Posts Tagged ‘antonio gonzales’

Soliciting Client Feedback and What To Do With It

by Antonio Gonzales on Tuesday, September 7th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

In our industry, the main focus is the quality of service we provide, with the focus on atmosphere, skill and products (just to name a few). We sometimes can get caught up in doing and in turn forget our clients’ opinions. Feedback is the one thing that can keep us tuned in to the feelings of our customers concerning service as hairstylists, which gives us the opportunity to improve. Because soliciting client feedback is so important, I would like to share some of my own ideas on doing this efficiently.

Question: Have you ever had a valid problem at a restaurant, complained, and walked away feeling dissatisfied that the waiter or manager may not have shared with his peers the valuable “constructive criticism” you just shared? Well, this is my point exactly—clients can share their opinions until they are blue in the face, but what actually is done with the valuable information is what makes positive change possible. I will be approaching this topic in a two-part article; the first directed to the hairstylist and the second to the salon owner.

As always, I’m not here talk about ancient ideas like “client satisfaction cards” (where clients anonymously write their concerns and ideas) or endless staff meetings that workers resent because they have to stay late after after a long shift. No, baby, I’m talking about plain-old honesty and direct communication: It’s a “do ask/do tell” policy.

For the Hairstylist

Since it is a hair salon and you “do hair,” it is not only your job to know what your clients think about your work, but also to know about their experiences with the other staff members at the salon with whom they are in contact during their visit. Obviously the best time to get feedback is when (or if) the client returns. With the information the client gives you, think not of your work being judged, but rather take it as an opportunity to improve on an experience. When a client returns, it obviously indicates satisfaction with the service to some degree; at any rate, I always recommend asking the following key questions:

After your last visit, were you able to blow-dry your hair and be happy with the result?

Please keep in mind that you are asking this question in order to improve upon an already happy situation. Make sure during this inquiry you are situated in a way to hear the client’s response; in other words, make sure your body language indicates that you’re genuinely interested in hearing the answer. If the client says yes, she is happy with the result, but it’s obvious that there is something concerning her, get more information until you discover the exact nature of the problem or challenge. If she expresses the thought that the cut was a little off, then accept that perhaps the cut was structurally imbalanced and was indeed difficult for the client to style (this especially results from working on curly hair). To fix the issue, take your time and go through your work both wet and dry—this is your opportunity prove that you are open to feedback and are willing to use it. The fact that she has returned to your chair is reason enough that she’s giving you a second chance: Use it!

How do you feel about the product(s) and tools you’re using?

If appropriate, teach her the curly-hair styling techniques you know. Ask what products she’s using when diffusing or blow-drying with a brush. If the brush is too big and she has short hair and wants volume, it’s obvious that she needs to be educated on what size is best for the haircut to work. Show her the size of the brush needed and if the salon does not have it, order it for them or tell them where to find it. If she’s diffusing, demonstrate the techniques she must use to get her hair dry. Also ask the client to bring in the styling products she’s using; explain that if the products are not ideal, that too can affect the style. Always be sure the client gets the right products from you or a beauty-supply shop.

How was the last hair-color process? Is the same color desired for this visit?

The client might complain that it “faded quickly” or that their hair seems drier than normal. As colorists, we’re aware of the chemical reaction of color products and the deleterious effects they can have on hair. Never take for granted that your client knows all that she should about looking after her own hair color. With that assumption, you can lose a client. Sit down and do the A-to-Zs on hair color and haircare with your client. Explain the texture of her hair, the type of color used, and exactly what is needed to keep the color from fading. Go through product knowledge and make recommendations as to what is best for her specific hair type. This may entail recommending one product and having them gradually invest in more products on future visits. Keep in mind that it can be a real turn-off to the client when we try to be too aggressive with product sales. Every hairstylist thinks his or her products are the best and clients can easily be overwhelmed or simply disagree.

If the client brings in a photograph, it’s not the end of the world—don’t be a diva and throw a tantrum! Some clients have a difficult time explaining color and/or style, and a visual can really save her day (and yours). On the other hand, if she brings in 15 tearsheets of 15 different shades of blond with a Power Point presentation, address this quickly by getting rid of 13 of them (two shades are enough to work with). If you are unsure of how to fix the problem, ask for help: Sometimes two heads are better than one. Get another stylist to take a peek at the client’s hair and help you formulate. I still do it with my co-workers… a fresh perspective is just sometimes needed. Offer the clients ideas on how you can use other coloring techniques to add dimension or “pop” to her curls.

How was the shampoo from the assistant?

Assistants are there to learn and do need to be taught. If a client has had a poor experience at the shampoo bowl, it needs to be addressed. If the client’s face is getting wet or she thinks that her hair is not being shampooed well, the assistant should be informed, and instructed on how to do a better job. If the assistant has an attitude and takes it personally, that should be addressed with a manager. At the same time, do not boycott the assistant completely. This never makes a bad situation better. After all, we were all assistants once.

Are you happy with your new cut or color?

Please, please, please have the client say first what her opinion is about the cut or color. Don’t say things like, “I love this color—it’s the best I’ve ever done” without first giving the client an opportunity to really take in the change or voice her own opinion. There are few things more annoying for a client than to hear than their stylist ooohing and ahhhing over his or her own work when it’s obvious the client isn’t thrilled. What’s even worse is when the assistant comes over to rave over the cut or color when it’s apparent the client is not loving it. If a client is not sold on a cut or color, no amount of fanfare is going to change her mind. Give her a moment to digest the change and and if she’s still unsure, walk through her likes and dislikes. Have the client leave feeling certain that they were heard, if nothing else. Then, two days later, ask the desk to follow up with a phone call to the client inquiring how she’s managing. At that point you can always invite the client in to tweak the cut or color if necessary. Remember, if the client is in the salon and unhappy, do what you can while she’s still there rather than have her leave hating it, because if that’s the case she may never return.

The next installment of this series will be directed to the manager or salon owner. Keep in mind that it will have something for everyone, from the front desk, maintenance, assistants, as well as stylists.

Antonio Gonzales: 6 Essential Tips for Being Successful

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, July 26th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have the ability to share with hairstylists my business-building advice. Moving to New York (the fashion capital of the world) and building my business from the ground up was a very humbling experience. After trudging that long road I ended up in the same room with a hairstylist whose career I have followed for the past 15 years (Orlando Pita), and to have him give freely what he taught himself was a blessing. Because of this I feel I can safely give you advice from the heart and I do hope it makes a positive difference in your success.

