Did I get this bob thing right?

September Grace Mahino (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For months, I had been obsessed with cutting my hair into a bob. A few weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet. The convincing argument: a photo of Karlie Kloss, her jaw-length hair framing her incredible face and elongating her already elegant neck.

I wasn’t alone in my Kloss bob obsession, as Vogue (the imperative force behind the supermodel’s makeover), The New York Times, and The Huffington Post among many other media titles immediately dubbed her new look as “The Next Rachel” and even Time declared it the haircut to have for 2013.

So snip, snip, snip went my long wavy locks as I left them behind to catch up with style trend for the first time in a long time. The catch, though, is I look nothing like Ms. Kloss. I also don’t have a coterie of hair dressers to style my bob before I leave my apartment in the morning. There was also the lack of proper communication between me and the hairstylist who cuts my hair, as I got less of Kloss and more... Rick Ross. Okay, bad pun, but my hair was a hot mess a day after I got it, when the powers of professional blowdrying had already succumbed to workout sweat and flattened by sleep: limp strands, unruly flyaways, and long layers at the back peeking through like beaver tails. The beaver tails were the worst. I tolerated them for about a day and then got the back side cut even more, at a blunter angle. I also threw in a highlighting session to make my hair look less like a tangled mop. 

The upside was a hairstyle that’s finally satisfactory. The downside was my hair felt drier and my scalp felt like overly handled fruit — too many processes sandwiched between too few days.

So when I was assigned to try out L’Oreal Professionel’s new Keratin Steam Care Service, I felt like gently stroking my hair and telling it sorry. One of the first things I admitted to Bench Fix’s senior stylist Paolo Olandez was that my strands had just been through the wringer recently; how would they fare under another heat-centered treatment?

“The Keratin Steam Care Service is actually perfect for hair that has been damaged by too much treatment,” Olandez assured me, adding that the L’Oreal Professionel Steampod smoothing iron uses steam in heating the hair. “Hair cuticles get opened up so that the Pro-Keratin repairing cream is absorbed more by the strands and is not just left on the hair surface. It’s not the burnt and dried effect that normal irons have been known to deliver.” The Steampod smoothing iron, created by L’Oreal in partnership with global appliance brand Rowenta, features adjustable ceramic plates that apply uniform pressure on the strands, from root to tip. It also has five temperature settings, from 170 degrees to 210 degrees Celsius, to adjust to a client’s preferred style and hair sensitivity. The Pro-Keratin smoothing and repairing creams also have steam as their key element. Their formaldehyde-free formulation nourishes and strengthens hair fibers with the smoothening incell, and weakened parts of hair strands are reconstructed with Pro-Keratin. Also a plus are the products’ mild and pleasant scent.

The two-pronged Steampod Service is even more apt for those who want to straighten their hair. L’Oreal’s Keratin Steam Bond Service even has two choices for clients: the Ultimate Straight Smoothing, for those who want pin-straight but still silky hair, and the Natural Straight Smoothing, which gives hair more natural movement. My friend Tammy had tried the Natural Straight Smoothing treatment, and her hair has enviable volume at the top, with the ends curling in just so slightly; she looked as if she were born with it. Shampoo-ad straight hair, that is.

Less than two hours later, my bob 2.0 was sleek and super shiny. “The effects of the Steam Care Service lasts for three days,” says Olandez. “Three days of zero frizz and smooth hair, granted that you don’t wash your hair for the first 24 hours. Then, of course, there is the strengthening benefit of the treatment.”

For at-home maintenance, the stylist recommended using the paraben-free L’Oreal Professionel Mythic Oil shampoo, a clear and clean-smelling shampoo that has the vitamin E-rich argan oil and cotton seed oil and which balances the hair’s natural oil levels as it cleanses the strands from root to tip. Conditioning with the complementary Mythic Oil Nourishing Masque once a week will also do wonders.

More than two weeks later, my bob reverted back to its un-Karlie Kloss-like form. It is less dry, though, and my natural waves are even springier. I now aim for more Martha Plimpton-like hair, which is charming and chic in its own way. Who says the haircut of the year comes in one incarnation only?

* * *

The L’Oreal Professionel Keratin Steam Care Service (P1,500 for short hair and P2,500 for long hair) and Keratin Steam Bond Service (P6,000 for short hair and P7,500 for long hair) are available exclusively at Bench Fix Salons.

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