Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship

Hello Everyone! As most of you know by now, I was one of the winners of this round of the Vidal Sassoon Scholarship. This means a five day course at the prestigious Sassoon Academy, all expenses paid. I could not be more thrilled! As a lot of you know, this was not my first time entering. I am so glad I entered again and that my bud Neil was willing to work the project until we had a winning entry. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me get to this point! Especially Sam, Nita, Maureen, Richard and Elysia for being featured in the film.

Apparently February is the Time for Goals

Today I had a day completely off, which is rare for me.  I’m not traveling anywhere far in the next month.  I have had a lot of energy lately and I’ve stayed up late doing my taxes, cleaning my kitchen, cooking a freezing pots of food, etc. etc.  There is a relaxation in the house that is very foreign to me.

This time of year is often quieter.  I had a fair amount of weddings and travel in January but now I am enduring a true winter lull.  Today I found my goal list from just under a year ago and I remember feeling pretty down then.  Last February I didn’t know what exactly I wanted out of my career or if I would be able to achieve much.  I was in very poor health and actually crashed my car in a snow storm trying to get to a doctor’s appointment.  But one of the best ways for me to deal with a rough patch is to make lists and goals and keep looking forward even if I don’t know exactly where I’m going.

It’s funny thinking about how much changed in the months following that list.  I got to meet my sweet baby niece, train with the Doves and win the What’s Next Awards.  April was a month that changed everything.

My goal list from last year is interesting, because my five and ten year goals have completely changed.  At that time I was looking at other aspects of the beauty industry and wasn’t sure if being behind the chair was best for me.  Since then I have looked at a lot of different paths very seriously and I know I want to be behind the chair.  I know that my clients are the best reason to get up and go to work every day and the relationships formed with them are priceless.

As for my one year goals, most of them are met.  I wanted to cook more and keep my house cleaner, and while I am not exactly a domestic goddess… it has definitely improved.  I also wanted my health to improve and it definitely has.  And the biggest one was I wanted to help Richard graduate college, and we did it!  He graduated in December after 2.5 years off, which is a difficult feat.

So here’s to setting more goals.  I’ll tell you about them when I’m crossing them off.  😉

Notes from Sebastian Training, January 2014

Yes, there were times where I felt like I had flippers for hands. Yes, I was mentally exhausted from so much new information. And yes, it was the perfect start to 2014, at least in terms of my career.

First off, I left Pittsburgh in the nick of time! I have never experienced subzero temperatures so I was thrilled to be flying away as Pittsburgh thermometers were descending to unfamiliar depths. But with the unusual iciness it was not easy to get to Los Angeles! But after a few risks and a few miracles, I made it, and was soon sharing a shuttle to Woodland Hills with some of my favorites: Meghan, Josh and Tony! Such a positive and fun group to be around. They are so easy to be around, it’s easy for me to forget that I’d just met them last summer and that this training was technically my first.

Shortly after, I was reunited with Anthony, Isa, Matthew, Oscar and Heather Rae the next morning, and of course getting to see all of the core team, Christina and Carole, and a bunch of other cool dudes on Urban and Design Team that I don’t know quite as well.

Training started with a wonderful talk from Stephen Moody, the charismatic and successful Brit who has been all throughout recent hair history. His stage presence was inspiring. Then we jumped into the nitty gritty and got our hands on the blades and the shears and I felt like I had flippers for hands, trying so hard to get the cuts perfect. Over the next few days, more cuts, some styling and them presenting in pairs.

Throughout training, and really the last few months, I have felt weighed down by big decisions, most of the decisions circling around the concept of who I want to be. The last day of training I had a bit of a moment, where a lot clicked for me. We had an acting coach come in to guide us through some skits. I had a lot of fun with it and was very eager to jump up and do everything. The coach had started to rely on me as a goto Ginny pig. But then all of a sudden he wanted us to speak about things we loved. Could be anything, silly, deep, person, place, hobby, anything. I cycled through my brain thinking about what I could actually talk about without getting too emotional or sounding too crazy and nothing seemed like it was really representing me and really, at the heart of the matter, I am an extremely private person. Ultimately, I am fairly open to any specifics but always afraid of being type cast, put in a box.

