Tales from the Hair Chair
Wedding Bookings.. A How to (From a hair stylists perspective)


With wedding season upon us I thought it was long overdue for me to write this blog. Over the years, I have learned a lot about how to make the big day run as stress free as possible. The devil is in the details they say. PLAN!

The first thing after finding your stylist is absolutely book a trial. It is likely you are going to wear your hair different than you normally do. You should get used to seeing it on you. Also you may not like how that side bun or princess hair looks on you. Take pictures of examples of different thing you like. This way if something isn’t how you expected it to look on you you’d have options.

Reasonable expectations are also important. If you have frizzy curly hair a style that is slick and shiny may not be possible unless you get a keratin treatment or other straightening smoothing treatments. We can only work with what we have and can’t create a miracle. Also if you have very fine hair and choose a style that is giant hair pieces or other foundation accessories may be required. These may require small additions to your cost.

Now that you have your stylist and are ready to book your day lets get to scheduling. Timing is very important to remember so things run smoothly. As far as the stylist is concerned time is money. And if we have to wait around for a hung over brides maid or if someone shows up for an updo with wet or hair too dirty it can be stressful as far a timing. I know some stylist prefer dirty hair, I personally don’t. Make sure you know your stylists preferences. Since I do a lot of vintage styling, I find that dirty hair does not lend itself to those styles.

Make sure you have an itinerary and try to stick to it. Endless things can go wrong on your wedding day. That is completely understandable. But for the bride to be running around and delegating and putting out fires is unfortunate. Delegate a helper. You shouldn’t have to stop in the middle of your hair or make-up because you need to grab the bridesmaids jewelry from a grooms men’s bag in another room down the hall. You should enjoy this day and relax. Let someone else man the details. Chances are you will be surrounded by loved ones more than willing to help.

Lastly, I unfortunately have to ad this last little tid bit. The quote. If a hair or makeup person traveled to you and may have an assistant in tow and they quoted you for 5+ people at X amount of $, then a bridesmaid opted out the last minute the quote doesn’t change. We base our quotes off the job as a whole and plan on that amount. We factored in needing an assistant or not as we have to pay them what they were promised too. Also there will be additions in the price if Auntie Sue decides she wants a blow dry. Also it is factored in per job that what we consider in our quote is the amount of people. It’s not a flat rate per person and we make adjustments for lower amounts per person for larger parties.

A final note. From a personal stand point I LOVE doing weddings! Unfortunately I don’t always get to see the final result with make-up, jewelry and dress. Send your stylists photos after! We love it! At this point we’ve chatted with you at length are are taking the journey to your wedding day with you. We really do care! We usually only get pics of you still in your sweats. And who knows, your gorgeous wedding photos may be featured on your stylist blog! ;)

Are stylists Scissor happy… or doing Damage control. How much to cut?


So you haven’t had a hair cut in a year and only want to cut 1/2 an inch? Then your hair cut is kind of pointless. Let’s face facts. Your ends are probably damaged several inches. Cutting just a tiny bit barely solves the problem.. And your hair will only feel better for a short time. You will only be getting some of the damaged ends fixed.

Also something to consider is not everyone’s hair CAN grow long. If your individual hair strand is fine or brittle or both then at a certain point that type of hair wont stand up to that long of a life. That hair has been around a long time and is too fragile to live through that wear and tear. Every hair has it’s limitations and it varies from person to person.

As stylist we really DO want to make you happy and give you what you want. It’s our job to!  I often talk on this blog about reasonable expectations also. We can’t work magic unfortunately. Certain hair types just weren’t meant to be long. And I am sorry about that. But there is only so much we can do.

I am also sorry that some stylists in this industry just do what they want. That’s not honorable. If someone comes in with 3” of damage and only wants 1” cut.. I’ll do it. But I often show the client the damage line and explain hair cuts more often and you MAY get to that point again with more healthy length. But once at the point with that much damage the split and broken ends keep splitting and creeping up the hair strand. Eventually, much of the hair strand may be ruined. This could cause much more of the length being split thinned or just breaking off.

Once again, this doesn’t go for everyone. Some people are blessed with super tough hair that can withstand a lot. But more often then not.. regular haircuts are best for maintaining the health of your hair. It’s really not a marketing ploy. I don’t even know you reader! ;) Having a license in hair in cosmetology, we are essentially hair doctors. At least that is how I consider it. We aren’t just crazy people that have a mad fetish for cutting peoples hair off. (Disclaimer: I can’t speak for all hair stylists. Just maybe the ones I have met.)

To bring pictures to the salon or not to bring pictures to the salon… that is the question!

I know I have mentioned this in other postings. But wanted to take it another step further about bringing your hair stylist pictures for reference. We LOVE it!!!

We all go out into this world and view things differently. We all see things we like but can’t all describe in the correct terminology how to create it or necessarily what it looked like. Picture of variations of things are even better. This is especially true when going to a stylist for the first time or completely changing your look. They are jumping off points. A good stylist can look a these and gauge.. Okay this person really likes this or that…

My advice is to really think about what it is about those photos that really stand out for you. Also consider keeping expectations reasonable. Everyone loves to pick out parts of the hair in photos that are inevitably camera flash or lighting. We can’t make that. I’ve worked on many shoots.. Lighting does amazingly fascinating things to how hair looks. 

