Perfect braid-waves with Masterbraider!

IMG_9705 sea salt waves 7U6A6442Finally, babes. Masterbraider is here. It has been 3 months now, testing recipes and ingredients to create the perfect beach wave spray, with muscles.

I wanted a spray that you could spray into dry hair, braid, sleep on it, and wake up with perfect long-lasting braid-waves. Done.

I wanted a spray that would add a ton of body to the hair that would last for days without getting heavy or greasy. Done. I wanted it to have a grippy without sticky finish to make it easy to scrunch, twist, and braid for those finer hair ladies. Done.

And lastly, I wanted something that would help you all create bigger, better braids.

Today, I’m proud to introduce you to Masterbraider. Your texture, wave and braid spray BFF. Now available in the ShamPHree shop.

xoxo, HTHG

Secrets of a Color Whisperer

dylThere are many things that I love about working at Vain Beautyworld. Mostly, it is the other people who work there. The staff is an interesting, eclectic and talented bunch of people who are eager to learn and share what they know. There is a strong spirit of community and support at Vain that keeps us there.

Vain stylists are carefully curated by a selective process which determines who is good Vain material. Unlike many salons that would value a stylists ability to conform, Vain flips the whole thing upside down. Being open-minded, eager to learn, and having a strong sense of personal style are crucial.

DylanMeet Dylan. She started at Vain at the front desk in 2009, and then went to beauty school and started hairstyling 2 years ago. Here is a link to her Vain profile for more specifics, and you can follow her on Instagram at @hairbydylan.

Dylan is a masterful hair color chameleon. She pulls off the almost-impossible color changes on her own hair and her client’s hair in a creative and thoughtful ways. If you could watch her work, you would understand. It is a precise, methodical, beautiful explosion of perfectly toned colors.

After writing Do’s and Don’ts of DIY color, I decided that interviewing Dylan was necessary to get some juicy bits of color knowledge from a pro who also DIY’s her hair.

So for DIY hair-do-ers, salon go-ers, and stylists alike, read ahead for some super special secrets from the color whisperer.


Interview Dylan McCord, master hair colorist.


Dylan, we want to know how you pull off changing your hair color so often and having it look consistently great. To begin with, what color changes has your fantastic hair seen in the past 12 months?


I started the year with baby pink, then went to grey, then purple, neon green, copper, blonde, red, black, brown, rose gold, magenta, kimchi pink, and now peach.


How many times have you had to bleach your hair to achieve that range of color?

I’ve only used bleach on my hair during my transition from pre-black brown to where I am now:) 4 times total: bleach and tone, foil and two French shampoos. The process took a little over a month with treatments in between each process.





What is your secret to changing your hair color often and achieving the perfect shade? 

I would say timing and patience is key! Trial and error. It definitely helps to have a very solid knowledge of color theory before you start coloring. If you can break down the whole process to the specifics and follow the rules of the color wheel you can’t really go wrong.

You have to be willing to take care of the health of your hair, though. That is really important.

How do you keep your color fresh?

I don’t wash too often. I like to add some of my hair color pigment into my conditioner and use it every other time I condition to add a little color back in. (This only works with deposit-only color but is a great way to maintain bright hair hues!)

My color is always changing though, so I am constantly re-toning and conditioning to keep it fresh and healthy.

Where do you get hair color inspiration?

I am constantly inspired by other stylists hair, nature of course, and a good challenge…..I love making the impossible possible with hair. Making hair dreams come true!

When you decide on a hair color, how do you prepare your hair for the process?

I use Redken Extreme Cat Protein Reconstructing Treatment Spray to rebuild protein and strength. I will do it maybe twice a week for a couple weeks before and after bleaching. You don’t want to overdo it with protein, though because it will make your hair brittle.  Also, Redken Cat needs to followed with a deep conditioner, as a two step process. I like to use Davines Nourishing Vegeterian Miracle for a deep moisture treatment.

Because I like having the freedom to change my hair color frequently,  I am always planning ahead for future hair colors down the line. So frequent conditioning, and strategic tone and color choices so that I know what will look good and be easy to remove in the future.

What are your go-to products or methods for color removal?

