Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where Not To Hair! The Big Reveal About BAD Hair Salons

    I  have worked in six different salons over the past eleven years. I graduated from high school, went to college, and did a couple of other things here and there, but I was basically working in a salon for 90% of that time. Every business that I've worked in has been completely different, and there were things that I loved, loathed, and learned about every one of them. Another one of my secret wishes is to have a perfect hybrid of all of them.. Maybe some more than others. 

        I aspire to be a business owner some day, preferably within the next ten years, but don't think I don't know what I'm up against. It is incredibly difficult to run an efficient hair salon with a great staff who puts out consistently great work and has a great time doing it with no complaints whatsoever. It's nearly impossible. Nearly. I think that I could pull it off with my experience, an ocean of patience, and the right attention to detail.

       I already have a fantastic clientele of terrific people and it would be my pleasure to continue impressing them with my skills and increasing success until I'm old, cranky, and arthritic. Physical debilitation will be the only thing that will stop me from my pursuit of Hair. So that's where I stand, because I would die of mortification if one of my employees ever felt the magnitude of the embarrassment and frustration that I've felt over this seemingly endless decade of climbing the Beauty Totem Pole one painful knotch at a time.  

      I felt embarrassment for a number of different reasons at different times, but the one that stands out to me most, cumulatively, is embarrassment that the clients that I'd gotten to know and respect had to see various episodes of obvious misconduct right there in front of them on the salon floor... from dirty surfaces and tools to outbursts from employees and owners alike. 

      I've seen, for example,
  • A salon assistant with a hangover fast asleep in one of two chairs in the waiting area.
  • An owner be an average of thirty (30) minutes late every day, except for the day after repeated claims of turning over a new leaf. That was about four (4) times. I eventually became unofficially responsible for starting that client's services unless he or she specifically requested otherwise. Then she would have to stew in her own juices.
  • Verbal fights erupt between two employees on the salon floor. I am not citing a single instance because it happened more than a couple of times in different arenas.
  • A well-established salon owner scoffed at me when I told him about some of the health and cleanliness regulations that I learned in early cosmetology school. I brought him the photocopy and everything. I guess money was more important. He did this in front of clients.
  • Shampoo Technicians who allow clients to recline on shampoo sinks coated with hair and residual color from past clients. The reason? "We were really busy." ..I wipe down my shampoo bowl AND the chair before every client. It only takes about seven seconds if you know what you're doing. 
  • An owner who has a hoarding issue fill her salon with excess inventory and clutter that can only be described as an interpretation of what Santa's workshop might look like.
  • BAD Receptionists! My largest and most overwhelming pet peeve! She's the first person you meet when you walk in the door, and sometimes she's not even paying attention. She's on Facebook between smart phone texts. She might even be rude to you. She might make you second-guess your salon choice. THAT MAKE HAIR HEROINE ANGRY!
  • Employees gossiping about clients to other clients. They might as well just shoot themselves in the hands, because they won't need them anymore. 
  • I have seen...deep breath... "Surprise" Price Tabs on services. Highway Robbery in the most literal sense. Look, I want to make money as much as the next person, but if I were given services without agreeing to their prices first, I would feel angry and violated and...un-trusting of that shifty salesperson in future business. I guess stylists such as myself want you to have beautiful hair with enough pocket money left over to go out and show it off. If you like to go out like I do, that's a good chunk. And we deserve it, don't we?
  • ((((#1))))   I have seen stylists make an error with a haircut or color service and spend long as it takes.. to convince the client that it looks good. Bad move. they never believe you, Silly...!
  • I, myself, have made errors in my beloved salon habitat, because you might say that I literally grew up in salons. So many errors.... I didn't know that they were errors at the time, but a good salon professional observes her mistakes as learning experiences. I don't ever forget about them though. 

       The above experiences didn't occur in different places all over the United States, they all happened in Westchester County, NY; And I was absolutely there. 
The reason that I've told you all of this is simple. I want you to have a great experience in your hair salon, and these are some of the obvious symptoms of a disease that no one needs to contract during their prized relaxation time.

Love Always,
Your Hair Heroine


Shampoo & Conditioner: Truth, Lies, & True Lies...Straight From the Horse's Mouth.

