Long Story Short
by Liz Guber

On a whim last spring, I decided to keep track of my hairstyles for a week. On Monday, my shoulder-length hair was pulled into a bun. Tuesday, same. Wednesday? A bun with a heaping of dry shampoo. By Friday, my hair still hadn’t been let out of its bobby-pin trap and I was getting restless. “What’s the point of having long hair if I can’t be bothered?” I thought as I stared into the mirror.

I’ve always loved taking risks with my hair, but I was in a rut. A switch flipped. As if hypnotized, I soon found myself scrolling through a Tumblr account called “For the Girls Who Yearn for Shorter Hair” and Googling photos of Ruby Rose like my life depended on it. Within days, I’d booked an appointment at a salon that could easily be mistaken for a grungy tattoo parlour, hoping its edge would rub off on my hair.

The hum of the electric razor against my scalp gave me an adrenalin rush. Inches of hair fell to the ground, and I felt deliriously thrilled by the process. Forty-five minutes after showing the stylist a photo of a model who looked like Tinker Bell crossed with Miley, I had buzzed sides and a messy, asymmetrical bouffant on top. On the walk home, I shame­lessly caught my reflection in every possible surface, feeling free and pretty pleased with myself. I expected stran­gers on the street to congratulate me on my transformation. That evening, I threw a raucous party; my new hair was the surprise guest.

My new look has required new wardrobe choices. I’ve racked up an impressive amount of black clothing, and the men’s section holds new appeal. My closet holds less frilly vintage and more Alexander Wang. A swipe of dark lipstick packs twice the punch it used to. I love the new places this hairstyle takes me.

Cutting my hair short hasn’t given me more confidence; rather, it de­mands it in return. In those vulnerable moments, when I want to slip back into pretty beach waves or hide a pim­ple on my cheek with a side part, my confidence has to step it up. (My trick is to recall that moment in the stylist’s chair, when I felt a mix of amazement and joy at the unfamiliar result.)

As the dreaded grow-­out phase looms, I wonder where I’ll find my next hair thrill. A platinum shade, ex­tensions or some kind of plumage? I have absolutely no idea what I’ll look like this time next year, and that’s part of the excitement. I’m a work in (creative) process.

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Purple Reign
by Charlotte Herrold

About a year ago, I 
decided to supercharge my subtle balayage
with a more dramatic all-over blond. I follow 
L.A. colourist Johnny Ramirez on Instagram 
and became obsessed with the California-girl
 highlights he created. Unfortunately those
inspo pix didn’t quite translate, and I ended 
up with brassy-blond ends and chemical
 damage to boot. (Yep, that month of side bangs was unintentional.)

After several months of repairing protein masks, purple toning shampoos and follow-up dye jobs at salons all over Toronto, I was ready to give up and go back to my natural light-brown colour. “You won’t be happy,” my latest colourist told me bluntly, adding that I’d be back for highlights within a week. He talked me through a couple of back-to-blond options before suggesting that I “just go lavender.”

At first I laughed, but I soon reconsidered. I love being creative with clothes, but I’ve never been a huge risk taker—I don’t have any tattoos, and when, as a teen, I got a second hole pierced in my ears, that felt rebellious enough. Suddenly, I wanted to know what it would feel like to be the girl with purple hair.

And? I loved it. When it started to fade after a few washes, I felt sad and began thinking about all the other colours I want to try next: bubble-gum pink, sterling blue…. In the meantime, the washed-out lavender has toned my blond highlights to that perfect ashy shade I was chasing a year ago. Sometimes you really can’t lose by taking a risk – if you have a good colourist.

READ MORE: A year in Kylie Jenner’s hairstyles

I am not my hair

By Aliyah Shamsher

My identity crisis started in a Topshop change room. I was trying on a collection of boxy tunics, wide-legged cropped trousers and belted waistcoats and something felt off. My straight, long and centre-parted dark hair—the style I’d worn my whole life—was all wrong: It felt nondescript and boring against the new silhouettes. For the first time in 30 years, I suddenly wanted my hair to say something.

I didn’t have to look far for inspiration—my desktop is cluttered with images of stylish women with great hair. And since I’d just landed a job at ELLE Canada, I felt I de- served my very own “hair moment.” (A fashion magazine will do this to you.) I found a photo of Australian blogger Carmen Hamilton sporting an ombré chop and demanded the same from my stylist.

Afterwards, I walked out feeling victorious. My hair was distinct, loud and full of personality. But I soon realized that although my hair was certainly say- ing something, it was speaking the language of the Aussie I had stolen it from. It didn’t matter that everyone else was into my hair—friends, co-workers and even strangers gave me compliments—to me, it felt foreign.

My understated style had always let me fly under the radar, and the amount of attention I was getting (I have new respect for my blond friends) was jarring. Plus, there was an ungodly amount of upkeep to having that “perfectly tousled” look day in, day out.

After three months of trying, I went back to my stylist and tweaked the colour and cut; I’m growing it out now. Do I have regrets? Not at all. Sometimes it takes a moment of looking—and feeling—like a completely different person to realize you already know exactly who you are. And for me, that’s a classic-loving minimalist whose style doesn’t have to shout to be heard.

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