Confessions of a Hair Snob.

“Get an education. Learn as much as you can because no matter what happens in life, no one can take that away from you. Nobody.”  ~my Dad

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By Danni Gess

I am a Hair Snob.

I was going to use a more PC term but there it is; out there for you to judge.

The truth of the matter is, my snobbery began a week into beauty school. Completely out of my element and fearful of being mediocre in yet another aspect of my life, I had made the decision if I was going to do this, I was going to be the best at it.

I know. A little obnoxious but why shoot for the moon when you can reach for the stars?

I organized study groups in my classes. Made flash cards and associated myself with the most driven students in the school. I would drill myself for hours by working on my clean partings. Practicing the basics over and over until I could do them in my sleep. When I graduated, I immediately applied to some of the  most well known salons in Manhattan only to come to the quick realization that, with my commute, it was an eighty hour week. With small children, it was not a commitment I could make (it was a bitter pill to swallow but we all make our choices). So I applied to the most prestigious salons on Long Island and was accepted at an Intercoiffure salon with a minimum  2 year education program.

The first week I was there, they shut down the salon and had a three day Sassoon class. (I KNOW! Crazy.) I went to classes every week, attended every education seminar, balked when they would want a week off classes for holidays, and had my best friend drive me in for class when I broke my foot and on pain meds (my manikins had very creative haircuts those first two weeks).

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I received  daily examples of excellence from my boss, who at one point was the creative director for Intercoiffure USA, and from my coworkers and former instructors, who took the time to watch each other’s handiwork everyday and spoke of their craft with words like excellence, quality and  drive.

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They were deliciously and unabashedly snobby about their education. And I loved every one of them for it.

Why?

The knowledge that I needed to hold myself to a higher standard was empowering. Knowing that in between clients I could watch someone slice through hair like their shears were an extension of the hand was something to marvel at. Or witness a carefully crafted updo that defied the laws of gravity for a photo shoot. Every. Friggin. Day.

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On the flip side….

It was terrifying. I could not coast through, bluff it, nor slack off. There were expectations to learn techniques that were at times, intimidating. And everyone was aware of what you were doing. I mean…we were snobs. If you weren’t keeping up, it was noticed and recounted.

Prior to my salon life, the thought of being held to such possible ridicule was not only horrifying but my soft mushy heart would have broken. The experience of having to absorb so much information and perform was, at times, anxiety filled but it mostly toughened me. Made me stronger.

I remember when I left that salon and ultimately moved out of state, I made the conscious decision to go to a salon that did not have that level of elitism. I felt I needed a break from the high intensity and perhaps the high expectations that were always carried with me. My co-worker had warned me that I would regret not being in this environment even though I was getting weary of it. And you know what?

I miss it.

At first it was liberating. I began breaking “rules” that lead to experimentation. I exposed myself to things outside the carefully constructed elite bubble that I was existing in. Unfortunately, the high of “being on my own” slowly faded and I was left with Now what?.  I was booth renting. Education was not handed to me on a silver platter. I had to find the motivation to aggressively seek it, every day.

Trying to drum up motivation.

Sad face. Trying to drum up motivation.

If I cannot find a way to grow then what the hell am I doing in this business?

Part of this blog’s purpose, for me, is to capture that thirst for knowledge…. nurture it, and spread it around to as many people who will listen. I want encourage other stylists to raise the bar because greatness can be in one’s grasp if you are driven. I want YOU to be passionate about our craft and perfecting it.

Why?

Because I am a hair snob.

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The Social Media Renaissance of Artisan Stylists

By Danni Gess

I don’t know about you, but since the mainstream acceptance of fashion colors, I’ve been seeing an incredible evolution in the hair industry. An artistic freedom has been unleashed that can only be described as a Renaissance.

Skilled in their craft, creative, and highly motivated, the Artisan Stylist is what I call the exciting new kind of beauty professional that was born from the likes of Instagram, Periscope, and YouTube.

By definition, an artisan is a person who has the creativity and trained skill to create an exceptional product. We, as beauty professionals, have always understood our value but the embracing of these social media artisans speaks volumes to the level of increasing respect for our industry’s artistry.

Though there are hundreds, if not, thousands of stylists that have showcased brilliant work worthy of mention, I decided to feature three whom I follow, that are predominately creative color.

Ash Fortis, aka xostylistxo, is an Instagram sensation with 57k followers and a ton of recognition from major publications such as Modern Salon, Beauty Launchpad and The Colorist Mag. The first time I saw her work was when a co-worker showed me some pictures from Instagram. The juxtaposition of modern edginess and sweet feminity of her color choices had me eyeballing my tubes of fashion colors with unbridled glee.

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this part of her collection she named Moonstone.

She shared with me some of the  current looks she is working on and what direction she see the trends are going.

“Hologramic hair is with a silverized base. I choose colors that would help give the look a three dimensional effect. I also place blocks of colors through the hair…I predict that silver and metallic colors will be very popular…Dusky Metallic. I think more hair stamping, like what I am doing with the digital hair feathers and pixels”

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I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for the digital feathers. It’s a brilliant, modern take on that popular feather trend. I’ve heard more than stylist say they missed that trend. Come on!… Admit it! You want it back. Ha! Well, the feather trend has sailed on BUT, I can see this catching on.

