Hair Care

By Stef Schwalb


My hair was in hibernation all winter long. I had gotten red highlights back in September and a quick clipping of the strands to try to help my locks succeed in becoming long and luxurious—then I got lazy. It was so cold and there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to make the appointment and put in the effort of “mane-tenance.” So I waited till the weather was warmer – and until the sunlight showed me how horrid my hair had become with not-so-radiant roots and split ends that definitely needed to be shorn off. Luckily, I landed the assignment this month to check out the sophisticated and highly chic Oscar Blandi Salon, which is perfectly placed in the Plaza Hotel. It exudes luxury on par with its prestigious surroundings, and every aspect–including the staff – excels at customer service to lavish detail.

The salon is located inside the Plaza above the main floor. You follow a winding little path through the hotel’s elegant lobby and decadent decor, up a short flight of stairs – and viola! The salon’s interior design is very much in sync with the hotel’s hues of light golds and soothing tan shades. It is stylish, yet simple.

My salon experience began with the creation of a much-needed new color scheme for my strands. Colorist Kyle White took charge and offered me excellent color care tips to keep the hue true. For a summer style, he decided to go with a multi-tonal take that looks beach-born sans the damaging rays of the sun. First he applied something called a wash or flash, which basically makes the basic coat more even and easier for blending in the highlights on top. Kyle said he considers this base a canvas, and the highlights are where he’ll create the “painting.” My friends seemed to think the result was a masterpiece, so the artist metaphors were right on target!

The summer sun can ravish your hair and its colorful radiance, so it’s important to care for it correctly. Kyle likens it to maintaining your car – and in this case, consider it a Porsche! You wouldn’t put just any gasoline in that automobile, nor would throw on any old wax to keep it sleek and shiny. So the same goes for your strands because there are so many ailments affecting it as well: sun, salt water, chlorine. To guard against the season’s strong rays of light, Kyle suggests a sunscreen for your strands. I mean if you do it for your skin, why not for your scalp and strands, right?

Chlorine adds another chaos factor. Since the cuticle of the hair behaves like a sponge, it’s important to wet your hair down with fresh water before you swim. Immediately after you depart the pool, be sure to do the same by rinsing it out. A clarifying shampoo and conditioner are great aspects to add into your summer hair care routine, as well as any product that is specifically designed to remove chlorine. There are numerous oils, jellies, and sprays to choose from on the market.

The result of my “tune-up”? Highlights that are beachy-ready. Kyle made them thick and placed them further apart so that the appearance is more piecey and natural-looking. Underneath, much of my color remains the same and Kyle purposefully did this to provide depth – which you can see in action when my hair is pulled back. The design is more akin to the way children’s strands look in the summer, which anything that makes me look younger is a fine prospect indeed! Other quick tips for your hair, which can also help you slide into a sexy summer style, are accessorizing. A floppy hat or scarf can work wonders with what you wear, while successfully protecting your hair with some chic style! Speaking of styles, on to my new ‘do…

Enter hair stylist gem Gina Bertolotti! I can’t remember how my hair was previously cut, maybe some long bangs, a little bit of fringe on the sides. Most recently, it was just strands without a shape, seriously lacking in style. Since my goal was to still have it somehow magically morph into the long and luxurious locks that I lust for every time I see new starlet sporting them, Gina managed to maintain the length and a build body by clipping almost every where else but the back. I found my discussion with her really refreshing because my usual experience has been when you tell a stylist you really want length, you often come out with strands so much shorter than what you had hoped for.

Gina told me the trick to taking on my request was solid work with the interior shape. Long bangs with some fringe gave a great boost to my forehead, and then she carefully created them in alignment with the area from my cheekbones to my eyes, which offers a soft look for the days I place it in a ponytail and a strong line for fabulous definition on the face. She lined the bangs in the front while also placing them a bit further back by incorporating some shorter pieces closer to the crown (about an inch back from the hairline). This helps to even things out without weighing things down. No wimpy wisps were added here! Now there is definite weight and definition. And this “weight” without weighing it down, will help my hair resist becoming unruly. Some modern layers were assembled as well to the front and sides to construct more lift for a super sexy style.

Since humidity always takes a HUGE toll on my hair during this season, Gina suggested that I always make sure not to get a cut where the layers are placed below my ear. This tends to give locks that lackluster and droopy look.

So now after this fabulous foray into a great new style, how do I keep it in tact for the summer months to come? Here’s few tricks of the trade:

Problem: Body that’s less than bodacious
Solution: Use a curl-enhancing spray. Apply it lightly and evenly through your strands. Twist hair in big sections (about one-inch each) from bottom to top to pump up your volume.

Problem: Curls that need to be calmed
Solution: A straightening balm (for shine) and a gel (for hold) to counter balance any craziness that occurs. You can also employ the “twist and shout” method detailed above here as well.
Result: In both instances, just shake out your strands and long, soft, natural waves will wash over you.

Gina also suggests applying a volumizer to your roots for hold even if you have excellent body already in existence (lucky ladies, whoever you are!). A little towel drying is a terrific start to summer styling—just enough to get the drip out. Then for my new ‘do, Gina did the following:

*She took two to three-piece sections of hair and brush/dry them down so that all of the hair blends together.

*She used a big, round brush on the crown. You can dry the roots on either side as you choose, but make sure the last movement you make on them goes forward. It’s the opposite way for your usual drying, but it will add more lift if you let it cool in the opposite direction.

Lastly, the most important aspect of hair care for this hot and sometimes humid season? HYDRATION. Always maintain that. Without it, hair breaks easily and too often. After 15 minutes or more outside, give it a quick rinse. And once a week a little extra TLC via treatments is important as well.

Oscar Blandi Salon at The Plaza
768 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10019-7930
(212) 593-7930

Hours of Operation:
Monday 9am-5pm
Tuesday and Wednesday 8am-6pm
Thursday 8am-8pm
Friday and Saturday 8am-6pm

Originally published June 2004



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