Every stylist has had a curly-haired client ask for a smooth blow-out in order to look professional at a work conference or to make a good impression at a job interview.
“I find that clients with curly hair believe that they’re taken more seriously if their hair is straight,” explains Morgan Wilheite, creative director at Ouidad. Having frizzy and unruly hair at a business meeting can be the equivalent of showing up wearing a tank top and shorts, so curlies either straighten their hair or slick it back into a ponytail.
But curls and briefcases need not be mutually exclusive. By giving clients a curl-specific cut and color and then empowering them with the skills, tools and care routines they need to maintain it, you can ensure their curls will be workplace-ready. “Professional curly hair is all about maintenance and how you present it,” says Marie France, owner of Madusalon in San Francisco. “Dry hair tied back in a ponytail is not professional; it just shows lack of attention. What says ‘professional’ is moisture. It’s a cut, it’s style, it’s care.”
The Foundation: A Good Cut
Whether she plans on wearing her hair loose or pinned up in a style, a curly client must be cut in a way that enhances her texture, not works against it. The cutting of textured hair presents a unique opportunity not only to create volume, shape and dimension, but also to control the curl. “The key is to make sure the hair is cut in a way that is conducive to the curl pattern, especially if the client plans on wearing her hair curly,” explains Rafe Hardy, artistic creative director at Sexy Hair Concepts. “If you’re cutting waves, for example, don’t cut the hair in the middle of the S-pattern, because that’s when it will kick out. Make sure to cut at the beginning of the wave so that it naturally curves under.”
Executing a proper curly hair cut using techniques you wouldn’t use on straight hair presents an opportunity for you to develop and demonstrate an expertise in texture. Once recognized as a curl-savvy stylist, you can promote your texture specialty to increase your income and client base. “Stylists who specialize in curly cuts tend to have a cult following,” Hardy notes. “If you can build up a business that includes people with textured hair, you’ll be sure to gain influence in this specific curly niche.”
9-to-5 Styling + Care
Once your client’s curls are clipped into shape, the next step is determining a maintenance routine and some workday styling options. Throughout your client’s appointment, you can explain the building blocks of styling curls so that her natural texture will no longer be limited to the weekend. “When a client is in your chair, this is the opportunity to show her results and teach her how to achieve them on her own,” explains Hardy. “More than with any other client, styling curly hair should be about education. Show these clients how to diffuse their curls and scrunch in product so that they can take the good curl care habits home with them.”
For the client, the benefits of a good session with her stylist are both immediate and long-lasting. “My hair used to be dry and frizzy so I always pulled it back at work because I didn’t know how to give it the attention it needs,” confides one salon client, Paloma Herman, who became loyal to a salon once she found a stylist who specializes in textured hair. Co-director of admissions at the San Francisco School, Herman says this was the first stylist who’d ever given her a cut that was “intentional and mature.” She adds, “The stylist showed me how to maintain it with only a couple of products. Since then, I’ve been much more comfortable with wearing my curls loose in the office.”
Salon client Bianca Ummat, a Resident MD in Washington, DC, interacts with patients on a daily basis and, to prevent a health hazard, needs to have her hair pulled back from her face. Still, she wants style. “I like to switch it up,” Bianca says. “I do loose buns, ponytails and braids to keep my curls from being in the way.” To secure curls away from the face, Wilheite advises using pins as opposed to ponytail holders. “A slick ponytail is a very severe look and potentially damaging to curls,” she says. “Instead, use larger bobby pins to pull pieces back and secure pieces section by section for a professional style that is also gentle on curls.” For longer curls from loose to tight, Wilheite suggests an on-trend high bun, again using bobby pins to secure the hair around the base.
For tighter curls that have the tendency to shrink up to 80 percent of their length, Product Specialist and Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood suggests styles allowing the back section of the hair to remain loose while the front sections are pulled away from the face in a half ponytail or bouffant, or sweeping just one side back and securing with a pin. “This allows your clients and colleagues to focus on the face, eyes and smile, not the hair,” says Leatherwood, who offers chemical-free solutions to her ethnic clients who struggle with trying to wear their natural hair at the office.
Some Like it Straight
Even with the right curly cut and maintenance routine available to them, many curly-haired professionals prefer to wear their hair straight. “That’s the beauty of curls,” says Hardy. “They’re so versatile. One day they can be full and voluminous, and the next they can be sleek and straight.”
Consult with your stylist to determine how to incorporate a straight look into a curly styling routine.
