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By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

I have a hair dilemma that I could use some help with. I have the kind of hair that stylists love (very, very, thick, lots of natural curl but straightens pretty well, lots of shine) but can be pretty hard to manage day-to-day when it’s long. I have always kept it pretty short-about chin length- with lots of layers to manage the thickness and make it easy to blow out. But I started growing it out for my wedding last summer and have decided to keep growing it so it can be donated.

So, two dilemmas- I am trimming my hair pretty regularly so that when Locks of Love gets my hair they don’t say “what is this bundle of straw someone sent us?”, and still going to my usual stylist for the trims. While she’s worth every penny for my old and elaborate cute short layery cuts, I feel pretty silly shelling out fifty bucks for a 1/4″ trim. Will the Hair Cuttery or MasterCuts or some other weird strip-mall salon totally ruin my hair? It seems like a pretty straightforward thing to do, but since I have so much hair I’m worried they’ll mess it up. Thoughts?

Second, I think I need a really great deep conditioner to manage such thick dry hair at this length, and I’m hoping to spend around $15-ish dollars? if at all possible. I’m hoping for something that will make dry ends look less so when blown out and control the frizz when I leave it curly. Any recommendations?


Any time you try a new stylist — whether they charge $50 or $15 — there’s a risk they might screw up your hair. At the Hair Cuttery you run the risk of getting someone who can’t cut a straight line (happened to me on several occasions, back when I used cheap shampoo and got cheaps cuts and wondered why my hair always looked like ass), but at a more expensive place you might get someone who doesn’t listen — someone who doesn’t care that you’re growing your hair out and decides to cut layers you don’t want, because They Are God’s Gift To Hair.

With your hair type, though, the chance of a bad trim really screwing things up is pretty slim. Thick, curly and long hair covers a multitude of scissor sins fairly easily. My hair is fine and straight but very, very long, and even though I hastily chopped three inches of ratty dead ends off myself on Friday (!!), you can’t really tell that I didn’t cut the straightest of lines. It’s not great, like at all, but it will buy me some time while my stylist is on vacation. (I am Queen of Bad Hair Appointment Timing, since I always wait too long to call the salon, and if I can’t get an appointment immediately, I’m pretty much screwed and have to wear a hat in the meantime.)
DIY Kitchen Shear Haircut

Not great, but SO MUCH BETTER than the “before” picture, which thankfully, does not exist.

There are plenty of stylists at the walk-in places who are perfectly capable of giving you a good trim. And there are probably a few who aren’t, but hopefully it won’t be that noticeable. Just be really clear on the 1/4 inch request, be ready to yelp if they appear to be cutting more. And a crooked trim can be fixed in your bathroom at home, with a little help from your husband or a friend.

And if you haven’t already, you might want to nicely ask your regular stylist for a price break — maybe offer to show up with wet hair and skip the blowdry. Some salons have a lower price point for trims, but some don’t. But it doesn’t hurt, as a loyal regular, to ask.

As for the conditioner question, you can see my list of recommendations here — and the Wella Deep Treatment is $15 exactly. (Although the Kiehl’s is $10 more for an additional 3 ounces of product, and I think it’s definitely worth it.) Our intrepid commenters have other recommendations there too.

You might also want to consider a tonic or leave-in conditioner to further fight the frizz, since blowdrying hair straight is a really harsh thing to be doing everyday. Rubbing a little of BedHead’s Ego Boost on the bottom inch of so of your hair will help those dry ends, while Fast Fixx (no longer available) or B&B Tonic will help fight the frizz.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • tmb

    January 8, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    I have tried a lot of conditioners since I have very very long thick hair, commute an hour a day on a vespa, and color my hair. My hair gets really dried out and beat up. Plus I am growing it out for my wedding so trying not to get it cut too often.
    Although I know Amy is not wild about Pantene I am really happy with Pantene Restoratives Time Renewal shampoo and conditioner. and
    For leave in I use Potion 9 or Terax Lotion (I got the Terax at Pure Beauty. If you want to get it, I advise not ordering online until you have smelled it. I am not wild about the smell but a lot of people like it.)
    Also about once a week I put Monoi Miracle Oil from The Body Shop in my hair before I go to sleep and then shampoo and condition like normal in the morning.
    Everyone always tells me how healthy and shiny my hair looks and it is pretty strong especially for everything I put it through.

  • slynnro

    January 8, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    My hair expenditures are pretty lopsided (I pay $36 for a brow wax and $12 for a Supercuts cut). I have never been displeased with a Supercuts cut. I wouldn’t go there if I wanted to do something adventurous, but for my regular trims, they do a great job, and you can’t beat the price.

  • robin m

    January 8, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Sorry to piss on your parade but Locks of Love is evil and you should not give your hair to them. They don’t give wigs out to children, they make a few wigs, sell those, then sell the rest of the hair.
    They also do not donate to kids with cancer.

  • Broad

    January 9, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    I have hair like Laura’s, and I use Pureology’s hydrating conditioner to good results (tingly!). But if I feel like I need something deeper, I totally use a conditioner by Ojon. The one that I use has a patchouli smell to it, which kinda grosses me out, but if you can get past that, it’s really good.

  • queenann

    January 10, 2007 at 11:46 am

    I recently did the Locks of Love thing see it at
    and I can tell you I didn’t get my hair trimmed very often. I think lots of people over-wash, and therefore need to over-trim. I did do several things to make sure that my hair would stay in good condition:
    A high-protein diet (not too low-fat) will help your hair grow. You can go low cal, just higher in protein and good fats (olive oil, nuts, etc.). You will be amazed.
    Also helpful- using products that will strengthen your hair (I know, duh, right- but they do work). The Garnier Length & Strength products worked for me, along with any leave-in conditioner, and Nexxus Heat Protexx Styling Spray.
    Watch the sun on your hair- put sunscreen on it if you’ll be in direct sun for extended periods. Use products that protect if you’ll be outside for more than a little while.
    For conditioning- plain olive oil. Put that stuff in & leave it for as long as you can! If you have trouble rinsing it out, add a little baking soda to your regular shampoo. Also putting sweet almond oil on the ends of damp hair helps prevent split ends. Swear it works.

  • Goingape

    January 11, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    If you’re going to donate your hair, I recommend Wigs for Kids. They seem to be much more reputable than Locks of Love.