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My inner geek completely fell in love with the Pixel Project spearheaded by Philip Ring, aka Philipdoeshair. Shockingly bold and modern, Philip shared that his inspiration came from an old Vidal Sassoon Bauhaus book that featured  Annie Humfrey and Mark Hayes creation in the 1980s. A Sassoon devotee, that drive for excellence shows in every delicious detail in his creations. The concept of taking a flat graphic and somehow create a fluid design is, to me, ground breaking.

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I remember when Philip was working on his pixel technique because I was trying to figure it out at the same time. My first attempt was, shall we say, uh…unimpressive, so I was green with envy when I saw he cracked the code.

S’all good, my friend. I bow to your brilliance. <grin>

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Jordan Glyndmeyer, aka PinupJordan, came to my attention in an education forum over a year ago. I feel like I’ve watched her artistic “voice” develop to the point that I can spot a PinupJordan creation in a lineup. A prolific Instagramer, Jordan has quickly accumulated nearly 20k “Mermaid” followers that embrace a bold color story with a classic pin up bent.

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My favorite thing about following Jordan’s feed (aside from the obvious)? I love a good success story. From a small town hairstylist to a booming entrepreneur, she is always looking at new ways to expand her knowledge; how can you NOT be inspired to push yourself?

Much like the difference between a Monet and a Rembrandt, each of these professionals have a unique artistic voice that have striking differences and yet they all have legions of fans that await their newest creation. Social media has created a platform for gifted professionals to share their work independently without having to partner with a corporate name. It’s  a brave new world!

How long the fashion color trend will last is uncertain but one thing is for sure; It has unleashed a movement that, I believe, is here to stay.

Are you an Artisan Stylist showcasing your work on social media? Comment below and tell us your experience!


Beautiful Thursday: Are You Getting A Proper Blow Out?

“It doesn’t matter if I do the best haircuts in the industry if I can’t showcase it with a beautiful blowout.”

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A few years ago, the world was introduced to blow out bars. Popping up in metropolitan areas like Manhattan, Los Angeles and D.C., it was a marketed as the “it” experience for professional women to get their hair coiffed in a long lasting hairstyle in a luxury setting. Oftentimes, cocktails would be served while pursuing through a glossy menu of style choices, giving the client the feeling of being in an episode of Gossip Girls where Blair Waldorf could breeze in at any given time.

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It’s a business model that reminds me a little of the nail salon industry. Very specifically catered to a woman who will slap down $35 to $50 a week for a polished and finished look. The funny thing is, salons have been offering this service for generations and the introduction of blow out bars had only created a rise in requests.

If you have crazy thick curly hair that you only wash a couple times a week (because who wants to blow all that out everyday?) the investment of having someone do it for you and it lasts for a few days? Hellyeah!

Or if you have an event like a wedding, a reunion or a night on the town, and you want to look gorgeous but not like you tried too hard?  Yup. A banging blow out.

But are all blow outs the same?

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First off, and many of my colleagues may get mad at me for saying this, not all stylist are trained to give a quality blowout. It seems like the simplest of hair services and is often approached that way by many salons but in truth, it’s far more complicated than one would think. Aside from having an understanding of what the client desires; the cut, texture, density, length, and quality of the hair all influence how the stylist approaches the blowout. Each factor will determine what product to use, what brush, the direction in which they hold the hair, how much hair they take in each subsection, what heat to use. Every head of hair mapped out so that each strand falls to its desired location.

This takes training from a knowledgeable educator, patience and a lot of practice. Sadly, not something all professionals want to commit the time to. Why? Time and money. Blowouts are often included in haircuts or color services which adds 20 to 30 minutes to the hair service so many people devalue its importance.

Time is money…..but quality is King.

So how do you know you got a value out of your investment?

First, you should be able to get your fingers through your hair. If the stylist is putting heavy sticky hairspray in your hair (or layers upon layers of product after you are dry), the chances are, they did not properly seal the cuticle or work the hair enough. A  little serum and a light working hairspray that still leaves your hair with movement and bounce should be adequate.

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Second, your ends should be smooth. Many stylists work on smoothing out the hair (creating that beautiful shine) but give up by the time they get to the ends of your hair which typically needs the most help. The ends of your hair is the oldest part of your hair and is subjected to the most damage. The point of a good blow out is to smooth the hair thus giving it the appearance of healthy hair.

Third, your blow out should last 2 to 3 days. What does that mean? Your hair should maintain it’s smooth texture and with just some light brushing, it should get somewhat back to it’s original style. Granted, there are exceptions to every rule. Some people have over active sebaceous glands but a little bit of dry shampoo at the scalp should put things back in order.

When I worked in New York, the demand for a perfect blowout was so high that it often monopolized my book. Once my clients came in for a cut and had a proper blow out they became excited about their hair’s potential. They were accustomed to that rough dry  followed by a flat iron which left no body. It’s an experience they never had with their hair before and It’s a little addicting.

So, now that you are armed with all this information, the question you should be asking yourself is….

Are you getting a proper blow out?