On Adding Value



There  is something very unique to visiting a salon, restaurant, store or whatever.  The sights, sounds and smells are indelible to our experience: making up the greater sum total that will either hang on in our memories, or be tossed aside as quick as possible, lest the acrid taste takes hold; allowing them to frame the body of our opinions, both pro and con.

Taken at face value we have an already set opinion of what to expect when visiting an establishment.  These are not added values, but rather, expectations.   We expect to get a good haircut.  We expect to enjoy our food.  We expect to find what we wish to purchase.  An added value is something wholly different from expectation.  An added value is the unexpected made normal.

  • Once, upon a return to a restaurant I had visited for the first time months earlier, the bartender poured me the wine I had previously enjoyed and correctly brought the appetizer I craved… Unprompted.

This is but one small token of added value.  But small change can add up to big emotional returns, and its that emotion that we are after.  The one that makes us feel good.  Makes us happy.  Makes us come back for more.

Every premise for doing business should begin by asking “what is the emotional return”?  By not asking that question a business risks, at the least, not truly connecting with their clients.  The business is simply relying on what its own and clients built-in expectations already are.  But what is going to separate that business from others if they simply keep doing what is expected of them?  Having a skill or an item that has proved popular in a singular sense: “I cut hair and have many clients” or “this product is so popular, I am going to open a storefront”; does not automatically translate into success multiplied.  

Many businesses already tap into client’s feelings without even really thinking about it in such terms. You only have to  look at how a product is marketed and displayed to understand that the enticements strike at our very desire to smell, hold and possess.  And you only need to be ignored by a store associate once to understand the power a negative emotion has over us.

After finding that emotional driver, you can build on it by adding value.  Indeed, many would argue that adding value is commensurate with keeping up with your competition also applying similar techniques (when your competitor also serves a glass of wine, you uptick to a complimentary mini-bite menu taste).  

But there is also the unspoken added value that comes with every good hire.  The intangibles that create connections beyond expectation.What of the others on your salon, store or restaurant team?  Are these support crews able to carry the weight of emotions needed for success?  Do they have the same drive or connection and, more important, did you create a blueprint for duplicating that emotional success?  Scripting and role-play are necessary undertakings to creating a successful team.  Far too often a business leaves the personal interactions to each individual, relying on their own sense and ability to connect and, while it is important to nurture a personal and individualized touch, a framework must be set to ensure the culture and identity you want to bring to your customers is truly yours.  These are not easily answered questions, and most do not ask them, but they must be addressed for success to truly flourish.


  • Once, while shopping for a new computer, the sales person talked me out of purchasing what I wanted by arguing that my needs would be better met with a different product at a third of the cost.

I can no longer shop at another store.  My emotions won’t allow it.


For more thoughts on things, please read my other blog posts.

Scott can be found in San Francisco, San Diego and just about anywhere needed.  To book an appointment, or for a consult, email me here!




…We all need it.  In whatever we do: as a job, discipline or hobby; we all need to find that something that will drive us to new heights and goals.  What though, does this inspiration look like? 

For me, it’s art.  More specifically, going to museums and galleries whenever and wherever possible. Whether visiting my local museums (SFMoMa, de Young, Legion, etc.), during travels (Whitney, Met, Nasher), or catching up on art world news ( Two Coats of Paint), the thrill of seeing works of art both new and old is an inspiring and empowering experience.

The sights and sounds of an exhibit always push me to think more acutely at how I see things, keeping me fresh creatively and broadening my palette for what I do within my own field, as well as how I perceive the world as it should or I hope it to be.  

(The painting above, La Fin du Monde – Henri Magritte, in hairdresser parlance, speaks to positive and negative space, light and shadow. In essence, the what we see versus what we don’t see, in color as well as within the haircut). 

Inspiration though, is not enough. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” In other words, unless one practices day in and day out his or her chosen craft, then all the inspiration in the world will be for naught.

Whether at home and working out ideas on a mannequin head, practicing on a live model, drawing or painting, or even just walking with thoughts on design, the aspects of practice allow for success to enter the room. The day in and day out of working on something, honing it and your skills, can only make you better and perhaps, along the way, lead you to new discoveries.

                                        (Closeup of The Virgins– Gustav Klimt)

An inspired moment is a rush to behold, for it can takeover your entirety and allow creativity to flourish. Little voices grow loud and confidence swells. Even though things can often not develop as you had hoped, inspiration is that beacon of possibility that keeps you coming back to the table. (It is all a part of The Process – inspiration’s own dopamine).


(The images here show my path and process taken- from inspiration: Horst’s Mainbocher Corset, to inception: Coiffure Corset. Photo by Shana Schnur.)

So, with whatever inspires you, in the moment or in career, do something with it. As the artist Chuck Close once said: “inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work”.

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
www.beautybysmith.com, 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 www.beautybysmith.com 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.