Saltwater texture, loosely tousled waves, imperfect layers — the hallmarks of the quintessential L.A. haircut are easy to identify. Pinterest and every West Coast salon's Instagram account are testaments to that. But the East Coast haircut of choice is a little harder to pin down. What is the answer to L.A.'s beach-babe wave?
According to Michael Gordon, founder of Bumble and Bumble and cool-kid hair collective Hairstory
, the look that's about to take over the streets of NYC is what's described as architectural texture.
Okay, bear with us here. The concept might sound a bit abstract — would you expect anything less of New Yorkers? — but the cut itself is pretty straightforward. The architectural portion of it refers to a "structured perimeter," i.e. blunt, scissor-cut ends, and the texture is mid-lengths that are shaped with a razor to create an airy feel. "I think a lot of hairdressers have forgotten that a line is important [in a haircut]. As in architecture, you need a base and you build from there," Gordon explains.
One of the main benefits here, says Gordon, is that the hair will naturally fall where it's the longest and, in this case, heaviest. "By keeping the ends fuller and even, your hair has no other place to go." This gives you more styling control and eliminates the dreaded fuzzy pieces that uneven, razored ends can create. And, because the mid-lengths are thinned out, it keeps the hair from being too heavy and hanging limp.
Gordon notes that using a razor in the mid-lengths will create a softness to the hair that is more flattering to a variety of textures and lengths. "Think of it as the difference between a charcoal pencil and a sharp ink pen," he notes.
To the untrained eye, the subtleties are hard to detect — you can't quite put your finger on what's different, but you know it looks good. "[It's a] subtle change in the way you cut your hair, but it overall does have a shape it will fall into," adds Gordon. "If it has a line to it, it's more likely easier for you to do. If [the ends are] too shredded by a razor, it will be difficult to manage."
This type of style needs to be performed by a very capable stylist, cautions Gordon, one proficient in both scissor and razor techniques — otherwise you may end up with a cut that looks like someone couldn't decide what to do so they just tried it all. He also mentions that this is not a quick chop — expect to be in your stylist's chair for a lengthy amount of time. We promise the results are worth it, though.
The only thing we don't love about this cut? It won't work for those with curls — the blunt ends in particular can cause the dreaded triangle look. Outside of that, we were pretty impressed when Gordon showed us all the different ways it can be applied and styled.
Click through to see the je ne sais quoi
styles — cut by the insanely talented Wes Sharpton
, with a hair-colour assist by our go-to dye diva Roxie Darling
— that are cultivating a fan base on the East Coast.