Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: How can I grow out a bad haircut and still look good?

A: When I was a civilian—before I became a beauty editor—I got more bad haircuts than you could shake a stick at. The strangest: short in the back, with a thin veil of hair like long bangs that almost completely covered my face. I think I actually asked the stylist whether he expected me to leave the salon that way. Mine is a sad history, so I feel your pain.

But there is help.

After a bad cut, get yourself to the best stylist you can find, says Mario Russo, owner of Salon Mario Russo in Boston. Ask someone with a great haircut where she had it done. A good stylist can show you different ways to work with what you've got. If you hate the length, consider getting extensions, which can last four to five months, says Russo. You can camouflage uneven layers with curls, so it might help to get out the curling iron.

Bottom line: Take good care of your hair with gentle shampoos and regular conditioning, and it should grow about six inches a year. Treat yourself to professional blow-outs for a month or two till it gets to a length you can manage yourself.