Monthly Archives: November 2013

Haircolor 101

When you’re searching for things to be thankful for this holiday season be sure to add to the list hair growth. Can you imagine a world where our hair never grew and you had to keep whatever haircut or color you had forever? I can’t, and thankfully I don’t need to, because the promise that hair will always grow allows us to try lots of new looks. Since hair growth is a guarantee, many of us out there have a false sense of security about what can be done with our hair color. As a color specialist I have noticed that most people have unrealistic expectations about what their hair can handle chemically, and while it is true that new hair will always grow in, it is still important to keep the hair you already have in tip top shape.

Hair coloring is a science and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your hair is like a delicate piece of fabric and there are instructions on how to care for it. Most of the products that color hair contain strong chemicals that are capable of causing damage to your hair if they are not used properly or are used too frequently. I like to have people change their color gradually and seasonally. Generally people go a little darker in the fall and winter, and in the spring and summer everyone wants those sun kissed highlights. There are ways to keep your hair in good shape and still make color changes, but there are two very important color laws that have to be remembered. If they are not, you may have to spend a lot of money on an expensive color correction or worse, you may damage your hair so badly that your only hope is cutting it off and starting over.

Semi Permanent Color Will Not Completely Rinse Out! There are many different types of color on the market and the only ones that will completely rinse away are referred to as temporary dyes. They include color conditioners, rinses, hair powders and hair mascaras, but even some of these will leave a residual stain on very light blonde hair, so be careful. Semi Permanent hair color is the bridge between temporary and permanent hair color. For this reason it is not a good option for trying to completely cover grey hair. That’s why it is often advertised as a grey blending product, because it won’t leave a harsh line as new hair grows in. Semi permanent colors usually are paired with a more gentle activator that deposits the dye onto the outside of the hair shaft like a coating; this can often leave a stain even after it has “washed out”. This stain will not be able to be colored lighter with anything but bleach, and sometimes that wont even do the trick. You cannot go lighter with semi permanent color, you can only go darker or add more tone (as in more red or gold, etc). If you want your hair to be lighter, you must use a permanent hair color or bleach to lift the hair to a lighter level.

Color Won’t Lift Color! This means that once your hair loses its virginity to hair color ( both semi permanent and permanent),  you won’t be able to make it lighter without a corrective color procedure. If you want to go darker, you can do that but you will never be able to use a darker shade one day and then apply a lighter shade over it and expect it to lighten anything but your roots.  A good analogy is coloring crayons (hair color) used on a piece of paper (your hair). Once you’ve colored something brown you can’t color yellow over it and expect it to be yellow, the brown was there first and it will remain there until it is erased. The only way dark color can be “erased” out of hair is with bleach or a harsh chemical color remover (I’ve never had good luck with these and they take forever). Once the color has been “removed” (a misconception because your original color is not hanging out below the surface, waiting to be set free) it must be recolored again to balance the mess that is left over. This process removes valuable protein from your hair that helps it to be strong and healthy. If that isn’t scary enough, there are no guarantees that it will even get hair light enough before it becomes so damaged that it melts! The results hinge on how much color is on the hair (counting every time that strand was colored since it grew out of your head), what type of color was used (strangely enough semi permanent color can be harder to remove than permanent color), and the current condition of the hair (so if you’ve already bleached it and dyed it dark, your hair may not survive another bleach party). Some protein can be added back to the hair after a color removal service with the use of protein rich shampoos and conditioning treatments (reconstructors), but it will never be the same as it was before.

If you want to have fun with your color you can, but you have to do it carefully and you have to have a professional helping you along the way. If you have a color question that you need an answer to please drop it down into the comment box below and I will give you my two cents of sense about it. I wish I could gift everyone I meet with the knowledge I have acquired about hair in my 14 years as a hairdresser, but if that were possible then you wouldn’t need to read my fabulous blog!

