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Say Goodbye to Bad Hair Days

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A few generations ago, women visited their hair salons once a week for a shampoo and set. Then when perms became popular, visits decreased to every six weeks or so. In the 1980s and 1990s as hair products became increasingly more available, women styled their own hair. Today, most women visit their salon only every nine to 10 weeks to get a haircut and receive a touch-up of color.

And the result, according to Gordon Nelson, international creative director of Regis Salons, is not so great.

''Most women are walking around with a hairstyle that went bad several weeks ago,'' he says.

Since most of us realize we don't have time to spend at the salon once a week, how can you tell when your hair goes ''bad?'' Nelson says it's easy.

''It's the day it doesn't work, the day that it takes more product than usual to style,'' he says. ''That's the day you need to get it cut. Don't wait a week or two - you'll be walking around with a style that doesn't work.''

Nelson advises women to schedule their haircuts just like they schedule paying their bills and getting their cars serviced.

''You need to have a schedule for yourself,'' he says, ''and for your hair. Your face is the first thing people see when they look at you, and your hair frames your face. Having a schedule in place is easy and will keep you looking and feeling great.''

When we do arrive at the hair stylist, Nelson advises making the most of your time.

''A picture is worth a million words,'' he says. ''When you find a photo of a hairstyle you like, bring it to your stylist.''

If you're looking for a new cut, Nelson says to tell your stylist what you want your hair to do and how you want it to look. And if you're not sure what product you should be using, ask your stylist for advice.

''Pomades, waxes, gels, mousses and creams all work in different ways and do different things. Remember: before making up your mind be sure to smell the product.''

Other new hair trends on the horizon:

- Hair is going shorter.

''A lot of women are wearing their hair mid-length,'' says Nelson. ''This season they'll be taking the plunge and going shorter.''

- More products using natural ingredients, like green tea and vitamin C.

''Out are the stiff, high and spiky looks,'' says Nelson. ''Look natural.''

- Flat irons are a staple in styling, whether you have short, straight, long or curly hair. Flat-ironed hair looks smoother, shinier and healthier.

- Blond will be the hair color of choice, says Nelson.

''Even men will be sitting in the stylist's chair for color services.''

- Hairstyles are mimicking fashion trends.

Nelson's prediction? There will be more earth tones and natural textures as well as layering.

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.
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