Put a Spring in Your Clients’ Colorful Curls

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, February 21st, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in New York, I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by sheckys.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

Texture, texture and more fabulous texture! I would now like to open my color dispensary to all my fellow hairstylists and share some tips on making clients’ curls look amazing for the spring. I feel strongly that we are in this together, and education is something we should always feel free to share. Here is a two-part installment taking you away from the norm and helping you work on a “curly canvas” with new ideas.

When a client with curly hair sits in my chair for the first time, I look at her hair very differently compared to that of a client with straight hair. Curly hair travels from the scalp out and falls very differently than straight hair. And because the light reflects differently off of curls, before I color I have to think carefully if I am going to do a single process, foil or baliage technique.

Virgins!

If she or he is a first-time color client, I prefer to paint rather than do a single process. Whether there are a few grays or none at all, when it comes to virgin hair, I strongly feel doing a single process is like throwing a blanket over the client’s head. Why cover what comes naturally? To enhance natural hair color, I love low-lighting with foils using two shades of brown, one darker and one lighter, especially if the client has a lot of hair. If she has very fine hair, I still prefer using two colors, but using the baliage technique becomes my first choice. With fine hair, I have more control than with foils and the effect is more delicate.

Yes, it may seem like more work than an overall color. But consider this, not only is it beautiful with dimension, but now the client is well-aware that her color is custom-mixed to her needs. Also, when the hair grows, you avoid the line of demarcation typically caused by single process. After the color is processed, I take the client to the sink and do a quick soap cap without affecting the uncolored hair too much. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to do a gloss with this process, otherwise you will blend what you did prior, and you’re back to ground zero with the color looking like a single process.

Gray Be Gone!

If there’s 10 to 30 percent of gray, you can baliage the hair (thick or fine) with the results being very natural and a very subtle line of demarcation. When a client is beginning to gray, the single process effect can be too harsh and scare the client away from a truly necessary service. The major advantage with doing baliage on this client is they can still see their natural hair color mixed with the colored hair.

When first covering gray hair, most women are open to seeing one or two gray strands, so why totally change their hair color? Then if the client is open to a little sparkle to counteract the coolness caused by the slight graying, you can also suggest a few lighter tips to add sparkle. While the low lights are processing, simply paint a few lighter pieces but only the tips of the hair (not roots through to ends. For this, I recommend using high lift tints for the lighter pieces rather than bleach - this way you have more control getting the desired tones without having to gloss her hair after using bleach.

Remember, this approach is all about giving the client a sophisticated, modern hair color, leaving her feeling soft and sexy with a color that compliments her curls and texture. After all the color classes I have done, I still find myself going back to the basics. Put clients’ hair condition first, the desired results second and my pocket last. With this approach, I find both my client and I are happy maintaining a strong relationship full of trust.

My next installment? Techniques using bleach to help add that extra edge to your brunette or blond client.

Testing New Products From American Crew

by Antonio Gonzales on Friday, February 11th, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

American Crew has been on the tip of my tongue since the early days of my career. As a company, they have been a strong driving force in our industry for many years and still offer us great education on men’s precision hair cutting and relentless support on product knowledge. These are my thoughts on some their latest additions: Curl Product and Boost Cream.

My hair is not only curly, it’s fine, straighter at the back hairline and frizzy on the sides. So like all curly-haired people, I have my personal routine. I’m not a big believer in towel drying my hair because it destroys the curl and I have to spend too much time fixing it.

The Curl Product

As a consumer, I read the directions on the Curl Construct to see what their thoughts were on using it. They recommended applying it to towel-dried hair and then styling. Easy, right? Well, as you know, it takes a little more than that to style curly hair. That’s where we as hairstylists come in. Being that I’m now growing out my own hair, I figured “What better time than now?” for me to test this new product. The added bonus of my experiment, and subsequent bonus for my readers, would be to use it in two different climates, that of New York City and now Miami.

A little went a long way with the Curl Construct in New York’s cold climate. I applied it by gently squeezing the product in with my hair turned up side down, I then got dressed and walked out the door. The Curl Construct dried with definition and I was able to shake my head and loosen up the curl as the day passed. What I liked about my hair was the shine; the definition was great but it was not crunchy or flaky. The following day I was able to rinse my hair (since I hate bed hair) and apply a tiny bit more. The product actually reactivates when you wet it, so less is more.

For the client with thicker coarse hair, this is a perfect product because it conditions while controlling frizz with softness. Keep in mind that you, the hairstylist, will know your client’s needs best so use your judgment.

