Best Hair Oils for Curls & Waves

by Megan Dorcey on Thursday, September 1st, 2011

There was a time that the very mention of oils in hair products was considered a negative, but an oil boom has transformed the category, with stylists and their clients clamoring for the latest and greatest in hair oils for their clients’ locks.

“Traditionally, oils weren’t considered desirable because they added weight and tackiness,“ recalled John Davis, co-founder and CEO of AG Hair Cosmetics. “Had you asked me two years ago, I would have told you that all of our products were oil free. People see oils differently now.”


Oils themselves aren’t new. For centuries, women around the world have used botanicals and oils in their hair, giving it a healthy sheen and appealing fragrance.

“Botanicals have been around for a long time,” says Dr. Ali Syed, president of Avlon Industries and master chemist for Syntonics formulations.

Curly clients everywhere are asking for more ways to calm their frizz while ensuring health and shine, and the product companies are answering the call with a plethora of hair oils to choose from.

Argan Oil

AG Hair Cosmetics will launch The Oil in September, an argan-infused product. The new product is designed to smooth and hydrate the hair without weighing it down. The Oil is part of a boom in professional hair care botanical oil-based products that have hit the market. It is one of the hottest, most buzzed about categories in the industry.

Argania spinosa kernel oil (argan oil) has been the superstar of oils, with companies such as Moroccan Oil, Argadir, Amika and DermOrganic creating entire lines based on the oil. Argan oil is produced form the kernals of the argan tree, which is indigenous to southwestern Morocco. The oil softens thick, coarse and unruly hair, bringing shine to lifeless dull hair and even skin. Josie Maran has a full line of oil products including a Bronzing Argon Oil for the body that boasts the ability to leave the skin with a healthy, moisturized glow.

Argan oils are definitely the most popular in this vast market, but many companies have been infusing argan seed oil with other popular health-boosting ingredients such as Pequi and Amla oil. Macadamia Natural Oil, which combines macadamia and argan seed oils.

Michael Cain, the Macadamia Natural Oil’s education manager, says “with the matching of those two oils, the performance of the product is unparalleled as far as the absorbency and as far as the great benefits you get from it.”

Vitamin E provides natural UV protection, which is especially beneficial for color-treated hair but works on all hair types. According to Cain, the combination also “gives your hair elasticity which prevents breakage and split ends.”

Although some people expect hair oils to leave a greasy residue, Cain says these oils can actually have the opposite effect, even with daily use.

Hair Oil Benefits

“A lot of people that have finer hair will typically have an oilier scalp,” he explains. “This helps even out the porosity in your hair.” The oils also speed up blow-drying time, similar to the way oil and water separate.

Certain extracts like aloe vera, which is said to heal minor skin injuries, can help repair a scalp that’s been damaged by chemical processing when combined with oils.

“If the scalp is on the dry side, most of the time, you have to have a combination of the natural and some of the synthetic materials,” Syed says.

“Botanicals have been around for a long time and as the passions and styles changed, things become sort of cyclical,” says Syed.

He adds that botanical oils are gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers who have been “pushing the envelope towards natural ingredients in food, personal care, and health.”

Dana Amador, who works in business development at Amika believes hair oils serve a number of functions.

Protection from the Elements

“Not only do [oils] make your hair smell wonderful, but they also protect your hair against the elements,” Amador says. “Oils are a very natural way to not only condition the hair but to style it and make it look effortlessly perfect.”

Oils can also help to define curls without making the hair look greasy or weighing them down, adds Amador, who happens to have curly hair herself.

One of the pioneers in the recent oil boom is Moroccanoil, which introduced its signature Moroccanoil Treatment three years ago. Driven by the success of the initial products, the company has been introducing new products ever since, says Moroccanoil artistic Director Antonio Corral Calero.

The popularity was especially evident among curly stylists and the stylists who work with them. As a result, the company answered with several curl-specific products containing their argan oil. The popular line now boasts a curl defining mousse, curl control cream, and intense curl cream.

Moroccanoil infuses their argan oil with Vitamin F, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E to protect against free-radicals.

