Special Tips for Men’s Curly Hair Styles

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

shannon mccarthy

Shannon McCarthy is a senior stylist and educator for James Joseph Studio and James Joseph Salon. James Joseph Salon and Studios are the most award-winning salons in Boston with more than 30 local and national awards. James Joseph Salon has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by “Elle” magazine, and James Joseph Studio has been named the Best Affordable Salon in Boston. James Joseph has also been one of the Salon Today 200 three times.

Finding the right length when working with men’s curly hair styles can be quite a task. There are many guys out there with great curls who simply don’t know how to manage them. I have encountered many male clients who are always going back and forth trying to find a way to work with their curls. It is our job as stylist to tell them their options.

Always have a thorough consultation to help the client decide if having a longer style is realistic for him. Make sure he is ready to commit to changing his routine in the morning and that he is ready to commit to using good products. Knowing how much time he has to spend in the morning will help you to decide the direction in which to go.

Try a Short Style

If you have a very low-maintenance kind of guy, working on the shorter side is most recommendable. For him, you will most likely be cutting the curl out. If you can stay somewhere in the middle of a “boys regular” and medium length hair, be careful to check the hairline and see how much you can actually taper.

Going too short on the sides can sometimes result in being unable to properly taper the curls he may have around his hairline. Keep this is mind during the consultation, and suggest men’s curly hair styles in a realistic length the client is comfortable with.

Show them a creamy, workable pomade to help keep the curls on the top of the head in place. I like to show them every step from taking a finger tip full of product to emulsifying it in my palm and finger tips to applying it to the sides then forward then working it back to the crown.

Products for Longer Curls

For curly men wanting to keep their hair on the longer side, the right product is a must. Longer styles on men will require a bit more work. Make sure when consulting that you tell them exactly what they will have to do to maintain a longer style. This includes more frequent cuts and the generous use of product.

It is also important for us as stylist to be honest and tell them if their texture will look good with a longer style and how bad it could look without the right product. If your client has never tried to work with a longer style, find a happy medium to help them achieve a longer look and still be able to manage it at home. Start with a medium length to ease them into it.

Curly Care at Home

There are many great curly products out there to help achieve salon perfect curls at home. Men are no exception to this. Most men don’t realize what is available to them to give them the flexibility on short to long styles. If you’re working with a guy who has the longer styles, recommend a crème or soft gel to relax and hold the curls in place.

We also have to remember that most men do not and will never dry their hair at home. This is an important question to ask for men trying to achieve a longer style in the colder months. It may not be a realistic goal to have long hair if he is going to have to leave the house with his hair wet every day.

Clueless Curlies

Most men are completely clueless on what to do to manage their curls. It is important to know your clients expectations and lifestyle. Share your knowledge. Inform them of what they have available to them. Help them make an educated decision on the best men’s curly hair styles for their lifestyle. Train them how to use products properly. Then you may have a loyal client for life.

How to Achieve Salon Perfect Curls in the Summertime

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

shannon mccarthy

Shannon McCarthy is a senior stylist and educator for James Joseph Studio and James Joseph Salon. James Joseph Salon and Studios are the most award-winning salons in Boston with more than 30 local and national awards. James Joseph Salon has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by “Elle” magazine, and James Joseph Studio has been named the Best Affordable Salon in Boston. James Joseph has also been one of the Salon Today 200 three times.

With summer right around the corner, focus on helping your clients understand how to achieve salon perfect curls at home. Styling hair naturally in the summer months gives a huge benefit to their hair looking good all day. Giving them a few good products to fight heat and humidity and a few tips on styling will make a big difference for their summer look.

There are many good products to choose from, so understanding what you have in your salon and what has worked best for you with different textures will help to narrow down a few “go to” products. Anything that is humidity resistant will be a great choice for all curly clients. This will allow their hair to keep the puff factor at bay. I have previously worked with the Phyto line and found their Phtodefrisant to be wonderful. It is heat activated and will actually relax the hair with the heat from the air. If you have something like that available to your clients it will be their “go to” all summer long. Cocktailing a humidity resistant product with a hold product for more unruly curls will also give lasting effects. Finding products that will withstand the test of our clients’ busy days is a real challenge, so take time to educate yourself on the products available to you and your clients.

summertime curls

Caring for summertime curls

Taking a few extra minutes in the morning to twirl parts of the hair and/or hand forming ringlets will help their hair dry better and hold a shape throughout the day. Work with them while in your chair on how to best approach this. Taking a few sections around the face to ensure what is most seen will look better than if nothing was done. Possibly this will even encourage them to take the time at home. I start with the hair divided into 3 sections. One behind each ear and the back of the head as the third. Starting in the front and remembering to keep the hair evenly damp, twist small sections to form the hair in the way it naturally wants to curl. In the salon, I will continue this throughout the head. Diffuse hair a little or place the client under a dryer to reduce frizz. At home, doing just a few sections around the face will not only make them look better throughout the day, but they will appreciate what a great haircut they are getting.