Thanks to my mother for reminding me of this important tidbit---

What types of products line the edge of your bathtub and the shelves of your suction-cup shower caddies and over-the-shower-head racks? Would you be embarrassed to show me? Are there too many to count? Do you even know what's in there? Does your shampoo and conditioner, God Forbid, come in the same bottle? 

Well here's a professional wake-up call from 
your Hair Heroine.

...Still not convinced? Let's think about it another way--

("Animal Care")

...And those others might as well be too. Actually, I wouldn't shampoo my horse with "Schmantene". I love horsies!

Every day, countless innocent people are duped by phrases like, "..For hair so healthy, it shines!" and "Professional quality ...Proven to work as well as salon brands." 
...Then why does it cost $1.97 ???? 

LIE: Cheap imitators work as well 
as salon-quality products.

"Schmantene is the Champion Duper. It's that smell, that stupid stupid smell. As I said before, I ask every client what they are using at home, and when I ask about shampoo and conditioner, I wince every time they say it: Schmantene. Let me tell you a little something about your good friend Schmantene--- The shampoos are full of sulfates. Scrub this in the next time you're lathering up that luxury:

SULFATE: [suhl-feyt] Noun; Verb. Chemical ingredient used in soaps, detergents, shampoos and other products which gives the product its foaming effect. It is derived from the sulphuric acid group.

Not only is this product also in your laundry detergent and your hand soap, but they use it because it's cheap. It's not good for your hair. It "cleans" your hair; It removes dirt and oil just like your detergent gets the stains out of your clothes, but it takes your naturally produced moisture and shine with it. 
If you color your hair, it removes your color little bits at a time every time you use it. I don't want to get too dramatic, but in a way, you might as well lather and rinse with the hand soap in Grand Central.

"So why do people keep buying it, H.H.?"

...Because then, you slap on that conditoner! Ooh.. That SMELL! Schmantene conditioners contain a synthetic, waxy substance. You may be familiar with this if you've ever noticed a waxy buildup on hair after using it for a while. It coats your hair and makes it feel like slippery liquid, but doesn't actually penetrate and ...condition.

So, to recap everything: After using the products for a while, you should have hair that is heavy and dry with a faded appearance and a little grease at the root.

LIE: " Schmantene"  will make my hair healthier.
Now, don't panic. This doesn't have to be permanent. You can still get your hands on a good shampoo that will cleanse the buildup without the harshness of laundry detergent that smells wonderful and a conditioner that will let you shine without literally weighing on your thoughts.
The great news is that you can purchase these products at my salon, or your salon, or a salon like mine!

I know where this is going, now. You're thinking in dollar signs, because salon quality products cost more than the ones sold in drugstores. Bummer! Stay with me.. 
The shampoo that costs $3.99 at CVS is made with cheap ingredients, like store-brand dish soap. It treats your hair like store-brand dish soap, and runs out quicker than the more expensive dish soap. So, you're basically left with hair that feels and looks like dirty dishes and you feel like a jerk because you're out of dish soap. 

The shampoo that costs $15.50 at the salon has been selected by a hairstylist to meet your personal needs. It's concentrated, so the stylist recommends only using a dime-sized amount when you shampoo. It's Sulfate-Free and packed with nourishing ingredients that are good for your hair.

The conditioner costs about the same and is enriched with natural humectants like jojoba and sunflower oil that are actually good for your hair and penetrate for real conditioning, not just a coating action.

Not a frequent buyer? Many salons sell larger sizes, usually liters, that usually give you more product for your money. They come with pumps so that it's easy for you to only use what you need, and you have the added benefit of not having to buy more shampoo for six months to a year!

Are you still spending a few extra dollars than you normally would? Sure, but I always buy the more expensive dish soap and I use salon quality shampoo. 

Truth: Salon quality shampoos and conditioners are worth every penny.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Blues and Relationship News

I was planning to form this post around what a good idea it is to treat yourself to color and a blow dry to ease your Wintertime Blues and refresh yourself during this annual Ice Age, but after pitching it to my wonderful fiance who absorbs and supports every iota of hair blather that I rain on him every day, I couldn't help but take it a step further.