“What makes our curl line so unique is that the formulas work on dry and/or wet hair,” says Calero. “Their formulations not only make styling so much easier, but they also decrease frizz, make curls more manageable, and restore moisture back into the hair. We are all about having the hair feel soft and natural, with no sticky residue.”

Now there are a number of great oils available, including Mizani Supreme Oil, Oscar Blandi’s oil product containing Jasmine oil and Alterna’s Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil, said to promote healthy hair while delivering shine.

Hollywood Hair Color by Pasqualle Caselle

by Megan Dorcey on Monday, June 27th, 2011

Artistic Educator for IT&LY HAIRFASHION, Pasquale Caselle utilized the looks of Hollywood past with Hollywood present. Each model has 2 looks that depict the importance of great hair color to capture each design.

Hollywood Red Head: The inspiration for model Kelly was to create something to bring out the dramatic looks of past Hollywood hair styles with the glamour of today.

The Color Formula: On a level 6 base, IT&LY HAIRFASHION’S AQUAR&LY 8A (Light Orange Blonde) mixed with 20 volume AQUAR&LY Developer was used to create this dynamic and sultry Hollywood red head.


Style # 1 How to Achieve the Look:

Pure Fluid Experience was applied after gently towel drying her freshly washed hair for added volume. To style, use a medium round brush and blow drying piece by piece to create a bit of bend in the hair. After the entire head is blown dry, lightly tease the root area and smooth with a soft bristle brush. Use Pure Water Drops on the ends to add shine and definition of the loose curls. To finish, spray lightly with Pure Definition Aerosol Spray.


Style # 2 How to Achieve the Look:

Begin by teasing the entire head from roots to end. This is what will create the volume and base for this updo. Apply Pure Water Drops on the ends to create a bit of definition with the curls. Spray the entire head with Pure Definition Aerosol Spray and begin to manipulate the hair up towards the crown, yet not too tight as you want to create a deconstructed look. Secure with pins. Finish with Pure Definition Aerosol Spray.

Salon Spotlight: Madusalon, San Francisco

by Megan Dorcey on Monday, June 27th, 2011

Medusalon in San Francisco

I had the pleasure of being invited to Naturals Night Out in San Francisco last month, hosted by Natural Selection Blogger Cassadie Blackwell and Madusalon. I had heard rave reviews on our Salon Finder pages and was anxious to visit the renowned curly salon.

Immediately upon arrival I was more than impressed not only by the diverse amount of curls that the stylists themselves were rocking (not to mention blue locs), but also by the energetic vibe that even passersby were noticing.

Owner Marie Cesar rightfully takes credit for the success of this curl haven in the bustling Bay Area. We had the chance to get behind the scenes and ask her a few questions about the successful salon.

Q: Tell me a little bit about how you got started as a stylist, and how natural hair became your focus.

A: I was born in Petion Ville, Haiti, and settled in the Bay Area. I have been a stylist for 22 years. As a black woman, I think we are beautiful and shouldn’t have to alter our looks to conform to what society expects of us. I can find beauty in everyone and wanted a salon that reflected that. I am completely against the idea that we have to chemically straighten our hair in order for us to feel beautiful.

In 1994, when I was pregnant, after several years of wearing braids, I decided to wear my hair natural. When I was was working as a stylist in a salon on Haight Street, I was fortunate enough to run into Lisa Bonet of “The Cobsy Show,” and she reinforced my decision because she no longer had her long, beautiful locks. Instead, she had chin-length curls. I remarked to her that her hair was beautiful both as locks and as curls and wanted to know what she did to maintain them. She told me “to be patient, because our hair is fragile. Don’t tug on it and don’t be discouraged. And don’t go and straighten it.”

Over the years I have worked with a number natural haircare products and have become a advocate of natural curly, kinky, wavy and all kinds of hair. I love all kinds of hair! As I believe you should care about what you put in your body, and that includes your hair as it is part of your body. We check the product lines carefully for their ingredients—much the same way you would look at the labels on your food. If you pollute your hair, you pollute your body. I have tried many haircare lines in my industry, eventually settling on DevaCurl, Jessicurl, Miss Jessie’s and Eufora.

