L.A.'s 6 Coolest Haircuts — & How To Style Them

Photographed by Kat Borchart.
You've likely seen L.A. hairstylist Sal Salcedo's work before. In fact, there's a good chance you've double-tapped and pinned it, too. Over the past year, Salcedo has become one of the top stylists behind L.A.'s coolest hair looks, creating styles that are both wearable and edgy, on-trend and timeless. And — this is a big one — they're always easy to style.

Salcedo's quick to explain that he has no interest in following the trends — or pushing his clients into looks that don't suit their hair. "I want to change the way people look at hair, so that they can embrace what they have," he says. "My inspiration comes from the need to not follow rules; I want to be the one that brings about new ideas. In my mind, anything and everything is possible."

Naturally, his résumé reads like a who's who of the L.A. hair scene: He worked at Sally Hershberger before heading to Ramirez|Tran; now, he can be found at Benjamin Arts District, the first high-end salon in the city's coolest new burgeoning neighborhood.

We recently spent the day with Salcedo and six of his clients at Benjamin Arts District. Ahead, you'll see the cuts he loves right now, including what to ask for and how to style it, plus unique tips and tricks that'll go a long way toward making your own hair 10 times radder.
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This story was originally published on December 13, 2016.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
The Model: Paulina Shafir
The Cut: Sexy bangs

Salcedo describes the hallmark of this cut as "sexy bangs," and notes that it's great for any hair texture or type — as long as you're willing to blow out your fringe (even straight hair will need daily styling). You'll also want to consult with your stylist if you have cowlicks, which could make daily styling a pain.

Paulina's had this chop for six months — and it was her first time with bangs. She tells us it was inspired by "a shift in my perception of myself. I've felt very edgy this year." Her favorite aspect of the cut? How it frames her face and has "quirkiness" to it.

What to ask for: Face-framing bangs that are shortest in the center, then taper out over the eyes and fall longest at the temples. The rest of the cut is up to you, but to cop Paulina's look, ask for a layered haircut with "short to long layers." That's hairdresser terminology for layers that are shorter toward the face and longer through the back, Salcedo explains. "The shorter layers around the face continue framing the face with the bangs," he says.
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A note before we start on this look: How your bangs lay is 100% dependent on how you blowdry them. To score straight bangs that fall smoothly, no matter your texture, it's best to wrap-dry your fringe.

Brush your damp bangs to one side, blowdry for a few seconds with the heat concentrated at the root, then brush all the hair to the opposite side and blowdry for a few more seconds. Repeat, going back and forth, like you see here, until the hair is dry. "This will neutralize the roots and make the bangs lay where you want them," Salcedo explains. Once your hair is dry and smooth, it's time to begin.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
"Use a 1.25-inch curling iron to wave the hair," Salcedo says. Working with sections about the same size as your iron, wrap the hair and hold, leaving the ends loose. Salcedo used Hot Tools' classic Marcel Iron, but a spring-loaded option is easier for at-home use.

Tip: You can also do this with a wand, which is a bit easier for novices.
Just be sure you hold it vertically for the same result.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Alternate directions to create more fullness, Salcedo says. Repeat around the entire head.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Once hair is waved and completely cooled (this is very important), brush through the lengths using a comb — not a brush. Salcedo prefers the Tangle Teezer, which has firm plastic bristles and breaks up the waves without straightening them. "This creates a fuller and softer look," he says.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
To score the texture you see here, mist hair with a texture spray. Salcedo suggests Davines' Definition Mist. (Dry shampoo or dry texture spray from any brand will work, too.) Then, warm a dab of styling cream, like Leonor Greyl's Éclat Naturel, between your hands, and rake your hands through your lengths.

The most important part comes next. "The key point while styling this hair is to make the bangs piece-y by pinching them with a bit of product on your fingers," Salcedo says. "This gives it a more editorial and chic finish."
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Lightly back-comb the sections underneath like you see here, then lightly massage your roots with the Tangle Teezer. This builds thickness at the root and helps to activate the products you just applied.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
And you're done — sexy bangs and waves made easy!
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
The Model: Tiffany Wu
The Cut: Textured, blunt bob

"This haircut is ideal for all hair textures," Salcedo says, but adds that those with "thick or coarse hair should consult with their stylist before the haircut, as taking weight out may be necessary."

