O&M Stylist Spotlight: Marie-Anne Tsoukalas

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This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we chatted with Original & Mineral stylist and owner of Alkemi Salon, Marie-Anne Tsoukalas, on what inspired her to become a stylist and how she fell in love with O&M CØR.color.

Read her interview below!

How did you decide that you wanted to be hairdresser?

I’ve wanted to be a hairdresser since I was a little girl. I can’t remember being anything else. Ever. I cut every single doll’s hair that I ever owned. I cut my own hair, my friend’s hair and even children’s hair at my kindergarten. I still have the heads of some of my Barbie dolls that I cut and colored with food coloring.

My passion burned from the pit of my stomach. I would concoct potions out of clothing bleach and household detergents. I would “tone” my hair with mercurochrome and sit for hours in the sun with lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda on my head. I would beg my mother to let me purchase color from the pharmacy, but she would always say no. While she would do her grocery shopping, I would go to the toiletry aisle and look at the back of the Clairol packet and read the list of ingredients. I was enchanted by these boxes of magic. The very idea that you could predict the EXACT outcome was amazing to me.

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One day my mother went to the local salon and had a perm. “How does your hair STAY curly?” The hairdresser looked up at me. Her jaw stopped it’s rhythmic chewing. “What?” “How does it stay curly? Even after you wet it?” I had practiced wetting my hair and drying it around pencils but the curls would return after they got wet again. I never really got a satisfactory answer from that black clad stylist. Maybe she was taken back by the fact that I was only 9 years old and had a self-cut asymmetric bob.

My life took many ups and downs but there was one constant. My determination for answers. My yearning to be a hairdresser. I studied after school, got my masters and then studied further to become a color technician. The more I learned the more I wanted to know. I became entranced. I went on to become an educator and won prestigious prizes and accolades. Life has this way of throwing you curve balls and Hairdressing became my silver lining. The light at the end of the tunnel.

Many say that a stylist is only as good as the products and tools they use. Do you agree?

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To me, hair is art. And the product I use is my medium. The hair is my canvas. So for me what I use is extremely important. It has a ripple effect. I want the best quality and I dislike not being in control. As a stylist, while we can’t always control our canvas, we can control the paint we use. O&M helps me control my canvas. Nourish it. Make it better.

An artist needs not only good paint with fine pigments, but also the quality of the canvas plays an integral role in the end result. The more I use O&M and the more my client uses O&M at home, the better my canvas. The health of the artist as well as the environment in which the art shall be exhibited are also key factors. If my hands burn while I paint, or my client is not comfortable while I’m being creative, this is not a good sign. And this is where I feel O&M is the ONLY range that meets ALL my needs.

I was also touched by the story of how O&M was created because I also developed contact dermatitis on my hands due to years of exposure to harsh chemicals in the salon. I am blessed to be able to have found O&M. I document every single color I do behind the chair in the hopes of creating awareness of this phenomenal product. I feel that once you have become enlightened and become aware of the difference between O&M and traditional color, you have NO excuse NOT to use it.

What makes O&M such a groundbreaking line for you?

As a product, it is simply superb. It has stunning ingredients, it spreads well, and “paints well”. The mixing ratio makes it affordable and less wasteful. The packaging is recyclable. The colors are predictable and wide-ranging. There are no harsh smells, the color is easy to clean off the bowls and brushes and doesn’t stain the skin or hands easily.

As for what is does to my “canvas”, because the color range does not contain Ammonia, PPD, or Resorcinol, the whole experience is so much better for my client. There’s no Gluten or Soy in the formulations so the scalp stays calm during the tinting process. Due to the exclusion of PPD, most allergic reactions are alleviated. Ammonia has been replaced by MEA, a safer alkaline alternative. Ammonia is the conventional catalyst in the oxidation process, which creates harsh fumes and causes irritation, red eyes and hair damage. Most importantly, O&M has also removed Resorcinol from their tints. Resorcinol is a popular coloring agent that is proven to be extremely detrimental to the human immune system and the planet. Now if you can imagine every single hair salon in the world on a Saturday rinsing just one client, and that resorcinol running down the drain…

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And then there is the “Free from Five Formulation”, which is the ethos behind all the O&M Care and Styling products:

  1. No SLS
  2. No Parabens
  3. No Propylene Glycol
  4. No MIT
  5. No Triclosan

All the ingredients are vegan and certified by PETA as cruelty-free.

Which EVER way you look at it… Environmentally, ethically, health wise or financially. There is no reason to ever use another brand. Why would you want to use something that damages YOUR health? Why would you want to use something that damages your client’s hair and health? Why would you want something that damages the environment? That is tested on animals?

I use O&M because it would be an ethical crime to use anything else. I’ve been a salon owner, stylist, educator, color technician, worked on shoots, and in every area of the industry. But I think I have truly found my calling. I want to spread awareness not only to my clients but to other stylists as well, so they can share it with their clients. I want to be an O&M advocate. As an industry, we have a responsibility for the footprints we leave behind.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Can you share a Pink Hair Color formula that our Holistic Hair Tribe can re-create in their salons?

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Absolutely! For this look, my goal was to achieve a soft hair color that’s feminine and subtle. I wanted to create a look that’s wearable and classy, keeping within the O&M vision of bringing nature and luxury together.