Q: How long has Madusalon been in the Bay Area? What inspired the name of the salon?

A: We have been in business for nine years. When we were setting up Madusalon, my husband, Russ, and I, were three weeks away from opening and we still hadn’t decided on a name. He liked the name Medusa but I felt that it was too cliché and suggested we keep looking. I thought about naming the salon after the Haitian Deity Eruzlie, when my phone rang and it was my aunt calling me from Haiti and after our conversation she called me by her nickname for me, Madudunne, a term of affection meaning “my love, my sweet, my heart.” And from that came “Madusalon.” It reflects the love of my hair, the fierceness of style and “my do”—representing hair as an personal expression.

Q: Your salon boasts diversity with hair types. Is it hard to find stylists to be part of your team who know how to work with all textures?

A: I don’t think so in my case because I take the time to train them. Almost every stylist is my salon has been my assistant until they are ready to go to the floor.

From Chair Renter to Business Owner

by Megan Dorcey on Friday, June 17th, 2011

From Chair Renter to Business Owner

We had the chance to catch up with acclaimed stylist and new salon owner Martha Lynne Barnes about her vision for her recently opened Austin salon, Mirror Mirror, and her recipe for success.

Q: You have a pretty impressive resume, working in two of the hottest salons in Austin as well as styling for Extreme Makeover, Austin Ballet and HSN just to name a few.  At what point in your career did you realize that you needed a space of your own?

A:  Even before I went to beauty school, I knew I wanted to own my own business. I have always LOVED spending time in the salon. As a client, I love the way you feel when you are getting pampered. The creative energy that flows through the best salons is so inviting and inspiring.  I had a vision for a place that would be a blend of relaxation, indulgence and creative flow, and I worked toward the ultimate freedom of owning the business so I could execute it properly.  I woke up one morning ready to bring it to life, and here we are.

Q:  Now that you own your own salon, what do you bring into your leadership style from your days as a chair renter?

A: My mom is the most amazing manager in her field and what I have learned from her over the years is that you should surround yourself with the best team and then get out of their way so they can do their jobs.  In general, if you just do the right thing and follow the golden rule, treating others as you would like others to treat you, everything else will fall into place.  That goes for my leadership style with my team at Mirror Mirror as well as the way we all treat our clients.

Q:  Is there a recipe for success if a stylist wants to branch out and own their own space?

A: Either know the business side or find someone who does.  There is so much more to owning a salon than having a place to do hair.  I am also finding that it’s important to strike a balance with your time spent behind the chair and the time spent working on the business development.  My husband is extremely business savvy and supportive of my vision, so I would say having a support system is important as well.

Q:  What was the biggest hurdle you had to jump in order to open Mirror, Mirror?

A: Getting married the same month that we were building the space!  I have found that when the right door opens you have to embrace the moment and walk through it. A space that I loved in a wonderful neighborhood became available right as we were approaching our wedding.  It wasn’t easy but what a great way to come back from a honeymoon!

Q:  With so many salons fighting for business, how do you stay unique and relevant?

A: Take care of your stylists and take care of your clients.  There is a tremendous amount of talent in Austin so you need to stay humble and remember why you are here.  Our team is continually striving to learn and improve on our craft.  We have a very positive environment and we build each other up.  If your team and your clients are happy then you have succeeded…it’s just that simple!

Q:  Where do you see Mirror Mirror in one year? 5 years? 10 years?

A: (One Year):  Our first year is about creating awareness, introducing the space and the Mirror Mirror team to the community. Once Mirror Mirror is top of mind, I’d like focus on our specialty, which is wedding beauty.  I feel confident that our team is the best in town when it comes to creating a beautiful look for a bride. From the hair and makeup to skincare leading up to the wedding to the accessories she wears on the big day, we can help!  We are professional, creative and we truly understand the logistics of coordinating the beauty plan for weddings!  We also have a beautiful boutique salon that is ideal for wedding parties.  We want to create an atmosphere that is bridal friendly on one of the most important days of her life!  No bride wants to get rushed around a busy salon on her wedding day.  She wants special attention and the ability to spend time with the people who are most important to her.  We also have the capabilities to bring an exceptional team and the salon to her.