Photos are especially important for consulting for updo’s. Styling is so vast and there are ton’s of possibilities. Last year I had about a dozen brides bring me that Kim Kardashian side bun picture for their weddings. In the end no two turned out the same. After seeing variations of that in other photos they had we could create something slightly different here and there and make it perfect for each of them. Hair texture and face shape are all factors. So remember we can give you Kim Kardashian like hair, but we can’t MAKE you Kim Kardashian.

Lastly, If you do go into a salon and take pictures out and your stylist seems annoyed by you…. run. Get up. And walk out. They aren’t going to tackle you and tie you down. You are not belted to the chair. They are egomaniacs and think they are gods gift to hairstyling and know what’s best for you. I can’t stand stylists like that. In the end, most of us care about your opinion. We want you to be happy. That is our job. To in the end give you what you want. And we can’t know what that is without a reference.

Commission vs. minimum wage: what is our time worth?

Recently, at my place of employ this issue was brought up. Since our schedule is implied and my pay is strictly commission I have found it’s not in my best interest to sit waiting for possible business. In the past, I have worked for many salons that state we are independent contractors yet require the staff to be there a certain number of hours and treat them like employees. Since the issue was brought up the owner of the salon and other staff members have researched the problem. Wherein the employer got all this documentation and articles written by other salon owners, the other staff got documentation from The Department of Labor Wage and Hour division. Here’s the summary of what it says.

If you are required to be in a business certain hours and perform tasks that you are not compensated for then you are an employee and are required BY LAW to make minimum wage. So if you are required to sit in a salon, answer phones, take coats, clean, do dishes ect and it’s not for your personal clients then you are required legally to be compensated for your time. I know this isn’t how any salon I have ever worked in has been regulated. Now if your commission is more then what your hours work vs. minimum wage would be then that’s justifiable. But with salons requiring most employees to do discounts and deals it’s just not balancing out.

I’ve spoken with many hairstylist in the past few months that agree things are getting out of hand. And if we are treated like employees and are time isn’t being compensated as well as our commission being cut more than half to do discounts than that is clearly not only unlawful but discouraging. This means that for every salon you have ever worked at, if they required you to be there certain hours, if your commission did not exceed what you would have been paid for minimum wage then you can sue them for lost wages. This could mean most all salons across the US having to pay Thousands and Thousands of dollars.

The problem with the industry is that we all stand alone. There is no regulations being enforced and it’s a free for all. Employers just look around and say “Well, that’s how everyone else is doing it!” Never mind the legality of it.

I’m bringing up this point to get some feedback. Is it worth it to give away our time this way with the economy the way it is. Or is it time to stop taking discounts and lessen our pay to make under minimum wage just because “that’s the way it’s always been done?”

What are your thoughts?

Exciting new things to come! Classes and photoshoots!

Thank you everyone that participated in my photo shoot night! We all had a really great time and I got a lot of fantastic shots.

I am no longer taking models but thank you all for your continued interest. Because of all the inquiries about the model call I am in the process of developing a photo shoot night for anyone interested in getting hair, make-up and a professional head shot. This will all be at a very reasonable rate! I’ll keep you informed as this develops more. Feel free to email me if interested and I’ll personally get back to you with details!

In other fun news, I’m planning a few different events in the form of classes. I’ll be teaching blow dry classes and a basics in updo class. These will be a hands on classes where I put the tools in your hands and give you the knowledge to give yourself salon perfect hair everyday! So stop watching teenagers burn their hair off on the internet and come take a class from a professional! ;)

Here’s a few samples of what we did at the photo shoot. And you can see the entire series on my web site here

Dear Fellow Hairstylists, (something for clients to consider)

Over the last few years the downturn of the economy has gotten many of you desperate for business. Because of our desperation to attract business many of you have turned to giving huge discounts. I understand just wanting butts in our chairs but it has turned to sheer madness out there. So many of these greedy discount agencies have popped up at this point it is ruining our abilities to make a decent living. The salon I currently work at gets several of these sales calls daily. When performing for these agencies you are working for faceless corporations that are just using you and your talent. They know nothing about you or your talent. They know nothing about what it takes to become good in this business. They care not for our ability to maintain the clientele necessary for us to care for ourselves. They do not consider the fact that we are independent contractors that live on commission and do not get benefits, insurance or a retirement plan. Yet they ask us to pad their pockets all the while we stand behind a chair on our feet all day breaking our bodies for a profession we love. They expect us to say thank you for stealing what we’ve earned in exchange for belittling our professions into below minimum wage careers. This has to STOP!

I have always advocated for my clienteles best interest as well. I understand the need to save a buck but another problem has resulted as a symptom of the discount chasing. Each salon, each stylist is different. Because all of our skill set differs and because each color line differs the quality of this clients hair is then compromised. The clients hair is being ruined. Not everyone has the same level of pride and professionalism when it comes to the discount chasers. I know I have had to fix some disasters as a result. Bouncing around from stylist to stylist, even if the stylists are all talented, can have some adverse effects especially instance of color. Color lines are vastly different from one another!