Realizing how much I actually did hate talking about myself was somewhat eye opening. Of course the coach called on me first, and I gave him the, don’tmakemego eyes, and he let me off the hook for awhile. When everyone else went I thought a lot about what a love and what represents me as a person and as a hair stylist. I came up with a pretty good answer, I ended up not sharing it though because I got a good opportunity to talk about storing food in my purse on end and took the easy out.

But what I would’ve said is that what I love is helping people find themselves. I love looking in someone’s eyes and seeing what they need and knowing when I can give them what they need and knowing when they need time. I love healing people who hurt, distracting people from pain, getting people to think about what is important to them, which often times makes them realize they have most if not everything they need. I love making people feel the truth that they are special.

And that is why I started doing hair.

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🙂 🙂 🙂

I <3 My Clients

I was gone from the salon for about two weeks from training with Sebastian, assisting on some NAHA shoots in LA and gallivanting around Austin, TX. I will post more on that later. On the journey home, husband and I contracted food poisoning in the Houston airport…. Worst trip home ever after a phenomenal trip. But basically, I got back, went to the doctor and rested one day and was right back at work the following day, nice and early for a wedding, followed by a few hours of rest and then my salons belated holiday party for a little while. I disappointed everyone by forgetting it was an ugly sweater party. Everyone was expecting something bright and outrageous and I showed up in flowing black layers like some kind of goth pilgrim (I don’t know….)

But the point is, I was fairly worn down and still on a mostly liquid/cracker diet when I went into work today. I hate to feel physically worn down when I start the day.

And yet, as soon as I got to the salon and saw my jam packed day, I was just delighted. It is truly magical, the relationships you build in this industry. To be able to look at my day and see all these people that I have such a fondness for… It is awesome and it is exactly why I wanted to do this job.

Thank you, to my dear clients, for brightening my work days! And when any of you are having a down day, you know I will always do what I can to give you a little spark back. 🙂

<3<3<3
Rachel Lynn Carr

I guess YS Park deserves their cult following…

The elite in the hairdressing community have long praised YS Park, a Japanese company that makes legendarily awesome clips, combs, brushes and other such tools. I was not so convinced that one clip or comb could be that different from another. I has curious, but not enough to shell out for them. Clips are $6 for two and combs are $10+, and until Hairbrained reduced their shopping cost to slightly over $2, there was a hefty shipping charge on top of that. When Hairbrained lowered their shipping rates, I was hit by a moment of weakness and succumbed to my online shopping addiction.

When they arrived my first delight was how petite my clips and comb were. The comb was lighter than I was expecting, for allegedly being indestructible, and had some bend to it. It fit so perfectly into my hand, and that’s when it clicked that of course Asian brands will be more suited to my small, Asian stature. The first time I slid it through hair I was literally dumbfounded. I ordered one with fine teeth, and while the tension was still there, it slid through with such little friction. I didn’t even realize that every other comb I had ever used had been snagging and tugging hair out of poor design or teeth being out of place. I thought fine teeth just snagged more, which can be true, but this comb was so smooth and the tension was so even throughout the section. The clips were also light and unobtrusive, unlike the ones I normally use, which look more like a piece off of a transformer. Yet, they hold so much more hair than should be possible. They have a very unique design. Most clips bevel upwards, where these are indented down. I am amazed how well they work for both big and small sections. Also, the aluminum is colored rather than being painted metal, so don’t expect any chipping.

Incredible. Light. Durable.

I got their diffuser, too, but have not gotten to use it yet with anyone with super curly hair. But it is very nice and fits on any blow dryer.

Japan is the future.

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Vidal Sassoon Scholarship Entry

This was my entry for the Vidal Sassoon/Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship Competition. The competition grants ten winners an opportunity to train at one of the Sassoon academies in North America, providing $5,000 of support for travel, expenses and tuition.