(5 Years, 10 years and beyond): I would love to see the Mirror Mirror brand become aligned with all things beauty.  I truly believe that people should love what they see in the mirror and if they don’t, we should find out why!  Some people need a minor tweak like cool new bangs and others need a full internal adjustment.  I would love to help people do that.  I want to continue to give back in the community and mentor new stylists.  I would also love for the entire beauty and fashion community to become increasingly inclusive over time.  There is plenty of work to be done and if we work together we can continue to beautify Austin and gain recognition nationally!

Schedulicity Transforms Online Scheduling for Salons

by Megan Dorcey on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Schedulicity Transforms Online Scheduling for Salons

Remember the days of complicated software and useless customer service when it came to online scheduling? For some of us in the beauty industry, that might not be so long ago. We had heard of Schedulicity last year through the grapevine of a few stylists who use the service to fill their chairs, and were instantly curious about this company who boasts no-fuss solutions to building your business.

We had the pleasure of hopping in a limo with part of the Schedulicity team at ABS Chicago this year (it’s not as strange as it sounds), and learning more about the growing company and their recipe for success. The main goal of the 2 year-old company is to help you make money.

We were instantly curious about how this service works in a real salon for real stylists, and reached out to curl expert Jennifer Cortez, owner of Hive Salon in Minneapolis. See what Jen has to say about the service below and sign up for a no-strings-attached free trial with the company. Our gift to you: we will award a free year to one lucky curl stylist each month!

CS: What made you decide to use Schedulicity for your online scheduling?

JC: In my experience as a chair renter a receptionist can often be more of a hindrance than a person who runs a salon smoothly; when you have numerous rental stylists who all charge separate rates, offer different services, have different schedules, booking times, etcetera, it can be very hard for a receptionist to keep all of that information straight and do their job to their best ability. Schedulicity allows our salon and it’s stylists to clearly define who does what, and when, and for how much.

Other key points that helped us decide to go receptionist free with Schedulicity was the ease of use and cost. We’re living “on the internet” these days and everyone from ages four to ninety-four seems to have a smart phone attached to his or her left hand and is used to an insane amount of information at their fingertips.

With Schedulicity, our clients no longer feel like they have to “bother” a receptionist with multiple appointment time requests, play phone-tag while their at the office, or wake up in a cold sweat because they forgot to pre-book a major appointment and we’re closed. All they have to do is go online and bam! Crisis averted. The cost of Schedulicty is so affordable; instead of paying several hundred dollars a week in reception wages, we pay a flat fee for the use of the system.

When we’re with clients, we just let the phone go to voicemail. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the caller doesn’t leave a message and will book their appointment online. It saves us the stress of having to juggle clients and answering the phone, and the clients appreciate our undivided attention when they’re in our chairs.

When a stylist is out sick, they have the access to their client’s info and are able to reschedule them without having to come into work. The pros of using Schedulicity are huge! It’s really a refreshing change to the traditional salon atmosphere.

NC: Has the system increased bookings?

JC: Absolutely. People love that they can access us 24/7, and clients that we would normally see infrequently due to issues with making appointments are making multiple appointments at once!

NC: What is your user experience with Schedulicity? Tell me a little about the customer service, if there have been any glitches and how they were solved, etc.

JC: We’ve had only one glitch, and it was resolved via email within 24 hours–on a Saturday! There used to be an option on our page where instead of picking a stylist or price preference, you could allow the software to direct you to the first available stylist, but all new clients were being directed to only one of our stylists. We messaged Schedulicty, and they resolved the issue by removing the “I have no preference, please choose a provider for me” option. They have been super helpful with all of our small questions, and have always responded within 24 hours regardless of when we message them.