I know in parts of the country outside of New York City this may not be a problem yet but here in New York, it is driving very talented and hard working stylists out of the business. For the time being, I’m not going anywhere. But I BEG of you, PLEASE put a stop to this. I charge even my friends but give them 20% discount MAX. Good friends will understand that this is how we make a living. So giving a complete stranger 40-60% off is sheer lunacy. Stick up for yourselves. Stop letting these agencies get rich by ruining a skill that so many of us have studied for years. I love my profession. I have a passion for what I do. Please join me in preserving it. Stop servicing YELP, Bloomspot, lifebooker, scout mob, groupon, living social and any other type of faceless company that is using us. Take a stand for the clients as well. In the long run this is hurting all of us.

Please repost this! Lets join together and make a stand. The more people that put their foot down against them the more likely these companies will fall.


Michelle St. Darling

Model Call NYC

I’m really trying to amp up my portfolio. I don’t have a date set but would like some updo models. If you are in New York city and interested in getting a free updo and some nice picture please let me know. I’ll set the dates for this project once I get enough responses.

Let your hair down!

I’m often asked what kind of styling tools i use so in lew of us taking more time to let our hair down here are some of my favs!

The Blowdryer:

Elchim - Although the price tags for these suckers can be a little steep, this blowdryer will last you YEARS. It’s a little heavier than the cheapo dryers but once you get used to it you won’t even notice. The stronger the dryer the faster the speed of drying. It also gets pretty hot which makes it easier to create shape and movement with your style.

The round brush:

I’m a big fan of natural bristle brushes. I try to stay away from round brushes with the more wire like bristles and metal bases. I know some stylists that love them but I think they just get WAY to hot. They also tend to snag the hair a bit. The kind I have right now are Marilyn brand but if they look similar I’m sure other brands are just fine.

Flat iron:

Amika. Okay maybe I’m a little bias because I do freelance work for this company but I just LOVE these irons! Up to 410 degrees with a dial. 100% ceramic plates for better heat then metal irons. Beveled plates that swivel for more optimal styling and no crease lines from hard corners. AND they come in super cute colors and designs.

Hot Rollers:

I love love love hot rollers! And whereas usually I go for professional brand styling products I am thrilled with my Conair hot rollers! The reason is in the clips. The clips have a compartment where you clip them and they are heated as well. This way the section of your hair will be heated from the inside and out! This means longer lasting curl! And if you don’t have enough of the size you want you can send away for more for just a few bucks!

Actual name:

Conair Xtreme Instant Heat Ion Shine Ceramic Technology Hot Rollers

Curling irons:

Hot tools. You can never go wrong with hot tools! They are pretty reasonably priced. They last forever! I’ve had mine over 10 years. They come in any shape and size you could possible want. And they have a dial to control the temperature.

Happy Styling!

Flat out curl. Curling with a flat iron.

Jumping right in here. Section in thin section of hair. Clip the flat iron at the root of the section.

Slide the iron down the section slightly and start to rotate the iron. Make sure you hold the ends to feed them into the iron.

Once you make one full rotation the hair should be feeding in through the bottom again. Now slide the iron down the section while holding the ends and feeding them into the iron. If it’s to tight to slide open and close the iron while moving down the section.

There you have it! You magically made a curl from a flat surface!

You’re doing it wrong. The curling iron article.

I know you are. I know you ALL are. It’s okay I’m here to help. You take that scorching hot iron and slide it to the crispy ends of your hair and roll it up. Then you take the iron out and let that curl fly. Soon enough your roots are straight and the curl is just a wave in the ends.

So here’s the deal. When you roll from your ends not the entire hair strand gets the right amount of heat. Then your ends get too much. By the time you roll up to the root the hair has to penetrate through the ends and the mid shaft to heat up the root. Then when you release the hot hair you let it hang and the curl starts to fall out because the curl wasn’t allowed to cool in the right shape.

Be forwarded. This may be tricky to get the hang of. Once you do though you’ll be impressed by how bouncy and full your curls will be.

First start with a section slightly smaller in thickness than the barrel of the iron you choose.

Clip the iron on the section by the root while holding onto the ends.

Slide the iron down slightly and begin to turn the iron. Keep a hold on the ends and follow them around while feeding them into the iron.

Continue leading the ends into the iron by opening and closing the iron while turning continuing the curl.

Once the ends are completely fed into the iron let it set for a few seconds. Open the iron and slide it out while keeping the curl in tact.

Clip the curl in place to cool.

Repeat this all over your whole head then mist with hairspray. Allow the pinned up curls to stay in until the entire head has cooled. The result will be a more bouncy and long lasting curl from root to ends.

Remember the barrel size will make a bigger or smaller curl.

A bigger barrel will leave more of a body wave.

And a smaller barrel will make a tight curl.

Once again these are tricky but you’ll get a much better result with a bit of practice.