Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Torch’

Consulting With Your Client

by Jonathan Torch on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Consult with your client

Consult with your client

A personal consultation builds confidence between our stylists and our clients, and is recognized as the most important step of our service.

We gather important information through a series of questions and answers. This helps us understand different personalities, lifestyles, and beauty goals. There must be a mutual understanding of the difference between body wave, curl, and the color tones that you like or dislike. Not all “reds” are the same, and “blondes” don’t have to be brassy.

Recognize client's ability to to her own hair

Recognize your client’s ability to style her own hair

The CUT is the heart of the design. No matter how great the perm or the color, if the cut is not right, the design is not there. Face shape, hair type, growth patterns and many other factors must be considered.

The stylist must also recognize the client’s ability to style her own hair. A proper drying lesson must be understood.

Never bully client into radical changes

Never bully your client into making radical changes

Stylists must never bully clients into radical changes, as the client should be mentally ready to take on a new look. No matter how great the style looks, if the client is not ready for a change, it will not be successful.

Great styles count

A great style warms the client’s soul

Our experience has shown us that some clients don’t always know what they want, but they know what they don’t want in a style. Pictures help bridge the gap as a great communication tool in a consultation.

When you find a great style for your client’s hair type, she won’t always be looking for change.

A great style does a lot more than change your client’s look—it warms her soul.


Instruct your client, when she’s coming in for her appointment, to wear her hair as curly and as frizz free as she can. She should NEVER arrive with her hair in a ponytail. You want to see how well you can manage your hair.

Texture: Commitment-Free Retexturizing

by Michelle Breyer on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010


Learn more about Texture!, a collaboration between CurlStylist, NaturallyCurly and Modern Salon


There was a time when the only option for temporarily changing curly hair to straight or straight hair to curly—or to go from long to short and back—was a wig or a chemical treatment.

These days, there are numerous ways that stylists and consumers can temporarily change the look of hair, without chemicals. They range from innovative new styling products to natural-looking extensions.

Product Innovations

Toronto stylist Jonathan Torch, creator of the Curly Hair Solutions line of products, wanted to create a product that could temporarily loosen curls without chemicals. He spent years trying to find the ideal ingredient that could smooth the curls and keep the hair shiny and soft.



The answer, he says, was lecithin.

“It as a complete aha moment,” Torch says. “It’s in all of my conditioners; it’s thick as tar and it makes the hair shiny.”

Curly Hair Solutions is launching Extenzz this fall, which pushes water into the hair and uses the weight of the wet hair to straighten or loosen curl by using the product in conjunction with different brushing techniques.

While Curly Hair Solutions discovered a creative way to relax curls by using eggs (which contain lecithin), many of the most exciting advances have come in the laboratory, where chemists have concocted new formulations of polymers and silicones that help straighten and defrizz hair.

Living Proof, which has stormed onto the beauty scene, developed a new technology called polyfluoroEster—a smaller molecule than the traditional materials used for frizz control. Due to its chemical nature, the formulation adheres tightly to the hair, which allows for long-lasting moisture resistance and rebalancing of the hair fiber’s interaction with the atmosphere, even after extreme humidity.



“It helps prevent friction that causes hair to frizz,” says Eric Spengler, senior vice president of research and development for Living Proof, a line sold in both professional and consumer outlets. The Living Proof No Frizz Straight Styling line is designed to make it easier to and faster to blow out hair, while the Wave collection helps define curls.

“These products provide an alternative to silicone and more permanent chemical treatments,” Spengler says.

Stay tuned for several new products in the coming months that will be able to give people a straighter, smoother look for several days without using chemicals.

Hair Extensions



With hair extensions, a client can go from curly to straight, straight to curly and from long to short. The client can even get bangs, without the long-term commitment. Extensions are available in clip-ons, which can be put on for a quick change, to strand-by-strand extensions that can last several months.

“Extensions are a great option to chemicals, whether it be texture or color,” says Kimberly Castagna, public relations assistant at SO.CAP USA Hair Extensions, a leader in the world market of producing natural and synthetic hair.

“With our extensions, people have found they can create texture that feels better and looks more natural than their own hair,” she says

Curly hair can get a smooth, elegant by pulling the hair back and adding straight extensions. Wavy and curly extensions can be added to straighter hair for a completely different look. You can also add volume without length by putting in strand-by-strand extensions, Castagna says. Extensions are being used in place of wigs by some women who have undergone chemotherapy.

“It gives them the option of looking like its their own hair,” she says.

Come Celebrate Texture! With the Leaders and Innovators of the Category

by CurlStylist on Monday, March 15th, 2010

Follow CurlStylist on Twitter and Become a Fan on Facebook for special updates on ABS.

CurlStylist, NaturallyCurly and Modern Salon are teaming up to produce one of the hottest programming events at ABS!

America’s Beauty Show is one of the world’s premiere events for stylists, taking place March 27-29 at McCormick Place in Chicago. And the Texture! panel is already generating a lot of buzz and promises to be a sellout.

Here’s the scoop on the event!

Sunday, March 28
1:00 - 4:30 p.m. #716
Admission is FREE, but space is limited!
Registration required

Pioneer Panel Discussion and Q&A
This focused event brings together Texture! pioneers for a panel discussion and Q&A on trends, techniques and education.