CHI Offers Sassy Styling Tools to Benefit Breast Cancer

by Megan Dorcey on Monday, May 16th, 2011

Farouk Systems, official hair care sponsor of the Miss Universe Organization, is offering two of their best selling tools inspired by lacey lingerie, and dressed in pink with a delicate black lace print. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Rose in Houston Texas, a non-profit breast cancer organization providing mammography screening, diagnosis, access to treatment and support to all women regardless of their ability to pay.

chi lace hair dryer

The CHI Pink Lace Breast Cancer Pro Dryer Collection features a pretty CHI Pro Hair dryer that has both looks and performance. The low EMF hair dryer integrates ceramic heat, negative ions and far infrared to dry hair up to 40% quicker from the inside out, reducing frizz and static for smooth, polished tresses. This performance hair dryer comes with a 6 oz CHI Silk Infusion restructuring leave-in treatment. SRP $159.97.

chi lace hair iron

The CHI Pink Lace Breast Cancer Iron Collection features the original CHI Ceramic Hairstyling Iron, the versatile all in one styling tool that can straighten, flip, curl and set. The ergonomic design provides squeeze sensitivity, flash quick heating and creates silky, shiny hair instantly. Also included is a 2 oz CHI 44 Iron Guard to protect hair during heat styling and a stylish black handbag. SRP $159.97.

Style With Rodney Cutler at New York Fashion Week 2012!

by Megan Dorcey on Friday, May 13th, 2011

Rodney Cutler

Rodney Cutler

One lucky hair professional, guilty of being criminally brilliant at their trade, will be conspiring with session supremo and celebrity stylist Rodney Cutler next year to create beautiful runway hair during New York Fashion Week next fall.

Determined to uncover the best business minds in the industry, Shortcuts Software launched a competition with Cutler on May 1st offering a reward of a trip for two to New York City, with the actual winner assisting Cutler backstage at the New York Fashion Week 2012 next February.

Over the past few months, Shortcuts has been building a library of videos on its Most Wanted website featuring top salon owners revealing what they believe has contributed to their success. Now it wants everyone to get posting their home-grown versions.

“We want salon owners and managers to submit homemade videos revealing what they are ‘guilty of’ that makes them successful,” said Paul Tate, CEO of Shortcuts Software. “It doesn’t have to be a sleek and glossy production. In fact, it must be done using a personal video camera. We just want them to have fun making it and for there to be a serious message that can help others build their businesses.”

Aspiring Fashion Week session stylists must make a film to enter the competition, post it on YouTube, and then fill out an entry on the Shortcuts Most Wanted website. Shortcuts will be posting tips on the Most Wanted site about how to make a fun film, and hosting webinars later in the year to make it even easier.

All entries will be embedded on the site for everyone to watch, rate, and comment on until the closing date on July 31st. Cutler and his creative team will then narrow the selection down to 10 finalists, whose films will be posted on the Most Wanted site for voting in September 2011. The winner will be voted by viewers and then whisked off to New York for the trip of a lifetime during Fashion Week of 2012.

Salon Spotlight: Capella Salon

by Megan Dorcey on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Capella Salon

Capella Salon, Studio City, CA

We’ve known about the curly guru Shai Amiel, owner of Capella Salon in Studio City, California for quite a while. In fact, Capella Salon was one of the first salons to ever promote themselves as a curl-friendly salon in Southern California. Over the past years, Shai has been busy; most recently he started raising money for clean water and hosted the always-fabulous Lorraine Massey for a Curls Night Out event. And he continues to build his business one curly head at a time. We had a few minutes to chat with Shai and get his perspective on things.

NaturallyCurly: You have a huge curly following, and many stylists don’t work with curly or textured hair. How did you decide to become an expert with curly hair?

Shai Amiel: Curly hair to me is just like life. It’s always changing and you never stop learning. This curly thing just happened over the years. I never planned to have this focus on textured hair, but I believe that my dedication to the curls paid off in the long run.

NC: Yours was one of the first curly salons in Southern California; how have you seen hair change in your region? Are people moving away from the straight and narrow to embrace their curls?

