Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Grey Lifestyle

"Am I going to look like an old lady?"

All this time you thought I was a nice boy from Ohio.  But when clients ask me if they will look "like an old lady" if they let their hair go grey, I always say yes.  It sort of addresses the elephant in the room.  Here's the thing: who cares? Who decides what an "old lady" looks like?

I then go on to explain that I love grey hair.  Do I think grey=old? No. Do I think grey hair is less maintenance? I'll get to that later. However, I have no control what my clients think of themselves and what society tells us an "old lady" looks like.  As far as double standards go, I think few are as blatantly unfair as Grey: Men vs. Women.  This debate goes deep into the past, with the same question--why do men get to be distinguished and women are just "old"?

I believe this is a changing tide.  When I started working in the beauty industry about ten years ago it was uncommon for affluent women who had been coloring their to stop.  Sure, there have always been circumstantial reasons like budget or illness; and there have always been women who never started coloring their hair.  But nowadays there are a lot of healthy and vivacious women who can afford to continue coloring their hair who choose to stop.  I'm totally on board. 

First and foremost I am a hairstylist to make money.  When I started in beauty school I thought I wanted to do all "hairshow" hair. Crazy cuts, outrageous color, all the "fun" stuff.  I think most people in beauty school start out thinking that's the type of hair they will build their career on.  But as I grew into the profession and began building skills, I quickly learned a few things:
-hot pink haircolor will always be shocking. No matter how well or poorly it is applied.   
-Often clients who want hot pink haircolor are not the type of client around which a business can be built.  I realize by saying this I run the risk of sounding like an asshole.  It's sort of an asshole thing to say. But a successful salon is fueled by clients coming regularly.  Pink hair is usually a one time thing.  It's a really fun thing to do, nonetheless.  I've done it.  I have the photos, but I'm not sure I can bear to look at them. 

The deeper I got into my career the more I began to appreciate and enjoy the challenge of keeping it simple.  I found it was far more difficult to craft a natural blonde haircolor than it was to create a shockingly bright green.  I built an understanding of the fine details that lie within the shades and subshades of all haircolor.  To transform a dull brunette into a rich sable with undertones of mahogany and highlights of not-too-gold caramel demands tremendous skill.  I have found success with my color clients, I think, because my mission is always to work within their palette.  I feel anyone can have any haircolor; if she has the colorist who can translate it to her skin, eyes, and lifestyle.  I also learned that women who want this kind of attention to detail in a hairstylist are willing to pay the premium.  The focus of my salon is never on volume.  I have a small clientele and each client is immensely valuable to me. 

The slogan for my business all things beautiful came to me in a second.  After adding it to my logo in 2011 I wondered what made it fit so easily? Coincidentally it has 18 characters, just like my name.  To say that was a happy accident would be an understatement.  All things beautiful is what ties my mind together.  I was surprised when people had trouble wrapping their head around a hairstylist who caters who also does floral work.  Looking back I see the confusion.  I've always seen these things as having far more in common.  Whether designing a haircut, a floral centerpiece, or a fabulous vinaigrette--there is only one thing you really need.  An eye, a sense for proportion.  I feel that I was gifted with this sense for proportion. It came at the expense of many other things like basic math skills and being able to throw a ball further than two feet. 

What does grey hair have to do with this?  A lot. 

A woman who wants to quit coloring her hair needs a hairstylist who accepts and appreciates this decision. She also needs a hairstylist who has a strong eye for proportion.  You could say designing haircolor is like designing an English garden.  Weaving colors together in similar shades to harmonious effect.  There is a star and there are backup singers.  Easier said than done.  You could say designing a haircut for grey hair is like tending a Japanese garden.  An exercise in restraint, a manipulation of the ordinary to striking effect.

Usually grey hair is on the coarse end of the spectrum.  Coarse hair demands a few things from a haircut.  First, the client must have her hair cut often.  6-8 weeks for long-medium length hair and 3-6 weeks for short hair.  Just because there are no roots anymore does not mean skipping the salon.  In my opinion, keeping fresh ends on grey hair is the major tipping point between structure and chaos.  Coarse hair is more prone to dryness; which translates to scraggly ends if a client goes too long between haircuts.  For longer (shoulders or below) grey hair, I usually recommend a level perimeter.  Meaning the hair on the sides falls at the same level of the back.  Often in longer haircuts there is a slight graduation from back to front that creates a V-taper.  I think a more linear profile helps the grey look fresh.