EGO

Let’s not waste any time: The No.1 business killer is ego. It does not matter if you charge $30 for a haircut (my first price in NYC) or $200 (my present price), ego is the one thing that will set you apart from the winners. Don’t get me wrong, there are many successful people with big egos, but they are limited in ways that the “truly successful” people aren’t. Recently while I was at lunch in between client appointments (as we all do) and chatting with Orlando, we broached the subject of being a better hairstylist, and in his own words he told me, “No matter how good you are, there is always something better you could have done on your last client, photo shoot or movie.” Basically he’s said that there are no excuses—there’s always room for improvement. Now this is coming from a man who has an amazing career (his haircuts cost $800!). If he thinks that way about his own work, then there is definitely room for us up-and-coming hairstylists to improve our thoughts about the work we produce daily. In other words, stand by your work but be open to improving it . . . if not on the head you’re working on, then on the next one.

PUNCTUALITY

I don’t care if you are the hair messiah, be on time for your client. Your worth is measured by your respect for your client and salon. We all know the stylist that’s busy but is always late for their client, and we all know how their clients really feel about them. Sure, when they finally saunter into the salon to a full book, the clients may smile, but on the inside the client left waiting doesn’t feel fully supported, and it’s important for each and every one of yours to feel the respect and attention a paying customer deserves. Eventually these late-to-school stylists always learn this lesson the hard way, as the end result is always a loss in business. Showing up on time is crucial as both an assistant and a primary hairstylist, and helps set the foundation that your developing business skills will build upon.

KNOWING YOUR SKILL

It is very important to know your weaknesses. They are what set you apart in the salon and what is preventing your business from growing. If you are great at blowouts and your haircuts are weak, make sure that blowout is the best darn blowout you have ever done (every single time). I’m speaking from experience here: I remember being in a salon and feeling insecure about my cut; I knew my business depended on my strengths and I would do whatever it took to make that just-OK haircut flawless. In the meantime I was willing to do whatever it took—including eating a little humble pie every now and then and asking for help.

I recommend that you observe the better haircutters (or colorists) in the salon and ask questions if they are open to answering them. I would also make it known to the salon manager or owner that I was aware of my challenges and would do anything to overcome them. Throughout our careers we may know what our strengths are but it’s our weaknesses that really matter. And educate yourself: Read anything online you can find regarding the history of hair. Visit bookstores and look at photographs, educate yourself with what others in the industry considers beautiful. Open yourselves up to the masters in the creative world, and when I say “masters” I mean the hairstylists who are out there making hair beautiful. Ignore the people with the super PR machines that send press releases out at the drop of a hat. There is such a thing as “too much PR,” and it can easily hurt more than it helps.

Dio Couture

Dio Couture

Also, Fashion Week in NYC starts soon, so keep an eye on who designed what and who did the hair, and relay this information to your clients! The inspiration you get can really make a difference in your next client’s hairstyle, and it also helps to keep things fun. For a great example, check out this amazing hair style by Orlando in Paris for Dior Couture. (Shown right)

And go online to peruse style.com every day, if you can. There you will find the trends and looks that are as current as it gets, right at your fingertips and updated daily. Style.com is better than any magazine on the market, and without the gossip . . . believe me when I say that celebrity gossip won’t build your business.

Lastly, remember those mannequin heads from beauty school? Go out now and invest in a couple, and practice on your downtime. Do cuts, updos and braiding. Keep your fingers busy and your talent will follow.

EDUCATION

Your education outside of the salon is key to improving your skill. As we all know, this can be very expensive and occasionally warrants some support from the salon. If your salon is not in a place to help, then do try to accomplish it on your own.Save up your tips (even hide them if you have to!) to pay for color education or new cutting skills. Ask your color distributor to send an educator in “for free” so that you can pick their brain for tips on improving your color techniques. Source information from people like me for classes of value (rather than those you could probably do without). I am more than happy to guide you via email. Be open-minded to using any color line, and don’t let any particular color company convince you to use theirs exclusively: Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. I’ve worked with the lot of them: Redken, Sebastian, Framesi, Goldwell, Davines, Wella, Clairol, Matrix, Joico, Dia Color, Majirel, Richesse . . . they all work, and they all have a particular place in a salon.

Also remember that there are many cutting companies claiming to have the right answer for the perfect cut. I say, after completing a certain amount of classes, dig deep and find that individuality that sets you apart. Who you are as a creative being is vital for your success. Never allow that to be limited by all the “don’ts” in our industry. The “don’ts” have been proven wrong time and time again: “Don’t use a razor on dry hair” (Orlando proved that one wrong), “don’t ever cut without thinking degrees” (cutting by numbers is overrated). Hair is a fabric and the head is round, now be creative!

PRE-BOOKING

90% of my clients pre-book their appointments. Pre-booking is a way to have your clients rest assured that their appointment time and date is secure. We all have hand-held gadgets nowadays, so your clients can surely make an appointment in their calendars. It’s really easy to do. Here’s a common scenario:

Janice is leaving the chair and it’s all hugs and kisses.

Hairstylist: “Great seeing you! And remember, for us to keep your haircut looking great year-round, you should schedule your next haircut now.” Or perhaps: “Janice, for your single process to always look healthy and vibrant, please schedule your next appointment. If we wait more than six weeks, it’s more work, which means more of a financial investment on your part.”

Janice heads the desk to pay.

Desk: “Thank you so much for your visit. How was everything today?”

Janice: “Fierce!”

Desk: “Wonderful! we recommend that you schedule your next appointment to get the time and date that’s best for you. I would be more than happy to do that for you now. We will call you in advance to confirm your appointment so that you can make changes to your time then if needed.”

Janice: “Well… I don’t really know my schedule so let me think about it.” (At this point, the receptionist should echo the hairstylist’s previous comment regarding the benefits of booking ahead.)

Trust me, Janice does not want to spend more money, and you should not have to do more than what Janice is booked for. In other words, if your client needs a single process and comes back in two months, it’s more than a single process, it’s a color adjustment.

If your clients are used to being squeezed in whenever they want, this is a very bad habit. I used to schedule like that for years, taking clients according to their needs. Now I work “by appointment time only.” There is no squeezing in of clients. If I squeeze in a client, then someone is being cheated of “good quality service.” Tell your clients this and I assure you that they will not want to be the one receiving the “push out of the chair.”

This brings me to:

QUALITY

For me this means: working only on one client at a time. If you think that doing three clients at once with two assistants is best, then hats off to you, I respect that. I feel, however, that for my undivided attention and for my best work, I really can only do one at a time. Assistants may be well-trained to help but their “quick problem solving” is not the same as mine. I do all my blowouts after my haircuts. I understand my haircut, so if I do a wet cut I need to do the blow dry so the dry cut is perfect.