This product’s consistency proved too gummy in Miami, so I used less and added a tiny bit of Crew styling gel to add some alcohol and thin out the product. I must say, the one thing I don’t like when going curly is the look of having product on your hair. Though it felt okay, it ended up looking a little too glossy for my liking. This product might have been too heavy for more humid tropical climate experienced in Miami.

The Boost Cream

American Crew Boost Cream

This product was recommended for adding body and shine to towel-dried hair. It was easier to apply, and a little creamier than the curl product, which I liked. In the cold climate it delivered the body and shine it said it would. It’s great for men with coarse, longer hair. It held the wave in my hair well and when it dried I was able to run my hands through it easily. But do keep in mind, though, that a little goes a long way.

In Miami this product also delivered good styling results, and 11 hours later after applying it, it felt soft and held its shape. I would not recommend it for super-fine-haired guys.

I noted Boost Cream, much like Curl Product, left the appearance of “having product in my hair” and whether or not that’s the look your client is wanting to achieve is a matter of personal preference.

In all, I liked the products for my male clients but, as with almost everything in life, these products might be right for some, and not for others, and that is for you ( the stylist) to decide, depending on what your client expresses he’s looking for.

Thank you, American Crew!

Review of “Your Colorist’s Favorite Brush”

by Antonio Gonzales on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

I like to think of myself as a guinea pig for my readers and for hairstylists. I love having the opportunity to try something new and keep on trying it until I can give the honest opinion of my experience with any particular product. I am also happy to try to promote a new product, especially if it was developed by a fellow colorist. When I decided to try “Your Colorist’s Favorite Brush” from Patrick McIvor Color Studio, I was looking forward to seeing if the claims were true.

Before using the brush I knew this much: The brush consists of 13 rows of Tourmaline Crystal Complex-infused pins mounted on a cushion surface that protects hair from pulling and a professional handle that comfortably grips to the hand. It also claimed to have negative ionic charge, which helps to repair hair with heat. Without any of my co-workers knowing, I started using the brush in the salon on my clients as recommended. First let me say that this brush feels really good; it’s by far the most comfortable brush I have ever held and it just feels really good! I brushed my client’s hair prior to a color service from roots to ends; it detangled the hair really well. As I kept using it, I realized that it was calming the texture and giving the hair a little shine. My first thoughts were that it was bringing the natural oils from the scalp to the ends, but as I kept using it (client after client), I realized it was having a good impact on the hair; it was subtle but noticeable, indeed.

Then I started using it only on wet hair after shampooing and it worked well. I know it was designed to use on glazed or glossed hair, but at that point I just wanted to take baby steps. I finally decided to use it on hair that had a glaze or gloss on it. I brushed from the ends first working my way up to the scalp. Once again it worked and even today I am still using it on my clients. It’s hard to describe exactly what happens to the hair, but at the shampoo bowl, the glaze is even shinier on the hair. Today I had a client that I had not seen for a year and I could tell that her hair was “over-glazed” and needed a consistent layer of permanent hair color. Instead of using a glaze at the shampoo bowl, I did a good old-school “soap cap” and used this special brush. All I can say is that you have to experience it for yourself.

And remember how I used it in the salon without any announcements? Well, a fellow colorist walked over to me and said, “Where did you get this brush?” I asked, “Why?” Jennifer said, “I love it! It feels so good! I’ve been using it and I really dig it!” Needless to say, Jennifer is very skeptical about any new product because of all the gimmicks in the market. I actually think she is trying to steal it from me.

I will say this: I am still a little leery of using it on a client with very fine processed hair, and for that I’ll stick to my very wide-toothed comb. But otherwise, I’m very happy with this brush.

Must-have Tools for the Runway

by Antonio Gonzales on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

With another year comes another season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. Time to dust off my kit full of every tool imaginable for a girl to be runway ready. I only use this kit for Fashion Week. After one season ends, all items are laid to rest and remain unbothered until the following year. In this way, I avoid having to scramble for tools backstage. The last thing I need is to be poorly equipped to achieve a desired look given a model’s hair challenges while she is seated in my chair.

After my installment last year, Styling for the Big Show, regarding the differences between runway hair and salon hair wherein I provided tips and tools to my readers, I have decided to author a follow-up article focused on what it takes to be prepared for Fashion Week. Pay close attention to this valuable guide of tools that will not only have you ready for the catwalk, but will empower you in the salon to give cutting-edge hairstyles.

Keep in mind that if you have not had an opportunity to work any fashion shows, you can still maintain a small kit in the salon to transform your client from a daily beauty to a trend-setting diva!

