Watch Out! Your Education Is Showing…

By Danni Gess

This is a Public Service Announcement for all new graduates.

We are a PC world and want everybody to “feel good” with their decisions but I am going to question your intentions in this industry.

(deep breath)

Everybody wants to be special. I get it. We want that instant gratification of having thousands of people pressing the “like” button and tons and tons of followers that write delicious compliments on our brilliance. We want our books filled for months on end with clients clamoring for a chance to be graced by our brilliance. Some of us have a natural gift, like an idiot savant, that requires no work, build up or education. Kinda like Edward Scissorhands.

image

But let’s face it, these are incredibly far and few between, like one in a million….or kabillion. The rest of us need to go the old fashion route of learning our trade.

In the olden days (like centuries ago), there was usually a skilled or master tradesman that would take an apprentice under his/her wing to teach that person all the trade secrets, one on one, so that the skills can be passed down to the next generation. Oh, and for quite a few years, he/she would get to be a virtual slave to their every whim. Woohoo!

Nowadays I find most people in our trade want to skip the mentoring part. You know, the one where you are virtually a slave until you’ve become the master?

I mean, let’s face it. The pay typically sucks…. I’m running around, sweeping, holding hair pins, doing laundry, washing hair, fetching that freaking Starbuck’s Low fat Caramel Frappachino while placating YOUR client because YOU’RE running late. Do I have to get a different styling product for EVERY freaking client that sits in your chair or are you just trying to torture me?!?!? I haven’t had a lunch break in, like, 2 years!!! I mean what’s to learn from that CRAP?! Then I have to come in on MY day off and take a class and you’re NOT going to pay me? Your mad I didn’t show up?! WTF! I did my time in school… I’m ready, damnit! LET ME SHINNNNNNNE!!!!!!!

<ehem>

image

Here’s the deal.

You can do this the hard way or the easy way.

The hard way is when you graduate from school and jump behind the chair and start making money. Yes. That’s the hard way. Why? Because I don’t know about you but I knew virtually nothing when I graduated beauty school. I didn’t realize entirely how much I didn’t know, which is dangerous. We get comfortable with our base knowledge, thinking we know so much but the benefits of apprenticeship or being an assistant can be OUTSTANDING. Here’s a few ways you can benefit from taking THE EASY WAY…

  1. As an assistant you have a unique opportunity to get in there and get to know hair without the stress of knowing what to do with it. When you shampoo and condition, are you taking the opportunity to properly identify the clients hair texture? The condition? The density? This is a great time to try different products to get to know what works better on some hair but not others. This goes for styling products as well. Observe what the stylists are using. If you are not sure,ask why they chose that product. What effect are they trying to accomplish.
  2. Blowouts, blowouts and more blowouts! Aside from, again, learning what different textures of hair react to different techniques, this is a FANTASTIC way of observing the construction of a good hair cut. How? Well, as you take controlled, clean sections of hair, and you are working the section, are there any disjointed pieces that are longer than the rest? Ask yourself if it belongs there? When the stylist cuts layers, how are they suppose to fall? Take note of it in the blowout. Are you looking at each subsection and mapping out where you want it to fall or are you winging it? Motivate yourself to ask yourself these questions as you work. Not only will it keep your job interesting but you may start looking forward to the challenge.
  3. Watch and Listen! I know you are running around but see if you can take the time to stand a good 10 feet away (don’t crowd your stylist) and watch how that person approaches their client. Everyone has their strengths so find the person who has a killer consultation. Who has the cleanest and varied cutting techniques? Who can balayage and color correct? Ask questions! If they are that good, they will not be afraid to share.
  4. Practice! Be THAT person who is experimenting techniques on friends and family. Be THAT person who asks to help the stylist blowout their clients hair so you can gain experience. Be THAT person who shows up to every educational opportunity, with a smile on and pen and paper.

image

There’s a good amount of you that are saying to yourself, “Danni, what the hell?! I can’t find an apprenticeship!” I know. It took me 6 months to find an appropriate apprenticeship back in the day. I got offers from tons of places for stylists jobs though. Yup.  They’d train me for a few weeks but I seemed bright and eager and if I had a problem, I could ask for help…..no.

You are not a brilliant master with just 2 to 4 weeks training.

Okay. Bottom line. What do you want from your career? If it’s to be a brilliant master stylist then you need to actively seek opportunities to learn. Not just at the yearly hair show that rolls into town, but in the everyday moments. To this day, I go into work thinking “What am I going to learn today?”. I actively seek it, which inevitably leads me to it.

You are building a career. Make sure that foundation in solid.