Encouraging clients to shampoo as infrequently as possible in the summer months can also make a big difference. Curls form better when well moisturized. Give them the most moisturizing shampoo that is appropriate for their texture and density. On the off days, a very moisturizing conditioner will keep it soft and easy to manage. Tell them to comb it through in the shower and leave it on while showering. This will keep their hair as moisturized as possible in the summer months.

Behind every good looking client is a great stylist. Giving them great haircuts is not always enough. Educate your clients on products and tricks to make their life easier. Hopefully, the effect will be curly girls learning how to embrace their curls… at least in the summer.

Help Your Clients Understand How Heat Damages Their Hair

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

shannon mccarthy

Shannon McCarthy is a senior stylist and educator for James Joseph Studio and James Joseph Salon. James Joseph Salon and Studios are the most award-winning salons in Boston with more than 30 local and national awards. James Joseph Salon has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by “Elle” magazine, and James Joseph Studio has been named the Best Affordable Salon in Boston. James Joseph has also been one of the Salon Today 200 three times.

I always talk about embracing the curl and loving what you have. Unfortunately, there are still many curlies out there who do not and who may never embrace my way of thinking. I have many friends and clients who worship their flat iron. As a stylist, I struggle with this because I see firsthand the damage to their hair. We all know old habits die hard. I have spent many appointments with clients trying to talk up why the flat iron is so bad and ways to save their hair. Yet I see the same clients returning to me with the same damage from the iron.

Curly girls who “worship the iron” is a trend I don’t think will ever change, so the best thing I can see is to try to work with them by focusing on what they need to do to protect their hair. I have talked until I was blue in the face about products and ways to treat the hair while still ironing. The truth is, there are clients out there who simply just do not want to spend money on products. It is our job as stylists to try to find the best and most affordable products to fit the client’s needs. No one likes a pushy salesman. This can be hard when you know that there is something that needs to be done.

I truly believe clients can tell when you are sincere in what you are saying. When they sense this, they will be a little more ready to invest in some products. They may not buy them that day, but they will strongly consider them for next time. Being knowledgeable with your salon’s product lines and the different needs of clients is also something that will shine through. They will begin to see exactly what you are talking about when they are at home using the wrong products and, most likely, will at least buy one product next time. You need to tell them things like “you need to protect the hair from the heat.” People know this and still don’t understand the importance of it. We need to show them in the salon the specific effects of what not using one creates. Point out the damage that is usually 3 inches in length if not more. Show them the breakage most “iron lovers” have around the hair line and the nape.

Help Your Client Experiment With Color

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Monday, February 21st, 2011

Woman with haircolor

Experiment with funky panels

Experimenting with color can be a great way to change your look. There are so many approaches to playing with color that there is something out there for everyone, be it subtle highlights, bold highlights, a simple one-process color, or fun, funky panels. It can often be tricky when trying to decide the best technique and placement to employ when working with curly clients. We all know that curly hair is lacking in the moisture department so color must be done carefully to keep the integrity of the hair intact.

Depending on what the client is looking for and the density of her curl, subtle highlights can enhance a look and let light reflect just enough to enhance their natural color. If you have a client who is super curly and dry, a single process with warm tones can add dimension. Color has come such a long way that just a single process can add a lot of moisture to the hair. If the client is looking for highlights be sure to be realistic about the amount of lightness you’ll be able to provide without drying out the hair. Applying a toner after that process is another great way to add extra moisture. This is also a great way to up-sell a service. Highlights can be approached in a few ways. Weaving some sections through the top and crown and using foil placement is always a fool proof way to get great results. Baliage is another great technique that is especially recommendable for curly clients. For a skilled hand, this is a great way to custom place highlights all around the head.

