Hair is Seasonal; a Lesson From Two Salon Experts:
‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and the ‘Madonna of Hair’


Sweaters are on, fingerless gloves are in, pashminas are wrapping, boots are strutting, coats are buttoned, tans are fading and hair…well, somehow hair is still Pam Anderson blonde and dry as the Sahara. Not that there’s anything wrong with blonde, but let’s face it; this is New York City, not Malibu.

If you find your hair is falling behind all the trend catch-up you’re playing with the rest of your style, you need a pick-me-up. Perhaps your blonde locks are au-natural and you have no desire to change them, but for those of us streaking our hair with toxic bleach, it’s time for your hair to rest and rejuvenate. A darker look will give it a chance to get away from bleach and take solace in the fact that for the next few months it will be getting pampered.

It might seem cliché and overdone – going darker for fall – but according to the pros, a seasonal change is apropos.

“No one wants to be the same all the time,” said Peter Jon Ripley, colorist at the Christopher Stanley Salon ( (who I have aptly named ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley).

He and his colleagues explained to me that most people’s hair is “seasonal.” What they meant is that especially in the summer months, when humidity and heat become overbearing, hair becomes a whole new monster. “Unless you are Asian, you most likely have seasonal hair,” said Peter.

“I want to do what’s best for the hair. I change my clients probably at least twice a year because you don’t want to stay light blonde for the whole winter. You want to step it up.” And that is just what Peter did to my suffering head of hair.

The last time I’d been to the salon, I must confess, I went a bit overboard with the blonde. I was thinking, “It’s summer, why not be a little daring?” I have since learned that a bucket full of bleach does not equal daring, it equals dumb. Though I liked the striking platinum for a little while, I soon realized that it made my hair look and feel like dried out straw; especially since the cut was making my ends look like they’d endured electric shock.

My talented colorist told me that at the Christopher Stanley salon, they’re “all about natural.” Even when the seasons change and clients are looking to follow suit, they rarely change a person’s base color and try to steer clear of bleach.

“I use as little bleach as possible,” he said. “The most important thing is to have beautiful hair, and right up there with beautiful hair is healthy hair. You can’t have beautiful damaged hair just like you can’t have ugly, healthy hair. What are you going to do with damaged hair?”

I certainly couldn’t answer his question, so he and the rest of the staff answered it for me – fix it. In order to do that, Peter plunged me neck deep into a color process that was unlike any I’d ever experienced. He and assistant manager, Billy Ray Church, painted my hair with four different Goldwell brand colors, encasing each strip in a layer of gilded foil. By the time they were through, I literally looked like a golden porcupine. Never in my life have I had a foil treatment with so many foils. As if that didn’t impress me enough, Ripley continued the coloring by going in between each foil and applying a foaming color product for the pieces that were still blonde but needed a blending/toning to match the rest of the head that would soon have an all-new shade.

As my colorists were working hard to paint me a new seasonal shade, Stanley came over to talk to me about my hair. Co-owner of the salon with stylist Christopher Gamper, Stanley is the name he goes by.

“So his name is Stanley?” I asked Peter as Stanley walked by.

“Yes, that’s what he’s goes by,” he replied.

“So it’s a one-name deal, like Madonna, or Cher?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Peter. “He’s the Madonna of Hair.”

As we laughed at the thought, Madonna wheeled his chair right up next to me to chat. What I discovered from him after much discussion was that not only is it perfectly healthy to give your hair a winter-appropriate boost, it’s best to cut back on the cleansing that you might wrongly think is necessary.
“The cosmetic industry wants us to think that we’re dirty,” Madonna said (OK, fine – Stanley said). “But we’re not.”

He made me recall all those commercials where we see women suds-ing up their hair in the shower with such a fervor that you’d think they were digging for gold or mining for the next available oil resource. Stanley made me wonder; is there really a need to work that hard to clean your hair?

“Our salon philosophy is if you’re shampooing more than three times a week, it’s too much,” he said. “You’re not dirty, so why shampoo?”

My rebuttal?

“But what about after the gym, when my hair’s all sweaty, don’t I need to shampoo?”

“Ahhhh, there’s the kicker,” Stanley replied. “People think sweat is dirt. It’s not. Your hair needs those oils.” He suggested spending a pretty penny on a Mason Pearson nylon and natural boar bristle brush to use in such a scenario (Check out our Holiday Indulgences story for more info!).

“It might sound gross, but after the gym, when your hair is all sweaty, brush your hair with the Mason Pearson brush. The bristles will bring all those essential oils down into the ends of your hair.” Feel free to shower afterwards, and condition, but there’s no need to shampoo unless you’re due.

After Billy gave me a good rinse and relaxing scalp massage, I was ready to see the results – which were complemented further by an authentic Stanley trim. Even though it was nearly 9:00 p.m., Stanley insisted on staying to complete the look with a cut. “I couldn’t let you walk out of here unfinished,” he said.

I was absolutely clueless as to what sort of cut to go with, but Stanley talked me out of bangs. I had a semblance of them coming in, but because of the texture of my hair, he said they didn’t work and pointed to the seasonal concept as the issue. I agreed that bangs would be a no-go this time and instead, I opted for a more sophisticated look, with a blunt baseline cut and a sweeping, angled look in the front.

Looking in the mirror at my new, seasonal ‘do, I could say nothing but “Thank you,” over and over again. Madonna and the Talented Mr. Ripley had turned me on to a new level of hair intellect, and it’s doubtful that I’ll ever be able to turn back.

Christopher Stanley Salon
48 West 22nd St.
New York, NY 10010
T: 212.924.2877

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