Creating Professional Hairstyles for Your Clients
by Cassadie on Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Every stylist has had a curly-haired client ask for a smooth blow-out in order to look professional at a work conference or to make a good impression at a job interview.
“I find that clients with curly hair believe that they’re taken more seriously if their hair is straight,” explains Morgan Wilheite, creative director at Ouidad. Having frizzy and unruly hair at a business meeting can be the equivalent of showing up wearing a tank top and shorts, so curlies either straighten their hair or slick it back into a ponytail.
But curls and briefcases need not be mutually exclusive. By giving clients a curl-specific cut and color and then empowering them with the skills, tools and care routines they need to maintain it, you can ensure their curls will be workplace-ready. “Professional curly hair is all about maintenance and how you present it,” says Marie France, owner of Madusalon in San Francisco. “Dry hair tied back in a ponytail is not professional; it just shows lack of attention. What says ‘professional’ is moisture. It’s a cut, it’s style, it’s care.”
The Foundation: A Good Cut
Whether she plans on wearing her hair loose or pinned up in a style, a curly client must be cut in a way that enhances her texture, not works against it. The cutting of textured hair presents a unique opportunity not only to create volume, shape and dimension, but also to control the curl. “The key is to make sure the hair is cut in a way that is conducive to the curl pattern, especially if the client plans on wearing her hair curly,” explains Rafe Hardy, artistic creative director at Sexy Hair Concepts. “If you’re cutting waves, for example, don’t cut the hair in the middle of the S-pattern, because that’s when it will kick out. Make sure to cut at the beginning of the wave so that it naturally curves under.”
Executing a proper curly hair cut using techniques you wouldn’t use on straight hair presents an opportunity for you to develop and demonstrate an expertise in texture. Once recognized as a curl-savvy stylist, you can promote your texture specialty to increase your income and client base. “Stylists who specialize in curly cuts tend to have a cult following,” Hardy notes. “If you can build up a business that includes people with textured hair, you’ll be sure to gain influence in this specific curly niche.”
9-to-5 Styling + Care
Once your client’s curls are clipped into shape, the next step is determining a maintenance routine and some workday styling options. Throughout your client’s appointment, you can explain the building blocks of styling curls so that her natural texture will no longer be limited to the weekend. “When a client is in your chair, this is the opportunity to show her results and teach her how to achieve them on her own,” explains Hardy. “More than with any other client, styling curly hair should be about education. Show these clients how to diffuse their curls and scrunch in product so that they can take the good curl care habits home with them.”
For the client, the benefits of a good session with her stylist are both immediate and long-lasting. “My hair used to be dry and frizzy so I always pulled it back at work because I didn’t know how to give it the attention it needs,” confides one salon client, Paloma Herman, who became loyal to a salon once she found a stylist who specializes in textured hair. Co-director of admissions at the San Francisco School, Herman says this was the first stylist who’d ever given her a cut that was “intentional and mature.” She adds, “The stylist showed me how to maintain it with only a couple of products. Since then, I’ve been much more comfortable with wearing my curls loose in the office.”
Salon client Bianca Ummat, a Resident MD in Washington, DC, interacts with patients on a daily basis and, to prevent a health hazard, needs to have her hair pulled back from her face. Still, she wants style. “I like to switch it up,” Bianca says. “I do loose buns, ponytails and braids to keep my curls from being in the way.” To secure curls away from the face, Wilheite advises using pins as opposed to ponytail holders. “A slick ponytail is a very severe look and potentially damaging to curls,” she says. “Instead, use larger bobby pins to pull pieces back and secure pieces section by section for a professional style that is also gentle on curls.” For longer curls from loose to tight, Wilheite suggests an on-trend high bun, again using bobby pins to secure the hair around the base.
For tighter curls that have the tendency to shrink up to 80 percent of their length, Product Specialist and Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood suggests styles allowing the back section of the hair to remain loose while the front sections are pulled away from the face in a half ponytail or bouffant, or sweeping just one side back and securing with a pin. “This allows your clients and colleagues to focus on the face, eyes and smile, not the hair,” says Leatherwood, who offers chemical-free solutions to her ethnic clients who struggle with trying to wear their natural hair at the office.
