What a difference a haircut makes!

What a difference a haircut makes! Incredible before-and-after snaps show how a stylist knocked YEARS off four women’s faces

  • Hairdresser Michael Van Clarke shared his tips for an amazing haircut
  • The London-based stylist shared four incredible client transformations
  • Revealed how to tackle frizzy hair and locks that look a little thin 

From too much frizz to lank thin locks, a stylist has revealed how to tackle common hair woes. 

Michael Van Clarke, who has an eponymous salon in London’s Marylebone, told FEMAIL ‘lazy 10-minute haircuts’ are becoming more commonplace and often mean women are being left with styles that require ‘more work’ but leave them feeling ‘less confident’. 

However these issues can be reversed with a considered cut and colour, as seen with the four examples below. 

Michael explained that women with fine hair are often put off having layers cut in, but these can add amazing volume. Meanwhile lazy ‘A-line’ cuts create a heaviness around the face that fail to flatter. 

Here, a look at four common hair problems – and how they were solved.  

Lindsey, 47

THE PROBLEM: Frizzy hair with a poor haircut 

Frizzy hair can be problematic. Unfortunately, it’s made much worse by poor haircutting. This will mean more fiddling with your hair, taking too long to blowdry your style, which then doesn’t last, and generally looking way below your best.

Try the ‘tornado test’ 

A great haircut is a feat of structural engineering. It balances the different lengths, textures and thicknesses of 100,000 plus strands, so the hair wants to fall into the desired shape; naturally, effortlessly, even after being windswept.

In fact, at the end of a haircut I’ll often give a ‘Tornado Test’. By blasting the hair around in all directions with a hairdryer, I can see how it behaves under pressure and how easily it wants to fall back into style. 

This test can highlight imperfections in the balance of weight, which helps in fine-tuning the haircut. 

The cut is the most important part of your hairstyle and should do most of the work. If it’s not cut well you will work harder styling and feel less confident.

Lindsey’s haircut was typical of the corrective work I do for new clients. It had an incoherent outline shape with clunky stepped layers hacked into it. This pulled all the energy into the wavy roots and left the thin wispy ends swinging in the wind, making the whole effect look both leaden and frizzy. A lazy 10-minute haircut. Unfortunately, becoming the norm.

Correcting Lindsey’s hair didn’t involve taking away much length. But it needed a distinct outline and proper layering to blend the layers, strengthen the ends, and eliminate the heavy, ageing and wig-like effect. Youthful hair moves – a leaden hairstyle adds years.

Rocky our Senior Colourist, did an amazing job of balancing out the colour and introducing contrast with warmer and lighter highlights, followed with a golden gloss toner.  

For Lindsey’s hair we used LifeSaver Prewash Treatment to rehydrate, then UV Protective Shampoo and Conditioner. A little Thicker Quicker blowdry spray and Volumising Mousse helped give body and control. We used the Large Round Brush to smooth. Then finally a little Ten Second Transformation to feed and smooth the hair giving a little shine and texture too.   

Katerina, 33 

THE PROBLEM: Fine hair 

How to make layers work for fine hair 

Katerina’s hair before, was cut square and one-length. Very basic. 

Many people with fine hair fear layering because they may have had an experience of a stylist hacking down short clumps that leaves hair looking thin and wasted. Not all layering is the same and clever layering can make fine hair look twice as thick. 

Like many people, Katerina struggled with her hair. Because it wasn’t well cut, she overworked the styling and the hair became very broken, with split ends unusually close to the roots. This was entirely down to hot dryers being held too close for too long.

Our Senior Colourist Rocky used a combination of foils and balayage to create a warm yet bright result, giving texture, dimension and contrast to the colour. It also helped Katerina’s fine hair appear thicker. 

This bespoke effect played to the strengths of Katerina’s natural hair colour. By lightening a few carefully selected pieces, to create sun kissed effects, these shades of blonde and caramel tones complement her skin and eye colour, creating depth and movement. 

We chose a length to be flattering and versatile with long layers at the back to give movement and interest, and graduating lengths around the face to frame and lift the features. 

I prepared Katerina’s hair with our two favourite thickening products. Thicker Quicker at the roots and Volumising Mousse on the mid lengths and ends. I diffused most of the moisture out using fingers to lift and create natural body. I then styled smooth for one look and then wavy to show another.

Emma, 35 

THE PROBLEM: Heavy hair that hung like a blanket

It may not look like it in the ‘before’ picture, but Emma has great hair. But it was trapped in a bad haircut. The condition, colour and haircut all conspired to drain life out of the hair. 

Her A-Line one-length outline could just about work if it was always kept perfectly straight. But that’s not helpful with the uneven natural texture and waves. The layer about four inches up was also quite randomly chopped so didn’t show any useful shape however it sat. 

Even if it hadn’t been so poorly executed, the choice of cut wasn’t versatile so needed adjusting. We graduated the hair at the front taking up to five inches off, and connected through to long layers at the back.

The original haircut had dry uneven ends at the front which made them look frizzier. When hair becomes this dry and decayed its more difficult to manage and styles don’t last long. We gave Emma a LifeSaver Prewash Treatment. Nothing injects moisture, elasticity and shine quite like this.

Jodie, our Senior Colourist, crafted a delicate balayage and highlight combination to magnify the tonal contrast in the colour, and enhance the sense of movement in the hair.

Sara, 39 


The haircut hung so heavy around her face, that Sara mostly kept it up in ponytail. Her A-Line one-length outline and lack of layering meant the hair was also much drier and frizzier looking than it need be.

We graduated the hair at the front taking up to eight inches off in places, and connected through to long layers at the back. All without losing any of the length. 

The original haircut had dry uneven ends at the front which made them look frizzier. When hair becomes this dry and decayed its more difficult to manage and colour fades quickly.  

Hollie, our talented Colourist, crafted a delicate network of lowlights to create the tonal contrast in the colour, and enhance the sense of movement in the hair.  

The new haircut has narrowed the old pyramid shape (flat around face, too wide at the bottom) and given lift, movement and vitality with precise long layers. This haircut will look great smooth or left naturally wavy.

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