What’s uP: I’m Making a Bold Move

29 09 2012

Welcome to the Whittemore House…

After 3 wonderful years of coloring heads in Meatpacking District, I’m leaving my ‘hood and returning to my West Village roots as a colorist at the Whittemore House. This team of seasoned professionals is led by the former creative directors of Bumble and Bumble and is doing incredibly fashion forward things with color. It’s an honor to join the team and I look forward to learning their incomparable techniques.

Whittemore House salon is conveniently located on a gorgeous, tree lined block at 45 Grove Street (between Bedford and Bleecker Streets) and is steps away from the A-E-F-V-1 trains.

My days and times will be as follows:

Tuesday: 11-8

Thursday: 12-9

Friday: 12-9

Saturday: 10-6

My color prices will remain the same but will include a blowdry done by me or an assistant.

For more information on the salon or to book an appointment, please visit whittemorehousesalon.com or call 212-242-8880.

I look forward to seeing you there!


Wise uP: The Truth About Box Color

26 04 2012

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had a client with jet black ends sit in my chair for a color correction and say “I don’t know what happened! The box said Dark Brown and I got THIS.”

I then ask them to describe my hair color, which, to an untrained eye, would be considered the darkest of browns. My clients can’t believe it when I tell them that in the color world my hair is considered LIGHT brown. And that there is a universal numbering system that professionals use to perfectly match their color.

Drug Store box colors don’t do this and why would they? A Duane Reade shopper is going to reach for “Cinnamon Brown” or “Milk Chocolate” before they choose “Level 5 Neutral.” They look at a photo-shopped picture on the box, done by a professional colorist and think that’s what their result will be!

When the color turns out too dark or too red or doesn’t cover grays, many people will try to fix it themselves by adding MORE color on top, creating an even bigger mess.

I can’t stress enough the importance of having a professional color your hair. After all, you are putting chemicals on your head, many of which might be too strong for what you actually need. A trained colorist can offer many options depending on individuals needs. He or she will work with you not only to find the ideal shade, but to keep your hair shiny and healthy and the unnecessary chemicals at a minimum.

If cost is a concern, look into a salon’s apprentice program where licensed hair assistants take class and need models. These classes are usually taught and supervised by senior colorists and cost a nominal product fee.

Just say NO to Box Color!



Whats uP: RED Carpet Style

27 02 2012

For stylists and colorists, Oscar Night is the Superbowl of events. Every year we watch anxiously, a glass of wine clenched in one hand and our cell in the other, waiting to text our friends with the funniest comment of the night. We can’t wait to jump all over the train wrecks and Ooh and Ahh those who thought outside the box and NAILED it.

What really stood out to me this year (and warmed my heart just a little bit) was the fact that so many stars gave credit and thanks to their stylists. In a world of product placement and how many millions of dollars are wrapped around one’s neck, it’s nice to have a shout out to those of us behind the scenes. And for me, the hard work was most evident in the ravishing redheads that graced the carpet.

As a colorist, I often hear from my clients “I’d love to go red, BUT…I don’t know if I can pull it off with my coloring.”  After watching the Oscars last night, I want to tell them “YES, you can.” I saw four glorious women, all so incredibly different each owning their copper color.

On the lightest end of the spectrum was best supporting actress nominee, Jessica Chastain, radiant in a pale copper. This can be easily attained for any blonde simply by applying a demi-permanent, high shine glaze. I love WellaColor Touch for a natural, long-lasting red.

Jessica Chastain

Emma Stone and best supporting actress nominee, Berenice Bejofall into the rich Celtic copper hues. These shades tend to work better on skin tones with pink undertones and are easy to achieve with minimal lightning and a medium copper glaze.

Berenice Bejo

Emma Stone

The home run of the night for me, however, was the wonderful Viola Davis, who wowed me with her natural style and complementary auburn hue. For women with darker or more olive complexions, I’d go a bit less orange and more auburn like Viola. You can add lighter pieces to the ends, but I’d keep the root a deeper red.

