We all know how picky (and perhaps a bit high-maintenance) I am when it comes to finding the right hair stylist, aesthetician, makeup artist, etc. It’s tough to impress me, especially when it comes to haircuts. I’ve always stuck to the simple curly girl cuts, refusing to take any gambles with any looks that would dare stray from the norm. Nicole Giannini, owner of Siren Salon in San Anselmo, CA, managed to break me down after several months (she also colors my hair) of begging me to let her scissors take some weight off my head of endless curls. The result? A truly miracle haircut that gives me the flexibility to dry my hair naturally or with a diffuser, and allows me to recycle my hair with a few spritzes of water for 1-2 days. It’s time you learned her genius ways:
BB (Beauty Binge): You trained at the famous Vidal Sassoon academy in London. What was that experience like?
What stands out the most to me is that the British saw changing their hair like changing an accessory – they were adventurous which allowed me to play with tons of styles. Obviously being schooled at Vidal Sassoon meant I was able to learn the geometric foundations of all the different shapes. What Sassoon did in the 60s was revolutionary and no one has overwritten his basics since. I got really into his sense of foundation and structure. It really clicked for me.
BB: How did you go from studying in London to opening a salon in San Anselmo, CA? Do you ever regret not opening a salon in San Francisco?
On a lifestyle level I’ve never wanted to be in the city because of the fog. I thought about living abroad – London or Milan – I had those fantasies when I was younger. I wouldn’t say I regret not doing it but I’d always wonder. I made the decision because of my life outside of work — knowing all the people in your hood. It feels good to be in a community. In every market you have your bread and butter – the ladies who get their roots once a month and same haircut every six weeks. All I need is my handful of muses –- the clients who let me do my crazy fun stuff. They test and challenge me to create something new.
BB: You brought me kicking and screaming out of my “bread and butter” role. I was wronged once in college when I was given a shag (note to readers: shags do not look good on curly girls like me) and had to wear my hair in a ponytail for a year. You insisted I break out of my comfort level and you gave me some serious layers. I can tell you right now that you are the first stylist EVER to give me a cut that allows me to dry my hair naturally and recycle my hair from the day before. What’s your secret for your magical curly girl cut?
It’s all about shape and silhouette – making an assessment, what’s working, what’s not working. In your case, women with curly, textured hair often run into the issue of unflattering distribution of weight. Not only is difficult to work with, it doesn’t allow the texture to do it’s thing. So many people have been traumatized by bad haircuts and they’re too scared to try something new. But, your hair has to be cut in a way that flatters the texture of your hair and the shape of your face. My job is to make sure the cut is very individualized – your signature. It’s like a good pair of jeans – you invest in them because they fit you just right, and last you longer.
BB: I’m seeing bang girls all over the place – who is this look most appropriate for?
I hate to be too dogmatic – certain trends aren’t for everyone. Though I’ll say bangs are cheaper than Botox to hide lines on the forehead. If a client asks me for bangs I’ll analyze the shape of their hairline, the texture of their hair, how their eyes are set and the height of their cheekbones. I try and tell clients no all the time… “I will give them to you, but I don’t think it’s right for you. And, you’re going to have to beat those bangs into submission every day.” Not everyone is Heidi Klum. I’ll give it to you but I don’t want you to hate me in the morning.
BB: Your salon is one of the few I’ve been to (besides salons that carry their own product) to exclusively carry a line. Tell me about your love of Oribe.
The fact is the line performs – it delivers on every level that I need as a stylist and my clients need at home. First it was all about Bumble & Bumble – it was for stylists by stylists and it performed on a styling level but wasn’t about maintaining the integrity of the hair. Then Kerastase came along – which was huge in terms of the science of keeping hair healthier. It really raised the in terms of improving the hair through treatment. I started out having both lines. Then we took on Shu Uemura when Bumble & Bumble got bought out and over-expanded. Shu Uemura filled that gap of having a few effective styling products that Kerastase lacked. I had followed Oribe from the beginning since he had done color pomades in shoeshine tins. I was definitely interested when I found out he was creating line. I found the Oribe team inspiring and it felt very collaborative. After I called and met the rep, I was all over it. Three months went by and both the staff and our clients were in love, and Kerastase and Shu Uemura sales went in the toilet. Call it natural selection. The line simply fills every need.
BB: What’s the biggest hair mistake you see?
A poorly executed graduated bob that didn’t grow out well. If it’s not well executed it can look like a really terrible alien head shape.
BB: Is there one celebrity you would love to get your scissors on?
Hillary Clinton, please girl, let me fix your hair! She’s in this updo phase, which I’m feeling, but when her hair is down its all long and dumpy, and there’s even been some scrunchy action. When she was a New York Congresswoman she looked great — very strong yet sassy. I used to do Barbara Boxer – I would love to do Hillary!
BB: Lastly, do you have any secret fixes you can share with us?
My #1 tip – don’t try too hard! A lot of people over-style their hair, especially with those loose natural messy textured looks. Ladies try and force it and it ends up looking contrived. Loose undone, kind of has to be undone. To get that undone beachy look — shampoo less, and sleep on your wet hair. Trust me!
Janna Posted by janna Tags Nicole Giannini, Oribe, Siren Salon