Hair how-to video has hits and misses


Why is it that your hair always looks great when you leave the salon, but come the next morning, when you're alone with your blow dryer, disaster strikes?

It's a salon joke. Clients say they'd like to take their stylist home with them, so he or she could fix their hair every morning. Vidal Sassoon is now suggesting that you do just that. Sort of.

Sassoon says its 30-minute video, "A Guide to Hairstyling in the '90s," is like having "a fully equipped, professionally staffed hair salon in your own living room."

Not quite.

The video is somewhat helpful. But no more so than a good question-and-answer session with your own stylist.

Starring three of Vidal Sassoon's salon stylists from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the video purports to tell all you need to know to create three hairstyles, whether your hair is long, medium-length or short.

For starters, it would be helpful if you could buy a more specific video. If your hair is short, why waste 15 minutes watching a stylist show how to style longer hair?

Also, none of the models is black, so black women get no help from this tape.

Another beef: the video gives no idea of how long it will take to create the different styles. We see the stylist starting with a model's wet head of hair and explaining what he's going to do; 10 seconds later, we see him applying the finishing touches of hairspray.

I understand that showing the whole blow-drying process would make for a too-long tape. But the video could at least let us know whether we should expect to spend 10 minutes or the better part of an hour achieving these results.

The most helpful segment comes when the stylists explain the different styling products. Though they specify (what else) Vidal Sassoon products, the information applies to other brands.

Still, that's the kind of help you should be able to get from your own hair stylist. In the interest of saving you a half-hour and a few bucks, let me share this product knowledge.

Gels should be used for control, strong hold, solid shapes and wet looks. If you put gel at the roots, it will hold your hair in the direction in which you place it. You can use it all over your hair to keep curls and waves in place. Using a lot of it will give your hair a sculpted, wet look. Gel is also good for smoothing down unruly or fuzzy-textured hair.

Mousse, on the other hand, should be used when you want a fuller look. It resists humidity (which can flatten hair) and makes hair appear thicker. To apply it, flip your head over, start at the roots and gently work the mousse through your hair.

Despite my gripes about the Sassoon video and my suspicion that it's strictly a promotional gimmick to sell products I do applaud the idea of giving women advice they can use at home. And the video is pretty cheap.

If you want it, send $2.50 (check or money order only) to Sassoon Styling Video, P.O. Box 3359, Maple Plain, Minn. 55393.

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