Posts Tagged ‘Lorraine Massey’

Lorraine Massey Charming Over Sushi

by Ivan Zoot/The Clipper Guy on Monday, February 21st, 2011

ivan zoot

Ivan Zoot is the director of education and customer engagement for the Andis Company and the founder of Zoot! Hair professional hair care products. Ivan identifies, recruits, trains and manages Andis’s team of professional beauty industry educators. Ivan continues to be a featured presenter at industry shows and events, sharing his unique blend of information, education and enthusiasm for clipper cutting and the entire professional beauty industry. Ivan’s background includes experiences ranging from salon ownership to achieving 3 Guinness World Haircutting records. Here, he shares his cutting and business-building expertise.

On a recent trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of dining with curly hair queen, Lorraine Massey of DevaCurl and “Curly Girl” fame. We enjoyed a wonderful assortment of sushi and lively exchange about the world of curly hair.

I certainly was way overmatched in the curly knowledge department, yet it was fun to get to know her a bit and experience first hand the energy and creative drive behind this powerful and successful brand in the curly hair game.

Lorraine gifted me a signed copy of her newly updated book “Curly Girl, The Handbook.” I was already a fan of the first edition. I even had multiple copies on hand in my shop for loan to curly clients. This second edition is a fresh update on her curly hair concepts and system. It is interesting to read the book and see how much further she and her team have developed their system for caring for curly hair. The original book predates the launch of the DevaCare product line. I thought the old edition was quite quaint with Lorraine’s recipes for homemade curly hair care products. The new book does not read like a commercial for her liquids. She has done a good job of selling the need to adopt a system and care for curly hair differently. The depth and breadth of this system and her superior knowledge does a fine job at selling her salons and her products without needing to clobber readers over the head with a sales push.

I highly recommend the book for any and all curly hair owners and for salon professionals intent on developing a curly clientele and properly caring for their curls. Surely there are other brands and approaches in the curly world. If you are to become a committed curl champion, this book is must-read material.

I will share more of what I have learned from Lorraine and about the DevaCurl world in a number of future postings.

Full disclosure: I have been engaged by the DevaCurl brand to provide limited consulting services. I am compensated for these services. This compensation does not support my writings of this blog nor does DevaCurl have any expectations relative to the Deva-related content I post here. If you have any questions regarding my paid work for Deva, please contact me via email.

Curly Guys/Gals Tell All

by Michelle Breyer on Thursday, February 4th, 2010

We asked prominent stylists to tell us about their hair and what it was like growing up with curly hair.

Diane Da Costa,

textured hair expert, Mizani multi-textured expert /creative consultant and author of “Textured Tresses”


Q:What type of texture do you have?

A: If you look on the Mizani Natural Curl Key, my hair is a combination of Type V to Type VI - very curly and coiled. I have a loose afro with medium-size coils.

Q: How did having textured hair affect you growing up? How did you feel about your hair growing up and how has that changed since you became involved in the beauty industry?

A: My entire family has natural textured hair—from loose waves to coily hair. I was very comfortable with natural hair, but always wanted my hair longer and smoother as my hair was a thick and voluminous shoulder-length soft curly-afro hair. My sisters had mid-back length, long smooth wavy and spirally curly hair. So, growing up, I was somewhat envious of their hair. And my mother didn’t know how to style my hair — it was more difficult, so she made my older sister do it. She finally made me start styling my own hair when I was about 9 years old. That’s how I started in the business as a child.

When I was about 11 years old, I went for a relaxer at the salon so I could be more like my sisters with long and wavy hair. However my hair was relaxed straight.That meant I still had a lot of work to do with my hair, blow drying, roller setting, hot curling etc.

When I got in the industry, that completely changed. I got off all my relaxers, went natural and grew out my natural hair. It was at that point that I started experimenting with all the natural, curly styles and sets my mother would do to my sisters and tried on my hair when we were children. I love my hair for all its curls and versatility. Now with all the styling products and with the ceramic tools we have today, I am able to wear my hair blown straight without any chemicals or worn naturally curly with enhancing products. In the last two to three years, I’ve enjoyed wearing my hair straight in the fall and the winter. All I have to do is wrap it, dry, blow it out slightly with MIzani ThermaSmooth System and ceramic iron. Because I live in New York and I don’t have a texturizer, I wear my hair curly with enhancing products from about April to October.

