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!

 

 





Wise uP: A Few Words on Waxing

1 03 2010

This should NEVER happen to you

I love and rue the day I started waxing.  As a dark haired woman of Mediterranean descent I must submit to the sticky stuff more than most, but I have come to appreciate its value, especially when faced with the dreaded razor stubble.  I tried to do the GiGi home waxing kit for a while, which was fine until my husband chucked it, box and all,  into the hall closet where the hot wax dripped all over the floor and the waxing unit, permanently sealing it shut. It was probably better anyway because I was way too chicken to do my own moustache wax and my eyebrows were looking like two very uneven toothpicks. From then on I decided to leave it to the professionals.

Sadly, the one thing I realized was that the professionals were not much better. They were either rude and intimidating (J Sisters), completely overpriced and not that good (Completely Bare), totally incompetent (insert well known central NJ spa here), unbelievably unsanitary (any number of NYC salons), or so unbelievably painful that I wished for a Motrin IV (pretty much anywhere that a bikini wax is administered, but I’m thinking of one midtown joint in particular). In my pain and fury I decided to compile a checklist of things to look for and do in order to make your waxing experience as pain free as possible.

  • Make sure the salon/spa is clean!!! There should be NO double dipping the stick into that wax.  Salon owners are cheap bastards but that does NOT justify double dipping the Popsicle stick and risking rash, infection and STDs.  The wax is not hot enough to starve off infection, no matter what your Russian esthetician tries to tell you.  A box of wax sticks costs about $5 so there’s absolutely no excuse for unsanitary conditions. Also, when you go into the room, the paper on the table should be changed and all plucking tools should be sanitized.
  • Make sure your esthetician is wearing disposable gloves. This shouldn’t even be an issue but you’d be surprised.
  • Take 2 Ibuprofen before waxing. This decreases pain and swelling.
  • Lidocaine cream applied  20-30 minutes before your wax application really reduces the pain.
  • Do not get waxed during your period. It hurts about 100 times more than usual.
  • Do not exercise after a bikini wax. This could cause irritation to an already sensitive area.
  • Do not use products like Retin-A, Renova or any other Retinoids within two weeks of getting waxed. If you are using these products, please inform your waxing specialist.
  • Milk will reduce redness and swelling to lip and eyebrow area. Soak a cotton ball in cold milk and apply to area for five minutes.  Heaven!
  • When making an appointment for a Brazilian wax, do your homework.  Get recommendations from friends or ask the front desk of the spa for someone who is experienced in Brazilian waxing. This is NOT an area in your life in which you want to save a couple of pennies.
  • Don’t shave or Nair in between wax appointments. I know it’s annoying to have regrowth but shave stubble will completely backhand anything you’re trying to do with the wax.
  • Don’t get waxed at nail salons. They are probably the dirtiest, most unsanitary venues out there for waxing. Trust me gals, a ‘stache wax at Nails Plus is  $5 for a reason…and not a good one.
  • The morning before you get waxed and in between waxings, exfoliate with a poof or gloves to prevent pesky ingrown hairs. Another great tool is Tendskin, available for purchase at your local drugstore.
  • If a waxing place feels “off” it probably is. Get out of there immediately and don’t worry about offending someone.

Waxing sucks. But it shouldn’t have to. If you’re smart you will have many years of positive experiences ahead of you.

The pH recommends:

Shoba Salon: http://myshobha.com

Bliss: http://www.blissworld.com

Rapid Transit (Irina): Westfield, NJ 908-654-4417

Lookin Good Day Spa: http://www.lookingoodspa.net





Wise uP: Hair Color Facts and Fiction

10 02 2010

In between sorting through the endless Farmville updates and Photo of the Day features on Facebook, I have many thought provoking, often hilarious conversations with my girlfriends about a wide range of topics. The past month alone has brought up at least three discussions involving hair color that I wanted to expand on. Hopefully I can debunk some classic hair color myths that have been hammered into our heads by that Giant of reliable information, Cosmopolitan magazine.

MYTH #1: You Should Always Color Your Hair When it’s Dirty

HOW THIS MYTH BEGAN: Even as recently as the 80’s, hair color contained about three times as much ammonia as it does today, making it much more irritating on the scalp. To prevent women from getting serious scalp irritation, hairdressers would tell women to wash their hair the day prior to color service (as well as putting sweet n low and cigarette ashes into the color bowl), allowing natural oils in the scalp to be a buffer between the scalp and the color. Somehow this evolved into coloring “dirty” hair.

THE pH: I recommend washing hair the night before a color service and not scrubbing your scalp too aggressively. You don’t want hair to be visibly oily or (gasp!) smelly. Too much oil can interfere with color and you want to make sure you get the most beautiful results for your money.