Laurel Smoke, MODERN SALON Editor
Michelle Breyer, co-founder


  • Ouidad: “Queen of Curl,” a pioneer in the curly world who opened the world’s first salon 26 years ago devoted to curly hair and author of “Curl Talk”
  • Jonathan Torch Jonathan Torch, founder of Toronto’s Curly Hair Institute, creator of the Curly Hair Solutions line of hair products
  • Anthony Dickey textured hair expert, author of “Hair Rules!: The Ultimate Hair-Care Guide for Women with Kinky, Curly or Wavy Hair,” and creator of the Hair Rules line of products.
  • Miko and Titi Branch creators of Miss Jessie’s line of products and owners of Miss Jessie’s Salon in Brooklyn
  • Devacurl Denis Da Silva, co-founder of the Devachan Salon and creator of the Devacurl line of products
  • KMS California Edwin Johnston
  • Mizani Veronique Morrison, Director of Education

Exclusive Research Findings!
Find out what your clients and peers think about textured hair services, styling treatments and products in a special presentation of research commissioned by MODERN SALON Media and

Special Texture! Presentations

Texture Tools and Goodies
Special samples, education materials and handouts available first come, first served.


CurlStylist will be giving away over $1,500 in prizes at the Texture Panel! Don’t miss out on these great prizes.

All you have to do is drop your business card or fill out a form to WIN 1 of 10 PRIZES! Must be present to win. Only one prize per person.

1st Place Prize: (over $500.00 value)

ShiroShears ($300.00 Value)
• Smart Heat Flat Iron 1″ by Gold N Hot ($80.00 Value)
• Smart Heat Curling Iron by Gold N Hot (variety of sizes) ($50.00 Value)
• Smart Heat Hair Dryer by Gold N Hot ($80.00 Value) tote bag
• magnet

2nd Place Prize: (over $400.00 value)

ShiroShears ($300.00 Value)
• Smart Heat Hair Dryer by Gold N Hot ($80.00 Value)
• Belson 1-1/4″ Pro AccuSilver Digital Curling Iron ($40.00 Value) tote bag
• magnet

3rd Place Prize: (over $150.00 value)

• Smart Heat Flat Iron 1″ by Gold N Hot ($80.00 Value)
• Belson 1-1/4″ Pro AccuSilver Digital Curling Iron ($40.00 Value) tote bag
• magnet

4th-10th Place Prizes: (over $60.00 value)

• Smart Heat Curling Iron by Gold N Hot (variety of sizes) ($50.00 Value) tote bag
• magnet

Check Out Our Sponsors

  • Mizani
  • Joico
  • Curly Hair Solutions
  • Miss Jessies
  • Ouidad
  • Phytospecific
  • KMS California
  • Pureology
  • Hair Rules

How to Choose the Curly Hair Products that Fit Your Needs

by Lilly Rockwell on Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Styling Hutch in Plano, Texas, has made a name for itself for its expertise in cutting curly hair. So when owner Claudia Phillips was looking for a line of products to use and sell at her salon, she wanted to make sure she chose one that covered the gamut of clients who walked through her door — from wavy to super kinky.

After using products by Ouidad, a New York stylist who has been a pioneer in curly hair care, she decided to get her salon certified to use Ouidad products and cutting techniques. Phillips says she tried several lines, but across the board, nothing else compared to Ouidad.

“The fact that I can use the whole line for all of our clients was my major consideration,” Phillips says. “There was something for everyone, and it really works. Clients go out looking good, which makes us look good. People come from the other side of the Dallas Metroplex to buy more products.”

Walk into a random selection of salons, and you’ll see that the hair-care products stylists use vary dramatically. Their product choices often are influenced on such factors as the type of salon a stylist works for, the season, the clientele, environmental leanings, nearby competitors and even the economy.

For many stylists, picking which products to use can be an overwhelming task. How do you cut through the marketing hype to pick which products to offer clients and which ones to discard? Stylists say this task is made especially difficult when dealing with curly hair. A product that works well with wavy hair won’t necessarily help someone who has tight corkscrew-shaped curls. And often the choice may go beyond the product to the type of support a company offers, such as training.

aveda be curly hair products

Some salons carry one line, such as Aveda, exclusively.

In some cases, a stylists may work for a salon affiliated with a certain line of products, such as Aveda, Redken or Bumble and bumble. Others stylists may have more leeway, picking products based on the preferences of their clientele and their own personal likes and dislikes. That may mean picking and choosing products from a variety of brands to find the products that meet particular needs.

Some stylists have intricate methods they go about to select hair-care products.

Teresa Callen, who opened her Menlo Park, Calif.-based Image Arts Salon this year, said she frequently receives sample shipments of new hair-care products and sends some time through them to decide which ones to use. But this can be a chore, she says.

“When you work with a product you have to know it as intimately as the lines on the back of your hand,” explains Callen, who has worked as a hair stylist for more than 25 years and specializes in cutting curly hair. “Some of it is trial and error.”

Callen acknowledges she has made “a ton of mistakes” over the years.

“I first use them on my head, then I have my friends use them,” Callen says.

This process takes two to three weeks, and then her friends deliver what they don’t use and provide feedback. She also has a few select clients try the samples.

