To Style Or Not To Style

Let's talk styling. What products do you need? What tools are appropriate for your hair type? I will discuss the basics so whether you're a wash and go'er, occasional styler, a complete novice in need of guidance, or a professional, there are tips for everyone. The right foundation makes it easy for everyone to leave the house looking and feeling effortlessly beautiful. It starts in the shower with your shampoo and conditioner, so if you haven't read the previous blog, Art Of The Shampoo, you've made an egregious mistake! I kid, I kid but do go back and check it out. 

Blow Dryers

You don't have to break the bank with a blow dryer. You can find a good blow dryer for about $150, which may sound expensive but is worth the investment and pretty reasonable for a professional dryer. My go to favorite brand is Twin Turbo. What I love about these dryers is that if something were to happen to it, you can send it to the company and get it fixed for free if under warranty and at a low cost if it's not. A powerful ionic ceramic blow dryer means less time spent drying. Time is money. So what are you waiting for? Chuck the $20 Conair and get a real blow dryer. You'll see the difference after your first use. And don't throw out the attachments!! Your nozzle is the most important one. It concentrates the hot air flow to where it needs to be, meaning smoother, shinier hair. Also diffusers are god sends for curly hair. 

Speaking of curly hair, when I wear my hair naturally curly, I do all my styling in the shower and then let air dry a little and finish it off with the diffuser. High heat, low speed until completely dry and then spray hair spray or texturizer and blast it with cold air to set everything. The cold button is magic! Don't overlook it. It sets curls. It makes your hair shiny. It gives hair a tousled lived in look. Use it! 

Brushes

There are a lot of brushes on the market. I'm going to go over the basics. The ones I think everyone should have. 

  • A detangling brush
  • A flat plastic/boar (combo) bristle brush
  • A round boar bristle brush

Those are it. Anything else is a luxury, if you're not a stylist like me. 

As I've mentioned, in the previous post, I LOVE the Wet Brush. It's the best detangling brush in my opinion. It is only meant for that. DO NOT USE WITH HEAT. It will melt. This is an integral tool in your vanity because excessive mechanical stress (brushing, flat ironing, tight ponytails, etc) leads to breakage. So if your snapping off precious strands in the beginning of your styling routine than there leaves very little room for error in the rest. To easily detangle hair, do it in the shower with your conditioner on (as we discussed in the Art Of The Shampoo). Or use the Shine Brush or a Denman flat boar bristle brush on dry hair. The natural boar bristles are the only brushes that distribute oil. Plastic paddle brushes do not! So oil, concentrated at your scalp, does not get redistributed to the ends, where it's needed, with a regular paddle brush.

 Flat brushes are great for blow drying bangs, bobs and straight hair. Round brushes are for hair that needs a little more tension: curly/wavy, thick or layered hair that needs body and movement. Metal round brushes are way too harsh for most hair types and yet that's what most people are using on their hair at home. I can tell, it shows when you flat iron too much or if you are using one of those brushes. The metal barrel gets way too hot and the plastic bristles are too tough and don't distribute oil. A round brush like a Spornette gives you the tension and shine you need for a wavy bouncy blow out with minimal damaging side effects. 

Clips

Clips keep you organized so you can work efficiently and effectively. They also can take the place of ponytail holders that, are in my honest albeit dramatic opinion, akin to El Diablo. A simple chignon clip like the YS Park one come in many different colors and can be used for a quick and easy impromptu up-do, which looks way more chic than a ponytail sometimes. I also love those Goody mini round claw clips. I even sleep with them in to preserve my blow dry for a few days. While blow drying clip the extra hair out of the way so you power through quicker. Always start in the front, that way if you get tired at least the front looks great and get as much excess water out before you use your brush. Never start blow drying soaking wet hair. It will take you forever and hair is easier to stretch and snap when it's wet. Healthier hair is the goal right? 

Flat/Curling Iron

I need to get this off my chest...flat irons are evil. Ok, Ok not pure evil but they're pretty bad if abused. If you flat iron everyday your hair shows the wear and tear. Trust me, I can spot a flat ironer the minute they sit in my chair. It causes excessive breakage. Occasional flat iron use is fine. I think it is one of the best inventions in the hair industry. Dependency on it as a main styling tool, instead of for touch ups, is problematic. Meaning no more than a pass or two of that flat iron. And its always the ladies with straight fine hair that are addicted that don't even need to own one. If you are going to use one then make sure its ceramic. Same goes for your curling irons. NO METAL. Now curling irons are my favorite!!! They can seal the cuticle, polish a look and add texture. Curl with these ladies and not your flat iron.

Products

  • Heat protectant
  • Leave in conditioner
  • Finishing serum/oil
  • Hairspray
  • Texturizer
  • Dry shampoo
  • Matte pomade

These are a few of your basic products that you may need/want in your beauty toolbox. Again we are trying to help simplify your hair routine, so this is a simple list. You can decide which ones fit into your lifestyle.