My favorite way to remove color without bleach is mixing deep cleansing shampoo like Maxi Wash by KM with a lot of baking soda and applying it thick all over the hair then sitting under heat with it. It will eat up so much color! You can do it a couple of times in a row if you need to.

I save the french shampooing for removing really stubborn color that the Maxi Wash and BS won’t strip out. Vitamin C works alright, and I’m not a big fan of Color Ooops. Rusk Eliminate smells really bad and it is unreliable.

What is your go-too toner for toning out that baby chick bleach brassiness?

I often use Wella Color Charm T18 White Lady toner to cool down bleached hair before coloring. You have to consider the tones left in bleached hair before re-coloring. Using a toner before a veggie dye really helps to get you to just the right shade, especially with the more muted and pastel tones that are so in right now.

What is your go-to veggie dye company?

I love them all. I’m constantly mixing and cocktailing them. I’m loving the Pravana colors because they tend to be more primary and really mixable. Special Effects colors are great of course, although they need to step up their game a bit. And I’m starting to come around with Manic Panic.

What has been your personal favorite hair color?

IMG_9750I really loved the red. I bleached out my black hair to a level 7 or 8 copper, then applied Special Effects Hot Lava over it. It was so beautiful and rich. I also loved my IMG_9727 IMG_9725 Special Effects Blue Haired Freak and Fishbowl Blue cocktail, and the whole progression from that to pastel pink was beautiful. Pretty light blues, purples and pinks. It was unicorn hair all the way.

And I continue to go back to pink because it has so many variations and it doesn’t set you back because it is an easy color to remove without having to re-bleach.


What was your least favorite?

IMG_9746I didn’t love super gold yellow. It washed me out. But I loved what happened after I applied dark blue over it!



What aspect of hair coloring are you comfortable with DIY-ing? At what point would you have a fellow stylist of friend help you?

I am totally fine putting an all over color on my own head. Balayage with bleach I would DIY. I cut my own hair all the time.

All over bleaching and foiling? I would ask a friend for help, mostly for timing sake. It is quicker when someone else does it and sometimes you really need speed!

Ideally though, I would pop my own head off and just do it myself any time.

Who are your hair color inspirations?

Hmmmmm……….That is going to take a while. Let’s come back to that one……..

(later on)

Okay my inspirations are definitely Siouxsie Sioux, and Jem (and the Holograms.) And Frenchie from Grease.

What are your favorite hair products, in general?

I love Shiny Dancer for heat styling, moisture, and as an end treatment. Kevin Murphy Anti Gravity Spray for blow-drying. And Schwarzkop Dust It for bangs and creating interior hold and texture and oil absorption.

What advice would you give someone who has their heart set on a very specific hair color overhaul?

I guess that anything is possible if you are willing to take it slow and be patient. Sometimes you have to decide between having a fantastic color and having healthy hair, and often its worth it for the color!

The first time I bleached my hair it felt very different and damaged but I took care of it and it regained it’s health and strength. The color was so beautiful and new to me that I didn’t mind that it was damaged…..I had achieved a hair color goal that I thought was impossible.

Dylan, we salute you and your hair knowledge and your great hair, in general.


To end this post on a bit of a different note my dears, I learned a trick recently about removing hair color stains from clothes that I wish I would have learned years ago. Hand Sanitizer. Yep. Put it on your color spots asap, and watch them disappear before your very eyes. Why just the other day I saved my favorite pair of jeans from permanent purple spots.

Thanks for being here!

If you are a DIY hair-cutter who is curious about DIY home-hair coloring, I highly recommend using DIY hair color by Madison Reed, which Resorcinol-Free.

If you purchase a Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit, you will receive not only the colors of hair colors your choice, but also the necessary tools to apply it. The entire line is designed for the DIY hair colorer! And if you need to tone in between coloring, be sure to check out their Color Reviving Gloss to refresh and revive your hair.

Also, I recommend a shopping stop at Beauty Store Depot for all your other DIY hair cutting and coloring tools to fill your toolkit!

