What your hair says about you

We all know that it’s what’s on the inside that really defines a person. But your appearance, including your hair, does matter.

“We have many decades of research that physical attractiveness, including hair, does affect how others perceive you, and the opportunities that are created,” says Carla Lundblade, MS, a clinical therapist in Beverly Hills, Calif. and a sports and celebrity counselor. “For example, studies have shown that attractive men earn an average of 5% more than unattractive men. And attractive women are also presented with a wider range of opportunities in their careers and personal lives.”

Of course, many factors affect your success in each area of your life. A stylish haircut and color may not get you that job or that raise, looking your best never hurts.

“Hair and appearance are part of a total package for anyone looking to move forward in their career or in life, and should be considered as something you’d improve just like your resume,” says Lundblade. “This doesn’t mean looking like somebody else — it means looking like the best ‘you’ you can be.”

Finding your best you

It’s a matter of discovering what’s beautiful about you, and then using your hairstyle to highlight it, says Rowena Yeager, owner of Salon Wish in Streetsboro, Ohio.

“Some people focus on hiding flaws, but to me, it’s more important to find where the beauty is than to look for flaws to correct or conceal,” she says.

Do you have high, strong cheekbones? A great smile? Large, captivating eyes? “Your stylist should try to enhance your best feature through your color and haircut,” Yeager says. For example, if your cheekbones are your best feature, consider styling your hair so that layers brush gently in toward the face at cheekbone level.

Maintain to gain

No matter what style your hair is, make sure that it’s well kept and cared for.

“If you have color, make sure that you don’t have a regrowth line, for example,” Yeager says. “If you have dramatic, straight, Bette Page-style bangs, you need to take particular care of your eyebrows, since they’ll draw attention there. You want to project that you care about yourself and care about the position you’re applying for, or the people that you’re meeting.”

Consult a professional

You should work with a stylist to find the length and shape of cut and hairstyle that best suit you, says George Gonzalez, owner of George — The Salon in Chicago and a former freelance stylist for many of Oprah Winfrey’s celebrity guests. In other words, the night before you have dinner with your future in-laws or go in to meet with your boss about a promotion is not the time for do-it-yourself haircuts or hair color.