Posts Tagged ‘hair care’


Post: Kristin Ess, top photo by Kristin Ess, bottom photos Kristin Ess, Angela Kohler + Tyler Jennings

MERMAID ALERT. Hands down the most frequent question I get asked when I meet people for the first time is how I keep my red hair so bright. Everyone looks at you when you’re a hair colorist as if you’re holding out on some mega-secret that’s finally going to crack the case on color fading. The truth is, there’s a whole list of secrets! There not just one magic potion to pour on your head. If there was, I would own it by now and I would share it with you right here. I’ve written about red hair color on TBD before as a blogger, but now I want to write from the perspective of a fellow redhead. I could just list off a bunch of color safe shampoos but there are plenty of color shampoo roundups online, right? Instead I’m going to give you a rundown of the things I do and things I don’t do to keep my hair the brightest! These are all tips that I know work because over the last decade I’ve been every single shade of roja and I’ve taken lots of notes. Here are my top 10 ways that I keep my un-natural (but totally natural) red hair on point…

  1. I have a custom conditioner made. You have to find a Davines salon and get a pro to make you one, but it’s worth it. HERE is a salon locator. So many conditioners out there for redheads are off on their tone. They’re either too pink or too yellow or too translucent. Trust me on this. Find a salon and let them mix your exact shade.
  2. Cool water washing isn’t a myth. In the winter time, I will even knock up the heater temp in the bathroom just so I can handle the cooler water setting. It doesn’t need to be cold, it just shouldn’t be hot. Changing my water temperature did slow the fading and made my hair more reflective in the long run.
  3. Swimming in a chlorinated pool? NO. Hair exposed for long periods of time in the sun? NEVER. Just don’t do it. Not unless you plan on getting your color done within the next couple days. No… just no. I only swim in salt water or fresh water. If I get in a chlorinated pool, I just won’t put my hair in, end of story.
  4. Spray leave-In conditioner is a must. I always use THIS ONE because I’ve tried about a hundred and there’s not another one like it. It seals, protects and shines like the top of the Chrysler Building. If I leave on a trip without it, it’s the first thing I have to locate when I land.
  5. Permanent color, then gloss. So for my own formula, I have someone apply my root color first which is a cream-based permanent color, then I put another cream-based permanent color through the ends. And THEN I go the extra mile and gloss over that while at the shampoo bowl (after my color has been rinsed). It takes about 20-25 minutes and it’s a similar process to a deep conditioning treatment. My hair used to fade like crazy when I didn’t put a gloss over the permanent color. I attribute most of my current vibrance to glossing over the regular cream-based color. You’re definitely going to get charged for that at the salon, but it’s not insanely expensive and it isn’t sold to people without a license. I prefer glossing my hair with Shades EQ which is from Redken. Ask your colorist or find a Redken salon HERE.
  6. Glosses in between colors. Again, it takes the same time as a deep conditioner so prioritize! I do my roots every 2 1/2-3 months, so I find a time right smack in the middle of my color appointments to get glossed. Again, I gloss with the same Shades EQ formula as before.
  7. I definitely keep blowdrying to a minimum. I’m not saying I skip blowdrying because my hair has strong wave/frizz and needs to be blown out, I just wash less (see next tip!). I’ve never done my own scientific study on this, but I know from experience that running hot air into my red locks on the daily is a no.
  8. Invest in a great dry shampoo. My favorites are THIS ($), THIS ($$) but mostly THIS ($$$). Once I became a dry shampoo addict, I started seeing my color fade much less. Obviously the less you’re washing, the less you’re fading.
  9. Every redhaired mermaid needs an ionic dryer. I use the Elchim 2001. I’ve used it forever and it’s my favorite all around. I won’t preach about the benefits of ionic dryers becuase I already did that recently RIGHT HERE.

In case we’ve never met or you’re just starting to follow TBD, I’m a redhead too, thanks to the powers of pigment. I’m also a hairstylist/colorist. As a professional, we have access to so many great things and I just wanted to share my personal favorites. If you have any tips or products that you’re obsessed with, I would LOVE for you to list them down below in the comments. We always love to hear what you’ve been using and how it’s working for you.

