Your Perfect Haircut Has Nothing To Do With Your Face Shape

Photo: James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock.
For the past five years, every time I've gotten a haircut, I've brought along an image of Alexa Chung with me. Her tousled chestnut strands have long been the envy of lazy girls everywhere. But the cut eluded me until just last year, when I finally hooked up with Wes Sharpton of Hairstory Studio. After he snipped my hair, Sharpton explained that the cut would look better with time, and that instead of having a hairstyle, I now had a hair journey to look forward to. He spritzed on some texture spray and asked me to come back in three months.

Of course, he was right. As my hair grew, the style got better and better, until right before our three-month appointment. And when I went in for my next cut, Sharpton did the same thing all over again. It was like magic — I'd finally reached peak-Alexa. But I had no idea what he was actually doing to make my hair look so good. That is, until I read an old interview with Chung about her hair. She described what she and her hairstylist, George Northwood, called Future Cuts. "Future Cuts are about planning ahead instead of being reactive, so [your hair] grows into the thing you want it to be," she explained.

Chung went on to say that Northwood was likely the reason people liked her hair, so I decided to go straight to the source to chat Future Cuts. "It came about as a concept when Alexa was moving to New York, and she still wanted me to cut her hair," Northwood explained from his London salon. "So we very much needed to give her a haircut that would last and grow into itself."

This is a great concept…if you're patient. And that's the sticking point. Most women crave instant gratification when it comes to hair. We want things to look great right away, with as little effort as possible. But we rarely consider the fact that our hair is growing continuously — the cut we have today won’t look the same in a week. "Typically, haircuts look better after two weeks, but with Alexa, we had to go further, because there would likely be three months between salon visits for her," Northwood said.

The trick to the Future Cut is weight distribution. "It's about removing harsh lines or chunkiness," Northwood explained. "It's figuring out where the hair is going to grow out first." For example, a lot of women's hair tends to grow out in the back faster than in the front. So, in those cases, Northwood removes more weight from the back, so that the entire look is balanced and will grow out at an even rate.

One note: This type of cutting doesn't lend itself well to blunt, sharp angles and fringe. The key is to keep things soft with airy layers, so the grow-out process is seamless. Northwood also said that the typical "rules" of cutting — like styling for your face shape — don't really come into play here.

Northwood — and my hairstylist Sharpton, for that matter — do recommend regular trims. "It's always good to have a trim every three months to keep your ends from splitting," he said. "It makes the hair easier to keep up with." And while that may seem a little high-maintenance, the payoff is hair that basically always looks good. "You have more good hair days than you would with other haircuts," Northwood said.

Honestly, who can argue with that?
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