Remember, short work gives shortcut results.

I look forward to any questions or input you may have for me.

Antonio’s View: My Favorite Hair Oils

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, June 28th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

I remember as a kid that natural hair oils were a big part of our culture when moisturizing the hair and fighting frizz. The local African, Indian and mixed races (like me) believed in their conditioning benefits and did not leave home without them. As I approached the beginning of my cosmetology career, products started becoming more refined and companies started using more water-based conditioners, saying that water was more moisturizing than oils. They claimed that oils were a bit harsh, clogging the scalp with over-absorption and making ethnic hair too limp and hard to style. We as hairstylists, all welcomed the new approach to getting healthier hair with the water-based conditioning hair treatments for fighting frizz.

Then silicone-based products took the market by storm and we hairstylists were educated on the use and benefits of high-grade silicone. High-grade silicone products were easier on the hair and were removed more easily, compared to low-grade silicone. We are now back to hair oils which are making a huge comeback. These oils are not the old-school raw coconut oils or even professional oils (like Pink oil) that stopped working after some time. Oh no, we now have oils that has been researched, perfected for the professional and taking over the market from the U.S. to Timbuktu.

From treatments to styling products, I am bringing to you, the salon owner and hairstylist, 15 years of the best hair oils, silicones and water-based products to help fight frizz and build your business.

Hair Oils

These should always be used sparingly

Hamadi Healing Serum

Trust me when I say that this product is a healing experience for over-processed hair. When I first used this product, I honestly did not know what to expect. So many companies make claims to have the best product. One day I had a client for color only, she was leaving for the gym and wanted to do a rough blow dry on herself. I did not realize that she grabbed the Healing Serum by Hamadi, and she came running over to me saying; Feel my hair, feel my hair!! What is this!! Her hair felt amazing!! The product contains an amazing blend of organic oils such as ylang ylang, palmarosa, olive and avocado, just to name a few.

The Morocconoil Miracle

In Trinidad this product is all sold out!! If you have not heard of this product, you need to move back to earth. This product has brought oils back to the salon with grace, delivering results that you will love. It’s an ideal product for all hair types, especially curly or frizzy hair and I love adding it to my favorite curl cream for extra support. I even add it to my hair masks for my nieces at the beach. It makes love to the hair. (smile) Read more about this oil here.

Nautrina Rejuvenating Pure Oils

I have written about this product before so for those of you who missed it, I bring to you a safe product to add to your color to prevent any scalp irritation. It’s pretty straightforward and delivers results. In the past I’ve used all types of products for this purpose, even sugar! (I’m that old) This product is a must for your color dispensary and a few drops goes a long way. Your client will love you for it.

Styling Silicones

Should be able to easily be shampooed out of the hair.

BioSilk by Farouk

Oh yeah, baby, it’s old school time! Back to when man was created. (just kidding) I still love this product for fighting frizz. If I’m on a shoot and for some reason I don’t have my usual kit, I can run to the pharmacy and this product will deliver like it always has. It can be used on wet or dry hair, and offers great protection from heat. If you are a small, first-time salon owner and you can’t commit to the big-name brands, get this and I guarantee you and your clients will be happy.

Serum Oleo Relax

Don’t let the name fool you. It’s not always about straightening hair to remove frizz. This high-grade silicone product can be added to curls to help control frizz when air drying. A tiny bit goes a long way so, although it’s not cheap, your client will have it for a long time. Kerastase have also made a stronger product that’s similar, but it’s a little too heavy for my liking. I do know that with this company, you have to carry a certain amount of the line, so it may be too expensive to stock in your salon. If you can carry it, I say go for it!

Boost by Orlando Pita +T3

Let’s bring on the big boys. This product gives a boost to hair that’s dry and has also been cursed with the F word (FRIZZ). When blow drying use a tiny bit of this non-greasy weightless formula that transforms tired tresses. This fast acting nourishing and hydrating formulation aids in straightening and fighting frizz. Give your client’s hair a boost by using on wet hair for either air drying or for blow drying. Your clients with frizzy hair should also use a little bit of this product on wet hair before going in to the pool or ocean. It can also be used on dry hair before flat ironing. All of that from one little tube which is why when I talk about high-grade silicone this is what I mean. Read more about Boost here.

Hair Masks

Should never be full of oil because we all know that water provides moisture as well.

Kerastase Age Recharge Masque

Although it’s a pricey product, it sells itself. For me, it’s easily one of the best hair masks I have used in a very long time. On virgin or color-treated hair, it will make your client’s hair feel nourished and shiny. And although it’s a cream, it will not leave your hair feeling lifeless. It really gives vitality back to stressed hair and adds shine to dull, aging hair.

Another Moroccanoil Miracle

This luxurious hydrating mask smells so good; it makes you want to put it on your carrot cake. I love how this product feels on my own hair and I even use it as a styling product at the beach. For a deeper treatment add some of the Moroccanoil treatment to the mask and see your client’s hair come alive. Its a great way to add a service that your client really needs which is not too expensive. Read more about Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask here.

Paul Mitchell Hair Repair Treatment

I remember going to my first hair show in the mid-’80s and hearing about the man himself, Paul Mitchell. His passing was a huge loss to the industry, but he left behind a product line that will be known by future stylists to come. This hydrating treatment is worth having in your salon and will change your client’s hair. The best part is that it’s not too expensive and in these times that is music to our client’s ears. Read more about this treatment here.

I am happy to have worked with all of these products. As a hair stylist it is important to offer my clients the help they deserve.

Antonio Gonzales: Improve Your Bridal Service

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, May 3rd, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

Hairstylists, is there anyone in your salon who chooses not to do bridal hair? There are generally a few stylists that would prefer to not take on the bride-to-be. For some of us, styling bridal hair comes naturally and for others it’s a challenge. The first time I did a bride, I was so nervous that I wanted to die! Well, let’s be honest, the expectations alone from a bride are enough to make you faint. I made a promise to myself, however, that I would do my best to make any bride happy. Luckily, I made the decision early in my career so I had enough time to practice styling hair and be educated by some of the top “updo specialists” like Martin Parsons and Patrick Cameron (just to name a few). Guys and gals, with the right techniques, tools and products, we can all make a bride smile.

I want to share my bridal business experience with you and offer some tips to improve your service.

The Price of the Consultation

I recommend to always doing a consultation before the trial hairstyle and I recommend charging for the consultation, too. Time is money. I have never done a bridal consultation that lasts less than 20 minutes and the client is still holding on to the arms of the chair asking questions while your next client is staring at you. Depending on your pricing, I would charge a quarter to half of the appointment price. I consider the consultation fee a deposit and I credit it towards the actual appointment if the client uses me. If she (or he) chooses not to use me, I do not refund the consultation fee.

