Ask the Experts - Nicole Martin

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Nicole Martin of Nicole Martin Hair in Aliso Viejo, California is a makeover and color specialist with a vast hair extension clientele. Today she answers some of your most pressing questions about your hair.  

Q: I’ve gone prematurely gray and I have my hair colored.  In order to cover the gray it keeps going a slightly darker shade. I don’t want any of the gray to show but I really miss my slightly lighter shade. Can anything be done?
A: A professional colorist should be able to come really close to your natural shade and still cover the gray. Ask them to lighten what you have now (existing color) and see if they can use a more neutral or even slightly warmer, but lighter shade on any root to match your natural color before you went gray. Since you’ve already had some color added, it may take several steps to get you there.

Q: I would love to have long hair but can’t seem to grow it much past my shoulders. I’m considering hair extensions. What do I need to consider before jumping in? How expensive are we talking? What about upkeep? What other questions should I be asking?
A: When considering extensions, it’s important to find a stylist that specializes in them and offers several different methods so you have options. An extension specialist will offer a consultation (usually free, but ask so there are no surprises) and at this meeting they will ask what you have in mind length-wise. They’ll need to get their hands in your hair to assess your hair type, texture, and density to see if you need more volume and where and what type of hair extensions you will need. From there they can offer different methods of adding the length and or volume you want.

Pricing for extensions vary greatly based on length, quantity and quality of the hair being added as well as the application method. Each method also has its own amount of upkeep, so it’s a good idea to ask what’s involved with the method they are recommending. There’s always a certain amount of “tightening” that needs to happen as your natural hair grows, so ask how often that needs to happen and what that might cost. You also need to care for your extensions once they are applied, so ask about how to keep them in good shape and the best way to style them (may require specific products, tools and or techniques).

If you are not sure about the time and expense needed for longer locks, consider investing into clip on versions, which allow you to add or subtract as desired.

Q: I would like to buy a good quality curling iron. What should I look for and what is a good size for my bra length hair?
A: A good quality ceramic iron, likely a one-inch diameter is a great place to start, as it’s the most versatile. It will allow you to do medium curls or larger waves on your longer hair, which you can achieve based on the size of the sections you are working with. Take smaller sections for curls and larger ones for waves.

Q: What’s the best way to detangle long, super-curly hair?
A: I like to work a small amount of Moroccan Oil through damp hair and then run a wide-toothed comb through, starting at the ends. Work slowly and carefully, never pulling or tugging too much as it might cause breakage. 

Q: I am getting married in a year and I am trying to grow my hair out for it. What are some romantic looking styles for shoulder length hair that will go with a princess style dress?
A: Look into looser, romantic waves that are partially pulled back. These half-upstyles are soft, touchable and very feminine, not to mention super-popular. If you don’t have the length by your special day, consider having some extensions added to help get your length there.

Q: Is it bad to color and perm hair in the same salon visit?
A: It’s never a good idea to have color and chemical texture services (perm or straightening) done on the same day. It’s just too much for even healthy hair to handle. I’d suggest waiting at least one or two weeks in between.

Q: Different salons have dyed my hair red twice before but I didn’t like how it turned out. The purplish shade made my pale skin look splotchy and dead. I like the idea of going red, but something warmer. How do I know if I can do this color, especially since two other colorists went the other direction? 
A: Don’t assume that just because the other colorists opted to go the other direction, that you are doomed to wear only cool-based reds. A warmer red is a more natural looking shade anyway, which I would think would help warm up your pale complexion. My suggestion is to work on an effective way to communicate what you want versus allowing them to do anything they want. Take in photo examples of several shades of red that you like and ask for a consultation. A good colorist will typically hold up several swatches of red against your skin tone to see how they will look before moving forward.  If you like what you see, and it’s the warmer red direction you are aiming for, go for it!

Q: What is the right way to apply treatment oil without making my hair flat and limp?
A: It’s always best to work styling oils in on damp hair and to concentrate on the midshaft through the ends, which typically need the moisture more. Start with just a few drops in your palm and then rub your hands together. Run your hands through your hair to apply, comb through to distribute the oil evenly and then simply style as desired.

About Nicole Martin
Nicole Martin is a makeover and color specialist with a vast hair extension clientele. She’s been a salon and session hairdresser for over two decades and is based in sunny Aliso Viejo, California at Nicole Martin Hair.

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