I have a visceral, cringe-worthy response when I hear the term “mom haircut.” It's the same sensation when I hear the phrase “having it all.” *shudder*
Just take a look at this "Saturday Night Live" sketch to get a glimpse of what I mean:
In addition to the, um, "official" style, the mom haircut has the reputation of being a frumpy mop that was last combed four days ago and always looks dull and mismanaged. But here I am, a mother of two with limited time, who finds herself nearly fulfilling that stereotype. I'm in desperate need of a new haircut that is versatile and low maintenance — but I'm not willing to totally veer into soccer mom territory.
I still want to feel sexy, stylish and even fun and sophisticated on occasion. It needs to fit into a ponytail for the carpool line, but I don't want a style that's too long for fear of appearing like I'm clinging to my youth. In short, I need a cross of Claire Underwood from "House of Cards" and Betty Draper from "Mad Men" — but maybe with a nicer demeanor.
Was I expecting too much from a cut and color? Is it possible to achieve all of the above characteristics with my low tolerance for styling time? (I mean, let’s be honest, getting five minutes to style your hair as a mom is a major accomplishment.)
It was time for me to consult the experts at the Licari Cutler Salon in New York City. As I was getting the chop, I did some digging:
- Don’t get a cut for practicality, get the cut that works best with your hair texture to make styling easy-peasy. That will save the most time in the long run.
- For new mothers: Wait at least six months post-baby before making a drastic change. Those hormones are no joke and you don’t want to put your hair in the middle. That's also around the time your hair will stop shedding pillows worth of hair (but know that a cut will not stop the shedding).
- Short to mid-length cuts are actually right on-trend — just take a look at all the top celebrities rocking a so-called "lob" these days!
- Ask for a hair color that will last — and that means more than just infrequent root touch-ups. In other words, the highlights shouldn't turn brassy after a single day at the pool with the kids.
I know that last point all too well. Truth be told, I'm a wild card when it comes to my hair color and have been a chocolate brunette, a beach blonde and just about everything in-between. I've been slowly returning to a lighter shade and, over time, my hair has definitely been getting brassy.
"When you add golden-colored highlights, it adds fuel to the fire, making hair brassier,” my hair colorist, Erika Szabo, explained. “Instead, take the hair a color deeper and highlights just one shade lighter.”
I was also timid about going blond as I cannot commit to root control every four-to-five weeks, but Szabo eased my fears. “Anybody can go lighter, it’s all about the shade, placement of highlights and how much time you want to be in the stylist chair. Blond highlights can frame a face," she explained while starting the process of a single hair color and blond highlights blended with brunette lowlights.
As for my cut, stylist Arsen Gurgov eased my fears in one sentence: “A haircut suited for you will simplify your styling time.” And that was all I needed to hear.
He then took my contradictory requirements and chopped my hair into a lob. A "lob," as I later learned, is a long bob hybrid that falls between the chin and collarbone. It’s a short haircut without the commitment; in other words, exactly what I needed.
It added texture, volume and style — with less hair for the baby to pull. Since my appointment, I've found that the cut is incredible versatile: It can be pulled back in a ponytail, have a middle part or side part or even be brushed back without a part at all.
My everyday hair routine is now condensed to using a salt spray on wet hair, twisting small strands and letting it air dry (which is ideal!). Once my hair dries, I shake it out and have natural, slightly undone waves that I can take just about anywhere. If I have time (or, let's be real, a babysitter) the look is completed with a styling oil that acts as an all-in-one shine spray, fly-away controller, leave-in conditioner and frizz serum.
One standard rushed morning, I had a revelation: I spent more than double the amount of time on my daughter’s hair than my own. I wondered how she, a newly minted 4-year-old, needed all this hair time when she would prefer to never brush her hair at all. So, we cut her hair, too. True fact, lobs work for all ages. #aintnomomgottimeforlongprincesshair
For me, the overall result is minimal fuss with short hair that suits my lifestyle. Call it a "mom haircut" if you wish, but a lob paired with highlights and lowlights fits into my erratic, sleepless, toddler-wrangling lifestyle and still makes me feel stylish. I can actually pretend that I "have it all" pulled together ... that is, until you notice the dried baby food on my blouse.
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016.
Sarah Eggenberger is the editor-at-large for NewBeauty magazine. You can find her on Instagram @saraheggenberger.