For the consultation, have the bride-to-be bring with her photos of hairstyles she likes and dislikes. At this point, you get to assess her hair texture compared with the hair of the models in the pictures and discuss the reality of her hair being able to match the images she brought with her. Also, ask if there will be a headdress. Most brides may not have the ultimate veil they plan to use by the time of the consultation but if they could bring it or a picture of what they are thinking, it’s highly recommended. I have tried to create hairstyles with some veils that worked against the hairstyle because of the way they were made. Knowing this at the time of the consultation could have saved me time and headaches.

Tips

1. Give the client your full attention. That’s why they are paying for the consultation.

2. Have her also bring in images of the dress and the veil and discuss options that will be flattering to her built and the dress while fitting wit the veil.

3. Find out if she will be getting her color done and make a few suggestions to accent the style (if needed). If it’s a brunette, a few highlights can add contrast making the style more alive. If she blond, lowlights can make any hairstyle come alive with contrast.

4. Suggest that she come in to the salon a few days before the wedding day for a deep treatment to add shine to her hair.

The Cost

Sometimes a bride may feel the cost of doing her hair for the wedding is a lot for a hairstyle. Don’t forget to remind the bride that her wedding pictures will include more images of her and her hair than anything else that day. These pictures will be around for her grandchildren to see. In other words, she wants people looking at her wedding album and saying “your hair was amazing” and the flowers are pretty, too.

Tip

Be prepared to stand by your price. It’s different for the florist. They can use a few less orchids. You, however, can’t do a few less curls.

The Trial

If the wedding day is an in-salon service, I charge the same price for the trial as the actual wedding. There are very few services where you can go and get the actual service but pay half the price. I wish I could go to the dentist and say; ‘Can you give me a cleaning but charge me half price? This way if I like you I’ll come back and I will pay full price for my check-up.’ (get my drift) The trial also takes longer than the actual day and you may be meeting the client for the first time, so it can be a little stressful.

I prefer to have the bride hold a hand mirror and take the occasional peek as I work rather than having her give her opinion when it’s all done. After I am finished, it may be to late to make changes as the veil has already been fitted to the style. At the end of the trial, take pictures of the finished look and go over all the details of the style with the bride. This way, she will know exactly what she is getting the day of the wedding and you can ensure that her expectations have been met. Email the pictures to the bride and remind her that if she would like to deviate from the hairstyle agreed upon during the trial, she should come in for another trial.

Tips

1. Since Saturdays are busy in the salon I do not do trials on that day. I tell my brides that I will have more time to devote to the bride’s trial during the week and they usually agree.

2. Be sure to take notes of her favorite products used and make recommendations as to which products will work best with her hair and the ultimate hairstyle.

3. Have the bride wear a V-neck T-shirt during the trial so her hairstyle is not ruined when changing.

The Wedding Day

Try your best to execute the hairstyle as close to the trial or better. If there is a “girlfriend” watching you work who was not there for the hair trial, keep her in check. The trial has already been done and agreed upon. If “missy best friend” has a strong opinion as to what you are doing, then she should have been at the trial to voice her opinions (smile).

Tip

Some of us are very visual so having the pictures of the hairstyle at hand can keep us from straying from the discussed ‘do. Also if we are feeling super creative the day of the wedding we can still stay close to the trial, just better.

In-Salon Wedding Planner

This was an idea I came up with after seeing countless wedding parties getting their hair done in the salon. If your salon is large you may consider designating someone at the desk to handle all potential brides and their bridesmaids. From the first time the bride calls the salon to when she leaves after getting her hair done, this person can be the go-to person to keep your bridal business booming. For example:

Questionnaire for Bride

1. How did she hear about the salon?

2. Is the service for only hair or would be she need make up as well?

3. Will this be an in-salon service or a destination wedding?

4. How many people are in the wedding party who will need their hair done?

5. What time does the bride need to leave the salon for the photographer?

6. Is the bride or anyone else in the wedding party allergic to anything (teas, products, etc.)?

7. Would the party like to bring in any special drinks or food for the occasion?

I also recommend having an “event board” in the salon for any wedding parties that may be coming. Staff should always be aware of special events and can offer best wishes to the bride rather than guessing (with their clients) if it’s a wedding or not. Look forward to my upcoming bridal article where I discuss my styling tips, tools and tricks.

Antonio Gonzales: Sun-Kissed Curls for the Spring

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, April 19th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

On my recent trip to Trinidad and Tobago, I worked with many of my clients who mainly have curly hair. Some of them are teenagers who had never color their hair before. I know this is a novelty for hair stylists like myself with a clientele where over 80% invest in hair color. While chatting and snipping with these island beauties to my heart’s delight, I took the time to really study the “sun-kissed” tresses and how the beach, sun and wind effects the natural hair color. The colors moved through the hair with almost no beginning and no end. Let me explain: The lighter pieces almost danced through the hair with really no point of origin. In other words, at no point could I identify highlights or low lights. I knew they were there but they certainly did not look like a foiled or over-baliaged hair color. The lighter pieces sparkled and the depth supported the lighter pieces beautifully. The one advantage that these girls had was the knowledge of looking after their hair with the right hair care products. This certainly has helped the hair from being too damaged by the sun and supported the beautiful results from the sun.

Here are some color techniques that can help you achieve the sun-kissed color that these young ladies take for granted.

1. I would recommend not foiling any rich brunettes with highlights this summer; I say baliage them all the way! As clients look through magazines desiring those sparkling curls, baliage is the only thing to achieve the highlights that has “no beginning and no end” When the hair is dark and you foil the hair, the pattern really makes it look un natural. Remember the foil is square and the head is round, so the baliage is far more natural because you will have far more ability to apply color sparingly.

2. On medium brown brunettes who are getting highlights, do not only paint from roots to ends. On some areas, paint from mid-shaft to end, alternating with fine strokes and thicker strokes. This will help create the effect of a burst of color from the hair, almost distracting the eye from seeing where the color begins. For example: When you look at the inside of a hibiscus, the color starts off at one shade and gradually changes shade within the same color family.

3. For the clients with faded, medium-brown hair that you may have to low light, try alternating the low lights from roots to end and mid-shaft to end. Remember that depth does not have to be from the roots through to the ends. I often avoid the roots when I am creating low lights. When working from the mid-shaft, stay away from colors that are too dark, like levels four or five on hair that’s level seven or eight. Work with low lights that are up to one a half to two levels darker than the existing color.