It’s Time To Get Uncomfortable

Holy Moly! The last couple of weeks have been crazy for me, to say the least. I’ve celebrated 3 family birthdays, including my 6 year old daughter’s at Chuck E Cheese, and my mother’s at the  Indian casino. I had a “rock bottom” cold that left me feeling so low that I became hopeless and depressed as I lost my voice for more than a week.  Just as I was starting to feel better, I boarded an airplane with my toddler, headed to California for a scheduled visit with my best friends.  Despite my efforts to entertain her, my 15 month old angel screamed for the majority of the time and I wanted to just disappear into the seat. Due to all of these life hurdles, I was unable to muster up the energy or focus necessary to push out an inspiring post last week, and even now I am struggling to collect and organize my thoughts into something tangible. So instead of trying to “Wow” you, I’m just going to do my best to get my thoughts out, because for 3 weeks I’ve been ruminating on the concept of discomfort and its necessity for growth and change. I could call it a coincidence that I have been so physically and mentally uncomfortable in the last 15 days that I literally don’t feel like myself, but I know better. This is life’s way of testing me on the very principle I want to share with you….getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and its necessity in life for providing us with a path toward growth and change.

While I was in California, I got a chance to stay with one of my favorite people in the world, Jen, and her boyfriend Kris. They both have jobs where they deal with putting people in uncomfortable physical situations; Jen is a yoga instructor and Kris co-owns a gym and is a personal trainer. In order to help them train the minds and bodies of their clients, they are constantly pushing people to try harder, reach higher, and embrace discomfort as a tool for growth and change.  Jen told me that in Yin Yoga, a discipline she teaches, the goal is to contort your body into a very unnatural, uncomfortable position and to hold the position for a predetermined amount of time. She emphasized that the point isn’t to be comfortable, instead the point is to rest in the discomfort so that you can train your brain to recognize that it can handle difficult situations and survive. It’s actually a conditioning technique for the mind! Kris told me that at his gym he doesn’t like to stand behind people just counting reps for them, he likes to let them find their personal strength to overcome the challenges they face by acting as their educated guide and coach. He often tells people to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”, a slogan he learned from a fitness mentor he respects and follows. Kris knows firsthand the kind of mental strength it takes to reach your goals, because as a boy he weighed over 300 pounds. Now a strapping 200 lbs and in the best shape of his life, Kris is able to inspire people at his gym to want more for themselves and believe they can do it! He’s living proof that if you want to change you can, but its not going to be easy, and it’s definitely going to feel uncomfortable.

I will be the first to admit that I hate being uncomfortable. I dress up for work because I have to, not because I want to, and any chance I get, I am in my “comfies” looking like a frazzled mom instead of a professional hairstylist. Becoming a blogger has been, and still is, incredibly uncomfortable for me. Every time I think about putting myself out into the blogosphere with a new post, I hear a voice in my head say “Who do you think you are?” I push on because I know a secret about being uncomfortable – eventually it becomes comfortable. I’ve recently started wearing bright lipstick, but for years I never did because I have large lips (how stupid right?) and I felt self conscious about all that color on my face. I also love the way high heels look, but they don’t feel as good as flats, and at 5 foot 9 inches I’m already tall. When my desire to become a person who wore lipstick and heels overwhelmed my desire to blend into the background, I decided to push past my doubts and do it anyways, just like I’m doing now with my desire to be a life and beauty advice blogger. Being uncomfortable isn’t a good enough reason to stop following your dreams, it’s a conditioning tool to train you to make you stronger! The road ahead will be challenging, thats a guarantee, but the reward will be worth it!20131124-163335.jpg

I want to challenge you all to identify something in your life that you want to try but never have because it makes you uncomfortable. I also want to challenge you to share your experiences with me and the other readers by telling your story as a comment, or on my Dear Hairdresser Facebook page. Now that you all know about me, I want to know about you!

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Learn To Speak “STYLIST” And Get The Haircut You Want

Going to the salon can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know how to communicate your needs to your stylist. They may tell you all the things they want to do to your hair, but how would you even know what it all meant if you weren’t a hairdresser yourself?  It’s time to learn how to speak our language so that you know what to ask for when you’re in the chair, and you know what we mean when we are telling you about a specific cut we want you to try. “SYLIST” is a complex language, and new terms are always added at will, because we know that you don’t know what we are talking about, until now!