Some options: 1. Schedule a blow-out as part of the client’s regular visit so she can leave with sleek hair and wear it straight for a few days. 2. Set up a blow-out bar for clients to walk in for a professional blow-out at their convenience between cuts. 3. Provide a professional smoothing treatment to reduce frizz while allowing the client to easily toggle between straight and curly styles. “There are many women who do not have a preference for work between straight or curly,” says Hardy. “They just love having the option to do both!”
Put Your Best Curl Forward
Your clients’ looks can be almost as important as their PowerPoint presentation for navigating their career path. Professional curly hair is about mitigating the hair’s tendency to be unkempt, which means keeping frizz, dryness and flyaways in check by promoting the hair’s health and hydration. Encourage clients to take the extra step for their curls, such as deep conditioning before an interview, or even style and diffuse them before a presentation.
“Your clients’ curls represent their personality, so you really want them looking their best,” encourages Wilheite. “Curls show off a distinctive personality and self-confidence, which is critical in business.” By starting with a proper cut, style and color to enhance texture and then giving clients the education and tools to maintain their curls, you can ensure that your curly clients look great on every rung of the career ladder—from the interview to the boardroom. “I used to think of my hair as something that detracted from my professional appearance,” says Paloma Herman. “Now that I know how to take care of my curls, they’ve become an asset.”
Over the past several years, the beauty industry has been revolutionized by the introduction of keratin smoothing treatments. With an ever-growing demand for this texture management solution, the keratin market has flourished. In just the past two years, the keratin landscape has undergone a rapid evolution bringing with it not just new treatments, but also a suite of keratin-infused retail products and tools geared toward providing and maintaining smoothing solutions for all textures of hair. As keratin smoothing treatments have evolved, so have consumer need and demand for aftercare products.
Keeping up with the “keratin kraze” means staying informed—and educating your clients—about new home care regimens that prolong the smoothing results.
The Evolution of Smooth
Keratin treatments were first introduced to the market as a nonpermanent solution for those who wanted to straighten their textured hair. There are now a plethora of available keratin options ranging from in-salon thermal applications to retail products that allow clients to choose from a variety of finished looks, from frizz free curls to sleek, smooth hair. “When GK Hair was founded, we had a high demand for poker straight hair,” explains Ashley Fenice, marketing coordinator for the company. “Everybody wanted the sleek, super-tamed look. Today’s consumer now is mainly looking for flexibility. More and more women are starting to embrace their curls and they want to be able to easily change from curls to straight hair.”
The keratin retail product and aftercare market has evolved as a response to the shift in demand.“It’s no longer about having just straight hair,” says Farouk VP of Shows and Education, Lisa Marie. “Clients want controlled volume and body. Keratin products are about providing your clients with the versatility to wear their curls naturally or blow dry them straight in a fraction of the time it formerly took, while making sure that the hair stays healthy and the treatment lasts.”
Many of the keratin treatment aftercare products contain small amounts of the protein complexes that are in the treatment itself, so with each wash-and-condition keratin is re-deposited into the hair, prolonging the smoothing effects. Products in the CHI Enviro Home Care Maintenance System are enriched with the same pearl and silk proteins found in the CHI Enviro Smoothing Treatment. In addition, the CHI products are formulated with a low pH to reduce frizz and add shine.
Brands such as Bio Ionic’s Agave, use sulfate- and sodium chloride-free technology in their aftercare products to extend the results of the treatment. We know that sulfates and salts have the ability to strip color and we are applying this same concept to making sure we’re not stripping the keratin from the hair,” explains Ian Murphy, senior VP of sales and marketing at Bio Ionic.
Empowering and Educating Your Clients
Because keratin is adhered to the cuticle of the hair with heat, the smoothing effects eventually wear off. “Working to maintain a keratin treatment is like protecting an investment,” says Fenice. If used regularly, at-home aftercare products allow clients to extend the life of their keratin treatments to their maximum potential. According to INOAR marketing and sales director, Fabiana Allegro, when the company asked two models to use two different sets of products following their smoothing treatments, the model who used the targeted aftercare products saw smoothing results for five months — twice as long as the other model’s results lasted.
For stylists hoping to establish a connection with keratin clientele, aftercare products provide a special opportunity as stylists teach the clients how to maintain their treated hair at home. “If a client goes home and doesn’t do anything special to maintain her hair, it’s like going to a doctor and then not filling your prescription,” says Farouk’s Lisa Marie. “Give clients the tools and the products they need to keep their hair in good shape after a treatment. Many stylists aren’t comfortable with selling products, but don’t think of it as retailing; it’s educating your clients and helping them to maintain their keratin treatment.”
