I’ve interviewed Aveda Global Creative Director Antoinette Beenders many times—watched her transform makeover subjects; seen her teach new techniques to an auditorium full of hairstylists; followed her backstage at New York Fashion Week. But yesterday was the first time I sat down in her chair, at the annual Earth Month Cut-a-Thon at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis.
She’s not shy. “You should be using products for African American hair,” she said, fingering my frizz and unruly waves.
Of course I should. Why has no one ever mentioned this to the hapless white girl?
I know my thick, wavy hair is a “blessing,” but I’d gladly swap a bit of bulk for some skills in the styling department. Which is to say, I'm hopeless with a round brush, and really need products that work. “African American girls are always trying to get their hair to condense,” Beenders explained, outstretched hands squishing an imaginary Afro as she spoke. “That’s what you need.”
Beenders, who is involved in the formulation of Aveda hair products, as well as the branding and ad campaigns, suggested Aveda’s Dry Remedy Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, recently reformulated to work more effectively on coarse or brittle hair. The real game changer, she promised, is the new Dry Remedy Oil. Unlike silicone-based products, Aveda’s oil penetrates, Beenders says, “like food for your hair.” Or, a pin for your cushion, which was another one of her euphemisms for my bird’s nest—hair, like a cushion in need of flattening. The oil works on wet or dry hair. For me, she suggested applying a few drops on dry hair—almost like a finishing serum. Never from the front—start underneath and work your way out, and always apply evenly. So the ends have started to dry on damp hair, wet them before adding product, Beenders says. (She also suggested Phomollient on damp hair for controlled beachiness that looks intentionally casual, as opposed to my usual "just electrocuted" appearance in the humid outdoors.)
But first, the cut. "I’m going to give you a proper structure,” she declared in that Dutch accent, which makes everything seem more grand. “You’re going to be the girl with That Hair.”
Every stylist I’ve ever seen tells me I need layers to control the sheer volume of my hair. Worn one length, my hair becomes a monstrous triangle. And it grows. While other people curse the flattening that naturally occurs to most hair over the course of a day, mine seems only to get bigger. And bigger.
I have some long layers in my near-shoulder length cut that I had assumed were…proper…until Beenders started digging around the back of my head. She clipped and measured and angled and removed bulk so that my hair has never felt thinner. Which for me, is a very good thing. An amazing thing.
Overall, the cut is not so different, which makes it all the more impactful. It’s softer, smoother, better. That Hair. At least, until I try to style it myself.