Q: What do you think are the biggest/most important/most interesting developments in the world of hair texture today?

A: It’s amazing that everyone has embraced curly hair in all fashions and forms. Taylor Swift’s long curly waves are going to be the next big look for the spring. She’s taking the music and entertainment industry by storm, and everyone’s going to want her look, whether there are using irons, sets or extensions to complete the look.

It’s also quite amazing that there in the last 10 years that so many small, independent companies have been able to develop and manufacture hair care products for naturally curly hair, with natural and organic ingredients for all hair textures. And every salon brand now has a curly line incorporated in their overall product line-up with some natural ingredients included. Twenty years ago there were only about three, there were a handful of products available. Even Mizani, the multi-textured professional brand known for relaxers and treatments, has created True Textures Curl Defining System, which launches this month.

Q: What type of products/tools and what amount of time do you spend on your hair on “curly” days and on “straight” days?

A: On curly days, I’ll shampoo and condition my hair and apply a light leave-in cream on my entire head. Then I comb through it with a wide-toothed comb. After I apply a enhancing cream/gel on my entire head, I’ll go through the hair with my fingers and finger stretch with some products, section by section. This technique, the Mizani True Textures Free Hand Styling Technique, is part of the new techniques that I have created for the True Textures Styling Collection and Techniques, which includes six styling and three cutting techniques. After, I’ll air dry or diffuse to define the curls. Sometimes, I’ll place a turban towel on my hair and let the curls set in the towel while I get dress or finish up house chores, then I’ll finger comb with a styling cream or gloss for more vibrancy. All this takes about 10 minutes.

When I wear my hair straight, I’ll have it straightened with a wrap set, blow dry and ceramic iron in the salon after a weekly shampoo and conditioning treatment. On a daily basis, if I have to refresh the style with the ceramic iron. It takes me about 20-25 minutes, including apply a gloss or styling cream and comb-out.

Q: Any other comments/observations on curly/textured hair?

A: Curly/textured hair is the most versatile, and provides the most options, whether you keep it completely natural or use a texturizer.

Kevin Murphy

Stylist, “Texture Master” and creator of the Kevin Murphy line of products


Q: What type of texture do you have? Describe your hair.

A: I have salt-and-pepper curly hair.

Q: How did having textured hair affect you growing up? How did you feel about your hair growing up and how has that changed since you became involved in the beauty industry?

A: My hair was always really big, and I always felt like a boof head. I was never able to get the style I wanted without a lot of maintenance until I began to make my own hair products, which began in my kitchen at home. I could never get the right texture for my hair and once I made what I needed, a light went on in my head and I thought hmmmm there could be something in this.

Q: What do you think are the biggest/most important/most interesting developments in the world of hair texture today?

A: When I was young you just had to go with your texture, and there really were no products or tools that helped you get what you needed. You just had to suffer looking really goofy. Now there are so many products and great styling tools. If you aren’t happy with your texture you can just go and get a product or a tool and get the hair you want (with a little work, that is).

Q: What type of products/tools and what amount of time do you spend on your hair on “curly” days and on “straight” days?

A: I don’t really have straight days, but I do spend a bit of time with a “Doo Rag.” I apply a moisture cream first and have to flatten my hair with the doo rag and wait. If I try to blow my hair dry, I look like a Bee Gee. From start to finish my hair can take up to 30 minutes, but it’s more of a waiting game.

Q: Any other comments/observations on curly/textured hair?

A: My thing with my curly hair is it has a little temper tantrum every couple of day. You have to get the right thing in at the right time otherwise it’s all over. Straight hair really looks the same every day. Even after being a hairdresser for over 30 years, I just can’t roll out of bed, if I didn’t have my own range of products dedicated to texture I’d be screwed.

Nick Arrojo


Q: What type of texture do you have? Describe your hair.

A: I have fine, curly hair. In the past I’ve worn it long, but nowadays I go for a short, cropped men’s style.