My last words of advice are… Always make sure you give red hair color a chance to stick. It took me about 4 rounds before my red stopped fading so much, mostly because I was blonde before. Don’t expect to go from lighter hair colors to red with no fading the first time, or even the second. Be realistic about it. Also, if you’re going red go through types of red (USE THIS POST IF YOU WANT!) with your colorist. It’s best to be on the same page about which red is which. Don’t be embarassed to take pictures with you! We love it.


photo:  post designed by kristin ess

Hair loss is truly upsetting, whether temporary or permanent. Lately we’ve been hearing about hair loss from a lot of our readers. In response, I’m writing this post to address the main causes as well as what can be done temporarily and long term. There are many studies about hair loss and even more opinions. This post comes from first hand experience with my own clients, their loss and their regrowth. This post is not for those experiencing “normal” hair loss. Believe me, you’ll know if you need to read this post!

Lack of nutrition: When the body is lacking required vitamins + minerals, the first thing to reflect that is your hair. Think of it like a flower- the first place you see loss of nutrients in a flower is the petals. Eventually petals will fall off if they’re not given what they need to stay strong. I have seen major fall out from eating disorders, sometimes irreversible damage. I can tell exactly who’s eating and who’s not in my chair because the hair feels unusually brittle prior to falling out. Brittle for no reason. That person can be using the best shampoo + conditioner, getting very little color, and air drying their hair and it will still feel brittle. Typically, image concerns and/or lack of self confidence are at the root of an eating disorder. In the long run, losing your hair only increases those things.

Stress: There are many debates over whether or not stress can cause hair loss. Here’s what I know for sure: a few years ago a friend and I went through horrible relationships at the same time. We both lost a significant amount of hair. Enough that it was visible. We both went into panic mode because the last thing you want to feel at that time is that you’re balding. She stressed about it much longer than I did and my hair had a quicker turn around. According to the Mayo Clinic that’s called “Telogen Effluvium”. With TE “emotional or physical stress pushes a large number of growing hairs into a resting phase. Within a few months, the affected hairs may fall out suddenly when combing or washing.” This simply adds to your stress. You have to get your stress in check. It’s not easy but you must. See a doctor, do yoga, play with a puppy. Whatever helps you. The minute you minimize or eliminate stress is the minute the regrowth process will begin. The sooner, the better. (Silver lining: BOTH of our hair grew back in thicker. YAY!)

Pregnancy: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but… most of my clients have experienced hair loss with pregnancy. Not all, but most. Usually 3-6 months after the baby is born. Typically, the loss is around the hairline and/or around the nape of the neck. The reason it happens there is because that is a different type of hair. Shockingly we have more than one type of hair on our head. The hair around the hairline and nape of the neck is much more sensitive than the rest. There’s nothing you can do to stop this. The hormonal changes that happen from the start of your pregnancy to months after your baby arrives are so strong that no amount of diet, vitamin, or relaxation is going to stop this very natural process. Sorry to break it to you ladies. Get bangs.

Thyroid: Another hormonal issue: hypo-thyroid. This is a medical issue. You must see a doctor about this. After that, see your dermatologist. The doctor will help get you on the appropriate medication or treatment for your thyroid issue. A dermatologist will help with the hair regrowth. Two very different, but very important roles. I recently read a report that said “Hormonally induced hair loss happens because enzymes start to convert testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT can attack the hair follicle, shrink it or even make it disappear entirely.” Best to see your doctor and dermatologist before this goes too far.

Alopecia: Alopecia in my opinion is SO random. There is no rhyme or reason to who gets it. I’ve seen it happen with the healthiest of people. It starts with small bald patches that appear for no reason and can spread into larger patches if left untreated. It is said to be caused by heredity. There is also a seperate form called “traction alopecia”. I’ve seen this caused by bad application of extensions. If extensions are applied too tightly or an extension pulls hair too far in the opposite direction of which it grows, it can damage the follicle permanently. Some extensions can also rub and irritate the scalp causing bald patches. Most of the spots I’ve seen over the years have grown hair back once the extension is out or reapplied properly. Always say something if you think an extension feels too tight.

