Friday, October 29, 2010




Picture it. 1989. Trinidad. It was a hot day in the tropics and my first day working in a salon with one of my first instructors, Anthony Medina. It was a busy day – color appointment after color appointment. Because Trinidad is so multicultural, every hair texture imaginable was waiting to be processed – Afro Caribbean (a term I don’t particularly care for), Asian, Caucasian, East Indian and a hodgepodge of others. Even some chemically relaxed hair was thrown into the mix. Meanwhile, these women had two things in common. Apart from being born in sweet Trinidad, they were all aware of the chemicals in hair color and weren’t overly concerned about a few gray strands. They were agreeable to having a semi-permanent hair color that did not give gray coverage yet accentuated their own hair adding shine and tone, possibly staining a few grays. Sure it would only last a good two to four weeks (8-12 shampoos), but shiny hair was more important.

The other ladies with a serious case of gray roots were there for a permanent solution. They needed full coverage and truly did not have a healthier alternative (and still don’t for that matter).


Today, women of all ages with a few gray hairs no longer embrace the healthier choice; the thought of a few gray strands has become … well … taboo. Even if they are not using permanent hair color, they’re opting for demi-permanent color (glosses) which have peroxide and possible traces of ammonia (depending on the brand). This brings me to the heart of the “gray” matter. At what point did the dependency on stronger chemicals in hair color with more coverage outweigh a healthier solution (no ammonia or peroxide)?

At what point did women shy away from a more natural look (accepting the early stages of graying)?


I believe, along with leading colorists in the industry, that a “gloss” is merely a demi-permanent color application with little peroxide and little to no ammonia. Yes. These are a healthier alternative to permanent hair color, but they still have peroxide. Did you get that? They have peroxide! So why do hairstylists insist on using them daily as a “healthy approach” to coloring hair?

You’ve heard it before, right? “Let’s just throw a quick gloss on your hair at the sink for shine”. That translates to “let’s just use a product that adds color and gives some shine using peroxide which will aggravate your cuticle causing some dryness (when used too often)”. A good rule of thumb – “GLOSS” is just the word “LOSS” with a ‘G’ in front of it. Cut your losses short!

It’s a fact that when we do highlights with bleach, we’re aiming for a color we have in mind – be it a muted wheat beige blond or a sparkling golden blond. Glosses can assist in tweaking traces of unwanted tones, but they are also used to correct problems that could have been avoided altogether. Examples of these are as follows:

Not lightening hair enough …

Scenario 1

If the desired color is a beautiful light beige and the bleach is not left on long enough, the result is hair that is too gold. At this point, glosses with stronger peroxide added are used to help rectify the problem by lifting the unwanted tones on already dry lightened hair and depositing beige tones instead. It doesn’t sound like a big deal at first, but what happens two to three weeks later?

The unwanted tones start peering through and eventually require more highlights which results in dry hair.

In this case, the possible solution could have been a high lift tint with the necessary tones to give you your desired color. High lift tints are permanent hair colors used with 40 volume peroxide that possess the ability to lift your natural hair color (if it’s not too dark) giving you the desired tone all-in-one. This takes longer and requires some serious color knowledge, but it’s not as light and bright as bleach.

If bleach is needed, then it could be left on while being watched closely as it lifts. Keep in mind that bleach will lift once it’s moist so patience is needed.

Scenario 2

If the desired color is a pretty light golden blond and the bleach is left on far too long or with too much heat, the result is hair that is too white with no gold tones which were needed to yield the expected outcome. What now happens is that a gloss is used in hopes of replacing all of the gold tones that were removed. A gloss is left on longer than necessary (on the already lightened hair) causing further dryness.

In this case, a high lift tint could have been used as well (provided the natural hair color is not too dark). Also, one could substitute the bleach with a weaker volume peroxide and no heat on the highlights.

So why this dependency you may ask? Well … I’ve seen it over and over again in magazines, online and in salons. Glosses are a big part of the problem when used too often or incorrectly.


As a hairstylist I feel responsible for this dependence on chemicals and I propose to stop this lunacy one article at a time! Don’t get me wrong. I do love permanent and semi-permanent hair color and believe that we need it. However, I will modify the outlook of my blog by adding entries that welcome natural hair color, informing both men and women of the healthier options available.


Let us agree that a few gray strands do not classify someone as “old”. Your hair should not define you in any way. It is nothing more than an accessory. If you want more from your hair, use hair products that promote healthy hair, blow-dry less and color only if you must. Say no to chemical pushing dealers! The second solution is glazes, glazes, glazes.

A glaze is a semi-permanent hair color with no peroxide and no ammonia that deposits pigment and shine. I personally like Cellophane's by Sebastian. It’s applied to towel dried hair, covered with a plastic cap and placed under the dryer. The heat is what causes this color to stain the hair. It does not cover gray, but enhances your natural hair color staining grays just a bit. To somehow convey what a glaze is, I would suggest one think of the glaze on a cake – shiny, translucent and temporary. A gloss, however, is more like the gloss coating on a car – more permanent with shine.

