Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Fabulous and Feeling Beautiful Every Day

Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Fabulous and Feeling Beautiful Every Day

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by Nick Arrojo

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“In this book you will find my voice, my vision, and all of the advice I willingly and happily share with anyone who seeks me out, sits in my chair, and asks me for help. I hope it inspires you to be confident and beautiful; sexy and happy!”

– Nick Arrojo

Nick Arrojo is known nationwide for his ability to give women hairstyles that bring out

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“In this book you will find my voice, my vision, and all of the advice I willingly and happily share with anyone who seeks me out, sits in my chair, and asks me for help. I hope it inspires you to be confident and beautiful; sexy and happy!”

– Nick Arrojo

Nick Arrojo is known nationwide for his ability to give women hairstyles that bring out their individual beauty. Every week millions of “What Not to Wear” viewers see him transform women’s outdated styles or unflattering cuts into fresh and contemporary looks. Most importantly, he helps them to realize their true beauty potential. He not only changes their hairstyles but changes the way they felt about themselves.

In GREAT HAIR, Nick Arrojo reveals his styling secrets so that women can better understand their hair type, assess what hair styles will work best for their hair, face shape, and lifestyle, and get a terrific new look.

GREAT HAIR provides a complete education about hair including:

Identifying your hair type and how that impacts cut, color, and styles - including ethnic hair

Understanding products and how to use them to their best advantage

A style guide with complete instructions on everything from blowouts to updos.

Guidelines on choosing a flattering hair color that will enhance, not overpower

Dispelling myths and outdated ideas about hair care

Featuring before and after shots of real women (not models) GREAT HAIR shows how any woman can find a style that will make her feel and look terrific. Following Nick Arrojo’s advice in GREAT HAIR means no more bad hair days!

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Editorial Reviews

Nick Arrojo has our eye. Each week, ten million TV viewers tune into TLC's What Not to Wear to watch him dispense hip, savvy hairstyling tips. In Great Hair, he presents a full-bodied (320 pages), illustrated tutorial on matching your hair type, face shape, and lifestyle with the best possible look(s). Arrojo's mastery of techniques enables women to select and then enact a hair makeover plan that they can wear with confidence. Think of it as an extended one-on-one session with one of America's top hairdressers.

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St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
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7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

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Great Hair

Secrets to Looking Fabulous and Feeling Beautiful Every Day

By Nick Arrojo

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Nick Arrojo
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-37743-4


Getting to Know Your Hair

Every day in my hair salon, women ask me to give them a haircut that is the perfect fit for their face. They're sick and tired of having a haircut that doesn't suit them, and because it doesn't suit them, they spend an hour in the morning furiously trying to make it right — and failing. Just the other day, a lady having a consultation with me was convinced the shorter, more layered haircut I wanted to give her just wouldn't suit her face, which was marginally rounded. She was sure she needed to keep her hair long, and, in fact, was close to running out of the salon. She seemed to think this was the only way to save the life of her dated hairstyle. I explained to her that a great haircut gives you beautiful face-framing shape and complements your features perfectly. But the best way to do that is to get a cut that matches the texture and shape of your hair, not the shape of your face. Going for a low-maintenance hairstyle that works with — rather than against — your natural texture and shape makes you look fresh and modern, and it is easy for you to shape and style your hair each and every day. That's the message I give my clients and the message this book has for you.

Not every hairstyle suits every type of hair. If you choose from a range of hairstyles that match your own hair texture and shape, there will be no more fighting with your hair, no more running battles as you try to get out of the door on time in the morning, and no more spending lots of cash on the latest trendy styles that your hair just can't handle. Instead, understand your hair texture and shape first, and then pick hairstyles to match. Not only will the style suit you better, but when you truly know your own hair type, you can choose styling techniques, products, and tools that are your perfect match, too. Knowing and playing to the strengths of your hair type allow you to create modern, sexy, and healthy no-fuss hair — and who doesn't want that?

The lady who nearly ran from my chair understood what I could do for her, and, thankfully, she decided to stay. She had fine, fragile, long hair when she came to me. I talk about this more as I progress, but for now, fine hair is more limp and lifeless — it has less natural volume and bounce — than thicker hair types, so wearing it long only accentuated how thin and weak her hair was. As a result, that nice lady was battling with her hair every morning as she tried to give it more structure and style. Even for the best stylists this would have been a serious challenge, if not nigh on impossible. So I gave her a midlength cut with lots and lots of layers and a much softer shape, which naturally gave her hair more lift, volume, and structure. She left the salon positively gleaming, looking fresh, young, and modern. She looked that way because she had a soft-shaped haircut that suited her hair texture — not because I'd magically procured some perfect one-of-a-kind hairstyle for her very slightly rounded face. Day-to-day styling was made totally easy because she no longer had to try to create shape with long, flat, and lifeless hair.