Crimping Iron

I know you remember the days of the good ol’ crimp. They were priceless indeed [smile]. There are times when curly-haired clients will request a different texture apart from their own. For those times, this is the tool of choice. From prior experience at fashion shows, all types of textures abound. I highly recommend having one of these in your kit. An inexpensive one will suffice.

TIP – A golden rule with all styling tools is to be creative and find ways to use them that will create salon-friendly looks. It could mean that you crimp larger sections than usual for a light texture. Or perhaps crimp the hair first and then construct an updo. You can also do a ponytail, then crimp the tail itself.

Root Control Styler or Edge-Pressing Comb

As hairstylists, we should all have one of these. It’s used to navigate those hard-to-get-to frizzy hairlines (on dry hair) when styling or when blow-drying a virgin head of African-American hair where you need to get very close to the root.

TIP – This tool has a hot barrel that’s surrounded by a comb, which allows the iron to smooth the hair while having a guard. With this particular tool, practice makes perfect!

T3 Domed Hair Iron

Again, it’s all about hair texture. This is an amazing tool that will keep your waves from being too bouncy. Rather, there will be more of a loose wave with added flow keeping it very modern. It’s great when you need to add a stronger wave to hair with a looser wave or it can help with taking very curly hair and slightly opening up the wave.

TIP – Add a soft hairspray while working. This will enable your wave to last longer, especially on straighter hair. When working with curly hair, place the iron within the curl turning the wrist as much as possible. For best results, pay close attention to your wrist action.

Tiny Flatiron

A tiny flatiron is a must for a flawless sleek look from roots to ends. For camera-ready hair, you must employ serious care to detail so that even the finest of hairs on the hairline are attended to. For our everyday clients preparing for a night on the town, this iron will help with holding the style. The number one giveaway of a rushed style is a frizzy hairline.

TIP – Working with paper-thin sections is the only way to get hair that’s sleek; creating an effect as though the hair is sliding off the scalp.

All Natural Tooth Brush

No. I am not going to ask you to look after your teeth while doing hair. This tool is perfect for adding finishing touches to your sleek flat-ironed look. Because of its size and super soft bristles, you can pay attention to detail from root to tip. Bigger brushes cover too much surface and sometimes have a slight curve or simply aren’t delicate enough.

TIP – You can add a little hairspray to the bristles while working and always clean after each use to avoid unnecessary build up which will eventually work against you. Also, with this brush, work as you go from the scalp out.

In our industry there are so many tools that we can take and make our own for any hair type. I urge you to constantly challenge yourself and push the envelope. It’s the only way for us to grow while improving our skills and keeping it fresh for our clients.

Antonio Gonzales

New Year’s Business-Building Secrets to Help Your Clients

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, January 10th, 2011

shiny curly hair

Follow these 5 great tips and your clients will thank you.

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

As we move into the new year, I’d like to share with you some business-building secrets in an effort to help improve your curly-haired clientele. With the change in the economy and salons closing across America (even here in New York), the idea that our industry is recession-proof has been proven wrong. Today, every hairstylist must pay closer attention to his or her own business, implementing different strategies to secure a loyal clientele. As a hairstylist, I don’t expect my old ways of business building to necessarily work in today’s economy. Here’s what I am doing differently.

1) Research

Knowing what products for curly hair are on the market—be they professional or drugstore-level brands—is a great way to know what’s being sold to our clients between salon visits. I have decided to grow my hair so I can act as my own guinea pig, sampling many products in an effort to verify their claims. I feel very empowered when a client inquires about a product that I myself have tested: It’s the only way to give a client an optimally useful judgment. If I haven’t tried it, how can I have an honest opinion about it?

2) Personal Styling Techniques

Create new methods for styling your own hair. This way you can personally have an impact on your clients’ opinion of your work. Clients appreciate relating to us when it comes to our hair, so personalizing your own styling techniques also gives you some leverage for originality when it comes your gaining your clients’ trust. Keeping it fresh is highly recommended.

3) Overselling

Keep track of your clients’ purchases as the seasons change. It may be that they can still use some of the products they already have in their cabinets at home, occasionally adding a few new ones every year. Keeping track of their favorite products can also help in minimizing the confusion of too many products… I’ve seen this lead to resentment often. No one likes the feeling of “buying what they don’t need.” It really may not be your intention, but it can often seem that way to the client after you’ve suggested they purchase a number of products.

4) Personalized Concoctions

We know that some salons carry several lines, and some just a few. If you are limited to a select number of in-store brands, be creative and utilize what you have. Recommend to your clients a special mixture or layering of products in your salon that might work best for their specific situation. This way, you strengthen the client/stylist relationship, as this shows that you care about their spending habits and want them to spend wisely. My clients do not need every new product on the market. I’m a hairstylist, not a product distributor. That’s what I like about Orlo (the salon where I work). We keep it very simple when it comes to our products, never overwhelming the client with too many options.

