By Liz Bekesz
I’m the loyal, faithful, devoted type: too nervous to lie, too guilty to cheat, and typically too nervous to attempt either. Blessed and cursed with possessing possibly too much empathy, I don’t do sly, sneaky, or devious. I couldn’t live with such guilt, or with myself. I do unto others as I’d like done for myself, and as Camera Obscura sang, “I keep my nose clean” – especially in an increasingly Orwellian world in which the omnipotent camera is always ready for its shot, even if you’re not.
So I made a point to email my longtime stylist, W., to tell him in advance about my date with Mike Veggue at Sally Hershberger Downtown. After all, I owe William that respect. He’s been part of my life for more than 15 years. He’s always left me more than satisfied, and I’ve never considered leaving him for another. “It’s all in the name of research,” I reassure W. (And really, it’s curiosity – after reviewing a new round of her products late last year, I am intrigued to have the famous brand go to town on my hair.) Being a skilled, secure individual with a solid following, W. doesn’t sound worried, and good-naturedly tells me to enjoy.
My hair is crying for attention and love. Partially grown-out bangs hang like little carwash flaps at my crown, not quite knowing what do with themselves or where to go. My part is no better, sprawling recklessly down in my scalp in a trail that can only be properly described as “wily-nily.” Worse yet, the hues that were once a funky interpretation of autumnal trees (or what I called “Neon Trees,” until I discovered that was in fact an actual band name) are now just an obnoxious patch of brassy hues.
My hair is not just overdue or expired, but six feet under, and then some. My hair, shapeless and off-color, is a fat comedian in the midst of a risqué joke. Cheating on W. was a necessity.
So here I am at Sally Hershberger Downtown, with every excuse to keep my hat on, as it’s the frostiest day of the year (said hat conceals a multitude of sins while simultaneously creating a face-framing and flattering – albeit, temporary – curtain of faux-bangs). I request a cappuccino from the desk, more to defrost my numb fingers than to sip.
Slightly thawed at last, I am greeted by my stylists, two casually stylish guys with perfect stubble who could easily pass for characters on HBO’s How To Make It In America (yes, this is a compliment). They introduce themselves as Viggue and Dustin Fischer, friends originally from Seattle who have known each other for years. They’ve also worked with Hershberger for years; in-demand Viggue is her former assistant, and that torch has since been passed to Fischer, who has returned to Hershberger after a few years away. Fischer assists Viggue when Hershberger is out-of-town. This must be one of those days.
Viggue and Bogart are big fans of new Sally Hershberger Salon Body Fix which imparts body and fullness
Mike studies my hair in the mirror and with his hands, picking pieces up curiously asks, “So…what’s going on here?”
I stammer a sound that sounds somewhat like words, maybe.
He takes another approach, matter-of-factly inquiring if I’m happy with my layers. I joke lamely that while I haven’t sobbed about them recently, I’m open to suggestions.
“They’re not blending as well as they could,” he offers. “See, here, it looks like you have a bob,” adding that it makes my face appear “rounder.”
“Moonface,” I reply, as if they’d readily understand. “It happens when I eat too much salt,” I start to explain, then abruptly stop, sensing a mild male discomfort.
“How can I put this gently…” he begins. Fischer passes me a hand mirror as Viggue swivels the chair so I can get a better view. I bravely urge him to be blunt, and promise I won’t cry, but all I can hear anyway is some mumbling about my “not having a tail” when he’s finished. So of course, I’m relieved when he reviews his hopes and aspirations for my hair:
1. To make the front area move more, so it’s less like a little “cap;” this way I’ll have more versatility (i.e., I could wear it across, like a bang, or not).
2. Overall, to “soften it up” and “make it less shelf-y and less bubbly.”
I settle into my chair while the team sets to work. Somewhere along the way, they must realize that no matter how incredible a job they do on my cut and blow-out, their best efforts will be undermined, if they are upstaged by the glaring, not-of-this-Earth patch of color that still lurks under some layers.
Who am I to say no to the suggestion of some color? After all, they ARE the professionals; I should heed their advice, no?
Fifteen minutes later I’m with colorist Erin Bogart and her assistant Tanner. Bogart explains her goal will be to “reset the pattern” of color in my hair. She’ll also add “highs and lows” and remove brassiness. She proceeds to do it all with a practiced, poised precision, and Tanner’s help, of course. (By the way, did I mention it happens to be New York Fashion Week? Within the growing chaos of model hair emergencies and color crises, Bogart is calm and in her element, beaming megawatt smile after smile; weaving magic between layers of foil.)
“You’ll still have brightness,” she continues. “But it will be toned; more beige-y than yellow. We’re breaking up the pieces, for a less ‘solid’ effect. It will flow better, and be a softer effect, to go with the haircut you just got.” This echoes what Bogart says people are requesting now, when they go lighter: less streaky-and-chunky, and more all-over lightening.
Also new to the Sally Hershberger Salon line is Mineral Cream, formulated with natural moisturizers, plus minerals like malachite, hematite, and smithsonite.
Bogart runs to tend to the 12 or so other clients who all simultaneously demand her attention while Tanner treats me to a sublimely relaxing scalp massage. When I’m finally rinsed, approved, and ready, I return to the boys to have my hair styled. Fischer blows it straight and polished; Viggue finishes with a few twists around a curling iron, instantly creating perfectly imperfect waves. He advises me to not cut my hair for six months, if I can help it. “But, if you need to, come in for a bang trim,” he offers.
I skip out the door; layers flowing, color blended, spirit renewed. My head feels more together than ever (or at least it looks that way). Suddenly very unconcerned about the record-breaking chill or potential for frostbitten ears, I bury my hat into the deep, dark depths of my bag. After all, this has become a four star hair day, and it’s happening on my head. That’s something to show off, fearlessly…even on my Facebook wall where, yes, I will tag W.
Find the Sally Hershberger Salon line at http://beauty.hsn.com.
Sally Hershberger Downtown
425 West 14th Street
New York, NY 10014