2020, the year haircuts felt illicit. Those words rang in my head as I walked through the doors of the Mark Ryan Salon in New York City, mid-pandemic, but when the case numbers were still well below one percent in early fall. After all, it had been nearly 10 months since my last professional cut. Before COVID, I’d postponed an appointment due to a busy schedule. It was time.
A bit of background about Mark DeBolt and Ryan Trygstad. Ryan has been doing Kelly Ripa’s hair for 17 years (among other celebs). Mark’s clients include Naomi Watts. If I was going to dip my toe back in the water, I knew I’d be in good hands.
Mark was up first. An expert colorist, he blessed me with a cinnamon ‘do—my first-ever experience as a redhead. But when it came time for the cut, Ryan did something that blew my mind: He asked me to pull up my camera roll or Instagram account.
“Show me a photo where you loved your hair.” (I scrolled back to my friend Harley’s summer wedding last year.)
“Now, I want to see one where you weren’t the biggest fan of your look.” (My chin-length style circa the late-2000s was the first pic I called up.)
According to Ryan, a good stylist can use photos to inform their work, but also to establish trust. “When people come into the salon, they tend to say things and use verbiage that’s almost the opposite of what they want. Maybe they’ve been told the wrong thing and, especially with color, but cuts, too, there’s a lot of room for interpretation.” This is where photos come in. “An image is great,” he explains. “We can talk through the parts of their hair—or a celeb’s hair if you’re surfing Pinterest, another favorite of mine—that they love.”
If you need us, we’ll be hearting our best and worst hair pics from the past year for our next trip to the salon.