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.

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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>

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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.

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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.

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Salon Life: Why Invest In Shears?

“Every artist was first an amateur.” 

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Misti Blu Day
Think about purchasing a purse. I never gave a crap about brands and just wanted something to carry my belongings. After breaking several purses every year from zippers to straps, I decided to start shelling out money for a decent purse that would last through my abuse. Shears are similar in the sense that being in this career for years or a lifetime, you want and need tools that have your back.


Hattori Hanzo Shears is one of the fastest growing companies in the industry. Blah blah blah. Who cares. What matters to me is that they are a culture and a crew and give a shit or two about us in the industry and want to see you better yourself and grow. 

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They offer a lifetime warranty and also just came out with a program called “Stay Sharp Inshearance” that protects the shears if lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair. They use a few different metals.  Molybdenum and carbon are the most popular. What I especially love is that they are all passionate about the industry and build amazing relationships with fellow stylists while providing education, which is  a high priority with this company. It is almost as if you get your own personal Hanzo human with your set of shears! They provide you a set of shears to use while they sharpen your set so that you are never without the Hanzo Force.

Do you have shitty credit? Because I do. They do not check your credit and they don’t bury you with intrest rates. In fact, their is no intrest rate! They have an easy pay online system.

I am fortunate enough to have seen Hanzo at Premiere Orlando, living here in Orlando, as well as working with Steven Lightfoot, the Artistic Directorand Technical Director of Product Development and Education for Peter Coppola. Lance from Hanzo came in and dropped off shears based on what I was currently using. I got to test drive these bad boys and was instantly in love and could not imagine giving them back their shears… So I bought them!  I am now the proud momma bear owner of the HH8-6.0: 6.0 Inch Talon and the HH14T: The Shimatta.


Many of their educators from all over the US are celebrity stylists that take the time out of their busy lives to educate stylists and share their personal knowledge on the craft. We had Elijah Mack who came from the west coast to do a class at our salon, The Big Bang Studio in Cocoa Village. 

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“My “4 to 1” technique is a truly progressive approach to shear over comb. I created this technique based on my extensive training with true master “traditional” barbers.

It is this technique that brought me to Hattori Hanzo Shears and my current position. I travel the country teaching this technique and it is changing the way “we” cut hair.

“We” being the key word. I see barbers and cosmetologists as one in the same. In fact I believe we should all receive one license and a separate certificate should be given for straight razor shaving that is regulated to the standards of tattooing and piercing.”
-Elijah Mack

  
Hattori Hanzo Shears launched a non-profit organization called Support The Trade in 2010 to support the training of women in the art & science of hairdressing as an alternative to prostitution and human trafficking. They collect your old shears as donation, clean them up and sharpen them so that these women can have tools for their new future. I think it is an amazing cause and I love the fact that I am supporting a company that helps women with less fortunate opportunities and gives them hope and skills to support themselves and their families.

  
I donated two shears to a good cause. Pretty bad ass. I also purchased the pair of shears (The HH9T) that were the scariest to me, but now that I understand them and what they do, I can slay some domes.

  

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.

The Guy Tang Effect: The Newest Balayage Tools From Pravana…Should You Get It?

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist” ~ Picasso

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By Danni Gess

 

Ahhhh Guy Tang…..

Be still my beating heart.

Nothing gets to the heart of a Hair Junkie more than a person that pushes boundaries and encourages professionals to try something new.

Uh, yeah, I may be fan-girling it a little.

But, with that being said, when Pravana teamed up with Guy Tang to create the Pure Enlightenment Balayage Kit and ChromaSilk 5 Minute Toners I did not jump.

Nope. Kept my feet on the ground….well, okay, I picked up the toners. <grin> which I will elaborate on a another post BUT I was wary of jumping on the newest trend 100%.

This Balayage kit, which has been touted as a “Game changer in balayage” by Guy Tang, is marketed as a freedom from foils and a sanctuary to blondes. I know everybody has their favorite service to do, but foils is not one of them for me. I’m a very visual artistic girl, I like to paint…watch the hair transform; interact with the process. A “game changer” would be a welcomed addition in my life however, as always, I wanted to see some feedback from some of the Hair Artist that I respected before I make the investment.

