I <3 My Clients

I was gone from the salon for about two weeks from training with Sebastian, assisting on some NAHA shoots in LA and gallivanting around Austin, TX. I will post more on that later. On the journey home, husband and I contracted food poisoning in the Houston airport…. Worst trip home ever after a phenomenal trip. But basically, I got back, went to the doctor and rested one day and was right back at work the following day, nice and early for a wedding, followed by a few hours of rest and then my salons belated holiday party for a little while. I disappointed everyone by forgetting it was an ugly sweater party. Everyone was expecting something bright and outrageous and I showed up in flowing black layers like some kind of goth pilgrim (I don’t know….)

But the point is, I was fairly worn down and still on a mostly liquid/cracker diet when I went into work today. I hate to feel physically worn down when I start the day.

And yet, as soon as I got to the salon and saw my jam packed day, I was just delighted. It is truly magical, the relationships you build in this industry. To be able to look at my day and see all these people that I have such a fondness for… It is awesome and it is exactly why I wanted to do this job.

Thank you, to my dear clients, for brightening my work days! And when any of you are having a down day, you know I will always do what I can to give you a little spark back. 🙂

<3<3<3
Rachel Lynn Carr

I guess YS Park deserves their cult following…

The elite in the hairdressing community have long praised YS Park, a Japanese company that makes legendarily awesome clips, combs, brushes and other such tools. I was not so convinced that one clip or comb could be that different from another. I has curious, but not enough to shell out for them. Clips are $6 for two and combs are $10+, and until Hairbrained reduced their shopping cost to slightly over $2, there was a hefty shipping charge on top of that. When Hairbrained lowered their shipping rates, I was hit by a moment of weakness and succumbed to my online shopping addiction.

When they arrived my first delight was how petite my clips and comb were. The comb was lighter than I was expecting, for allegedly being indestructible, and had some bend to it. It fit so perfectly into my hand, and that’s when it clicked that of course Asian brands will be more suited to my small, Asian stature. The first time I slid it through hair I was literally dumbfounded. I ordered one with fine teeth, and while the tension was still there, it slid through with such little friction. I didn’t even realize that every other comb I had ever used had been snagging and tugging hair out of poor design or teeth being out of place. I thought fine teeth just snagged more, which can be true, but this comb was so smooth and the tension was so even throughout the section. The clips were also light and unobtrusive, unlike the ones I normally use, which look more like a piece off of a transformer. Yet, they hold so much more hair than should be possible. They have a very unique design. Most clips bevel upwards, where these are indented down. I am amazed how well they work for both big and small sections. Also, the aluminum is colored rather than being painted metal, so don’t expect any chipping.

Incredible. Light. Durable.

I got their diffuser, too, but have not gotten to use it yet with anyone with super curly hair. But it is very nice and fits on any blow dryer.

Japan is the future.

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Vidal Sassoon Scholarship Entry

This was my entry for the Vidal Sassoon/Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship Competition. The competition grants ten winners an opportunity to train at one of the Sassoon academies in North America, providing $5,000 of support for travel, expenses and tuition.

I was not selected as a winner, but this entry was still a labor of love and friends and family are still coming to me and remarking on ways it inspired them, so I wanted to share it today. Enjoy!

Sunset Hair

Here is a color I did in early May. This is my friend Nita and she had an ombre done about six months ago and her hair has been growing out. She has had several variations on red/brown since then and the ombre has been covered at times but always comes back. She has a lot of color build up on the midshaft so I mixed some deeper brown into her regrowth formula then diluted and added more red to the formula (and waited fifteen or so minutes) before applying to the midshaft, then emulsified at the sink for a few minutes. I used the ColorTouch line from Wella with Emulsion.

Formula: Wella ColorTouch: .2 6/75, .2 6/35, .1 8/81, .3 6/7, .2 4/6, .2 44/65, .2 6/4 with double Emulsion

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Let’s Talk About Brazilian Blowouts

Alright, alright. Clients and friends are always asking me about Brazilian blowouts, whether they are safe, if they should get them, if they will die a gruesome death if they get one. Moderately informed clients tend to have very polarized views. The same is true for hairstylists. I am not a chemist (which is something I wish more people would fess up to when they get on the Internet….) but I do have an opinion. So here it is:

Brazilian Blowouts are a godsend for clients with truly unmanageable hair. They leave some wave and body in the hair, but they take away the frizz and cut drying time in half. If the client wants to smooth their hair it will be easier. It will be manageable, pliable and incredibly shiny and there is nothing else that improves the condition of the hair like a professional keratin treatment. For perfectionists with minor frizz issues, there are more natural (weaker) alternatives to recommend.

The process is long. We shampoo with a clarifying shampoo, apply the product, blow dry the hair, flat iron the hair over and over. If this process is done incorrectly some people experience problems such as breakage or dryness. This is not a problem with the blowout and your hair, it is a problem with the person doing the blowout.

Now, I don’t do Brazilian Blowouts. I am severely asthmatic, and frankly, blow drying and flat ironing hair spray or any other product for three hours would give me a headache and sore throat. A client who has weak lungs or bad allergies may also find them unpleasant, however, the client is hardly breathing in anything compared to the hair dresser.

That said, the FDA may under regulate in some cases, but the Internet is full of conspiracy theorists and crazies. If you have ever googled your cold symptoms and thought you had bacterial meningitis than you understand that the Internet is an insane place. People exaggerate on both ends of the spectrum. I believe the truth is in between. I think in some parts of the US there are salons where stylists do a ton of blowouts in poorly vented areas, and I imagine there will be horrible repercussions for the stylists health. Still, as a consumer, I think the risk is minimal even in a salon like that. I think everything should be a cost benefit analysis and you shouldn’t get one if your hair can be managed fairly easily with product on a day to day basis.

