Suga: styling for simplicity

Every woman needs a simple, basic haircut. Trying to keep up with trendy hair styles can mean months of letting one style grow out, looking inappropriate in a bad haircut while on a job interview or wondering why you dyed your hair blond when you look much better with your natural dark brown hair color.

"Fashion comes and goes, but you can't change a haircut like you can a skirt or sweater," says Suga, a New York City hairdresser with a clientele that includes secretaries and movie stars, homemakers and high society. "It is so important to be comfortable with your hair."

Suga, who visited Boston recently, says a basic haircut can be made unique and stylish through special touches such as twists, braids, ribbons, curling, and combs.

"A woman should work with what she has," says Suga. "A woman with black hair shouldn't try to make it blond. If she has curly hair and tries to make it straight, she will still have a problem."

Suga, whose clients include Dorothy Hamill (Suga designed her famour haircut) , Faye Dunaway, Marie Osmond, and Cheryl Tiegs, recently published a book titled "Beautiful Hair by Suga" (Random House, $12.95). It gives many practical hair tips, such as how to pick a hairdresser, how to do simple style variations at home, and what kinds of cuts go best with what types of hair.

What should a woman look for in choosing a hairdresser?

"It is very important to find a hairdresser you can talk to," says Suga. "You should go visit the salon and see how he or she works."

He also tells women not to depend merely on talking to a hairdresser.

"There may be a language gap. If you explain what you want with words, it may go wrong. The word 'natural' could mean meny things." He advises a woman to bring as many pictures as possible to show bang length, color, layering, and styles that she likes. Then she can discuss with the hairdresser how these might work with her hair.

Suga is a firm believer in hairdresser and client working together.

"If a woman can't blow dry her hair, I tell her to practice," says Suga. "But if she has no talent, then I give her a cut where blow-drying isn't recommended."

The Japanese-born hairdresser searches for the English words to explain the client-hairdresser relationship.

"I am in sympathy with her," he says after a moment. "I would never suggest anything a client couldn't handle."

How a haircut maintains itself should show how well it is done, says Suga. A woman should be able to duplicate easily what was done at the hairdresser.

"A practical haircut is a good haircut," he says. "IF the cut will keep its shape three or four weeks later, it is a good cut. If it doesn't last, it is not good. The less time you have to spend with it, the better."

A good basic cut will allow a woman to do two or three different styles easily, and more if the styles are done professionally.

Haircuts are "limited" by such factors as height, hair texture and color, what sort of work a woman does, if she is actively athletic, and if she minds spending time blow-drying and working with her hair.

The amount of time a person spends on her hair depends on the length and amount of hair, but Suga doesn't think a woman should have to spend more than a half hour each day. Some city dwellers may have to wash their hair more frequently than those who live where the air is fairly clean. Hair should washed more often in the summer and less in the winter.

"Washing is good for the hair and scalp," says Suga. "Massage your scalp using the tips of your fingers." He says most people neglect to rinse their hair enough while shampooing. He recommends that hair be rinsed for about five minutes.

The question Suga gets asked most is "What is the right shampoo?"

"There are so many I would never have the time to figure it out," he says with a laugh. A woman should determine what shampoo works best for her through experience and talking with her hairdresser, he adds.

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