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Drain Bamage

Posted December 19, 2016 by Maurice Tannenbaum

My staff was ranting about the TV show Jerseylicious, so naturally I was curious to see what all the hype was about. I never tuned in when the show was on live, so I looked it up on YouTube to view some outtakes. I thought I would be horrified, but it wasn’t that bad. But then, I watched the entire show! I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to have one’s profession portrayed in such a way.

When I was younger, I was ashamed to tell anyone that I was a hair stylist because of the stereotype that went with the job. When asked to list my profession, I would write something like “Artist” or “Professional.” I never wanted to admit that I was a hair stylist. Eventually, I developed enough self-confidence to realize that I was an intelligent man and that even a hair stylist could be admirable. That was around the time that I opened OMG Style.

As a salon owner, I was not willing to compromise my integrity by hiring embarrassing hair stylist types. But I did! I hired stylists like Joseph Ferrere, because I either was desperate or thought that I might be able to teach them some dignity. I was wrong! They are who they are. And their clients come to them for the same reason they watch Jerseylicious – because it’s weird and vulgar! Those getups they wear on the show are too much!

I have to admit that sometimes my staff dress in ways that make me wonder, but for the most part they are fashionable, creative in their attire and sometimes even rather conservative. And then there is me. I’m a slob so I dress in disposable clothing from the sale rack at the Gap or at Old Navy. But I do believe that I am somewhat fashionable and not vulgar in my attire. I may wear a lot of jewelry, but that is “fashionable” right now for men. I’ve observed that as women get older, they too tend to wear more jewelry, like larger diamonds, so maybe that’s my answer to the mid-life crisis. I guess it detracts from the wrinkles.

But let’s get back to Jerseylicious. Gayle is the epitome of what I discussed in my first blog: an over 60 yo woman who wears her hair too long and is trying to compete with her daughter. My advice for her is, “Cut that fuckin’ hair! Get some style! After all, that is what you are supposed to represent.” Style!!! Clearly, it’s something that none of the cast knows anything about. They all look like hookers! Not one of them is fashionable, well put together, or frankly, even acceptable. I wouldn’t use any of them as a stylist unless I wanted to work the streets. And I can’t imagine who would patronize these hair dressers (notice that I refer to them as “hairdressers,” not “hair stylists.” Calling them stylists would be giving all of them more credit then they deserve).

I have often wondered why my profession attracts this type of person. At first, I thought it was because they weren’t smart enough to get into college and in most cases barely graduated high school (me included). So they get a student loan and go to “hair dressing school” (as they call it) and hope to make a living. But I think there may be more to it than that. I think it may be the chemicals that we work with.

The newest salon product under suspicion is the keratin treatment. How can a chemical process be a “treatment?” When these products were first introduced, they were said to be a combination of keratin and formaldehyde. Naturally, there was concern that formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, would make the process hazardous. So companies reformulated the products to exclude formaldehyde. One such company, De Pasqual, claimed that its formulation didn’t contain formaldehyde and so I sent two of my stylists for training. The next day when I asked how it went and they both said it was good. However, during our conversation, I mentioned the formaldehyde and one of my stylists stated it didn’t contain formaldehyde but a derivative called “amldehyde.” Take off the “F” and it’s no longer carcinogenic? Bullshit!

So we went looking for a formaldehyde free product, because we were losing money by not offering this treatment. It had become one of the biggest moneymaking services at other salons.

Luckily, a company that makes some of the hair color products we use at OMG Salon offered a carcinogen-free product. On the front of the box it proclaimed that there was “zero formaldehyde.” But being a skeptic, we called the company to get a list of the ingredients in the product. All of it seemed okay except for two chemicals that were foreign to us: Methylchloroisothiazolinone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylchloroisothiazolinone) and Methylisothiazolinone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylisothiazolinone). The first has been shown to cause neurological damage in rats, and the second is suspected of being a carcinogen.

I guess that explains why we don’t do these processes at OMG, but I think I’ve finally figured out why some people in my profession behave in ways that make me cringe. It’s the chemicals! I guess after years of handling these toxic substances, some of these stylists must have neurological damage, or something.