Caring For Your Hair – A Primer

There has always been plenty of advice given regarding best practices of washing hair: scrub vigorously, massage gently, shampoo twice, don’t condition, etc.; and much of the advice is sound, especially when directly addressing individual needs. Herein lies the issue, though. Most of the advice given is told in general terms, the products are sold in general use terms and you— the client, is left with a false sense of knowledge about what your true needs are. So let’s turn our attention to product choice and usage as a way of answering how you care for your hair. I will address technique in a future writing.

Every reputable and professional brand has multiple systems to choose from, and these systems have certain benefits focusing on each need. The paradigm of a one shampoo and condition system is no longer viable. The focus now is based on individual needs and ailments. So let’s break these systems down.


fullsizeoutput_75bDry hair is considered normal and every brand has a system for such hair. This system can be best characterized as “normal to dry” and is safe to use daily. The product is hydration centered.

Dry, damaged hair has been aggressed by chemicals, swimming, environment and/or mechanical affects. This system, though hydrating, has a more protein based focus: feeding the hair what has been stripped from it. This system is still safe to be used daily.

Color-treated hair may seem self-explanatory, but far from it. Yes, when coloring your hair it is best to ensure longevity and vibrancy through a system for such needs, but colored hair needs much more than that which cannot be given by one system, alone. Most professional products are color safe, meaning they are not aggressive and depleting to hair color. A color-treated system though, is focused on stopping the color processing action and locking the cuticle down, thus ensuring the life of the color. When used correctly your color should remain vivid with minimal fading. Using this system exclusively will tend to dehydrate the hair, allowing for color to dull and fade. It is best to alternate a color-treated system with another (such as above).

Oily hair and scalp is a challenge for nearly 40% of us. The issue is actually exacerbated by too much washing or improper product choice, while the culprit is often harsh detergents or overactive oil glands. To curb this issue and create balance you will first need to address blood circulation on your scalp. Balancing the blood flow will calm the oil production. Many companies have products that are specific to this need: scalp oils and shampoos; as well as with dry hair and scalp issues, creating a better ecosystem on your scalp. This cleansing system should be paired with an alternating system of need.

Severely damaged hair sounds scary, right? It should! Your hair has been abused by over-processing, excessive usage of heat tools, and so on. This is hair that I would call anemic. It is starving and needs to feed. Lacking in almost every health category, this system, along with some serious treatments, will help to replenish hair and bring it back to a state of health and beauty. Not for everyday use and should be coupled with an alternate.

Thickening/bodifying systems do just as advertised. How they do it depends on each company and their science used. Some use what may best be called “spacers”— creating gaps between hair strands; while other systems individually thicken each strand. This system is best used when alternating with another, as multiple, repeated use without interruption can weigh hair down.

Thinning hair comes in two separate forms— temporary and permanent. Temporary hair loss is more commonly associated with pregnancy, menopause, recovery from cancer and stress, while permanent loss is most often hereditary in nature. These cleansing systems, along with their treatment counterparts, are meant to be used in an alternating manner with any of the other systems above, and seasonally. There are a few very good ones on the market, but beware those that can create a dependency ecosystem, setting in motion hair loss tied to addictive ingredients when not in use.

fullsizeoutput_764There are a few other categories that some companies address. Should you need answers, consult with your stylist and ask many questions, or contact me and I will gladly prescribe a system best suited for your needs. In the long run and with exception to the ‘daily use’ mentioned products, all others are need specific and should be paired with a daily.

Without exception, take good care of your locks. For every action there is a reaction that needs addressing. You cannot expect to bleach, color, relax or style your hair without incurring some form of ill-health. Given that, treating your hair as if indestructible is a sure bet for increased damage.

Great hair comes from great care.

Scott Smith can be found in San Francisco and San Diego, as well as at, facebook and instagram.


PastedGraphic-1It’s September— the city is an oven, vacations are over and kids are back in school. What with magazines cranking out their monster fall issues to entice and inspire, there is no better time for change.

Many things will inspire you. Whether through nature, social or political inspiration, your ideas on fashion and hair will ever evolve, as they should. Bring those ideas with you when shopping for that new outfit or visiting the salon. Ask questions and challenge others to present their inspiration and ideas for you. Talk it out and you will come to what feels best for you for the Fall of 2017.

