Hair Color Rehab


I spend a lot of my time behind the chair as a colorist performing color corrections and restoring hair to health. While this kind of work is often not the most glamorous, it’s single-handedly responsible for most of my clientele today. You see, in this age of social media, one of the downsides to the industry is there is a lot of window shopping going on. While before clients would find a colorist they click with and develop a long term relationship, nowadays there is a lot of hopping around. Rather than being satisfied, there is now a culture of always looking for the next best thing. Instagram gives the appearance that its a breeze to switch back and forth from blonde to red to brown to pink to platinum, with not a broken hair in sight. Meanwhile, no one is mentioning the filters sometimes being used or the extensions or wigs masquerading as healthy hair. As a result, there is a lot of damaged hair out there, as colorists are under pressure to constantly be producing dramatic makeovers. Everyone wants the before and after shot, and frankly, it’s wrecking everyone’s hair.

After a few cycles of this and at the point where the hair is struggling and fried, a few clients have gotten my name by word of mouth, and I end up doing a color correction and start them on their hair rehab journey. At this stage, the main thing I ask of clients, no matter their hair color or level of damage, is patience and trust. At the point when a color correction is the only option, careful baby steps is key.  The hair is usually quite porous, and the way color is absorbed can be very unpredictable. When hair is over processed, layers of healthy cuticle are gone, and it takes a layering of various products to mimic what would otherwise be healthy, receptive hair. I never go for the quick fix and I never try to do too much in one day, and because of this, the results are long lasting. 

One of my biggest hair rehab success stories from the past few years has definitely been my client Sophie Elkus., a well known blogger and creator of style and beauty site Angel Food Style. Sophie was first referred to me by another client of mine, fellow blogger and influencer Sheridan Gregory (who also has her own hair rehab story) . I embarked with Sophie on a mission to repair years of over-processing (and one very unfortunate incident with a candle singeing a section of her hair), and it was only achieved because of a firm trust that we established at our first consultation.

pre hair color rehab
pre hair color rehab

When we first met, I was frankly nervous to do much to her hair at all. In fact, our initial appointment was me just convincing her to do an intense treatment instead of color. There were so many broken sections that I was nervous to add any fuel to that fire. We decided together to commit to the careful process, and years later we have slowly healed her hair and taken her broken, yellow tinged and over processed strands to first a soft baby butter blonde, to now a warmer, honey golden blonde.   I was probably truly satisfied with our progress after 4 sessions (about 1 year, with one appointment every 3 months.) But now, with 5 years behind us coupled with and a ton of patience and hard work on both our sides, her hair is now its truly alive with a ton of dimension. 

first we went brighter blonde

The one downside that sometimes comes with a client that is a billboard for healthy hair color, is that there are a lot of requests for that exact color.  Again, the blessing and curse of social media and Instagram.  What I appreciate about Sophie is that she is never shy about telling her followers about the journey it took to achieve it AND to keep it, which helps me to manage expectations.  That being said, I thought I would put together a short punchlist of what to do when you are in need of a color correction.

  1. Be realistic and manage expectations – If your hair is dyed dark with drugstore box color, you’re not walking out with perfect, sun-kissed streaks in 2 hours.  It’s JUST. NOT. HAPPENING.
  2. Bookmark some photos that can be your “working goal” – Have a thorough consultation and ask your colorist’s honest opinion on how long it will take to achieve it.
  3. After appointments, follow your colorist’s instructions for “at home” care – You’ve just spent 5 hours and hundreds of dollars at the salon. Don’t buy cheap shampoo or jump right into a chlorine pool.  You’ll have wasted everyone’s time, including yours.
  4. Expect to pay for quality service – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client balk at the price of a color correction, only to have to explain to them that in the 3 plus hours it took me to complete, I could have done that many clients.
  5. Do not get impatient and salon hop in between color correction appointments – it’s not a safe approach, nor is it fair to your past OR future colorist.  
  6. Be truthful about ALL the chemical services you have had done to your hair – Keratins, Brazilian treatments, etc, they all affect color tone and porosity.  So tell the truth so your colorist can be armed with the right info and in turn decide on the right approach.
  7. Be open and flexible – you may actually find that while you are in the midst of your hair color goal, you may land at a color that actually suits you better.  So pay attention to the different stages.  You may end up with a better and different result than you imagined.