I've noticed through the years that there is a seriously large demographic of women who feel strongly about sticking to their one, time-honored classic look; usually a longer, one-color, one-length style. This is not earth-shattering news, but I noticed another interesting correlation-- Most of these women feel that their husband, partner, fiance or loved ones like to see them looking the same way. Frankly, I disagree and I feel that it needs to be addressed right away.

First of all, this mentality results in a personal security complex involving someone else's opinion directing a person's own life that just deepens and worsens over time. It forces women to believe that they are only beautiful if they look "just so," and that's just not okay with me.

I love my clients, probably more than they would expect from a professional service provider; and part of my lifelong mission on this earth is to help them feel the best that they possibly can.

Secondly, erase your previous mental impressions and hear this:  
Your lover likes to see you in different ways. 
Save it on your mental hard drive, your blackberry, your crackberry or your schnozzberry.
Know it, love it, and never forget it.

I have been engaged for about a year. In a previous post, I talked briefly about how I like to change my haircolor frequently. That concept applies to everything from my wardrobe to my music taste to my home decorating style. My fiance loves it. He knows that my personality has many different faces and enjoys seeing it reflect in my daily ensembles. I didn't know that before this evening, but thanks to this wonderful blog I was inspired to ask him, and that's the answer he gave me, give or take. He's from St. Louis, so I have to translate certain things that he says into New York. I'm sure you understand.

That got me thinking.. I'm committing to be with this person for the rest of my life. Do I intend on being this same person that I am on Sat. Jan. 8 2011? Definitely not. I'm hoping for at least a minute amount of personality evolution from this point forward. That's obviously some good news that I'll want to share with the world. 
I'm trying to remain in perspective here.. I'm a hairstylist, (I am hair) so when I am having or especially when I want to have a great day, my immediate thought is to express that with a similarly great and possibly new hairstyle that I've never tried before. Are you waiting for a reason? Okay, it's because Why Not. We all feel doubt, so as long as you don't take it off the deep end (i.e. giant 80's barrettes or a beret,) stand by The Old Standby:
Your lover likes to see you in different ways.

To touch briefly on my original thought, it is totally advisable to treat yourself to a color service and blow dry during the January-February frosty slump. It just is, whether it's a 20 minute glaze to refresh your current color tone or a few highlights to lighten and brighten... Accompanied with a salon-quality, fresh-scented, someone-else-did-it blow dry, for around $100 it can add a fresh dimension to your outlook on life in The Season of Indulgence.

Love to Everyone,
Your Hair Heroine

Friday, January 7, 2011


Have you or someone you know ever had this  experience in the salon? 

The stylist has just finished cutting your hair, and while finishing her thought about penguins and world peace, she quickly dispenses liquids and foams from two or three different bottles into her hands and massages the mysterious great-smelling cocktail into your roots and ends. Intrigued by this action, you ask something like,

"Hey, what was that stuff you just put in my hair?"

Your stylist gives you an answer, whether vague or elaborate, and you say, "Huh." ..and pick up the penguin thread again. 

After your blowdry and pleasant goodbyes, you are feeling stellar! What a great idea to get that haircut! ..Only your spirit sinks when the next day rolls around and you find that you can't seem to even vaguely replicate the shiny, crisp and clean finished style created by that mysterious miracle worker at the salon.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this sad, sad story.
We may be highly skilled, trained, and well-practiced professional hairstylists, but I assure you that not everything that we do can be classified as a miracle. You remembered to walk out with your hat and coat, and hopefully your credit card and the rest of your coffee, but you forgot the key ingredient(s) for personal hairstyling success that will continue until your next haircut--- those products!

 For many, this is a nightmare.

At least 50% of my first-time clients have not ever used hair products on a daily basis, and don't understand why they should. 
I consult with every client who graces my chair about their "product history." Some people have one product that they have been using every day for years that they swear by. Another percentage has purchased different products in salons and drugstores over the years, but still don't know what any of them do and only use one when someone gets married or dies. Many who don't currently use or own any hair products at all don't yet know what kind of an impact the right one(s) can have on their day-to-day looks. 

I have terrible hair.

