y layers for movement and texture.
  • something low maintenance that can be blow dried or air dried, curled with an iron or look good straight.


  • bloggers. HA! I’m kidding. But isn’t this such a blogger haircut.
  • those who love the EVERY DAY WAVE.
  • anyone growing out their fine to normal hair.


  • a classic women’s layer cut.
  • nothing too “textured”.
  • subtle layers in back, medium face framing layers in front.


  • normal to thick hair.
  • anyone who lives for their 1 1/4″ curling iron and/or a perfect ponytail.
  • all Lauren Conrad, Rosie HW and Kate Middleton lovers! These ladies all carry a very classic and timeless look that can also be amped up to the next level with some messy waves and good product from time to time.


  • texture, texture, texture!
  • weight to be removed or thinned out.
  • soft, subtle undercutting to enhance texture on the ends and keep dense ends from appearing too thick.


  • volume seekers.
  • those with tons of hair.
  • anyone who loves a more lived-in look or “undone” hair style.
  • someone who has natural wave and loves to air dry.


  • long layers. Again, just as I mentioned above in the short layers section, it’s not about the length of the layer you ask for! It’s about the distance between the longest layer and the shortest layer. As you see in this photo, Lily has some really long pieces and some much shorter pieces. The distance between the bottom layer and the top layer is significant. This would be considered long layers.
  • tell your stylist you love a boho vibe. Most hairdressers know exactly what that means by now– long layers with natural-looking messy waves. When my clients like things like this I typically reference “Free People hair” and “Olson hair”. Both of those scream natural texture and we always end up on the same page.


  • natural wavy hair.
  • long hair that is fine (but lots of it), normal, thick or wavy hair.
  • those who love using a wand to curl.
  • anyone who loves to air dry.


  • major texture! Maybe even to be cut with a razor if your hairdresser thinks you need it. Razors generally give lots of texture but can also be bad for certain hair types– let your pro decide. I typically only use razors on fine hair when it needs a little bulking up.
  • something that will bring out some waves in your hair.
  • to remove any unwanted weight or bulk by adding lots and lots of layers.


  • anyone who wants to rough dry and rush out the door.
  • those who love to wear their hair down.
  • face framing and those with bangs.

Stay tuned for the next “Language or Layers” hair post this week where we’ll tap into which layered haircuts are best for WAVES & CURLS!

(and yes, I’ll be doing a tutorial on how to get the waves in the top photo soon as well!)


Lately I’ve been super into wearing my natural waves. You know, a new haircut with lots of layers makes wearing your hair wavy/curly look a lot more fun and it definitely makes it a whole lot easier to style. (The right haircut is EVERYTHING for curls and waves!) The problem a lot of us have with wearing our natural texture is the dryness factor. I put product in my hair (like this and this) to boost my waves but that doesn’t do me any favors in the moisture department. I always think my waves look best (aka: BIG) on the 2nd and 3rd day but they tend to feel pretty dry by then.

To solve this issue, I started out by spraying water on my hair (Evian spray to be exact), and that helped refresh the look but didn’t give me any moisture. I then turned to my favorite leave-in conditioner in the photo up top which you can find HERE. Depending on your curl or wave this may or may not be right for you. It’s a tiny bit heavier when it’s sprayed on dry hair than it is when you spray it on wet hair. When you put it in wet hair, it dissipates and soaks in as it dries. When you spray it on already dried hair it seems to just sit on top of the hair but don’t get me wrong, it doesnt feel bad! I personally like the way this one works with my hair. It makes my waves soft to the touch and helps them lock together better.

If you’re looking for a good refresher, try that one or some of these gems. Spray the suggested amount on day 2 or 3 to keep that “crunch” away!

click the links to shop…

  4. ORIBE
  6. PHYTO


Post: Kristin Ess, top photo by Kristin Ess, bottom photos Kristin Ess, Angela Kohler + Tyler Jennings

MERMAID ALERT. Hands down the most frequent question I get asked when I meet people for the first time is how I keep my red hair so bright. Everyone looks at you when you’re a hair colorist as if you’re holding out on some mega-secret that’s finally going to crack the case on color fading. The truth is, there’s a whole list of secrets! There not just one magic potion to pour on your head. If there was, I would own it by now and I would share it with you right here. I’ve written about red hair color on TBD before as a blogger, but now I want to write from the perspective of a fellow redhead. I could just list off a bunch of color safe shampoos but there are plenty of color shampoo roundups online, right? Instead I’m going to give you a rundown of the things I do and things I don’t do to keep my hair the brightest! These are all tips that I know work because over the last decade I’ve been every single shade of roja and I’ve taken lots of notes. Here are my top 10 ways that I keep my un-natural (but totally natural) red hair on point…