I want to stress that this is only my approach.  I’ve seen other colorists do an absolutely beautiful job with other approaches- sometimes in one day. But again, I’m never interested in a before and after shot just to prove that I’m some sort of magician.  I get way more satisfaction if a client messages me to say that 4, 8, and 12 weeks later, their color has lasted, and is still looking shiny and vibrant. Because the longer you stay in rehab, the better your chances of long lasting, healthy hair color – a win for my clients, and for me.  – Kadi x




If you follow us in stories, you saw that a while back I did a skin detox. For 7 days I didn’t use any products on my skin – no cleanser, no toner, no serums, no moisturizer – nothing. I wasn’t trying to correct any issues or streamline my skincare routine, I simply wanted to see the difference in my skin if I stepped back and let it do its own thing instead of constantly putting products on it. Plus, as a busy working mom, any excuse to not have to do something is welcomed. 

The premise of a skin “detox” is that we should give our skin the chance to regulate itself instead of constantly applying products to address various issues. Often we are overly aggressive in our skincare routines (over-exfoliating is a thing) and layer too many products creating new issues. The skin, like the rest of our bodies, will work to correct itself and maintain a proper state. But of course, we don’t give it a chance. I remember my mother telling me when I was young to leave my skin alone and that the more I did, the more I would have to do as I got older. As usual, Moms are right.

I picked a Thursday to start figuring that if my skin got all dry or weird I would be able to avoid public scrutiny by staying at home over the weekend.

Wednesday night I did a double cleanse using Mountain Rose Herbs organic safflower oil which is a mainstay in my cleansing routine. After the oil cleanse I followed up with the Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel. I figured if I wasn’t going to be using anything but water on my face for the next week, at least let me start with a clean palette.

I followed that up with a thorough application of one of my favorite skincare products the Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum. If you haven’t heard of Marie Nadeau, you are missing out. I came across her products about 3 or 4 years ago at Indie Beauty and fell in love with her line. She then teamed up with cult holistic facialist Kristina Holey to launch a collection and between the two of them, all my skincare needs are covered.

She is a pioneer in the non-toxic skincare space. A chemist who founded her product line in 2002, she is a trained esthetician and holds degrees in Math and Science. She collaborates with her daughter, Jay Nadeau, physicist, and bio-medical engineer, to carefully choose each ingredient in her products to solve real skin issues and address the causes of aging at the source. 

Their barrier repair serum is a mainstay in my arsenal just like the Vintners Daughter Active Botanical Serum. I like one product that can do it all, and both of those seem to do the trick for me. 

In addition to the normal signs of aging, I suffer from melasma. The past few years have seen it get progressively worse and so I now stay out of the sun and use noninvasive treatments such as micro-needling to address hyperpigmentation. I was worried about not being able to use any products and if it might affect my melasma, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of 7 days of doing absolutely nothing. 

Days 1-3 – Skin felt normal. No dryness, no nothing. It was fine. I would wipe down in the evenings and mornings with lukewarm water and keep it moving. 

Day 4 – I noticed that areas of my face where there are typically clogged pores, were less clogged. It was almost like my skin knew to push everything to the surface and areas where I had been feeling clogs under the skin came right to the service and were easily removed just by rubbing or a gentle squeeze. Very satisfying. 

Day 5 – At this point, I was so accustomed to not doing anything except rinsing my face that I started to question my entire skincare routine. I mean my skin looked great and I was doing nothing. Creams started to feel like a scam. It was hydrated, glowing and almost seemed rested as though it had been on vacation. 

Day 7 – Total convert. I was wearing no makeup (not a big thing for me as I typically don’t wear it), spending 1/3 the time on washing my face. I figured at this rate there was a strong possibility that this new no routine routine could save me thousands on products so started planning all the trips I would take in my mind….

I kept it going for about 10 days or so before I cycled my products back in. However, I have found myself going back to the detox one or two days a week – giving my skin (and myself!) space to breathe. I use a weekend night to do a deep dive into skincare – exfoliating, masks, moisturizing the entire thing and the rest of the week just do maintenance. 

