Tales from the Hair Chair
Chemicals are Bad, right?!?!?

Okay, I’m a science nerd. I get that. I try to be understanding. But the nerd in me can’t help but get a chill up my spine when someone asks if the organic hair color I’m about to use has chemicals in it. You can ask yourself that question about anything around you right now, including your own body and the answer would be the same. Yes. There are chemicals in EVERYTHING. No, really. Everything.

I’m not really sure when we became so afraid of the world around us. But let me try to put this fear of chemicals into a little perspective. Let’s go back to high school chemistry for a second. And if you’re still in high school lets open your books. I promise to make this more interesting that Professor Fuddy Duddy.

Ladies and Gentleman…. I present… THE PERIODIC TABLE OF ELEMENTS!!!!

These, my dear friends, are chemicals. Some of them volatile and some you can snuggle right up to. But are you ready for me to blow your mind. They’re organic. They occur in the world. Now let’s say you take water and heat it in a 5 gallon bucket. Water is what? H20.. That’s 2 hydrogen molecules (#1 on the elements) and 1 Oxygen molecule (#8)… Then you take a container of nitrogen and throw it at the water in the bucket… This happens….

Why did that happen? Simple.. Nitrogen is extremely cold! aaaaaaaand the water was hot.. Tadaa! Explosion!

(the soap is just added to make bubbles.) (The girl with the nitrogen is my friend and a professional chemist.)

Moving on… Did you know Oxygen is flammable? Or that 1/3 of your bones are purely mineral? Did you know that cats pee ammonia? And if you mix cleaning products together that have ammonia and chlorine bleach that you make chlorine gas?

So on one hand chemicals, when used wrong, can be horrible and dangerous. But without them well… We wouldn’t even be.

So if organic hair color has chemicals in it how is it organic you ask? The chemicals are naturally derived and not manufactured. Meaning… there’s less crap in it.

I just think that fear is such a great motivator that instead of jumping on the this is bad because everyone says blah, blah, blah bandwagon. It’s better to do the research. Keep your mind open and learn from the world around you because chemicals can be pretty fricken sweet!

Sulfates and Parabens: What the heck are they?!

I’m sure you’ve all heard the new big claims in hair care “Sulfate and Paraben Free!” and you think well that sounds good because those are scary words! But what are they? And if they are so terrible why have we been using them?


The word sulfate is a general term for a family of ingredients. They are used in cleansers across the entire beauty market. The reason they are used is because they richly lather which makes you feel like you’re getting squeaky clean. You can feel those oils just being sucked away from your scalp… the problem is… it is. Sulfates are so effective at cleansing that they can dry out your sebaceous glands. Where as, on one hand you may be thinking, ‘great, my hair gets too oily”, those natural oils are imperative for a healthy scalp and hair. No oils = no moisture = dry scalp and hair. ick! Prolonged use of sulfates can also damage your folicles itself causing hair loss. AND if that’s not enough they are such supercharged beasts at cleansing that they fade color.

So why are companies using them? Because they ARE so very effective at cleansing. But that’s not as scary as Parabens.


Plainly put, Parabens are a preservative. They are put in beauty products to prevent bacteria. Which seems fine, right? WELL,…… sigh. Parabens can be tricky because they can also be found in plants. So you’re “Organic” stuff may still contain them. Parabens can absorb and build up in the body acting like estrogen. When absorbed in large amounts your body will store it in fat and tissues and has been found in breast cancer tumors. The scary thing is that companies they are using ingredients that are paraben preserved don’t have to list it in their ingredients. It’s considered and “incidental ingredient”

So now that I’ve sufficiently terrified you what can you do? Well, I always say to my clients “I don’t care what you use, as long as it’s a professional brand.” This doesn’t include products you get at the Drug stores that just say “Professional” on it. I don’t know a hair stylist in their right mind that would use those. Most professional lines are hearing the cries either already have or are in the process of coming out with sulfate and paraben Free products.

Some companies that have always been free of these are also holding hands down the “No animal testing” road as well. (My favorites are Kevin Murphy, ABBA, Arbonne, and Alterna)

Keep in mind these chemicals are not only in hair care. Check your soaps, body wash, skin care, deodorant and toothpaste.

Do you think the Brazilian Blowout (or other keratin treatments) is a "fad" or something that is going to evolve and stick around for a while?

I don’t necessarily think it’s a “fad” but more of the current incarnation. Before keratin and brazillian there was Japanese straightening. Before the that there were a bevy of relaxing products all the way back through time when we used flesh scorching lye. I think with every new technique there are new concerns and issues our chemists and stylists try to improve on. We keep getting better and smarter at formulating safer and more effective products. I think that’s across the board as far as most techniques and chemicals we use in the industry. Who knows how long Brizillain treatments will be around. I know with the increased concern about the formeldyhyde that some law makers have been fighting to outlaw brazillians. In lew of that I’m sure people are currently scrambling to find something better. I guess we have to wait and see! :)

extensions, extensions. extensions.. Feathers and the like

Okay, I totally get it. These are the fun new whimsical thing in hair. But there are many things about them that just rub me the wrong way.

