On Baldness: Intro

I have several essays and articles and videos and pop culture events that I have been pouring through on the issue of baldness.  I wanted to write one long post about the topic but all the different avenues of it deserve too much space, from females in pop culture shaving their heads, to the different political affiliations and statements, to removing hair as a sign of ownership, to androgenetic alopecia and its affect on men and women who suffer from it.  Check back next Sunday for the next installation.

Here is a somewhat odd video clip from Hungary for your viewing pleasure:

Quick at Home Tips for Blow Drying Fine, Limp Hair

Hey all!  Just wanted to share a few tips that I often share with clients in the salon, as well as stylists that attend my Nioxin classes =)

First of all, when I am talking about fine hair, I am talking about hair that has a very small diameter.  A lot of clients who have dense, fine hair—a ton of hair but the hairs are all small (and usually limp)—have to deal with a lot of the same concerns as people with sparse, fine hair.

1)  Use light product!  I love Nioxin products, especially the Diamax at the root, followed by either Bodifying Foam or Thickening Gel roots to ends, but this post isn’t about product, it’s about technique.  Whatever you use make sure it has been formulated for fine hair, even if you have dense, fine hair.  Many with fine hair try to go without product due to their hair being weighed down, but I recommend using something.  Fine hair is generally more delicate because there are fewer layers of the cuticle.  The cuticle is made up of the protective, outer layers of the hair.  When hair looks fuzzy or feels rough, it is from the cuticle being popped open, dried out or damaged.  Nioxin’s Therm Activ Spray is also incredible as very light weight, yet silkening, thermal protection.

2)  Assess the root area.  Some hair grows out of the head like this:   |  ;  other hair grows out of the head like this: \  ; and other hair grows out of the head like this:  — .  If the hair is growing out of the follicle very flat in one direction, the hair will tend to lie more flat.  This is also where you see the cause of cowlicks.  Since fine hair usually dries quickly (unless it is extremely dense), it is important to dry the root area first.  Making sure the root is lifted off the head and any strong growth directions are neutralized is the key to a great blow dry!  If you don’t want to dry your hair thoroughly, just focus on the root.  Flipping your head upside down will add temporary volume but if the root is not dry then as it dries, it will fall down.  Use medium or low heat at the root area if you have delicate hair.

3)  Remember that hair is pliable when it is wet or hot.  When I blow dry the root area, I generally do so with my hand.  I start at one side of the head and blow the hair in different directions so it lifts off the head and doesn’t stick together too much and then I let the section cool in the opposite direction of where I will want it to lay.  That way it is cooling down and setting while I work on the next section.  Moving the hair back and forth in different directions will add volume and smoothness.  The technique is called wrap drying.  If you have a lot of breakage near the front hairline you may not want to wrap dry that part.  Just blow those pieces where you want them to go if they are short and pokey.  If they are longer it is usually fine to wrap dry.

4)  When working with a round brush, make sure the nozzle is going in the same direction as the hair.  The cuticle is like a bunch of scales that fold over each other, so if the nozzle is directing air down the hair shaft it will smooth the cuticle.  Roll the hair on the brush and as the hair is cooling gently spin it off of the brush, if you can.

5)  Be realistic and appreciate what you have!  Focus on width, rather than height, when working with a brush because it is a more attainable way to get fullness into the hair.  Not only is it more doable, it also creates a more modern look.

Questions?  Comment below or come visit me at Jose Luis in Austin, TX.

Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship

Hello Everyone! As most of you know by now, I was one of the winners of this round of the Vidal Sassoon Scholarship. This means a five day course at the prestigious Sassoon Academy, all expenses paid. I could not be more thrilled! As a lot of you know, this was not my first time entering. I am so glad I entered again and that my bud Neil was willing to work the project until we had a winning entry. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me get to this point! Especially Sam, Nita, Maureen, Richard and Elysia for being featured in the film.

Are Beauty Blogs the WebMD of the Beauty Industry?

