Just some musings after a Elevate Hair (Austin)

It’s been a long time since I posted for a few simple reasons.  I mainly fell out of habit due to traveling a lot and dividing my time between salon life and my life as an educator.  A lot of people do a lot more and still have time for impeccable social media involvement, but for me I was starting to feel a phoniness about it and it’s just not how I wanted to spend my time.  Then as I quietly stepped down from my teaching position,  I didn’t feel like I had a voice anymore, or maybe I wanted to keep that voice to myself.

Tonight was a really incredible night at Austin’s Elevate Hair event, which is supported by the Hairbrained community.  It was a really nice opportunity for me to get a little taste of everything in the industry and for me to reflect on the choices I’ve made in my career.  In short, I am really, really happy with where I am right now.  I’ve had a really exciting career and I’ve seen this industry from a lot of angles.  But having a solid home base, with so many coworkers I adore and that inspire me and push me daily, that’s a really special thing.  I ran into a stylist from a salon I taught at a few years back in Houston, and it was really cool to have someone tell me how skills I taught had actually changed how they cut hair.  I really do appreciate the time I was able to spend teaching and the ability to pass on techniques that were passed down to me.  But I also know that stepping back was the right thing to do.  This past year has been about working my skill set, growing with my clientele and reconnecting with the things that inspired me to become a hairstylist.  And this next year will be about my (growing) family.  But it’s a pretty awesome feeling to be in a position where you can see many other paths that you could be on, and to still be satisfied with the road you’ve taken.

I have a lot of cool stuff I’ve been up to, but just never posted about: training with ZGAT this year, this event tonight and also a little video work. I wouldn’t expect any posts soon, but hopefully I can get some updates going in the near future.  And thanks, always, to Hairbrained for being an awesome community and keeping things real. 

Hair in London and Dublin

I didn’t get many great pictures, but when I think of hair in London, I think of softly diffused/almost faded colors that were still somehow very vibrant.  It almost had the feel that hair had light projected or reflected onto it, rather than being that color.  It was very cool, and had a very soft and intentional effect without seeming overly contrived.  London, like here, though, is in the midst of a return-of-the-grunge phase, so it was at times difficult to tell who was fashionable and who had just rolled out of bed.  Not that that isn’t one of my favorite styles 😉  The most striking thing to me, which I sadly didn’t get any pictures of, was the variations in reds there.  I believe you could trace this partly back to the fact that London has a higher rate of natural red heads and strawberry blondes.  Peeking through the color cabinet, there are a lot more shades in the red and warm brown families, but also red shades that are a bit more ashed out.  In the US I feel like most of the clients that go red go REEEED, but in London there were a loft of softened reds, some of which were quite natural, others that seemed matted down, but in a very cool and interesting way, and still quite vibrant.  In Camden, where I was staying, there were a lot of pinks, purples, blues, etc.

Dublin, unsurprisingly, felt a lot more raw, but also rough in places.  The city was much more outgoing and friendly.  Their alternative crowd felt much more authentically DIY between their dress and their overall style.  Some cool hair, some of which may have been bathroom haircuts, but I’m not one to judge.  We enjoyed catching some street music (picture below) and even had some Irish punk teenagers offer us some beer out of their back packs.


Some brushes worth buying from Denman

Denman is a well known company in the hairdressing community, specificly in reference to the classic 7-row and 9-row rubber Denman brushes.  I actually don’t prefer the classic Denman brushes, there are some others I like a little bit better.  But some of their grooming brushes are worth checking out.  I think of the Denman brand to be of consistent good quality but more reasonably priced.  These aren’t super high end brushes, but always work well and do what they say.

For me, at four years into my career, can’t justify shelling out for a Mason Pearson when my Denman cusion brushes work well.  I use the small boar bristle for almost every updo.  Perfect for a soft tease or to smooth.  The small size makes it perfect for getting close to the root.  I also use the large boar bristle a lot on my thick haired clients before a dry cut or braiding.  Love them!

large cushion

Also, this straightening brush is pretty cool.  It has the perfect amount of tension (I was worried it would be too much), does a great job polishing the hair and also smooths and shines the hair quite a bit.  You can get a little bit of a bevel with it, if you need.  Also, easy on the wrist compared to smoothing someone with a round brush.

straightening brush

Anyway, most of their brushes range from $15-30, which is pretty good for professional quality.  Check them out on their official US site.