First of all is the large number of stylists doing them. After all, they are a type of extension. I’m sure you’ve heard people say time and time again how “Extensions Ruined my hair!” There are many ways extensions can do this and most of them boil down to lack of experience and expertise in the area of extensions. Even some of the most sought after hair techniques in extensions, in my opinion, are just horrible. the extensions can be attached too close or  too far away from the scalp. This causes various degrees of pull and tension that can break hair and literally rip it from your scalp. Also the amount of hair the extension is attached to is a concern. Too much hair can pull hair away from it’s point of origin causing breakage on the outside of the section. Whereas, too little hair per section can’t support the weight of the extension. I’ve seen way more horrible extension jobs in my day than good ones. Also the amount of time stylists are telling their clients they can leave them in is a huge debate. Extensions ideally should be attached just close enough to the scalp and with just the right amount of sectioning that can support the weight of the piece. As your hair grows the piece grows with it and also may slide down the hair shaft. After 5-6 weeks most of these extensions are now putting too much tension on the hair. This occurs mostly in areas of the head where you pull and brush hair more and hair grows finer like in the nape and hairline. At that point extensions need to be tightened. Most basic stylists don’t have the training and experience with extensions to find the delicate balance. One class or a video is not enough to master this difficult craft.

With all that being said, extensions are a luxury service and your hair really needs to be tended to in concern of extensions. They can knot together and also knot above where the extension is attached. You can’t just get extensions thrown in and expect them just to stay perfect. They need to be separated. You have to dry your root and area attached right after showering. Never rub your scalp with a towel! all of these thing if not done right will put your own hair at risk from damage.

Now let’s get to the moral delema of these Feather bobbles. First of all some salons are legitimately buying their feathers from feather hair manufacturers. Yet many are really charging you the insane beauty mark-up of fly fishing lure. Yup, that’s right. Stylists are marching into Bait and Tackle shops and buying up all they’re lure and tying it into your hair. But that’s not the worst of it…..

The most upsetting part about the feathers is how they are obtained. The striped feathers come from a rare type of Rooster that is bred specifically for it’s feathers. The plucking of these feathers is so violent and traumatic that these creatures are literally being plucked to death. Imagine someone literally ripping all the hair off your body in handfuls. Just horrible.

I do admit when I first started seeing the feather extension I was interested in learning more. But the more I learn about them the more I want to stand up against their use. Luckily, I know they’re a fad that will soon burn out.

Hair loss.. What to do. When to give up.

Hair loss affects a large portion of the population. But Why is it happening? What can I do about it?

There are several factors that contribute to hair loss. Products, stress, styling, chemicals, medication and heredity are all contributing factors.

Product: If you are using heavy products, such as heavy waxes and pomades these can clog your follicles making then dormant and eventually kill them. You shed hair daily right from the follicle. It leaves that follicle open before the new hairs grow in. Heavy product will pack itself in there and stop new growth.

What to do: Try using a product that has less heavy or water soluble ingredients. If you like Murrays try Layrite. If you simply love your heavy product try using a more exfoliating shampoo like a clarifying shampoo. Also every week you can do a lemon treatment. After shampooing squeeze a lemon into you hair and “lather” the juice into your scalp. The citric acid will help disolve the product.

Stress: I’ve seen clients go through difficult personal situations and loose a LARGE portion of their hair. When you go through times of extreme stress your body can attack itself in interesting ways causing various problems to your health.

What to do: Patience. Your hair WILL grow back in these circumstances. Take vitamins. Eat healthy. Drink water. Meditate. Exercise. Your body will right itself when you are taking the proper steps.

Styling: If you wear your hair in a tight bun everyday you are going to get breakage and put tension on your scalp pulling your hair out. Every way you pull your hair back creates tension. Also, excessively wearing a hat can rub the hair right off of your head.

What to do: Change your habits. Letting your hair down is the best way to let it do it’s thing. If you pull your hair back more often than you wear it down consider a short haircut. It’ll be just as easy to style and you’ll probably look more polished anyway than straggly long hair. Also, limit wearing tight hats. 

Chemicals: If you are changing your color often or just have an extreme color from your natural then you are getting what hairstylists call a “chemical haircut”. Your hair will feel dry, frizzy and thinner that normal.

What to do: Make informed decisions about what color you choose. If you are going from one extreme to another do it gradually. Have some patience. Your hair can only handle so much. Don’t change your color too often. Consult a professional. Color can be very tricky and damaging. Fixing a mistake you did yourself could cost a lot of money and hair to fix.

Medication: Medication can mess with your body in crazy ways. I can’t even begin to go into the reasons since it really depends on your medication. 