Great Gray Hair Styles
Even though Blythe Danner has curly hair, hers is still cut into a level profile.  I like the way it falls cleanly. 
Blythe Danner
Also with haircuts for grey hair, it is beneficial to keep the hair layered.  Even if slightly so.  Often when women stop coloring their hair, they also wish to stop having it layered.  It sounds like it will be easier to maintain if the hair is all the same length.  The problem with hair that is all the same length is that the majority of the weight will fall in one spot.  Layering distributes the weight evenly, when done correctly.  With grey hair it is of the utmost importance that the layering be even and well-proportioned.  There is no magic length for layering.  It is different for everyone.  Someone with very thick, coarse hair needs sharply angled layering whereas someone with fine hair needs much softer and obtusely-angled layering.   Layering, even in when it only starts an inch from the ends, is an important facet of wearing grey hair well.

As for going grey, as in growing out haircolor, you have my sympathy. Not an easy process. This is particularly difficult for brunettes. I advise that one has her hair heavily highlighted when she decides to grow out her color. This is disarming for women who have brunette most of their lives. The reason for the highlighting is that it bridges the gap between dark ends and grey roots.
Another common problem with grey hair is not maximizing the platinum tones.  Grey can catch slightly yellow or green tones.  Often this is a result of product build up.  But it can also be environmental.  Using a violet shampoo and conditioner like this once a week can help:

This helps grey hair just like it does blonde hair.  Because blonde and grey hair are both void or slightly void of color, they are susceptible to color change from minerals in water, chemicals in products, and free radicals and particles in the air.  It works in two ways.  It is a slight exfoliant which helps open the outermost layer of the hair and it deposits a faint violet toner that corrects the off tones.  You want a shampoo that deposits color rather than removes.  Often people feel that violet shampoos are similar to grocery store shampoos like Sheer Blonde.  Sheer blonde actually has a diluted hydrogen peroxide in it that lifts the overall color slightly.  Not what we want with grey hair.  Long term it will lead to more dryness. 

If the unpleasant tones persist after using a violet-based shampoo for a month, a toner could also be considered.  I have one client who I use a clear toner/sealer on once about every two months.  I add a tiny drop of pastel violet and it transforms her grey from sort of dingy to fabulously platinum.  If you are considering this, MAKE SURE your hairstylist is going to use a zero lift/deposit only developer.  Even a 10vol developer could change the texture and color of your hair. 

Some clients also feel that as their hair goes grey, it becomes much more difficult to style.  This is sometimes because they are continuing to style it just as they did their hair was colored.  The key to styling grey hair is to look at it with fresh eyes.  Don't think about how it used to be styled.  Assess how it wants to be styled now.  If your hair has a persistent cow lick to the right, there is no point in styling it to the left.  Following the lines in which the hair grows makes for unbelievably easy styling. If you have curly hair, choose a haircut that works with curly hair.   Often along the natural partline grey hair will have the most dimension.  I'm not sure why this is, but it usually holds true.  Exposing the natural highs and lows of grey adds texture and suits the face beautifully. 

 I saved the easiest tip for last--shine spray! I cannot overstate the importance of using shine spray with grey hair.  If you were to follow none of the other tips in this post, I hope you still incorporate shine spray into your morning routine.  This is my favorite:

It is light and incredibly moisturizing and really does add tremendous shine.  Also it is vegan, gluten free and non-aerosol.  I advise spraying the Surface shine spray onto your hair after your towel dry and before you blow dry.  If you are going to let your hair air dry, this should be the last product you work in.  Spray about three sprays throughout your hair and work through with your fingers.   If you wish you can also add another spray once dry.

This is quite a bit more than I had intended to write and I do apologize (to those of you still reading) for being so long-winded.  I think there is a lot of misinformation out there about working with grey hair.  I will admit there is also a lot of unnecessary attitude among those in my field about "going grey".  Some stylists see losing a haircolor client as losing the client all together.  I see it as an opportunity.  My grey clients are some of my most prolific sources of referrals.  I feel this is because a woman wearing her grey beautifully, sharply, and intentionally always turns heads. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

No Complaints

We've had a lovely snowfall between yesterday and today. And while many aren't pleased--I don't have a single complaint. 
Neither does Barbie.
It was this day one year ago that I first saw Barbie's picture. 
One year ago tomorrow, 
she came home with me!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Easy Advice

Years ago I had the privilege to train with three unique, talented, funny, and savvy women at my first salon job. Although the company ultimately was not a fit for me, I cherished my time there. Training under those women was an incredible opportunity and they each had such a specific style and point of view. 