SA: Many of my clients who were die-hard blowfryers are now committed to their curly hair. It is a hard sell to convince these girls that a little frizz is ok and your natural texture will always look better than that forced straight hair. Women have been told that straight hair is prettier. It has taken me many years showing some of my curly girls the benefits of the natural texture. Luckily, Los Angeles has great climate for natural curls. It’s much easier to let your natural curls air dry than sitting there with a hot blow dryer and frying your hair straight.

NC: What are the biggest mistakes you see with women (or men) and their curly hair?

SA: Curlies don’t trust their instincts. They tend to believe a story someone has sold to them that they must contain and tame their curly locks. They underestimate the value of the conditioner. Hydrating the curls is the key to healthy hair. People still think that they need volume so they use mousse, which is horrible for curls. It expands as it dries and it creates frizz. Curls need moisture and a holding product like a gel that seals the shine in the hair. We want to capture the look of the curls when they are wet and let them dry that way. After the curls are set and dried, we can fluff them and shake out any stiffness created by a holding gel.

NC: What are your go-to methods for treating damaged curly hair?

NovaLash Gives Lashes To The Masses

by Megan Dorcey on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011


Located in the heart of Houston, NovaLash’s Academy of Eyelash Arts and Sciences is a beauty facility with a purpose:  to teach the elegant art and subtle science of eyelash extensions to the nation’s beauty schools’ top instructors, preparing them to pass that knowledge on to their students.  NovaLash—producer of healthy, medical-grade lash extension adhesives—knows that eyelash extension services are the trendiest ticket to increased salon profits.  After all, lash application is one of the most coveted salon services, grossing $44 million last year alone, according to Nielson data.  By meticulously training teachers who will eventually instruct beauty school students, NovaLash adds an invaluable tool to every student’s style belt.

The prestigious Bellus Academy in San Diego is the first cutting-edge educational institution accepted by NovaLash to launch the eyelash extension program. Judy Edelman, director of Bellus’s Makeup Artistry Programs, says, “The energy at the NovaLash headquarters is inspiring and contagious.  These professionals are so dedicated to the company and the industry as a whole; they truly believe in the quality of their products and in the power of education.”  Adds Edelman’s teacher—and NovaLash CEO—Sophy Merszei, “We are thrilled that this must-have service will soon be a part of Bellus Academy students’ curriculum.  Now, their students will be fully certified in lash application upon graduation.”

The client’s lust for lusher, longer lashes has indeed never been higher.  Cashing in on this top trend is a smart way to boost any beauty business.

Established in 2004 as the first global distributor of eyelash extension products, NovaLash, Inc. has quickly become the leader in the field of lash extensions by striving to provide the best that technology, science, creative artistry and customer satisfaction can achieve.  NovaLash has since expanded into over 40 countries outside of the U.S. and continues to globally enhance the eyelash extension industry through substantial R&D, improved regulations and superior education.  NovaLash was recognized in by ICMAD for product innovation of the year and voted Reader’s Choice for Best Eyelash Extension Company in 2010 by Beauty LaunchPad Magazine and won Professional’s Choice Award for Favorite Eyelash Extension Line from American Spa Magazine.  NovaLash continues to provide the only physician-developed training program using the longest lasting, medical-grade adhesives, earning NovaLash its reputation as “the healthiest” professional lash extension system.  More information about the company can be found at and

TONI&GUY Get Generous

by Megan Dorcey on Monday, March 21st, 2011


Learn from the best at a master class.

TONI&GUY is launching themselves as the go-to brand for education this year, and with over 40 years of talent and expertise, the UK-founded brand is spreading the love with free education. One lucky stylist will get the chance to learn from the best at a Master Class held by TONI&GUY at an academy near them.

Sign up to win a 2 DAY ADVANCED CLASS with the masters in an area near you. Simply fill out the form on the TONI&GUY website and you are instantly entered to win. Don’t miss this opportunity to enter your name today for the chance to win and learn the latest news and trends.  Classes are being held in Dallas, Phoenix, Santa Monica, Atlanta, Boise, Toledo, Rhode Island and Seattle.

For more information, visit the TONI&GUY website.

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