4. If you are primarily a colorist, work closely with the person cutting the client’s hair. Have the hair cut done first, then study the cut well before painting the hair. This way you can see the fresh layers around the face and through out the hair and add light bits where needed. This can work to the fullest advantage for the colorist and the cutter. Can you image your fresh cut fringe with lighter tips connecting with other bits through the hair? This is where our ego must get out of the way and we commit to working as a team to make the client even happier. Remember two heads are better than one.

5. If you have a client that’s a faded brunette and is in need of more lowlights than highlights, foil the hair rather than painting it. This way, the lowlights are more aggressive and not too delicate, providing better coverage. I also recommend using two different browns, which will give better contrast and create a look that is more interesting with results that are believable. Remember the goal is sun-kissed curls!

6. If you are low lighting with foils, try baliaging the high lights. Rules, mules, shmules. My motto is, if breaking the rules will give fabulous results, well, what are you waiting for? This is achieved by doing your chunky low lights with foils, followed with a delicate baliage of highlight. As you baliage, place strips of cotton to protect the highlighted hair both beneath and on top of the section of painted highlight. This will prevent bleeding due to the pressure of the foil. Sounds like a lot of work, but as mama used to say; short-cut work gives short-cut results.

I wish you and your client great results.

Master the Curl

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, April 5th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

From the very beginning of my career I have always been told what I should and should not do when it comes to cutting curly hair. There were so many don’ts that I was afraid of even touching curls. Being the artist who loves a challenge, I decided that I would not allow any hair texture to limit me or any don’ts to hold me back. I invite you to join me in mastering the curl. When cutting curly hair we know that we all have our favorite techniques and beliefs. I want us to step out of the box and open our minds to cutting curls every way possible by using the scissors and razor, and providing a texture and style that our clients will love.

WAYS TO CUT CURLY HAIR WET WITH THE SCISSORS

At the beginning of my career this is the technique that I noticed my colleagues using the most. The approach in terms of sectioning was the same as cutting straight hair. The big difference is when cutting curly hair wet we use less tension and avoid stretching the hair, so that when the hair dries it’s not too short. It’s also important to pay attention to cowlicks in the nape and crown when sectioning the hair. Too much tension on cowlicks when the hair is wet could cause you to loose your shape by being shorter when the hair is diffused.

WHEN USED INCORRECTLY
Cutting straight lines on wet curly hair with the scissors will create blunt ends. The result is a style that’s difficult to manage in coming weeks for the client. I recommend additional techniques like point cutting, slide cutting and razoring to be used on the wet hair to soften the curl by removing bulk and adding texture.

WAYS TO CUT CURLY HAIR WET WITH THE RAZOR

Now let’s talk about the approach for cutting wet curls with the razor. The one thing that’s the same as with cutting with the scissors is less tension to the hair. Because of the strength of this tool you may want to adjust the sectioning a bit for your desired shape (you be the judge). Using the razor gives great ability to create softness to the shape and remove bulk making the curl come alive. The result is a haircut that grows out better and lasts longer.

WHEN USED INCORRECTLY
Because the hair is wet it clumps together and the visibility of bulk in the hair is lost, which can result is the removal of too much hair. The razor on wet hair also moves easily and we, the stylists, can underestimate the amount of hair being removed, resulting in a weaker shape or structure that’s hard to manage. I recommend keeping in mind that less is more, you can further remove bulk when the hair is dried.

DRY CURLS WITH THE SCISSORS AND RAZOR

This technique is generally done after the hair has been cut wet and diffused into the desired style. The technique is amazing on both fine and thick hair. Using the scissors or razor, gently cut into the shape and further remove bulk, giving lift, improving the shape and hair texture. Feel free to gently section the hair after styling so there is more access to bulkier areas. The part of the hair that frames the face can benefit best from this technique, allowing you to highlight the weaker features of the face. If using scissors cut with the shape of the curl, almost sliding around the curl where needed. When using the razor search for thicker curl, gently lift the curl and remove the heaviness. Remember the idea is to further remove bulk while maintaining the shape of the cut.

WHEN USED INCORRECTLY
If too much dry cutting is done you could loose the entire shape. Be conscious of the fact that the hair has already been cut. You probably want to be less aggressive when cutting the hair wet leaving room for more cutting when the hair is dry.

CURLY HAIR DRIED STRAIGHT AND CUT WITH THE SCISSORS

This is done when we know that the client generally wears their curly hair straight. When approaching the blow dry, ask the client how straight he or she wears their hair. You do not want to cut the hair when it is flat-ironed if the client is only going to blow dry their hair. We also know that the hair is longer because it is blown out so leave a little more length when cutting to compensate for their inability to get the hair as straight as we can. Always work with super-thin sections on fine or thick hair. This allows for softer lines and better movement in the end result. I recommend additional techniques like point cutting and razoring to soften the wet curl by removing unnecessary bulk.

CURLY HAIR DRIED STRAIGHT AND CUT WITH THE RAZOR

Like some of you, when this was recommended to me in the past, I would grab my tools and run the other direction. This is easily one of the most difficult techniques in my career. The advantages are endless!! Compared to cutting with the scissors (blunt ends), this technique allows you to work with the hair in a way that I have never experienced before working with Orlando Pita. On dry hair the lines are much cleaner than on wet hair with precision and control. The layers are blended well because you can see exactly what’s happening without the heaviness of cutting wet hair. And most importantly the client can wear their hair curly or straight resulting in a cut that lasts longer.

When hair is wet, the ends are heavier and the hair stretches, using a razor on this texture can result in over-cutting. When the hair is dry and the right technique is used, the ability to get an almost-straight line with control leaves me speechless. Not many stylists in our industry has mastered this technique. Orlando is the first person that I have worked for that has been able to train me skillfully in this technique.

REMEMBER:

Safely stepping out of the box when approaching hair is one of the best things we can do for our careers. This has been the strongest asset to my career.

Curl Highlighting Techniques: Tips from Top Curl Experts

by Karen Mcintosh on Monday, April 5th, 2010

There are exciting possibilities and scary pitfalls when it comes to highlighting curls. With the endless variations in curl types, deciding which techniques to embrace and which techniques to avoid can be complicated.

To focus on the most successful techniques and the methodology behind them, CurlStylist talked to three top curl and color experts.

Christo, creator of the Curlisto Systems line of hair care and owner of Christo Fifth Avenue, has made curls a life study since age 13, “The most important thing is to understand the curls…to know the elasticity of each and every curl—how it curls, if it’s a tight curl, a loose curl, or a medium curl. They [hairdressers] have to know how the elasticity of the balance of the hair if it’s curly…The colorist and person that’s doing their hair must understand their skin tone, their texture of hair—and be honest about it. You are more honest and you will have clients who are going to follow you for life”.