My thoughts, you ask? Happy to oblige.

This fall is about movement. From gentle waves to serious curls, hair will have more freedom to play and act out. A soft or heavy fringe may come into play, but it won’t be the defining piece of last season. No, this season is for the curl in the girl, so let it out and be bold. Should you have a natural curl that you’ve been restraining, let go! If though, you missed out on the curl-squad, grab that iron and have some fun! Don’t know how? Come in for a visit and I’ll show you. Best lengths to show off your curls are loooooong, shoulder shagged or the mop top. No time for ‘tweeners.

Color will have its say, too! BOLD.  Blonde, brown, red or funky— all color will be strong and showy. The flavors are based on the Pantones for 2017 (below) and are to be looked at simply as tonal influencers (not to worry, you won’t be walking about with these on your head… unless you want). Think solids in a world where we have tended towards blends.


This will be the autumn for expressing yourself.  ROAR LIKE NEVER BEFORE!

From Head to Heart to Hands

We are surrounded by technology.  So much so, that it is now part of our community DNA.  That community is humankind and it is in constant struggle with itself: at once learning, nurturing and growing; while at the same time struggling with inconsequence, insignificance and obsolescence .  Who we are and what we wish to be in this ever changing world are two questions constantly being posed of and by us.  Tom Friedman of the New York Times addresses the challenges facing the 21st century being and, within it, how we remain not only valid in an automated and computer driven society, but sensorially connected.

My industry, that of being a hairdresser, is uniquely positioned to face the challenges put forth above.  We engage on a daily basis with clients seeking change in their outer appearance, yet the touch we give comes from within and is shared to help others feel exceptional about themselves.  A mantra of  mine, and that of many of my educator friends, is this titled post.  Whether I am teaching within a cutting, styling or business formatted class, From Head to Heart to Hands gets to the core of what salons do everyday.

The salon is a place of respite for it’s clients, or so it should be.   The hairdresser has the ability to lift others by the very creativity of beauty, and guests visit us to look their best.  What they get is often a much deeper experience.  Guests walk away feeling their best, too.  And that feeling can be measured by how much, or little, the salon puts into caring for their guests.  A bad cut, bad color or simply an uneventful and uncaring space can make the guest feel unwanted and unappreciated.  Given the volatility of emotions that can accompany a visit to the salon, it is imperative the hairdresser focus’ on elevating the salon experience beyond the technical.

The greeting, the consult, buy-in, indeed, the entire process needs to be evaluated and properly executed on a consistent and high level to ensure not just customer satisfaction, but elation.  What most salons are doing now though, is simply not enough in this competitive market, and the challenge is only growing.  Our guests yearn for more than just a good cut, they also seek that calm and cared for experience so lacking in most daily lives today.  The warm embrace, focused attention, empathetic ear- these are but a few of the experiences that elevate their visit.  It is a choice we must decide: to be white linen or drive-thru.

From Head to Heart to Hands should be the beauty industry’s core value, for it reveals what we think and how we feel going into why we give, creatively.  This is how and why we, as hairdressers, elevate our relavence in this ever changing and automated world.  To pull from Tom Friedman’s article:  When machines and software control more and more of our lives, people will seek out more human-to-human connections — all the things you can’t download but have to upload the old-fashioned way, one human to another.”


You like what you read?  Learn more about this and other topics.  Contact me for a variety of in-person classes!

On a side note: What He Said… will be making occasional appearances as my new blog.  I hope you enjoy.

I invite you to follow me on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

‘Tis the Season

For change, that is. The holidays are over and we are deep into our winter months, but change is in the air…

…And spring just around the corner, making it time to begin thinking about what that new hairstyle will look like. From long to short, brunette to blonde, or any of the myriad directions your desires take you, change is good for the soul.









Another reason to think of change- 2016 is behind us and a new year in full view, leading us to set what we wish to accomplish, experience and enjoy.


All of us look to the future, sometimes by looking back in reflection to rekindle looks from the past. The fashion world leads us with its latest views on trend and style, and the recent Golden Globes showed off some wonderful new looks, too! From middle parts to full-swept fringe, the styles are sleek and clean with just a bit of disheveledness and waves.