Need a custom DIY hair color consultation to help troubleshoot your hair color at home?

ad$30 buys you a one-on-one online consultation with HTHG regarding your color and how to get it where you want it. Click here.

xoxo, HTHG

DIY Henna gloss treatment, 101

7U6A7019Hey there guys. How are you all? I’m pretty good. I’m just sittin in my little blogging corner in the window of the gallery at Vain Beautyworld, waiting for my next client to come in for a touch up trim. I just took a sip of my coffee and their was a long hair floating in it. #hairdresserproblems

Today, I have some info to share with you about Henna.

My first henna experience was a disaster. But it was not the henna’s fault. I can blame no one but myself. I put henna on top of my hair that had been bleached with Sun-in and permed, and henna turned my hair green.

I have shied away from the fine green powder since then. I’ve encountered henna-d hair in the salon many times, and had to explain to clients that when you want to color over henna, there is just no telling what can happen. Sometimes, it is no problem. Sometimes, hair melts off. A strand test is a MUST.

The outcome of henna on previously colored hair is totally dependent on several things……. Is the henna pure or cut with other ingredients? ( If it is advertised as anything other than ‘red,’ it has other ingredients that can react strangely when applied on hair that has been previously color treated.) Does your hair have buildup from very soft or hard water? has your hair been treated with other chemicals in the past? Again, a strand test is a MUST when using henna over color treated hair, or when trying to color over henna. It is not impossible to have good results, but it is better safe than sorry. #strandtest

For the first time in my life my hair is all natural, with a tiny bit of bleach on some ends. I had been reading a lot about henna on Natural Hair blogs. I liked what I read about using henna as a gloss and moisturizing treatment rather than a color. What finally got me on board was Curly Nikki,  who swears by henna treatments to strengthen and add shine to her curls. She convinced me to try it in her book Better Than Good Hair.

henna color“….Henna also helps protect hair from sun damage. As a matter of fact, Henna has gained commercial leverage as a hair conditioner and to stimulate hair growth; scientific studies have even proven that Henna is a better hair conditioner than other commercial conditioners. Regular use texturizes hair, giving it more body and making it visibly fuller.”

-Mountain Rose Herbs

How does henna work?

Henna is another name for a Lawsonia plant. When activated with water, powdered Lawsonia produces a red-orange pigment that bonds to the cuticle of the hair and coats it, much like a protein treatment with added color. The longer it stays on the hair and skin, the more pigment it leaves behind, thus the redder it will be and the longer it will stick around. Here is a bit more on the subject.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 10.53.44 AMA light henna treatment will coat the hair gently to strengthen it and leave behind a subtle, translucent red gold shade. To the experienced hair color-er, a good solid 8WG.

I decided to try a henna gloss treatment. Here is what I learned…..

Henna is kind of magical. Henna is messy. Henna will stain your hands. I like how it smells, you might not. Henna is weird to apply, and next time I will use conditioner instead of oil to give it more slip for an easier application.

beforeAll of this said, it was an adventure, I felt like Cleopatra applying herb paste to my head, and I loved the results. I have done it 3 more times since! Here is a before and after, which shows you the subtle red prettiness and shine that the henna imparted which was the perfect winter hair perk up. The color has faded back to my natural with just a whisper of extra gold, which I’m totally cool with. I did a little ombre on my ends the other day, and It was no problem. BUT, I did do a strand test first, to be sure:)

What you need for a henna gloss treatment?

Step 1.

A plastic color bowl and brush.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

A measuring spoon or scoop.


Your favorite hair oil ( I used my Beautiful Curls hair oil which I love.)

Hot water.

Saran wrap or a processing cap.

A scrub brush for your hands.

Henna ( I used Avigal, which is a great quality henna that comes in many shades and is easy to mix. I ordered it from Amazon, and it came 2 days later in a 17 oz can that was lovely to behold. )


 How to do a Henna Gloss treatment


Step 2. Use your scoop to measure 3 tablespoons of henna powder with 1 tablespoon of hot water.

Step 3. Mix in your color bowl with your color brush.

Step 4. Measure 1 tablespoon of hair oil.

Step 5. Mix it into your henna.

Step 6. Measure 1/2 tablespoon of Vinegar. Mix it in.

Step 7. Measure one spoonful of honey.

Step 8. Mix it in.

Step 9. Mix everything into a smooth thin paste.


