How To

First time away from home? Here’s how to maintain your hair on your own

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It’s back to school time, and my TL is flooded with pictures of parents dropping their kids off at college dorms and statuses about the excitement (and nervousness) of being away from home for the first time. It takes me back to my freshman year of college when two weeks before moving I decided to chop my nearly waist-length hair into a pixie just like Rihanna’s.

I was super excited to walk on campus with my new style, but that excitement faded within a week — right at the time when I would have been making a visit to my trusted stylist that I’d had for more than three years. I quickly decided I could do my hair on my own and simply borrow a few hair tools from my new besties.

The result was a hot mess that will forever live on Facebook. A few weeks later, I chopped my hair into a TWA and my obsession with the “short hair, don’t care” life officially began.

But, you don’t have to throw your hands up and say “eff it” like I did. A little bit of practice and planning will go a long way in making sure you’re ready to slay the campus all on your own!

  1. Want a new cut? Get it at the beginning (not the end) of the summer. This will give you ample time to get used to your hairstyle and create a styling regimen that you can easily do while looking for a new stylist.
  2. Ask for a tutorial. I always had a stylist do my hair, so when it came time to do it alone, I was clueless! Ask your hairdresser to give you a detailed tutorial on how they do your hair, from start to finish. Ask about products, tools and special tricks they use to get your hair just right.
  3. Stock up! Depending on where you’re moving, the availability of your tried-and-true products may not be guaranteed. Stock up on shampoos, conditioners, serums, gels, etc. before you leave for school so you’re not struggling to find an alternative. 
  4. Don’t rely on the dorm stylist. Don’t get me wrong — there are some talented young ladies and gents who can slay hair in the dorm, but be aware you’re taking a chance with using someone who isn’t professionally trained. If you’re cash strapped and want to use homegirl a couple doors down, ask for pictures and ask if you can sit in while she does someone else’s hair. But, my best advice is to go to a professional for cuts, colors and any chemical processes that could do major damage if done wrong. Want to try some lemonade braids? Then try them out — with caution. 
  5. Don’t try to do it on your own, either! Throughout my first year of school, I tried multiple times to do my own color, cuts and even a texturizer gone wrong. Again, let a professional handle the complicated stuff for you!
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for stylist suggestions. If you see a girl or guy on campus who always has a nice cut or fade, don’t be shy about asking for suggestions. That’s how I found my first barber! And, if you’re close enough to that person, ask to tag along to their next appointment so you can see how the stylist works first hand.
  7. Be patient. For many people, going to college is the first time they’ll do a lot of things independently. If this is you, be patient and give yourself time to get on the learning curve. No one gets it right all the time, and this is especially true when finding your personal style. At the worst, you’ll be embarrassed in the moment, and at the best, you’ll have something to key-key with your girlfriends about 5 years from now.

And, last, but not least, make sure you’re following @thecutlife for plenty of hair inspiration, quick tutorials, and suggestions for the hottest, The Cut Life-approved stylists in your city!

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