Friends and strangers often compliment me on my hair, especially on the rare occasions when I sport something other than my trademark ponytail. But to be fair, the condition of my hair has less to do with the products I keep in my bathroom, and more to do with the company I have kept for the past thirteen years.
Erik Robinson is my mane man; that’s him (to the left, with his wife) at my wedding reception. He is the only person I would even let think about touching my hair. And for good reason – he’s been in the business for 20 years, he holds a state examiner’s license (which means he tests other who are seeking their cosmetology, esthetician, and managers license), and he knows hair.
Usually, when I’m in Erik’s chair, we gab about pop culture and the latest antics of my crazy family (Erik is also my mom and sister’s hairstylist, and my dad’s barber). But when I stopped in a few weeks ago, Erik and I talked (beauty) shop – and he had some tips for touchable tresses that I’m excited to share with all of you.
Erik says that it’s normal to lose 50-100 strands of hair per day. So if you notice a clump of hair in the shower drain – don’t break out the Propecia just yet. “Typically, your hair will tell you what’s wrong. The key is learning how to interpret the signs,” he said.
“Women are going flat-iron crazy right now, and they wonder why they’ve got broken tips and split ends. When you regularly use thermal styling tools, you need to coat hair with a light oil or serum to protect it from the damaging effects of heat,” Erik explained. One of my personal favorites is Fantasia Heat Protector Straightening Serum. It moisturizes, repairs, and smooths the cuticle – leaving hair shiny and frizz-free. It’s brilliant for preventing breakage, and at less than $8, it won’t break the bank.
When you start noticing half-stands on your pillowcase or collar, over-processing is usually the culprit. “Overlapping chemical processes, such as relaxers, perms, and permanent color, can take a toll hair – especially if hair isn’t strong to begin with.” So if you insist on altering the chemical structure of hair and its hue, you might want to consider a more gentle hair color (one without ammonia or peroxide). Look for products with the words “temporary” or “semi-permanent” – fortunately, there are plenty of great products out there, at every price point. And when in doubt, go to a salon; it beats wrecking your hair and having to see a professional anyway to repair the damage.
Finally, Erik warned that “losing whole strands is an indication that a person requires a major change in lifestyle. Diet, stress, hormones, and medication could be factors when your hair falls out at the root.” In such a case, a trip to the doctor is often necessary to get to the root of the problem (no pun intended).
At the end of our pow-wow, my final question to Erik was this: if he had to narrow it down to just one thing, what would he say is the secret to beautiful hair? “Beautiful hair is healthy hair,” he stated simply. “And the key to healthy hair is maintaining a stable pH level, which ranges between 4.5 and 5.5. Keeping hair in this range involves using balance of moisturizing and protein products.” So, in laymans terms – if you’re only using products that hydrate, you’re not adding enough strength to strands; conversely, if you go overboard with protein products, hair becomes so strong that it can literally snap. Try following a moisturizing shampoo, like Technician Shampoo For Dry, Damaged, Color-Treated Hair, with a protein treatment like Protein Rx Reparative Treatment Mask – both by Frederic Fekkai.
Erik Robinson’s wealth of hair knowledge is inspiring; if I wrote half of what he told me, we’d be here all day. But what is even more remarkable is his innate, creative talent. Erik is the best hairdresser I’ve ever had, and he’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. So if you live in – or are passing through – the Philadelphia area, I highly recommend that you make an appointment. Erik is skilled in women’s and men’s hairstyling, hair cutting, and hair coloring – and if you mention Spoiled Pretty, he’ll knock 30% off all services over $20*!
107 South 22nd Street (between Chestnut and Sansom)
Philadelphia, PA 19103
*For Erik’s price list, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.