I therefore adapted my technique and color choice accordingly. I specifically chose tones that would flatter my particular model and would help me create enough pink “ribbons” to honor Breast Cancer Awareness, without it being too overpowering and unnatural-looking.

Please describe your process.

I started by cleansing the hair with O&M Original Detox Shampoo and then shampooed once with O&M Fine Intellect Shampoo as I find it helps even out the porosity. No conditioner or treatment was applied. I prefer working on clean blow-dried hair with the basic cut in place as my canvas, then Ieaving the texturizing and personalization for after the color. This way I achieve a far better end result. I know exactly where I want to place my accents, shadows, and sections. I can be very precise and have almost zero waste. This is better for your pocket and the environment. It’s like building a house. First you build the walls, then you paint them.

sulfate-free-shampoo

Sectioning is paramount. Clean sections, combs and clips. This goes hand in hand with your clean products.

Firstly, I sectioned the hair into four quadrants. Making the partings where the model’s hair usually falls open and over the radial line like a hot cross bun. I painted the roots (approximately 5cm) with half O&M CØR.color 7.11 Intense Ash Blonde and half O&M CØR.color 8.16 Light Ash Violet Blonde and O&M CØR.color 10 vol Activator 1:1.5 (referred to as root mixture from now on)

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I then mixed:

FOIL ONE

Bowl 1: O&M CØR.color 9.6 Very Light Violet Blonde with O&M CØR.color 10 vol Activator (Ratio 1:1.5)

(midlength mixture foil #1)

Bowl 2: O&M CØR.color Dusty Pink Toner with 5 vol (Ratio 1:1.5)

(end mixture foil number 1)

FOIL TWO

Bowl 1: 3/4 O&M CØR.color Pale Pink Toner plus 1/4 O&M CØR.color Lilac Toner with 5vol ratio 1:1.5

(End mixture)

PRO TIP: A good tip is to mark each bowl (I do this with stickers).

I then proceeded to weave sections with my tailcomb and “balayaged” the root mixture a bit further down and applied the 9.6 to half the mid lengths from the direction of the mid lengths up, leaving a tiny gap between the root mixture (this is to ensure the brush stays clean and the colors do not mix). Then, I painted the Dusty Pink about 2mm below where the 9.6 ends and painted it all the way to the ends.

From where the root mixture ends, I blended the darker color downwards with my finger, almost like finger painting. I isolated these in foils, so they did not smudge onto the other hair. I was careful to fold the foils in such a way that the three colors didn’t overlap and mix or press too hard that the product would squish out or leak.

foiliage-technique

With the second foil, I “dragged” the root smudge about three to four cm’s lower, alternating this measurement as the head shape changes and as I worked up from the nape, making sure that the second foil in my pattern has a longer root mixture application than the first. The reason for this is to create depth and texture. Each foil creates contrast for the next.

I now painted the mixture from Bowl 1 for FOIL TWO, also making sure to apply it a few mm’s from where the root color ended, and then finger blending the colors together and carefully folding and closing the foil in the same way I folded the first one.

I began at the nape so as not to smudge or mess product on the “clean hair”. Then from the hair line around the face, I worked towards the back of each of those squares.

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When I had foiled the whole head, alternating between finer and chunkier weaves depending on where I wanted to place my lighter or darker “ribbons”, I mixed my final mixture.

This mixture was for the hair remaining between the foils. I mixed O&M CØR.color 10.6 Lightest Violet Blonde with O&M CØR.color 20 vol Activator with a ratio of 1:1.5. I used 20 vol because I wanted to smooth out any lines that may have formed where the root color had ended because it had already developed by now. I applied it around the face first and worked backwards. I rubbed the color over the line of demarcation where the root color ended on the mid lengths. Then I got a small plastic bag and put a dark towel around my model’s shoulders.

I’m not advocating that you should do the same. This is just how I do it. But to make sure I have a seamless blend, I took off my gloves and got two towels. A wet one and a dry one. And then from the nape, I removed the foils one by one (That’s what the bag is for). As I removed the foil, with my naked hands I blended the colors on the hair, making sure that all the hair is saturated, and the blend is smooth. I feel it is too slippery with gloves and even if you dry your gloves with a towel you can never be sure they are clean. With bare hands I can FEEL the hair, wipe my hands with my wet towel and dry them with the dry one and know for sure my hands are clean and dry between each foil. As a sufferer of contact dermatitis for many years and almost having to end my career, O&M saved me. I believe if you have to wear gloves, it can’t possibly be healthy in the long run.

Once that was done, I took my model to the basin and emulsified the color at her hairline, then rinsed. Shampooed twice with O&M Hydrate & Conquer Shampoo and then ended with the fantastic O&M Seven Day Miracle Moisture Masque.

This way of dimensional foiling, or “foiliage” as I like to call it, is a very good way to do color corrections or big changes that would usually require multiple services in one application. It takes much longer but the results are worth it. You only have to process each strand once and have absolute control.

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Another reason I love O&M is that I have the confidence to do hair painting and “repair work”. Knowing that the products I use do not have ammonia and unnecessary chemicals, the hair is not compromised as it would be with traditional brands. I can mix creativity and innovation to produce high-quality work while maintaining the integrity of then hair. Most importantly, I do not have to rush against the clock because I know it’s gentle on the hair and scalp, and won’t over process.

Check out Marie-Anne’s Pink Ribbon Hair Color Creation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

pink-ribbon-hair-color-formula
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