Inside the Salon: An Interview with a Professional Hairdresser
By: Catherine Amoriello
As women, we spend a great deal of time on our hair. We sacrifice many hours trying to style it and spend a great deal of money on products and hair appointments to get it just the way we want it. But, unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, styling our hair is not always so easy. There seems to be only one person who knows all the tricks of the trade, who can fix that awful boxed hair dye job you thought was a good idea or even out that haircut your mother assured you she could do. She is the styling queen, the master of bayalage and sometimes even a miracle worker. She is your hair hairdresser.
Our hairdressers are busy women and they do not have the time to answer all of our most desperate hair questions. Thankfully, I was able to get my own hairdresser to answer a few frequently asked questions concerning hair care. Emily Amoriello (who also happens to be my sister!) has been a certified hairdresser for seven years and has a large, loyal clientele. She was able to shed some light on issues such as frizzy hair, styling tools, hair growth and many more!
HC: What can you do to make your hair grow faster?
EA: Hair grows as a result of blood flow to the bulb in the scalp. Therefore, the best way to get your hair to grow “faster” is to stimulate blood flow to your scalp. Massage works well, and products that have a peppermint tingly feeling like Nioxin shampoo and conditioner will also promote faster hair growth.
HC: How can you prevent hair breakage after many color treatments?
EA: Hair breakage happens when the hair strand becomes fragile and brittle. This is most likely to happen to someone who has colored their hair repeatedly in a short amount of time, or anyone using bleach on their hair. To not get too technical, our hair basically has three layers and bleach eats its way through the layers to get rid of pigment. This is why when someone has darker hair and uses a blonde kit from the grocery store it turns their hair orange. There are many stages to getting rid of red, orange and yellow pigments in the hair. When you are going blonde, the lightener (bleach) will eat its way through the layers exposing just the raw and tender insides of a hair strand. At this point, the strand will either feel gummy and fall out or break off at its weakest point. To minimize this, try to keep bleaching to a minimum and really try to space out how many times you’re coloring your hair. Every 6-8 weeks is standard and healthy. But if you want to be bleached blonde and your hair is Kim Kardashian black, don’t expect to leave with healthy platinum locks. Also, a good moisturizing conditioner and heat protectant should keep breakage to a minimum.
HC: What products help reduce or eliminate frizzy hair?
EA: Frizz is a tricky thing. If you have naturally very curly or wavy hair, a product that is a crème base is your best bet. These products keep curls soft and bouncy, and not crunchy while controlling frizz. If your hair is more on the straight side and it has a tendency to frizz, I recommend Moroccan oil before you blow dry and flat iron. I also like to do a coconut oil hair mask once a week. Pinterest has a lot of great tutorials for coconut oil masks.
HC: What should you pay attention to when shopping for shampoo and conditioner?
EA: Anything from the grocery store is total crap. Shampoos there are basically plastic and water. Pantene has a very acidic pH, the same as Windex, which will cause your hair to fall out! Also, there is a new trend where Walmart, Target, Rite Aid and any grocery/drug store are selling salon brand products. DO NOT BUY THEM! Most of these products have been sitting in warehouses for years and years. Some are so old that the bottles have packaging from five years ago. Believe it or not, products have a shelf life and if you aren’t buying them from a professional salon they are most likely expired. Look for things that say “sulfate free” and “color safe” when buying shampoos. If one of the first two ingredients in a hairspray is water or alcohol, keep walking!
HC: In your opinion, what is the worst thing you can do to your hair?
EA: The very, very, very worst thing I personally think you can do to your hair is a perm. It will NOT look like natural beach waves, it will NOT look like a gorgeous afro, but it WILL look like a poodle. They are chemically the hardest on the hair and the end result is never what you want. The only way to reverse a perm is a chemical relaxer, which is the exact same chemical makeup as a perm, you are just smoothing instead of curling, or a keratin smoothing treatment which is pricey and ultimately lasts three months. The only sure way to remove a perm is by cutting off the permed strands. So I beg everyone, say goodbye to perms!
HC: What is your favorite brand of styling tools and why?
EA: I’ve tried a lot of styling tools and I like different brands for different tools. For blow dryers, I love the Rusk lightweight dryer and the Babyliss dryers. They’re light and give a lot of heat to dry hair quickly. For flat irons I prefer the Rusk 1″ flat iron and the Bio Ionic One Pass iron. The One Pass was my favorite flat iron, it lasted forever with dozens of uses every day! My all-time favorite curling iron/wand is a Paul Mitchell. It has a teardrop shaped rod that really gives a natural looking curl and keeps the hair from winding off the iron.
HC: What would you suggest to a customer who wanted to change up their hairstyle but didn’t want to cut it?
EA: There are a lot of people who want change but don’t want to lose length. I usually suggest cutting in some layers. I like to cut shorter ones at the crown for volume and longer ones around the face to maintain length and fullness. Another thing I will suggest to clients is a change in color. Color is a great way to liven up a look without chopping off hair. Some highlights or fun colors are an easy way to change your hair.
HC: How would you go about returning to your natural hair color after coloring it multiple times?
EA: Returning to your “natural color” is impossible. Once the strand has color molecules inside the only way to remove them is with bleach, which will never be your natural color. To truly go back to your natural you must grow out your hair and cut the colored hair off. You can get really close to your natural color though with a good stylist who can lighten and tone. For example, say you are naturally a dirty blonde and you’ve been coloring your hair a dark Merlot color and now you want to go back to your natural. To keep the integrity of the hair, I would start by doing a heavy highlight throughout the entire head and let it lift to a yellow color. I would then tone the hair with a shade that matches the client’s natural color. After two to three rounds of this process (every six weeks at least) the client’s hair should be close to their natural shade and should blend as they let the color grow out.
HC: What are some pros and cons of getting hair extensions?
EA: The pros include: it’s an easy way to change up your length/style, they hold curl beautifully, they look incredibly natural, they wash, style and color just like real hair (assuming you’ve put in human hair), there are a wide variety of hair extensions to choose from and they are a great option for someone growing out a shorter cut. The cons include: getting extensions is extremely pricey (we charge $70/hour for install and removal and we’re cheap!), they require a lot of maintenance (if you do not want to put any effort into your hair, run the opposite way), they take longer to style, you can’t comb/brush at your scalp, you can form dreadlocks if you do not take care of them and you can lose hair if they are not removed properly.
HC: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to customers?
EA: Pet peeve #1: When customers are a no-show. Our time matters too. We might just be an appointment to you, but your appointment is our income. We understand emergencies and that life happens, so just let us know. No showing an appointment or calling the day of to cancel is just rude. Don’t expect to cancel/no show and get in the same week or even the next week!
Pet peeve #2: When customers have unrealistic expecations/requests. NEWSFLASH: lots of things on Pinterest are photo shopped. Many of the styles on Pinterest took a stylist 6-8 hours to do and charged $400-$800. We LOVE doing fun colors people see on Pinterest but we also like to be paid for the amount of work we do. If you only have $85 for cut, color, and style, it’s unfair of you to expect perfect balayage, pastels, and healthy long flowing locks in an hour and a half.