Red Hair Don't Care
Breaking Up with My Hairdresser
Hello everyone, today I will channel my inner Elle Woods and talk about…my hair. Choosing a new hairdresser can be stressful. If you do not do your homework, the results can be disastrous. When I was living in New Haven, I had an amazing colorist. (Shout out to Elba Rose Alicea Vega. IG: @elrosehair) She had been taking care of my color needs since Jonathan was in TK. She always did a fabulous job. When I moved to California in 2018, my hair was absolutely bereft of its usual healthy luster without her. The optimal level of moisture in my waves was already tough to maintain in a typical situation.
The desert heat of the Inland Empire was not doing my hair any favors. I would fly back to Connecticut twice a year to get my hair taken care of and facilitate parenting time between my daughter and her father. Unfortunately, even with my bi-annual visits to Elba, my hair was in bad shape because of the desert sun. The lack of products for my hair texture and a shortage of hairdressers in my area who know how to care for curly, wavy, textured hair caused my hair situation to become dire. I needed a touch-up and a deep condition bad, and I took a chance on a highly recommended colorist by a neighbor. Since my neighbor's hair always looked amazing, I didn't ask any questions or request her previous work. I went from having red, beautiful, waist-length tresses to getting almost 12 inches cut off my hair because this woman burned my hair, and it all broke off. I was devastated and gun shy. I refused to go to anyone else except for Elba, even if it meant that I would not see a hairdresser for six to eight months. When the pandemic arrived, seeing my regular colorist became not only impractical, but it became impossible.
Ombre? No Way!
Days turned into months before I knew It had been over a year since I last had my hair taken care of. Between my sudden lifestyle change (read about the accident that changed my life in the post called "One of These Days" https://www.momisalwayswrite.com/post/one-of-these-days), the weight gain, and my hair, my self-esteem was struggling. (Note: I said struggling, not dying, because no matter what, I'm sexy and that dye pun was totally intended.) I would tell people that I was rocking that ombre look, but let's be honest, that excuse could only take me so far. Once the color started to fade, and my roots grew out, the ombre excuse became less plausible. It became apparent that I needed to bite the proverbial bullet and find a new hairdresser. But how do I pick?
^what I thought I would like until I looked in the mirror and it told me that that was a lie.
We Learn from Our History, or We Are Doomed to Repeat it
When your hair is wet versus when it's dry, your hair texture and hair health level all play a role in how your hair falls and frames your face. My hair straightens out when it's wet (likely due to the water) and then becomes extremely wavy and poofs out when it dries. Finding a hairstylist that understood this had been a challenge for me through the years. To say that I have had some tragic haircuts in my past would be an understatement. There are a pixie cut and an undercut in my haircut history. Trust me, the undercut bob seemed like a great idea when it was hot, my hair was wet, and I was sitting in the hairdresser's chair deciding on a hairstyle. Not so much when it dried, and my reflection reminded me that I had a round face and poofy hair. I became intimately acquainted with a blow dryer, hot comb, and flatiron. Hair wash day went from being a two-hour event to an all-day affair. I quickly learned how to wrap and clip my hair. Then I wrapped it in a silk scarf every night. If I should sweat out my hair before my next hair wash day, it becomes an all-day affair to fix it again. I needed an artist that could make my hair and face work together to make me look like my very best self. How hard could it be, right?
Breath, Blood, and Background Check
Planning to get a new hairdresser like most things sounded great in theory, but it was troublesome in execution. I embarked on my search, convinced it would not take long. Spring came and went, and I could not understand why I was still unable to find a suitable artist to restore my signature rouge colored hair to its former glory. I had many questions for the potential stylist and requested their information. Not going to lie, some of them hung up on me, but I am not entirely sure that is 100 percent their fault. Apparently, it is rude to request a background check, references, and a drug test in this particular situation. I am being facetious, but I asked an excessive number of questions, and I also requested references. My intention was not to be complicated.
Every time I imagined someone who was not Elba touching my hair, I had visions of my burnt over-processed hair, and my anxiety would kick in. The next images that would fill my head would be of what I would look like if another 12 inches came off my hair. With my weight gain changing my face's shape, an unexpected pixie cut would be the one thing that would push me right over the edge of Cliff Crazy with a rock chained to my foot. After my back procedure, I caught a break in the search. I found John Francis Beauty. (Shout to John Francis IG: @johnfrancisbeauty).