“Some clients are brilliant at giving feedback and they love to get new products,” she said.

jessicurl hair products

Jessicurl is among the lines Teresa Callen sells in her salon.

Callen currently offers Jessicurl and DevaCurl products, but keeps a close watch on which products sell faster than others. If sales drop “so bad I can’t move it off the shelf,” Callen’s solution is simple: she stops carrying it.

Picking the right product line can really enhance your business, Callen says, bringing in customers that are loyal to that brand. “In the long run, it can be lucrative,” to stick with a certain product line, she says.

Other hair stylists prefer to switch it up, bringing in new lines to attract clients.

That was the case for American Mortals Salon, a 9-year-old salon in Philadelphia. Co-owner Kimberly Bond says she tried a wide variety of product lines before pursuing Bumble and bumble, after watching one of the company’s “Hair Stories” videos, which documented the company’s history.

“We were riveted,” says Bond. “It was the first time my husband (co-owner of the salon) ever related to something like this. It was amazing to witness a company that had a culture so similar to our own culture. They created a product line based of need from their stylists’ experiences.”

American Mortals made the switch three years ago, and retail sales have responded dramatically, tripling from what it was before they became affliated with Bumble.

“We’re selling more retail than we ever sold before, and we have better access to training,” said Bond, who is a big fan of the company’s Curl Conscious line for curly hair.

Hair stylist Cristin Armstrong, who works at New York City-based Takamichi Salon, loves to try new products.

“I try to keep current and ask my clients what they are using,” she says. “I’m always curious what people are using and what is new.” Armstrong spends time researching new products as well, pouring over reviews online and flipping through style magazines to learn about new products.

Hair stylists said they learn a lot about new products by asking their clients what they use. If they hear a certain name pop up frequently, stylists say they will try it out on their own hair and look into carrying it at their salon.

Some stylists prefer to develop and sell their own products, a trend that has been particularly apparent in the curly niche. Curly hair guru Jonathan Torch, who opened the Toronto-based Curly Hair Institute in 2005, has designed his own product line Curly Hair Solutions.

Torch said developing the product line was key to improving his business. If somebody has curly hair, it needs cutting very seldom, while straight-haired customers may need their hair cut more frequently. Curly-haired customers are more apt to buy styling products and targeted shampoos and conditioners more often, he said.

Salons and stylists that cater to both curly and straight hair say they must offer a wide range of products for their clientele because their needs vary.

Tiffany Anderson-Taylor is in charge of retail sales for Essentials, the St. Petersburg, Fla. salon where she works.

“The lines we carry we felt were more appropriate to handle everybody’s needs,” she said.

Her salon carries DevaCurl, Aquage and Brocato product lines.

“Deva was one of the first to stand up and say ‘look, curly hair is different and you need to respect it for being different,’ ” she said.

In some cases, the decision is based on more than just the product in the bottles. It may be the brand recognition, the business support or the training that help a stylist or salon make the decision to choose one brand over another.

Bond was attracted to the business support Bumble provided as well as the continuing education. “You could see they really supported their salons,” she says.

Being a Ouidad-certified salon has helped The Styling Hutch attract clientele from around the country, says Phillips.

“That affiliation gives us credibility among our curly clients that we know what we’re doing with curly hair,” Phillips says.

Sometimes a salon has to take competitive factors into consideration, such as diversion. This refers to the controversial practice of professional hair-care products finding their way into grocery stores and pharmacies because of lax distribution processes. Walk into any supermarket, and there will be an aisle full of brands that used to be found exclusively at salons — a trend that angers stylists and cuts into their bottom line.

Essentials will only offer products that can’t be bought at your local supermarket, which enhances the allure of the salon, Anderson-Taylor said.

Now that many consumers are paying attention to how “green” their purchasing habits are, many stylists prefer to offer products made organically. Stylists say it’s important to read the product labels to figure out which products truly adhere to organic principles and which don’t.

Cala Renee, who runs her own salon in Beverly, Mass., says she carries the DevaCurl line in to cater to her curly-haired clientele, but also liked the product line’s emphasis on natural plant-based ingredients.

“I searched for a line that is all organic,” said Renee, whose salon specializes in curly hair.


Cala Renee carries Sukesha products in her salon.

She also carries Sukesha, which contains no sulfates and focuses on plant-based natural ingredients. And she offers the Aquage line, which uses organic ingredients from seaweed and algae extract. “I’m trying to go as green as possible.”

Representatives visit her salon every two weeks, she says, pushing new products. Like many stylists, she uses the products on herself first before she’ll consider using them on her clients.

Still, no matter how great a product is, if it’s too pricey, she doesn’t offer it, adding that a salon’s price ceiling can change depending on its location. She also monitors what her competitors are carrying and at what prices.

With all the attention Renee pays to the products she carries, she said she still isn’t sure that they ultimately drive clients to choose her salon over others.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s the product line that gets the people into the salon,” Renee said. “I think it’s the reputation of the hair-cutting and curly hair specialists.”

She hesitates a moment and adds, “And then, they love the Deva.”

The Benefits of Picking a Niche

by Lilly Rockwell on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

cutting curly hair

Stylists have found picking a niche works well for their business.