Q: How did having textured hair affect you growing up? How did you feel about your hair growing up and how has that changed since you became involved in the beauty industry?

A: I didn’t like my curly hair at all as a teenager. It was very different from most of my friends and infuriatingly difficult to manage. Most of the time, I tried to straighten it as best I could, but the results were often disastrous—especially when it rained! Since becoming a professional, I’ve learned to love my curly hair, and I encourage all clients with natural texture to wear it natural. It’s a lot better to work with your natural texture than to try to fight against it.

Q: What do you think are the biggest/most important/most interesting developments in the world of hair texture today?

A: The best thing about modern-day curly hair is how acceptable it has become in our culture to the point where it is actually revered by many. I think that’s a great leap forward for naturally textured tresses. It’s also great to see a lot of products on the market that work really well with curly hair, helping it be what it should be: bouncy, voluptuous and unique. I’ve had clients tell me the ARROJO curl crème has changed their hairstyling life. That’s got to be a good thing.

Q: What type of products/tools and what amount of time do you spend on your hair with curly vs. straight hair?

A: Right now my hair is so short that I only use one product: texture paste. I only spend two minutes working a little paste through for extra texture and definition.

Q: Any other comments/observations on curly/textured hair?

A: You should love and embrace your natural texture. It truly is unique and wonderful.

Michael Crispel

KMS California artistic team member from Earth Salon in Toronto

Q: What type of texture do you have? Describe your hair.

A: I have thick and coarse curly hair.

Q: How did having textured hair affect you growing up?

A: I was the FRO child in school and was singled out as the ethnic kid.

Q: How did you feel about your hair growing up and how has that changed since you became involved in the beauty industry?

A: As a child I wanted flat hair that was smooth so I would blend in but as I became a hair stylist I learned to embrace my hair with all the salon products that gave me so many options, from long to short textured—making my hair the most versatile of anyone in the salon.

Q: What do you think are the biggest/most important/most interesting developments in the world of hair texture today?

A: Curly products have come a long way. In the ’70s and ’80s, it was gel or mousse at best for a natural look. But now we can give hair nutrition and style in the same products.

Q: What type of products/tools and what amount of time do you spend on your hair on “curly” days and on “straight” days?

A: KMS California Curl up Control Cream, with a diffuser, for curly days and Silk Sheen Therapy Plus or straight days

Q: Any other comments/observations on curly/textured hair?

A: We curly people are the most diverse hair type in the world, and the most afraid so for all the hair salons do your home work know your clients and products and proceed with caution!

Lorraine Massey


Q: What type of texture do you have? Describe your hair.

A: I have predominantly corkscrew curls. But when it’s ultra humid, the mood ring personality of my curls can change on a whim and become “bottiscrew,” which is a mix of corkscrew and Botticelli! After pulling a curl strand to its actual length and releasing it, its spring-back factor can be as much as 6 inches! That’s why it’s a disaster when you cut curly hair wet. Anything wet expands, and when it dries, it contracts. It’s like a transformer.

Q: How did having textured hair affect you growing up? How did you feel about your hair growing up and how has that changed since you became involved in the beauty industry?

A: I was so young when I figured out “this is it!” me, my curls and I till death do we part! But I was not happy about it until later in life. We curlies are not born loving our hair. We have to learn to love it and if we are lucky to find a curl sponsor who will encourage us on our unavoidably curly path—that is priceless! As a child, the teasing and name calling didn’t help either with comments like “with hair like that you don’t notice her ankles”!

Q: What do you think are the biggest/most important/most interesting developments in the world of hair texture today?

A: The Devafuser is truly unique and efficient in its design and makes so much “logiCURL” sense! I don’t think there are any other developments at the moment—just regurgitated sameness but packaged differently. It’s all geared to make you feel you are not quite good enough to really have and love what you are born with!

Q: What type of products/tools and what amount of time do you spend on your hair on “curly” days and on “straight” days?