Two interesting facts I found while researching:
  • Hair cells are some of the fastest growing in the body, and when your body is under stress or in crisis, hair cells can shut down in order to redirect energy elsewhere, to places where it is needed.”
  • “Normally, hair grows about a half inch a month for about three years, and then it goes into a resting period. One in ten hairs is in a resting period at any one time, and after about three months a new hair pushes the old one out. When more hairs go into resting period, or the conversion process speeds up, the balance becomes disrupted, and hair loss occurs.”
Temporary fixes:
  • Colored dry shampoo. Spray this on your root + scalp. Not too heavily or you’ll look crazy. Just a light dusting can shadow your scalp making hair instantly appear thicker.
  • Eye shadow. This is a trick I use on set a lot. Hardly anyone has a perfect hair line and in a photoshoot a sparse hair line can be a bother. I use eye shadow in the same shade as the hair and rub it on the scalp with my finger. It makes the area appear more dense and you honestly don’t see it.
  • Extensions are NOT a temporary fix for fall out. You should never put extensions all the way up to the part. You should also never put extensions in weakened hair. If you MUST, use clip-in extensions so you can remove them when you’re at home and let the hair rest.
  • Use a scalp massager, as seen HERE. You can get them online. Try amazon. Brushing weakend hair repeatedly isn’t a good idea. Better to stimulate the scalp directly.
  • Don’t wear tight ponytails. Make sure they’re loose and not adding tension to the scalp. Or wear a messy “Fun Bun“. This sits looser and doesn’t pull downward. It also requires little to no brushing.

Long term fixes:

  • Laser/light therapy. This is done with a brush-looking instrument. They will make small circles on your scalp. It doesn’t hurt at all. It’s slightly expensive, but a good alternative to medication.
  • Nioxin. I’ve seen incredible results in the long run with this system. They now have specific products for women, color treated hair, advanced thinning, etc. See a professional hairstylist to get an opinion on which one you should use.
  • GNC Be Beautiful hair vitamins. I’ve taken these. They’ve worked well for me and for my clients.
  • At the end of the day, topical things can only do so much. Hair grows from the inside out and has to be dealt with accordingly. Work on regulating any stress disorders, significant hormonal changes or medical conditions.

My final note on this subject is to get your stress under control and your hormones in check with your doctor. If you experience hair loss, try not to panic. As “holistic” as it may sound, I think the most important thing is to give your hair a safe, stress free place to grow. I hope this info helps you guys experiencing significant hair loss.


post designed by kristin ess

Alright. This is serious. As promised, you’re all getting a free trip to hair boot camp this weekend. This is a post for those of you who asked for a hardcore hair health plan. If you don’t have time to do it this weekend, MAKE TIME! (That’s my best boot camp yell.) Look through these images and see which of these lovely ladies most represents your hair type. Once you find your number(s), follow the letter keys at the bottom. Do as many as you can over a weekend. Without a doubt, this little health boost for your hair will have you well on your way to shiny strands!

1. Naturally curly  hair: Weekend- A, B, D, E, H, I RegularlyK, M, O, P, Q

2. Virgin hair: Weekend- A, B, D, H, I RegularlyJ, L, M (twice a month), O, Q, S

3. Color treated hair: Weekend- A, B, D, E, F (for hilights), G (blondes), H (brunettes/redheads), Regularly- J (blondes), K (brunettes/redheads), M (brunettes/redheads), N (blondes), O, P, Q, R, S

4. Heavy + straight hair: Weekend- A, B, D, H, I Regularly- J, L, M (on the ends), O, P, Q, S

5. Bleached or high-lift blonde hair: Weekend- A (only shampoo once with clarifying shampoo. if you need to shampoo again, use your regular shampoo!), B, D, E, F, G, I Regularly- J, alternate M + N, O, P, Q, R, S

6. Naturally wavy or frizzy hair: Weekend- A, B, D, E, H, I Regularly- K, L, M, O, P, Q, S

7. Beach hair or hair affected by weather: Weekend- A, B, D, E, F (if yellowed from sun + salt water), H, I  Regularly- J (if hair is colored) K (if hair is not colored), L, M, O (you can also apply spray-on sunscreen to your hair before going to the beach), P, R

8. Hair with extensions or a weave: Weekend- A, B, C, D, E, H, I Regularly- K, L, M, O, P (on your hair and the extension or weave hair), Q, R, S


A. Shampoo your hair with a clarifying shampoo. Focus on massaging it into your scalp using your fingertips and let it naturally clean the ends as you rinse it through. This will remove any film caused by product build-up or natural oil build-up. That film will be a dulling residue in the long run, so you need to remove it when you feel it. If your shampoo doesn’t lather, try shampooing it one more time. When hair is clean, it lathers. That’s when you know you’ve removed all the gunk. Good lather = clean slate!  Note: This is NOT something you would do every time you shampoo because it would be TOO cleansing and strip all the nutrients. Only do this once or twice a month.

B. Blend 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup jojoba oil + 1/4 cup coconut oil in a bowl. At night, apply a light amount to your ends and put it in a low braid or bun. Don’t soak it or you’ll end up with a greasy pillow! The size of a nickel or quarter will be plenty. It moisturizes while you sleep! In the morning, wake up and apply a more liberal coat from the middle to the ends of your hair. (Rub a little into your scalp if it’s dry! If you have an oily scalp, skip it.) Put it in a low bun for the day. You OBVIOUSLY want to do this on a low-key weekend because walking around with oil in your hair isn’t exactly… a trend. In the evening, shampoo lightly to remove oils and condition as usual.

