I was listening to Fat Mascara‘s interview with Jen Atkin recently and she said something that totally reaffirmed how I feel every single time I get a haircut. She said that it takes your hair two weeks to adjust to a style. The way she explains it, your cuticles go through a freakout period and people tend to get frustrated because they don’t think they can style their new haircut.
I KNEW IT.
This makes complete sense.
I will walk out of a salon feeling brand new and then after that first wash get confused. The hair looks good but my normal styling techniques won’t work the way I expect them to.
Last month, I got a cut from Alex Brown, who worked alongside Jen Atkin for three years. So, yes, she worked on a certain family that begins with Kar and ends with Dashian. But that’s only part of her resume. Her Instagram is one big inspiration board with styles on some of the ‘gram’s biggest names. Don’t let the star power give you an impression of inaccessibility — Alex is a Midwest girl by birth (Minnesota!). She actually went to school at Mario Tricoci in Chicago before venturing to LA and she’s found her way back and opened up a one-woman salon in the West Loop.
She gave me a phenomenal trim – it had been 11 months since my mega chop – and yet, it still took me a minute to settle into it. It’s just our hair cuticles. Because Alex totally nailed what I was going for and totally understood me when I said I preferred one length with piecey texture at the ends. It was a relief to actually trust that I wasn’t going to end up with face framing layers (ala the Rachel, and yes, it still happens.)
The salon is wall to wall Ouai, as you would expect, and she’s full of tips and tricks on how to style your hair. She actually put the flat iron in my hands at one point so I could try out her technique. I tend to overextend my wrist but she goes much softer so that there’s just a slight bend in the hair. She recommends going tighter with the strands up front for more impact. I loved how it turned out and have been adpating my technique at home. This was a style refresh beyond just the cut but also how I do my hair every day.
Alex books over email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and schedules her appointments in between her trips around the world with the #JenAtkinArmy.
Her cuts will cost you $150 but, Chicago, she’s your go to woman for a new style. And, that is worth much more.
I love a good mixology theme, obvs. And when it’s in the context of hair care, it really is happy hour. Bonus: no hangover! Not that there’s anything wrong with sweating whiskey out of your pores during a workout the next morning. Builds character.
Shu Uemura flies way under the radar but is top notch. I find that there is this underground community of Shu devotees and they usually have incredibly shiny hair. Let’s see; there’s the Cleansing Oil shampoo that defies all shampoo-ing norms. Before you gasp at the price (it’s OK…I did, too), let me tell you the oversized bottle lasts at least twice as long as anything and it’s so moisturizing you can basically ditch conditioner entirely. And, let’s not forget about this nifty clicker that is part dry shampoo/part texturizer. I’ve got heart for the Shu.
They’ve upped their offerings at Shu Art of Hair Salons this month with a new bar mixing up “shots” of hair “cocktails” based on your individual hair needs. Naturally, I headed to Dennis Bartolomei salon in River North for a drank. Every cocktail has the same base treatment and stylists whisk in a special moisture or protein treatment depending on your hair needs.
After a near sleep-inducing massage with the gardenia-rich Cleansing Oil Shampoo, I sat for about 15 minutes with a modified shot of ‘Divine Drench.’ Moisture is what gives your hair shine and bounce—and I guess that I always assumed moisture was a heavy weight on my fine hair. Turns out, no. As someone who cuts their hair minimally, I was leaning in to the tip from my stylist Jordan about doing this in-between trims. I’ve been known to stretch it out a good six months back when I was rocking longer hair. Of course hair gets super dull in that amount of time! It’s also a great way to nurse hair to health when you’re doing color. And, when you add in the pre-shampoo and post-rinse, it’s basically like 25 minutes of head therapy and massage. Feels incredible. Anytime you’re massaging your scalp (or someone else’s – because who rubs their own that way, ever?!) you’re getting blood flow going which helps stimulate the hair follicles which is good for growth and overall health.
What I know for certain is that I walked out of Dennis Bartolomei with an extra bounce in my step, and hair. There are quite a few Shu Art of Hair salons in Chicago and around the USofA – peep this for a locator. And, all are rolling out the bar! Services range from $28-40.