I was not selected as a winner, but this entry was still a labor of love and friends and family are still coming to me and remarking on ways it inspired them, so I wanted to share it today. Enjoy!

Next Saturday: Fundraiser for City of Hope/Diabetes Research

Greetings Pittsburgh friends!

Next Saturday, November 30, my former teacher/current boss, Derek Piekarski, will be hosting a fundraiser for City of Hope at his new salon space. City of Hope and the P&G Professional Hair Care lines have been partnering to search for a cure for diabetes with the Hope is in Style Campaign. Come on out if you are in town that night, hang out with a bunch of cool people, drink some beer, and help support the cause!

Diabetes is a disease that hits particularly close to home for me. I grew up in a family with a lot of diabetics, and I always assumed everyone had diabetic relatives until I went away to college and realized how many misconceptions there are regarding diabetes. Most of my aunts and uncles are diabetic, on both sides of my family, as well as three out of my four grandparents, one parent and one sibling.

As many of you know, I am biracial so the two sides of my extended family have very little in common. My mother is Chinese, and one of the few non-diabetics in her family. Two of her siblings are diabetic, but are quite slim/petite. They have Type 1 Diabetes. They eat well, and mostly always have, yet they still need to watch carefully (including making sure they don’t eat too much fruit or other sources of natural sugar). Her little brother was diabetic from a young age, and despite his healthy lifestyle and decades of taking insulin he is awaiting a new kidney and liver. He is in his mid-fifties with two teenage sons.

The Caucasian side of my family is ripe with diabetes. They mostly have Type 2. Both of my grandparents on this side of the family were diabetic. My grandparents both died in their sixties. And more recently, my father’s older sister passed away, also in her late sixties, after at least a decade of regular in home dialysis treatments. Dialysis is a common treatment for diabetics. Basically you are hooked up to a machine that filters your blood because your organs are no longer able to.

My father is also diabetic, but with the help of my mother has always worked very, very hard to eat well, and is on his way to being the first in his immediate family to make it to 70 in a few years. He does have the genetic predisposition towards diabetes, but he is also a Vietnam Veteran and Veteran’s Affairs acknowledges a spike in diabetes for Vietnam Veterans due to exposure to Agent Orange. He probably would have been diabetic eventually regardless, but who can say for sure whether he may have had a few more years disease free? And regardless is it is true for him, countless other veterans may have diabetes due to Agent Orange exposure.

During my sister’s first pregnancy she was diagnosed with Type 3 Diabetes, which is the only sort of diabetes that isn’t necessarily lifelong. Type 3 develops while a woman is pregnant and then usually goes away after, but it is a warning sign that the woman may develop Type 2 later on.

I tell clients that I try to eat well because I am worried about diabetes, and they always say, “But you are so petite!” And I am, but I have seen diabetes in every shape and size and it is not only no fun, it is also deadly.

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The Importance of Using Products Effectively, Part II

Sometimes we try products that we have only heard marvelous things about and we hate them. Sometimes products that work well on others don’t work for us, but before you through away that high end foundation, try putting it on a different way. This is a troubleshooting post for everyone out there that just can’t get their facial products to work for them.

Skincare
People go for power, power, power in their products. But for skin care it is not about power, it is about balance. I see a lot of people that over exfoliate and have issues with redness, and others who under exfoliate and their skin is dry, dull and lifeless. You don’t need salicylic acid in your face wash if you only occasionally breakout, or for one or two pimples. Be kind to your skin! A lot of issues people have with their foundation is due to over or under exfoliating. Healthy skin is always the first step.

Similarly, a lot of people over or under moisturize. Plump skin is all about a healthy balance of oil and water. Drink lots of water and use a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin. Even people with oily skin should moisturize.

With moisturizer, it is also important to know when to use it. Some will work better at night but might be too slick under makeup. Most are more effective on slightly damp skin, but will be diluted if your face is too wet or won’t soak in if your skin is too dry. If you haven’t exfoliated, the roughed up surface skin can keep the moisturizer from penetrating your skin.