So, if you are looking at doing some changes to your look, there is no better place for support than your hairdresser. Your thoughts, and that of a professional, will undoubtedly create that beautiful new look for 2017.


Anywhere between now and April is a great time for transformation.


You can find Scott Smith at work in San Francisco and San Diego, as well as at and on social media:

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They are all the rage, finger waves, and they come in many lengths, shapes and sizes. The one constant… Timeless.

Historically, the finger wave was a wet-set style: incorporating gels, a comb and lots of patience (and dry time); but today’s wave can be had with just a bit of heat from an iron. (I remember the pained efforts in beauty school, only to now thank my instructors). With a such a simple tool as a curling wand, you can add flavor to your style by giving that slight bit of bend to your fringe or front section of hair. Just pick one side, usually the thicker side opposite the part, give it the wave you want and tuck the other side behind your ear. Simple. Modern. Classic. Beautiful!

The finger wave pattern is an ‘S’ wave. To achieve this simply hold your iron in a diagonal slant when wrapping hair. Horizontal creates a barrel wave, while a vertical iron position creates a corkscrew. I know it sounds a bit hard, but it’s not. It is simply beautiful.

on creating fabric

Fabric, as defined in the dictionary: noun;
1. Cloth, typically produced by weaving or knitting textile fibers.
2. The walls, floor, and roof of a building.

So what does this have to do with hair?  Think of it as thread, yarn or any other type of fiber one would use to create your favorite sweater, shirt, blouse, etc.  The difference is a hairdresser’s medium is hair.  And with the right tools, there is nothing more beautiful than hair as a fabric!

So what are those tools?  We know of the obvious: a blow dryer, brushes, combs and such; but we cannot truly create a fabric without the baseline help of hair products.  Choosing the right products is important, for you are looking at mono & multi-fiber gels, creams and sprays to combine with hair and become one.  Mousse Volupte, Mythic Oil and Or Graphic: each from the Texture Expert line by L’Oreal Professionnel; are favorites as catalysts for my designs.  In conjunction with Densite, Volume Elevation or Fresh Dust, these products produce some incredibly beautiful styles.  I like to work Infinium #2 hairspray into the mix, as my binder, topping it off with #3 for hold, but if you live in the windy city – Infinium #4 or Freezing Mist is for you.  The point is hairsprays do not make the style, they finish the style, and you can’t create long lasting beautiful hair with just hairspray alone.

A textural change will happen when using product in your hair.  That change will help define the look you are going after and will give that look longevity.  Within the definition of fabric was an allusion to a building.  This second reference is also in direct correlation to hair and is in lock-step with how I visualize each product being layered together toward an end result.  As an example:  Densite is ever my beginning; the essential flooring for any design.  Layer Or Graphic to create my walls, while Infinium #3 becomes the roof.  Beautiful, yet simple.  Firm, yet pliable.  The array of products offered by Texture Expert are the keys to unlocking beautiful hair.

For more about creating fabric, or to get your own prescription for beautiful hair, feel free to contact me.

Scott Smith

LP in Sin City

That’s right, Team L’Oreal Professionnel was at it again, in Las Vegas.  This go around though, was quite different.

Beginning at the end: I find myself writing this in my hotel room as part of the processing needed to truly digest the past few days;  an all encompassing new direction that the company is taking in it’s quest to set a new STANDARD and COMMIT to the hairdressing community – a FOUNDATION built 1909 by Eugene Schueller.

We closed with a toast, a symbol of an end and beginning that will be repeated from this point forward.  We were introduced, and soon will you, to iNOA ODS2.  Yes, the (r)evolution continues with iNOA and innovation.  This beautiful color system is now easier, faster, better!  Color that is more present.  Color that is more conditioning.  Color that is leading the way in creating beautiful hair.  I can’t wait to share this with everyone!

James Morrison popped in to share his undying passion for education.  The newest member of this growing family is at the core of why I do what I do.  He, along with the incomparable Diane Gentellalli, directly influenced me at an early age in my career to share with others what I love to do.  James’ love of hair and sharing is all too evident, as is his mastery of the message, and LP is all the richer for his presence.  If you know me, then you know I love The Finish.  So, to geek out on blow-styling a doll head like we did today with Morrison’s class made this confessed geek extremely happy.