  1. I have a custom conditioner made. You have to find a Davines salon and get a pro to make you one, but it’s worth it. HERE is a salon locator. So many conditioners out there for redheads are off on their tone. They’re either too pink or too yellow or too translucent. Trust me on this. Find a salon and let them mix your exact shade.
  2. Cool water washing isn’t a myth. In the winter time, I will even knock up the heater temp in the bathroom just so I can handle the cooler water setting. It doesn’t need to be cold, it just shouldn’t be hot. Changing my water temperature did slow the fading and made my hair more reflective in the long run.
  3. Swimming in a chlorinated pool? NO. Hair exposed for long periods of time in the sun? NEVER. Just don’t do it. Not unless you plan on getting your color done within the next couple days. No… just no. I only swim in salt water or fresh water. If I get in a chlorinated pool, I just won’t put my hair in, end of story.
  4. Spray leave-In conditioner is a must. I always use THIS ONE because I’ve tried about a hundred and there’s not another one like it. It seals, protects and shines like the top of the Chrysler Building. If I leave on a trip without it, it’s the first thing I have to locate when I land.
  5. Permanent color, then gloss. So for my own formula, I have someone apply my root color first which is a cream-based permanent color, then I put another cream-based permanent color through the ends. And THEN I go the extra mile and gloss over that while at the shampoo bowl (after my color has been rinsed). It takes about 20-25 minutes and it’s a similar process to a deep conditioning treatment. My hair used to fade like crazy when I didn’t put a gloss over the permanent color. I attribute most of my current vibrance to glossing over the regular cream-based color. You’re definitely going to get charged for that at the salon, but it’s not insanely expensive and it isn’t sold to people without a license. I prefer glossing my hair with Shades EQ which is from Redken. Ask your colorist or find a Redken salon HERE.
  6. Glosses in between colors. Again, it takes the same time as a deep conditioner so prioritize! I do my roots every 2 1/2-3 months, so I find a time right smack in the middle of my color appointments to get glossed. Again, I gloss with the same Shades EQ formula as before.
  7. I definitely keep blowdrying to a minimum. I’m not saying I skip blowdrying because my hair has strong wave/frizz and needs to be blown out, I just wash less (see next tip!). I’ve never done my own scientific study on this, but I know from experience that running hot air into my red locks on the daily is a no.
  8. Invest in a great dry shampoo. My favorites are THIS ($), THIS ($$) but mostly THIS ($$$). Once I became a dry shampoo addict, I started seeing my color fade much less. Obviously the less you’re washing, the less you’re fading.
  9. Every redhaired mermaid needs an ionic dryer. I use the Elchim 2001. I’ve used it forever and it’s my favorite all around. I won’t preach about the benefits of ionic dryers becuase I already did that recently RIGHT HERE.

In case we’ve never met or you’re just starting to follow TBD, I’m a redhead too, thanks to the powers of pigment. I’m also a hairstylist/colorist. As a professional, we have access to so many great things and I just wanted to share my personal favorites. If you have any tips or products that you’re obsessed with, I would LOVE for you to list them down below in the comments. We always love to hear what you’ve been using and how it’s working for you.

My last words of advice are… Always make sure you give red hair color a chance to stick. It took me about 4 rounds before my red stopped fading so much, mostly because I was blonde before. Don’t expect to go from lighter hair colors to red with no fading the first time, or even the second. Be realistic about it. Also, if you’re going red go through types of red (USE THIS POST IF YOU WANT!) with your colorist. It’s best to be on the same page about which red is which. Don’t be embarassed to take pictures with you! We love it.


For those with layers, it can be a huge struggle just to braid, let alone make it stay for longer than 30 minutes! Clearly, we can lock it all down with a thousand bobbypins and a whole can of superhold, but there’s a much easier way to do it and we’re excited to share it. Warning: this could be a very obvious trick to some of you pros and closeted hairdressers, but remember that a lot of people are just learning these things, but hopefully you can take something from this, too! Okay, let’s do it…

photos/post/graphic design: Kristin Ess

  1. Here we’re going to show you what happens when you braid medium length hair with lots of layers. The hair in photo 1 is clean and blown out straight.
  2. Clearly as you move along with your braid, the pieces start to pop out and you start losing track of where you are in your braid.
  3. By the time you’re done, you have something like this. It’s nice and to be honest, some may prefer it like this. I still think it’s cute, I just don’t foresee that holding all day. Also, there’s a great aesthetic difference between hair with texture and hair that just has wild pieces sticking straight out. Messy texture will likely stay and even get a little messier throughout the day, where layers that are falling out might loosen the security of your braid and eventually cause it to fall apart.
  4. The  simple trick here is to curl your hair before you braid. Not an everyday wave where you tap the ends and leave them a little straighter, but curling all the way to the tip. Round those ends off! That will create a curve and then the ends of your layers will “hug” the braid making it SO much easier for you to spray, pin and keep the layers locked in place all day.
  5. Once you’ve curled also try adding a little bit of waterbased pomade to your layers for additional hold. You’ll want something soft that will disappear into the hair like POMADE or BRAID PASTE!
  6. Now try braiding your hair with the curls! This is what I do to any of my clients attending an event when I want to make sure their hair holds all night. This is also a great trick for anyone who plans on dancing (i.e.: wedding hair!)

Take a look at the first attempt vs the second attempt. Barely had to use any product after curling. You may still need a little strong holding hairspray for support here and there but nothing outrageous. Tell us if you try this or if you have any other great tricks for braiding with shorter layers!

OH! And in case you were wondering, we used this particular HOT TOOLS IRON for this tutorial.