Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Prozac for the Hair

We are all coming out of hibernation now and for me, nothing says “Hello sunshine!”  better than shiny, happy hair.  You can’t take a pill to do this, however.  To achieve, you need to embrace the great hair trifecta:  cut, color and condition.  But this doesn’t mean a ton of time or money

A hair cut doesn’t have to be drastic, for example.  You can just get a quick trim to take away all the dried out ends.  I like to call this a dusting.  It enlivens the hair, gives it movement, a great swing. 

For color, you need a boost of brightness and highlights are a great way to go this time of year.  I like to make them much more sunny and bright than in the winter time. You want to accent just where the sunlight hits your hair the most such as on the crown of the head.  One big mistake I’ve seen is when highlights are placed too close to the face.   Too-pale hair can drain the color from your skin.  Conversely, the right hair tones can actually act like makeup, brightening  
 your complexion.

You also want to have lots and lots of different shades woven through-out the hair, in darker and lighter shades so that it looks natural and multi-faceted, just like it did when you were a child.  Multiple shading also gives the illusion of more volume by adding depth of field to the hair.   This technique really needs to be left to a professional, but if you want just a hint of sunny highlights, you can use a trick we do on photography location.  Put on a straw hat and pull some small sections of hair out through the openings with a crochet hook.  Spray with a mixture of lemon juice and sit out in the sun.  The hat will protect your face, while the sun will naturally lighten the saturated strands. 

The last piece of the Happy Hair Trifecta is shine.  Even the best hair color will look dull and lifeless, and not read as good hair color, if it doesn’t look healthy, shiny and in great condition.   My clients are surprised when I tell them my personal secret for this.  It’s not a shine spray or heavy, silicone drops; it’s leave-in conditioner.  You see, when you apply rinse out types of conditioner in the shower, you may put it too close to the scalp, where it can remain as residue.  This traps extra dirt through-out the day and weighs hair down, making it look dirty, dull and lifeless.  My trick is to wash the hair in the shower then towel dry.  I then use a spray-on leave-in conditioner just at the mid-shaft and ends of the hair...the parts of the hair that really need moisturizing.  Blow-dry as usual, or even let it dry naturally.  The leave-in conditioner will cut down on the frizz. 

And voila!  Beautiful, shiny, healthy hair that is better than Prozac in making you feel great.  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don’t let Tax day keep you frowning: Turn your FROWN upside down!

It’s a rainy April 15 here in NYC, and some of you may be thinking about doing some binge shopping to either celebrate a tax return or cheer you up from a bad day.   But whether or not I.R.S. stands for I Really Saved or It Really Stinks, the best thing to do on a day like today is to not spend money and do some spring cleaning instead.  You may find some hidden treasures to give your spirits the boost it needs without spending a cent.    
Start with your closet, for example.  Not only do we all have to summon our spring clothes out from their long winter hibernation, but you will probably find great things you forgotten about entirely to wear right now…a great pair of shoes you bought on sale last year that you stowed away for a warmer day, or a hand bag stuffed deep in a corner and long forgotten.  Even better, you could find something you’ve out grown that you can give to a friend or donate.  I’ve come to realize that giving forward brings me much more happiness than a senseless impulse buy.  
Don’t stop there!  Hit the kitchen and while you are pulling out the scary organic greens stuffed in the back of the fridge, take out a beer and an avocado and give yourself a couple of beauty treats.  Mash half the avocado into a paste and apply to your hair like a deep pre-shampoo conditioner.  Wrap your head in a towel or a shower cap and keep cleaning.  Half an hour later, take your shower, washing and conditioning your hair as usual.  Then, with damp hair our half the beer into a spray bottle and spritz through the hair like a beach spray.  Lightly blow dry to create great fullness and texture.  
Go through your old spices and toss, but put aside some cinnamon or nutmeg.  Sprinkle some in the palm of your hand and use an old blush brush to apply like a bronzing powder on the apples of your cheeks, bridge of the nose and around the hair line.  
Put together a pot-luck dinner with all the left-overs, decorate with some budding forsythia  or cherry blossom branches,  and invite your friends to dinner and a give-away all the closet treasures you don’t wear anymore.   Everyone will not only thank you, but they’ll also say how it looks like you just got back from a week at St. Barth’s.  How’s that for turning a frown upside down!  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson

If you noticed the chic and dignified crowd struggling to get in the doors at the Ralph Lauren flagship on Madison Ave. last Wednesday night, you might have thought Kate Middleton was making an appearance.  Actually, Mr. Lauren was hosting a party for my good friend and mentor, Andrea Q. Robinson in honor of her first book, Toss the Gloss.  There were so many beauty and publishing industry big wigs and CEO’s there that they could barely move their arms to take a sip of champagne!