5) Healthier Alternatives

With so many products on the market for fighting frizz, some clients are leaning toward a little help from the big “C”—chemicals. Some clients have become obsessed with having celebrity hair without realizing that most celebrities wear extensions of some sort, and have hairstylists at their disposal on a daily basis. Even women with curly hair will express a desire for picture-perfect, straight and shiny hair they see in a magazine. Sadly, this isn’t an option for some women! Perfect hair on a daily basis takes a level of commitment and time that most women simply don’t have. Working with your clients on embracing their natural beauty can be a new addition to your routine. Talk about their skin, facial structure, and (as the case may be) how their natural curly hair complements the package. Clients need to be reminded that they are beautiful and that originality is sexy.

I hope this article inspires you to implement some business-building skills of your own. In 2011, I invite you to research every aspect of our industry as you experience it: past, present and a very inspired future.

Help Your Clients’ Curls Shine

by Antonio Gonzales on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

shiny curly hair
antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

Everyone wants curls that shine—it’s a result that we all try to achieve for our clients. In all aspects of the beauty industry, we aim to produce a sparkle that will turn heads. With this in mind, here are some insider tips on tools, products, and techniques that help produce the best shine, hopefully giving your clients flawless luster for the holidays and into 2011.

1) Use only a post-color shampoo after rinsing out hair color. Regular shampoo for color-treated hair should not be used at this point in the process. Special post-color shampoos removes excess color residue, close the cuticle, and promote shine and longevity of your clients’ hair color. This is a sure way to keep them returning and totally satisfied with their last color appointment.

2) One product that really promotes shine during and following the color process is Longevity Rejuvenating Oil by Naturina. After reading up on it, I decided to conduct my own research, and I loved it! It’s a multipurpose, pure oil that I guarantee will be an incredible asset to your clients’ hair. I now add three to five drops of it to my various hair masks for an added conditioning effect. (If your client has fine hair, I recommend using a bit less, though.)

3) As you may well realize, there’s no shortage of shine-boosting products on today’s market; sadly, many are way too heavy. But I came across a shine spray that I do recommend wholeheartedly: Barex Italiana. It’s wonderful for shine without weight, and is also safe for color-treated hair and protects against the effects of irons and curling irons. A small amount of this effortlessly effective product on either wet or dry hair will add shine to any matte finish.

4) If you’re still afraid of oils or shine spray, this next product is a must-have for your salon: Renew by Orlando Pita is a dry conditioner that delivers amazing shine—and as a huge bonus, removes static. So if you find yourself with that client we all know with super-fine hair—the one who’s afraid on adding any shine product two days after her blow dry—recommend this and I swear she will love you for life! For the client who uses a dry shampoo but is challenged my the matte finish, then here’s your answer: a dry conditioner on a dry shampoo.

5) If you want a product that will have your clients hooked for life, this is it: Age Recharge by Kérastase. This is my go-to product for blondes. It helps enormously with detangling and preventing further breakage, with extremely consistent results. If your client has very dry hair, I recommend they use it once a week as a treatment and every other day as a regular conditioner. Then, when their hair feels like it’s improving, they can then scale back to just once a week as recommended on the label. Remember, a little of this product goes a very long way. From of the vast amount of masks Kérastase offers, Age Recharge gets my vote. It’s the only one I truly love.

6) For those of us who have used one of those old-school black dryers that weigh a ton and sound like a boat engine, the T3 Featherweight will be your next best investment. Here are some of its many advantages over other dryers on the market: It dries 70 percent faster (due to the Tourmaline SoftAire and T3 patented process), it blows a steady stream of concentrated ionic and infrared heat for super-speed drying time, and it offers eight settings that allow for precision and versatility throughout the drying process. I have saved so many clients from further damage by suggesting they switch to this dryer.

I wish you all a warm holiday season, and look forward to sharing more useful information about the industry we love so much.

What’s the Difference Between a Gloss and a Glaze?

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, December 13th, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

What’s the difference between a gloss and a glaze? Over the years I’ve heard these terms used interchangeably (often from my own clients), and I’m here to set the record straight. After some extensive online research and reading many articles from fellow New York stylists (including NYC Colorist Marie Leppard and my coworkers at the Orlo salon), I feel confident to speak intelligently on the matter. I want to bring you a point of view that, although personal, makes sense in my eyes. I hope this helps you to answer your own clients’ concerns on the matter.