As a side note, this myth also applies to getting an updo or formal style. Please wash your hair the day or evening before an updo service.  While you don’t want your locks too flyaway, you also don’t want excessive oil or styling products to get in the way of your dream hair.

MYTH #2: Color Lifts or Lightens Previously Colored Hair

THE pH: I’d say that 70% of my corrective color clients are those who have dyed their hair at home, have been unhappy with the results and have then tried to “lighten” it with another box dye in another shade, only making it darker than before. Sorry girls, but once that color has been processed, another box of color will not make it come off and will certainly NOT make it lighter. If your “Espresso Brown” comes out more like “Elvis Has Left the Building Black,” I would first suggest washing your hair immediately with hot water and Palmolive dish detergent mixed with a little baking soda. Wash 2-3 times until there is no pigment left in the suds. Hair color takes approximately 48 hours to neutralize, so the sooner after the accident the better. If this still isn’t enough, call a professional, but whatever you do, do NOT buy another hair color kit!

MYTH #3: Color Safe Shampoos are a Marketing Ploy

THE pH: Oh really? Did you read what I just wrote about dish detergent sucking out your hair color? Many shampoos have the same ingredients as dish detergents or bath gels and have been designed to clean hair and remove styling products. Those same shampoos will lift your color out right along with your Aqua Net. My suggestion is a color safe shampoo and conditioner, preferably one with NO SULFATES.

Here are recommendations in three different price ranges:

EverPure Shampoo

Low range: L’Oreal EverPure Sulfate-Free ($5.99).   A terrific drug store shampoo and conditioner, available for different types of hair.

Mid range: AlfaParf Splendore Volume or Hydrate ($17.99).  One of my favorite color safe shampoos by a wonderful Italian company, now available at Linensandthings.com.

AlfaParf

High Range: Davines Glorifying Shampoo ($24).  I’m a huge fan of Davines products and this is my favorite for color treated hair.  Available in salons: davines.com

Davines Glorifying Shampoo

MYTH #4: Coloring My Hair Will Damage It

THE pH: It would be irresponsible of me to say that hair is never damaged by color, especially by over processing and pushing hair to the limits of its capacity. I will say, however, that hair color is improving every day and in many cases can actually be beneficial to the hair. Demi-permanent colors, or “glazes” contain no ammonia and coat the hair shaft, leaving it glossy, shiny and tamed. Since they don’t contain ammonia, they wash out gradually, rather than grow out from the scalp, leaving telltale roots. Hair color companies have also significantly reduced the ammonia levels in their permanent lines, making the smell much more pleasant, the scalp less irritated and leaving the hair in significantly better condition than in years past.

Even highlighting is gentler these days. I use a highlight paste in the salon that contains essential oils and moves very slowly to prevent the hair from blasting out blonde, and combine this with a hand-painted “balayage” highlight. This process of painting the hair’s surface eliminates the use of foils and the heat that comes with foiling, potentially causing breakage.

Now just because color is improving doesn’t mean that people are, and I’d like to take a moment here to address the topic of over processing. As a hair color client, you need to know your hair’s capacity. If you experience breakage, brittle or weakened hair, talk to your stylist about steps you can take to get your hair healthy again. Remember, not everyone is supposed to be a platinum blonde and a responsible colorist will work with you to ensure your hair’s optimum health. Blondorexia is a disease but it’s a treatable one.

Your colorist is worth a million Lady’s rags, er, magazines. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and gain knowledge about exactly what you’re doing to your hair. I welcome questions and will be happy to address any of your hair color needs.





Wise uP: Don’t Throw Out Those Nozzles!

18 11 2009

I recently spent the night at my parents’ house in NJ and as I was getting ready the next day, I realized that every blow dryer in the house was missing its nozzle. Now just because I’m a professional stylist does not mean that I need a super-expensive hair dryer to coif myself, but I can’t comprehend how anyone can properly dry their hair without the nozzle. I eventually found one under my old spiral curling iron from the early 90’s, dusted it off and reattached it to its proper owner.

FHI- My Favorite Professional Blow Dryer

As it turns out, my mom and sister aren’t the only ones who think the nozzle attachment is completely optional. Whenever I give my clients blow dry tips at the salon, they are amazed to learn that the nozzle actually does something. By adding that attachment to your dryer, you are keeping the air and heat in a steady, concentrated stream, rather than having air blowing every which way, fluffing up your locks even more. If it feels awkward to have it attached horizontally, try twisting it so it’s vertical. Either way, you want the nozzle to go across each section of hair.

