What would you do?

Earlier today, another stylist reached out to me via Instagram. One of her regular clients wanted to go lighter and the stylist made an informed decision to not lift her quickly, as we all know that sometimes, sessions are needed to maintain the integrity of the hair. The client ended up going somewhere else to have it lightened again and is now wanting to return to the old stylist for an updo.

So here’s my thoughts…

I have PLENTY of clients who come to me for only hair color or only hair cuts and I’m totally fine with that. We as stylists do not truly OWN our clients. They are free to go wherever they would like and I don’t ever think its the best idea to deny them of a service because you, the stylist, are offended that they do not get everything done with you. Yeah, I know it stings to have to think about that, but let’s reframe the thinking here.

Look at it this way…for whatever reason, they felt the need to go elsewhere for that ONE thing yet they still trust you for everything else. It’s not personal, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you did a bad job in the first place. There is a plethora of reasons people go to more than one stylist. Sometimes, they don’t even know you perform certain services, which isn’t the client’s fault. I have many clients that come to me for just color and have an inexpensive barber to do their haircuts here in Los Angeles. I also have become incredibly comfortable with turning down a service that I know I am not good at doing. I am a creative color specialist, can do a terrific pixie haircut and am a balayage specialist. I’m generally not the best at platinum blonding services nor do I perform certain types of extension services.

On the flip side, I also have trusted professionals that I can recommend for these services.

So, my point is, if they want you to do an updo or a haircut, and someone else to do their color, so be it. Don’t take things so personal.



diverted products

Amazon really is dominating the market right now, and I really cannot blame you for wanting to shop there. It’s easy, the creation of Amazon Prime allows for super fast shipping, sometimes even on the same day, and you can do it all from the comfort of your home while wearing your pajamas. That being said, certain things just aren’t a good idea to purchase via the internet or even off drugstore shelves such as Target, CVS, RiteAid, etc.

If your haircare products say “ sold only in professional salons” or something similar, there is a reason for that. One, when you buy from a reputable salon or stylist, you can rest easy knowing that your products are not expired, watered down, or worse yet…counterfeit.

So what is the grey market? Grey market (also called Diverted products) are in between…they aren’t illegal persay, but they aren’t exactly reputable. It could be products that licensed pros sold off, it could be stuff that was found, there are a plethora of ways to come across these items for mass retailers. When buying, you’re playing a game of roulette. Now, if you know anything about gambling, you know that roulette has the worst odds for the player.

There are some signs to look for to see if your items are legit. Use your senses..does it look unusually watered down? Is it abnormally thick? Does it smell different than usual? Is there a batch code on the bottom? Batch codes are HUGE as fakes hardly ever have them.

If you want to stay on the safe side, just buy from reputable sources. Nine times out of ten, the pricing is similar anyway. Most lines such as Kevin Murphy, Unite, Enjoy, Redken, Surface, Kendra, Schwartzkopf, etc don’t openly sell to these mass retailers.

Also, if you’re unsure, a good stylist won’t mind answering questions about this topic.




The Bride of Frankenstein Technique (Video)

Here’s a lil snippet of the technique that went viral a few years back.

As a balayage specialist in the Los Angeles area, I started with a full balayage to lighten her hair up and toned it with Redken Shades EQ. After shampoo, rinse and blow dry, I applied Pulp Riot Velvet along horseshoe shaped sections. To create the larger stripes, I take teeny tiny U shaped sections and bricklay them. Then, I will take a very minimal amount of product and create pinstriping between the larger ones. Here I was using a Framar brush but I also love Colortrak brushes to accomplish this.

Process that bad boy for 30 min then RINSE ONLY with as cold of water as tolerable. The cold water prevents excessive bleeding and keeps the blonde parts blonde.

I then styled with my Babyliss irons and some Oribe Dry texture spray.

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People tend to trip out when they find out how old I truly am. (I'm 37, yo. I ain't trippin' but it is okay if you are.)  Most people; and by "people" I mean women, make a huge deal about how old they are getting and hate the fact that the big Three Oh hit them. Yep, it hits like a runaway Mack truck, baby. 