A: Frizz and curly hair is still severely misunderstood! Unruly is a word I hear all the time in the media, and I do not like it! As they say in text book, “unruly children are looking for consistency.” Same goes for curls! When your consistent in your approach, you get consistency back. I started to love my curls the day i stopped shampooing! So no shampoo equals no sulfates. Add superior conditioners and alcohol and silicone free gels. Love me as I am and do not disturb curls in progress.

The only straight I do is talk straight or straight to bed (but always curly to rise). I am a 100 percnet committed Curly Girl, and I spend such little time on my curls because fuss equals frizz. For me it’s about truly radiCurl simplicity.

Q: Any other comments/observations on curly/textured hair?

A: When the word “texturized” is applied to natural textured hair, it really concerns me since curly hair is nothing but texture naturally, and with what I have observed over the last 10 years by committing to the natural selection, is what can happen naturally in the hair is far more beautiful than anything I can manufacture, “ManuFracture” or impose upon! It’s very humbling and goes against all we in the hair biz have been trained to do!



Q: What type of texture do you have? Describe your hair.

A: I have a combination of tight and loose curls. When I was younger my hair was so thick that if I ran my hands through it, I would lose any rings I had on my fingers.

Q: How did texture hair affect you growing up? How did you feel about your hair growing up and how has that changed since you became in the beauty industry?

A: I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon where everyone has beautiful curly hair of all shapes and sizes and color. It was the norm! When I came to the United States, people would make fun of my sister’s and my curls and no one knew how to work with curls or how to handle them.

This motivated me to be the pioneer of the curly hair industry by establishing the first salon dedicated to curly hair and creating the first product line specifically for curls. Since I started my curly hair crusade 25 years ago, the curly hair segment has grown tremendously and a lot more attention is paid to it.

Q: What do you think are the biggest/most important/most interesting developments in the world of texture today?

A: Today texture is celebrated - it’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s sexy. IT has a language of its own and it’s sought after in all aspects of fashion, beauty and design.

Q: What type of products/tools, and what amount of time do you spend on your hair on “curly” days and on “straight” days?

A: What’s a “straight” day? I only have one kind of day with my hair - CURLY! It takes 5 minutes to do my hair, and it lasts for two to three days. I use a range of my [Ouidad] products and my Double DetanglerTM both as a comb and as a styling tool for my hair. The sky’s the limit with my Double Detangler - it gives me the opportunity to create any type of curl or wave pattern.

Q: Any other comments/observations on curly/textured hair?

A: I believe textured/curly hair is regal and the most beautiful hair in the world. It has so much dimension and plays up the features of its owner.



Q: What are the different textures of hair and how can you determine which texture you have? Once you do, how can you figure out how to best care for your texture?

A: Texture can easily be broken down by kinky, curly wavy or straight. To really confuse you, most people have multiple textures on on head of hair, but there is still a dominant kinky, curly, wavy or straight. Women who have the most problem identifying with their hair texture are ones that have found it to be a problem- the kinkys and the curlys. Because of the lack of info or knowledge on how to deal with those textures until recently, women often end up chemically altering and thermally manipulating their hair, some from the earliest age of 7 for the next 30 years and are just now trying to rediscover their natural texture. The best way to familiarize yourself with your texture is by gently feeling the root area (if in fact you’re relaxed) or gently caressing your natural texture while wet. Go to the mirror and look at these textures that come to life when wet and soft. Add conditioner to wet hair to see even more definition in your true texture. The first line of defense for any texture is to make sure you’re using an appropriate cleanser. Using a non suds, sulfate free cleanser such as Daily Cleansing Cream will ensure you’re hair is left clean and hydrated, without stripping hair of its natural oils. This helps hair to retain its softness and pliability, which unleashes its optimal potential, unlike conventional shampoos that prevent those textures from looking their best and make it difficult for you to recognized your true texture. Using a non suds cleanser helps your conditioner work more effectively and be the super softening conditioning treatment that you always hoped your conditioner to be. Unfortunately, those conventional shampoos made it difficult for that to happen. Your conditioner spent most of its time dealing with the damaging effects of the shampoo rather than hydrating to its fullest potential. Try using Hair Rules Quench ultra rich conditioner. This thick, concentrated conditioner, hydrates, moisturizes and softens the dryest, parched, hard hair. Do you see the common theme here? Moisture. Every texture needs it. For finer textures,this is where conditioning becomes optional, using as a treatment or a light weight conditioner such as Hair Rules Nourishment Leave In conditioner. Similar to a light moisturizer on your skin before makeup, this leave in conditioner will hydrate without weighing the hair down. Now here’s where all of this affords you to use more light-weight styling products. The hair is hydrated, in its fullest potential allowing your styling products to work better without heavy, sticky, hard, waxy results. A new generation of styling products that have a dual purpose leaving hair both conditioned and perfectly defined, will help you maximize your hair texture. The first rule in dealing with texture is, with kinky being the more severe in curl pattern and most fragile of all textures, the care of this texture is not from the standpoint of maintaing a straight style (which you can usually wear 4-5 days without touching water.) Wash and wear results can be achieved every day, for kinky/curly textures, but don’t go longer than three days before repeating your wash and wear style. This will help your curl pattern stay detangled and hydrated so it doesn’t dry out, become brittle and break off. The second rule is to get a proper hair cut every 3 months, with the ends being adequately cut when straight. You can’t cut what you can’t see on hair that is tightly wound (with shrinkage and a ziz-zag pattern.) The timing of these hair cuts is more essential than anything. Hair grows 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch a month. If over a period of three months, you’ve gained an inch and a half, the idea is that you’re only cutting 1/4 or less of an inch. This means you’ve gained length! Taking all of this in to account when caring for your texture will help you achieve salon results at home, helping you to love and honor your hair.