Overall its something I would do again. One unexpected benefit? Doing the skin detox broke some bad habits I had. I find that I don’t spend as much time as I used to looking into the mirror focusing on my perceived flaws – my wrinkles, my melasma, and my undereye circles. I look more at myself and my skin in a trusting manner knowing that we both have roles to play and that if I stay in my lane and take care of my internal workings, it will do its thing and take care of the external. A win-win.


new moon eclipse vibes


On the 2nd of this month, we ushered in a new moon and experienced a solar eclipse marking something that takes place every 18 years. While reading up on what all this means, I learned that something is being eclipsed out of your life and a new beginning is about to take place. You sync you up to a life path that is more aligned with who you really are and brings truths to light so that you can proceed with a fuller, more open perspective. Considering what’s going on in my life that is unsurprising. 

I was encouraged to think about what happened in my life in 2001, as this was a similar time period and I could expect a similar theme since now 18 years later.

In 2001 I moved to Paris to study at Parsons School of Design. I spent a glorious year in Europe becoming more of who I was. I practiced my French, lived on cheese, bread, and wine and spent countless hours wandering museums, bookstores, parks, and the occasional boîte.

It confirmed my feeling that Europe was my place, a feeling I had had ever since my first trip to Barcelona back in 1996. I loved the civility, the architecture, the history, the pace of life and standing in line at the Tabac people watching. Or more accurately people watching me. You try being in line to buy cigarettes with Birkenstocks and socks on amongst the chic French women without eliciting a stare. I wanted to shout out – “I just live around the corner and ran out. I didn’t have this on all day!”, but then figured who cares. Let them stare because that meant I could stare at them. Apparently staring is acceptable in France. 

I have always felt the same sense of connection to California. I like the vibe here. The commitment to health, the pursuit of hobbies, creativity and a liberal, trendsetting way of thinking. The fact that the State has sued the Trump administration 50 times and that houses are built into the sides of cliffs.

You can be a 86 year old tattooed, pot-smoking grandma who does yoga in a leopard catsuit and no one blinks an eye. I like that there are beaches, mountains, and the city. That there is plant-based everything and Farmers markets galore. My plants can live outside year-round if they want and flip flops are considered shoes. I don’t like the traffic, the homelessness (its a real problem), and depending on what area of town you are in the implants and botox can be extreme, but as in life, you take the good with the bad. 

The fact that I am making this move now and that it lines up with the theme of 2001 is super exciting to me. The growth I experienced that year was tremendous. As a young woman in my twenties, it grounded me further in myself and taught me to trust my intuition and follow my heart no matter what. That move to Paris sparked a series of essential life experiences and lessons that have shaped who I am. 

Over the years I have continued to do that. To trust that I will be supported in my desires as long as I am aligning with my true self. I’ve learned that things always work out how and when they are supposed to even when you can’t see it at the time. Just like in 2001, that move was the result of a feeling and desire that had been 5 years brewing. Same is true in 2019. The idea of Highbrow Hippie was also sparked 5 years ago and now here I am; leaning into the eclipse season, going with the flow and continuing to become more of who I am. Let the West coast adventure begin….


10 things that change after becoming a mom


My life changed on October 5, 2015, the day I gave birth to Harris. The first thing I did was to look for a sale-price life insurance. A joyful, curious and independent spirit who loves to read, ride his bike and dance. I thought I was prepared for the changes motherhood would bring, but I soon learned that I didn’t have a clue how far reaching and deep these changes would be. From the mundane (no more sleeping in) to the esoteric (you try explaining veganism to a two year old), the changes have been swift and consistent. There is no area of your life that remains unaffected by becoming a parent. Not. One. As soon as I feel like I’ve got one thing down, something else steps in and takes it’s place. Staying flexible is key. Of course everyone tells you the typical things that will happen “You will feel a love like no other” (true) and that ‘you will develop such patience!” (getting there), but now that I am almost 4 years in, here 10 things I would add to that list:

You will eventually get tired of hearing the word “Mom” Call me crazy, but I don’t want to hear anything 1,376 times a day even if it is my own “name”.

You become completely awestruck by the beauty and grace that surrounds us each day. I didn’t realize how essential Motherhood would be to my spiritual journey and the cultivation of gratitude, but having the opportunity to watch this little spirit unfold and find his way in the world makes me thankful each day for all that we have been given and all the good that surrounds us.

Your personal grooming will decline. Sorry, ladies but it’s a fact. Mostly because your priorities shift and suddenly having a few free hours equates to a nap vs a pedicure. You will eventually regain your equilibrium, but there will be a few years where self care takes the form of sleep. Suddenly you look up and realize you haven’t had a bikini wax in ages and your hair looks like shit. So you book an appointment wanting “a change” and come back with a short cut only to realize you haven’t lost all your baby weight and now you look bigger and why didn’t anyone tell you not to do it and arrrrgghhh having short hair actually takes MORE time. Sigh. 