After an extensive search for a new hair artist, I stumbled upon John Francis's page. I was cautious. Before I even called him, I checked all his social media pages, pictures, and reviews. I even checked out his followers. (I literally cyberstalked this dude like I was plotting to assassinate him. I'm surprised he didn't run a background check on me.) The first thing I noticed was how many fantastic reviews he has. In the world of business, you always get one or two bad reviews. It's to be expected because, let's face it, you can't please everyone. However, John Francis Beauty had none; zero. This man had been in business for years. He has a celebrity client list and not even one bad review. That told me that he has high standards. Had he found the secret to pleasing everyone? I had to know.
The next thing I noticed was the beautiful colorwork and the haircuts in his portfolio. His clients had diverse hair types. All the clients pictured in his portfolio have a haircut that seemed to perfectly fit their face. I saw a woman with the same hair type and face shape as me, and her hairstyle looked terrific. Having a hairstylist who understood the challenges I faced with my hair and round face was very important. John Francis's portfolio beyond a shadow of a doubt impressed. I went through picture after picture, and the attention to detail in the hairstyles was incredible. I looked at pictures of his salon. I wanted to see the images taken by other people. The first impression I got from the photos was that it was clean and spacious. The decoration was aesthetically pleasing. The pictures from the outside gave me a distinct villa vibe. I liked what I saw, so I took photos of the color I wanted and made the call.
John patiently answered all my questions, even when I asked for yet more pictures of his work. I sent him a picture of my hair, my desired hair color, and he gave me a quote. Because of my hair's general state and John's experience, I was expecting the price to be almost a thousand dollars. However, he was very affordable. We set up the hair appointment about 27 days after the initial contact. His busy schedule was a great sign that told me other people like his work as well. He even set me up with the nail tech that worked in his salon. The whole process was so easy. As we spoke about my hair history and hair needs, I could tell we would get along just fine.
I pulled up to the driveway. Because of COVID-19, I was not sure what I would be walking into. Would it be a struggle to find a spot 6 feet away from the next person? Would it be crowded? The driveway's left side was lined with some vibrant green foliage and a shoulder height brick wall. It was a scorching hot day, so the greenery was not only beautiful, it provided some much-needed shade. The cool Santa Monica breeze gave me some reprieve from the heat. The narrow driveway opened into a parking lot. There was a sign pointing me up the stairs in the direction of the salon. It looked just like the pictures. I stood on the balcony and looked out at the trees; it could have just as easily been a villa in some far-off land.
When I arrived and opened the door, John and the nail artist had just finished cleaning and disinfecting the salon. I was the only client there that day. To protect his clients from COVID-19, he took customers one at a time and disinfected the salon in between appointments. I could only imagine how it must have affected his business. I had initially thought that the salon was a large space based on the pictures. To my surprise, it was not huge, but space was used efficiently. I felt like I was in a large room, even though I was not. I was greeted warmly, welcomed into the shop, and invited to sit down. John offered me, San Pellegrino. I started to put my purse down on the floor, and he stopped me and said he has hooks at his station so I would not need to get my purse dirty. That little, seemingly innocuous attention to detail was a preview of what the experience would be like. He made me comfortable, then he got down to the business of my hair.
When I know that I will have a four to five-hour hair appointment, I bring reading material. I genuinely expect to be bored or fall asleep at one point or another. During my hair appointment, none of those things happened. John tuned in to what my interests were and engaged me in conversation. When I was ready for some alone time, he left me to it. John has accurate intuition and picks up on social cues almost immediately. While he was applying my color, his nail artist painted my toes and my fingernails. It was indeed the type of pampering I needed. He told me that I would love how he trimmed my hair because it would perfectly shape my face, whether I wore it curly or blow-dried it straight. It was perfect, both wet and dry. The man found the perfect cut for my hair type and face shape. I left there so happy I could have cried.
Do I recommend John Francis Beauty for all your hair and beauty needs? Without question. At this point, I do not even think it is fair to call it a review of a salon. This adventure was an experience. From initial contact to the end, John Francis had an intuitive way of knowing exactly what I needed. I was pampered from start to finish. So, Ladies and gentlemen, I highly recommend the John Francis EXPERIENCE. He will treat you like you are visiting royalty. He pays attention to detail, a quality that I, as a customer, can really appreciate. The salon is clean and feels spacious despite its smaller size. The bathroom is spotless and smells lovely.
Most importantly, the man knows hair! So, this mom and writer is officially giving John Francis Beauty a "Word of Mom" five-star review. Well done, sir.