Applying Henna

hennaapplyFolks, It seems there is no easy or mess-free way to apply henna. Don’t let that stop you though, just be prepared for a bit of clean-up and have a good scrub brush and soap ready to thoroughly brush your hands off after applying your henna so that they don’t get stained!

Step 1. Begin by brushing to the henna into your roots at your hairline. Avoid getting it on the skin around your face, it will stain.

Step 2. Apply it to the roots on the sides.

Step 3. Apply it to the roots along the back hairline.

Step 4. Starting in the front on one side, work henna through small sections of hair, starting at the roots, pulling it all the way through the ends.

Step. 5 Work your way around the head, applying henna through small sections.

Step 6. Once done applying it through small sections, make sure the ends are all well covered.

Step 7. Check all throughout, making sure there are no dry spots.

Step 8. Admire yourself for a moment. Not often do we get to rub mud on our own heads.

Step 9. Gather all the hair in the back and twist it into a bun.

Step 10. Cover hair with processing cap or wrap Saran wrap around your head.

Step  9. Scrub hands thoroughly with soap.

Now, put a beanie over your plastic wrapped head and let the henna sit for a 1/2 to an hour. Depending on how much color you want. For a very deep red, leave the henna on over night.

When you are ready, jump in the shower and rinse the hair really well. Use a castille soap like Dr. Bronners to wash the remaining henna out of the hair. Finish with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse.

xoxo, HTHG

A hair story of sisterhood and solidarity.

IMG_8264Last Friday started out like any other day. I dreaded rolling out of bed. Since I gave up coffee a month ago and it has been so cold outside, getting out of bed has been like pulling teeth.

Once up, the rush and mayhem ensued of my husband and I getting our kids ready for school and trying to dress myself for work in something other than my usual pajama like lounge attire. I was swept up like a pile of hair on a windy day.

I managed to fix myself a cup of green tea on my way out the door. No breakfast, not because I wasn’t hungry. Because on the list of family needs on a Friday morning, mine got caught up in the windy hair pile and blew to the side. ‘ Why do I do this to myself?’ I thought.

Driving to work, I felt sorry for myself for not eating breakfast. Then, I felt resentful that my husband didn’t notice that I hadn’t eaten, Then, I shamed myself for feeling sorry for myself and silently apologized to my husband for being unfair and not speaking my mind. I tried to pry my mind out of the long tight braid of guilt for feeling self pity, shame for feeling guilt, and pity for feeling shame. There are bigger things than this.

I wonder what my work day will bring? My days at Vain are always different. I work with a dynamic and talented crew of people that I love. I have a clients from all over the map…..Strong, opinionated thinkers who are picky about their hair, quiet people who don’t know what they want, loud people who want what they can’t have. Just people, generally, with hang-ups like the rest of us.

I love doing hair, and I appreciate the client/stylist relationship and how it exults me out of the well-worn grooves of my own psyche and offers me a peak into the personal lives of others, a unique bond that is protected by secrecy and understanding. I hold their secrets, and the secrets of their hair. Sometimes their hair tells me secrets that they don’t even know. And I keep that bond between hair and I. Sometimes the bond is simply between my hands and their hair. Unspoken and unexplored by the brain and heart. Just simply tactile.

I hurriedly greeted my first client of the day with an “It’s nice to meet you” and a warm smile. My go-to welcome to new clients. There is nothing like a handshake and a smile with good eye contact to win em over.

Her eyes looked back at me saying “We have already met.”

I realize that I had cut her hair before. Granted, it was a long time ago. But come on. I’m an idiot. Shame started creeping back in but was intercepted by a sweep of self-preservation…..Skills I have developed from years of doing hair……Phrases like ‘Leave your bags at the door’ and ‘put on your gameface’ flashed through my head. I took a breath and breathed out slowly and silently ‘Be present.’ Okay. here I am. I find my footing.

“Oh yes! Hello. It has been a while” I said, noting the entourage of people she seemed to have along with her. A baseball-cap clad sister, an older man, a second young woman, and a tiny and good-looking baby. “welcome back” I said and I led her to my chair. As we walked back to my station, her sister followed behind.

The story I am about to tell pulled me back out of the little world that exists inside my head and into the world in front of me, where sisterhood and courage and solidarity and humility and letting-go-of-shit exists.