It may take a while to get used to using the nozzle, but after some practice, you will have much smoother, shinier hair. So dig into those old hair product drawers, ladies and reattach!

Drying your hair should not make you want to reach for THIS!





Wise uP: The Glossiest Locks in Town

30 10 2009

Even as a professional colorist, I tend to be very skeptical of in-salon deep conditioning treatments. They are often meant to boost a stylist’s sales and are good for 2-3 shampoos before the hair returns to its original dry and frazzled self. But like many things, there are always exceptions to the rule and when I find something that really works, I will shout it from the rooftops. Here are three in-salon deep treatments that I would easily give up the commission for.


I.S.H. Ionic Rescue Treatment

Hair Type: Dry and/or damaged hair
Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
Cost: $100
The pH: All the benefits of the popular Keratin treatment without the cost, commitment and formaldehyde. Although time consuming, this is the most advanced deep conditioning and smoothing treatment available and the secret is in the “crystals” of aloe and jojoba that penetrate the hair when combined with thermal heat.

We start by shampooing the hair with the color-safe ionic shampoo, blow drying 50% dry and applying the HRC crystal conditioning treatment section by section, roots to ends. We then flat iron each section, which opens the cuticle and allows the crystals to penetrate into the hair shaft. After the entire head is flat ironed, the hair is rinsed and the conditioning sealer is applied. The hair is then formally blow-dried into the softest, silkiest hair you’ve ever had. Best of all, the I.S.H. treatment lasts six weeks and can be done right after a color service. ionic_rescue_product_03

Concentre Vita-Ciment by Kerastase
Hair Type:
Fine, weakened and/or damaged hair
Time: 5-10 minutes
Cost: $40
The pH: I’ll be honest, I find Kerastase a bit “culty” as a brand, but when stuff works, it REALLY works. This express treatment is like a protein shot for the hair. For those with hair that has been weakened by hormones, over-processing or age, this is for you. It comes in a vial that is sprayed on to towel-dried hair and is massaged into the scalp and ends for 5-10 minutes. It’s then rinsed out and hair is left feeling stronger and silkier. I recommend this to anyone who highlights, straightens or perms their hair in order to prevent breakage.

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Nioxin Scalp Renew Natural Dermabrasion
Hair:
Fine and/or thinning
Time: 15 minutes in salon combined with nightly take-home treatment for 14 days
Cost: $100-150
The pH: As someone who experienced major hair loss a few years ago, I’m both fascinated and completely skeptical of anything that promises hair restoration and density. So when we got this combination treatment in at the salon, I was naturally the first one to try it out. And I’m extremely happy with the results.
Although there are various reasons for hair loss and thinning, many people don’t realize that clogged follicles are often the cause and scalps need to be exfoliated regularly. The in-salon exfoliation takes approximately 15 minutes and is massaged into the scalp. It’s then shampooed out and the client is sent home with part 2 of the combo pack: The Density Restoration Treatment, which is massaged into the scalp each night for 14 days to reduce hair loss.
After two weeks, I’ve noticed a big difference in my hair with shine, density and what comes out in the shower. It also did not affect my color, so extra points for that.

I’m sure there are many other in-salon treatments that are blog-worthy, but for me, these really stand above the rest and are worth the time and money spent in the salon.





Wise uP: I Heart Shu Uemura!

11 10 2009

Changing salons means getting to know new product lines and at my new home, Edris Salon, they place a major emphasis on styling. I’ve begun to familiarize myself with Shu Uemura and I’ve fallen in love with their entire line of products, from makeup to finishing. Here are the top 5 Shu Uemura products that have rocked my world this week.

1)   Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil- So new, it’s not even on the Shu Uemura website yet. Known in the industry as liquid gold, this essential oil is worth every penny (retails around $60). Used on wet hair, it helps create that perfect blow dry. On dry hair, it gives a bit of moisture and shine on frazzled ends. A true essential oil, it doesn’t leave a silicone buildup on fine hair but is strong enough for even the frizziest of locks. This truly is a miracle product. For fine hair, ½ pump. For dry, frizzy hair, 1-1 1/2 pumps. 090619-cheveux-dange.aspx68483ImageLarge

2)   Fiber Lift Protective Volumizer- For my fellow fine-haired ladies, this volumizing product ensures a multi-day blowout.  A little dab will do ya though—no more than a quarter-sized amount applied to damp roots is more than enough for a glamazon blowout.

3)   Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler– It was mentioned in “The Devil Wears Prada” for a reason…this $18 eyelash curler will make you wonder why you ever wasted time with anything else.

