Hair Care

By Kathryn Holl

What do you do when you’re getting married in Australia and your colorist/stylist is in Manhattan? Fly her to Sydney, of course! That’s what one of Ann Minihan’s many loyal clients did on her big day because she just didn’t want to trust her tresses to anyone else. So we decided to seek her advice as well. BN caught up with Ann at her two-chair hair haven Riah Salon on Mott Street (near Spring) to get her expert tips on fabulous wedding hair and to try out the unbelievable hair color glaze by Robert Craig.

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to the ambiance at Riah, but the lack of superfluous decorations does not deter a vast client base from all walks of life. From doctors and accountants to musicians and writers, Riah attracts a variety of clientele. Unlike most of the salons we frequent, it has only two chairs, one sink and one shelf-stocked with various products that Ann discovers in her travels from Europe to Canada. Her holistic approach to hair care and endless knowledge of color is apparent as soon as you sit in her chair and take your first sip of organic herbal tea. With over sixteen years of experience, she truly believes in the crux of her profession – the clients and more importantly, their hair.

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After my initial consultation with Ann, I had a chance to chat with her about how she prepares her female clients for their wedding day. She suggests that the bride color her hair one to two weeks before the actual date of the event to space out any changes that may occur in hair’s texture or actual color from the process. She doesn’t think brides should stray too far from their original color or the shade unless they’re sure they won’t stress over a last-minute change. Ann suggests regular cuts (every five weeks) while allowing hair to grow in. Letting hair grow will allow a bride to have more options for her look on the big day. She prefers to do “buzz cuts” for brides-to-be, where she only cuts a client’s bangs and cleans up any layers around the face.

Ann’s not only an expert cutter and colorist, but she’s also a sought after stylist. She suggests that the bride brings in as many pictures of the potential styles she is considering for the big day, and that the bride books at least one run-through or “dress rehearsal” with her hair professional so she knows exactly how it will look the day of the wedding. Ann thinks the run-through should not last for more than an hour and a half. She feels the most important thing is to do is to make the bride as comfortable as possible. Some things to take into consideration when choosing a style include the season and climate and whether the nuptials will take place inside or outdoors. As for styles, Ann confirms that an updo is still the most popular style for bridal hair, but she does get requests for a nice blow-out or a simple low ponytail with a few curls. A “swoop” with curls in the back is still popular, but nowadays styles are becoming less traditional (a la French twist) and more contemporary with subtle, simple looks.

Another tip for brides is not to wash their hair the day of the wedding. “Over-shampooing can break down the hair shaft and hyperactivate the scalp causing over-production of oils,” says Minihan, “One drop of shampoo – especially on your big day – and hair will be thicker and puffier.” Also, for the run-through, she always reminds brides to let their stylist know if they plan to wear a veil or not and to bring any hair accessories they plan to wear the day of the wedding.

Ann’s open-mindedness, love of her vocation, and passion for natural beauty affects the products she uses. “In this industry, it is really important what we put into our environment as well as what we put into our bodies and on our heads.” It is this reason why Ann is one of the only salon owners in Manhattan who uses the Robert Craig hair glaze. This breakthrough glaze makes a huge difference in hair’s shine and manageability, and unlike foils, the line of demarcation (the stripe that appears at your roots when your hair color begins to grow out) is more gradual and not as distinct. This is a perfect way to keep hair looking shiny and avoid ghastly roots – especially on the day you say “I do.” Best of all, this glaze can be used on pregnant women – unlike any other coloring product on the market.

Robert Craig hair glaze contains the lowest amount of PPD, yet is effective enough to cover grays and revitalize old highlights. Although this glaze won’t lighten hair, it neutralizes all colors without an unpleasant odor. According to Ann’s assistant Abby, you have to be creative when you mix and apply this particular glaze. The process is tricky and takes time to learn and formulate. Ann compares it to learning how to cook. Robert Craig gave Ann a niche where many other salon owners were not willing to learn its intricate process.

As for my hair, it looks fantastic! Ann used two colors of a high lift tint with a violet base to cancel out yellow and a neutral color to smoke up my blonde. After applying the tint, the glaze was next. This was the most relaxing part of my color experience as the glaze is applied warm and is pushed and massaged into the scalp, sealing the hair cuticles. After massaging the glaze into my hair, it was rinsed with plenty of warm water. Never once did I sit under an infrared dryer. The moist steam from the five-minute-long water rinse acted as an accelerator. While the Robert Craig glaze might just sound a bit unbelievable, it’s actually Ann’s prices that may just blow you away. For a New York stylist, her pricelist is extremely reasonable.

I could have spent hours at Riah chatting with Ann and Abby. The environment there is so warm and free of any pretension. And according to Ann being a salon owner or stylist isn’t about the best-selling shampoo, the volumizer that gets the most press, or the hair spray that all the A-list celebrities use, it’s about the client and their hair. And that’s why she named her salon Riah – “Hair” spelled backwards – a personal statement from a woman who takes hair personally.

For more information, visit: http://www.riahltd.com.

Riah Salon
209 Mott Street @ Spring
New York, NY 10012
212.925.4087

Originally published May 2006
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