The 10 terms listed below refer to HAIRCUTTING. I will cover haircoloring terms in a future post because to add them now would result in one long post, and I know your attention span is as short as mine.

SHEARS : This is what our scissors really are called. It sounds snobby, because it is. A good pair of styling shears costs anywhere from $150 to $1,000+.  Tack on a sharpening fee of about $35 every few months, and you start to understand why a stylist simply cannot cut hair with an ordinary pair of scissors.

RAZOR : This a tool used to cut hair and leave it with a lighter, tapered end. It is also used to remove weight from hair, increase movement and volume, and add choppiness to a style. Razor haircuts are not recommended for people with a coarse texture or curl, but I’m sure there are some hair “artists” out there who have found a way to sell this technique to people as a trend. In my experience, if you want your hair to lay smooth or be smaller, a razor cut is not for you.

FRINGE : This is the European word for bangs and it sounds real fancy. It is also the term that has been used in nearly every cutting class I’ve ever taken in my life. If you feel the urge to use it or want to seem worldly, then please do! And if you want to test your stylist to see if they’ve really been to all those amazing classes they say they have, drop the word “fringe” and see if they know what it means.

LAYERS : Layers are different lengths of hair, geometrically cut into a shape in order to create movement, and decrease volume. They are not things that you have 2 or 3 of, but instead are angled lines that connect the hair at the top of the head to the hair on the sides, or the back of the head.  Layers blend into themselves by laying on top of one another, with the shortest layer resting on top of all the other longer layers, and creating a weight line. If you could get each of your hairs to stand up on end, then you would be able to see the lines that your layers follow and the shapes that they create.

GRADUATION : Graduation and layers work well in tandem, but they do completely opposite things. The purpose of using graduation is to build up weight, and to add strength and volume to a part of the haircut.  A good example is a “stacked” haircut or a wedge. In a graduated haircut, the hair underneath is cut shorter to support the weight of the longer hair that rests on top of it, creating a weight line that sits up and stands out. Graduation connects hair from the bottom of the head, to hair on the sides or the back of the head, and it can be subtle or very severe, depending on the desired outcome.

SLIDE CUT : This is a technique used to create a connection between a very short piece of hair and a very long piece. It is also used for removing weight from the ends or the interior of a cut, and it is achieved by sliding the shears down the length of the hair, like a razor, while relying on the sharpness of the blades to do the cutting, instead of the shears themselves.

TEXTURIZE : This is a term that means adding different lengths into the interior of your cut to help it get more volume or to be lighter. There are MANY different texturizing tools and techniques out there, and as long as they are being done well and with discretion, they can all help make a great haircut even better.

DISCONNECTION : This is when two pieces of hair purposely do not blend together. It’s used in fashion cuts, and a good example of it in a conservative form is fringe (bangs). Disconnection is a technique you request when you want a really edgy cut, or you are trying to accentuate a certain part of your style, like a longer piece on one side, or some really short pieces on the crown.

ASYMETRICAL : This is when a cut, or part of a cut, is purposely left longer on one side. It’s most often done in bobs, bangs, and cropped styles, where one side might be tucked behind the ear or left long to seem more feminine or funky. An asymmetrical cut may use disconnection, but it doesn’t have to.

INVERTED : This is when hair is cut shorter in the back and left longer in the front, also sometimes called an A-LINE.  If you wanted to get real fancy you could have an inverted, graduated, asymmetrical cut with some disconnection and layers, but make sure your stylist also knows what that means, or you may end up looking like you cut your own hair with a lawnmower.

Stylists love to stand out and be creative, so we are always coming up with amazing new ways to cut hair and make it seem cooler than what someone else is doing. The terms I’ve chosen to share with you are the ones I think will be most practical for you to know, and the definitions I’ve given you are pretty standard throughout the hair world. If you have a question about another term you are unsure of, then please ask me about it and I will do my best to explain it to you. My goal is to eventually transfer this list of terms onto a GLOSSARY page, so if you are a stylist and you have a term you think people need to know, then tell me and I’ll be sure to add it onto the list.