Q: What was your inspiration behind creating the Hair Rules product line? The Hair Rules salon?

A: Built on a heritage of beauty, education and community, Hair Rules New York is the FIRST and ONLY multi-textural salon in the U.S., offering the healthiest approach to hair care and styling as a means toward evolving mindset, changing perceptions and influencing practice. Our goal is to help our clients re-discover their natural texture, embrace the versatility it offers, and wear it however they choose- but via healthy, responsible methods. We offer an elite team of stylists and colorists, all trained in the safe and healthy approach to hair care, color, texturizers, relaxers and styling methods. At Hair Rules, we understand that while all hair textures are not created equal, they should be treated equally. The brand came first, delivering top notch, truthful results, while the salon was created as a platform for education and sharing the truth.

Q: It seems as though women with “non-straight” hair have a complicated relationship with their hair type and texture. Why do you think this is?

A: The many faces of the beauty industry, be it hairdressers that started out in beauty school learning how to process hair and not deal with it in its natural state to the mass market manufacturers of beauty products that market products based on ethnicity rather than the texture specific approach that should be taken, have confused the consumer. The Hair Rules approach to beauty is a truthful approach, designed to offer the healthiest approach to hair care and styling as a means toward evolving mindset, changing perceptions and influencing practice.

Q: What do you tell women who are trying to embrace their natural texture but are apprehensive about how they will be perceived?

A: This is a natural evolution. Once you plant the seed and expand perceptions of beauty, women will move in a more positive, comfortable direction when they start to see images of themselves portrayed more beautifully in media. We can only influence women and build their trust from a truthful, honest approach. Truth allows you to feel comfortable in your skin.

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.

Deep Treat 2-3 Weeks Before Coloring Service

by Staff on Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Remind your clients to thoroughly deep condition their curls two to three weeks before coming in to see you for a coloring service. You and your client want her hair in top condition before applying the color. Ill-prepared hair will lead to damaged hair after the chemical service.

— Lorraine Massey, Devachan Salon and Spa

Helping Clients Embrace Their Curls

by Michelle Breyer on Monday, May 4th, 2009


Stylists can play a big role in helping clients embrace their texture.

Every curly can relay a salon horror story. Be it the unsatisfactory cut, the use of the wrong products, or an altercation with a “diva” stylist, it’s no wonder so many curlies straighten their tresses so they don’t have to deal with the “madness” surrounding curly hair care.

But a stylist can play a key role in helping her clients embrace their texture rather than curse it. We asked five stylists to weigh in on how they get their clients to rock their curls, kinks, and waves.

The first thing any stylist should do is to reassure their clients about their hair, and help them see its beauty.