Really I wish people would stop freaking out about Brazilian Blowouts so that stylists could product themselves and their clients with masks without anyone jumping up and down and saying, “See, I knew it was dangerous!” Because it really isn’t bad unless you’re around a ton of them, but they do have short term problems, mainly just throat irritation. But nothing you wouldn’t experience from spraying hairspray for that long. Actually, hairspray would probably be worse. I wish I could wear a mask for that..

Honestly, if you are using nail polish other than Zoya, why worry about the formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowouts? Most nail polish has formaldehyde… But not necessarily a cause for concern as it disinfects the little brush. Sometimes I see people eating the most unhealthy, processed non-food food and say things about formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowouts. Really? What goes in your body is going to make more of a difference in the long run. Exercise and a proper diet will make more of a difference in long term health and cancer risk. I shouldn’t even have to say this. It should be obvious. The bottom line is “formaldehyde” is a really nasty word and it is easy to get a gut reaction to it. I’m not saying we should be cuddling up with a taxidermied dog, just that we are not experts. Talk to a chemist about it. But not one from the Internet because they will most definitely be “on a side.”

If you decide to get one, choose wisely! As I said before, if they aren’t done well they can be rough on the hair. When done well they will be incredible. Don’t bargain hunt on this hair service, as the bargains might be with less experienced stylists. And take great care with your hair after! Listen to your stylist about how to care for them and buy your shampoo at the salon. Don’t just buy any SLS free shampoo because a lot of them have compounds that are very similar and may be just as harsh.

Why Short(er) Hair Actually is More Flattering on a Lot of People

So, a lot of the celebrities this year have inspired women to consider going shorter with their hair. Yet, most women in my chair just sigh and say, “If I had the perfect oval face shape,” or “If I lost twenty pounds,” and on and on. The bottom line is that women are afraid of no longer looking feminine because in other ways they don’t feel like they match up to the feminine ideal.

I am an advocate of shorter hair on women so I am just thrilled about Karlie Kloss, Anne Hathaway and other celebrity stunners that have gone significantly shorter. In the case that having a feminine ideal is unavoidable, which it seems to be for most of our society, at least these ladies are rounding out that image, because let’s face it, most of us can’t get that Victoria Secret hair. Even most of the Angels can’t without the help of extensions and celebrity stylists working magic.

One thing that just kills me as a hairdresser is to see women hanging on to hair way past their shoulder blades when it is only five strands at the bottom, damaged to hell and back and laying limp. I don’t let anyone leave my chair like this, but I see it all the time in public. No one could possibly take a step back and think, “This hair cut is extremely flattering on me.”

This year, the trends are shoulders and above. Of course, really long hair is always in when it is gorgeous long hair, but I try to get the average client to clavicle length if their locks are less than ephemeral. The reason for this is because it frames the face and décolleté better and you have more freedom with layers. It is easier to get a balanced shape and for most clients they are able to do more with the styling.

Bobs (anything between the shoulder and the jawline) are wonderful on so many more women than realize it. They can add so much body to limp hair and they are also wonderful because they grow out well and you can change them in a lot of subtle ways without having long grow out phases. Longer bobs can still be styled in most of the same ways you can style longer hair, such as curling and things like that. You can’t do as much with updos, but I don’t really understand why people want to punish themselves day to day so that they can have an updo once every three years. It seems like it might have to do with fairy tale fantasies? I don’t know. All I know is, I would rather look fabulous every day than a couple times per decade.

A lot of women are insistent that they could never do anything above the jawline but I am here to tell you that you are probably wrong. If there are any issues with the cheek/jaw area long hair my be making the issue worse by visually dragging it down. Shorter hair can’t hide anything but it can de-emphasize areas by drawing attention upwards, lifting, and bringing focus to the eyes. That is truly what I love most about short hairstyles. They are always customized to really compliment a face and draw attention to the eyes, which is almost always the most unique and expressive part of a woman.

A lot of women look incredible with long hair. Some could with a lot of styling, but never style it (and who can blame them?). I love seeing long braids and cascading waves, but when i see people just letting hair hang and collect damage, my spine aches. Some just probably weren’t meant to have repunzel hair. And that is ok! I just hate to hear people say they can’t do something and blame their bones, their weight, society or anything else! You can do what you want and look spectacular and I am just here to help.

Balayage Highlights with Illumina, Plus a Beautiful Textured Cut

Earlier this week I was honored to be the first professional to color Nichole’s hair. I wanted to start her off with something that required minimal commitment and a definite, yet natural, change. I chose to go with balayage highlights using our Illumina color line.

Illumina is Wella’s new color line and it works beautifully on blondes. It has a violet base, giving a cool and unique tonality that also cuts some of the warmth. Even the warm tones have bite of cool, giving a complex tonality. Illumina imparts incredible shine and keeps hair as close as possible to its virgin state. It does not lift or cover grey as much as Koleston Perfect, Wella’s other permanent color line, but neither of those issues were relevant to Nichole. With her hair texture it would not be difficult for her hair to lift.

Her formula is: Illumina .2 8/81, .2 9/60, .4 10/36 = 40 vol

I painted on Nichole’s color with a medium small brush and did a balayage technique using Saran Wrap, based on the method from our class last month with The Doves,

Next we cut! She lost about five inches of length for a summery new look with lots of interior and exterior layering. Nichole has a great texture and density; even though she has fine hair she can handle a lot of layering without looking sparse. I did a variation of Sebastian’s Jagged Edge cut, throwing in more layering with a back cutting technique.

Styled with Volupt Soray, Trilliance and a little bit of Matte Putty.

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