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Every time I settle into a stylist’s chair to get my hair cut, I pay extra attention to how she styles it -– so I’ll be able to do it by myself. I listen carefully to her advice. “You should use this shampoo on odd-numbered days and this one on even-numbered days,” she says. “Use this conditioner and this weekly treatment -– and try this deep cleanser once a fortnight.” I try to take notes, but then she yells at me and tells me to hold still.

“This will be so easy to manage!” the perky blonde stylist exclaims as she skillfully juggles three combs, five brushes, a hair dryer, and two sizes of curling irons. “Just a little bit of mousse in the bangs here. Some gel here. Some spray to finish it off -– but not too close to the roots…” She’s like Julia Child -– only not quite so creepy –- mixing together the perfect combination of ingredients to produce something that I’ll never be able to recreate at home.

I walk out the door –- after paying my $40 for the cut and $600 for the cases of products. I get into my car and tone down the poof, poking at the solid helmet of gel on my head until I look absolutely gorgeous –- in a crunchy kind of way. I feel compelled to go out in public to show off my new ‘do –- not that anyone will actually notice.

The morning after, however, isn’t so pretty. I get out of bed with my styling product-crusted hair sticking out in all directions. I grab my shampoos and conditioning treatments, crossing my fingers and hoping I use the right ones at the right times.

“Towel dry,” my stylist had said, so I let my hair dry a bit as I unpack my styling products. Mousse. Gel. Spray. And what’s this bottle? Did the mousse go in the tips or the roots?

I try a little bit of each.

Then the moment of truth. I don’t have the exact styling tools she had, so I have to make do. “Flip back here… Brush under here… Curl up here…” I remind myself out loud. I dry. I curl. I brush. I curl. I spray. I poke. I twist. I take all morning. And then I finish -– and I look exactly like Jennifer Aniston. After a tornado.

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