Hair stylist Tiffany Anderson-Taylor’s weekends at her St. Petersburg, Fla. salon are booked a month in advance. She has clients fly in from far-flung states such as Arizona just to get their curly hair cut.

Not bad for a stylist who only got her hair-cutting license two years ago.

Anderson-Taylor credits her popularity to her decision to focus exclusively on cutting curly hair.

“There are so few of us that anyone who has a passion and is serious about doing a good job can do really well,” Anderson-Taylor said.

Picking a niche, whether it is cutting curly hair or a focus on hair coloring, helps to build a loyal clientele willing to pay top dollar for an expert.

“Whether you’re a curly hair specialist or not, you have to get your name out there and differentiate yourself,” Anderson-Taylor said.

Hair stylists suggest if curly hair isn’t your thing, try your hand at coloring or perfecting the art of an intricate up-do. Stylists who have chosen a niche say that it has helped grow their business and helped them better weather down financial times.

Specializing in curly haircuts and styles is especially popular because there is a growing demand for this expertise as straightening becomes less popular.

“Curly girls have always found me wherever I work,” said Teresa Callen, owner of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Image Arts Salon. “It’s so rare for people to be good at it. Up until five years ago, it was terrible to be someone who specialized in curly and wavy hair. Right now curls are becoming the height of style.”

In the 1990s straight hair was popular and “it was hard to get clients,” Callen said. But in 2000, curly hair really began to catch on, she added. The demand has only increased since then, and Callen said her appointments fill up months in advance.

“Loyal doesn’t begin to describe a curly-haired girl when you do her right,” said hair stylist Laura Vendetti, who runs Fairhope, Ala.-based Laura Hair Co. “They are by far the most loyal clients I have.”

Although Vendetti also cuts straight hair, she said her curly-haired clients are more likely to be repeat customers. Because many beauty schools don’t offer training on curly hair, a stylist who can learn to cut curly hair well is in high demand.

A growing number of stylists are seeking out special training in curly hair cutting. Curly hair expert Lorraine Massey, the author of “Curly Girl,” and the creator of the Deva line of hair care products, offers training at her salon in New York.

Others teach themselves. Curly-haired Vendetti remembers the hairdresser who “butchered” her hair as a child, and it inspired her to perfect the curly hair cut. Anderson-Taylor practiced on friends and models and had them post reviews of her skills on Web sites like in order to gain more clients.

“Having a niche is important,” said hair stylist Cristin Armstrong, who works at the New York City-based Takamichi Salon. She specializes in cutting curly hair, but works at a salon that works with all hair types. “The curly hair thing has been a really good niche for me because it has helped me build my clientele.”

When picking a niche, find something you feel comfortable doing, Armstrong said. Often curly hair stylists have curly or wavy hair themselves. Others simply gravitate toward the challenge of a curly hair cut or the accuracy that straight hair demands.

“I feel like I have an understanding of it,” Armstrong said. “I understand texture. I like creating simple styles they can create at home.”

She adds that specializing in curly hair helps her stand out in New York City’s crowded, competitive salon landscape.

Some hair stylists have managed not only to make curly hair their specialty, but also have built entire salons that focus on curly hair. Jonathan Torch founded the Toronto-based Curly Hair Institute in 2005, a salon that only cuts and colors curly hair. He also has developed an extensive line of curly-hair products. He said curly hair has always been his passion, and finds the different sizes, shapes, and textures of curly hair fascinating.

“You can’t just wake up one day and open a curly hair salon,” Torch said. “You really have to love it.”

For Torch, developing an expertise in curly hair isn’t about making money, though his salon is doing very well. He likens it to therapy, helping people who have never had a “solution” to taming their curly manes.

“The minute I discovered it, I gravitated toward it because it’s such a rewarding feeling,” says Torch.

The Art of Cutting Curly Hair

by Michelle Breyer on Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Jonathan Torch

Jonathan Torch

Toronto stylist Jonathan Torch, founder of the Curly Hair Solutions line of products, says he never thought he’d become an expert on cutting curly hair. But he had one curly-headed customer with bulky, unmanageable hair and he made it his mission to find a cut that could help her get the haircut she desired.

What Torch discovered was that he didn’t need to cut every strand of hair. He needed to cut the pieces that could reduce the bulk, but cut them in a way that was invisible to the eye. And he needed to be able to cut these same pieces every time she came in.

“You have to look at each curl as an individual,” Torch says. “I worked on a system I could customize for each person.”

So Torch began to study curly hair. He studied the way it looked wet and dry; he worked with tight curls and loose waves. He learned about shrinkage and frizz and curl formation. He learned how to create different layers of ringlets. He learned to play with the hair to see what it wanted to do. And he learned to throw some old ideas out the window — ideas that were the holy grail for cutting straight hair.

“You can’t cut curly hair accurately,” Torch says. “Learning to break the rules and to cut hair unevenly is foreign to hairdressers. You have to change your whole thought process.”

It has happened to all of us curlyheads at least once. We encounter a stylist who swears she can cut curly hair, only to have our hair end up too short, too uneven, too puffy or just altogether an unmanageable mess.

In too many cases, the problem stems from bad training or a lack of training altogether. Most beauty schools don’t have the time to teach stylists how to work with curly hair. So many stylists attempt to cut curls just as they would straight hair or wavy hair. And they learn the hard way that it just doesn’t work.



