Easter brunch today was delicious – but not just for the food, for the “shop talk” too. My friend Nestor is just finishing his very prestigious apprenticeship in the swanky Wicker Park neighborhood here in Chicago. So of course I wanted to know how he was feeling about haircolor formulas (the release of The Hunger Games’ formulas were particularly on my mind!). But Nestor has had some bad reactions when working with hair-color: hives, trouble breathing, and other undisclosed reactions. His troubles reminded me that about ten years ago I was told by my doctor that I would have to find “other” work, due to Contact Dermatitis. What could I do? I never imagined doing anything else except being a colorist in the big city. I took my disappointment, put one foot in front of the other and tried my hand at a couple other color-free businesses. I dabbled in the gift basket business and the low-budget telephone business too. But I longed to be back in the salon. So I decided to go back just one day a week.

I was careful not to book too many back-to-back colors – I balanced hair color services while doing hair cuts and my favorite Breck Girl blow-outs. And MOST importantly, I was very careful handling hair-color products. I invested in higher quality gloves that allowed me to feel the hair through the gloves and didn’t pull the clients hair. I also started down a path that continues to this day: working with ammonia free and demi-permanent hair color. This was a real savior for me, and which brand I use is not the most important part (if you look to my C.V. I think you can easily find my brands of choice). What is important is that I discovered all the many uses for toning, depositing, filling, Low-Lighting, grey blending, and even grey coverage, all with ammonia free demi color! Amazingly the Contact Dermatitis that my doctor had diagnosed never returned. And I never returned to that job at the phone company either. I worked my way back to the salon full time, be careful all the while with what types of color I used and how often I used them. In the winter my hands do get irritated but I’ve found great lotions, liquid brush-on adhesives for those little cuts, and warm mist humidifiers for my home. I also check in my dermatologist and doctor if I’m having a flare up, which, with all the care I take, I’m please to tell you is not very often! I am certainly not going to tell you that this home cooked recipe will work for anyone, but please don’t forego your passions without trying everything you can. As I’ve discovered sometimes where there is a will there is a way.


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