She sat down in my chair and with a touch of nonchalance and a smile, told me her story. As I worked my hands through her hair, recollections of her first haircut came flooding back. I didn’t remember the exact haircut itself, but the important events of her life that she had told me were as clear as day. She had been pregnant with her first child and had an cool and sordid conception story. She was a smart and savvy project manager in the tech world, she had a sister who had had an aggressive cancer and had permanently lost most of her hair with radiation treatments. Her sister and I exchanged a quick smile and introduction.

She brought me up to speed. Baby was born, healthy and sweet. She was about to start back at work. She had found a nanny that she really liked. She was here today to cut off all her hair to give to her sister. Her sister would have a wig-cap made with it to fill in the top of her head with her sisters beautiful silky hair that was essentially the same texture as her own hair, that now grew only on the sides and back of her head.

IMG_8242 IMG_8240






She was essentially radiating absolute resolve and excitement about going short for the first time in her life. And she was generously sharing an important and personal part of herself with her sister, who was visibly ecstatic to receive it. After years of baseball caps and wigs that never quite felt like her own, she was IMG_8243ready to adopt her sisters hair.

The vibe of these sisters was infectious. I felt absolute honor to be able to be a tiny part of this process.

We discussed a course of action. She had to take 18 inches off, and her hair was 20 inches long. We agreed that a pixie was her best bet to start with, and we discussed the grow out process and her excitement to go ShamPHree.

We would put her hair in many ponytails all over her head, and cut them off at the base, leaving 2 inches of her hair still on her head. IMG_8244IMG_8247Her tails would be neat and easy to transport and keep together for the wig-maker (guy on the east side, former wig maker for the Viennese opera?! hopefully more on this guy later!)

IMG_8248She would be left with a somewhat ragged looking hack-job. We would then create the perfect pixie cut for her fine hair and face shape.






IMG_8255 IMG_8258






All of the above happened while her sister and father stood by, excitedly snapping photos and giggling. Her sister playfully tucked a couple tales into her hat to try on her new hair. It looked fabulous.

IMG_8252 IMG_8253I’m not sure what I loved more about this experience…..The strength and bravery of the giver of the hair, or the giddy excitement of receiver. I could see that I was bearing witness to a very intimate and unforgettable family event. God I love my job.

They all left together, with smiles abound and a brown bag full of 18 inch ponytails. I continued my day with a heart full of bubbly effervescence and lightness in my step. It was so simple. I had just witnessed the good stuff that life is made of. The meaning of life. Love really is the answer.

And at the end of the day,  it’s only hair.

Please share this story if you know and love someone who has lost their hair. Thanks for being here!

xoxo, HTHG






Embracing your Sparkles. How to Phase in to Silver.

silverIn my opinion, silver haired people are foxy. It’s as simple as that.

Going gray is something that almost all of us have to deal with at some point. It can be a welcome site to find your first silver when you have been expecting them for years. It can also be a total life changing shocker when you realize that you are not immune to inevitable aging.

Over the coarse of my career as a hairdresser, I have encountered entirely too much agonizing over gray hair. I have spent numerous hours trying to perfectly blend grays so that they look like natural blondes. I have fretted over how to blend silver roots. I have pulled out the big guns to decimate those hard to cover resistant grays. I have gone through heads of hair picking out individual gray strands and either yanking them or painstakingly covering them with hair dye so that the world wont ever think they existed. Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.14.45 AM

But let’s face it, babes. Gray hair exists. Going gray is a reality. Let’s stop making it our fearful and obsessive secret and start to have some fun with it!

I want to start by saying this. If you are a dude and you are going gray, please let it be. Don’t even consider coloring it. That shit is hot. For woman, the subject can be a bit touchier.

If you are someone who has always enjoyed playing with your hair-color for fun and you are going gray, proceed as usual. Have fun. Gray hair looks great with color added to it. Your incoming grays shouldn’t effect how high your freak flag flies. You can still be a color experimenter and be gray haired.

 How to deal with your incoming gray hairs.

If you have natural, virgin hair and you are going gray you have several options.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.35.33 AMA. Just let it happen and embrace it.Your hair color will change, and your texture will change. Don’t fight it, and learn to love it!