With curls, panels of a fun color can pop. I like to take thin-sliced, back-to-back sections around the face. By placing the panels around the face when the curls from, you end up with peek-a-boo color. For a client who just blow-dries the bangs, placing panels in that area adds some edge to their look. With edgier colors, being realistic about lightness is also very important in terms of the range of colors that will be available to the client. You can get some fun reds without having to lighten the hair too much. This is probably the best choice for someone who already has color in her hair, seeing that you will not have to pre-lighten as much, therefore keeping the integrity intact. Pinks, blues and purples are always fun but require the hair to be more pre-lightened. If you are working with virgin hair, then these would be great choices.

Curly girls often feel limited in their options when wanting to try new looks. Being able to offer them a range of options, be it subtle or bold and fun, will keep them open to trying new looks with you. Approach the color in a realistic way, and tailor each service to fit each client’s needs, and you and your client will always have fun for the hour or two they are in your chair.

Brazilian Keratin Treatments Not All Cracked Up to Be

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

shannon mccarthy

Shannon McCarthy is a senior stylist and educator for James Joseph Studio and James Joseph Salon. James Joseph Salon and Studios are the most award-winning salons in Boston with more than 30 local and national awards. James Joseph Salon has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by “Elle” magazine, and James Joseph Studio has been named the Best Affordable Salon in Boston. James Joseph has also been one of the Salon Today 200 three times.

The demand for permanent hair straightening or a “miracle” product is somewhat overwhelming. There are so many straightening products out there that navigating the risks and benefits to fit each individual can be a difficult task. The Brazilian keratin treatment is the latest and greatest in permanent hair straightening. The results are truly amazing and initially extremely exciting for someone who has wanted straight hair all her life. This is exactly the type of client I think is a perfect candidate for this treatment. I have trouble wanting to sell this treatment to anyone else. Since this craze has come into the salons, I have seen extreme variance in the lasting effects. The keratin treatment that is marketed to last 6 to 8 months can be a bit deceiving. I have seen cases where 3 years have passed and the clients curl is still not the same. Will it ever be? To attempt to classify all types and textures of curly hair into one does not make sense to me. As stylists, we know that curly hair is a very complex thing. Curls vary from person to person.

For someone who has very thick, wiry hair, yes this treatment may be gone in 6 to 8 months. I have seen cases where it is not. With that being said, can you even begin to estimate what the time table will be for someone with tamer hair? I think that keratin treatments are great but inconsistent on their lasting effects. As a stylist, I am uncomfortable giving my clients unreliable information. When thinking about the chemical controversy with the treatments in relationship to the varying results, I choose to stay away all together. When I see that people are wearing face masks while doing the service, I think “Is it really worth the risk?” They say that it is chemically safe for the clients because they are not getting the smoke from the iron billowing in their face. I am not fully convinced. What happens to the stylist that does 6 or 7 treatments a week for a year? I know some stylists that do 10 a week.

I have talked previously about being a fan of embracing curls. This could be why I am so opposed to these treatments. The reality is that there are many different types of curls and many different clients who have them. As stylists, it is our job to give clients the facts. No matter where your opinions lie, as long as you are up to speed on the latest improvements or discredits of straightening trends, you will have clients who thank you for your knowledge and honesty instead of trying to make a quick buck.

Cutting Curly Hair: I Prefer Wet

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Monday, December 20th, 2010

shannon mccarthy

Shannon McCarthy is a senior stylist and educator for James Joseph Studio and James Joseph Salon. James Joseph Salon and Studios are the most award-winning salons in Boston with more than 30 local and national awards. James Joseph Salon has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by “Elle” magazine, and James Joseph Studio has been named the Best Affordable Salon in Boston. James Joseph has also been one of the Salon Today 200 three times.

When trying to decide the best approach for cutting curly hair, consider these techniques. There seems to be a lot of people who are under the impression that when getting their hair cut, a dry technique is always best. The only time that cutting curls dry is useful is for clients who are wearing their hair one way. If you are working with a client that is always styling straight then doing a dry cut on flat ironed hair would be desirable. If they want to be able to do both, employing this technique will give no insight to the way the hair is in its natural state. For a client who is always wearing their hair curly, start wet. Wet hair is easier to manipulate to see where the curl is falling. You can literally look and see how the weight proportions of the curl are falling.