I want the same thing for you. I want you to choose a hairstyle that matches your texture and shape, and then use the styling techniques, products, and tools that are right for you and your hair (all of which are discussed later in this book). That way you can play to your strengths, which will make you look youthful and contemporary — and all because you did the right things for your hair type!

The first step on your Great Hair journey is to figure out your hair's natural texture and shape. Let's tackle that right now.

Know Your Hair

After twenty-five years behind a salon chair, I can tell somebody's hair texture and shape within thirty seconds, but for you it may be a bit trickier. Hair is, after all, quite difficult to define because it is as unique as a fingerprint. Your hair could be straight, but the texture could be fine or thick or somewhere in between ("in between" is commonly referred to as "medium-smooth" hair texture). Or it could be a curly shape and still be fine, thick, or medium-smooth in texture. And that's not even taking into consideration the density of your hair — how many hairs you have on your head — which could be heavy, medium, or light. In other words, no matter what your hair's texture (fine, medium-smooth, coarse) and shape (straight, wavy, curly), there's the potential to have loads of hair or to have a light head of hair. There's a lot of variation. Let's simplify hair type by breaking down the different textures and shapes. Density doesn't have as much of an impact on which styles, products, and techniques you choose, but it does highlight how unique your hair really is.

Here's how to know your hair: Give it a good shampoo and condition, and then let it dry slowly and naturally. Every ten minutes or so, gently squeeze your hair in your hands. This helps bring out any natural wave or curl. The best time to examine your hair is when it's completely dry. Get up close and personal with your mirror, and as you read the following sections, spend some time playing with and looking closely at your hair so you can get to know it as well as possible.


Texture has to do with the diameter or thickness of the hair shaft, but if you don't work with all types of hair every day, how can you know if your hair is fine, medium-smooth, or thick in diameter? After all, you have nothing to compare it to. And even with the thickest hair, the diameter is so tiny that you can't take a ruler to it and measure it. However, you can determine your hair texture by paying attention to how it feels and how it falls. Take sections of hair in the front and in the back, on top and along the sides. Then look at how your hair reacts when you move it around. Does it quickly fall down flat, limp, and lifeless? Or does it stand up and puff straight out? Or does it do something in between? The more your hair falls straight down, the more it is telling you your hair is fine to medium in texture, especially if it also looks and feels lifeless and limp. Similarly, the more it likes to puff up and away from your scalp and face, the thicker the texture is likely to be. However, remember that the longer your hair is, the more likely it is to fall straight down (unless, as discussed below, your hair shape is naturally wavy or curly).

Thick hair has the widest diameter of any hair texture, noticeably wider than fine hair, and because of that it feels just a touch coarse and wiry when you run your fingers through it. It's full-bodied, dense, and strong, and masks your scalp completely (apart from any part you put in). Other good indicators: Thick hair typically takes longer to dry naturally — around an hour or more — and tends to puff up and out, away from the scalp, rather than lying flat against your head. It's this tendency to puff up and out, while also being dense and full of weight, that can make thick hair truly tough to manage, shape, and control. The right type of cut is essential. Short, heavily textured cuts that take the weight out give your hairstyle more shape and a lighter, looser look that is much easier to manage. (These heavily textured cuts don't work on midlength or long hair because all that texturizing on more than three to five inches of hair looks more like a bird's nest than a style-conscious haircut.) A long-length cut is a great alternative because long length helps weigh down thick hair so it becomes nice and straight (rather than puffing up and out as it would in a midlength cut or a shorter cut with no texture-defining layers), giving you a classic look that is easy to manage. My favorite styles for this hair type are showcased in Chapter 3, "The Ultimate Hairstyle Guide."

Fine hair feels thin and weak, light and fragile. It also lies flat against your head. No matter how much you try to fluff it up or spike it, it tends to fall back limply into place. Another way to tell: You can see through to the scalp even where the hair isn't parted. If this is you, then your hair struggles to hold its shape throughout the day, which is why cuts with soft shape and soft lines work best for you. Strong styles with strong lines that are dependent on structure just don't hold their shape and leave you looking like a mess. You can find loads of soft-shaped haircuts, perfect for finer hair types, in Chapter 3.