But yo, come closer. I have a little secret to tell you about your thirties. Don't fret, my millennial friend. These next ten years will be the best you have experienced yet. 

As women in our twenties, we are way too worried about the status quo, doing what everyone else is doing and making sure we look incredible at all times. Our job at the Applebee's on the weekends is barely enough to cover the partying that will be accomplished the next week and Coachella is all we live for the whole year long. Living in a college dorm and eating ramen noodles every day isn't even an issue and the excitement over your best friend's "new" ride is newspaper worthy. (Yes, I mean that ride she purchased at a small used lot on the corner of Main Street that was poo brown and had the front bumper taped on with duct tape.) 

So, do you see where I'm going with this?

Once that dreaded 30th birthday nears, your life will be on a way better path. In your thirties, life is much more stable.  A steady career path is usually lined out,  so much so that you can buy a house, or maybe even a new car at an actual dealership. No more hooptie whip for the dirty thirty year olds. If you play your cards right, you don't have to live paycheck to paycheck either. The money you spend at the bar on a Friday night is chump change and won't phase you one bit. That's IF you even desire that kind of entertainment anymore. There is a lot to be said for a nice night in with a good group of friends, your pajamas, some snacks and a Bill Murray movie. Experiences become more important than those designer shoes that you'll wear once for three hours. Instead of posting up photos of you and the BFF grabbing avocado toast at a brunch spot near the farmer's market, you'll post photos traveling to Bali or Macchu Picchu, taking in everything the unfamiliar culture has to offer. 

You’ll start to understand the idea of quality over quantity. For example, you’ll appreciate the way your hair looks MORE after a $70 haircut versus a $30 cut. Investing in good products such as Kevin Murphy, Amika, Redken, Living Proof, Evo, Bumble and Bumble, etc. instead of the usual Pantene or Herbal Essences will be commonplace and your hair will thank you for it.

Know what else will happen? You’ll have a more realistic view of politics. Instead of believing every single headline on Facebook, you’ll start to do your own investigative research and decide for yourself. This alone is enough reason to enjoy growing up.

Let’s change it. Let’s call it “growing up” instead of “growing old.” Has a much better ring to it, if you ask me.

For myself, learning to call a spade a spade was probably the hardest lesson I had to learn. In the end, though, that lesson was worth it. I have quality friends, not quantity. I don’t put up with people’s nonsense, and I’m pretty happy.

You’re gonna LOVE your thirties. I promise.



Do's and Don'ts for your salon visit

So you finally bit the bullet and made an appointment at a fancy scmancy salon. Or...If you’re coming to see me, you made one at a nice little Salon Studio in Woodland Hills, California.   This is a fantastic choice and I’m stoked you are coming to see me! Matter of fact, I’m stoked you are going to see a professional, even if it isn’t me! Here are my favorite tips to help guide you on how to prep and what to expect.

1.  Fire up your Pinterest boards.     Yep, that’s right..dust off that old Pinterest account you have had since 2009.  Load it up with hair inspiration photos.  Anything you find, go right ahead and toss it onto that board. It’s my job as a stylist to pick out the similarities in all of your favorite photos and then point out those similarities to you.  This also gives me (or your stylist) a better understanding of what exactly your hair goals are.  These photos also help me understand your definitions. For example, when a client says they want “rose gold hair,” I always start pulling up photos. To some, rose gold is the true definition; that literal rose gold jewelry that your mom wore in the 1970’s while in high school.  To others, rose gold means iPhone Pink.   Have a nice variety of photos because if you go in with one redhead photo, one brunette and one hot pink, that is three very different looks and you want to end up with hair you love.  If you come to me with two redhead photos, one warm brown and one coral tone, I can easily see that you are drawn to warmer tones.  

