Interview With Professional Hairstylist Alison Dawn Wolf
Q: Tell a little about yourself personally and if you attended school or you are self taught hairstylist?
A: I attended the Nat’l Academy of Hairdressing in Norwalk, Connecticut and I was also trained in advanced hair replacement techniques and color correction/matching in Houston, Texas and NYC.
Q: Do you think going to school for hairstyling is important to excel in the business later on?
A: Absolutely, for me. Having a firm foundation of basic, common sense solutions and rules can really help you create a strong base to launch your creativity from, as well as provide a safe haven to return to if you ever get into a situation where things need to be corrected.
Q: Did you always long to be an artist, or did you stumble upon your talent by chance? Who or what inspired you to become a hair stylist?
A: I am a painter as well as a stylist, so I had a firm root in creativity from a young age, be it sketching, sculpture or painting, but hairdressing never crossed my mind, as I was more of a jock than a princess, riding horses and dirtbikes. My mother enrolled me in hairdressing school at the age of 16 when I had decided that I knew everything that traditional schooling had to offer me. Mother knows best.
Q: What is your favorite or most exciting aspect about your job?
A: Touching people on a personal level and making a real difference in their self esteem and self image, both inside and out. Sometimes I am the only person the client gets to really share with all month long! I get to be a friend who gets paid to listen (even though I’d do it fo free), AND I get to use my work as a creative outlet for my artistic right brained self.
Q: What surprises you most about working as a hair stylist?
A: What people are willing to share with me, but also how warped people’s self image can be, both on the positive AND negative sides.
Q: Describe your “Classic Approach to Beauty.” how do you define beauty?
A: Two extremes. I like a natural, roll out of bed sort of beauty that required a healthy look and attitude, but I also love an eccentric, avant-garde look that turns people’s heads- bold is beautiful too.
Q: What individual products and brands you’re “addicted” to at the moment and you use on a daily basis?
A: I will always love Aveda and Keune products. I could literally live in a vat of anything Aveda, and Keune color is to die for (I’m Dutch- I guess I’m partial)
Q: What are some of the most basic but effective hair care tips that you have, that are really important?
A: If you color you hair- USE COLOR SAFE PRODUCTS. Nothing makes me crazier than someone spending $200 on their hair and going home and grabbing their husband’s shampoo- UGH. Also, being in Florida, everyone has a pool. The best trick is to wet your hair down with fresh water prior to jumping into a chlorinated or salted pool; the hair will be so full of fresh water that it won’t be able to hold much of the pool water.
Q: What is the biggest hair care dont’s?
A: DON’T brush your hair when it’s wet- PLEASE! Your hair is in its most fragile state when it is wet. Use a leave in conditioner and comb it out, starting at the BOTTOM, with a wide toothed comb. You will be amazed at how much breakage you save yourself from!
Q: Have you had an extreme, crazy or bad experience with a hair care product? If so, what happened?
A: I had a client come into the shop after she had attended a ‘all natural’ beauty retreat, where they had put a mask of honey and some sort of psyllium husk onto her hair as a mask. It turned to absolute concrete…it was an absolute disaster. I’m all for green, but some things are better off eaten than put into your hair.
Q: What do you find to be the most common mistakes women make with hair color?
A: There is a age old rumor that you should go lighter as you get older; I don’t believe that works for every woman. Certain skintones definitely need a deeper shade to keep a healthful, warm glow o the skin. Extreme colors rarely work in older women either (bright auburns, raven black, punk colored accents, etc.) Younger women need to stay away from assuming that blonde is the most beautiful choice for them; I see so many gorgeous young women who are aged terribly by the extreme blonde look- it can actually be very harsh on the wrong complexion.
Q: What’s the worst thing a woman can do to her hair?
A: To do nothing with it and pull it back constantly. That is your crowning glory! Stop hiding it!
Q: What’s the one haircare tool you simply can’t live without?
A: A large barrel, metallic round brush. Kill me first.
Q: What do you think are best/worst trends in the hair industry right now?
A: I love the whole emo-look; I think it’s super cute and progressive, and it looks great on almost everyone if it’s done right, regardless of age. The worst thing? I wish they would stop producing that eggplant tinted haircolor…it should be outlawed.
Q: Do average girls needs to splurge on high-priced hair care products, or are drugstore items are just as satisfactory?
A: It depends on their needs. If they have extremely course, curly, damaged or otherwise unique factors, they will need to seriously consider a professional line, as it will make SUCH a difference. If someone has virgin hair and/or uses very little styling tools or product, an upper end non-professional line might suffice.
Q: Do you have any general tips/tricks for extending color between visits?
A: Stop using your husbands shampoo. Use a leave-in, UV protecting sunscreen/conditioner, and see your stylist for a retouch BEFORE your color fades too an unrecognizable shade of its former self.
Q: Can anyone go red or do you feel that color works best with certain skin tones/hair types?
A: No. Not everyone can go red, but you would be surprised how many could that would never even consider it.
Q: Do you feel anyone can go blond or should the look be reserved for certain skin tones/hair types?
A: I think I’ve covered this one, I won’t bore you by repeating myself.
Q: Which hairstyles do you tend to do the most often? Which hairstyles are the most popular?
A: My salon is on the beach, so we do TONS of foiling and high-lift blonding. Most of our clients are beach bunnies by day and glam by night, so the styles need to be versatile, easy to pin up in the humidity, but still edgy or romantic when down and styled.
Q: What do your clients think of you? What are some individual testimonials?
A: My clients love me, of course! I can’t speak for them, but I think they like to be gorgeous AND entertained for their money, so I guess I am providing both of those things for them. Seriously, I think I give my undivided attention to each of my clients. I don’t answer phones or take calls when I am with someone and people appreciate that.
Q: Would you share some of your future goals, your life motto, any words of wisdom that get you by in life and professional career?
A: Make it about what the client needs and provide it. It’s not always about using the latest trendy products or tools (even tough some of those things are super cool). It’s about consistency. Once your clients are happy- don’t change on them and make sure that you don’t ever get too busy to take on new clients…seriously.
Q: What tips and advice do you have for aspiring hair stylists just starting out?
A: Watch as many stylists at work as you can. Peek over as many shoulders as will allow you. Be a sponge. Be open, BUT don’t be afraid to go outside the box, color out of the lines or cut in a zig-zag to achieve a vision in your head…it may just make you famous!