“Schools don’t teach how to cut curly hair,” says Ouidad, the “Queen of Curl,” who developed a carve-and-slice technique to cut curly hair.

But a growing number of stylists have developed their own techniques for cutting curls — techniques learned through years of studying and working with hundreds of curlyheads. What they have found is that to cut curly hair well is as much an art as it is a science.

“There’s a period of illumination that happens when people realize they can cut curly hair,” says Chris Baran, global artistic director for design at Redken International. “They discover the beauty that goes on with it.”

Baran says the key to cutting curls is to think of the head of hair as positive and negative space. With positive, you can’t see through it. With negative, you can.

“That’s what gives the hair the degree of sensuality — that edge that people with straight hair don’t have,” Baran he says. “The trick is figuring out how to cut it to put it in.”

Austin stylist David Moreno, who has developed a large and loyal following of curlyheaded clients, says he likes to cut curly hair dry because wet hair can be deceiving. As he cuts, he creates an imaginary shape, cutting the hair outside of that shape, creating invisible layers. He likes to cut the hair on an angle to encourage the curl to wrap around itself. He’s a firm believer that every hair doesn’t need to be cut every time — a philosophy he calls his “Bonsai Theory.”

“What we’re trying to do is get texture,” Moreno says.

Stylists well versed in ringlets have learned about shrinkage and have developed their own techniques to adjust for it.

John Blaine, a stylist at Yutaka Salon in West Hollywood, says likes to start cutting with the hair wet, but finishes with it dry. He only cuts half as much as he would with straight hair.

“You can really see how much shrinkage there is with the hair,” he says.

Some techniques absolutely don’t work with curls. Layers may turn into ledges. A texturizing razor may create a dreadful headful of frizz if used on tight curls. Without the right shape, a head of curls can look like a pyramid.

“You can’t cut curly hair blunt,” Ouidad says. “You have to cut it in angles.”

Not every stylist is well suited to cutting curls, Torch says.

“They become frustrated by tangles, by the dryness, by the unpredictability,” he says. “With straight hair, they can get that one bang to fall into that same position every single day. But that curly hair may never go into that position again. For people with curly hair, control is never going to happen.”

“I can’t train a stylist until they develop a passion for curly hair,” Torch says.

Younger hairdressers, he says, seem more eager and less fearful of working with curls. They have also grown up at a time when curls are more prevalent in Hollywood and on the fashion runways. They see them as something to play up rather than something to fight, he says.

“The next generation of hairdressers may not be afraid of curly hair,” he says.

Kelli McClain, a stylist with INNU in Austin, has developed just such a passion for curly hair.

“In school we learned the bare minimum,” McClain says. “The mannequins in school all have straight hair.”

So the curlyhead has taught herself how to work with curls.

“It’s like sculpting — like trimming shrubbery,” McClain says. “You have to cut it and see where it falls. You have to cut the right hairs and look at it from all different angles.”

Even those considered the best at cutting curls say they are continually learning new things.

“The past 10 years, I’ve learned how to control the bulk and create a perfect canvas,” Torch says. “The next few years, I want to start playing around with design to come up with fresh styles for curly hair.”

The Mane Manual
for Curl Philosophies

by Teri Evans on Saturday, May 30th, 2009

The options seem endless. Do you shampoo your clients using a sulfate-free cleanser? Should you cut curls wet or dry? Should you forego the flat iron forever? Confused yet?

There are a growing number of philosophies to consider when caring for clients’ curls.

Rest easy — we cut through the clutter and gathered the top experts in the curly world for their bottom-line stance on cutting, cleansing and styling.

These curl experts have invested decades in studying and styling curly hair. Their life’s mission revolves around curls! Although their approaches may differ, their goal is the same: creating gorgeous, healthy curls for their clients.

 shari harbinger


Shari Harbinger, partner of Lorraine Massey of New York’s Devachan Salon

CUT: When stylists at Devachan Salon prep for a curly cut, they know to trust their intuitive eye and their visual eye.

“You can’t really understand that if the hair is wet because you’re not seeing the hair as you wear it, in its natural form, which is dry,” says Shari Harbinger, who emphasizes that curls should be cut only when the hair is dry.

When curlies make an appointment at Devachan, they’re asked to stop shampooing their curly locks one to two weeks before their cut, although daily conditioning is recommended. When they step into the stylist’s chair, clients are required to arrive with their hair dry and in its natural state, uncombed and without any products in it at all.

“We look at the face shape, the hair, the curl type, the hydration level, and all those factors will determine where we cut, and how much we cut,” Harbinger adds.

The only tools in a Devachan curly cut are scissors and the stylist’s hands — no combs or brushes.

“Combs aren’t necessary because you’re then stretching the curl out of its natural form, which defeats the whole purpose of cutting curly hair in its natural order,” she says.

CLEANSE & CONDITION: Curly hair can’t get enough moisture, and Harbinger says sulfates in shampoos add to the dehydration of curly locks.

“The philosophy is to remove the sulfates from the product, which are the harsh, lathering and dehydrating ingredients found in 99 percent of the conventional shampoo on the market,” says Harbinger, noting DevaCurl’s product line includes No-Poo, a sulfate-free botanical cleanser. “Just by virtue of eliminating those sulfates and replacing them with botanically derived ingredients, the hair responds immediately.”