The brilliant marketing department shared all the great toys to come.  Not just products mind you, but the multi-faceted ways in which LP will reach the consumer and support the hairdresser.  To have a 24/7 networking system for education brings new meaning to the word support.  This marketing team has accomplished with the launch if iNOA what no marketing team has, and yet they improve to create tools and initiatives unparalleled in the beauty industry.  Mad props here!

Beauty was front and center in the morning with the creative collections and inspirations at the hand of a talented team.  From balayage to classic painting and design,  our inspirations began with the Haute Couture standard set by Odile Gilbert.  A true master of beauty, Odile created the spirit for a truly beautiful collection: Somptueux. Huge props to the talented artists and wonderful models; there is no better word than – beautiful.

An incredible presentation meant to enlighten, elevate and set a foundation for us was given by Blair Singer.  This is what will set LP Education  apart: the tools to present, engage and inspire others; through the constant refinement of our presentation skills.  Much was gained and still more to learn, and one of the most important takeaways this weekend had to offer.

Kicking off the weekend was a message delivered by 2 incredible women:  Barbara De Laere and Suzanne Sturm; a vision of a strong future path rooted in the beginnings of L’Oreal and pushing ever forward on the strength of education.  The Haute Couture presentation set a standard of unequaled craftsmanship, while marketing showed why LP is the preeminent brand in the public’s mind.  This vision, and the path set forth, will give hairdressers everywhere the tools to be their best!

Discover Dia in 2012

A new year is upon us and with it, a short (very short) effort will be made to reflect on last year’s events…

…That was great!  Now, on with the new.

What’s on the plate for 2012?  First up – DiaRichesse and DiaLight.  That’s right, the world of color as we know it is once again changing, and L’Oreal Professionnel is leading the way.  Our improved and new (sic) lineup of demi-permanents will enhance the creative skills of the professional and offer incredibly beautiful hair to the public.  Imagine being able to darken hair up to 4 levels in one fell swoop!  “Hey Blondie.  Wanna go brunette?  DONE!”  Or how about adding pop to previous color, or toning those highlights?  EASY!  With our DiaRichesse Alkaline technology we can cover up to 70% grey hair, add a little bump to your new growth, or create a grand tonal change.  Our new DiaLight Acid technology opens so many new doors to creativity that you will have to experience it for yourself.  The sheer simplicity and beauty is astounding!

And let’s talk the services offered; whether you are GREY INCOGNITO, REFLECTS REVEALED or BACK TO ME – your natural tones have never looked better.  But what if you suffer from REFLECT ADDICTION or need a COLOR WAKE UP?  Don’t worry, we have the right prescription.  And if you woke up screaming TONE MY HIGHLIGHTS or think yourself a hollywood diva and need that PHOTO GLOSS, your hair will never look better (or brighter!).  But what of that dull finish you see after a re-texturing service?  The SHAPE AND COLOR service will ease your mind and enhance your beauty.

You see, it’s all so simple.  Whether a hairdresser or a client, your world just became more easy and pretty.

To style or not to style, that is the question…

…And here are some answers.

When choosing a product for that incredible hairstyle of yours just created by your favorite stylist, it is important to know 3 things:  the texture of your hair, what your new look needs to support that style and the amount of effort you are willing to put forth to create that look.  Let’s look at these, one at a time.

The texture of your hair… This is the first thing your stylist wants to know when creating that style and/or color, it gives a world of information that helps your stylist determine how to best achieve the desired results.  It’s also what you need to know when choosing which product is best for you.  Whether fine, medium or coarse, L’Oréal Professionnel Texture Expert styling products will have what you need.  Let’s find out how to define your texture.  Take one strand of your hair and rub it between your fingers.  If you don’t feel anything = it’s fine.  You feel something gently between your fingers = medium.  The strand you feel has a strong and wire-like feel = coarse.   SMOOTH ULTIME – cream blow styling lotion – will take coarse hair and make it feel silky and smooth, while EXPANSION styling mousse will take fine hair into the world of fullness.

The needed support for that new style… Whether the change is subtle, or a complete makeover, your new look demands the right products to show it off.   If you are desiring a bit of lift at the root, VOLUME ELEVATION or LIFT EXTREME may be what you need.  Combine with DENSITE and you have the perfect foundation to beautifully voluminous hair.