Some Like it Straight
Even with the right curly cut and maintenance routine available to them, many curly-haired professionals prefer to wear their hair straight. “That’s the beauty of curls,” says Hardy. “They’re so versatile. One day they can be full and voluminous, and the next they can be sleek and straight.”
Consult with your stylist to determine how to incorporate a straight look into a curly styling routine.
1. Schedule a blow-out as part of the client’s regular visit so she can leave with sleek hair and wear it straight for a few days.
2. Set up a blow-out bar for clients to walk in for a professional blow-out at their convenience between cuts.
3. Provide a professional smoothing treatment to reduce frizz while allowing the client to easily toggle between straight and curly styles. “There are many women who do not have a preference for work between straight or curly,” says Hardy. “They just love having the option to do both!”
Put Your Best Curl Forward
Your clients’ looks can be almost as important as their PowerPoint presentation for navigating their career path. Professional curly hair is about mitigating the hair’s tendency to be unkempt, which means keeping frizz, dryness and flyaways in check by promoting the hair’s health and hydration. Encourage clients to take the extra step for their curls, such as deep conditioning before an interview, or even style and diffuse them before a presentation.
“Your clients’ curls represent their personality, so you really want them looking their best,” encourages Wilheite. “Curls show off a distinctive personality and self-confidence, which is critical in business.” By starting with a proper cut, style and color to enhance texture and then giving clients the education and tools to maintain their curls, you can ensure that your curly clients look great on every rung of the career ladder—from the interview to the boardroom. “I used to think of my hair as something that detracted from my professional appearance,” says Paloma Herman. “Now that I know how to take care of my curls, they’ve become an asset.”
Is Hair Your Passion?
by Trash Talk with Anna Craig on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Hair has been Anna Craig’s passion since she was 12 years old, this has always been her path in life. In 2001 she went to school in Tempe, AZ, at the Carsten Aveda Institute. After doing hair for about 5 years, she realized that precision haircuts were her specialty, after years of thinking that color was her calling. After doing hair in Arizona for several years, she took the plunge and moved to Texas, and her career took off. She soon opened her own salon, Trashy Roots Salon & Spa. There she became a Certified Deva Stylist, specializing in Curly Girl haircuts. She is also an Artistic Educator for Pravana, which gives her the opportunity to go out to different salons in the area and educate them on new products and techniques. She is also very involved in her community; holding annual cut-a-thons, participating in benefit hair shows, and helping with local beauty schools.
Since from before I could remember I have always wanted to be a hairstylist. When I was little I would have my mother make my sister let me practice styling her hair—my favorite do was the French Twist. I even had my bedroom set up with two vanity tables in it, so it could be my very own salon.
So when I was 12 I went to a weeklong church camp, and at the end of the week each child had to get up in front of all the parents and announce what we our dreams were and what we wanted to do when we grew up. I stood up and said I wanted to be a hairdresser. My mother was mortified. I never heard the end of it all the way home—she had never been so embarrassed.
That was the end of my dream for quite some time. I went on to dream of architecture, nursing, etc.—anything but being a hairstylist. I received scholarships to a large university to study architecture, and my family was so proud. I come from a family heavy into construction.
So when I decided to drop out of college to go to hair school, my parents were not too happy. They made it almost impossible to go to cosmetology school, so I decided to go back to college. I spent the next couple years changing schools and majors several times, meanwhile always doing everyone’s hair, make-up, and nails before any event.
I finally just dropped out of college completely. Then one day my mom and I were at the hairdresser just talking with him and I just mentioned that working with hair is what I’ve always wanted to do. My mom suggested that maybe I should go to cosmetology school after all, finally. So the next day we toured every school in Phoenix, Arizona, and picked the most perfect school for me.
I have now been doing hair for almost 10 years and I know that this is what I was meant to do, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I have owned my own salon for 2 years and I feel like each year I keep growing as a stylist and I just get better and better. I had a client ask me this year “what do you want to do when you grow up?” and I answered “I’m already there”. She was actually quite shocked. I think some clients assume that we didn’t really choose to be a hairstylist, that we really just failed out of school or couldn’t find anything better to do. But there are so many hairstylists like me that just love, love, love what they do and we need to spread the love of our industry into our business and show our clients. This isn’t just a job or a temporary stepping stone until something better comes along, this is our life. As a hairstylist is it yours? Or is it just a job?