Friday, May 25, 2012

Back to Black: The Two Best NYC Salons I've EVER Been To

I figured it was time for a hair update since my new haircut in January and to divulge the two awesome salons I've been going to here in NYC.

This cut below that I mentioned briefly here (and on Twitter) was courtesy of The Hair Lounge and has received the most positive feedback out of any cut/style I've ever had! I came across the salon after considering going to Phyto Universe which I had bookmarked in 2009 when I was looking for a pre-wedding deep condition. At the time I ended up not going there, but as I was frustrated with my hair from the shedding and thinning this past fall/winter I re-visited my Yelp bookmarks and The Hair Lounge popped up when I looked at Phyto's bookmark at the beginning of this year. While The Hair Lounge only had a few reviews they were solid and sounded like exactly what I was looking for. 

Please excuse my un-groomed eyebrows!
Being the Type A person that I am, I took a different approach to my first appointment and created a PowerPoint of my hair history (yes, you read that right, a PowerPoint!). I decided after all the trouble I had finding a quality salon here in NYC that actually cared for my hair it would be best if the stylist could see what my hair has gone through and understand my challenges and hair goals (which I disclosed I would love to return to being natural someday).

I had my first appointment with Reggie, the owner, in January and this was the inspiration for my cut:

{Image Credit}
Reggie was very realistic with setting expectations and extremely personable yet professional. He really listened to me in regards to my challenges maintaining a style as a mom to a toddler and my health issues with lupus and hair loss. One of the best aspects of The Hair Lounge is that they are appointment only and have only 2 chairs so you are getting undivided attention while there - no fitting in between several other clients nor double/triple booking, an awful habit I found at many other salons that cater to black clients. 

My time was honored and I had fabulous results. Reggie didn't pull or tug on my hair with excessive heat as I had experienced at Dominican salons, and he didn't leave my relaxer on to burn my scalp either. I also appreciate that Reggie gave me advice on at-home maintenance and didn't try to "upsell" me on products or services but told me in response to my questions what other treatments would help my hair. My experience at the Hair Lounge was comfortable and pleasant and the calm environment was a welcome bonus!

I mentioned that there are two chairs at The Hair Lounge and I went again in February and then again in March, when Reggie was unavailable for my touch-up, but Sidney, the second stylist gave me a fabulous trim and style, helping me to maintain my cut as it grows out. You will be in good hands with either Reggie or Sidney and I highly recommend them. Here's how Sidney styled my hair:

Getting to Manhattan can be a challenge coming from we are in Jersey City (we're off the light rail, not the Path so it's a commute!). With schedule challenges, while I love, love, love The Hair Lounge, I needed to find a close option for me to go to and a fellow Jersey City mom recommended Image is Everything to me.

There are three stylists at Image is Everything and I booked my appointment with Romel. He started off with a consultation, which I appreciated instead of just jumping in and applying relaxer to my hair. He wanted to know my hair goals and while I didn't go in with a full blown PowerPoint (!) I did share my hair experience with him. He was also sensitive to my concerns with lupus and the recent hair loss I've been experiencing. Romel told me everything he was doing along the way and why he chose to do things the way he did. I also appreciate that he took notes on what he was doing to put in my file. While I usually wait 8 weeks between relaxers (I used to be a 6 week woman, but learned the importance of stretching), I went back to 6 weeks just this once since I was headed to south for our NC/SC trip and didn't want poofing.

Romel also did something else that I took to be a great mark of professionalism: he complimented the care that my hair had been given already at The Hair Lounge. So often when moving between one salon and another I've noticed some stylists like to bash whoever else is caring for my hair. Instead Romel complimented the cut and care I had received. He flat ironed my hair quickly, careful not to leave the flat iron on too long and dusted my ends, understanding that I'm growing out my hair and the last thing I want is a scissor-happy stylist. I was pleased with the results, but was used to a tad bit more volume (which I'll share in my 2nd visit pic below); I do have to caveat it was a humid night as it had rained earlier so some of the deflation was from that:

On to my 2nd visit at Image is Everything . . .

I've had gray hair since childhood (thanks Dad!) and one question I always ask a new stylist is their take on coloring relaxed hair. Some give rinses the same day, others say wait two weeks and will not do permanent color on relaxed hair while others do. I went back to Romel two weeks after my relaxer for a jet black glaze. He asked how I had liked my first results after living with it for two weeks (I washed it after a week for Mother's Day, which you can see self-styled here), and I let him know I wanted more body this time around and he delivered. Most importantly my grays are covered and ultimately, I'm very happy with my choice to continue with jet black:

I loved the results and so did Mr. Love Bird! AND I'm extra excited because Image is Everything has a loyalty program.

So after 5 years of living in NYC I'm excited that I finally have two go-to salons that I highly recommend and trust not just for great styling, but for actual hair care: The Hair Lounge and Image is Everything

If you go please tell them I sent you!