Stylist Inspiration and Guru, Michaela Lewis
My hair is my trademark as is the case with many of us. Nothing can alter your appearance as dramatically as a hair do which is why every suspense film has a scene with the heroine leaning over a sink in some roadside motel cutting and dying her hair as the first crucial step to avoid capture. When my stylist of more than 20 years left me to move back north to the very cool town of Portsmouth New Hampshire, I was devastated. I had just decided to go darker and I knew it would be a process. I actually scheduled a detour to Portsmouth during a trip to Maine a month after she left just for an appointment! We made quite the team in styling my somewhat famous locks as well as collaborating on all my runway shows. She is currently pursuing her instructors license so she can share all that hair wisdom with others. I guess I need to get over my need to hoard her for myself. (Suzanne Dunlap, you are missed!) After some searching, I was pleased to find a gem of a stylist and fantastic ‘girl talk’ companion at local Annapolis salon, Morgan Gerard. My new guru, Michaela Lewis, is a 23 year veteran to the salon. We recently chatted over a trim and more darkening of my hair.
MD: How did you get your start in this industry?
ML: After starting my education in Cleveland and finishing here in Annapolis, I joined the team at Morgan Gerard and have been here ever since. I always just knew I wanted to style hair. I was doing my friends hair at home before high school even.
MD: What is the most rewarding experience you have had in styling a client?
ML: Hands down it was a young teenager that was being bullied. Her mother brought her in but did not mention why. The girl had an issue with pulling out her hair and it was almost entirely gone in the front. She would not allow me to cut the long chunk that remained in the back either. Without pressuring her, I set about styling her hair in a way that pulled the back hair across the front to conceal the problem and asked her gently if she wanted me to teach her how to do it. She perked up her slumped over shoulders and grew increasingly attentive, happy even. After that, her mother reported that I had done so much for her self esteem in helping her to conceal her struggle with hair pulling and gave her a boost of much needed self confidence. She later moved abroad and studied in Paris, and grew into a beautiful, independent young woman. She is stunning and has a full head of hair now. I see her occasionally as she comes in with her mom whenever she is in town. I know I did not do all of that for her but it felt good knowing perhaps I had kick started the process. You cannot underestimate the power of self confidence in a young woman’s life.
MD: That is truly an amazing story and I am sure your makeover and tips did more than you know for that young lady. I am getting choked up just hearing about it! It is so true that when we impart wisdom on how to help one look their best, the ramifications can be very deep. Beauty and fashion is not all window dressing, there are so many women who just need a boost. It is so very rewarding to help them achieve that. It is one of the reasons I love styling and teaching women how to dress sharp.
What is your biggest hair regret personally?
ML: Never cut off all your hair when you are pregnant! It may sound awful, but when you are packing on extra pounds it is not the time to make a very drastic change like that. I have a round face so a pixie cut makes me look plump under regular circumstances, let alone when gaining the pregnancy weight. It was not a cute look. In general, I advise my pregnant girls to make very subtle changes so they don’t do anything on a whim they have to live with. There is enough changing already with their bodies!
MD: What are some of your tried and true quick tips to help achieve those amazing loose waves you have every time I see you?
ML: Hair powder, hair powder, hair powder! I love Eufora Powder Lift. You make a quick pass with the curling iron and then sprinkle a bit like ‘fairy dust’ and work it through. It can make your style last a good 3 days. I also suggest more natural hair care products like anything with very little if any paraffins, sulfates and plastics that will remove color faster. J Beverly Hills is a favorite line of ours here (sidebar: they use “Control” formula for me to keep my naturally course hair frizz free). Another gem of a product I love to keep highlights looking fresh is It’s a 10 ~ Miracle Leave in for Blondes.
Do give Keratin smoothing treatment a try in a reputable salon. They got a bad rap for containing formaldehyde and clueless salon owners overusing the product and applying it in small, poorly ventilated areas.
Do opt for the long, wavy bob during this ‘pixie’ craze – it is much more universally flattering to different face shapes and bone structures.
If you do go for a pixie cut, taylor your style of dress to match…it really only works well on an edgier styled woman overall.
Don’t be afraid to go back and tell your stylist right away if you are not happy. Were they too conservative? Too drastic? She has seen a client compromise the integrity of their hair by switching to another salon immediately after a color application with tragic results then back to her all because they wanted to be blonder and didn’t tell her. It was very tough on the client’s hair. Any stylist worth their salt can make adjustments and should be willing to do so. Don’t risk your hair!!
Don’t jump on the ‘bed head’ band wagon. She believes these celebrities that have gone a long way to glam up their make up and wardrobe should also do so with the hair. She thinks it is time to reign in the mussed up, bed head look a bit.
Don’t jump on the Moroccan Oil craze so quickly, it is not for all hair types. It mostly works for coarse or curly hair and only a bit at the ends is needed.
We rounded out the chat with some more girl talk and gossip and while I miss my girl of 20 years, I am fast finding both stylist and friend in Michaela. Book an appointment with her and be sure to tell her I sent you!
Happy hair styling!