Time and effort… Whether you love spending time on your hair, or are rushing out the door dripping wet, you need a product that speaks to your lifestyle.  Texture Expert products have just what you need to achieve your desired look in the amount of time you allow yourself the effort.  Our curl enhancers are a quick and easy way to creating beautiful bounce.  From ELASTICITE to SPIRAL EXTREME, your curls have never looked better!  Perhaps though, you prefer to play, then welcome to our wide array of products; creams, pomades, gels and sprays are all at your beck and call…

… Ask your stylist for advice on what’s best for you or log onto to find a salon near you that carries L’Oréal Professionnel Texture Expert.

Houston, we have liftoff

No, I didn’t become the first hairdresser in space.  I did though, orbit the Earth on the spaceship LP.  Well, me and over 300 of my closest hair buddies.

Yes, L’Oreal Professionnel took all of us to the moon during our annual Sales, Education and Marketing event.  This was 5 days of learning, yearning and sharing.  From cocktails to reports on sales, both here at home as well as the world picture.  We were inspired by an Enigma, embraced change from within and were schooled on strictly business.  It was a powerful, empowering, exhilarating and exhaustingly good time.

A cocktail party was offered up by LP the evening of everyones arrival and it was a great icebreaker; getting to visit with friends from all over and meet new ones in the process, then a chat over dinner with a few more, allowing our minds to prepare for the coming days in an open and happy state.  Over the next two days we were presented with where we’ve been, where we are going, new tools to teach and be creative, as well as numerous calls to action.

In twenty-ten, LP became the fastest growing professional line on the market and the Number One brand in the company’s portfolio.  WOOT!  The jubilation and collective exhale felt great.  Our goal though, is to be Number One across the board…and achieve we will.  We owe much to the launch of iNOA, our ammonia-free permanent hair color.  It took the industry by storm and continues to grow, forging a paradigm shift and elevating the industry to new heights (I will speak more on iNOA at a later date).  We also though, owe a great deal to the amazing team amassed by LP; these are my brothers and sisters, working hard to elevate our industry with the best tools in the business – from the best team in the business!

Team breakouts during these few days included color swatch challenges and new product introductions, collection work and education gadget play (they gave us projectors!), but they also included HAA; Hairdressers Against Aids.  This is an amazing initiative that I will also soon speak at length on, but suffice it to say that Hairdressers Against Aids is a movement a longtime in coming.  I am proud to become a voice in the fight to end HIV/AIDS.

There are so many highlights at this event, that it is hard to say one was above all others, but our company dinner and collection presentation was certainly near the top.  How do you feed 400 hungry and slightly tipsy hairdressers?  LP does it well.  Great company and food, champagne flowing and for dessert – “Spring Illusion”.   Our spring/summer color and design collection created by Shelley Mohr, Jason Backe, Kristjun Holt and Joe DiMaggio.  Beautifully creative and thought provoking…it hits at the core of what my industry is all about – creating beauty.

Two other standout events were Strictly Business and Embracing Change.  Strictly Business is in essence, what our industry needs to survive.  Scratch that…ANY industry needs to survive.  Before the recession businesses ran high and wild, thinking their plan for success was strong.  Once the recession hit, it exposed the underbelly of deeply flawed planning countrywide.  Strictly Business is a comprehensive plan to teach tried and true business success models, and we at LP once again, lead the way with offering this program to our industry to partner and create success.

The other standout is Embracing Change.  Tanya Chernova is a bright and shining light of enthusiasm, empowerment and reaching ever upward.  Her program gives you the tools to understanding others, while discovering yourself.  LP brought Tanya to us so as to further enhance our tools in teaching and learning.  An accomplished business woman and coach, Tanya inspired us to truly work, create and be what we know we can be…

…and I was fortunate enough to have experienced her twice.  What an honor and what a goal; to do as she does is an opportunity I look forward to creating.

I mentioned it was hard to pinpoint that one thing rising above all others, but find it I did.  It was in the I am happily part of – Team NorCal.  Everyone from my region showed up for this incredible event, and I thank them for being the team of professionals they are.  I am proud to stand alongside them and look forward to sharing in their successes for many years to come.