This week I’ve been struggling with a bad cold and it has taken my voice! I was reflecting on how I have lost my voice in my world, yet I have begun to find my voice in my blogging world!  The only voice left to hear more from is YOURS! Please, please, please feel free to leave comments or ask me questions about anything and everything. I want to work towards a part of my blog where I focus on Dear Hairdresser question from readers about hair topics and life issues so don’t be shy. Help me grow my blog and I will help you in return.


Opinions Are Everywhere – Proceed With Caution

Would you leave the house in a new pair of pants that your friend said made you look fat? Could you still feel confident sporting a new hairstyle if your partner said they hated it?  Why is it so hard to trust our own opinions and more importantly, why are we constantly seeking approval from other people? When someone comes into the salon and requests a major style change, I know that no matter how cute they think it is when they leave the shop, they won’t really know if they love it until their family and friends approve it.  Making a decision to try a new style, wear a different fashion trend, or make a lifestyle change takes a lot of courage and we should be applauded for taking the risk.  Are you strong enough to trust your own opinion instead of someone else’s, and to focus on trying to please yourself?

I remember when I was a teenage girl, my mom would come home from the mall with a new outfit and ask me what I thought of it. If I liked it she was pleased, but if I didn’t like it her feelings would be hurt. Tired of feeling like a jerk, I asked her one day,  “Why do you keep asking me for my opinion if you don’t really want to hear it?”  She thought about it a bit and then replied, “I guess I was hoping you would say that you liked it too.” She wasn’t really searching for my opinion, instead she was looking for approval with a verbal “thumbs up”. I think we both learned a good lesson that day: Be careful what you say, and be careful what you ask!

I want to share one of my least favorite experiences as a hairstylist, but I don’t want you to judge the characters involved. It is a story that illustrates, very sharply, the power of words and opinions. It involves a beautiful young girl who came in for a haircut and made a bold decision to cut off her long, brown hair. After I had finished with the cut the young woman looked at herself in the mirror and smiled radiantly. She loved it! Soon after, her mother came in to pick her up and to pay for the cut. She took one look at her daughter and grew red with anger. “You cut your hair?!” She said bluntly. “Why would you do that? You look terrible!” My heart broke, and so did the beautiful young girls’. In an instant, the glowing confidence she had found was destroyed by a thoughtless comment from her own mother. In the years that followed I would see the girl around town and I noticed that she had grown her hair long again. Maybe she had chose to believe what her mother had told her that day, instead of what she had thought to be true when she first saw her reflection. I cannot condemn her mother because I have caught myself carelessly sharing my opinion plenty of times. I’m not proud of it, but I am human, and I have definitely hurt my loved ones’ feelings with my words.

I think it’s important for everyone to remember that if someone doesn’t like your new look, your new outfit, or the change you’ve initiated, that’s their problem and not yours! You never really know why people have strong feelings about one thing or another and sometimes, they don’t even mean what they said.  Maybe the friend that said you looked fat, felt insecure when she saw how hot you looked in those new pants.  Maybe your partner hates your new look because it makes them feel threatened, because now you look more modern and confident. Maybe the Mother who didn’t like her daughter’s short hair had been forced to cut her own hair short as a child and remembered how terrible she thought she looked. Who knows for sure? The point is, they are probably relating your inquiry to themselves first and may not be able to see past that enough to give you what you’re looking for.

I’m not suggesting that you should never ask people their opinions. I’m merely pointing out that you should carefully choose the people who’s words you allow to get in the way of you pleasing yourself. That old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie! Words do hurt, so the next time you get an unwanted opinion consider the source and what they might be dealing with in their own minds. Then decide if you will place more importance on their thoughts about beauty, fashion, or lifestyle, than you do your own. Try to be a good example of this empowerment to others too.  You may have little ones, like I do, who are watching your every move. They will be learning how they should treat themselves, and whose opinions should be most important in their lives. Have the courage to trust yourself and your own opinion! After all,  you are really the only one who knows what is best for you and you are the one who has to live with it, not them!