Foundation
There are so many ways to apply foundation. Before returning or throwing out a nice foundation, always experiment with application. Some foundations can appear too heavy if you use too much. Dotting the foundation onto your forehead, nose and a few dots on your cheeks can be enough and then blend. A lot of people only need foundation on certain parts of their face, so on some people I just focus around eyes, on cheeks and over nose then blend outward. Sometimes blending with your hands can push the product around without much control, in which case a brush or sponge my work better. A makeup sponge will give maximum coverage. Always tap the product on rather than wiping. On some people a brush will cause microexfoliation (flaking).

Also, know whether a foundation needs a primer. Most are designed to work best with a primer these days, but through reviews and research you can sometimes see how necessary it is. Sometimes moisturizer and primer under foundation is just too much. Also, not all primers are equal. So a primer that works well with one foundation might not work with another. They can literally separate like oil and water.

If your foundation is oxidizing (turning orange over the course of the day) sometimes primer or setting powder will help. Some just do and if so, toss it.

Concealer
As I said before with primer, when you mix brands sometimes products don’t sit well together. For example a water based foundation and an oil based concealer might separate, so watch out. Some concealers are better for the undereye area and others are more focused on blemishes and dark spots. Always think about your goal for your concealer, as some will be heavier with more of a makeup feel.

A good brush can make all the difference with concealer. A good rule of thumb is to have the brush be a similar size to what you are trying to conceal, so a tiny brush for pimples and a more small/medium size one for undereyes. Make sure you aren’t getting reverse circles by painting too far outside the lines, especially if you out concealer on after foundation.

Make sure not to use too much, as it can cause flaking or creasing, make sure the undertone is right. I know some people recommend two shades lighter but that isn’t necessarily what you want, depending on your skill set and intention.

A lot of creamier concealers work better if they are first warmed on the back of your hand.

Dabbing concealer with a sponge or tissue after application can help keep it from moving, but removing excess oil.

Powder
Not all powders are the same. Some can be made to have as much coverage of a foundation, others are merely for setting. Also know that some you can use a lot and others must be used sparingly. Also remember that some foundations are meant to set without powder.

Some powders can be used alone or to set foundation, in which case the brush is very important. To get coverage out of a powder foundation you want an extremely dense brush. I have a small mineral brush from Sephora that looks kinda like a little kabuki brush with a long handle. I love it and I can get so much coverage. It is very soft and I can just buff and buff and with my Smashbox powder, it looks like skin. Sometimes I use my powder to set instead or to add just a touch more coverage and I use a fluffy powder brush. With setting, be careful not to wipe the foundation around, use a soft, dabbing motion and a light hand. Sometimes dabbing foundation and concealer with a tissue first will help remove excess oil before powder to prevent clumpy looking powder.

Eyeshadow, Brow Products, Liner
Experiment with primer and brushes if your eyeshadow isn’t “working.” For brows, experiment with brushes. Even if it is more of a pencil type product, you will probably want to smudge it with a brush. Most eyeliners will have better staying power if you set them with black or brown (or whatever) eyeshadow after applying. Some look better when smudged with a brush.

The Importance of Using Products Effectively, Part I

We’ve all done it. We see someone’s makeup or hair and immediately have to know what they are using. We read reviews online, we ask people we trust and we buy, buy, buy. But no matter how great something looks on someone else, sometimes it is not right for us. However, if you are repeatedly trying new products that are highly endorsed by sources you trust and you are not seeing the results you want, sometimes the issue isn’t the product, it might be the application.

I can’t tell you that there is exactly one way to do anything, but I am going to go through some different product types and give some different tips and tricks!

Mousse, Gel and other Form-Building Products

Some products are more for detailing and others are more for structure. The most important thing for structure supporting products like mousse and gel is to make sure they are thoroughly dispersed through the hair, especially inside of the hair. In really dense hair, it can be difficult to get product throughout the interior of the hair. A lot of people will just take the product and plop it on the surface of their hair, which will cause the weight of the product to collapse the shape of the hair, and can even make it crispy in places. I always emulsify the product through my palms and fingertips and then start at the back hairline and massage the product through the root area and then pull it through the ends. That way the majority of product is on the interior and then the product is lighter through the ends. You can always go back in and put more product on the ends, but it is harder to get inside the hair once there is a lot of product on the ends.