Hair Glaze

What comes to mind when I hear the word “glaze” is a shiny, delicate surface, like that of a glazed cake—a temporary coating.

After my research, I was happy to know that we stylists all can agree that a glaze is a temporary, clear substance that adds great shine to either virgin or color-treated hair. We also agree that glazes have pigment added to boost any matching hair color: blond or brunette. Whether it’s a clear glaze (with no color pigment) or a colored glaze, all certainly add a safe, translucent coating to the hair shaft that washes off in eight to 12 shampoos. Glazes contain no ammonia or peroxide, which means they do not have the ability to lift your natural color or to aggressively open the cuticle to deposit color. This kind of product gently lays on the surface of the hair rather, adding a complementary tone. Also, glazes will not fully cover gray hair (not even a few strands). However, on a client who’s just slightly gray, it can add overall shine and a hint of tone while possibly staining those few strands.

One of my favorite glazes is Sebastian Colourshines by Cellophanes. I have been using this product for more than 16 years, from my time in Trinidad, to Los Angeles and now in New York, and I still love the results. This temporary gel-like substance comes in clear and also a variety of colors that can complement any brunette or blond. Keep in mind that there are other glazes on the market for you to sample, but this is again by far my favorite; I’ve yet to be disappointed by this glaze. The easiest way for me to describe the coverage of this product is by recommending that you experiment: Get a piece of colored cellophane paper. Place it over several surfaces of varying colors. If the paper you choose is red (for example), then all the surfaces you have covered with the cellophane look the same in depth or lightness, though now just have a red translucent tone. The idea is that the glaze cannot actually change the depth and existing color pigment, but does add a translucent tone.

The best way to choose the right color for your client is by taking a white paper towel and smearing your desired color on it. This way, you get a good idea of the color and underlying pigment. It is important to keep in mind the desired effect, so keep the “color tone” relative to the client’s existing hair color. In other words, if it’s a copper red, do not use a blue-base red. It’s great on brunettes who are losing their sparkle, if you think there’s too much pigment and you are fearful of it going too dark, then what you should do is add clear. This will help dilute the pigment, giving less coverage. This product is also amazing for blonds: For a head of fair hair that’s too gold, add a mixture of pearl blonde and clear. Or for the blond who’s too ashy, the honey blond mixed with clear works wonders!

To use on virgin hair, I first shampoo the hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove all product residue. I then towel-dry thoroughly and apply from roots to ends. Apply a plastic cap and sit under heat for 20 minutes. Afterward, allow to cool for five minutes and rinse well. Use an old-school hooded dryer (the heat and strong flow of air from these works better), rather than a Rollerball or a Climazone. But careful: do not shampoo. Rinse well (seven to 10 minutes) and condition only. If applying a colored glaze, apply protective cream to the hairline and wear gloves. Comb the glaze on the hairline, avoiding the client’s scalp. This way you get an even application without staining her scalp, and trust me when I say this baby stains!

For virgin hair in need of shine that’s sensitive to chemicals (or for the client who’s sensitive to the slightest tonal change in their hair), I highly recommend using a glaze. As we know it fades naturally from the hair without a line of demarcation. Do not take any chances with the lowest-volume peroxide in a gloss. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

If your client’s hair is damaged and you have a choice between either a gloss or a glaze, I highly recommend a glaze. Even the lowest-volume peroxide can make a bad situation worse.

Glazes and Glosses

Hair Gloss

When I think of a gloss, I think of car paint or nail polish: something stronger and longer-lasting.

A hair gloss is the stronger of the two. It contains peroxide and has the ability to budge the cuticle, depositing longer-lasting color. If used with heat on virgin hair, some glosses will give lift to the hair, changing the tone by perhaps a shade (I’ve seen this happen several times with my own eyes). When used on color-treated blond or brunette hair, it will add shine and enhance the existing tones in the hair, which can be a lifesaver a month or so after coloring the client’s hair. As you already know, glosses can be clear or come in a variety of shades (more so than do glazes), and can last up to four weeks. They can be applied to dry or towel-dried hair, and as previously mentioned, can be used with or without heat (Color Touch by Wella is a good example of this capability).

One of my very favorite glosses is Diacolor by L’Oréal, which can make a blond sparkle a month after getting the color done, while controlling warmth in the base. Unlike many glosses on the market that leave warm tones on the hair, this product will keep a brunette on tone, be it warm or cool. It comes in many shades, allowing you to create any desired hue. Keep in mind that I do use a lot of glosses in my everyday work, but I try to keep it as healthy as possible. So instead of the fast five minutes at the sink with a gloss, take 20 minutes with a glaze to achieve a shine that’s “to dye for”!