Advertisements

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

craft

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).

image

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.

image

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.

imageimage

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.

Beautiful Thursday: Truth and Lies About Olaplex

“Olaplex is a bond multiplier containing a single active ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. Olaplex works by finding single sulfur hydrogen bonds and cross linking them back together to form disulfide bonds before, during and after services. Disulfide bonds are broken via chemical, thermal, and mechanical processes.” ~ Olaplex.com

By Danni Gess

 

In the hair industry, there is a mystical aura surrounding this product. Over the past year we have seen Youtube videos, Instagram pictures and glossy magazine articles that extol the products benefits, but is it really the stuff of fairy dust, unicorn blood and dragon scales or is it just another product promising the world and delivering nothing?

Let me first preface this by saying that I use this product, not only on many of my clients but on myself as well. I am a natural level 5 and have an obsession with being REALLY blonde. Over the years, particularly before I became a colorist, I had pushed limits to try and achieve this blonde including an unfortunate incident where my hair fell out like needles on a old Christmas tree.

For many blondes this is a real thing. Over highlighting, too strong a lightener, flat ironing, can create a big fat plate of spaghetti hair.

Spaghetti Hair :  /spəˈɡedē her/ (n) Hair that has a disintegrated  cuticle which leaves the hair feeling slimy when wet. When dried, this hair typically falls away.

me

When presented a new product, I am the first person I test it on. Nothing goes on my client’s head until I am certain that it is a product that will add value to their service. For An addition to a color service starting at $15 ($30 for the take home) I wanted to feel confident that Olaplex is something that will bring results. So, based SOLELY on my own head of hair (though I’ve done hundreds services with the product) here is what it can and cannot do.

  1. It CAN protect your hair from unneccessary damage….when used responsibly. When I do my roots, I am using Olaplex. There are times when, inevitably, the lightener overlaps onto my previously lightened hair. In the “old days” this would create some hair breakage. Luckily, having a short funky haircut helps with this because it goes unnoticeable. However, now I can honestly say I have no breakage. To the point that I’m seriously considering growing my hair out, which I will only do if I have healthy hair.

  2. Olaplex is NOT a conditioning treatment. My hair is still dry. This does not shock me. Not once have I read that Olaplex claim it is a conditioning treatment or a mask. So if your stylist is claiming it will put moisture in your hair…refer him/her to this blog.
  3. Your hair will NOT be Teflon after using it in a chemical service. Olaplex has strengthened my hair over time because I use the #3 home care product. Olaplex IS going to give extra insurance when lightening your hair BUT when you get home and style with heat and exposure to environmental elements, your hair gets damaged. If you need to strengthen your hair, maintain what you invested in by using the number #3 at home product. It last about a month (I have short hair so it lasted MUCH longer)
  4. Olaplex works BUT if you are putting olaplex/lightener onto spaghetti hair and expect a miracle, I have a bridge I can sell you! Do yourself a favor. If you have mushy overprocessed hair, go to a salon, do an Olaplex treatment, purchase the at home #3 and a good mask. Stylists, when they come back in a month, not only will you be able to SAFELY work with their hair but you will have a client for life!
  5. Alas, It is NOT made of unicorn blood, fairy dust nor dragon scales. It’s just science which is equally awesome. However, don’t get confused. It ain’t magic. When people start claiming it can do stuff that it is not designed to do, it makes my job difficult. Not only do I wind up having clients that are disappointed when rainbows and sparkles aren’t glinting off their noggin, but as an industry, it creates a culture of mistrust.

Lastly, I have a little bit of friendly advice for my fellow stylists. I understand that we all learn differently and sometimes having someone TELL you how to do something seems reliable but seriously, not everybody knows what they are talking about. AND you are the person that suffers the consequence if you do not use the product correctly. Personally, I did this crazy thing called “reading the directions” and “research”. You’d be shocked at how awesome these two actions can be!

Have you used this product? What was your experience? Have questions?

COMMENT! LIKE! FOLLOW!

Beautiful Thursday: What to Consider when Choosing an Updo

Weddings, Proms, Homecomings, Social Events…there are so many events that come up where you may be in need of a beautiful coiffed style. Oftentimes, my clients will bring pictures of what they want,which is incredibly helpful and welcomed. However, there are some important factors that many people do not consider ahead of time and are sorely disappointed when “dream hair” does not turn out what they expected.

Here are some important considerations when pulling together a Pinterest look book of option for your stylist.

