Hair Care

By P.J. Gach

I’ve got curly hair. When it looks good, it’s amazing. When it looks bad, well I look like a cross between Albert Einstein and a sheep dog. I had given up on my hair, it won the battle. Then I heard about Christo Fifth Avenue, a salon whose main clientele are curly headed women and I headed on over there.

Step off the elevator onto the fifth floor, and you have entered an oasis of calm. The salon’s walls are a soothing yellow, and there are sheer drapes in combinations of silver and white or gold and white are hung at various lintels. All the stations are mahogany, and they look like boudoir tables. The floor is hardwood and varnished a deep cherry. Fresh flowers and cheerful people greet you at the front desk. For a fleeting moment you think that you’ve entered a chic pied a terre in Paris, and then you look and see a woman getting her hair colored. But, the desire to move in and live there remains.

I don’t use the word genius lightly, and Christo is a genius. He’s the man behind the salon and the Curlisto hair line and he truly knows curly hair. He’s warm, charming, funny and incredibly knowledgeable about hair. He started his salon career at the age of 11. His family in Europe had a salon, and as a small boy he watched and learned. His first hair cuts were on his family members. So by the time he had reached that grand old age of 11, he really was ready to hit the floor. His uncle was a jet setting hair stylist and decided that when Christo was 14, he was ready to accompany him and do hair in Paris, London and other European cities whenever there was a fashion show. You can only imagine the fun he had, the people he met, and the things he saw.

When asked about all that jet setting, he demurred and said only that he had a lot of fun. That is one of Christo’s biggest charms. The man knows how to keep a secret. He has a long list of celebrity clientele, but won’t divulge who they are. He’s the type of guy, who after chatting with for oh, say five minutes, you find yourself telling him everything! And you just know, that he’ll never tell another soul.

But he will talk about hair, and what you should do and not do with it. In fact, he believes that the most important tool and stylist should use are his or her ears. The key to a good haircut is listening. If you can’t communicate to a client properly, he feels that you shouldn’t cut hair. Someone may be a whiz with the scissors, or color, but if they don’t listen, or can talk to the client, they shouldn’t be doing what they do.

Not only did I fill out a form asking me about my hair and my lifestyle, (yes the form asks about your hobbies and what you like to do in your downtime), but when Christo sat me down in my chair, he asked me about me, not just what I wanted to do with my mop.

A hair cut may be a simple thing. After all it’s just a few snips here and there, but if you hate your cut, or it looks bad on you, or is improperly styled, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or what you look like, because if you’re unhappy, nothing else seems to work. A haircut, no, a good hair cut can change your life. It can change your outlook on everything. We all know how we feel when we have a bad hair day! Hair done well can boost your confidence; it can even change how you walk and what you wear. Hair not only frames your face, it can frame your personality.

Watch any of the makeover shows, and see what happens when they get their haircut, it’s miraculous. Christo knows about makeovers. He’s done them for People En Espanol. Latina, and Aktina TV. He loves making people feel wonderful about themselves. And if you have the desire to redo yourself, you should talk to Christo, because he can help. Not only will he give you the best cut or color of your life, but he knows fashion and make up stylists who can show you how to maximize your potential.

I asked him what should someone look for in a stylist and he said, if you can’t talk to them, if you feel that you’re not being heard, you should leave. Not rudely of course, pretend it’s a date, and you suddenly have a headache or some such thing. So, if you’re sitting in a chair somewhere pre-cut and you just don’t feel like you’re being heard, there’s nothing wrong with not going through with the process, just leave gracefully.

Sitting in that chair and talking to Christo was an educational experience. I learned so much, and this was all before he picked up scissors. Christo said that the biggest problem curly headed women face when they’re getting a cut, is the layering that goes with it. Yes, we need layers, but they should be angles, not straight across layering. When the hair is angled, it falls differently, you hair looks better and there isn’t the danger of getting wedge head. Christo says, “To make curly manes low maintenance, you need the right shape and layering.” And he went on to say that, “Curly hair should be styled to move freely around the face.”

After a long and oh so friendly consultation, we decided that I was going to have a hair masque done first, then color (just roots), and finally a cut. I met Rosa, one of his assistants who applied the masque and gave me a fantastic scalp massage. Christo’s masques are different from everyone else’s on the market, because you don’t need heat to activate them, you don’t need to sit under a dryer, or with a towel wrapped around your head for a long time. It just takes 6-8 minutes and it works. The ingredients are in such a perfect mix, that they really do the job in a very short amount of time.

If you go to get your hair colored at Christo Fifth Avenue, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The color smells fantastic. It’s because Christo adds bay leaf oil to the mix. This not only accelerates the color, but makes the scent is fabulous and your hair is shiny and happy.