Jason McDonald, owner and highly sought after stylist of Head Strong Creative Design in Pensacola, Florida, has experimented with quite a few different clay based lighteners. I’ve followed his work (as have many stylist) for some time and knew he could give me a good comparison. He found the Pure Enlightenment not only mixes easily but goes on smoother than comparable products. He also felt it has better lifting power than most. With common complaints that clay-based lighteners tend to not lift as high and doesn’t spread easily, this one-two punch may very well, make it the Holy Grail of clay based lighteners.

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He added, “Pravana’s kit also comes with enough accessories to help even the novice freehand artist become proficient…” The kit includes a DVD, manual, paddle, application brushes, 16 meche sheets, lightener and pre-dedicated developers.

Hmmmm….I’m intrigued so I pressed on.

Educator and Creative Director of Salon Embellish in Phoenix, Arizona, Philip Ringhas been making waves in the industry with his Pixelated Color creations but when it came to Balayage, he hadn’t found a product that he felt he could get the desired results. On his first attempt with the Pure Enlightenment he knew it was a winner. “It was creamier!” which can totally effect the control of the application. He expressed it was the first time he felt “100% proud of my Balayage”.

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I relate to this so much! I want to feel that way about all the work I do but when working with certain tools, you just know you are being held back from achieving a certain standard. When you find something that works it’s like the hair gods have gifted you with superpowers!!!

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I had one more person that I KNEW would be playing with this product in creative ways.

Shannon Keel, aka The Hair Doo Chick, is an educator and salon owner in Lee, Florida. I swear I’m not a stalker but I regularly go through her facebook and instagram feed and geek out over her hair painting and color melt techniques. Am I the only one that thinks a Herringbone pattern made with lightener is just beeeeaaaautifuuuul….?

Ehem, uh…so, it seemed obvious to ask her opinion on the product.

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“I loved Guy Tangs lightener … It has a smooth texture and the consistency stayed the same throughout my painting. I also had wonderful lift”.

As for the quality of her clients hair after using it? “It felt lovely”!

Yup. Three times a charm.

So it looks like I’ll be investing in the Pure Enlightenment Balayage Kit. I’m sure it will pair beautifully with the 5 minute toners that I’m obsessing over (again, I’ll be sharing that on a future post so stay tuned!)

So what was YOUR experience? Will you be investing in this product?

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?

Beautiful Thursday-MacGuyvering Your Hair Through a Busy Day

I don’t want to piss off my fellow stylists, but I am a very busy single mother of three who is also a workaholic. Sometimes I go a shameful amount of time between shampoos. 

  
This particular blog post is dedicated to my filthy hair, that smells like mixture of bacon and who knows what else. I probably should not even say! So, I am in between clients and pulling a 12 hour day today and finishing my evening by fulfilling my promise to take the kids to a movie. Tomorrow is a crazy day too  and I still have to pack for my trip to Chicago for my training with Peter Coppola! That being said, here are some 911 MacGuyver hair tips to pull off looking fresh for even one more day:

  • Febreeze. Yes, I literally Febreezed my hair this morning. I have gone out one night this week into a smokey bar as well as cooked up some bacon. So, yes, I flipped my hair over and Febreezed it! Normally, my go-to is the Chi Shine Infusion spray because it brings my hair  back to life with shine and also, the scent is strong and smells amazing. 
  • Powder. I live and swear by dry shampoo. I usually have a small amount in my purse at all times. Of course, sometimes I am out or can’t find the damn thing. I prefer Sexy Hair H2NO. If you are in a pinch, you can use any powder, like baby powder or talc. I usually use my face powder because it is in my purse and is a quick way to matte oily hair in between shoots under this scorching Florida sun. 
  • Lotion. I know all of you ladies have lotion in your car or purse. Sometimes, my hair will be extra dry or I had no time to tame it and it becomes a frizzy monster. Lotion can be a quick mane tamer if you are in a pinch. Otherwise, I use Moroccan Oil or a light creamy product such as Aquage Transforming Paste. 

 

And don’t worry! I plan to shampoo my hair tonight….. Or tomorrow! Gotta go!