By Stef Schwalb
I’m finicky about where I get my hair done. I am perpetually wanting long, luscious locks, but with the stick-straight strands God gave me, it isn’t necessary a ‘do I do well with. But I like my cut and my color to be clean and simple solutions since I never have the time or ability to do much of anything with my mane. I had heard several things in passing about the Tosler Davis Salon: it’s tucked away on the 10th floor in a building on Fifth and 16th, many well-known figures in the art world get their hair done there, co-owners Alan Tosler and Sean Davis are a dynamic duo of cuts and color (respectively) that appear understated yet exceptional. All true. It’s a “seek and ye shall find” scenario with this salon (and I think they like that sense of mystique), but it’s definitely worth it.
I went in with what remained of a head full of summer highlights, some out of control bangs, and seriously spilt ends. Sean suggested a deep, dark brown to even my tone and give my strands some well-needed shine. Alan planned to re-balance the bangs I was growing out (a big mistake from another hair adventure) and to clear away any dead ends that had developed (of which there were plenty). Here’s when things got fun: I found out Sean didn’t start his hair career till later in life after spending his early years as an Fine Arts major. The thrill of immediate results, learning about new people and what makes sense for them stylistically is what ultimately brought his creative handiwork to hair. Alan also became a hair stylist (somewhat by default) because the town he came from in England didn’t provide too many options for employment (aside from manual labor, which is tough to find appealing for anyone). So when he traveled to the city and saw some well-dressed chaps with scissors surrounded by several beautiful women, he realized the salon was a place he’d like to stay and that he had found his calling. (Several years of training at some top salons and some excellent editorial work brought them to the point of being able to pursue their own venture.)
Back to the salon experience. Sean delivered a divine dark chocolate hue from a single-process procedure, used to make an even distribution of hair color after highlights have grown out. It’s a popular service for fall and winter looks where the selected shade is applied to the whole head, and then you hang under the dryer for around 20 minutes. Alan advised me on how to handle a cowlick, which in my case needs to grow out a bit more so it can be blended into the cut better. (Side note: For those who don’t know and luckily don’t have one, a cowlick is a projecting tuft of hair on the head that grows in a different direction from the rest and will not lie flat.) Something I found fascinating about both of Sean and Alan was their approach to caring for clients. They really like to know their clients personalities and lifestyles because they say it helps determine how the hair is best worn.
For example, someone may like the look of Nicole Ritchie’s new hair, but that doesn’t mean because it works on her face it will work on yours. And I appreciate the fact that these guys are honest about stuff like that. When I mentioned in passing my once-in-a-while pang for bangs, Alan told me flat out that it just wouldn’t work on my face with my bone structure. (And as I have learned from past experience, he’s totally right.) We then got into a brief conversation about how he designs ‘dos after I mentioned the art of applying makeup to hide a girl’s less-than-favorite facial features, and he told me that’s how he approaches hair. You can work magic with a mane to accentuate or downplay whatever you desire. He pointed out the angles of my cheekbones and the cut in relation to them and everything else on my face, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s a very thoughtful and refreshingly conscious choice to cutting.
The salon has been in business since 1999, and the atmosphere feels more like you are visiting a friend’s apartment versus anywhere else. This might be in part because it’s not a storefront salon, or because the color scheme and surroundings are very laid back. The artwork on the walls (from some of their clients) definitely gives the place an intimate and hip vibe as well. It feels like a good place to hang out, and of course, get your hair done. Cuts start at around $85; single-process color at $85; highlights $150. They also offer manicures and pedicures.
89 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003