Tiffany's had this cut for about three months. Although she tends to keep her hair on the shorter side, the bluntness of this chop was a departure for her. "I wanted to try something different, so I let Sal do his thing," she tells us. "I feel like my best self with this hair — it's fun and super-versatile!"

What to ask for: A chin-length bob with slight texture cut throughout and a soft A-line. (Slightly shorter in the back than the
front.) Thick hair, like Tiffany's, can benefit from invisible layers cut into the interior of the hair, which preserve the sharp finish while removing bulk. "I give blunt haircuts interior layers because it makes the haircut move more, making it more of a modern bob, rather than a classic bob," Salcedo explains. "It's a game-changer."
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Prep hair with a touch of oil for heat protection, then blowdry, rough-dry, or air-dry — depending on your texture and preference. Hair should be smooth before beginning, though.

Use a flat iron to create non-uniform bends. This is done by running the iron down the hair, then making a sharp turn at a random place through the mid-lengths. You can hold the iron vertically or horizontally — whatever feels most comfortable and gives you the most desirable result.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Keep ironing small sections until you have random bends through the hair and the ends and lengths have been smoothed out.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Warm a pea-sized amount of texture paste in your hands; Salcedo prefers R+Co Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste. Flip your head over and massage the product into the roots, then add definition through the ends with the excess left on your hands.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Here comes the trick: Back-iron random sections of hair by lightly clamping down on the ends and gliding the iron up the section without stopping. This is similar to back-combing, but be very careful — you don't want the iron on the hair any longer than usual, or you'll cause heat damage.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Repeat this process with your fingers. Warm a little more product in your hands, hold a small section with one hand, and run your fingers up the section with the other hand, as seen here.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Et voilà! Shake out your modern, blunt bob and go.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
The Model: Kari Michelle
The Cut: Modern shag

This chop is ideal for curly hair, Salcedo says, and perfect for individuals who crave an on-trend shag and want to embrace their natural texture.

"I've had this cut for about a year now and haven't grown tired of it — which is rare for me," Kari says. The chop came out of necessity: "I had colored my hair every shade my strands could stand, and that left my hair super-damaged. I needed a revamp and decided for the first time to play with my length," she says. "I've had hair past my shoulders for as long as I can remember before this cut."

Salcedo recently finessed the cut into what it is now. "My favorite thing about this haircut is it makes me feel cool no matter what I wear," Kari says. "I also appreciate how easy the upkeep is, and I'm happy I can embrace my natural texture."

What to ask for: Salcedo describes this cut as a classic shag with round layers. Tell your hairstylist you want "layers that are about the same length throughout your hair, which will create the shag look," he adds. The front, face-framing section is the exception: "This section should be cut shorter, which creates the bangs," he says.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Salcedo swears by this trick for curly hair (and Kari even does it at home, too): Prep towel-dried hair with hand lotion by massaging it in your hands, then scrunching through locks. Both Salcedo and Kari use Aēsop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm. Styling cream works, too, but this hack is Salcedo's go-to: "Hand cream is ideal on curly hair because it shapes the curls very nicely and gets rid of frizz like no other."
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Ideally, you'll allow the hair to air-dry undisturbed, Salcedo says, but you can also diffuse curls with a dryer. To do so, flip your head forward and use a fabric or plastic diffuser to dry hair as you scrunch and shape with your hands. Try the Hot Sock Diffuser for a similar result.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Scrunch in a bit more hand cream or styling cream once dry.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Salcedo then used a half-inch iron to define the pieces around Kari's face and any tendrils that were frizzy or lank. This creates a more uniform look, he explains. The size of your iron should vary depending on the size of your natural curls, he says.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
And that's it: a modern shag in only four steps!
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
The Model: Delaney Sager
The Cut: Long, California-girl layers

"This cut is suitable for all hair textures," Salcedo says. "Anyone who wants this cut should ask for long layers and soft face-framing to accentuate their face shape."

Delaney's had this cut for three months. Believe it or not, it's a significant chop from her last style, which was waist-length with long layers. "My hair is super-curly and unbelievably thick, so Sal lightened it up by taking off some length and adding shorter layers," she says. "My hair is so much more manageable now — easier to style, and way too fun to play with. I'm obsessed."