While I was in Europe last month I was surprised to discover that a lot of the professional product lines in Europe are actually salon exclusive (compared to the relatively few brands that are actually salon exclusive here).  It is something that is beginning to shift now, Europe becoming more like us.  But it is a big issue in the beauty industry there, where as long as I can remember our drugstores and supermarkets have been filled with more kinds of products than you could imagine.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that the markets could be so different.  But it got me thinking, and since then I haven’t stopped thinking…

I have often heard that in Europe the hairdressers are looked at in a different way.  They are seen with more dignity and admiration, whereas in the States many view hairdressers as lower class individuals.  So maybe it makes sense that people in Europe who care about their hair will usually buy products from their stylist, rather than off the internet or at a store.  Retail is important to salons for many reasons.  It helps us help the client keep their hair looking great, it helps fund the business expenses involved in running a salon and often salons get educational advantages when they are able to sell more products for a manufacturer.  Salon retail is great for the client because you can get recommendations from someone who actually knows their hair and can help them use the product, because how you use a product is at least as important as what you use.

So why do clients venture out of the salon to buy product?  I can think of a few possible reasons, most of which are baseless.  A lot of clients believe that salon retail is more expensive and that they can find the products somewhere else cheaper.  This is pretty much never true, but I think a lot of clients don’t even look at the price tag at the salon because they don’t want to be bullied into buying it. The same hair spray will probably be more expensive at the drug store or grocery store.  Not to mention a lot of salons will exchange a product if it doesn’t work out.  A lot of clients talk about having drawers and cupboards full of cheap products that they hate, yet are still nervous to buy something recommended by a professional.

I believe a lot of clients think we are trying to sell stuff just to make more money.  Honestly, most hair stylists don’t make that much commission on product.  There are definitely stylists that push products more, but they are misguided, because it isn’t about the money.  But it is frustrating shampooing your client and feeling how dry their hair has become from using cheap shampoos and hairsprays… you do everything you can while they are in your chair but you want them to have great hair inbetween visits too.  I love guiding and teaching my clients, but when I am asked how much of (insert grocery store product) to use or how to apply it, I really can’t offer much help.  I receive a LOT of training on the products I use and I use them all the time for clients of all textures and styles, for weddings, for photoshoots… I work hard to know what I know about products, it isn’t just a natural gift.  I can offer guidelines but I am not an expert on everything out there.

Lastly, I think a lot of people don’t trust their hair stylist.  And this is related to the above point but also separate…  I think a lot of clients get their hair cut by people that they don’t fully trust and therefore would rather read reviews on the internet (written by people that they really don’t know anything about!) than listen to someone who actually has their hands in their hair.  It’s like all of the people self-diagnosing themselves on WebMD, or becoming “experts” on topics by reading Wikipedia articles.  I’m not saying these things are bad, I read a lot of online reviews for beauty products, but I know how to cut through the BS and I also know that reading a lot of beauty blogs and reviews just makes you feel like you need things that you don’t.

The problem is, sometimes people don’t really understand what’s going on with their hair.  They think they have an oily scalp, when really it is just buildup from product, or people think they need more protein-rich products when really they are using so much it is making their hair more brittle.  Just like people self-diagnosing and medicating themselves in so many different directions that once they do see a doctor, the doctor has no idea what is the underlying illness and what is just a result of the patient taking a million things at once. Obviously, even a trained hairstylist can make mistakes, but usually they can rectify the mistakes, especially if you are working off just their advice and not the advice of everyone you’ve ever seen on the internet.  I know our culture is generally suspicious and impatient, but if you can’t trust that your hairstylist can and will try to help your hair, you should probably find a different stylist.  Just like if you trust WebMD more than your doctor, you should probably find a new doctor (and stay off WebMD!)!  We live in a time when their is so much information, we need to be extremely attentive to where it comes from.  But why we trust screen more than people, I don’t understand.  We forget that on the other side of the screen is someone just as infallible as the people we see in “real life.”