What to do: Once again patience. If it’s a temporary medication then your hair will grow back. 

Heredity: It’s just in your genes. Male, Female pattern baldness can just be in your family. Thank your parents.

What to do: There are several solutions out there but they all seem to come with issues. If the follicles are dormant then I will address that in a moment. Follicles that are dead can sometimes be restored with products like Rogaine. The problem is that you have to continue to use them. Transplants can leave your hair looking very fake and leave a GIANT scar on the back of your head.

Treatment: If you have dormant hair you can stimulate it with certain hair treatments. Nioxin is one of my all time favorites. Although you have to continue to use it. There are fibrous powders that look pretty good but can run and bleed in heat.

Acceptance and how to deal: If you absolutely are loosing it cut it short. Nothing looks worse than long stringy hair. Cutting it short will actually make it look healthier.

The obsession with formaldehyde….

I recently stumbled across an article about the keratin treatment and decided to once and for all weigh in…

Here’s the original article.


My opinion and research:

I don’t feel as if the amount of formaldehyde in these treatments is enough to be hazardous to the point of serious concern. My best friend, who has a masters in chemistry, told me that even though there IS a chance for danger in large doses of the chemicals that there is not enough IN the treatments to be harmful. Also to consider is how the product is applied.

The straighteners are not supposed to be applied to the scalp. This means the only thing the product is applied to (if done correctly) it the hair itself. Hair is dead. Anything put on your hair ONLY doesn’t get absorbed into your body. It’s not as if you are lighting a wick. I feel like the most dangerous part of these treatment are the fumes. And if you are in a salon that takes the correct precautions and uses them in a large space that is well ventilated than this should not be a problem.

People have been know to get something in their craw to be warned about and it’s the next big paranoia. Ladies, we’ve been painting out nails with formaldehyde for years. Relax.

Spring Deals!!!

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Hello, I noticed you know a lot about hair and I was wondering if you could help me. I have long hair, and I get split ends, which I trim regularly. I was wondering if there is anything I could do to prevent them all together? my hair is naturally curly so I blow dry and straighten my have once every 2 weeks, (since I know it's bad for you). I've heard that girls with long hair need to use treatments on their hair. I've looked around every where and I simply do not know what products are good are not. I'm hoping you could help!! I guess what I'm trying to say is, what are some good products to treat the ends of my dry/frizzy hair. And how often should I use this treatment?

Treatments usually aren’t done more than once a week. If most of the damage is on your ends focus on just putting the product there. Some treatments also have a lot of protein in them so over using them can have an opposite effect and make your hair more brittle. Curly hair also has a tendency to be a little more course. Of course a good shampoo and regular conditioner can make all the difference for regular maintenance.

For treatment there are a few lines that have great ones. Kevin Murphy has the Born Again Masque. L’Oreal Serie Expertise has various masques. And Keristase has a treatment line. These are all higher end. Also a good leave-in conditioner to use in addition to your regular shampoo and conditioner will help with protecting you ends from damage and dryness on a daily basis.

Hats aplenty.

Let’s face it. Sometimes you just don’t want to nor have the time to do your hair. Here’s a collection of some of my favorite classic hats.

TIP: Remember that you can’t just throw a hat on your straggly hair and expect to look polished. The hair that is still visible should still look tidy to give an elegant look.

Of course Aurdey would make my list. Just simply fabulous. I don't care if it's a Wednesday. Just wear it and own it!

Mad Hatting everyone!

Hey, I've noticed you know a lot about hair. And wanted some advice.
I had my natural brown color, with bleached to blue underneath it all. I wanted to go to a natural color so I dyed my hair brown twice. The blue is now a dark brown not matching to top of my hair and it has a green tint to it. What would be the best way to get my natural hair back without waiting for it to grow out for years?

First of what you have to understand is that your natural color in that section is gone. When you bleach your hair what happens is the bleach pulverises your natural color molecules. It breaks up the color within your hair into smaller particles so that light can then pass through it making it appear lighter. Then what happened when you tried to dye over the blue is that you probably used a warm brown. The brown probably had golden undertones. Since color is not opaque the gold and blue turned your undertone to green. It also grabbed darker than you probably expected because bleached hair is more porous. So since your hair has been bleached and then dyed twice you are getting into more dangerous territory damage wise. I always recommend going to a professional when it comes to color since it IS a science and can be very complicated but here are your options. If you don’t mind the depth of your blue section being a little darker then you can just combat the undertones. Since it’s a little on the green side you can get a gloss with a red undertone to balance that out. Glosses aren’t as harsh either. OR If it’s really bothering you then you’re getting into corrective color. Some stylists would lift the brown out with bleach. (EEK!) But there is also color remover that can remove it more gently. Once some of the depth is removed a color can be put over it to color it closer to your natural tone. But like I said these can be complicated and expensive. Good Luck!