Andrea was her usual beautiful self, and I was honored to do her hair and makeup for the big occasion.  She is a true, effortless beauty, and she’s translated everything she’s learned from her decades in the industry into an amazing, bold, brilliant but funny and readable tell-all on how to look your best over 50.   The book is very honest yet incredibly informative; a Devil Wears Prada meets the Madame Curie of beauty.  I was bowled over by how funny she could be: “There are more anti-aging products out there than George Clooney has ex-girlfriends.” But also how brutally honest:  “Forget night creams, toners, eye creams, neck creams, collagen, firming creams.  Accept the reality that there are no magic bullets.”   I love her dedication to the bottom line: she gives explanations for every ingredient and lists every product she recommends.
I was honored that Andrea consulted and quoted me in her section about hair.  We go way back---Andrea was the first editor at Vogue to use my information and hair images, and it was from there that I had the opportunity to work with her in the studio with such legendary photographers as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Steven Meisel.  I’ve watched her take her beauty prowess in the studio to the boardrooms of Revlon, L’Oreal, Tom Ford and Estee Lauder, and we’ve always had such a common ground in our approach to beauty.  She once said “Gad’s ability to understand hair and makeup for the modern woman of all ages is unparalleled.”  Well, the same goes for Andrea.   So here’s to you and your wonderful new book, Mrs. Robinson!  I’m sure it will be as much as a success as every other venture you embark on!   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Don’t Let Your Mirror Become a Pain in the Glass

self acceptance
Recently, Dr. Oz jumped out as a surprise guest at a small press party, pointed to himself and proclaimed that 60 is the new 40,  a friend told me.  She was even more surprised because he looked, well, 60.  But just this week, Jennifer Anniston told WWD  that she gets annoyed when people tell her she looks great for her age, pointing out that women celebrities always have an age line after their name, like Jennifer Anniston, 45.  Could you imagine if we all had to do that?  If you look 30 when you are 50, then great, but if you don’t, you shouldn’t have to apologize.  Terms like “ageless beauty” and “age defying” belong on a jar, not on a person.  There is no such thing as ageless beauty, and why should we have to defy our age?  

When we look in the mirror, we should see our strengths, not focus on what we perceive to be our flaws.  The truth is, not even twenty-year-olds on magazine covers really look like that.   I work in the beauty industry, so I understand.  People tend to use the way they look as their brand, how they define themselves to the world.  But there’s something to be said about accepting yourself at the age you are.  I mean, we don’t have an expiration date like a quart of milk.   Some people start to feel panicky when they see the first wrinkle and will try skin care or even cosmetic surgery to hold back the tsunami of aging.   But there is no magic bullet to take 20 years off your face in a cream or jar.  And I think the scissors can be better (and less costly!) than the scalpel in that a really good hair cut can take years off your looks.  Ultimately, it’s better to feel 30 than to look 30.  But as far as 50 is the new 30?  It’s just a saying, just like red is the new black and pink is the navy of India.    Cheers!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Goodbye Giving Good Head, Hello….

Gad Cohen Hair Blog
When I first decided to write a blog, I wanted its title to reflect the phenomena that was occurring in my hair studio.  When I am finished with a client, whether I have done cut, color, style, makeup, whatever, they are always in a better head space. Some have called it “The Gad Effect,” because I focus on that what is going on inside the client when they are in the chair, and how to create a better internal environment for them so they will look and feel their best.  So, when I was rummaging through different ideas for a blog name, the title Giving Good Head seemed both funny and accurate, in a beauty sense. The word head, to me, connotes both mind and hair, and the two are inextricably linked to each other.  By mindfully working on and creating beautiful hair for my clients, I was putting people in a good head space.  And, it had a sense of humor.  I knew that it was a double entendre, but I thought we all are evolved enough to see beyond that to what I truly meant.   

