In a city where news lasts but a day and loyalty is unheard of, there’s one person a girl never betrays: her hair stylist. But despite my loyalty to Devachan’s Carlos I took the plunge and went outside two comfort zones – my neighborhood and my salon.
Inside the inconspicuous ground floor salon that is Yves Durif’s uptown outpost, Mark, the quirky L.A. press agent, immediately welcomed me. Once ushered to the main area upstairs, a minimalist room adjoined by two alcoves, a flock of women descended on me to assist. Was I getting a conditioning treatment, a cut, or both? The plan was to try the new conditioning treatment from PRoFOUND but when you are offered a cut by one of the fashion world’s best stylists, there’s no decision to make. If one of Conde Nast’s chiefs can trust him with his appearance, so can I. But first the treatment.
Maria Mora, a resident colorist, promptly brought me to the first alcove, where she untangled my mess of tresses and slathered on the conditioner. Working it through with a comb and her fingers for about 10 minutes, she then left me to let it saturate and repair the hair shaft, which is its main claim. While the conditioner was working its wonder, Mark, the hyperactive, comical press agent began explaining the PRoFOUND line to me.
Developed by former Aveda executive Bob Salem, and Nikos Mouyiaris, president of Mana Products, PRoFOUND operates under two philosophies: that hair care must offer more options than dry, oily or damaged, and that hair needs an anti-aging regimen, too. Mark explained that aging hair soaks up water because of the dry nature, but if you observe a baby the hair shaft is intact and healthy, so water slides off. Over time, our hair is exposed to the same elements that harm our skin. Coloring our hair causes more damage because as color permeates the cuticle, an inner layer of the shaft, the scales that protect it open up to let in dye, but that also means they let in damaging environmental factors too.
PRoFOUND products do for the hair what anti-aging products do for the face – while face creams permeate the epidermis and the dermis to moisturize and stimulate collagen production, these hair products use Ampholyte Complex, a solution comprised of amino acids, proteins and surfactants, to repair and strengthen hair follicles by penetrating the cortex, an inner layer of the shaft. In essence, PRoFOUND is doing what many serious skin care companies aim to – restore long-term health via a healing process targeting the inner layer of the shaft, rather than providing short-term moisture by coating the cuticle, the outer layer. “It’s about the anatomy of hair,” says Maria. “It restores the structure of the cuticle over time using products and treatment, sometimes, returning to what it was like as a child.”
However, the philosophy does not end there. The line customizes products not by mixing a different shampoo and conditioner for each client, but via trained stylists who analyze the client’s hair and choose a regimen based on the texture, scalp condition and health of hair. Clearly, it’s nothing new to design different products for oily and dry hair, and straight and curly hair, but until now there hasn’t been a line that drew further distinctions. PRoFOUND products cater to uncommon combinations, such as the person who has an oily scalp but coarse hair, or a dry scalp with fine texture. The solution is a system that specifies what percentage of the shampoo has a cleanser and what percentage of the conditioner has moisturizing agents. The cleansing guide is broken down into four categories: oily scalp, normal to oily, normal to dry, and dry scalp. Within the four categories, there are two options based on texture. The extremes range from oily scalp with fine hair, to dry scalp with coarse hair. Where the former might require a shampoo with 90 percent cleanser 10 percent conditioner, that latter would treat the client with 60 percent cleanser 40 percent moisturizer. Moving onto the conditioner, the oily scalp with fine hair would use a conditioner comprised of 40 percent cleanser and 60 percent conditioner, and coarse, curly or overly processed hair would receive one with 5 percent cleanser and the balance conditioner. The extensive line also offers home conditioning treatments meant for use once a week. They also produce an array of products that create volume, control frizz or define curls.
Though Yves Durif salon only began carrying PRoFOUND recently, their break with longtime supplier, Aveda, demonstrates their belief in the line, which scientists developed over a six-year period. But the products and the man endorsing them are equally remarkable.
There’s nothing quiet about Yves but he has a confidence that is not intimidating and his nature is one of genuine cordiality. Perhaps it’s his beginning. When I asked him how he decided to become a hairstylist, his response was unexpected. As a 14-year-old teenager in France, he was horrible at math and looking back, professes that he probably had ADD. Obviously, his options were limited – choose the wrench or the shears. His choice is obvious and his teenage years progressed with an apprenticeship and show competitions, where judges encouraged the art of hair styling. At these shows, Yves explained, you had to both draw the style you were creating and then bring it to life on a model.
This journey through his childhood and the beginning of his career unravels as I watch in awe as he sizes me up, and snips away at my rejuvenated locks, without hesitation. Watching him, the first image that pops into my mind is of the movie Edward Scissorhands because he is so quick and adept, you hardly see his hands moving or the hair falling to the shiny white floor. And yet, you trust him completely, because his method is one of an artist more than a stylist. To watch someone like Yves work, you see there is a vision in everything he does – it’s why he can run his fingers through your hair and within a few minutes map out a plan of the cut and style. Where his method differs from a visual artist’s is that his vision can be achieved almost immediately – he is not struggling on the floor as Pollock did – he is standing behind a woman, taller than he, snipping away to reveal a side of her she has never seen.
When asked why he cuts with the person standing, he responds, “You need to be able to see how the person perceives his or herself.” This philosophical approach combined with his industry experience that makes him a great stylist. Though he is an artist at heart, it’s a different kind. An artist that paints or performs is in essence producing to change the world, find himself or resolve some marriage of the two, bubbling, entwined in the superego, as Freud put it. Yves knows exactly who he is. What he accomplishes through his work is to help men and women love themselves a bit more, through the confidence a good hairstyle brings.
The most surprising tidbit about my visit to his salon, though, was not meeting this wonderful man, who is playful and successful, a rare combination in the upper rankings of capitalist America, but realizing that indeed this conditioning treatment works.
In the 15 years I spent fighting my nappy curls, I never once attempted to comb my mane with those small black combs that suit balding men or fine-haired femmes. But, Yves was able to glide one through my hair after the treatment. Not only that, his use of the fine-toothed comb served a deliberate purpose – it separated the hair strands and after a bit of diffusing and product application, my hair was soft and fluffy. I asked myself on the bus downtown, have curls ever been looser or fluffier after inches were removed? If I had to ask, the answer is obvious. So, if you need a change, or crave the glow that accompanies it, you know where to find the miracle maker.
PRoFOUND products are available at Yves Durif Salon 103 East 65th Street 212.452.0954 www.yvesdurif.com