If curls are extremely dehydrated, she recommends conditioning every day. For a deeper treatment, Harbinger recommends leaving in the daily conditioner for a half hour to intensify the hydration.

“But you can cleanse every other day because our styling products have nothing synthetic in them to cause buildup or to make the hair feel dirty,” Harbinger says.

STYLE: The styling process begins the moment you’ve stepped out of the shower, Harbinger says.

“Gently tilt your head over, in an upside down position, and squeeze the excess water out of the hair with paper towels or a cotton t-shirt in an upward scrunching motion,” Harbinger says. “Regular towels cause friction and cause the cuticle of curly hair to fray and appear frizzy. They also absorb too much water out of the hair. For the best curl definition, you want to remove just enough water to release the curl of its own water weight and that’s best done by using a paper towel.”

Once you’ve applied a leave-in conditioner and/or gel, then gently bring your head and hair to an upright position and gently shake the curls.

“Wherever they lay, they shall stay,” says Harbinger, who recommends adding clips to the crown for additional lift. “Do not touch the curls when they’re drying because that can create frizz and cause the curl to lose its formation.”

As for flat irons, Harbinger views them as a “death sentence for all hair.”

“Every time you flat iron or ‘blow fry’ the hair, you’re one step further away from your curls being the best they can be,” Harbinger explains. “You’re compromising the elasticity of the curl. The curls will never be as authentic as they can be if they’re in a push-me, pull-me cycle or back and forth.”

Harbinger emphasizes that curly hair is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle.

“If we understand what we have and how to work with it, we can learn to embrace and love our curls,” she says.


Christo, Artistic Director of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue Salon

CUT: Christo has always believed curly hair should be cut wet.

“Curly hair, when you cut it dry, won’t have the freedom of style,” Christo says. “You may wear your hair curly 90 percent of the time, but maybe the other 10 percent, you want to wear your hair in glamorous waves or you want to blow it straight. I think you should have that option.”

Your textured mane should only be combed (wide-tooth comb only!) when it’s wet and then allowed to bounce back, according to Christo. “That way you can see how the curl is going to bounce, and then you cut accordingly,” he explains. “If the hair is dry, how is it going to bounce? It doesn’t.”

Since there may be many textures on one curly head, Christo may choose to texturize tresses using regular scissors, channel scissors or a double-blade razor on wavy, coarse hair.

“Some people have wavy hair on the bottom, while it’s curly on the top, so you can texturize the bottom in long angle layers, but you have to know to know what you’re doing,” Christo says. “You want the waves to lock into each other — not become bushy and frizzy.”

After the hair is cut and then dried with a diffuser, Christo may make a few touch-up snips on a dry mane, but without combing the hair or disturbing the curl.

CLEANSE & CONDITION: Christo emphasizes that life is about balance — and he applies that philosophy to curly hair. As an advocate of shampoo, Christo views sulfates in shampoo as simply one cleansing component, balanced with other nourishing ingredients, such as proteins and amino acids.

“I think your hair needs shampoo once or twice a week,” Christo says. “The reason is this: It’s not only to remove the buildup that you get from products, etc. There’s also the buildup you get from the environment, which is so dirty.”

He’s also a firm believer in deep conditioners, and recommends feeding your curls with a conditioning treatment or mask once a week — or twice a week, if you color your curls.

STYLE: To style curly locks, Christo divides the hair in four or five sections.

“If you want to make it easy, clip each section so it’s not in your way,” he says. “Then, take one section at a time, and apply the lotion or gel according to your texture. Then, run your fingers through your hair, shake it a little bit or scrunch it to get the curl to bounce back.”

If you want to smooth it with a flat iron for a different look, Christo warns curlies not to overdo it.

“Use it with balance, once in a while,” he says. “If you use the flat iron once a month it will not damage your hair, but if you use it two or three times a week, that doesn’t work.”

And if you have a daily addiction to the iron, Christo says there’s no way to avoid damaging your hair, no matter how much you condition it.



Jonathan Torch, of Toronto’s Curly Hair Institute

CUT: Jonathan Torch studies curly hair when it’s dry to look at the direction the hair grows, but he always cuts hair when it’s wet.

“That way I can see the grouping of the curls and the way the curls bounce,” Torch says. “We look at the individual curls and choose the size of the curl. In order to make a ringlet, the hair has to rotate 2.5 times, otherwise you get wings.”

Since every curly head has more than one curl pattern, Torch recommends against traditional layers for curly hair.

“Even layers do not work in curly hair,” Torch says. “We have developed a technique called curly layers, and it’s all about creating unevenness, breaking it up.”

If you’re looking for height, volume or bounce, Torch suggests telling your stylist exactly that.

“You have to change your terminology. If you want volume, say you want volume. Don’t say you want layers because you’re going to be upset with the result,” Torch warns.

CLEANSE & CONDITION: Cleansing your curls with shampoo is an important step to maintaining healthy hair, according to Torch, whose shampoos contain sulfates, along with silk amino acids.