Well, as it ends up, the joke was on me.  Since starting the blog, I had respected friends in the media who politely mentioned that while they loved the blog, they couldn’t name it or give a link to givinggoodhead.net to their readers, for fear of offending them.  When you are talking about reaching a million young women, this is a very understandable concern.  While I knew my mind wasn’t in the gutter, there was a chance that someone else might not think that way.

So, after a lot of thought, I am saying goodbye to the name Giving Good Head, and renaming my blog Decorum Head.  To me, the word decorum says it all when it comes to my approach to beauty.  Literally, it means propriety and good taste in conduct or appearance, which, to me, is what having true style is all about.   We live in an indecorous time right now; reality shows and all-too-real news flashes remind us of some ugly truths.  We are forced to focus on things that are scandalous and provoking, but not in a mindful way.  That’s where the beauty and magic of decorum comes in.  It is the diametric opposite to scandal and provocation.  It connotes tremendous centeredness, a confidence and understanding of one’s true worth.  My intention and my mission has always been to impart this.  I believe that a good haircut can take away whatever is impeding the mind and soul from its true grace and spirit.   This in turn imparts the ability to share that good spirit with others.  It’s about creating balance within so that you are filled with enough goodness to share with others.  

I feel particularly blessed that this change is coming just as we are approaching spring.  Now, you and I can go forward here with an enlivened spirit and fresh ideas.  So, goodbye Giving Good Head, although I will always chuckle when I hear that name   I mean, my mind isn’t in the gutter.  Is yours? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Some of my clients tell me that they know they should go to the gym, but feel so discouraged by the way they look when they first start to workout.  Yoga and Pilates studios and gyms rooms are plastered in mirrors, so the image of themselves bare faced with sweaty hair, wearing clothes that reveal every bodily defect can defeat them before they even walk out the door.  What I recommend is that they prepare themselves like an actor getting ready for a performance.  It’s like getting into a costume.  Once you see yourself looking healthy and athletic, you will be inspired enough to go to the class and it will keep you motivated to finish it.  


the "samurai" bun I styled for Vogue
Keep it simple.  Instead of just letting your ratty ponytail flop around, I recommend what I call a “samurai” bun.  Simply pull it back and fasten with an elastic, either high like Pebbles Flintstone, midway below the crown or lower if you are more comfortable that way.  When you get to that final pull of hair through the elastic, stop before you pull it all the way through so that it forms a small loop-like bun.  Then, take a wide, black elastic head band and pull back the front securely.  You can pin the head band in place with a few pins if you are going to be very active.  If you have short hair, just do the black headband.  Basta!   

What I love about this hair style is that you can use this as a set to create fullness if you are going out afterwards, as long as you haven’t gotten too sweaty!  The upwards pull creates lift at the roots, so take out the elastic and brush with fingers for sexy volume.


another Vogue shoot
Some women find it hard to go out the door bare-faced, but runny mascara or heavy lip color can make you look like the Joker during a workout.  Here’s what I recommend to create a healthy polished glow that works on the street and in the gym:  cleanse and moisturize your skin after putting your hair up.  If you have deep, dark bags or circles that make you look and feel tired, you can put on a touch of creamy concealer, both under the eyes and in the corners of the upper eye lids.  You can even dab on dark spots, but in all cases, be sure to blend really well.  Use a cosmetic sponge to taper off the edges if necessary.  Then, use one of the great new tinted lip balms or even a tinted Chapstick first on your lips and then dab lightly on your cheeks as well, just on the apples.  Blend into the skin lightly to create a healthy, moisturized glow.  Viola, great gym face. 


The last element is a great set of workout clothes.  Swap the baggy sweatpants and stretched-out tank top for the latest gear that offer support for the back, tummy and chest while creating a smoother silhouette instantly, like Spanx for the spinning class.  Target and Walmart all have full workout clothes departments, so you don’t have to spend a fortune. 

YOU CAN DO IT:   Remember that it’s more important to be healthy in body and mind than to worry about how you look while you are getting there.  Focus on that rather than the imperfections you see in the studio mirror to push through any self-defeating roadblocks you put in your own way.  Namaste!