Medium-smooth hair looks and feels soft and gentle and shines quite a lot. If you run your fingers through your hair and determine it's not fine, light, and limp, and not dense, thick, and coarse, then you have medium-smooth hair. You have the widest range of options — almost any style can, and will, work well for you. I've chosen a few favorites, in Chapter 3, but you can look through practically all the hairstyles in this book and decide which one is right for you.

If you're struggling to determine your texture, compare your hair with that of a few friends or relatives. You'll get a better picture of how much hair texture can vary. For example, you might touch your hair and think, "Well, it does feel a bit fine, but I'm just not sure." Maybe a friend has much thicker hair, and when you touch it, that lightbulb goes on! If you're still struggling, go into your local salon and ask for a quick consultation about your hair (there's a lot more about hair consultations here). You don't have to commit to anything in a consultation — it's a free service — but you can sneak in the quick question: "So what type of hair do I have? Is it fine, medium, or thick?" Asking a professional is a sure way to get a better understanding of your hair type.


Your hair shape is defined by the amount of movement along the hair shaft. It falls into one of three simple categories: straight, wavy, or curly. The shape of your hair can also vary from strand to strand. It's common to have varying degrees of movement on the same head of hair, but this shouldn't pose any problems. If your hair varies from straight to wavy in shape, you can style your hair to be totally straight and smooth, or you can enhance your hair's natural movement to give you lovely flowing waves. It's all a matter of using the right styling technique. What if you're a wavy to curly hair shape? Great. There are plenty of styling techniques to help you use the uniqueness of your individual waves and curls to define your own personal style. If instead you want straightness in curly hair, using the proper styling technique makes this a fairly simple process.

To make certain you know your hair's shape, take hold of just one strand from the top of your head, near the crown. Grab it near the root and get really close to your mirror to examine its shape. Is it straight, wavy, or curly? If it's straight, it won't have any wave or wiggles, bends or curves. If it's wavy, it'll have smooth curves that go in one direction and then the other. If it's curly, it'll have a bent, twisted, or spiral shape. Now repeat this process looking at a few strands in the front, on the sides, and toward the back of your head; your hair shape can vary slightly, and in the odd case quite a lot, across the different sections of your hair. This is good to know because, for example, a lot of women have a bit more wave and movement below the crown, toward the back of the hair, than they do in the front. If you have that extra bit of movement, you can play with that wave when you're styling to give yourself more options. I'll talk a lot more about styling in Chapter 5, "Styling at Home."

Framing Your Face

Your number one priority is getting a haircut that matches the texture and shape of your hair. Then, and only then, can you think about getting a hairstyle that complements the beautiful features of your face. Most important in this respect is drawing attention toward your eyes. It may be a cliché, but it's also true: Your eyes are the windows to the soul, the focal point of your face, and your hairstyle should provide a beautiful face-framing shape. My message to you: Find a style to expose and highlight your eyes. That's where you communicate with people and it's where you have the most shape — the eyes, the cheekbones, the temples. Use this book to learn how to enhance these sensational features with Great Hair.


As you now know, it's normally the texture of your hair that is the key to finding a gorgeous low-maintenance hairstyle. Knowing your shape is generally your guide to understanding your hair better and, consequently, being able to style it better. However, if you're a true curly hair shape — you have truly spiral-shaped hair — a cut that matches the unique natural shape of your curls makes all your styling supereasy to do. (describe hair styles perfect for curly hair.)

Daily Hair Care

I hear many people obsess about shampooing their hair every day. They get freaked out because they think anything less frequent results in dirty, smelly hair that doesn't look nice and clean. While I encourage everyone to have hygienically clean hair, shampooing three or four times weekly is plenty — shampoo every day only if you love that clean, fresh scent of just cleansed hair. If you do shampoo every day, use a lightweight shampoo formulated for daily use and rinse well to avoid buildup and residue. These result from the shampoo suds that are left on the scalp and eventually begin to dry it out, causing flakiness, which is often mistakenly self-diagnosed as dandruff. Hair washed every day with shampoo tends to need more styling product because it's so soft, loose, and floppy, and therefore harder to style. On the other hand, one to three days of unwashed hair result in the release of natural sebum oils from your scalp (unwashed hair means hair that has not been shampooed; you can rinse your hair with plain old water, which does not contribute to residue or affect the release of natural sebum oils). Too much of those oils can leave your hair feeling greasy, but the right amount can leave your hair with a nice easy-to-manage texture for you to play with. If you're comfortable with natural oils, try this and see how it works for you. Just be sure to brush or quickly blow out your unwashed hair in the morning to distribute the oils and to shape and define your style. Don't use too much product, because it increases the dirt. Instead, see how you can create individual style with your own lived-in natural texture.