“We chose silk amino acids as our moisturizing protein because it has the tiniest molecule,” Torch says. “The size of the molecule is essential, because the smaller the molecule the deeper the penetration of absorption. The most important thing is getting that moisture molecule inside the hair.”

When conditioning your curls, he says it’s not as simple as “laying it on thick.”

“Just because a conditioner is thicker in consistency doesn’t make it a better-performing product,” Torch explains. “People like the heaviness because they feel it’s actually going to be doing something, but in reality, it may be only cosmetic.”

How a conditioner performs depends on its ability to penetrate and help the hair hold onto the moisture, according to Torch.

“Naturally curly hair repels moisture, so how do you condition hair that is repelling moisture? Our conditioners have pH levels of 3.5 to 4 — that’s extremely low. The lower the pH, the more you’re going to close the cuticle,” Torch says. “Our products deposit generous amounts of silk amino acids and panthenol.”

STYLE: Even if you have healthy hair and a great curly cut, you won’t truly embrace your curls until you master the styling process. The key to achieving a successful style, Torch says, is not how well you dry your hair. It’s how well you prepare your hair before it dries.

“You have to start off with tangle-free hair, and the more hair you group in an individual ringlet the looser the curls,” Torch explains. “If you want your hair off your face, you have to get it back off your face from the roots. If you can get the roots going in a certain direction then you can get successful hair. Allowing the cuticle to dry on its own will guarantee frizz-free hairstyles.”



Ouidad, author of CurlTalk, owner of New York’s Ouidad Salon, the Curl Education Center

CUT: Using her “Carve-and-Slice” method, Ouidad always cuts curly hair when it’s wet.

“Curly hair doesn’t dry the same, so it’s very difficult to cut it dry. You need to know the curvature of the curl in its natural state,” Ouidad says.

The Carve-and-Slice cut is a process that follows the curvature of the curl, and Ouidad says it allows the curls to puzzle into each other so they don’t expand.

“I section the pieces and shake the curls between my fingers so I can see the wave pattern and the curvature of the curl,” she explains.

CLEANSE & CONDITION: Ouidad believes shampoo (including sulfates) is “essential” for healthy hair.

“It’s very important to shampoo twice a week and apply conditioner daily, starting about two inches from the root so you’re not blocking the pores of the scalp,” she says.

Although Ouidad warns against shampooing too frequently, she emphasizes the importance of cleansing the oils from the scalp to allow the hair follicle to breathe.

“My philosophy is to work from the inside out — not topically” Ouidad says. “The idea is to rebuild the internal layer by connecting your internal molecular layer with protein, amino acid and sulfur — that’s what my deep treatments are made of. The idea is to feed the curls by using deep treatments on a regular basis. They’re essential to have successful curly hair. Curly hair can’t live without deep treatments, it just doesn’t work.”

And don’t forget that leave-in conditioner before you start styling, she adds.

STYLE: When it comes to styling, Ouidad believes that less is more.

“The less you handle and manipulate your curl, the more successful you’ll be with your hair,” she explains.

Use only water-soluble styling products, and skip the oils, waxes and silicones that boost buildup, Ouidad says.

When applying gel or styling lotion, she follows her “shake and rake” technique, which uses your fingers to “rake” through the hair, and then “shake” the curl pattern back into place.

“Section the hair starting in the nape area and use a quarter-size of gel, rubbing the palms together,” Ouidad explains. “Separate the fingers and run them through the hair. The more hair between your fingers, the looser the curl will be. Then, hold it at the bottom and just shake it.”

To add some lift to the crown, she suggests sliding a few duckbill clips at the roots, allowing the curls to cascade down freely and dry naturally.

Why Do Products
Stop Working?

by Michelle Breyer on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009


You’ve probably heard it dozens of times from clients. They finally find their Holy Grail styling product or conditioner. It gives us the shiny, defined ringlets we’ve longed for. Then, overnight, it stops working. Their curls turn to frizz. Their hair feels like straw. They want you to tell them why?

Has their hair become immune to the product?

The unanimous answer is no. If a product isn’t giving the same results it once did, the culprits could be product buildup, hormonal changes, environmental damage and even the weather.

“There are many reasons why products can seem to stop working,” says curl expert Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue.

A major culprit is product buildup, and improper cleansing.

“You can have too much of a good thing, especially with products designed to control and give weight to curls,” says Ethan Shaw, a curly hair specialist at Ann Kelso Salon + CitySpa in Austin, Texas. “Eventually they can leave a substantial film on the hair.”

A clarifying shampoo. or a vinegar rinse, should be used once or twice a month to remove buildup from products. Products that contain oil, silicones and waxes are especially susceptible to buildup, creating a barrier that can prevent products from doing what they are supposed to do.

Jonathan Torch of the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto, Canada, says protein can also affect how products work over time.

“Some proteins can cause the hair to become brittle, and can cause breakage if they build up,” Torch says. “The smaller the protein molecule, the deeper the penetration into the hair. The larger the molecule, the easier it is for it to buildup as the protein adheres to the outside of the hair shaft.”

Seasonal changes can have a major impact on the effectiveness of products.

“The weather does have a huge effect on how your looks, and how products seem to work,” Shaw says. “Humidity, or lack thereof, can give or take away curls.”

Many times, people may not realize their hair texture has changed over time. It may become coarser, curlier or thinner. Hair tends to change every seven years.