Heat Protectant

This product would only be for those who heat style. For fine hair I prefer sprays that tend to not weigh down strands like Davines' Melu Shield or Aestalance's Energy. For normal to thicker hair I love Davines' Oi All In One Milk. I am not too big of a fan of oils. They tend to not be user friendly. Even distribution can be tricky, can ruin a hairstyle and even require additional shampooing sometimes! Who has time for do-overs? Creams and balms are a little easier in terms of application but should be avoided if you have fine hair. The best time for application of a heat protectant is when hair is damp and towel dried, before you blow dry. Do not apply before using a curling/flat iron!! Hair should always be dry before you use any hot tools. Applying oil or spray before using hot tools can significantly damage hair, use these finishing products for, yup you guessed it, when you're finished. 

Leave In conditioner 

I like leave ins for when you just want to throw a product in and go. It helps control frizz, adds a little sheen and light hold. For the super low maintenance styler this is your go to product. I love the Aestalance Balm.

Finishing Serum/oil, Hairspray, Texturizer, Dry Shampoo, And Matte Pomade

Better known as your finishers. Best used when hair is dry. Whether going for a slightly undone, tousled or beachy look or a polished, sleek style, all of these products work. Serums will give a more shiny tousled look. Dry shampoo will give more body. Texturizers will give a more starchy messy look. For the sexy disheveled look, my fav concoction is to mix serum and matte pomade together and add to the mid shaft and ends of hair. I adore Davines' This is an invisible serum.  My all time favorite product I couldn't live without is HAIRSPRAY!! I love a workable, brushable hairspray that has a good curl memory. There are so many good ones out there. I love Bumble and Bumble's Spray De Mode (the fragrance leaves a lot to be desired though). 

All in all, healthy hair should be your goal, because healthy hair is pretty hair. Healthy hair makes color and styles look good or better. It makes styling easier or not styling at all a possibility, depending on hair type. This simple list should help streamline your styling routine and arsenal. Remember you don't need a lot, you just need the right things. When in doubt, ask your stylist. That's what we are here for.

 

Knowledge is wealth and beauty!

Art Of The Shampoo

Have you ever wondered why you've gone through so many expensive shampoos and conditioners only to be left feeling betrayed by the stellar reviews and recommendations? Why do you own so many half empty bottles of products recommended by a stylist, magazine article or swindled by clever marketing? 

Let's address the first issue: How often do you shampoo? If you just said every day I might have just cringed a little. It's a vicious cycle to break but for most people it can be done. Now keep in mind, this is not a one size fits all approach to hair care. I will break it down by hair types and specifics but always ask your trusted and knowledgeable hair stylist for their daily regimen suggestions.

Shampooing everyday, for really fine hair, sometimes is a necessity but try to keep it during the work week in order to give hair/scalp/wallet a break. For those that find themselves excessively sudsing up, make sure you "lube" your hair up before the actual deed by running a light hair oil throughout your strands before you shampoo. It acts as a buffer from the drying effects of shampoo. For fine hair, I recommend misting with a product like Repair Emulsion from Aestalance. It won't leave hair greasy afterwards. For thicker drier hair try jojoba oil, Aestalance's Repair Oil or Shu Uemura's Essence Absolue depending upon your hair budget. I am a huge fan of coconut oil but not for hair. It is drying - contrary to popular belief. I've seen it just coat hair and little else. I like it as an aftershave on legs or as an occasional summer lightweight lotion for the face. I've seen it work miracles on my daughter's eczema. I like to cook with it. Just don't put it on your hair. Use jojoba oil. It's closer to our own sebum (natural oils). 

Now to the art of actually shampooing your scalp. Yes that's right, your scalp. Not your hair. Meaning if you have long enough hair for a ponytail, you're only going to shampoo what makes up the top portion of your pony. The other side of the ponytail holder is meant for conditioner only! What you rinse from your scalp will cleanse the mid shaft and ends. Trust me, it's sufficient. With your salon quality shampoo, start with a half dollar sized dollop and add water to emulsify, not more shampoo. You're probably used to using too much. Have your shampoo and conditioner be the first thing you do in the shower. Your conditioner will be the last thing you rinse before you get out. That way you have enough time for your conditioner (mask) to stay on and do more. My mantra "everyone has time for a hair mask". If you shower you do and, well, we know you shower.

Pay close attention to massaging your shampoo in and not just mussing your hair around your head. The purpose is to break up sebum and other deposits on the scalp and stimulate the hair follicles. Now, after you've finished properly shampooing and rinsing well, squeeze out as much water as possible. I find towel drying a little excessive because, let's face it, most of us won't do it. Also I like a little slickness in the hair, it allows for ease of application and stretches the product out better. Using less is more. Start conditioner application at the bottom and work your way up. In doing so, your product placement is going to where it needs it the most. Hair is dead (that’s right gals and guys!) but the ends are really really dead. So show them love. For fine hair stop at the mid shaft. For thicker, dry, or curly hair it's ok to apply the remainder of conditioner to the scalp. It shouldn't weigh it down if you're using a salon quality and suited for your hair type product. Again, proceed with caution - don’t get a fresh dollop for your scalp!