Products to Watch:

HC Color Fantasies Kit Developed by Denis Da Silva will be available for retail sale at salons soon and is available here now.

Curlisto No-Heat Keratin Treatment A healthy, in-house alternative to the Brazilian Keratin treatment that transforms dry, frizzy and unmanageable curls into beautiful waves.

Curlisto Systems Anti-Frizz Treatment A 30-minute in-salon breakthrough treatment for transforming all types of dry, frizzy damaged hair into silky, bouncy locks.

For the latest and greatest, check out Antonio’s blog Comessenyc and his regular articles on Curlstylist.com.

Devachan co-founder and president, inventor, and color innovator Denis Da Silva says, “curly hair needs to be highlighted because it has texture and it doesn’t have dimension. It’s different from straight hair which shows shine. My idea for Pintura (Portuguese for “work of art”) was having a free way of doing highlights on hair that has free life. Every day curls look different, so it needed its own thing when it comes to color. Pintura respects the hair color.”

Antonio Gonzales, hairstylist at Orlando Pita Salon and CurlStylist contributor, was recently named by “Vogue” magazine as one of the rising hairstylist stars in New York. He feels that “Every head is different. “ I have learned for myself it’s really about exploring the techniques …we have balayage and we have foil,” he says. “My golden rule is always to do both. I feel for me I need to cut and color. And as a colorist I need to do foils and to do balayage; there’s no preference. When we’re working with one head of curls, we really explore the technique.”

Each of these curl virtuosos developed a passion for curls in his early teens. We examine their philosophies and methods to highlighting curly hair. Here, they freely share their passion and their expertise.

Tips:

Consult with the client and evaluate—the hair, lifestyle, chemical service history, and more: Free consultations are key to developing both the relationship and a highlighting strategy, say the experts. “For me the foil client is the woman who wants more intense coverage”, says Gonzales. “She might be coming in for a lot of low lights but a few highlights so I would lowlight the foil and paint the highlights.”

At Christo Fifth Avenue Salon, consultations with Christo’s staff are always free. ”The free consultation will encourage someone to come in and talk to you,” he says.

With new clients, it’s important to know what coloring or styling “baggage” they may be carrying into your chair along with their hair. For Christo, the consultation is a form of “psychohairapy”. “They need psycho hair therapy because they experience a lot of bad hairdos, either bad cut or bad color, so they are traumatized,” he says. “It takes a lot for the stylist to sit down and understand the client’s lifestyle. That’s why we have the consultation…It takes time to understand the hair, the culture they live in, and what we can do to better their hair.”

Use different approaches for different curl types: All curls are not created equal, and each curl type needs a custom approach. It depends on the desired effect as well, says Gonzales. “You know I have African American clients who have curlier hair and they just want to wear the hair as an Afro and they want blonder tips but on dark, dark hair the contrast is too drastic. So if the client is okay with it, I sometimes just break the base by half a shade to soften it. It’s still overall a deep brown rather than a black and we’ll put lighter tips so that it relates.”

Christo thinks wavier type 2s, Botticelli type 3s and coiler type 4a hair need to be handled differently. “Because of the tighter, coilier hair, that means you have to be careful. When you weave the hair you have to take part of the coil into the foil…or take a whole coil and leave a coil behind. So when you have the highlights done, you can actually see them. Otherwise, if you just weave them, they will look just like a frizziness in the hair, they will not look good, and they will look like the color is not into the curl. It will look just like brassiness.”

Condition! “Hair is thirsty for more conditioner,” says DaSilva. “Hair has a lot of protein and when it sits in the protein, it can get very dry. Curly or straight, hair needs lots of conditioner.”

For Christo, pre-conditioning is the first step when the client comes in for highlighting. “It’s very easy for the curls to get dry and damaged, if you don’t precondition it,” he says. He uses the Curlisto Colorective mask, lets it sit for 5 minutes to get into the cuticle, then halfway dries the hair under the dryer before coloring. “Curly hair doesn’t have to be all the way dry in order to pick up the color,” he says.

“The tools are just endless. It’s just a matter of taking a deep breath, assessing the situation and moving forward with knowing that if you do this, it’s not going to be a disaster, it’s not going to be wrong. But it’s definitely something you are exploring, something that you are trying. Create your own techniques. I love it!” —Antonio Gonzales

Antonio Gonzales observes “curly hair tends to always be a little bit dehydrated. It’s the No. 1 complaint amongst curly heads, that it frizzes depending on the weather. So I feel that when I’m approaching color and curly hair, I’m extra careful in terms of my volume of peroxide.”

Christo and Denis Da Silva also take conditioning into the color process. Da Silva incorporates Acai, a Brazilian fruit loaded with powerful antioxidants and moisturizing properties in his HC Color Systems Kit (see Products to Watch)

Christo uses vegetable-based colors from Goldwell and Wella. “Usually we try to do as many colors that are ammonia-free. You know, curly hair takes color very easily so you don’t need ammonia. But it’s also very easy to fade which is why we have the Colorective line, which helps maintain their hair.”

Curls have volume—and coloring increases volume: With highlighting you are also creating more density and volume, according to Christo. “The hair, especially if they are going to use bleach…gets fatter by 30 percent because the hair gets swollen. That means that person’s hair, if it’s already dry because it’s curly and you are using bleach on their hair, can get puffier because you are making it thicker.”

Conversely, clients with very fine, thin hair who get highlights will love this effect because it gives the hair more density, more fullness and more body. “A lot of people who have curls and thin density love to color the hair every 3 weeks because it makes the hair thicker,” Christo says. “That’s a color fact, which is great. Sometimes.”

Help clients maintain the color between visits: Colors, especially reds, fade. Recommending the right products to help maintain color between visits not only increases your sales, says Christo. It is also “going to make your client happy! Don’t forget that part. It’s not about selling, it’s about to (giving) a client solutions. And people with curly hair are always looking for solutions. They are always looking for that perfect color that’s going to look good on them. It’s not the easiest thing to do, unless you guide them and give them the right tools to maintain their hair. And that’s one of our very strong tools when it comes to color. We make something for them to take home so we can now expect that the color in two months will now be just fine, except we touch up the roots.” At Christo, clients receive a Colorective shampoo and mask that is custom-blended to match more than 75 shades.

