Hair. Where do I begin. Every so often I get this idea in my head that I need to cut my daughter’s hair. Or, rather, want to cut her hair. It usually happens when I get itchy about my own hair style, or after a particularly tangly patch of days (a few nights ago I was separating paint from my daughter’s hair strand by strand – it had hardened into some plasticy chunky substance – what child’s art supplies DO that?!?). Full disclosure: since I began writing this I have had my hair significantly cut and I have dropped my desire to cut my daughter’s hair. I decided that the topic itself is pretty useful, though. What is the best way to style your child’s hair for child modeling?
One morning in the midst of my style-change fever for my daughter’s hair, I emailed her agent. I explained what I was thinking, and wanted her feedback. I didn’t necessarily frame my question in a way that flat-out asked, “Will she book more or less with a different hair style?” but I was curious if I should be aware of any possible reasoning one way or the other I should consider. My agent grabbed the phone and called me within minutes, because she didn’t want to limit her response to email. Her first response was perfect: “If it’s what your daughter really wants, do it.” Now, how great is that? She put what should be the first consideration FIRST, and immediately I began to look at the pro/con list a different way. It wasn’t really my daughter’s desire, so maybe I shouldn’t be so eager to make the change. Then my agent gave me an overview of things like flexibility, versatility, the frequency with which the hairstyle I was considering gets requested…etc. What it boiled down to was things to consider, but no definitive answer. Or, as she sometimes likes to say, “there is no right or wrong answer.”
Now, I know not all agents are like this. Some have a preference for their models’ hairstyles, and that’s fine too. I will say that I think my agent’s first consideration being what my kid wanted was really excellent business…she put the emphasis on the child, which should always be paramount. If your agent is telling you a certain style would be best for your kid, though, that’s your agent’s expertise and years of experience talking. It’s just like hairstylists. You know how some take more risks and some leave the decision more to you? Or others will turn your chair around and cut and not let you see until it’s over? Same with agents. Just different styles.
For go-sees, however, you should have a hair strategy. Now, I’d like to prepare you for the collective gasp/groan: we’re growing out my daughter’s bangs. That’s THE WORST. She had cut her own bangs almost two years ago and we’ve had them ever since…but I think they look a little young and I want her bangs grown out. She is on board, so we’re in this mini-clip/snap-clip/bobby pin hell of go-see preparation that quickly degenerates into wispy annoyingness. But that aside, her hair is long and fine, but relatively thick. It has a tiny bit of wave and is not stick-straight, but will not curl well (to my degree of hair expertise; on-set stylists can pull off some amazing shiz). It’s shiny for the most part, but does have some damage from being pulled back in elastics all the time. My overall approach is to wash and condition the night before, use a wet-brush (BUY ONE NOW) after some serious towel drying, and let it dry overnight. If I wash it same-day, I’ll do a blow dry with a little Moroccan Oil or other light serum (I have a Garnier Fructis version in a pump bottle, which I love for the ease of the pump), just to keep the static away. For the actual go-see, she’ll wear it down with some clip or pin pretty well-camouflaged to keep the bangs back. (Just since I’m on the topic, for auditions I tend to do two low ponies or loose braids just so more emphasis can be on the kid and less on the hair. Since print is very visual, they should be able to see the hair’s potential.)
For girls with long hair, control is the prevailing factor. If it’s wavier and thicker, you may want to focus more on the serum and aim for a natural-but-controlled look (I don’t recommend a full-on blowout for a kid, because it’s not that common on typical sets for stylists to replicate that.). Let the client see what the hair has to offer. On the other end of the hair spectrum, we might see the shorter, thinner hair – it’s not uncommon for 3-5 year olds to still be growing in their full head of hair. Salt-water spray (I’m a fan of bumble & bumble; I have short, layered Meg Ryan-wannabe hair now) is great for giving some body to thinner hair, and you can finger-shape it into soft waves or wisps off of the face.
Easy enough, right? Now, is anyone out there thinking…<eye roll> “White girl problems!” I want to provide some coverage here for all hair types. African American and mixed girls often have a whole different game plan. I consulted a couple of moms whose daughters have great looking hair, and asked them how they kept their hair looking so great (and because these girls book, they’re obviously doing something right!). One friend has tried tons of products (I think this is common when dealing with black hair – there seems to be a lot of personal preference and trial and error out there). You can also meet any budget with products – for any hair type – but like everything else, the more you want it to do, the more you’re going to pay! This mom mentioned Ouidad and Jane Carter as her favorite product lines, but she has used some Shea Moisture products with success as well, and they are less pricey. For her, the process is really key in managing her daughter’s thick, controlled curls. No brushing is a big rule; and when she does “brush,” it’s with a large pick on the days when she “washes” with conditioner only (about 2-3x a week). She only washes with shampoo once a month, and she chooses a sulfa-free shampoo. Then it’s about the products to keep the curls soft and distinct, and she’ll finish with a bun piled on top of her daughter’s head held together with a loose scrunchie. In the mornings or between washings, she uses a refreshing spray to tame the “dry fly-aways”.
Another mom I consulted was not as specific about her process but she has some favorite products – she actually tends to prefer the less expensive product lines. She gave shout-outs to Mixed Chicks conditioner and Tresemme shampoo for curly hair, with Miss Jessie baby butter crème as her go-to product for curl control. What this mom did fill me in on, however, wasn’t so much the whole go-see prep, but the reality that many stylists on sets for shoots don’t always know how to work with mixed and AA hair. She said that can be a disaster. So I wanted to know: does she get involved with the stylists on set or does she sit back and let go? She answered me very honestly: she used to let it go, but no more. She gives them some basic instructions about products to avoid and says "NO WATER!" to avoid disastrous outcomes…and she says the stylists are actually pretty cool about getting the info from her.
I’ve left out boys, and I can say there are probably as many boy styles out there as there are boys. Long, short, spikey, Biebery: it’s all there. I’m going to remain very vague on the boys’ style tips, because boys’ styles are usually pretty specific to the kid. I think the best advice for boys is to just keep them “groomed.” If your child has a mop of curls, that’s his style. Use a little finger styling and a dab of serum or other control product if anything. Don’t try to make his hair something it’s not. Most littler boys have wash-and-go styles, and yay for those! Tame the fly-aways with a little mom-tousle or hand-rub before they get their pictures snapped. Consider the client – more preppy? Maybe a little more control. Outdoorsy, fun, athletic? Let it be a little more natural. I have heard of clients losing interest in boys if their hairstyle is too “trendy,” but I’m going to circle all the way back to the beginning: it should probably be the style your kid wants. (I’m sticking with “probably” here because I would not be too happy with the shaved-side 3-color Mohawk option. There is probably a client out there who would book the kid, but I just wouldn’t want to look at my kid like that every day!)
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