“With bangs, just an inch or two can change everything,” Reagan Baker, our friend and favorite hairstylist. “There’s no uncool bang right now, every style works.” Reagan proved her point this fall, when three brave Cup of Jo readers showed up to put their hair in her hands, and the delightful Christine Han took photos. Meet Vira, Suzy and Gracie…
CoJ: Are you ready for a new cut?
V: I just got my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, specializing in wearable technologies for human health. The program took more than five years, and now I’m looking for a job outside of academia, which is exciting. I’d like to start this new life chapter with a new hairstyle.
Have you played around with your hair in the past?
I try to approach my appearance like I approach my research. Some experiments — even those you’ve spent months or years working on — end up being complete duds, so you need to constantly readapt and sometimes fail fast. It’s a work in progress, but I try not to be too sentimental.
Have you ever had any truly disastrous cuts?
In college, I visited a friend at Parsons, and in the middle of the night we decided to dye my hair purple. I’ve also had my share of not-so-great cuts. But it grows back! Fail fast!
How do you feel coming in here?
Excited and a little nervous.
What do you think of the final cut?
Some shock! It’s been a while since I had short hair, but for Halloween, I can be The Incredibles’ Edna Mode, a true fashion icon. This is a reminder that good can come from forcing some change in your life.
* Reagan’s take: Vira has the face shape for everything, the hair texture for everything, the street style for everything. She’s just cool. I gave her a classic bob with a few layers, and it will grow out easily for her. She could grow it down her back if she wants. I am prone to giving a long lasting haircut, it’s a bad business model!
CoJ: When was your last haircut?
S: Right before my wedding in July 2022. The hairdresser took off more than I wanted, so it put me off haircuts for a while. Then, when I was pregnant, it grew very quickly. Now it’s down to my waist! It doesn’t have much shape and feels heavy on my head.
How old is your baby?
I had my baby girl in August. I’ve neglected to do my hair and makeup since then. I’m hoping to find a new hair look that makes me feel fresh and confident, during this time where so much of myself is being redefined by this tiny human.
I feel like my inner being just needs a hug. My friends were surprised that I applied for a hair makeover, but this season of life has been so altering on a cellular level that it feels really nice to have someone say, ‘Hey! I see you and can bring out something beautiful in you.’
Any wild hairstyles in your past?
When I was five, we went to visit our extended family in Korea. My auntie, who was in her twenties, kept saying, ‘What do you want from Korea? I’ll get you whatever you want!’ I whispered in her ear, ‘A perm.’ So, after lunch, she snuck me to a salon down the street. My mom wasn’t happy, but everyone else thought it was hilarious that this five-year-old wanted a perm.
How does the new haircut make you feel?
Kind of sexy, which is not a word I use to describe myself, like, ever. But Reagan specializes in ‘bedroom hair,’ and I feel like that’s exactly what she gave me. It has more volume and flirtatious drama than my hair has seen in a long time. I’m excited to get home and show my husband and baby girl!
* Reagan’s take: Even though Suzy has a new baby, she was still down to have pieces that would fall out of the ponytail. I think it’s cool to have lots of hair falling down that you can tuck behind your ears. That way, it doesn’t look like a gym bun or ponytail, it looks like a messy Julia Roberts updo from a ’90s movie.
CoJ: What have you been up to lately?
G: In 2023, I ended a long relationship, left a job I loved, and moved from the quiet mountains of New England to bustling New York City. Basically, a lot of painful growth.
You mentioned needing to make that shift from telling stories with a ‘we’ to telling them with an ‘I.’ It’s a beautiful and moving description of what it’s like to go through a breakup. What has been helpful during this period?
Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Pretzels! Sending voice memos to friends in different time zones. And when I moved to New York, my twin and two younger brothers helped me pack and move. Despite all the ups and downs, I have felt really loved.
Are you someone who has had the same haircut forever or someone who mixes it up?
I’ve kept my hair long and in its natural color for most of my life, with the exception of a failed at-home dye job in high school that turned my hair inky black and my pillows blue, as well as a bob in college that left me looking like a medieval page boy.
How do you feel?
Reagan worked her magic to create an amazing haircut that a low-maintenance girl like me can take care of. This haircut is tangible evidence of the inner changes that inevitably happen when you go through something challenging.
* Reagan’s take: After her breakup, Gracie was in that mood where you want to Britney Spears it and shave it all off, but I also knew she’d want to feel like herself. I tried to compromise that by letting her keep her length and giving her a super bold bang. If she still wants to do something rock and roll, next time we’ll cut it all off! People always say that bangs are a commitment, but I don’t feel that way. You’re stuck with them when they’re super short, but before long you can tuck them behind your ear and they’re just a glorified layer. Bangs give huge results with super low risk.
Thanks so much for these haircuts, Reagan (you can find her booking info here, if you’d like), and thank you to our three lovely participants!
P.S. Four women on going gray, nine readers show their dramatic hair transformations, and Jannelle gets their haircut she’s always wanted.
(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)