For shorter hair clients, you can move the hair around with your hands and see which way the curl would like to go. This is a great way to help us decide optimal shape for short hair. Whether working with bob lengths or head-hugging tapering, cutting the hair wet allows you to see how the curl is going to fall as it begins to dry. You can see the hair in its natural state and decide where to cut more or less hair. When working with long-haired clients, try to scrunch and fluff the hair to get a good idea of where the layers are falling. Curly hair also has a tendency to not curl evenly around the head. Unbalanced curl patters can become more apparent in longer lengths. Oftentimes the curls around the perimeter can hang and not be as tightly wound as curls in the crown and front of the head. Look carefully and asses where the curls are tighter and looser. Then you can decide how to approach the cut to enhance each curl pattern within one head. After diffusing you can then chip at the curl to detail and remove weight.

Playing with asymmetry can be a great way to give some edge and interest to a head of curls. There is nothing that should be or is symmetrical about curls. Curls fall in different proportions all around the head. You can use this to your advantage. As stylists we often see curly hair that looks like a bell. This is the result of improper layering and shaping. This looks like all the weight is falling all to one place. Creating different layers in different parts of the head can do wonders for managing curls. Cutting around the face to give different curl proportions can allow the curls to flow in a soft and less structured manner.

When trying to decide the best approach to your cutting technique, listen to your clients. Figure out what their ideal style is and approach your cutting techniques to suit that style. Mix wet and dry cutting. Start with a wet cut, and then detail with dry cutting. With this approach you will be thanked for addressing all of your client’s needs. Once she can trust and see what you are able to create employing many different techniques, we will start to break the assumptions of one technique being the best approach for many different, unruly, and versatile types of hair.

Understand the Type of Curl You Are Working with

by Chair to Chair/Shannon McCarthy on Monday, November 22nd, 2010

shannon mccarthy

Shannon McCarthy is a senior stylist and educator for James Joseph Studio and James Joseph Salon. James Joseph Salon and Studios are the most award-winning salons in Boston with more than 30 local and national awards. James Joseph Salon has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by “Elle” magazine, and James Joseph Studio has been named the Best Affordable Salon in Boston. James Joseph has also been one of the Salon Today 200 three times.

Understanding the type of curl you are working with is extremely important for creating a successful style. Once you are able to understand the different types of curls, you can begin the process of creating suitable cuts. After having achieved that, you can begin to experiment with products and styling techniques. It is important to realize that what you, as a stylist, are able to do for someone in one hour is not always realistic on a day-to-day basis. So when thinking of a style, be mindful of what the client is willing to do at home.

If the client is a low-maintenance person, think short-to-medium length and layers. Layers give them shape, remove weight, and make it easy to style in very little time. The medium length will allow clients to blow-dry, if desired, without taking too much time. If a client opts for a shorter style, the product choice is crucial. I say this because if you are working with shorter lengths, you can mostly just finger style the hair.

When working with no hot tools and just your hands, having the right products can make or break your results. Think crèmes, pomades, oils and maybe some hairspray. When working with short styles I tend to layer products. Start with a moisture product as the foundation. Next use pomade or a hold product of your choice for the structure, and possibly a spray for the finish.

If you have a client who is a bit more willing to spend time in the morning, longer lengths work well. Depending on their texture, longer length hair can require a bit more work to have the curl look the way they’d like. This may mean finer hair needs more encouragement and the right products to make it look fuller.

For thicker, coarser curls, the product is very important. These curls tend to need more moisture than finer textures. If there is not enough moisture in the hair, whether you are styling straight or curly, the end result will be frizzy.

With longer hair, understanding the steps to a successful style is very important. Taking the time to work with the most suitable products will make a huge impact on understanding the easiest approach. Use moisture from start to finish. Very curly hair grows away from the scalp and lacks the natural moisture most hair gets from the oil glands in the scalp. Not shampooing every day and just using a strong conditioner is a trick that your clients will love you for filling them in on.

If you’re client is someone who wants to style straight, there are some things that will make the effects better and longer lasting. Find a crème that is strong enough for their curl. Start with that and get the hair as smooth as possible just using the heat of the blow-dryer and your hands. Your hands can be an amazing tool in working with curly hair. There are tons of natural oils in your hands that will work well for smoothing and not creating frizz when styling straight. You can also apply a lot of tension just by using your fingers. When you have the hair 80% dry, start to work with your brush. Apply as much tension as possible from the roots of the hair and gradually pull down to get the ends straight. Try to section the hair into threes. Behind the ear on each side as your first two section and the back as its own. Work in ¼-inch sub sections in each of these 3. Once the hair is dry and to your liking you can then add some oil or a bit more crème to smooth down any fly aways.

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