Learn new techniques and expand your repertoire: Despite their high level of expertise, Christo, Da Silva and Gonzales continue to learn and evolve —and they believe all stylists should. Whether it is working at Fashion Week, flying to a hair show in Brazil or simply from the exchange of ideas with their styling teams, they live and breathe in an atmosphere of inspiration.

“Hairdressers should understand how much pressure we are on and how much we should learn every single day” says Da Silva. “ To hear clients talk we are special people. Some hairdressers say they are bored with what they are doing. If they are bored, they are not willing to learn new things”

For Gonzales, education is as close as the salon. “I changed salons 6 months ago and am now working with Orlando Pita and he is really my idol in the industry,” he says. “ I’m working in the hub of trends that are being set for the next season and the next year…I’m really fortunate that I work with a team of people that I can go in every day and learn something new.” And he advises “Go to Style.com. I do it every day to see what’s available. And I try for my work to reflect what’s happening on Style.com.”

And they share their knowledge with other stylists, offering workshops and multi-day bootcamps for professionals (see box).

Techniques

Balayage or Foils Or Both? Oh my!

Antonio Gonzales loves them both. “I use both of them; I can’t do one without the other. It depends on the client, and every head is different. Some women are definitely foil women and some women are balayage women, depending on the coverage.”

Denis Da Silva developed the Pintura Technique for Schwartzkopf which is now used at DevaChan. “Pintura works with any type of hair,” Denis said. Balayage is a free style of highlighting hair. Pintura is a free style, but with a method. It has pre-sections done and it uses tissue to protect hair. We developed and use a patented tool, the Comb. And you can use 2 colors in the same hair at the same time. It’s very advanced.”

Where to Learn More

A course or workshop may be the perfect shot to energize your skills and bring you happy curly clients. Check out these exciting opportunities to learn directly from the experts:

Deva training events:
April 19 in Holliston, MA
May 10 in Columbus, OH
Coming this fall: A three-day professional curl course in New York City.

Contact DevaCurl, Director of Education, 917-596-9278 or shari@mydevacurl.com

Curlisto “The Art of Curly Hair;” Featuring Christo
Specializing in Curly Hair can Bring Extra Profit to Salon Professionals
April 25 IBS Las Vegas, 2pm – 3:30 pm Room N241
June 6 Premier Orlando, 2:30 - 4 p.m.

Christo’s well-known Smart Lights highlighting technique lets clients go longer between highlights: as long as 4 or 5 months. He skips the hairline, starting an inch behind. “and I put the foils in triangle shapes. When I highlight I don’t highlight straight or traditionally from the side. I put it in a pyramid or diagonally from the front. When I start from side to side from the front I put it in a triangle or pyramid shape. And then at the back, I start from the point of the pyramid and I open up on the bottom. That gives me leverage when the roots start to come in – you don’t see the roots so much.”

Weaving and foil management. Weaving techniques and the placement of foils so that you can see the highlights on curly hair are both key to getting beautiful highlights that pop, our experts said.

For Christo, the client’s desires and preferences dictate how much you are going to weave out of the curl. Do they want full exposure, or something more subtle? “ I use a medium weave and I take into consideration how thick or how thin is the curl. If the curls are very thick, then it is to weave maybe one-third or one-fourth because how much I want the highlights to show…The idea is to want highlights hugging around the curl all the way down. And the best way to do it is by how much of that curl you are going to take into your foil.”

For Gonzales, sectioning is foremost and he works with sections that go around the head. “Another technique that I specifically like for curly hair is …around the technique and the way I approach the shape of the head. I tend to have my sections go around the head…And I change my volume of peroxide as I move around the head.

“With straight hair it’s very easy to approach your highlighting, either balayage or foils, from the neck up and then work in block sections. Whereas with curly hair … you look at the curl and you work with the growth of the curl. Curly hair definitely has a mind of its own. And rather than working against the growth pattern or against the way the curl is formed, I like working with it.”

Pitfalls to Avoid

Treating curly hair just like another head of hair and highlighting it as you would straight hair. Christo says a hairdresser can be a “good colorist but not a good judge of the hair, and that is going to be a mistake. Because they will not highlight to the pattern of the curl, so that means they will not see the highlights.” Who cares if the color is perfect if you can’t see it?

“Your hair is your No. 1 accessory. Because think about how much money you spend to buy a beautiful dress to go to a party, right? Then if your hair doesn’t look good that dress will mean nothing. So what brings the puzzle together is your hair. If your hair looks good then you are going to look good whatever you put on.” —Christo

Gonzales agrees. “I would also feel – not approaching every head the same way. If the client comes in and she’s a brunette and she has curly hair and wants a few light pieces, you need to decide if this is a foil client or a balayage client. For me the foil client is the woman who wants more intense coverage. She might be coming in for a lot of low lights but a few highlights so I would lowlight the foil and paint the highlights. Another great thing is knowing that you can mix foil and balayage on the same client.”

Avoid over-lightening: Gonzales changes the volume of peroxide as he moves around the head. “I would start off with a 5 volume and end up with a 20 volume. Which means that when I’m done highlighting the client’s hair, the back and the front are equally lifted around the same time and get the same results, rather than using a high volume in the back and then going too high in the front. Sometimes you can start a 20 volume in the back and before you know it it’s a 30 volume in the front. I seldom use 30 or 40 volume”.

Trends

Antonio’s current focus is on extensions, clip in extensions. And he advises “Go to Style.com. I do it every day to see what’s available. And I try for my work to reflect what’s happening on Style.com.” He also advises that texture more than color will be a trend. “ Orlando for most of the trends he set for the past Fashion Week was about texture, about creating a texture without a crimping iron or curling iron.” A lot of Antonio’s work will be “getting myself ready in the salon for all these ad campaigns that are going to be coming out with hair that has a bit of frizz to it, or that is a bit messy but still looks glamorous.”

Christo predicts you are going to see a lot of reds this year, “especially from the European women; they love their reds. A lot of women in Italy and Greece with olive skin, you will see more of a wine red with more copper colored highlights. And for those women with more fair skin, you will see strawberry blonds and also a lot of caramel, light browns with a lot of blond highlights.”

Blonds will never go out of style, according to Christo. “Very rarely a blond will go red. And I say always be careful with what you do with your color and the trends. I would say trend is what looks good on you.”

Denis Da Silva, who we caught en route to a hair show in Brazil, had this to say about trends. “Girls… anywhere in the world…are always looking to have better hair every single day. The second conversation between girls is hair. So the hair is more important than clothes. The stylist is more important than clothes. We just lose to sex.”