My hair is thin and fine. It has a wavy-curly texture that is also straight in some places... I have three cowlicks in my front hairline, and a big one right in the back at the crown of my head which, un-styled, creates that unsightly "yamaka" effect that is a woman's bane of existence and looks like I am preparing for a tiny model helicopter to land. ..I think I just figured out the inspiration for the hat with the propeller. 

You can see where I'm going with this, I'm sure. I can't go walking around looking like some sad model aircraft-building Jewish librarian with lots of cats... I'm only half Jewish and have only one cat. Let's project that instead:

My daily styling process:

After shampooing/conditioning and towel-drying* my hair (*Towel-drying: People seem to get a little hung up on what this means.. as though it must be something more than what it is. Towel drying is drying your hair with a towel until damp. Try to be gentle, we're not looking to pull any clumps out or create dred-locks, but that's all it is. Removing the excess moisture from hair with a towel.) 

I add a nickel-size amount of heat-protecting oil [To protect my fine hair from heat damage and add shine], and an egg-size amount of foaming mousse [To help control and direct my hair and add volume]. After combing it through for evenness, I flip my head upside down and blow dry my hair with my hand instead of a brush.. running my fingers through it to separate and direct and get most of the moisture out.

Once I can feel that it's almost dry, I flip my head back upright and grab a small paddle brush [For my short hair] to smooth and direct those problem areas.. the yamaka in the back, the triple cowlick bangs, and anywhere else that looks like it might need a little extra attention... and then I'm done! A little hairspray, and voila!   The whole process takes me about 7 minutes. 

Without those two simple products [And quick hairspray], I would've exerted myself three times as much for twice as long, likely producing a bad case of ABA (also known as Achy Blowdryer Arms) to achieve a result that looks about 15% as nice. ..And that would just be silly.

So what's today's lesson? Go get yourself those few items that will gift you better mornings forever...But don't just go grab any old thing! Don't buy the products that I use, or that your friends or god forbid your mother uses. Ask your hairstylist which ones are right for YOUR hair. Or, just ask me!

Love always,
Your Hairoine

Hairoine---The Best Buzz I Can Give You.

I am a hairstylist. There is literally nothing that I love more than hair, obligatory family and friends excluded. January can be a slow month for me and my kind.. A Dry White Season, if you will. In my spare time, I've decided to spread my love and knowledge to the world; because looking good is feeling good, and feeling good should be an everyday reality for every person.

Here are some things that I'm into:

Educating my clients.
This is part of my reason to start a blog.

The more you know--->The more you can tell me--->The more I know.

Staying updated with the latest techniques and style ideas.
When I'm not working in the salon, I spend a lot of my time watching hairstyling videos and trying new ideas on my mannequins, Fran and D2. I watch everything I can from the amateur to the professional. I have picked up useful knowledge from high school girls, dare I say.

I watch every hair show available including Shear Genius, Tabatha's Salon Takeover, [I forward through entire episodes of] What Not To Wear [to see the hair & makeup segments], I even watch Jerseylicious, because anyone can have a good idea. 

Changing my own look.
Anyone who has seen me in Starbucks more than once knows that I enjoy looking different every week, and sometimes every day. A month ago, I was a vibrant apple-redhead. Last week I was an auburn brunette. The other day I added some asymmetrical highlights to the front, which has created a "sunset" effect. Very cool. I've gone through various different fashion and beauty stages in the short span of my life and the best thing I've learned is not to limit yourself to one "style."

There are only a few people in the world who can wear the same style and give the same impression every day, and most of them are likely to have other.. obvious flaws. Like Melon Girl, for example.

Melon Girl is a person who I saw every day in the dining hall at college. That was back when I still ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner most of the time, so I saw her a lot. Melon Girl ate only melons. Diced green honey dew melon, sometimes scooped into spheres, but always melon. Never cantaloupe. I'm sure you can see where I came up with the name, but there were other "melon" things about Melon Girl.

Her hair, for example, was medium length, "mousy" brown, heavy and flat like a little girl's, and always tied back in a limp, purposeless way in-- you guessed it-- a little melon bun that hung like a sad fig at the nape of her neck. Her clothes and accessories were sweet, but bland and neutral. Melon.

I wasn't a hairstylist back then, I was a journalism major. In either trade or any other--- Nobody wants to be Melon Girl.