C. If you have extensions or a weave, it’s really important to clean your real hair, so focus on getting in between the wefts with shampoo + your fingertips. Repeat if necessary until it lathers. Do small, gentle, circular motions with your fingertips. Not too rough or you will tangle the hair above your extensions or weave. Let the shampoo rinse through the ends as you rinse it out. It’s never a good idea to vigorously scrub at the ends of extensions or a weave. That can be a bad scene. Condition heavily from middle to ends. Avoid getting conditioner near the tops of the extensions because that can cause slipping. Make sure to rinse all shampoo + conditioner out from in between wefts or your scalp will itch.

D. Whip up this Kitchen Beautician mask as directed, put it on from roots to ends + put a shower cap or saran wrap over it. Apply light heat with a blow dryer. Let it sit for one hour. Rinse + lightly shampoo.

E. Check out your hair under a microscope. Rough towel drying can surprisingly cause damage. Try switching out your hair towel out for an old absorbent t-shirt! This is one of my favorite tricks for eliminating frizz!!

F. Shampoo for 2-3 minutes using a purple shampoo! Toning shampoo has a dark purple base and will cut out unwanted yellow-y or brassy tones. It looks scary and dark when it comes out of the bottle but don’t worry. Ask your colorist which one they’d recommend.

G. Ask your colorist or hairstylist to recommend a repairing protein mask. Protein masks are used to re-build weakened or chemically-compromised hair.

H. Ask your colorist or hairstylist to recommend a moisturizing mask. Moisture is much different that protein. Moisture masks are extremely important for naturally curly hair, virgin hair, and those with single-process color.

I. Apply leave-in conditioner! It helps detangle, seals down the cuticle, restores the ph balance, and promotes shine. Try to find one that’s weightless!


J. Switch to a sulfate free shampoo + conditioner. To put it simply, they don’t strip the proteins from your hair. There’s no point to doing protein treatments if you’re just going to wash them out, right?

K. Use a moisture rich shampoo + conditioner. Curly/wavy hair naturally lacks moisture. It’s less about proteins for this kind of hair and more about retaining moisture. Maybe even try a natural or organic brand from your local health food store!

L. When in the shower, be sure to focus on shampooing the root until it lathers and conditioning the middle to ends. This will this will create the cleanest canvas and maximize volume for hair that’s straight or heavy.

M. Continue using a moisturizing mask once a week! It will soften your hair and promote shine. It will also help eliminate dryness that can lead to breakage.

N. Continue using a protein mask twice a month. It will strengthen your hair from the outside in and creates a protective protein shell in the long run. Great for weakened hair caused by over-processing!

O. Use a protective serum or argan oil on your ends before + after blow drying. Also great for eliminating frizz and creating shine when air-drying.

P. Every 8 weeks, go in and get a color gloss with your hair colorist or do a store-bought color glaze at home. I say it all the time and I think everyone should do this! It’s like a band-aid for the hair. You can actually extend the life of your haircut by doing this in between cuts. It literally seals down split ends temporarily.

Q. If you’re guilty of OVERSTYLING from blowing out or curling your hair every day, substitute one or two of those days with a non-heat styled updo, like a messy ponytail, the Ballerina Bun or the Fun Bun.

R. Invest in the best shampoo, conditioner and/or leave-in conditioner. If you’re spending a lot of money on a beautiful hair color, you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible and doesn’t fade. Most of the time, higher-end brands DO use higher quality ingredients. Find out what your hairstylist thinks will make the biggest difference. Try it out. Keep the receipt, because most high-end brands also guarantee their products.

S. Don’t spray hairspray before you curl or flat iron! You’re basically baking alcohol into your hair. Try your best to only spray after you use a hot tool of any kind. If you need the extra help with hold, use a thermal protectant spray. Any hairstylist will be able to help you find a good one!

Now, I know you guys want product recommendations, but like I’ve said before, you should try and get a recommendation in person from a professional! If you can’t make it in to the salon, I personally look to Allure for product reviews because they have the best break downs. Do your research + get samples! Just because a bottle is pretty and the product smells good, doesn’t mean it’s doing the best job. And last but certainly not least, continue taking vitamins for MAXIMUM hair health!

Xx Kristin