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.
If I take all of the haircuts I’ve had in my 33 years, they can be divided into two distinct camps. Salons, mostly, save for a chunk of my teenage years in a chair in my cousin’s basement. Both had their perks but I’m sure you can guess where I got a longer shampoo head massage. There’s a new trend popping up in Chicago that’s a modern blend of that basement chair and traditional salon. It’s called the Salon Suite and you are the star client every time.
I visited Lumination, led by industry vet Adam Bogucki, with all of the perks and amenities of a salon just in a more intimate setting. (Note, not actually a basement, either.) When you walk into his suite in Lakeview, Adam’s face is the only one you’ll see. It’s cool, he’s really welcoming and serves wine. Lumination’s bright space is flanked with a wall of Living Proof products – Adam’s an educator for the brand – and there’s a statement chandelier hanging above the chair. The experience is customized to you on every level, including the music playing. Adam had this awesome late 90s thing going when I walked in but he offered to switch to whatever I wanted. Nelly was just what I needed that day, though.
Adam gave me a stellar haircut, listened to me talk about Whole 30 (see, I spared you!) and even did this razor texturizing mid-strand that no one has ever done on me before. It’s a Living Proof technique, he tells me. Helps maintain the light texture as it grows out. I haven’t touched up my color since December but a cut with just enough off to be noticeable managed to give my color some fresh life. The one-on-one experience made coming and going so seamless. All Adam really wants to do is send you out of his chair feeling fabulous. The odds are in your favor that will happen.
Apparently, the Salon Suite trend is really big in LA. Makes sense. Celebrities and stuff. Anyone else have a one-on-one experience in their town? Basements included.
Every year has a hair do. I think 2015 is going to be all about the chop. The meaning of ‘chop’ will be subjective, of course, but, mark my words: you will have less hair next year than you do in 2014. I started my own chop this summer. Slowly but surely, I’ve been trimming. My threshold for it not being too short was still being able to throw it up in a bun. All that changed after what is arguably the best haircut I ever had at the hands (and shears) of Ray Civello. I’m full-on chopped and loving it.
Ray is the founder of Civello Salon, born in Toronto and now in Chicago with River North, Lincoln Park and Lakeview locations. Civello chose Chicago as its entry into the U.S. We’re so fresh, guys.
My experience was thoroughly enjoyable. I mean, it’s not every day a PRESIDENT cuts your hair. Though, his approach and technique is passed down to his stylists. Each appointment begins with a consultation and analysis so the stylist can really assess your face and specific style. Ray noticed my lob was a little longer in the back and, he said, for my face shape it should be the opposite. The experience was personal and pampering. Tea, essential oil scalp massage and even a treatment with Aveda Hand Relief while my hair was getting washed. I’ll totally be back. If only I could book Ray on the regular!
I also left the salon armed with one of the best styling tips for short hair. To give some piecey texture, Ray sprayed hairspray into his hands, rubbed them together a bit and then massaged it into my ends. It was a light bulb in the head moment and I’ve been working that one on the daily.