Remember that glosses can be a girl’s best friend (especially for blending gray hair), but should be used only when necessary, on hair that really needs it. Glazes, on the other hand, can make a world of difference on virgin hair, and are a great way to introduce your more inexperienced clients to hair color.

I wish you shine, shine, shine this holiday season!

Giving Back to Your Employer

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, November 22nd, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

Moving on from my first installment, which dealt with the salon giving back to the hairstylist, I will now turn things around, sharing helpful tips on the hairstylist giving back to the salon. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango… in this case it is very true. As a hairstylist, you owe it to your salon to show support in every area of the business. Here is a list of problems that salon owners face, each one potentially resulting in a hairstylist either being written up or losing their position entirely, followed by solutions for the stylist to consider when faced with these challenges.

TARDINESS

The first thing we hairstylists need to keep in mind is that we are in a service industry. How would you feel if you were to go to a restaurant, sit down to eat, and have the owner inform you that you will have to wait because the server isn’t in yet? You would be furious, and that’s exactly my point! Understandably, you would find another place to eat. Similarly, as a stylist, if you’re late for a client they too have the right to get up and leave. It’s also disrespectful to your coworkers as well as your employer, and creates resentment from your peers who do make the effort to be on time.

STYLIST’S HAIR AND/OR MAKEUP NOT DONE

This is a huge problem in our industry—employers struggle with this constantly with staff members. It is very important to always have your makeup and/or hair done before work. If you’re selling beauty, then practice what you preach! We live in a world where we do judge the book by its cover, so if your hair looks like you just rolled out of bed, your clients will inevitably lose confidence in you! Furthermore, regarding those hairdressers who sit in front of the client doing their own hair in the mirror (you know who you are): You may as well be brushing your teeth right there in the middle of the salon. Personal grooming should be done at home.

POOR CLIENT RETENTION

If over a period of time your employer points out that most of your first-time clients are not returning, then you should not pass the blame. It’s time to reassess your skill set and what you are bringing to the table. The only person in charge of making this happen is you. As a hairstylist, you should look at yourself and ascertain the areas in which you’re weak and could use a little assistance. It often seems that we want to concentrate only on the areas where we excel; but if you only focus on the things you are good at, then all the rest will obviously suffer. You’ll never improve. Your own personal areas of weakness may fall under cutting, coloring, or even client relations. In any case, ask for help. Perhaps you’d even benefit from bringing in models to practice on as much as you can. Also remember that personality is a big part of any service industry, so always be at your best—even when you feel your worst. Your client does not need to hear about your personal problems, so put on a smile and be professional.

POOR PRODUCT SALES

It is proven that if you do not educate your clients on what products they need to recreate the style or protect color you’ve given them, they will seek help elsewhere. Oftentimes the person at the counter in the local beauty supply store is rather blindly making recommendations to your client. Even if clients read labels on their own, they’re still liable to make bad decisions that will result in their wasting the good money they’ve spent in the salon—and not to mention all your hard work! I recommend educating your clients about all aspects of the cut, color and style the very minute they sit in your chair.

Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself and/or the client when providing a consultation. Each will further your understanding of the client’s “bad hair habits”: those pesky behaviors that may be hindering the maintenance of a great style or cut you provided in the salon.

1. How often do you shampoo your hair? What shampoo and conditioner are you using?

2. How often do you blow dry your hair? What type of brush and what products do you use?

3. Are you layering your products? If so, how much of each product are you applying?

4. Are you sectioning your hair with hair clips when blow drying?

5. What blow dryer do you use? Does your blow dryer have a nozzle to better direct heat?

6. How often are you doing deep treatments?

7. How long have you had the present style? (If this is the first visit.)

8. What was your opinion of your last haircut or color?

We all love our industry and have our workplace challenges, but that’s no reason to make your employer’s life even more challenging. Appreciate the fact that someone took the time to create an environment in which you are able to earn a living and grow professionally.

Steps to Avoiding a Stylist Walkout

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, November 15th, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

Show me a happy salon owner and I’ll show you a happy hairstylist. Show me a happy hairstylist and I’ll show you happy clients. The relationship between employer and hairdresser is very valuable, and without it a salon is standing on shaky ground. Like most successful relationships, this one consists of dedication, loyalty and trust. But we know this is never a perfect work relationship because we don’t live in a perfect world. With a strong foundation, most work relationships can be enjoyable for the entire team. This brings me to the point of “making your hairstylists happy.” Are you familiar with the term “salon walkout”? This occurs when a group of hairstylists decide to terminate employment collectively and simultaneously with no notice. Sometimes it’s planned and sometimes it’s a coincidence, but whatever the reason, this should never have to happen. Not only is it every salon owner’s nightmare, but it’s also every hairstylist’s as well. I have never met a hairstylist who enjoyed the process of leaving a job they once loved. Nor have I met any client who likewise enjoyed being involved in such a negative circumstance.