In addition to products, tools also support the maintenance of a keratin treatment. Bio Ionic’s brushes, flat irons and blow dryers are infused with a blend of 32 minerals called a Nano Ionic Complex, which reconditions and rehydrates as hair is dried and styled.
Stylists can further educate clients about lifestyle hazards that can potentially shorten the lifespan of a keratin treatment. “Swimming can have the same effects on a keratin treatment that a harsh shampoo may have,” explains Allegro. “Salt water and chlorine can strip away the keratin, cutting the length of the treatment in half if extra measures are not taken to protect the hair.” Allegro suggests saturating the hair with tap water and slicking on a leave-in conditioner before swimming. This technique will allow the hair to absorb less of the harmful salt water or chlorine and protect the keratin treatment. Similarly, after working out, the client should cleanse the hair thoroughly of sweat and replenish moisture with a leave-in treatment.
New Benefits for Non-Keratin-Treated Hair
Hair is made up of about 90 percent keratin and 10 percent moisture, but environmental factors, heat straightening and color processing all can work to deplete hair’s naturally existing keratin. This is why stylists are discovering that even clients who have not had a heat-applied keratin treatment may find advantages to using keratin-infused cleansers, conditioners and styling products to reverse some of the effects of damage or simply to strengthen the hair. In some cases, these products can replace a blow-dry treatment.
CHI Keratin Mist is ideal for clients who want the benefits of protein to help strengthen the hair. The product adds strength, controls porosity and makes treated or untreated hair easier to detangle.
“Sometimes a ‘keratin treatment’ can simply be using the Simply Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner to give the client a dose of the smoothing properties of keratin,” says Doreen Guarneri, co-founder of American Culture. She suggests clients shampoo and condition with keratin products on only one side of the hair to see the difference. “Finer hair generally responds to softer smoothing treatments, while tighter, curlier textures really need the full in-salon professional keratin treatment,” she adds.
Rapidly Changing Category
Although keratin treatments are relatively new, the product offerings have already seen significant development and change, with the latest keratin retail offering an option to ensure that the treatment will last as long as possible. “Product delivery is the responsibility of the stylist, so it’s important that we stay informed,” says Robert Santana, platform artist for Matrix. With the right knowledge, tools and products to maintain your treatment, you are also addressing the long-term health of your hair.
“You can customize a keratin treatment to suit a client’s specific needs and wants,” says Guarneri. “It’s about finding the combination treatment and aftercare that works for your client’s needs and lifestyle.”
Ah yes, the ever-burning and often polarizing question within the community of stylists who work with curly hair: should curls be cut wet or dry? During The Truth About Curls session at the annual Paul Mitchell Gathering, the artists and educators provided their expert option on the subject matter: curly hair can be cut both ways!
The truth about cutting curls is that a wet cut or a dry cut should depend on the client’s unique texture. Before deciding which cutting technique to employ, a stylist should first discuss how a client typically wears their hair and analyze their texture. Attendees at The Gathering watched how textures with more shrinkage were cut dry using a “stroking” technique to “open up the hair” and create space while other looser textures were clipped wet. Watch how a Platform Artist analyzes and cuts this 3c hair:
The moral of the story is that as a stylist, you have flexibility in how you decide to cut your clients’ curls. Take the time to listen to the client and look at the texture before deciding which technique will work best for each unique curl.
One of the hottest sessions at this year’s annual Paul Mitchell Gathering was not about how to achieve an avant-garde style or speed cutting. This time, it was a lesson in social media for salons. Lead by Johnny Royal of inDELIBLE, the social media company that powered the 2008 Obama + Shepard Fairey viral campaign and the soon-to-be-launched Paul Mitchell Truth About Curls Campaign, salon owners and stylists learned the ins-and-outs of social media and how a prominent social presence can increase business. Here are some tips from the session:
• 94% of businesses have some sort of social media presence. Social media is now a key part of any marketing strategy so make sure you have a presence!
• Facebook is a great way to promote your salon and leverage the social networks of your clients. For as little as $10 a day, you can also distribute Facebook ads.
• If your following is less than 10,000, make sure to manually post to Facebook and Twitter, rather than using an automatic service like Hootsuite. This will ensure that Facebook’s algorithms don’t skip over your posts and keep them fresh in the feed.