ShuEyeCurlerL4)   Shu Uemura Eyeshadow- I used to think MAC was the end all, be all of eyeshadow until I tried the Shu. Incredibly pigmented, this eyeshadow lasts all day long. I recommend using good makeup brushes for best results because this is truly a no-nonsense shadow.

5)   Liquid Fabric- For my curly girls, I recommend a blast of liquid fabric. Best sprayed on damp hair and then diffused or used under a dryer, liquid fabric brings out the best in textured hair. It’s light and soft to the touch, making curls look their absolute best.

Change is good! And I think you’ll love the Shu Uemura line as much as I do.





Wise uP: How to Have a Successful Color Experience

11 09 2009

bh2

While highlighting a very good client (aka “C”) the other day, I realized that September marked the 5th year that she had been seeing me for color. When C first sat in my chair back in 2004, she was sporting Olsen twin-sized dark sunglasses and hair tucked up into a baseball cap; never a good sign as to what’s to come. As it turned out, some so-called Senior Colorist at a reputable uptown salon had colored her strawberry blonde hair a refreshing shade of electric tangerine. We spent the entire afternoon correcting the madness and five years later, C is one of my best clients.

As we discussed our anniversary, the conversation turned to what makes a stylist-client relationship successful and what, as a client, you can do to ensure an outstanding color experience, every time. Here are a few pointers to set you on the road to hair color bliss.

CONSULTATION

DO have a thorough consultation. I don’t care if I’ve seen someone once or 100 times, I never have a half assed consultation with a client. Be clear about your ideas and if you don’t know how to express what you want, grab a magazine because sometimes visuals express what words cannot. Also, 99% of salons offer complimentary consultations. I strongly advise taking advantage of this.

DON’T bring in black and white pictures. A client once brought me a black and white picture of Gwyneth Paltrow and said, “Well, you know what her hair looks like.” Actually, I don’t. Please, for the love of God, don’t ever bring a colorist a black and white photo.

DO voice your opinion. With the exception of a few divas out there, most colorists want to work WITH you to find the perfect shade. Tell us what you like and don’t like and all the little things that only you know about your hair (it turns red/gets mousy/etc.).

DON’T ever be talked into anything you’re unsure of by a colorist. They are not wearing the hair, you are.  I will never force anything on a client and if a colorist ever tries to do this to you, RUN.

COMMON SENSE

DO tell your colorist all your color and chemical processing history. Even if it’s just a demi-permanent rinse you did two months ago, it could affect your final result. Never lie to a colorist! It will save you money, time and aggravation in the long run (and most of the time, we know that you’re not being truthful).

DON’T come in after a bad breakup expecting to do major color changes to get back at your ex. I’ve actually sent people to the wig store on 14th street after they’ve come to me with crazy post-breakup ideas. Sorry girls, but I don’t want your manic on my conscience and believe me, it’s not going to “show him” anything by dying your lovely blonde hair auburn. Get a wig.

DO have realistic expectations. Hate to tell you ladies, but Giselle has a full team of hair and makeup people who make her look like that. Don’t bring your jet-black hair into my chair with a picture of Giselle and expect to look like that after one session. It’s never going to happen.

DON’T wear turtlenecks, white blouses or pearls in the color chair. And if you do, please take them off before you put the color robe on. I hate ruining people’s things.

ETIQUETTE

DO allow ample time for corrective color or major changes. Depending on how jacked up your hair is, a proper corrective color can take anywhere from 2-6 hours.

DON’T rush your colorist. I can’t believe the amount of people that get into my chair and tell me they have to be out in a half hour. Please, please, PLEASE allow yourself the full time to process and relax. A single process color should take one hour and 15 minutes start to finish.  A highlight should take approximately two hours. Color should never be rushed.

DON’T be rude to or apprehensive of the color assistants. They are not beauty school students; they are licensed cosmetology apprentices. Trust me, I would never allow some untrained idiot to put a glaze on your hair. If I have my assistant apply color to your head, it is ONLY after I’ve fully trained them and have let them put color on my own head. Assistants are our right arm and should be treated as such.

AFTERCARE

DO listen to your colorist about proper color aftercare. A color safe shampoo and conditioner are imperative to long lasting color. Case in point: many shampoos are designed for removing hair products and oil from the hair. If you use these shampoos on color treated hair, it will strip the pigment right out of your locks like it strips that pomade. Ask your colorist for recommendations or always make sure it says, “safe for color treated hair” on the bottle.

DON’T shampoo for 48-72 hours after a color process. It usually takes that long for color to neutralize and you don’t want to alter your color so soon after a service. If you must go to the gym, rinsing is okay but shampooing is not.

I look forward to another five years with my client, C, and I wish you all long and lovely relationships with your favorite colorist!