Here is a list of problems and solutions that can help you keep your team of hairstylists intact while avoiding any unnecessary losses in business. Please don’t think my perspective is one-sided. In my next installment I’ll be addressing the many varied mistakes hairstylists make that result in job loss.

PROBLEM:
Your hairstylists feel that they cannot communicate with you as their salon owner; they want to be heard without you taking their complaints as a personal affront and subsequently holding a resentment that causes friction at the workplace.

SOLUTION:
Despite what a perfect boss you may consider yourself, I urge you to hire a manager. Some of us are too sensitive to take constructive criticism, and that’s OK. But we can’t allow this character defect to get in the way of making our clients happy. The golden rule is: Do whatever it takes to make the client happy. If your sensitivity is going to be an obstacle to this end, then you should establish a go-between to field your workers’ criticism. And by “manager” I mean someone who is true outsider to your personal life—not a relative or best friend. Hiring someone close to you is asking for trouble. Don’t underestimate your stylists: They know favoritism and bias when they see it.

Hiring your manager you will be putting someone in place to be non-biased, someone who will be the go-to person for the staff as a whole. A manager’s job is to do just that: manage. He or she hears complaints and criticism and works to improve the salon as a result. A manager is a person who any stylist can confide in without feeling like its “manager and salon owner” against the world. This manager must be in a situation to not only handle complaints but also to bring them to you with ideas regarding the solutions to these complaints. The solution is a good manager offers may not always be want to heard but, but as a successful salon owner rule one is that it’s not all about you. For the successful salon owner, pride is the last thing to hold on to. After all, client satisfaction (and your livelihood as a business-owner) is at stake. If you really think about it, this actually gives you free time to focus on other things to help boost the team’s spirit.

PROBLEM:
Your hairstylists feel they are being cheated because they don’t understand their pay stub.

SOLUTION:
This is easily one of the simplest problems to fix, while also if left unresolved, one that will make any staff member leave his or her position. I recommend developing a system that allows you to show every bit of information that’s related to the work a hairstylist performs, and clearly reflects how he or she is compensated. You should catalog salon work, freelance work, and even tips owed to a hairstylist. A staff member should feel, at any point, comfortable to request an explanation of his or her salary breakdown. Remember, feeling shortchanged breeds distrust in the workplace. I recommend that the very day you hire a new hairstylist is the right time to explain all these details that could potentially turn into big issues. It’s worth it.

PROBLEM:
Clients complain that they are being pushed to other hairstylists when their own stylist is busy with someone else.

SOLUTION:
Prioritizing your clients’ satisfaction is key here. If a client makes this complaint, then he or she is making a very strong statement. It’s an expression of satisfaction with a service—the willingness to wait for a particular hairstylist is a very positive thing. It means that this hairstylist is doing something right and it should be recognized as such. In this instance, you may want to draft a waiting list for this particular hairstylist. This will help clients feel supported, and if you have cancellations, you can call clients from your list. Another way to support this in-demand hairstylist is by enacting a cancellation policy, wherein the client must call within 24 hours to cancel her appointment. If this stylist is in demand, then other clients should have an opportunity to see his or her favorite magician, too.

PROBLEM:
The front desk is making mistakes with appointments: scheduling names, time slots and services incorrectly.

SOLUTION:
This is a big problem in salons, and while salon owners and stylists both try to pass the blame, the clients are the ones inconvenienced. The front desk is the most important part of your business. It sets the tone for your brand. I recommend instantly reviewing who is at your front desk and his or her particular work ethic. Put in place a training session with your desk staff covering what’s acceptable and what’s not. Explain in detail how you want the phone to be answered and how every appointment should be booked. Role-playing is highly recommended too, so that any member of your desk staff who doesn’t quite get it may have a chance to observe exactly what needs to be done and how. Every desk employee should have a “problem-solving sheet” on hand to quickly reference as a guide when booking appointments. I have seen many salons with part-time employees at the desk, often students that are happy for the money but preoccupied with thoughts of school and homework, or similarly overworked employees moonlighting in the salon and visibly overwhelmed. It is very important to keep in mind that when a stylist’s schedule is amiss, he or she rightly feels threatened. After all, a stylist’s job performance is at stake here. Also remember that first impression is everything, so keep your desk in tip-top shape at all times.