Why a Haircut Can’t Change Your Life (Unless You Make It)

As a hairstylist, I have a lot of power to relax, de-stress and, when I’m lucky, empower my clients.  I say, “when I’m lucky,” simply because if I could do this every day, I would be the happiest hairstylist around.  But the fact is, I just cut the hair.  And sometimes color it.  At the end of the day, I am paid to do the very odd job of changing the appearance of protein filaments protruding from the head.  And all the personal, cultural and social entanglements of these protein filaments is baggage that I just don’t have control over.

At times this is a really distressing reality.  Clients come in with all sorts of problems: break ups, social anxiety, work stress, family drama and everything else that comes with living life.  I have always been the type to want to help everyone.  And in the short term, I can help.  I give a good head massage and I am a pro at comfortable silences when they are needed… or distracting with light conversation when that is needed.  I love people.  One on one time with anyone and I can find something to like about them.  But I can’t save people.  I am not a doctor or a therapist or a firefighter or a member of the coast guard…. I’m just a hairdresser.

In my perfect world, people would feel less tied down to societal norms regarding their hair.  And I don’t mean I want people more comfortable with rocking pink mowhawks in the work place, I just mean that hair wouldn’t be a source of extreme stress for anyone.  I wish women didn’t feel like their sexuality were tied to the length of their hair and that men didn’t feel like their virility were tied to the thickness of theirs.  I wish people could be celebratory of whatever they have and enjoy their hair and not have to fight with it so much.  I wish hair didn’t have to be so damn symbolic.

But it is.  And all the time people come in expecting a cure for a breakup.  Or use a haircut as a motivation to get something else right in their life.  And by all means, a haircut can help.  It can help quite a bit!  But it can’t do all the work.  I can’t do all the work.

A haircut can be the catalyst for HUGE changes in a person’s life and for how they and the world view themselves.  But without confidence and purpose, a haircut is nothing.  Hair cannot work alone.  Sometimes it is as simple as a few new wardrobe items, a pair of shoes, a different blush or lipstick.  Sometimes it is much, much more complicated.  If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I look good,” it doesn’t matter what the hair is doing.  Someone who goes out into the world after a big hair change without confidence is going to get much more mixed reactions.  Dying your hair a different color will not bring back your boyfriend.  Cutting all of your hair off will not make you a suddenly independent and free thinking woman.  I do, personally, believe that women should experience their hair at different lengths throughout their lifetime.  But when you wake up the day after a haircut or color, you’re still the same person, except a day older and with different hair.

I love change and I love being a part of changes in the lives of clients!  I love to watch people grow and adapt and evolve, and to make them look good while they do it.  But, honey, if you think I can make it happen by myself… well, I wish I could.

2014 Retrospective via Instagram

Here’s what I looked like this time last year.  I know, I know, my hair has been longer and then shorter again and now I look pretty much the same.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be in Pittsburgh by now, but then I wasn’t completely sure where I’d be.

Then the polar vortex tried to keep me from getting to LA for training. But I had just upgraded to a smart phone and a leather jacket.  So I was pretty much above it all.   

I had some leisure time in LA and it made me wonder why people live in such cold, miserable places.  And it took me pretty much all of my travels in 2014 to finish.    

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Breakfast date with #murakami & #redvelvetpancakes

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And of course, got to hang with some of my favorites at training AND the NAHA shoot for the Wella team.  

And my face was still in the hair mags.

And I got my fair share of travels in with the sweetie.

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Including Spain & Portugal where we split our time between me doing hair and the both of us chilling hard. Best week of the year, for sure.  

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Last day of our Iberian adventure… For now.

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The bonus was having friends to come back to.

 I did some cool hair and some cool photo shoots:     

^Including my Trend Vision entry, which only made it to the Semi-Finals, but I was still very proud of it and had a great time at the competition!   

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@hrae_hrae and me on the bus back from #natva ❤

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Said goodbye to my Pittsburgh salon.  

Then we moved to Ohio for a few months and hung out with these guys. 

Worked a bunch of weddings.  

Had the time of my life in NY with the Sebastian Team. 

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Hello NY

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INCLUDING, my dream of working NYFW.  

Then Richard lost his passport and found it again right before we left for Canada.  

Then I fulfilled another dream and took classes at the Sassoon Academy in Toronto. 

We drove around more and did more hair stuff.  

I did my last cut and color in Pittsburgh.

And said one of my saddest goodbyes… my partner in crime Megan Gardner. 

Then we packed up, made some videos and moved to Texas.   

Then I started work at my dream job. And it’s truly been amazing. 

And last but not least, we got to see my family one more time in 2014. Despite SFOI trying to keep us from them, we made it home for Christmas.  

