Service Scout: Raika Studio, Paul Mitchell Lather Lounge Thursday 08 November, 2012
A 15-minute head message? Uh, yeah, sign me (and you) up! At Manhattan’s Raika Studio, the Paul Mitchell Lather Lounge allows you to unwind, de-stress and get beautiful. (P.S. News Alert! You’ll now find Paul Mitchell minis in Mariott Hotels. Score!)
There are several types of salons in this world. Some literally quake your body with electronic music; some blow out your eardrums with the sound of blasting blow-dryers. Salons, as part and parcel of the occupations within, can be noisy and chatter-filled—and that’s perfectly fine. Atmosphere is everything to people like me, and if a salon were deathly silent, I may turn around and run for the hills. Yet, incorporating a relaxing component to the salon experience is certainly a smart idea, and Paul Mitchell Salons have been doing this for quite some time. I visited Raika Studio, a chic little Paul Mitchell salon in Midtown Manhattan, and after discussing with hairstylist Nina Job what we should do (tighter waves—why not?), she took me to the Lather Lounge for what I thought would be the ol’ “wash-and-get-on-with-it.” Oh—but I was wrong. Billed as an “experience,” the Lather Lounge is the epitome of relaxation. No matter what Paul Mitchell salon you’re in, the Lather Lounge is a dark room lined with wash bowls where invigorating scalp massage and 15-minute shampoos are de rigueur. Its function: Provide a respite from the hubbub both on the salon floor and outside its door. “Think about it: We’re constantly stimulated by things; it’s nice to have a few minutes of quiet time—to unwind and decompress,” Nina told me. As an added chill-out bonus, the lounge is piped with tea tree aromatherapy. Hmmmm.
(The finished look: A tighter wave than I usually wear with a face-framing side part that I really dig!)
After settling my nerves in the Lather Lounge, Nina got to work on my ‘do. First, she sprayed in Paul Mitchell HydroMist Blow-Out Spray to “boost body and protect against heat,” she said. Nina had me flip my head over, and then blow-dried my hair with a diffuser for a quick minute, explaining that this would rough up the edges and allow my hair to look “styled, but not so neat.”
“Prepping hair is important,” Nina explained. “I want you to get as many days out of your style as possible [after you leave the salon].” To that end, she blew-out my hair using a 1-inch barrel brush, crafting curls with the brush at the same time. “This will build a strong foundation for our waves,” she said, adding, “I’m not going to straighten your hair and then throw in a curl.” (I’ve heard this before; it’s counterintuitive to take the bend out of your hair, only to reintroduce it a minute later with a curling iron.)
(Stylist Nina Job blow-dries my hair with a tiny barrel brush, creating curls—and a foundation for the impending style.)
As Nina passed the blow dryer over my hair, she told me, “You always want to blow-dry hair in the direction of it’s growth (downward from the root); otherwise, you blow-up the cuticle and rough it up.” What if you desire more volume? Pick up the section where you want body and blow-dry from beneath it, still following the growth of the hair.
After Nina finished drying my hair, she whipped out the almighty curling wand—a favorite hair tool of mine. When’s the right time to release the curl from the wand? “You’re supposed to leave hair on the wand until the hair’s too hot to touch. The heat seals the cuticle,” Nina explained. When all sections of my mane were dutifully waved, she carefully ran the barrel of the wand over the baby hairs on the top of my head, along my part, to make them lay down. This is a nifty trick that’s easy-peasy to duplicate at home, and one I use whenever I’m doing the wave.
(Paul Mitchell co-founder, John Paul DeJoria, hams it up for an impromptu video.)
I should note that the man behind the Paul Mitchell brand, John Paul DeJoria, was on hand that day to talk about an exciting new partnership with Mariott Hotels. Yep, you heard me right: Rather than finding some unknown shampoo and conditioner in your Mariott room, you’ll now lather up with Paul Mitchell The Shampoo and condition with The Detangler (two of their most popular items). Now if that’s not a tired traveler’s dream come true, I don’t know what is.