Then I got a cut. But, it wasn’t just a cut, it was an experience of a life time. Christo explained to me what he was doing ahead of time and as he cut my hair, re-explained everything. Even wet, my hair looked good. Honestly, it was the best cut I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not going to name names, but my hair has been around, okay? I’ve had cuts in top salons all across the country and nothing compares with the artistry and science of Christo. And you know, he told me that my cut will last 10 weeks. Unheard of! My hair has never ever been so happy or looks so good as it does now.

After the cut was over, Christo taught me that I need to section my hair, and then apply products to it. You get an even distribution and there’s no guessing whether or not the hair will behave. It does. Then I met Alice, who is one of his senior stylists (cat lover and an amazing person) and she blew my hair out with a diffuser. Alice patiently explained to me what I should do and shouldn’t do when blowing my hair dry. I learned to love the duckbill clip. These are hair clips that when properly placed on the crown of your head, give you that so important lift.

Educating the client is the top priority at Christo Fifth Avenue. It is so important to the stylists to teach their clients how to make their hair look as wonderful at home as it does when they leave the salon.

Which is why you’ll not only get a prescription for your hair, but they will go over every product in the salon and let you know exactly how it well nourish your hair.

Christo developed the Curlisto line of hair products. These are created with people who have curly or wavy hair. He just opened a Christo Beauty Bar in Greece, where all the European curls can buy and enjoy his line of products.

I’ve been using the Botanical Shampoo and Conditioner. They are lightly scented and give nourishment to my hair. Stepping out of the shower, my hair feels light and silky soft. According to his prescription, I then follow with the Protein Boost spray; it’s a lightweight leave in conditioner that gives my hair shine, feeds it goodness, detangles and gives it bounce and shine.

To style my hair, I’ve been using the Structura Lotion and the Control 1 lotion together. Structura has humectants and panthenol in it, so it promotes manageability and shine. The Control1 is the perfect tool to make your hair behave even under the most humid conditions. It’s a styling tool that has conditioners, shine agents and humectants that work together to help you create a super soft shiny look without frizz. Let me say this again. NO FRIZZ.

If it’s a bit more humid than I like, or I want a specific look, I’ll use the Bio-Gel Mousse. This product is a lot of fun. It looks like a gel, but once you start rubbing it between your palms, it becomes a frothy mousse.

If I’ve got a flyaway or two, (who doesn’t?) I use a very small amount of the Unruly Paste. It’s a lavender colored paste, that when used sparingly, will control flyaways and not weigh your hair down.

I’ve been using the Curlisto line for a little over a week now, and there’s a world of difference in my hair.

Okay, so I’m a little in love with the stuff. It’s just that since I was an itty bitty, I’ve had hair issues. I’ve always had a mop of curly, wavy, straight and frizzy hair. It’s been thinned, blown straight and cut off to my neck. This was all before the age of 11, mind you, so if I can find a stylist who loves embraces and knows curly hair, I’ll never go anywhere else.

And speaking of children, Christo not only has a line of children’s hair products; Curlisto Kids Tearless Shampoo, Curlisto Kids Leave In Conditioner and Curlisto Kids Spray Mousse, but will cut your children’s hair at the salon. Remember how miserable you felt as a child hair that was improperly cut? Remember what it was like to hate your hair as a kid? Christo can help your child embrace his or her curl and make them feel special and beautiful.

Even if you have stick straight hair, run, don’t walk to Christo Fifth Avenue. It’s a salon where everyone will make you feel precious, gorgeous and fabulous. Each stylist has been trained under Christo’s knowledgeable and watchful eye, and they really and truly understand hair and their clients. A hair cut that will last 10 weeks, stylists who not only understand your hair, but are interested in you and how you want to present yourself to the world, and they’re patient! It’s a winning and rare combination, once you find it, you’ll keep going.

The salon is a soothing respite from a busy crazy city. The products are incredible. Not only do they work extremely well, their scents are out of this world. If they made those scents in a room candle or a fragrance, I’d be the first person in line to buy them. Heavenly!

Here’s all the information you need:

Christo Fifth Avenue
574 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
New York, NY
212-997-8800
800-810-CURL
www.curlisto.com

Couture Cuts:
Christo’s starting price is $175
All over designers starting price is $125
Single process color starts at $100
Double process color, or corrective color -fees are quoted upon consultation with a colorist

Highlights start at $195
Bio Softening with Deep Therapy Masque (makes frizzy and unmanageable hair perform better) starts at $300
Curlisto Recondition (makes very tights and frizzy curls into soft waves, moisturizes and won’t strip color) prices start at $500
Deep Therapy Masque $85 and up
Curlisto Ion Therapy $125 and up
Scalp Exercise Treatment $95 per 30 minutes
Styling hair curly- $65 and up
Blowing hair straight $80 and up
Special Occasion hair styling starts at $125

Originally published August 2004
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