Antonio’s View: On the Razor’s Edge

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, March 8th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

As we all know (hairstylists and clients alike), the razor has been given a bad name, especially for curly hair. I am here to say that it is not the razor, rather the person using the razor. The razor is a tool from the heavens, literally. Its ability to be so gentle and precise on curly hair surpasses scissors with results that leave curls speechless.

Here are four important topics covering the do’s and don’ts to help you better understand this amazing tool.

1. The type of razor

The Feather Razor
I recommend not using a Feather Razor on curly hair. This razor comes with a guard, which limits the use of the blade. The guard is for us not to cut ourselves or the client, but it takes away from the magic of the razor and is far more aggressive. If you see someone using this razor, you can witness its scalping action. Yes, some of us are strong with this tool but with a lot of practice we take it one step further and use a Classic Razor.

The Straight Classic Razor
Now this baby is what I’m talking about. The difference is like cutting top sirloin with a good steak knife versus a butter knife. This razor can be used with such precision that a haircut can maintain its shape and last long. There are so many parts to that single blade—I can twist my wrist and get results that no other cutting tool can give me. I cannot only remove bulk with this, but I can also create amazing lines for length that’s soft without being shredded.

However, there are times when a pair of scissors is called to do the job. That’s when we professionals decide what’s best for the hair type and the look we are trying to achieve.

2. Thinning Shears

This tool is good for finishing a man’s haircut (very final step), not for curly hair. It’s the number one mistake that makes curly hair weak and lose its shape quickly. Because it goes deep into the hair, it is targeting the structure in a line across the section of hair. Keep in mind that curly hair needs to have a foundation in order for it to move like real hair and grow out well.

3. Razor on Wet Hair

Yes, this can be done. When it’s done the focus is on the size of sections, sectioning, texture and hair type. Remember, when hair is wet it stretches and is extremely vulnerable to over cutting. This is also when the Classic Razor is the client’s best friend allowing the stylist to have full control and cut the hair without aggression.

4. Razor Cutting on Dry Hair

This is where serious cutting skills come in. My boss and mentor, Orlando Pita, recently taught me to approach a Classic Razor cut on dry hair when the hair is blow-dried smooth. I’d never seen this done before and I’m grateful to have learned from one of the hair masters. When cutting curly hair that is blown out, the focus is on whether the client is wearing his or her hair straight only or straight and curly, as well their ability to master the styling themselves.

Start doing your research for a hairstylist that’s strong with the classic straight razor and go in for a consultation. As you can see, there are many ways to approach cutting curly hair wrong and right. So it’s about you the client finding a hairstylist (referral preferably) to cut your curly hair.

I wish you beautifully razor cut curly hair!

Antonio’s View: Is Balayage or Foiling Better for Curly Hair?

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, February 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

Every day in the salon when I work with clients and their curls, this is a concern frequently expressed. So I felt this was the perfect forum to answer this question for all our readers.

First, allow me to distinguish between these two methods.

Balayage

Balayage is a hair-coloring technique likened to painting. The word itself is French for “to sweep,” a reference to the “sweeping” motion of the brush while applying color to the hair. If you look at curly hair in the sunlight, the one thing that catches your eyes is the ability of the curls to reflect light in certain areas.

When coloring curls, I love to recreate this effect in the hair. It’s almost as though the colors are dancing through it, which makes sense since balayage is a French word with Latin roots (no pun intended)—“ballare” is Latin for dance.

Foiling

Most women who have had their hair highlighted or low-lighted have had foils in their hair. It’s a very normal process using aluminum foils to apply color in sections throughout the hair in order to create brightness and dimension.

Balayage for Curly Hair

Being a “foil man,” I feel that there is a woman for either technique. However, for curly hair, balayage is certainly the best for many different reasons.

When I balayage, I can work with the shape of the head and the face, carefully taking thin sections of hair from the head as I proceed.

Keep in mind that the head is round, but foils are square.

I can choose the size of highlights as I go through the hair and I can place them close to each other, be they thick or thin.

Foiling is not as versatile, and if you attempt to use different sizes per foil, it’s not nearly as natural. I can use different colors and place them right next to each other. It’s a more natural way to get “sparkle” in the hair color by creating dimension.

With foils, I am limited to safely working with one color per foil.

For a brunette going lighter, I can avoid the immediate hairline and the hair part while painting the hair. Then, as it grows, there is almost no visible root line. You can then wait up to four months before your next application.

Foils can be too intense in the wrong hands.

I will conclude now with a question I get all the time—is balayage damaging to the hair?

My answer remains the same—“as with foils, it all depends on the hairstylist.”

I wish you and your clients beautiful curls!

Antonio’s View: Curly Clients Often Knows What Works Best for Them

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, February 8th, 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.

See Antonio’s blog here.

As a kid growing up in Trinidad, I was always playing with my mother, sisters’ and my own hair. Back then we were very limited with respect to tools and products, but we’d somehow get creative with what we had. My sisters preferred wearing their hair naturally curly and would be on the lookout for great products, so whatever they used so did I.

Many years later when I started doing hair professionally, there was one thing that I remembered about curly hair—that it is critically important to listen to the man/woman wearing it. When you have curly hair, you are usually the best judge of what does or does not work for your hair. I often see stylists trying to give advice to a client with curly tresses by suggesting that they change their entire routine. Yes, we are the ones with the power, but as hairstylists sometimes we can step back and listen.

I strongly believe that it’s vital to take a client’s feedback into consideration. What they are sharing about their hair could make all the difference in the world. Here are ways to get you on the right path to Loving your hair.

1) When seeking a new hairstylist, I strongly encourage clients with curls to find someone with a haircut that they themselves admire. Ask what salon they go to and determine if it’s a “fit” for you.

2) A great way to gauge whether you can trust someone is by having them blow dry your hair. By doing so, you can really see how they handle your hair.

3) While you’re in the chair, ask about getting a haircut and what their thoughts are on techniques and product recommendations. Remember, if someone is fumbling and cannot seem to manage your luscious locks, then it’s not the right match.

4) If she/he styles your hair well even though it needs a cut, then s/he is the “Chosen One”. When you visit the salon for your cut, take your favorite products with you and have the stylist familiarize him/herself with what you’re like and why.

5) Curly hair is a gift to anyone wearing it. It gives you volume which most women would die for. Its softness in appearance creates the perfect addition to any woman, making her feel sexy and modern. Curly hair can show off hair color unlike any other style. Its texture creates amazing dimension when more than one color is used. And when it’s cut right, it really sets the woman apart from the rest.

Simply put, curly hair is timeless when done properly.

So if you think that you may have found the right person to work with your curl, be proud and keep in mind that you have valuable information to add to the conversation. You may likely know your hair better than you think.

I wish you beautiful curls!

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