Overall, we’ve had so many crazy adventures this year.  We both feel so lucky to have each other and to have this crazy life of ours.  I love my job now as much as ever and it is an amazing feeling… to love what you do all day and then love the person you come home to.  Can’t wait for more competitions and more challenges and of course more travels.   Oh yeah, and karaoke…. 

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Happy Holidays from #karaokeunderground 😝 #atx

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Living in the moment

People ask me all the time what it’s like to move far away from everything you know, and the truth is, I don’t think about it much. I love my family and friends all over the place but it is pretty easy for me to “be” wherever I am. The downside is that it’s easy for me to be sort of disoriented when I try to think about everything I have done or every place I have been, even if it was just the past year (or week, or month).

Although it’s pretty out of my comfort zone, I have been trying to capture more of these moments since getting a smart phone at the beginning of the year. It really is a treat to now have these videos to commemorate this year, even if it’s still leaving out a few memories. Check out my videos from this year!

And of course I am very grateful to Neil (cornelius3) for helping me commemorate my passion for hairdressing for the Beauty Changes Lives competition!

Update: First month in Austin!

Ok, so it has been insanely long since I last posted.  We’ve driven probably close to 2,000 miles in that time, moved, and I can count on one hand the free days I’ve had in the last few months.  But don’t take the silence as a bad thing.  Richard and I have been enjoying this grand adventure.  Here’s the sunset we encountered as we were crossing the Texas border.


I admit, once we got here I started to get a little nervous and even fearful that I may have ruined our lives…. Richard was quite homesick in the beginning, which didn’t help the feeling.  As soon as we got to Austin we had a few days to move, then Austin City Limits Music Festival, which was incredible but oh so crowded for my already jumbled brain.ACL

Lots of great acts and lots of great festival fashion, although it was really, really hot the first day and then rainy and really, really muddy the second two days.  Still, I’d say everyone was a pretty good sport about it.  My brother was in town visiting and I have to assume he was just bringing the Pacific North West weather with him.  There was one girl with gorgeous orange hair that I wanted to snap a picture of but I kept losing her in the crowd.  Ah well, failing at being creepy isn’t the worst thing to fail at.

As soon as ACL ended I was off to Houston to teach some Sebastian classes.  It felt pretty great to be spreading the love for some of my favorite products and explaining all the different ways to use them.  I will say, though, I got called “Mama” and “Ma’am” more times in those three days than in the first 25 years of my life combined.  But I found it mostly endearing.

After three days, we drove back at night and I was starting at my new salon, Jose Luis, the next day.  I even had clients on my book that first day, which was pretty incredible to me.  There were around 20 people that worked there for me to meet but it was a lot easier than I expected.  The team work at Jose Luis is really incredible.  It’s amazing to see a group of people who all have each other’s back and are eager to help and give advice whenever asked.  My second week there, we had Halloween, which was a blast because almost everyone got pretty into it.


I even got to do a Mad Men inspired updo that day which was pretty darn fun!


I’ve had a fair share of updos during my month at Jose Luis and I have to say, I definitely want to work towards building my updo clientele more and more in the future, because I really feeling like I am thriving when an updo client comes in.

We also got to celebrate the salon’s 26th year that week.  Jose and Bill (the owners) hooked us up with a food truck for lunch, which was pretty magical.P.Terry's

In short, I’ve been busy (for just beginning) and happy and very much enjoying my new coworkers!  I definitely am missing some people from Pittsburgh, but as a whole I feel like everything just makes more sense here for me.  The clients I’ve had have been wonderful, and most of them seem like they’ve either lived on the west coast or in the north east before, so we already have that in common.  Y’know, they say the sky is the limit and I don’t know if that’s true or really what that’s supposed to mean at all.  But what I do know is that the sky is a hell of a lot bigger here compared to anywhere else I’ve ever lived.

ABC Cutting at the Sassoon Academy, Toronto, Ontario


As most people know by now, I am moving to Texas at the end of the week.  So most of my cold weather clothing is either in storage or donated by now and I kind of forgot how crisp the air would be in Toronto when I booked my class.  The weather was mostly gorgeous but, man, was I cold and bitter when we first got into our apartment there!  But mostly, it was beautiful fall weather, and with our move date uncertain for so long, I wasn’t really sure if I would truly get another fall.

IMG_1932We spent our first day there taking a long walk from Chinatown to downtown and hopped a ferry to Toronto Island.  The view was amazing and the weather was beautiful despite needing to bundle up.

