Chasing the beach hair dream to its logical conclusion in L.A. leads Sharlene Chiu to a surprising realization
I’ve been obsessed with fabulous, freeflowing waves since the day I learned how say “hot rollers.” But, alas, my naturally straight Asian hair, too smooth to curl (and stay curled), has always stood in my way.
I still suffer from PTSD from the devastating hair trauma of eighth-grade grad. As both a first-generation Hakka ChineseCanadian and an avid reader of teen mags
YM and Seventeen, I was determined to have bouncy waves just like supermodel-du-jour Niki Taylor. I used hot rollers, hot sticks, curling ribbons, Velcro rollers and a curling iron one after another in a teenage panic (the most severe kind) until I achieved a semblance of curl. By the time I arrived at the ceremony in a fit of stress sweats, the luscious waves I’d envisioned had already fallen into a limp crimp.
In my 20s, my naturallooking- wave obsession evolved into a series of waxy bed-head styles when I became accustomed to having my hair professionally styled as an MTV news reporter. It took about a decade for me to fully shampoo out all of that pomade. Now, in my 30s, I’m freshly assimilating to a new life in Los Angeles, the sun-kissed land of “I just woke up like this” beach waves, and my obsession has been sparked anew.
The hairstyle that’s become as synonymous with the L. A. lifestyle as yoga pants and green juice is often cut, coloured and “By the time I arrived at the ceremony in a fit of stress sweats, the luscious waves I’d envisioned had already fallen into a limp crimp.”
styled (and trademarked as Lived In hair) by the duo of colourist Johnny Ramirez and cutter Anh Co Tran of Beverly Hills salon Ramirez Tran, whose bleached and textured ng admired on Instagram. “It om beach hair,” says Tran, who magic on notable non-blondes g and Demi Lovato. “I think a universal look because so e want to emulate that Ca liy-le.” Celebrity stylist Leanne Citrone, who co-owns the Andy Lecompte Salon in West Hol lywood, concurs: “L.A. is all about natural beauty because at the end of the day, we’re at the beach,” she says. “People go to restaurants in fl ip-flops!”
In an effort to immerse myself in Californian casua lness ia those much coveted waves, I make an appointment to see Citrone at her salon, requented by Jessica Alba, er and Heidi Klum. She starts blunt cut and then snips into r texture, adding soft layers “for movement and room to her other Asian clients, I have wn, so Citrone advises me to use Velcro rollers on top to “over- diwn” and add volume. rtly applies her signature styling Get the Look”) and just like that , i have the beach waves of my dreams.
I maintain this “effortless” look for a few weeks, but then I start thinking about something Citrone told me before I left the salon. I asked her what the next big thing in hair would be, and she replied, “I love really straight, beautiful, shiny, sleek hair. It would be great for you—flat-iron the ends, add a little oil and call it a day.” My instant response was “No! I don’t want what I have!” But I’m fi nally thinking that maybe I do. It’s no secret that Asian beauty expectations are extremely high, and I’ve been trying to mimic white-girl looks for decades because that was all I saw growing up. Maybe my change in perspective is me truly embracing the effortless L. A. lifestyle, but I’d like to think that it’s also me learning to love myself a little more. I may never look like Niki Taylor, but I’m learning to be more than okay with looking like Sharlene Chiu.