Stem Salon in the whirlwind downtown of Walnut Creek, an upscale urban wine and dine destination undergoing massive reconstruction, just hosted it’s first Blow Dry 101 class. The salon hosted the class at the request of salon patrons said owner Elizabeth Vawter. The two hour hands-on instruction took place after hours, with wine and light hors d’ouvres for a party of six. The class was open to anyone but invitations went out via email to Stem Salon patrons. John Robert Fernandez, a transformational creative genius and stylist with an expert eye, emails, ‘This is the first of many classes we plan to offer for hands-on learning for the everyday person wanting to up their game on looking salon fresh when styling at home.’. Given the massive transition of Walnut Creek downtown from Main Street USA to big time urban and commercial, an every day person in downtown Walnut Creek tends to be blond and probably in a red Mercedes convertible, a Jaguar or shiny new BMW and desperate for a parking space. John Robert Fernandez lives in San Francisco and comes originally from Fairfield, California. He has thick black asymmetrical hair, the quality probably coming from his Russian heritage.
The student/instructor ratio worked out well, with one professional senior stylist to two students. The stylists include the owner of Stem Salon, the beautiful and long-haired Elizabeth Vawter, mother of three; along with a striking senior stylist Annie Aieta; and the transformational sensation, senior stylist John Robert Fernandez who has worked in downtown Walnut Creek for two decades. The instructors first chatted about some principles of hair care and methods. Elizabeth Vawter herself with her long hair served as the model on how to blow dry one’s own hair professionally. Vawter noted most of her business comes from Yelp rather than any walk-in traffic.
Immaculate and gentle cleansing; vinegar rinses
Each of the students in this first blow dry class expressed interests in volumizing hair. However, John Robert emailed that ‘[a]s far as drying and styling more geometric or precision haircuts, you could utilize the same techniques but would probably follow with a flat iron.’. Correct styling tools make all the difference and the salon manager Lisa mentioned not only using the right quality flat iron but also not letting it get too hot. The right iron with the right temperature will let hair glide smoothly through without catching and pulling. John Robert Fernandez offered some insight into a vinegar rinse that seemed enlightened. He emailed, ‘Vinegar rinses help to freshen the hair but not disturb the acid mantle on the scalp. It’s great for closing down the cuticle and giving hair lots of shine. It also helps to eliminate static without any added weight, making it ideal for baby fine hair. Because there are no cleansing agents, [a vinegar rinse] can also help prolong the life of colors that fade easily such as deep brunettes and bright red. Same concept as soaking natural brightly colored fabrics in a little vinegar before laundering the first time. It helps to colorfast the material, meaning less bleeding as well.
The instructors covered such subjects as starting with immaculate hair and scalp, which sometimes requires a cleanser to remove build up of products. Build up blocks moisturizers and heat protectants from absorbing. If the hair feels super slick or silky while wet yet dry and brittle later, it’s probably in need of build-up removal. The instructors went on to show how to section the wet hair and how to clip sections while drying others, starting with work on the bottom sections at the neck. The instructors showed how to move the blow dryer with the brush and how close to hold the nozzle to the hair, always using a tip called a concentrator.
The students included Sara Hare, H-A-R-E not H-A-I-R, a woman from Diablo Magazine. Hare attended with her friend so it was their girls’ night out. Ms. Hare, in her fifties, learned how to put a nice soft wave in her hair that complimented her face in a soft and youthful, romantic look. She was flying off to a film festival in New York where her daughter had won an award. Her daughter’s film is a documentary about an indie bookstore in downtown Oakland.
Other students included a young mother with impeccable make-up and perfectly shaped glam eye-brows; and wearing bouncy gold high tops and cut offs. She said she had gone to make-up school in Paris and had a young, urban, alternative look and demeanor. Another student came Texas–‘Can’t you tell?’ She and her long lashes looked pretty enough to rival Pam Anderson but she just uses on her hair a complementary comb she got on a plane flight, she said. Her casual outdoor style included tiny torn jeans and platform sandals with a leopard toe strap. Yet another student, athletic, tall and lean with no make-up and a no fuss hair cut, wore a black t-shirt from the Oxford Rowing Team.
Girls’ night out, a spa experience
The evening started with interactive discussion of what each student wanted and what corrections could me made regarding products and hair condition. The students relaxed with some white wine since it was chilled and Walnut Creek was so hot that day. The evening felt relaxed, like a spa treatment. At first. Eventually the instructors treated the students to a professional shampoo and conditioning and then handed the women their own blow dryers. Most of the students found the technique awkward at first. It’s probably still easier to blow dry somebody else’s hair especially if it’s long, longer than arm’s length. The professional results though are worth it and John Robert Fernandez demonstrated his technique for ergonomic benefits with muscle and energy resourcefulness. The class cost $50 payable on arrival. Biking is easy around Walnut Creek and BART riders may take the cable car shuttle buses running free to Broadway Plaza. The shuttle goes right in front of Stem Salon along Locust Street. Meanwhile. Check out the students’ experiences with these several videos.
Sectioning wet hair before blow drying
Starting with immaculate and conditioned hair
Technique and hold on dryer
Constructive comments and hands-on instruction, use feel not vision
Walnut Creek downtown reconstruction, mall reveal in November
For more information: Stem Salon