Get ready for my next installment, which will focus on all the reasons a salon owner should consider seriously reprimanding his or her employee.

Giving Back to Your Clients

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, November 1st, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

Client appreciation is extremely vital for any business to run successfully. Clients provide us with the ability to exist as a collective unit, offering the opportunity to strive in a very competitive industry. When the client makes a choice to walk into your salon and sit in your chair, she has made a conscious decision to place her trust in your hands. As a result, “giving back” to the client is something we should all consider. Some think that in order to keep a client happy, something should be given away with each service: a treatment, a few highlights, a blow-dry, or even products. I agree in part. It’s a smart move to give treats on occasion, but an entire year of them not only sends the wrong message, but can also cost your business its profit.

Think about this for a minute: Doctors, lawyers, even the street-corner fruit vendor do not give away products or services for free, so why should we? Personally I try to give the best service possible and together with the salon put in place a system that maintains the level of service that’s worth the client’s every penny. There’s no need to “dress up” your service with freebees. It sends a message of insecurity. Let that incredible haircut or color stand on its own, so wow your client with the results. I have even seen businesses attempt to “give back” by offering a great opportunity to be part of lofty and elite client programs that end up costing the clients more in the end, not less. That is not giving—that’s just complicated and manipulative.

I’ll describe next some very helpful solutions for showing appreciation to those clients who matter most:

Make it structured: Giving back to the folks who support your business is a decision that should be well-thought-out. The last thing you want is to create a lax situation that is hard to manage, creating product waste and unnecessary expectations from your client. I feel strongly that to truly give is to do so with no expectations involved, so why not create a fun event that can be enjoyed by all, staff included? As a hairstylist, there is nothing greater than seeing my clients smile. This is where a special event comes in. To start getting the word out about this special day, I recommend posting small signs in your changing rooms, on your blog or website, and at the front desk, informing your clients to mark their calendars. A short line thanking them for their support could be added to the notice.

You can also leave a message on your outgoing phone recording, so that when clients call on closed days or are placed on hold they hear some information detailing the event. If it’s planned well in advance you can avoid mail-outs, which can be costly, not to mention annoying to the client—many will throw away or delete the notice without even realizing what it is. No offense, but we all have emails that we never get around to reading, so the less to read the better. And that money you would have put toward the mail-out? Use it for the event itself, instead.

Salon

These events should happen twice a year, each running about three days. I recommend choosing the two quietest periods of your year to host. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally the quietest days in our profession, so while giving back to your clients, you will also kill two birds by filling the salon with customers on a day that’s usually less busy. For most salons, Fridays and Saturdays are crazier; you may consider leaving those days for your normal traffic

There are so many things you can give clients during these three-day events. I would consider making sure the flow of business remains efficient, as to not cause unnecessary problems to your usual great service. On that note: This doesn’t mean hiring limbo dancers to disrupt the service with excessive noise. Your client can go elsewhere for entertainment. I recommend instead offering something more along the lines of complimentary conditioning treatments or a scalp massage with any service booked on those days. Together the staff can create a special way to handle this service—maybe it’s an added neck massage and a hot-towel press while reclining at the sink. Added bonus: The hot towel cuts the time of the client spends sitting under the drier, and feels amazing on the scalp.

You may wonder where all these treatments will come from, and will it cost your business too much doing it all at once? Well, guess what? I have the solution for that. I recommend keeping all product samples and free products you may have received with special promotions from your distributors during the year. On your C.A.D. (Client Appreciation Day), all of these products can then be handed out to your clients. When the customer pays for their service (after her incredible scalp treatment), you can offer her a gift bag with product samples and coupons from your other friendly businesses in the neighborhood. Contact these other businesses beforehand in the neighborhood—boutiques, dry cleaners and skin spas (given that your salon does not offer those services, of course)—explaining what you are doing for your clients and offering the opportunity to place discount cards for their services in your gift bags. Reach out to your neighborhood coffee shops or juice bars, asking if they would like to promote their business by offering your customers a slight discount. Offer to display their business cards. In these difficult times, all businesses understand the value of mutual support through free advertising.

You can also include your product companies and distributors when planning your event. Ask if each can supply you with treatments to use at the shampoo bowl, and for samples and products to add to the gift bags. After all the support that the salon provides, the least they can do is help you on these special occasions. Keep in mind that events like these are appreciated most when they don’t coincide with big holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

On a personal note, I never offer discounts on my services. The value of my service never goes down—it’s not a pair of stilettos at the department store that may go out of style post-season.

In my next installment I will be sharing ideas for the salon owner on giving back to the staff.

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