May 26, 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

Lasting Beauty: Captain Blankenship Balms and Solid Perfumes

Rosy Red for lips and cheeks, $15, from Captain Blankenship is made using Beeswax, California organic almond oil, organic jojoba oil, wildcrafted shea butter and essential oils.

Beauty products that not only deliver welcome results, but last and last and last get our shatter-polished thumbs up every time. We recently discovered such tandem benefits in Bay Area-based beauty line Captain Blankenship.

Priced from $15-$30 and packaged in reusable metal tins, the balms and solid perfumes from this local line can easily last over a year, says owner Jana Blankenship (the woman behind notable Mission art spot The People’s Gallery).

Begun as a small side project by Blankenship, an art curator who also works with the Wattis Institute, the homegrown beauty company’s growth has been steady in recent months, though strictly organic, not unlike many of its wild-crafted ingredients. These days, the line also includes liquid scents, bath salts and aromatic sprays.

Our favorite scent during a recent sniff session at The People’s Gallery? Mantra, an earthy fragrance designed to aid meditation and concentration made using jasmine, vetiver, sandalwood, blood orange and spearmint.

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