Viola Davis

For those just dipping their toes into the red sea, I’d suggest a few well-placed highlights around the face in auburn or copper shades or else a demi-permanent glaze that will wash out in 4-6 weeks. Your colorist will work with you to determine the best palette for your inner celebrity.

What’s uP: Boom Boom Brow Bar

4 12 2011

I have a unibrow. I’m not proud of this and I do everything in my power to keep my eyebrows two separate entities at all times, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a serious uni. Over the years I’ve shaved, plucked, trimmed, waxed and threaded those suckers. I’ve groomed them myself once or twice after a few too many cocktails and emerged from the bathroom looking like a five-year old’s self-portrait. I’ve also been shamed by Korean manicurists into adding a brow wax to my bill only to leave the nail salon with pencil thin, old lady brows.  At the ripe old age of 35, I’ve finally come to the understanding that I am not to touch my eyebrows for any reason and that all eyebrow refinement must be done by a professional. What good fortune that I found the Boom Boom Brow Bar!

Boom Boom Brow Bar is a sweet little rockabilly shop located in the heart of the Village. They are uber-clean (No Double Dipping!), fast and precise and don’t charge an arm and a leg to get a brow wax. In addition to brows, Boom Boom does all body waxing (for ladies and gents) and lash tinting, a great alternative to mascara! Appointments aren’t necessary but they can get crowded during lunch and after-work hours. Added bonus: they use their own wax which is never too hot and virtually pain-free.

Boom Boom Brow Bar (35 Seventh Avenue @ 13th St. NYC/ 212.229.2666)


Change it uP: Bangs. Nature’s Botox.

25 09 2011

Two very major things happened to me this year: I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in April and I turned 35 in September. A sane person might realize that that’s change enough for one gal in a single calendar year but oh no, not me. I decided that I needed to get my hair involved in the party too. And so, on one of he rainiest days of the year, I had one of my best friends, Mary Curran, cut me some bangs.  Humidity be damned, it was one of the smartest beauty decisions I’ve made all year.

Minutes after my new haircut

After giving birth to my daughter I had a long, lush head of shiny hair to rival Pocahontas. The prenatal vitamins had given me the hair of my dreams, even though I knew it was short lived. And right around the time when evil Mother Nature decided to take back my awesome locks, I started to see ads everywhere for the new Zooey Deschanel show. It didn’t take long to realize that I was going to take her adorable full banged haircut and make it mine.

Three days post-haircut, I’m marveling at how my new bangs have changed my whole tired, “just had a kid” appearance. They have given a whole new look to my necessary ponytail and have made me want to change up my same-old makeup routine. Best of all, I shaved a few years off my age without pumping hazardous chemicals into my face and gave the term “mom cut” a positive spin.

Since my mini makeover, I’ve noticed a barrage of fringe-faced celebrities from Michele Monaghan to Zooey D to Heidi Klum. Bangs are the perfect way to rock a major change without cutting your hair short or dying it platinum. Here are a few things to discuss with your stylist before taking the plunge:

  • Don’t cut bangs too far past the eyebrows or back on the head or you might wind up looking like Karen O from the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. If that’s the look you’re going for, cool, but very few can pull that off.

    Karen O

  • Have your stylist texturize the bangs a bit so they don’t look too thick. I like the ends slightly jagged as well.
  • If you have major cowlicks, bangs may not be for you unless you’re willing to really force them into submission. Your stylist can help you assess your cowlick situation.
  • Have your bangs “connect” with the rest of your hair or you may risk looking like a 4th grader.
  • Play around with different lengths and partings.

Here are some of my favorite looks lately:

Zooey Deschanel


Michelle Monaghan


Heidi Klum


Diane Birch

Change it uP: Little Sis Gets Big Girl Hair

2 03 2011

Ever since she was a tot, my sister Christine has let me do whatever I want to her hair. When she was in elementary school and I was a budding beautician, she’d show up to second grade with elaborate twists and braids, hair bands and clips and ribbons. I’d go on to supply her with graduation hair, bridesmaid’s hair and any other sort of formal occasion hair she needed and she would always sit patiently while I’d comb, braid and pull her hair in 20 different directions. When I started coloring heads, my sister was one of the first “clients” in my chair and continues to let me do whatever I want. Talk about unlimited options as an artist!