What to ask for: Long layers suited for your density (less for fine hair, more for medium to thick) and a soft face frame.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Prep hair with oil prior to blowdrying or air-drying. No need to be precious with how you dry the hair, just get it semi-straight, with one exception: The front section should be pulled forward and blowdried back, like you see here. This will create a smooth bend in the hair, which you'll see ahead.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Use a 1.25-inch curling iron to wave the hair — the same technique as in slide 3, but this time, work from root to tip. Alternate directions for more fullness.

Troubleshooting tip: "If hair is too curly, tug on the strand of hair while it is still warm to make it more of a wave."
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Allow the curls to fully cool, then rake your fingers through to soften them. Do not brush or comb the curls.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Now comes product: Lift the roots and blast them with Oribe's Dry Texture Spray, then mist the ends with the brand's Après Beach Spray.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Use a Tangle Teezer to massage the roots, like you see here. Comb through ends only if they're too curly for your liking.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Last step: Go back over any pieces through the top or front that need additional definition.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
BOOM — you've scored soft waves with volume on your new cut.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
The Model: Daniele Piersons
The Cut: Pixie

This cut works for any and all hair types and textures — with one caveat. Salcedo recommends consulting with your stylist to see if your head shape will play nice with the cut. (Tip: If you're not pleased with how a close crop will lay with your head shape, consider going a bit longer.)

Salcedo describes this as a classic pixie, but notes there are some variances throughout the length that keep it modern. (See below.)

"My hair is a [constantly] evolving version of short," Daniele says, noting that she had a short bob for some time before going in for this cut a few months ago. Her inspiration? "Looking at old photos of the French actress Jean Seberg; I wanted it to look like it had recently grown out from a shaved head." She adds: "It's been a good self-esteem boost. Not because I always feel beautiful...but because even when I wake up looking like a hot mess, I still feel like I have a style that is special and unique to me."

What to ask for: A short pixie with at least one finger's depth in length. Keep the top slightly longer to have room to play with product.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Start with clean, damp hair. Apply a pea-sized amount (read: very little) of soft-hold hair paste or pomade to damp hair and blowdry back and forth, similar to the wrap-drying technique Salcedo implemented in slide 2. He recommends Sachajuan's Hair Paste.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Once hair is dry, warm a little more product between your fingers and piece out the hair by pinching the ends together.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
That's right: You've already finished styling your classic pixie!
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
The Model: Zoe Elyse
The Cut: Extra-long, textured lob

This chop works well on all hair types and textures, thanks to layering throughout. This includes a heavier face-frame, which makes the cut incredibly versatile and flattering for any face shape. "This is a great transitional haircut that grows out seamlessly," Salcedo says. It's ideal for someone who is growing their hair out, but still wants a stylish cut, or someone who is afraid of going too short, but wants something edgy.

Because she maintains a platinum color, Zoe says her long hair needed a major refresh when she got this cut two months ago. "I was ready for something fresh and new," she says. "The ends were really dead and broken, so it was all different lengths." And now? "I love that my hair feels so alive and fresh. Now it can be easily manipulated, so I can wear different parts and styles."

What to ask for: A mid-length base cut with soft layers throughout and symmetrical face-framing layers. The shortest pieces start at her cheekbones and get longer as you go toward the back of the head, Salcedo says.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Start with clean, dry hair that's been smoothed out any way you like — as long as you mimic the technique Salcedo used here on the front section.

Using a round brush on slightly damp hair, pull the shortest layers forward, and blast with your dryer as you roll the brush back toward the crown. Allow the hair to cool before unwinding. This creates body and lift through the front section.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Use a medium-sized curling iron (1.25 to 1.5 inches will work) to create random curls throughout the hair. The front sections should be directed back; then, rotate the direction through the rest of the hair.

Tip: Concentrate the bends on the mid-lengths of hair and do not curl the roots or ends.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Create these soft curls throughout the hair, making sure to leave the ends and roots untouched.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
Once hair has cooled, lift the front sections and layer in dry shampoo, teasing powder, or texture spray. Salcedo used a professional spray device loaded with volume powder, but recommends Sachajuan's aerosol Volume Powder for at-home use. Then, lightly mist ends with salt spray, like the brand's Ocean Mist, and scrunch with hands.

Flip head upside-down, shake out the waves, and finger-comb into place.
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Photographed by Kat Borchart.
All done: Lived-in waves perfect for your new layered chop.
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