By Kelly Hushin
Fabulously glamorous? Absolutely. Wildly (and widely) renowned? Without a doubt.
Pretentious? Anything but.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting many a New York salon in my day – a feat that’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s easy to have good experiences; it’s difficult to have great ones. Rita Hazan accomplished the latter with such ease and comfort I felt like I was hanging out at a friend’s house – an incredibly talented friend who happens to give the best hair color in NYC.
If you haven’t heard of Rita by now and are an NYC gal into her look, we may suspect you’ve been living under a rock – but we will give you the benefit of the doubt and let it slide. Besides, that’s why we’re here, to alert you of new great talents on the beauty scene and to remind you of those that haven’t lost a bit of their respect or skill.
It was quite a surprise, actually, that it took me this long to pay a visit to the always-doing-some-celebrity’s-hair Rita, and her always-in-every-magazine salon. But with her new Rita Hazan Root Concealer which launched in March at Sephora, it was a perfect time for me to meet her and experience the expertise that she’s been so long touted for around the city and the world. Rita’s been practicing color for more than 15 years and has built herself into quite a brand. A sampling of her celebrity clients includes Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears…just to name a few. But despite Rita’s fame, she is still one of the most easy-going people you’ll encounter – and not just in the celebrity beauty realm, but in general.
That’s what struck me most about my experience. After walking through a lobby whose walls were literally lined with clippings from People, Us Weekly, Allure and more, I didn’t expect that when I met Rita she would be so…for lack of a better word…real. Even during New York Fashion Week – perhaps one of the most stressful times for hair stylists and colorists – she was relaxed, calm and completely composed. Frankly, it made me question my own stress and realize that perhaps a tip or two from Rita’s chilled-out vibe wouldn’t hurt. Naturally, the fact that her color lived up to every great thing that’s been said about her made me even happier.
She painted highlights similarly to the way any other colorist would do, used foils the same way most colorists do, and sent me off to the shampoo chair the same way all colorists eventually do. It wasn’t until an hour or so later, after stylist Christine Healey cut my hair and gave me a beautiful blow dry that I could see how perfect the color was. It was a subtle perfection – one recognizable to anyone familiar with highlights and how they should and shouldn’t look. Had I not had so many people work on my hair in a similar fashion in the past, I don’t think I would have noticed just how skilled Rita is.
So how does Rita keep her skills refined and her personality so open and approachable? In one word: passion. Rita says that everyday she likes coming to work and she has never had a problem understanding the needs of her clients. Does she suffer from a tinge of workaholic’s syndrome? Perhaps. According to Rita, high expectations and a demand for quality are necessary in New York.
“My sister got the marriage gene and I got the work gene,” she said. But she doesn’t regret an ounce of it – not the years she spent working with Oribe, or the 10-chair salon she had which eventually gave way to the current 30+ seat hair mecca. Not to mention the other services offered including makeup, mani/pedi, waxing, tanning, skincare and more. With all the growth and expansion she’s experienced, it was only natural that she start her own line of hair products.
Rita Hazan’s new Root Concealer product launched at Sephora in March
The first big launch in the line is the Root Concealer, a new aerosol spray for temporarily covering root regrowth quickly and easily. It has no parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes or any other borderline offensive chemical products. Rita, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, spent more than four years developing this line because she wanted to deliver something innovative and high quality which would solve the roots regrowth problem faced by so many women.
We doubt Rita will stop here – in fact we know she won’t. Her plan is to expand her product line and potentially open some international salons. She may be a New Yorker born and raised, but with her passion and creativity we’re confident her name will carry her across borders.
RITA HAZAN SALON
720 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10019