May 24, 2015

Heavenly Hair: A Trip to Palo Alto’s Halo Salon

Dryers suspended from the ceiling, white chairs, ample mirrors and tangerine hues set the stage for stylish 'dos at Palo Alto's Halo.

With six hairdryers strung from the ceilings, Halo, a blow dry bar located in Palo Alto, is one of many such locations opening around the nation. For a relatively affordable $35 (compare that to $50 and up at traditional salons) hair can go from boring and lifeless to sleek and sexy without an accompanying cut.

Like many, the best my hair ever looks is after a trip to the salon, when all the crunchy ends are cut off and nicely curled. When I leave, I feel like Farrah Fawcett in her feathered-hair glory, but a couple of days later, when I attempt to recreate the look at home, I end up with the wild mane of Jessie Spano in Saved by the Bell. I know I’m not alone. For the other hair-challenged who just want to feel like Farrah more than once every few months, there is hope, and it’s popping up in more and more Bay Area places.

“It’s fun, it’s fast and it’s affordable,” says Halo’s Manager Tashina Torres. “And we can pretty much do whatever you want.”

There are four menu items at Halo designed to cover all hairstyles: Give it to me Straight, Pretty, Please, Me, Only Better and Glam-A-Rama. Customers also have the option of ordering an up-do, wedding hair, prom hair or a Brazilian blowout.

“Most people want Kim Kardashian hair,” says Amanda Ellenwood, the stylist who performed my first blowout. “People don’t realize she has a ton of extensions.”

After I told Ellenwood that I had no specific events to attend, she spun me around in the salon chair and decided on giving me a cross between the Glam-A-Rama and Pretty, Please. What followed felt like a manicure for the head: my scalp was massaged, my hair washed and in 45 minutes every follicle on my head appeared shiny and new. Farrah was back.

Know before you go: Insider Tips from Torres

  • Don’t wash your hair before you go—that is part of the experience.
  • If you’re looking for the best time for walk-in appointments, try Monday through Wednesday. Weekends are the busiest.
  • Blowouts typically last two to three days with the use of a shower cap.

Multiple brushes are part of the magic at Halo.

Photography by Lindsay Harte

SF Salon Deal: Keratin Complex Express Blowout

Johnny in his Union Square salon

When a Brazilian Blowout is too time-consuming or too expensive, the Keratin Complex Express Blowout may be exactly what you’re looking for. Luckily for SF Indie Fashion readers, Johnny Bueno is offering this new-to-his-salon treatment at a discount.

Ringing in at about half the price and requiring half the time of a Brazilian Blowout, the one-hour service is similar in its ability to smooth, de-frizz and reduce curl, but requires much less in the way of commitment. The results of the treatment last anywhere from a month to six weeks.

It’s a summer-friendly hair strategy that cuts frizz and reduces the need for styling right when added humidity, beach trips and it’s-too-hot-to-blowdry moments take over.

So here’s the deal: book a color appointment with Johnny Bueno Color Studio this month, and you’ll save 20 percent on a Keratin Complex Express Blowout (reg. $145-$165). Another perk for readers: Tell ‘em we sent ya, and you’ll score a super-soft Johnny Bueno logo tee for $5 (reg. $25).

More San Francisco beauty

Flex Time: Try San Francisco Midweek Beauty Deals

Russian Hill's Beauty Company frequently offers midweek specials via its Facebook page.

At Cavallo Point, midweek spa deals accompany to-die-for views.

Got some midweek flex in your sched this summer? Then these midweek deals at local day spas are just for you. Even better, you’ll avoid the Saturday masses and get your look in line before the weekend hits.

Cocoon Urban Day Spa Midweek Mani-Pedi Special: Through the end of June, score $10 off all mani-pedi combination treatments when you book appointments Tuesday through Friday before 4 p.m. Insider tip: if you drive to this Rincon Hill location, hunt on Guy Place for one-hour, unmetered spots.