You will be extra thoughtful about what you say and how you react to things. This one might sound obvious, but I’m not talking about not cursing in front of your kid. Which I have done and I have only heard him say ‘shit” twice. He used it correctly, which made me kinda proud. He understands context, and that’s a life skill, so I’m doing a good job.

What I’m talking about are the auto programmed scripts/responses that we all have. Caught in traffic? It happens. Am I complaining about it, getting irritated, shifting the energy in the car so that Harris now learns traffic = annoyance/anxiety? Or am I calmly observing it saying “Well there’s some traffic. Nothing we can do about it so let’s turn up the music and enjoy the ride!” It’s in the subtleties that our children perspectives are formed, so you best get yourself aligned so that what you say matches what you do. They are watching. 

The question “why” will become so exhausting that eventually you will give up trying to answer. My friend Paul said it best when he told me that when his son was born he envisioned himself answering every question and explaining the world to him… “Why is the sky blue, Dad?” “Well son, the sky is blue because air molecules scatter more blue light than red.” “Why do mosquitos bite, Dad?” “Well, son, mosquitos bite because….” However now that he’s in the thick of it he told me he finds himself acting like he didn’t hear his son’s question. Eventually his son stops asking when he doesn’t respond. Ideal? No. Effective? Totally. 

The amount of hours you have to do everything else you were doing in your life before you became a parent suddenly gets reduced drastically. Imagine being told at work that all the work that you used to do in 8 hours now has to be done in 5 AND they’re giving you more work to do. In those same 5 hours. That’s parenting. You quickly realize something’s gotta give which brings me to…

You let a lot of stuff go. And I mean a lot. You simply can’t do and be all you were before so you have to prioritize. Find your top 3 priorities and focus on those. Let everything else go.

At some point you will wear bras that look like your Mother’s. You know the ones.  Practical. Supportive. When you realize this you will throw them out declaring enough but soon regret it because none of your old lacy numbers fit. So you will put on a sports bra and keep it moving (comfort is a priority) until you finally decide to head to Saks for a restock which may or may not take 2 months.

You will embark on spiritual journey like no other. The biggest change I wasn’t expecting was the deepening of my relationship with myself as a result of becoming a mother. Seeing my life (and myself) through the eyes of my child has encouraged me reexamine everything I thought I knew, digging into myself in a way I never have before. Children come into this world authentic, open and whole. Over time, unless you are conscious of it, they will begin to lose touch with their own voices and start to identify with yours. We all carry within us generational trauma, false perceptions, emotional pain and harmful patterns passed onto us  unknowingly by people and events that took place years before we came along. Your job as a parent is to look at all the stuff you picked up over the years and start deciding what you want to keep/pass on to your kid and what you don’t, los llanos online. If it’s negative, non productive, or harmful to yourself or others – let that shit go.

Your will never finish a thought when hanging with your toddler. Toddlers (or at least my toddler) move at the speed of light. A whirlwind of questions, ideas and thoughts there is simply no time for any of your own to really take root. As a creative person who spends a lot of time thinking, this was a huge adjustment for me. I envisioned myself reading the Sunday times while Harris played quietly nearby, but the reality is he’s not quiet and by the he goes to bed all I want is an edible and silence. 

Being a Mom is hard, but (and here is the time tested cliché), but it’s by far the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve done to date. For all you parent’s out there – what would you add to the list? Any advice/lessons you have learned over the years?

Photos by my talented and gorgeous friend Lauren Ridge @lilysophiaphotography


Balayage 101


I am obsessed with hair color. I stare at everyone’s hair color at the airport, on the subway, even when I get my morning coffee.  It began when I first started beauty school as practice for my consultations. I would search for the worst hair color I could find, and in my head I would silently practice what I would say to the client if he or she needed to fix it, and then I would try to formulate a solution as fast as I could. (Little did I know how much this weird habit of mine would help me as I progressed in my career. Most clients REALLY appreciate a firm and decisive hair colorist. It gives them assurance that you know what you’re doing.)