The first taught me the valuable tips for navigating relationships with clients. I was in awe of her ability to make her clients feel instantly at home and comfortable in her space. Although at times working for her was sort of The Devil Wears Prada I came to absolutely love her. She is also probably the most effortlessly hilarious person I have ever met. No matter what crazy, offensive, or shocking things her clients had to tell her she would nonchalantly laugh or shrug her shoulders as if to say "don't worry. I've done worse". That accepting nature is something I always try to project. 

In my industry, we often receive very generous tips from our clients at Christmas. It is not expected or implied, but it is always greatly appreciated. 
That stylist told me that clients give us those tips as gifts and they should be treated as such. Her advice went: Use that money to get or do something that will remind you just how thankful you are for them. She also advised I not waste the money on cigarettes and tattoos. I've never been too interested in either of those. I opt for more domestic gifts.

 This year I think I chose the perfect thing. Something I've always wanted, I'll always have, and something I'll use often and always think of the people who gave it to me.....
Any guesses?! 
(This is a decoy photo to at least make you try and guess! -1 F makes the front door to the salon an icy spectacle)
(Barbie and Rookie. The top photo is January 2013 shortly after I got herthe bottom is a year later. Look how big she got!)
Okay did you guess?
Do you hear the choir of angels? A 9 1/2 quart Le Creuset. I toiled over the choice of color. I wish they had pure white. There is a color called dune, but it's too almond-sandy for me. I chose Marseille because 1) It's one of the few colors Le Creuset makes all their products in. 2) I figure most of the food I prepare in it will be red, which will be a pretty contrast with the blue. I've wanted one of these since I was 12. I am so excited and appreciative to my clients for this gift. Thank you, thank you, thank you
Definitely easy advice to follow. I love my job and I love my clients. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Blues

The dinner plates are new. Asiatic Pheasant. The bread plates are vintage. Nippon Flying Turkey. They just look great together! 
I've always loved blue and white. I started collecting blue willow when I was 10 or so. At one point I probably had around 500 pieces with several large serving pieces. I sold all my china (tons of jadeite too--I cringe) when I was 19 and used it as a down payment for a car. What can I say? I needed a car. 
Anyway I'm back into blue and white in a big way. I love how it's found a place among even modern interiors. I also love how it all goes together so well. 
Have you ever known another dog that can sit in a chair at a dining table the whole length of the meal? I suppose maybe not a lot of people would allow this. Haha. 
Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hoarding vs Collecting

I'll admit, I walk the tightrope between the two. This morning I felt more like a hoarder. 
One of my clients is going to be hosting a charity event in her home and she mentioned that she wished she had more silver serving pieces because the event is around Valentine's Day and she wanted to do a big table full of candy on silver trays and bowls. I told her I'd be thrilled to loan her my silver. 
This is good because it forced me to polish it all at the same time and assess what I realistically wanted to keep. I'm trying to comb through my collections and objectively (as possible for me) decide whether I want to keep things or not. I never pay much for silver and often think it's worth gambling a few bucks on a very tarnished piece and trying to revive it. I don't know why but I find polishing silver to be incredibly satisfying. Any of you who are therapists-please chime in. 
Anyway I can't help but feel sad when I see neglected silver in antique stores. What I need to stop doing is buying it. I have enough. My silver collecting days are over. Or at least numbered. Or at least I'm going to try. 
Looks like a million bucks. There are only three pieces that cost more than $35. The dome, the champagne bucket and the little ice bucket to the right of the dome. The dome was a gift from my parents this Christmas. 
It is engraved Stronger than Thou. A particularly confident and slightly arrogant Englishman must have commissioned it. My mom knows it's English and very old. I'm trying to find more history on it but having trouble. I looooooooooooove it. First I was speechless and then I wanted to roast a turkey to put underneath it. 
Goodwill does not accept very badly tarnished silver with chipping or pitting so I just had to get rid of some. 
AH I can't look. I checked and in most cases silver plated items are able to be recycled. Truth be told, this silver was no longer pretty or safe to serve from. 
I only have a few New Year's resolutions this year. One of them is very broad scope: be realistic. So as the year goes on I will be combing through my collections weeding out the stuff that might land me on Hoarders. Sometimes stuff is just stuff.