So, you ask, why would a beauty blogger speak out against beauty blogs?  I love information, but lets keep it in its place and surround ourselves with professionals that we trust.  Trust your hairdresser.  Otherwise you could be wasting money and wasting time, not to mention downplaying the importance of real, person to person interaction.

Parents, Don’t Lie to Your Kids About Their Haircut

For me.  For my profession.  For everyone who will cut their hair for the rest of their life.  (And for your daughter’s sake, too… but that is getting into personal opinions vs. professional opinions…)

Ok, what am I talking about?  you ask.

When a mother brings in her seven year old daughter for a trim, tells her one inch, but then pulls me aside or gestures that she actually wants four or five inches off, obviously I need to obey the mother as she is the customer.  I love cutting off dead hair.  Everyone knows this.  Long hair is great when healthy, but nothing is more rewarding to me than cutting 5+ inches of damaged hair.  BUT, I absolutely HATE being deceiving or dishonest, especially involving something as sacred and traumatic as cutting long hair.  I would much rather compromise my desire for the hair to be as healthy as possible than to sacrifice trust.

It is not often that this situation happens (probably last time was 3+ months ago), but it is extremely frequent for me to see the consequences.  Most of my long hair clients are terrified of haircuts initially, and when I actually take off the amount discussed, they are shocked and relieved.  It is hard for me to see so many girls in their late teens and women in their twenties, thirties and beyond that have extreme trust issues.  So when a mom wants me to lie to a seven year old, I know that could last them the rest of their lives.

That said, stylists, don’t lie to your clients about length, either!  Sometimes a line is cut crooked and you have to correct it and it ends up shorter… but this should not make the difference of several inches (and if it does… you have some things to work on).  And if hair had more shrinkage than expected once it was dry, own up to it.  Say you cut off the agreed upon amount but didn’t anticipate the shrinkage, don’t disagree with a disappointed client and put them in the wrong, it is their hair.  Mistakes happen.  Learn from them, minimize the mistakes, and own up or they will think they can’t trust hair stylists!

But most of all, stylists, don’t say you will cut off X amount of hair with the intention of cutting off Y instead.  If you feel strongly, be more persuasive in your consultation, but always come to a compromise.  Our job is about trust.  Our job is about openness and communication.  Their hair is really, really, really damaged?  You should be discussing products and discuss ways they may be damaging their hair without realizing it.  Talk, talk, talk!  But do not betray them, because it makes us all look bad.

Before Hair: The Makings of a Texture Engineer

Before hair, I can’t think of any one thing I have ever been so focused on.  Well, with one exception.  The summer after my sophomore year of college I was awarded a Brackenridge grant from the University of Pittsburgh to create my own art installation.  So basically, I was a professional artist for three months.  I often say that this project was the most fulfilling of my life, but the mental and physical fatigue is not something to be looked over.  By the end of that summer, I was certain, beyond doubt, that I wanted to be a hair stylist.  I knew I wanted to do something visual and creative, but that I wasn’t strong enough for anything that involved long hours being alone with my art.  Richard would pick me up at the studio every day after 8-10 hour shifts and I would not want to leave, despite being hungry and dirty and barely being able to string a sentence together.  It’s hard to explain, because I loved it, I really did, it just couldn’t have been sustainable.  I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing the intricate bark textures I’d been creating all day (like when you play Tetris too much).

I keep so busy with hair that sometimes I stop seeing new things.  That’s when I look back to my other loves for inspiration.  Sculpture.  Found art.  Poetry.  Short fiction.  Music.  I wanted to share some of my old pieces from that summer.  Mainly made from duct tape, newspaper and stuff from the hardware store.  It was a sexual assault advocacy piece intertwining my love for writing, shapes and textures.  It took about 2 1/2 months to complete and then showed for a couple weeks at the William Pitt Union on campus.  Enjoy!


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