“Sometimes, curly clients want their hand held,” says Ron King of Bo Salon. “They want to know that it’s okay to have curly hair.”

Often, someone with curly hair doesn’t even know they have a natural curl pattern until their stylist tells them.

But making the transition from going from straight to curly might seem daunting to someone who has spent her life hiding her texture from the world. Mahogany, a stylist at Head to Toe Salon in Minnesota, finds the best solution is to teach her client how to walk the line between straight and curly before adjusting 100 percent to a curly lifestyle.

After a consultation to make sure you and your client have similar expectations, the next step is to give a curl-enhancing cut. What that cut is depends on the stylist.

“It’s not about the amount cut off, but the technique,” King says. “I cut curly hair from the inside out because not one curl is alike. When it’s cut straight, it’s too even and you are often left with a round or geometric shape.”

Taylor Weatherford of Curltopia Salon in Georgia uses the C-cut developed by curl expert Kristen James. She says it enhances the natural curl pattern and shapes the face. Barbara Morin, a Devachan certified stylist from Electra’s Beauty Lounge, suggested the dry Deva cut developed by Lorraine Massey.

For those stylists unfamiliar with curly hair types, there are plenty of places to get education.

“Curly clients want to know you can give them soft touchable curls,” Morin says.

Products — and training in how to use them — also are key to helping clients learn to love their curls. This includes shampooing, conditioning and styling products.

“You have to break the barrier of thinking that you need to cleanse your hair everyday,” says King of Bo Salon. “The curly cuticle is porous, and by allowing the natural oils of the scalp to come back to the hair, you are helping to tame and smooth it.”

Most important, says Mona Harb of Lofty Salon & Wellness Center in Vienna, Va., is to send a positive message that they are lucky to have the head of hair they were given.

“I tell them to embrace it, love it, because it’s yours,” Harb says.

Zen and the Art of Curly Hair

by Michelle Breyer on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

michael motorcycle

Michael Motorcycle

When you go for a haircut with Michael Motorcycle, it’s only the beginning.

“It ain’t just a haircut,” says the Dallas stylist, whose real name is Michael Koler. “It’s much deeper than that. You get feng shui’d. I realign you with the universe. I give you a new beginning on life. I change your soul.”

Welcome to the world of Motorcycle, a philosopher, Zen practitioner and curly hair expert who cuts hair according to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui. To him, that means determining your dominant and passive elements — in the Chinese bagua there are five: fire, metal, water, wood and earth — and creating a cut and color that fits your lifestyle. The right cut, he believes, can enhance your positive energy and bring back harmony in your life.

Motorcycle counts clients such as Jerry Hall and her model daughter, Elizabeth Jagger, as well as many of Dallas’ executives and society dames.

“Michael gets rid of all your negativity and sorrow when he cuts your hair,” Hall has said of a Motorcycle haircut.

Motorcyle is the pioneer of a growing movement, with a small number of hairdressers around the world incorporating Zen philosophies into their salons. Feng Shui hairdressing promises not only to create the perfect ‘do but to balance your “yin and yang.”

L.A. hairstylist Billy Yamaguchi, for example, wrote “Feng Shui Beauty.” And Benu spa and salon in Dallas asks clients to fill out a questionnaire to be analyzed using elements of the bagua. From the answers, the stylist determines if you’re going to need a blunt or a funky cut, highlights or lowlights. Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue had a feng shui consultant help him design his New York salon. And Austin stylist David Moreno compares cutting curly hair to cutting a bonsai tree, looking at positive and negative space as he creates a shape.

In its original form, feng shui — meaning wind and water — is the Chinese art of arranging buildings and interiors to maintain spiritual equilibrium. feng shui hairdressing works on the principle that your hair should be styled in harmony with what it reveals about the roots of your personality.

How Koler came to become a feng shui hairdresser is a long and exotic tale, stretching from a Las Vegas air force base to a hippie commune outside Chicago to the tony salons of Paul Mitchell and Vidal Sassoon, to the beaches of Mexico to the foothills of Tibet, to a posh Dallas neighborhood.