Cavallo Point Midweek Spa Special: Yes, there are many other reasons for locals to hit this just-across-the-Golden-Gate destination than the postcard city views. Head here Monday through Thursday, and you’ll save 15 percent on any facial, massage or body treatment (excludes tandem massages). Add a yoga class ($15) or spring for a full day pass ($65) to enjoy the bucolic lodge’s full suite of fitness offerings, including a eucalyptus steam room and a heated meditation pool.

Zaza Nail Spa Midweek Special: Book your appointment Monday through Thursday before 4 p.m., and you’ll be rewarded with $15 off the classic mani-pedi combo, as well as skincare and massage treatments this month. Afterwards, if more me-time is required, get sucked in by the deals across the street at Jeremy’s.

Beauty Company: Those who “like” this Russian hill shop-slash-salon on Facebook will be happy to find an ever-updating assortment of midweek deals posted on the shop’s wall. Recent deals have included a free mani-pedi with purchase before 4 p.m. offered to those who check in using Facebook and 40 percent off waxing done before 4 p.m.

More San Francisco beauty….

Photography courtesy of Beauty Company and Cavallo Point

Robert James: Our New Summer Hair Guru

Robert James at work in his salon

Inside Robert James Color

We dare say hair color done right is among the best accessories a person can add to her personal style arsenal. It can instantly update a look, make skin appear fresher and help eye color pop. As you might expect, we prefer to take our hair advice from local experts. For that, we turn to expert San Francisco colorist Robert James.

A veteran of Vidal Sassoon Beverly Hills, James brings his Hollywood know-how and experience treating the tresses of such stars as Gwen Stefani to San Francisco, where his eponymous studio re-opened in February in a new, 1,600-foot Sutter Street space decked out with hardwood floors, avocado-hued walls and paintings by LA-based pop artist Nelson De La Nuez. Along with color and natural hair extensions by James, the salon offers hair cuts and services such as Brazilian blow-outs and shine treatments for men and women by stylists Debra Fallon, Jason Lund and Keller Sechrest.

We recently caught up with James to get the lowdown on achieving stylish summer hair, Hollywood-worthy locks and, perhaps most importantly, making our color last as long as humanly possible. Read on for his tips:

When we’re sick of the same old highlights we’ve been getting for years, what are some more adventurous ways we can brighten our hair up for summer?

o   Baliage is a great alternative to foil highlights. This process is done by painting on highlights and allows the colorist more creative freedom in placement. It will look like you’ve been vacationing on the beach.

o   If you want to stick with foil highlights, ask your colorist to add some brighter pieces around the face for more of a pop of brightness.

What do you think of the whole ombre trend? Is that something you do in your salon? If so, anything we should know before trying it out?

o   Ombre (otherwise known as baliage) is a fantastic look for ladies who don’t want to commit to the upkeep of traditional highlights. Baliage is a great natural look that only commits you to coming into the salon every 6 months. But be aware – the two tone trend is on its way out as the recession ends. Recently, Drew Barrymore traded in her ombre look for allover red. Still, Baliage is always a great choice for a more natural look.

o   Before trying the ombre trend be realistic about the look. You will only get the two tone look if you have previously been doing foil highlights and have a build up of color on the end. Also, know that it will look like you have roots because that is what the whole look is about.

You’ve worked with some serious stars, such as Gwen Stefani, Alyssa Milano and Kelly Osborne. What’s the best way to add a little Hollywood glam to our look these days?

o   Try a feather in the hair like Jessica Biel. It is a quick way to add some glamour to your look.

o   Another great option is to come into the salon for a cellophane shine treatment, which will instantly make your hair shiny like a Hollywood starlet. The treatment last 6 weeks. Gwen Stefani and Alyssa Milano always have super shiny locks.

o   Come into the salon to get your hair colored. Your colorist can formulate the perfect color to bring out your beauty. No starlet would ever do her hair at home.

o   If you have a special occasion or just want to glam it up for the night, come in for a blowout or curl set. You will look red carpet-ready and not have to lift a finger.