Color

Yes, a brunette can wear the same updo  as a blonde or ginger but you won’t see the details in pictures. When looking at pictures of updos decide if it’s the shape or the detail that excites you. Typically a picture of a blonde will showcase the beautiful details in the creation where in darker brunette a, it’s all about the shape. Don’t believe me? Look back at old prom pictures and compare the blondes from the brunette a. If the brunette did a style that focused on details the chances are those details, though visible, did not pop like the blonde.

A blonde an brunette. Same style, different results

A blonde an brunette. Same style, different results

Does this mean brunette a can’t have details? Of course not! Just make sure the shape is the wow factor.

Clothing

What are you wearing?

It’s one of the first questions I ask my clients when they sit in my chair. This can be a deciding factor on up, down, vintage or modern. For instance, when wearing a dress with one shoulder and you want an asymmetric updo, which side do you put the heavy side? If your stylist doesn’t know wear the straps are, you may look very heavy on one side. Or, if you chose a bridal gown because you think the back of it is gloriously detailed, you’ll want to make sure you style your hair up to show it off. Keep these factors in mind both when choosing a hairstyle but your dress as well!

image

Extensions, Extension, Extensions…

I can do amazing things with hair. Really. But I cannot give you Taylor Swifts hair. She’s got more hair than the average girl so if you want your hair to have that fullness, you may need extensions. Clip ins work. Preferably real hair because the synthetic kind can not have heat on it. Expect the price to be a minimum of $100 to buy those bad boys but on the plus side, you get to keep them!

image

She had surprised me on the photoshoot with her hair all cut off….extensions save the day!!!

Veils, Tiaras and Adornments! Oh My!

If a stylist does not know what you are wearing on your head, we cannot make proper space for it in our creation. Even if you are planning on putting a simple clip in your hair, a stylist should do it. Why? Because once we’ve constructed your hairstyle and lacquered it with hairspray you cannot muss with it. Besides, wouldn’t you want there to be no unsightly pins or elastic showing? That’s our job.

image

You are not Kim Kardashian. You are : fill in the blank.

When you show me a picture of a celebrity updo, I will take it as inspiration to make the best possible you…not said celebrity.

Why?

Because a kabillion other women are showing that same picture to THEIR stylists. Each client is an individual. My job is to highlight that and make it uniquely and authentically YOU. I mean, why have cookie cutter hair when you can have couture?

image

Still some detail in her updo but we focused on how the shape would go with her dress.

Tell us your experiences with getting your hair done and how you felt about it. We want to hear!

Top 5 Tuesday-How to Take Care of Your Hair

  1. How to shampoo: Most of you are shampooing wrong! The most effective way to shampoo your hair is to make sure it is wet enough and creates a lather. If it has been a few days, shampoo twice! I always do and occasionally need to use a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup. You only need to shampoo your scalp. When you rinse your hair, it will rinse down through your ends. You want to avoid directly putting shampoo on your ends or it can cause dyness. You should not shampoo everyday. Invest in a good dry shampoo for inbetween.  
  2. Conditioning: The opposite goes for conditioning. You do not want to condition the scalp because it is new, healthy hair and your scalp produces oil already. Conditioning your scalp can cause an oily look and will require you to shampoo sooner. I like to leave the conditioner in while I do the rest of my shower business so that the steam and time helps to open the cuticle and get a deep conditioning.  Finally, make sure you rinse your back after conditioning so that you do not have an oily film that can cause breakouts.  
  3. After Treatment: I chronically torture my hair with hot tools and color services, therefore, I like to use leave in treatments for my poor ends.  For those with curly hair, where the hair bends is more fragile and finer than the other areas of the hair, which means: breakage. Leave in conditioners are important but make sure it is meant to be left in. I hear sometimes people leave their conditioner in and it is not meant for that. 
  4. Haircuts: I know most of the ladies want to grow out their hair, believe me, I am one of them. However, when you have split ends, the ends will continue to split up the hairshaft or break off. Maintaining a trim on a 4-6 week basis will help keep your hail healthy and prevent breakage.   
  5. Hair Ties: Please stop. Just….. Stop. You are causing friction from constantly pulling your hair up and twisting the hair ties around, which erodes the hair and causes breakage. I see this too often with clients. If you feel the need to wear your hair up daily, I suggest getting a haircut or doing something to switch it up so that you are out of your hair rut. Otherwise, I know it gets hot and some of you people live at the gym. Just use with caution and moderately.    

Misti Blu Day is a stylist and co-owns a salon with her brother Danny Day in Cocoa Village called The Big Bang Studio. She was an educator for Sexy Hair and now is beginning training to be be an educator for Peter Coppola