Wednesday, April 30, 2014


“All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  William Shakespeare, As You Like It.  These words were repeated over and over in my mind this past year as I worked with a brilliant young actor friend to prepare for his role as Twiggz in the Indie film, Tucht, scheduled for release Summer, 2015.

Darrin Hickok and I became good friends a few years ago when he worked as my physical trainer, and about a year ago, he let me know he wanted to grow out his hair for an important role he had just landed (without a reel, which goes to show how talented he is).  He was told to perhaps wear a wig, because production was due to start.  His hair at that time was short and spiky, as you can see in the first photo.  But the film, based on the lives of 8 people involved in the cycle of abuse and violence, was so realistic and gritty, he wanted his physicality to be as authentic as possible. Darrin wanted long and strong-looking hair to complement his character of a man, abused as a child, who becomes a flamboyant yet strong gay adult.   Luckily, production was delayed for almost a year, giving him an opportunity to get his hair into shape as he internally worked on preparing for his role.
This is a symbiotic relationship, as any actor can tell you.  Think of Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, or Charlize Theron in Monster, or anything by Daniel Day Lewis,  all great actors that use their physicality, their hair, makeup, voice and body to evolve and channel the character they are portraying. Darrin’s transformation, which you can see here, was amazing and brilliant, just like his performance. 

Darrin Hickok Hair Shaping Phase

Whether you are a man or a woman, growing out your hair can be a painful process.  When the starting point is short and layered, you can’t just let it go. You have to shape it continually to make the process less awkward looking.  Darrin came to see me three times at first, so that I could allow the shortest top layers to start to grow, while evening out the back and sides.  Here’s a picture of his third visit.  You can see it’s really getting into shape as he is transforming more and more into his character.  By this stage, he was ready to let it just grow.  It was several months until I saw him again this weekend.  By now, his hair had completely grown out, but needed a shaping.  It was also acting very curly and unruly, forcing him to pull it back into a ponytail for most of the day.  I first gave him some highlights, to strengthen his hair color and give him a surfer look, then did a keratin straightening to help keep his hair smooth and under control.  Then, I gave him a trim to freshen and add movement.  The final result?  A real lion’s mane, which will look like this right out of the shower, something that really works with his Leo personality.   To give it polish, I gave him John Masters Organics Hair Pomade, which he can rake through the hair after it’s dry to keep its shape.

I’m sure this role is just the beginning of Darrin’s brilliant career, which he is now facing with new strength of achievement, and is reflected in his powerful look.  As the Bard says, “They all have their exits and entrances, and every man in his time plays many parts.”  Word. 

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!