What does hair mean to you?

WORDS: Bernadette Cliff, Owner Toni&Guy Broadbeach PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied - Toni&Guy Salons

Pixie cuts, buzzes, bobs and The Bee – there are plenty of beautiful short answers for long hair lovers to try.

THE most important anatomic purpose of hair on the head is as a source of heat insulation and cooling.

As a hair stylist, that has never really crossed my mind. Being immersed at TONI&GUY, I have always thought of hair as the ultimate fashion accessory – one you never take off. A way to express yourself, a personalisable, customisable crown that sits on the top of your head for the world to see. Or something sacred you keep under cover, away from the view of the masses.

Over the years, we see people change their hair, sometimes reflecting a feeling or a moment in time for a change in their lives or lifestyle. Sometimes just for fun. Occasionally the decision is taken away from you, as it has been for one of our clients, superstar Ocean Road Magazine journalist Corinne.

Corinne has long, dark hair. It’s really long – part way between her bra strap and bottom. It has been like this the whole time I have known her, which is around a decade. It’s like her signature. I would describe Corinne as professional, spiritual, natural and bohemian – a kind soul who would do anything for anyone. I’m adding these details as I think it’s important to know when I describe the moment I found out about Corinne’s breast cancer and my gut response so you don’t get the wrong impression of her; that she is shallow or obsessed with looks, as that simply isn’t the case.

After reading her Facebook status update on February 13, informing her outer circle of friends that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, my heart sank. And probably for all of the wrong reasons, her hair. I instantly knew she was going to be devastated. I have (frequently) suggested over the years I think she should change things up a bit and have a new style. Corinne’s hair is fine, so I was sure a shorter style would suit her and her hair type and mean she could have multiple ways to style it.

Cutting it wasn’t an option – that’s okay. It isn’t my job to dictate how people should wear their hair, merely to make suggestions for our guests to peruse and mull over. If they wish to try one of these options out, we can help and guide them accordingly.

When the day arrived, and Corinne wanted to cut her hair short in preparation for her chemotherapy, she really wanted to just get it all off – and as quickly as possible. Like ripping off a band-aid. Always looking on the bright side, she discussed all of the positives that were coming out of this situation and was determined to look forward to trying on wigs, hats and scarves.

As we discussed the super-cropped shaved look she had found pictures of, I recommended we take the opportunity to cut the hair off in a couple of stages. Not to prolong the inevitable but because now I was finally going to show her what I had been talking about all these years. A chic french bob, a modern shag mullet, a longer pixie were some of the quick snips we did to show what was possible and create a memory. All of a sudden, Corinne’s sad eyes were sparkling with a glimmer of joy – ‘Wow I like it’, ‘It looks okay’, she said. (FYI it looked better than okay and I’m not sure she will ever have long hair again.)

We continued with a tailored buzz cut crop and a beautiful head shape was exposed. Now her big blue eyes were taking centre stage and I don’t think she could quite believe how amazing she looked and how this cut actually suited her. We carried on playing with colours and lightened up the crop to a light blonde.

When I first spoke to Corinne after her diagnosis, I asked if she was going to write about her experience and was pleased when she confirmed she would, partly because I believe creativity is a fantastic form of therapy and partly because I really wanted to hear her journey from her perspective.

I don’t claim to be an expert in anything to do with breast cancer. I can only tell you my experience and hope that it makes someone reading, and possibly going through the same thing, feel a little easier with the process or the thought of changing their hair when it is out of their control.

And to wrap up this column TONI&GUY’s brand new collection Immersion is out now and one of the haircuts? ‘The Bee” is a statement haircut that elevates femininity by encouraging confidence with tailored, head-hugging techniques to suit the individual, exposing facial features by removing length. I think it’s going to be very popular.