Product will not create the maximum volume unless it gets to the roots. If you aren’t getting the root dry during your blowout, your hair will flatten as it continues to dry. So be sure that the root is going in the direction you want while you are pre-drying your hair before you pull out a round brush.

Pomades, Clays, Waxes and Putties

These are the detailing products.  If it comes in a tub, it probably fits in this category. For short hair styling it is important to start with small amounts of products and thoroughly emulsify the products in your hands before going into the hair. Also, like above, you need to really press the product into the interior of the hair. To get that tousled look you really want to give yourself a little scalp massage with the product. If you focus on the ends it will just be weighed down. Detail ends with the product left on your hands after you have already pressed the majority into the root area. For controlled looks you still want to press the product all throughout the hair, root to end, but make sure to continuously direct it in the direction you want it to go.

For medium or long hair, make sure not to use too much as it can weigh the hair down. Sometimes that is the goal, but you don’t want the hair to look droopy. Start small and emulsify into your hands. You can always go back for more product afterwards.

Hairspray

First of all, use the correct spray for your needs! A common mistake is to reach for the most intense spray possible, but sometimes stronger sprays will collapse the hair instead of keeping the volume.

For use with hot tools, use a light to medium hold working spray and don’t hold the can too close to your head. Make sure it is evenly distributed and try not to overdo it. You don’t want your hair crunchy! Too much spray while working can just cause the flyaways to be stickier and crispier. I prefer Shaper Zero Gravity for curling iron sets.

The really tacky firm sprays are more for flyaways on slicked back hair. Mist hair with spray then smooth flyaways with tail comb.

For volume at root you can spray a medium-firm spray on partings (like where you would tease) and even hit it with the blow dryer to dry spray into the hair. I do this when I tease but it can be done without teasing, too.

Finish with a mist of spray that is suited to your hair type. Lighter sprays for fine hair and firmer sprays as needed for thicker hair. Remember that spraying hair at the end will help seal a look, but to really help it hold it is important to use other products to create the form before that last step. Without the structural support of mousse or gel, it will fall. A firm structure will keep it from collapsing.

Oils and Shine Serums

Know the weight of the product you are using. A lot of these products are easy to get carried away with. Don’t for a second think that since you have used one oil or shine serum that others will react to your hair the same way. Some are very heavy and it is important to use small amounts. Some are better put in wet, others dry, and still others can be used both ways. Some oils will feel like they aren’t there at all until all of a sudden there is way too much. Always start with the manufacturers’ instructions and then go from there.

When in Doubt, Read

Some products are activated when they are shaken. Others look like they would go in wet but go in dry and vice versa. Some are focused at the root (although, you should always pay attention to the root). Some look like one type of product but they are something else. A lot of times the directions will hint at the amount you should use, which can be crucial. Don’t say a product is too heavy until you have tried using less and really focusing where you are putting it, and don’t say something is too light until you have tried using more.  Products are your friends.  Be patient with them and pay attention to the feedback you are getting.  And when in doubt, ask your hairstylist.

Stay tuned for Part II, with makeup application tips.

What I have been up to lately

Hello everyone! I have been neglecting this blog rather badly lately. So just wanted to leave a quick post on what I have been up to.

First off, I was in Oregon for a couple weeks helping my friend get married and visiting family and kicking back and relaxing by a lake.

After that I had my audition for the Sebastian Urban Team and also organized a hair and makeup team for my friends stocking company, Stocking Noir.

More recently I have been working on my Vidal Sassoon Scholarship Contest video entry, for $5,000 to use for Sassoon training. Elysia, my stocking friend, and her boyfriend Neil have been helping out a great deal, lending their time and talents.

Coming up right away in October I have my NAHA shoot and then I will be styling on stage at Intercoiffure in NYC.

Lots of excitement on its way!
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