New Year, new haircut?

by Bernadette Fallon
Michael Van Clarke Diamond Hair Cut - hair treatment - fashion & beauty -

I’m in the Michael Van Clarke hair salon in London Marylebone, explaining to the stylist, in minute detail, what I want. And what I don’t want. I feel so worried that she might as well be about to cut my head - rather than my hair - off.

It’s the word ‘layers’ that does it. I’ve had terrible experiences with layered haircuts over the years – and no woman forgets a bad haircut. Now I’ve been growing it for years, it’s way past my shoulders and all the scary layers are gone. With a slight wave, it tends to frizz if left to its own devices but sits long, smooth and straight after a good blow dry. It’s been like this for a long time, I can manage it, I like it and I don’t want it to change!

So why am I sitting in a hairdresser’s chair talking to a woman about having a cut that may involve layers?

Because I’m trying to avoid the ‘middle-aged hair rut’ that so many of us fall into once we reach a certain stage life stage. In my 20s I changed my hair – colour, shape, style – almost as often as I washed it. In my 30s I was a bit more conservative but still experimented with different colours and cuts. Since I hit 40 I’ve been playing it safe – a monochrome colour and the same style for years now, just slowly getting longer. My regular hairdresser is bored, I’m bored. But I’m worried that any cutting will involve layers. And it scares me.

I find myself explaining all of this in great detail to Lina, my very patient stylist at Michael Clarke. Michael of the famous Diamond Dry Cut™ - a haircut so important it has its own trademark. The technique involves cutting the hair dry, a common practice in hairdressers up until the 1960’s apparently; cutting the hair while it’s wet only works for a few limited hairstyles, claims Michael.

A dry cut allows the stylist to create the most precise and flattering shape to suit the client’s unique facial structure and hair texture. The stylist works with the hair’s natural movement, sectioning it into a diamond pattern to create a precise and personalised style. The end result is a totally tailored style that is easier to manage at home and stays looking great until the next haircut.

And it doesn’t necessarily involve layers! Though Lina recommends that I have a few layers cut at the very ends of my hair, to give it some movement. At the moment, it’s poker straight and going nowhere. Some very basic shaping in the front section of my hair will make it more fluid, improve the shape and create some volume near the crown. I’m dubious. Tiny, tiny layers I stress, and she agrees.

The new haircut

My hair is washed and conditioned first, then diffuse dried so that Lina can see exactly how it falls around my face naturally. The front sections of my hair are very weak she assesses – this may be due to my over-use of straighteners. ‘Always use a heat-protecting spray before applying straighteners,’ she says and I file this away in the ‘useful things to know about my hair’ section in my head.

Another piece of advice that goes in there is, ‘don’t use a hair serum before applying straighteners’. I’m guilty of doing this pretty much every time I style my hair, but apparently it is extremely bad as most hair serums contain silicone which actually melts into the follicles on contact with heat, weakening the hair still further. Only use serum on dry hair, advises Lina; she recommends applying hair oil to wet hair before drying. Not only will it not cause damage, it will also moisturise the hair.

All of this info I get once she is blow-drying the finished style. All through the cutting she remains silent, concentrating intently on what she is doing. This reassures me. I worry when stylists chat frenetically through snapping scissors – shouldn’t they be paying attention I think?! But Lina gives my hair so much attention that at times, she is just cutting individual hairs, one by one, to get the styling right. Now that’s dedication.

And how do I end up?

Well, she says she has cut some layers into the bottom but these are so microscopic I can hardly see them. She uses a curling tongs – Babyliss, great brand, I have one myself – to put a few waves through the final cut and I can see my hair does have much more movement than before.

But I’ve probably been a bit over-cautious as my hair doesn’t look hugely different to how it did previously. Maybe I should have eased up a bit on the fear and let her do her thing. So I think I would like to try this again, but with a more adventurous spirit the next time! Because I can see how the cut really does suit my type of hair, which is quite thin and a bit heat damaged, and makes it look fuller and very healthy. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a change that is not too dramatic – just don’t be scared to be a little bit more adventurous than I was.

The Diamond Dry Cut™ at the Michael Van Clarke salon, Marylebone, costs £95 with a senior stylist and £35 with a graduate. Contact the salon at 020 7224 3123; visit the website at

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