This year I actually got paid to work my dream job! I didn’t see it at first, but during my second year working back stage at the West Coast Spring and Style Show (a rather big industry event for Northern California), in beautiful down town San Jose (some dreams are smaller than others), I realized that ever since I went to my first hair show, waaay back in 1987, I had dreamed of being a color educator and working a hair show!
It was such a long shot in my mind, that when I eased my way in, I didn’t see that I had arrived. I mean, it doesn’t pay much. Honestly, I don’t do it for the money, I do it for the ego boost. I love teaching in salons, but doing the show is a whole nuther level. I get to do things I couldn’t really do in the salon, and I get to show off my work to my peers in a way I never could without a company backing me. It’s quite an honor in many ways.
This year I was handed quite the job. During the morning triage backstage, I was asked to remove 6 inches of a blackish color from the last 6 inches of one of the model's hair, brassy dark blonde from about 4 inches in the middle, and balance these two decolorized sections with the 2 inches of natural regrowth, all of this on extremely thick (albeit fine) hair past the shoulder. As soon as I sat her down I warned her that we had an 8 hour job ahead of us. I wasn’t joking, I am extremely accurate at scheduling. I was, however, wrong. It was nine hours. It was nine hours, and I had a partner. It was nine hours, occasionally with a partner, and often an assistant! It was a challenge I relished. Relished, I tell you! Too much? Well I’m still a little euphoric. But honestly, have you ever actually used that word about your job? Relished? I hope so, otherwise most of your life is harder than it should be. This was a chance to do something that I had only ever done in theory. I’ve used doll heads, I’ve run it through in my head a million different ways, I’ve done 3-5 hour color corrections, but this is an opportunity that I may never get again. As soon as they said what they wanted I thought, “oh shit, I can’t do that! What if I totally f it up in front of some of the top talent in the hair industry?” I’ve got one of the smallest egos in my field, but I don’t like to feel foolish. I had two whole seconds of scared sh&tless, and then I used a trick I learned a few years back. I thought, “I don’t have a choice, I am really good at what I do, and this is simply a self destructive reaction of fear”. And then I did my job. It was awesome. I learned more in those nine hours than I learned in the previous five years.
A very bad camera phone picture of a bad picture. :'-(
Sorry the picture sucks, my phone was the only camera I took! Smile Samantha!
At hour four I had decided I was going home at the end of the day. The models were all tiny, we stand on concrete all day, and my back was killing me. I was as close to exhaustion as I’ve ever been. But somewhere around hour 6, I realized I was having a ball. By 5:45 that evening (they turn the lights off in the windowless convention hall at 6, on the dot), we had her shampooed and heading home, soaking wet. That means, that after nine hours of work, we had no idea what the color would actually be when she showed the next morning.
At this point I wasn’t planning to leave, my pride is much stronger than that, and I couldn’t leave without seeing the results, but I wasn’t coming back next year.
When the model showed up at 7 the next morning, with the most amazingly perfect “boosted” natural red that I have ever had the pleasure to produce, I realized I would be back next year, and as many more as my poor body could take. The rest of the show consists of producing the runway shows. That’s easy.
You have no idea how hard it is to be a model. Who would sit in a hard plastic chair for 6-9 hours having their scalp tortured for $250.00?
For the color geeks out there, I reveal the formula. I have to state right off the bat, that Betty Mayes is the most talented colorist I’ve ever come across, and she did all of the actual formulation decisions (with my consulting). I did the first 4 hours of bleaching; Betty relieved me for a short time while I did a blow-dry. She did a little more bleaching, and then she and I both filled, and applied the final glaze. It was a four person application at the end!
Step one, bleach: decolorizing the ends, which were a faded level 2/3, very ashy and muddy colored, was our priority! I applied ISO Active Lift, and 40 volume developer to the ends, twice. While the second application on the ends processed, I applied Active Lift with 30 volume developer to the mid-shaft. When the two were at a level 8, we applied to the scalp. This was applied in stages. It lifted quickly at the re-growth, and we were shooting for a 7 level red, so we didn’t want it too light or cool, ideally not past a level 8.
Step two, fill: after shampooing and conditioning with strengthening conditioner (in our case it was ISO Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner) we applied a filler consisting of Zero Lift developer, 7cc, and less than a ribbon inch of ING. The ING was added for a little more gold. Yellow (gold) is a larger molecule, so it gives red (a much smaller molecule) something larger to “hold” to. A very useful tip from Betty.
This processed for 20 minutes, and was then shampooed, and again conditioned.
Step three, glaze: after a rough dry, we applied a level 7cr, with 20 volume developer (I might have used 10, or possibly a demi on my own, but Betty thought 20 plus ammonia would give it more of a boost), again applied scalp to ends, and processed for 35 minutes. We wanted to do 45 minutes, but literally ran out of time.
Step four, pray: since she left wet, we really had no idea what we’d see in the morning. We hit the jackpot. It was absolutely, precisely, what we/I had hoped for. Evenly colored throughout the bulk and length of the hair, which meant they could cut it any way they wanted on stage without fear of hitting a dark or muddy spot! The stage artists have reputations to uphold, after all.
Actually Step four might have been: if it was “streaky”, “splotchy”, or “muddy”, all very technical terms, we would have added a glaze, probably slightly darker to even any rough patches, or a brighter red if it was to dull or muddy. This would almost surely have been done with a demi, in our case ISO illuminate.
Is there any wonder I always tell anyone who will listen how much I love my job?
Owner, Cobalt Salon & Gallery