Motorcycle first considered cutting hair after graduating from high school 40 years ago. He opted for the Air Force instead and studied electronics and hydraulic at a base in Las Vegas. While working there, he met girls going to beauty school and thought he’d like to do that. But again, he put the idea on the back burner.

After a brief stint in college, he got a job a large industrial company. When he was fired by a jealous foreman, he says “it was time to get off the merry-go-round.” Friends took him to a commune outside Chicago, where he “dropped out. No credit cards, no suits, no Cadillacs.” After he was arrested for a misdemeanor, he was given a choice — get a job or go to school.

He opted for beauty school, and hasn’t looked back.

“I loved it,” he says. “I never missed a day and became obsessed with it. I drove my teacher crazy. I’d ask so many questions that he’d lock himself in the office.”

To learn more, he trained with Paul Mitchell and Vidal Sassoon. After working six months at the Chicago Vidal Sassoon salon, he was recruited to open up a salon for the famed stylist in Dallas in 1973.

He left Vidal Sasson to work at Aki, a salon with Japanese owners. It was there that he Motorcycle got his first taste of Oriental philosophy. He read books on Taoism and Zen, which he says “gave me new eyes and ears and showed me a new reality. It’s better than any drug.” He studied Tao Chi in the foothills of Tibet at the Palace of the Heavenly Dragon and studied Tai Kwon Do with the masters.

A life-changing moment was when he decided to sell his beloved motorcycle. Within 60 seconds after making the decision, he says there was a knock on the door from somebody offering to buy it. Michael Motorcycle was born. He used that money that helped him open his current no-frills salon on Travis Street in Highland Park, where he has been cutting hair for the past 25 years.

These days, he’s made curly hair a major focus.

“It’s a very sacred thing, cutting curly hair,” says Motorcycle, who wears is salt-and-pepper hair down his back.

“Curly Girl” author Lorraine Massey taught a class at his salon, and he has adapted her technique with his own unique philosophy.

“Sometimes I cut it dry,” he says. “Sometimes I wash it. I pull it down over their Chakra points to determine where to cut it. I follow the grooves of your bones.”

He considers the shampoo sink to be the place where one lets go of their hatred and pain — the first step in the journey.

After a lengthy head and neck massage, he reads the client’s hairline. Motorcycle, who has written a book called “Hairline Lifeline,” believes hair growth patterns correlate with personality traits. He says he can tell if someone is analytical, intuitive or sensual by looking at the way their hair grows.

“I read the follicle and how it comes out of the pore. I bring it all together in tune with the shape of the face, the direction the hair grows. I find out what your hair wants to do and let it do just that.”

He may ring a Tibetan “mindfulness bell” several times during a haircut to remind the himself, and the client, to breathe and to stay present. Clients also are instructed to look at their former selves in the pile of hair on the floor.

Motorcycle’s unique philosophy has captured the attention of hairstylists around the world. He has been written up in papers as far away as England and India. Earlier this year, the La De Da salon in Dayton, Ohio flew him out to teach his techniques to area stylists. More than 20 hairdressers gathered for the five-hour workshop.

Writer Alexandra Marshall wrote about her own Motorcycle haircut in the July 24, 2005, “New York Times Magazine.”

“His method is affably hands-on: after an intensive massage and meditation at the shampoo sink, he leads me to a chair and starts poking around my hairline, discerning from the way it lists to the right above my forehead that I like to procrastinate. (No argument there.) Two cowlicks at the base of my neck say I’m ‘ big-time ideas person.’ Once he has read my personality, he then starts cutting to rebalance any natural asymmetry and heighten my personal energy flow, obsessively combing my hair flat and then performing a fairly standard snipping and layering technique around the recesses of my sinus cavity, my jawbone and a few inches below my shoulders.”

Marshall came away a believer.

“Who would argue that a haircut often symbolizes a new beginning? That this beginning is ushered in with the loud ring of a bell is really window dressing, so to speak. Good stylists have always been part psychic, part shrink and part magician — and frankly, we could all do with a little less hatred and pain. Whether we let it go at the shampoo sink, or an hour later, in a burst of joy over a good haircut, it’s a job well done.”

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)