I look forward to writing more about this topic and getting your feedback on these issues.


Friday, October 8, 2010


Grays, frays, trays…I know, I know…there are more important things in life than stubborn grays. But for those of us that do want to rid ourselves of those “natural highlights”, here are seven ways to get the coverage your want.

1. Ask your hairstylist to use Gray Magic in your color formula. This is a product that we used in beauty school many moons ago and it’s still on the market. It helps foster better coverage. A few drops could change everything!

Some hair color companies make a color line specifically for hard to cover grays. It’s generally the number followed by a double N (NN). The double N signifies the ability to penetrate stubborn grays. This really works!

3) Clean hair is always a good thing.
If you were going to paint a wall and wanted it to last, what is the first thing you would do? Clean the wall of any old paint and debris so that you can allow for a proper application, right? Well the same is true for hair color.

4) If your desired color is one with more Golden tones or Red tones, always be sure that half of your formula is from the N series. In order to get coverage, half of your formula being is critical. Then add any desired tones you may want. If you’re 100% gray, I tend to add a little more N than usual.

5) Leaving the color on long enough really helps. Permanent color can sit on the hair for up to 45 minutes (or even longer). If you are not getting coverage in 30 minutes, try 45.

6) Ask your hairstylist what shampoos they are using at the bowl after coloring your hair. Post Color shampoos are designed to safely remove unwanted residue from your color after it is fully processed. Many product companies use Post Color Shampoo like ALFAPARF and L’Oreal. Do not use regular color safe shampoos. The aforementioned are better used 2 days after getting your color done.

7) Mix different levels of color. If your desired color is a level 7 (medium blond) and it’s just not covering the gray hair enough, add a squirt of level 6 to the formula. Actually, you can always squirt an inch of one color level darker to all of your formulas in order to ensure better coverage.

If you have any of your own suggestions, please feel free to share.

Here’s to hoping you’re covered!


Sunday, October 3, 2010


Pedigree Sneaker Gallery

45 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11205
at Adelphi St.

On a recent stroll through Fort Greene, Brooklyn (my new neighborhood), I came across a shop that totally caught my eye: Pedigree, a footwear fantasia with a selection I found utterly mouthwatering! Walking by, I was pulled in by my love for a pair of kicks that are modern, comfortable, and plain-old hot, and Pedigree's got 'em in spades.

I introduced myself to the owner, and we began chatting about the fashion/beauty industry and our mutual love for it.

One thing my new friends and I have in common (apart from a passion for fashion) is a commitment to making an impact in our industry from a humble place. We agree that tooting your own horn can only get you so far. What matters is walking the walk—not just talking the talk.
ANTONIO GONZALES: I adore Adidas Y-3 for its style and comfort, and you easily have the widest collection of styles I’ve seen. Is Y-3 an important line for Pedigree?
ASIO HIGHSMITH: Y-3 is an instrumental and influential brand for Pedigree Sneaker Gallery. It really sets the tone for our vision. The Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas collaboration has set a new lifestyle standard that is consistent and fresh. We can dig it!

AG: What led you to open a store like Pedigree in this particular Brooklyn neighborhood?
AH: The inspiration for Pedigree came from our travels and experiences, and the lack of access to cool stuff that you usually can only find in Manhattan or just somewhere else. We wanted to create more than just a “sneaker store,” and we believe strongly that we can do it right here… in Brooklyn!

AG: What do you look for in terms of style when choosing women’s footwear for Pedigree?
AH: The most important elements here are form and what we like to call “FUNKtion.”
AG: Is diversity elemental to Pedigree’s mission statement as a retail location and a brand in itself?
AH: I like to think of it as “thoughtful diversity,” and yes, it is definitely one of the elements we cherish most. It just feels like the communities here in Brooklyn are so much more in tune with their cultural differences than just about anywhere else. We use that harmony as our reference and foundation when we go to showrooms or collaborate with designers.
AG: What are the latest footwear trends that are reflected in Pedigree’s inventory currently?
AH: The Y-3 Boxing shoe and mold has made a significant impact on fashion recently. If you pay attention to today’s styles people prefer a more fitted, slimmer look from top to bottom. Alexander McQueen’s final collection is up in here, too.
AG: Are there any trends that you feel are on the verge of becoming really big in the near future?
AH: That is, are there any style predictions you'd like to make?
Pant-sagging—everybody is doing it!
AG: The music I heard in the store is great—what’s your goal with the selection you play?
AH: Since we have a DJ booth in the store, you never know who might be spinning, so we’re pretty organic with the music flow.
AG: Have there been any celebrity sightings in the store that you can share with our readers?
AH: As far as celebrity sightings, we’ve had quite a few. But if they’re not talking, we ain’t talkin’!
It's been nearly one year since I began working at a new salon and eight months since I relocated to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and I'm happy to report that both moves have had a profoundly positive effect on my life. As I get to know Brooklyn I feel more and more at home, and as I keep an eye out for style in a 'hood I find very fashion-forward, I'm coming across shops that I love and proprietors and designers whom I'm really enjoying getting to know.

Antonio Gonzales


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