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! ;)

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

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!

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.

Products! Why and how they’re used.

There are billions of types of product options that we use on our hair. This week I’ll be breaking down types of products and what types you should be using depending on your hair type. This blog will be an overview of the week to come.

Products are not effective if not used properly. Products are applied to wet, dry or damp hair depending on the desired outcome. No products are a magic fix to make your hair curly, straight, get rid of frizz or add hold if you aren’t doing the correct styling techniques. Product are basically made in different consistencies with various degrees of hold. They can add shine or be matte in finish.They can also assist in adding and decreasing moisture.

If you use a straightening product on your damp hair, for example, and then don’t blow dry correctly the straightening product will not work. Products assist your styling techniques to make your job easier and last longer. Same with curl boosting products. They won’t magically make your hair curly.

In the next few days I’ll go through various products and give you techniques on how to use them. Products make the difference in hum drum styles and salon fresh looking hair. So stay tuned!

P.S. For all you guys out there… I’ll also be covering pomades and mens products!

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.

Let me guess what haircut you want…

I’m not the kind of stylist that is going to tell someone they should cut off their hair or grow it long. Sure we all have opinions, but I’m from the school of thought that our job as stylist is to try to make the clients happy first and foremost and not try to force opinions on them. Of course if someone comes in and wants something I think is totally wrong for them or that is just plain awful I will definitely tell them the reasons it won’t work.

My biggest pet peeve is when someone I’ve never met sits down in my chair and says something like “What do you think I should do to my hair?” It’s the equivalent of going into a restaurant and asking a waiter just to bring you whatever he thinks you’d like. I know he’d bring me fish. And fish I just think is nasty. Or maybe I have allergies. This guy has no idea what my palette is like. Get my point? I have no idea what your lifestyle is, what your interest are, or anything about you at this point. Of course I can always ask a million questions and get some direction, and usually these people end up being happy because they had no expectations or just plain didn’t care going in. But hair is like a suit you have to wear everyday. It’s part of your personal style. I hate seeing people walk down the street in beautiful clothes and hum-drum hair. It negates the little effort you put into yourself. So let’s give it some thought….

Naturally we all DO care what we look like. We see other people and advertisements. We compare ourselves to each other. We look at others and are influenced by the things we see. So let’s put all the input to good use.

PICTURES!!!! Almost everyone has a camera or camera phone. If you see something you like take pictures. Look in magazines. Anything you can find for resource material. Don’t think you can walk into a salon and say choppy and expect a stylist to jump into your brain and know what you’re definition of choppy is. Don’t try to get into the terminology of hair cutting. Visuals are the best references. Even if you don’t like the overall look of a cut but like some parts of it. You can bring in 3 totally different haircuts. A good stylist will sit and talk with you about what you like about each one. Discuss lenght that you are comfortable and the amount of styling you are willing to do. We can work together on what will work for you. I tell every client that brings me pictures how great it is. So don’t be apologetic about bringing pictures.

Find a good stylist. Generally a $20 haircut will look like a cheap haircut. When stylists are more expensive it’s usually because they’ve had additional training. I’m not saying this as a rule. If you have a stylists that charges $20 for a kick-butt hair cut then by all means stay with them! But chances are, if they are that good, their prices will inflate. But trust me, from life experience, you do get what you pay for in most cases. If you are having trouble finding someone you like, ask someone. Ask friends. Ask people on the street.

Lastly, is the issue about product and styling. Ask your stylist to give you tips about styling. Watch how they style your hair. Ask what products they’re using and why. We really do want you to look good and be happy with your hair. What kind of people would we be if we didn’t. We want you to be able to style it for yourselves. You are our best advertisement!