• Use Pinterest to humanize your business and show clients your aesthetics and unique brand personality.
One of the most special parts of The Gathering is that the leaders of Paul Mitchell are not only so inspiring and inspired, but also that they are readily excited to share their passion with others. CurlStylist had the opportunity to interview both of the owners of Paul Mitchell, Angus Mitchell and Jean Paul DeJoria, about the launch of their new line of curly products and the re-emergence of texture in the beauty industry. In addition to an exclusive insight into two of the industry’s most influential leaders, we got a glimpse at both of their business prowess and personalities.
Watch here for the interview with Angus Mitchell, son of the late Paul Mitchell and co-owner of the company who is an extremely accomplished stylist in his own right:
The focus of this year’s annual Paul Mitchell Gathering has been the launch of the new product line called Curls, formulated specifically for, you guessed it, curls! One of the sessions offered at The Gathering is called The Curl Experience: The Truth About Curls. The two-hour session is a crash-course in curl styling, care and coiffure for stylists. Cromeans placed a massive emphasis on the democratization of hair care, encouraging stylists not to see hair in black in white, but in wavy, curly and coily textures. “You need to be able to work with anything that crawls through your salon door,” encouraged Cromeans. “Can you imagine if a doctor turned away a patient just because of the color of their skin?”
CurlStylist’s own Michelle Breyer was a featured speaker during this session, engaging with Cromeans in a curl-focused dialogue and answering audience questions about trends in the textured hair market.
Top tips from the session include:
Do not highlight curls like you would a straight-haired client. Use “hand-picked highlights” to create a customized color pattern that will accentuate a unique curl pattern.
Stylists who service curly clients will take home an average of $52/head when the industry average is four.
Encourage your fellow stylists to wear their natural texture. Clients will be more willing to try wearing their curls if they have an example to follow.
Here are some of the top pictures from the session.
Stephanie Kocielski is known around the world for her work as a platform artist and her work on honing the Paul Mitchell education program. Here at the annual JPMS gathering, she uses her enthusiasm for curls and expertise to share about the four new CURL products just launched from Paul Mitchell.
The CurlStylist team is here in Las Vegas for the annual Paul Mitchell Gathering where the world-renowned product line and school is launching a new product and education initiative focused on CURLS. Our West Coast Correspondent Cassidy Blackwell sat down to chat with the one-and-only Robert Cromeans about trends and techniques in texture!
Inspired by 1950’s Hollywood glamour, multi-textured hair showed prominently on the Premiere Orlando show floor. Rather than creating evenly distributed texture throughout the look, the multi-textured hair we were seeing combined sleek and straight roots that flow into a burst of curls, coils and waves! The best part of this look is that it can be created on any hair textured, whether curly, wavy or straight. Ouidad Creative Director Morgan Willhite explains how to get the this sexy and fun vintage look with a modern twist
For Naturally Textured Hair
Start with very wet hair. Apply Ouidad’s Climate Control Gel thoroughly from roots to ends. Using a fine tooth comb, section in your desired part and begin combing hair in a downward motion smoothing your hair flat till you reaching top of your ears (the halfway point between the top of your head and the nape of your neck).
Using a metal duckbill clip (or any flat length clip) placing clips one after another, securing hair flat from ear to ear. With the top secured smooth, allow to dry natural or use a dryer on low pressure to ensure the hair dries sleek and straight.
On the remainder the hair (from ears down), again rake Ouidad’s Climate Control Gel throughout the curls adding definition. Using a diffuser, dry the bottom curls on high heat, high pressure.
Lifting the diffuser to the scalp, dry curls until completely dry to achieve full, tousled, voluminous curls. Do not diffuse for perfection. The vision of this style is more of a unkept bed head look. Skip the bang if the hair is naturally curly.
For Naturally Straight Hair
Start with dry hair. For the top area, use a smoothing serum, try Ouidad’s Shine Serum. Using a drop of serum, smooth hair with a fine tooth comb ensuring all those little flyaway are tamed. Also if you have them, bangs are great touch to add a little extra edge to the style.
Again, secure using duckbill clips from ear to ear ensuring to top stays smooth. The bottom area can either be set with rollers or set with a curling iron.
The key for this look is to avoid perfected curls. Break up the curls using a fine tooth comb by teasing with a setting aerosol hairspray. Go throughout the curls and strategically tease the curls adding uneven texture.