Christine now lives in Hawaii but every time she comes home to visit she makes an appointment to get her hair done. For a while we had been doing a North Shore inspired beachy blonde and she pulled it off beautifully…until it was time to get her hair touched up on Oahu. After one or two questionable salon experiences on the island which turned into not getting her hair done at all, she started rethinking the whole one-length, super long blonde thing and told me that it might be time for “big girl hair.”

Christine Before: 6 months after we had last highlighted her hair

Since Christine was blonde for so long and is often in the sun, I needed to fill in her bleached out ends so the color would last longer than 4 shampoos. We then applied a rich chocolate brown demi-permanent color by Wella Color Touch. My fabulous style partner, Scott Pere, took one look at Christine’s length and decided that 4-5” off the ends and some gorgeous long layers were the way to go with the cut. He blew her hair out with a medium sized round brush and some White Tea Polishing Milk by Shu Uemura.

The end result speaks for itself. Christine got a more sophisticated look that, more importantly, would be easy for her to maintain in Hawaii. I’ve included a picture that she took herself the next morning. To me, that picture says volumes about what a good cut, color and blow out can do. Thanks, as always, to Scott for making my entire family look the best they ever have and to my sister for constantly changing it up.


Side View before cut and color


6 months without a haircut



Beautiful, bouncy locks!

Face framing layers that still fit into a ponytail

Look at that swing!
















The Next Day…


How many people roll out of bed looking like this?

Change it uP: Low Maintenance Ombre Highlights

26 01 2011

The first question I’m asked when I recommend highlights to a client who has never done it before is “What will the maintenance be?” An understandable question since many women simply don’t have the time to sit in my chair for two hours every few weeks with 100 foils on their head. With natural looking Ombre highlights, the latest trend in hair color, every few weeks turns into 2-3 times a year (quite manageable for even the busiest woman).

The basic gist of Ombre (French for shaded) highlights is that it mimics the way a child’s hair gets lightened over summer vacation. I choose to hand paint individual stands of hair, fading gradually into the root or even stopping a few inches from the root so there’s no harsh line when the hair grows out. If you ever look at a child’s hair, their organic, sun kissed color rarely, if ever, goes all the way up to the scalp. It’s a gradual progression from dark to light, making the color appear seamless.

Perhaps the best thing about the Ombre trend is that it works for all hair colors from the darkest black to the lightest blonde. You can make the contrast as natural or extreme as you’d like and even experiment with different colors on the ends. For a truly “believable color” I’d suggest going no more than 2-3 shades lighter than your roots. For something a little more punk, experiment with different jewel toned shades on the pre-lightened ends. The possibilities are endless.

Here are a few celebrities sporting the Ombre look right now:


Perfectly placed Ombre highlights on dark brown hair

Gorgeous golden tips add sparkle to light or medium brown hair



Sienna Miller is an effortless blonde. Love the bright tips and muted root.

Drew is the Queen of Ombre




I always like Julia best in the Auburn shades

One of my favorite redheads, Isla Fisher


Exreme Ombre


A dramatic Ombre look

What’s uP: Where’s the pH?!?

5 01 2011

Or, where the heck I’ve been hiding for the past 3 months.

I’ll be honest, the second half of 2010 was one of the hardest years of my life. In addition to trying to survive in a luxury business through a still dreadful economy, my husband and I each braved very difficult health issues. And, sadly, my writing took a huge backseat to getting physically and mentally well. Six months later I’m happy to report that business is getting better and better and the hubby and I are both A-OK. I’m also thrilled to announce that at the end of that huge shit storm there was a beautiful rainbow: We’re expecting our first baby in April and couldn’t be happier about the addition of  baby pH! I also promise that this will not turn into a baby-centric blog, although every once in a while something may sneak in there.