IMG_1938Gorgeous view from the ferry!
IMG_1950But enough about us, let’s get on to the education!
IMG_1961I consider myself very fortunate!  There were only four students (including myself) and we had three different teachers throughout the week.  For me, this was the ideal situation.  Each teacher had slightly different tastes and preferences and I feel like I learned a lot from each of them.  Gina was our teacher on the first day.  She had been with the academy the longest (maybe 16 years?  I don’t remember exactly) and gave us a lot of background about the Toronto Academy, which is very highly regarded among the Sassoon Academies.  For example, every year each of the Sassoons submit a collection on a $0 budget and Toronto has won the competition the last three years in a row.  Gina had an incredible knack for reading hair and working with it creatively.  She also went through all the foundation information, correcting some things I’ve had backwards in my brain.  In beauty school I trained with Paul Mitchell, so the Sassoon techniques and shapes were similar to what I had learned with, but in some ways actually less rigid, which surprised me.  Everything as very relate-able to actual cuts we would do in the salon.  She also demo-ed some cool hair cuts.

IMG_2007Day 2 we had Karen demo-ing and then our first models.  Karen is a very cool, very funny and down to earth stylist.  She talked to us about tips on keeping our techniques crisp and places of emphasis on the face for our cutting lines.  It’s always nice for me to see a teacher about my height because I can snag some body position tips from watching.

IMG_2018Then after lunch my first model came in, Madeliene.  She had very curly hair which hadn’t been cut in over three months.  This was a tricky first haircut for me because I always cut curly hair with very low tension and I point cut a lot!  High tension + straight lines in textured hair… oh my!

IMG_2020IMG_2022But I got through it and I think she looked pretty good!  I don’t think I will be cutting Richard’s hair with high tension any time soon but maybe for curly lady hair..?  I’ll definitely give it a try.

A lot of my clients were ones I wouldn’t have thought to use Sassoon methods on, but I am glad I got to try it  with Karen and Paolo (our instructor for the last two days) looking over my shoulder and checking my work.  I will say, though, the models were a very good sampling of different types of client and types of hair that I would see in the salon, so it was definitely a very practical class.

IMG_2052And I even got to do two very classic bobs, which was one of the reasons I wanted to come to the Sassoon Academy.  Both above and below the models had extremely dense hair, the one above had very wavy hair.  These cuts both took a long time but I was very proud.  I’m glad Paolo was there to guide me through them and take two very extreme angled cuts with weird layering in areas and bring them to a more moderate, clean shape.
IMG_2072 IMG_2085Above Paolo is closing out the class with one final demo.  Paolo had a very calm but very direct demeanor and he was great to watch.  He showed me a lot of great finishing techniques on my dense-haired ladies.  And in general, it was great to just hear him talk about hair.

IMG_2096Final look for Paolo’s model.

IMG_2107Here I am with my classmates!  Jenna-Wade, Annah, me and Justine.

You can also see some of this trip featured in my latest video!

A Moment of Silence for All the Beauty that is Concealed by Too Much Makeup

This morning I woke up just outside of Cleveland in a Holiday Inn Express.  Richard and I stopped there to break up a long drive from a class in rural New York, where I was delighted to revisit some beauty students who I’d met a little over 6 months ago.  We meandered down to the free breakfast room a little before 9AM and Richard pointed my attention to the television where the local news had brought in an Ulta employee to demo some makeup on some young girls.

She starts with a model with gorgeous bone structure and points to the cheekbones, then proceeds to brush on an inch wide stripe of bronzer below the girls cheekbones and then partially blends outwards.  (Applied slightly too low, might I add.)  Why, why, why?!  Her cheek bones were already poppin’ and it was just sooo much… not that I am opposed to bronzer, just how opaque the line was and how perfect her cheekbones looked naturally.  A soft sweep below the cheek bones and along the hairline and she would’ve been good to go… or even just a bit of blush.

Next: another young girl who she gave very thick black liner winged out slightly with another line of glittery eyeliner above it.  Then she said it could be a DAY look if she wanted.  A girl with gorgeous eyes and all people will look at is the glitter.  And the last girl got a black and grey smokey eye.

This is why people are afraid of makeup!  Now I think dramatic makeup is fun sometimes and I know the makeup artist may have just been doing dramatic things so it would show well on the camera but even through the camera it was sooo much.  All the youtube videos and tutorials teaching such intense makeup techniques, and sometimes it seems like all they’re doing is taking a pretty person and making them look nothing like themselves.  And it’s not that it is never ok I just wish people could look at every day makeup as something to enhance their features instead of masking them.  I know, I know, I say this all the time and I’m not the only one, but I feel compelled to say it again today.

I just believe that good eyeshadow placement should make people look at the eyes, not at the eyeshadow.