Leaving a Wet Brush (the best detangling brush EVER) in your shower is key! Wide tooth combs are a thing of the past, relics to be scoffed at. In all seriousness, a detangling brush is the most unsung weapon in your hair arsenal. Brush your conditioner through for even distrubution. Clip it up and out of the way, that way the ends, where it's needed the most, stays saturated and out of the spray of the shower head. Once you're ready to get out make sure to rinse out your conditioner well. I don't believe in leaving some in for use as a leave in. That can lead to build up and an unattractive sheen that robs you of the truly clean hair shine. If it's not a leave in then don't leave it in. Wrap hair in your towel or pat dry instead of aggressively rubbing the towel around your head. That roughs up the cuticle and can create frizz or even breakage on fragile strands!

Last but definitely not least, let's briefly tackle the second issue. You have bought so many products and you're sick of hearing what's the next new hot thing you'll be wasting money on. If you start changing how you use your products, like we discussed, then you might like the ones you already have, or this will help you find ones you'll love. For fine, frequent shampooers, blondes highlighted or natural, and chemically stressed/over processed hair a gentle, preferably one with protein, shampoo is essential. For fine hair, I love Aestalance's DF or GL shampoo or Davines' Melu shampoo. For coarse dry hair, Davines' Oi shampoo or Aestalance's MC shampoo. For conditioner Aestalance's Protein mask is a top seller in my salon or Davines' Nou Nou mask. How much you use depends on your hair type but those aforementioned are suitable for many across the board.

When in doubt ask your hair care professional. That's what we are here for, to educate you, not to sell you product you don't need. If your stylist isn't telling you these things...look for one who will.  

Next time we will delve into appropriate products and tools usage!

Knowledge is wealth and beauty! 

The First Things Your Stylist Should Ask You

So let's be honest here, there are a lot of hair stylists out there, how are you supposed to know if your hair is in good hands? The consultation is the most important part of an appointment, especially if it's the first time meeting your stylist. This is where your stylists gets to know you and vice versa. This is where, if your stylist is knowledgeable, she/he can extract from you, with certain key questions, what you are looking for in a cut/color/look. 

 Here are a few indicators of a knowledgeable stylist:

 1) Getting to know your hair routine.

  •  How often do you shampoo and condition?
  •  What shampoo and conditioner are you using?
  •  What other products do you use?
  • Do you heat style? If so do you use a blow dryer, fingers, flat/curling iron, brush, etc? 
  •  What kind of brush? Flat, round, metal, boar bristle? 

These VITAL questions let us know what you (the client) are doing the 364 days out of the year we aren't doing your hair. In my experience, about 80% of clients aren't shampooing and conditioning properly and using the wrong tools and products. This is important because how many times have you left a salon, your hair looked great and then you tried to recreate that same look at home only for your efforts to fall short? This is probably because your stylist didn't find out if you were a low maintenance wash and go'er or a high maintenance flat ironer. Or they didn't go over how you, the novice, at home, could recreate that style or an alternative. It probably would have helped you learn a new trick in your styling repertoire or deterred you from cutting it in that specific style/length. I always make sure I'm extremely detailed and thorough in my consultations or I'm not doing my job. It's such a subtle nuanced dance we do, stylist and client, in order to reach a common end goal. 

2) Caring about the integrity of your hair. 

The main goal is to not just leave the salon happy but to be happy with your hair until the next cut or color service. We want you to be our walking billboard. The mark of a great stylist is that all your friends go to them! Word of mouth has been my path to success. You are our advertisement. Which also correlates with your hair health. Treatments in salon are great but money is well spent on quality shampoo and conditioner too. Your at home hair care is crucial to beautiful hair. The right products can extend time between salon visits and help with the ease of styling. Healthy hair showcases your cut and color flawlessly. A stylist should always tell you what they are going to do in order to achieve a certain look. Is it going to damage your locks? Will it require a lot of maintenance? At home or in salon? 

3) Discussing, in depth, your desired look. 

Color is seen by how light reflects off of a surface. The smoother the surface (your hair's cuticle) the shinier and prettier your color appears. Photos are a great starting point when it comes to discussing color goals. They allow for a more visual and concise conversation. Words mean a lot of different things to different people, especially when it comes to tones. There is too much room for error when something so visual is discussed just verbally. I always have clients saying "I know this is annoying but I have photos". I always respond with "that's not at all annoying. I love photos". I am left wondering what stylist has gone around rolling their eyes when someone has pulled out a photo!! I encourage people to try to look for photos of people with as close as possible to their hair type, complexion, and face shape. 

4) Reiterating exactly what you both have decided will be the end result. 

That way the verbal contract that you've both entered into is clear and your hair needs and desires are met. 

It's a difficult task to find a great hair stylist. This blog entry is my attempt to make it a little easier by informing you the client on what to look for. 

Next blog entry will go into detail about your hair routine. How often, how you should be shampooing your hair and with what. Stay tuned...

Knowledge is wealth and beauty!