May 23, 2006

Hair hurdles

By: Lara Mai Landa
Elle Canada
May 23, 2006

Hair hurdles

By: Lara Mai Landa
before.jpgFinding a great hairdresser is, in many ways, a far more demanding process. You could comb the clubs, online single sites and Home Depots on a daily basis in search of your "special someone," but you can only seek out your perfect hairdressing match once every six weeks. Armed with this sad knowledge I've been able to justify allowing my locks to go neglected for years on end. My hair story has essentially been the same for nearly two decades: Long, straight and parted on the side. No wild experimentation or dalliances with colour, save for a corkscrew perm gone terribly wrong in my early Twenties. Hair has always been a nagging afterthought at best. That is, until Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour confided to Barbara Walters that she's had the same trademark hairstyle since the age of 15. As much as I appreciate our like-mindedness when it comes to hair longevity, I'm certainly no Anna Wintour. I needed help. And fast.

The name Bill Angst was bandied about in my teens when I was starting my career as a soon-to-be failed model. By the time I realized I was in desperate need of his help, it was too late. Bill's client roster was full and would remain that way for twelve long years. And even though his popularity hasn't waned, as his recent write-up in the March issue of Vogue confirms, Bill recently announced his decision to open his doors to the public and take on new clients. At last! I was to be saved.

Visiting Salon Angst is what I imagine Heaven to be like. Bill is standing behind the appointment desk and greets me with a beatific smile and a simple, "Hello, Lara." It seems a bit strange that this incredibly tall man who I've never met before knows who I am. But really, shouldn't the person in charge of your salvation immediately be on a first-name basis with you? And when you envision walking through those pearly gates, it's not likely you'd imagine being greeted by a bored receptionist. Bill beckons me over to his chair, and we discuss what will soon become my fate.

"When you first came in, I immediately saw you with bangs," says Bill without hesitation. Bangs! A style I've stridently avoided since the bowl cuts my mother inflicted upon me as a child. Yet, within seconds, I find myself assenting, implicitly putting my trust in him. My trust is soon rewarded. Forty-five minutes later, I'm transformed. My hair looks sexy and alluring, yet cute and casual. When I bounce out of the salon, the day is brighter, strangers smile, elevators appear without delay, cabdrivers are friendly! Even my boyfriend -- usually too absorbed in his video games -- cannot stop staring at me.

It's no wonder Bill's haircuts breed such naked idolatry amongst his fiercely loyal clients. "Women tell me that they'd leave their husbands long before they'd leave me," he says with an easy laugh. I suddenly understand their commitment. Bill has not only bestowed the rare type of haircut which inspires me to toss my head around like a Pantene model, but has made me feel infinitely comfortable in the process. No silent humiliation to endure while some indifferent hairdresser commits various indignities upon my head. No more leaving a hair salon in a fit of tears. After twenty years of anonymous, uncaring hair relationships, I'm overjoyed to say I've finally found my perfect match.

Salon Angst is located at 240 Queen Street West. Phone: (416) 360-5942 after.jpgSometimes fairytales really can come true. After being off the market for more than a decade, hair guru Bill Angst recently announced his decision to take on new clients. Besides providing life-changing haircuts, Angst refuses to sell product in his salon, thus removing the pressure to submit to additional costs. "I'm a hairdresser, not a salesman," he says flatly. How refreshing! With nary a commission, profit or snake oil peddler in sight, we asked Bill to share exclusively with Elle readers his top 10 products for achieving sexy, healthy, shiny hair. Enjoy!

1. Hotheads Brush
With its unique heat sensor (the barrel turns pink to indicate optimum styling temperature), this wonder product is what Angst considers "the Porsche of brushes." Containing three patterns of bristles that work together to organize, smooth and create shine this, Bill says simply, "is just the best brush in the world."
(Available at Delineation Salon, Toronto Barber and Beauty Supply)

2. Blow dryers with an ionic charge
"From drugstore brands to high-end models, ionic blow dryers work quickly and efficiently. Plus they're quiet and easier on the ears." For blowing hair smooth, Angst recommends using a nozzle. For curly hair, a diffuser is best.

3. Carbon Combs
Unlike conventional, 'bendy' combs, carbon models – which represent the newest wave in combs – don't have any give, allowing for firm, no-nonsense combing. "I won't use anything else. Right now, it's my favourite thing to use in the salon."
(Available at beauty supply shops)

4. Nisim NewHair BioFactors
Touted as a miracle hair product for stimulating hair growth, Angst uses this shampoo daily to combat dryness. "I have the driest legs in the world. This shampoo helps to relieve that. It's also great for psoriasis."
(Available at Delineation Salon)

5. Mason Pearson brushes
A great hairbrush is a long lost tradition. Thankfully, London company Mason Pearson has been making brushes of the highest quality since 1885. "My favourite has both boar and plastic bristles which seems to be a winning combo." Avoid blow drying with these marvels, as you'll melt your investment.
(Available at Delineation Salon and upscale beauty retailers)

6. Nizoral Shampoo
"This kills the fungus that causes dandruff and seborrhea. I use it daily on my head and face. It's great for dry spots around the nose, eyebrow, and even feet."

7. Hot Rollers
Whether it be creating gorgeous curl, or a subtle, soft wave, any brand of hot roller will do, as long as it's the right size. "I don't think people need to do a full head. Just the parts where you need lift or movement." For best results, Angst recommends spraying each section with hairspray first.

8. Creme Oval or Mop D-Curl
For those of us who crave a bit more moisture, these leave-in conditioners are ideal for keeping things light. Perfect for the warmer weather, these smoothing serums are great for all hair types. "The Crème Oval (the pricier of the two) is just a bit more luxurious."
(Crème Oval available at Delineation Salon. Mop D-Curl at beauty supply stores)

9. Pure Strength Hair Polish and Mop Defining Cream
"This is the next layer of moisture after you've added in your leave in conditioner," explains Angst. Great for all hair types, these miracle products can be used wet or dry to smooth the hair cuticle.
(Pure Strength is available in high-end salons. Mop Defining in beauty supply stores.)

10. Big Hair Volumizer by Optiderm
Simply referred to as his "favourite setting lotion in the world" this lightweight, non-sticky boon enables you to set your hair while wet. Unscented and alcohol free, "it's the most brilliant product in the world for fine hair."
(Available at Delineation Salon)

For more information, advice and tidbits, check out Bill Angst's website: launching this summer, that promises to be a full service, interactive experience.
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Hair hurdles