B. If embracing is out of the question, then have your hairdresser match your natural hair color and foil it in to gently blend the grays. This option will leave a very soft root line as your hair grows so it is a good one for low-maintenance ladies.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.38.31 AMC. Another option is a demi-permanent translucent color like Shades EQ that will blend your grays into your color without totally masking them. This makes it easier to keep up with and easier to grow out when you decide to just rock your gray as is.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.35.50 AM





D. Just make it go away. Remember, covering and masking your gray hairs with an all over color is setting yourself up for years of commitment to the time consuming and costly hamster wheel of gray coverage. Gray roots do not look good on anyone, so we are talking every 4-6 weeks. But if that is your style, than go for it.

If you have been covering your grays for years and you are ready to ditch the salon trips and transition back to your natural hair color, here is my suggested plan of action.

How to grow out your gray hair

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.11.42 AMSo, you are ready to get back to your roots! Pretty exciting stuff. I’m glad for you. My silver grow-out plan takes 6 months and it starts with a big cut, so get psyched up for it! You get to start with the bang of a fun new cut, and gently phase your color over time to give yourself a chance to adjust to your silver sparkles.

The first thing you will need is a good haircut that will remove as much of your colored ends as you are comfortable with. It is the perfect chance to try that great shlob you always wanted! This cut will set you on your way towards a smooth color transition.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.35.15 AMRound one, back to roots is a haircut and a new color formulation…….If you have been getting a heavy foil, switch your foil formula to a semi or demi permanent color that is in a level closer to your natural color. Read this for more on the do’s and dont’s of DIY coloring

If you have been blending grays with a color that works your grays into your natural without masking them, (like a semi or demi- permanent translucent color) foil the color into your roots instead of all-over-coloring.

If you have been all-over coloring with permanent color, switch to a shade in a demi-permanent translucent color. If you have been going darker, switch to a slightly lighter shade that will blend better with your roots. If you have been going lighter, switch to a slightly darker shade. Shades EQ is great and so is Wella color charm semi for blending grays.  Here is a good article about coloring gray hair.

Round 2….keep transitioning In 6 weeks, you will be ready for a haircut and a color touch up. Remove as much length as you are comfortable with (We really need to just get rid of all your colored hair as swiftly as we can so you can start fresh:) Repeat your same color as last time, continuing with your slightly more gray-embracing shade and technique.

Round 3…….Kick it down a notch in 6 more weeks, get another cut. leave your roots alone this time. Bare with me. This is the hardest part.

Round 4……. blend those roots In 6 weeks, get another cut. Get a light partial foil with a translucent demi permanent color to blend in your root line to your natural color.

Round 5…….Another cut. Go in for another cut, leaving the color alone.

Last round…….6 weeks later. Get another cut and have your stylist lightly foil a little more of your translucent-demi color formula around your crown to soften the grow out line one final time. You should be at a point now where you can continue growing and cutting your hair at your own rate, without having to worry about color anymore!
Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.55.13 PMWhile on the subject of growing out your color, let’s talk about colored-hair care as you transition. The answer to keeping your colored hair healthy as it grows back into silver is to opt for a very gentle cleansing cream to gently cleanse and condition the hair, without stripping your natural oils.

We ( along with many informed colorists) Swear by the Hairstory Studio New Wash, and their line of simple, nourishing natural hair products designed and formulated by hairstylists and colorists. I swear by New Wash for my color-treated clients, and my coarser silver clients. It is so hydrating and softening.

Here is a link to their shop, and if you are an independent stylist/colorist, check out how rad this line is for you and your clients. (When making your purchase, please be sure and tell them that How-to Hair Girl referred you! We love you for it, and for being here in general:)

Viva la silver sparkles! Free your hair! Please send me your silver-transitioning pictures. I would just love to see them.

xoxo, HTHG

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 1.55.38 PMIf you are not ready to embrace your sparkles, but want to find a chemical-free coloring solution to cover you grays, check out the groundbreaking Hairprint, developed by green chemists to help restore original color to your gray hair, without the use of harmful chemicals…….This at-home haircolor kit uses100% food grade ingredients to stimulate production of Pheomelanin in each hair strand!





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