In some cases, the length or style of the hair may change over time, requiring different types of products. A light gel that may have worked perfectly in a short curly style may not be heavy enough for longer ringlets.

“Just think of how different your hair was compared to when you were a kid,” Shaw says. “It’s natural for your hair to get more or less curly, and more or less coarse, especially with gray hair.”

Because of that , the formula of a person’s styling products will have to change as well as the way she uses them, Christo says.

If you’ve been using the same products for several years, and have noticed a change in how they work, consult with your stylist. There may be different products better suited to the changing needs of your hair.

Ouidad, of the New York curl salon Ouidad, believes it’s a fallacy that people need to change their products over time — a creative marketing strategy perpetuated by product manufacturers trying to sell more products. She said she constantly tests her products on her clients and on herself, and she believes good products continue to perform over time.

“When there is a change in the way it works, it is most likely from an extenuating circumstance, such as a medical condition or a chemical process such as color or straightening,” Ouidad says.

The Kindest Cut

Wet, Dry or a Combo?

by Michelle Breyer on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

cutting hair

Some stylists prefer to cut wet hair; others like dry.

Christo believes cutting the hair wet gives his clients more options. Austin stylist Georgia Bramhall of Pink Salon cuts all of her curly clients’ hair dry.

“It shows me their real hair and what it naturally wants to do,” Bramhall says. “When it’s wet, it totally changes into something different. If it’s wet, it’s practically straight.”

Mia Fanali of D. Sabrina Salon in Westport, Conn. never cuts hair dry.

“When you comb out the curl and you try to cut it dry, it won’t fall that way again.,” Fanali says. “I also like to get all the dead ends off — from the perimeter to the layers. When you cut the hair dry, it doesn’t give you that opportunity.”

Scottsdale, Ariz. stylist Victor Sabino always starts off his curly cuts on dry hair to get a basic shape. Then he shampoos it and cleans it up when it’s wet.

“Then I dry it and finish up the cut from there,” Sabino says.

Three stylists. Three different philosophies about whether curls should be cut wet or dry. It’s no wonder curlies are confused.

Curl experts all are passionate about their techniques, whether they cut the hair wet, dry, wet into dry, dry into wet, or some other variation on the theme.

Cutting hair dry is not a new concept. Many hairstylists over the years have used variations of dry haircutting techniques. The late John Sahag is generally considered to be the pioneer in the the dry-cut technique. Sahag, who advocated the shift to dry cutting in the late 1970s, believed that when the hair is cut dry, it creates a natural shape according to the way the hair grows, enabling the stylist to remove bulk and weight to create movement and dimension. Wet hair, he believed, did not allow for natural inconsistencies.

In recent times, one of the biggest proponents of cutting curls dry is “Curly Girl” author Lorraine Massey of Devachan Salon in New York. All stylists at Devachan Salon cut curls dry.

Lorraine Massey

All stylists at Devachan Salon, including Lorraine Massey, cut curls dry.

“Unless a stylist can see how much spring there is in your curls, he won’t understand your hair and he’s likely to cut too much when it’s wet, only to discover that fact after your hair dries,” Massey writes in her book “Curly Girl.”

Rosie Da Silva of Devachan Salon likes to cut her client’s hair curl by curl.

“I can’t do that with dry hair,” Da Silva says. “You have to feel the texture. When you cut curly hair wet, you’re not really seeing how it’s going to look.”

New York stylist Jose Valdez has been cutting hair dry for the past 15 years. He believes it enables him to sculpt the hair, chiseling away to create shapes with dimension and balance.

“Why not cut hair dry?” Valdez says. “You do, after all, wear your hair dry. Cutting the hair dry lets me see exactly how your hair will fall as you’re wearing it. I can create perfect angles that not only accentuate your best features, but that suit your personality as well.”

Stylists who cut curly hair wet also have valid reasons why they prefer to do it that way.

Jonathan Torch of the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto says he prefers to cut curly hair wet because he can manipulate the curls and read the ringlets.

“When I work with dry hair, the more I play with it, the bigger it gets,” Torch says.

If a person has a combination of loose and tight curls, Torch said he might cut the looser curls dry to help them blend it with the rest of the hair.

“Then I wash the hair and do the full design,” Torch says.

Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue believes cutting the hair wet gives his clients more options.

“You can wear it curly, wavy or straight,” Christo says. “I may make adjustments when the hair is dry, but I never cut a full haircut on dry hair.”

Dustin David of the Dustin David Salon in Los Gatos, Calif. takes a customized approach to his clients. For clients with tight curls, he cuts it dry, shampoos and styles it and then cuts it again. For clients with looser, wavier curls who wear their hair both curly and straight, he irons it straight and cuts it flat ironed. If the curls are looser and the client always wears her hair curly, David cuts it wet.

“To me, each person is an individual,” David says. “No matter how similar their hair seems, the cut needs to be customized to take into account their texture, density, length and lifestyle.”

All stylists stressed the importance of having the client come in with their dry and styled so they get a realistic look at the the curl pattern.

“Before I do the haircut, I analyze the curl, analyze the volume, touch the hair to see how much it expands,” Torch says. “But I couldn’t even imagine cutting curly hair dry.”

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