When I started feeling better and then my husband received his clean bill of health, I decided that I needed to do something to “give back” and keep the good karma flowing, despite my complete lack of free time. It was through my boss that I got involved with an amazing organization called Curly Tail Pug Rescue and decided to become a foster home for unwanted dogs. Curly Tail’s Mission is “to rescue homeless, unwanted, sick or injured pugs.” They “fully rehabilitate medically needy pugs and/or provide behavior modification to help place them into loving, permanent homes.”

Everyone who works for Curly Tail is a volunteer and within two days of applying to be a foster home, we got our first pug, McKenzie. She already had a home lined up and was only with us for a few days. About two weeks later, we received Onyx, a.k.a. “Little Bear” who would go on to stay with us for three months.

When we first picked up the Bear my first thoughts were “Oh my God, that’s the fattest, dirtiest pug I’ve ever seen.” He was a whopping 35 lbs and looked like he’d been rolling around in a baseball field all day. We got him home, immediately threw him in the bathtub and began what I like to call The Biggest Pug Loser program to get the Bear back into fighting shape. Onyx was perfectly house broken and never had a single accident in our house. He loved being around people and while he wasn’t the most outwardly loving dog I’ve ever met, all he wanted to do was be by your side. We put him on a strict diet and exercise program and before long he had lost 5 lbs. Although it was clear that Onyx had no signs of abuse from his former owner (thankfully!), I don’t think he was ever walked a day in his life. We’d get him outside and that little chunk would want to walk for hours. For three months, I put all my time and attention into training and loving this little giant, getting him prepared for his forever home.

The Little Bear

On January 2, we tearfully dropped Onyx off to meet his adoptive family. He’ll be living up in Massachusetts and, thanks to Curly Tail, will get a second chance at a wonderful life. And while I’m remaining active with the organization, taking on more responsibility, I’m taking a break from fostering for a short time. While it’s incredibly fulfilling to rehab these pups, it’s even harder to see them go. I still expect to see my little bear at the door when I come home at night or next to my bed staring at me at 7 am every morning. To paraphrase my husband, nobody said altruism was easy.

So here we are: January 5, 2011 and in the words of the late, great Nina Simone: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me… And I’m feeling good.” I look forward to another great year of posts and I thank everyone who takes the time to read my musings. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2011!!

For more information on how you can help the pugs, please visit http://www.curlytailpugrescue.org

Make uP: I’ve Been Cheating on my Mascara

28 10 2010

One thing anyone will tell you about a Virgo is that we are loyal. I’ve been seeing the same dentist for 20 years, even though his pea green office was vomited right up out of the ‘70s. I’ve used Oil of Olay since I was a sophomore in high school and my nana told me about crow’s feet. I even wound up marrying my first “real” boyfriend. So when I find something I love, I stick with it through good and bad.

From the second I was given the ok by my mom to wear makeup, I swiped her pink and green Maybelline Great Lash and went to town on my eyes. Over the years I’ve sampled other mascaras, but for the most part they would remain in my makeup bag, half used until my twice yearly clean out. On my wedding day I used the Great Lash waterproof. I even keep an extra tube in my purse in case of an eyelash emergency. Next to my Burt’s Bees, this is my desert island makeup staple. So it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I admit to cheating on my old friend, but the fact is I think I’ve found something better.

So who is this mysterious stranger, you ask?  Well, it’s Maybelline “The Falsies” Volum’Express Mascara and it’s incredible stuff. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it looks like I’m wearing false eyelashes, my lashes are definitely long, thick and gorgeous without being clumpy or sticking together. The mascara itself doesn’t smell (yes, I’ve had issues with this before, Lash Stiletto) and is very easy to apply with the curved wand. A little Shu Uemura eyelash curler+the Falsies=huge, bright eyes. Save the money on those creepy lash extensions and shell out $7 for a tube of this magical mascara. It saddens me to be unfaithful but in this case I think this could be my next long lasting relationship.

What’s uP: The pH is now on Twitter!

7 10 2010

I’m happy to report that the pH is officially on Twitter! If that’s your sort of thing, click the link below and follow my stream of consciousness @whatstheph on a daily basis.

Follow whatstheph on Twitter