What’s new in the world of hair color (or hair in general) that you find really exciting today? Any killer new products, tools, processes or treatments out there that we should know about?

o   I am loving the new Wella Professional line. It is great for all hair types, especially colored hair. The price point is great, so you can mix and match to achieve your desired look.

o   We also love the new feather trend that is going on. For $40, you can put a feather in your hair that you can wash and style however you like. It’s a super fun way to add a new dynamic to your hair.

If we could, we’d color our hair every four to six weeks like clockwork. But sometimes life (and our wallets) get in the way. Any tips for making color last longer? And are there different tips depending on the color process we’ve used?

o   To make your color last longer use a color safe shampoo and conditioner such as Wella Professional Brilliance line. It moisturizes while protecting your color. Also, use a color protecting spray. Try to only wash your hair twice a week. Shampooing dulls the color. If you feel like you need to wash your hair, do a rinse and just use conditioner through the ends.

o   Be sure to wear a hat when outdoors because the sun can fade your color and damage your hair. These rules apply to all color services, but especially for single processes.

o    To make your haircolor last longer, do a color close to your natural so that you won’t see a line as it grows out.

When we’re ready for a change, do you have any advice for choosing a new hair color before we take the plunge?

o   Flip through magazines and find pictures of hair colors you like. Be realistic about what you are wanting. The color in the picture is not always achievable. It may take several visits to the salon to get the end result you are looking for.  Also, really think about the color. Are you willing to commit to this color? Once you go dark it is hard to go back to blonde, so make sure this is what you want to do.

More San Francisco beauty

Fur-Out: Fur Hair Extensions

The author receiving her fur-out new hair accessory

I walked into X*  with a black and white feather hair extension, a trend that has swept San Francisco and has been responsible for many compliments sent my way. But I was ready to take the next step in wild hair embellishments and try something new: fur.

For that, I met with Hair Stylist Y**, who alone is bringing fur extensions ($15 for two pieces) onto the local hair scene. When I arrived at the salon, Y sat me down in her black leather chair and opened a case filled with hair goodies such as feathers, gems and, of course, the fur, which is the same chinchilla rabbit used to make fishing flies.

“Everyone loves it. I open this box and everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god!’” says Y.

And it’s no wonder, as the case is filled with a wide selection of colors, from neutral browns and grays for a more conservative adornment to purple and olive for the Burning Man-bound wild child.

If you feel overwhelmed by the selection, like I did, Y will place several options in your hair and throw in her feedback. I opted for the neutral brown with dark horizontal stripes, and Y whipped out her tools.

The pain-free process involves Y taking a strand of hair located above the neckline and pulling it and the fur through two circular beads and next clamps. It’s all done in a matter of 15 minutes or less.

Ever since, the fur has survived hot showers, blow drys, brushing and even a cut and color appointment. And according to Y, the fur can be curled and flat-ironed and should last about a month on average. For me, managing the fur has been so minimal that I even forget it’s there…until of course that inevitable compliment is again sent my way.

Fur extensions in a variety of colors

* and ** Editor’s Note: The SF Indie Fashion editorial team has removed identifying information for the salon and its stylist due to threats made against the business. The salon has since stopped offering the service. While it is against our editorial policy to remove content after publication, this post has been amended due to safety concerns for those originally mentioned in the post. Comments for this post have also been closed, and others that originally appeared have been removed due to their inappropriate content. We hope that SF Indie Fashion’s loyal readers understand our decision. We do not condone threats made against others for any reason and hope those who disagree with content on this site can find a more constructive method for communicating their views in the future.


Full disclosure: extensions were gifted to us for use in this post. Though we don’t think that biases our judgment, we think it’s only good, fair reporting to let you know.