A final note: Some hair types — typically those with fine texture — do tend to pick up dirt and grease more quickly and may look a little too dirty to go a full three days without shampooing, but you can determine how far to push this envelope by simply looking at your hair in the mirror and making a decision to shampoo or not, based on your own preferences.

The Proper Technique for Shampooing and Conditioning Your Hair

The technique for shampooing is the same for all hair types, although the type of shampoo you use varies depending on your hair type. (See the shampoo and conditioner table for more help.) First, squeeze a dime-sized dab of shampoo in the palm of your hand. Then rub your palms together to create a nice lather before applying the shampoo to your hair. Next, spread the shampoo evenly throughout your scalp. The most common mistake is putting a big dollop of shampoo in the palms, not lathering it up, and whacking it straight onto the top of the head, then furiously trying to rub the product all over. This causes friction and damage to the cuticle (the cuticle is the outer layer of your hair shaft, the bit you can touch and see), which leads to frizz. You need to distribute the shampoo evenly. So lather up first in your palms, then apply the shampoo from below the crown and gently distribute through the rest of your hair while massaging — not rubbing — your scalp with your fingertips. In addition to being the best way to clean your hair and scalp, this massage is a nice relaxing treat.

As for conditioner, there's a lot of confusion out there as to how often you need to use it. A lot of people say that you don't need to condition nearly as often as you shampoo. That's just plain wrong. I can only assume that this false notion is a result of the deeper, once-a-week conditioning treatments that are now on the market. If you're not using one of the weekly treatments, you should condition your hair more often than you shampoo because it's conditioner that gives you texture, moisture, and shine, all vital to lovely, luscious hair. Rinse your hair with water and then, while still in the shower or bath, apply and rinse out your conditioning product. Conditioner not only makes your hair look and feel softer and smoother, it also calms your hair down, making it easier to shape and style. For that reason it's beneficial to condition more often than you shampoo— it can be done every day if you have the time and inclination.


Excerpted from Great Hair by Nick Arrojo. Copyright © 2008 Nick Arrojo. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Fabulous and Feeling Beautiful Every Day 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
WifeOfLeisure More than 1 year ago
This is a worthwhile book. It is well written and organized with descriptive photos throughout. The author has provided a good number of hairstyle ideas for every hair type. He explains how to know what kind of hair you have and what you can expect from your hair in terms of style because of its type.

His chapter on styling your hair at home is great! I have been having some bad hair days lately and from reading through this chapter once and following his easy to follow advice, I actually love my hair. I could never blow my fine hair out like this before. The chapter explained how to use the tools (brushes, clips, dryers and irons) and how to use products. I have so many products that I quit using because I thought they weighed down my hair. Now that I know how to use them, I can actually use them with very nice results.

There is an informative chapter on color, and he also discusses terms that stylists use often. This is sure to make communication with your stylist much easier. He covers so much more in this book, but these were things that I really cared about and learned about.

I am usually suspect about beauty books, but this is very well done and informative. I highly recommend this book to anyone with hair.
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Machazait More than 1 year ago
I always loved to watch Nick's work on What Not To Wear because I noticed that he never straightened any naturally curly hair. Rather, he worked with it and showed the women how to make the natural curls look their best. When I saw that he'd written a book, I ran to get it, and I was not disappointed. I loved the makeovers and the different cut ideas, and I loved seeing women with naturally curly hair enhanced, not straightened. Having naturally curly hair myself, I could relate to that. I also loved that he addressed (albeit briefly) some of the medical issues that affect the hair, like alopecia and pregnancy/post-partum. Thank you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THis book answered every hair question I ever had or ever thought I'd have. It's a style companion I'll keep near my blow dryer always as a reference guide. Also the tips with selecting a stylist and personalized 'look' were a great help and a lot of fun. Thank you Nick Arrojo!