Within the first minute of a client sitting in my chair, while they give me their backstory, I assess the situation, formulate a plan, and try to determine if what the client wishes for is a reasonable possibility, and how many sessions it will take to get to their desired goal. With clients that highlight their hair in particular, the first thing I look for is whether their hair was done by foil or balayage. I can quickly determined if foils were used by spotting a strong uniformity in color pattern and unfortunately at times by a harsh demarcation line at the root. Let’s just say, sometimes, it ain’t pretty.

Balayage is the most popular hair coloring request in many salons today (the hashtag alone yields over 16 million posts on Instagram), but the technique has been around forever. The term comes from the French word meaning “to sweep”, and was developed in the 1970s by the French as a freehand technique where the color is applied by hand rather than foils. In basic balayage, the hair is painted using one of three (or a combination) of three paint designs. These designs are singles, slants, and V’s.  As we explore more intermediate and advanced balayage techniques, I’ll review even more patterns and approaches that can done with your paintbrush.  The sky is truly the limit.

Because I went to work for a French salon directly after beauty school (Frederic Fekkai), the last time I picked up a foil was almost 20 years ago. I had to completely unlearn everything that I was taught in school, and was forced to approach hair from a completely different perspective. It was no longer about applying color in a pattern, but now about seeing every head of hair as an individual canvas that could be painted according to need. The entire picture had to be visualized and customized. It took me years before I was confident enough to say that I had mastered this approach. Everyone who knows me can vouch that I am NOT a natural Francophile. (That’s a whole different blog post;)). However, when it comes to hair, I have to admit, the French know what they’re doing. Interestingly enough, my former boss and forever mentor, Serge Normant, is also French, but his approach to hair is the polar opposite of Frederic. Even with the newfound freedom to explore hair that I had at Fekkai, there was still a textbook “Fekkai” approach to hair.  And for the better part of 4 years while I assisted color legends such as Constance Hartnett, my skills were honed and tested and refined with weekly classes that were a requirement for any assistant who dreamed of one day getting their own chair.  It was a combination of boot camp and a masters degree in all things hair color.  Now, many years later, I recognize what an amazing privilege it was to get such intense hands on training, as there are truly not many scenarios that end up in my chair that I don’t feel like I can solve.  (To be clear, I still will always decline to do a client if they are set on something that I don’t think their hair can handle, and as a general rule I’m not a fan of bleach and tones. More on that later though..)

In NYC in the early 2000s, it was easy to spot a Fekkai client. Chic, sun-kissed color, but “done”. Over time, my work has become decidedly undone. No two clients are ever the same. I truly believe I got to that comfortable place because of the freedom that balayage has given my coloring style. Balayage is also a very economical way to color your hair as you never have a solid demarcation line or regrowth, so if you can’t afford to get it done for another month it won’t look atrocious. However, if your balayage isn’t done correctly you can end up with excessive overlapping that can cause damage. The process varies depending on the length of the hair and the desired result.

If I had to say one thing (or two) that does frustrate me when seeing how balayage is represented on social media, it is that there is sometimes a repetitiveness that is present in many of the posts.  Everyone looks the same, which is mind-blowing considering the amount of freedom and customization that balayage allows.  I was also taught that the first rule of thumb is, because balayage is supposed to mimic nature’s most natural highlight, there should be a soft beginning.  The beginning of the highlight should be so delicate as to be undetected.  A whisper most definitely more than a shout, yet, in so many images tagged with the hashtag #balayage, bold stripes and strong starts exist.  I find that all my balayage clients are going for different looks and need to maintain it at different rates. From ombré to the most natural sun kissed highlights, to highlights that mimic an all over color, it can all be achieved with just a paintbrush, and the more years the client sits in my chair, the more tailored and individualized and nuanced her color gets.  Without fail, the photos that are most requested by new clients are those of clients that I have been doing for at least 3 years, and I always have to explain that their color looks that way because of commitment and an agreed upon long term game plan between them and myself.  Don’t be mistaken though, this still allows us a ton of room for changes down the line, but there is always a baseline that exists in their hair, my canvas, that allows for seamless transitions.

As I gear up to start teaching color classes and workshops again, I would love to get your feedback on what kind of things you would like me to focus on.  Because others took care and time teaching me, creating color and painting workshops is something I take very seriously.  When I do it, I hope to do it right, so  I encourage you to leave comments on our Instagram page, and as I prep lesson plans, I’ll try my best to keep all your thoughts and requests in mind.  Let’s paint!





photo 3-3