2.  Show up on time to your appointment but also be flexible.    If you didn’t previously consult with your stylist in person, what you are hoping to achieve may not happen the day of. Don’t fret, this isn’t a bad thing at all. A true professional will want you to absolutely love your hair and may need extra time to achieve your desired result.  When I was in the military, our drill sergeants often said “ semper Gumby, soldier.”  Gumby was this little green flexible toy. This saying meant that it was just easier to be up for things to possibly change. Sometimes, your hair can’t handle everything that needs to be done and it is necessary to have a few sessions over time to get you to that ashy blonde tone to prevent excessive breakage. It’s worth the wait. 

3. Get quality products.  Your gorgeous rainbow hair took 8 hours to achieve and probably cost you a fat check.  Go ahead and spend the extra $40 to get quality, professional salon products to maintain it. There are so many amazing products out there and what’s a few more dollars to make your look last longer? Salon professional products are engineered to not only clean your hair, but they also don’t fade the color as much, they add moisture and some even have repairing properties.  Some of my personal favorites are Kevin Murphy, Redken, Kenra Professional, Living Proof, Oribe and Amika.

If you would like to see a list of some of my personal favorites, click here.  

4.  Schedule maintenance appointments ahead of time.  This is super important for a handful of reasons. If you can only make a certain day of the week, making your appointment in advance will guarantee you get that spot you love. Sometimes, a stylist is willing to “work you in last minute” but that means you will likely be juggled with other clients who made their spot in advance.   Also, regular maintenance keeps your costs down.  Base retouches are generally two inches of new growth or less as once the growth is more than that, the process becomes more complicated and the results are much less predictable. You may end up with banding that is unfavorable and difficult to remove. This increases pricing at most salons.  Pre-booking will avoid all of these situations.  


So there you have it!  



Just Go with It

The best ideas are often accidents. By accident, I mean that they aren't always planned. A while back, I had a client come in on a slow, Tuesday afternoon. She eagerly talked about how she wanted a fresh, new look for her new job position in San Francisco.  She showed me several photos of rose gold balayage hair but kept going on about how much she loved all the bright, vivid colors she saw running around the salon.   I had purple at the time, which happened to be her favorite color. 

As a stylist, it is part of my job to pick up on small clues that clients send out via body language, conversation and tone in order to make a fantastic judgement call on what will make that person truly happy with their new look.  For her, I felt that some well placed ribbon shaped pieces of purple would really make her day.  Those pieces needed to be completely hidden for the most part as she was not sure how the new job would react to nontraditional hair colors.  The process took some time and a bit of coaxing on my part but the "Ribboning" technique was born. 

I had no idea what I had created at the time and initially didn't care much for the photos I took of her hair. Her and I both really loved the way the colors melted in person but I never posted any photos of it until almost a year later. I tossed the photo up on my instagram, @hairhunter , and within an hour, it had several hundred likes and was reposted eight times. 

Hair Addiction Magazine happened to repost the photo on their Facebook page and to our surprise, it managed to stack up a whopping 16000 likes and 2500 shares.  This prompted an article to be written about the look.  To date, the photo (I have lovingly called it the "PBJ" hair for obvious reasons and...well...sometimes you just need a PBJ) has racked up over 500,000 shares, likes and comments between social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.  

So you are probably thinking "okay..big deal. What's the point?"

Risk taking is a part of life. The risk takers are always the ones who get the things they want in this world. I took a risk by 1. placing ribbons of vivid color into someone's hair even though she wasn't completely sure she wanted them.  2. Posting a photo that I didn't think was good enough.

It was good enough. The risk paid off.   Many people in this industry will tell you to only do techniques on clients that you have practiced on a mannequin head. I say that is old fashioned and for some things, you just need to go with it. If your client is comfortable and you have the artistic ability to comprehend how your placement will look, then by all means. Take that jump.

Take risks. Chances are, there isn't much to lose in the first place. 

I plan to post a How To on this soon. Keep your eyes open for that.

Hugs and Sunny Surf,


Follow Me : @hairhunter